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Friday, 1 December 1911

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - Senator Givens has suggested that before the proposed railway has been constructed, Australia may be governed by a hide-bound Tory Government. Now, I do not wish to see the workers of this country at the mercy of a Government which may only represent a majority of the people upon one day of the year. For that reason, I want these men to be under the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. It is altogether too thin for Senator Givens and Senator Stewart to move an amendment here when they know that they will be supported by the opponents of the Bill.

Senator St Ledger - Who is the friend of the worker now?

Senator GARDINER - I am quite satisfied to allow the workers of Australia to judge between the honorable senator and myself. They are intelligent enough to recognise that gilded baits come from their real enemies.

Senator Sayers - Are Senator Givens and Senator Stewart the real enemies of the workers?

Senator GARDINER - When they attempt to gull the workers, it makes one think that they have gone over to the enemy.

Senator Millen - It makes the honorable senator toe the mark.

Senator GARDINER - I am not afraid to toe the mark. If Senator Stewart and Senator Givens are prepared to do the dirty work of the Opposition-

Senator Givens - Does the honorable senator say I am doing the dirty work of anybody ?

Senator GARDINER - If Senator Givens will supply me with a better word I will use it. But, in the absence of such a word, I do say straight out that Senators Stewart and Givens are doing the dirty work of the Opposition. I say that to Senator Givens' teeth, and I will say it outside.

Senator Stewart - Cowardly cur !

The CHAIRMAN - I ask Senator Stewart to withdraw that remark.

Senator Stewart - I withdraw it, but will you, sir, ask Senator Gardiner to withdraw his statement that I am gulling the workers and doing the dirty work of the Opposition.

The CHAIRMAN - I ask Senator Gardiner to withdraw those remarks.

Senator GARDINER - Unquestionably, I withdraw them, and regret having made them. But when we get such a splendid combination as Senator Millen, Senator St. Ledger, Senator Sayers, Senator Stewart, and Senator Givens, all of whom concur in the amendment, one is led to believe that the interests of the workers are in danger. If, in the heat of the moment, I have gone beyond the limits of ordinary debate, I may, perhaps, be excused because of the gilded baits held out-

Senator Stewart - We had gilded baits held out to us years ago in the Queensland Parliament before the honorable senator was in public life at all. The honorable senator is too free with his old gab.

Senator GARDINER - The condition of the workers of this country is not going to be improved .by an amendment of this kind. The wages which they should be paid must be established in a more practical and common-sense way. I shall oppose the amendment, because it comes from the organized opposition to this Bill.

Senator St Ledger - Why should there not be an organized opposition as well as an organized Government?

Senator GARDINER - There has been an organized opposition to obstruct the passage of this measure. Recognising that the amendment is one of those thin makebelieve amendments which are calculated to catch the public eye, I am quite prepared to vote against the proposed minimum wage, and to leave it to the workers of this country to decide whether it was moved in their interests, or whether it was not moved from a desire on the part of Senator Givens and Senator Stewart to wreck the Bill.

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