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Thursday, 26 March 1931

Senator HOARE (South Australia) . - Some very harsh things have been said regarding the action taken by the Government. One honorable senator described it as being " low down ". Such terms do honorable senators no credit. Surely, honorable senators are capable of criticizing the Government without losing their tempers or using such language. The question arises whether the Government has the power to re-enact these regulations.

Senator DUNCAN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Only with the consent of the Senate.

Senator HOARE - In my opinion, the Government has merely exercised a power conferred on it by legislation passed during the Bruce-Page Government's administration. I ask honorable senators who blame the Government for its action what they would do if the position were reversed. Would they then be so willing to " take their gruelling like sports " ? The Scullin Government has merely used the power given to the executive by Parliament.

Senator Thompson - The honorable senator means " abused ".

Senator HOARE - Not at all. If the position were reversed, and a Nationalist Government was in office, Senator Thompson would take the stand now taken by the Scullin Government.

Senator Thompson - I would scorn to do so.

Senator HOARE - The question arises whether the Senate or another place is the more important branch of this legislature.

Opposition Members. - The Senate is.

Senator HOARE - I know that the Senate is Australia's House of Lords. That admission may be some solace to honorable senators opposite. Nevertheless, another place is the house of the people. No Australian Parliament should engage in a vendetta against any set of individuals. Admittedly, the waterside workers were ill-advised in the action they took at one stage; but is that any reason why this Parliament should force them and their families to starve? Are we here to legislate for a small minority or for the people as a whole? As the result of action taken by the Bruce-Page Government to penalize members of the Waterside Workers Federation, the business community of Port Adelaide has been thrown into a state of confusion, and many of the traders in that seaport have been brought almost to a state of bankruptcy.

Senator Herbert Hays - But the work on the wharfs is being efficiently carried out.

SenatorO'Halloran. - A large amount of the money earned on the waterfront goes direct to Malta.

Senator HOARE - The money earned by many of the volunteers is not spent in Port Adelaide as was the case when the members of the Waterside Workers Federation, who live in the district, were working on the wharfs. In consequence of the legislation passed by the BrucePage Government many of the business people of Port Adelaide, who support the political policy of honorable senators opposite, have been practically ruined. Surely it is time that we studied this matter from a more humanitarian viewpoint, and realized that the members of the federation have been sufficiently punished.

Senator Sir JOHN NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - No one has been punished.

Senator HOARE - As a representative of South Australia Senator Newlands should know of the chaotic conditions which exist in Port Adelaide, and that many of his political supporters have been compelled to go out of business. It cannot be said that the Government is not acting within its right in issuing these regulations under an act on the statute-book. The Government has the power to issue regulations when Parliament is not in session and table them within a. specified period.

Senator Herbert Hays - If the Senate rejects a bill the Government has not the power to make it operative.

Senator HOARE - Statutes are on an entirely different basis. Regulations cover minor matters which cannot be specifically provided for in legislation. If a measure to repeal the Transport Workers Act were introduced into this chamber it would not be passed by the Opposition-

Senator Herbert Hays - But the party of which the senator is a member promised to repeal it.

Senator HOARE - While the Act remains operative the Government has power to issue regulations under it. It is time Parliament recognized that the members of the Waterside Workers Federation should not be further persecuted.

Senator Ogden - But they brought the trouble upon themselves.

Senator HOARE - That might be said of criminals who have been released after serving their sentences.

Senator Sir John Newlands - Does the honorable senator suggest that those who have obeyed the awards of the Court should starve?

Senator HOARE - A few years ago the honorable senator would not speak in that strain. As a member of the Labour party I intend to support the policy of preference to unionists on which I was elected.

Senator Ogden - Preference to unionists is tyrannous.

Senator HOARE - The honorable senator was elected to this chamber as a supporter of the policy of preference to unionists. That policy has been consistently supported by the Labour party in an endeavour to give the members of trades union organizations reasonable wages and a decent standard of living. Men who are not prepared to contribute towards the cost of obtaining an award of the Arbitration Court, from which they benefit, are not worthy of much consideration.

Senator Ogden - Do not the members of the federation obtain a share of the work ?

Senator HOARE - At Port Adelaide they receive only a small percentage. When these regulations are disallowed too much power is placed in the hands of the ship-owners.

Senator Herbert Hays - The shipowners want only efficient service.

Senator HOARE - The ship-owners made an appeal to the High Court in order to retain the services of volunteer labourers. They questioned the validity of these regulations, but were unsuccessful.

Senator Herbert Hays - They did not obtain cheap labour.

Senator HOARE - At Port Adelaide the ship-owners inaugurated a daily wage system, under which the men were paid a rate below that paid to the waterside workers. The Government is justified in framing these regulations, and I trust that they will not be disallowed.

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