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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Senator LAMP - I did.

Senator FOLL - Do honorable senators opposite remember the circumstances which brought that organization into being in Melbourne and in other Australian ports? It was brought into being because it was the only body at that time which was prepared to abide by an award of the Arbitration Court in relation to waterside work. At that time, the Waterside Workers Federation was not prepared to abide by the award, with the result that shipping in this country, which the Leader of the Senate realizes is the life-blood of our transport in normal times, and particularly in & time of war, was held up. An appeal was made for men to come forward and work the ships under the award of the court. These men, who subsequently formed the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union, responded to that appeal. As th(Senator McLeay) pointed out, the majority of them served with the Australian Imperial Force in the last war, whilst a large number of them are now serving with the defence forces in this war.

Senator Collings - Members of both organizations served in the Army.

Senator FOLL - I am aware of that; but the bulk of the members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union are returned soldiers. At no time did they seek to break down award conditions.

Senator Keane - They went off the waterfront years ago.

Senator FOLL - The honorable senator knows that they came forward and worked the ships under an award of the Arbitration Court. They have been recognized as members of a body which has been carrying out work under award conditions on the waterfront for the last 25 years.

Senator Lamp - It is a shame.

Senator FOLL - That is not so. These men have not broken down any award conditions. They have abided by every award ; but under this regulation these men, who have done their duty faithfully in the loading and unloading of vessels, are not to be represented on the committee. I say frankly that certain Ministers, among whom I do not include the Leader of the Senate, have waited for nearly a quarter of a century to " get " these men ; and they think they have got them under this regulation. That is why these men are to be denied representation on the committee. Regulation 15 prescribes that the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union cannot enrol new members. That means that the organization can never expand. At the same time, no restriction is placed upon the Waterside Workers

Federation. Because these men came to the aid of industry and of their country in a time of stress, their organization is to he banned. Let me say to the Government that I shall support every proposition it puts forward with a view to improving our war effort, but, irrespective of existing circumstances, I shall not support propositions which are not designed to further our war effort. This proposition is merely advanced under the cloak of the war effort with a view to gaining a party political advantage. I shall object to any proposition advanced in this way with a view to penalizing an organization of this kind which has been fighting for its existence during the last 25 years. In respect of any proposition which directly relates to the furtherance of our war effort, the Government can count upon the whole-hearted support of the Opposition. I say definitely that this regulation has been framed by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) for the purpose of getting square in an old vendetta which has existed -between the Waterside Workers Federation and the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union for a long time. This is not the time to bring in a regulation of this kind. These men have done a good job. The Leader of the Senate has appealed for unity. I ask him why he does not endeavour to establish unity between these two organizations.

Senator COLLINGS - That is what we are trying to do.

Senator FOLL - No. If the honorable senator really believes in unity, why does he not give to both of these organizations representation on the committee, or at least representation in proportion to their numerical strength? Under this regulation, the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union is made subservient to the other organization. If the Leader of the Senate will give an assurance that representation on the committee shall be given to the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union in proportion to its membership I shall oppose the motion. Under the guise of a war effort, I am not going to permit men who came forward to help their country in time of need to be sacrificed merely in order to further a party political vendetta that has been going for years.

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