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Tuesday, 3 December 1935

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [9.42].- by leave- The Commonwealth Government has learned, with regret, that at a meeting of the Seamen's Union held in Sydney this morning, it was decided to continue the shipping strike, which was begun several days ago, and that at meetings in Melbourne, Brisbane, Port Adelaide and Newcastle this decision was supported.

The Government takes a very serious view of what it regards as a deliberate dislocation of the sea-borne trade and commerce of Australia, and a repudiation of an award made after exhaustive judicial examination by the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in settlement of disputes, including a dispute submitted by the Seamen's Union itself. It desires to make it clear beyond doubt that a strike, against a lawfullymade award, and a wanton interruption of a service, important not only to ship-owners and seamen, but also to farmers, manufacturers, merchants and the general public, could not be tolerated by any responsible government.

The Government has considered the extension of the operation of the Transport Workers Act to seamen. It has decided to notify, and hereby notifies, the seamen that, unless work is resumed within 48 hours, the Commonwealth Go- vernment will proceed to apply the provisions of ' that act to the manning of ships at ports which are affected by this dispute, and will take such other action as the law allows with a view to the maintenance of trade and commerce.

The Government wishes to point out that, if the TransportWorkers Act is applied to seamen, its application will be continued, not merely for the present, but permanently, and seamen who fail to resume work will find themselves substantially excluded from future employment in the Australian shipping industry.

Should the prompt re-manning of coastal steamers prove impracticable, the Government will not hesitate to take action to grant permits to overseas ships to engage in the coasting trade in respect of both passengers andcargo.

The Government appeals to the seamen to reconsider their action, and avoid what can only be a disaster to themselves and their families.

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