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Thursday, 19 February 1959


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honorable member for KingsfordSmith whether he said that the Prime Minister should be in Long Bay.


Mr CURTIN - I said that he should be in Long Bay, which is a big district in my electorate.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Then I ask the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith to withdraw that statement.


Mr CURTIN - I withdraw it, and I think the electors at Long Bay would be very happy to see the Prime Minister out there for a little while.

This split I have been talking about is widening, and the destruction of the Government is in view if the split in the Liberal party is not healed up. The big bureaucrats in Canberra have been canvassing feverishly, and the knights that my friend from Parkes (Mr. Haylen) spoke about last night have been pressed into service. The High Commissioner in London has also been pressed into service to intimidate, as I say again, the weak-kneed members of the Liberal party. I want to know why the press of Australia is so quiet, in view of the fact that three days ago they could not spread the news quickly enough regarding the result of the election as leader of the Labour party of the Right Honorable H. V. Evatt. I want to know these things, and' I challenge any member of the Liberal party to tell me. I challenge the putrid press - that is no reflection on the reporters, because they have to live - and the barons who gave the orders that these figures should not be printed. I challenge them to produce the figures showing the shattering defeat that was inflicted on the Prime Minister's personal friend, the honorable member for Balaclava. That is all I want.

I now would like to say a few words about another member of the Liberal party, another knight who has recently taken office in this Government over the heads of many other lukewarm and feeble members of the Liberal party. January seems to be the month when all the bureaucrats, super-bureaucrats, long-haired professors, economists, experts of all kinds, the socalled intelligentsia, gather at Canberra. They air their knowledge of current affairs at what is called the Institute of Political Science Summer School. Taking advantage of the occasion, who should honour this assembly with his august presence? None other than this ultra-blue new political fledgeling and recently elected AttorneyGeneral. Mounting the rostrum, he delivered a vicious attack on the great trade union movement. This great trade union movement comprises a work force of 4.000,000 people, good Australian producers. Needless to say, this great AttorneyGeneral of ours has never produced three penn'orth of goods in his life. This ultra-blue Liberal could never claim to be up to the standard of a good Australian trade unionist, but he said, " The time may well be here for the trade union movement to re-think its position ". We will re-think it when the time comes that we are elected to government. He said, " It should review its attitude and philosophy, discard those that are outworn and meet the new day with youthful vigour, penetrating thoughtfulness and wisdom ".

I think, for a start, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that he should have underlined " youthful vigour", because his youthful vigour has long receded into the past. I would suggest also that this great lawyer should do a little research, and then he will discover that the kind of tripe which he advocated was advocated 40 years ago by none other than Billy Hughes.

Our new Attorney-General was a surprise appointment, as the honorable member for Balaclava knows. It must have been a sad blow to the honorable member, who is quite a nice fellow in his own little way, but still a minor lawyer, to see the youthful vigour of the present Attorney-General brought into action. This great company lawyer has been acting for big corporations and monopolies which are doing their best, of course, at all times to destroy trade unionism. The trade unions want none of his advice. They are quite able to look after themselves, and I would like to pass that information on to the youthful, vigorous Attorney-General. Referring to trade unions, this mighty atom said -

I would have thought its role in modern conditions, apart from securing the best conditions for its members and policing the observance of industrial laws, was to co-operate in total industrial activity.

If he casts his mind back, he will recall that in World War II., a government of the kind that the Attorney-General supports to-day, ran back into the hills and left Australia to its fate at the hands of the Japanese. He will recall also the youthful vigour and the patriotism of the great Australian trade union movement. Before he entered Parliament, this gentleman, behind the scenes, assisted to frame legislation with a previous Attorney-General who stepped up to the position of Chief Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. This legislation came to the House in the form of amendments to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and will ever remain on the records as the most disgraceful legislation ever to come before this honoured House. I now accuse the present Attorney-General of being the architect of that legislation. It could come only from a puny mind typical of that of the honorable member who is now the

Attorney-General. I refer to the pains and penalties legislation. I am a trade unionist of 44 years' standing and proud of every day of it, and I resent the intimidating clauses which force trade unions to obey the will of the Government, on penalty of being sent to Long Bay gaol, in the district of Long Bay, where 1 suggest the Prime Minister should go.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER


Mr CURTIN - That is, the Long Bay district. Clauses in this legislation allow the destruction of the lifeblood of the trade unions - their finances. This is a snide and subtle way to destroy them. If a union goes on strike, the penalty is £500, and £10 a day for each member. What will become of the hard-earned funds of these people? lt is not as easy for them to get money as it is for the Attorney-General. It takes the man on the end of a pick four days out of six. or 35 hours out of 40 to earn £10, but because he has joined a union to protect even that miserly pittance, he finds that he is fined £10 for every day on which he is on strike. That position is insufferable.

The bill to which I have referred paved the way for the political tainting of the Commonwealth Industrial Court. Did not the previous Attorney-General step straight from the other House into the very cosy position of Chief Judge at a salary of £8,000 a year with a non-contributory pension of £80 a week on retirement? What a nauseating thought! This court of justice has been tainted with politics - and Liberal politics at that. The least said about it the better; it is like the re-opening of a grave. We can truthfully say that this Government has degraded the industrial courts with a smear that will take a long time to erase, lt has lost the confidence of the trade union movement. Any further intimidation or interference with the trade union movement will create trouble. As a man who has been a member of the honoured Boilermakers Society for 44 years, I will give a little advice to the Attorney-General. If there is any interference with the Boilermakers Society in the future, it will have to show the Attorney-General where he gets off. He has suggested that the unions will have to abandon their conservative attitude towards mechanization and automation. That again shows the ignorance of this mighty intellectual. Of course, the word " mechanization " is used to open a channel for an attack on that worthy body of trade unionists, the coal-miners. I think he should take notice of the fact that just a few years ago this Government urged the coal-miners to bend their backs still further and produce more coal for the use of industry and to enable more power to be produced for the use of industry. The miners, patriotic as usual, responded. They rose to the occasion and produced record quantities of coal. What part did the Government play? It froze wages. The previous Treasurer blatantly invited the court to freeze wages in 1952, and the court did so with alacrity.


Mr Turnbull - What about the Japanese.


Mr CURTIN - The man from the hillbilly party, the Australian Country party, says, " What about the Japanese? " Did the Australian Country party and the Liberal party not leave Australia to its fate when the Japs were knocking at the gate and walk out under the leadership of the present Prime Minister? The Prime Minister, after freezing the wages of the coal-miners, gave the coal-owners an increase of 6s. a ton in the price of coal. So we see that this Attorney-General is a little frog in a very big puddle after all. I want to tell him this, in regard to his remarks on automation


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.







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