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Wednesday, 26 September 1906

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - The keen and exceedingly paternal interest which certain honorable senators are manifesting in that monopolistic monster, the tobacco combine, seems rather strange. The bulky brief that Senator Neild holds is evidently one that has been furnishedto him by the combine, but, after all his efforts, I do not think that he has made out avery good case on behalf of his clients. Mr. Stone did state before the Royal Commission, in answer to a statement made by persons interested in the combine, that women in the factory were more economical than men, but he also asserted on oath that some of the small leaf rejected by the women was placed amongst the material to be worked upon by the men, and that this was done by the foreman. That statement was repeated before the Arbitration Court in New South Wales, and after it was repeated, the members of the combine called upon him either to prove his case or to apologize. In brief, they said to Stone, holding a revolver at his head, We will shoot you out of this place if you do not do as we tell you."

Senator Col Neild - The letters contradict that ridiculous assertion.

Senator FINDLEY - The combine had every opportunity of contradicting it before the Royal Commission. They had every opportunity to reply to the statements of Stone before the Arbitration Court. They also had every opportunity to prosecute Stone for perjury. But they did not take that course, because they knew that they had very flimsy grounds to proceed upon. Instead, they took action, the result of which was that this man's livelihood was taken from him.

Senator Col Neild - Why did the union not back him up?

Senator FINDLEY - People will back this man up, and see that he gets justice; and care will be taken that this combine shall not, in this young land of ours, do what its twin brothers are doing in the United States and the United Kingdom. This combine, which honeycombs the industry. almost throughout the world, has no consideration whatever for humanitarian organizations. For a considerable number of years trade unions have fought this organization in the United States, but had been defeated; and now the combine will not employ a man or woman who is a member of a union. Further, the combine has carried on a crusade against trade union organization in the United Kingdom.

The PRESIDENT - Does the honor-' able senator think that he is discussing the question before the Senate?

Senator FINDLEY - I think so. It is because of its dislike to trade union organization that the combine is presenting its case before lis to-day. I am of opinion that every word stated by Mr. Stone is correct, and that he would be quite prepared and content to abide by the decision of a fair, impartial tribunal, but not such a tribunal as that proposed by the members of the combine. The combine has a very great regard for women, simply because their labour is cheaper than that of men; and, according to reports, it has, in this connexion, for a considerable time, taken action which has irritated and harassed the men. The case under notice is only a further evidence of the many things that have been done in connexion with the large employment of women. The statement made by Senator Neild is simply ex parte.

Senator Guthrie - And sprung upon us without notice.

Senator FINDLEY - Almost without notice. What we had this morning is a brief for the combine, and Senator Neild apparently has given no consideration to the statement made bv Stone, or to the evidence given before the Royal Commission. In my opinion, Senator Pearce did the proper thing in having this matter ventilated in the Senate, and I, at any rate, should not be satisfied with any inquiry other than one which would meet with the approval of the men, and, at the same time, do justice to the persons against whom the accusations are made.

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