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Friday, 21 September 1928

Mr C RILEY (COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES) .- The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. J. Francis) regards this measure as an indication of the Government's determination to carry out the mandate which he said it had received from the people. The Government has had three years in which to deal with these imaginary extremists in our midst, and to honour the promises that were broadcast throughout the Commonwealth before the last election. If, owing to unforeseen circumstances this Government is returned at the next election, I dare say we shall hear the honorable member for Moreton, during the closing stages of the next Parliament, saying that some other weird piece of legislation is a further indication of the Government's determination to carry out a mandate it had received then possibly ten years ago.

In considering this bill one must look for the motive of its framers, and I am of the opinion that the Government, knowing that it was going to the country in the course of a couple of months, was keenly disappointed at the partial collapse of the waterside workers' strike. The Nationalist party organizers and an army of agents and stunters. paid by the " moneybags " of this country, seized every opportunity in an atmosphere of hysteria last election of snatching a political victory. They did not wish the present strike to be settled and are doing all in their power, not only by using the machinery of government, but also through the activities of unscrupulous organizations outside to bring about an extension of the trouble. This measure has been introduced to please outside interests which are keenly anxious that this Government should receive a further lease of life and that during the next redistribution they will gerrymander the electorates in such a way that there will be little possibility of their meeting political defeat. In view of this coldblooded display of coercion it is interesting to recall some of the remarks made by this peacemaker, the Prime Minister, before the Constitutional Association in Sydney on the 6th February last. The Prime Minister, dealing with the desirableness of promoting industrial peace, said -

I am confident that a round table conference, animated by a spirit of reason and goodwill, can do more to assist in the solution of some of the problems that confront us than any other action.

That was only seven months ago. He spoke of round table conferences, of reason and goodwill. How comes it, then, that the right honorable gentleman is now sponsoring a bill which,if passed, will undoubtedly create hatred and dissension? The only explanation is that an election is to take place on the 17th of November, and that this has altered his attitude. He is now flourishing a big stick. He also said on the same occasion-

May it not be that the most practical method of approaching the problem we are faced with would be first to endeavour to bring the two sides together in these industries rather than immediately proceed to a conference of the employers and employed, representative of industry as a whole. The wisdom of the adoption of this course would be a matter for the consideration of the conference I have suggested, as would be many other questions of immediate action which might be taken to create the atmosphere in which a permanent settlement could bc achieved.

Later he said -

No one knows better than I do how impossible it is to deal with the reactionary em- ployer. When the worker is swayed by bitterness and mistrust these other extremists are blinded by prejudice and ignorance.

I can sympathize, if I do not agree, with the workers' attitude. I can And no excuses for the reactionary employer, who is not only the enemy of the "class he professes to represent, but -is a menace to the country.

Did the Prime Minister include the shipowners in the class of employers to whom he referred? The prevalence of industrial trouble on the waterfront indicates that the ship-owners are blameworthy. There can be no doubt whatever that they are a reactionary class and a menace to the welfare of the country. It is largely due to the engineering of these captains of industry that the present trouble has been brought about on the waterfront. They have caused the Government to attempt to organize an army of free labour on the wharfs to break down our industrial conditions and make scabs of otherwise good working men. That is not the way to introduce co-operation.

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