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Thursday, 5 March 1942

Senator KEANE (Victoria) (Minister for Trade and Customs) . - I desire to correct one or two misconceptions of honorable senators opposite in regard to these regulations. It is suggested that the men who are affected to-day are those who came to the assistance of the nation on the waterfront in 1928. That statement is absurd. The main feature of the " dog-collar " regulation of the Latham Administration was that it applied not only to men registered to help the Government at that time, but also to men who were surreptitiously brought into the organization by the thousand. I challenge any honorable senator opposite to check the books of the organization which is now under discussion to ascertain the service that its members have had on the waterfront at any port of Australia. The fact is that the men who are on the books to-day are not those who came to the assistance of the nation at all. Those men went off the waterfront years ago. I remind honorable senators opposite that 1928 is fourteen years ago. The Minister for Aircraft Production (Senator Cameron) and I, in the course of our industrial activities at that time, took part in the dispute and did our best to see that men were not sacrificed. I suggested recently, as I did during the regime of the Scullin Government to the then Attorney-General (Mr. Brennan), that to settle the trouble on the waterfront permanently, a list should be obtained of the original registrations of men who came to the aid of the Government. These men could then be given whatever special treatment was considered fitting. My suggestion was not accepted. What Senator McBride has said is not correct. These men have a federal registration and a federal award. Under this regulation none of these rights are to be violated. Regulation 15 pro vides -

The committee shall not -

(a)   refuse to register; or

(b)   cancel or suspend the registration of, any waterside worker who is, at the date of commencement of these regulations, a member of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union of Australia by reason of the fact that the waterside worker is a member of that organization.

It is definite therefore that their membership cannot be interfered with. Regulation 17 provides -

Except as otherwise provided in these regulations, nothing in these regulations shall be construed as depriving any employer or waterside worker of any rights under any industrial award, agreement or determination.

Therefore it is clear that their industrial conditions are not in danger.

Senator McBride - What about new men ?

Senator KEANE - Regulation 15 does not prevent new members from joining or obtaining employment in the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union of Australia,

Senator McLeay - I rise to a point of order. Under Standing Order 423 an honorable senator may demand that any statement made by another honorable senator be taken clown by the Clerk of the Senate. I should like the Clerk to record the statement by the Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) that regulation 15 does not prevent new members from joining or obtaining employment in the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union of Australia.

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