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Tuesday, 29 May 1928

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member for Warringah is in order.

Mr PARKHILL - I was referring to the fact that reference had been made to that firm, and it was claimed that because employees of the firm had given certain evidence they had been dismissed.

Mr Theodore - They were penalized.

Mr PARKHILL - The honorable member for Ballarat said that they were dismissed, and I remarked that none of them were dismissed. The honorable member repeated his assertion, and I am now replying to it. I submit that I am entitled to refer to it, because it has been claimed that unionists do not get a fair deal from their employers. The firm in question treats its employees more favorably, probably, than any other firm in Australia. It has about 1,000 employees. The girls who gave evidence in the Arbitration Court had been in the employ of the firm for eight years, and the man had been employed for four years. I am quoting from a statement that I took the trouble to obtain from the firm, because a union secretary named Carter had gratuitously sent a circular to me, among others, giving his version of the matter, and this had been mentioned in this chamber. I may say, parenthetically, that I strongly resent the attitude of the Opposition in trying to prevent me from presenting my view of the case, although it has placed the statements of the employees on record. It is reasonable to hear both sides of a case. It was stated, in the course of the evidence, that the manager was a nigger driver, that the forewoman should be driving cattle, that, the employees were allowed no time to get a drink, that the lavatories were always out of order, and that the apprentices were not taught. As a matter of fact, for years this firm has endeavoured to conduct its business on model lines.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable member is now going beyond the particular matter to which reference has been made.

Mr PARKHILL - I submit to your ruling. The statement that these employees were dismissed is entirely untrue. Only eight out of 1,000 were prevented from getting their bonuses. The amount of the bonus paid by this firm last year greatly exceeded the sum received by the shareholders in dividends. That shows that it is a model firm.

The clause under consideration is a reasonable one. I repeat that when penalties are provided under industrial legislation, they must be of a reasonable character if the law is to be effective. If this provision has been inoperative for years, it should either be expunged from the act or should be made effective. The clause has my support because it will make this part of the act effective by reducing the maximum penalty from £1,000 to £50. That is the reason why the Opposition complains about it so loudly. The honorable member for Bourke (Mr. Anstey), in his clownish way, has a good deal to say about hypocrisy.

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