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Thursday, 7 June 1928

Mr LAZZARINI (Werriwa) .- The honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) waxed indignant when the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) asserted that representatives of the Employers' Federation have been constantly in attendance during the debate on this bill, and that they have been frequently interviewed by honorable members opposite. During this debate T have seen the Attorney-General collaborate with members of the Employers' Federation and with a representative of the Australian Chamber of Commerce. This is undoubtedly one of the best bosses' clauses that has ever been propounded, and I can easily visualize the friends of the Attorney-General endeavouring to persuade him to refuse to accept the amendment of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Rodgers).

Mr Latham - Don't be too ridiculous.

Mr LAZZARINI - I am not being ridiculous; I am stating a common-sense deduction, based on my observation. If that sort of thing is done openly while Parliament is sitting, we can imagine what will be done when those employers' representatives are able to interview Ministers in their private offices. The only defence for this clause that has been advanced by honorable members opposite is that its penalties will not be imposed by the court. Why are the penalties included in the bill if honorable members are so confident that the court will not impose them? That sort of talk may be all very well when delivered to a partisan crowd from the public platform, but it carries no weight in this chamber. If the honorable member for Fawkner were pleading in a criminal case he would not be able to put forward an argument like that, and get away with it. The Attorney-General has said on more than one occasion during this debate that penalties must be imposed because, when strikes take place, the union officials responsible run away and leave somebody else in their place. Knowing something of the calibre of the men who have conducted the industrial fights in this country in the past, I can say without any hesitation that they are not the type of men to desert their posts. I hurl the insult back in the honorable gentleman's face. These men are not curs; they do not run away in the middle of a fight, and the honorable gentleman cannot give one specific instance during the last fifteen years when anything of the kind has occurred. The only time union leaders were ever ahsent during industrial trouble was when they had been sent to gaol under the penal clauses of the Arbitration Act. The Attorney-General referred to information which he had obtained from Senator Pearce, a one-time leader of labour organizations. It is well known that the most bitter opponent of any movement, and the most treacherous enemy it can have, is the traitor who has deserted the cause. I have no doubt that Senator Pearce, having deserted the Labour movement, will now try to malign the organization of which he was once a member, and which lifted him from obscurity into place and power. Actually, he should be the last to furnish the Attorney-General with information which might be used to the detriment of the workers. If Senator Pearce had remained true to his party, and was to-day an industrial leader, the Attorney-General would be quite prepared to make him a victim of this legislation. It is only when apostate " rats " of this kind suit the purpose of the Attorney-General, that they are made use of, and allowed to supply information with which to strengthen his argument. Those sections in the present act which impose pains and penalties have been adequate in the past. In spite of what some honorable members may say, the Arbitration Act has done much to preserve industrial peace. Now, however, if my advice is asked, I shall tell industrial organizations to have nothing to do with a system of arbitration which is being used to break down their standard of living, and to impose on them penalties which cannot be used against the employers. Several times I have asked the Attorney-General to substantiate the statement he made during his secondreading speech to the effect that a lockout is easier to prove than a strike. Only a very small percentage of the employers of this country are registered under the Arbitration Act. This clause would affect very few of the employers, but even if they were all affected, I still say that they will be able to lock out their employees whenever they like without danger of prosecution. This clause has been inserted by a class-conscious Attorney-General, a member of a classconscious government, and it has been designed with the idea of breaking up the workers' organizations. Both the AttorneyGeneral, and the honorable member for Warringah, spoke of the possibility of a man being expelled from his union. Let me tell them that it will require a greater bribe than a promise of immunity from a fine of £1,000 to induce unions to expel from their ranks officers in whom they have confidence. Such things might be done in the employers' associations by men who consider money more than they do individuals, but they could not be done in a workers' organization. But assuming that a man had done something in disobedience to the direction of his colleagues, I do not think that even then they would expel him from the organization, and deprive him of his means of livelihood. It is incorrect to say that a man who has been expelled has the same chance of obtaining work as the non-unionist at the present time. The non-unionist can join a union at any time he likes, but the man who has been expelled has not that right. Personally, I have no time for the non-unionist who, while refusing to assist the cause, is prepared to accept the benefits which others have won for him. It is evident that others feel the same way about it, because the doctor or the lawyer who does not join his union gets a very rough time. The doctor who does not belong to the British Medical Association has all kinds of obstacles placed in his way, first to prevent him from getting a practice, and then to hinder him in his work if he does get one. Clause 8 is, to my mind, the most dangerous clause in the bill. The Attorney-General said that this clause was necessary because of the pains and penalties imposed under section 6 and 6a. Without it, he said, it would be impossible to obtain convictions. He is like an enthusiastic policeman after a strike, out to obtain a conviction at any price. If he cannot get a guilty man, he will " frame up " an innocent one.

Mr Parkhill - Does the honorable member say that it is the practice among the police in this country to " frame up " innocent men ?

Mr.LAZZARINI.- No; I do not say that. I said an enthusiastic, and I should have added, unscrupulous policeman. I do not say that policemen, as a body, do things like that. Moreover, I used the words " after a strike." Clause 8 is more severe than any provision in an ordinary criminal code, under which an accused person is given the benefit of the doubt until he is proved guilty, and all kinds of safeguards are provided for the protection of his rights; but under this clause, even when the innocence of an organization is patent to everybody, the penalty may still be imposed. It seems to me that the Attorney-General's defence of this clause is merely an effort to bolster up a weak case. He could not give one concrete example in support of his assertion that it is easier to prove the existence of a lockout than a strike. He has endeavoured on several occasions to support this provision by telling fairy tales; but I now challenge him to give a specific instance in which the existence of a lockout has been established. Even if he could quote two or three, or even half a dozen, that would not be sufficient to justify these drastic penal provisions. Can the member give an instance in which a committee of management has disowned responsibility for a strike, and placed the onus upon some one else? If he cannot, he should withdraw the assertion which he has made on several occasions. The clause, in its present form, is wholly obnoxious to me, but it would be slightly less objectionable if the amendment of the honorable member for Wannon, which I intend to support, were adopted.

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