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Friday, 24 June 1904

Mr PAGE (Maranoa) - I do not intend to occupy the time of the Committee at any great length ; but am anxious to refer to the system of issuing black-lists which is adopted by the pastoralists. I have a copy of a black-list, and propose to give honorable members some idea of how the system is worked. When a shearer applies for a stand he is asked for his reference, and on receiving it from him the manager at once takes it into his office, and by referring to the number which it bears is able without difficulty to ascertain what remarks appear on the black-list in regard to the holder. A man may have a first-class reference, setting forth that he is a good shearer, and that his behaviour is excellent ; but if on perusal of the black-list the manager finds that he was considered by his former employer to be an undesirable he is at once refused employment. I have no desire to mention names, but I shall read some of the remarks which appear in this black-list. Let me take, first of all, remarks appearing against a man whose name, we will say, is Tom Smith. They set forth that he worked at a certain station from 8th October to 1st November, that his conduct and ability were good, . and that his tally was about seventy at a hand-shearing shed. Then we have the statement that he is a good shearer, but a " strong unionist."

Mr Mauger - Does that comment actually appear in the list?

Mr PAGE - Yes; there are much stronger comments which I intend to read. As soon as a station manager reads remarks of this description against the name of an applicant for work, he says, " I am very sorry, but my list is full." " Put me on, your emergency list," suggests the man. " But I have sixty or seventy on the list now," replies the manager, and the man goes on to the next station, only to meet with the same answer to his request for employment. Every station manager has a copy of these black-lists, and the consequence is that some of the very best shearers in Queensland are hunted down and have to go to some other State, or seek employment in another industry.

Mr Skene - Do these remarks also appear in the references given to the men?

Mr Page - No ; there are no remarks on the references.

Mr Wilks - So that the references are " Joeys."

Mr PAGE - Of course they are. The name of every man engaged in any branch of the pastoral industry in Queensland appears on the black-list.

Mr Bamford - If he is a unionist.

Mr PAGE - Whether he is or is not. The black-list which I have here was issued by the Warrego Pastoralists' Association, and the following statement appears on the title page -

Register of Shearers who Shore for the Members during the vear 1895.

This register has been compiled at the office of this association for the information of members only, and in accordance with counsel's opinion taken as to its legality.

This register must be kept strictly private and confidential.

N.   J. Westergaard Neilsen,


Let me read a few of the remarks which appear in it. The first entry relates to a man who shore at Mount Margaret, a station in the Warrego district. It sets forth that he was shearing at that station from 23rd August to 24th September, that his conduct was very good, his ability fair, his approximate daily tally ninety-five, but he was a " red-hot unionist, and chairman of shed." That man has never got another shed in Queensland. The remark opposite the name of another man is, "Good learner." Then we have the statement that a man is " rough, and second cuts." Next on the list is a statement that a worker is "good, honest workman." We know what, that means in Queensland. It is, in effect, a statement that the man is a " scab."

Mr Skene - Would the honorable member have second cuts?

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