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Wednesday, 29 June 1904

The CHAIRMAN - The Minister mustwithdraw the remark. He is not in order in saying that the statement made by the honorable member for Wentworth is perfectly untrue, and that he knows it is.

Mr Hughes - I withdraw the statement " that the honorable member knows that it is," although he has been told verymany times that the statement is incorrect. The assertion he has made is to my knowledge perfectly untrue. It may not be so to the honorable member's knowledge, but although he has been told half-a-dozen times that it is he persists in repeating it.

In deference to parliamentary usage I withdraw the statement.

Mr KELLY - I am never unparliamentary in my attitude to the honorable and learned member when he makes assertions of which I do not approve. He asserts that I have been told on authority which I must accept - of his party, in fact - that the statement I made just now is untrue, and that I am nevertheless repeating it. To the best of my knowledge the statement is true. I believe it to be correct, and am, therefore, arguing on an absolutely fair basis. If honorable members opposite do not like it, that fact only gives point to my argument. There must be considerable force in it when it causes honorable members opposite to become so excited. I have quoted words used by the Prime Minister, showing that he too would not support compulsory arbitration unless unions were granted the power of being influencing bodies.

Mr Watson - The honorable .member should add the context,- " with a view to secure enforcement."

Mr KELLY - They have not in the past secured enforcement of awards.

Mr Watson - In many cases they have.

Mr KELLY - The biggest union of all has not done so.

Mr Watson - There was no award in the case of the Australian Workers' Union ; it was only -a question of registration.

Mr KELLY - It is still a question for the Court.

Mr Watson - The Court did not decide the matter; it relied on the Registrar.

Mr KELLY - The Court dismissed the appeal on the ground that the rules of the Australian Workers' Union would perhaps be obnoxious to people seeking to join its ranks. "On one occasion, at all events, an appeal was made to the Court; and the Court refused to accede to the claim of the union. The Prime Minister will tell the Committee that if this amendment were carried it would emasculate one of the chief objects of the measure.

Mr Conroy - Very severe strictures were passed on the rules of the Australian Workers' Union by the New South Wales Arbitration Court.

Mr KELLY - I think that the Committee is aware of that. I do not know why the Prime Minister does not accept all amendments relating to political rules, because he says he is quite willing to trust the Court, and wishes to bring about industrial peace. It has been shown that the one union in New South Wales which, according to the president, the honorable member for Darling, is a political body, has not made for industrial peace, but has sought to harry the Court on all sides. I confess that if one did not take into consideration the secret motive behind this Bill, he would be rather staggered at the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister in opposing amendments of this description. The honorable gentleman tells us that this amendment would, if carried, emasculate the Bill. In my opinion, however, it would make for the more easy working of this measure towards industrial peace.

Mr Conroy - It would allow a nonunionist to live.

Mr KELLY - It would also give men greater scope for joining a union. They could have no objection to joining if this amendment were carried. Why, then, do the Government say that it would emasculate the Bill? Is it because this measure has, as its secondary, or, shall I say, as its primary object, the gaining of an immense power by honorable members opposite, for which th'ey would not openly ask the people, at all events, under such a subterfuge as this? They say that unionists are prepared to give up the power to strike, and that they refuse to give up that power until they see that under this Bill unions will be made the influencing bodies. The Government fully realize that within a very short time the Bill would create a. great political machine ; that in a very short time this political machine would give them, in place of the power to strike, the power to confiscate. Is that what thev are after ?

Mr Reid - - They are the machinists.

Mr KELLY - The honorable member for Darling is one of the " machinists." If that is what they are after - and I oppose the Bill for the reason, among others, that I think that it is - then the Committee should vote solidly for the amendment. We should say that no man shall be compelled to join a union, especially if his compulsion means building up a machine such as that I have just outlined, a machine designed' not to secure industrial peace, but to give our honorable friends opposite a power which I do not think they are worthy to possess, and which they certainly would not exercise in the best interests of the community as a whole.

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