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Friday, 25 July 1930

Senator DALY (South AustraliaVicePresident of the Executive Council) . - I have already made it clear to honorable senators that the Government feels that the secret ballot provisions of the act have been tried and found wanting. All the ingenuity that could be called in aid by honorable senators opposite, when they were in power, have again been called in aid, and I can conceive of no better provisions for taking of secret ballots than those already contained in the act ; but the Government considers them an unwarranted ''trespass upon the rights of members of trade unions. At times, there may be justification for trespassing upon the rights of individuals or organizations, but Parliament should not trespass upon those rights unless it is satisfied that some good can be achieved by doing so.

Senator Cox - But the organizations already have secret ballot rules in their constitutions.

Senator DALY - Every organization of which I have any knowledge has in its rules provisions for the holding of secret ballots. But honorable senators will realize that the provisions in the act were inserted mainly for the purpose of preventing strikes. I am not going to deny that they also give opportunity for an expression of opinion, but all the secret ballots one cares to take will not prevent a strike if a number of men decide upon striking. In connexion with the ballot which was ordered some months ago, a ballot box was burnt along with an effigy of the arbitration judge. It brings the nation into ridicule when an attempt is made to enforce laws which are not enforcible. For years, we in Australia have been making ourselves believe we are what we are not; we have been spending money we did not have; we have been living as we should not live, and we have been legislating as we know we ought not to legislate. These provisions were inserted in the act while we were living in that atmosphere of hypocrisy. We are now living in different times when we must face the facts. We must be honest with ourselves and not pass legislation which we know in our hearts we cannot put into effect. I say to honorable senators in the words of Shakespeare -

To thine ownself he true.

It may be all very well for a Prime Minister or some other person to go to Great Britain and tell the people there that, we have a great country, and that we have these provisions for secret ballots, when we know that they are absolutely impracticable and absurd; but the Government has no desire to perpetuate this joke on the community.

Senator Payne - Does the honorable senator ignore the suggestion made by Senator McLachlan?

Senator DALY - The Government is of opinion that all the provisions relating to secret ballots should be removed from the act, and I cannot accept any amendment.

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