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Tuesday, 11 September 1928

Mr SCULLIN (Yarra) .- {By leave.)- On only one occasion since I have been leader of this party has the Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) asked leave to make a statement upon which he has not previously consulted me, and on that occasion the subjectmatter was similar to that on which the right honorable gentleman spoke tonight. It is remarkable that the ordinary courtesy that is due from one leader to another can be extended by the Prime Minister on other occasions but that when industrial conditions are in dispute that courtesy is forgotten. I suggest that there is only one motive underlying the action of the Prime Minister, and that is an endeavour to take me unawares, and cause me to make an extempore statement that might be useful to his party at the general election.

The speech of the right honorable gentleman reeked of the subject-matter contained in his last election speeches, when he capitalized the industrial difficulties which then existed, and swung into power on them. It is significant that similar difficulties are being utilized by him to-day for the same purpose, and that threats similar to those that were uttered on the eve of the last election are again being made. I say that not because I disagree with the general expression of opinion that it is a bad thing for a country if its transport is held up; or that I disagree with the statement that the laws of a country must be observed. I have never stood for the non-observance of our laws, and never will. I shall fight to amend the laws of this country, and shall make the amendment of the wretched Conciliation and Arbitration Act, passed recently by this Government, an issue at the next general election, because I want in its place an equitable law that will be welcomed and respected by the people of Australia. From my place in this chamber I have offered to co-operate with the Government, to sink every party consideration, and to stand as one with the Government in an effort to frame a law that will win the respect and support of employers and employees alike. To-day we have an Arbitration Act that has not the respect or support of either employers or employees.

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