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Tuesday, 28 June 1904


Mr SPENCE (Darling) - I have lis,tened very attentively to honorable members in an endeavour to discover exactly what this amendment means. Those who advocate its adoption appear to differ so greatly, that it seems likely to become necessary to ask its author to again explain its effect.


Mr Kelly - What does the honorable member think that it means ?


Mr SPENCE - I regard it as an attempt to bring about a revolution, such as would destroy the trades union movement as it is generally known.


Mr Lonsdale - No.


Mr SPENCE - If its effect would be nothing more than has been pointed out by the honorable member for North Sydney, I hold that it is entirely unnecessary. The Bill, as framed, already makes provision for organizations, and to repeat that provision will not add to its strength. I have no desire to reiterate what I said the other evening, but I wish to remind honorable members that the term " non-unionist " is very frequently misused. I contend that the spirit of unionism is more strongly developed in the working men of Australia than it is in any other part of the world. The term " non-unionist " is an unfair one to apply to men. simply because they are not members of unions. The fact that they do not belong (o these organizations is chiefly the result of carelessness. Every one must recognise that whatever good has been accomplished for the workers employed in any industry in Australia, has been the result of the efforts put forth by trades unionists. I am glad to note that during this discussion, no one has made any attack upon trades unionists as such. I have never claimed that this Bill will confer upon the general community all the benefits which have been predicted for it. It will, however, tend to the promotion of industrial peace, in which all, whether members of trades unions or not, will participate. Honorable members opposite have concentrated their efforts on behalf of some imaginary individuals, who, it is alleged, object to join trades unions. It is admitted that those who have improved the conditions of labour in every industry - who have done everything in their power to abolish sweating - are the most thrifty section of the working classes. Yet all their interests are to be cast to the winds - why? Simply because it is urged that they are associated with a political movement. I propose, very briefly, to give honorable members the absolute facts of the case. The union of which I have the honour to be president is the one which, above all others, has been branded as political. I know of only one union which has a political fund.


Mr Johnson - From where does Tom' Mann draw his salary?


Mr SPENCE - The honorable member should. ask him. Tom Mann is not supported by the trades unions of Australia. Honorable members opposite find fault with us because we do not organize the workers who are not members of trades unions, and they, grumble equally when we send out Mr. Mann to organize them. Apparently we cannot please them. I do not know of any trades union in New South Wales which, as a union, supports the Political Labour League, or has a political fund.


Mr Johnson - Is not Tom Mann sup-| ported by thiem?


Mr SPENCE - If the honorable member will listen, he will know that I am speaking of New South Wales. In that State I know of no organization other than the Australian Workers' Union which trenches upon politics.


Mr Lonsdale - Does not a rule exist under which members must not vote against the candidate selected?







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