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Friday, 20 March 1931

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - Quite a great deal might be said on this subject. Certainly some things have already been said that do not appear to be very relevant to the issue. I am not going to make any appeal to the Opposition to vote differently from the way which they have already determined upon. I know that such an appeal would be futile, and shall not waste any time in making it.

Perhaps it is unnecessary for me to say that I am in favour of these regulations. I am hopeful that the Government will have sufficient backbone to continue to reenact them, and' that, as it has not at present the necessary numerical strength in this chamber, it will by other means effect the purpose of the regulations. It is my policy to get a thing one way, if I cannot get it by another.

All previous speakers ignored the fact that the present social system seems to have ordained that some considerable number of men must be out of employment. There is, therefore, conflict between those who are unionists and those who choose to serve the interests of their employers. If we had a decent social system there would be sufficient work for all, and over-work for none. There would then be no conflict between unionists and " blacklegs ". Under the present system, class struggle is inevitable. Those workers who do not remain true to their own< class must be boycotted; and to the best of our ability those of us who are unionists will boycott them.

A great deal has been said about the waterside workers having flouted arbitration awards. I say, unhesitatingly, that the only way the workers have ever got anything approaching a decent deal from the Arbitration Court has been either by direct action or the threat of direct action.

Senator DUNCAN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some unionists have obtained fair awards from the Arbitration Court, although they have not attempted to strike. That was the case with the shop assistants.

Senator RAE - The shop assistants could go on strike if they had sufficient courage to do so. I repeat that no section of the working class has received anything like the same treatment from the court that would have been granted had it made a more determined stand. Time after time the coal-miners have broken awards of the court; when they could not get a fair deal in any other way they resorted to direct action. It will be a sorry day for the workers of Australia when they relinquish their right to strike as a protest against injustice. Those who talk about the liberty of the subject and similar bunkum must agree that that right strikes at the very essence of freedom. The only weapon which the worker has is his refusal to accept conditions which appear to him to be intolerable.

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