1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 6) presented by Sir John
Quick, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
Mr. WINTER COOKE (for Sir Edward Braddon) presented two petitions from certain electors of Tasmania, praying the House to prohibit the importation, sale, and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
Mr. McCAY presented a similar petition from certain electors of Castlemaine.
Sir JOHN QUICK presented a similar petition from certain electors of Bendigo.
Mr. MANIFOLD presented a similar petition from certain residents of Terang.
– On the 6th June, 1901, the House ordered, on my motion, the production of a return showing -
I understand that that return has not yet been presented to the House, and I therefore ask the Prime Minister when are we likely to get it ?
-I was under the impression that it had been presented, but I shall inquire into the matter, and will lay the return upon the table as soon as possible.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister when I may expect an answer to the questions which I put to him about three months ago in reference to telephone guarantees?
– I have obtained some information on the subject, and have communicated it to the honorable gentleman; but the officers of the Postal Department say that it will take some time to get the rest of the information for which he asks, because under the old system sufficient data was not kept.
– The data is contained in the postal records for each year.
– I am merely giving the honorable member the reply which I have obtained from the officers of the Postal Department ; but I shall make another application to them, so that further information may be obtained as soon as possible. I have here a memorandum upon the subject generally, which, with the indulgence of the House, I will now read. It is as follows : -
As it has been repeatedly stated in Parliament that the existing regulation with respect to the guarantees required beforeundertaking the construction of telegraph and telephone lines asked for in country districts, and reported upon by the officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department in the States concerned as non-paying, are too restrictive, inasmuch us the cash deposit which has been asked for involves the immediate payment of a sum of money beyond the capabilities of the persons concerned, it has been decided to make an alteration which, while to a certain extent safeguarding the revenue, will afford material relief.
Before proceeding to state the nature of the alteration, it may be well to point out that, under the System requiring a larger cash payment, the amount required to be deposited is placed in the Savings Bank, and is only drawn upon as far as necessary, the balance with accrued interest being returned to the guarantors at the expiration of the five years for which the guarantee is given.
The alteration now determined upon is as follows : - Instead of askingfor a payment in cash equal to two-thirds of the cost of construction and instruments, together with the actual operating expenses for the five years covered by the guarantee, it has been decided that, if the inquiries made by the Postmaster-General’s officers in the several States are satisfactory (that is, that they show that there is a probability of the line asked for earning a moderate revenue at the expiration of five years),a cash deposit of 10 per cent. per annum on the cost of construction and instruments, and operatingexpenses, for two years, together with a bond to secure payment of any deficiency in revenue to the extent of 10 percent. per annum, plus the operating expenses for an additional period of five years, will be accepted, and the line, Ac, provided, if money is available. The payments under the bond to be made annually, and within a month of becoming due. If at the expiration of the period for which the bond is operative the line is not returning . 10 per cent. per annum and operating expenses, the Department to have the option of extending the period, if the guarantors agree, or failing such agreement, of closing the office and removing the line and instruments. It must, of course, be understood that these provisions will only apply to lines required in the public interest, and not to those required for private or personal purposes of individuals or companies.
asked the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home Affairs,upon notice -
What was the total amount of money deducted from the salaries of Commonwealth public servants on account of the Fidelity Guarantee Fund during the past year, and what is to become of such moneys ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The information is being obtained, and will be laid upon the table of the House at an early date.
asked the Prime Minister, upon, notice -
Whether hehas caused inquiries to be made, as promised by him in the House on the 23rd July last(vide Hansard, page 2565), into the action of the Postal Department in stopping supplements to country newspapers, and whether he can now promise that the practice objected to will be in future discontinued ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
I have mode inquiries and find that the paper produced by the honorable member was not entitled to transmission as a supplement within section 28 of the Postal Act, as it appears to be wholly and solely an advertisement.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence,upon notice -
Whether he will state when he intends to pay the money voted as compensation to the retired members of the New South Wales Naval Brigade ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
No money was voted for this purpose ; and it was never intended by the Government or Parliament to pay compensation on retirement to members of the partially-paid forces, whose livelihood is not dependent upon the small annual honorarium they receive. The members of the New South Wales Naval Brigade were paid up to the date on which their services wore dispensed with.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the Chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - resolved in the negative.
Debate resumed from 30th July (vide page 2883), on motion by Mr. Deakin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I rise to continue the debate upon this very important Bill with a very keen sense, not only of its interest, but of its far-reaching importance. There is no doubt that attending the advent of the first Federal Ministry there were many difficulties and necessities which will not attend the duty of Ministers in a subsequent Administration. But this first Federal Ministry has had one great advantage, in having to bring before the House, from the nature of the case, a large number of measures which have been called machinery measures, and which should be kept as far as possible free from any party action or party tactics. We have a good illustration of that fact in the business which has engaged our attention during the present session. We have a Defence Bill, upon which there can be no party issues ; we have had a J udiciary Bill of similar description in that respect ; we have a Naturalization Bill ; and now we are dealing with a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I suppose if there ever was a measure about which party feeling should not circle, it is a measure of this sort. The first question which occurred to me in connexion with this Bill, and it was a very serious one, was this : Is this an opportune or a proper time for introducing this particular measure for exercising the power, which has been given to us by the Constitution to deal with this particular subject? After very mature consideration I have come to the conclusion that the better opinion is that we cannot very fairly, since the Government have introduced the Bill, refuse to discuss it, for any reason based npon the time of its introduction. The object which the Bill has in view is so excellent, that one fears to incur the responsibility of awaiting some large industrial dispute in order to find ourselves without the necessary machinery for dealingwith it. Upon the whole, I have come tothe conclusion that the introduction of this Bill at the present time is justified. Thenext question for consideration is one which agitates the public mind very keenly at the present moment, and that is the question of economy. There is a very strong and a very natural desire, which I have no harsh words to describe, that in the beginning of this Federation anything like unnecessary or premature expenditure should be strictly discouraged. The prospect of establishing another court in the Commonwealth has, perhaps, led a numberof persons to be unfavourable to the introduction of this measure, but I am glad to notice that it is framed upon economical lines. In the first place, it really does not involve the creation of a new court, but simply the addition of a branch of jurisdiction to the High Court, because the President of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration is to be a Justice of the High Court. I do not suppose that Ministers intend under this Bill to endeavour to increase the number of Justices of the High Court which we have fixed in the Judiciary
Bill. It is, perhaps, scarcely necessary that I should ask the Attorney-General to say whether the provision that this Bill, when it has become an Act, is to be administered by a Justice of the High Court is looked upon by the Government as giving them power to add to the number of the Justices.
– There can be no such such addition without the consent of this House.
– I thought not, but perhaps it is just as well to clear away any possible speculation on that point. So that we are not in this Bill adding, so far as the president of the court is concerned, to the salaried officers of the Commonwealth. I do not know what the view of the House will be, but, when we come to deal with the Bill in Committee, I shall make a very strong appeal to the Committee not to appoint at the present time two other members of the court as permanent members at a yearly salary for a period of seven years. There is machinery in the Bill which enables an appointment to be made in each trade dispute of a representative of each of the parties to that dispute, and I think that, for the present, that machinery ought to be considered as amply sufficient, and until the necessity for appointing permanent members of the court is made clear. I think the least sanguine amongst us hope that this court will not often be called upon to deal with Inter-State disputes. The number of subjects upon which disputes will range beyond the- borders of one State is, I hope, limited, and I hope the occasions on which they will occur will be found to be more limited. I do think that we should not add a high salary to the expenditure of the people unless absolute necessity is shown for it, and I therefore hope that in this measure some alteration will be made to prevent these permanent appointments being immediately made. With reference to the Bill itself, we sometimes forget, though we should always recollect, that when, dealing with questions of this sort, our position is widely different from that of the States. The States within the sphere of their jurisdiction, have all the prerogatives of the Imperial Parliament. Whilst they legislate within the sphere of their powers - and their powers are not defined by any Statute, but include a wide range of parliamentary powers - the States Legislatures are entitled to pass Acts having an effect and a range of which the
Commonwealth Acts, except upon one or two subjects, are incapable. This is one of the subjects upon which we cannot legislate with the freedom with which a State can legislate. We, in the exercise of our legislative powers, will always remain in one sense the creature of the High Court, because there is not an Act or a line of an Act that we pass which is not liable to be declared null and void, if, in the opinion of that court, it exceeds our statutory, not our constitutional, powers. The difference between a Legislature with constitutional powers as they are understood under our system of parliamentary government, and a Legislature which is a creature of statutory defined powers is immense, and it is very obvious in connexion with this matter, because the first question we have to consider - a question, to which I am about to address myself - could not possibly arise in a State Parliament. Before we seriously deal with this Bill, we have to consider what are our powers of legislation with reference to it, and we have to look to the words of the Constitution in order to discover them. Sub-section (35) of section 51 of the Constitution contains words which at once suggest considerable difficulty of interpretation. There we are empowered to make laws with respect to “ conciliation and arbitration.” Now I would ask the question - “ with reference to what “ ? and the sub-section defines “ for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” Those words which govern the whole of the sub-section point to the fact of an existing state of things, to a thing which has happened, a dispute which has extended from one State to another State. Therefore, the sub-section limited in that way to the investigation of known facts, has a considerable difficulty in it owing to the introduction of the words “ for the prevention “ of such disputes. How can you prevent a fact which has already occurred 1 The expression is not’ at all a precise one in view of the limitation of our powers. I take it that no one will endeavour to read the sub-section to mean that our powers relate to disputes which do not extend beyond the limits of any one State. I fancy that no reader of the Constitution would take that position, because if he did it would be idle to insert the words “ disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” Those words are idle, unless they are intended to limit our powers, and, no doubt, the object at the time clearly was not to interfere with purely State matters, but to enable us to deal with those matters when they assumed an inter-State significance.
– But if they were likely to assume that significance, could we not interfere under the word “ prevention “?
– Fortunately, or unfortunately the extent of our interference has been clearly limited to disputes which have extended beyond the limits of any one State.
– Then why should the word “ prevention “ be used?
– That is what I should like to know. The introduction of that word will not read out the words “extending beyond the limits of any one State,” because if it did it would give us a close jurisdiction over the internal disputes of a State.
– The sub-section does not say that the disputes must have extended beyond any one State.
– No ; because it is not necessary in reference to a fact to state that it must have occurred. However, I do not wish to labour this matter. It is onewhich requires consideration, and one which crops up in more than one form in connexion with the Bill. Now the Bill itself recognises the view I have put in two ways. In the first place it defines what an industrial dispute is within the meaning of the Bill. That is a most important thing to do. In defining industrial disputes it uses the words of. the Constitution, “ extending beyond the limits of any one State,” so that the definition runs in a sense with the definition of the Constitution as I am interpreting it. There cannot be any dispute withinthe meaning of the Bill, except in the sense to which I shall refer, unless it is, as the Constitution says, a dispute which has extended beyond the limits of any one State. I am quoting the definition given in the interpretation clause. Clause 2 says -
This Act has relation only to industrial disputes which extend beyond the limits of any one State.
So that on the very forefront of the Bill the Government have, and I think properly, too, kept carefully within the express limits of the Constitution, and have declared that the Bill shall have relation only to such disputes. It is in one sense an inconsistent declaration, because two of the clauses of the Bill conflict with it. Of course we can. never forget, when we are considering the Bill, that we are really dealing with the result of the labours of the late Minister for Trade and Customs. No man has more freely and promptly acknowledged that fact than has the Attorney-General, and I am sure that, whatever our views may be with reference to the Bill, no one can read it without a clear impression as to the immense amount of labour and ability which has been bestowed upon it. Now, there is an inconsistency with reference to clause 2, which provides that the Bill is to have relation only to disputes beyond the limits of any one State. I need not trouble the House by referring to clause 36 at present, because it is vague and will call for some observations later on. But clause 37 provides -
That any State Industrial Authority may in manner prescribed request the court to deal with any industrial dispute.
That must mean industrial disputes of a local character.
– A State authority may have dealt with a dispute, but directly it extends beyond the State it can ask the Federal body to act.
– In that sense the clause is strictly consistent with clause 2, if it has that meaning, and as I have said the interpretation clause gives the words “ industrial disputes “ that meaning. But the section is not worded with a proper view to our powers or the powers of the State. We cannot legislate with regard to anything that a State Industrial Authority can do or cannot do. A State Industrial Authority cannot do anything except under the authority of a State Act. Our powers cannot be imparted to that State authority, with reference, at any rate, to matters of this kind, unless the State authority under an Act of Parliament of the State is in a position to carry out what we desire. The next clause 38 is even more capable of criticism. It provides -
When in any State there is no State Industrial Authority the Government of the State may request the court to deal with any industrial dispute.
Now we are dealing with a State in which there is no Arbitration Act, because if there is an Arbitration Act there is bound to be a” State Industrial Authority.
– There may be a Factories Act.
– Yes. The interpretation clause defines “State Industrial Authority” as an authority establishedunder a State Act. Now, I am bound to point out that in States where there is no Act upon this subject, we have no power to legislate that the Governor of that State may request us to do anything. We have absolutely no jurisdiction over the Governor of a State to request him to do anything. He may do it under some local Act. The limitation, therefore, will have to be very carefully expressed. We do not want to trench even upon the susceptibilities of the States, and, clearly, the Governor of a State can only be the mouth-piece of the Government and the Parliament of the State. On the assumption that there is no State Act and no State Industrial Authority, the words require some consideration. I wish now to come to clause 4 which defines the objects of the Bill. Its first object is to prevent lock-outs and strikes in relation to industrial disputes. I suppose it is that object which really influences the public mind of Australia more than does any other object in connexion with the measure. It is this commanding inducement which has caused so many people, with certain inherited ideas of the range of government, to forget all their prejudices and all their views as to the proper functions of government, in view of thef act that the Bill comes so largely into conflict with the personal liberty of the individual. Theseideas have been set aside - as they have to be - I believe, more for that reason than for any other. The Attorney-General has given us all the poetry of which this matter is susceptible, and I do not desire to compete with him in a vein in which he is unexcelled. But I wish in a word or two to emphasize what he said in. this way : these questions between capital and labour are so interwoven, not only with the industrial, but with the social and political fabric that, upon that ground alone, it seems to me we are fully justified in making even daring experiments. I look upon this Bill purely as an experiment, and when we refer to the prevention of lock-outs and strikes as one of its chief objects, we must not forget that people who are equally intelligent with ourselves - the representatives of labour in the two greatest Anglo-Saxon populations of the world - are just as keenly hostile to legislation of this character as our friends in the labour bodies of Australia are favorable to it. It is a subject which is most interesting.
– Just as we were twelve years ago.
– Yes ; and I am quite hopeful that the result of this experiment will shpw that even in the field of social economics, Australians can win victories and set examples which will teach the rest of the world. I admired the speech of the Attorney-General, because, whilst I was aware that for many years these matters had profoundly agitated the most acute intellects of Great Britain and the United States, he seemed to have settled all of them, if not entirely to their satisfaction, at least to his own. I only regret that we have not some other editions of my honorable and learned friend to spare for the benefit of other countries, so that these difficult problems of law, philosophy, politics, and history, which are unravelled so easily and gracefully by him, might also be adjusted in other parts of the civilized world. It is a source of infinite regret that there are not other editions of my honorablefriend available, and also that we could not possibly spare him even for the benefit of mankind at large. Upon one occasion Abraham Lincoln, one of the grandest figures in history, used an expression which will be regarded by the AttorneyGeneral as the veriest folly. He said - “Thank God, we live in a country where men can strike.” There is something lying at the root of that expression, we may be sure, seeing that it was used by that distinguished man.
– He used those words as against conditions in certain countries where men dare not strike.
– I am quite willing to suppose that the honorable member is accurately interpreting the expression used by Lincoln.I simply called attention to that expression, which was quoted by the leader of the labour organizations in America only the other day with absolute approval. Indeed, I suppose that in the United States one may witness some of the most interesting developments of this question. There, many of the States have been so engrossed with the desire to settle industrial disputes that they have passed laws with reference to them. But in all America there is no State which has passed a compulsory arbitration law. There is only one instance in which the United States
Congress has interfered in these matters to an extent which might seem to restrict individual liberty. That case had reference to the transportation service, and in. the year 18SS a very mild measure was passed, which had no effect. In 1898, however, a further Act of a more effective character was passed, and it is rather interesting, in the light of recent events in Australia, to note that when the Bill was introduced into Congress its provisions included the seamen of the United States, who, however, made such a desperate protest against their inclusion that they had to be exempted from its operation. One of the provisions of that Bill was for arbitration, but not for compulsory arbitration, and it contained a further provision that no man could leave his employment without giving a certain number of days’ notice - I think it was 30 days.
– That was a bit one-sided.
– I do not know. I am not sufficiently acquainted with the details of the Act.
– But the employer could not dismiss his workmen without notice.
– Of course the intention was to bind both employer and employe. Before leaving the United States, I may say that the urgency of this question is very apparent there. We can quite realize that, because the painful and bloody disputes which occur in the United States in reference to industrial matters must shock the humanity of every observer. Still, in spite oi the terrible sanguinary development of these disputes there, the labour federations of the States resolutely opposed and condemned the introduction of the principle of compulsory arbitration. Their object in doing that, whether it is wise or not, is not difficult to discern. There is no doubt an enormous virtue in the overwhelming power of brute force, and sometimes that is all which the working classes have behind them. They are so entangled in that country in a mesh of corruption*, which extends even to the courts of the United States, that one can easily understand - -especially in view of what we have learned about injunctions issued by judges which have the effect of interfering with the actions of individuals under the heading of “contempt of court” - that the whole of these occurrences have probably poisoned the mind of the labour federations of America against anything of this sort.- I wish to say that in my opinion the attitude of the labour bodies of Australia in agitating for this system of settling industrial disputes may finally result in one of the last things that they would wish to accomplish. But from the aspect of things as they are, it seems to me that it reflects infinite credit upon the labour bodies of Australia, that they are willing to intrust their liberty - aye, even their subsistence - to judicial decision. I cannot understand the position taken up by persons who are not closely identified with the labour bodies of Australia, and who find in this attitude of those bodies something to denounce as if it were unwholesome, as if it were selfish, as if it were endangering the- stability of our industrial or political fabric. It is, in my opinion, one of the grandest displays of intelligence and a readiness to sacrifice the one weapon which labour has, that certainly has no parallel in any other part of the world. My great anxiety lies in the fact that the active power, which is to stand between these two great interests in ‘ times of conflict and excitement, is to be a Judge of the High Court. I entertain that anxiety not because I doubt the absolute impartiality of any possible Judge of the High Court, but because in dangers and difficulties which may come upon us, when the conditions of life are harder than’ they are now, there may be some degree of apprehension as to the entanglement of that high and pure tribunal of a British community in the desperate struggles of large bodies of His Majesty’s subjects. The danger, to my mind, will not be to those who wish to intrust the Judge with these duties. The danger is that in time to come the unsullied and unquestioned reputation of our Bench for purity and impartiality may come, through the distorted vision of keen and bitter conflict, to be questioned. We are thus making an experiment, not only with the industrial classes, but with . our court of justice. I feel no reserve, whatever, in saying that the experiment is one to which there are a number of objections. It is an experiment which is surrounded with quite a multitude of fears, but there is one substantial gain which comes to us by this willingness, on the part of those who represent the physical strength of our Commonwealth, to place themselves under the reign of law and order, administered by a High Court of Justice. It has this great advantage : that under such conditions we may hasten the time when these two great powers will more clearly realize that when conflicting interests arise the proper relationship which they ought to bear, one to the other, should be more like that defined, and wisely defined, in some of the northern districts of England. There we find an institution known as the North of England Manufactured Iron Association, which, for 30 years past, has had a standing board of employers and workmen, who sit side by side at the same table, and decide matters affecting the trade. If they fail to come to a decision, they refer the matter to an outside umpire. During the last 30 years no less than twenty disputes affecting wages have been, dealt with by that great association of masters and men without a rupture.
– The same arrangement is made in the hosiery trade.
– There are a number of other cases. I am simply referring to this as one remarkable instance of the power of voluntary agreement and conciliation. I think that even those who intend earnestly to support this Bill must never forget that a voluntary agreement arrived at between these two conflicting powers without any loss of self-respect or any sense of personal defeat is worth a thousand forced adjudications by a Judge of the High Court. I suppose the most vital necessity in the relations of these two great powers is that there should be a loyal feeling on both sides. The master should have a generous feeling for those whom he employs, and those who are employed should exercise a loyal and friendly spirit to those for whom they work. Every employer must know that the labour of every man smarting under a sense of defeat in some great strife is worth something less than are the results obtained when these disputes are settled in a friendly, businesslike way. One of the advantages of settling these disputes in that way is that the arts of the advocate are thrown away. Appeals to passion made before such a board as that to which I have referred are idle, for every man sitting round the table knows all about the matters that have to be determined. The lawyers who are retained have not the same knowledge, and it is useless for them to waste time in making eloquent appeals to men who are familiar with the, whole subject. It is of no use to talk of the weight of such appeals as compared with the calm discussion of the subject by men who know all about the matters at issue. Therefore, voluntary agreement has the condition of perfect knowledge on the part of both the parties who have to decide the question. A Judge in the north of England was called in as an umpire in connexion with an industrial dispute - but not under a law of this kind - and although some of his observations would not be quite apposite, I think that he gave an accurate description of the state of mind in which even a Justice of the High Court would find himself when called upon to deal with such disputes. I refer to a statement made by Judge Ellison, which is to be found in a work by Mr. and Mrs. Webb, entitled Industrial Democracy. He was called in as an umpire, and at pace 229, Vol. I., we find the following statement made by him : -
It is for the ‘ ‘ employers’ !! advocate to put the men’s wages as high as he can. It is for the “men’s” advocate to put them as low as he can -
It should be vice versâ; but that is the way in which it is printed here -
And when you have, done that, it is for me to deal with the question as well as I can ; but on what principle I have to deal with it I have not the slightest idea. There is no principle of law involved in it. There is no principle of political economy in it. Both masters and men are arguing and standing upon what is completely within their rights. The master is not bound to employ labour, except ut a price which lie thinks will pay him. The man is not bound to work for wages that won’t assist (subsist) him and his family sufficiently, and so forth. So that you are both within your rights ; and that’s the difficult)’ I see in dealing with the question.
Therefore, the first difficulty with reference to a Justice of the High Court is that he will start with an absolute want of acquaintance with all the facts connected with the dispute. The rules upon which the experienced, competent man could ‘ proceed will be unknown to him. But I quite agree that if we must have some person to decide these matters, if they must go in a contentious stage before a final authority, we must have a final authority who has the one indispensable qualification of absolute indifference to the interests of both parties. He must be in a position in which he is absolutely isolated from any sort of relationship with either or both of the parties. Therefore the method prescribed in the Bill seems to be the only one which can well be followed. I should like to see in this measure a provision that no organization shall be allowed to apply for an. adjudication in an industrial dispute, unless it can show that it has sought a voluntary conference to arrive at a voluntary agreement, and that that request has been refused, or that the conference itself has failed.
– There is no objection to that.
– I should think there would be no objection to it. One of the best features about the South Australian Act - and in this respect I look upon it as being infinitely wiser than any other that I have seen on the subject - is, that it puts the sphere of conciliation in a prominent position. I am glad to see traces of the same object in this Bill. I spoke most strongly against the- New South Wales Conciliation and Arbitration Bill on that very ground. There are several stages through which these disputes should pass, before they come to be matters for a Judge to determine. The first is a voluntary conference, a refusal to hold that conference, or a failure of it. Secondly, there should be an attempt at conciliation - the whole power of the State and the court being devoted to the task of conciliation - of bringing these great bodies to consent to a friendly adjustment of their difficulties, which will send master and man back to their labour without any sense of humiliation or failure. The Bill very wisely enjoins that that conciliation shall be attempted, and that it shall be part of the express duty of the president to try to bring it about. The provisions on the subject, however, are rather vague. Every attempt should be made to obtain first from a conference a voluntary agreement, because it is more in accordance with the individual intelligence and independence of the men concerned, with the ordinary genius of our’ way of doing tilings, that the two opposing parties should exhaust the efforts of reason and agreement before force is invoked. The principle of conciliation seems to me to have been discounted and reduced to an altogether unfair position by a defect in the New Zealand Act, which is not repeated here.
– Does the right honorable member refer to the provision for- two boards ?
– Partly to that, but especially to the fact that the principle of conciliation became absurd in practice when those who were invested with the duty of attempting conciliation had no power behind them.
– The provision in the New Zealand Act is now being altered.
– I am very glad to hear it. For years past there has been in New Zealand an impotent Board of Conciliation, which the parties to disputes have known to have no sort of power. I wish to provide . for attempts at conciliation which take another aspect. The President, the man. who must be respected and regarded in the work of conciliation, because he has the ultimate power of decision, should sit in the Court of Conciliation. Conciliation is the basis of all legislation of this kind. We have had attempts at conciliation all over the world, but the necessity for this Bill is the necessity for having power behind such attempts. Those who look upon the measure more as an arbitration than a conciliation Bill do it and the effort which it “ embodies an injustice, and I hope that anything which can be done in Committee to carry out and make effective attempts at conciliation will be done. There are some provisions which are capable of giving great trouble in the future. Clauses. 11 to 14: are intended to prevent employers from dismissing their men, and employes from ceasing to work on account of an award by the court. The object is a sensible one, but, as the clauses are worded, both employers and employes will be reduced to a pitch of servitude which I cannot think is the intention of the framers of the Bill. When an award has been given upon a dispute between two great industrial bodies, there will be no limit of time within which the employes concerned may leave their employment, or the employers will ‘ have freedom to discharge their men. If at the end of a year after an award is given a man desires to leave the service of his employer, the Bill throws upon him a liability to a proceeding in which he must bear the onus of proving that he is leaving . for some other reason than because the award did not suit him. So with employers, there is the liability to be brought before a tribunal to prove that in any action which they have taken in the dismissal of their men there is no element of an attempt to get rid of an award.
– A prosecution cannot be commenced without the consent of the registrar.
– I do not look upon that as quite an answer to my position. I think there should be some reasonable limit of time.
– Would it not be equally dangerous to fix a time limit ?
– It might be. Such a limit might have the effect of nullifying an agreement - for, say, three years - for a longer term than the time fixed. I admit that the subject is a difficult one to deal with, but I do not think that I am abusing the patience of the House in pointing out these matters. It is better that we should deal ‘ with them than that the people outside should deal with them in some distorted and unfair manner. With reference to the provisions about a lockout or a strike, we must not think that the danger of such occurrences has been avoided, or that they will be prevented by the Bill. The danger is left under another name. All that the Bill does is to prevent employers from dismissing their hands, and employes from leaving the service of their employers in a body,’ if there is a dispute pending between them.
– I may have misread the Bill, and I shall be very glad to be corrected. But I have looked through its provisions very carefully, and I think that I am right. Clause 9 provides that -
No person shall on account of any industrial dispute for the prevention or settlement of which the court has jurisdiction, do anything in the nature of a lock-out or strike, or continue any lock-out or strike.
It is only when a dispute has extended beyond more than one State that the measure will operate, so that its provisions can refer only to actual disputes extending beyond more than one State. Therefore, the power of an employer to dismiss every man in his service without making any demand upon him, and the power of employes, subject to the requirement of having to give notice if they are. paid by the week, and similar conditions, to leave the service of their employers, is left absolutely intact so long as there is no dispute existing between the parties. The fact that an employer chose to discontinue his business would not constitute a dispute. In New South Wales the difficulty was that the shearers had not begun to work, and a similar difficulty would arise here if an attempt were made to apply the provisions of the measure in a case in which there was a practical lock-out or strike without a dispute. Under the Bill the court will have jurisdiction only over disputes, and disputes which extend over more than one State.
– The provisions of clause- 9 are supplemented by the remaining clausesof Part II.
– I have looked at the following clauses, but they all seem to me to turn upon the definition which I have read. My right honorable friend is practised in the art of bringing every one under the provisions of penalty clauses, but there is nothing in clause 9 which, it seems to me, can make the other clauses apply to anything but an industrial dispute extending over more than one State. We have no power to legislate for anythingwhich is not an existing industrial dispute extending over more than’ any State. Paragraph (c) of clause 39 is also open tothe objection to which I referred as to what a Governor of a State can or cannot do. I now come to deal with perhaps the most important of all these clauses. I refer to clauses 03 and 65, which really are the vital clauses of the Bill, as to the scope of the powers of the authorities. Honorable members will find that in paragraph (d) of clause 63, there is provided a power in the court - always as regards “ an industrial dispute.” which words must be read into this Bill at every stage - .
To declare, by any award, that any practice, regulation, rule, custom, term of agreement, condition of employment, or dealing whatsoever in relation to any industrial matter, shall be acommon rule of any industry affected by uieaward
Theoretically this is one of the grossest invasions’ of the ordinary rights of the individual and of the first principles of British justice which we can conceive. The effect of this provision may be that thousands of individuals who are not parties to a dispute, who are not before the court, and who have no opportunity of putting before the court their particular industry and its particular conditions, may find themselves any day with rules for managing their business enforced upon them:
– That often happens in connexion with private disputes as to property.
– Perhaps it does, but I do not think that that bears very much on the questions dealt with here. Lots of things happen in this world.
– A court’s decision in a particular case may apply to people who. have not appeared before it.
– I do not think that my honorable and learned friend will find, except in this Bill and in the New South Wales and New Zealand Acts on this subject, any such provision as that of which I am speaking, which binds a person, in no sense a party to proceedings, by a decision in those proceedings in carrying on his business. I have never come across any such legislation.
– Oh, yes.
– Surely the right honorable gentleman would not have every case separately dealt with?
– We do not desire to shirk this question. I could get up, and, after making a few complimentary remarks upon the Bill, sit down. But I say that we at least desire to show the people of Australia that we know what we are doing. I spoke in New South Wales against what is known as the common rule about as strongly as any man ever spoke against anything in this world. It shocked all my instincts of what was fair and just, but it waspassed, and I am bound to say that in New South Wales, so far as I know, there has been no sort of evidence that there is any real hardship or injustice inflicted by it. All through I am speaking of this departure as an experiment, and I am convinced that the common sense which leads one to endeavour to prevent these industrial wars will be found equally effectual to cure any wrongs or injustice which turn out to be real and substantial as the result of its administration.
– The court may make exceptions to a common rule if any are found to be necessary.
– The court may vary the award, and a person who finds the award specially injurious to him may apply to have it varied ; but, of course, if these variations are numerous the effect of the principle will be destroyed. However, I am supporting this Bill with a full knowledge that in this and some other respects it involves one of the most serious violations of all the principles upon which our system of politics and our system of justice have hitherto been administered. But, just as in martial law, all the sanctions and usages of civilized life disappear, is it not better that, in this case, they should disappear for a time in order to prevent the destruction, bloodshed, and hatred which these quarrels engender ?
– Under the New South Wales law notice of the common rule is served upon all the parties to whom the rule will apply.
– I would point out to the honorable and learned member that we are dealing with a Federal Bill, and with a Federal award which will apply in more than one State, and that it will be extremely difficult to serve a notice of the kind upon every one affected by the rule proposed. The magnitude of the area covered in this case makes the hardship involved even more serious.
– I think the right honorable gentleman will find that the next paragraph of the clause recognises that.
– I am coming to that point, but paragraph (e) to my mind raises very serious difficulties some of which are constitutional. There is a power in this paragraph (e) “ to direct within what limits of area, if any, and subject to what conditions and exceptions,” and so on, the new conditionsproposed shall operate. I desire to point out that there a power is assumed which we do not possess. We do not possess the power to apply any rule’ all over Australia. I think if there is any contention that this power of settling disputes which have extended beyond more than one State will give a general power to govern States in which there is no dispute, it will not be found to hold good. The sphere of the award must be within the sphere of the mischief contemplated by the Bill. With reference to a lock-out or a strike, we must remember that since Western Australia and New South Wales have passed Arbitration and Conciliation Acts, and there cannot be a strike or lock-out in those States, strikes and locks-out dealt with under this Bill can be those only which will extend from Victoria to Queensland, skipping New South Wales, or from Victoria to South Australia and stopping there, or from Victoria to Tasmania.
– Could there not be a dispute without its reaching the stage of a strike or lock-out?
– There might be, and the object is to deal with such disputes so as to prevent a strike or lock-out.
– Then New South Wales would come in in spite of the fact that a Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been passed in that State.
-It is quite possible that in a state of dispute the jurisdiction would attach. But reverting to the other point, we must, I think, make it perfectly clear that we are not claiming in this Bill a power to extend, a common rule beyond the State in which we are dealing with a dispute. I do not know whether the Government have any intention, in using these words, to assert such a power.
– Will that be an effective exercise of the power to legislate upon this subject given by the Constitution?
– The only point with which I am concerned is that in our anxiety to do good we shall not forget our constitutional limitations. “We must not show a disregard of the prerogatives of the sovereign States which are in the Commonwealth. They are in the Commonwealth, but they are still sovereign States in connexion with all subjects not expressly defined as within our powers. This is a paragraph which, to say the least of it, is couched in language too general and too loose to define properly our constitutional powers.
– If the right honorable gentleman’s contention is correct this paragraph will be necessary.
– Yes ; but in a different way. The words here used are not words of limitation, but words of universal power. To say that the court shall have power “to direct within what limits of area if any “ is to use language which usually means a power to act generally. That is the point I should like to have considered, and I refer to it simply as a matter which occurred to me in going over the Bill. This question of jurisdiction comes up in another way. Honorable members will see by reference to paragraph (d) of clause 63 that the power to make a common rule shall be equal to the right to make a common rule applying to any industry affected by the award. That is rather a vague expression. We could understand a common rule applying to the industries which are represented before the court - we could understand the expression as applied to those two litigant interests. Suppose, however, that there were a dispute between two bodies, and some other bodies had, to a certain extent, a sphere of industry which overlapped. Is it contended that the common rule could be made to apply to industries not within the range of the industrial dispute before the court?
– There might be two branches of the same industry.
– Those are all questions of fact to be covered by definitions. My honorable and learned friend the Attorney-General uses expressions which sound very beautiful at the time, but when the light has faded and we have to read his remarks by daylight, we sometimes find a wealth of language which affords no information. I wish to give a vivid illustration of that in connexion with this matter of the common rule. I wish, however, in fairness to say that this remark does not apply to the great majority of the sentences of my honorable and learned friend. I just happened to see this one, and I do not say there are any others in the whole of his speech. This one attracted my attention, and it bears upon the common rule and the range of it. The Attorney-General said that “ the common rule will not be necessarily the common rule throughout Australia.” That expression gives us no information. Of course, it will not necessarily be the common rule throughout Australia, but the question is - Can the court make it so ? None of us know what a court will do in a given matter. No one can use the term “ necessarily” in connexion with the award of any court, but when we are dealing with matters of jurisdiction we want something more definite than that. The first point is - Can this common rule be applied at all beyond the area of the dispute which is being adjudicated upon ?
– In my opinion it can.
– Now my honorable and learned friend is speaking plainly. When he gives us expressions that have no scent of the kerosene lamp about them he is always clear. It is only when he is making his great orations that he is obscure. I doubt whether that opinion is a sound one. I do not think that the words which limit everything the words as to disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State - would permit the court to exercise jurisdiction in States in which there is no dispute.
Mr.Deakin. - It may prevent a dispute.
– The word “ prevent “ is a useful one, and it may be used very widely. Under the word “ prevent “ you could hang half the heads of the Employers’ and Workmen’s Unions in order to prevent a dispute. It is a most elastic expression.
– Would the right honorable and learned gentleman call that arbitration or conciliation ?
– It might lead to conciliation amongst those who were not executed. However, I doubt whether this common rule can be made applicable throughout Australia. If it can, we shall give the court one of the biggest contracts that any court ever had to undertake. Just think of the magnitude and the range and diversity of the interests involved in governing every individual man in every individual shop or factory throughout this vast continent.
– Surely the first quality of Federal legislation is that it shall apply to the whole of Australia, unless it is specially qualified ?
– Yes, but mypointisthatthere is a qualification, and that the whole of our power is governed by the second clause of the Bill. What can it mean ? The clause is deceptive if any wider meaning than I have indicated is to be applied to it.
– Surely not.
– Just listen to it. “This Act has relation only.” Surely the word “ relation “ is an elastic word. There is surely a certain amount of relation in governing a man working in a shop in Fremantle by an edict of the court relating to a dispute in an eastern State. The clause reads -
This Act has relation only to industrial disputes which extend beyond the limits of any one State.
I do not desire to be hypercritical. This is too great a question for anything of that kind. I only wish to point out substantial matters. But certainly that language does not prepare a man in a shop in Fremantle, or Brisbane, or Hobart, to learn that under this Bill his every day work - not only an employer, but a workman - is governed, or may be affected by a decision of the court of which he has never heard. I admit that every objection is to be discounted by the fact that we have such a great and pressing object in view that we must be careful that we do not, in the refinement of our difficulties and objections, destroy the broad benefit running through the measure. I do not wish to do that. There is another point we must not forget. There is a provision empowering the court to prescribe a minimum rate of wages, and to fix a lower rate in the case of persons unable to earn that minimum rate. This question of the minimum rate is, I suppose, the one most canvassed in labour circles all the world over. We do not know what the effect may be. It may work badly. If the minimum rate is to be regarded as the lowest reasonable rate, it may inflict the greatest injury on workmen ; and if, on the other hand, it is to be construed as the highest possible rate, then the greatest injustice may be inflicted upon employers. It is possible that the minimum rate may be held to be the highest rate. How any one could fix a minimum rate which would justly apply to hundreds of thousands of men,and the results of their labours, I cannot understand.
– That is why it is called a minimum rate, and not an average rate.
– If it is designed to mean the lowest reasonable rate it will be far less objectionable to the employers. Of course, we hope that upon this question we are prepared to legislate in a spirit of absolute disinterestedness as between employers and their workmen. Even my honorable friends who represent more particularly the interests of labour will, I am sure, endeavour, as we all will, to deal with absolute fairness and equity as legislators who have great powers of interference with the occupations and interests of the different classes of the community. We are engaged in a most serious undertaking, and I am sure that we are all anxious to make it a success. The object of every one who wishes to support the Bill is to make it as little objectionable as possible, to disturb individual interests as slightly as possible, and to promote individual initiative and enterprise as much as possible. There is another point which requires very serious consideration in the interests of those working men who are not members of trades unions. I do not attempt to disguise my opinion that trades unions are the evolution of intelligence. So far as my reading and study of history and human nature have gone I have come to look upon a union - whether of employers or of men - as thef orm in which the most intelligent spirits assert their vitality and their power. I entertain no sort of unfriendliness towards them, but rather the opposite. I have the keenest belief in that sort of evolution which makes labour speak with one voice as much as possible, and which causes capital to speak with one voice as much as possible. With only two voices reason may prevail, but in the tower of industrial Babel what . hope is there of any rational settlement of the everlasting differences between these two great powers? But some provision needs to be made for those men who, whether rightly or wrongly, are not members of labour bodies, and I am now commenting upon the sort of organization which will be registered under this Act. I jim not referring to trades unions generally. The remarks which I am about to make - and I hope that the House will consider them - bear upon the difference between men who are members of organizations which are registered under this Act, and individuals who are not members of those organizations, because, when men are equally able and respectable, a legal preference is to be given to members of registered industrial organizations as against men who are not members of them. That opens up a consideration of this sort : we do not need to read much before we find that, just as the capitalistic employers have their methods of looking after their own interests so trades unions may possibly have their methods of looking after their interests. I suppose that when work is slack there will be nothing more embarrassing to the members of trades unions who will have a preference, than the efforts of a large number of persons who are engaged in the same calling to become members of their organizations.
– That matter must be attended to.
– Something must be done. For instance, if some provision were made in the schedule of the Bill as to the rules of these organizations - if some safeguard were placed upon the face of the law which would prevent an abuse of it, in the nature of an exclusion of men who desired to become members of these trades unions which will have a preference - it would only be a matter of common fairness, because it would promote the interests of the organizations concerned in a legitimate way. Every fairminded organization of labour must rejoice at an accession of strength.
– That is provided for in paragraph (A) of schedule (6). The rules will include the terms upon which members are admitted.
– I want something infinitely more clear than that. I do not wish to leave to the organizations the determination of these matters. I desire to assure to every man in Australia that when he comes along he shall have the same right of entrance to a trades union as had the members. May I suggest to the Attorney-General that he should give that matter his attention, because we cannot too strongly put the stamp of fairness and consideration upon this Bill. These are-men whom we must consider.
– Still, I think that the matter is provided for.
– I do not see any evidence of it. At any rate, the Bill does not provide for it as clearly as it should do. There is another clause in this Bill, and it is practically the only other to which I shall to-day direct attention. I refer to clause 92. Perhaps I may be allowed to point out that I do not object to that clause, because it is impossible to make the measure a success without it. Therefore, I am not selecting it merely by w»3’ of objection. But it must be remembered that, in the ordinary operation of this Bill, no labour body will come under its provisions unless it registers under it. The act of the labour bodies is a voluntary one - they need not come under its provisions if they abstain from registering. But the employers cannot escape from itS operation, because it applies to every employer, even if he be not a member of any organization.
– It applies equally.
– It applies to organizations on either side.
– But in the case of labour bodies “organization “ means a body of 100 employes, whilst in that of an employer he need not have another employer alongside him to come within the scope of the court. An employer if he employs 1 00 men, who does not register under the Act is equally bound by it as if he did. But 100 labour unions representing 100,000 men need not register under the Act, and would not be subject to.it..
– Is not the point this : that you must register to be a plaintiff?
– I wish to point out that there are two parties to a dispute - the one who makes a complaint and the other whom he drags into the court. The language of the interpretation clause makes the matter perfectly clear. That is the clause to which we must turn for information as to the meaning to be attached to different words. In that provision, industrial dispute is defined to mean “ A dispute in relation to industrial matters arising between an employer or an organization of employers “ - I ask honorable members to note the alternative - on the one part, and an organization of employes on the other part.” Now, au organization of employes under another interpretation means one registered under this Act, so that an employer who is not a member of an organization registered under this Act is liable to be taken into court by a body that is organized and registered. But the labour bodies -which are not registered are not liable to be brought into court by a body which is registered. To my mind, it is impossible to carry out the Act, unless some distinction is made. But I am sorry to say that in the discharge of our public duties we have reached this state of things : that if an honorable member declares his intention to support the second reading of a Bill, and ventures to criticise any word of its provisions, the public are at once told, “ Here is a nice contradiction. Here is a gentleman who is going to vote for the Bill, and who has been picking it to pieces for half-an-hour.” That sort of namby-pamby business on the part of Members of Parliament is absolutely unworthy of this House, and of the people of Australia. It is our duty not only to think for ourselves, but to endeavour to have some regard for the rights and interests of others. In matters affecting capital and labour, we must remember that for the moment we should rise above the facts - that we are in a country where manhood suffrage obtains, where labour numbers 10,000 for every capitalist, and where we have to do or try to do as much justice to that one man as we should do to the 10,000 who are prepared to applaud our whole souled admiration of this measure. I am anxious - perhaps some one else would have done so later on - to take up this attitude before the public : I am anxious to say that lam aware of this and of that; that J. recognise the hardships of this provision and of that provision ; and that in the interests of this great experiment, I feel that we are bound, since we have to deal with the matter at all - and it is infinitely better to deal with it before a war than during one - to show every man whose interests are at stake, and . the public generally, that we know what’ we are doing. We are bound to show them that we are not accepting the Bill because it has been well and ably drafted by a distinguished man, but that we are subjecting it to the* keenest possible scrutiny. That is the course which I intend to follow from first tolast in the consideration of this measure. In clause 92 we have a power of the most arbitrary character ; but I say again that unless such a power were in the Bill itmight well fail at the critical moment. The clause is just as far reaching - and fairly so - in its effects upon the trades unions of Australia as it is upon the employers. The question of whether a body is registered or not is not considered in clause 92. A great organization of employers, for selfish reasons, might try to evade a tribunal oE this kind in a case of dispute ; on the other hand, a great body of employes, for similar reasons, might endeavour to evade this tribunal when the necessity for its work arose. But this clause, which I think is absolutely necessary, provides that if a dispute has arisen, and is of a character necessary to enable the Federal Court to deal with it, the court may have it brought before it. The hands of the court are not. to be tied at the most critical stage, perhaps, in our history, because some one or other has not registered. The effect of this power is that, given the constitutional right to intervene, the court can bring before it any body of employers or of workmen in a trades union. Of course, it would be manifestly impossible for the court to bring an individual before it, but any trades union, or branch of a trades union, may be brought before it. The Governor-General in Council will have to take the political responsibility for its action. But there is a safeguard, because the GovernorGeneral cannot take the action of bringing the parties before the. court except on the recommendation of the President. Thus, there is a double safeguard. We have first the initiative of the High Court and the responsibility of the Governor-General in Council. The power may in some cases perhaps bring Ministers into a very unhappy and delicate position. But we shall all hope that if this Bill is passed, whatever Ministry may be in power, will act firmly and fearlessly, without regard to. the power - of any body of employers or any .body of workmen. This court will have the full right to drag from its recess any trades union which is plotting mischief, or any employers’ federation which is similarly engaged ; there will be power to bring them, before the court and to adopt rules for- them. That is another new departure of an extreme character. If these bodies will not frame rules for themselves the court will have power to frame them for them. That is a provision which although unusual and extraordinary, is absolutely necessary if this Bill is to be an effective living instrument to effect the grand object for which it has been framed. No man is more sensible than I am of the multitude of points in which the provisions of this Bill seem to shock all one’s instincts of personal liberty, and all one’s desire to see a free Commonwealth composed of free and independent subjects. I cannot help feeling that this Bill, instead of marking, in one sense, an enlightened stage, is one of the most humiliating confessions that have to be made - that with all our civilization and development, these great powers have not yet become sufficiently civilized to be able to settle their disputes as other men are generally able to do. In no sense is this a triumph for humanity. It is a confession that the ordinary rules have failed, and that we have to grope about for some method which is clumsy, and, perhaps, inequitable, with all the hardships which are incident to a state of civil war, or martial law. But, still we, in this young Commonwealth, viewing the history of the great nations where these giant interests fight to a point at which human life is ruthlessly sacrificed - remembering that behind all these employers and workmen there stands that great helpless element in our national life, the women and children of Australia; remembering that the homes of labour will, under a Bill of this sort, be more secure from the misery of poverty, and the agitation and dangerous ebullition of class feeling; remembering the great humanity which deals with this imperfect state of things - will, I hope, cheerfully pass this Bill, trusting that the time will come when, under a more rational and voluntary arrangement of intelligent men representing these great interests, a method will be found of settling their disputes without any recourse to legal machinery.
-I was indeed delighted to listen to the eloquent speech delivered by the AttorneyGeneral in introducing this Bill to the notice of the House. It seemed to me that a happy fate had directed that it should be his lot to introduce it. I felt that he spoke with the enthusiasm which he possesses for the subject of industrial conciliation, and with a force which it would be impossible to excel, and which was convincing evidence that he had the subject at heart. I know full well that he has, since it was my lot years and years ago to obtain his valuable assistance in framing, for the first time in Australia, a measure for industrial conciliation embodying the compulsory element. But, great as was my delight in listening to the Attorney-General, I was almost equally delighted by the remarks which fell from the leader of the Opposition. It seems to me that we have come to a desirable stage in Australian history, when both sides of the House are determined to address themselves to this all-important question, independently of all party considerations, for the purpose of achieving the best results in the interests of the whole community. It seems to me that in circumstances such as these it is evident that there is not likely to be any substantial opposition to the second reading of the Bill, and that it will be an advantage to get into Committee in order that we may address ourselves to the details of a subject with which we intend to deal liberally. I fully recognise all the difficulties which have been pointed out by the leader of the Opposition. Any legislation of this kind is of an experimental character. I have yet to learn that Australia fears to embark upon a course of legislation for which there is no established precedent. She is content to make her own laws for cases as they arise. As in the States legislation which’ was previously without precedent has been adopted with the most beneficial results, so I hope that here, in the Parliament of Australia, the same course will be followed, with equally good results. I first propose to touch shortly upon some of the observations which fell from the leader of the Opposition. My intention is to condense my remarks as much as possible, and to avoid travelling over the ground which has been trodden by the AttorneyGeneral, because it would be a work of supererogation to say what has been already said by him. The sooner we get to close quarters with the details of this measure the better. The leader of the Opposition referred to - amongst other matters - clause 2, which, he considers, clashes with clauses 37 and 38. Knowing something of the drafting of the measure, I know that it is not intended to do that, and, recognising the point which could be made as the clause now stands, I introduced into the first part of it the following words -
Notwithstanding anything apparently to the contrary hereinafter contained.
If that amendment had been adopted, the clause would have read -
Notwithstanding anything apparently to the contrary hereinafter contained, this Act has relation only to industrial disputes which extend beyond the limits of anY one State.
I take it that if that amendment had been inserted, the .objection of the leader of the Opposition would not have been expressed. I do not know quite why it was not inserted. I did not see the clause in print. The words were written into the draft. As the amendment was not my own handwriting, there is not so much excuse for its omission as there might otherwise have been.
– Would the insertion of those words have taken the matter any further ?
– Their insertion would have prevented the suggestion which has been made that the clause is inconsistent with subsequent provisions, because the clause would have contained the declaration that it is paramount to all subsequent clauses - that we are dealing only with industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, and that subsequent clauses which might be differently construed are not so intended, as such effect is specially provided against in clause 2. I hope that the Attorney-General, if he finds that the point taken is otherwise well founded, will try to meet the leader of the Opposition by the insertion of necessary words of the character to which I refer,
– I remember that the right honorable member proposed the insertion of those words.
– Yes, and I think that their insertion would have been sure to satisfy the leader of the Opposition. I take it that our object is to deal only with matters with which the Constitution empowers us to deal - disputes extending beyond the limits of a State. Here I should like to say this : The word “ prevent “ suggests action by the Commonwealth before a dispute extends beyond the limits of a State. We all know the advantage of earliest action in these matters. The sooner one interferes in regard to these disputes, the sooner opportunity is given for the “interchange between the disputants of conciliatory expressions and views, the better.
– One can sometimes prevent a house from being burnt down by blowing out a match.
– The very thing. It is one thing to conciliate people on the borders of a dispute, before passion has been aroused and they are practically at each others throats, and another thing to interfere when they are in the heat of temper, and the veriest trifle may develop into a deep-seated grievance. I think that mollifying influences should bebrought to bear with all possible despatch. One might .just as well seek to organize a. fire brigade in the midst of a conflagration as to arrange for conciliation and arbitration when people are in the thick of a dispute. We hear of the rejection of proposals, for conciliation and arbitration. Why ? Because human nature generally wants to getall it can. I make no distinction between masters and men in this respect. I trust that in a matter of this sort I shall never make such a distinction. I say treat all fairly ; treat all alike. Such schemes as I have been associated with in this respect have, I venture to say, been marked by fair play. It has been my wish to provide for fair play. If any proposal which I havesubmitted elsewhere had been less fair to one side and more partial to the other, itmight have been received with greater enthusiasm by one side than by tha other ;. but I conceive that in a matter of this sort we have a sacred duty to perform. Justiceshould be the foundation of whatever provision we make. No special heed should begiven to one side or the other, butfair provision should be made for both. I defy any honorable member to find within the four corners of the Bill which we are now engaged in considering any provision whichmakes an unjust distinction between masters and men, or makes any difference at all between them. The advocacy of .the Bill’ must be founded on fair play to both masters and men to commend the measure tothe public mind, and to make it one of -which we shall afterwards be proud, instead of one of which we may hereafter be ashamed. The leader of the Opposition hascalled attention to the fact that the Bill differs in important respects from both theNew Zealand and the New South Walesmeasures.
– Hear, hear. And for thebetter, too.
– In both New Zealand and New South Wales considerable success has been achieved by the laws in force there. But in New Zealand conciliation is provided for by boards and arbitration by a court. As a result, the conciliation hoards have been made the means of delaying and defeating justice, and the trouble and expense of investigations before them has had all to be gone over again in the Arbitration Court. In New South Wales there is noword of conciliation within the four corners of the Act. There, only arbitration and the giving of awards is provided for. There is no duty cast upon any one to try to bring the disputants together by conciliation. Here I reecho every word that has been said about the importance of a settlement being arrived at by conciliation rather than by the making of an award. But both the system of conciliation and that of arbitration are infinitely preferable to the present state of affairs when the settlement of a dispute is in no way dependent upon the right of the parties, but upon their might - might which may be opposed to right; might, which may be but fancied, but still rules. When agreement is obtained by conciliation there is no heart-burning, no feeling of resentment, no unwilling yielding to superior force, but, on the contrary, a sense that right has been done ; and each party is content to go on his way and to make the best of things. But when the strength of one of the parties is beaten down after a prolonged strife, and poverty, misery, loss of interest on capital, or threatened ruin has compelled a settlement, with what different feelings do the parties return to the renewal of the work upon which may depend their daily existence ? The beaten party is discontented, animated by feelings which we can well imagine, and which it is not necessary to describe. It looks to the future to bring about a reversal of the result of to-day, and is determined at the earliest opportunity to take advantage of any fancied weakness of its opponent to renew the strife. In New South Wales they do not provide for conciliation. What, then, do they do? They exercise the power when the parties come before the court by refusing to adjudicate. There is no trust or duty on the president or any member of the court to exert himself in the slightest degree to bring about a better state of things. The parties are left to their own resources. I am pleased to think that this justifies the course I took thirteen years ago when framing a Bill dealing with this subject. “Under that measure, the President is at all times charged with the duty of endeavouring to reconcile the parties to industrial disputes. Under that provision much good has been done in the State from which I come by the interference of the President in disputes. The first President was the Hon. Mr. Justice Bundey, and the second is His Honour Mr. Commissioner Russell, whose good fortune it has been to exercise a reconciling influence successfully in several disputesamong various classes. Let usselectforour President the highest judicial authority obtainable. As regards the High Court, this Assembly did not hesitate to make what was considered by its majority a sufficient provision - a provision far in excess of what the tribunal provided for by this Bill will cost. Yet I venture to tell honorable members that the avoidance of a strike such as the maritime strike of 1890 by the conciliatory influence of the President, or of a board of the character to which I have referred, would have saved Australia a sum far exceeding all the sums which have occupied the attention of the other judicial Courts of the States throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth for years. In disputes between private individuals, hundreds of thousands of pounds have been involved, but who shall over-estimate the saving to Australia had we been spared the disaster to which I refer?
– Or the shearers’ strike.
– Or the shearers’ strike. I do not consider the Bill likely to be called into operation in comparatively small matters, though there will be cases, and I hope they will be few, in which it will be necessary to interfere. But no State tribunal has authority to deal with disputes affecting more than its own State. Federal legislation alone can deal with such disputes. In view of the extent of the ramification of organizations which takes part in industrial disputes, State legislation is powerless. I can tell honorable members that it was the maritime strike of 1890 which led to the introduction of legislation in the various States - I allude especially to New Zealand and South Australia. I hope that we shall have no more strikes of that character. We feel that they are less likely to occur if we provide for tribunals which will satisfactorily deal with them when they arise, and will endeavour to nip in the bud troubles which may, if they are allowed to . develop, cause the utmost difficulty. No attempt is made within the four corners of the Bill to provide for dealing with a dispute before it extends to two States. But I am inclined to think that we have the power to prevent this exclusion. “ Prevention” is the word used in addition to “ settlement.” What does “ prevention “ mean 1 Surely the interpretation of our Constitution is not of a character which will deny the most beneficial results. It is well that the court should have power to interfere to some extent when a dispute is likely to extend beyond the limits of any one State before it actually does so extend. It seems to me that that is included in the full interpretation of the law as we have it, and as it was intended by the framers of the Constitution. At the same time, I find no fault with the Government for not at this moment contending for that larger interpretation. In not providing for the exercise of the larger power under the Bill, I take it that they do not attempt to abandon the right to the larger construction.
– Hear, hear.
– At the same time we are experimenting, and as we proceed we shall learn. It may be wise - I think it is wise - at the present moment to proceed on the more limited lines ; but when, by the aid of the High Court, it is possible, or when it becomes necessary, to deal with the matter on a more extended basis, I hope that the Government will not be reluctant, not only to claim that power to which they are entitled, but to call upon the House to exercise it for the good of the Commonwealth. I think we do well to avoid the mistake which was committed by New Zealand in providing for a separate Court of Conciliation, and the mistake which was made by New South Wales in providing for no measure of conciliation at all. ‘In this connexion I am interested in recollecting the fact that, in 189.1, I was examined before the New South Wales Strikes Commission, in Sydney, and had the pleasure of giving evidence, and of placing before them the Bill which I had drafted on the subject. On this particular point I was questioned, and answered as follows : -
It has been pointed out to this Commission that the first work of a board is conciliatory work ? -No doubt.
And failing any arrangement being come to by conciliation, there then becomes scope for adjudication ? - Yes, I agree so far.
Under 3’our Bill you seem to do both under the same terms and under the same provisions ? - No. I give priority to the duty of reconciling the parties, and reconciliation is a question of agreement ; and if one party, by holding out, renders conciliation impossible, then I give the board power to make an award. I think it is better to confine these two powers to one tribunal, otherwise delay would be caused, and other conditions might intervene. 1 think also that by that delay one side might be encouraged to persevere in a position it would not otherwise adhere to.
You see that under the friendly sound of conciliation you really introduce adjudication ? - Not exactly ; I think I have drawn the distinction very clearly. If you will refer to “Procedure,” clauses 44 and 45, you will see in clause 44 that every board shall “carefully and expeditiously inquire into and investigate any industrial dispute”; and in clause 45 it is provided that in course of such inquiry “ the board shall make all such suggestions, and do all such things, as shall appear to them as right and proper to be made or done for securing a fair and amicable settlement of the matters in dispute by agreement between the parties.” That, therefore, is their first duty; but it then goes on - “and, if no such settlement shall be arrived at, shall decide the question according to the merits and the substantial justice of the case.” Then the matter of conciliation, as opposed to a final award, is emphasized by clause 40, which says - “ It shall be lawful for the board to temporarily refer the matters to a committee of their number, consisting of an equal number of representatives of employers and employes, who shall endeavour to reconcile the parties.” I think it is clear that the first duty is reconciliation, and I provide several facilities in that way : and I only declare that, if no settlement take place, then an award shall be given.
Your use of ‘ ‘ decision “ practically means “ adjudication”? - Yes.
But a Board of Conciliation proper could not decide anything: it could not come to a decision ? - This is a Board of Conciliation and Arbitration, and there is no doubt whatever about the functions it possesses. The term “conciliation “ points to the primary duties of the board, and it is just as attractive as any other.
Still you see there are two duties to perform ? - Undoubtedly.
There is the double duty of conciliation and arbitration K - Undoubtedly.
And in your opinion it is a question of detail whether you have one board or two boards ? - I should not like to have two boards. Speed and finality are desirable, and if the Board of Conciliation had no power to decide, you would be confronted with difficulties that did not arise in the first c-ise.
I am pleased to think that the Bill which I then brought under the notice of the Commission has, to some extent, been utilized by others in the work they have accomplished upon the same subject.
– Hear, hear ; by every one of them.
– Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to have such recognition by any of the States, and when I notice that the House of Representatives of the Parliament of Australia is prepared to address itself to the task of conciliation and arbitration with an enthusiasm which has seldom been evidenced before, I feel that some of us may take pleasure and pride in having had some share in paving the way. I have never looked upon this as a party question, and I never will. I believe that this legislation is for the good of both masters and men.Who could overestimate the loss of wages whichhas resulted from strikes? Who could compute the loss of interest upon capital and of capital itself from similar causes ? To what more noble work is it possible for any of us to address ourselves than the furtherance of industrial peace, and how base is the man who thinks of party considerations in connexion with a question of this kind. Here I should like to say a word or two to honorable members regarding a matter upon which I can today speak with a freedom that I did not previously enjoy.In this connexion I have known no party, and have not hesitated to seek suggestions and advice from all quarters. Astonishment was recently expressed when the quarters in which I had sought advice were revealed, and I desire to say that my conduct has been consistent from first to last, and will continue so to the end. With regard to the first Bill I drafted the work was new to a considerable extent, and it was undertaken in the public interest. I was a private member, and I had no object but the wish to do what was right in a great cause. I drafted my Bill and I submitted it to all sections. Among others, I consulted my old friend and late colleague, the Attorney-General. There is no man, perhaps, from whom I have at times been more divided by party lines than Sir Josiah Symon. His aid was also sought, and freely given. I recollect also that I have in my possession one of the original drafts of my Bill, annotated by Mr. Speaker, with whom at the least I was not associated politically at that particular time. I also have drafts returned which bear my indorsement “ Confidential ; any suggestions thankfully received up to such and such a date.” These I received and acknowledged in every case. It is strange that when I am able to point to a record of this description it should now be suggested that I acted in the slightest degree unnaturally in what I did recently. I think I did right. I have always thought it a good thing to get the best information upon a subject regarding whichI wished to do the best work, and I chink that if more subjects were approached in that spirit the better perhaps might be the result. There was no secrecy in regard to the matter. In a speech which I made on the 17th December, 1890, in the Legislative Assembly of South Australia, I had not proceeded three minutes before J had informed that House of what I was doing. I am reported as having spoken upon the question as follows: -
His object in bringing it forward was to explain it, so that it might be better understood than at present, and to invite the assistance of members and the general public in perfecting it. He was already considerably indebted to honorable members and to many gentlemen outside the House for very valuable suggestions.
– Were any employers consulted in this case?
– I went to every one I could think of who was likely to be able to assist me.
– Not one of the employers had a copy of the draft Bill.
– I can tell the honorable member that those whom I have named and many others who were consulted were men at whose hands the employers have suffered little ; they gave me the best of advice in the interests of all. Some people thought it was curious that it was not mentioned that the members of the Opposition had an opportunity of considering the Bill now before us ; but, with the permission of the leader of the Opposition, I am prepared to tell honorable members that I informed a very prominent member of the Opposition that I was seeking advice from various quarters, that I considered the Bill was not of a party character, and that if the leader of the Opposition would only name some honorable members who would like to look at the Bill and make suggestions I should be happy to submit it to them. Under circumstances such as these, what becomes of the suggestion of party lines?
– It is strange that we never heard anything of the matter.
– There is no doubt about it. Now that it is known, Jet the fact be appreciated, and I am sure that honorable members generally will consider I am right in mentioning it with the permission to which I have referred. When I first introduced this Bill in 1890, the chief object which I had in view was to deal with questions of vast importance - questions such as the maritime strike which occurred in that year, and which was one of the worst industrial disasters from which Australia has ever suffered. I go further, and say that the same reason - the maritime strike- - animated Mr. Reeves in dealing with this particular matter. The one cause of special attention being directed to the question was the necessity for conciliation and arbitration to avoid disasters of the character I have mentioned. States may very well be left to deal with every-day industrial disputes within their own borders by means of their local legislation. The Bill provides that no organization of less than 100 members can bring a dispute under the notice of the Arbitration Court. Large matters, such as the maritime and shearers’ disputes, can, however, alone be dealt with by Federal legislation. Here I should like to call the attention of honorable members to the fact that in 1890, when I first spoke upon this matter, I recognised the necessity for interference, and that Federal legislation would be ultimately requisite for the satisfactory settlement of disputes of this sort. I spoke as follows : -
It was difficult to find a subject of greater importance than the supply of facilities for the settlement of industrial disputes. At present there were no facilities whatever. As a result, contending parties in labour disputes generally attempt to wear each other out. People interested, either as employers of labour or labourers, had no means of adjusting their differences, except by having recourse either to a lock-out or to a strike. Those were two barbarous expedients. Lock-outs and strikes were productive of disaster, injury, and, in many instances, ruin to capitalists and employes. The waste of energy, the loss of capital, and the loss of the means of profitably employing capital and labour, were hardly possible to be over-estimated. They had had a terrible experience lately in connexion with one of the most important labour disputes in the civilized world - the greatest strike on record, so far as Australasia was.concerned. It would not be possible - however the Bill might be construed - for the Legislature to pass a Bill which would finally dispose satisfactorily of industrial disputes. The matter must eventually, on account of the extensive ramifications of the unions, become one for Federal legislation. (Hear, hear.) Still, each colony might strive to prepare the way for Federal legislation by introducing to the notice of its local Legislature such schemes as might appear to be effectual for the purpose.
Here I desire to call, the attention of honorable members to, the fact that Mr. Reeves was induced to move in this connexion by the same cause - the maritime strike. He wrote as follows in a letter which was rerecently published in a New Zealand newspaper : -
I now come to the question of mv indebtedness to Mr. Kingston. In the latter part of 1890, I came to the conclusion, as the result of the maritime strikes, that it was necessary, to try compulsory arbitration in labour disputes.
I would call attention to the origin of steps for industrial conciliation in the two States which I have mentioned, and I put to honorable members this : That in connexion with industrial legislation, long since initiated, strenuously fought for, and now about to bear fruit in the Federal area, we ought to make as sure as we possibly can that the cause of sailors and ship-owners shall be dealt with, and dealt with satisfactorily, by making provision for the prevention of the recurrence of those disasters which first directed attention to the need for legislation upon these lines. How far shall we fall short of our duty in this respect if, as regards the prime cause of all action in this connexion, we fail to deal satisfactorily with the matter to which I have referred - a strike which, though spent years ago, may all too soon recurl I am deeply concerned at this moment lest, in connexion with maritime matters, the Bill should pass in a form of which I cannot approve. Not only do I point out the origin - as regards Mr. Reeves and myself - of the legislation which was introduced in New Zealand and South Australia, but I ask honorable members to recollect what has been the Federal feeling in this connexion since then. In 1891 I was attending .the Sydney session of the Federal Convention. There I endeavoured to obtain power for the Federal Parliament to deal with the question and it was refused. Afterwards, in 1897, in the Convention which met in Adelaide, Mr. Higgins sought to obtain the necessary power, and I did my best to support him. We were defeated, and it was not until the final session of the Convention, which was held in this very chamber in 1898, that we obtained the requisite power. We obtained it in the terms which have been referred to, but which we would have made much more elastic had it been possible to do so. In 1891, in 1897 and in 1898- every time reference was made to the importance of Federal legislation upon this subject - it was urged for the purpose of preventing a recurrence of the maritime trouble - the old trouble, of which we had had such bitter experience. The position at the present moment is that there is trouble ahead. Australian masters and Australian men are doing their best to continue an amicable arrangement as long as they can. The position is such that an agreement regulates the existing state of things until the 31st January, 1904; and that recently, in pursuance of the provisions of that agreement, which was entered into in December, 1902, the ship-owners and seamen met, when the seamen could not concede a proposal for a reduction of wages. The agreement at present operating is the only bond between the parties, and it expires upon the 31st of January of next year. The difficulty is that the ship-owners are exposed to competition of the severest character. As honorable members know, I believe in protection. I believe in protecting our local industries against cruel and unfair competition. I believe in the importance of the ship - owning industry. I believe in the preservation for Australia of the Australian coastal trade. I do not propose anything to the extent of preventing competitors who subscribe to the same conditions and pay the same wages from sharing in that trade. But I know the competition to which the Australian ship-owners are at the present moment subjected. Under the agreement to which I have referred, they have to pay - I am speaking roughly and am notoverstating the figures in the slightest degree - from £6 to £7 per month–
– It is £6 10s. per month.
– They have to pay their seamen £6 10s. per month, and to compete with others who pay only from £3 to £4 per month.
– We also pay correspondingly higher rates to firemen.
– As I am reminded by the honorable member, our ship-owners pay correspondingly higher rates to firemen. Ought such a state of things to continue ? What must be the result? If a state of things of that kind is to continue the ship-owners will either have to cut down wages or surrender the coastal trade to the foreigner.
– They say they do not want the Bill.
– I hear the suggestion that they do not want it.
– They do not want it piecemeal.
– Honorable members may give me any reason they like for postponing the day, but it will not avail. We ought to interfere without a.moment’s delay. What is the example set by other countries? America absolutely denies to the foreigner all share” and participation in her coastal trade.
– Even around Cape Horn.
– Yes. What have we to do ? Is not America an intelligent nation? It is not a nation of which the world has reason to be proud. On no condition whatever does it permit our state of things to exist. I do not ask the House to go so far as they have gone. But I say that we should provide at least for equal conditions in our coastal trade. Who could seriously think of dealing more rigorously with our own people - with Australian ship-owners - than with foreign ship-owners? Who would dare to approve of such a policy ? Let any one who would dare to advocate it, stand before any audience in Australia, and I venture to say that his doom would be pronounced. Does this Bill deal with a competition of this kind ? I assert that it does not. Does it attempt to deal with it ? No. Does it provide equal treatment for all? Does it provide for the exclusion of the foreigner from our coastal trade? Nothing of the sort. The foreigner is to be free as the sunlight. Does it provide that when a foreign ship-owner interferes with our coastal trade he shall subscribe to the conditions to which Australian ship-owners subscribe? No. A distinction, and an invidious distinction, is made, but not in favour of our own ship-owners. We talk largely of our Empire, but we are favouring, not the British ship-owners but the foreigner. The first trouble in this connexion related to a German ship known as the Shamrock. Was it not an audacious assumption of the name? She came from Hamburg, where she was registered and manned, and the wages paid to her crew were of the character to which I have referred.
– Where is she now ?
– She is wrecked. Trouble also arose in connexion with two other ships, the Ivedene and Heathdene, which were under British articles. They went at times outside the coastal trade, but participated in it now and again, and the wages which their crews received were not according to our scale. Do wo attempt to deal in this Bill with vessels of that kind ? I can hardly believe that honorable members have appreciated the position as it really is. If a maritime strike occurs-
– There is not the slightest chance of one.
– If a maritime strike occurred, it would probably relate to. the matter of wages.
– That is not likely.
– It is the unlikely thing that happens.
– The right honorable member seems to wish it to happen.
– That is an idle charge for the honorable member to make, and one which he knows to be false. My whole history repels the idea that I would favour a strike. I have fought for the avoidance of hundreds of them, and I have done my best to prevent them. My history for years and years past proves that I have always taken up that position, and how does it lie in the honorable member’s month to make such a charge against me ?
– Order. Did I understand the right honorable member to say that the charge made by the honorable member for Kooyong was false? If so, he must withdraw that statement.
– It is withdrawn.
– Does the right honorable member withdraw the assertion that the statement made by the honorable member for Kooyong is false?
– I bow to any request on your part, Mr. Speaker.
– MayI be permitted, Mr. Speaker, to say that I had no wish to suggest that the right honorable member desired to invite a strike. But he was positively assured by the honorable member for Melbourne.
– Order. The honorable member for Kooyong is only in order in intimating that he accepts; or declines to accept, the withdrawal of the accusation made against him by the right honorable member for South Australia.
– I at once accept the right honorable member’s withdrawal.
– Any one who has any knowledge of my views, and who professes to find in my attitude or actions at any time any appearance of a desire on my part to see a strike, finds that which does not, exist, and such an assertion does no credit to his capacity to make a discovery. The sole provision made in the Bill in reference to the question which I was discussing when the interruption took place, applies to -
Employment by land, or in British ships trading solely between places in Australia, in which persons are employed for pay, hire - and so forth. It has no application whatever to a single foreign ship. In those circumstances it is a proposal which can find no indorsement in the hearts of those who wish to see the protection of Australian industry and Australians, and desire that no preference of this sort shall be given to foreign ships.
– Does the right honorable member think that the Bill carries the power to control British ships ?
– There is no doubt about it. I venture to think that even if I do not convince the honorable member, I shall satisfy the majority of this House in that respect. If we carry the clause in the shape in which it is now proposed, there can be but one result, and that result will be the reduction of the wages of seamen.
– Or the hauling down of the British Flag on the ships engaged in the coastal trade.
– Yes ; I believe in fair play to our ship-owners as well as to our men, and if we carried the clause as it stands, there would be either a reduction of the wages of seamen, or the Australian shipowners would have to go out of the business. I have heard, time and again, complaints, and justly-founded complaints, on the part of people who have embarked their capital in . this direction, as to the nature of the competition to which they are subject. Protection was intended to do away in the home market with competition of the character to which I refer, and it has done so to a considerable extent. What is the position which ought to be taken up to-day in regard to our maritime industry ? Are we to allow this state of things to continue in relation to the foreigner? If so, down will come the Flag. If we passed the Bill in the shape in which it is now proposed, with no authority over the foreigner, and a case went before the court, what would be the result? If I sat as the president of that court, I could not in justice deny to the Australian ship-owner the right to reduce his seamen’s wages. I could not do so because of the fact that he has to pay twice the rate of wages which the foreign ship-owner is called upon to give, and is exposed to competition which can be carried on at half the cost to which he is subjected. “What case would the Australian ship-owner make out when before the court ? He would say - “ You cannot, as regards the foreigner, increase the rate of wages to the Australian level. How, then, amI to live? For the sake of the Flag, for the sake of fair play, and to prevent my ruin, do what you can only do - reduce the price and enable me to hold my place.” How could we get away from such a position as that ?
– The right honorable member defends his proposition solely upon fiscal grounds.
-My suggestion is that the Bill should apply to all who interfere with our coastal trade. The coastal trade is our own. We can appropriate it to ourselves if we choose to do so. We need not allow one ship to carry one passenger or one ton of cargo along our coast.
– It is not our own, but it should be.
– Let us take care that it shall be: This is not a question relating to the fiscal issue ; it is a question of fairness and of justice. To select the foreign ship-owners for free admission to our coastal trade means that Australian shipowners and men must be the victims of cruel competition. That is the position today. The rule proposed to be applied is nothing except a further binding of those whose hands are already sufficiently bound. The cause of the trouble - foreign competition - is to have absolute freedom. I trust that the Attorney-General and his colleagues will not resist, in Committee, amendments such as may be necessary to give the relief sought, and properly claimable, instead of the mockery - that is the expression which I felt justified in applying to the Bill in this respect - of no relief. Instead of relief we have in the Bill a further binding of men who in no way require to be bound. The intruder is welcomed and freed from all restriction, but the native-born is bound again and again, and is left without help so far as the regulation of this competition is concerned. I venture to ask the House how such a position can be justified ? I pause for a reply. The creation of such a position never entered into my mind in connexion with an Arbitration Bill required for maritime purposes. What is the subject on which the masters and men chiefly’ differ ? It is the question of wages. Yet, there is no application of the provisions of the Bill to foreign ships and foreign wages. Foreign wages are to be the rule. The Dutchman, the cheapest worker in the world, and the most exacting ship-owner, are to be admitted free if their vessels fly a. foreign flag. Our own ship-owners, and the British ship-owners in some cases, are selected for regulation ; but we are not to regulate those who compete with them.
– Is it true that the Australian Ship-owners’ Federation gave the right honorable member the assurance that they would not alter the ruling rate of wages for twelve months ?
– I have not spoken to them. Do not let any one be put off with the promise that the ship-owners will not alter the rates of wages for twelve months. For the sake of twelve months’ present peace, are we going to barter away our right to immediate protective legislation? I venture to think not. Put away those frivolous pretexts. Now is the time and opportunity for which we have laboured for years to pass a Federal law to deal with maritime matters, and is it to be used only for the purpose of hampering Australian ship-owners while it allows foreign competitors to go free? I never dreamt of a law of that kind. Whatever may be the provision adopted, I never dreamt that specially favorable treatment would be given to foreigners as compared with Australian ship-owners. Is that the sort of thing we thought we were getting ? When we were dealing with the restriction of alien immigration, we agreed to a provision which places bars and bans upon the crews of all ships not receiving current Australian wages, and are we to be told - as we are told - that the provisions of this Bill are to have effect only as regards British ships trading between Australian ports; that only the crews of our own ships are to be paid the current rate of wages, and that no restriction is to apply in regard to foreign ships or to ships which come from distant parts? I go further. How did the Privy Council rule in the case of Kingston v. Gadd ? That decision is fresh in every one’s knowledge, and has been admitted by the Attorney-General to constitute authority for dealing as we please with matters of this sort.
– That was a revenue law.
– It applied to ships which do not come within the provisions of this Bill. It applied to ships such as the vessels of Hie Orient Company, which finish their voyages in Australia. But this Bill does not apply to such vessels. Any vessel, and above all a foreigner, coming from abroad and finishing its voyage in Australia, or leading here for a voyage to some foreign part, is exempt, even whilst engaged in the coastal trade, from the operations of the Bill. We let the foreign-going, and especially the foreign-owned, vessels go free ; we allow them to cut down rates and compete with our own trade ; and we say that we will not lift a finger to apply the provisions of an industrial conciliation measure to them to save our people from the consequences of their competition. The case in re Keyn, over which the AttorneyGeneral lingered so long, is a decision which has nothing to do with this matter. That case was as follows : - A foreign ship on a foreign voyage happened to come within the three mile limit, and ran into another ship. Some one was killed by the collision, and a charge of manslaughter was laid, the jury bringing in a verdict of guilty. The question was raised whether the ship, being a foreign vessel on a foreign voyage, was subject to the criminal law. Thirteen Judges heard the appeal, and seven of them held that there was no jurisdiction, because, prior to the passing of an Act of the 28th year of Henry VIII., the Lord High Admiral of England had no jurisdiction over foreign vessels on the high seas proceeding, on foreign voyages, and as the statute transferring his jurisdiction to the Criminal Court only transferred the jurisdiction which he then had and nothing else, jurisdiction in the case under appeal had not passed. What on earth had that decision to do with the matter which I am discussing?
– It was ruled that that jurisdiction must be vested by Act of Parliament.
– There is no more virtue in two Acts of Parliament than there is in one. The right honorable gentleman could have saved himself his reference to the Franconia. He made the following admission as to the matters within our own territory : -
What are the matters within its own territory ?’ Amongst others are the loading and unloading of ships with its own goods, and between its own. ports - what is customarily called the coastal trade. The power of the Commonwealth over* that trade is absolute.
As long as vessels do not engage in the coastal trade, I do not much care whether they are subjected to the provisions of this Bill or not. America has shown the extent to which we can go in keeping our coastal trade to ourselves, and has justified Australia in saying that, although we will not. go so far, we shall in regard to our coastal trade, even when that trade is the tradeof a foreigner, require compliance with conditions found by the Conciliation Court tobe just. The foreigner engaged in coastal trade in Australia is sharing that which belongs to us. Honorable members may talk about a Navigation Bill, but I venture tothink that I have not studied my profession, or had the experience which has fallen to me, without knowing something about drafting, and I say that there is no need for any special provision in a Navigation Bill. TheAttorneyGeneral says “ Pass a Navigation Bill, and say that ships sharing in the coastal trade shall be subject to the jurisdiction of our Courts of Conciliation “and Arbitration.”
– Make that one of the conditions of engaging in our coastal trade.
-“ Say Say in the Navigation Bill that one of the conditions of engaging in our coastal trade shall be that the vessels so employed shall be subject to the jurisdiction of our Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration.” I say that it is equally good to provide in a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that the jurisdiction of the courts established under it shall extend to ships engaged in our coastal trade.
– What is the difference between the attitude of the right honorable member and that of the Attorney-General ?’
– There is not the least difference between the two positions. If we were going to pass a Navigation Bill now,, well and good ; I should not care how it was done if it could be done now.
But what we ure asked is to pass this Bill, and to look to the future for something in the shape of a Navigation Bill, which we are to be denied to-day. The right time to provide for the jurisdiction of the courts for conciliation and arbitration is when we are dealing with a Bill such as this. Why did not the Government introduce a Navigation Bill when dealing with the Immigration Restriction Bill, to insert in that measure the provisions which apply to the crews of vessels ? It is not necessary to have two .Bills. It can as well be provided in this Bill that Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration shall Iia ve jurisdiction over all vessels, foreign or local, engaged in the coastal trade as it can be declared in the i Navigation Bill. There is no virtu re in a Navigation Bill as compared with a Conciliation Bill, so long as the authority is constitutionally given by this Parliament ; we can confer it in either measure. There is no merit in a title. Surely a matter of title is not one upon which I would have, parted company with the other members of the Government. I venture to consider that the matter of the disagreement was something substantial. In my opinion it is a substantial cause for a difference to say that those who stand in need of immediate Federal legislation in connexion with maritime matters, and for whom such legislation was chiefly intended, are, instead of gaining relief from sufferings which they have endured in a competition which is hardly to be borne, to be still further denied it, and to be left to the future t0 hope for that which, even if given now, would have been all too long delayed ?
– What is the extent of the competition at present?
– If seamen ever look to the Minister for Defence for a vote in favour of this reform they will look in vain. When the Ministers talk as they do now of this as going to be done, but not just at the present time, a delusive picture is drawn for the public gaze of the members of the Cabinet going before their constituents, and unanimously advocating the reform which I ask. The Minister for Defence does not intend to do that. He knows perfectly well that what I say is so. A picture has been drawn for public acceptance which I venture to think will never be realized. The interruption, of the right honorable gentleman, if it lets out anything at all, lets out an amount of light which renders it impossible for honorable members generally, or for the public, to hope for the realization of the picture which has been drawn for their acceptance, but which his attitude renders impossible.
– I asked the question to gain information ?
– What are the right honorable member’s views on, this subject ? Is he prepared to at any time vote for this Navigation Bill of which he talks ?
– That is not fair. Why does not the right honorable member answer my question ?
– The right honorable gentleman need not try to bother me by seeking for statistics on that subject. We know full well what has been the position for years past ; how the seamen and shipowners have been appealing for relief. I stand in this position : I was asked by the seamen’s representatives what the attitude of the Government would be in regard to, first, a complete Navigation Bill; secondly, iti regard to a short Navigation Bill dealing with wages, &c.; and, thirdly, iri regard to a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. All of them were in my department. As was my duty, I stated that I could not indicate what the attitude of the Government would be until I had consulted those who could authorize me to speak. I met the men pursuant to appointment here to give them the answer which I told them I could not give without authority. What I told them then was this : “ A complete Navigation Bill ? No. Such a measure would be too lengthy to pass this session. A short Navigation Bill? No. A Conciliation and Arbitration Bill ? Yes.” Knowing the circumstances as I then did - and they are now known to all - I made that statement by authority. But would it have been decent of me to tell the men that a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill applying to their case would be introduced when I had reason for thinking that such a Bill would be introduced as would give them no relief ? I venture to think that I should have done wrong indeed in saying that if I had thought that the relief they sought would not be afforded. They asked for three measures ; two of these I denied for the reasons given, and the third, I told them, would apply to their case. How would it lie in my mouth to stand and defend a Bill which would not give relief to our Australian seamen from the competition of foreign. crews and of oversea ships ? How could I, after my promise, introduce a measure which would not have applied to their case, and which would have been of no use to them, seeing that it would afford them no protection against the reduction of their wages to an equality with those paid to their cheapest competitors in the Australian seas ? .
– To what’ authority did the honorable and learned member refer just now ?
– There is only one authority, and that is the Cabinet or its head. I was sorry, as honorable members know, to sever my relations with those with whom it was a pleasure to work, and with whom I have been associated for a long time, but it would have been a sadder day and a sorrier day if, after having led the representatives of the seamen to believe that relief would be given, I had stuck selfishly to my seat in the Cabinet when my pledged word had been overruled and set at nought. What could I have done ? Could I have mentioned the word “ conciliation “ to them whilst I knew that the Bill would contain no provision applying to them? They asked for bread. This would, indeed, have been a stone. Was it thought that I would do such a thing wittingly ? How could I mention a Conciliation Bill and lead them to suppose it would apply to their case, while I knew that it would give them no relief in that respect ? Though I should have been glad to continue in a work in which I have been engaged, early and late, for a matter of- fourteen years in one way or another, a work which has made many of the clauses now before us for consideration familiar to me, it seems to me that I had better stand here as a private member, as I am, and advocate the cause in which I believe rather than resist, as I should have had to resist their claims under the trammels of those with whom I was associated in the Ministry, and who, in differing from me, would have been exercising a right to which they were entitled. Proud as I was of my Ministerial position, I am a prouder and better man to-day than “if I had surrendered my principles. There has been some talk in the press with regard, to my return to office, and statements have been made as if I had receded, or had thought of receding, from the position which a fortnight ago I felt it to be my duty to take up. I never contemplated anything of the sort. I now appeal tomy old colleagues to give these men the relief for which they ask, not at some uncertaindate, but now. Now is the golden opportunity, which may be grasped by means of Federal legislation. ‘ The relief 1 ask for istheir right, and if it is conceded in the Bill I promise that I will sit behind my old friends, that I will work day and night, that I will slave day and night, until theAustralian seamen are permitted by the equitable award of a competent.court to befreed from that foreign competition which is so cruel, and which everything possible should be done to remove.
– In view of the able speeches to which we have listened,, and of the fact that, so far, no opposition has been shown to the measure, perhaps, it would not have been necessary for me or for other honorable members to advance any arguments in support of the principles involved if some sections of the press and the organizations representing the employers had not made persistent efforts, not only tobelittle the object of the measure, but to misrepresent the object at which it is. aimed and the principles underlying it. Therefore, I think that it is necessary, perhaps, to speak at somewhat greater length and to advance a number of argumentswhich might otherwise have been dispensed! with, at least in this Chamber. Mr. P. T. Derham, the president of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, states that thisis hurried legislation, but he is apparently oblivious of the fact that the Government put this measure in the forefront of theprogramme which was announced when the Prime Minister spoke at Maitland, and of the further fact that almost every candi-‘ date for election to this Parliament expressed his opinion one way or the other, and that the great majority of honorable members were returned as supporters of the general principle of compulsory arbitration. Under these circumstances it seems to me that it should be described rather as delayed legislation than as unduly hurried. In view of the important position in which this plank was placed by the Government at the last election, and the important position which it occupied in the Governor’s opening speech this session, I think that the Bill should have been introduced some time ago, in order that we might give it that full consideration to which it is entitled before the House is. prorogued in October. However, I think that there is still time to pass the measure after fair consideration. I am encouraged to believe this, because the right honorable the leader of the Opposition, and a number of honorable members who follow him, as well as the Ministry, are in accord with the members of the labour party so far as the main principles of the measure are concerned. When we assert that there is necessity for legislation of this character, we have to consider the conditions which govern industry at the present time, and I think it must be generally admitted that of recent years the general industrial conditions have become so changed as to necessitate altogether new legislation. In the old days, individual employers gave far greater consideration to the fair claims and the necessities of their employes than has ever been done by the vast trusts and corporations which now conduct industrial concerns, and of which it has been said that they have “neither body to be kicked, nor soul to be damned.” Employers of the days gone by were prepared to pension their worn-out workmen, or were prepared to find them work more suited to their ‘ advanced years, and, although they paid them less wages, they did what they could, generally speaking, to make the conditions comfortable. I could quote quite u number of instances in New South Wales in which proprietary or joint stock companies have been formed to take over large works formerly carried on by private employers, such as I have described. These companies have absolutely changed the conditions, have introduced sweating iis . far as possible, and have shown no consideration whatever for the feelings of their workmen. We find” that change going on all over the world to-day, and as labour begins to recognise that the ten- dency of the large industrial companies is inimical to the rights of the individual workman there will be a greater probability of strife, locks-out, ‘and strikes, working untold injury to the community. To my view, strife is almost inevitable in the absence of regulation by the State. It is a.ll very well for people to say that the lion must lie down with the lamb, or that capital and labour must work hand-in-hand. That idea is not carried into effect to any great extent, and it is not likely to be under our present competitive system. While competition lays its iron hand upon the employer, he is, in many cases against his own desire, constrained to reduce wages far below what he believes to be a fair rate. When I was president of the Sydney Trades and Labour Council, about ten or eleven years ago, I joined others in waiting upon a number of employers, and asking them to give their employes shorter hours, and to support a general movement for the early closing of shops. One employer said - “I quite admit that the hours worked by those in my employ are altogether too long, but the shopkeepers on every side of me are allowed to keep open as long as they choose, and if I close my establishment one-half of my trade will go to those unscrupulous people who will insist upon having their pound of flesh.” He said that he was prepared to give any reasonable sum towards a fund with the object of setting on foot an agitation for a State regulation of the hours of closing. That applies to thousands of cases. I remember another case in which tailoresses were concerned. They were receiving comparatively fair wages : their wages were not high, but they were sufficient to keep body and soul together. They were receiving 9d. per pair for making trousers, when a man came along and reduced the price to one-half, or 4Ad. per pair. He secured contracts at a much lower rate in consequence of being able to impose on the necessities of these people who were anxious to find employment of some sort, and, as a result, he was a thorn in the side of all fair employers in the city of Sydney, who were compelled to make reductions, although they did not go so far as he did. I cite this instance for the purpose of showing that the inevitable tendency of the present competitive system is to bring employer and employe into conflict on many occasions. In Australia we have had a very- bitter experience of strikes. As an officer of a trades union I have never advocated strikes. I have always looked upon them - though I was a unionist even prior to the time when I finished my apprenticeship - as a last resort. In the absence of legislation upon industrial matters, and without trades unionism, I believe that the worker would be poorly off indeed, because very frequently, even though a strike may not succeed, the. fear of its repetition prevents attacks being made without very considerable reason, and thus mimimizes the number of outrageous attempts on the part of unscrupulous employers. Therefore, whilst
I believe that strikes are necessary under some circumstances, I recognise that even when they are successful they inflict such injury on the individuals who are most affected, as well as upon the State as a whole, that we should make any experiment within reason, adopt any expedient, and go to any length rather than suffer their continuance. So far as Australia is concerned, we are not in the condition that some newspapers would have us believe. The Argus recently wrote as if the Common weal th were free from any industrial trouble at the present time. What about the coal strike at Outtrim, which has been in progress for the past six months. That was not brought about by the initiative of the men ? In that case an attempt was made by the employers to reduce the wages of the men by nearly one-third. They were engaged upon piece-work at so much per ton. Naturally the men objected to such a sweeping reduction. They offered to submit their case to arbitration, but the employers - as is too frequently the case - refused to be conciliatory, aud declined to accept anything short of absolute . submission to their terms. The men have repeatedly offered to submit their case to arbitration. That strike has now continued for six months, and has undoubtedly inflicted a great injury upon the people who are chiefly concerned, as well as upon the State of Victoria. It cannot be a good thing for Victoria that these mines should remain idle all that time. Of course, it is alleged that the strike has ceased, but from what I can hear it is a long way from being finished at the present time. The men who were originally locked out are still insisting upon their right to work at reasonable wages.
– In nine cases out of ten a strike is declared to have ended before it has begun.
– In this particular case, I dare say that the wish was father to the thought so far as the employers and the newspapers were concerned. Throughout Australia it is true that there is not just at the moment a probability of a strike amongst the shearers, but every year there is the possibility of trouble of that sort occurring. It occurred last year in New South Wales. I do not desire to debate the wisdom of enteriug upon such a strike, but I do say that those who have followed developments, so far as wool productionin New South Wales is concerned, must admit that there is substantial reason why the men should be paid an increased wage for the shearing of sheep in that State. We know that during recent years the sheep-breeders have succeeded, by means of selection, and by using only good stock, in adding materially to the weight of the wool in the fleece, and incidentally have created a concertina-necked sheep, which is exceedingly difficult to shear - at any rate very much more so than was the lighter class of sheep. That is another question which will have to be dealt with within a comparatively short time. I hope that all these matters will be settled satisfactorily by conciliatory methods. Our experience, however, is not such as to justify that hope in all cases, or to do away with the necessity for such legislation as we are now considering. I hold that it is the duty of the State to interfere. All over the civilized world that duty has been recognised in one form or another. It is true that outside Australasia no country has adopted a compulsory arbitration law, but attempts have been made all over the world to devise some method by which the State can assist in the speedy settlement of these disputes, the undesirability of which is universally recognised. In New South Wales and other States the voluntary method has been tried, and without success. The New South Wales Parliament passed a system of conciliation which depended upon voluntary movement on the part of the individuals concerned.
– The honorable member opposed compulsory conciliation most bitterly at that time.
Mr.WATSON.- I intend to deal with that matter at a later stage. We gave that Act a fair trial, and it proved practically a dead letter - so much so that eventually Parliament struck the salaries of the members of the court off the Estimates rather than continue in existence a tribunal which had no work to do. I was one of those who voted for the omission of their salaries under those circumstances. The action of the Legislature was a confession that the Act had failed. In Great Britain we find that the conciliation boards set up by Mr. Mundella and Mr. Ritchie - although they did some good - have failed to prevent loss. Big strikes are continually occurring. In Germany, the Courts of Conciliation have succeeded in settling about 4 per cent. of the disputes that arise, and in France - where the longest trial has been given to the semi-voluntary system - a trial extending over almost a century - they settled some 10 per cent. of the disputes. All these facts go to show that the voluntary system is not the success which some people would have us believe. Mr. W alpole, the Secretary of the Employers’ Federation in Melbourne, assured the good folk of that organization last night that the voluntary system would achieve all that is desired. How any gentleman who has investigated what is transpiring all over the world can seriously make a statement of that sort I cannot imagine.
– He declares that he believes in the good old strike.
– If he does that I do not agree with him. How Mr. Walpole can urge that the voluntary system, which has universally failed would accomplish all that is desired, is beyond my comprehension. We are therefore driven to the position of determining whether we can go a step further. At once we are met with the cry that compulsion is foreign to the genius of the British race.
– Good old phrase.
– It is a good old phrase, and in reply to those who use it I might mention that about twelve years ago I was not very much enamoured of the idea of compulsory arbitration. It seemed to me that considering the class bias which prevailed in the Legislature of those days, and bearing in mind that that bias was to’ some extent reflected in the appointments to the Judicial Bench, it was not a wise thing for us - when we had some chance of winning by means of a strike - to hand over to a body in which we were unrepresented the power todetermine all the industrial troubles which arose. Further I had doubts at that time as to how we could insure that a strike would terminate with the pronouncement of any judicial decision. In this connexion I am glad to acknowledge that the first inkling which I gained of a satisfactory way out of that difficulty was when Mr. Kingston, and afterwards Mr. Reeves, publicly put forward the proposals to make trades unions responsible before the court, to make their funds responsible, and thus influence their members. With regard to compulsion, I might point out that the whole basis of society rests upon compulsion in one form or another. At any rate we must adopt the appearance of compulsion if society is to be preserved. Of course, compulsion does not obtrude itself upon our views as such. Why? Because the great majority of the people are law-abiding. They know the law, and are loyal to it as the expression of the will of the citizens generally. When, therefore, it is asked - “ How will you get the trades unions to abide by the decisions of the Arbitration Court ? “ my reply is that the moral effect of a union declaring a strike off - even though it be, as in the case of the recent Victorian Railways strike, by the unauthorized act of the executive - will be so great that the trouble will at once lose the dimensions of a strike, and resolve itself into a dispute with a few individuals. It will cease to be a representative movement, and therefore will be practically within control. So far as compulsion is concerned, I hold that we see it exercised every day. When the first Factory Acts were introduced in England 100 years ago the cry was raised against them, both by employers and political economists, that they would have the effect of ruining British industry. I suppose that the same old cry, that they would drive capital out of the country, was also raised then, just as Mr. Derham has been telling us that owing to the restrictive legislation passed in Victoria during the last few years capital is being withdrawn from this State.
– Even Mr. Irvine disputes that assertion.
– I amglad to see that the Premier of Victoria has shown a glimmer of common sense in objecting to a sweeping statement of that kind. It must be apparent that there are not many places left in the world which are worthy of the attention of capitalists who object to these things.
– South America is always open to them.
– If they prefer South America to this free and comparatively happy land, I shall not be averse to their leaving for that country.
– If they could obtain sufficient interest for their money they would go there.
– They can obtain the interest, but the risk is too great.
– Quite so. We have long had this objection to any interference with the conditions of employment or with industry. It has been raised concurrently with the development of the factory system. Every attempt to prevent sweating, every attempt to prevent’ the employment of child labour in the horrible way in which it was utilized up to 100 years ago and for a considerable time subsequently, has always been opposed on the ground that we have no right to interfere by law with the industries of the country. I contend that the State has an absolute right to say under what conditions any industry shall be carried on, and has the right, if the necessity can be proved ‘ for the assertion of that right, to pass any legislation as between employer and employed. The day of laissez faire has passed. We are not likely to be guided by that doctrine now, especially in view of the fact that we have- some little experience of the action of our neighbours in New Zealand to work upon. There is one other aspect of this question to which I should like to refer, and that is that in supporting compulsory arbitration, the labour party are assailed by two sets of people. When I speak of the labour party, I do not mean to suggest that they are the only reformers in the land, but those who have associated and combined under the title of the labour party are assailed in this connexion by people who belong to the two extremes in politics. On one hand, they are assailed by employers of the class of Mr. Derham, and similar hysterical personages who fear–
– Who believe in protection as long as they obtain all its advantages.
– Mr. Derham is a strong advocate of protection for the employer, but he is rather weak in his advocacy of the protection of the employed. We have the extreme individualist and the fearful man on the employer’s side, opposed to compulsory arbitration. The labour party has just as many bitter, if not more bitter, opponents in the extreme reformers on its own side. Although the labour party as a whole throughout Australia’ have adopted the principle Of compulsory arbitration, we find that even to-day there is a considerable section of extremists, both in Victoria and New South Wales, who scout any idea of handing over their liberties to any tribunal such as is contemplated by this Bill. This feeling on the part of the extreme reformers is, perhaps, similar to that which moves the British and American trades unionists in their opposition to compulsory arbitration. I believe that the ground on which the British and American unionists oppose it to-day is that which led the trades unions of Australia to oppose it some twelve years ago. In those countries they are practically without representation in Parliament, and they have not even an opportunity of making their voices heard, much less their votes felt, so far as the action of the Judiciary is concerned.
– In America they have not the full trust in the’ courts that we have.
– Yes, as the leader of the Opposition pointed out, they have much greater cause to fear the Judiciary - I refer not so much to the Supreme Court Bench as to the minor courts - of the United States. But in any case, as exemplified in the repeated injunctions invariably issued against the men by the American courts, they have every reason to fear courts constituted on such a basis. The trades unionists in England have only quite recently adopted the view that it is a proper thing for them as unionists to take part in politics. They are coming round to the position which was decisively agreed upon in 1S90 by the trades unions of Australia and New Zealand, so that the fact that they do not now see eye to eye with the great body of unionists in Australia on the question of compulsory arbitration does not mean that they will continue to occupy that position. We find Mr. Cronin, a representative of one of the strongest, unions in Glasgow, strongly upholding the idea of compulsory arbitration, even in the present circumstances.
– That feeling exists only on the sea-coast.
– I have been looking through the debates of the last two Labour Congresses held in England, in September, 1901, and September, 1902, and I find that the smaller unions were almost invariably in favour of compulsory arbitration. Some of the large unions also favoured the principle ; but those constituting the large majority of the total membership of the big unions were against it. They were led to adopt that view by a variety of circumstances.
– The feeling in favour of compulsory arbitration is growing in England.
– I do not admit that it is growing rapidly just now, because I think that the decision in the Taff Yale case, which was recently stated by an eminent authority to be Judge-made law, went far to give a set-back to compulsory arbitration, so far as those who look at one instance as being likely to prove the average are concerned.
– That is not a parallel case.
– I say that it helped to sap the confidence of the British trades unions in the Judiciary, and set back the rising tide in favour of compulsory arbitration which, up to that time, had manifested itself in England. The report sets forth that Mr. Carr, a representative from Lancashire, speaking at the Trades Congress held at Swansea in 1901, asked -
What protection Would the member have who gave evidence before the proposed courts, and instanced the ease of railway servants who had attended under compulsion to give evidence in a court of law, and had been discharged.
Mr. Galbraith, representing the London compositors, said
They could only study their own interests by being’ the judges themselves.
The whole tenor of the debate, so far as the representatives of the large and strong unions were concerned, was that they could force the employers within a reasonable degree of certainty, and that they were not going to give up that strong position. I do not blame them altogether for adopting that view. It was a reasonable opinion to express in the circumstances, but, as pointed out by others, that condition will not always obtain, and therefore it is necessary for them to look to the future. At the. Congress held in Holborn in 1902, Mr. Sexton, a very able man, put forward a view which seemed to embody, generally speaking, the ideas of those who oppose the principle. He said -
Where could chey get an unbiased court V /Hie umpire in such a court as was suggested would always be biased. . The precedent of New Zealand had been cited, but not until labour influenced legislation in this country as ifc did in New Zealand could that example be followed.
It seems to me that that gives the key to the position in Great Britain. It is not that the trades unions prefer - so far as many of them are concerned - to rely altogether upon the blunt and boomerangfashioned weapon of the strike, but that they have no confidence in a Parliament into which they cannot send representatives save at an enormous expense. There is no payment of members, and they have to meet all the governmental expenses of election. They are, therefore, placed at a great disadvantage in securing representatives of their own classes, or of their own way of thinking, in Parliament, and they are unable for that reason to criticise the acts of the Judiciary from a responsible vantagepoint.
– It is not so much that they could criticise the actions of the Judiciary in Parliament, as . that they could help to lay down the law which the Judiciary would be called upon to administer.
– Exactly. So far as the judicial member of any such court as this is concerned, I believe that the fear of an adverse public opinion will have very great weight with him in regard to any decision at which he arrives.
– That ought not to be.
– I do not for one moment imply that men of the calibre that we have on the Benches of our Australian Courts are likely, because of public opinion, to go beyond what is a fair thing or to do more than justice ; but I do say that no Judge would dare to arouse public opinion by giving a manifestly unjust decision.
– Or an inhuman decision.
– That is so. I believe that public opinion will have that restraining effect upon improper decisions. That is what I meant to suggest. I do not believe that the mere clamour of some individuals - myself amongst them, perhaps - should have any particular weight on aJudge who is fit for his office. But I think that we need not have any apprehensionas to the broad lines of justice upon which, cases of the kind dealt with in the Bill will’ be determined. Assuming that the labourbodies generally will lose something - that they will not get the full measure which they might obtain if they resorted to the arbitrament of an open struggle - I believe that in the long run the average gain under the decisions of the court will be higher than that obtained under the old system. I believe that will be the result, after allowing for what they would lose in the attempt to gain anything at all under existing conditions. In my opinion, strikes without a law of this kind have, on the whole, helped to improve the position of the working men ; but under a law such as this I think that on the average they will do better than they would by resorting to the method of striking. One other feature which I might mention is this : Mr. Derharn says that by this legislation it is proposed to hand over the country to socialists and faddists.
– Who is Mr. Derham?
– He is a representative employer, and it seems to me that the arguments he puts forward must be met without regard to his present unimportance individually if we are to commend the proposal to the general public, who are not directly interested, but who have the decision of the matter. In reply to Mr. Derham, I would point out that it is proposed to hand the decision of disputes over to a Judge of the High Court. If either side has the right to complain of the standing of the arbitrator or umpire, surely it is the labour side. The trades unionists are asked to trust a man who is not of their class, and who, if biassed at all, is more likely to be biassed against them than in their favour. It is not proposed to make Mr. Tom Mann or Mr. Barker, the secretary to the Trades-hall–
– Or the honorable member for Bland.
– It is not proposed to make any of those persons arbitrator, but to give the position to a Judge of the High Court. That being so, I do not see that criticism of that sort should have effect.
– They have found in Victoria that a Judge is the best man for giving orders under the Factory Acts. A Judge gives the highest allowances.
– I do not complain of the appointment of a Judge to this position. In my opinion no other person in the community is likely to give so much satisfaction.
Mr.Joseph Cook. - At Newcastle, under the voluntary system, almost every other person has been tried.
– Yes, and generally with unsatisfactory results. I wish now to say a word or two in regard to the experience of New Zealand. Although their Act has been in operation only for some eight years, a period which is too short for the experience gained in it to be a certain guideas to the result of compulsory arbitration under all circumstances, that experience should be instructive to us. I especially wish to refer to the New Zealand experience because there has been circulated in my district and in other parts of the Commonwealth a series of misstatements and most damnable half-truths in regard to their Act and its working. They have had practically no strikes in New Zealand since the Act was introduced, and although we were assured some little time ago that the people there are chafing under the restrictions of this legislation, I must say that during a visit I made to the colony last summer I found no indication, in either the North or the South Island, of any but one opinion on the question of compulsory arbitration. When the Bill was introduced by Mr. Reeves, the opposition in Parliament was fairly strong, and its opponents in the press and among the public, especially among the employers, were exceedingly numerous. But last summer I found the concensus of opinion almost unanimous in favour of the measure, so that the parliamentary opposition has abandoned the intention of repealing or seriously amending it, and has recognised that it would be a forlorn hope to try to convert the people on the subject. I do not wish to assert that the prosperity which New Zealand has undoubtedly enjoyed during the last eight or ten years, and particularly since the Act has been in existence, is due only to its operation. It would be foolish to do so. But it is quite fair to refer to the material improvement of of the conditions of New Zealand during that period to meet the arguments of those who say that the Act has operated detrimentally to industry there. Perhaps the surest evidence of the incorrectness of that statement is, not the development of agricultural production in the colony, which is, no doubt, due to some degree to the Closer Settlement Act, which has thrown more land open for settlement and cultivation, but the development of the manufacturing industries, which come more particularly under the operations of the Conciliation and Arbitration Law. According to the New Zealand Year Book for 1902 the number of factories increased between 1896 and 1901 - a period of five years - by 704, the number of males employed in them by 12,452, and the number of females by 1,885, a total increase in the number of males and females employed of 14,337. To show that there was not a disproportionate increase in the employment of females, as was complained of by the leader of the Opposition some time ago in regard to the factory conditions here, I may mention that the increase in the employment of males is equal to 54.17 per cent., while that in the employment of females is equal to 42.81 per cent.
– That is because of the regulation of the industries, and the fact that the employers are compelled to pay females at the same rates as males.
– In 1896 the wages paid to males and females amounted to £1,907,000, while in 1901it was £3,098,000, a difference of £1,191,000. Those figures take no account of the wages paid in the Government railway workshops and printingoffice, and exclude the dressmaking, tailoring, shirt-making, millinery, and other similar businesses, in regard to which no figures were collected in 1896. The value of the land used in connexion with factories shows an increase of £649,000, the value of the buildings an increase of £676,000, and the value of the machinery and plant an increase of £837,000; a total increase in five years of the capital invested in factories of £2,163,000. As I have indicated, I do not wish to place any dependence for the “purposes of this argument upon the progress of industries dependent upon agricultural production, such as meat freezing and preserving, tanning and fellmongery, cheesemaking, and so on, although I may remark in passing, that the increase in the production of those industries’ in the five years was £3,867,000. It is of more importance “for my purpose that the increase in the output of factories specially subject to the operation of the Act amounted to £2,703,000. Those figures show that the employers of New Zealand have very largely increased their invested capital, and pay much bigger sums in wages now than they did in 1896, notwithstanding the restrictive nature of this legislation. Here is another fair comparison. The total production of 1900 showed an increase over that of 1895 of £7,591,000, while the increase at the end of the previous period of five years was only £775,000. It may be objected that this prosperity is largely due to New Zealand’s natural resources, because she has good land and a good rainfall. I do not think, however, that she has as much good land as Victoria has, and while in some places the rainfall is too great, over a large area it is not nearly sufficient for agriculture, though it may be large enough for pastoral purposes. I should like now to quote a few opinions upon the New Zealand experience. The first is that of Mr. Lloyd, an American, who wrote a book called A Country Without Strikes. He approved of the Act, and congratulated the people of New Zealand upon having passed such a beneficent measure, and he advocated the introduction of similar legislation to that of the United States, of which he is a citizen. Judge Backhouse, of New South Wales, in the report whichhe was specially commissioned to make before the New South Wales Act was passed, says -
Not only have industries not been hampered, but in many cases they have been helped by the Arbitration Court.
Mr. Outtrim, the chairman of the Victorian Factories Commission, said -
We examined a large number of witnesses from both sides, and, with the exception of one employer, there was a unanimous opinion that the principle of the Act is a sound one, and that they would be very sorry indeed to go back to the old order of things.
– Would the honorable member give the names of some of those who signed the report of that Commission? It would be very interesting, because some of them are bitterly opposed to the present legislation.
– That is indeed interesting. I am sorry that I have not the names here. It is satisfactory to find that a Commission comprised of men who do not belong to the labour party - there was only one labour man on it- and who are therefore not so likely to be prejudiced - speak in this congratulatory strain upon the working of the New Zealand measure. The Employers’ Federation have circulated a most misleading statement in connexion with the report of the Royal Commission, of which Mr. Outtrim was chairman. Mr. Walpole, who objects to the Victorian Factories and Shops Act, says-
Even if a man should get £] a week for his labour under a system which prevents the old man, his boy and girl earning money, he is very much worse off.
That statement is absolutely ridiculous. He goes on to say - -
When I put it this way before the country, people told me I was talking nonsense.
That is a remarkable instance of their insight. He goes on to say that the report of the Royal Commission confirms his statements. That was untrue. The Commission recommended that a move efficient measure should take the place of the factory legislation then in force in ‘Victoria, and that something more comprehensive and more elastic should be provided. They suggested that instead of the Chairman being an individual of comparatively no standing, or a man not sufficiently known to cause the people to place reliance in his decisions, a Judge of the Supreme Court should be placed in the position of arbitrator or umpire. The Factories Commission report upheld the principle underlying the Factories and Wages Boards.. And yet we find a man so foreign to any sense of what is decent that he circulates the story that the report of the Commission substantiates his objection to the principle of the Factories Act. The Commission said that the Factories Act was defective and provocative of trouble between individuals, and they recommended a more comprehensive and wholesome method of overcoming the difficulties that had to be surmounted. Before I pass away from New Zealand legislation, as to which I have just been quoting the opinions of some people who are qualified to pass a judgment, I might refer to another misstatement that is being circulated by the Employers’ Federation with a view to prejudicing the Bill. Mr. Walpole says -
The effects of the Act (that is, the New- Zealand Act) on industry are well shown in the case of two of the largest industries of New Zealand. For instance, boots and shoes, on which there is a duty of 22£ per cent., the quantity imported in LS94, before the Act came into force, was of the value of £139,000; while, in 1901, under the Act, it was £21.1,000. The importations of slop goods and apparel in 1894 were valued at £301,000 ; in 1901, with a duty of 25 per cent., they reached a value of £4(53,000.
That is one of those half-truths which are accepted sometimes as equivalent to fact. If he had wished to be fair, Mr. Walpole would have shown the increase in local production. I have not been able to ascertain the increase in the amount of the reexports to the islands with which Now Zealand does some trade, but apart from that, it is sufficient for me to show the increase which has taken place in home production. Mr. Walpole shows that the an- nual importations of clothing and boots and shoes had increased during the seven years, from 1894 to 1901, by £234,000, I was unable to obtain the value of the output of the articles mentioned in New Zealand during the year 1894, and therefore the comparison cannot be mad’e complete, although the omission may tell rather against Mr. Walpole than in hisfavour. From 1S95 to 1901, or ti period of one year less than that quoted by Mr. Walpole, the increased local production of boots, and clothing was £242,000 per annum or- £8,000 in excess of the increase in the importations of those articles. The deduction intended to be drawn from the statementcirculated is that the effect of the New Zealand Arbitration Act has been to hamperlocal manufactures, whereas, as a matter of fact, they have considerably increased since the Act has been in operation. Another statement made in reference to the New Zealand Act is that it is working to the disadvantage of the employers and is creating dissatisfaction amongst the employes. Mr. Walpole has referred to the award which was made in the painters’ case. I admit that in that case it appeared to me that the Judge of the court did not appreciate his position. The court made an award with regard to the employment of painters to the effect that from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. certain wages should be paid, that from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. an increased rate should be allowed, and that after 10 p.m. a double rate should apply. Some employer wished to start his men before 8 o’clock in the morning, and an application was made to the court for an interpretation of the award, and, notwithstanding that the award provided .that between i0 p.m. and 8 a.m. certain rates should be paid, the Judge interpreted the award as meaning that the double rate should not be paid after 12 p.m., or to men who started work in the morning before 8 a.m. I was in New Zealand some time ago and inquired into this matter. The men did not object to the alteration of the award or to the interpretation placed upon it, but they took exception to the fact that no notice was given to them,, and that they were not represented when the application was heard by the Judge. They were justified in expecting that they would be notified of any application for an interpretation of the award, and they very properly complained that the Judge had altered the award without giving notice to the parties affected by the alteration. I do not see that that tells in any way against the Act. Now, coining to the experience in New South Wales, it has been urged that, because the shearers’ strike occurred after the Arbitration Act came into force in that
State, the Act has been proved a failure. It does not follow that because a particular Act has failed in detail the principle upon which it is based is not a good one, or that it cannot be applied with effect as a general rule. So far as the shearers’ dispute was concerned, I believe that, if the Act had been strictly followed, that might have been referred to the Arbitration Court, and would have been so referred. The Act contemplated the recognition of only one union, either of employers or employes in any particular trade, industry, or calling. The Registrar allowed the registration of two unions in the same calling, which was totally opposed to the spirit of the Act, and the court held that it had no power to interfere with his decision.
– They are now taking power to allow the court to decide in matters of that sort.
– Yes, and I think that in this Bill we should take care that the court and not the president or the Registrar should decide where conflicting applicants for registration are concerned. It is a matter of the highest importance that we should register only those organizations which represent the great majority of the men employed and which are undoubtedly bonâ fide. The organization which is registered against the Shearers’ Union, and which is called the Machine Shearers’ Union has been demonstrated to be an employers’ organization. As compared with £227 received in the form of subscription from members, £1,200 was received in the form of donations, and the only persons who made donations were employers. It was an employers’ organization, which was intended to act as a buffer between employers and the Act. That is one of the defects that we can remedy, and which the authorities in New South Wales are now seeking to remedy so far as their Act is concerned. Then I may point to the fact that, but for the existence of the New South Wales Act, there is no doubt that very serious strikes would have occurred recently in the coal-mining industry at Newcastle and in theIllawarra district. Again, at Broken Hill to-day we find a dispute which is equivalent in its importance to that which occasioned so much bitterness and loss a few years ago being amicablysettled before theArbitration Court. Although, in New South Wales, the Act has been in existence only a short time, its results have been of a very encouraging nature, and I am glad to say that a large proportion of the employers who were formerly opposed to the compulsory system of arbitration are now in favour of it. Indeed, I believe that, within a very brief period, the majority of the employers will favour the compulsory clauses of the Act. I am just reminded by the honorable member for Fremantle that the experience of a compulsory arbitration law in Western Australia has been a very satisfactory one. I do not claim for a moment thatthisBill will settle all the important disputes which may arise, but if it settles only 50 per cent. of them the result will be an immense gain to those immediately concerned as well as to the general community. We can, therefore, afford to overlook the instances, put forward by interested or ignorant persons, of the failure of the Act in the States in one or two particulars. It has been said that the success of the law in New Zealand is no criterion that it will ultimately prove successful, because that country has been enjoying a season of unexampled prosperity. I say deliberately that a large measure of that prosperity is due to legislation of this character - legislation which was denounced as an interference with the liberty of the subject, and which, it was declared, would shackle private enterprise. As an old New Zealander, I well remember that seventeen or eighteen years ago the trade of that country was depressed, industry was almost nonexistent, and men and women were ill-paid from one end of it to the other. Yet its resources then were just as good as they are to-day. These facts go to show that the prosperity of New Zealand is not to any extent due to causes other than legislation of this character. Whilst it is true that, coincidently with the working of this Act, New Zealand has enjoyed prosperity, on the other hand New South Wales has not experienced unduly prosperous times during the period that the Act has been in operation there. During a period of depression in that State, consequent upon the drought, the Act has worked satisfactorily. Notwithstanding the almost complete wiping out of a large proportion of our agricultural and pastoral resources, it seems as if the Act is going to give fair satisfaction. In considering the necessity for the present Bill,of course we have to bear in mind the limitations imposed by the Constitution. In this connexion, I may say that I. disagree with the manner in which the Bill seeks to limit the application of laws such as these under the Constitution. Section 51, subsection(35),of the Constitution, says that the Commonwealth may legislate upon matters of conciliation and arbitration “ for the pre- vention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State,” whereas the Bill under consideration will apply only to industrial disputes which extend beyond the limits of any one State. The omission of the words “prevention and settlement of “ has some significance. In my opinion, the Bill limits the power which, under the Constitution, we have a right to exercise. I hope to see the Bill exercise to the full the powers conferred under the terms of the Constitution. To my mind, the words “ prevention and settlement “ imply that we are justified in taking cognisance of a dispute which at the moment may exist only in one State, but which there is reason to fear will, if not prevented, extend to another State. Under the Bill it would be necessary to wait till the dispute had extended beyond the limits of one State before the machinery provided could be brought into operation. I contend that if there is any virtue whatever in legislation of this character, it is more important that we should prevent disputes from arising than that we should settle them after they have occurred. Therefore, I trust that the Government will make the language of clause 2 harmonize with that employed in the Constitution. Bearing in mind the class of disputes to which we are entitled to apply legislation, I think there is a necessity for a measure of this kind. In the first place, a number of industries exist, the interests of which are scattered all over Australia. Leaving the seamen out of the question for a moment, I would point to the case of the wharf labourers. Their interests are common, and are simultaneously affected right round the coast of Australia. The shipwrights occupy a similar position. Then it is possible that a shearers dispute may affect more than one State. To a large extent their organizations are, at present, federalized, and later on I understand they will be completely federalized. Then there is another class of industries which deserves some attention at our hands. In several of the States at the present time there is practically no factory or other regulating: legislation, so far as industry is concerned.. I fear, .therefore, that, unless something isdone to insist upon a rough equalization of the conditions under which labour shall be employed in certain industries, so faras climatic and other influences will allow - provision, of course, being made for difference in the cost of living - those industries will gradually gravitate to the States where no legislation exists, and where unrestricted competition holds sway. I do not think that any one would desire that state of affairs to be brought about. Take, for instance, the case of the women workers, whose wages in New South Walesand Victoria are regulated by an Arbitration Act and a Wages Board respectively. I am told upon very good authority that a large amount of work which was formerly done in the Sydney factories has recently been sent to Brisbane, to be turned out at sweating rates, . because it will pay the firms concerned to bring the goods from the Queensland capital to Sydney, rather than have them manufactured locally at the reasonable rates which prevail.
– The same thing happened as between Victoria and Tasmania.
– I understand that there have been similar indications in this State.
– Not merely indications. Why a brush factory in which none but women were engaged was absolutely removed from Victoria to Tasmania for a similar reason.
– In New Zealand the same difficulty has been experienced. Applications were made for an award of the court in the three large Southern centres of Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington. No such application came from Auckland, with the result that the court made an award which affected each of these three large towns. The position in Auckland was that the employers and employes came to an industrial agreement without invoking the aid of the court - an agreement under which the rates fixed were lower than those which the court, had decided upon in the case of the towns mentioned. As the New Zealand Act applies to provincial districts, and not to the whole colony, the court could not alter the agreement entered into between the Auckland employers and employes, but it felt that, as the goods manufactured in that city entered into competition with those produced at the other centres, its only alternative was either to force the Auckland rates up a little, or to reduce those of Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington. I mention this circumstance, to emphasize the fact that in connexion with quite a number of industries, the products of which come into competition throughout the various States of the Commonwealth, we are justified in asking that some regulation shall be insisted upon in order that those interested may be given a fair chance of competition. Coming to the provisions of the Bill relating to seamen, I desire to say that I sympathize very largely indeed with the view entertained by the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston. He takes exception - I think very properly so - to the peculiar restriction which the Government have imposed in exempting seamen from the operation of the measure.
– We do not consider that we have imposed any restriction.
– With all due respect to the learned Attorney-General, I think that there is a restriction. Of course, I do not set my legal knowledge, which is almost a minus quantity, against that of the honorable gentleman, but it cannot be denied that the effect of the retention of the words contained in the Bill - even assuming that the Government subsequently introduce a Navigation Bill which gives protection to local ship-owners and insures that local rates of wages shall be paid upon foreign vessels which trade here - will be to render necessary an amendment of this Bill before such a provision can be made to apply.
– I have said that I do not attach any value to those particular words, beyond indicating what I think would be their meaning.
– I understood the AttorneyGeneral to say that if these words were omitted, he would substitute for them the words used in the Constitution. I contend that that would not cany us any further.
– Neither carry us any further.
– The omission of any apparent restriction of that kind seems to me to carry us to this extent : that even if we go no further, the matter will be left open to be dealt with under the Navigation Bill; that anamendment of this particular provision will not be necessary in order to maketheNavigation Acteffectivein its operation through this court. I do not say that that is all that need be done. I believe that we should take advantage of the first opportunity which presents itself to give some measure of protection, not so much to the ship-owners, but to the men who are employed under these conditions. Both sections, of course, are entitled to consideration ; but I think that there is a greater suggestion of trouble in this direction than the Attorney-General indicated a few days ago. I understand that the executive members of the Ship-owners’ Federation have indicated their unwillingness to consider any proposition such as hasbeen indicated for an extension of the duration of the present agreement.
– That is not so.
– I have been assured by one of the responsible men on the other side that he approached some of the executive of the Ship-owners’ Federation, and that it was clearly stated that they would not consider any such proposition.
– That is not correct.
-Will they enter into an agreement to extend the term for another eight or ten years?
– No application has been made.
– I do not know that any written application has been submitted, but I understand that a verbal application has been made. I contend that in the first place we have no right to seek to extend to British ships any conditions that we are unwilling to place on the shoulders of foreign ship-owners. I have a strong feeling in favour of giving privileges to British shipowners - including in the term, of course, our local ship-owners - which we would not extend to foreign ship-owners. I certainly think that we should not adopt the converse position and go to the extent of imposing disabilities on those who are employed locally. I admit that one has to be guided by the possibilities, and I am so anxious to have this principle affirmed, and to have the benefits of the Bill conferred upon the many thousands of men throughout Australia, that I am not going to risk the passing of the measure because of any desire which I may entertain that it should be carried, at the present moment, to its fullest possibility. I am desirous, at the same time, that we should do everything in our power consistently with the passing of the Bill to see that a fair and adequate measure of protection is assured to the seamen. They have to work under conditions which entitle them to every help at our hands, and I trust that the House will be willing to extend it to them.
– Wha What about the civil servants ?
– I think that a mistake has been made by the Government in specifically excluding civil servants from the operation of this Bill. It is all very well to talk about the rights of the States, and to say that civil servants are on a plane different from that occupied by the ordinary industrial units of the community ; but we must recollect that railway servants have been specifically included and brought within the operation of the New Zealand Act. In New South Wales railway servants as well as the employes of the Harbor Trust, the Water and Sewage Boards throughout the State, and all such semipublic bodies have been brought within the provisions of the State Arbitration Act. Those bodies are all under commission, and, in a degree, are managed independently of Parliament, but their servants are Government employes, and are on the same plane as are the railway servants of Victoria.
An Honorable Member. - And Western Australia.
– Yes. My contention is that a few weeks ago we very narrowly escaped a Federal railway strike. So far as the dispute affected Victoria, I am convinced that had there been an Arbitration Court in this State, as there is in New South Wales, there would have been no strike, no bitterness, and no loss.
– The men were willing from first to last to go to arbitration.
– Yes ; I have no desire to argue from the purely Victorian aspect of the question, but I think I am justified in putting it forward by way of illustration. There was every likelihood at one period that the strike would extend, in a sympathetic way, to New South Wales.
– A - And Queensland.
– Yes ; and, at any rate, to South Australia. In view of that fact, I think that we should take power to intervene when a dispute of that kind becomes a Federal matter. I should like to point out to the Attorney-General that in the
United States of America the railway servants are not allowed to strike at will. The power of the Federal Government is invoked simply because a strike of railway servants would be an interference with the carriage of the United States mails. If that policy is adopted in the United States of America, where there is no general pretence to invest the courts with power to adjudicate on these matters, but simply a desire to protect the carriage of the mails, surely if there was a likelihood of the extension of the strike beyond the confines of one State, we should be justified in saying to the State which refused to take action to quell the disturbance in a fair and reasonable manner, “Such an occurrence must not take place.”
– Any interference of that kind would not be made under subsection 35, which relates to conciliation and arbitration.
– The Attorney-General is seeking to rely upon my statement as to the stoppage of the mails. I instanced that case only as showing that the Federal Government took action in the United States for a reason less than that on which we pretend to rely. We say that a strike is an injury to the community.
– There was a stoppage of the mails in Victoria.
– I am aware of that fact, but I referred to the stoppage of the mails in the United States of America only by way of illustration, and as showing the extent to which we should go in view of the fact that we aim at something more than do the people of the United States. We have a right to interfere. It is all very well for local people to say that the States Parliaments are the guardians of the rights of their own service. We know that in practice that principle amounts to very little. To what extent were we able, for example, to control the Minister of Defence in regard to the detailed application of the money which Parliament voted for defence purposes? We gave an expression of opinion in a certain direction, but the right honorable gentleman overruled the opinion, and said, “ I will save money in a different way.” I do not say that his action was improper, but I contend that it is almost impossible for a Parliament to devote the time and attention necessary to sift out the relative value of each person’s work or the conditions under which he labours. That remark applies with particular force to the branches of the public service in which mechanics and artisans are most employed. A Parliament could not find time to go into all the details of any trouble under which such men laboured. It can lay down broad lines of policy, It can vote a lump sum for the railway or any other similar service ; but it is almost impossible for a Parliament of even forty or fifty members to attempt to obtain anything like a detailed control of the service.
– It would be sure to send the matter on to a Select Committee.
– That would be very ineffective.
– Hear, hear.
– Our experience of Select Committees in New South Wales was the reverse of satisfactory, so far as any serious work was concerned. This is one of the directions in which I think the Bill should be amended. I arn sorry that the Government have not seen fit to make some provision for the exclusion of lawyers from the court. I say this in no spirit of antagonism to the legal profession. I recognise the need for good lawyers in the community, and certainly the need for a little moral regeneration so far as some of the legal profession arc concerned! But the experience in New Zealand is that the parties are able to do without lawyers, and the result is that cases have been decided at an infinitesimal cost. A few pounds has been found absolutely sufficient to carry every case through the court. Each party to a dispute is represented before the court by its secretary or some such responsible person, who in most cases knows quite as much of the details at stake as could any lawyer.
– Has not that system helped to increase the ranks of the lay lawyers?
– No. So far as I can learn, the secretaries of the bodies between whom a dispute exists appear before the court. When both sides agree to be represented by lawyers, the law permits of the appearance of advocates.
– Honorable members have lawyers in the labour party.
– And some very good ones ; but I think that we ought to insure, as far as practicable, the settlement of these disputes at a minimum cost. What is the result of the practice which obtains in
New South Wales, where lawyers are allowed to appear in the Arbitration Court? There one party to a dispute selects a good lawyer, and pays him a huge fee, and the other side naturally feels constrained to pledge its last shilling in order to secure the services of a man of equal ability. That is one result, and an even worse result is that a man feels that the Judge, accustomed as he has been to the legal procedure of a court, is encouraged, by the appearance of lawyers before him, to rely to a greater extent than he ought to do upon legal forms and technicalities which should not be entered upon. I know that the Attorney-General quoted an opinion given by Judge Cohen as to the need for lawyers in the court. I have the greatest respect for that Judge, who is an able and fair minded man ; but, at the same time, he was noted in the ordinary courts for the fact that he placed a good deal of reliance upon the technical aspects of the law. That tendency, perhaps, leads him now to be rather glad of the assistance of legal gentlemen, when a case is being considered by the Arbitration Court.
– He urged that they saved time and expense.
– I do not think that that saving is positively assured by the presence of lawyers in the court The evidence of every man in trades unions and other circles to whom I spoke in the four principal cities of New Zealand was strongly against the appearance of lawyers in this court, their contention being that the exclusion of the legal profession resulted in economy, and saved time.
– Are lawyers ever appointed secretaries ?
– One of the members of this House is a lawyer who is a secretary to a union. That, however, is not the practice in New Zealand. Probably the unions could not afford to pay lawyers to act as secretaries. In my opinion, as an experiment we should exclude lawyers, and if afterwards it is found necessary to allow them to appear, we can amend the Act. I am informed, however, that the experience of New Zealand is that money is saved by excluding lawyers.
– The lawyer is the saviour of the weak.
– It depends upon the resources of the weak. Without wishing to say anything derogatory of lawyers, I think that the man who has most money can secure the best talent, and that the party having the best talent is most likely towin. I think provision should be made for the varying of agreements. Under the Bill an agreement may be entered into between an organization of workers and an organization of employers, and if it is registered under the rules of the court, its operation is equivalent to that of an award. I think that the court should be empowered, in the event of a dispute in regard to the same trade or calling being brought before it by other parties, to vary such an agreement so as to make it harmonize with any award which it may make.
– If a new issue was involved would not an alteration be made in any case ?
– I do not think so. The court appears to have no power to vary an agreement once it accepts it. The matter is, however, only one of detail. There is one other principle of the Bill to which I shouldlike to devote a word or two, and that is the preference which is given to unionists. I agree with the leader of the Opposition that ample provision should be made to insure that the court shall have power tolay down the conditions under which men may be admitted to unions which are now in existence, and I believe that it is necessary for several reasons to give preference to unionists. In the first place, the basis of this Act is the recognition of the unions as responsibleentities. They must be recognised at all points as responsible parties.
– But the door must be left wide open for non-unionists to come in.
– Yes. At the present time men are frequently penalized for complaining about or proposing to alter the conditions under which they are working. That happens in many industries of which I have a personal acquaintance. To guard against it, it is necessary to provide that no man shall be penalized because he is a member of a union, and has made a complaint which, in the opinion of the court, is justifiable. Preference should be given to unionists so long as unions do not become close corporations. We should give the freest opportunities to persons desiring to earn their livelihood in particular industries to join the unions governing those industries, and to compete for whatever work is available.
– Does the honorable member mean that every person who applies should be eligible to join a union ?
– Roughly speaking, yes ; provided that he is qualified for the work which the members of the union perform.
– The unionists will not allow too many persons to join their unions.
– The general spirit of unionism to-day is not so restrictive as the right honorable gentleman thinks. Before the maritime strike, the wharf labourers’ and coal lumpers’ unions in Sydney asked for a deposit of £5 before they would consider an application from persons desiring to become members, and they elected new members very seldom. I, as a member of the Trades and Labour Council, denounced that kind of unionism at the time. I said that we had no right to ask for certain conditions for unionists, and then prevent people from joining the unions.
– That action brought about trouble in New South Wales.
– Yes, but the spirit of unionism has changed, and it is now recognised that every man who is qualified has a right to join a union, and to participate in the advantages which unionism confers.
– Suppose that a man fails to obey the rules of the union, what is to be done with him?
– That is a matter to be dealt by the rules of the union, but the court should have the right to overlook those rules, and to insist upon the observance of fair conditions, especially as regards entrance fees and subscriptions. I do not say that the unions should be bound to receive unqualified persons, but such conditions should be imposed as would give every reasonable facility to qualified persons to join them.
– The court will have that power. It will not register the rules of a union unless they conform with its wishes.
– I think that we might insure the supervision of the court by simply mentioning the rules relating to applications for admission, entrance fees, and subscriptions.
– The rules of the Shearers Union were referred back to the organization. That case shows what power the court will have.
– Yes, though I think that the court in that instance went too far. I feel that we are justified in passing this legislation, and although the honorable member for Wentworth has stated that we have had only a short experience of the working of the New Zealand Act - and indeed of any legislation of this character - I say that we have had a very long and somewhat painful experience of the absence of such legislation. Even though it be true that we shall not succeed in settling disputes in every case, and that there will be occasional failures, I think that the sum total of the operation of the Act will be a huge benefit to the peopleof the Commonwealth. I desire to see something like fixity of conditions given to industries generally, so that we may escape from the uncertainty and trouble which has been so frequent in the past.
Debate (on motion by Sir Malcolm McEacharn) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 5th August, vide page 3130) :
Clauses 47 and 48 agreed to.
Clause 49 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 50 - (Naval forces may be placed on board ships of Royal Navy).
– As the Minister takes up the position that the protection of the Commonwealth begins at Capetown, or Yokohama, orsome other distant place, and that he should have the power to send the Commonwealth forces to any part of the globe, I entirely object to this clause ; but will move no amendment, in view of the acceptance of the Naval Agreement Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 51 -
The Permanent Military Forces andall persons permanently employed in the Active Military Forces shall at all times, and all members of the Citizen Military Forces shall while on active service and at all times when on duty or wearing their uniforms, be subject to the Army Act save so far as it is inconsistent with this Act ; but so that the regulations may prescribe that any provisions of the Army Act shall not apply to the Military Forces or to any specified part of those forces.
– This clause provides that the permanent military forces shall at all times, and that the members of the citizen forces shall, when on active service and at all times when on duty or wearing their uniforms, be subject to the Army Act. That provision has been modified to some extent by omitting the Articles of War from the definition of the Army Act in the interpretation clause, but this is a form of legislation to which I have a particular objection. The Army Act means any Acts amending it or in substitution for it, and for the time being in force, and the members of our Defence Forces would therefore be subject to any amendment of the Army Act, however stringent it might be. I agree that perhaps it is convenient to provide that in times of war the Army Act shall apply because it contains a great many provisions that are applicable to such circumstances. But it seems ridiculous to provide that every member of a rifle club who has to do his one day’s annual training shall be subject to the various stringent conditions of the Army Act, which are as unknown to him as the contents of a Babylonian cylinder would be to us. Surely we are capable of drafting: our own Acts and regulations for the discipline of our forces ? The Defence Act of Victoria provided that only after a proclamation had been issued, calling the troops out for active service, they were to be subject to the Army Act and regulations. I do not see any reason why we should not declare exactly what legislation shall apply in times of peace and times of war. There are about 200 sections in the Army Act, a great number of which are entirely inapplicable to our circumstances in Australia. They would subject our citizen forces to a number of disabilities and to punishments to which, I am sure, honorable members would never agree.
– I have no objection to waive that condition so far as it affects the citizen military forces.
– I do not see why even our permanent forces should be subject to the Army Act in times of peace.
– I am informed that unless they are made subject to it we shall have to include another hundred clauses in the Bill.
– If we have to include another thousand clauses in the Bill, I should prefer it to placing our forces under an Act in regard to the provisions of which we have no control.
– This clause is framed upon a section which is in force in every State.
– It is not in force in Victoria.
– That is the only State in which it is not in force. No harm has followed its adoption in the other States.
– No harm has resulted from our doing without it in Victoria. The regulations we had in Victoria provided for every offence that could be committed by a soldier, and it seemed to me, when I had to make myself acquainted with them for examination purposes, that even if a soldier sneezed at meals, or did anything equally trifling, he would suffer severe punishment. I move -
That the word “ permanent” be omitted.
My object is to alter the clause so that both the permanent and the citizen forces shall be subject to the Army Act only while on active service. I admit that in time of war it is necessary that we should have stringent conditions applying to our soldiers. All the ordinary rules of society have to be suspended at such a time. The forces must be absolutely pliable instruments that can be made to do whatever is wanted, and therefore it is necessary to have the fullest control over them. In time of peace, however, the case is different, and we may very well rely upon our own Act and regulations.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I suggest to the Minister that this clause should be postponed, because it is really of more importance than appears at first sight. Having regard to the fact that we have amended the Bill so that even our permanent forces cannot be compelled to serve abroad, the Army Act is wholly inapplicable to the Altered conditions. The Act involves the principle that men shall be at the absolute disposal of the authorities and liable to go wherever they are told.
– That does not affect the matter at all.
– I think it does, and unless the clause is postponed I shall have to support the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I do not know of anything more important to our liberties than that men should know exactly the obligations which they incur, and I think that the proposal now before us is of the most dangerous description, because if we adopt it we shall subject the members of our Defence Forces’ to the provisions of an Act that we have neither seen nor had any part in framing.
– It is in force in all the States already.
– I have remarked that the Bill does not contain on the margin a true representation of the sources from which the clauses have been taken. I find that some clauses have been taken from Acts without any acknowledgment of their origin. On the other hand, some of its provisions, which professedly have been copied from the Canadian Act, are quite different from the terms of that Act.
– Canada is not mentioned in the marginal notes of this Bill.
– The wisest course for the Minister to adopt would be to defer consideration of this clause, so that he may be afforded an opportunity of studying the provisions of the Imperial Army Act.
– The honorable and learned member has just been reading it.
– I think that the Minister ought to be able to explain to the Committee the contents of that Act. From his experience in Western Australia, he appears to think that the Committee should sanction legislation without looking too closely into what is proposed.
– I have studied the Imperial Army Act, and should like to tell the Minister some of its provisions.
– The honorable and learned member is a regular warrior.
– I am very sorry that the Minister entertains such contempt for his officers in Victoria. Apparently, he resents the action of any honorable member who ventures to criticize his Bill. I desire to point out that the Imperial Army Act may at any time be so altered as to impose upon these States conditions which would absolutely deprive our soldiers of any liberties which they enjoy at the present time. In addition it must be remembered that the definition of the Army Act includes not only that Act but future Acts of the Imperial Parliament amending it, which really hands over all legislation to an outside body. Under that Act, any officer who attempts to commit suicide is cashiered, whereas a common soldier is imprisoned. Similarly, if an officer becomes intoxicated whilst upon duty he is cashiered, whereas a soldier convicted of the same offence is either imprisoned or fined. Further, if an officer embezzles any of the regimental funds he is cashiered.
– He would be tried for embezzlement in addition.
– He could be cashiered, whereas a common soldier would be sent to gaol. I would also point out that there is a good deal of doubt as to whether, by a general order issued under the Imperial Army Act, the punishment of flogging does not apply to the Army. Certainly that statute may be as good as the Minister for Defence wishes us to believe, but I think that the Committee ought to be made acquainted with its provisions.
– I do hope that the Committee will not go so far as the honorable and learned member desires. The Imperial Army Act is a code of penal law for the government of the Army. That, together with the Articles of War and the King’s Regulations, which have not been embodied in this Bill, is the law which governs the Army.. They were originally called Articles of War, but in 1881 they were revised and passed into law in the form of the Army Act. That Act of itself has no force in England, but every year a statute is passed bringing its provisions into operation. It seems to me that in time of war the Commonwealth military forces ought not to be placed in a different position from that occupied by the other soldiers of the Empire. If our soldiers have to fight alongside British soldiers, there ought to be one Act which is applicable to both. Otherwise the position would certainly not be conducive to discipline. The Army Act and the King’s Regulations are in force in every State throughout Australia except Victoria. What harm has resulted from their operation ? At the same time I thought that it was unnecessary to burden ourselves with the King’s Regulations, seeing that a great many of them are not applicable to our conditions. It seems to me that if there is one body of men who must be subject to discipline it is the military. How are the armies of every civilized nation kept together as they are except by strict discipline?
– No one objects to that.
– We want to know what we are legislating about.
– Then the honorable member should read the Imperial Army Act. I invite the attention of the Committee to the fact that that Act is not to override the provisions of this Bill. The
Commonwealth forces are to be subject to it only so far as it is not inconsistent with this measure. I trust that honorable members will not press for the excision of the words “The Army Act.”
– I do not know whether this is another plank in the Imperial platform, but the Minister seems to strongly advocate the retention of the clause. He practically admits that he knows nothing whatever about the provisions of the Army Act, and merely invites honorable members to read it. But I would point out that it covers 700 pages. I could understand his action if we were to make that Act a schedule to this Bill. But I object to including in this measure about ten lines which cover an Act containing about 200 sections. Conditions that might apply to the Imperial Army would not apply to Australian troops.
– They would in time of war.
– I do not think so. I have not studied all the provisions of the Act, but several which I have read are very obnoxious, and I do not think that they should be covered in this way. The Minister should have directed the drafting; officers to prepare the regulations necessary for the management of our own troops.
– My officers strongly urged me to adopt this course.
– No doubt they would have copied many of the Imperial provisions, but in any event we should have regulations dealing with our own men. The worst feature of this proposal is that, whilst the Imperial Parliament has the power to review the Army Act, we have virtually no power to deal with it. We shall be able to review it only when we amend this measure.
– Under the clause there will be power to make regulations prescribing what provisions of the Army Act shall be applied.
– The framing of regulations will be merely an act of administration, and we shall have no control over it. Matters of this kind, which can be included in an Act of Parliament, should not beleft to regulations. Throughout this Bill too much power is given to the GovernorGeneral to make regulations. We know that the Minister has only to receive a letter from the Imperial authorities-
– Why make such a suggestion?
– Because of the right honorable gentleman’s statements from time to time. His actions prove that he is amenable to any suggestions of an Imperialistic nature.
– Not at all. I have had more quarrels with the Imperial authorities than any one else has had.
– The influence of the Minister is being felt in regard to many of these matters. I hope thatwe shall not be saddled with a provision such as this. I shall certainly vote against the clause.
– I trust that the Committee will not go further than to. adopt the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. If this clause be omitted, and all reference to the Army Act struck out of the Bill, it will be necessary for us to go back on what we have already passed. We have already agreed to the interpretation clause which defines what the “ Army Act “ means. On the merits of the case it seems to me to be desirable that we should retain a reference to the Army Act. I shall certainly oppose the omission of this provision, which would render it necessary for us to amend the interpretation clause.
– If I correctly understand the intention of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, he disires to drastically amend the clause.
– I wish to make it read -
The military forces, while on active service, shall be subject to the Army Act.
– That is not what the Minister desires.
– I accept the honorable and learned member’s proposal.
– That is very satisfactory, and as the Minister is in a conciliatory mood, I think there is no occasion for me to delay the consideration of the clause by the Committee.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - In order to carry out the proposal which I have already explained, I propose to move that the clause be amended to read as follows : -
The military forces shall at all times while on active service be subject to the Army Act, save so far as it is inconsistent with this Act ; but so that the regulations may prescribe that any provisions of the Army Act shall not apply to the military forces.
– I am prepared to agree to the amendment of the clause in that way.
Clause amended accordingly.
Question - That the clause as amended stand part of the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 52 (Naval Forces subject to Naval Discipline Act).
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I presume that the Minister will agree to the amendment of this clause in the same way.
Clause (on motion by Mr. McCay) amended to read as follows : -
The naval forces shall at all times while on active service be subject to the Naval Discipline Act, save so far as it is inconsistent with this Act ; but so that the regulations may prescribe that any provisions of the Naval Discipline Act shall not apply to the Naval Forces.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- If the honorable and learned member for Corinella and those who understand the reading of statutes will carefully peruse section 176 of the Army Act, they will see that the amendments which have been made are absolutely valueless, because they leave us in the same position as we were in before. The section provides that -
The persons in this section mentioned are persons subject to military law as soldiers, and this
Act shall apply accordingly to all the persons so specified ; that is to say -
The men raised under this Act being men serving under the command of an officer of the regular forces, the Act will apply to them.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 53 and 54 agreed to.
Clause 55 (Persons liable to serve).
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).This clause must be read in conjunction with clauses 56 and 57. Part IV. of the Bill to which they belong provides for a levy en masse, but I cannot see the value of such a provision, unless we have a community of trained soldiers upon which to levy. Although I did not speak upon the amendment of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney last night, I feel that to be logical the Committee should, if it intends to pass these clauses, provide for a system for the training of our people for the defence of the country. No specific exemptions are made in the Bill ; the clauses apply to all persons between the ages of 18 and 60, so that even the Minister himself might be called upon to serve unless he were specially exempted by the proclamation of the Governor-General under clause 57. This part of the Bill goes far beyond any provision of the kind that is made ill Canada. That country, it must be remembered, is contiguous to’ the territory of one of the biggest powers in the world, and is open to attack at any point along a very extended land boundary, so that it is certainly not necessary for us to go further in providing for defence than Canada is prepared to go. There is a good deal of force in the contention of those who wish to introduce something like the Swiss system here, under which every man would have to undergo military drill and learn to handle a rifle ; because it would be ridiculous to compel men to enlist in time of war if they had had no previous training, and were quite unacquainted with the weapons of warfare. Clause 56 appears at first sight to provide for the calling upon persons to enlist in the order of certain specified classes, but a closer consideration of the provision shows that the Government may either at once call upon all persons between the ages of 18 and 60, or may call upon them in the order of the classes specified in sub-clause (3). The power of exemption given to the Governor-General by clause 57 is a tremendous one, and such as is given to no Governor of any other British possession. In my opinion, there should be specific exemptions in the Bill itself. But not even persons whose religious scruples prevent them from fighting, such as the Quakers, the Christadelphians, and others, are exempt. I do not think that we can do better in this matter than follow the example of Canada. Indeed, the Minister himself, in his last Bill, provided for specific exemptions.
– I hope that the Minister will specifically exempt persons whose religious convictions would deter them from taking any part in warfare. I do not think that the exemption provided for in the Bill is sufficient.
– Surely if the Government wished to take power to call out the whole population of Australia for defence in time of war, they should have provided for the training of the people in warlike operations. It is of no use to have power to call out men who are utterly untrained.
– We would train them as soon as we could.
– Soldiers cannot be trained in a few weeks or months. As the Minister was committed to these clauses, he should logically have adopted the amendment of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. He cannot accuse me of opposing the Bill, but when I expressed my views upon its general principles during the second reading debate, I said that I should have to vote against these clauses. I think that they are utterly unnecessary, because they are never likely to be put into force, and, unaccompanied by other provisions, they are ‘useless. We are more likely to require some such power as this in connexion with our naval defence, but no such power is taken. I do not think that the public are prepared to adopt a general system of training such as was proposed by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney. I believe that the spirit of our people is such that when men are wanted for the defence of Australia we shall always have any number of volunteers ; it will never be necessary ‘to use compulsion in order to get men to enlist. These provisions, in my opinion, will have the effect of lowering the spirit of our volunteer system, and I hope that the Minister will recognise that the Committee are opposed to them, and will allow them to be negatived.
– I hope that the Committee will not strike out these clauses. Similar provisions are in force in the States of Queensland, Tasmania, and South Australia. This clause is a transcript of a section which finds a place in the statutes of three of the States, and I believe it is a very good one. I do not anticipate that it will be utilized in the near future. I hope that it never will be. But there is an obligation resting upon all of us in times of great difficulty and danger to defend our hearths and homes, and this clause merely emphasizes that “fact. It cannot do any harm to any one in this country. The power to .make a levy en masse is surrounded with considerable safeguards. It can only be exercised in time of war. If Parliament is sitting, it must be communicated with before any action is taken. If Parliament is not sitting at the time, it will have to be summoned within ten days, and will then be in the position* to take upon itself the whole responsibility of giving or declining to give the necessary authority. I think it is right that we should have in our Defence Act a. recognition of the obligation which lies upon every member of the community, and that we should declare to the world that we have- 1,000,000 men between the ages of 18 and. 60 who are prepared to defend the country against invasion.
– We should getthe rifles first.
– We shall getthe rifles, too. I hope we shall never be called upon to exercise the power conferred upon us by the clause, but, at the same time, I regard it as a valuable feature of the Bill.. The provision is already included in the statutes of three of the States.
– Western Australia, themost important State of all, has not adopted it.
– I do not think that Western Australia would object toadopt it. I was not in charge of the Defence Bill when it was before the Legislature of Western Australia. I hope thatthe honorable and learned member will withdraw his opposition.
– I hope the Committee will be consistent. Last nightthey opposed the introduction of the element of compulsion into any kind of military service. It is generally conceded thatif we had an invasion here there would beno difficulty in finding all the men requiredto defend the country without any compulsion whatever. If the people did not want to fight it would be very difficult to compel them to do so, but if on the other hand they realized the necessity of repelling an invasion they would volunteer for the purpose.
– What about ‘thehonorable member’s consistency 1
– I intend to oppose theclause^ Last night the honorable and learned member for West Sydney proposed that steps should be taken to compel ouryoung men between the ages of 18 and 21 to submit to a certain amount of discipline which would’ fit them to take part in thedefence of the country. That was very different from . the proposal to make a levy en masse upon the people, irrespective of their ability to act as soldiers. Moreover, there is no occasion to provide by Act ofParliament that the people shall be levied upon en masse for military purposes, becauseno compulsion which is applied to the wholebody of the people could be exercised unless. they were ready to act without such/ compulsion. Surely if, as was urged by some honorable senators, the training of our young men between the ages of 18 and 21 would involve too much strain upon the community, it would be too much to expect the whole population to submit to be called upon for military service. There is nothing inconsistent in my attitude with regard to the two proposals.
Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I do not think the honorable member for Darling should be twitted with inconsistency. His position is perfectly clear. He is prepared to compel every one to go out and do military training when there is no fighting to be done, but he does not wish them to be compelled to go out in time of war. There is no inconsistency in that position. It must be one of great comfort to those who do not desire to fight. The honorable member is paying full consideration to the susceptibilities of those who do not wish to turn out when fighting is going on. The only people who would be engaged in the real work of defence would be those who were willing to fight.
– That would be the case in any event, because you could not make a man fight if he were not willing.
– Oh, yes; you could. If you put a man in the firing line he would have to do his share of the fighting, because he would have to go along somehow. The honorable member says that we could not force the whole nation to take up arms in time of war if. they were unwilling to do so. The majority would, however, be willing to do so, and they would bring along with them those who were reluctant to go to the front. I believe in making men fight in time of war, and I shall therefore support the clause.
– I cannot understand the opposition directed to this clause. I can understand a great many of the arguments that have been used against Australians being compelled to leave the Commonwealth upon active service ; but I cannot understand why any opposition should be raised when we are asked to include in the Bill an announcement that the people of Australia are ready to defend their country in time of need. It is the highest duty of every citizen, when his country is in danger, to stand in the ranks, if need be ; and we can do no harm, but may do a great deal of good by announcing to the people of the world that our Australian citizens are prepared to be called upon to defend their country against an invader. I cannot understand how any one who claims to look upon Australia as his home, as something to be defended, and kept unsoiled by the touch of an invader, can object to this provision. In time of necessity it should not only.be the moral duty, but should be regarded as the privilege, of every citizen to serve in the Defence Forces.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 56 -
In time of war it shall be lawful for the Governor-General (the occasion being first communicated to the Parliament, if the Parliament be then sitting, or notified by proclamation if the Parliament be not then sitting), by proclamation, to call upon persons liable to serve in the Militia Forces to enlist in the Militia Forces,
Class3 : All men of the age of eighteen years and upwards, but under forty-five years, who are married, or widowers with children.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I move -
That paragraph (a) be omitted.
I submit the amendment because I think that the power contained in the paragraph in question is never likely to be exercised. The principal argument advanced in its favour by the Minister is that it constitutes a sort of placard to foreign nations of the force that in case of emergency we could put into the field. From the right honorable gentleman’s own statement, it is a mere advertisement - a sort of red flag - a warning of danger. Further, I do not think that there is. any need to give the Executive power to call out all the military forces of the Commonwealth. In time of danger an ample number of volunteers will be available.
Amendment agreed to.
– I move -
That the word “ eighteen,” line 26, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “nineteen.”
– Youths of eighteen years of age are quite able to do garrison work, and to guard lines of communication.
– But this clause provides for the calling out of youths who may not entertain a desire to become soldiers. I quite agree that eighteen years is a very good limit to fix in the case of volunteers, because a young fellow of that age may have the requisite physical capacity, as well as the desire, to adopt a soldier’s life. But allmen are not physically constituted alike. Some have a more delicate constitution than others, and many youths of eighteen are niere school-boys. I know that at the time of the American Civil War, the young men of eighteen years were the last to be called out. I think that the age’ limit should be altered to nineteen years. I do not think it matters much whether the whole clause is retained or rejected, because in Australia there will always be a sufficient number of volunteers forthcoming in time of emergency.
– I do notthink there is much in the argument of the honorable member’ for Grampians. Many a youth of eighteen is physically qualified to become a soldier. I would also point out that the Committee have already agreed to that age limit in the previous clause.
– I think that this clause is of some consequence. It may be a mere placard, as it has been described by the honorable and learned member for Northern ‘Melbourne, but placards sometimes serve very useful purposes. The clause contains a declaration that in the dire arbitrament of war, when the country is in danger, we are prepared to place ourselves unreservedly in the hands of the Executive for the purposes of defence. I can see no harm whatever in embodying a declaration of that kind in the statutes of the country. If that is the intention of the provision, the fuller we can make it, in its presentment of the force available, the better. I take it that the youths of eighteen years of age who are scattered throughout the Commonwealth represent a very considerable force. Since this clause contains a declaration of the character to which I have referred, I hold that we should allow no exemptions from service, except those which are imposed by physicial disability. It occurs to me that in placarding our deliberate intention to defend our shores at all hazards when the tocsin of war has sounded, we rather emphasize the voluntary aspect of our militarism in time of peace. Therefore, I hope that the honorable member for Grampians will withdraw his amendment.
– I also trust that the amendment will be withdrawn, because its adoption would deprive us of amost efficient fighting force. Under this Bill we have made provision for the training of cadets, and probably some of the best men. whose services we shall secure will consist of young fellows of eighteen years. I was a. volunteer before I was that age, and was just as good a man then as I was a few years afterwards. I would further point out that in the recent South African war some of the very best stands made by the Boers were made by mere boys who were undereighteen years of age.
Mr. SKENE (Grampians). - I regret that I have not made myself clearly understood in regard to the amendment. I un derstand that it is quite open to any young man of eighteen years to volunteer. I do not object to that. But if a youth of that age does not desire to offer himself for military service, I do not think that we should compel him to do so. All men are not constituted alike. Some have more physical courage than others. But seeing that in the previous clause the Committee have decided that persons of eighteen years of age shall be liable to serve, I do not see that we can very well go back upon our decision.
– I think that the question raised by the honorable member possesses one phase which might very well be ventilated. Although this clause is tantamount to a placard which proclaimshow our citizen forces are to be called out, there is nothing making it mandatory that the Government shall act in the way prescribed. It would be a wise Government which first called for volunteers. Although the clause gives them an extreme power, I hope that it will be used only in cases of extreme urgency.
– It is the only thing that will prevent the house from falling.
– I venture to say that when there was an actual invasion or danger of invasion or a war actually in progress in Australia, a wise Government in such circumstances would first call for volunteers, and I should be very much disappointed if they did not obtain twice as many volunteers as they could equip and send into the field.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 57 -
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).This is a clause to which I have already referred, and I desire to move an amendment. The clause allows no exemption from service, except such as the Minister may think fit, but I hold that it is important that we should provide for the specific exemption of people who have a genuine conscientious objection to serve in the Defence Force.
– I have given notice of an amendment to meet an objection of that kind which is entertained by the Society of Friends.
– I shall indicate what I propose to move, and if the honorable member’s amendment is on the same lines I shall be glad to accept it. Notwithstanding the Minister’s dissent, there are a number of people who, rightly or wrongly, strongly object to fighting of any kind. Personally, I do not go so far as that. There are also a large number of persons who object to serve unless they feel that they are fighting in a just cause. They also should be exempted. I shall ask the Minister to do what he did in clause 32 of the first Defence Bill, and by specifically exempting a number of persons make it unnecessary for them to depend on the mercy of the Ministry.
– To whom does the honorable and learned member refer?
– I am speaking of those who should be exempt on the ground of conscience.
– There is no one who could refrain from accepting good-naturedly the right honorable gentleman’s dissent; but even the Minister, with his high-handed recklessness, will allow that there are a number of honest persons who are entitled to act on their strong conscientious belief. The amendment which I have drafted provides that -
The following persons shall be exempt from service in the Defence Force : -
All such persons us object to serve in the Defence Force on the ground of religious belief or of conscience ;
All such persons as the Governor-General may, by proclamation, exempt from service in the Defence Force, and -
The paragraph I have just read would provide an extra power, so that the GovernorGeneral would be able to exempt those whom he might require for carrying on the work of the public Departments. The amendment would also provide for the exemption of -
All persons disabled by bodily infirmity ; all Judges and magistrates ; all officers and staff’s of gaols, hospitals, benevolent and lunatic asylums.
It is essential that we should still retain sub-clause (2), because it would throw upon the man who has a conscientious objection the burden of proving that he should be exempt.
– How could he prove that?
– I would use the very same words with regard to the proving of the burden of exemption as the Minister used in the Defence Bill which he introduced last session.
– What does “conscience” mean - objection to a particular war or objection to any war?
– Ishould leave absolutely open the question whether the person had a conscientious objection to war generally, or to any particular war. There are some minds so bigoted that they cannot conceive of any conscientious objection which they do not share themselves. I feel that we are apt to do an injustice to men, who are few in number, but who believe that it is very wrong to engage in fighting of any sort.
– Ican conceive of such a thing ; . but I cannot conceive how a man would be able to prove that he held that belief.
– It would be very easy for a Christadelphian to produce the articles of his creed. There would be no difficulty in proving the existence of a conscientious or religious objection of the kind. We must, in justice to the Minister’s clause, take care to prevent the evasion of conscription by men who might desire to make a farce of it. If the Committee has come to the conclusion that every one shall be liable to serve with the Defence Force, a man should not be allowed to escape merely because he says that he has some conscientious objection to fighting. He should be compelled to prove his right to exemption, and that point is provided for in sub-clause (2). This principle will apply to a certain number of sects. I notice that, in Canada, Quakers and others have been expressly exempted.
– The Quakers are also exempt from service in the United States.
– I was not aware of that.
– Why not trust the Executive?
– I certainly object to trust the Executive in these matters.
– There are Judges, Members of Parliament, and others who have to be exempted.
– I shall trust the Minister to exempt himself, and if he does so, he will also exempt other Members of Parliament. I move -
That sub-clause (1) be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words : -
All such persons as object to serve in the Defence Force on the ground of religious belief or of conscience ;
All such other persons as the GovernorGeneral may, by proclamation, exempt from service in the Defence Force ; and
All persons disabledby bodily infirmity ; all Judges and Magistrates ; all officers and Staffs of gaols, hospitals, benevolent, and lunatic asylums.
– There will be no one left for service.
– I have taken the last paragraph from the Defence Bill introduced last session by the Minister, but if there is any desire that the persons named in it shall not be expressly exempted, I shall be prepared to withdraw that part of the amendment. I would trust the Minister of the day to deal with exemptions of that class ; but I would not intrust him with the power to ride rough-shod upon conscience. That is a case in which I think there must be some express exemption.
– It is immaterial to me whether the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, or that of which I have given notice, is accepted by the Committee, provided that the object which I have in view is attained. I may say that my amendment is exactly the same as that which was proposed, when the Defence Bill was before the House last session, by the late honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. Piesse. That gentleman gave a great deal of attention to the matter, and therefore I thought I could not do better than adopt the words which he employed. I had the honour of introducing a deputation of the Society of Friends to the Prime
Minister, who substantially agreed that the amendment should be accepted. It provides that -
Any person otherwise subject to military duty whom the doctrines of his religion forbid to bear arms or perform military service shall be exempt from such service when balloted in time of peace or war upon such conditions as may be prescribed.
Of course, that provision does not allow the latitude which one’s own conscience might prescribe for his personal safety or to meet his own inclinations. A person to be exempt must belong to a religious body whose tenets are generally understood and commonly known. I ask my honorable and learned friend if the amendment does not do all that is wanted?
– It does not cover the case of the man who objects to the particular war in which the country is engaged.
– I am afraid that I cannot follow the honorable and learned member so far as that. The authorities must determine the merits of the war. Many wars have taken place to which individual members of society have been opposed, but it nevertheless behoves every man to support his own country in the last resort.
– If the Committee negatives the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, part of which is similar to that of the honorable and learned member for Kooyong, shall we able to vote for his proposal?
– I think so.
– I should like to draw the attention of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne to the fact that the clause provides only for the calling out of the population for the defence of Australia when there is no other remedy left. He contends that a question of conscience includes the conscientious belief of a person as to the injustice of a particular war ; but no person, whatever his opinion on the merits of the war itself, can remain neutral when the enemy is firing shot and shell into his own house. This is not a proposal for the calling out of persons to undertake a war of aggression.
– The attack may follow upon a war of aggression ; the party attacked may attack in return.
-It cannot be contended that if Germany was unjustly attacked by Great Britain, Australia taking part in the war, and the Germans subsequently sent an invading army here by way of retaliation, we should allow our country to be destroyed. That is an act of .Christian submission to which I cannot bring myself to agree.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).In addition to the arguments put forward by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, I should like to know what becomes of the doctrine of majority rule if the contention of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is to hold 1 He declares that the individual should not be expected to submit to the will of the majority when the question at issue, is a matter of life or death to the country.
– It is clear that the honorable member does not understand what majority rule is.
– The honorable and learned member is usually one of the clearest-headed men in the Chamber, but I have never seen an)’ one more muddled than he appears to be in connexion with this Bill. I do not see how a person who has no religious objections to warfare itself can claim to be exempt from defending his country because he does not subscribe to the justice of some particular war in which it is involved. When a man has expressed bis opinions, as it is open for any one to -do under our democratic institutions, he must, if overruled by the majority, be prepared to submit’ to the popular will, and, above all, when the question at issue affects the very existence of the State. We all respect the honorable and learned member’s conscientious objections to warfare, but I do not think it can be admitted that persons should be exempted from serving in defence of their country when it is threatened with invasion, merely because they hold the opinion that the war originally was- an unjust one. Does the honorable and learned member mean to say that if his house were attacked by a man, he - though he had unwittingly been the aggressor - would allow it to be pulled down about his ears, and his family murdered in cold blood while he stood by protesting 1
– That is Christianity.
– Even if it is Christianity, I am afraid it is not the Christianity according to which our politics are conducted, nor is it the Christianity observed by the nations of the world. 7 y 2
– They do not observe Chris- tianity much, I think.
– I am afraid not. The late Lord Dufferin a little while before he died delivered a magnificent speech, in which he declared that the rule of force is still the rule of nations. I am afraid that this rule of force will remain for a long time the primary and ultimate law of nations. While it does remain, we cannot pretend to make all those allowances suggested by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. On the other hand, I shall be prepared to support the amendment of the honorable member for Kooyong. If the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne would make his amendment conform to the purport of the proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong I would support him. If a man has conscientious religious beliefs we should respect them and allow an exemption.
– Does not the honorable member think that a largo number of persons would join the exempted religion if we allowed that t
– If there were such a large number as to threaten the strength of the defence of the country it would become a more serious problem, but as things are we might as well concede the point suggested by the honorable member’s amendment.
– I think that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne goes too far in his idea of exempting any one who objects to a particular war. This Bill is for the defence of Australia, and not for any other purpose. It is not a Bill for aggressive warfare. No Australian should have a word to say about the rights or wrongs of the defence of Australia. I cannot, understand the honorable and learned member when he says there ought to beexemptions, not only in favour of thosewho have conscientious scruples against warfare generally - such people as the Quakers - but that we should respect the conscientious scruples of those who do not like any particular war. There are conscientious scruples against war of any sort entertained by members of particular churches and denominations. It would be the most abhorrent form of tyranny to insist that they should waive their conscientious convictions and go out to fight. But the honorable and learned member proposes to throw the onus of proving that they have those objections upon the people who entertain them. To my mind it is a matter- of impossibility to prove that a man has religious and conscientious objections. He might prove that he had religious objections by proving that he belonged to some religious body holding tenets against warfare, but how could it be proved that a man held conscientious objections? It would be impossible to get any proof that I can think of as to a man’s conscientious objections, except by requiring him to make an affidavit or affirmation. It would meet the case if an amendment were made to add the following words : -
Provided that no person shall be called upon to serve if he has religious or conscientious objections to so serving, and makes an affidavit to that effect.
If we are going to exempt people for conscience sake we can get proof of their conscience only by something tantamount to an oath. The amendment of the honorable member for Kooyong is somewhat on the lines of one proposed by the late Mr. Piesse. But it will have to be recast, because it refers to a ballot. There is no provision for balloting in the Bill. It might be provided for by regulations, but the amendment itself would be inconsistent with the other clauses of the Bill. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, that it is in the highest degree right that we should allow exemptions from compulsory service. I do not believe in compulsory service. I see no need for it. But if we are going to adopt that principle, it i3 abhorrent to my principles to compel any man to fight if he has conscientious or religious scruples against doing so. If Australia were attacked, I believe that many persons like Quakers and others, who object to war, would be found fighting for the defence of their country. Still, there are men like Count Tolstoi who entertained the strongest objections against fighting of any kind. Quakers are in the same category. The scruples of these persons ought to be respected, irrespective of whether or not they subscribe to any recognised creed.
– I think that the proposal of the honorable member for South Sydney will meet the case. We might put in some short proviso. But at the same time, I really cannot see any necessity for a special exemption. I am willing to admit that there are some classes of persons who profess a religion which forbids them to bear arms. But surely that class does not wish the machinery of the Bill, to be brought into operation for its special benefit. It may very well trust the Executive Government to deal with it in the same way as with the Judges, bishops, and other ministers of religion, and those whom it would not consider desirable to call upon to serve in time of war. Why should we, in a Bill of this kind, give the members of the Society of Friends a special place 1 I think that these gentlemen are making altogether too much of this matter. No one wants to force them to fight if they have religious scruples against bearing arms, but why should such men desire to be placarded in this Bill 1 When extraordinary and momentous occasions arise, full power is given to the Government to do all that is necessary, and no doubt they would exempt from service all those who had religious scruples against bearing arms. With regard to the exemption of persons who may not regard a war in which we are engaged as just, I think there is at least one honorable member who would be exempt under such a provision. I do not think that he would regard it as just ; at any rate, it would be very hard to convince him that it was. I hope the Committee will accept the clause, because it seems to me that it is comprehensive enough to meet all cases.
– I hope that the Minister will adhere to the clause as it stands. I have the greatest respect for people who have ideas differing from my own upon religious matters. I am willing to concede a good deal to those who have conscientious scruples, but I do not think we are called upon to introduce the question of religious belief into this Bill. I perfectly understand the position taken up by those who ask for an exemption from military service. They object to the shedding of human blood, but - without using any stronger language than I think justified - it appears to me that, in this respect, their claim is nothing but unadulterated cant. We know well enough that the taking away of human life is a very serious thing, but that does not occur only upon the battle-field. I know it to be a fact that some of the people who have been most strongly opposed to the bearing of arms in times of war have figured as the most bitter opponents of measures intended for the amelioration of industrial conditions which have destroyed thousands of people for every one hundred of those who have been killed upon the battle-field. Such people may consider themselves justified in refusing to take up arms in defence of their homes ; they may feel justified in standing idly by when women and children are being made homeless, or when they are being subjected to starvation or nameless indignities. They may plead that their religious scruples justify them in standing by while all that is being done. We need not force them to fight on the field of battle. We can concede all that under the Bill in its present condition, and I hope that the Minister will realize that the clause as it now stands would give him an opportunity of employing these people in some, useful work in the defence of the country without in the least degree interfering with their religious scruples. I shall support the clause.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).As I moved the amendment I think I may be permitted to make a few remarks in reply. I have to thank the honorable member for South Sydney for his courtesy. I have no objection to offer to his suggestion ; in fact I am prepared to go further and leave the Minister to prescribe by regulation the way in which claims to exemption shall be proved. I would not even provide for an affidavit or declaration, because I know that those means are abused, but I should leave it entirely 60 the Minister to prescribe how a man should prove his right to be exempted from military service on account of his conscientious or religious scruples. I am strongly in accord with the honorable member for Kooyong as far as he goes, but I do not think that he proceeds far enough. I hold that the man who thinks that a war is unjust is entitled to say that ‘he will not take up arms against those who are being attacked. Suppose that at the time of the opium war in China, when the whole power of the British Empire was used to force opium on China, there had been a collection of military stores at Perth or Port Darwin, and the Chinese had attacked those stores ; should we have been justified in compelling a man who did not believe in that war to shoot those who were making the attack f
– He would be shot himself if he did not.
– I am addressing myself to those who have some fair idea of what is due to the conscientious scruples of the individual. Suppose that at the time of the Spanish Armada a Spaniard who regarded the attack upon England as unjust, had been called upon to take part in that expedition. Does the honorable member mean that that Spaniard ought not to be allowed to say - -“I do not want to join in this fight “1 I am happy to find that there are others who agree with me. I do not think that a man ought to be forced to join in a war in which he is asked practically to murder others without just cause.
– Would the honorable and learned member let somebody else protect his property and life ?
– It is not a question of the protection of property or of life. There are many men who would prefer to lose both life and property rather than engage in an unjust war.
– But this clause deals only with the defence of our country against invasion.
– It is the miserable selfishness which lies at the root of our actions that induces people to say - “AVe must defend our property at all costs, whether the war bc just or unjust.” There are things higher than property or life. I cannot draw a line between conscientious objection to wars in general and objection to a particular war.
– Would the honorable and learned member say that a man ought not to defend his own wife and children ?
– That is not the question.
– It comes to that.
– We have not to deal with the case of a direct attack on wives and children. Thank goodness, civilized nations do not now wage war against women and children ! If we allow a man off service for conscience sake on the ground 6f a general objection to war - an objection which I do not personally share - we ought also to allow a man off foi- conscience sake on the ground of objection to a particular war. It appears that we have not yet reached the proper attitude from which to regard these matters. Apparently Richard Cobden, who objected to the Crimean war, should have been compelled, if competent to serve on board ship, to fight at Cronstadt against the Russians.
– This clause deals only with invasion.
– If the Committee is not in favour of allowing a man to exercise his conscience in regard to a particular war, I cannot help it - I have made my protest, and that is all I can do. I understand that I have with me the honorable member for South Sydney, and the honorable and learned member for Corio. The effect of my amendment will be to strike out the first paragraph of clause 57 with a view to inserting the words I have mentioned. To prevent any misconception I may say that I am not wedded to the words which the Minister used in his last Bill, but I have used them only in order to meet the views which he apparently then held.
– If those words were in the previous Bill they are very silly.
– The Minister evidently thinks that any one who would suggest such words is a lunatic, and, therefore, I apprehend that he must be a lunatic, for in clause 32 of the Bill which was previously before us we find provision made for “ persons disabled by bodily informity “-which are the very words I have used - and “ officers and staff of public hospitals, benevolent asylums, and lunatic asylums.”
– I must have copied those words from an Act.
Mr.HIGGINS. - By far the most important matter in the amendment is that referring to conscience, and if that part be carried I am willing to leave all the rest to the Governor in Council.
– The difference between the amendment of the honorable member for Kooyong and that of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is that the former wishes to limit the objections to those which are religious, while the latter would extend the operation of the clause to conscientious objections.
– To the particular war or to war generally?
– I understand the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne to refer to conscientious objections whether to a particular war or to all war. There is a large and growing body of people who object to war not only on religious, but on political, grounds. It may be that I do not agree with the religious and conscientious position assumed by others ; but there are a number of persons who believe that the best way to defeat evil is not to resist evil. The Tolstoi movement is not only religious, but also political ; and the international brotherhood as opposed to the national movement means that men who - I do not care whether they are governed from Berlin, Paris, or St. Petersburg - regard the taking up of arms as injurious to humanity: That movement is very strong. It is the Nihilist movement in Russia, and Nihilists are largely sceptics. They and similar thinkers would be excluded from the operation of this clause. It is because I object to conscientious scruples not being respected, that I intend to vote with the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I desire to amend my amendment by omitting all the words after “ defence.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Amendment (by Mr. Knox) proposed -
That the following proviso be added to the clause - “ Provided that persons whom the doctrines of their religion forbid to bear arms or perform military service, shall be exempt under such conditions as may be prescribed.”
Mr. G. B. EDWARDS (South Sydney). - I think that we might well insert in the amendment, after the word “ religion,” the words “ or conscientious objections.” There are many conscientious objections as well as religious ones.
And I think we could avoid the abuse of the provision by exacting an affirmation, tantamount to an oath, from a man who claimed to bo exempt.
– I think there is something in the contention’ put forward by the honorable member.
– So do we, but we do not wish to deal with that matter now.
– If a number of men who have a conscientious objection to fighting can draw up the tenets pf their faith, and form themselves into a religious organization, they will be exempt ; but if they are an unorganized body they will have to serve.
– In that case they would have to trust to the Governor-General’s conscience.
– As the Bill stands, if a number of men have a conscientious objection to serve in the Defence Force, they must form themselves into a religious body in order to be exempt.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
House adjourned at 11.4 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 6 August 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030806_reps_1_15/>.