1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. GLYNN presented two petitions from certain electors of South Australia, praying the House to prohibit the importation, sale, and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
– Will the Prime Minister let the House know on what date he received the announcement from the Colonial-office as to the contemplated appointment of Lord Northcote to the office of Governor-General of the Commonwealth,, and what reply, if any, he returned?
– A communication was received by His Excellency the Governor-General from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, though I do not remember the date of it, stating that it was in contemplation to appoint Lord Northcote to be Governor-General, and asking if the appointment would be acceptable to His Excellency’s advisers. The message also added that Lord Northcote’s administration of office in Bombay had been attended with marked success. To that communication the reply was made that the Governor-General saw no reason; why the appointment should not be acceptable ; and when I was in Sydney I received a document from His Excellency intimating that he had received a telegram from the Secretary of State for the Colonies announcing the intention to appoint Lord Northcote to be Governor-General.
– Was any reply sent to that?
– No reply was needed.
– I think that my question should be answered by the Prime Minister, or he should say that he does not intend, or is unable, to answer it.
– What part of it have I not answered ?
At a later stage,
– Before the business of the day commences, I might, in courtesy to the House, say that since answering a question at an earlier stage, I have received a communication from the Governor-General informing me that on Saturday, the 8th inst., he received a telegraphic message from the Secretary of State for the Colonies, intimating that the King had been pleased to approve of the appointment of. Lord Northcote, C.B., G.C.,I.E., at present Governor of Bombay, to be the Governor-General of Australia.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if there is any correspondence with reference to the establishment of penny postage between England and Australia which could be laid upon the table of the House?
– There is correspondence on the subject, and if any of it has not been laid upon the table of the House, it will be made available to honorable members, unless it contains some limitation of confidence.
– I wish to know from the Minister for Defence if he will inform us whether any reports have been obtained from the Naval Commandants of the various States upon the naval work of the Department, and, if so, whether they will be laid upon the table of the House for the information of honorable members?
– I shall be glad to assist the honorable and learned member in getting the information he requires.
MINISTERS laid on the table the following papers : -
Queensland Electoral Divisions : Report of Commissioner, with maps.
Commonwealth Military Forces Regulations for medical attendance. - Permanent forces (dated 25th July, 1903).
Regulations defining the duties of officers of the Australian Army Medical Corps, Militia or Partly-paid, and Volunteer Establishment (dated 25th July, 1903).
Re-arrangement of Portfolios.
– I wish to make an announcement of a formal character. On Friday last, I made a statement to the House with regard to the proposed re-arrangement of some of the Ministerial Departments. I have now to intimate that His Excellency the Governor-General has approved of the re-arrangement, and that the Ministers in question have been sworn in for the administrations which they have respectively undertaken.
– Is it necessary to ask the approval of the Governor-General?
– It is the invariable practice for a Prime Minister upon the formation of his Ministry to submit the names of his colleagues for approval, and upon a change of Ministers to submit for approval the name of any fresh colleague, or of any colleague who has undertaken a new Department.
– As I understand that a question as to the precedence of Ministers has arisen, this may be an opportune time to ask the Prime Minister on what principle the order of the Departments was arranged ? Under the Constitution of New South Wales the Treasurer comes next to the Colonial Secretary - an office which is generally held by the Prime Minister - and in most of the other States the office of Treasurer is generally held by the Prime Minister. Will my right honorable friend inform us upon what principle the office of Treasurer has been made fourth on the list of Federal Ministers ?
– Does not the Government work on the round-table principle ?
– There has been some silly statement of the kind. The order of precedence which was settled at the outset placed the office of the AttorneyGeneral first after that of Minister for External Affairs ; then came the Minister for Home Affairs, and then the Treasurer. The change which we contemplate is that so far as the present Ministry is concerned, the office of Minister for Trade and Customs shall rank next after that of the AttorneyGeneral. That change has been made with the complete approval of the Treasurer. No decision has been come to with reference to the position of theMinister for Home Affairs. In some Constitutions, a relative precedence of offices is fixed, but no such precedence is provided for in the Commonwealth Constitution.
– I should like to explain that my question had nothing to do with the position of the Minister for Trade and Customs, but referred to the original arrangement. I thought that my right honorable friend might have given us, not merely a statement of the position, but the reason for it. Perhaps, however, a better time to deal with the matter will be when the Budget speech is under consideration. I think it is one which the House should understand.
– It is not a fact that in the States the Treasurer invariably comes next in precedence to the Prime Minister. Sometimes he is Prime Minister, in which case he naturally takes precedence, but in other cases, as I know from experience, sometimes the Treasurer and sometimes the Attorney-General ranks next to the Prime Minister. On this occasion the AttorneyGeneral was, by arrangement amongst Ministers, placed next.
– Is that arrangement subject to alteration?
– It is not contemplated to alter the arrangement at a later period.
– Is the arrangement subject to an alteration in another Ministrv ?
– All these matters are subject to alteration by Order in Council. This precedence was announced immediately after the 1st January, 1901, in the Commonwealth Gazette, as a notification from the Governor-General, and it is subject to alteration by similar notification as circumstances arise, and the Executive Council determine.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister if he has any objection to tell us who the new honorary Minister is to be?
– I shall have the utmost pleasure in informing the House as soon as I know myself.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is correct, as reported in the newspapers, that he has declared that no money shall be spent on the building of the Federal capital until the whole matter has been relegated to the people for decision?
– I do not know to what newspaper paragraph the honorable member is referring, because there are so many paragraphs, some on one side and some on the other. But any expression of opinion that I have given has been that I do not think any large sum of money will be voted by this Parliament. That is my personal opinion - not that there shall be no money voted, because I think money should be voted if the question of the site is settled this session, so that various matters may be dealt with before the commencement of the buildings.
– Is the Minister for Defence aware that the capitation fees of the partially-paid forces at Newcastle have not been paid, although the vouchers have been signed for a month past ?
– I am not aware of the fact, but I shall make inquiries at once, and see that the fees are paid if they are due.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister what steps, if any, have been taken relating to three carpenters who are supposed to have landed under agreement to the Chillagoe Company, two or three days ago, as reported in this morning’s newspapers?
– From inquiries made in Sydney from the Collector of Customs, I find that there were three Germans on the s.s. Gera who proved to be under contract to perform manual labour as carpenters in the service of a mining company in Queensland. I. may say that I a.m expecting a communication on the subject from Sydney at any moment. When I left
Sydney it was not ascertained whether these intending immigrants were within the meaning of the’ Immigration Restriction Act, as possessing special skill required in Australia. I have given instructions that inquiries be made on the point, and I am now awaiting the result.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether there is any estimate in existence of the total value of the properties which have become vested in the Commonwealth, and for which compensation is to be made to the States ?
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -
At the time of the Adelaide Convention an approximate estimate of £10,445,000 was put forward, a compilation, 1 believe, of the Victorian Government Statist. On the 24th January. 1901, I asked the Premiers of the different States to furnish me with schedules of the properties of the Departments which had then been transferred , and of those which it was proposed to transfer in the near future. After some correspondence, lists were furnished by some of the States, but they did not contain the necessary particulars as to values, &c, and, in October, 1902, the Prime Minister intimated to the Premiers of the States that the question of the appointment of a board of experts had been under consideration, but that before anything further could be done, certain data were necessary, and asked them to furnish the same as soon as possible. Since then, various reminders have been issued to the States Governments, but, so far, the desired particulars have only been received in regard to some Western Australian post-offices, although it is understood that the preparation of the information is well advanced in most of the States. As late as last week, reminders were forwarded to the State Premiers.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow . -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
I am informed that there is no means of obtaining the figures to reply to this question, excepting from the shipping companies.
Debate resumed from the 6th August (vide page 3221), on motion by Mr. Deakin -
That the Bill be 110” read a second time.
– On Thursday, when I moved the adjournment of this debate, we had listened to three very able speeches - one from the leader of the Opposition-, one from the late Minister for Trade and Customs, and another from the honorable member for Bland, who is the leader of the labour party. Allow me to say that I was very pleased with the moderate tone of the speech of the honorable member for Bland, and grateful for the statistics which he supplied in relation to labour matters in’ New Zealand. Those statistics were so full as to make it now unnecessary for me to further refer to them. In response to an interjection by the honorable member for Parramatta, the, honorable member for Bland stated that he had changed his views, and I have to make a similar acknowledgment. There was a time when I was utterly opposed, not only to unionism, but to conciliation and arbitration in any form. As ship-owners, we considered that we could judge best how our business should be managed, and I held that view for a long time after the great strike of 1890. The honorable member for Bland stated that “ the spirit of unionism had changed,” and that there was now a newer unionism. Theunionismto which I had been accustomed during the great strikes of 1890 to 1894 was of a more arrogant and “ stand-and-deliver “ type than the unionism of to-day. I hope that the newer unionism referred to by the honorable member for Bland, which has enabled those of us who are employers to meet our men with pleasure and discuss matters in a conciliatory spirit, may continue.For some years past, so far as the relations between employers and employes areconcerned, there has been peace in the shipping trade. There is peace at present, although there has been some talk lately of a threatened strike. I can assure honorable members that I know of no reason for any such strike, or of any cause whatever for alarm, unless the leaders of the Seamen’s Union are determined to import into the discussion of the present position considerations of a political nature that have nothing whatever to dowith the relations between capital and labour.
– Is there an y agreement in existence?
– Yes; there is an agreement between the employers and the Seamen’s Unions, and I think
I shall be able to show that unless action is taken by the leaders of the Seamen’s Union, with some political object in view, there need be no fear but that everything will be done to get over any difficulty, if there be any, in the easiest possible manner. I sincerely trust that there will be no fomenting of troubleon the partof the Seamen’s Union, and that labour leaders will not indulge in the tactics which appear to have been suggested by the reports recently circulated. The leader of the Opposition and the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, stated that this measure was of an experimental nature. I quite agree with that view, and therefore I intend, when the Bill reaches the Committee stage, to move that its operation shall be limited to a period of five years.
– I have already given notice of my intention to act in that direction.
– I was not aware of that. I am very glad, indeed, to hear that the honorable member contemplates such action, and I shall have pleasure in supporting him.
– Does the honorable member think that five years would prove very much ?
– It is said that ten years’ experience in New Zealand has proved nothing.
– We have had some experience in New Zealand and in New South Wales, and, as the New South Wales Act will terminate in 1908,I see no reason why the operation of this Bill should not be so limited as to expire in the same year. If the legislation which has been passed prove satisfactory in New South Wales and New Zealand, there is no doubt that the New South Wales law will be renewed, . and I should be only too pleased at Such a result, unless some serious complaints can be urged against it. We must remember that this legislation is new, and that it will apply over an extended area ; and that in itself affords a sufficient reason why we should treat it as experimental.
– Would a term of five years be sufficient ?
– I think so.
– Would it not be easy to repeal the Act if it proved unsatisfactory ?
– It would be more difficult to repeal the Act than to renew it. Whether they are favorable to the Bill or otherwise, honorable members must recognise that strikes are extremely injurious. Dealing with the matter, first, from the humanitarian point of view, I wish to give honorable members some idea of the suffering inflicted upon women and children in the case of great strikes. I shall read an extract from the work of Mr. W. P. Reeves, the Agent-General of New Zealand, which is an extremely useful publication. He says -
There was in 1898 a colliery strike which lasted for five months, and was finally settled by the arbitration of LordRosebery. During the weeks of conflict it kept three-quarters of a million of dependent women and children in a state of anxiety and intermittent suffering. It also threw out of work half -a -million of persons engaged in trades directly affected by the coal strike.
Honorable members can easily picture to themselves the suffering undergone during that great strike, and I hope they will approach this matter with a determination to give the Bill every consideration from that pointof view. Regarding the monetary losses, I desire to show the House that if we can devise any means whatever by which we can prevent strikes, we shall do a great deal of good. From the report of the Labour Department of the Board of Trade I find that the estimated annual loss in wages alone incurred through strikes in England - exclusive of the losses of the employers - is £1,500,000. The same authority states that in 1892 there were 700 strikes, affecting 372,000 workmen ; and that the loss which resulted amounted to £3,900,000. Mr. Reeves also gives some useful information regarding America. He says that the report of the Commissioner of Labour of the United States shows that the losses incurred by the employes in twenty years through strikes in the United States was estimated at £55,000,000; whilst the employers lost more than £24,500,000. In Australia we have had the shearers’ strike and the great maritime strike. The shearers’ strike alone cost the Queensland Government about £100,000.
– But what did it cost the men?
– A very great’ deal ; and it is the cost, not only to the men, but to their wives and children that has to be considered. ‘ In the Broken Hill strike, which occurred in 1892, the wages lost to the men represented £200,000, whilst the temporary loss to the employers was £500,000. At the present time a similar dispute there is being settled by means of conciliation and arbitration.
An Honorable Member. - At Broken Hill?
– I am not surprised that an honorable member should exclaim at “Broken Hill,” because very few of us know that such a dispute exists. Were it not for the fact that a Conciliation and Arbitration Court has been established in New SouthWales, I will undertake to say that there would have been to-day a strike at Broken Hill quite as serious as was that which occurred there in 1892. It is satisfactory - in the light of that experience - to know that trade will not be upset as it has been if it is possible to carry this Bill. What has been the effect of “these big strikes upon the various States ? How far have they been retarded in their progress ? I venture to say that it would be impossible to estimate the years that the States have been put back by the disputes which have occurred. At Newcastle, in New South Wales, the great strike lost that port the major part of its foreign coal trade - a trade which it has never recovered until this day. Moreover, these disputes prove nothing. Either the employer or the employes may have a perfectly just cause, and yet be defeated in a strike. Every one, therefore, favours their abolition. It appears to me that there are only three ways by which that object can be accomplished, namely, by voluntary conciliation, by compulsory arbitration, or by conciliation with the force of arbitration behind it, as is proposed in this measure. Voluntary conciliation has been tried, both in England and America, and has met with only a minimum of success.
– It was a dead failure in New South Wales.
– One of the first Conciliation Boards in England was established by Mr. Mundellain 1860, in connexion with the hosiery trade. Yet, in thirteen years - from 1889 to 1901 - there were 10,792 labour conflicts. In America voluntary conciliation has been tried for a number of years. A genuine attempt in that direction has been made by the National Civic Federation Society, and by other organizations.There the employers generally meet the leaders of the trades unions in conference. Yet, in thirteen years - from 1881 to 1894- there were 14,390 strikes, affecting 69,000 establishments and 3,714,000 workmen. Then we have the late instance of the great American coal strike, which nearly resulted in civil war in New York, and which was terminated only by the intervention of the President. It appears to me, therefore, that compulsion of some kind - after an attempt has been made at conciliation - is necessary. The argument has already been used in some quarters - and will probably be urged in this House - that neither in England nor in America, will the workmen submit to compulsion. But in England the unions have not sufficient representation in the House of Commons to enable them to secure the passage of a compulsory Arbitration Bill, and, in the second place, they fear, wrongly as I think, that, if an Arbitration Court were established, the Justices composing it might entertain unconscious bias against them.
– There are two Acts upon the statute-book, but no advantage is taken of them.
– I am aware that one Act was passed as far back as 1824. Advantage has not been taken of those measures because the workmen regard them as useless. In America very much the same condition of affairs exists. There the workmen fear that the power of the trusts would govern the Court, if such a tribunal were in existence. They have no confidence in the integrity of their Judiciary. The fact that legislation for compulsory arbitration has not been enacted there is due to influences which do not operate in Australia. I agree with the leader of the Opposition that the willingness of the labour bodies to submit industrial disputes to a judicial decision reflects great credit upon them, and that it reflects equal credit upon our Judiciary. At this stage I should like to quote some extracts in support of my statements regarding the position which obtains in America. The first authority I will cite is Mr. S. Gomper, President of the American Federation of Labour, who writes -
But I do say, and I might say it parenthetically, that I object to the organizations of capital, popularly known as “trusts,” when they attempt to interfere with the political affairs of our country, and particularly the Judiciary. I am speaking of them from an industrial, and not from a commercial, point of view.
Mr. James Duncan, secretary of the GraniteWorkers’ Union, says -
If there were any danger of our labour movement following the coarse of similar movements in the older countries, and losing respect for the Government of the country, it would be because the toilers have become cognizant of the fact that from time to time the common people are denied their civil rights, both by what should be popular Government and by the Judiciary ; and Especially that the man with a large bank account is able to get favorable consideration in our Legislatures, and even judicial decisions in his. favour, because of his wealth. I am not one who believes that the courts are absolutely turned over to the rich and against the poor. I know, however, that in conflicts in which law suits are made part of the controversy, the fact that the rich are better able to carry their cases into court, and to fight for them through welltrained and high-priced attorneys, makes them more confident of getting decisions in their favor. The workers, therefore, do not look upon that form of procedure as containing a great amount of good or justice to them.
Mr. Martin Fox, President of the Ironmoulders’ Union, says -
I am strongly of the conviction that, in a country like the United States, where there are so many diverse interests, so many diverse views, and so many instances in which the interests of capital are placed before those of labour, compulsory arbitration is thoroughly impractical, and its principle is thoroughly obnoxious to the American citizen. The citizen cannot afford to lend his assent to any governmental institution which, in the capacity of a court having power to enforce its award, could compel him to submit to conditions of labour which are obnoxious to him, under penalty of fine or loss of liberty.
– Was the opinion recently expressed ?
– In 1901. There are many other instances of the kind, but I have selected only a few for the information of the House. Mr. Frank Buchanan, President of the Ironworkers’ Union, Chicago, says -
Indeed, the instances are rare of any trade in Chicago calling on the State Board. This is, perhaps, due - first, to the suspicion widely entertained that Boards of Arbitration appointed and representing a political administration have purposes to serve other than that of fair play between employers and employes; second, because members of such boards are usually strangers to the requirements of the trades in dispute, and theretore cannot exercise the sound judgment in reaching a decision to be had by a board composed of persons connected with the trades.
I have often thought that compulsory arbitration enforced by the State would be a good thing, and yet I find few men in the labour movement favorable to it. Why this is so, I cannot say, unless it is because the working-men believe that the courts and the various boards created by the
State are generally on the side of capital, and therefore they are afraid to have their interests adjusted by them.
I have put these quotations before the House, in order to show that America and England do not enforce the principle of compulsory arbitration for reasons that do not exist here.
– According to the report of the commission, conciliation in England is a success.
– A very modified success.
– I scarcely think that it can be described as a success in view of the figures which I have just submitted as to the number of strikes that have taken place there.
– I think that the commission deal with that point.
– The experience which we have gained in connexion with the working of the Conciliation and Arbitration Acts in New Zealand and New South Wales is satisfactory, although in the case of New Zealand perhaps it is not so satisfactory as we might wish it to be, for this reason : In that colony the Act provides for the establishment of boards as well as the court, but very often the only result of taking a case before the Conciliation Board . is that a man suffers much delay, and is put to fruitless expense. The board can decide nothing finally because of the right of appeal to the Court. I think that in that respect also this Bill, will be found to be an improvement on the New Zealand law. In determining to change the views which I had held in regard to this matter for so many years, I must confess that I was much swayed by the opinion formed by Mr. James Mills, of the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand, in regard to the working of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in New Zealand. I am not quite sure, but I am under the impression that he informed me that he was at one time opposed to the Act ; but I know that he told me that, notwithstanding the many minor troubles which he had experienced, the Act, as a whole, had worked so satisfactorily that he would not be without it now in any circumstances. I had also had some slight experience of the working of the New South Wales Act in connexion with the dispute which took place at the Southern collieries, and which was settled in 1902. I am the chairman of the board of directors of a colliery which was interested in that dispute, and had it not been for the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of New South Wales, I feel satisfied that the Southern collieries would have been plunged into a disastrous strike. We experienced considerable delay, trouble, and annoyance in settling the difficulty, and perhaps I felt as angry as did any one else whilst the dispute lasted ; but when, I received the following letter, dated 3rd December, 1902, from Mr. Waley, manager of the Bellambi colliery, I felt much gratified that a strike had been avoided by the action of the court.
– We should have had another strike in Newcastle this year but for the Act.
– So I believe. Mr. Waley wrote -
I confirm wire sent you in reference to the arbitration case, The Southern Owners v.. the Miners, as follows : - “Arbitration Court award Southern Colleries dispute entirely in owners’ favour on all important issues.”
I was not pleased simply because of that result. The announcement of course gave me some pleasure ; but I was still more gratified to think that a strike, which appeared to be inevitable, had been avoided by the action of the Court.
– Did the men submit to the decision of the Court?
– They submitted loyally.
– They have not left the country.
-So far as I am aware they have not. I know that our pits are still going ahead. The letter continued -
The award means a victory for the owners on practically all points, and is just what we wanted. The compromise which we offered the men during the progress of the case was far more liberal in character than the award now given, and the sliding-scale rate of payment adopted by the Court in the first three clauses is exactly the same as we offered the men when we tried to compromise with them - indeed, before any appeal to the Court was made by the men.
In connexion with this very trouble, the honorable member for Parramatta asked me one day in this House whether it was true that we had dismissed two men from the colliery because of the fact that they acted as delegates for the men and took part in the inquiry before the Court. I caused inquiries to be made, and I found that no such thing had occurred. The true position was that the men left the employ of the colliery in accordance with the agreement which they had made, a certain bord having been worked out. They took the matter to the Court, and they also published a letter in the press which was not in accordance with the facts. The Court unanimously decided that they were wrong in publishing the letter, and that the action of the owners of the colliery in dismissing them was perfectly justified. Mr. Smith was a member of the Court, and might naturally have been expected to take the side of the men, but he thoroughly indorsed the yiew held by the other members of the tribunal. I should like, also, to say that the report by Judge Backhouse, as well as that issued by the Victorian Royal Commission which visited New Zealand for the purpose of inquiring into labour matters there, are both very strong, and any one who reads them must come to the conclusion that we should not lightly oppose this measure. I do not propose to deal with the constitutional question, for I believe that much will be said on the point by the legal members of the House. As a layman, however, I venture to state that I am not inclined to agree with the AttorneyGeneral in regard to the power to apply the common rule. If it can be applied, I think it will be manifestly unfair, because employers at a great distance, who have had no opportunity of. taking part in the discussion, may suddenly find themselves bound by an order in connexion with the making of which they have not been heard.
– The honorable member is touching the very substance of the Bill.
– I do not profess to be a lawyer ; if I require any law I pay for it. Sometimes I take counsel’s opinion, but if I do not think that.it is right I do not accept it. On this occasion I am not going to take the opinion given by the Attorney-General, because I am strongly under the impression that when the common rule provision comes to be discussed, the honorable and learned gentleman may find it very difficult to carry it. Although I do not intend to say more upon the constitutional point, there are one or two matters to which I should like to direct the consideration of the Attorney-General and the other legal members of the House. It seems to me that; if the Bill is passed, the employers of Victoria,, for example, may find themselves under two masters.Under the Factories Act it may be determined that the men employed in a certain trade shall work 48 hours, and be paid 50s. a week. But suppose that in that trade a dispute, which extends beyond the limits of the State, arises, and the Federal Court intervenes, and decides that the men shall work 45 hours and shall be paid 47s. 6d. per week, upon which ruling are the employers to act?I see nothing in the measure to determine that an order of the Federal Court shall overrule that of the Victorian Court. Then in the interpretation clause I find that - “Industrial dispute” means a dispute in relation to industrial matters arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employes on the other part.
While a “ strike “-
Includes the cessation of work by a body of employes acting in combination as a means of inf orcing compliance wi th demands made by them or other employes on employers.
Those definitions apply to disputes between employers and employes, but apparently do not apply to what are termed Demarcation Disputes by which employers suffer loss from disputes between the men themselves. An instance arising within my own experience may perhaps make my meaning clearer to the House. The Peregrine, a vessel belonging to Messrs. W. Howard Smith and Sons, was laid up for overhaul, and Messrs. Robison Bros. contracted to effect certain repairs. At the. same time, the vessel’s chief engineer was overhauling the boilers and engines, and he instructed his fireman to draw and clean the condensor tubes. The engineers who were working for Messrs. Robison Bros, said that that was part of their work, and when the chief engineer of the vessel said that it was not, the shoremen struck. The Kalgoorlie, a vessel belonged to the firm of Messrs. McIlwraith, McEacharn, and Co.,. was then being overhauled by Messrs. Robison Bros., and although there was no dispute in reference to her, the shoremen employed on board struck work out of sympathy with the shoremen on board the Peregrine. I do not see any provision in the Bill, unless it be in clause 91, to meet such a case, and, in my opinion, that clause does not do so, because of the interpretation of industrial disputes and strikes which I have already read.
– The New South Wales.
Court has dealt with cases of that kind.
– A strike of that nature might possibly spread from one State to another, and therefore I think that the Attorney-General should make a note of the point. The right honorable member for South Australia stated that the need of the Bill is principally for the protection of those engaged in maritime pursuits. It is intended chiefly, he said, to deal with maritime matters, and therefore I do not think I shall be wearying the House if I give honorable members some information as to the importance of the Australian shipping trade. Whilst I shall have something to say later on as to the position of the right honorable gentleman, I, as a ship-owner, feel that, whether we do or do not desire protection, we are under an obligation to him for having such’ a regard to our interest. The position requires consideration from both the shipowners’ and the seamen’s point of view.
– I hope that if there is a rise of 20 per cent. the workmen will get it all.
– I do not know that they would if the honorable and learned member were an employer. The figures which I am about to read are as condensed as possible, and although it is most difficult to obtain accurate information in regard to the shipping trade, since no statistics are kept by the Customs Department, I think that they are a fair approximation of the real position.
– Does not each shipping firm keep its own statistics?
– Yes ; but each firm desires to keep them to itself. It is undesirable in any trade, and especially in the shipping trade, to be too ready to give information about one’s own business, and my friends may think I am giving a little too much information now. But, inasmuch as the Minister for Home Affairs was desirous of posting himself upon this subject, and I had given him certain information, I thought it better to take the wind out of his sails by supplying these figures myself. I estimate the steam tonnage engaged upon the coastal trade of Australia at 190,000 tons. Mr. Coghlan’s estimate differs from mine, but he includes lines like that ofBethel Gwynne in the Australian trade, Messrs. Currie’s steamers, which do not trade on the coast, and Holt’s line. I put down the value of the vessels at £3,000,000.
That includes shore plant and other things which belong to the shipping business, but the value of which is not actually in the steamers themselves. The earnings, including lighterage, towage, and the small coastal trade I estimate at from £2,200,000 to £2,300,000 per annum. I put down the expenditure on wages at sea and in shore establishments, and wages arising out of repairs, at £1,100,000 to £1,200,000. That is theamountpaidbytheAustralianship-owners to the local wages’ fund. The provisions, the supply of which gives rise to a large amount of employment, I put down as worth £360,000 per annum. Then we have the coal that is consumed and the labour in connexion therewith, the dues, the staff, insurance, renewals and repairs, and all the other itemswith which it is now unnecessary to deal. The number of seamen and firemen employed in the steamersowned by the members of the federated steamshipowners - leaving out those engaged in the river, bay, and small coastal trade - I estimate at 1,750.
– What about the coal?
– I cannot give particulars in regard to the coal, which is, however, a heavy item. I had to obtain these figures very hurriedly, and some of them I was supplied with only yesterday.
– Is the New Zealand trade included ?
– The figures I am giving are exclusive of the New Zealand trade.
– The honorable member is dealing only with the Australian coastal trade ?
– How many of the seamen employed are foreigners ?
– That I am not able to tell the honorable member, but I do not think there are many foreigners employed in the Australian coastal trade. The officers, stewards,&c., I estimate at 2,500, bringing the total number employed up to 4,250. I estimate the others employed in the smaller trade at about 1,750.
– What is the smaller trade ?
– The river, bay, and small coastal trade. The honorable member for West Sydney has kindly supplied me with the number of wharf labourers employed on the Australasian coast ; and that number I find is 11,787. Roughly speaking, the number of men employed in the Australian shipping trade is 16,787. That figure, of course, does not include the enormous number of persons who are employed as carters, and in the various small vocations which arise from the shipping trade. I should now like to quote some figures from a series of articles which originally appeared in the Age newspaper, and have been published in pamphlet form under the title A Mercantile Marine for Australasia: An Urgent Necessity. That pamphlet compares the wages paid by the Australian ship-owners with those paid by the P. and O. Company, the Orient Company, and Norddeutscher Lloyd Company. Without going into details as to how the figures have been arrived at, I show in the following extract a comparison of the wages paid : -
A comparative statement of one steamer owned by each intercolonial company employed in the West Australian passenger trade shows that the averages are as follows : -
The above comparisons, taking all the steamers employed by intercolonial ship-owners in the West Australian passenger trade, viz.: - Not only the before-mentioned but also the Wollowra, Paroo. Coolgardie. and Nemesis, details of which it is not necessary to take out, and which have been approximately averaged, give the following result : -
These are very important figures, and any one who desires to read up the question could not do better than study this pamphlet, the figures of which, although they were compiled some years ago, still apply.
– The proportion is applicable at the present time.
– That is so.
– The figures as to the hands employed are altogether different from those in Coghlan.
– I looked at Coghlan only this morning, and I find that he includes all the sailing ships, with which, however, I am not dealing. I think that Coghlan gives a great deal more tonnage to the coastal sailing ships than ought to be given, and that his statistics in this respect are very unreliable. I do not say that my figures are thoroughly reliable, because it is extremely difficult to get absolutely correct information on these points.
– In Coghlan some of the tonnage is counted twice - once in, and once out.
– I believe that is so. I think, however, that Coghlan, in regard to the Australian steam tonnage, is fairly correct, his figure being 203,000 tons, as against my estimate of 190,000 tons. The officers’ wages paid on the coastal steamers are much in excess of those paid on the steamersof the three lines I have mentioned, except in one instance. The P. and O. Company pay their first officers £17 a month, as against £15 or £16, in accordance with the class of vessel, paid in the Australian coastal trade.
– What about the captains’ pay?
– I have not given the captains’ pay, which in the three lines I have mentioned varies in accordance with the period they have been in the service. That is very natural; because the captains in the employ of the over-sea companies have much larger vessels to command ; but I think that the pay of Australian captains in the smaller vessels compares very favorably. Australian seamen’s wages are £6 10s. per month, as against £4 5s. paid on the P. and 0. steamers to white sailors.
– Is that the pay at which the men ship in England?
– Yes. On the Orient Company’s vessels the pay of seamen is £4 per month, and on the Norddeutscher vessels, £2. 17s. In the Australian coastal trade, firemen are paid £8 10s. per month, and we may assume that right through firemen are paid £2 per month more than are the seamen. In the P. and O. service, firemen are paid£l 4s. a month ; on the Orient vessels £4 10s., and on the Norddeutscher vessels £3 10s. In the Australian coastal trade ordinary seamen are paid £2 per month, while the Orient Company pay £2, the P. and O. Company 1 3s. 4d., and the Norddeutscher Lloyd £1 7s. In excess of the wages, the £6 10s. for seamen and the £8 10s. for firemen employed on the coast, there is overtime, which amounts, roughly speaking, to £1 5s. per month for seamen, and about £1 per month for firemen. The amount varies in different vessels. No overtime is paid to the seamen employed in over-sea boats. I think that it might be interesting to honorable members if I indicated the way in which seamen’s wages have fluctuated during the last ten years. In 1893, after the great strike, the seamen received £5 per month. They were previously being paid £7 per month. In 1897 their pay was increased to £6 per month, and the firemen were paid a correspondingly higher rate, namely, £8. In 1900 the rates were increased to £6 10s. and £8 10s., and in 1901 to £7 and £9. In February, 1903, they were reduced to £6 10s. and £8 10s. The overtime was in all cases as I have stated. I think every honorable member will agree that these wages are higher than those paid in any part of the world.
– Would the honorable member give us some idea of the effects of the competition of over-sea steamers upon the local ship-owners ?
– It is very difficult to arrive at a close calculation of the effects of the competition of over-sea steamers with the Inter-State boats ; but I should think that the Inter-State traffic carried by over-sea steamers around the whole of the Australian coast, would represent riot less than 100,000, and perhaps as much as £125,000 per annum. That is. to say, if the local ship-owners were not exposed to the competition of over-sea steamers, they would carry more traffic to the extent of, say, £1 25,000 per annum.
– The traffic on the over-sea steamers is almost purely passenger traffic.
– Yes, the amount of cargo carried by the over-sea steamers is very small. That would be £1 25,000 out of a total trade of £2,250,000. or £2,300,000. The Western Australian trade represents a very large proportion of that which is taken from us by the over-sea boats. I observe that the Minister for Home Affairs is glorying in that fact, but he is considering the interests of Western Australia only, whereas, I think, we should look at the matter from a national point of view.
– The Minister is going to “ walk into “ the Inter-State steam-ship owners.
– He has “ walked into “ us in every direction. WhenI went to see him I was received very kindly, but wherever he showed me that anything was being done in Western Australia, ruin stared me in the face. He was building a breakwater and dock at Fremantle, that would take away the Albany trade of the steamshipowners. He was also opening out the Collie coal-fields - I admit . that he gave me an opportunity of joining in that enterprise, and that I missed my chance - so that the people of Western Australia might have their own coal supplied, and thus be independent of that which was obtained from the Eastern States. Wherever I went I found the right honorable gentleman doing all he could to injure the ship-owner, and now he intends to make a further attack upon us. I should think that of the £125,000 of trade which is lost to us every year, fully £100,000 is represented by Western Australian trade, and inasmuch as our total trade with Western Australia amounts to only about £200,000 ; the mail steamers are virtually taking away half our trade. I think that is the right way for the right honorable gentleman to look at the matter.
– The trade taken from the local steam-ship owners is almost entirely passenger traffic.
– That shows that we need a railway.
– I do not want a railway, so far as competition with the shipping trade is concerned ; I do not say what my views would be from another stand-point.
– How does the honorable member travel when he goes to Western Australia?
– I generally pay the higher rate when I go, which is very seldom. Let me say, in connexion with this matter, that there is a steamer on this coast belonging to the A.U.S.N. Company which is larger and better than any of the “ jubilee “ boats of the P. andO. fleet.
– Why did not the honorable member wait for her ?
– Because she was not out here. The Kanowna has only recently arrived here, and I have not visited Western Australia for the last six or seven years. I do not travel by the mail steamers because I am afraid to go in my own boats, or because I would not be as well treated upon them.
– Is not Western Australia sufficiently isolated without making her position worse ?
– I do not want to isolate Western Australia, but X am giving honorable members information which shows the extent to which our trade is being interfered with by oversea vessels.
– If the passenger trade between the eastern States and Western Australia is worth £200,000 per annum, there are very good prospects for a railway.
– I did not know that I was going to help the right honorable gentleman in his railway scheme. I hope that he will not attack us too strongly in regard to the matter now before us. Regarding the position of the seamen at the present time, I may point out that the existing agreement is an old one renewed, and that it resulted from a meeting held in December, 1902, at which time the seamen agreed to a reduction of 10s. per month. The ship-owners asked for a reduction of £1. The agreement contained this clause -
If the state of the ship-owners’ trade is such as to warrant a further reduction, the delegates of the Seamen’s Union will meet the representatives of the Steam-ship Owners’ Federation in June next, or as may be mutually arranged, for the purpose of demonstrating this, but failing any agreement as to a reduction, the agreement now entered upon shall be continued until 31st January, 1904.
So that although the ship-owners have been able to demonstrate that the trade would warrant a reduction, the seamen’srepresent’atives have not agreed to the change. First of all they desired that that request should be withdrawn, and then they stated that’ they would communicate with the members of the union and give us their reply. That reply has not yet been received. Some short time before the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, resigned his position as a Minister, I was asked two or three times whether there was any prospect of a strike amongst the seamen. I said that I had not heard of it, and I could not find anybody who had. We had received no threat. At a later date - also before the retirement from office of the late Minister for Trade and Customs - I was asked whether the steam-ship owners were disposed to extend the agreement for a further period of six months until the Navigation Bill could be submitted to this House. I replied that, speaking for myself, I had no objection to an extension of the agreement, and that I would consult the steam-ship owners upon the matter. I saw some of them. They had no desire to take any advantage of the seamen upon a point of this kind, and said that they would be glad to consider a formal request from them. That is the position at the present time. I understand, however, not only from personal conversation, but from the fact that a delegate has notified the President of the Steam-ship Owners Association to the same effect, that they are determined to abstain from making any such application, the reason given being that they have no desire to place the late Minister for Trade and Customs in any difficulty. Further, one of the delegates - two of them being present at the interview - stated in the presence of myself and another outside of this Chamber, that he would rather see the wages of the seamen reduced to £3 per month than do anything which would place the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, in any difficulty.
– Who said this ?
– A delegate of the Seamen’s Union, in the presence of another delegate and a friend of my own. There are members of this House who can confirm my statement, because they have approached the representatives of the seamen with a view to induce them to forward an official application to the ship-owners. Shortly before the retirement from office of the Minister for Trade and Customs, I requested a member of this House to communicate with Mr. Guthrie, asking him if he would apply for an extension of the agreement, at the same time stating my views upon the matter. I know that Mr. Guthrie was communicated with, because a telegram was received here upon the Friday on which the Minister for Trade and Customs resigned his position, stating that he was leaving Adelaide for Melbourne on that day. That telegram was despatched at about twelve o’clock. At three o’clock on the same afternoon Mr. Guthrie received a telegram from the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, stating that he had resigned his position in the Ministry, in consequence of being unable to afford the seamen the protection which he had promised them.
– That is a fact.
– I hope that whatever statements I may make will relate to matters of fact. I feel that no trouble whatever would have arisen if consideration of this matter had been deferred for a few days. Had the telegram to which I have referred not been despatched, the seamen would have approached the ship-owners, and the latter would have recognised the position. I admit that the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, during the course of his speech, stated the case very fairly. Ithink that if there were any ground for fearing that a strike would occur that fear will be dissipated by the passage of the Bill.
– In its present form ?
– I think so. Under this Bill, strikes are prohibited, and therefore the seamen could not strike. I will, however, grant that the right honorable member was correct in his contention in regard to one matter, in which he desired to protect the seamen. He was correct in arguing that if the ship-owners as a body applied to the court which will be constituted under this Bill for a reduction of the wages of the seamen, they would be able to put forward in support of their action the competition to which they are subjected by steamers carrying crews who are paid lower wages.
– As they have done.
– I am assuming that the steamship owners made an application to the Court which will be established under this Bill.
– The lower paid competition is the argument for the threatened and desired reduction of the seamen’s wages.
– I quite grant what the right honorable member says. The argument which he used is. perfectly correct. He himself declared that if he were a member of the Court, and such an application was put forward by the shipowners, he would be bound to support a reduction of that competition.
– There is no competition. The passenger rates are higher.
– I. can show that in some cases they are lower.
– For how many years has this competition continued?
– For a great many years. But I am not arguing on the question of the competition which exists. I am merely endeavouring to unravel a difficulty, and to show that there is no fear of any trouble arising so far as the shipping trade is concerned.
– It is not only the fear of a strike that we have to consider ; we have cause to fear a reduction of wages.
– I. have granted that the light honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, put the position very fairly. He said he had occasion to fear a reduction in the wages of the seamen in consequence of the shipowners having declared - though not in the way that is generally understood - that, if this competition continued, they would have to apply to the Court for a reduction. I grant all that, whether or not I agree with the contention. My only desire is to get out the truth.
– Could a reduction take place if that agreement were extended?
– No. I immediately saw the difficulty, and I agreed not to take any unfair advantage of the men. There is no ship-owner who entertains a desire to do so. Although the ship-owners require an official application by the representatives of the seamen for an extension of the agreement, there is. not one of them - even including those who object to this Bill, and who may be opposed to the Navigation Bill - who will not do what is fair to the seamen. I think that the ship-owners are quite as able to realize what is fair as are the men themselves. I am thoroughly satisfied that none of the ship-owners would object to an extension of the existing agreement-
– Until the Navigation Bill is passed?
-I am perfectly prepared to extend it for six months.
– Does the honorable member argue that our own seamen should be subjected to this legislation, and that the foreigner should go free?
– Not at all.
– Nobody could argue it.
– So f ar as the clause relating to British seamen is concerned, I should not object to its being eliminated altogether.
– The honorable member has shown that there is not much in it.
– The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is naturally very quick at drawing deductions from figures ; and I am convinced that, if he considers the statistics which I have submitted, he will say that there is a great deal in them. I should have been glad tosee the Navigation Bill introduced simultaneously with the measure which is now under discussion. Possibly, honorable members may wonder why I do not support the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, in his desire to insert in this measure clauses dealing with the shipping industry. I think I have made out a case for the position which he has taken up so far as the ship-owners and seamen are concerned. At the same time, I feel that if these navigation clauses were inserted in this Bill, the ship-owners would be committing themselves to a Navigation Bill. I prefer not to commit myself to approving of legislation of that character until the measure dealing with it is before me. Indeed, I do not know whether all the shipowners are not entirely opposed to this Bill. I am not sure that I do not stand alone amongst them in the attitude which I adopt. At all events, they hold the view that they ought not to commit themselves or the seamen to a Navigation Bill, by including in the measure under discussion clauses relating to the shipping industry. There is one other matter to which I must refer, and that is the statement made by the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, that in framing this measure he desired to act fairly to both sides. I am sorry that I cannot say that he evinced that desire. If he had been anxious to treat both sides with impartiality surely instead of sending draft copies of the measure only to the delegates of the Seamen’s Union, he would have consulted the ship-owners or other employers? He did not do so. Tom Mann, although not a Member of Parliament, found it possible to obtain a draft copy of the measure, but so far as I am aware, no Member of Parliament received one.
– Did the honorable member hear what I said in regard to the matter ?
– Yes. The right honorable member made a point of ‘the fact that he had indicated to the leader of the Opposition that he would give an opportunity to some honorable member on that side of the House to see a draft copy of the Bill.
– I did not say that I had handed a copy of the Bill to any member of the Opposition. What I said was that I had offered to submit the Bill for suggestion to any honorable member whom the leader of the Opposition might name.
– There is no difference between us in regard to that point. But the fact that the right honorable and learned member offered to submit a draft copy of the measure to a member of the Opposition makes the position ten times worse. He was prepared to submit a draft copy of the Bill to an honorable member of the Opposition, but he did not give honorable members on the Government side of the House an opportunity of seeing it.
– The organizations rather than Members of Parliament should have been allowed to see draft copies of the Bill.
– I agree with the honorable member. But was any member of the Opposition interested in the proposals to be embodied in this measure to a greater extent than were honorable members on this side of the House? I think that the right honorable and learned member made out an extremely bad case. Much as I admired his impassioned utterances in dealing with the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I feel that he gave the House very little information.I anticipated that he would throw some light upon the constitutional question in regard to which he had differed from the remaining members of the Cabinet ; but he did not do so ; and I must say that I prefer to take the opinion of the other members of the Ministry to that held by one honorable member. I can assure the House that it was hot until I had given the whole question grave consideration that I determined to adopt an attitude in regard to this measure which I knew would be severely criticised by those with whom I have been most intimately associated. I am naturally placed in a difficulty in breaking away, on this important issue, from so many of those who in the past have been my warmest supporters. But, as I said at the outset of my address, if there be any means by which to avoid strikes, I am notgoing to be fearful of trying the remedy. The principle involved is too important to permit any one, when dealing with it, to consider his friends. I am not satisfied that many of those who are agitating against this Bill are not quite sure of the attitude which was adopted by the employers in New South Wales in 1901, in regard to the Industrial and Arbitration Act passed in that State. I have a cutting from the Sydney Daily Telegraph, dated 1 1 th October, 1901, relating to themeasureintroducedbyMr. Wise. Under the headings of “Views of the Employers : “ “Support the Object of the Bill,” it is stated that -
A circular has been sent to each member of the Legislative Council, explaining to them the attitude of the employers’ representatives in regard to the Industrial Arbitration Bill now before the House. The circular was issued on behalf of the following associations and firms : - The Pastoralists Union of New South Wales, the Chamber of Manufactures, Colliery Owners’ Association, Stevedores’ Association, Colonial Sugar Company Limited, Master Builders’ Association, Brickmakers’ Association, Mort’s Dock Company Limited, Stock Owners’ Association, and the Steam-ship Owners’ Association.
I shall refer later on to the position of the Steam-ship Owners’ Association. The extract continues -
It is stilted in the circular that, after having had several meetings in regard to the Bill, the joint opinions of the above firms are as follow : -
With the aims and objects of the Bill as introduced by Mr. Wise - viz., the prevention of industrial warfare in the shape of strikes and lockouts, which have in the past had such disastrous effects on the industries of the State and all concerned therein - the employers of labour are entirely in sympathy. The principle of settling these disputes by arbitration has also their cordial indorsement, but the wisdom of applying compulsion thereto remains to be proved. With the view to making the Act more equitable to all parties, they suggest certain amendments, but even as the Bill now stands it is immeasurably superior, in their opinion, to that rejected by the Legislative Council last year.
These firms and associations then proceeded to make certain suggestions as to the amendment of the Bill, and I am surprised to find that one of the suggestions made by them - with which I do not agree - was that employes of the State should be brought under the Bill.
– Does the honorable member argue from these facts that the firms and associations named were in favour of the Bill?
– I draw no inference from the circular. I simply place the facts before the House.. I am referring not to the Bill, but to the principle involved. We find that, after carefully considering the provisions in the New South Wales measure, these employers made no intimation in the circular that they opposed even the principle of compulsion. On the contrary, they approved of the general principle, but said that “ the wisdom of applying compulsion thereto remains to be proved.” Subsequently the Steam-ship Companies presented a petition to the Legislative Council in opposition to the measure.
– As a matter of fact, all the organizations named in the circular to which reference has been made opposed the Bill.
– The circular was prepared after the Bill had passed the Legislative Assembly.
– Yes. If they opposed the Bill I presume that they opposed it when it was before the Legislative Assembly.
– And they were subsequently converted.
– Does the honorable member say that the position indicated in the circular shows that they were converted?
– I do. They may have opposed some of the clauses, but they gave a distinct approval to the principle of the Bill, and that is the point with which I am dealing. As I have already mentioned, the Steam-ship Companies subsequencly petitioned the Legislative Council against the passing of the Bill. They opined that the Act was dangerous and experimental ; that it would paralyze enterprise, which would be harassed and. restricted; that investment would be prevented ; that industries would languish, and so forth. In any case the petitioners considered that the passing of the Bill would be a hasty and superfluous action, as the Federal Government had announced their intention of introducing legislation on the subject. Although they may have opposed portions of that particular Bill, they evidently anticipated action by the Federal Parliament, and that was the chief reason for their opposition to the New South Wales Bill. Under clause 23 the members of the Court are to be appointed for a term of seven years. I think that is too long.
– It will be too long if the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Kooyong is agreed to.
– I hope that it will be carried ; but even if it is not, I do not see why the term of office should be seven years, when in New Zealand it is only three years.
– It will be much more difficult in the larger area of the Commonwealth for members to be re-elected.
– I do not think that it will be any more difficult.
– We want our Judges to be quite impartial. They should not always be thinking of their chances of re-election.
– I do not refer to the J udge.
– The members of the Court are practically Judges.
– I would give the Judge a long term of office, but, as this is experimental legislation, I do not think we should appoint the members of the Court for so long a term as seven years. Speaking as an employer, I do not know any one who would be ready to take up the various duties which will be cast upon members of the Court, and no doubt the employes will be in a similar position.
– Would not a short term of office be likely to encourage partisanship?
– I do not think so. We must suppose that the men appointed will act fairly. Under clause 50, awards are to be made for any term not exceeding five years, whereas, under clause 107, industrial agreements may last for only three years.
– But an award may be varied, if necessary, before the end of the five years.
– That is so, but I do not see why, as an industrial agreement is limited to three years, an award should endure for five years.
-It does not matter how long the award lasts if it can be varied during its term.
– I do not admit that. My position is different from that of those who see their way clear ahead of them. This is experimental legislation, and I should like to see matters dealt with definitely in the Bill, rather than trust to future events. The honorable member for Bland has referred to the provisions of clauses 63 and 75, which deal with the representation of parties before the Court. I am very pleased to find that he is opposed to the employment of barristers and solicitors in these cases. Very few questions of law are concerned in them, and if the parties are compelled to state their own cases, they will be able to do so from a thorough knowledge of all the facts, whereas if lawyers are brought in, technical points will be raised, the parties are likely to get their backs up, and settlement will be delayed. I think, too, that there is something in the suggestion that those who have the longest purses and are able to procure the best lawyers will generally win. On this subject the Royal Commissioner appointed by the Government of New South Wales to inquire into the working of compulsory conciliation and arbitration laws says -
As I have pointed out, unless all consent, the parties cannot so appear before the boards or. Court. Rarely is the consent given, and it may be said that they are not allowed. As far as I saw, . their interests did not suffer. The cases which I heard were ably conducted by representatives of both sides. All the points were clearly brought out, and sufficient material provided for the Court to come to an equitable decision. In speaking to one of the Judges, I asked whether it would be an improvement, in his opinion, to allow counsel to appear. His answer was significant : “It depends upon the counsel.”
– Hear, hear.
– I do not think that it does. I think that lawyers should be excluded in cases where merely business matters are in dispute. The. Victorian Royal Commission appointed to investigate and. report on the operation of the Factories and Shops Law of New Zealand deals with the same subject in these terms -
On the whole we found a distinct unwillingness on the part of the employers and employed to permit barristers or solicitors to appear either before the Boards or the Court on behalf of parties to disputes. Instances were cited where proceedings under thePrincipal Act had been unduly protracted by the endeavours of counsel to cover a great deal of ground in argument, and dwell too much on technical points. The Amending Act of last year, therefore, which forbids the appearance of any lawyer before tribunals (save by consent) unless he is personally interested in the dispute, as an employer or worker, may be accepted as the result of the clearly expressed opinion of the general public on the question. The reasons are not far to seek. The delays, which in many cases seem to be inseparable from legal procedure, strike at the very root of the main advantages claimed by the advocates of these trade tribunals, viz., a prompt and continuous hearing once the case is begun, and speedy settlement of the matters at issue, after eliminating everything but the essential points requisite for a just award. Further, the bill of costs, although not of so much moment to a strong company or association of employers, as it is to the wage-earning classes which form the workers’ unions, is looked at askance by both sides. Whatever aid may be occasionally sought from lawyers in the preparation of appeal cases, there does not appear to be any likelihood of alteration in the existing practice, which is to confine legal advocacy to cases concerning breaches of the Act, . and to rely upon the direct representatives of the parties to a dispute to conduct all ordinary cases, whether conciliation or arbitration is sought.
– The experience of Mr. Justice Cohen, of New South Wales, is exactly the reverse of that.
– I have every respect for Mr. Justice Cohen. One could not have, in the main, a better man as an arbitrator, but - as was pointed out by the leader of the labour party - there are reasons why he should hold that view. I do not agree with him, however, and I hope that the leader of the labour party will move an amendment preventing barristers and solicitors from appearing. If he does not do so I shall.
– It is open to any honorable member to do so. The question is not one of vital importance.
– It will be a disastrous rule to make.
– The honorable and learned member for Corio interjected last week, when the subject was being discussed, that the lawyers are the saviours of the weak. I am inclined to think, however, that they would keep these disputes going for weeks, and, as I have shown, would be more likely to win cases for the strong.
Mr.Crouch. - Lawyers will have to be brought in later in any case.
– I am not sure of that. I have touched lightly upon the common rule, and there is one other point to which I should like to refer, the preference given to trades unionists by section 65. I am not at all disposed to support that provision.
– Not under any conditions?
– Not under any conditions. If unionists are to receive a preference, great care must be taken in the supervision of the rules of their organizations. I have had some bitter experiences in this matter. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney on one occasion, when I had to stand firm, intervened for the men, and agreed that I was not taking an unreasonable attitude. The case to which I refer occurred at Albany. The wages which were being paid were far in excess of any that have ever been paid on the coast, and the men themselves were a close corporation. They would not allow a man-of-war to take in coal with her own men, and struck when such an attempt was made, although they had not sufficient men to carry out the work. The ship-owners on the coast were harassed to such an extent, because the union would not take in new men to assist them, that we had to register a union of our own under the Western Australian Act. That case shows that unless great care is taken, we may put a rod into the hands of the unions, not for themselves, because they will break down under their own weight, but for the employers.
– The conditions under the Bill will be different.
– Those men could have been cited before the court.
– If they had been taken away from Albany, ten or fifteen vessels would have been delayed, and inconvenience and loss would have occurred.
– The men could have been compelled to goon with their work in the meantime.
– It is very difficult to compel men to keep to their work, and I know of many cases in which they have refused to do so, and we have been powerless to compel them. I have been recommended by a lawyer to bring them before a court, but I have not thought it worth the trouble. In New Zealand, in 1900, the number of workers in industrial trades was 48,938, and the number of unionists only 26,000, while in December, 1901, the number of workers was 57,098, while the number of unionists was only 23,769. So that the members of the unions were actually reduced in number between 1900 and 1901 by over 2,000. Why should we legislate to give a preference to unionists, when it has been shown in the case of New Zealand that more than one-half of the employes are non-unionists?
– The unionists do not get the preference.
– I know that it is left to the discretion of the Judge in certain cases, but in some trades the preference is given to unionists.
– It will be given under the Bill.
– That is why I am raising an objection.
– The Bill provides that the court by its award may direct that a preference shall be given to unionists.
– I do not regard that as a desirable provision, and I shall certainly vote against it. In some instances in New Zealand, in which two men, one being a unionist and the other a non-unionist, had applied for the same position, the employer has been allowed to exercise his own choice.
– Under the Bill it will be compulsory upon the court to give preference to unionists.
– The provision is that the court “may” direct that a preference shall be given.
– I understood that theconrt would be compelled to give a preference, but in any case I should rather see the provision excised f rom the Bill. I have endeavoured to show why I have arrived at a conclusion so contrary to that which my actions in the past would have seemed to indicate. I feel that the reasons I have given are good ones. I have given every consideration to the matter, and have made full inquiry, not only during the last two or three years, but for many years past. If the Bill is amended in the directions I have indicated, it will be well worth adopting as an experiment, because the prevention of one strike would justify the passing of such a measure. At any rate I believe that in supporting it I am studying the best interests of humanity.
– This Bill will undoubtedly become historical. A member of the Ministry has resigned his office, because he considered the Bill did not go farenough, and because he was not prepared as a Minister to bring forward a measure with which he was not thoroughly in accord. Now we have the honorable member for Melbourne, who is an influential member of the Ship-owners’ Federation, supporting the Bill, and I feel sure that the attitude which he has assumed towards the measure will have great weight, not only in this Chamber, but outside. The honorable member for Melbourne told us that he had changed his opinion. He has had keen struggles with the labour organizations, and now he tells us that, in order to save the community the great loss involved in strikes, and to avert the suffering to humanity which results from conflicts between workmen and their employers, he has decided to support the measure. The honorable member for Melbourne questioned whether his old friends would recognise him after his speech to-day, but I do not think he need have any concern on that score, because he must have the approval of his own conscience in doing that which be believes will be best for the Commonwealth. The honorable member wishes to limit the term for which the Bill shall operate, on the ground that it is experimental in its character, but I would point out that nearly all our legislation in the early days of the Federation must be, to a large extent, experimental. He suggests that the Bill shall be passed subject to a limitation of five years. But I think that the honorable member may safely allow it to pass subject only to the ordinary process of repeal. The opponents of this measure urge- “that it will have a tendency to drive away capital, that it will increase the prices of commodities, that it will cause ill-feeling between employers and employes, and that it will interfere with the liberty of the subject. I propose to deal with these objections from the point of view of one who represents a district which contains some of the most powerful labour organizations in Australia, covering all branches of the engineering and ship-building trades, and various other occupations, and as one who is able to speak with considerable experience of the relations existing between labour and capital, and of the legislation- in New South Wales. Most of the opponents of the BUI have contended that it is the prerogative of the British employer to be the master of his own business, and that the State should not interfere for the purpose of regulating it. Some of the opponents of the measure appear to be’ prepared to return to the old days of savagery when might was right, but right was not might. History shows us that in England, long before anything was ever heard of arbitration or conciliation, legislation was passed from time to time to restrict employers in the control of their businesses. We know of the Statute of Labourers, the Statute of Apprentices, and the Spittalfields Acts. Those Acts attempted to do what we are now trying to accomplish for Australia upon a more comprehensive scale, lt is true that they did not provide for the appointment of special Courts, but the employers had to submit to the decisions of magistrates with regard to the conditions upon which they employed, their assistants. With regard to the objection that legislation of this kind will have the effect of driving away capital, I desire to quote the experience obtained in New Zealand. Judge Backhouse, who was appointed by the Nev South Wales Govern ment to inquire into the working of the Arbitration Act in New Zealand, in the course of a lengthy report said that only one man among all the employers who were questioned - and the inquiry was full and comprehensive - was ready to go back to the old condition of affairs. He said that he had heard grave rumours to the effect that capital had been frightened out of the country, but that he found that after disputes which vitally affected certain industries had been settled by the Arbitration Court, a great amount of capital was invested in those industries. That was the report, not of a labour leader, or of a tradesunion organizer, but of a gentleman who was specially appointed to make inquiries, and obtain information for the guidance of the New South Wales Government. The statement made by Judge Backhouse . appears to me to afford a sufficient answer to the objection raised on that score. The honorable member for Melbourne said that he had always treated his men in a humane manner, and I believe him. I know that there are many masters who do so, and in regard to whom employe’s are perfectly prepared to waive arbitration. Just as we have the new unionism, so we have the new capitalism, and the employers are now represented to a far greater degree than formerly by large joint stock companies whose entry into the industrial world has made the labour problem all the more acute. The instincts of individuals may be humane, but as members of joint stock companies their main concern is to see that the manager grinds out a dividend for them every year. In Great Britain satisfactory relations between employers and workmen have in many cases existed for hundreds of years, and the most amicable feeling has been shown for several generations. In such cases there is a certain amount of sympathy between master and man, but where large joint stock companies are concerned the position is entirely changed. We are told that if the conditions of the workers are improved and wages are raised the prices of commodities will increase. But I would ask, who will have to pay these increased prices ? Will they not fall upon the masses - upon the employes themselves ? Prom this aspect of the matter a very strong argument may be advanced in favour of Federal legislation. We now have InterState free-trade, and if we permit employers in a State like Victoria to carry on their operations without any restrictions whilst we subject employers in New South Wales or in other States to serious disabilities, the industrial operations in Victoria will increase to the disadvantage of other States. Therefore, under a system of Inter-State free-trade we should have a common law for regulating wages and other conditions of employment. We are told that the adoption of this measure will produce ill-feeling. Why should it do so ? The honorable member for Melbourne has declared that ill-feeling has been engendered under existing conditions, and that it may possibly re-assert itself within a comparatively brief period. At any rate he is not prepared to guarantee that the ship-owners will consent to an extension of the agreement for more than six months. It has been said that the operation of the Bill will have the effect of driving capital from the country. I will undertake to say that the maritime strike which occurred in 1890, and the banking crisis in 1893, had the effect of driving infinitely more capital from Australia than will the operation of this measure. Indeed, I find that in New Zealand, after grave disputes which vitally affected certain industries had been settled by the Arbitration Court, a large amount of additional capital was invested in those industries. We are told that voluntary agreement is the correct principle to adopt in industrial matters. The Bill under consideration provides that the court can register voluntary agreements, so that the necessity for the much dreaded arbitration will thereby be obviated. All that the parties to any agreement are asked to do is to register it, so that the powers of the Court can be called into operation. But, in my judgment, the Broken Hill strike of 1892 is a splendid illustration of the weakness of the system of voluntary agreement. In speaking upon the Industrial Arbitration Bill in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr. Ferguson, addressing himself to that aspect of the question, said -
A voluntary agreement between masters and men with enforcement of awards is a very good thing in its way. I remember that we had a voluntary agreement between masters and men at Broken Hill. It was a written agreement, and it was signed by the workmen particularly at the request of the employers. We agreed that in the event of any future trouble arising between the masters and men it should be referred to a’ Court of Arbitration which would consist of a Judge of the District or Supreme Court of one of the Australian colonies, and a representative of the men and a representative of the employers. Those are exactly the terms of this Bill. That was a voluntary agreement, and what was the use of it? It was not worth the paper it was written upon. As soon .-is the employers found that it was suitable to break the agreement they did so. They snapped their fingers in our faces, the men went out on strike, which was their only remedy, and they lost after a protracted struggle.
Altogether apart from the suffering which the struggle inflicted upon the strikers, I hold that the disturbance of trade relations, the cost of preserving law and order, and the additional burden which was cast upon the shoulders of the community generally,, represented a very considerable sum.
– The honorable member is assuming that under the operation of this Bill industrial strife will cease.
– I intend to show that legislation of the character proposed prevents strikes.
– What about the caseof the shearers 1 The .Equity Judge declared that if they had come within the provisions of the New South Wales Act civil war would have resulted.
– I have already pointed out that the principle of voluntary agreement proved a failure at Broken Hill. I might also instance the case of the Mort’sDock Engineering Company, at Balmain.. That company employs over -2,000 men,, and has been concerned in only two serious strikes .- during more . than twenty years. But the employes of the company had to resort to a strike in order to obtain that very form of agreement. Of course, I am aware that the more powerful trades unions are not favorable to legislation of the character proposed. It must not be imagined fora moment that all organized labour is in favour of arbitration. I know of an organization which is absolutely opposed tothe principle of arbitration, simply because, usually^ it is powerful enough to enforce its. demands. I refer to the Shipwrights’ Union in New South Wales, which has not registered for the purpose of coming under tha provisions of the State Act. Why has it refused to do so ? Because it has the economic power of compulsion ! But the larger bodies of workers, who have no power of redress, will be anxious to be included within the scope ‘ of this Bill. The honorable and learned member for Parkes may consider that-‘ those who favour the measure are extreme radicals, but it is a remarkable fact that the extreme socialists are opposed to it just as much as are the extreme capitalists. That, fact is proved by the experience of New South Wales, where, in 1891, a largemeeting of socialists was held to protest, against the adoption of a system of industrial arbitration. They carried the following resolution :-
That this meeting desires to protest against the. Bill now before Parliament, and declares that it is. a measure framed by capitalist politicians in the interest of the capitalist class who desire to deprive the workers of the power to strike, because! when the workers strike the profits of the capitalist class cease.
Another extract which I have from the same source speaks of that Bill, the objects of which were similar to those of the measure under consideration, thus -
We urge again, as we have already urged, that the strike is the only economic weapon which the workers possess.
We are told that the workmen of England are opposed to industrial arbitration. Why 1 Because, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Melbourne, they have not sufficient representatives in the House of Commons to secure to them their meed of justice. The same conditions obtain in America. Surely we are not asked to imitate America - a country which is seething with anarchy and industrial strife, and where the police are called out to shoot down men who are fighting for their rights. Surely even moderate men will not say that in this respect the United States of America should be held up as an example to us. No Arbitration Court is in existence there.
– The unionists of the United States of America object to the principle.
– They do so because they are afraid of the corrupt courts which exist in the States. The people of the United States of America have certainly effected wonderful improvements in other directions, but their position in this respect is not such as to warrant us in looking to them for guidance. The argument has been used that this is merely experimental legislation ; but it would apply to most measures that we are called upon to pass. In this instance we have the experience of New Zealand, of Western Australia, and of New South Wales to. guide us. The aspirations of the people of New South Wales are common to Australia, and we find that in that State this principle has not worked to the detriment of the public. On. the contrary, it has tended to industrial peace. It must not be imagined that the Court to be established under this Bill will invariably decide against capital. The New South Wales Court has given as many decisions against the interests of employes as in favour of them. In many vital cases its awards have been against the employes. The honorable member for Melbourne pointed out during his address that a decision given against certain colliers had been loyally observed, and many similar cases might be mentioned. This Bill is unquestionably in favour of the interests of the smaller organizations ; and well-organized unions can take care of themselves. Some people say that the Bill is an encroachment upon trades unionism. I admit that it will have that effect; but capital to-day is travelling largely on the lines of trades unionism. The position in regard to joint stock companies, to which I have already referred, shows that they have been driven to combine in order to obtain greater security. Our Shipowners’ Association, our Employers’ Federation, and other kindred institutions in Australia show, too, that the principle of organization is recognised by the employers, while in America great trusts are formed from time to time. All over the world the tendency of the age is for capitalists to come together for the protection of their own interests, and it is equally right that employes should combine. The early trades unions were successful whilst they had to deal with only the disorganized forces of the employers ; but as soon as Capital became organized they found that they could not fight with success. During an industrial struggle the men who have to depend upon their labour have no wage fund or reserve to draw upon for the support of their wives and families ; but the capitalists have supplies to draw upon, and are not affected to anything like the same degree. The spirit of Capital has been to worst Labour even when the demands of Labour have been just, and surely every honorable member must desire that justice shall be paramount. If the demands of Labour are just, the power of the purse should not prevent their recognition. This Bill will do justice to both parties, and I feel that every honorable member should welcome it. If we desire capital to be driven out of Australia, ‘let us by all means fight against the principle of arbitration and abide by the old state of affairs ; let us have our strikes and industrial disputes, and capital will certainly leave the country. In my opinion, however, too much is made of the cry that capital is being driven out of Australia. Capital is unconscious of country. Capitalists invest their money where they can obtain the best return. As long as they can obtain the best rate of interest they know no fear. Even the British moneylender will make advances on Turkish bonds when British consols are low.
He win lend money on the rottenest security in the world when British consols are so low that it pays him to inflate the market elsewhere. The experience of Australia is that the rates of interest were falling long before the question of compulsory arbitration was considered. The rates which prevailed twelve or thirteen years ago are not now obtainable. The. honorable and learned mem bor for Parkes suggests that the Arbitration ‘ Act of New South Wales is driving capital away from that State. I think, however, that the Attorney-General dealt very well with that point when he showed the House that the New South Wales Court had given awards affecting 36,000 employes and only 1,000 employers. I am satisfied that it will rectify the differences between Capital and Labour in a very short period.
– It has made certain awards, but it is not correct to say that it has settled all trouble.
– The awards have been obeyed.
– That is good enough for the Attorney-General.
– The men affected by the awards of the Court are still following their avocations, and no difficulty is being experienced. The New South Wales Court is an admirable one. It has as its president a lawyer - Judge Cohen - who is well t,mined in mercantile matters, and whose associations have not always been with the cause of labour. The representative of the employers is Mr. Cruickshank, a very able man whom I have known for twenty years, while Mr. Samuel Smith, whom I have also known for twenty years, represents the employes. Thus the Court is composed of a Jew and two Scotchmen, and if the representatives of capital or labour can thwart a court so constituted, they must be possessed of qualities such as most people would not attribute to them. The decisions of the Court have not pleased either side, but the public of New South Wales are satisfied that it is freeing the country of industrial disputes. The State is not being called upon now to exercise its power to preserve law and order in connexion with industrial troubles. Many of those who oppose this Bill are veritable whales “ for law and order. They would vote against this Bill to-day and to-morrow they would say to the men, “ Fight out your difficulties in a constitutional manner.
Take your case before the courts, but do not break the laws of the country.” I agree that the laws of the country should not be broken. We do not wish to see the hysteria of a Frenchman or the excitability of a Spaniard exhibited in connexion with the regulation of our industrial affairs, but we contend that by a measure such as this the possibility of industrial strife will be avoided. I have dealt with the arguments against the Bill. I desire now to advance one or two reasons in favour of it. In the first place, we have to remember that if we pass this Bill the occupation of the paid agitator will be gone.
– Including the honorable and learned member for Parkes.
– Yes ; he is occasionally paid as a lawyer. It is singular that, notwithstanding the fact that the legal profession is a very close corporation, most lawyers are opposed to this measure. The courts of law fix their wages - or fees, as they call them - and they dare not accept payment on a lower scale.. The same remark applies to the medical profession, whose fees are fixed practically by a trades union. Those who believe in stability of trade should accept this Bill. In the past the paid agitator has been able to work upon the emotions of the men, and the loyalty of the employes to their executives has been so great that they have implicity obeyed orders. Under this Bill, however, the paid agitator will be able to exercise no such power. When I speak of the agitator I do not refer to the genuine reformer - to the man who puts forward views which he believes te be in the interests of his fellows - I refer to the individual who finds that it pays him ‘to create dissension between Capital and Labour, and who reaps monetary gain from a strike. I am surprised that the opponents of the measure have failed to recognise that if we pass this Bill such a man will have nothing to do. All who are against professional agitators should support the Bill. Another point which we have to remember is that this measure affords the only process by which collective bargaining may be carried into effect. Honorable members will say that that is a new idea; but the days of individual bargaining have disappeared. The operations of trade all point in the direction of collective bargaining, and this Bill will’ legalise the principle. At the present time a man is able to go to a banking institution and arrange for capital with which to purchase his material, and to enter into a contract in regard to it which must be respected. This Bill now declares that a man shall have power practically to purchase his labour as well as to purchase his money and his material. Hp will be able under it to secure his labour with the mathematical accuracy as to cost which marks his dealing with capital and material, and, therefore, under this measure we shall secure what is known as stability of trade. The honorable and learned member for Parkes may say - “ “We do not like either Capital or Labour to be compelled to adopt a course which is repugnant to it”; but we can scarcely perform any act which is not subject to some governing power:We have no ideal liberty of the subject.This would be truly a pretty country if we lived in the state of “philosophical anarchy” which some people suggest. If we pass this Bill an employe will be at liberty to advocate the improvement of his fellows without becoming, as under the existing conditions, a marked man. An employe at Mort’s Dock, or at any other works, who attempted hitherto to secure a reform in regard to wages, or some other conditions of labour, found himself a marked man, and had his name placed on the black list. In the United States of America this system is very rife. There, a man who dares to fight for the freedom of his fellow-workmen, is marked for all time by the associations of capitalists; yet we are asked to follow the example of that country, so far as its freedom from compulsory arbitration is concerned. We have had industrial difficulties in the past in which - rightly or wrongly we need not consider - men who have fought for their fellows have become marked men, and have been prevented from getting employment. The Bill, however, will put a stop to that sort of thing. It will prevent employers from putting their men on blacklists. After disputes have been settled by the Court, there will be no ill-feeling, because the parties will have relied, not upon the old methods of violence, but upon the new method of reason. Surelythe honorable and learned member for Parkes will agree that the new system is better than the old system ? I could understand his objection to the Bill if he were against the principle of arbitration altogether ; but I do not see why he should object to the Bill if he is opposed only to some of its details, because they can be altered in Committee. I shall, however, be out of order if I refer to the provisions of the measure in detail at this stage, although honorable members sometimes offend in that particular. Employers are not forced to go before the Court, because the Bill provides for the registration of voluntary agreements between masters and men. They can meet together and arrange terms without going before the Court at all, and, no doubt, where there are good masters and good men, most difficulties will be overcome in that way. The Bill will benefit chiefly, not the powerful associations of masters or of men, but those persons who belong to sections of the community which, under existing conditions, have no power to obtain redress of their grievances. When the New South Wales measure was under discussion in the State Parliament, I was opposed to the establishment of a Court of Conciliation, because I thought that if the parties to a dispute could not come to an agreement between themselves, it would be better for them to go at once to the Court of Arbitration. The New Zealand system has proved a failure largely because the Conciliation Boards have been composed of partisans, men chosen by the parties to the disputes who were determined to do the best they could for those whom they represented. There has, moreover, been the suspicion that many troubles have been fomented to procure the appointment of men to Boards of Conciliation so that they might draw the fees attached to the position. This Bill, however, gets over the New Zealand difficulty, and is superior to the New South Wales measure, in that it provides for the settlement of disputes by the method of either conciliation or arbitra tion in the one Court. I think, however that its provisions should apply to the public servants, the servants of the Railways Commissioners, and similar bodies of men.
– Hear, hear. Why have a partial millennium ?
– I am glad that the honorable and learned member agrees with me in this respect, although he makes me somewhat doubt the wisdom of my position. We cannot, however, reach an elysium by one bound ; we must advance a step at a time.
– If the Bill provides a panacea, why not apply it to all classes
– It- is not claimed that it provides a panacea ; but the experience of New Zealand, to which Judge Backhouse has borne testimony, is that the effects of a measure of this kind are good. Judge Backhouse is neither a capitalist nor an employe.
– But all lawyers are capitalistic.
– In that case we should apply a double scrutiny to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. I think that the public servants and other classes which I have named should, as in New South Wales, come under the operation of the measure. Such an arrangement would have prevented the recent railway strike in Victoria. A measure of this kind should apply to public servants just as every other measure applies to them. Could there be any more unsatisfactory tribunal than Parliament to remedy the grievances of such persons 1 For that reason alone they should come under the operation of the Bill. It has been said that it would be difficult to enforce an award, but I think that that difficulty could be got over. I should like now to refer to the position of seamen under the Bill. A dispute in which seamen were concerned would, more quickly than any other dispute, extend from one State to another. But only the seamen connected with the coastal trade come under the Bill ; its provisions do not, apply to the men on foreign vessels. I have no personal concern in the action of the right honorable and learned member for South Australia in this matter, but, to quote an expression of Marat, one cannot be an apostle of truth unless one has the courage to be its martyr. The right honorable and learned member has certainly had the courage to be a martyr for the truth which he holds.
– .Does the honorable member class the right honorable member for South Australia with Marat t
– Yes. He has applied a very high standard to public life. If Ministers cannot fully approve of a proposed measure, if it does not conform to their ideas, or carry out their promises, they have no other course open to them than to leave the Cabinet. In that respect the right honorable and learned gentleman did what was right. I am convinced, from what I know of the opinions of my own constituents, that seamen especially need consideration in connexion with a measure of this kind. In reply to the argument that the employers should be allowed to deal with their own employes, I would point out that, under such conditions, the employes would be beaten every, time, and would have no redress. If honorable” members wish to encourage violence, and to create disturbances and uncertainty in the community, they should oppose the measure. But if the contrary is their desire, they should try to pass it. Its provisions are not a panacea, but they are a palliative, and none of our legislation does more than provide a palliative for abuses. I shall support the measure very cordially, though I think that, like the policeman, it will be most useful when it is not being used. It will prevent strikes and differences by its very existence, without the calling into operation of its various clauses. If the people of Melbourne were, at any given moment, to determine to be disorderly and to create a riot, the police of the city could not prevent the disturbance. But the instinct of the people, combined with the knowledge that the assistance of the police is always within reach, brings about -the general observance of law and order. This measure will have a similar effect. It has been said that it will not be used,- but, to say that, is to argue that masters and men are devoid of intelligence. Exactly the opposite is the case, and both parties will learn to respect and to use the measure for the proper settlement of their disputes and determination of their rights. It is, however, to the moral force behind the Bill that we have to look for the advantages to be gained from it, more than to the mere administrative force of the Government. Masters and men, before they provoke a struggle, will satisfy themselves that they are in the right. They will take care that their claims are based upon justice, because they know that,, if the Court decides against them, public opinion, too, will be against them. The Bill will require a great deal of con- °sideration in Committee. Personally, Ihave no dislike to lawyers, but experience has proved that it is a very costly thing to employ lawyers, and I shall not vote for any provision which will tend to make the proceedings before the Court difficult or costly. Both masters and men can be represented by persons who thoroughly understand the facts of the case and the technical points’ involved, and it will be better to have that representation, and to exclude lawyers, who are likely to differ and fight over legal points which will seldom be really at issue. I know that some of the labour unions have fears on the matter ; they think that their funds will be exhausted in legal expenses. The experience of New Zealand has shown that lawyers are not necessary.
– Then why have a lawyer on the Bench ? Why not employ an innocent layman ?
– I do not think the epithet “ innocent “ could be applied to a lawyer. The honorable and learned member has on several occasions sat on boards of arbitration, and I know that whenever he does so he goes into matters very carefully. He gives them the maximum of attention, even if months of delay are caused by the process. The McSharry case affords a good example of the way in which a case may be lengthened. No doubt the honorable and learned member for Parkes was very thorough. He was the first in and the last out, and the experience gained in connexion with that case makes me desire more strongly than ever to exclude lawyers from the proceedings in the Arbitration Court. I have often been asked what New South Wales has gained from federation, and I have always replied that it at least had resulted in bringing the McSharry case to a conclusion. If federation had not been brought about, I believe that the McSharry casewould still have been going on. I know that the honorable andI learned member for Parkes has special qualifications for dealing with trades disputes, because of his intimate knowledge of mercantile and industrial affairs, but I think that we can get along very well in the Arbitration Court with men of experience who have an intimate knowledge of the matters in dispute. One of the best labour unions in Australia, which during twenty years has been concerned in only two strikes, has already derived benefit from the Arbitration Court in New South Wales. Some eighteen months ago a strike took place among the ironworkers’ assistants employed at Mort’s Dock, in Sydney. The men were endeavouring to secure an increase in their wages from 36s. to 39s. per week. Their demand was opposed by the Mort’s Dock and Engineering Company, and after a strike had taken place the dispute was settled by voluntary arbitration, the arbitrator being Mr. Cruickshank, one of the members of the present Arbitration Court in New South Wales. His decision was given in favour of the men to the extent of half the amount they asked for, and that course will probably be. adopted in most cases in the future. If the Arbitration Court does not adopt a system of compromise it will prove a failure.
– Then the men have only to ask for twice the amount they expect.
– On the same principle the employer offers only half the amount he expects to give. The competitive system compels the employer to give no more than he can avoid, and I hope that the Arbitration Court will strike the happy medium in all cases.
– That is a dangerous principle to lay down.
– I cannot say what the Court will do. Almost invariably its decisions have the effect of “ splitting the difference.”
– That affords the men a direct incentive to resort to the Court, whether they are satisfied or not.
– I do not think so. The wages boards in Victoria really constituted arbitration courts, which fixed wages in certain trades, and I do not think that it can be claimed that their operations have had the effect of driving away capital or of interfering with the development of industry. In Tasmania there are no restrictions upon the employment of labour, and that State will form a happy hunting ground for some of those capitalists who desire to exercise a free hand. I believe that the Bill is a wise one, and I shall support it. Provision should be made for a conciliation tribunal which will be able to exercise its beneficent influence in cases which may be amicably adjusted, whilst the Court is occupied in dealing with disputes of a more complex and difficult character.
– I desire to congratulate the honorable member for Melbourne upon the excellent speech which he delivered, and upon the change which has taken place in his convictions. He doe’s not by any means stand alone. I know of a large number of employers, both in New South Wales and Victoria, who were at first antagonistic to compulsory arbitration, but who have come to the conclusion that, whilst the law in operation may be imperfect, it has brought about a condition of affairs compared to which that previously existing was chaos and anarchy. Their opinion is shared by some of the largest employers of labour in America and England, and therefore the honorable member neednot be afraid that he will be isolated ; he is in very good company.
– The honorable member thinks that he is right this time.
– Yes; and I have hopes even of my honorable and learned friend regarding conciliation. His conversion may be a painful process, but all great things are born in travail. At the outset I take exception to the suggestion of the. honorable member for Melbourne that the Bill should be limited in its operation to five years. That plan has been tried in Victoria, but has failed.
– It only shifts the onus of proof as to re-enactment.
– It does more. It causes just as much confusion and unrest in trade as continual alterations of a tariff. In Victoria we passed the Factories Act in the first place for a period of three years, and we had a long and bitter struggle over its re-enactment for a further period of two years. The Act expires on the 31st October next, and it would be infinitely better if all the questions dealt with under that Act were settled for a considerable period. There is nothing to prevent an amendment of a measure or repeal of a section which is considered injurious in its operation. If the suggestion of the honorable member, or that ofthe honorable member for Kooyong, is adopted, the five years’ term may elapse at a most inconvenient time. The Victorian Shops and Factories Act will expire in October. Its reenactment will have to be considered by a dying Parliament which was elected for specific purposes, and which is out of touch with this class of legislation. Surely that is not the kind of Parliament that one would have to deal with a measure of this sort. If we limit the operation of the Act to a period of four or five years, it may expire at a time at which it would be least desirable to discuss its re-enactment, and I hope the suggestion of the honorable member will not be adopted. There was only one other note of discord struck by the honorable member for Melbourne, and that was in regard to giving preference to unionists. A very striking article written by the Honorable B. R. Wise, Attorney-General of- New South Wales, . and published in the National Review, of August last, contains some very pertinent remarks with reference to that question. He says -
The same observation applies to the sub-clause which empowers the court to give a preference to unionists. Without entering into the question whether wage-earuers should decline to work with non-unionists, as barristers are permitted by law to decline to hold a brief with a layman, or with one who is debarred, it is Sufficient for practical legislation that some of . the most troublesome: strikes of modern times turn upon this point.
That is a very striking remark. I notice that barristers are very frequently to be found opposing this kind of legislation, and yet I know of no more exclusive body than the legal profession.
– The honorable member is quite misinformed. The idea of a fixed wage or a fee for a lawyer is a delusion.
– It is no delusion when one gets the bill. The lawyers have fixed a. minimum wage, and they will not accept anything below it.
– Theminimum is the most we can get.
– Yes, and the lawyers take care that they do not go below it
– The honorable member had better confine his attention to matters which he understands. He does not know much about the inner circle of the legal profession.
– Perhaps not, but the honorable and learned member will agree that lawyers, like clergymen, are strongly of opinion that certain standards of education and qualification are required.
– I should not care if we had an open Bar.
– But the profession generally hold that certain qualifications should be possessed by every man who desires to practice at the Bar.
– It is necessary that a man should be able to speak the King’s English, so that the Judges may understand him.
– Yes; but there are many men who can speak the King’s English who would not be permitted to practise alongside my honorable and learned friend.
– Why does the. honorable member not quote Mr. Wise in opposition to this Parliament having jurisdiction ?
– I have already-alluded to one conversion, and I know that at one time Mr. Wise was not in favor of legislation of this kind.
– He was opposed to this Parliament having jurisdiction.
– The leader of the Opposition strongly urged that upon no account should this Parliament deal with industrial legislation: Yet he contributed to this debate an admirable speech in favor of the Bill; so that if Mr. Wise has changed his opinion he is in excellent company.
– There is no proof that he has changed his view.
– He has changed so far that he is in favour of the principles underlying this Bill. He goes on to say-
It is sufficient for practical legislation that some of the most troublesome strikes of modern times turn upon this point, and that these could never be settled by the Court, unless it had power to determine within what limits the unionist contention should prevail. Accordingly, both in New Zealand and New South Wales, the Court can, under certain conditions, direct that preference be given to members of an industrial union.
That is all for which this Bill asks. In order to settle industrial strife it simply gives the Court power to say in effect - “ Seeing that the vast majority of the men interested in this trade are unionists, the others, who are in a minority, shall be impelled to join the union.” The history of labour struggles throughout the world shows the necessity for such a provision. These are the only objections - and they do not seem to be serious ones - which are raised by a representative employer such as the honorable member for Melbourne. To me they constitute a very clear indication of the signs of the times. Many years ago I urged upon the employers in Victoria that their position would be infinitely strengthened if, instead of assailing the principle of industrial arbitration, they endeavoured to improve the method of applying it. The employers throughout Australia who take up a position of unqualified antagonism to this measure, are putting themselves hopelessly out of court. I am convinced that this Parliament will not listen to them. If they concentrated their attention upon pointing out where mistakes have been committed, andjoined in making suggestions for the improvement of this measure, the House would lend them a very ready ear. But when they ask us to revert to the old condition of noninterference, they ask what it is absolutely impossible to concede.
– Their opposition springs from fear and selfishness.
– In some cases it does, but not in all. I know some very excellent employers who are neither fearful nor selfish, but who take up the position that they desire to conduct their business without interference. Industrial civilization is of such a complex nature that that state of affairs is simply impossible. The whole trend of industrial legislation throughout the world goes to maintain the position which I have indicated. In nearly every country of Europe industrial legislation of some kind has been enacted. From all I can gather, England stands at the very head of the family of nations, both in the quantity and quality of this kind of legislation.
– My honorable friend’s reading and knowledge may impel him to a different opinion, but that is the conclusion which I have deliberately formed after much thought, reading, and communication with labour leaders all over the world.
– France has gone much further than has England in legislation dealing with conciliation and arbitration.
– France has not adopted the principle of compulsory arbitration. She has merely endeavoured by conciliation to bring about the settlement of disputes.
– She has adopted compulsory arbitration in many cases.
– The experiment in that direction is of the most minute character compared with the very vast issues which are connected with this all-important subject. As a matter of fact, as a nation, France has never seriously faced this question. It is being discussed at the present time in her assemblies of working men, but it has never yet come within the realm of practical politics.
– Compulsory arbitration decisions have been given in France and in Switzerland.
– But not under an industrial arbitration Bill of the comprehensive character that we propose to adopt. Of course, all sorts of experiments are being made all over the world, but I am speaking of legislation to which practical effect is being given. I think my honorable friend will find that I am correct in declaring that England stands at the head of the list of nations in this connexion. Switzerland comes next. It is very remarkable that, prior to federation in Switzerland, the cantons had full power to legislate, and a condition of affairs obtained which was very similar to that which exists in Australia at the present time. Complaints, however, were continually being made that one canton was obtaining an undue advantage over another. In one, legislation of a far-reaching characterwould be enacted in regard to industrial matters, and in others no legislation would be enacted. I notice that some employers predict that one of the results of this legislation will be a conflict between the Federal and the State powers, and that in some instances the courts or wages boards in the different States will arrive at one decision whilst the Federal Court will give a different decision. I would strongly urge that the best way for the employers to overcome that difficulty is to join with the trades unions in seeing that the power to legislate upon these subjects is exclusively vested in this Parliament.
– There has been a conflict between the Supreme Court of New South Wales and the Arbitration Court with regard to the time at which certain establishments shall close.
– Under the Early ClosingAct?
– The Arbitration Court decided that they should close at one hour, and the Supreme Court at a different hour.
– In New South Wales I am aware that the hours for closing are regulated by statute. I quite agree that it is preferable that all these matters should be regulated by one statute, and that the power to legislate upon them should be vested in the Federal Parliament. Otherwise I can quite see that there are possibilities of conflict. In Switzerland the difficulty was overcome in the manner I have indicated, and in 1877 the first general Factories Act was passed. In 1888 the whole of these legislative powers were taken over by the Federation. The cantons still have power to legislate, but their legislation must not come into conflict with that of the Federal authorities. The European nations which have interfered in industrial matters the least, whose labour legislation is represented by zero - such nations as Spain, Portugal, Greece, and Roumania - are confessedly in the background, if they are not absolutely declining. It seems to me this is an indication that in the interests of . national life it is absolutely necessary to legislate on industrial lines such as are proposed in connexion with this Bill. After all, this is but another step in the evolution of industrial progress. At the early part of the last century we acknowledged that the nation had of necessity to provide a national minimum of leisure, in order to save the child-life of England. We have provided for a national minimum of sanitation, and we have also acknowledged the State’s duty by providing for a national minimum of education.
– And for protection from injury, too.
– Yes. Of course the national minimum of sanitation and health involve the protection of woman and child labour, and embrace all the ramifications to be found in the industrial Acts of the various nations to which I have re-, ferred. In this connexion, I deem an extract from a debate which took place in the House of Commons in the early part of last century sufficiently important to read. Richard Oastler, who was so closely associated with the effort to secure a. national minimum of leisure - by that I mean a restriction of the hours of labour - found it necessary; in the interests of the child life of England, to recognise such a principle. Speaking in the House of Commons upon the matter, he said -
I will not picture fiction to you, but I will tell you what I have seen. Take a little female captive six or seven years old ; she shall rise from, her bed at four in the morning of a cold winter clay, but before she rises she wakes perhaps half-a-dozen times, and says - “Father, is it time? Father, is it time?” And at last when she gets up and puts her little bits of rags upon her weary limbs, weary yet with the last day’s work, she leaves her parents in their bed, for their labour (if they have any) is not required so early. She trudges alone through rain and snow, and mire and darkness to the mill, and there for thirteen, fourteen, sixteen, or even eighteen hours, is she obliged to work with only thirty minutes interval for meals and play. Homeward again at night she would go, when she was able, but many a time she hid herself in the wool in the mill, as she had not strength to go. And if she were one moment behind the appointed time, it the bell had ceased to ring when she arrived with trembling, shivering, weary limbs at the factory door, there stood a monster in human form, and as she passed he lashed her. “This “- he continued, holding up an overlooker’s strap - this is no fiction. It was hard at work in this town last week. The girl I am speaking of died ; but site dragged on that dreadful existence for several years.
It was this condition of things in England that compelled the Government to insist upon a national minimum of leisure.
– How long since was that 1
– In 1833- the early part of last’ century. It was absolutely necessary in order to preserve child life, and child life now is being preserved only where a, national minimum of leisure is operative.
– Good old private enterprise !
– I do not see that the quotation has any .bearing upon the question of compulsory arbitration, although it is doubtless very pathetic.
– I intend to show that compulsory arbitration is another step in the evolution of industrial emancipation. I hold that it is not only pathetic but pertinent to the question which we are considering. I desire to show that where this measure of relief has not been applied, child life is being strangled in the interests of heartless manufacturers. Let honorable members read the report concerning child life which was presented to the House of Commons within the past three years.
– We have a Factories Act in operation in New South Wales and in Victoria.
– I am discussing the condition of affairs in Great Britain, and I will show that my remarks are perfectly pertinent to the question which we are considering. If the honorable and learned member will read Frank Hurd’s Cry qf the Children, he will find that .in those industries to which a national minimum of leisure is not applicable, child life is being crushed out of existence. It is true that we have Factories Acts in operation in Victoria and New South Wales. Unfortunately, we have no such legislation in a number of the other States. That is where a great difficulty presents itself. Already one or two factory owners have quitted Victoria, and established their industries in Tasmania, where no protection is afforded to the employés. They are thus competing extremely unfairly with the manufacturers of Victoria. The honorable member for Bland pointed out that the same thing has occurred as between New South Wales and Queensland. That goes to show that in the absence of legislation such as is now proposed, a condition of things similar to that which existed in England and Victoria previous to legislation.
– It also emphasizes the need for. a Federal Factories Act.
– Tes ; it emphasizes the need for industrial unification. It is true, as the honorable and learned ‘ member for Parkes says, that we have had factory legis- ‘ lation in Victoria for some time, but I can assure him that we did not obtain it >one moment ‘too soon. The condition of things which existed in Victoria prior to the passing of the Factories Act goes to show that where employers are allowed - and this is my point - to take advantage of an overcrowded market, to do as they like with individuals, whether men or women, sweating and long hours are the inevitable result. I have here quite a number of illustrations of the condition of things which existed in Victoria prior to the passing of the Act in question. It is absolutely certain that sweating was almost universal ; there was no minimum wage, long hours prevailed, no record was kept of home workers, alleged apprentices were underpaid, and no check was attempted to be kept upon alien competition. It was found, when we came to agitate for factory legislation, that there were no less than 440 persons who were continuously employed without receiving any pay. One large establishment had been carrying on an extensive business by exploiting child labour. As soon as one batch of apprentices had been engaged for twelve months, it was discharged by the firm ; another batch was then taken on, and as soon as the time arrived at which the apprentices would have to receive some payment for their services, they were dismissed. Not a penny was paid by it for this class of labour: Therefore, to obtain anything like industrial order, it was absolutely necessary to pass a Factories Act. I contend that, in order to complete our industrial legislation, we require to provide, not only for the maximum number of hours to be worked, and for proper sanitation, but for some tribunal to fix the rates of wages to be paid. It must be clearly a condition of every contract of employment that its terms shall not be such as will impair the efficiency of the citizen producer, or diminish the vitality of the race. To encourage labour at a rate insufficient for the proper maintenance of the individual must be just as injurious as is a contract providing for long hours, and requiring persons to work under insanitary conditions. I have endeavoured to show that legislation in this direction is necessary in the interests of child-life. I should also like to point out that it is necessary in the interests of our womanhood. I think it will be admitted by all who have studied her works, that Mrs. Sydney Webb is an exceedingly careful woman, who would never in any way exaggerate the facts. She is my authority for the condition of things which prevails in England, in a, trade to which no Act. restricting the hours of labour and requiring proper sanitation applies. The honorable and learned member for Parkes should be particularly interested in the quotation which I am about to read. We had in Victoria a very severe struggle to secure the extension of the principle of wages boards to the jam-making trade. It was said that if the industry were brought under the wages board system it would be ruined, and that the various factories would immediately close down. They have not yet closed down. On the contrary, according to the latest statistics, the industry is expanding. But special pleading of the kind I have indicated has succeeded in preventing the industry in Great Britain from being brought under the Factories Act. Writing last year on the condition of the jam-making trade in England, to which a national ‘minimum of leisure and sanitation has not been made to apply. Mrs. Webb said -
Themajority of the British Jamfactories at the beginning of the twentieth century, present during summer months, scenes of overwork, overcrowding, dirt and disorder hardly to be equalled by the cotton mills at thebeginning of the nineteenth century. Women and girls are kept continuously at work week-days and Sundays alike ; often as much as 100 hours inthe seven days ; and sometimes for twenty or 30hours at a stretch. The crowded, unventilated, uncleanly, and generally insanitary stateof the work-place - the puddles of dirty wateron the floor, the clouds of steam in the “ boiling-room,” the long hours of standing in boots and clothes made wringing wet by the faulty arrangements of the tubs and water supply- -all these evils aredescribed year by year in the official reports of the factory inspectors.
– Does that stateof affairs exist in Victoria ?
– Nor in any part of Australia ?
– I hope not ; but I am inclined to think that unless legislation of this kind is made to apply throughout the Commonwealth, there will be very great danger of a repetition of the condition of things which prevailed prior to the passing of the Factories Act in Victoria. In those days insanitary conditions existed to an alarming extent in connexion with our factories. In company with the Rev. A. R. Edgar, I visited on one occasion a factory in South Melbourne, in which dozens of girls were employed, and in which stagnant water had lain for years. Typhoid fever cases were continually developing, and the state of affairs was absolutely appalling. I wish now to direct the attention of the House to certain remarks made by Sir John Gorst. As the honorable and learned member for Parkes is aware, he is not a Radical, but a Conservative member of the House of Commons.
– Conservatives have been the greatest reformers.
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
– There is a chance for them to reform in this case.
– They passed a. Factories Act in England.
– But not until Lord Shaftesbury had determined to take the side of the Opposition, and adopted a course which caused him to lose position, and laid himself open to the bitter and fierce fightingof those who were nearest and dearest to him. He was a Conservative who was better than his political creed, and he certainly-
– Some of the Radicals objected to the passing of the Factories Act in England.
– We have had the same thinghere. We have had some parents objecting to what they ‘describe as their means of sustenance being lowered by the action of the State in reducing the hours of employment -for their children. In June of lastyeat, Sir John Gorst, in the House of Commons -
Gave a really alarmingaccountof the children of Edinburgh as disclosed by the recent investigations of theRoyal Commission on Physical Instruction. ‘At theNorth Canongate School the Commissioners were struck by the. appearanceof the boys while bathing, by their thinness and generally underfed condition. Out of 150 examined 115 lived in houses of two rooms, and the remainder in houses of one room. The large minority, if not . the majority, were habitually underfed and insufficiently clothed. Thirty-eight per cent. suffered from insufficient nutrition.
– He was then VicePresident of the Board of Education.
– This statement was made last year.
– Yes. It was because of the position which he held that he made that statement.
– The report continues - “How can we raise an Imperial race if that is the general condition of the children in the schools,” Sir John asked in the House.
– By taxing their food supplies.
– If it would have the same effect that it has had in the United States of America, that policy would be good for the children. No picture such as this has been drawn of the American children,We, too, are supposed to tax the food supplies of Australia ; yet we have no record such as this to present. I hope, however, that I shall not be dragged into a discussion of the fiscal question at this stage. The report continues -
The Commissioners stated that physical exercise in the case of children improperly fed and clothed resulted in early physiological exhaustion and infirmity. Yet Dr. Mackenzie found children who were suffering from phthisis and from heart disease undergoing severe physical exercise.
In Edinburgh, 317 of the children have defective vision, and 42 per cent, are defective in hearing; Altogether 10,000 children in that city, or 70 per cent., suffer from one kind of disease or another, or some affection which requires attention. If anything like this state of things exists in England we are raising up a race which shows an alarming deterioration.
The facts demanded the ‘attention, Sir John suggested, of every one who desires to see this country great and prosperous. The first thing to do is to find out the facts. Teachers ought to examine the children every day, and. a periodical examination should be carried out at the public expense.
I hold that the fact that mothers are underfed, according to the testimony given before select committees, because in many cases parents of families are unable to obtain sufficient to provide the necessaries of life, goes to show conclusively that some kind of legislation that will insure a national minimum wage is needed in England. Another very importantphase of this question, which demonstrates clearly the need for legislation of this class, is the fact that woman workers are making inroads upon our industrial life, and largely to the displacement of male labour.
– That is the worst phase of protection.
– That state of affairs is very marked in England.
– It is worse in free trade countries than in protected countries.
– I shall show that it is not a question of free-trade or of protection. Hobson, in his Evolution of Capitalism, shows conclusively that, while male labour has increased during the last 50 years by 52 per cent., female labour has increased by 201 per cent.
– In protectionist countries.
– No. In England. I would commend to the attention of my honorable and learned friend aseries of books which has just been published giving an account of the Convention of women held last year in England. He will find that women like Lady Dilke and Lady- Henry Somerset point out that, in many directions, women are making inroads upon our industrial life. They do not, and personally I do not, object to women being employed at any kind of work which they are capable of doing, but they object to women being employed at rates which lower the standard of living, and make home-life impossible. Lady Henry Somerset draws a very pathetic picture of the condition of the Yorkshire workers. She tells of a case in which the wages of a man employed in a woollen mill had been gradually decreasing until they were not enough to keep his family. His wife thereupon made application to the employer to be given work, and honorable members can imagine her horror when she found, on going to the factory on the following Monday morning, that she was to receive 15s. a week, and to displace her husband who was getting 19s. a week. We are told that that experience is by no means singular. A very striking case occurred in Victoria which shows the need for legislation which will fix the rate of wage according to the character of the work to be done, irrespective of the sex employed to perform it. If females can be employed in woollen factories, at brushmaking, clockmaking, and even in the lighter iron trades, as they are now being employed in England, surely it is necessary to secure for them, in the interests of a proper standard of living, the same rates of wages as are given to men. In Victoria some time ago, there were eight factories which were turning out all kinds of brushware, and an enterprising capitalist brought the machinery here, and started a ninth factory, in which he employed female labour. Very soon the other eight factories began to find their trade slipping from them, and, on inquiry, it became apparent that, if they were to continue in business, one of two things must be done ; either the pay of their hands must be reduced to the rates paid to the women in the ninth factory, or the wages of thosewomen increased to the rates paid in the other eight factories. Representatives of the Age and the Herald - newspapers which have always supported legislation of this kind - instituted inquiries, with the result that it was found that, whereas in the eight factories employing men 2s.8d. a dozen was paid for No. 1 class of brooms, only Is. per dozen was paid to the women employed in the ninth factory. For No. 2 brooms, 2s.10d.” per dozen was paid to the men, and1s. 2d. per dozen to the women ; for No. 3 brooms, 3s. to the men, and1s. 3d. to the women, and so on until for the best class of brooms - heavy first-class scavengers’ brooms, the making of which is really not women’s work at all- - the men were getting 5s.1d. per dozen and the women only 2s.1d. per dozen. The men’s union waited upon the Council of the Anti-Sweating League, and were joined by their employers, who urged that the Government should be moved to appoint a Wages Board for the trade, because otherwise the eight factories would have to discharge their men and employ women. If those men had been discharged it would have been impossible for their homes to be maintained on women’s wages, and I am very pleased to say that the Ministry, of which the honorable ‘member for Gippsland was the head, appointed a Wages Board. That Board did not attempt to discriminate between male and female labour in the trade. It did not say that either class of labour should or should not be employed ; but it fixed a minimum wage for Victoria, and put all the employers in the trade on the same level. It allowed them to employ men, women, or youths, but it compelled them to pay the minimum rate of wage to all employes. What was the result? The factory which had been employing women I was closed, and the proprietor removed to Tasmania. Although his competition has still to be faced, it is not now so keen and severe as it was when the factory was situated in this State. That case goes to show the need for extending this class of legislation throughout the Commonwealth. With InterState free-trade, we must have something like a common rule and uniform industrial regulations. This Parliament has agreed that the female public servants of the Commonwealth shall, if their work is equally well done, receive the same rates of pay as are given to men similarly employed. I can assure my honorable friends on the Opposition side of the Chamber that this particular phase of the question is something quite apart from the fiscal issue. The state of things we want to prevent exists in England, America, Germany, and Australia, and it is only by such legislation as I have indicated that we can put a stop to it. We must put a stop to it, unless we are prepared to allow the home life of the people to suffer. I think it was Rooseveldt who asked, “ Why do not the men go to church, and have largefamilies ? “ I am not going to speak on the first question now, but I know that many men are prevented from marrying because of the uncertainty of their position.
– Will the passing of this measure affect their position?
Mr.MAUGER. - I think that it can, be made to do so, and I hope that it will I hope that when the Arbitration Court is established, national minimum rates of wages for particular trades will be made toapply to men and women alike.
– So we are to establish Arbitration Courts in order to increase the population ! Surely the honorable member could advance a better argument for the Bill than that ?
– Some men marryto get wives to keep them.
– I think the Bill will tend to prevent what I have spoken against. Legislation of this kind is absolutely necessary to prevent labour from being crushed by trusts and combines, and to fix the terms of collective bargains. The honorable and learned member for Parkes and others have objected at various times that the labour leaders of England and America are op posed to this kind of legislation. There is, however, a great change taking place in their attitude towards it, the decision in the Taff Vale case being one of the causes. That decision is being applied very widely in America, so that it is creating alarm. Recently, in Connecticut, a Judge not only gave an injunction against the men, but also issued an attachment against their homes, their furniture, and their savings in the banks.
– The men or the association ?
– Both the association and the men.
– For what reason ?
– To insure the corporation against loss in the event of a strike.
– In anticipation of a strike ?
– Does the honorable member know what the decision in the Taff Vale case was?
– Yes ; but I will quote my authority for the statement I have made. He is Professor Gunton, one of the leading American economists, and he delivers monthly lectures before the Institute of Economics there, his lectures being attended by leading men of all shades of thought. In the May number of his magazinehe says -
The precedent established by the Taff Vale case in the English courts, making trade unions liable for damages in case of a strike, has been followed by the courts in Vermont. The case in Vermont was theF.R. Patch Manufacturing Company against The Protection Lodge of the International Association of Machinists. The suit was to recover 10,000 dollars damages for injury to the business of the F.R. Patch Manufacturing Company by picketing and boycotting during a recent strike. The case came up for trial on the 19th March, and lasted seventeen days, the jury bringing in a verdict for 25,000 dollars damages for the plaintiff. This is the first decision of its kind in this country. In the Waterbury strike the corporations have instituted suits for damages, and have attached all the funds of the unions. This, of course, prevents the unions from using any of their funds for strike purposes until after the suit is disposed of.
That case has been followed by others on the lines I have indicated.
– The honorable member led us to believe that the injunction was issued in anticipation of a strike. It could not have been in anticipation of a strike, because picketing had taken place.
– The men had given notice of a strike, but it was not actually in progress when the injunction was granted.
– The honorable member stated that a strike had taken place, that an action was brought, that damages had been awarded, and that an injunction had been granted to restrain the union from doing away with their funds.
– I did not say anything of the kind. I first cited a case in which a Judge in Connecticut granted an injunction forbidding a strike. The employers applied for an injunction to prevent the men from striking, and in addition to granting the injunction the Judge issued an attachment against the furniture and funds of the men. The validity of that action has been challenged by some of the leading authorities in America, who say that the action was ultra vires, but my point is that such things have been done, and are being repeated.
– It has been done in several instances in America.
– Yes, and was it not also done in Victoria? What was the object of the action which was brought against the coal miners at Outtrim. If the Employers’ Union had been successful in the action they brought against the men, the Union would have been absolutely destroyed.
– Order. I would remind the honorable member that the Bill relates to the prevention of strikes extending beyond the limits of any oneState, and the honorable member is therefore straying from the subject.
– I desire to show that legislation of this character is absolutely necessary to preserve the unions, and to protect them from being crushed out of existence.
– I have been waiting patiently for the honorable member to establish a connexion between his remarks and the object of the Bill.
– The same writer says -
In the Waterbury strike the corporations have instituted suits for damages, and have attached all the funds of the unions. This, of course prevents the unions from using any of their funds for strike purposes until after this suit is disposed of. This is a new aspect of the legal status of labour unions, and also of the legal means of suppressing strikes. If the unions can be held responsible for injuries inflicted during the strike, it will nearly always be.possible to tie up their funds. Heretofore, it has been assumed that unions were not liable in damages because they were not incorporated.
I have endeavoured to show that this Bill is necessary in view of the recent developments of industrial law both in England and America, because injunctions are being granted during strikes or in order to prevent strikes. My authority for this statement was Mr. Henry Demarest Lloyd in his book Labour and Capital, edited by Archbishop Potter, of New York. At page 1 93 of that work, Mr. Lloyd says -
During a recent strike in Connecticut, a Judge, together with an injunction against the men, issued an attachment against all their homes, furniture, their life-time savings in the savingsbanks, and all their other property to make good any damage he might later decide they had done to their employers.
My point is that this injunction was granted during the progress of a strike. The question whether the strike was just or unjust was not taken into consideration, and the result was that the union had to succumb. I desire to quote an even more striking case to show that in the interests of the workers, a Bill of this kind is necessary. In a journal called the World’s Work, published in June last, an article appears entitled “ Capital and Labour in the United States.” It is dated Washington, May 1st, 1903, and reads as follows : -
A few weeks ago the employes of the Wabash Railroad demanded an increase of wages, and the company met this demand by applying for an injunction to restrain the men from striking. The issue of this writ has been discussed by leading men and papers throughout the country. Senator Depew, formerly President of the New York Central Railroad, and now the chairman of the boardsof directorsof thatcompany, the Lake Shore and the Michigan Central Railroads, gives it as his opinion that the injunction cannot hold. Judge M.
Tuley, of the Apellate Court of Illinois, denounces the issue of such writs as tending to bring “ the administration of justice into contempt.” It breeds discontent, and we shall reap the whirlwind some day from the seed we sow. ExCongressman Springer, of Illinois, formerly Chief Justice of the United States Court of Appeals in the Indian Territory, says that the Judge who granted the writ clearly exceeded his authority. The Chicago Evening Post maintains that the freedom of labour implies the right to. strike, and that, as involuntary servitude does not exist in the United. States, what legislation has not done, courts of equity will hardly be permitted to accomplish by indirection. The injunction will not stand, it says, because it is arbitrary and unwarranted. Interesting as showing the Eastern view, the comments of the New York Sun and the New York Earning Post are typical. Both papers regard the injunction as entirely proper and legal, and support the action taken on the ground that by prohibiting the men from striking the public is protected.
If the men are to be prevented from striking, the necessity for such a Bill as that now before us is the greater, because the men will be deprived of their principal weapon. Being anxious to obtain all the information possible regarding this important measure, I communicated with a number of authorities in America, England, and New Zealand, and I propose to place their opinions before honorable members in as brief a form as possible. The Hon. Carrol D. Wright referred me to the book from which I have just quoted. He says -
The record of strikes in the United States for the twenty years ending 31st December, 1900, as shown by the United States Department of Labour, would seem to indicate that at times, at least, some drastic measure for the prevention of conflicts might be desirable. This record is that during the period named there were 22,793 strikes, with a wage loss of 257,863,478 dols.; a loss through assistance rendered by labour organizations of 16,174,793 dols.; andaloss to employers of 122,731,121 dols. The lock-outs during the same period numbered 1,005, with a wage loss to employers of 48,8.19,745 dols. ; a loss through assistance rendered by labour organizations of 3,451,461 dols. ; and a loss to employers of 19,927,983 dols. The total losses by strikes and lock-outs reached the vast sum of 468,968,581 dols. It is curious to note that in 5077 per cent, of the establishments in which strikes occurred, they were successful, in 1304 per cent, partially successful, and in 36 19 per cent, failures. In 5079 per cent, of the establishments where lock-outs were ordered success attended the efforts of the employers, while in 628 per cent, they were partially successful, and in 4293 per cent, the lock-outs failed of the object for which they were ordered.
In connexion with this matter, I have some interesting data supplied to me by Mr. Ben. Tillett and Mr. John Burns, both of whom are taking a deep interest in this proposal, and in legislation of a similar character in New Zealand. They point out that -
Labour conflicts in Great Britain cause a yearly loss equal to the output of 40,000 men in regular work. During a lock-out on the Clyde, the unions disbursed £150,000 in strike pay, and lost £312,000 in wages. The great mining dispute settled by Lord Rosebery cost England a sum estimated at millions.
The last great strike which attracted most attention to the question of compulsory arbitration in Great Britain was that of the engineers in 1897. The Daily News estimates the loss that resulted from that strike as follows : -
Wages, £3,255,000 ; union pay, £925,000 ; savings expended, £500,000 ; besides the loss of trade to employers.
I have a very interesting letter addressed to Mr. John Burns by Mr. George Cadbury, who is one of the largest employers of labour in Great Britain. He writes as follows : -
I would advise British workmen at the next parliamentary election to support such candidates only, whether liberal or conservative, as would vote for a Bill which would make arbitration in trade disputes compulsory, as in New Zealand. Without such protection the toilers had never been able, in the long run, to participate fairly in the results of their labour. The weekly contributions made by the engineers in work, also by other trade unionists, prove the value of trades unions in developing forethought and self-reliance. By maintaining the standard of wages, they tend also to prevent the unequal distribution of wealth which might ultimately be the ruin of our country. For these reasons, until the masters are willing to have an impartial arbitration, or the matter is fairly settled, I will recommence and continue the payment of £50 per week.
Mr. Cadbury is not only a large employer, but also a philanthropist, and his testimony in favour of the principle of this measure is of great value, and will carry great weight. We are asked by the opponents of the Bill to admit that trades unionists in America are bitterly opposed to compulsory legislation, and we are continually having the opinions of labour leaders in America cited in support of that statement. Then I have here the opinion of Mr. Mitchell, who declares that he does not believe in compulsory arbitration, but that we may rely upon it, that the force of public opinion will impel a settlement that will be just to both parties. He goes onto show that the great anthracite coal strike in America was terminated through public opinion demanding that the men should submit their case to arbitration. I contend that this great strike was settled by compulsory arbitration.. My authority for making that statement is that -
Nine thousand State troops were put at the disposal of the operators for this purpose with no visible effect upon the situation. The President finally determined to take possession of the mines as a military act, and to conduct the business under control of the United States troops until the parties could come to terms.
Surely it cannot be urged that that great industrial struggle was settled by voluntary arbitration. It was not until public opinion compelled the operatives and the coal mine-owners to arbitrate that arbitration took place. The supporters of this measure contend that it would have been infinitely better if compulsory arbitration had been put into force before five months had expired, when it would naturally have averted the immense loss involved. Marriages postponed, homes broken up, railways brought to a stand-still, and privations of the most extreme character took place. Finally, as the result of sheer force, these two great contending powers agreed to arbitrate. I hold that Arbitration Courts are no more compulsory than are any other . courts. Compulsory arbitration really means arbitration by law, everything being done by the Government. Compulsion has been rendered necessary by the obstinacy of the individuals. We have compulsory sanitation, compulsory education, compulsory taxation, compulsory vaccination, and now it is proposed that we shall have compulsory arbitration. There are three great parties to every labour dispute - the employers, the employes, and the public. Such a measure as that which is now under consideration is absolutely necessary in the interests of the public. In New York 100,000 men have just resumed work after a strike extending over thirteen weeks. In their case it was not a strike against a reduction of wages, or for an increase of wages. It was a strike owing to a dispute between two trades unions, each of which demanded that it should absorb the other. The public are interested in the termination of such unfortunate occurrences.
– A strike between two trades unions?
– Yes. The men struck on the question of whether the Brotherhood of Carpenters or the Society of Carpenters should be recognised as the official organization in New York. In connexion with that trouble it is reported that intimidation was practised to such an extent that large contractors were compelled to pay considerable sums to prevent other strikes from taking place.
– The accuracy of that statement is very doubtful.
– I think that it is, but from an American newspaper which I received to-day, I learn that a case is being tried in Chicago in which the leader of one of the iron trades is charged with that particular offence. Wellington, in speaking of wars, declared that there was only one thing that could be more ruinous than defeat, and that was victory. I hold that the path of peace is the path of justice, and that the path of justice is the path of. government. What objections are raised by the Employers Union to the legislation which is proposed 1 It is urged that in New Zealand, where a similar Act is operating, the result has been to restrict industrial development, and to largely increase the imports of the country, to the detriment of its manufacturers. Some of our manufacturers are urging that industrial development in Australia will be seriously retarded if we pass a measure of this character. To ascertain the facts in connexion with that statement I wired to Mr. Tregear, the Secretary of Labour in New Zealand, and also to Mr. Seddon, the Premier, in answer to which I received the following cable message : -
Imports increasing, but not in comparison, with exports, which exceeded previous year by three millions sterling. No manufacturers suffering from imports, as increase has been in expensive clothing, &c, warranted by prosperity of colony. See my last annual report diagram at end showing increase in principal trades since Arbitration Act came into force. Wages under Act have risen, so that trades received £250,000 more in last seven years than if they had worked on at rate existent when Act passed. Furniture trade £5,000 less imports than previous year. Customs Department consulted before sending this. I sent parcel latest information to reach you 18th inst.
– He has carefully evaded giving an answer to the honorable member’s question.
– My honorable friend is wrong in making that statement. Mr. Tregear has forwarded me his last report, attached to which is a diagram to which I would direct attention. Instead of showing a decreased output every one of the trades affected hy the Factories Act in New Zealand shows a decided increase. Let us take the case of bread and confectionery as an example. When the Act came into force there were 1,300 operatives engaged in that trade, whilst at the present time there are over 3,000. In the tailoring and clothing industry there were 2,214 operatives when the Act came into force, whereas at the present time there are 5,10S. Whilst it is perfectly true that the imports have increased, it is equally undeniable that they have, been increased only because the factories have not been able to keep pace with the demands made upon them. Indeed, one or two of the clothing factories have standing advertisements in the newspapers for skilled hands, and take on as many as choose to present themselves. Mr. Tregear further writes -
I enclose a cutting showing the steady increase in our factory employes since the Arbitration Act came into force. Yon will see they have risen from 29,000 to 59,000 - that is, more than doubled in eight years. I also enclose u cutting relating . how a deputation of employers lately detailed to the Premier the way in winch, the country had flourished recently ; and the Premier “chaffed” them, inasmuch -is they had formerly cried that the Government and the labour laws would drive capital out of the colony.
This return demonstrates the important fact that, during the past year, the factory workers of New Zealand reached the very large total of 59,000. The report of the Chief Inspector of Factories in Victoria, which was issued to-day, shows that although our population is twice as large, we have only 400 more employes, proving con- clusively that the operation of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in New Zealand has not been detrimental to industrial development.
– Is the honorable member quite sure that the returns cover the same trades 1
– Very largely so.
– The New Zealand return includes some trades which are not covered in Victoria.
– I do not think, so. I have no desire to dispute the industrial development of Victoria, but the facts adduced in that diagram are exceedingly striking, and show that legislation of this character has not been detrimental to industrial development’. At the present time, the New Zealand Government have an amending Bill before Parliament, and it is interesting’ to note that that measure proposes to resuscitate courts of conciliation. Mr. Tregear says -
The principal thing we are going to ask for this year is ‘ ‘ preference for unionists. “
That is a very striking fact.
– It has previously been optional.
– That is so, but it is now proposed to make it compulsory
– In New Zealand they seem to alter the Act every year.
– No. In 1901 some amendments were made in the existing law, and further amendments are proposed during the current session.
– The very year in which the New - Zeland Legislature consolidated one of its Acts, it altered it.
– Surely there can be no objection to that.
– It is an argument against precipitately following the lines of State, legislation.
– Surely it cannot be urged that we are acting too precipitately, seeing that we have the experience of several years’ working of the Act before us. The writer continues -
But we desire a reversion to the work ofconciliution boards. This latter is in consequence of an amendment (section 21 of Amending Act of 1901), which practically passed the Boards by, andhas thrown all the work on the higher court. We are also going to try to relieve the court by banding over to stipendiary magistrates’ courts small oases under “The Workers Compensation for Accident Act,” and also of breaches of awards under Arbitration Act. Much of the Arbitration Court’s time is now taken up hearing these small cases.
Ithas been urged against the New South Wales Act that it has not been effective, and very great prominence is given to the fact that when trouble arose the Shearers’ Union was not affected by its operation. Mr. Wise, the Attorney-General of New South Wales, writes upon this important matter as follows : -
The statement that the Act failed in the shearers’ dispute is altogether inaccurate.
First. - The Act was not in operation in time to grapple with the dispute at its commencement. This was pointed out by myself and others whilst the Bill was passing through Parliament.
Secondly. - The refusal of the shearers to go to work was not a “ strike “ within the meaning of the Act, because a “strike” involves discontinuance of work which has already begun. To hold otherwise would necessitate a court deciding that an employer who refused to invest his money on terms which he thought unprofitable, was guilty of causing a “lock out.”
Thirdly. - The existence of the Act. although, as I have already mentioned, it did.not come into operation early enough to allow the whole dispute to be dealt with in its first beginnings, it unquestionably affected the matter in two ways -
It prevented a sympathetic strike on the part of other unionists, such as occurred in 189l . Appeals made by the shearers’ leaders were ineffective, because they were met with the answer - “ Why do you notfirst go to the court ? “
After the dispute had been continued for some time, it led to the calling out of station-hands who had already entered upon their employment. This was a breach of the Act, and as such was reported to me officially. It was some time before the necessary evidence was forthcoming, and it did not arrive until, in fact, the “strike” had been declared off. 1 had intended taking proceedings before the court, and hud made all preparations for this purpose, and this intention was known to those who had the management of the strike.
Fourthly. - In this case either the pastoralists or the shearers could have referred the matter to the court, but both declined to do so, and in such a case it is, no doubt, difficult for any other authority to bring unwilling litigants before the court.
Of course, there must always be cases with which no Act of Parliament can deal, and no one would pretend that any such Act can settle every dispute, any more than diplomacy can obviate the necessity for every war. The true justification of the Act is that it gives time for reflection to both sides, compels open inquiry, and offers a bridge for concession on either side. The compulsion, which is of importance, is not so much the compulsion to enforce awards, as the power to compel disputants to come before the court.
Then he says that if I turn to his speeches I shall find furtherinformationuponthesubject. A large number of employers in Australia urge that we should depend upon conciliation for the settling of trade disputes, and that public opinion will be quite sufficient to bring negotiations to a successful termination. I hold that any man who is prepared to admit that public opinion is the determining factor that settles a strike, gives his whole case away, because he allows that a third party intervenes and settles a dispute. That third party is very often in anything but a position to settle these disputes in a satisfactory way.
– Public opinion sometimes has no mode of expression,
– It not only has no mode of expression, but it is not in a position to ascertain the real facts. Facts are often kept back from the public.
– Public opinion has frequently no mode of enforcement.
– Quite so. And if public opinion has a mind, surely a body formed in accordance with law is necessary in order to bring about a satisfactory settlement of industrial troubles ? We are told by those who oppose this measure that we are seeking tointerfere with the liberty of the subject, and that we shall prevent an individual from accepting what he considers to be a fair remuneration. We were met with that objection in connexion with the Victorian factor)7 legislation, and it is interesting to note that in the report issued to day by the Chief Inspector of Factories in Victoria, he points out. that no case of an old or slow worker has ever been brought before him in connexion with which a satisfactory settlement has not been arrived at. He repeats the challenge given in every one of his reports to any one to show a case in which a sloworold worker has suffered as the result of legislation of the kind. Speaking at Warrnambool a few nights ago, Mr. Walpole, secretary of the Employers’ Federation, urged that,as the result of this measure, men would be thrown out of employment, that old and slow workers would have no opportunity of securing work, and that the minimum wage would become the maximum.
– He had not read the Bill.
– -He had not read this Bill, which makes provision for cases of the kind, and he had not even studied the effect of similar legislation in Victoria. In the report for the year 1901, issued by the Chief Inspector of .Factories in Victoria, a very important statement; bearing closely upon the clause giving the court power to deal specially with the old and slow workers, and also upon the statement that the minimum wage must become the maximum, is made: Mr. Harrison Ord states that -
The Special Board system has now been in force in a few trades since 1897, and I have no hesitatation in saying that the minimum wage is never the maximum wage. If we take the clothing trade, for instance, the minimum wage for adult males is 45s. per week, whereas the average wage paid last year was 53s. 6d. per week; for adult females in this trade the minimum wage is 20s. per week, whereas the average rate paid last year was 22s. 3d. per week. In the boot trade the minimum wage is 42s. for adult males, whereas the average wage paid last year was 44s. 7d.
The report proves conclusively that in no instance in connexion with the first halfdozen trades cited has the minimum wage become the maximum. Further than that, Mr. Harrison Ord mentions that he has made special provision for the old and slow workers. Provision has also been made for them in this measure- We have the experience of the last 50 years in England, showing that, save in those cases in which it has been backed up by powerful trades unions, the principle of conciliation, without the power behind it to enforce a settlement, has lamentably failed. The experience of the United States of America has been similar. I contend that there was practically compulsory conciliation in connexion with the coal strike which took place there. We know, also, that in every case in Victoria in which conciliation has been attempted without the power behind to enforce a settlement, the workers have suffered, and the effort has proved abortive. I wish to illustrate my position by referring -to what has taken place in connexion with the last eight wages boards that were appointed in Victoria with a provision for a seven-tenths majority. Surely if conciliation is to be of any avail whatever, when employers and employes are brought together, and are presided over by an independent chairman, something like a settlement should be arrived at ? But the fellmongers, who resist legislation of this class - who oppose this Bill and who opposed the wages boards’ system in Victoria, - urged that they could settle their own trade disputes, and that arbitration in the form of wages boards or an Arbitration Court itself, was absolutely unnecessary.’ The employers and employes met together, and subsequently a document signed by the whole of the employers in the fellmongery trade was sent to the secretary of the Operative Fellmongers Union stating that -
With reference to the matters discussed at the meeting on Tuesday last, we now beg to state that we are willing to agree to your suggestion that the same rate of wages shall be paid in all our yards ; but under the present circumstances of the trade we cannot pay to our ordinary yard hands the wages asked for, viz., 6s. 8d. perday of eight hours. We are, however, willing topay at the rate of not less than 6s. per day ‘of nine hours work to all our ordinary adult yard hands Trusting that this will satisfy our employes,
Yours faithfully (signed) J. Dale and Co.,. Clyde Co., per C. H. Smith ; Brunton and Grant, D. and W. Gibb, J. Haworth, Thos. Ambler, G. Searle.
The fellmongers met their employes on thewages board, and under the new arrangement it was necessary that the decision arrived at should be approved by a seven-tenths majority. The fellmongers knew that thechairman had no casting vote : they knew that there was no power to enforce the finding of the board, whatever it might be, unless it was supported by a seven-tenths majority, and it is notorious that, notwithstanding that the employes agreed to abrogate the eight hours principle - and to work 54 hours a week - a wide and important concession - they desired to cut down the rate of pay from 6s. to 5s. 6d. per day. After they had agreed to give 6s. per day for a week of 54 hours, saying that they could not pay that rate of wages for a week of 48 hours, and after the men had agreed to work 54 hours per week, they went back on their arrangement and refused to give more than 5s. 6d. per day. There is now a deadlock. In connexion with every one of these cases sweating is notoriously .rampant. Take the aerated waters manufacturers’ trade. In that industry in Victoria men work throughout the summer until 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. and often seven days a week, but conciliation and settlement of trade disputes is found to be impossible because there is no power to enforce the finding of the wages board. Those who contend that conciliation will settle important questions of this kind are putting forward a contention which is contrary to all experience.
– The term “fellmongers “ includes “tanners.”
– No. This question does not affect the fiscal issue. The fellmongery trade is largely an exporting one.
– I was not thinking of the fiscal question.
– My point is that conciliation has failed in the United States of America and in Australia. The honorable and learned member for Parkes informed the House, when he was speaking recently, that he had been instrumental in bringing the Trades Hall Council and the Employers’ Union together. I was a member of the Trades Hall Council at the time, and I clearly remember the efforts that were made to bring about a settlement of the trouble. But the honorable and learned member cannot point to a single case in which an attempt at conciliation proved successful. When parties are in the frame of mind to conciliate, they will do so without the intervention of an Arbitration Court, even if such a power is behind them. But it is when men are irrevocably apart, when they are bent upon their own selfish interests, and when they are determined to strive for more wages or to have a lockout to the detriment of the whole community that arbitration is necessary. The experience of the United States of America and England, as wel, as the experience of the Commonwealth goes to show that an Arbitration Act is absolutely necessary. As I stated at the commencement of my address,I fully recognise the complications that may arise ; but I do not anticipate any very great difficulty. This Bill deals with disputes extending beyond a State. If we had had such a measure in operation the terrible maritime disaster of a few years ago would not have taken place. I took an active part in the efforts to bring about a settlement, and I can say that many homes have never recovered from the effects of that unfortunate struggle. Many men who are being prosecuted daily in our courts for hawking fruit in certain parts in the city had regular employment prior to that disaster, and the very possibility of the recurrence of so great a calamity should impel us to improve the measure, if honorable members like, but in any event to place it upon the statute-book. I hold that it is the duty of the employers in order that complications may be avoided to take up the position adopted by the honorable member for Melbourne, and to try to improve the measure instead “of seeking to prevent its passage into law because of the existence of State legislation on the subject. If they wish to get rid of these difficulties it would be well for them to join with those who are anxious to hand over our industrial laws to the Commonwealth Parliament. I know that this is a delicate matter to touch upon - that State jealousies are likely to arise - but I am convinced that this step is necessary, for not only are complications likely to develop, but unfair competition must occur as between State and State. As a matter of fact it is now taking place. I have already alluded to the jam-making and brush-making factories. It is lamentable that people should be able to go to Tasmania to work what hours they please, and under what conditions they like, to pay whatever wages they choose, and to come into competition with a class of manufacturers such as exists in Victoria. This measure is absolutely necessary in the interests of employers, and the honorable member for Melbourne is not alone in the position which he takes up. I might name many employers who belong to the Employers’ Federation, but who, nevertheless, hope that this Bill will become law. Their experience impels them to admit that under an industrial Act, competition, instead of cutting at wages and flesh and blood, brightens up the wits and compels cutting in other directions. It impels manufacturers to secure new machinery, and to employ the latest methods to increase their output. But it insists that any attempt to cut into wages is an attempt to undermine the fundamental principles of the family and individual life of Australia. The most humane employers, both in England and in ‘ Australia, are in favour of measures of this kind. I ask those who are inclined to oppose this Bill of what are they afraid? They say that it will not meet our present circumstances, that strikes will take place under it as they have taken place under similar measures. The answer to that objection is that the strikes which have taken place under similar legislation have been trivial compared with the revolutions which took place under the old state of affairs, and as the law is better understood, and is made more workable, they will become still fewer. According to Mr. Seddon, there was less trade trouble and fewer disputes in New Zealand last year than ever before. “When appeals to the courts are mentioned, it must be remembered that such appeals are often made to prevent disputes. A member of the Employers’ Federation recently instanced the number of cases coming before the New Zealand Court as though they all arose out of strikes or lockouts, whereas many of them were merely brought before the Court in order to prevent disputes. I admit that this kind of legislation is, after all, only a step in our industrial, evolution. I do not look upon it as a panacea for all industrial evils, but it is an honest and earnest attempt to bring about a better condition of things than has existed in the past - to bring employer and employe together, and to substitute social order and industrial peace for anarchical strife and disruption. I am sure that if employers and semployés could meet more often, and, by an exchange of views, .came to understand one another’s troubles and difficulties better, strikes and lockouts would be fewer. oAs Mr. Mitchell rightly says -
I have invariably found that when employer and employe^ have met together in the right spirit, they have settled their disputes without the means of force.
– Will this Bill help to create the right spirit ?
– I think so.
– Nothing else has been found to create that spirit.
– The Bill provides a means of bringing the parties together, and whether that spirit is or is not evinced when they come together will depend upon the disposition of the parties.
– A strike or lockout never causes the right feeling.
– No ; strikes and lockouts cause dissatisfaction and want of confidence. At the present time there is distrust and universal discontent among the masses of the workers because they feel that they are not getting all that they should get. It is worth while to make an effort to bring about a better condition of affairs, and that is what we are trying to do. T hope that the measure will become law. and that the Government will see their way to make its provisions as comprehensive as possible, so that the proposal of the right honorable member for South Australia may be incorporated. Both those who are provided for by the Bill, and those who appear not to be provided for, should be given an opportunity to protect their interests and the interests of the community. I am exceedingly grateful to honorable members for the attention with which they have heard my remarks. I hope that the Bill will be placed upon the statute-book as soon as possible, and that Australia will in industrial legislation lead the world, as she has done in regard to the adoption of the ballot-box, the enfranchisement of women, and. other important political reforms which have been copied by other countries. At all events, we cannot dobetter than make an experiment for the solution of the important industrial problem which we must inevitably face.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, must be congratulated upon his earnest and comprehensive address, and the Governmentand the right honorable member for South Australia for having placed before the House a measure which every one seems tofind it difficult to oppose. It is embarrassing not to hear a word of adverse criticismin regard to it. Its most hostile critic, sofar, is the leader of the Opposition, who covered the principle of the Bill with eulogy, but found here and there some slightdefects, such as are inherent in all human performances. I shall not detain the Housevery long, but I am deeply concerned in the measure, not only as a representative of thepeople, but because I am connected with two unions which have already had someexperience of the New South Wales Court, though their cases have not yet been concluded, and with an organization which hopes to find in the larger sphere opened to itby the Bill an opportunity for redress which has hitherto been denied it. The principleinvolved in the measure is clear enough, butI wish to say, in passing, that I do not agreewith the leader of the Opposition that it is a melancholy commentary upon civilization that industrial disputes cannot be settled’ without recourse to a court. I do not regard that state of affairs as a sign of decadenceor failure. In my opinion, society, in applying the operation of law to the settlement of industrial as well as civil disputes,. is at length beginning to recognise its duties and responsibilities, and I regard the measure as the coping stone of civilization. We go into the avenue trodden by the barbarian and say, “ You must no longer settle these disputes by the club, you must settle them by law.” I understand that some honorable members are bold enough to object to, not only the details, but even the principles of the Bill, and it will be for them to show, as some magazine writers have attempted to do, that there is a fundamental difference between disputes arising between employer and employed, and disputes arising between ordinary litigants. One thing is quite clear, there may be a difference in their nature, but there is no difference in their effect. Both disturb the public peace. The Bill is a recognition by the people that a blow struck at any component part of the organism of society, is a blow struck at society itself, and destroys social peace. Society demands that that peace shall not be destroyed. Whether the measure will prevent strikes altogether is a thing that time alone can determine. But, if we are to repudiate any law because it will be inoperative in preventing the continual recurrence of disputes, we should, to be logical, take the same position in regard to other laws. For instance, the criminal code is severe enough and is well administered, but it is notoriously ineffective, or, rather, crime arising from ebullitions of barbarism and ferocity is continually occurring, but surely no one would say that the criminal law should, on this account, be abolished. Or are we to abolish the civil code, because litigants come before the court ? The lawyers would certainly not say so, nor would the public, although, on occasions, they have anything but encomiums for the lawyers and the code. The principal objections to compulsory arbitration have already been touched upon this afternoon by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for Dalley, and I shall, not more than mention that, although the liberty of the subject is very properly invaded by the Bill, it is invaded only as. a last resource. We have permitted industrial disputants to quarrel unchecked, until their liberty has degenerated into licence. It was not necessary years ago for .the State to interfere in industrial disputes because the forces were not organized to such a pitch that interference was desirable in the interests of society. But now such interference is essential, and it has lately become more apparent, that the parties should no longer escape the operation of law. The employer is no longer to be allowed freedom of contract. The shibboleth which has served him so admirably in the past is to be taken from him. He isrobbed of his ewe lamb, and is correspondingly downhearted. But, on the otherhand, we are taking away from the employes their only weapon, their right tostrike. If ever the unions of Australia were well organized, and in a position to strike, it is to-day. The union in which I havethe honour to bear an official part embraces within its ranks every person in the State of New South Wales whofollows the avocation which it controls. That was practically its position even before the New South Wales Arbitration Act was passed. Indeed, unionism generally, even prior to passing of that Act, was in a better position than I have ever known it before. It was infinitely stronger than in 1890, or prior to the great maritime strike. It was climbing again those heights from which it was precipitated in 1S90 with such terrible results to itself and to others. Perhaps the rarer air was making it giddy, and that might have .hastened a conflict. The employers were angry ‘with its appearance of strength, and . the men were anxious to revenge themselves for past indignities and ill treatment. As the right honorable member for South Australia has pointed out, the settlements which follow a great strike are really only breathing spaces in which the combatants sharpen their swords and prepare for further conflict. When the opportunity is given they are at it again. I agree with the honorable member for Melbourne that had there, been no Arbitration Act in New South Wales, there would have been a great strike there, and, judging by what happened in 1890, and on other occasions, I believe that it would have extended to the other States. The right of the employer to lock out his men in New South Wales has gone, as has also the right of the employe to strike. Any one who has had experience of unions knows that the right to strike is to the average unionist so priceless a heritage that he can hardly realize that anything could sufficiently compensate him for his loss. Therefore, I do not wonder that some men in England and America should hesitate to accept the opportunity which compulsory arbitration would afford for the settlement of their disputes. At the same time I desire to point out that the right to strike was abandoned - I shall not say cheerfully - but without any open complaint in New South Wales. The men who had been accustomed to lay this works or that boat idle almost without a moment’s consideration have gone on cheerfully’ under the rigid discipline of the court, and they recognise that unionism and democracy have not only privileges but duties attached to them. The Act in New South Wales, and the Bill which we have before us, will enforce upon the men the very necessary lesson that unionism has responsibilities that cannot be evaded under any circumstances. That lesson once learnt will do more to secure peace to the community than anything else within the four corners of .the Bill.
– The unions will become the organs of our industrial life.
– Undoubtedly. I desire to point out how this measure is being opposed by two distinct parties widely separated as are the poles asunder. The extreme socialist party in New South Wales is opposed to compulsory arbitration. We are accused by some people of being socialists, and anything beyond us seems to be unspeakable. But there ls yet a hell beyond us in New South Wales, at all events, and those gentlemen who inhabit that fiery place say of this Arbitration Bill which we have accepted, which we are accused of having, fostered and forced upon the people - I am quoting from the official organ of the socialist party in New South Wales-
We urge again, as we have already urged, that the strike is the only economic weapon which the workers possess, and that this cleverly devised bungle of Wise’s is calculated to deprive them of that weapon . Let the workers consider. In the Newcastle district, to wit, the miners, by reason of the existence of certain abnormal circumstances, can by means of a general strike, if they so desire, secure their demands. When Wise’s Bill is law, the owners oan place that power out of their reach by appealing to the Arbitration Court when danger threatens, and the workers cannot suspend work while the Court is sitting -
Here we have a revelation of the power to make people go on working even when they have a dispute, not the least of its many virtues - and when the award is given they must comply with it, however unjust, or submit to a fine of £500 through the union, or £5 per man if there are no union funds available. If the members cannot find the £5 they must go to gaol.
There is the criticism of the socialistic party, and in this morning’s newspapers we find an echo of these admirable sentiments in the expressions of the delegates of the Chamber of Manufactures in Adelaide and Melbourne. At the meeting in Adelaide Mr. W. Herbert Phillipps said -
One of the greatest blots in the Bill was the compelling of employers to employ unionists. That was abominable tyranny of the worst form. An employer could no longer select his men because of talent, industry, loyalty and skill. The one qualification of the worker was his willingness to subordinate those gifts which might be given him by the Almighty to the limitations of the indolent, unfaithful, and unskilful of his class.
Mr. Nathaniel Levi, M.L.C., of Victoria, is reported as having expressed the opinion -
That the wages board had dwarfed enterprise, driven capital out of the country, and prevented people from coming to the country. The Government should free itself from the bonds of the Trades Hall.
If all these gentlemen could only be associated on the one platform, they would probably convert each other. Mr. J. P. Wright came all the way from New South Wales, and why he should come so far to say so little is one of those things that “ no fellah can understand.” He says -
The more employers had of the New South Wales Act the less they liked it. Recently he had been compelled to close his business, and had sold valuable and expensive machinery for the price of old iron. As the result of the operation of the Act thousands of men had been thrown out of work, and in many industries, especially boot manufacturing, business was stagnant.
I need hardly say that I do not’ vouch for his facts. So far from Mr. Wright’s business in Sydney being of any particular value to him, he submitted himself for election as one of the assessors of the Arbitration Court, and was beaten. Mr. Wright Says that his machinery was sold for old iron, and he apparently wishes it to be believed that, if he had been able to continue its use, he would have piled up riches as high as the dome of St. Peter’s. Yet he did not reckon it as being worth the equivalent of £750 a year, because he was prepared to give up everything for the chance of securing a position as one of the members of the Arbitration Court.’ He did not succeed, and now he makes a miserable statement about his machinery being sold for old iron, and about New South Wales being a desert waste. I venture to say that Mr. Wright is not adhering closely to facts but he has conclusively demolished the arguments of the socialist party who, in their turn, have demolished the arguments of the associated employers. It has been stated of the New South Wales Act that it prevents employers from exercising freedom of contract. But I do not think it does. In connexion with the wharf labourers’ case it was urged that the employers could select only a few men who were inside the unions. They said the)’ did not like to have their choice restricted. As a matter of fact, every person who follows the avocation of wharf labourer is in the union, so that there is practically no restriction upon the choice of the employer. I do not deny that the men have first to join the union. But we are not dealing with any tyranny that may be exercised over the men, but with the freedom which is given to the employer.
– Every man who joins the union gives greater security to the employer for the enforcement of the award.
– Yes. The argument as to the area of choice being lessened is not borne out by the facts. It may be tyranny - I do not say it is not - to make the men become .unionists ; but the tyranny in that case is no greater than that displayed in compelling a man to send his children to school or to have them vaccinated. AU these are part of the price we have to pay for civilization and its privileges. Membership of the union is part of the price which men have to pay for industrial peace. It is stated that some employers would prefer to have a good fight and have done with it than eternal unrest and uncertainty. The gentlemen who say this are those who a little while ago could utter only one phrase - “law and order.” In 1890 “ law and order “ was a phrase to conjure with. No one knew exactly what it meant, but it was obviously something not in the interests of the unionists, but rather in favour of their opponents. They say now that they do not want law and order. When “ law “ was a term synonymous with a policeman with his truncheon or his revolver, or a soldier with a rifle amd bayonet, or a gatling gun, it was admirable, and suited these gentlemen very well. But now that “law” is simply an open invitation to appear before the Arbitration Court, and “ order “ an order of that court to do certain things within so many hours, they do not like it, and say - “Let us have a fight.”- These gentlemen have no confidence in the justice of their own cause. They are afraid that the court will give an award against them. Which man in a burglary case is most anxious to come before the court - the policeman or the burglar? Obviously not the burglar. It is clear that the employers who are afraid to go before the Arbitration Court have nothing to hope for from it. The impartiality of the Arbitration Courts in New Zealand and New South Wales has not been questioned, and yet Mc. .J. P. Wright says that the employers are getting more full of ‘the New South Wales Court every day. It is notorious that employers have been at least as successful as the employes. Reference to the reports of the cases shows that they may be divided into three sections - those in which the employers have won, those in which the employes have won, and those in which the parties have come to an agreement out of court. The latter description of cases, comprises fully one-third of the total. That is to say, that the parties, after finding that it was of no use dodging about any longer, have come to an agreement. In one case in which I was interested in Sydney we tried voluntary conciliation. We met in conference, and we listened to each other. We went over our arguments again and again. We first placed an employer in the chair, and then I was placed in the chair ; but as no one had a casting vote, and we could not see the beauties of each other arguments, we did not arrive at any agreement. But so soon as we were tied down and had to face, the prospect of going before the Court we agreed that we had better come to a decision. Accordingly, we framed an agreement and registered it. The mere thought of the Court effectually silenced us. In my judgment the employers in New South Wales have no grounds for complaining of the establishment of an Arbitration Court in that State. In the case ot the Australian Workers’ Union the shearers were almost uniformly unsuccessful. They lost in the case of Keogh, and in nearly every other case where the law was put into operation. The employers obtained injunctions and writs of prohibition against them, and in fact did everything that was calculated to make them antagonistic to the Court. Yet they merely ask that the law should be amended upon a matter of detail. Only the other day,” the leader of the Opposition pointed out that although he opposed the Bill when it was before the New South Wales Parliament, he was bound to admit that it had not brought about the results which he had anticipated and feared. Personally, I think that the majority of the employers of that State are growing accustomed to its operation. I remember that an infinitely greater outcry was aroused by the introduction of the Early Closing Act than was provoked by the Arbitration Bill. Yet, I venture to say that if, to-morrow, a plebiscite of New South Wales shopkeepers were taken, they would decline to revert to the old state of affairs. No more real revolulution has ever been effected in the habits of the people than was accomplished by the Early Closing Act, if we except perhaps such laws as those relating to the Curfew Bell. IV those who object to the compulsory provisions of this Bill, I would point to a few statistics which are taken from the operation of the French law. These constitute a salient commentary upon their ideas. In the Labour Gazette for May, 1903, I find the following : -
The means provided by the French Conciliation and Arbitration Law of 27th December, 1892, for settling labour disputes were applied in 1901 in 142 cases of differences between employers and employed. In six of these, measures of conciliation were adopted before any stoppage of work had taken place. (The corresponding figures for the previous year were 234- and 9 respectively.) In two of the cases, in which conciliation took place in 1901 before work had ceased, the threatened stoppage was averted. The initiative in applying the law came in 190.1. from the work people in 07 disputes, from the Justices of the Peace in 67–
It would appear that in certain instances the Justices of the Peace possess somewhat similar powers to those which are vested in the Attorney-General under the New-South Wales Act, and in the Governor-General under this Bill. I refer to the power of summoning parties before him if they fail to seek the shelter of the law.
The initiative in applying the Law came in 1901 from the work people in 67 disputes, from the Justices of the Peace in 67, from the employers in five, and from employers and work people jointly in three disputes. Nine disputes were settled by direct negotiations between the parties concerned after the initial formalities, but before the Committee of Conciliation had time to meet. In the case of 61 disputes the proffered mediation was rejected (in 51 cases by the employers, in four by the work people, and in six cases by both parties). It is stated, however, that seven of these disputes terminated on the employers refusing mediation, the work people either abandoning their demands completely or accepting partial concessions, which they had previously refused. In connexion with the remaining 72 disputes Committees of I Conciliation were duly formed, with the result that 46 of these disputes were settled - 38 by the Committees themselves, and eight by arbitration. In addition, three disputes are stated to have been settled subsequently to the meetings of -the Committees, and as a result of the negotiations which took place at such meetings. Thus we find in 1901 a total of 46 disputes settled directly, and nineteen indirectly by the application of the law, while in 1900, 78 disputes were settled directly, and 28 indirectly by the same “means.
There were 142 disputes, and in only 51 of these was anything like a settlement effected. In 72 disputes the Committees of Conciliation utterly failed to achieve any good whatever. Voluntary conciliation in New South Wales was tried for a little time, and I well remember that I had been a member of Parliament for three or four years before I was aware that there was a Conciliation Act in existence. I was sitting in the House, about 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., one day, when an honorable member, in a very sleepy tone, inquired what was the item upon the Estimates which provided a certain salary for some person whom we could not quite identify. The Minister in charge; after going beind the bar - the source of all information in Parliament - came back and said - “ Why, that is the salary pf the compulsory conciliator under the Voluntary Conciliation Act.” This so enraged us - because we had never heard of the individual in question, or of the Act either for that matter - that we promptly struck out the item, and the Act fell to the ground. As far as I know, it was never put into operation. It was certainly ineffective. To come to this Bill, I consider that the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, in combining conciliation with arbitration, and placing both these questions under the control of the same body, has done more to make conciliation possible and effective than could be accomplished by any other means. The adoption of that course will prevent a party going into the court for the purpose of delay. Conciliation is undoubtedly a most desirable thing, and, backed up by the compulsory force which is behind it, it is everything that we can desire. Under the Bill .we do not shut the door upon voluntary conciliation, and therefore we shall soon have an opportunity of seeing how the employer and the employes, who, according to Mr. Wright, were living in a little paradise before, like so many Satans, we invaded it, love one another. Before we came upon the scene they were apparently like a lot of children at kindergarten, but now they scowl at one another and engage in disputes.” We shall presently see whether they prefer voluntary conciliation, because they are not prevented under this Bill from adopting voluntary agreements. Clause. 2 declares -
This Act has relation only to industrial disputes, which extend beyond the limits of any one State.
To my mind, that provision was quite unnecessary. It is quite certain, that under the Bill power cannot be exercised beyond that which is conferred under the Constitution, and section 51 very clearly lays down its scope. It says -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of “the Commonwealth with respect to . . . conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
Clause 2 of the Bill limits the power conferred under that section by declaring that the Act has relation only to industrial disputes, and not to “ the prevention of industrial disputes.” I hope that the Minister will at least agree to the insertion - in that clause of language similar to that which is used in the Constitution. The power’ conferred under the Constitution is given for the very definite purpose of preventing disputes which may be capable of adjustment, from extending beyond the limits of one State. If we are to deal with them only when they extend beyond the limits of any one State, a great strain will be imposed upon this Act, which will cease to be come operative. We ought to be able - and I think that under the Constitution we can do so - to deal with the disputes before they extend beyond the limits of any one State. The Constitution sets out that the Commonwealth may legislate for “ the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, which may extend beyond the limits of any one State.” It does not say. “ which have extended, &o.1’ At what particular point is the Court bound to interfere ? I take it that it can interfere when a dispute arises, which may involve such trouble as sub-section 35 seeks to prevent. We should very considerably restrict the power of the Court if we limited the operations of the Bill to disputes which extended beyond the limits of any State. The leader of the Opposition has pointed out that this Bill will be operative only in States where there is not an Arbitration Act already in existence. I do not agree with him. A dispute can occur in New South Wales now just asreadily as it could previously. Similarly, parties to a dispute can expose themselves, to a penalty by declining to do something which the State Act declares that they ought to do. That will not prevent this Act from becoming operative. Let us suppose that in New South Wales a union coming under the operation of the State Act rendered itself liable to a penalty of £50, and that it declined to obey the provisions of the law. That would not prevent this Act from becoming operative, for the reason that a, dispute is not any the less a dispute because it already involves the parties to it in a breach of the State law. It would still be a dispute, but one can conceive of many disputes which would not involve any of these contingencies. I wish, however, to point out that the chief usefulness of this measure will cease when each State has an Act of its own. In New South Wales we are very much in the position of persons who cleanse their own lands from phylloxera, but are exposed to risks because of the infected vineyards held by their neighbours. New South Wales is liable to be swept by the consequences of a strike in “Victoria, Queensland, and other parts of the Commonwealth, but it is not likely to be affected by a strike having its origin in the State itself. If in every State there was to-day an Arbitration Act, there would be little or no chance of Inter-State industrial friction, and therefore the chief reason for this Bill will pass away when the example of the Commonwealth, as a whole, as well as that set by New South Wales and Western Australia is followed by the remaining individual States. I do not advance that view as being anything more than my own opinion, and the fact that I entertain it will not cause me to vote for the amendment which has been indicated by the honorable member for Kooyong. We do not know what may happen five years hence, and I certainly do not consider that this legislation is experimental in the sense in which that term is generally employed. It is no more experimental, except in its details, than is any other law, and the necessity for it has become apparent since in the Parliament of the Commonwealth it is almost impossible to find an expressed opponent of the principle. I think that we have a right to take everything which the Constitution gives us, and therefore I consider that the Attorney-General should make the amendment which I have indicated. If no one else takes action, . I shall move the amendment. I wish to point out that the interpretation of the word “ organization,” which occurs in clause 6, is slightly ambiguous. It is provided that - “Organization “ means any organization registered pursuant to this Act, and so far as applicable it also includes any proclaimed organization to which the Governor-General declares this Act to apply. “ Organization,” in this measure, thus refers only to industrial disputes which extend beyond the limit of any one State. The word “ organization,” as used in the interpretation clause as well as in clause 82, and other clauses within Part V. of the Bill, would seem to involve an organization whose operations extend over the limits of more than one State - that is to say, an organization which was strictly local would not come within the meaning of the term. We have, for example, the Shearers’ Union - the Australian Workers’ Union, which extends over New (South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia; but does not extend to Queensland. In Queensland the shearers have a workers’ union which is a separate body, and I wish to know whether that body will be able to register under this measure? The schedule would seem to indicate that it will be able to do so, because it provides that -
No two organizations shall be registered in the same State as organizations under the same name.
That would seem to indicate that the Bill contemplates an organization being a strictly local body. But whether the Bill, as it stands, contemplates it, or not, we should make the word “organization” include a body of persons located in any one State, whether that body is a branch organization in any one State or not.
– The honorable and learned member should read clause 96, which gives the registrar power to refuse registration of certain organizations.
– Quite so. Clause 96 provides that -
The registrar may refuse to register, any organization, if another organization, to which the member of the organization applying for registration might conveniently belong. . . . and so forth. There is nothing in that provision, setting forth that an organization, a body which may have its head-quarters in New South Wales, and may extend to any of the States, shall not be registered. I am referring to the position of an organization, say in Victoria, whose operations do not extend beyond the State.
– The honorable and learned member should read the last few words of clause 96.
– The clause provides that the registration of an organization may be refused, if another organization to which the members of the organization applying for registration might conveniently belong -
Has already been registered in the State in which the application is made.
Those words are the same as appear in the New South Wales Act. I think that there should be no doubt about the matter. This provision, however,, creates some doubt, because an organization might be registered in any State, although it might not be purely local to that State. Its operations might extend to another part of the Commonwealth. There are, for example, the Federated Seamen’s Union, and the Federated Wharf Labourers’ Union ; and we might have a union of boot employes, a union of butchers or dozens of unions of which the Shearers’ Union of Queensland affords a fair illustration. It seems that the Shearers-‘ Union “of Queensland, if it be localized,’ will not be able to take advantage of this Bill and to register. Some question will be raised later on in regard to the representation of the employes, and I think we ought to make it clear that the term “organization” includes every organization, whether its operations be strictly confined to a State or whether it has branches extending beyond a State.
– There does not seem to be anything requiring an organization registered in one State to register in another.
– Nothing at all.
– Since the Bill is to relate to industrial disputes
– I do not think there is any intention to qualify the meaning of the word “organization.”
– No doubt, we shall be able later on to make the matter clear, if it is not explicit enough at the present time. The right honorable and learned member will pardon me for referring to it now. My wish is that the Act shall be of service.
One or two provisions were omitted from the New South Wales Act, because they were thought to be of no importance ; but subsequently they were found to be of very great consequence. One of these matters - the failure to provide any power to appeal from the Registrar - was calculated to wreck the usefulness of the measure. Another point in relation to the meaning of the word “ lock-out “ also requires to be dealt with. It is very important that we should comprehensively define the meaning of the word. As defined in this Bill, “lock-out”- includes -
The closing of a place of employment, or the suspension of work by an employer, with a view to compel his employes, Or to aid another employer in compelling his employes, to accept any term or condition of employment.
I find that that definition has practically been taken from the New South Wales Act. In the first case heard before the Arbitration Court of New South Wales the question turned on what was a lock-out, and under this definition it was ruled by J udge Cohen that the action of a company in discharging its employes, in then altering the existing conditions of employment, and in engaging other men when its old employes refused to .avail themselves of an opportunity to work -under the changed conditions, amounted to a lock-out within the meaning of the Act. Judge Cohen said - .
In the first place we come to the conclusion that the company acted wrongly, and. in breach of the Act, though honestly believing it was right, when it, in effect, forced the members of the union out of work.
That is to say, under this definition, the mere compelling of men to relinquish employment amounts to a lock-out. The learned Judge continued -
Its action in doing so was in the “nature of a lock-out” - section Si (6), ] - because, although it did not close its pl:ice of employment or suspend work, to use the language in the definition of “lock-out” in section 2, yet, as far as members of the union are concerned, the place of employment, was closed against them, and thus the act done was in the “nature. of a lock-out.”
– Was that the decision given in the Hunter River Steamship Company’s case1!
– The remarks I have quoted are to be found at page 9, of Vol. 1, of The Industrial Arbitration Reports and Records of New South Wales. The decision was given in the case of the Newcastle Wharf Labourers’ -Union v. Newcastle and Hunter
Rive,: Steam-ship Company Limited. Supposing that during the pendency of a dispute between the Seamen’s Federation and the Inter-State Steam-ship Owners’ Federation, an Inter-State company said - “ We shall take our vessels from here, we will register them elsewhere, and our men shall sign on elsewhere, and having done that we shall continue to trade along this coast.” In those circumstances, if a sailor who had signed on, say for a month, found that at the end of that period, and while adispute was still pending, his boat was taken away and laid up for 24 hours, and that at the end of that time a fresh lot of seamen - non-unionists - were engaged, would that be a “lock-out” within the meaning of the measure 1 If not, this measure will be of no use to the seamen. Say that some seamen sign on for a month on a vessel trading along the coast, and that towards the conclusion of that period and long before a dispute could be heard by the Court - because six or eight months might elapse before the Court could deal with the question - they were paid off and a fresh lot of men were engaged, would that be alockout within the meaning of this measure 1 I say most emphatically - and I wish to draw the attention of the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, as well as that of the Attorney-General, to this point - thatif provision is not made for such a contingency in the definition of the word “ lock-out,” the Bill will be of no use toseamen. If a struggle worthy of the name takes place it will extend over a considerable period. Seamen might sign on for six months, and towards the end of their contract a dispute might arise, and, therefore,, in spite of the very wide definition given by the President of the New South Wales Court, I think that “lock-out,” as defined in the Bill, would, not meet a case of the kind I have indicated. In my opinion it should do so. Another matter to which I Wish todirect the attention of the House is that sub-clause 5 of clause 4 provides that thechief objects of the Act are -
To enable States to refer industrial disputes to the court, and to permit the working of the Court and of State industrial authorities in aid of each other - and I wish to know whether advantage isto be taken of section 51, sub-section (37), of the Constitution, which provides that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to … .
Matters referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the Parliament or Parliaments of any State or States ….
I contend that under the Bill, as it now1 stands, it will be impossible to take advantage of that provision. Honorable members will see, from a number of clauses which succeed clause 4, that it is very clear that this Bill has relation only to industrial disputes which extend beyond the limits of any one State. It is quite true that if we read it in its narrower application, sub-clause (5) of clause 4 will not apply, because the word “ State “ can refer only to a dispute which does not extend beyond the limits of any one State. As the Bill deals only with disputes extending beyond the limits of one State, it cannot do so. I admit, of course, that if we say that the court has power to prevent a dispute before it extends beyond the limit of a State, that is possible, but, according to my reading, it is so limited in its scope by clause 2, and possibly by the provisions of the Constitution, that sub-clause (5) of clause 4. will be inoperative. I want honorable members to turn now to clause 51, and I call the attention of the Attorney-General to a matter which, I think, will have to be seriously considered. He was asked to-day to give an opinion upon the effect of the awards of the Commonwealth Court upon existing awards. It is very clear that the award of the courts of New South Wales and Western Australia are likely to conflict from time to time with those of the Commonwealth Court, and I want to know if their awards are of necessity to be abrogated and annulled by the award of that Court. Since one of the chief benefits of an Arbitration Court is that it assures to employers a time of rest and . tranquility for the period for which an award endures, it would be* to the last degree disastrous if at any moment an award of the Commonwealth Court, made to meet some contingency arising, or conditions existing in other States, upset an award given in New South Wales or Western Australia. If, for instance, the New South Wales Court had fixed the rate of wages in the boot trade according to a certain schedule which was to last for three years, the boot manufacturers of New South Wales would make their contracts upon the strength of that arrangement. But if later on, because of a dispute arising under the
Bill, the Commonwealth Court made a uniform award which conflicted with the award of the New South Wales Court, a grievous wrong would be done to the manufacturers of New South Wales. The great point made by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was that there should be uniformity of industrial awards, and I wish to show that in effecting that desideratum we must not forget that existing awards in the States have been fixed for certain periods to meet certain conditions, and it would do considerable harm if it were known that at any time those awards, which have been regarded as final for the period for which they endure, may be upset by the Commonwealth Court.
– Paragraph («) of clause 63 will enable the court to say that the New South Wales award shall continue in force for the remainder of its term.
– I do not say that the ‘ Commonwealth Court will not have the right to make such a condition ; I am pointing out the great danger which will arise from any uncertainty. It will have power to do or not to do what the AttorneyGeneral describes, but such a power, must be severely limited, in order to give to the State awards that stability which it is desirable that they should have. I want now to say a word about two other restrictions in the Bill with which I do not agree. First, as to the omission of State servants from its operation. I think that no measure worthy of the name should exclude the public servants of the States or of the Commonwealth. The purpose of the Bill is to prevent industrial disputes. We do not want the repetition of such a disaster as occurred in 1890, but can anyone who remembers what happened in Victoria a few mouths ago, say that there was not then a great risk, because of the action taken by the railway ‘servants of x Victoria, of an industrial dispute such as we fear? A stop was put to that dispute, and sufficiently severe measures were taken in regard to those who took part in it. I think, however, that they should have an opportunity to appeal to a Commonwealth tribunal. They will have representation in the Parliament of the State, and can ventilate a grievance there, but they cannot hope to have it redressed. Their three representatives may state their case, but they are opposed to all the other members of the House who’ represent the employers of the State servants, and in the very nature of the case are antagonistic to them. Moreover, the public servants can never, like other members of the community, speak upon public platforms, and agitate for the passing of reform, however necessary, in their interests. Under these circumstances, we shall do them a grievious wrong if we do not give them an opportunity to bring their troubles before an impartial tribunal, where they will have a better chance of getting justice than- in the State Parliament of Victoria. The Attorney-General advanced several good arguments against including public servants in the Bill, though they did not appear to me to be very effective. He said that Parliament was a sufficient tribunal. Of course it is, but it is a political tribunal. There is no reason why all industrial disputes should not be settled here, except that we have not time to deal with them, and they would not be settled on their merits. I think, too, that the honorable and learned member spoke and voted in favour of the transference from Parliament to the High Court of questions of disputed elections. He converted me on that occasion, and I have always been grateful to him. In my opinion the Arbitration Court is the proper place to settle all these disputes. In New South Wales and Western Australia State servants come under the Arbitration Acts. The 0b lection that th e State Parliamen t might refuse to alter its Estimates -is not a serious one, because in most, if not in all, cases the men ‘affected are. under the control of Commissioners who do not submit detailed Estimates to Parliament. For instance, the railway Estimates of New South Wales are submitted to Parliament, but they are not dealt with in detail by it ; and if the Arbitration Court declined to raise the wages of any of the railway employes, the matter would not come directly before Parliament. The same thing might be said of the position of the employés of the Harbor Commissioners, and of other boards. If we provided only for the railway servants of the States, we should take away one great cause of an industrial dispute. The exclusion of seamen has become a cause celèbre, because of- the action of the right honorable and learned member for South Australia in resigning from the Ministry, as he conceived that the definition of industry, and the scope of the Bill, do not allow seamen to be effectively dealt with. In my opinion, it is in the last degree disastrous and farcical not to provide both for the public servants and for the seamen. Since the occasion which gave rise to the inclusion in the Constitution of the provision which enables us to pass this legislation was the great maritime strike of 1890, it would be extraordinary if no provision were made to prevent the occurrence of such a dispute, which is always possible, unless the seamen come within the operation of a measure of this kind. It does not matter what reasons stand between the seamen and the attainment of what they and we equally desire ; the fact remains that they do not come within the operation of the Bill. I am not now interested in the circumstances which led up to the present position, nor have I the intention of touching upon those matters of a personal nature mentioned by the honorable member for Melbourne and others. I am concerned chiefly with the matter from a broad national stand-point, and because the members of my own union can never feel better off, or in a more assured position under the measure so long as the seamen are excluded, since if a strike occurs amongst the seamen, and the vessels are laid up, the wharf labourers will have nothing to do. The two avocations are interdependent. Therefore the Bill should include all maritime trades, or exclude all. That is to say, the exclusion of one means practically the exclusion of all. I cannot conceive for a moment that the manning of our coastal and Inter-State boats with non-unionists would pass without a struggle in those States where there is no Arbitration Act. I do not know what would happen in the other States, but I certainly consider that the seamen should be included in the operation of the Bill. As to the constitutional aspect of the question, I shall not say anything further than that the references made by the Attorney-General to the Franconia case and to the writers on International Law, do not appear to me to be conclusive. As the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, pointed out, the Franconia case did no more than decide that a court to which certain jurisdiction had been transferred, had no power over a foreign ship. The Territorial Waters Act, passed as the result of that case, gave the necessary power,’ and there was an end of the matter. I am not denying for a moment what the Attorney-General said, when I interjected that none of these decisions would bind the municipal courts. He Said that the municipal courts would not act unless they had authority in express words. The machinery to be provided is a matter pf detail, but it will rest with the Attorney-General to show why we should not insert a clause expressly dealing with the case of the seamen, and leave the courts to provide the necessary machinery. I desire to quote one or two cases from Real’s Cardinal Mules qf Legal Interpretation. In the Amalia case Lushington said -
I have always recognised, the full force of this objection, that the British Parliament has no proper authority to legislate for foreigners out of its jurisdiction ; and I especially did so in the case of the Zollverein (1856), 2 Jur. N.S. 429 ; 1 Sw. 96, ‘at p. 98). No statute ought, therefore, to be held to apply to foreigners with respect to transactions out of British jurisdiction, unless the words of the statute are perfectly clear ; but I never said that, if it pleased the British Parliament to make such laws as to foreigners out of the jurisdiction, Courts of Justice must not execute them ; indeed, I said the direct contrary.
In the case of Colquhoun versus Brooks, Lord Esher said -
The English Parliament cannot be supposed, merely by reason of its having used general words, to be intending to do that which is against the comity of nations. It is true that if we come “to the conclusion that this has been intently done, we must carry out the law and leave to the Government of the country the task of answering objections, but, unless that is perfectly clear, we ought to limit the words so as to make them reasonable and proper.
In the case of Colquhoun versus Heddon, the same authority said -
It seems to me that, unless Parliament expressly declares otherwise, in which case, even if it should go beyond its own rights as regards the comity of nations, the courts of this country must obey the enactment, the proper construction to be put on general words used in an English Act of Parliament is, that Parliament was dealing only with such persons or things as are within the general words, and also within its proper jurisdiction, and that we ought to assume that Parliament (unless it expressly declares otherwise) when it uses general words is- only dealing with persons or things over which it has properly jurisdiction.
These judgments make it very clear that Parliament has a perfect right to legislate’ upon this matter, and the AttorneyGeneral will, I am sure, admit that the rights of this Parliament are identical with those of the British Parliament in that respect. We may make what laws we please, and if we go beyond internationalrights, and that mysterious entity or nonentity entitled the comity of nations, it will be for diplomats to settle the matter. We shall break no law, and we shall be doing nothing in the way of kicking over any mysterious traces. And, moreover, this is not a question involving an international law. We are told that we can make provision such as I have indicated in -some other Bill. Then the question becomes one of procedure ; whether weshould include the provision in this Bill orin some other. I intend to do all I can topromote the passing of the Bill. I shall not allow any foolish sentiment to stand in the way, but I shall do whatever I conceive to be necessary to that end. At the same time I shall insist as -far as I am able that seamen shall have the benefit of this Bill, because I can conceive that otherwise we shall only be living in a fool’s paradise, and that the Bill, instead of promoting industrial peace, will very likely precipitate trouble that might otherwise be averted.. According to the Attorney-General there is merely a difference of opinion as to procedure, and if that be the case, the House ought not to allow any such difficult)’ to wreck a Bill of this kind. If it can be shown that it will be impossible to insert an effective provision in the Bill, there will be an end of the matter j but, so far as I am concerned, it has not yet been shown that it cannot be done. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, clearly pointed out that what the Attorney-General proposed to do was simply to say in a Navigation Bill that any vessels trading along the coast should be subject tothe jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. The right honorable gentleman contended that if we made that provision in this Bill, it would be just as effective as if included in another measure. That is the whole question. I do not pose as a constitutional authority, but I merely set forth what I believe to be the law upon .this point. I refuse to allow myself to consider for a moment such a thing as a violation- of international law. It must be shown that thereis some real and effective bar besides that. That is a very good term with which to frighten women and children, but it is not a real living entity that will have any effect upon us. All we have to consider is whether, under the Constitution, we have the right to do what we desire,. and if we have the right, whether this is not the most convenient place to exercise it. We must, if necessary, strain a point to make it convenient. The Government are to a large extent to blame for having brought in this measure, upon which there was such serious difference of opinion in the Cabinet, so late that in the event of any difficulty it might be impracticable to introduce another Bill to effect the desired object. I do not deny that I am seriously concerned, both for the fate of the Bill, and for the interests of the seamen. I desire to help them and to see the Bill become law, and I shall be very glad to find some way out of the difficulty. I shall support any amendment which will effect the object I have in view. I do not intend to detain the House any longer. I must congratulate the Ministry upon the measure. I believe that, with two or three exceptions to which I have directed attention, the Bill is calculated to achieve everything we desire. It is very necessary, and I hope that it will have a salutary effect upon the industry of this growing nation, and that this last and finest effort to introduce the operation of the law into the realms of anarchy will be attended by the best results.
– It has been my misfortune on more than one occasion to find myself considerably, if not wholly, at variance with the opinions held by the majority of honorable members, and I am very much afraid that I shall again find myself in that . position tonight. I have occupied it so often that recently a member of my own party accused me of a desire to be. singular ; in fact, he expressed the opinion that it was a kind of mania of mine to express opinions entirely at variance with those held by the majority of honorable members. The honorable member to whom I refer is very goodnatured, but I believe at the bottom there is a feeling that ray aim is rather to appear singular. I can only say that so long as I am a member of this House I shall express my opinions in all frankness; and if I stand alone, I shall continue to tell the the House what I think, whether my view’ is popular or unpopular. I hope honorable members will believe me -when I say that I would rather be out of political life altogether than act as the mere mouth-piece of any particular class of people, who choose to clamour for a particular piece . of legislation which in my opinion is undesirable.
Although I know that I shall probably be whipping a dead horse, I may say that I regard this Bill as a piece of legislation which is inimical to the best interests of this country ; and I speak thus after two or three years’ experience of the legislation which has been passed in New South Wales. I speak as one who possesses a fairly wide knowledge of industrial matters, not merely from legal, but also from commercial, experience. I speak, too, as one who has had extensive dealings with trades unionism and with the voluntary system of settling disputes. I have frequently sat in the Melbourne Trades Hall ; and for two years I took part in an organization which was conceived with a view to settling trade disputes. Upon all occasions I succeeded in bringing capital and labour together without any sacrifice of their individual interests, and I saw them part on the very best of terms. I do not stand here as a lawyer to advocate a measure which is likely to give occupation to the profession te which I belong, but as an opponent of a Bill -which would play into legal hands quite as rauch as into those of anybody else. Therefore, on this occasion, it may fairly be said that I am speaking against my own interests - if interests are the fees which members of Parliament generally credit lawyers with looking after so keenly. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports made a very pathetic speech this evening, in which he went back a century to show what was the condition of the female workers in England prior to the Factories Acts becoming operative. He also endeavoured to show what was the condition of some of the children in England after that legislation had come into force. But although he spent quite halfanhour in drawing that pathetic picture, he had to confess that it had no application whatever to Australia. I cannot understand what possible bearing a state of things of that kind - which does not exist in Australia - can have upon the desirability or otherwise of accepting a measure which has no direct relevance to the employ.ployment of children. It is one of the misfortunes of any speaker who attempts to deal in a deliberative Assembly with the purely economic side of a question that he lays himself open to a charge on the part of the more humanitarian section of his listeners that he is cold-blooded. We know that a very good authority on art, John Ruskin, attempted to write a book on political economy, entitled Unto This Last, in which he managed to mix up his ideas on morals and economy in a somewhat ludicrous way. Yet, I know that a good many people are prepared to accept his political economy, and to think that when one is dealing with a question in which economic laws are concerned, he must take into consideration, not what results the operation of those laws will inevitably produce, but what we should like them to produce if we could regulate them according to our own desires. They remind one very rauch of a child who is being pulled out of the way of a falling brick by its mother, and who protests against? the law of gravitation. In such circumstances, I can well imagine the mother replying - “ It may be very unkind of me to take you out of the yard in which you were playing, but I have done it for a very good purpose.” Any one who understands the absolute necessity for considering economic questions, apart from sentiment, will know that there is a very just parallel between the two cases. Throughout the speech of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, I noticed an assumption that all we have to do in this country is to raise wages to a standard which will enable men to live as they think they ought to live - an ambition with which we all sympathize. He seems to think that we can continually raise the wages of the people, without injuring the prospects of the industry. He seems to think that this practice could be continued ad infinitum, altogether oblivious of the fact that in paying those wages, in carrying on any industry, we have to manufacture an article which can compete with the outside world. It is a fool’s paradise into which we have got if, considering how happy we should like to be, we fail to recognise that we have to compete with the cheap labour of other parts of the world. We cannot, arrogate to ourselves the power to make everybody happy in the face of this outside competition. A man is more of a rogue than a fool who represents to the people of this country that it is possible to bring about a sort of millennium by thoughtless and sanguine legislation, when in his heart he knows that it is impossible to neutralize the laws of political economy in this or any other country. I take the economic view of this- question. I venture to say that anybody who approaches it in a calm and deliberate way, and who divests his mind - I will not say of all sentiment, because I do not pretend that politics can be completely denuded of that element - will regard it from a similar stand-point. Although we may desire to place the working classes of this country in a more hopeful and prosperous position than that which they at present occupy, we are confronted with the fact that every industry in our midst has to compete with the industries of the outside world. We are in this position at the present time : We are not now protected by a 40 per cent., 50 per cent., or 60 per cent, duty, which would allow a large margin upon which to go in continually raising the wages of the people to any standard that they desire. I think that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports also contended that in almost every case workmen could rely upon having the difference split, if they only went to the Court which it is proposed to create under this Bill. What does that mean? He says that that rule would apply to the employers as well as to the employes. He declared that the latter can make a demand and obtain something more than they at present enjoy. If the argument is applicable to both parties to a dispute, I should like to know the position in which they are ultimately left. If the employes have only to demand double what they really desire in order to get what they want, and if the court will grant them half their claim, and vice versâ in the case of the employers, we are led to a condition of arithmetic which either I do . pot understand, or which will leave the parties just where they were previously. I congratulate the honorable member upon his very sympathetic view of human nature. But I am bound to say that a man of his type is no friend to the people, if he is prepared to lead them into a sort of Ruskinian Paradise, which will only land them in difficulties ultimately. I listened with great interest to the honorable member for West Sydney. Evidently he is the funny man of his party. He told us that the labour party had been called the socialistic party, and he seemed to complain of it.
– I do not complain of it.
– I have heard the honorable member admit on more than one occasion that he was a socialist. I have also heard the honorable member for Barrier openly declare that the aim of the labour party of this country was pure socialism. There is nothing to be ashamed of in such a declaration. It is merely a matter of political creed. But it is quite right that we should know what is the creed of a party, because we are then able to gauge its views and to estimate how far they accord with our own. But the honorable member for West Sydney spoke as if the labour party had been called by harsh names. I admit that the old term “democratic party” was much more likely to excite admiration and to win the approval of the bulk of the people. When the labour party openly avowed themselves a body of socialists, I considered that they were taking a somewhat suicidal step in reference to future legislation, which step they would live to regret. I still hold that view. At the same time I have a sincere respect for a socialist who entertains the happy view of human nature that we can all enter into a sort of social partnership, and thus bring about a millennium upon earth. I have studied politics for thirty years, and I do not think that that condition of affairs is possible. It is only feasible to men full of imagination, full of poetic thought, who take altogether a partial and exaggerated view of the higher qualities of human nature. It is only possible to individuals who are prepared to eliminate from human nature, or rather from their conceptions of it, that particular element - self interest - which fortunately or unfortunately lies at the root of all human progress. When, therefore, I find a man avowedly declaring himself a socialist, I am disposed to think that his intellectual faculties have led him to miss one link in the chain of reasoning that is necessary to enable him to come to a sound logical conclusion. I admit that the honorable member for West Sydney said some very funny things. But he also made some unjust remarks in reference to those who do not agree with his views. It must be remembered, however, that he does not occupy quite an impartial position. We know that be is the president of a large trades union in New. South Wales, the affairs of which he has managed with very great ability’. If I were addressing a body of men whose minds were absolutely open upon this question - a condition which one can hardly expect to find in this House, because we usually have fixed opinions which are not likely to be altered by any speeches made here - I I should contend that, where a man occupies the position of president of a trades union, he cannot possibly be an impartial critic of a Bill such as this. His interests must necessarily be largely those of the union which he represents.
– I suppose that the honorable and learned member will admit that a member of the Ship-owners’ Union occupies the same position ?
– I will admit that. I am not, however, dealing with ship-owners at the present time. I am dealing with a Bill which is brought forward because it is alleged that it will benefit alike the workers and their employers. The measure proposes to create a new tribunal at which every lawyer has a chance of making an addition to his income. I do not speak from the lawyers’ point of view- if I did so I should vote for the Bill - but from that of the legislator who claims to be in a position to criticise a measure of this kind in the light of all the evidence that can be brought to bear upon it. The honorable member for West Sydney spoke as if no argument could be adduced on the other side. I hope to place before the House some very strong reasons, based upon experience and history, why this measure is likely to create a great deal of mischief. I shall put them before the House in the light of the experience which other colonies have had of a measure almost identical with the one now before the House. The honorable and learned member went on to say that the workmen had had some experience of the Act in New South Wales, but that we did not hear of their opposing it, although they were asking for “one or two little amendments.” The House knows very well that one of these “little amendments” is designed to do away with the effect of the decision in theTaff Yale case. I venture to say that a more dishonorable attempt at legislation than would be an effort to do away with the effect of that decision could never be made in this country.
– It is a question whether a more dishonorable decision was ever given by a court than that in the Taff Vale case.
– I express this opinion, because the effect of the TaffVale case was simply that where the members of a union are guilty of a tort, their corporation and its funds shall be equally liable to those who are injured by the tort as are those of any other corporation. If that is not a fair legal decision, I should like to know what is. I should like to know why 50 or100 workmen should be allowed to amass a largesum of money, and then to say - “We desire to be protected against any verdict or judgment which may be given in a court of law in connexion with any case in which we have deliberately broken the civil laws of tort in this country, and committed an injury to another citizen.” But the attempt is being advocated to-day in New South Wales to secure an amendment of the Act in that direction, and the Attorney-General of New South Wales, who had the temerity, when he was introducing the measure, to hold out to the employers of that State the belief that they would be able to make claims against the funds of the unions in case of an union’s liability, has practically promised to introduce a measure to neutralize the effect of the TaffVale case.
– The two positions are not inconsistent.
– They are not creditable.
– I am astonished that the Attorney-General of the Commonwealth should express such an opinion. If a corporation like the Sugar Company is to be liable to every citizen for a tort, which has the effect of injuring him in a monetary sense in his civic relations, any corporation of workmen should be equally liable for a tort.
– It is not a tort.
– Is it not a tort to picket? It is certainly not a contract.
– The point was-
– I hope the honorable and learned member will not proceed to discuss that point of legal terminology. I challenge him to say that picketing, and preventing men from going to their work, is not a tort.
– It is exceedingly doubtful whether picketing is a tort.
– I am not going to enter upon an academic discussion of the question with the honorable and learned member. The act of picketing was referred to in the case as a tort, and it has been treated as such ever since. Whether it is a tort or some other form of wrong, the Court held that the funds of the union were liable to the injured citizen, and the Taff Vale Union had to pay a sum of £22,000 to the plaintiffs to compromise the verdict. Now the Attorney-General declares that there is nothing inconsistent in the proposal of the Attorney- General of New South Wales to bring in a Bill to relieve the union of a liability of that kind.
– Because under the measure the liability cannot occur. Strikes are prohibited, and therefore picketing cannot take place.
– The liability applied in England, and the union was very glad to compromise in the way I have named.
– This Bill is designed to prevent strikes and picketing.
– That is the point.
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney told the House that the unionists of New South Wales were perfectly content with the State Act, and required only one or two little amendments. It is well that the House should know that the little amendment I have indicated is among the list.
– It is a very small one.
– It is, in the Marryat sense. So much for the argument. The honorable and learned member also spoke of freedom of contract. That is an old gag, with which we are familiar in New South Wales ; but is not a man who deliberately sells his labour, which is his commodity, in the open market, a free man ?
– He has no choice.
– Has an employer who has an established business, with buildings and machinery to look after - who has, perhaps, to borrow money, and perhaps a large overdraft at his bank, which compels him to carry on his business - in any sense of the word, freer than is a workman? Has he any choice? No man is free in a philosophical sense, because his feelings may affect him; but in the practical sense of the word, when a workman has the law to appeal to, he is as free as is any employer. In some cases the employer may have a large sum at his back; but, after all, it is only a matter of degree. An employer is not free unless we are going to regard the sacrifice of his income or his capital as a matter of no account. “ Freedom of contract “ is a very old term that we have heard the present Attorney-General of New South Wales use for the last five or six years. It was never used as an argument for unionism until that honorable and learned gentleman promulgated it for the information of the trades unionists of his
State. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney drew a kind of satirical word - picture of the employe and employer, in which he referred to the latter as the burglar who complained that this Bill0 would have the effect of taking away the policeman who was likely to interfere with him. But the converse of the picture might have been drawn. If the honorable and learned member prefers to speak of the unionist as the policeman, and the employer as the burglar, I should say that the policeman is asking that the burglar’s tools of trade should be taken away by this Bill. The picture might be’ painted in both ways ; but I would remind the honorable and learned ‘ member, and those who laughed at his picture, that in a debate of this kind we derive no advantage from the employment of picturesque illustrations of that sort, which only serve to insult one side of the parties who are contending for this measure ; nor should we gain anything if I were to attempt to insult the other side by depicting- them in any less complimentary way than I have done.
– It was the worst speech of the kind made.
– It was a very uncalled-for speech. After the honorable and learned member had been speaking for about three-quarters of an hour, he said, “ We will now come to the Bill.” He gave us a very extensive set of quotations from the reports of the decisions of the Compulsory Arbitration Court of New South Wales, showing what had been done in that State : but I have no desire to follow him in the discussion of those matters. I should like now to say that one of the first serious doubts that I entertained in regard to this Bill - and I think it is worth mentioning - was whether this Parliament had authority to delegate the power given to it under section 51 of the Constitution to a court of any kind. That section gives the Commonwealth Parliament the power to make various laws. It provides that -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to . . conciliation and arbitration. . . .
The first doubt which I entertained was whether it was possible for the Parliament to delegate the power to another body ; but I was relieved from that doubt by a 8 d 2 judgment cited in Quick and Garran’s Annotated Constitution. I refer to the case of Hodge v. The Queen, which decided that the power could be delegated to a body of this kind. No doubt it came under the notice of the Attorney-General when be began to frame the Bill. The next consideration to which my mind was led in dealing with this matter, was to see how this power to make laws in regard to conciliation and arbitration was given by the Constitution. Honorable members will be interested to know that the first step made in this direction was taken by the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston. At the Conference of 1891, he brought forward a motion giving the Parliament the power to create practically a Compulsory Arbitration Court. That motion was withdrawn, but was introduced again by him in 1891, when it was defeated by 25 votes to 12. The proposal was subsequently introduced in the 1897 Convention by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and it was again defeated by 22 votes to 12. The honorable and learned member brought it forward again in 1897, when it was passed by 22 votes to 19. I take the figures from the Convention reports.
– There was a gradually, increasing volume of opinion in favour- of the principle.
– No doubt ; but I wish the House to see that the section in the Constitution which empowers this Parliament to pass this Bill only succeeded in passing the Convention by what is vulgarly known as the “skin of its teeth.” It was agreed to by a majority of three.
– And the whole of the people accepted it.
– The honorable and learned member knows the full significance of that assertion, because unfortunately in a referendum there is no point equivalent to our Committee stage, at which it is possible for the people to take the measure submitted to them, clause by clause, and to deal with it in that way. At the Federal referendum it was a question of the whole bill or nothing. The honorable and learned member knows that if that had not been the position there is much in our Constitution that people, rightly oi wrongly, would have liked to amend. It is interesting to know that, but for this small majority of three, the power under which this House is now acting would not have existed.
– The leader of the Ministry and the leader of the Opposition were in favour of-
– “I am not my brother’s keeper.” I have enough to do to answer for my own indiscretions without undertaking a responsibility in respect of those committed by other politicians. It is interesting to know that the particular part of the Constitution to which I have referred had to be brought forward four times before it could obtain a miserable majority of three votes. We may take it, therefore, that if the members of the Convention represented the people of Australia, honestly and fairly, there was a very small majority of the people of the Commonwealth in favour of giving the Parliament power to pass a Bill of this kind. Therefore, it cannot be said that this is the wish of an overwhelming majority of the people.
– During the honorable and learned member’s thirty years’ experience, how many times has he known a clause in a Bill to be passed by a majority of one?
– Very frequently. I should like to correct the honorable member as to the “ thirty years’ experience ; “ it ought to be fifty years ! One is naturally curious to see what are the motives of men in regard to the passingof this measure. They are very varied and interesting. I was speaking only yesterday to a large manufacturer of New South Wales, whose name I shall not mention - to do so would be invidious - and I said to him - “I want to know how you feel in regard to this Bill.” He replied - “ I am in favour of it,” and when I asked him his reason, he went on to say - “Because we are working under the New South Wales Arbitration and Conciliation Act, and it is putting us to such inconvenience that we should like to see the Victorians and the other people in the soup with us.” I then asked him - “How would you feel about the Bill if there was not a similar law in New South Wales at the present time?” and he replied - “ I should be glad to befreed from such a law, but as it is in existence in New South Wales, and we feel the handicap it involves, we should be glad to see it extended, and the whole of the States put on the same footing.” That is hardly a tribute to the wisdom or merits of the Bill ; it simply means that the manufacturers say - “ We should like to see this Bill pass - we are in trouble ourselves and we want to see everybody else in the same position.”
– Did the manufacturer say from what injustice he was suffering ?
-The honorable member for Melbourne . Ports claimed in high-sounding language that this Bill is only part of the evolution of affairs - of the evolution of history. History is useful sometimes, even in Parliament. Ihave always been taughtthat historyisphilosophy, teaching by example; and I wish we all read more of history. But if we look back In history we may find plenty of prototypes for this particular Bill. We do not find this particular measure - we do not find it proposed to constitute a Court to settle differences between employers and employes - but if we look at the reigns of Henty VIII. and Queen Elizabeth, we see quite a variety of Acts of Parliament introduced for the purpose of fixing wages or fixing the prices of materials. There was one. Act in particular I remember reading of, as having been passed quite hurriedly in Parliament, after a thunderstorm, to regulate the wages of plumbers ; and there was another, passed in a similarly inconvenient fashion for employers, to determine exactly the conditions under which they were to work their men. In fact, if one only goes back far enough in history, the more one reads, the more One becomes convinced that whilst we appear to be advancing, we are constantly advancing round a race-course and coming back to where we started.
– Who caused those laws to be break down - the men or the masters?
– My opinion is that they broke down of themselves, as this Bill will do. My opinion is that the very people for whom this particular Bill is being enacted, will themselves complain of it before very long. Is it not a fact that in New Zealand, only within the last twelve months, at a meeting of trades unionists in Wellington, those trades unionists themselves complained of the Compulsory Arbitration Bill as being the greatest legislative curse introduced into that colony.
– Was not that the complaint of one man ?
– It was, I believe, a resolution.
– If the honorable member will excuse me, it was a resolution of the union of which this one man was a member.
– What union?
– I can show honorable members another similar case in Western Australia.
– What is the New Zealand case which the honorable and learned member mentions?
– It is not a case, but a meeting of unionists at Wellington, at which a resolution was passed to the effect that the Compulsory Arbitration Act was the greatest legislative curse ever fastened on the New Zealand people. That resolution was reported in the Age newspaper of Melbourne.
– Give us the name of the trades union.
– I shall give the honorable and learned member the date of the newspaper afterwards, if he will allow me.
– If it was in the Aye newspaper that settles the matter.
– As a rule, that anight settle the matter ; but it is a general principle in my profession that when one gets an admission out of one’s opponent against his own interest, it is a piece of evidence much more- valuable than anything from one’s own witness. An admission of that sort in the Age as against trades unionism, and against a Bill of this kind, is a stronger piece of evidence than if it had appeared in the Argus.
– It was not an admission, but a report.
– I should like to direct attention next to the paradoxical nature of the title of the Bill. I do not know whether it has occurred to honorable members to notice the extraordinary proposal that a Bill to prevent strikes should be passed which can be brought into operation only when a dispute extends beyond any one State. I should like to know how we can prevent an industrial dispute from extending beyond the limits of any one State by means of a tribunal which has no power to adjudicate until the difference has extended beyond one State. It is a paradox and an impossibility. This Court cannot move until a strike or lock-out has extended beyond a State.
– Does the honorable and learned member say that this Court cannot adjudicate according to the Constitution?
– The Constitution will not admit of it.
– That is a question.
– I heard the honorable and learned member for West Sydney - a budding lawyer, just called to the Bar - contending with very great force - physical force - that the Constitution would enable us to pass a measure entitling this Court to begin to prevent strikes or lock-outs before they had extended beyond a State. Will the honorable member for Bland just look at the Constitution, or listen while I read it ? I venture to say that the argument to which I have referred is the most original I ever heard.
– What is the word “ prevention “ used for?
– The- Constitution provides that the Commonwealth shall have power to provide for “ peace, order, and good government” in regard to certain things, including conciliation and arbitra tion for the “ prevention and settlement “ of industrial disputes “ extending beyond the limits of any one State.” The whole raison d’etre of the Constitution is that the Commonwealth shall not interfere with State jurisdiction with regard to strikes and lockouts - that this Parliament, shall, by reason of its Federal character, have power to act only in regard to strikes and lockouts which extend beyond one State into another.
– Or the prevention of those which may extend.
– Then why the word “ prevention? ”
– The honorable member is surely not sincere in attempting to read into the Constitution-
– Common sense.
– Where would the contention of the honorable member for Bland lead him t It means that the Court could interfere in a dispute in New South Wales because that dispute might extend into Victoria.
– Quite so.
– But where would that lead the honorable member?
– What about the word “prevention ? “
– I say that that word is put there for an obvious reason. The Constitution provides for the settlement of industrial disputes, not that “ may extend,” but “extending “beyond the limits of one State.
Mr.Watson. - What about the word “ prevention? “
– It means the prevention of a dispute which extends beyond one State.
– “Extending” is not “extends.”
– If nothing is done until a dispute extends, how can it be prevented ?
– I hope that the right honorable gentleman, who is a lawyer, will not attempt to support or indorse such a contention - I am quite sure that he will not.
– I say that “prevention” is to prevent the occurrence.
– No doubt to “prevent” is to stop. But a dispute must have got beyond one State before this tribunal can act.
– How can we prevent a tiling which has happened ?
– The Court has no jurisdiction, and we cannot prevent a strike from extending beyond one State when there is no jurisdiction to interfere until it has extended. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney suggested that the Constitution should be twisted and the nature of the Bill altered, so as to allow thisCourt to try to stop any industrial dispute which might extend beyond any one State. But what would be the effect ? We should be deliberately creating a tribunal which would come into conflict within a month with the Conciliation and Arbitration Courts of New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia. I think the view of the honorable and learned member is a most impracticable one. One does not expect laymen to take a strict view of these matters, because with them the “ wish is father to the thought ; “ but it is the duty of the lawyer to see whether he is likely to succeed in getting the Court to adopt the view of the law he puts forward in an opinion.
– The same bias may influence the honorable and learned member.
– At all events, my argument is that as to preventing disputes which have extended beyond any one State, the Bill is ineffectual - we cannot prevent such disputes, because they must have extended before we can act.
– That does not say much for the framers of the Constitution.
– I think that the members of the Convention knew the limit of their powers - that they knew very well at the time that each State would claim the right, through its own Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, to settle its own industrial disputes. I shall not argue the point further, because I should only have to reiterate what I have already said many times. I venture to say that no lawyer would get up, as did this very youthful one to whom I have referred, and express an opinion to the effect that the Constitution would justify us in creating a tribunal which could attempt to prevent a strike or lock-out in any one State before it had extended to another State. If that is the case, then the only effect of this Bill will be that settling disputes after they have extended.
– A dispute is not a strike.
– If the honorable member is going to take the other side, he is at liberty to do so, and when he speaks he can support it at any length he thinks fit. The question is - How is this Bill going to settle disputes? In the first place, what si a dispute under the measure ? The result of a similar measure to this in New Zealand has been, as it will be here, simply to encourage the creation of disputes. We know that before any conciliation and arbitration Act came into operation, before a strike or a lock-out took place, there had to be a good deal of deliberation, either on the part of the men, or on the part of the employers. Under this Bill, as under the New South Wales Act, and as under the New Zealand Act, a dispute is created the moment a union makes a demand upon an employer. In New Zealand, five or six men merely have to address a letter to their employer making certain demands, and a dispute has arisen. And so it has become there quite a common practice to get up disputes, as is recorded by Mr. Macgregor, who is a pretty good authority upon the subject. Mr. Macgregor is a member of the Bar in New Zealand, and was a strong advocate for the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill when it was introduced by Mr. Reeves. He records the fact that in five years there had been 400 disputes within the meaning of the Act.
– And not a day’s work lost !
– I do not admit that, because I think I shall be able to show to the House that a great many hours and days’ work have been lost through the refusal of people concerned to abide by the decisions.
– Not lose by strikes.
– I hope the honorable member will recollect that he has to speak upon this subject, and that I may retaliate if he does not allow me to proceed. This is what is said by Mr. Macgregor, who is not only a man who has distinguished himself in his profession, but is also a well-known writer on economic subjects, and one who helped Mr. Reeves, the present Agent-General for New Zealand in England, to pass the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in that colony -
That it has been successful as a system for getting up disputes for the express purpose of having them adjudicated upon there is no doubt; but the real question is whether a system which prevents strikes in this way is necessarily beneficial. We have now succeeded in making clear the absurdity of describing as a method of preventing strikes, a system used for an entirely different purpose, namely the regulation of all the details of trade and industry by the decrees of a statutory court of law, made under the pretence of settling disputes - disputes got up for the express purpose of being submitted to the Court, and which in all probability never would have been thought of but for the fact that the existence of the Court prompted them.
I think that every man who has studied this question will make this admission - that the original intention of Conciliation and Arbitration Acts, whether in New Zealand or in New South Wales, was to prevent strikes and locks-out. It was intended that the powers under the Acts should come in at a certain stage of industrial trouble, to prevent great upheavals between employers and employes. It was never intended that any half-dozen workmen - as has been the case in New Zealand - should be able to make a demand upon their employer either for an increase of wages or an alteration in the conditions of employment, and that the employer - however large his business might be, however .poor he might be, however much it might interfere with -his business - should be compelled at any time to go before the Court, to show his books, to enter into all the details of his business, in order to prove that their demand was not a justifiable one. But this is what has followed.
– Industry has thrived under it.
– I hope that the honorable member will take an impartial view of this question. That was not the original intention of the Act. It was not intended to prevent things that have occurred 400 times in five years in New Zealand, and it was not intended that any halfdozen employes, who liked to bring their employer before a Court, should be able to do so, and that he should be subject to all these difficulties to prevent the Court giving judgment against him. That is not preventing strikes or locks-out. Because you have first of all to show that if these people had not got what they asked for they would, but for the existence of the Court, have struck. You have to show that, where an employer makes a demand upon his men, he would have locked them out if they had not conceded what he asked. Can it be supposed for a moment that in 400 cases in five years in New Zealand workmen would have struck if concessions had not been made to them? The corollary, the common inference, is this : that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court in New Zealand has not been the means of stopping strikes and locks-out, but has been the means of enabling the workmen at all times and in all seasons to make demands for concessions upon their employers in the hope that they will get some portion of what they demand. I do not say that many of their demands are not just. I am not standing here as the champion of the capitalist. I have no more sympathy with the capitalist than with the workman - not a bit. I think that what I have been able to do in the past with regard to conciliation will show that. I think that I could obtain the testimony of some of the older tradesunionists in the State of Victoria to the effect that I was the means - as has been said publicly - of bringing parties together, and of producing a better feeling between employer and employed than had existed previously.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that no better feeling existed after the honorable and learned member’s efforts.
– I can only say that a better feeling existed while I was president of the boar.d and while I was resident in Victoria. Had that good feeling continued to exist there would have been no need for this Bill.
– How did the board break down ?
– I cannot say what happened after I went away from Victoria. But I believe that the machinery still exists by which these disputes were to be settled. Therefore, I say again .that I Speak now in no way in the interests of the capitalists, and in no way in the interests of the workmen ; but I stand here with a desire to see legislation of this sort entered upon with very great care. The AttorneyGeneral actually told us that this Bill marks the beginning of a new era in civilization.
– It is true, too.
– It may be true if the Bill is successful. But if it is retrograde it may mean a very different thing It may mean that we are travelling in a circle, and going back to the folly of the attempts made to regulate labour a t the time of Henry VIII. and Queen Elizabeth. That would not be the beginning of a new era in civilization, and that is the whole question. That this is a great departure there can be no doubt, and, therefore, it should be entered upon with very great care. The great danger is that we are likely to kill the goose that lays the golden eggs. We are apt to forget that, whilst we are enabling a court to produce infinitely better conditions for the working classes, we may be causing sources of employment to fly away from the country. The honorable and reverend member for Southern Melbourne may smile a smile which is very full of meaning, but I can tell him that there are already many signs of the times in that regard.
– The same thing was said in England 100 years ago.
– It was said in England 100 years ago, and it will be said 100 years hence.
– And with just as little truth.
– Although the honorable member for West Sydney may ridicule the statement made by Mr. J. P. Wright, I can only say that he has been known hitherto as one of the largest boot manufacturers in New South Wales, and it is a fact that within the last year or two he has disposed of the whole of his business at a very great sacrifice. Whether or not it was disposed of in anticipation of this Bill being passed is a matter upon which I cam only” take his statement.
– Somebody else has got the business ; it is going on all right.
– Does the honorable member think that it is a desirable state of commerce in which a man has to sell his business, as he says, at the price of old iron 1
– That is another question.
– Is the honorable member prepared to dispute that ?
– I am prepared to doubt it.
– The honorable member knows very well that it would be very easy for me to name half-a-dozen very large corporations in Great Britain who have withdrawn some millions of money fromAustralia within the last four or five years.
– So they did at the time of the bank crisis.
– Very likely, and that was a very good reason for doing it. The withdrawal of millions of money during the bank crisis does not make the fact of their withdrawing millions of money today any less significant or any less serious. It is not sufficient to show any other occasion in order to get rid of the gravity of an existing one. It has always been said that capital would be withdrawn, and the statement has come to be regarded, like the cry of “ wolf “ in the fable. We have heard the statement so often that we take no notice of it, and when the real time comes we may lose sight of the fact that it is at last true. The honorable member for Dalley said to-night that the capitalist goes where he can get the best interest on his money. What are the inferences to be drawn from that statement 1 We know that, after all, capital is merely credit ; it does not exist in gold. If wages are to be put up to a level which an industry cannot afford to pay - and I am not saying that it is going to be done - it is very easy for the capitalist to say - “ I shall, go where 1 can get a better result for my money.” If I have honorable memberswith me in the statement that . capital can. go away from the country on a cable - that it is only credit - then we shall see that thequestion is not what a court thinks a man. ought to have as a living’ wage, but what the industry will fairly pay in competition with outside industries of a similar character, and in such a way that the capitalist iscontent to leave his capital in a country in. order to give employment to the people of that country in preference to. moving it into other more favorable surroundings. That is the economic view of it, and it is useless to shut our eyes to the fact and to imagine that by burying our head in the sand our body is not seen.
– Economically there is a living wage still below which we must not go.
– As long as there is a living wage it is all right ; but the question is whether it is not reached best by the employers and the employes coming into personal contact. I shall occupy a considerable time in completing my speech, as I began rather late, and, therefore, I would suggest, sir, that the debate should be adjourned until to-morrow.
– The honorable and. learned member began his speech very late, andI am reluctant, therefore, to decline the courtesy which he asks, but I hope that it will not be considered as establishing a precedent, because the debate at this stage is being unduly prolonged.
– Is it the desireof the House that the honorable and learned member for Parkes have leave to continue his speech to-morrow?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bruce Smith) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.35 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 August 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030811_reps_1_15/>.