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Thursday, 21 May 1931

The PRESIDENT (Senator the Hon W Kingsmill - Yes; he is not quoting from the report of any debate in the Senate.

Senator Sir WILLIAMGLASGOW.The Herald report continues -

When 68 stevedores were being escorted by 9 police under Senior Constable Sleddon to the Manunda at No. 5 wharf at 9.30 a.m. to-day they were attacked by about COO members of the Waterside Workers Federation. Three patrol cars containing 30 police were rushed to the scene and quelled the disturbance. The stevedores who were attacked were returned soldier members of the Permanent and Casual Wharf Labourers Union. One man running to attack another during the uproar dived in front of a motor car that was being driven to the Manunda and was knocked down. The car passed over him, but he was not seriously hurt, having fallen between the wheels. While his men were trying to quell the disturbance Senior Constable Sleddon asked for reinforcements and when these arrived the men immediately quietened down and meetings were held on the wharf. A second group of non-federation men set out from the compound to the Manunda during the disturbance, but seeing the mob turned back. Later, they were escorted to the ship by the police.

Senator Daly - That is the third account of what took place.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - I desire to refer to a statement made yesterday by the Assistant Minister (Senator Dooley) when speaking to the motion moved by the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Pearce) for the adjournment of the Senate. The Minister read a statement relating to what he alleged had happened in Queensland. I do not suggest that he was attempting deliberately to mislead the Senate when he said that four Chinamen, whom he named, were engaged on the waterfront at Bowen. Having some doubt as to the accuracy of the statement, I sent a telegram to Bowen asking whether four Chinamen had been granted licences under the Transport Workers Act, and had been employed on the waterfront at Bowen. To that telegram I have received the following reply: -

Your wire. Statement absolutely untrue. They never have been.

I suggest that the Minister should be sure of his facts when he makes statements in the Senate. Senator Daly said that work on the waterfront was more efficiently performed by members of the Waterside Workers Federation than by the volunteers.- If that is so, the work of the members of the federation has improved considerably since the Transport Workers Act was enacted, because the work .done by the volunteers in Queensland is 30 per cent, more efficient than that of the members of the union, before that act became law. Moreover, pilfering and short landings have been reduced considerably since the volunteers have been employed. All honorable senators will agree that, prior to the coming into operation of that act, conditions on the waterfront were far from satisfactory from the point of view of the public.

Senator Daly - They were satisfactory at Port Adelaide.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - I submit that conditions on the waterfront, prior to the passing of the Transport Workers Act, were unsatisfactory for years. Probably Queensland suffered more than did the other States, because of the greater number of ports in that State, at all of which the conditions were bad. No ship was ever allowed to run to schedule continuously, while the cost of loading and unloading vessels was* much higher than it ought to have been. Conditions were so bad that people at Bowen were unable to send goods away, or to receive goods, because that port had been declared " black ". These people were obliged to have their goods sent to Townsville and railed all the way back to Bowen. That state of affairs lasted not for a week or two, but for years, and it was not an isolated matter. Until the passing of the Transport Workers Act, the members of the Waterside Workers. Federation imposed a continuous series of harassing conditions on the producers and trades-people of North Queensland, so that the Commonwealth Government was forced to take action in the interests of the public generally.

Senator Dunn - Queensland has now a coastal railway.

Senator Sir WILLIAM GLASGOW - Yes. It became necessary because of the difficulty the . trades-people and exporters had in getting their goods transported. Its construction had the effect of bringing many of the unionists at the ports to their bearings. It made them realize that if they did not handle cargo in and out of the ports it could be sent by rail, although it added considerably to the cost of handling the goods. I have no desire to debate the matter further. It has already been discussed previously. I do not accuse Senator Dooley of having deliberately misled the Senate, but he has certainly given information which is not correct, and I have taken the opportunity to show just to what extent it was not correct.

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