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Friday, 18 September 1942

Mr SPEAKER - A further question is permissible provided it does not amount to a challenge or a cross-examination of the answer given by the Minister.

Mr JOLLY - The question that I put to the Prime Minister is a fair one.

Yesterday afternoon, the AttorneyGeneral gave to me a direct assurance, and the statement which the Prime Minister made this morning conflicts with it.

Dr Evatt - I told the honorable member of the practice which has been adopted by the Allied Works Council.

Mr JOLLY - The Attorney-General assured me that no man would he compelled to join a union.

Mr Conelan - Nothing of the sort.

Mr JOLLY - I received that definite assurance. I now ask the Prime Minister to inform me whether a man who is called up for compulsory service by the Allied Works Council will be given the same rights as a conscientious objector who is called up for military service?

Mr CURTIN -Previously, I was asked to explain the position regarding men who are drafted to other States by the Allied Works Council, and I said that the Government had taken steps to see that award rates were paid to them. I said that, regardless of what was in the award. The Government has not exercised any authority to suspend portions of any award. Any attempt to do so would create an impossible position. At all events, that general direction was given to the Allied Works Council. The honorable member for Lilley implied that some persons who are called up for compulsory service by the Allied Works Council object to joining a union.

Mr Jolly - That is so.

Mr CURTIN - The Director of the Allied Works Council has informed the Government that in such cases, the objection is noted and no action is taken to compel the man to become a unionist.

Mr Jolly - Even though the award prescribes that he must join a union ?

Mr CURTIN - The honorable gentleman wants me to say first, that I shall set aside the award.

Mr Jolly - I do not.

Mr CURTIN - I shall not say that.

Mr JOLLY (LILLEY, QUEENSLAND) - All that I seek is an assurance that a man will not be forced to join a union.

Mr CURTIN - The honorable member received that assurance last night.

Mr Jolly - The answer which the Prime Minister gave earlier to-day cut across that assurance.

Mr CURTIN - No. With very great respect, I say that the honorable gentleman has had no experience of dealing with the problems of labour.

Mr Jolly - I have.

Mr CURTIN - The provisions of the award will operate. The honorable member has stated that the award compels every man to join a union. That is true. But the Director of Allied Works has a sense of proportion. If a person objects to becoming a member of the union, I imagine that the director as a man of common sense, will ask himself whether the individual has conscientious scruples about joining an industrial organization. He will examine the man's record to ascertain whether that man would regard it as an affront to himself to have to associate with unionists. If the director considers that the man is sincere, he will not be compelled to join a union. That is the position. But the honorable member wishes me to give a licence to men to join a union when" it pays them to do so, and to be non-unionists if that is to their advantage.

Mr Jolly - I do not.

Mr CURTIN - The award of Queensland will operate in the cases that I have cited. In fact, the awards of all States will operate in respect of work that is being carried out in them. If the award prescribes that the workers shall be members of a union, the Director of Allied Works will ascertain whether a man has a bona fide objection to becoming a member of an organization. If the director be satisfied that the man is, in other respects, a reasonable citizen, his objection will be respected.

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