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Friday, 21 September 1928


Mr SPEAKER - Order !


Mr GREGORY - The recent maritime cooks' strike cost Australia many millions of pounds, and to-day the waterside workers are flouting 'an award of the court and embroiling the country in further serious industrial unrest. These organizations appeal to the Arbitration Court for an award, and, if it is not precisely to their liking, they ignore it. The unfortunate part is that honorable members opposite have not the courage to denounce publicly those men who refuse to obey the law.


Mr Blakeley - For the time being we shall content ourselves with denouncing this Government.


Mr GREGORY - It is the duty of the honorable member and his colleagues to see that the law of the country is enforced, even if the organizations of which they are members are affected. They must realize that these industrial disturbances inflict huge losses upon the community, which will greatly retard the progress of the country. Such troubles affect our financial stability and national wealth. I have here a telegram received to-day by the honorable member for Riverina (Mr. Killen) from the Farmers and Graziers Association, Sydney, which reads -

Next week's wool auctions postponed owing continuance of strike.

Do not honorable members opposite realize that if our shipping industry is held up our produce cannot be sent abroad to the markets of the world?


Mr Blakeley - It is all so much bosh to talk about the wool sales being held up because of the strike. As a matter of fact, the Sydney watersiders are working.


Mr GREGORY - I quite realize that the honorable member does not like taking his gruel, but he must surely realize that the policy of the waterside workers is inimical to the best interests of Australia ? I 'have here a cutting from to-day's Sydney Morning Herald, as follows : -

Sugar-growers.

To Load Ships.

Brisbane, Thursday.

Determined no longer to tolerate the actions of waterside workers, which are resulting in the closing down of sugar mills in the district, a number of sugar-growers left Home Hill tonight for Bowen to load the ships which the watersiders refuse to work.

The town was a scene of great activity tonight, numerous vehicles conveying primary producers from their holdings to the town in order to catch the train for Bowen. Over 1,700 tons of sugar, stored at Inkerman Mill, and valued at £35,000, is lying idle.

Upon the farmers deciding to proceed .to the waterfront an endeavour was made to obtain a supply of railway trucks, but these were refused by Mr. A. Crowther, manager of the northern railways, who stated that no trucks would be available for Inkerman or Prosperpine mills until the waterside workers at Bowen resumed work. The Railway Commissioner was communicated with, and he replied that when work was resumed trucks would be given to cope with the situation.

This means that growers are unable, to rail sugar to-day, and further demands on the limited storage space. Approximately 80,000 tons of cane have been crushed this season but that only represented one-half of the total crop.

That is a shocking state of things. Even when the growers themselves are prepared to load the ships with their own produce the State Government, which in this instance is a Labour one, will not supply trucks to enable the goods to be transported to the ships. It is time that this legislation was introduced. I am prepared to give the Government the fullest power to deal with the situation until Parliament meets again. I wish honorable members to realize what is meant by the powers that are now sought. It means the granting of the fullest power to an executive to deal with any phase of trouble that might arise. Undoubtedly, that is necessary. The point at issue is whether we are to maintain law and order or allow an organization to tyrannize the community ; whether that organization or the government of the day is to be supreme. I do not think that I am exaggerating when I say that within the last couple of years Australia has lost over £100,000,000 through the various industrial disputes that have occurred here. The Leader of the Opposition talked about an adverse trade balance. Whenever it is desired to ship our produce to the markets of the world we are confronted with these continual hold-ups, which destroy industry and cause depression throughout the land. The Leader of the Opposition claimed that he desires peace in industry, and that the trouble is mostly due to the ship-owners. I must differ from the honorable member. Had the ship-owners caused the trouble they would assuredly have been prosecuted for defying the law. Too often, when trouble has. occurred in Australia during the last eight or ten years, appeals have been made to the Prime Minister to intervene and bring pressure to bear upon one side or the other in order to establish peace in industry. Big sacrifices have been made by the one side for that purpose. It is unjust to seek to have political pressure brought to bear on one section when we have an Arbitration Court which makes awards for both sides. The slogan of industrial organizations is " win, tie, or wrangle." If they cannot gain their point they endeavour to bring political pressure to bear, with disastrous results to Australia.

Sitting suspended from 6.15 to 8 p.m.







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