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Thursday, 7 June 1928

Mr WATKINS (Newcastle) .- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) appears to think that no matter what laws this Parliament may pass the judges will use their own discretion, and extend a leniency to offenders almost beyond the limits of the law. If that is so, what is the necessity for this clause? Why not leave these matters entirely to the discretion of the judge?

Mr Parkhill - Parliament must provide some guide.

Mr WATKINS - We can quite understand that these are maximum penalties, and that judges may impose the minimum penalties. But the honorable member for Warringah cannot conceive that some employee, actuated by a desire to assist his fellows, and entirely innocent of the fact that he is breaking the law, might do something which would render him liable to this penalty. As the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) stated, to put themselves on the right side of the law and avoid the imposition of the maximum penalty, unions would have to expel any members offending the law. That would place the employer in a quandary, as he is bound, by the awards of the court, to give preference to unionists, and he would have either to ostracize such men, or employ them and break the law. Just think of the penalty that such men would have to bear. It would not only be a fine of £100 or £1,000, but indefinite unemployment.

Mr Jackson - Should he not receive some punishment?

Mr WATKINS - Possibly; but that provided is altogether disproportionate, and fit only for criminals. In earlier years nien were deported to Tasmania for minor offences; but even their punishment is not comparable with the causing of a man to be faced with the prospect of unemployment for the remainder of his life. No greater hardship can be placed upon a man than that of depriving him of employment for an indefinite period.

Mr Jackson - I realize that, and that is why I deplore industrial unrest.

Mr WATKINS - Yet thi3 Government is introducing legislation that will extend industrial unrest. When this legislation becomes law the big federations of labour, such as the Australian Workers Union, the Miners Federation, the Waterside Workers Federation, and the Seamen's Union, will cut adrift from the operations of the Arbitration Court, and so render this legislation futile. Those unions will be strong enough to fight the employer when the necessity arises, without the assistance of arbitration, but the small unions will be in a deplorable position. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers) said that he would do anything he could to improve the bill. I hope that he will stick to his guns and press his amendment, even though it is inadequate, and that the Government will co-operate and do something tangible to bring about industrial peace in Australia.

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