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Friday, 25 July 1930

Senator DALY (South AustraliaVicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I am pleased at the remarks of Senator Colebatch for they indicate that at last we are becoming honest with ourselves. I have said all along that we Cannot prevent strikes and lockouts by legislative action. The only thing we can do is to try to introduce a system which will minimize them. I agree with Senator Colebatch that an arbitration award is in the nature of a bargain, and that a bargain once entered into should be kept by both parties. Arbitration is, however, a three-cornered bargain; it affects the employer, the employee and the general community.

Senator Sir Hal Colebatch - The community gets squeezed between the other two parties.

Senator DALY - Should an award be cancelled, two of the parties to the contract are allowed to run riot, with possible injury to the third party. Honorable senators will admit that if an award is cancelled no party to the contract can be prosecuted for a breach of that award. The truth of that statement remains whether an award affects the whole Commonwealth, a State, or only a section of the people of a State. Let us suppose that a number of workers at Marree go on strike, and that as a result the court decides to cancel the award so far as it applies to them. Those men, although on strike, could not be prosecuted under any Federal or State law.

Senator Sampson - But the cancellation of the award would enable the employer to engage other men to take their place so that he could carry on.

Senator DALY - If an employer desires to conduct his industry with nonunion labour, he can do so, even if the award is not cancelled. He is not bound by the award if he engages non-union labour. There is no need to labour this point, because it was made very evident during the recent trouble on the waterfront. The waterside workers' award was not cancelled, yet the employers engaged non-union labour.

Senator Guthrie - The award was suspended.

Senator DALY - The award was not cancelled, although certain provisions of it were suspended.

Senator Reid - Does the honorable senator know of any instance of an employer engaging non-union labour and paying less than award rates? I know of no such instance.

Senator DALY - I know of many such instances. It is not surprising that the honorable senator has come across no instances of this nature. He has been a member of this Parliament for a number of years, and parliamentary life has made him somewhat of a recluse. I have been in this Parliament only a few months, and have not yet become a recluse. When the honorable senator again moves in the world of men outside, he will find many such cases. Senator Guthrie admitted that on one occasion when he thought that he was employing non-union labour, he did not pay them award rates.

Senator Guthrie - I paid them more than award rates.

Senator DALY - Personally, I do not think that the provision itself matters very much; but I do not like the possibility of awards being cancelled. In the present trouble in the pastoral industry, the shearers, because of the strength of their organization, would be better off if the award were cancelled. But it's mere existence prevents the trouble from spreading. This particular provision gives a judge the right to cancel an award, and thus leave matters to be settled according to " Rafferty's " rules. I ask the Senate to stand by law and order, and allow awards to remain sacrosanct. Even if we enact a law against strikes and lockouts, that law is not abolished because a strike or lockout takes place. Honorable senators opposite say that awards should /be cancelled when not obeyed.

Senator Herbert Hays - Surely the honorable senator admits that the section in the present act will act as a deterrent.

Senator DALY - Senator Barnes informed us yesterday that on one occasion he was fined £100, and told that ifhe again appeared in the court on a similar charge he would get six months' imprisonment without the option of a fine. If he had been of a religious turn of mind, he would no doubt have prayed for the cancellation of the award before he again appeared in the court. Seeing that all honorable senators are of the opinion that awards should be obeyed, I take it that they agree that awards in themselves are not necessarily wrong. In that case, why cancel or suspend them ? The awards contain provisions for the punishment of those who break them. There is, moreover, State legislation in respect of strikes and lockouts. I urge the Senate to allow the awards to remain with the imprimatur of the court on them. Their retention will encourage men to return to work.

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