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Friday, 21 September 1928

Mr MAKIN (Hindmarsh) .- We have listened with more pain than pleasure to the hysterical outburst from the lecturing master from Warringah.

In a very pointed way he has told honorable members on this side the line of conduct they had best pursue as representatives of public opinion, so that they may faithfully discharge their duties in this chamber, although a declaration has been made by every speaker on this side that he desires the law to be upheld, and the awards of the court faithfully obeyed. The honorable member said that the only logical course to take was to attend the meetings of members of the Waterside Workers Federation and tell them what they should do. I invite the honorable member to come with me to Port Adelaide and there address a meeting of the local branch of the federation. I will make all the necessary arrangements for the meeting, and see that he has an audience. Port Adelaide, I remind him, is one of the ports where the ships are held up because of this dispute. Will the honorable member come with me this week-end ? Of course he will not; he is not game.

Mr Parkhill - I will take the honorable member with me to a meeting of the waterside workers in Sydney on Saturday night.

Mr MAKIN - But will the honorable member come with me to Port Adelaide?

Mr Parkhill - No.

Mr MAKIN - The honorable member is quite safe in accepting the invitation to address a meeting in Sydney because the ships are working there. Even " Jock " Garden is in favour of the men remaining at work in Sydney. His refusal of my invitation to come with me to Port Adelaide is conclusive proof that he has been indulging in political mock heroics, and is not prepared to live up to the principles which he lays down for others to observe. His code of moral ethics is deplorable. I have called his bluff. I knew that he had not the courage to accept the challenge. I knew that all through his speech he was talking with his tongue in his cheek.

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable member must not use that phrase.

Mr MAKIN - Very well, Mr. Speaker, I withdraw it. I do not desire that the honorable member's tongue should be anywhere else. I have no wish to do other than to maintain the dignity of this chamber, not only here, but also outside. The remarks of the honorable member for Warringah this evening were characteristic of his utterances since he has been a member .of this Parliament. He appears to be under an impression that he can exercise here that dictatorship for which he has become so notorious in connexion with the affairs of the National party in New South Wales. But I remind him that we are not so amenable to that form of discipline. We prefer that freedom of action which, as representatives of the people, is our right. The honorable member said that the Leader of the Opposition appeared to gloat over the misfortunes of those men, those loyalists - I prefer to call them " blacklegs," a name better understood in the working class movement-

Several honorable members interrupting,

Mr SPEAKER - Order ; I ask honorable members to cease interjecting. I appeal especially to those honorable mem-' bers who have not yet spoken and who, probably, will address the House later. It is impossible for the honorable member for Hindmarsh to be heard.

Mr MAKIN - I was about to say, Mr. Speaker, when honorable members opposite interrupted me, that the honorable member for Warringah represented the Leader of the Opposition as gloating over the misfortunes of those men who found themselves neglected by the employers to whose assistance they had come during a previous industrial disturbance. The honorable member for Warringah completely misrepresented the position. The Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members on this side while having the greatest contempt for the unmanly actions of such individuals, recognized that those men who were deserted by their former employers may surely have expected greater "loyalty." In their hour of distress the men turned to honorable members on this side of the House for relief and assistance, and the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Brennan) was called out on to the steps at Parliament House, Melbourne, and implored by these deserted men to "relieve their acute suffering and distress. Is it reasonable to suppose that honorable members on this side would gloat over the misfortunes of men? We abhor their reprehensible actions but never find delight in the adversity of even so unfaithful a person.

What I am about to say has a very real bearing upon this issue. My honored father was at one time employed as foreman engineer for the Munroé Engineering Works, the firm that constructed Princes bridge over the Yarra, in Melbourne. A strike occurred, and although by reason of his position of trust, he was not obliged to go out, his sense of loyalty to his fellow men prompted him to do so. I have no doubt that he realized that, by his action in throwing in his lot with the workmen under his charge, he was jeopardizing his position of trust in the firm. The strike lasted for some considerable time. The firm concerned engaged "blackleg" labour, and appointed a new foreman from among this questionable labour. After many weary months of privation and distress the struggle came to an end and my father, probably to his surprise, was offered his former post. Before resuming work he asked the manager what was to be done about the man who had been acting as a " loyalist " foreman during the strike. " Oh," said the manager, " he has no special merit, and he is no longer of any use to us. Keep him for a few weeks, and then find some convenient excuse for dismissing him." That is the common experience as recorded in the history of all industrial struggles. Men who degrade their manhood by accepting employment during a strike are cast adrift when they have served the dirty purposes of their employers. The only sympathy these men receive' comes from those whom they have injured by accepting work.

This is not the way in which I intended to commence my speech on this bill. I desire now to direct attention to the fact that every speaker from the Government side - the right honorable the Prime Minister, the honorable the Attorney-General, the honorable members for Robertson, Gwydir, Swan, and Warringah, made pointed references to the present industrial disturbance and its relation to the coming election. So significant are these events, that the people of Australia are asking how it is that these upheavals take place just before an election. We had much the same set of circumstances prior to the 1925 election. On that occasion the Government asked the electors for a mandate. Ministers said, "Let us get to the country." And so the Government rushed to the country with "law and order " as a slogan, and placards about Tom Walsh jumping on the Union Jack, and Jacob Johansen. The Government declared that it was necessary to get a mandate from the people in order to bring about industrial peace. I ask what have they done to make a contribution to industrial peace? The answer is " Nothing."

Now let me present another picture. The Attorney-General, when in London, was entertained by a prominent personage, who told him that there was a general impression that Australia must be a most undesirable country to live in, because there were so many strikes, and so much industrial unrest. "Not so," said the Attorney-General, "the report is grossly exaggerated." "But a great seamen's strike occurred in Australia, and your Government secured a mandate to regulate the affairs of industry." " That was a strike of British seamen, not of Australians." But, of course, the strike served its political purposes. Immediately before the last State elections in South Australia there was some unrest in the railway workshops; the men felt aggrieved, and the political opponents of the Labour party saw the chance of capitalizing an industrial upheaval. The cry of "law and order" was raised, but, fortunately, the men had the common sense to perceive the trap in time. The plot failed. Now a general election is impending in the federal sphere, and such is the record of the Government that if it appealed to the people on that alone, it would be overwhelmed by public indignation, and those who now feel secure in their majority in this House, would be left lamenting. They want something to divert the pubic attention from their record, so further industrial unrest has to be created. It is a significant fact that although the judge who heard the waterside workers' case said only a few months ago that he would be unable to give an award until the end of this year, he managed, following certain happenings, to get a move on, and to deliver an award to operate from the 10th September. Almost simultaneously, the Government unofficially informed the press that the general election would be held on the 17th November. Now, I ask, do such circumstances occur with such consistency merely by accident. Subsequently, the ship-owners desired a decision of the judge on section 7 of the Arbitration Act in order to give them certain powers of immunity which in effect suspends conditions and wages governed by the award, giving in this instance full licence to the ship-owners to impose their will upon the community. According to the Melbourne Herald of the 14th September, the judge was at that time ill in bed, but the ship-owners' representatives were able to gain admission to his bedroom, which was converted into a court room, and there the decision was given. Do honorable members think that if the workers had been seeking a variation of an award, or an order of the court to compel certain employers to abide by the award, they would have been admitted to the judge's bedroom ?

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