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Thursday, 24 May 1928

£1,000 Fine if Union Official Advocates a Strike.

Militant Unions to be Banded over to Scabs.£100 fine for picketing or declaring jobs black.

The Coolie Wages Clause.

Dealing with the various clauses of the bill, the article says, inter alia :

Other clauses prohibit any one criticizing those great big bluffs, commonly known as Arbitration Court Judges; and inflict penalties on persons who criticize awards of court, or who even urge workers to repudiate awards.

That indicates their attitude towards this measure. I have no wish to weary the House, but I shall read a paragraph which in its hostility to the bill is practically on all-fours with the speech of the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Lazzarini). It reads: -

The Need for Rank and File Action. '

Already the various trade union executives, trades and labour councils, &c, have laid down a policy of action to oppose the bill. But this is not enough; too often have the workers been betrayed by leaving too much to their executive. The supreme need of the moment is rank and file action; the ultimate battle will be fought and won, or lost, by the workers themselves. It may be all right for the workers in New South Wales to be pleased because Mr. Theodore is opposing the bill, and is apparently on their side. But Mr. Theodore proved himself as good a capitalist servant in Queensland as Mr. Bruce is to-day for Australia.

There are many points of interest or amusement in this journal, according to the opinions of the reader. Here is a paragraph -

This paper is financed solely by militant rank and file waterside workers. In Rotary ports the custom has been for member's to be levied ls. per month, and the new levy, if carried, will be 2s. 6d. per month for the six busy months of the year. The rotary conference decided that rotary groups in non-rotary ports must also pay this levy........

Remember ! This paper is distributed free to all ports in Queensland, whether rotary or not; and in the future it will be sent free to ports outside this State, if only we can get the finance.

I wonder whether, if they cannot obtain finance locally, they will make application to Moscow? There is another short extract from a newspaper of current date, which will be of interest to honorable members. It expresses in tabloid form the position as I see it, and also as honorable members opposite must really see it - although they will not admit that it is so. It states: -

Trades Unionism in Chaos.

For long enough now it has been evident that trades unionism has been upon the down grade; but during the last few weeks it has descended so fast that, unless some drastic method of arresting its decline be found and used, its final catastrophe is imminent. And that would mean the disappearance from the stage of industrial and social activities of a power which for many years has exerted a wholesome and rational effect upon the general health of the State. There is no quarrel with trades unionism as such; but all decent citizens must condemn any organization which prefers to adopt Bolshevik methods. These are as far from being in accordance with the real principles of trades unionism as the extremists, who are rapidly bringing it to destruction, are from representing the real desires of the great majority of its members. Trades unionism, as properly conducted, is based on democratic methods; it is founded upon the right of every man to express his opinion in order that the sense of the majority may be revealed; upon the agreement of each individual to submit his will to that of the majority so ascertained; and upon the endeavours of all who have the decisions so arrived at brought into effect by every legitimate means. Shortly stated, that is the true gospel of trades unionism, and no one who believes in the principles of democracy can quarrel with it. But can anyone, witnessing what has happened in

Australia for some years past, and is happening here to-day to a more miserable degree than ever, be heard to say that the things that are being done in the name of the unions are the things that true trades unionism would ever permit?

That puts the whole matter in a nutshell. I should like honorable members opposite to make some definite effort to stem this tide. They should be prepared to take their courage in both hands. Mr. McCormack, the Labour Premier of Queensland, when speaking in Cairns last week, answered a question in regard to this bill by stating that Mr. Bruce had been compelled to bring it in, but that its introduction was the fault of the unionists themselves. That was a very courageous statement for a Labour Premier to make, and honorable members opposite might well emulate Mr. McCormack. I regret that they have not endeavoured to fall into line and help unionism to regain the position from which it fell through the action of the militants.

I wish to refer briefly to a few of the statements that have been made during the debate. The honorable member for Cook (Mr. C. Riley) and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. West), rightly or wrongly drew comparisons between industrial unionism and the British Medical Association. I should like to refute the erroneous impression that i3 fairly widely held in this House respecting the objects of the British Medical Association. In the first place, it is not a militant union or association, nor is it compulsory for medical practitioners to become members of it. There are hundreds of doctors in New South Wales who have never subscribed to it, and they cannot be punished on that account. They would have an action at law against the association if any effort were made to compel them to become members. The association will, of course, protect the public by taking disciplinary action, where necessary, against individuals who commit any offence that is outside medical ethic3 or that is deemed to be against the interests of the' public or the profession.

Mr McGrath - Their sole object is to protect their fees.

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