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Friday, 21 September 1928

Mr SPEAKER - Order 1 The honorable member is not in order in saying that the Government has- connived at fraud.

Mr FENTON - I say that the Government has done so.

Mr SPEAKER - The remark is out of order. The honorable member may not make a personal implication against Ministers, and I ask him to withdraw the remark.

Mr FENTON - I referred to the Government in its corporate capacity, and I would say the same thing on the platform.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member must not use such language in the House.

Mr FENTON - I disagree with your ruling, sir. Under what standing order do you ask me to withdraw that statement?

Mr SPEAKER - It is the rule of Parliament that an honorable member shall not make personal references impugning the honour of other members.

Mr FENTON - I did not make a personal reference.

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member must realize that he has done so.

Mr FENTON - I did not. I referred to the Government in its corporate capacity.

Mr SPEAKER - The Government is a group of persons, and the honorable member has accused them of conniving at fraud.

Mr FENTON - I can say that on the platform.

Mr SPEAKER - But the honorable member may not say it. in the House.

Mr Gullett - I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Maribyrnong has been called upon to withdraw a disorderly remark and he has not obeyed the ruling of the chair.

Mr SPEAKER - I accepted the honorable member's statement that he makes no personal implication against the honour of any member of the Government.

Mr FENTON - The Government proposes that the " wharfies " shall be licensed. Those who are permitted to work on the wharfs will receive a badge which will indicate that they are in sympathy with breaking down the unions. Why is this badge to be introduced? Apparently it will be a licence to work, just as other men are licensed to hawk goods or drive a motor car. I am not sure that the Commonwealth Government can constitutionally issue such licences within a State. I think that is purely a State right. But if these badges are issued, they will be a symbol of nonunionism and will protect the free labourers who take the place of the unionists who are out of work. What is the attitude of members of the medical and legal profession towards a man whom they consider a blackleg? They will not practise with him. According to the rules of the British Medical Association, a doctor who is not a unionist cannot get the co-operation of any member of the association. He is professionally ostracized and other doctors will not consult with him, even though the life of a patient be at stake. But because an industrial union fights for its principles and the rights of its members and enforces rules for dealing with non-unionists its members are treated as law-breakers. If the intellectual professions are allowed to treat non-unionists as lepers, similar action by working men cannot be converted into a crime. I do not believe in these industrial troubles. I would that I could, by waving a wand, put an end to all disturbances in industry. I am a great believer in peace, and should like to see peace in industry, and peace among the nations. I am obliged to the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Coleman) for setting out so clearly the case in relation to the award given by Judge Beeby. In making that award, Judge Beeby k"ew

Of the trials of the men on the waterfront, and in fixing two pick-up periods he hinted that certain ad justments might be necessary. He suggested that the parties concerned should meet in conference to adjust their differences. But when the Government was asked to intervene to that- end, it refused to do so.

Mr Maxwell - The honorable member forgets that the dispute has been determined by the court. There is now no dispute.

Mr FENTON - In giving his judgment, Judge Beeby made the following comments : -

Employers do not oppose the placing of reasonable limitation on their right to engage labour at any time, but agree to the wellestablished custom of two pick-up periods between the hours of 8 a.m. and 10 a.m., and 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. The weight of evidence in support of this compromise is irresistible, and it is therefore included in the award. The federation, however, will have the right to apply to local boards of reference for alteration of times and places of pick-up, and is still free to come to agreements with employers on this issue.

I am glad that Judge Beeby made those supplementary remarks. I did not know that he was so emphatic. The right honorable member for North Sydney (Mr. Hughes), who knows more about industrial troubles than does any other honorable member opposite, offered good advice when he said that, as trouble had arisen, and business was at a standstill, the Government, instead of sitting down quietly, should intervene with a view to bringing the parties together, notwithstanding that there was an award of the court. The right honorable member knows what he is talking about when he is dealing with matters affecting the waterside workers. I am wholeheartedly opposed to the passage of a bill of this nature. I should oppose it even in normal times; but I the more strongly oppose it in the circumstances now existing. It is provocative legislation, similar to the amending Arbitration Act and the Crimes Act - legislation which is a blot on the statute-book. There is .already sufficient power to cope with any offence committed by any person in the community, whether on the wharfs or elsewhere, so that there is no necessity to hand such drastic powers to the Executive Council. The passing of this measure will mean the setting up of a dictatorship. In the Cabinet-room, or elsewhere, regulations under this measure will be prepared, and when made they will have the force of law. Acts of Parliament will have to give way to those regulations. I believe that the Acts Interpretation Act, which provides that regulations made under any act must be presented to Parliament within 30 days of their being made, or, if Parliament is not then in session, within 30 days of the next meeting of Parliament, will be abrogated by the passing of this bill. Within a comparatively few hours the doors of this Parliament will close, and in a few weeks Parliament itself will be dissolved, and we shall have no opportunity to consider the regulations which will be framed in terms of this bill. I shall enter the forthcoming election campaign with a determination to do my best to remove the present Government from office. I shall fight, as I have always fought, a clean battle; but I shall find it difficult to refer to the legislation and administration of this Government in any but strong terms. I shall not be afraid to tell the electors of Maribyrnong and elsewhere that the Government has been guilty of many excesses, and I feel confident that the appeal to the people will result in a reversal of their decision of 1925.

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