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Thursday, 26 March 1931

Senator O'HALLORAN (South Australia) . - Senator Colebatch declared, towards the end of his remarks, that the action of this Government with regard to these regulations was without precedent in the political history of Australia. Apparently the honorable gentleman was not so well informed on this subject as he usually is upon other matters. If he were he would have been familiar with the circumstances connected with the making of regulations under the War Precautions Act in 1916. At that time the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) was Minister for Defence. Certain regulations, promulgated on the 3rd November, 1916, were not tabled in the Senate until the 6th December, some considerable time after Parliament had re-assembled. In reply to criticism concerning the action of the Government the right honorable gentleman took exactly the opposite view to that which he takes to-day. In reply to Senator Mullan, he said -

The Government have 30 days within which to lay a regulation on the table of the Senate, and there are very good reasons for that rule.

If there were good reasons for the observance of the rule in 1916, there are equally good reasons to-day, because of the known intention of the Senate to prevent this Government from giving effect to its industrial policy, thereby taking out of the hands of the executive government power which has been specifically conferred upon it by Parliament. Honorable senators opposite are endeavouring to prove that they are the chosen of the people, and that to them the community must look for protection. I remind them that since most of them were elected to this chamber an appeal has been made to the electors, and that the party to which they belong ┬╗was overwhelmingly defeated. The result of that appeal placed a new government in power, with the result that the present Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) and his supporters took seats on the left side of the Chair instead of on the right as formerly. Honorable senators opposite know well that had they also sought the suffrages of the electors at that time, they would have been transferred not from one side of the chamber to the other, but from inside the chamber to places outside Parliament. They know these things; yet they desire to take the business of the country out of the hands of the Government. No amount of argument can alter that fact or controvert that principle.

Senator Foll - A more recent test has been applied in the Parkes electorate.

Senator O'HALLORAN - If honorable senators opposite desire to take solace from the result of that election, they are welcome to do so. I remind them that an even more recent election took place in the East Sydney electorate, and that the result there was entirely different.

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - I ask Senator O'Halloran not to pursue that line of argument further; it has no bearing on the subject before the Chair and, apparently, it is impossible for him to follow it without arousing the indignation of other honorable senators.

Senator O'HALLORAN - The Parliament of the Commonwealth comprises two Houses. It is in another place, not here, that governments are made and unmade. The representation of parties in another place more truly represents the will of the people than does the representation of parties in the Senate. Why was not this motion moved in another place? The Opposition was afraid to do so. The matter was brought up in the Senate because the Opposition knew that it had the numbers to frustrate the Government's desire to maintain peace on the waterfront, and to mete out justice to those unfortunate men who have been so maligned in this chamber recently. The action of honorable senators who have spoken harshly against waterside workers is the more strange when we reflect that many of them owe their position in this chamber to the financial and other assistance rendered them by waterside organizations. I know many of the waterside workers in South Australia to be as conscientious, loyal and efficient as are the workers in any other industry.

The action of the Leader of the Opposition in bringing forward this motion is merely another attempt to penalize ihe workers.

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