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Thursday, 3 March 1932

Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) .- Usually, I have a profound regard for the legal knowledge of the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn), but on this occasion his . argument is unsound. He said that a writ, which is a process of law, would not be effective againstthe Government of New South Wales. He ignored the fact that the Scullin Government proceeded by writ against the State of New South Wales, and eventually as the result of that action the money then owing was fixed up. If there was any doubt of the efficiency of that process, why has the present Government issued writs against the State of New South Wales?

Mr White - The Government is using a double-barrelled gun.

Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - What is the use of that if, as the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) has declared, one barrel is ineffective? Obviously, the Government must expect that both barrels will function. In several instances the opinions of some of the highest legal gentlemen in Australia have been obtained in regard to certain legislation, and when the law has been put into operation it has been found to be entirely ineffective. As has been stated during this debate, the opinion of one legal authority is often countered by the opinion of another legal authority. Many of the long drawn out cases in the courts are the result of this legal uncertainty. The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Nairn) querulously touched upon the fact that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin) stated that there might be a civil war in New South Wales as a result of any action taken by the Commonwealth Government under this provision. I am sure that the Leader of' the Opposition did not say that in any provocative way. Rather he suggested that there was a remote chance of civil war. If that should be so, it should cause this Government to halt. The Bruce-Page Government made mistakes in matters of this kind. Itwas responsible for the Transport Workers Act which has thrown the industrial life of this country into turmoil. On one occasion that Government set the law in motion to deport certain persons, but it did not succeed. This Government is continually telling us that a man who preaches class hatred and sedition is an enemy to Australia, yet it has introduced this provocative legislation in a country in which 300,000 workers are on the bread line. I warn the Government that its action is exceedingly unwise. We have been told to put aside party politics, and to take the broad view, but I ask the honorable member for Perth, the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Prowse), and the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Gregory) to visualize what would happen if this provision were applied to Western Australia. Indeed the honorable member for Swan has already expressed a fear in that regard. If the Federal Government attempted to compel the public servants of Western Australia to carry out its behest against the interests of the Government of that State, nothing short of a revolution would take place. I cannot help thinking that this proposed action on the part of the Government is a spectacular gesture in accordance with its promises on the hustings; otherwise why should it take this circumlocutionary and provocative action ?

Mr BRUCE (FLINDERS, VICTORIA) - It surely is not circumlocutionary.

Mr A GREEN (KALGOORLIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The right honorable gentleman will find that his alleged short-cut will prove to be the longest way round. I do not know whether the Government intends to put this measure into operation when it is passed. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), although he has occupied the seats of the mighty, has had years of experience of work among the lowly, and he seems to think that this provision is a most dangerous experiment. What will happen if a member of the Commonwealth Public Service is sent into the State tramways or railways offices of New South Wales to collect revenues? Mr. Lang is a wonderful poseur. He has a large following in New South Wales and particularly in the thickly settled centres. If this legislation is enforced, he will pose as a patriot. He will say that he is standing for the rights of that State against the depredations of the Federal Government, and unless I am mistaken in my estimation of the ordinary psychology of mankind, he will create a feeling of hostility against the Federal Government. I urge the Government not to heed the views of its supporters who represent New South Wales and a»e anxious to hit Mr. Lang. They attend their own political meetings and are urged on by the New Guard or some other similar body. They hear the opinions only of those who are of a political complexion similar to theirs. We should consider the interests of Australia as a whole, and on this occasion the interests of the States as a whole. I cannot imagine any sane government proceeding with this legislation unless it has some ulterior motive. If this Government does not follow the ordinary procedure of law it will crash as did the Bruce-Page Government on two previous occasions.

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