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Friday, 7 October 1904

Mr McWILLIAMS - Senator Trenwithwas a better representative of the labour classes than the honorable member for Yarra is ever likely to be, and he did more for the working people of Victoria than all the honorable members sitting on the other side, and yet the me'mbers of the party turned on him, and butchered him at the last moment. Why, Senator Trenwith is a Tasmanian !

Mr Spence - What is his opinion of honorable members on the Government side?

Mr McWILLIAMS - Let me read further from this article in the Tocsin. Honorable members may see that the copy I have in my hand is yet wet from the press. This is not ancient history.

Mr Wilks - It is wet with tears of distress, I think.

Mr McWILLIAMS - There are more than tears of distress in this article. This is what is said of the men whom the Federal Labour Party has taken to itself ; and is to help at the next election. This is what the masters of the Victorian members of the party say -

Public servants were excluded from the Bill which labour members have agreed to pass " as nearly as possible" in its original form. On 2 1 st August the House divided on the question whether the Bill should include State servants. Of the ten "Liberal"-

This word " Liberal " is quoted, and this is a nasty jar which a newspaper man gets in when he wished to be particularly severe -

Of the ten " Liberal " members of the House of Representatives - Sir Langdon Bonython, Sir William Lyne, Messrs. Hume Cook, Groom, Isaacs, Storrer., and Wilkinson, voted against the proposal. These are now " at liberty to adhere to their votes already given."

Now listen to this -

And the railway servants of Victoria are handed over, gagged and shackled, to Thomas Bent.

This is, what is published in the organ of the party to which the honorable member for Yarra belongs. I invite him at the next pleasant Sunday afternoon at which Mr. Anstey is present, to denounce this newspaper. If the honorable member agrees to do so, I shall endeavour to be there. I think that when the terms of the alliance were read out the honorable and learned member for Indi displayed modesty, and, at the same time, a little pride in its composition. This newspaper, under which the honorable and learned member is going to fight the next election, refers to several of its clauses in this way -

So much is flapdoodle and padding.

Mr Mauger - As an old' pressman will the honorable member say what "flapdoodle " means?

Mr McWILLIAMS - I believe that when children hear a story in which they do not quite believe they say " skittles." I should think that "flapdoodle" has very much the same meaning. It means a farce, nonsense, a mockery, a sham. That is exactly what we think of the alliance agreement, and it is exactly what the newspaper the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is going to fight under next time, though he did not fight under it last time, also thinks of it. That is what the leader of the Victorian representatives of the Labour Party says. The article from which I have quoted further says -

Strictly construed, the agreement releases every labour member from his Federal pledge on the most important issues. ' Each pledged himself " to vote as a majority of the parliamentary party may decide at a duly constituted caucus meeting."

Is that a true interpretation of the pledge?

And the parliamentary party has decided that " any member of either party .... may decide for himself." Labour members will not regard their pledge as dissolved, but they cannot close their eyes to the fact that they have not pledged any one else to amend the conditions of labour. Branches of the Parliamentary Labour Council may well hesitate to countenance, even by an inoperative resolution, an alliance with men who refuse to give any satisfactory assurance of their assistance to secure fair conditions of labour, and seven-tenths of whom are admittedly opposed to extending to State servants the benefits of Arbitration.

I think I am quite fair in saying- that the Tocsin is the representative of the Labour Party in Victoria. It describes the alliance with the LiberalProtectionists as a sham. It charges the men "whom the Labour Party has taken under its wing with having handed over, gagged and bound, the railway servants to the tender mercies of Mr. Bent. In labour circles no greater condemnation than that could be uttered. If a labour man wished to send a railway servant into a place , on this earth that was bad, I think that he would say " I'll hand you over to Mr. Bent." And yet we are now asked to fight the elections on the propaganda of this alliance.

Mr Watkins - Was the honorable member in favour of the inclusion of the railway servants?

Mr.Mcwilliams.- No.

Mr Watkins - The honorable member is now supporting their inclusion.

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