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Thursday, 7 June 1928

Sir ELLIOT JOHNSON (Lang) . - I take strong exception to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), concerning the attitude of honorable members on this side of the chamber in relation to this bill. Honorable members opposite who have spoken have, with few exceptions, imputed sinister motives to those on this side of the chamber, and have entirely misrepre sented our position. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Blakeley) disclosed a weakness that is very prevalent amongst his colleagues, when he said that the Ministerial party were under the domination of the coal trust, shipping magnates, and chambers of commerce. So far as I am aware, I have never met a representative of any of those organizations, neither have I heard that they are within the precincts of this building. In any case they have as much right to visit the building as officials of labour unions or other citizens of Australia. The attacks made upon the Government, and particularly upon the Attorney-General, do not reflect credit upon the Leader of the Opposition, or those associated with him. Surely we can discuss this bill dispassionately, and credit with honesty those who differ from us! Is it necessary that the Opposition should condemn in abusive terms and apply opprobrious epithets to those whom, when they meet in a social way, they call jolly good fellows, merely because they hold political viewswhich differ from their own? Some of their outrageous statements may appeal to the unintelligent section of the community, but they are unworthy of members of this legislature.

The Leader of the Opposition made several contradictory statements during his speech. On one occasion he told us that the bill was. designed to abolish, and would have the effect of abolishing arbitration, by driving organizations out of the court. If that were so, it would be a very serious matter. I need scarcely say that it is an absolute misrepresentation of the position. As a member of the Nationalist party, I claim to have at least as much of the milk of human kindness and sympathy in my composition, and as genuine a desire to further the interests of the workers, as any so-called representative of labour, and I am sure the same can be said of other honorable members on this side of the chamber. A few moments after the Leader of the Opposition had said the bill is designed to abolish, and will have the effect of abolishing arbitration by driving organizations out of the courts, he said that instead of the bill driving the organizations out of the courts, it will not weaken the organizations, but will strengthen them. These statements being in direct contradiction of each other cannot both be true. Which then are we to accept as his real conception of the clauses and of tho bill itself? The Leader of the Opposition was very careful not to mention the second paragraph which the AttorneyGeneral pointed out had a direct bearing upon the proceedings of the court and which reads -

Tho court, before making the order, shall give thu organization or the trustees or secretary thereof an opportunity of being heard.

That was carefully ignored. Honorable members are of course aware that the penalties provided are to be imposed only in the event of non-observance of the law. So long as an organization obeys the law it has nothing to fear. I venture to say that when the members of the labour organizations thoroughly understand the position, and when the cobwebs of misrepresentation have been swept away from their eyes they will realize that for the honest and genuine unionist this is the best industrial measure that has ever been passed by the Federal Parliament.

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