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Tuesday, 5 July 1904

Mr PAGE (Maranoa) - The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, in my opinion, does nothing but kill unionism; that is the effect of the amendment from beginning to end. Why do not honorable members opposite come out fairly and squarely, and fight in the open, instead of shielding themselves behind a thing like this? As to the history of the political movement, I may inform honorable members that in 1891 the great shearers' strike took place in Queensland. I am now talking only from a Queensland point of view, because I do not know much about trades unionism in the other States. The Australian Workers' Union in Queensland, on the occasion of the strike of 1891, was beaten because the pastoralists possessed more money than did the union.

Mr Wilks - -And now the union has more money than the pastoralists.

Mr PAGE - No, but the union has more power in the House than have the pastoralists. When we met the pastoralists after the strike they said, " Why do you use the weapon of a strike, when you can air your grievances in. the Legislative Assemblies of the Colonies, and get redress in a constitutional way ?" Well, we have taken that advice, and what is the consequence ? The honorable and learned member for East Sydney calls us " tigers," because we have acted on the advice of the pastoralists; and he is afraid of us as " tigers." But the honorable and learned member was not 'afraid of the "tigers " when they were supporting him in New South Wales - he had their claws clipped then. Since he has come into this House, and found that the " tigers " are unmanageable,- he wants to subdue them; but has no more hope of . subduing the " tigers " under his rule, .than he has of turning the moon into green cheese.

An Honorable Member. - What about the "dry dog"?

Mr PAGE - The "dry dog" will not swim, but has gone back to land again. As I say, we took the squatters' advice, and organized and agitated ; and now the honorable and learned member for Wannon and others desire to take our power away. What I say is that the Arbitration Bill may go tomorrow, so long as we have the police and the soldiers. You may have all the Arbitration Bills you like, and we will fight the pastoralists in a fair and square manner, and beat them every time, if the soldiers and police are kept away.

Mr Reid - With the police and soldiers.

Mr PAGE - No j we shall not do as the honorable and learned member did - send police and soldiers.

Mr Reid - I never sent, a soldier in my life.

Mr PAGE - The honorable and learned member helped to do so.

Mr Reid - I never did.

Mr PAGE - It is of no "use the honorable and learned member trying to draw the " red herring across the trail," because I intend to say what I have to say. We took the squatters'' advice, and organized, and had a little political organization as well. The consequence was that, at the next election in Queensland, we won several seats, and formed the nucleus of the Labour Party in that State. I want to inform honorable members that the Australian Workers' Union in Queensland is a separate organization from the Workers' Political Organization ; although they are run in connexion with one another. I have told "honorable members before that there is a Workers' Political Organization ; and only this morning I was reading a report from an organizer on the Lower Barcoo, who states that he has sold many tickets to unionists, and many more tickets of the Political Organization to men who are not unionists.

Mr Reid - Were they not for an art union ?

Mr PAGE - Were they? Then I am the prize, and not a bad one. The Political Organization is as distinct as can be any other political organization from a union ; let us say that it is as distinct as the Farmers' League of Kyneton or elsewhere is from the Australian Workers' Union of -Queensland, and that is surely distinct enough. We have the President of the Pastoralists' Union in New South Wales presenting a " scab " - or non-unionist, as the members opposite would say - with a medal for shooting a unionist. That scab " is the sort of man gentlemen opposite want to protect. The honorable and learned member for East Sydney is amongst those honorable members opposite ; and in his desire to protect the non-unionist from the unionist, he is sacrificing the latter for the former. I am sure that the honorable and learned member does not mean to do that ; but that is what he is doing.

Mr Reid - I do not mean to do that.

Mr PAGE - This is done by honorable members opposite in their desire to kill trades unionism. I do not say that that is the desire of the honorable and learned member for East Sydney, but it is certainly the idea of the gentlemen in the Opposition corner. All they want to do is to kill the Bill ; they have told us times out of numberthat that is their desire - that if they could not kill it on the second reading they intended to try to kill it in Committee.

Mr Tudor - They were not " game " to take a vote on the second reading.

Mr Reid - Let the honorable member for Maranoa propose for us something " lingering."

Mr PAGE - Why does the honorable and learned member not put us out of our "lingering?" That is the right way; let him see if he can " swallow the tiger." The honorable and learned member likened the situation to that of a cat and a mouse ; but the fact is that the protectionist members of the Opposition are the " mouse," and he is going to swallow them. It does not matter twopence about the honorable and learned member keeping himself and his party separate and distinct ; he knows a little more than the Honorable Alfred does. It is all right, this swallowing business !'

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member may rest assured that the honorable and learned member for East Sydney will not swallow them all. Mr. Reid.- One would poison me if I tried to swallow him.

Mr PAGE - If preference is not to be given to unionists, the best thing the Government can do is to drop the Bill.

Mr Wilks - Unless preference is given, no unions will register under the Bill.

Mr PAGE - How can they? The honorable and learned member for Ballarat in a. very flowery speech, told us the other night, that this would not interfere with unionists at all, because they could have another organization. I have become used to the honorable and> learned member now, and I take what he says with a grain of salt, and with a very big pinch at that. Does the honorable and learned member know what it means to work up another organization? He can know very little about the matter, or he would not talk so glibly about doing so. If that was his intention when, as Attorney-General, he drafted the Bill, he could have very little information on the subject. Rather late in the day some honorable members have objected to the political side of the unions. I perused the whole of the debates, which took place in the New, South Wales Parliament on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, but I could not find one reference to that aspect of the question. This clause may be so mutilated as to become unworkable, and of what use will the Bill be if unions refuse to register under it? .

Mr Batchelor - No union will register under it, if the amendment is carried.

Mr PAGE - I can speak for a union that I know something about, and I am as certain as that I am standing here, that if this Bill is passed with the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas, the Australian Workers' Union will not register under it. We are, therefore, only wasting so much time. I have always been under the impression that if a person consults a solicitor, and states his case to him, he gives him his whole mind on the case, and what he says is considered sacred and secret. I admit that I do not know much about law, and I do not desire to know much about it. I follow the advice of the Chief Justice to keep out of it. It is said that there are only two people who should go to law, those who have too much money and those who have none at all. I believe that is a very good principle on which to act. I repeat that I have always understood that if a person puts his case in. the hands of a solicitor, and lets him know everything in his mind in connexion with it, his conferences with the solicitor are held sacred. For the solicitor in such a case to come to this House and make public all that his client has said to him, and give the whole show away, is one of the most diabolical things I have ever heard of. There should be some means of punishing a man who does that kind of thing. If I were a member of the union concerned in this case, I should tell the offender what I thought of him in a very few words. I have nothing further to say on the question. I am not a member of the Ministry, but if I were- I should consider the amendment moved by the honorable and- learned member for Angas as fatal to the Bill. If it were carried against the Government I should advise them to drop the Bill as speedily as possible.

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