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Wednesday, 25 August 1920


Mr BRENNAN - The Government propose to limit this protection, not only to members of an organization, but to members of organizations which are seeking to better industrial conditions. This position may arise : A man is a member of an organization, as he is entitled to be, and as he is invited to be by this legislation. He suggests to the fellowmembers of his union, " We should go to the Arbitration Court in order to better our conditions, and obtain an award." The organization may or may not be impressed by that view, and may or may not take any action ; but if the organization has not taken any action to better the conditions of its members under this Bill, the man who suggests that action gives evidence of his dissatisfaction with his conditions, becomes marked as a dissatisfied man, and may be dismissed by his employer with impunity for that reason. The Minister in charge of the Bill asks how we can prevent employers dismissing employees. He says that we cannot expect an employer to put up with a grumbler who is constantly complaining about his conditions. If that is the spirit in which he approaches this question, why trouble about paragraph a, which forbids a man being penalized in the circumstances there set out, and why his own new clause? When speaking on the secondreading of the Bill, the Minister pointed out that he was giving a certain measure of protection to men who might be dissatisfied with their lot, and I interjected that the Government did not intend to penalize " divine discontent." I understood the Minister to agree with that view, but I find that he does not agree with it.

Mr Groom - The honorable member is dealing with discontent, whilst I was referring to " divine discontent."

Mr BRENNAN - If the honorable gentleman will read the clause again he will recognise the very limited extent and the very parsimonious manner in which he proposes to sanction " divine discontent." Outside that very limited sphere of discontent the Bill proposes to give the employer an absolute and unrestrained power to dismiss. Dealing with the second part of my objection to the clause, let me suppose that a man is a member of an organization, and, for the sake of my argument, we may presume that he is not a direct actionist. He wants to avail himself of the law,to submit himself to the arbitrament of a Court, and is prepared to accept its judgment. But the Minister says that unless he happens to be a member of an organization which as such has taken steps to better the conditions of its members, if he as an individual expresses the opinion that there should be some improvement in bis conditions, or if he suggests to his organization that they should move for better conditions, under this Bill he gets no protection whatsoever. I do not see what is in the mind of the Government. How they can square the narrow interpretation which must be placed upon this new paragraph with the much wider and more generous interpretation which must be put on preceding paragraphs in the same section of the Act I cannot understand. I cannot see how they, can logically oppose 'the amendment which, in the circumstances, I must moye. I move -

That the words " which is seeking better industrial conditions " be left out, with a view to inserting in lieu thereof the words " or of an association which has applied to be registered as an organization."

I admit that the words I seek to have inserted may have the effect of limiting the scope of the paragraph, which, without them, would read as follows: - being a member of an organization is dissatisfied with his conditions.

But I seek to have the paragraph read as follows: - being a member of an organization or of an association that has applied to. be registered as an organization, is dissatisfied with his conditions. in order to bring it into uniformity with the words of paragraph a, which reads as follows: - or is an officer or member of an organization or of an association' that has applied to be registered as an organization.

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