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Thursday, 21 May 1931

Senator DOOLEY (New South WalesAssistant Minister) . - In regard to the Chinese who have been employed on the waterfront at Bowen, a matter which I mentioned yesterday, I quote as my authority a letter forwarded by Mr. W. Brennan, president and actingsecretary of the Bowen Branch of the Waterside Workers Federation, which reads as follows : -

A meeting of our members was held yesterday. The tone of the meeting was nothing but expressions of disgust against the Federal Labour Government, owing to their action of giving .preference to scabs on the waterfront. The fact of the Bruce-Page Government prostituting the White Australia Policy at the commencement of the Waterfront strike by registering under the Transport Workers Act, four Chinese prohibited immigrants to scab on unionists was well ventilated. The Chinese scabs' names are Lam Choy, Ching Ling, Harsee Ting, Too Yeang Ling. Bruce, by registering these scabs under the Transport Workers Act, proved himself an honest man to the shipping companies.

I have also a report upon the trouble on the waterfront in Melbourne to-day, from which it appears that a hundred returned soldiers, non-members of the Waterside Workers Federation, were picked up on the footpath outside the compound. When they went alongside the Manunda they were attacked by a few hundred members of the Federation. No stones were thrown, and as far as can be ascertained no one was injured. It is true that there is trouble at present on the waterfront between unionists and non-unionists, loyalists or scabs - I do not care what term you apply to them - and that there are two factions seeking the work to which the unionists rightly contend they are entitled.

Senator McLachlan - Although they had previously refused to obey an award of the Court.

Senator DOOLEY - I am at a loss to know why honorable senators are so vindictive. Is a man to be penalized for the rest of his life because he has once made a mistake? Is there to be no forgivenessof the Waterside Workers Federation? Are its members still to be penalized although they have already been kept out of employment for over two years?

Senator Sampson - But the honorable senator is not prepared to forgive the volunteers although they are unionists.

Senator DOOLEY - What one man may consider a unionist, another may describe as a scab. The Government has no desire to aggravate the position.

Senator Thompson - Then let it do the fair thing and cease issuing these regulations.

Senator DOOLEY - The Government is trying to do the fair thing by issuing regulations which will allow returned soldiers and unionists to secure the work available on the wharfs. I cannot see anything wrong with that. I cannot understand why the Senate is so inclined to disallow these regulations, when no good purpose can be served by doing so. I have read that the employers prefer the unionists to the new bands, A man with experience must be in a position to do more efficient work and render greater service to the ship-owner than one who is new to the work. In the present financial position of the country, however, thousands of men are looking for employment, and the possibilities are that the ship-owners may take advantage of their distress and employ them in preference to the unionists. I knew a ganger on the railways who was called the Maltese ganger, because on pay day he always insisted on getting 10s. a head from the Maltese in his gang for keeping them at work. No unionist would be prepared to sell his soul to keep his job.

Senator Foll - Was that ganger a member of a union?

Senator DOOLEY - I suppose so, but apparently the same thing is now' happening on the waterfront. Italians are said to be paying £10 and £5 for licences. If these regulations are allowed to stand there will be no question of depriving the returned soldiers of a living. Most of them are unionists.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - The men attacked to-day in Melbourne were all returned soldiers.

Senator DOOLEY - I do not know definitely if they were returned soldiers or not, but I think it would be safe to say that if these regulations were allowed to stand the returned soldiers and unionists could fill all the jobs available. I do not think any discrimination would be shown. I trust that the Senate will not hamper the Government in. giving effect to its policy. The Government has a perfect right to give effect to a policy upon which it has been elected, and there is no doubt the policy upon which it was elected was the maintenance of arbitration. That policy implied preference to unionists, as granted by the Arbitration Court.

Senator Sir George Pearce - But the Government -has over-ridden a decision of the court.

Senator DOOLEY - I do not know that it has done so. The purpose of the regulations is to give preference to returned soldiers, whether they are unionists or not, and bona fide members of the Waterside Workers Federation were also to be restored to the work they formerly did. I trust that the Government will do its best to give effect to Labour's policy.

Senator Sampson - Labour's policy was to repeal the Transport Workers Act. Why has that not been done?

Senator DOOLEY - Circumstances have altered. The honorable senator would like us to repeal the act, when it does not suit him and his friends, and to have it in force when it suits him and his friends. We find that it is easier to give effect to the policy of the Labour party by letting the act remain on the statute-book. The Senate, if it disallows these regulations, will only hamper the Government in its endeavour to carry out a policy upon which it was elected. I trust that the Government will carry on the good fight.

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