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Wednesday, 6 May 1942


Senator AYLETT (Tasmania) . - The only factor that has been revealed by the speeches of honorable senators opposite is that they are jealous of the results that were obtained by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Ward) during his recent tour of the coal-fields. They are definitely disappointed because the Minister was successful. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McLeay) wants the

Government to apply force to the employees in the industry regardless of the facts which investigations have disclosed. I can put no other interpretation upon his speech than that. I remind the honorable gentleman that there are always two sides to an argument. Although he launched a vicious attack upon the employees, he did not mention the flouting of the regulations and industrial awards by the employers.


Senator McLeay - What caused the two strikes which occurred to-day?


Senator AYLETT - I have not had time to make investigations yet; neither has the honorable senator. During his speech, he quoted a telegram that was framed as soon as it was intimated that this motion for the adjournment of the Senate would be moved to-day. It was a propaganda telegram prepared for the honorable senator to read to-day.


Senator McLeay -- I quoted a telegram that I received at ten minutes to 3 o'clock to-day. Senator Aylett has suggested that arrangements were made for that telegram to be sent as propaganda, and I ask that that statement be withdrawn.


The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon J Cunningham - Senator Aylett may proceed.


Senator AYLETT - I say that the telegram was merely propaganda designed to boost the Opposition's arguments on this motion. Prom my own experience of employers in Tasmania I am aware of the pinpricking attitude that has been adopted by the employers in industry towards employees. The Minister for Labour and National Service has stated openly that such pinpricking is going on in New .South Wales and has caused many industrial stoppages. He has made a personal investigation of the whole position, and I prefer to accept his statements, particularly in view of my own knowledge of what is taking place in other States, instead of the propaganda telegram which was read by the Leader of the Opposition. Senator Sampson launched a vicious attack upon the Minister for Labour and National Service. Like the Leader of the Opposition, he apparently overlooked the fact that " you can lead a horse to water but you can never make it drink if it does not want to drink". We must adopt the best methods avail able in order to maintain full production from our industries. Up to the present, this Government has endeavoured to use every means possible in order to secure the maximum rate of production that can be obtained under existing conditions. Honorable senators opposite know that to impose compulsion upon the employees because they stopped work as the result of provocative actions by the employers would only cause chaos in tin whole industry. They know that the employers have endeavoured to caustfriction amongst the employees in ord".]to make them discontented and resentful of their actions. If the Government imposed compulsion upon the men in such circumstances they would all connout on strike. That is what honorable senators opposite would like to happen to-day. Senator McBride informed us, in the opening stages of his speech, thai he would deal not only with the employees, against whom he launched such a vicious attack, but also with the eniployers. All that he told us about the employers was the profits that they hamade.


Senator Keane - And how hard up they were!


Senator AYLETT - Yes, but he did not mention that the owners of the coalmines are also the owners of the big industrial monopolies of Australia.


Senator McBride - I stuck to the truth.


Senator AYLETT - The mine-owners cannot make huge profits on every one of their concerns. Even if they did not make much profit from the coal-mines, they did secure huge profits from the Newcastle steel-works, the shipping companies and their other big monopolies Honorable senators opposite should not imagine that we are not aware of the fact that the mine-owners also own the other big monopolies, and that their accumulated profits amount to a huge sum. Senator McBride referred at length to the hours of work in the coal-mines. The honorable senator would not know a coal-mine if he fell into one. He made that abundantly clear during his speech by the lack of knowledge of the industry that he displayed. He stated that if a coal-miner worked full time for five days a week he would be employed for only 30 hours out of 168 hours. Does he expect a miner to work continuously, and have no time off for meals and rest?


Senator McBride - What I said is correct.


Senator AYLETT - The honorable senator was incorrect in stating that miners worked only 30 hours during a five-day week. No greater misstatement has ever been made in this chamber. It is hard work for a miner carrying his " crib " to walk for an hour in a crouched position under a roof 4 feet high, in order to reach a stops where the actual mining takes place. I know the conditions under which the men work in the coal-mines, and I have not yet met a miner who would not put in an extra hour's work at the face in preference to spending an extra half-hour in carrying his " crib " in a crouched position to the wall where he has to work. If the honorable senator would go down a coal-mine we would hear different speeches from those made by him in this chamber. He has complained about the pension that the miner receives; but surely a man whose work exposes him to the risk of contracting miners' phthisis, and having his life shortened by perhaps a score of years, as well as the risk of accidents due to falls of earth, is entitled to compensation. The miners spend the best years of their lives in recovering coal for the owners, and, as they may eventually become physical wrecks, they have every rightto a pension. The honorable senator seems to resent the fact that the men are entitled to a pension after spending the best of their lives in producing coal that enables men like the honorable senator to live in comfort.

The honorable senator referred to the stoppages that -had occurred recently in the coal-mining industry, but he did not draw a comparison with the number of stoppages that took place during his regime as Minister for Supply and Development. He has not suggested how any steps' other than those taken by the Government could be taken to reduce the number of stoppages. He said that by mechanizing the mines 5 tons of coal could be produced as compared with 3 tons being obtained by means of hand work. However, investigations have shown that in- some of the mines where mechanized methods have been adopted less coal has been produced than by hand work. Those investigations were made by experienced men, and were not based on assumptions, as are the arguments advanced by the honorable senator. He has said that some of the miners were most disloyal.


Senator McBride - That remark is just as inaccurate as are other statements by the honorable senator.


Senator AYLETT - Some of the employers are certainly disloyal.


Senator McBride - I did not make the statement attributed to me by the honorable senator.


Senator AYLETT - There would be as much justification for accusing the employers of disloyalty as there is for levelling that charge against the employees.


The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator has exhausted his time.







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