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Wednesday, 1 September 1920

Mr HUGHES - Yes. Supposing such a state of things did occur, are we to say that neither the Commonwealth nor any other authority in these States is dowered with sufficient power to intervene? Are we to stand idly by whilst Australia is paralyzed from one end to tlie other by reason of a strike? Obviously not. Power is conferred by the Constitution for the settlement of these disputes.

It is very agreeable to those of us who have always advocated this principle to find our view indorsed by a High Court composed of a majority of men who, prior to their elevation to the Bench, could not, by any i stretch of imagination, be called Labour men or sympathizers with honorable members on this side.

Mr Bamford - Mr. Justice Higgins was Attorney-General in the Labour Government.

Mr CUNNINGHAM - I am referring to the 'Court as a whole. Mr. Justice Knox, Mr. Justice Starke, Mr. Justice Rich, and Mr. Justice Duffy, and Mr. Justice Isaacs cannot, any one of them, by any stretch of the imagination, be termed Labour men. Mr. Justice Knox was the most bitter opponent the unions had to fight, and "the Government also had to fight him as the representative of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in the various Courts. I do not attack these gentlemen because of their sentiments, but desire to show that this decision is not given because the majority of the High Court are in favour of the Labour party or of the workers outside. They were not born amongst the workers, nor reared amongst them, but have lived a life apart, and, consequently, could not see eye to eye with those who sit on this side of the House. But the judgment of the Court is that the railway and tramway men should come under the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and have access to the Court.

Sir Robert Best - There is nothing about " should " in it.

Mr CUNNINGHAM - That is the judgment. What else would the honorable member gather from it?

Sir Robert Best - That is another thing altogether - they may be included.

Mr CUNNINGHAM - Frankly, we on this side do not expect the honorable member to see eye to eye with us, and, consequently, do not expect him to arrive at the same conclusion from the pronouncement of the Court that we do.. It is for the railway and tramway men to watch their representatives in this Parliament, and see who are in favour of giving them their rights - to see which members look at the question from a broad national stand-point, and which from the narrow parochial stand-point. The men ought to see which of the representatives would prevent them from organizing on a federal basis, and from realizing the idea for which the Commonwealth was formed. I am surprised that the Government, when it saw the judgment, did not postpone the Bill for the time being in order to insert an amendment of the kind now proposed. Their omission to do this only shows that they do not sympathize with the workers.

Mr Ryan - The Government will neither accept the amendment nor move it themselves.

Mr CUNNINGHAM - Quite so, and I think every honorable member would agree with the Government if they gave these men the rights they should have had years ago. Unless some such provision is inserted, the measure will have missed entirely its object, which is to render justice to the great body of men employed in the State railways.

Sitting suspendedfrom 6.29 to 8 p.m.

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