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Wednesday, 1 June 1904

Mr CROUCH (Corio) - I am glad that another opportunity is afforded to the Government to return to the position which they formerly took up, and in which other honorable members supported them on the 2 1 st April last. I feel that the Government are not acting fairly in this matter. I look upon it in this way : I voted for certain principles: The Government said they were in favour of those principles. But it appears that they were not

Mr Page - Did any Government ever act fairly from the point of view of an Opposition ?

Mr CROUCH - I expect a Government which made certain pledges to the country - which are recorded in Hansard - in which they said that they believed in all State servants being included in an Arbitration Bill, limited only by decision of the High Court, to keep to their pledges.

Mr Page - They will have to answer to their constituents for their votes.

Mr CROUCH - They will have to answer to me. Before I can give the Government any more support I must- request that they will show that some attempt is being made to carry out the pledges that they made to this House and to the country when they spoke on the21st April, before the division was taken. It will be remembered that the Minister of Trade and Customs proposed an amendment. He said that he' thought that every public servant should be included within the limits of this measure. He also had the support of the Minister of External Affairs. The Prime Minister and every other Minister, supported us.

Mr Kelly - The Prime Minister did not agree with the amendment, though.

Mr CROUCH - He voted for it, and spoke in favour of it. On that occa-. sion, also, we had the valuable opinion of the honorable member for Hume. In view of the vote which he gave ' this evening, I should like to read to the Committee the opinion he then expressed upon a similar proposal. He said -

Despite the arguments used by our leading lawyers, who have been about equally divided in this matter,I, as a layman, still feel that it is unconstitutional to bring railway servants or States public servants under the control of the Federal Government in the way proposed.

Mr Lonsdale - Did he -say that?

Mr CROUCH - He did.

Mr Lonsdale - He voted the other way just now.

Mr CROUCH - What else could the honorable member expect? The honorable member continued -

I feel that I am justified in voting against the amendment for two reasons : one, because it is unconstitutional - and I have not the least doubt on that point-and the other because I believe that the effect of carrying the amendment will be to destroy a measure in which I, at any rate, take a very great interest.

I am sorry that the honorable member thought it necessary a few minutes ago to reverse the vote which he recorded upon a previous occasion, thereby assisting to destroy a measure in which, apparently, he takes less interest how than he did formerly.

Mr Mahon - Is there to be no mental progression ?

Mr CROUCH - If the honorable member for Hume' has mentally progressed, it is abundantly clear that every member of the Ministry 'has mentally retrogressed.I trust that honorable members will' exhibit their strong disapproval of the inconsistent attitude of the Government by refusing to sit behind them when they decline to carry out the pledges upon which they succeeded to office. I ask the honorable member for Franklin to press this matter to a division. We shall then be able to see if the twenty-three members of the Labour Party, who held out promises of succour to the poor public servants- of the Commonwealth, are prepared to vote in accordance with their declaration of. five weeks ago, before they had attained the Treasury benches.

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