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Tuesday, 5 August 1930

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - I am not at all surprised at the outburst from Senator Lawson; but it seems rather peculiar that the finality which he attributed to the decisions of conciliation commissioners should be the point of attack on this bill. We on this side of the chamber are disappointed with the bill, because it continues in every important respect the right of appeal to the three judges of the court. To-day is the first time that I have heard of any compromise having been arrived at; I thought that the spirit of compromise was to operate in tie future. The supporters of the Government in this chamber are entirely opposed to the bill in the form in which it emerged from the committee stage. Although I do not think that arbitration in industrial matters will bring the millennium, the extent to which the bill in its original form might have assisted to do so has been nullified by the alterations made to the' measure in committee. In my opinion, all talk about capital and labour being part ners in industry is only the repetition of a hypocritical slogan. It is a peculiar partnership which enables the senior partner to get rid of the junior partner whenever he feels inclined to do so.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The junior partner can do the same; he can just walk out.

SenatorRAE. - The position is not the same, for should the junior partner walk out - should the workman throw up his job - there are always plenty of others available to take his place. To the junior partner the most tragic; happening in his life may be his dismissal; it may mean that he will be unable to procure further employment, and consequently be reduced to destitution. For that reason" all talk of the two sides in industry being partners is, in my opinion, only hypocrisy and humbug. The only true partnership is where there is something approaching economic equality between the partners. Although I am dissatisfied with the way in which the bill has been mutilated in committee, and regard the measure as now of little or no value, I shall not delay its passage. Yet, if it were delayed until the crack of doom no one would be any worse off. But the Senate has for its consideration other business of greater importance. Unless drastic and fundamental alterations are made to the measure now before us, it will certainly not be appreciated by the vast majority of the people of this country - the workers who authorized the party of which I am a humble member to effect a complete alteration of the form of arbitration as it prevailed during the regime of the last Government. The Government's efforts in that direction . have been practically nullified by the amendments made in this chamber; the bill in its present form is not worth two pence to anybody. Should it be placed on the statute-book in its present form it will be a grievous disappointment to many. It can only excite the resentment of the great majority of the workers of the country, who, unfortunately for themselves, imagine that arbitration measures will solve their problems. I believe that a sound system of arbitration could do much to ease the inevitable conflict between the forces of capital on the one hand and organized labour on the other; but it could not obliterate the differences which exist. I welcomed the introduction of the bill because I believed that it might do something to bring about, by orderly methods, changes which are desirable. But in its present form it merely offers' stones for bread. It will be so utterly disappointing to those who looked forward to improved industrial legislation, that I predict that it will be rejected with contumely and contempt at the first opportunity that the electors get to express their opinion about it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a third time.

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