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Wednesday, 20 May 1931

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- I am sorry that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Barnes) fails to recognize that the Government has not adopted the only honorable course open to it by endeavouring to repeal the Transport Workers Act, as the members of the Labour party said they would do, if returned to power. The Minister said that the Government was acting under a. mandate from the people; but he knows that the party to which he belongs promised 'the people that; if they were returned with a majority they would repeal the Transport- Workers Act. Has any attempt" been made to do that? The Government is prepared to ignore constitutional procedure by persisting in gazetting regulations similar to those which have previously ' been disallowed by the Senate. Within half an hour of the disallowance of the- regulations issued prior to- those now' under consideration the Government obtained the signature of

His Excellencythe Governor-General to similar regulations which were shortly afterwards gazetted. How long is this to continue ? We know our rights. Honorable senators have as strong a mandate from the people of Australia as have the members of another place. Wo have a mandate from a majority of the people of Australia. Every senator filling an ordinary vacancy in the Senate is elected by a majority of the people of the State which he represents, and no honorable senator can be elected unless he secures a majority of the votes of the people of a particular State. In these circumstances, if any chamber has a mandate from the people it is the Senate. As a representative of a small State such as Tasmania, I cannot stand idly by when any action is taken by the Government which may result in a recurrence of the condition of affairs which existed in the transport industry up to within three years ago. For seven years the trade between the mainland and Tasmania was dislocated by continual industrial disturbances on the waterfront, but since the Transport Workers Act came into operation there has been no such interruption. No complaints have been made with respect to the way in which the work on the waterfront has been performed during the last three years. Volunteers came to our assistance, and it i3 our duty to prevent any injustice being done to those who restored continuous communication between the various ports of Australia. The question has been pertinently asked as to how long this practice is to be continued. We can deal with the position only as we find it. New regulations have been issued, and I trust that they will be disallowed. I strongly protest against the action of the Government in disregarding the constitutional course, and ignoring this important branch of the legislature. I believe that this Government is prepared, even at the risk of violating the laws of the Commonwealth, to force its will upon the people of Australia. I trust that the Senate will see that the rights of the people are respected, and that the workers who came to our assistance at a critical period will continue to receive the protection to which they are justly entitled.

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