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Wednesday, 29 June 1949


Mr HAYLEN (Parkes) .- This is legislation of a drastic kind and is designed to meet a drastic situation. There is no need to be mealy-mouthed about the Government's approach to the problem or to occupy an undue length of time in discussing it. Already some misunderstanding of the purposes of the legislation has arisen. The intention of the measure is not to freeze the funds of unions, but to control the disposal of the revenue that may be used to.assist the strike. This is not an act of war against the miners but the lifting of a siege. The miners' federation is infested by Communists, who have gained control of it. To those who say that this measure represents an extraordinary departure from the normal policy of the Australian Labour party, I say that it is an answer to open political warfare. It has nothing to do, in the final analysis, with industrial warfare, except that at the present moment a nation-wide paralyzing strike is in progress. There must be a siege on the coal-fields if only 4,000 of approximately 20,000 miners who live, work and think in the same way as do most average Australians feel that they can attend an aggregate meeting to register a vote upon whether or not they should strike, whether or not they should starve and whether or not their industrial conditions should be worsened. If there is not a state of siege and intimidation, the facts are very much awry. It seems to me that the loose talk of war being declared upon the miners is only Communist propaganda. This is a political and not an industrial battle if the simile of war must be used.

The Communists in the miners' federation have been pursuing a long-sustained policy of attrition against the operation -of the system of conciliation and arbitration in the coal-fields. These people are not, in the main, Australian-born or very interested in Australia. Their policy is directed from overseas, and they are working upon the age-old hatreds that belong to another nation and another -clime. The average miners, whom I met as the result of a close investigation that I made of conditions in the coal-fields when I went there to -assist the Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) in a journalistic capacity, are not savages. They do not wish to inflict hardships upon the community, but they are being influenced by the stronger wills of the Communist top-rankers in the miners' federation. We must raise the siege to which they are being subjected. It is wrong to talk of this measure as being a negation of all the principles of the Labour party. Warlike attacks must be met by counter attacks. Babble about the bourgeoisie leaves me colder than does the coal strike itself.

I do not propose to indulge in mealymouthed talk about this measure, which I shall back to the end. It is a logical -and sensible step to take to preserve the Government that has been elected by the people and also to preserve something that is even more important, that is, the application of the principle of conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes in this country. An insidious and deadly attack has been launched against that principle on the coal-fields. Arbitration is as old as the Labour party. It is as old as industrial justice. One of the major reasons, if not the paramount reason, why this struggle, in which so -many innocent victims are involved, has been brought to a climax and the country ^plunged into a vortex of disaster at the most suitable time for the strikers but the most unsuitable time for the poor innocent bystander, Mr. John Citizen, is not that the system of arbitration in the coal-fields was failing but that it was ^asserting itself. It was winning the battle under conditions which gave to the mining unions almost an autonomous control of the coal-mining industry. The arbitration system on the coal-fields conferred upon the miners conditions that could not be purchased in a country other than Australia by the sweat, blood and tears of miners over a thousand years. It has been thrown aside with an idle gesture because the democratic way was winning. Let us trace the struggle for the acceptance on the coal-fields of the principle of conciliation and arbitration as opposed to the destructive tactics that are employed" by the Communists. The fear of the Communist leaders of thu miners, who have declared war on the people of this country, the Labour party and this Government, was not that arbitration would fail, but that it would succeed. It was about to succeed. The Coal Industry Tribunal had considered the miners' claim for a 35-hour week. This claim was mysteriously withdrawn because some one on the inside had allowed information to leak out that it was likely to be granted. There was precedent for a 35-hour week, because ii is now in operation in Western Australia


Mr Holt - Is the honorable gentleman dropping a hint?


Mr HAYLEN - I am explaining the Communist line. The miners' leaders feared that the claim for long service leave might be granted. It was the fear that arbitration would win and not lose the long battle that had been taking place on the coal-fields that induced thu strike. So the strike is on. It is all a part of the Communist pattern. The Communist leaders of the miners take the view that if peace comes to the coal-fields they will not be worth " a tinker's cuss ". Anxiety, misery, frustration and despair form the seed-bed for Communist propaganda and the Communist means of inciting people to do things that they would not do in normal circumstances. As the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has pointed out, the recent floods and inclement weather, this winter being the coldest that has been experienced in New South Wales for many years, have been taken advantage of by the Communists, whose plans for this stoppage had been prepared and were ready to be given effect before it occurred.


Mr Beale - Surely the honorable gentleman does not suggest that the Communists caused the floods.


Mr HAYLEN - I suggest that they have taken advantage of the floods and of their own clever planning. I am sure that the honorable member for Parramatta (Mr. Beale) does not disagree with me on that point. If he wishes to assist the Communists by stating that they have not taken advantage of the recent floods, he is entitled to do so.

This strike began at the point at which most other strikes have ended. There is not a handful of coal in our bunkers. Before the strike actually began the lights in the homes of the nation had been dimmed, the gas limped out of the deflated gasometers and the people were at the point of capitulation. This siege must be lifted and order, common sense and rational thinking must be restored. The technique of despair that has been used so successfully on the coal-fields forms part of the Communist pattern. When there is a severe winter, an anxiety complex and a shortage of supplies, the strike is on.

The Communists have attempted to nullify the processes of conciliation and arbitration by referring to the arbitration tribunal triflling, niggling and stupid issues that do not matter at all, and have then said that they could not get their claims heard. I heard that complaint all over the coal-fields. The Communists have treated the arbitration tribunal in the way in which they have treated it in order to frustrate, destroy and discredit the system of arbitration in relation to the coal-mining industry. When an intolerable situation had been brought about, the strike was begun. Et had been planned for a long time. The Minister for Shipping and Fuel (Senator Ashley) has stated in the press and in the Senate that he has evidence to prove that the aggregate meeting, which was said to be a spontaneous expression of the miners' anxiety about their future, was to be called on a certain day. He has also revealed that three weeks before the meeting was held a hall had been reserved. This so-called spontaneous expression of anxiety was to burst forth when the time was ripe for it to do so. Long before this strike occurred and long before curfew sounded for the people of Australia, Communists had made their plans for this strike, and they have carried them out mercilessly. The strike was a premeditated one. It was winter and time for the cold war.

In addition to the fact that the arbitration system was succeeding on the coalfields, the Joint Coal Board was also succeeding, despite intolerable difficulties. The Joint Coal Board found itself in the position of having to rescue the struggling miner from a position in which he had got himself over years of discord, dispute and demoralization. It made plan; for the provision of amenities and the introduction of mechanization into the mines. In every direction it was frustrated by the difficulties of the post-war world, but it did miraculous work. It has installed mechanical borers and expended thousands of pounds on the coal-fields. The age-old charge that the coal-fields are neglected areas - areas that the nation has tossed aside or which have fallen from the pantechnicon of civilization - is no longer valid. Despite the fact that there hat been a shortage of materials, the Joint Coal Board has dotted the landscape with amenities or the beginnings of amenities, and is planning for the provision of more of them. In Cessnock I saw a recently completed lung clinic, where 10,000 miners had undergone tests as a part of a scheme by the Commonwealth and State health authorities for a thorough investigation of health on the coal-fields. I saw baby health centres, plans for repertory theatres and libraries and excavations for swimming pools. Money is being expended upon school radios and play-ground amenities. Miners were building their own homes, financed by loans advanced by the Joint Coal Board. There were subsidies for miners' choirs, brass bands and concert groups. All those things are there for the miners to see. The tiny stream is becoming a river. The Communists realized that as the provision of amenities proceeded they would be less able to play upon the isolation of the miners, and therefore they decided tostrike quickly.

The Communists have always clouded the issues on the coal-fields. I regard the miners as beleaguered Australians, dazed by propaganda and doing things that they would not normally do. I still say that the miners are the salt of the earth insofar as decent Australianism is concerned. They have been misled by a junta of leaders which has captured them. By the very nature of their work they have to listen to what their leaders tell them. On the industrial side the organization is quite efficient, but on the political side it is entirely destructive. The Communists who have infiltrated into the miners' federation have an amazing technique that must be seen to be believed. When the Minister for Shipping and Fuel visited the coal-fields, he called a meeting of top executives of the federation. At that meeting were knowledgable, intelligent men who discussed on broad lines of Australianism the standard of living of the miners and the industrial capacity of the coal-fields. Their conclusions were a pleasure to hear, and their reasonableness was quite remarkable. I had not met that kind of Communist before. Their attitude towards petty stoppages and the penalties that were imposed upon offenders under the lodge rules, were explained,, and I left that meeting with the feeling that, at last, we might make progress. Of course, I heard afterwards that that meeting was called "the high level activity". The Communists talked in that manner in order to convince their audience; but when their visitors had departed, they set their roneo and cyclostyle machines to work, and next morning they distributed their literature to the miners at the pittops. All through the night, the Communists had churned out their melodrama about the dreadful conditions in the pits. Every miner received a copy before he went underground. The purpose of the propaganda was to increase the workers' hatred of persons who were living in other parts of the country. Most of the propaganda that the miners receive 'in the course of a day is published in those kinds of leaflets, which are laden with, hatred against everything except the wail of the miner.

That was the second flange of the Communist plan, and it was called " feeding the dope ". Those things happen, and, therefore, when we examine the problem and the dilemma of the coal-miner, we must realize that he has been, to use the words of a Prussian general, completely outflanked, encircled and destroyed. In addition to sovietism, there is a measure of Prussianism in the classic principle of enschliessen, umfassen, vernichten. That is the job that the Communists perform at the pithead. Outflank the facts, encircle the minds of the miners, destroy the effect of outsiders willing to help - the state of seige in another form. When a person is looking for the standard static facts that are not changed from day to day, he must be impressed by the complete system of propaganda which encircles the men who descend the pits to win the coal. In the Newcastle district and points north, the output of words daily is greater than the output of words even in this Parliament. The Communists have decided to make an assault on conciliation and arbitration and they feed the coal-miners on hatred. As I have stated, their propaganda machines rip out their messages for the men before they descend the pits in the morning. That, briefly, is the situation as I saw it on the coal-fields.

The position has been brought to a climax by the events of the last few days and the Government has introduced legislation to correct a drastic situation. I have no hesitation in saying that no cardinal principle of this Government's policy and of its humanitarianism, has been breached in the preparation of the bill. Patient indeed are the people of this nation, and patient indeed is the Government, but there is a breaking point. Within the last two hours, honorable members have been flooded with telegrams from various organizations, some of which are unknown to me, although they are allegedly in my electorate, asking us what we propose to do for the starving women and children on the coal-fields.


Mr Rankin - Would the honorable member let them starve?







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