1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CHANTER presented two petitions from certain electors of New South Wales, praying the House to pass into law the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill.
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON presented nine petitions from certain electors of South Australia, praying the House to prohibit the importation, sale, and manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
– I wish to know from the
Prime Minister which of the motions of which; on behalf of the Minister for Trade and Customs, he has given notice for tomorrow, is to be taken first ; that approving of the proposed distribution of the State of South Australia, or those disapproving of the proposed distributions of the States of Victoria, New SouthWales, and Queensland?
– I think that the motion approving of the proposed distribution of the State of South Australia will be taken first, though it will, of course, be open to the Minister for Trade and Customs to move the motions in whatever order seems best to him.
– What about the Tasmanian distribution ?
– The motions of which I have given notice relate only to the States in regard to which the Commissioners’ reports and plans of divisions have come to hand.
– Is the Prime Minister of opinion that it is absolutely necessary under the Constitution for the House to deal with the proposed distributions of the States before an election takes place?
– That is a matter which will be discussed to-morrow. Although there may be some doubt on the subject, it is, in my judgment, the wisest and safest course for this House to express its opinion upon the proposals.
– Is it proposed to ask the House to approve of the names suggested for the proposed divisions of South Australia, as well as of the divisions themselves ?
– Yes ; the names are embodied in the motions.
Ordered (on motion by Mr. Mahon) -
That there be laid upon the table of the House a return showing -
The number of wrecks and other casualties sustained in Australasianse as by oversea passenger ships during the last twenty years.
The like information, covering the same period, as regards passenger ships trading exclusively from one Australasian port to another.
The total number of passengers carried during the twenty years by the two classes of ships referred to in the foregoing paragraphs.
The number of lives lost, and the number of persons injured, in wrecks and casualties sustained (a) by oversea passenger ships, and (b) by ships trading exclusively between one Australasian port and another during the period above mentioned.
Debate resumed from 11th August (vids page 3397), on motion by Mr. Deakin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– The Bill, as I have endeavoured to show, is a sort of constitutional experiment, to enable the Commonwealth to do something which it was never intended by the framers of the Constitution that it should do. It is quite obvious from its title that an attempt is being made to give the proposed Court of Conciliation and Arbitration jurisdiction to interfere in industrial disputes, not merely when they have arisen in and extended beyond the limits of a State, but at a stage at which they can be prevented from doing so ; and I predict, with some confidence, that this will lead to the Court being appealed to merely to duplicate the efforts of the States Courts. If it interferes in industrial disputes as they are defined in the Bill, it will not wait till a strike or a lock-out ; it will attempt to intervene at a stage when the States Courts could do the work. Otherwise it must be incompetent to prevent a dispute until it has extended beyond the stage at which it is said that it will intervene. I have pointed out that to talk of preventing an industrial dispute within the meaning of the Act, at a time when it had already begun and had extended to another State, was a paradox ; . and therefore that this Bill, if really within the provision of the Constitution, section 51, sub-section (35), cannot provide for anything more nor less than a court for the settlement of disputes which have arisen and have extended from one State to another. I think that every thinker on political questions and every honorable member who reads history and recognises the seriousness of this question, will admit that in beginning an experiment of this kind - which according to the’ honorable and learned gentleman in charge of the Bill, is going to mark a new era in civilization - every possiblelight that can be thrown from any community in which a similar Act has been in operation must be of very great service to us. We cannot but look to countries like New Zealand, Western Australia, and South Australia, quite apart from abstract principles, for the actual practice which has been brought about by the operation of Conciliation and Arbitration Acts there. I referred previously to an expression of opinion which had been given in New Zealand by trades unionists themselves. The honorable member for Bland, the leader of the labour party, said that that expression represented the view only of one man. Now, I find on referring to the document.upon which I relied, that it was not merely the expression of opinion of a unionist, but of the Trades Hall Council of Wellington.
– What is the document ?
– It is a report from New Zealand; read in the South Australian Parliament. I am reading now from the South Australian Hansard, which contains an extract from the South Australian Register as to what had taken place in New Zealand. The extract was quoted by the Honorable George Brookman, in making a speech on the Factories Act Repeal Bill. This is what he said -
In the Register of 14th June, 1902, was a telegram dated Wellington, 13th June - “The manner in which the Arbitration Act has been found to operate, is meeting with unfavorable criticism at the hands of the Wellington Trades and Labour Council. ‘ The delegates stated at a meeting last night that the unionists of Wellington cursed the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It would soon be the biggest curse the colony ever had, unless unionists raised their voices to protest against the methods in ‘ which the Act was being carried out. These remarks were called forth by the award in the painter’s case given by Judge Cooper (President of the Arbitration Court). The speaker urged that the President of the Court should bo elected by both parties, who would then have confidence in him. The President should not be a Judge but a commercial man.”
And that will have a bearing upon a part of this Bill when we get into Committee.
– The United Trades Unions of New Zealand have since repudiated that expression of opinion.
– Then the honorable member should have read the repudiation in his speech, if he knew that it existed.
Another unionist said the preference clause was so hedged with conditions that it was absolutely useless. Registration under the Act meant giving up their right to refuse to sell their labour at a satisfactory price.
If that last sentiment is typical of the feelings of unionists, I submit that it goes to the whole root of this measure. Because, if the unionists desire to retain the right to sell their labour, which is their particular commodity, at what they consider to be a satisfactory price it would be perfectly useless to bring into existence a Conciliation and Arbitration Act; which takes the right from them and undertakes to settle what is a proper price for that labour.
– What was the result of that discussion ?
– Is that a telegram in the South Australian Register?
– Yes. The report continues -
It was time, said another speaker, that employers started to build up their funds and organize. If the employers wanted to fight let them haveit. A significant remark was made by one of the delegates, that after the recent experience of compulsory arbitration, he agreed that the workers at home were wise in refusing to accept it and to surrender their independent action. If necessary let them fight. There was no gaol in the colony big enough to hold the lot of them. The matter was referred to a conference of all the unions, to be held a month hence.
If the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has in his possession any document in which the whole of that series of utterances is repudiated, I invite him either to read it to the House or to allow some one else to read it in order to neutralize the probable effect that a feeling of this kind on the part of the unionists of Wellington, as expressed by the Trades-hall Council, would be likely to have upon the minds of reasonable men who are considering the probable effects of this Bill upon the welfare of the people of the Commonwealth.
– What was the result of the conference?
– I am not here as a sort of encyclopaedia upon unionist discussions or agitations. I am quoting what was reported in the press as the feeling of the Trades-hall of Wellington.
– The conclusion of the conference does not suit the honorable and learned member’s argument.
– I invite the honorable member to quote it on the other aide if he thinks it has any bearing upon the argument. I do not come here to lay down any laws, but to show what sort of information has been brought tobear upon the subject in other countries. If the honorable member is not satisfied with that, let me quote an opinion expressed by the Premier of New Zealand upon his own Act. If the honorable member will look at the files of the Age newspaper he will find this statement under date of August 6th, 1901. It was despatched from Wellington on August 5th.
– That is two years ago.
– Yes ; it is two years ago. It is since the Conciliation and Arbitration Act came into operation. I am proposing to quote the opinion of the Premeir of New Zealand upon his own Act ; consequently, Mr. Seddon could not have expressed an opinion upon it five years ago, because the Act did not exist at that time. This is what he said -
Industrial disputes are piling up in such numbers that the Conciliation Courts are kept continuously sitting. The Arbitration Court is unable to grapple with the volume of the work before it. Mr. Seddon told a deputation of unionists this evening that the system was being ridden to death, and unless they conducted their affairs more circumspectly public opinion would turn against them. He declared the people were beginning to grow sick of the whole thing, as a result of which industry was hampered, and em ployers were kept in continual turmoil.
The correspondent of the Age comments -
These remarks by the Premier coincide with the views generally expressedby the newspapers which comment adversely on the easy manner in which the machinery of thesysstem can be utilized.
– Half-a-dozen times since then Mr. Seddon has said the opposite.
– I will leave the honorable member to quote his subsequent remarks if he made any.
– Certainly I shall, if I have an opportunity.
– Were those remarks made at the time when the President of the Arbitration Court was attacked?
– I was not there, and I cannot say. The Lyttelton Times, which is a well-known paper, speaking of the Premier’s utterances, says - -
The Premier’s word of warning to the workers of the colony has not been given a moment too soon. The workers have lately shown a disposition to rush off to the Conciliation Board and Arbitration Court on the slightest provocation, or on no provocation at all. In some recent cases they seem to have cited their employers rather with a view to see how much they could get from the Court, than with the object of remedying any obvious grievance.
The Otago Daily Times says -
The promotion of industrial disputes in the colony is progressing at a rate that is altogether outstripping their settlement.
– Upon what date was that?
– Upon the 5th August, 1901. I do not know that the date is very significant, although the honorable member seems to attach very much importance to it.
– The date is of great importance, because an amending Act was passed almost unanimous! y.
– The amendments extended, they did not restrict, the operation of the Act.
– I quoted previously from observations by Mr. McGregor, and I pointed out that his authority was of no mean order, because where we regard a man’s interests as giving some emphasis to the doubtfulness of what he has said, we must also regard the fact that a man has been friendly to a principle as giving emphasis to the fact that he is now against it. Mr. McGregor, in speaking of the really great encouragement that the Act has afforded to people to bring their disputes before the Court, not when there is a liability of a strike or lockout, but when they think that they can get something from the Court, possibly a splitting of the difference, points out clearly that when Mr. Reeves introduced the New Zealand Act he never intended for a moment that it should be used for such a purpose. This is what Mr. Reeves himself said -
I determined to confine its operation to disputes between masters and trade unions. I was induced to take that course for several reasons, one of which is this : That if you allow one workman, or two or three organized workmen to drag an employer before the Board of Conciliation, not only would that be grossly unfair to the employer, but it would soon make a laughing stock of the whole system. It would make the measure so extremely unpopular, that a succeeding Parliament would probably sweep it away.
I know that Mr. Reeves has since published a book in approval of the Act, and also that from time to time he has published in the London Times statements contradicting communications received from its representative in New Zealand showing how unfairly and how injuriously to industry the Act was operating. One cannot, however, lose sight of the fact that Mr. Reeves’ intention, as indicated at the time the Act was introduced, shows that he expected a very much more limited application of it. His views are at present very much those of a mother upon having the good looks of her offspring attacked, because those who read the Timesmust know that upon every occasion when the correspondent of the Times in New Zealand has sent a communication showing how unfairly and injuriously the Act is operating in New Zealand, Mr. Reeves has rushed into the ring and denied almost everything, although for years he has been living in England.
– But he is the AgentGeneral for New Zealand.
– Yes, but it cannot be expected that Mr. Reeves, whilst living in London, in the atmosphere of the Agent-General’s . office, would know anything as accurately as the trusted correspondent of the Times, who is on the spot, and who is watching industrial movements.
– Does the honorable and learned member always place implicit trust in newspaper correspondents ?
– I know that the correspondents of the Times are invariably men of great ability and impartiality, and no newspaper in the world can” be more implicitly relied upon for the truth, fairness, and impartiality of the statements of its correspondents, whether they be in the East, in Australia, or in New Zealand. If the honorable member is classing Times correspondents among the ordinary local correspondents of Australian newspapers, he is comparing men of a totally different calibre, and to whom totally different criticism should be applied.
– The Times correspondent in Melbourne is in the Argus office.
– We cannot get away from the fact which I stated previously that in New Zealand within five years no less than 400 cases have been actually tried by the Arbitration Court. Mr. Justice Cohen, the President of the Arbitration Court in New South Wales, stated in public a year ago that that Court hada list before it which would occupy two years in adjudication ; and one can . imagine what chance there would be of preventing an industrial dispute when the parties to it would have to wait their turn in a Court in which two years’ work has already accumulated. Honorable members may know - or they may not know - that in New South Wales at the present time the Attorney-General of that State has given notice of his intention to introduce an amending Act by which he will be able to delegate a great deal of the work that would otherwise fall upon the Arbitration Court to the District Courts of the State. That gentleman recently received a deputation from the Trades and Labour Council of Sydney. A newspaper, which is dated not more than a month ago, contains a report of his remarks, which were as follow -
The business of the court was congested -
That is the very same Court of which Mr. Justice Cohen said that it had two years’ work -
The business of the Court was congested, and the question was how was that to be relieved.
Then it was pointed out that, unless the Court could deal with these cases, it was quite possible that the people might take matters into their own hands. Then Mr. Wise said -
They could not make men work for terms that they were dissatisfied with any more than the men could make an employer run his factory if he did not want to.
The Trades and Labour Council had a meeting, to which the following reference was made -
The attention of the Sydney Labor Council was directed last night to the Arbitration Act Amending Bill introduced in the Legislative Council by the: Attorney-General. Two speakers, Messrs. F. Flowers, M.L.C., and T. H. Thrower, briefly outlined their objections to Mr. Wise’s proposals.
This is what Mr. Thrower said -
Apparently it was found that trie technicalities which surrounded the administration had caused a heavy accumulation of business, and now the Department desired to farm some of it out ; but the workers’ views would have to be heard on that question.
I quote these passages because I think they clearly show that the very easy-going and Utopian views which some honorable members entertain - of this Bill require to be carefully considered. We may depend upon it, that if the trades unions of this country can bring into operation the adjudication of this Court merely by extending the ramifications of any particular union from one State to another, and by subsequently inducing that union to make a demand upon an employer, so as to constitute under the Act “a dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State,” the business of the Court itself will speedily reach that condition of congestion into which the New South Wales Court has fallen, and into which, according to the utterances of Mr. Seddon, the New Zealand Court has also drifted. Evidently the Attorney-General contemplates that possibility, because, instead of providing for an itinerant Court- which -could move about from State to State and settle disputes as they arose, it is -actually proposed to give power to delegate the work of the Court to the different States Courts, and even to other tribunals, should the Federal Court deem that course -desirable.
– That would prevent congestion.
– It might and it might not, because, as I have shown, not only is the New ‘ South Wales Court congested with two years’ work - as was announced by the Judge - but it is now proposing to delegate its work to District Court
Judges in various parts of the State. If all that is required to make an industrial dispute extend beyond the limits of any one State is a demand on an employer by a union whose ramifications extend to another State, so that it can be called an 1 “ InterState “ dispute, there is every prospect of the business of this Court being also congested. As I have pointed out, the same conditions obtain in New Zealand and New South Wales. Now, I wish to put this proposition before the House : This Bill contemplates that the work of the Federal Arbitration Court may be delegated to the States Courts. Why, then, is there any necessity to call an additional Court into existence ? We all know the spirit of economy that was displayed in connexion with the Judiciary Bill. A very large number of honorable members contended that there was no need for the creation of a separate court composed of Federal Judges when the work of adjudicating upon Commonwealth laws could be delegated to the States Courts. Why is not that argument em ployed here instead of calling into existence a fresh court, the President of which is required under the Act to be a High Court J udge at £3,000 a year, and to be associated with two assessors at correspondingly high salaries.
– The Bill does not contemplate the expenditure of an extra £3,000 a year.
– I do not know that it does not. We are aware that as long as the Government contemplated the appointment of five Justices to the High Court, it would have been a very easy matter to say - “We will allow one of those Justices to perform this particular work.” But, now that the House has limited the High Court Bench to three Justices, I should like the honorable and learned member to tell me how that tribunal can carry on its work with two Justices in order that the third may be enabled to conduct the business of the Arbitration and Conciliation Court, seeing that a difference of opinion between.the two would mean that the whole proceedings before them would count for nought 1
– Clause 24 declares that the President of the Arbitration Court shall receive no more salary than attaches to his position as a Justice of the High Court.
– That does not answer my objection. I repeat that so long as the High Court consisted of five Justices, as was originally proposed by the Government, one of them might at any time have conducted the work of the Arbitration Court. But, seeing that the Justices of the High Court have been limited to three, if one of them is to transact the business of the Arbitration Court, two of his colleagues will be required to do the work of the High Court.
– That is a good argument for the appointment of five Justices to the High Court.
– That may be so. At the same time, it does not answer my argument that the operation of this Bill will necessitate the appointment of another Judge at a salary of £3,000 a year. It would be absurd for the High Court to attempt to perform its work with only two Justices, seeing that at the end of long proceedings, there might possibly be a division of opinion amongst them, causing the whole of the time of counseland of the parties to the suit to be wasted, and necessitating the case being argued afresh. Therefore, I say that we are asked to pass a Bill which practically necessitates the appointment of a fourth High Court Judge at a salary of £3,000 a year, and of two other members at correspondingly high salaries. If the House applies to this measurethe same spirit of economywhich was prompted by the Kyabram movement, it will hesitate very much before it calls into existence a new court which is quite unnecessary, because - as I have already pointed out - it is perfectly easy to delegate the whole work of this tribunal to the States Arbitration Courts, and to obtain just the same careful and complete adjudication that we should get in any Commonwealth Court which we might establish.
– There are no Arbitration Courts in some of the States.
– I know that; but if a dispute can be extended from one State to another, why can it not be tried in the State in which such a court does exist? If it is easy to bring an industrial dispute within the cognisance of the Arbitration Court by extending the ramifications of any union to another State, why is it not possible to extend the ramifications of a union - say in Tasmania or in Queensland - into Victoria or New South Wales, so that the courts in the States to which such disputes extend may adjudicate upon them ? We should thus get rid of this dreadful £3,000 a year, which is such a nightmare to many honorable members, of the salaries of the two other members, and of all the administrative paraphernalia which must follow the creation of an additional court.
– Suppose that a dispute extends to a State which has no Arbitration Court ?
– I have already pointed out that under this Bill it is possible to bring industrial disputes within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court by extending the ramifications of any particular union to another State.
– By federalizing the unions.
– Exactly. Therefore, each of the unions in the States in which no such court exists can have their disputes extended into the State in which one is to be found, and that tribunal can then decide the trouble.
– The honorable and learned member would have the whole of the States concerned before it would be possible to obtain a decision !
– I should not. I will, however, tell the honorable member what is the alternative. If the extension of the ramifications of any union into another State, or the federalization of the unions in the different States, will have the effect ofgiving jurisdictionto the Federal Arbitration Court, it simply means that in every dispute the question of the conditions of labour in the States will be tried by two courts - namely, by the court which exists in the State where the dispute originates, and by the court whose operations extend to that State. We may also, by a sort of rivalry between the courts, which is not altogether an impossibility, have decisions given by the States Courts and by the Federal Arbitration Court which are absolutely antagonistic to each other. Take, for example, the case of a union whose ramifications extend from New South Wales into Victoria. A dispute in. which that union was concerned would immediately become a matter within the jurisdiction of the State Court. But it would also come within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court by reason of the fact that the dispute extended into Victoria. What is to prevent the State Court of New South Wales from laying down a minimum rate of wage, and from fixing certain hours of labour, and the Commonwealth Court from prescribing by its common rule, which would apply to New South Wales and Victoria alike, a different minimum wage, or other hours?
– The honorable member will find, as he goes through life, that common-sense is not always to be relied upon. It is so common, sometimes, that it is not worth having ; but it is not always obtainable. The honorable member knows as well as I do that in regard to legal matters one very often. does not obtain common sense at all.
– It is very uncommon.
– Another argument which I advance against this Bill - and my attitude is not one of bigoted antagonism - is one which, at all events, should promote a feeling of hesitation in the minds of people who are prepared, in a light-hearted mood, to embark upon this proposal. It is that the Bill is premature. I submit that even the experience of the working of the New Zealand Act has not been sufficient to enable us to say, with anything like certainty, what is going to be its effect upon commerce and industry. I have here the opinion expressed by Mr. Reeves, the author of the New Zealand Act, and quoted by Mr. McGregor, as follows: -
Mr. Reeves said in Parliament “ that it would take years before the public can say whether or not they considered it a good and useful measure - experience alone will snow that. “
That was the opinion expressed by Mr. Reeves when introducing the Bill. It may be said that the Act has been in operation for years. I do not know the exact year in which it came into force in New Zealand.
-It was passed in 1894, and became operative in 1895.
– It has therefore been in existence for only nine years, while the New South Wales Act has been in existence for only about three years.
– Since October, 1901.
– It has been in existence, therefore, for only two years. I do not think thatthe Western Australian Act has been in force for a longer period.
– It was passed in 1900.
– In order to show the House what other people, who are not suspected of bias in this matter, think of a measure of this kind, I shall quote one passage from the report presented by Judge Backhouse, who was sent to New Zealand to investigate the working of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act there, and to report upon it. The paragraph has a very strong bearing upon the question of experience, for it shows that the working of an Act of this kind for five or six years is not sufficient to enable one to judge of its effect. Judge Backhouse said -
The awards generally have been in favour of the workers, and it is, therefore, easy to understand that the unionists to a man believe in the Act, and non-unionists so far as my observation goes, find no fault with it. . . . The preference to unionists so far has affected non-unionists but little, as up to now there has been abundant work for all. . . . Since it came into operation everything has been in favour of an increase in the emoluments, and an amelioration of the conditions of labour, and there cannot be the slightest doubt that wages would have risen if there had been no Act….. New Zealand has been advancing on an ever-increasing wave of prosperity, largely due to a favorable market for its exports, which last year amounted to £13,246,131 ; and it must be borne in mind that these exports are of commodities which, up to the present, have been in no way affected directly by the Act…..
I wish to draw the special attention of the House to the following paragraph : -
But when lean years come, as come they must, when there must be curtailment instead of expansion, when wages will be cut down, instead of being raised, by the awards, then, and not till then, can any one speak with authority as to whether the principle involved is workable or not.
I consider that sentence is most pregnant in its application to this measure. It fits to a nicety my argument that we have not yet had sufficient experience of the working of a measure of this kind in Australasia, to enable us to judge whether it will operate ultimately for the good or ill of employers or employes. In these circumstances, any one who takes up the position which I have adopted, must at all event’s be credited with caution, although at the present time he will be considered as wanting in sympathy with what a section of the public believe to be a beneficial measure. The prosperity of New Zealand is not yet arrested, and therefore, according to Judge Backhouse the time is not ripe to enable us to judge how a measure of this kind will ultimately work - that is to say, when bad times come, and wages are reduced in consequence of the falling off in trade. If the experience of New Zealand, from the fact that the commerce of the colony is still on the up grade, cannot be used as an illustration of the way in which this Bill will work with us, who can say for a moment that either New South Wales or Western Australia can supply us with any guidance in this matter ? They are the only three States, if we count New Zealand as a State, in which a measure of this kind has been in operation.
– The Conciliation and Arbitration Acts passed in those States have all been satisfactory so far as they have gone.
– Itishardlycreditable to the leader of a party - if he means what he says - to say thatthe fact thatthe experience of New Zealand, New South Wales, and Western Australia in this direction has been satisfactory so far as it has gone, is a sufficient reason for fresh legislation on this subject, more especially when we hear a note of warning from an authority such as Judge Backhouse.
– The honorable and learned member should quote all that the Judge said.
– He is a man with a judicial mind, and he was sent to New Zealand to report upon the working of the local Act, with a view to the guidance of these States. He tells us that up to the present time trade has been good and prosperous in that colony, that the decisions of the Court have been received with favour by the unionists, because they have all been in the one direction, and that it is impossible to say what the position will be when the turn of the tide comes, and wages fall.
– There is no prospect of that. The Judge actually recommends the Act.
– What is the Judge’s recommendation?
– It is singular that when one quotes a passage from any document, he is expected to have the whole of it at his fingers’ ends. I confess that I cannot act up to the expectation. I can only say that, if one can quote a passage from a report which in itself is complete, and contains a complete proposition - a complete idea - it is immaterial what else may have been written by the author of that report.
– Does it not matter what the context is ?
– There is no context in this case. The honorable member cannot say that the remainder of the report is the context of this passage.
– The honorable and learned member should read the whole report.
– No one has read the whole report to the House.
– What does the whole report say?
– I have not the full report before me. I am quoting from a selection of matter bearing upon this question. If honorable members think that they may find in the rest of the report a contradiction of what Judge Backhouse said in any other part of it, they are at liberty to read it for themselves. It is astonishing how loth men are to allow their minds to be even touched with something which interferes with a conclusion at which they have already arrived. Is it not fair, when one can find a complete statement as to the very question which is being discussed in a report, to allow it to obtain some entrance into one’s mind, even although one may be determined that it shall not affect his decision?
– Other people as well as the honorable and learned member have read the report.
– Other people have read all that the honorable member has read, and fifty times more, and yet they listen to his speeches. Why? Because be brings a new individuality to bear ; and, therefore, we all listened to him with very great pleasure. It seems to me that Judge Backhouse would be very unfit for his position, or for any other position, if he stultified himself after writing that sentence by adding something of a contradictory character. He says -
Since the Act came into operation, everything has been in favour of an increase in the emoluments and an amelioration of the conditions of labour, and there cannot be the slightest doubt that wages would have risen if there had been no Act.
I suppose that we can take that from him ?
– Then are we not to accept his report at all ? He continues -
New Zealand has been advancing on an ever increasing wave of prosperity, largely due to a favorable market for its exports, which last year amounted to £13,246,131 ; and it must be borne in mind that these exports are of commodities, which, up to the present, have been in no way affected directly by the Act….. But when lean years come, as come they must, when there must be curtailment instead of expansion, when wages will be cut down, instead of being raised, by the awards, then, and not till then, can any One speak with authority as to whether the principle involved is workable or not.
– The experience of New South Wales shows that it is.
– I do not propose to conduct a symposium in this discussion, I wish to make a speech, and I therefore ask honorable members to bear with me while I put my view of the case before the House. We have no experience to guide us as regards New Zealand, because since their Act was passed the country has been increasingly prosperous, and we must wait for the change which will inevitably come.. But let us turn for a moment to the position in Western Australia. There we have a condition of things which ought to set a man thinking. The following report from Perth appeared recently in one of our newspapers - I think the Sydney Daily Telegraph -
The recent award of the Arbitration Court, permitting unregulated piece work in the carpentering, and joiner)’, and saddlery trades, has created intense dissatisfaction among the workers. The Trades and Labour Council considered the matter on Thursday night, when the following motion was carried : - “That this council is of opinion that the awards given in the saddlers’ and carpenters’ disputes, issued by the Court of Arbitration, are illogical and absurd, and tend to bring the principle of compulsory arbitration into contempt.”
That motion reminds me of a cartoon which appeared in the London Punch some time ago, in which one man was depicted as saying to another - “You call that arbitration, Bill 1 Why, it’s gone agin us.” The speaker’ did not think that a process in which an award went against him was’ deserving of the name of arbitration. Similarly, the unionists of Western Australia, who, like the unionists of “Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales, have expressed themselves as anxious to have these disputes submitted to the arbitrament of entirely impartial men - Judges or men of that type - will think, when a decision is given against them, that it is “ illogical and absurd, and tends to bring the principle of compulsory arbitration into contempt:”
– That particular award might have been what they describe it. 8 f 2
– Why ? Because it was against them.
– Not necessarily for that reason.
– The report continues -
The president of the Council said that the position created by the court was a peculiar one. It was nothing more than the creating of industrial anarchy. It had been represented that the unions in objecting to freedom of contract were fighting against piece-work. As a matter of fact they were not fighting against piece-work, but against unregulated piece-work. The unions claimed that freedom of contract had been abolished by the Arbitration Court. They, as trades unionists, would not have freedom of contract, whether it came from the Judge of the Arbitration Court or any one else. They wanted to limit and curtail freedom of contract. Mr. Croft, who seconded the motion, said that awards given recently had accentuated industrial disputes, and were calculated to create “more strife in 24 hours than twenty dozen unions would. Employers had already reduced wages in consequence of it.
That is the other side of the picture.
The Council decided to advise the unions u withhold cases from the Arbitration Court until the question of freedom of contract had been definitely settled.
– Is the disappointment of unsuccessful suitors in the civil courts a reason for their abolition ?
– Certainly not. But these disputes stand on a totally different footing.
– Not at all.
– The speech of the Attorney-General reminded me of that beautiful little book by William Morris called News from Nowhere, in which everybody is happy, and life a sort of perpetual harvesting ; in which the men and women do little else but walk about with rakes adorned with pretty pieces of ribbon. The honorable and learned gentleman’s speech was a poem to which justice will never be done until it is set to music as a cantata or oratorio by some great master. It referred to a state of affairs which is quite impracticable, and was altogether beside the conditions of the work-a-day world, and the ideas of life with which we have to deal. It threw no light upon the question. The honorable and learned gentleman did not quote one solitary passage upon the practical working of this kind of legislation in any part of the world. He slurred over the experience of New Zealand by saying that, according to Mi-. Reeves, great satisfaction has been obtained from the working of the New Zealand Act.
– Judge Backhouse says that only one employer in New Zealand is willing to go back to the old state of things.
– I have read what J udge Backhouse says with regard to the experience of New Zealand.
– Judge Backhouse’s report concludes with a recommendation of this kind of legislation.
– I will presently put before the House the views of some of the employers on the subject. We in Australia and New Zealand pride ourselves with having set up a sort of political laboratory, in which we demonstrate to the world how to “suck eggs.” We are continually progressing ; but whether we progress over a precipice or not is apparently of no concern to us. We go ahead with the confidence of an amateur, and with the little learning which is proverbially so dangerous. People elsewhere, however, are watching us, and I should like to read the opinions upon this legislation of some prominent men in America, where we might have expected some attempt to be made to imitate the advanced ideas in which this country is so prolific.
– That has all been quoted and replied to.
– I will quote it now because I have not heard it quoted either by the Attorney-General or by the honorable member who interjects. This is what Mr. Samuel Gompers, the President of the American Federation of Labour, said-
– I quoted that last night.
– He said-
Compulsory arbitration was known and tried in England in the loth century. It is the very antithesis of freedom, order, and progress. On the one hand it would mean the confiscation of property ; on the other it involves slavery, and the enforcement of either of these is the beginning and the death-knell of industrial and commercial superiority in America. He says further : “ The points of success we have reached ought to be a sufficient warrant to all earnest, right-thinking Americans to insist that at least the industrial affairs of our people ought to be kept from political jugglery.”
I had the opportunity of reading, during my speech upon the address in reply, some extracts from the Moseley Commission’s report. That was a Commission the expenses of which were paid by a British citizen. It was appointed to enable 25 or 30 trades unionists from England to go over to
America and report upon the condition of the American working classes compared with thoseof England. The members of the Commission came back much wiser than they went. What they strongly commented upon was this - that there was no desire in America to adopt any compulsory system of arbitration in industrial disputes ; and they further went on to say that a condition of things had been arrived at in America in which what was called the Jingo spirit - which gave rise to much antagonism between masters and workmen - had departed from the bulk of the American workmen, and that the two classes had been so brought together, as to arrive at amicable relations without any compulsory methods such as are advocated in other countries.
– As in the case of the anthracite coal strike, for instance.
- Mr. Mitchell, the President of the same Anthracite Miners’ Association, who is concerned with the very struggle mentioned by the honorable member, says -
I am glad to see that the advocates of compulsory arbitration are growing fewer with each succeeding year, and that there is a corresponding increase in the number of those who favour voluntary arbitration. Arbitration, to be practical, to be beneficial, must be entirely voluntary.
– But he also said that the force of public opinion had impelled the appointment of an Arbitration Board.
– Any man is, of course, wrong who says anything in opposition to the honorable member’s view ;and any man who says anything in agreement with my point of view can apparently be quoted as saying something the other way !
– That is not the whole extract ; the honorable and learned member has not read the whole of it.
– It is a perfectly fair extract.
– I desire to point out that I have had repeatedly to ask for a cessation of interruptions while the honorable and learned member has been speaking. Seeing that we have had several speeches upon the other side of the question under discussion, and that the speech of the honorable and learned member for Parkes is the first speech from the point of view which he represents, I must ask the House, in the exercise of that fair play which it always displays, to listen to the honorable and learned member uninterruptedly.
– The only objections that I have to interjections are, first, that it is inevitable, when one reads one’s speech afterwards, tofind that there is a certain want of continuity in it, consequent upon the numerous breaks due to its delivery ; and the second objection is that one has to raise one’s voice unduly in order to be heard. I desire now to quote the opinion of Mr. George Howell, a member of the House of Commons, and a recognised authority upon economic subjects. This is what he has said upon this question-
It has been tried in New Zealand, where, it is alleged, ithas signally failed; this seems to have been admitted by the author of the measure. As well make litigation compulsory. In all trading and commercial disputes, before arbitration can be resorted to the parties must enter an action at law ; this is voluntary.
Those are the opinions of three men whose testimony cannot be doubted ; because one receives the opinion of an interested person which is against his interest, as being of much more force than an opinion emanating from a person whose interest is in the direction of the view that he advocates. Here are the heads of two great American labour organizations, wholive in a country in which there is a population of something like80,000,000, and who, though aware of this panacea, say “We want none of it. We know all about it ; but we do not want it. The recommendation of the Moseley Commission tended to confirm that conclusion by telling the workmen of England “We do not want any of these ready-made millenniums ; we will work out one for ourselves by natural laws.” It is a fact which.it is well for the House to know that in New Zealand the farmers were entirely removed from the operation of the Arbitration Act by an Amending Bill which was introduced because of the influence brought to bear upon the Prime Minister of the country by a large and growing part of the population. Why did they want to be dropped out ? The farmers of New Zealand, we may suppose, saw for themselves the effects of this panacea, which was operating in their country. If compulsory arbitration be such a beautiful means of making the lion lie down with the lamb, why did not the farmers in New Zealand, who are a “cute” class, remain within the fold of the measure ? Why did they seek - and seek successfully - to get out of it 1 Does not the fact that in New Zealand the conciliation clauses of the Act have been dropped out altogether - although included in the measure before us - show that even in New Zealand, apart from the experience they have had, and apart from the insufficiency of the time allowed us to judge of its ultimate success, the measure has not given satisfaction ? New Zealand has already altered its Act on two occasions by cutting out a large class of its citizens, and also by dropping the whole of the conciliation clauses.
– They have only modified the Act.
– The honorable member may call it modification. If he takes out the blade from a knife he modifies it - but the thing ceases to be a knife. The honorable and learned member for West Sydney said in his speech that the unionists of New South Wales wanted only a “little amendment” in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of that State. The “ little amendment “ consisted of an Act of Parliament which would prevent a union from becoming liable for any injury to a citizen by picketing, as in the Taff Vale case.
– That is not correct.
– That is the effect of it.
– The honorable and learned member is making a series of misstatements.
– Now, my principle objection to this measure is this : that the effect of it is to take a business entirely out of the hands of the man who owns it. I said, on a former occasion, that . it was contended that this measure did not really interfere with business in any serious way. But I will ask any reasonable man to consider this point of view - whether he may be said to have the management of a business when some outside party settles the wages he shall pay to labour, the hours that his men shall work, the conditions under which that work shall be done, what number of apprentices he may educate, the conditions under which he shall educate them, the time they shall remain in his employ, and the payment he shall be compelled to make to them while they are in his employ? I should like to know how much of the management of the business under such circumstances would really be left to the owner of it. The honorable member for Bland, inadvertently, I think, made the admission a few days ago that the late Chief
Commissioner of Railways in New South Wales was worth £10,000 per annum. The honorable member made that statement as the result of his experience of that gentleman’s administration. There are plenty of Eddys in business in America, and I suppose there are also some in Australia ; it is entirely a matter of degree. If a man has capital, and comes into this country with abilities that are really worth, according to the honorable gentleman’s gauge, £10,000 a year, what chance has he to bring such abilities to bear upon his business when the whole of the management is taken out of his hands, and placed in those of others who are not business men? I could understand a manufacturing business being placed in the hands of three successful manufacturers, or an enterprise connected with an iron industry being placed in the hands of Mr. Carnegie. But what do we find 1 It is proposed to place all businesses under the control, in the first place, of a lawyer, above all men - a lawyer with absolutely no more business experience than has our AttorneyGeneral, or the Attorney-General of New South Wales, or the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, or Mr. Reeves, who was a barrister. Suppose a man brings into this country £10,000, £15,000, £50,000, or £100,000, puts it into a business, brings faculties of the value of £10,000 a year to bear upon it, and subsequently finds that he is not allowed to manage the business ?
– How many directors are there concerned in the management of businesses ?
– Directors do not manage businesses. They sign cheques and decide matters of general policy, but how many directors who sit once a week on a board have anything to do with the management of businesses ? In any case they are not chosen as directors unless they are business men.
– Perhaps in some cases they do not manage the business, but they should do so.
– I remember a speech by the honorable member a little time ago, in which he expressed an opposite view to that which he is now taking ; but I do not now regard him as an authority in this matter. If a man comes into this country with a capital of £50,000 or £100,000, and he wishes to bring to bear upon the use of that capital faculties which are worth £5,000 or £10,000 a year, we purpose to take the whole management of his business out of his capable hands. I am not urging this in any inimical spirit, but I ask if such a man would stay here ?
– Suppose he does not.
– I know that the honorable member holds the “‘News from Nowhere “ view of life according to which it can be made a perpetual haymaking ; but life is made up of business, and we cannot make progress in this country unless men come here with capital or the tools of trade and provide occupation for our people. I ask whether we shall induce these men to come here or keep them here, if, at the very moment they arrive, we take the management of their business out of their hands and put it under the control of a trio of men, one of whom is a lawyer and the others of whom are content to receive salaries of £700 for their complete occupation. I should like to ask the honorable member for Melbourne to hand over the management of his shipping business to a lawyer and two assessors.
– This is not a question of management.
– I should like the honorable member to submit the timetable of his steamers to a lawyer and two assessors at £700 a year, and allow them to determine of what tonnage his steamers shall be, what their power shall be, how they shall run, and at what speed, the number of passengers they shall carry, the rates that shall be charged for passengers, and how many tons of cargo each vessel shall carry.
– All that is entirely beyond the question.
– The honorable member would laugh on the other side of his face if he had to submit to that ; and I hope that he may have to bring his line of steamers under the operation of this Bill, and thus have an opportunity of seeing how it will work.
– The provisions of the Bill would not touch any of those matters.
– I submit that they would touch a great many of them, because any of these questions could be brought before the Court. Does the honorable member know that, in New South Wales, within the last six months, a case arose in which a certain coal company wished to dismiss two of its hands because it did not want to employ so many men, when the Arbitration Court directed that the company could not dismiss the two men whom it had selected, but would have to dispense with two others, who had been more recently employed.
– The honorable and learned member’s statement is wrong, if he refers to the case of the Bellambi Coal Company.
– I say that the Arbitration Court determined that the Company could not dismiss the men whom it desired to dismiss, and held that it must follow the rule of dismissing the last men taken on. That very question was argued out here upon an observation made by the honorable member for Wentworth, when the Attorney-General was making his speech. The principle laid down was that the last man taken on should be the first dismissed. What does that mean? The AttorneyGeneral contended that as the employer had had his choice in the first place he must abide by it. That means that if I had taken on twenty men, and, after some experienceof their capabilities, had employed a further five men, and then came to the conclusion that the last five men were better than five out of the original twenty, I could not dismiss the inferior men.
– That is all a question of agreement.
– The honorable member is juggling with the facts. What I say is that the Court determined that the last men taken on must be the first dismissed. They laid down a principle which will have to be applied to other cases.
– They did not do that in the case in which I was interested.
– Does not the decision which I have quoted show what the employer will have to submit to? The honorable member for New England says that questions of the kind I have mentioned would not be touched upon by the Arbitration Court, but I cannot conceive of any condition of business, whether it be a shipping or a manufacturing business, which could not be brought before the Court by the employes so long as the union raised it as an issue between employer and employes.
– They could not call upon the Court to fix the tonnage of a ship.
– If the men chose to raise a question of that kind, they could do so, but I do not say that the Court would deal with it. They could bring forward a question connected with the quality of the food given to the passengers, but they might not succeed in inducing the Court to take action. If he looks closely into the Bill the honorable member will see that it gives practically unlimited power to any union - I do not say half-a-dozen men, because, as I read the Bill, it requires a union with a minimum of 100 members - to raise any question.
– How can it be said that the question of the food given to passengers affects the relations between employers and workmen ?
– All I am contending is, not that the Arbitration Court would act upon such a complaint ; but that the Bill is so wide that it would enable a union to bring up any and every conceivable question. The cost is so small - as experience shows - that whenever there is a chance - it may be an outside chance - of obtaining even a portion of what is demanded, the unions will be encouraged to bring the matter before the Court. It is, I submit, a complete travesty upon modem commerce and a complete reversal of the whole spirit of liberty which runs right through our history, and by which every man is enabled to do just as he chooses, so long as he does not interfere with the equal rights of other persons. I listened last night to the very crude statements of one honorable member regarding the way in which courts interfere in this matter and in that, and regarding the manner in which we restrict liberty. I am not for a moment contending for unrestricted liberty) but the whole tendency of history - certainly that of Anglo-Saxon history - is to give the individual increasing liberty so longas he does not interfere with the equal individual liberty of others.
– But a strike interferes with individual liberty.
– A strike does not necessarily interfere with liberty, unless the honorable and learned member refers to liberty of contract. One would think from the observations which have been made during the course of this debate that totally different principles are applicable to a strike or lock-out from those which are applicable to other matters. If I walk into a shop with a view to purchase an article, and offer 25 per cent, less than the price at which it is marked, and if the shopkeeper refuses to accept my offer, according to the views of some honorable members he practically creates a lock-out. I should be quite as justified in fighting that man as the members of trades unions are in stirring up industrial trouble because their demands are not always conceded. Exactly the same principle, is involved, though upon a larger scale. The employer says in effect - *‘I have to carry on a certain industry, and I must have certain labour for that purpose. I am prepared to pay 7s. per day.” A number of men, however, who belong to a union reply - “We will not sell our labour for less than 9s. per day.” Freedom of action requires that the individual who declines to pay more than the 7s. per day should be allowed to shut up his establishment and say - “I cannot afford to pay more than that amount.” But no ! Under the operation of this Bill he is to be compelled either to pay the 9s. per day or to come before the Arbitration Court and assign, reasons why he should not do so. We might just as reasonably insist that the shopkeeper who demands 10s. for a hat, for which I have offered 7s. 6d., should be brought before the court to state his reasons for declining to accept my offer. What is a strike? A number of workmen offer their commodity, which is their labour, for, say, 7s. per day.
– What is their commodity?
– Their physical force or manual skill. That is the commodity which they are prepared to sell to the employer. The latter, however, may say - “I cannot afford to pay you 7s. per day; I can offer you only 6s.” The obvious duty of the men who wish to sell their labour is to say - “ Well ; we cannot deal.” But no ! They stand together, and a strike occurs. The employers of labour are then to be compelled to go into Court, and assign reasons why they should not pay 7s. per clay, instead of 6s. There is no difference between the case of a number of men who are endeavouring to sell their labour to an employer, and that of a single individual, who attempts to sell a horse or a hat to any other individual. The principle underlying the transaction is the same in both cases.
– In principle they are exactly the same. Something is to bo bought and sold.
– - In the one case we are dealing with flesh and blood.
– Does the honorable member contend that because labour happens to be the product of a human being I am bound to pay more than my business will enable me to give 1 Does he say when he wishes to get his sheep shorn, and the shearers refuse to undertake the work at less than a certain price, that because they are men he is induced to pay them more than his business will justify him in doing ?
– Certainly not.
– Does not the same principle apply in both cases ? ‘
– When it comes home to the honorable member in his own occupation, he sees the matter from a different stand-point. If I am a manufacturer of machinery, and am dealing with men in the iron trade, I occupy just the same posi-tion as does the honorable member when he is dealing with shearers. He is not bound to pay the shearers more per hundred than his business will warrant, simply because they are human beings. He offers them so much because he says - “ My business will warrant it.” Just in the same way the foundry man says to his workers - “ I have certain machine work which requires to be done.” Honorable members will understand that I am talking of the principle which underlies a contract made between an employer and an employe.
– According to the honorable and learned member, the question at issue is not what I can afford to pay, but what is the cheapest rate at which I can get the work done.
– I do not take up that position. The honorable member can be a philanthropist if he chooses, and may say to his shearers - “Boys, my business will warrant me in paying you only 15s. per hundred, but I feel so much sympathy with you that I will pay you 17s. 6d. per hundred.” I should like to see the honorable member doing that. I desire to know whether he would pay more than his business would justify him in paying, simply from humanitarian motives t
As a rule, whenever men talk about these things they fail to apply the principle involved to their own occupations. Whenever a workman becomes an employer, I am very much interested in noticing his complete change of view of the economic situation. It is purely a question of political economy, and everything paid over and above the amount payable under the principle which I have enunciated represents philanthropy. Thank God, we are all free to exercise philanthropy at any time. If I choose to go into a hatter’s shop and purchase an article which is marked at 10s. there is nothing to prevent me from saying to the shopman - “ I think you are a very decent fellow, and I insist upon paying you 12s. 6d.” The two matters, ho wever, are quite distinct. The gravest objection which I have to this Bill is that it hands over the management of one’s business to a board of men, who, to my mind, are the least competent, from the point of view of their character and ability, to perform the duties which they are called upon to discharge. In any investigation into something which has already occurred, I can quite understand that we should employ a lawyer who thoroughly understands how to sift evidence, and to apply the law to the facts of the case. But where, instead of an investigation by a Judge or a jury into past events, the inquiry to be instituted practically amounts to a settlement of the conditions under which, not merely the parties before the Court, but persons all over the country, shall in future conduct their business, it is an inquiry of a totally different nature. It is not then a question of investigating the past but of settling regulations for the future management of the business of the whole country to which the common rule may at any time be extended. I heard the honorable member for Bland declare that there was no difference - and I think the AttorneyGeneral also urged the same contention - between compelling men to refer their labour disputes to a Court of this description and compelling them to refer their ordinary disputes to a court of law. I maintain that there is all the difference in the world. There is absolutely nothing in common between them. If I render myself liable to any one of my fellow citizens for a breach of the law, he will bring me before a court - either for something that I have done or that I have left undone - in order that my breach may be reduced to a money value. But in this instance we are asking employers to come under the operation 6i a Bill - not because they have done something which is either right or wrong - but in order that they may have their business regulated during the coming years, although they may not be before the Court at all. We know that the common rule principle means that A and B, having a business in which certain men are discontented, may be brought before the Court in Melbourne. That Court may, in the light of the evidence given by A and B and their employes, lay down a rule, with regard to the conduct of their particular industry, which rule will extend to the Gulf of Carpentaria, and compel men carrying on the same business in the northern parts of Queensland to manage it accordingly. That is the effect of the common rule. I should like to know how it would be possible for a court sitting, say, in the southern part of Australia to lay down a common rule that might extend to businesses carried on in an altogether different climate, where the state of labour was entirely different, and the surroundings of business absolutely foreign to those of the community in which the Court sits.
– The rule would not apply in such a case.
– We are giving the Court power to make it apply.
– Would any Judge do such a thing ?
– Ido not know what any Judge would do. I do not think that a Judge is the best type of man to place in such a position. If we are to recognise that this Court will be, not merely a Court to settle past strikes or locks-out, but a Court that will regulate the business of industries for future years, or months, in all parts of Australia, then a lawyer will not be the best man to preside over such a tribunal. We should have a man familiar with the particular kind of business which is to be regulated.
– How does the honorable and learned member agree in this matter with another honorable member who is in the same line of business 1
– The honorable member for Melbourne is not in my line of business.
– I thought that the honorable and learned member was a shareholder in a shipping company.
– Not now ; but I understand Something about the shipping business.
– Does the honorable and learned member draw the conclusion that the President of the Arbitration Court in New Zealand, New South Weles. or Western Australia, has been unsatisfactory ?
– I have not said anything about the matter, but I have here testimony to the effect that the men are not satisfied with the Judge who presides over the Western Australian Court.
– The honorable and learned member is referring to what is a merely isolated expression of opinion. That feeling is not general, and the honorable and learned member’s assertion that it is, is like some of the other statements which he has made.
– When the honorable member asks me for something and I give it to him, he does not like it.
– I am not asking for anything.
– The Prime Minister put a question to me, and the honorable member would stop me from giving him the information which he desires. I have here a statement showing that the members of the Trades and Labour Council of Western Australia said that the conclusions of the Court were “ illogical and absurd,” and that the manufacturer and the labourer ought to have the power of electing a man to preside over a tribunal of that kind. The information is right into the Prime Minister’s hands.
– The position in New Zealand is the same.
– The honorable and learned member has not given an answer to my question. I inquired whether he drew the conclusion that the heads of these courts in New Zealand, New South Wales, and Western Australia were unsatisfactory.
– I do not draw any conclusion. I allow the members of the Trades and Labour Council to draw their own conclusion, and I quote it for the information of the House.
– The Trades Hall Council do not hold that view.
– I understood that they did. However, I am not here as an advocate. 1
– The honorable and learned! member is making many partial and incorrect statements, as a reference to Judge Backhouse’s report will show.
– What I contend is that there are two ways in which the Court to be created under this Bill will be able to act. Originally, the object of Courts of this kind was that they should settle strikes and locks-out, that they should investigate disputes, and seewhether they could not be settled. The object of this court is not merely to settle, but to prevent, and also tosettle. If this court were to embark upon the settlement of strikes which had actually occurred, with the view of finding out why they had occurred, who was to blame for them, and how they might be cured, so asto enable the men to return to their work - or the doors of the industry to be thrown open - I could understand the proposal thata judicial mind should make the investigation. But the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, knows that the whole of the 400 cases towhich reference has been made have been practically an investigation of the conditionsof the businesses affected, with the object of laying down rules for the future guidance of those businesses, so far as the relationship of masters and men are concerned, and a member of the legal profession is not the type of man required for such purposes. Business experience is necessary. How can a lawyer’, for example, say how a manufacturer of machinery should manage his foundry t How can he say what wages the manufacturer ought to pay with profit to himself, unless he puts himself completely in the position of the owner of the business, investigates his books, and becomes, for the time being, practically a director 1 Nevertheless, that is what we are asked to do. We are hot asked to appoint men to investigate past disputes. That cannot be done. This Court, under the Constitution, cannot touch any trade trouble until it has really become a dispute, and extended beyond any one State.
– That proposition is not admitted.
– I am aware of that fact. I make it a premise to ray argument, and although I do not use the word “ assuming,” honorable members know that my argument is conducted upon that understanding. The Court to be created under this Bill will not be able to do anything but settle disputes which have extended from one to another State. It will have no jurisdiction to deal with a dispute in any State until it has extended to another State, because until a dispute so extends it is purely a State question, and comes within the jurisdiction of the State Court. But if this Court will have in the settlement of disputes which have occurred to dive into the future, in order to lay down conditions that will prevent a recurrence of trouble, it will be necessary to have, not a lawyer, but a business man to do the work. . It is an absurdity to think that a lawyer would be able to bring to bear experience equal to that of men of business attainments. I could understand a proposal, for example, that an iron-founder with a knowledge of business principles should be appointed to investigate a case in another class of business altogether. But it would be an absurdity to take a lawyer having no business experience whatever - and knowing not even what I might call the elements of business, nor the phraseology of business men - and to ask him to” dive into the future, in order to determine the conditions of a particular industry which might be finally carried on all over Australia, or, at all events, in two or three States. My only fear is that the injury that will be done by interfering with businesses in any way will be accentuated by bringing legal minds to bear upon business principles and business concerns.
– Would the honorable and learned member vote for the Bill if it provided for the appointment of commercial men to deal with this matter?
– I should much more readily vote for a Bill of that kind than for one proposing to create a tribunal the president of which would be a lawyer to deal with these questions. Experience shows that whenever the employers and the workmen come together in order to arrange an amicable settlement of a dispute, they almost invariably choose as their representatives men who have some knowledge of the business with which they are called upon to deal. The honorable member is aware of the fact. He.has been connected with the coal industry, and he knows that if the members of the colliers’ unions were choosing some one to decide between the miners and the mine-owners, they would not think of selecting a doctor for the purpose.
– They once chose a barrister to do the work.
– Honorable members know that when the Prime Minister was chosen as an arbitrator in connexion with the dispute in the coal trade, he was selected for the purpose of settling a difficulty which had already occurred.
– He was chosen by the Chief Justice under an agreement.
– I am aware of that fact; but the position was totally different” from that provided for in this Bill. . He was not chosen to lay down the future conditions of an industry, but to deal with a strike which existed and threatened the permanence of the industry.
– He was able to decide different questions.
– But he was not called upon to decide a series of questions such as we are providing for and contemplating in connexion with this measure.
– Much the same kind of questions.
– It was a different thing altogether. Looking at the character of this tribunal, and the work which it will be required to do, it is evident that its composition is not the best that could be provided for. If this were a measure which provided for the compulsory reference of questions to men chosen because of their knowledge of the industries involved in the dispute, I should have much less objection to it than I have to a legal tribunal for the decision of questions by men who do not understand, the particular trades concerned. The Attorney-General spoke very feelingly about the advantages of the principle of the minimum wage. I should like to say a word on that subject, because the experience of Victoria has thrown a very important light upon it. When the wages boards were first appointed there was no anticipation of the possible effect of minimum-wage provisions upon the least capable workmen and workwomen. But it was found that as soon as the employer had to pay a fixed minimum rate of wage he naturally tried to obtain for the money the best workmen available, and the consequence was that the older and infirm workmen, who could not do as much work as their younger and more vigorous fellows, were practically shut out of employment.
– There has not been an instance of that kind.
– The honorable member knows that it was found necessary to give certificates to persons who were shut out from employment, to enable them to take a lower than the minimum wage.
– That provision existed from the very first.
– No; it was introduced as an afterthought.
– It was provided for in the Act of 1S96.
– I read a report of a deputation which waited upon the Treasurer of Victoria, whose members asked permission to accept lower wages than were fixed by the wages board.
– That was a theatrical display ; the provision was already in the Act.
– I accept the honorable and learned gentleman’s explanation. But the fact is that after the establishment of tribunals to fix minimum rates of wages in particular trades, certificates had to be given to workmen and workwomen who were not able to obtain employment at those rates, to allow them to take work at lower rates. How are such cases provided for? Each individual case must be investigated.
– No. A man goes to the chief inspector, and he fixes the wage.
– The inspector, being the alter ego, so to speak, of the board, has to say whether a particular man is entitled to a certificate. That is the safety-valve of .the wages-board system. But I should like to know how the investigation which it involves will be conducted under this Bill. There is no provision for such investigation.
– Yes, there is ; and there is nothing more common in connexion with awards in New Zealand than for the Court to provide for such cases as the honorable and learned member refers to.
– I am glad to hear it, but I ask how the investigation will be made under the Bill ? Suppose an industrial dispute extending beyond one State is brought before the Commonwealth Court in Victoria, and a common rule is made to apply to. a variety of industries of the same kind in Victoria and New
South Wales. If that common rule is a minimum rate of wage, who is going to investigate the individual cases in New South Wales in which workmen or workwomen declare themselves unable to obtain employment at that rate of wage ?
– That is provided for in paragraph (a) of section 65.
– There may be factories affected by the award in Sydney^ Bathurst, Bourke, Maitland, and Newcastle. . Is there to be an army of inspectors to visit all these places, to investigate the individual representations of citizens in order to ascertain whether they are entitled to a certificate to allow them to work for less than the minimum wage ? We are beginning a series of interferences with, and regulations of, daily conduct for which a parallel can be found only by going some centuries back in ourhistory. I speak against the Bill, with no hope of defeating ‘the second reading, because that is a foregone conclusion ; but I think I am justified in putting before this House, in the strongest way possible, my honest belief as to the future results of its operation. The only satisfaction I shall get, if I get any at all, will be by being able to say at some time or other - “ I told you so.” I honestly believe that the spirit which has led to the introduction of the Bill is a retrograde one, and is opposed to the experience of the last century, during which individual liberty matured and became a living principle among AngloSaxon people.
– But the workers have remained in a most degraded condition.
– The honorable member must refer to the time when this sort of -legislation was in existence. What does the honorable member think of an Act of Parliament which, 150 years ago, after a hurricane, enacted that plumbers should not receive more than twopence an hour t
– There , was not much, arbitration about that.
– Parliament was the arbitrator ; and so consistent was th& Attorney-General in the application of this principle, that he proposes that Parliament shall remain the compulsory Conciliation and Arbitration Court for the public servants of the Commonwealth. If the measureprovides such a panacea that it is going to. produce an industrial millennium-
– No one has said that.
– That has practically been stated. In the AttorneyGeneral’s speech we were told that the Bill introduced a new era in the history of civilization, and would bring about a condition of human happiness such as we have never had before. If that be so, why should not the public servants of the Commonwealth be allowed to enter the hallowed circle? Why should not a dispute such as recently occurred between the Victorian Government and its railway servants come under the jurisdiction of the Court?
– Will the honorable and learned member vote to bring public servants under the operation of the measure ?
– I should be very glad to exclude every one from its operation. I am endeavouring to show the inconsistency of the Attorney-General. He flowered out into a beautiful poem of three hours’ duration, for the edification and instruction of the people of Australia, and, at the end of his remarks, coldly told us that he proposed to exclude public servants from the benefits of his panacea. I hope honorable members will find out why he has done that. He did not in his speech use one argument which justifies him in excluding them from a share in the general happiness. He told us that the Court would have no power of enforcing its decrees in regard to them ; but surely the Parliament of a State would not disregard the decision of a Court appointed by the Commonwealth Parliament ! If the Attorney-General has no better reason for excluding the public servants from the operation of the Bill, I advise him to set his legal wits to work to conceive some means of compelling State Ministers to obey any orders which this Parliament may empower the Court to make. I should be glad to exclude everybody from the operation of the measure, because I believe that all who escape from its octopuslike embrace - whether they be farmers, or seamen, or others - will be the happier for having done so. But the AttorneyGeneral is highly inconsistent in providing this magnificentsalve for all industrial ills, and preventing the public servants from sharing in the happiness which it will produce. I have spoken in no spirit of antagonism, but as a friend who thinks that the adoption of the measure will not bring about the happiness expected from it. If I have in any instance spoken roughly, or violently, or too forcibly, and have hurt the feelings of either capitalists or workmen, I hope that it will be understood that I have done so only because I honestly believe, as the result of my reading of history, and of my observations of commercial and industrial life, that the measure will not only not bring about the benefits expected from it but will create great trouble. I think that the expressions of opinion of the trades unionists of New Zealand and Western Australia, which I have read to the House, will be repeated throughout the Commonwealth, when the decisions of the Court are againts the unions, and that dissatisfaction will intensify until we have in time such a cumulative objection to the Bill as will lead to a very strong agitation for its repeal. Then I shall have one sort of satisfaction. But, in opposition to my own convictions, I hope that the Bill, if passed by this House, may succeed. I am afraid it will not, and I think I have only done my duty in presenting my pressing thoughts upon this House, for good or for ill.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I congratulate the honorable and learned member upon his able and well arranged speech. I think that he has submitted theories which ought to have been brought under the notice of honorable members, and I do not think they could have been better expressed. The honorable and learned member says that he has studied political economy for more than thirty years, and his speech showed the result of prolonged and careful study of the subject. It struck me, however, that his thirty years of study must have been based upon the political economy of at least sixty years ago, and that he had not kept himself in touch with latter-day conditions or criticisms. The honorable and learned member is not to be rebuked by us for speaking, although he may be in a minority. I have had the experience of being in a minority, and I can sympathize with him. I feel that it is my duty to give him credit for honest intentions, just as honorable members credited me upon a former occasion when I was in a minority. We all desire that honorable members should speak fairly, as straight-out opponents, of any of the measures which may be brought forward. It was not the violence of the honorable and learned member’s language which pressed upon us sometimes so much as his attitude of lecturing in a superior tone, and his apparent wish to inform all and sundry that no one but himself had studied the subject; in fact, I was reminded of Mr. Barlow in Sandford and Merton. The honorable and learned member, in the character of Mr. Barlow, expressed himself with equal felicity and equal sententiousness to the honorable member for Melbourne as Tommy Merton, and to the honorable and learned member for West Sydney as Harry Sandford*, and gave them a lecture which rebuked the two extremes at the same time. I feel peculiar interest in this measure, because it was upon my motion, as the honorable and learned member for Parkes has mentioned, that sub-section (35) of section 51 of the Constitution was inserted. It was proposed in substance by the right honorable and learned member for South .Australia, Mr. Kingston, at the 1891 Convention. I proposed it in Adelaide, and I was beaten by 22 votes to 12. Some of the satisfaction I feel in connexion with this matter is due to the gradual accession of those who opposed the principle of the measure to the ranks of those who are supporting it. Looking over the list, I find that at the Adelaide as well as at the Melbourne sittings of the Convention, the Prime Minister opposed the sub-section. The leader of the Opposition also opposed it. Sir John Downer was among its opponents at both places.
– My reasons were independent of any opposition to the principle of compulsory arbitration.
– I have no. doubt there were several reasons actuating several men. Another Minister, the Postmaster-General, the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, the Vice President of the Executive Council, and the honorable member for Wentworth also opposed the sub-section. Not only that, but the Hon. B. R. Wise, the AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, who has since introduced an Arbitration Bill into the State Parliament, opposed the sub-clause at both Sydney and Melbourne. Not only do I find the leading members of the Ministry and Opposition in this Parliament supporting the Bill, but also an honorable member who has a grip of a very important industry. I refer to the honorable member for Melbourne, who has become converted to the idea of conciliation and arbitration in trade disputes.
– Did the honorable and learned member convert him’
– No. The important feature about the position of the honorable member for Melbourne is that he did not speak from mere theory or hearsay, but from a concrete knowledge of, and from actual touch with, the facts. I think that his opinion will carry great weight owing to the fact that he speaks from the attitude of an employer of labour in one of the largest industries of Australia, and with a knowledge of the extent to which the industry may be affected by the operation of such a Bill as that now before us. The leader of the Opposition made a statement that startled me. He has become converted to the desirability of establishing a Court of Arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes ; at least, he is going to vote for the Bill. I am not quite sure that it is quite the same thing. He said that the Bill was an admission that our civilization had failed. I conceive that the very reverse is the truth. It simply affords an instance of civilization being applied to industrial disputes in the same way as to disputes regarding property and other matters. Private wars have been crushed and put down. Even the ordinary duels between individuals have been prohibited, and women who are neighbours, and who . are disposed to quarrel, are told by the law that they must not quarrel any more on the public footpath.
– Does the honorable and learned member contend that there is any analogy between such cases and those to which the Bill will apply %
– Yes. I say that there is an analogy. The point .is that trades disputes are not the concerns only of those who are immediately engaged in the quarrel. Such disputes affect the public ; they affect innocent people who have nothing whatever to do with them. It is all very well to say that a man should be allowed to do what he likes, so long as he does not interfere with any one else ; but it cannot be said that trade disputes do not interfere with other people. The position has been well stated by. Mr. Reeves in an article in one of the American reviews. He says -
The wisdom of a householder who might allow his family and servants to settle ‘a domestic dispute by smashing the furniture and each other, while he contentedly locked the front door and kept strangers from the door step, would not impress any one. But it would be about on a par with that of the upholders of absolute nonintervention by the State in the worst class of strikes and locks-out.
The question is whether we, as householders, are to give a fair ring and no favour, and let these people fight and knock about our furniture as they like. The losses which the public sustainare tremendous, and far and away greater in proportion than those incurred by the employers and employes directly concerned. I wish to say a word with regard to the powers conferred upon us by the Constitution. References have been made to sub-section (35) of section 51, the words of which have created some difficulty. They are as follows : -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
There are two things that can be done with one set of facts. The subject to be dealt with is disputes extending beyond the limits of anyone State. The Federal Parliament is empowered to deal with disputes which are widespread, asdistinguished from those which are confined to one State. Such disputes may be dealt with by prevention or by settlement, or both. Now, we cannot prevent a thing which has occurred ; therefore I hold that our power to legislate under this subsection is extremely wide. I do not mean to suggest that this power should be exercised at once, but I decline at this stage to set any limits to the powers which future Parliaments may exercise under this subsection. “ Prevention is better than cure,” and the prevention of wide-spread disputes may cover measures which are beyond our cognizance, and beyond even pur imagination at present. Prevention is a tremendous power. It may interest honorable members to know something of the history of the adoption of the words of the sub-section. My first proposal at Adelaide was to insert the words “ industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” Those words read in conjunction with the words in the early part of the section would have amounted to a provision as follows : -
The Parliament shall have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
If those words had been adopted they would have permitted of any kind of legislalation with regard to industrial disputes of a widespread character. However a discussion took place, and I see by a reference to page 792 of the report of the proceedings of the Adelaide Convention, that I said -
I am prepared to accept the suggestion of my honorable friend the President to have before the words “ industrial disputes,” these words : “Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of “ industrial disputes.
– What did the honorable and learned member mean by “ prevention ?”
– I have no doubt the honorable member understands the derivation of the word “ prevention.”
– I am referring to the scope of the honorable and learned member’s proposal as it appeared to him at that time.
– Personally,I should have preferred to end the sub-clause at the word “disputes.” I went on to say -
But in order to obviate the fear which some members entertain that this may enable the Federal Parliament to interfere in disputes purely local, I think it better to put in the words I had originally at the end of my previous amendment ; “ extending beyond the limits of any one State.”
Throughout the whole of the Convention debates, I felt that labour legislation should be exclusively vested in the Commonwealth Parliament. Unfortunately, members had come to the Convention with their minds prejudiced in favour of certain theories which they had derived from the antiquated Constitution of the United States.
– We had to obtain a Constitution which would be acceptable to all the States.
– There was a general belief in the Convention that factory legislation should be left to the States Parliaments. It was utterly impossible to overcome that feeling. Therefore, I had to see how the Commonwealth Parliament could, to some extent, obtain control over industrial disputes: Personally, I have always felt that Australia is ripe for a unity of a much higher character than it has obtained. I think that if members had not gone to the Convention with their judgments prejudiced in favor of the sanctity of the United States Constitution, we should have obtained a much better charter of government than that which we did. However, the fact remains that we have, in our Constitution, words the ambit of which I cannot foresee, and the power of which cannot at present be gauged. Speaking of the constitutional point which is involved, I understand that the Government do not. propose to deal with sailors upon British or foreign ships in this measure.
– Not unless they are upon British ships which come within the scope of the Constitution.
– That is to say, within the covering clauses of the Constitution ?
– I have carefully read the Attorney-General’s speech - after having heard it - but I cannot definitely ascertain from it whether, in the Navigation Bill, the Government intend to place foreign ships under the same rule as that which applies to Australian ships.
– The Prime Minister has more than once said so.
– That is satisfactory to a large extent. Then I understand that the Government feel there is no question as to our constitutional power to place British and foreign ships which trade along our coast under the same conditions in regard to wages as Australian ships ?
– We think that that can be done most effectively in a Navigation Bill.
– I am very glad that the Prime Minister has committed himself to that extent, because I merely gathered from the Attorney-General’s speech that the Ministry would introduce a Navigation Bill containing the provisions in question, and would then apply the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to them. I understand that that is to be done ?
– The direct wages provisions can be inserted most effectively in the Navigation Bill. It is possible to go further, but it is a matter which is very difficult to deal with in this Bill, and very easy to deal within the Navigation Bill.
– I understand the Prime Minister to say that in the Navigation Bill he proposes that foreign and British ships shall be subject to the same conditions as Australian ships in regard to our coastal trade?
-There are a series of conditions of which the question as to wages constitutes only one.
– I have no doubt whatever that we have a constitutional power to deal with the matter in this way.
– We have the constitutional power, subject to international comity. There is no constitutional doubt about it.
– It has been doubted, and I merely wish to say that under section 51, sub-section (1), of the Constitution we have full power to say to the ships of any country - “ You shall not come alongside our wharves,” or, “ You shall not come alongside our wharves unless you comply with certain conditions.”
– We can prevent them from trading locally, but surety we cannot prevent them from coming alongside our wharfs?
– I am not urging that we should do so, but merely that we have the constitutional power to do so.
– The honorable and learned member is, of course, referring to British and foreign ships participating in our coastal trade ?
– I say that under the Constitution we have absolute power to say to any ship - “ You shall not come alongside our wharfs.” I am simply pointing that out to show the extreme limit of our powers.
– Under that section it was decided in America that that country could prevent trade with England and France.
– As regards the covering section of the Constitution, I do not think it limits in the slightest degree our constitutional powers, because it sets out that laws made by the Parliament shall be binding upon every State and upon every part of the Commonwealth. Under the Constitution the harbor-masters of our ports are subject to the laws of the Commonwealth. We have power to say to them - “ You shall not allow certain ships to come here unless under prescribed conditions.” The laws of the Commonwealth are also “to be in force on all British ships, the Queen’s ships of war excepted, whose first port of clearance and whose port of destination are in the Commonwealth.” The AttorneyGeneral referred to the case ofRegina v.Keyn. The decision in that case, however, has been declared by the Legislature to have been bad law at the time. There is no doubt whatever that the judgment in that suit can no longer be quoted as an authority. Only last year the Lord Chancellor is reported upon page 181 of the Law Reports for 1902, appeal cases, to have said -
For whatever purposeRegina v.Keyn (1) was quoted, this, I think, is manifest : Speaking of it as an authoritative judgment, I cannot forbear from saying that, somewhat unusually, the Legislature of this country, in the very next session but one, passed an Act of Parliament (2) reversing that judgment - that is to say, affirming, in the strongest terms, that the decision which had been arrived at by the majority - a very narrow majority - in that case was one that was not the law of England ; because the Act does not purport simply to alter the law, but it declares the law, and says, in very plain terms, that thisis and always hag been the law of this country.
The Imperial Parliament, therefore, has said, in effect, that the decision given in that case did not express the true law, which was that the Parliament of Great Britain had full power to imprison or even to execute for an offence committed upon a foreign ship which was trading within the three miles limit.
– Even although she was upon a foreign voyage.
– Yes. I think that the difficulties which may have been raised in the Attorney-General’s mind by that case can be disposed of.
– The only reason why I quoted it was to show the necessity of an Act of Parliament to re-express the will of the Legislature in dealing with the question of jurisdiction within the three miles limit. The Act has overridden in that particular instance so far as it applied, but not the principle of it to which I alluded.
– I think thatthe House and the country very much regret that there has been a volcanic upheaval in the Ministry in consequence of such a difference of opinion among its members. In spite of all the ill-natured comments which appeared in certain sections of the press of the different States, I feel that the country as a whole recognised the honesty of purpose, the indomitable will, and the determination to do right, which were characteristic of the late Minister for Trade and Customs. It is only a pity that Ministers did not see their way - as I think they could have done - to included in this Bill the provisions which they intend to incorporate in another measure which may or may not be passed hereafter. “ A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.” I apprehend that the late Minister for Trade and Customs felt that he could not allow Australian shipowners to be subject to disabilities which were not applicable to foreign shipowners. Whilst I am referring to the ex-Minister for Trade and Customs, I desire to say, in justice to him, that he cannot be upbraided for not having furnished Government supporters with copies of this Bill at a very early stage. I understand that the honorable member for Melbourne referred to this matter last night in a spirit of complaint. Interested as I was in the measure, I ventured to ask the late Minister for Trade and Customs for an advance copy of it, and he at once forwarded it and asked for suggestions. I have no doubt whatever that in the same way he was anxious to secure suggestions from any quarter that he possibly could - of course, I refer to a friendly quarter. I have asked the permission of the right honorable and learned gentleman to make this statement. I can well understand his action in declining to supply draft copies of the measure indiscriminately. I am quite sure, however, that if the honorable member for Melbourne had only written to the late Minister for Trade and Customs in the same way that I did, he would have been supplied with a copy.
– I tried the Prime Minister, and could not get one, and the Employers’ Union also applied to the Attorney-General without success.
– I think the true position is that the only person who was responsible for the measure in its unfinished state was the Minister for Trade and Customs. He was, therefore, the only person to whom the honorable member should have applied. The Cabinet was not responsible for the Bill at that stage.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that I should have received a copy of the Bill if I had asked for it ?
– I feel sure that if the honorable member had asked for it he would have got it.
– The late Minister for Trade and Customs forwarded draft copies of the measure to certain organizations, but not to others.
– I think that the honorable member for Wentworth is doing him an injustice. After all, we must look at this matter from the evidence that is available. I do not dispute that the Bill is open to criticism, even in regard to its main features. I quite recognise that we are apt to be carried away by the idea that we are about to discover a new panacea for all ills. Personally, I regard this Bill as a modus vivendi - a mere working compromise, which is devised to prevent most tragic results. I think that it was well said -
The ample proposition that hope makes
In all designs begun on earth below,
Fails in the promis’d largeness.
– Is that a quotation from a speech by the AttorneyGeneral?
– No ; if it were it would be much more happily put. We have to choose between two evils. I do not know what solution may be found for the industrial troubles, which, judging by cablegrams from Russia, the United States, and other countries, recently published in the press, exist all over the world; but we have in this scheme of conciliation and arbitration a means of enabling the parties to work together better than they have done in the past. I admit that there is a distinction between a Conciliation and Arbitration Court and ordinary courts for litigation. In ordinary litigation we have principles of right, statutory or otherwise, to guide us, but in Conciliation and Arbitration Courts we have no principles to assist us. The position has been well put by Mr. Sydney Webb. He says that, on the one hand, the workman insists that the first condition is a living wage, while, on the other hand, the employer insists that a certain margin of profit is essential. Which basis is to be observed ? I admit that we cannot logically find any means of so fitting in these two theories as to make them work together. But we must not forget the case of the ironworkers in the North of England, who have successfully observed the principle of arbitration since the year 1869. The system thus observed has worked wonderfully well, because, as Mr. Sydney Webb points out, the workmen are willing to admit that the employer is entitled to a profit of 10 per cent. The employer is required to produce his books, and to give evidence as to the extent of the business which he is transacting. But it is not everywhere that we can induce both parties to agree upon the adoption of such a basis of settlement. Although we cannot at present finda principle of decision, I have . not the slightest doubt that such a principle will be evolved by intelligent men meeting and determining to settle disputes, and to arrange a mode of working amicably together. If we look into the history of the ordinary property laws of England, we find that it was necessary to work out a principle in connexion with thatquestion. At one time one person said - “ I am entitled to this piece of land,” while another one said - “ I am entitled to the land that covers part of what you claim,”andsoforth. Therewasno principle to guide the parties, but when they said - “ Come, let us meet together and consider the matter,” a tremendous gam was secured. The point is not that we can make conflicting principles agree, but that each side can give up something. There must either be strikes or arbitration. We have no alternative. What principle of decision is observed in connexion with strikes ? While in Chicago a few years ago. I went through Armour’s meat-preserving establishment, and witnessed what was called “ Chicago sport.” I saw a man with a rifle in his hand walking over the heads of the cattle, and every now and then placing the weapon behind the ear of a beast and shooting it. The animal fell as it was shot, and was at once dragged into the sheds. A young fellow who was assisting the rifleman told me that there had been a strike during the year in connexion with the industry. In answer to my inquiry he said that the men struck to obtain recognition of their demand that they should work only nine hours a day. “ Did you win 1” I inquired. “No,” replied the man, “but we shall strike again next year, and then we shall have the final tussle.” I gave thematter some consideration at the time, and I asked myself what principle could there be to guide the parties in dealing with the question at issue. If the men could succeed, it would matter little what the loss to the employer might be, while, on the other hand, if the employers could succeed, it would matter little what the cost in human life might be, as long as their object was achieved. Strikes are a most brutal method of effecting the settlement of industrial disputes. When both sides meet round the same table there is a far greater chance of some principle of decision being arrived at. I was recently engaged in litigation affecting the Outtrim Colliery dispute, and I was very much alarmed to find that on the average a strike occurred at Outtrim. about once in six weeks. I learned that the men were continually going out on strike, and that the employers were constantly in trouble,as they never knew when men would be available for their work. What a tremendous- loss, what a driving away of capital, what an interference with the tradespeople and other persons is involved in the adoption of such a system ! I understand that the honorable and learned member for Parkes usually concentrates all his efforts in a big and good speech, and then vanishes. I am exceedingly sorry that he is not in the Chamber, for I should like him to show us an alternative to this scheme. Is the existing state of things to go on for ever 1 Has he no suggestion to make to improve the present state of affairs ? Are we to remain in the miserable position of striking and fighting, and to have no remedy 1 What has the honorable and learned member for Parkes done ? He has simply read extracts from irresponsible writings - prejudiced newspapers published in different parts of the world. If I desired to do so, I might present the House with a thousand quotations for every one put forward by the honorable and learned member, setting forth views directly opposite to those read by him. The honorable and learned member gave us no facts. What fact is there in the -whole history of the industrial question which shows that arbitration has been a failure ? I have not been able to find one. I care nothing for the “ man from Wellington.” Dissentients are always to be found. While this Bill was being discussed last Tuesday, I had a conversation with a man who had been one of the leaders of a trades union in Christchurch, New Zealand. He -told me that this- system did not work in a wholly satisfactory way in that colony, and he stated that although the New Zealand Act provides that a man shall not be dismissed from his employment simply because he takes part in an agitation for better terms, he had been dismissed for that very reason. It was explained by him that he was unable to prove that his dismissal was due to that circumstance. As a matter of fact, he had been dismissed with others, but he was satisfied that the principle to which he referred was being continually evaded. In America they overcome the difficulty by appointing paid organizers, who stand as buffers between employers and employed. During this debate the old arguments against the adoption of the system have again and again been used. We are told that if we pass this Bill we shall drive capital out of the country. This is a cry of which I thought we had heard the last ; but it is constantly being put forward. Honorable members have read the details of the Pullman strike which took place in 1894. Let me show the way in which capital was driven out of the country by that dispute. A Commission of impartial men was appointed after the event to inquire into the whole .question, and they presented a unanimous report. Bliss, in The Encyclopaedia of Social Reforms, states the finding of the Commission thus -
According to the testimony the railroads lost in property destroyed, hire of United States deputy marshals, and other incidental expenses, at least 685,308 dols. The loss of earnings of these roads is estimated at 4,672,916 dols. Some 3, 100 employes at Pullman lost in wages, as estimated, at least 350,000 dols. About 100,000 employes upon the 24 railroads centreing at Chicago, all of which were- more or less involved in the strike, lost in wages, as estimated, at least 1,389,143 dols. Many of these employes are still adrift and losing wages. Beyond these amounts very great losses, widely distributed, were incidentally suffered throughout the country. The suspension of transportation at Chicago paralyzed a vast distributive centre, and imposed many hardships and much loss upon the great number of people whose manufacturing and business operations, employment, travel, and necessary supplies depend upon and demand regular transportation service to, from, and through Chicago. During the strike, the fatalities, arrests, indictments, and dismissal of charges for strike offences in Chicago and vicinity were as follows : -
The arrests made by the police were for murder, arson, burglary, assault, intimidation, riot, inciting to riot, and lesser crimes.
Bradstreet’s estimates the losses to the country at large to be about 80,000,000 dols.
That is equal to £1 6,000,000. Of course this is a mere estimate, for it is utterly impossible to say how widespread the disaster will be when a dispute of this kind arises. A strike is very much like the act of throwing a stone in the water. It is true that the further it goes the less is the force of the ring caused by the dropping of the stone into the water, but that ring is tremendously wide. And so in the case of a strike, none Can say who will suffer from it. The critics of this Bill do not sufficiently recognise that they have to choose between strikes and arbitration. If any one can tell me of any better remedy than this I shall accept it. It is very easy to criticise - to point out dangers and difficulties - but what have the wise nien who oppose this Bill to suggest as a substitute for this proposal 1 I can find no originality in their propositions.
– Their theory is simply the survival of the strongest - pan out as it may.
– “The survival of the strongest” is not a sufficient answer to my query. The more I think over the matter the more I am convinced that it is not the happiest thing for only the strongest to survive. I think that we get more out of life by protecting the weaker.
– The “survival of the strongest” does not necessarily mean the survival of the best.
– Quite true. Then we have the old story as to the’ right which one should have to do what he likes with his own. That is a “ gag “ which has been associated with political economy 30 -years ago. Have not people come to realize that the greatest liberty is obtained where there is the greatest law - that where there is the greatest restraint in the common interest there is to be found the greatest liberty for the individual and for individual- action 1
– Whatever his lot, a man is, after all, only a custodian.
– Yes. Some people seem to be inclined to complain because there is likely to be a stoppage of fighting. They like the present state of affairs because they are fond of fighting. Even the weakest side, that is being beaten, has a liking for the fighting element in the struggle.
– “ Whenever you see a head,’ hit it.”
– That would seem to be the idea. I recollect hearing of a man working in a colliery district in the old country, who one day saw a collier giving his wife her weekly thrashing with a poker. He interfered and separated the two, whereupon husband and wife both set upon him, the wife inquiring, “ Has not a man . the right to lick his own wife ? “ . She attacked him as bitterly as did her husband. The gentleman who wrote to the Argus seems to have written in much the same spirit. I remember the picture in Punch referred to by the honorable and learned member for Parkes,’ in which one man is depicted as saying to another - “Do you call that arbitration 1 Why, they have given it against us ! “ I have had a doubt as to whether, when times are bad, men will be willing to accept awards which are given against them, and I am, therefore, gratified that the leaders in the shearers’ dispute had the wisdom to recommend the men to accept the award given against them, and that the men had the wisdom to take their advice. Nothing would be more injurious to this cause than for the men to flare up whenever an award went against them. I admit that the power which is being intrusted to the Court is a most dangerous one. We do not like to intrust our liberties to a board of lawyers or of business people, or to any one else.’ But in this case we do so only faute de mieux ; there is nothing better which can be suggested. There is one provision in the Bill which I consider an excellent one, that providing for conciliation before arbitration. The honorable and learned member for Parkes is not correct in saying that in New Zealand they have given up conciliation, as the following letter from Mr. Tregear, dated 17th June last, which has been furnished to me by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, will show : -
The principal things we are going to ask for this year are “preference for unionists” (but this will probably be made subject to awards of Arbitration Court), and reversion to the work of Conciliation Boards. This latter is in consequence of an amendment (section 2.1 of Amending Act of 1901), which practically passed the boards by, and has thrown all the work on the higher court.
The Act of 1901 provided that parties could go direct to the Arbitration Court without appearing before the Conciliation Boards, with the result that the Court was flooded with disputes which could have been settled by the process of conciliation. It is, therefore, thought now that conciliation should be tried first, so as to relieve the Arbitration Court; and to provide for the more speedy settlement of disputes. To my mind it is a tremendous gain to have the processes of conciliation and arbitration conducted by the same tribunal. There will be far more chance of conciliation if the parties feel that the Court has in its hand the rod of arbitration. Under this system fewer cases will, go before the Arbitration Court,, and less time will be spent in the settlement of disputes. The Attorney-General was a little inaccurate in speaking of the principle of Conciliation and Arbitration Courts as distinctively Australian, because I remember that a witness before the Victorian Law Commission described very graphically the principle of a Conciliation Act which has been in operation in Denmark since 1795. Honorable members will find the subject referred to in the evidence of Henry Olsen, which is printed on page 849 of the Victorian Parliamentary Papers for 1899-1900. This is what the witness said -
By law of 10th July, 1795, was enacted the Conciliation Commission. The principle is, that it is the bounden duty of everybody who desires to obtain justice by process against anybody, to first try if it is not possible to obtain a satisfactory arrangement of the case in dispute without the intervention of the law courts.
About 40 per cent, of the cases are settled in that way.
– That case should disarm the objections of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, because it is quite respectable as regards its age.
– Yes. The honorable and learned member appears never to have gone beyond the English political economists of a certain school; he appears to have read only the works of men like Ricardo, McCulloch, and Mill. I think, however, that some advance has been made in the science of political economy since they wrote.
– Does the Danish system apply to industrial disputes ?
– No ; but it seems to me an a fortiori instance. We have no recognised principle to go upon in industrial matters, but we have recognised law in regard to ordinary litigation. I desire now to say a word or two as to the relation of this measure to the Factory Acts. There is a good deal of force in what the last speaker said. The Court will not consist of experts. The President is to’ be a lawyer, and there are to be two other permanent members. . It may happen that one of these is a mine-owner, and the other a seaman. But suppose a dispute affecting the woollen trade comes before them.
– The Court has power to appoint experts to sit as assessors.
– To sit with the President and the two members 1
– Either with them or by themselves.
– I had not noticed that provision, and I was going to suggest that instead of having two permanent members at a fixed salary, it would be better to appoint assessors for particular, disputes, paying them by fees. The President of the Court must, I think, hold a permanent appointment, because if the dispute is very keen his decision must ultimately settle the question. Although I have the utmost respect ‘for my confreres in the legal profession, I am sure that their minds, if they are in full work, are so occupied with their daily business, that they pay less attention to economic and industrial subjects than do the members of any other class in the community, and their sympathies naturally tend towards what I may call the bourgeois idea. I think the reason why lawyers are chosen in England is that the best arbitrations have been conducted by men who are. prominent in public life - men like the Earl of Rosebery, Sir John Gorst, Sir Henry James, and others. Besides, there is something in a legal training which tends to make a man impartial ; to make him apt to look at questions as he would look at mathematical problems, and to desire to find the right answer without regard to consequences. At the same time, I recognise that we are placing a tremendous power in the hands of the President of this Court, and if we can by any means appoint persons who will take some of the strain off the Judge appointed as President, it will be for the benefit of the Court to do so.
– Clause 26 provides that if special knowledge is required for the purposes of any particular industrial dispute the Court shall be constituted of other members in addition to or substitution for the ordinary members, and under clause 57 the court may appoint two assessors for the purpose of advising it in relation to any industrial dispute involving technical questions. “
– I have watched the operation of our Factory Boards with a good deal of interest, and it has always appeared to me to be of great advantage to bring the employers and employes face to face. In an Arbitration Court, as distinguished from a. Factory Board, we do not necessarily have as Judges men who know the conditions of the trade in regard to which a dispute has occurred. A great deal of time would be saved if the witnesses felt that those on the Bench knew all about the industry. They would take greater care in the statement of their views.
– Would the honorable and learned member appoint assessors for each dispute 1
– I think there must be a permanent President, but the other members of the Court should be changed according to the nature of the dispute. I understand that the Attorney-General has made provision for the appointment of assessors, but that he also provides for three permanent members of the Court.
– It will save a great deal of time if the members of the Court know the conditions of the trade concerned.
– I think so. I have spoken to the chairmen of several of the Victorian Factory Boards, and I have been glad to hear that in most cases they have not had to exercise their casting votes, because the experts at the table, when face to’ face with the facts, came to an understanding themselves.
– But they knew that the chairman had a casting vote.
– Yes. One must have a. whip in his hand, or his horse will do as he likes.
– Is not the witnessbox the proper place for an expert 1
– The members of the “Court are not like ordinary Judges. They are not dealing with past rights, but arranging for future action. They deal not with theory, but with practical work. We cannot push the analogy of a law court to an extreme. I think that a working basis of agreement will be arrived at more quickly when the Court is largely composed of experts.
– There is great danger in choosing a Judge whilst the dispute is practically going on.
– I admit that; but I think that the honorable member would be interested if he read the report of the Inspector of Factories in Victoria.
– I have done so.
– That gentleman has given the most enthusiastic attention to these matters, and really deserves infinite credit for the way in which he has exposed the weak points, and approved of the strong ones of our Acts. There is a practical difficulty to which I wish to direct attention. The Bill deals with industrial disputes only, and, according to the definition of “industrial disputes,” we see that there must be employers on one side, and employes on the other.
– I have considered that.
– An 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.” There must be an employer and employes. It has been suggested that, in some cases, there may be no relation of employment. Supposing that upon a station shearing is coming on, and a number of men camp outside the station and offer to go to work upon certain terms. The owner of the station could not take advantage of the operation of the Bill, because he would . not be an employer, and the men would not be employes, for the purposes of the Bill. I am willing to submit to the superior judgment of those concerned in the pastoral industry, but I think that it will be only fair, if there is a union of shearers and a union of employers, to have some agreement under which the union, in consideration of certain terms, shall engage to supply a certain number of shearers.
– They may not be genuinely able to do so.
– Perhaps not; but the ‘ funds of the union would be liable to be levied on in the event of any breach ‘of agreement, and that fact would afford a very strong incentive to the men to go to work.
– There are practical difficulties in the way.
– Perhaps so, but I believe that honorable members in favour of the Bill are determined to be just to both sides, and that where there is a real difficulty they will try to meet it. If there is any better system than an agreement enforcible against the union, I shall be very glad to assist those who desire to adopt it.
– During the course of my opening speech, the honorable and learned member called attention to this point. If he will look at clause 39 he will see that one of the ways in which the Court can have cognisance of a dispute is when it is certified to the Court by the Registrar as proper to be dealt with by it in the public interest. It occurred to me that that provision might be so enlarged as to apply to cases such as those referred to by the honorable member.
– But the difficulty is that you cannot say that there is a dispute between Tom J ones on one side of the fence and John Smith on the other.
– The point is, that John Smith will work on certain terms which Tom Jones is not prepared to give, and therefore there is a dispute as to the terms upon which he will work.
– I am very glad that the Attorney-General has considered the difficulty, and I have little doubt that we shall find some means of overcoming it.
– But how could we compel a man to work?
– We cannot compel a man to work, but we can provide that if a union or an individual breaks an agreement the union or the man’sassets shall be liable to be levied upon.
– But suppose the union is doing all it can ?
– Well, I may do all I can to meet a bill, and if I cannot meet it I am liable to have my goods levied upon. However, I hope some means will be devised for overcoming the difficulty. There is a great deal of danger in the provision for a common rule. If there is a dispute between A and B the Court may lay down a common rule binding C, D, E, and F, and others, down to the last letter of the alphabet.
-Yes, but the Court can limit or vary the rule.
– But still I think there is a great deal of danger to be apprehended in regard to its application.
– There will be danger if no provision is made for a common rule.
– No doubt. I do not agree with the leader of the Opposition that it is unheard of to apply a decision of a Court to persons other than the parties represented at the trial. I can recollect going into Court on one occasion with the intention of arguing a certain point. When I reached the Court I was told that the point to which I had intended to address myself had just been decided in a different case. I was not heard upon the matter, and yet I knew that it would be useless for me to address the Court which, in my case, would follow its previous decision, which was against me. Therefore, the decision given in a case between A and B can also effect C. Clause 63, paragraph (d), confers the power to make a common rule, but clause 75 provides that -
Every organization shall be entitled to be represented before the Court in the hearing and determination of any dispute in which it is interested.
Am I to understand that that provision would enable a union to apply to the Court for leave to be represented in a dispute going on between other persons ?
– I think that that is a. provision in the right direction, and I suggest that, as a preliminary to the making of a common rule, the Arbitration Court should have the power to direct notices to be served upon such persons or organizations as the common rule would affect. If the Court is what it should be, it will see that all parties interested have fair notice of the intention to apply a common rule. This would prevent discontent.
– The practice in New Zealand has been to give notice to those in the district to whom the common rule is to be applied.
– I think that the Court should have the fullest discretion in the rn atter.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that our power as a Federal Parliament extends to the control of persons who are not parties to a dispute ?
– I think that it extends to anything of the kind. Any legislation which would enable us to prevent or settle industrial disputes, either in the present or in the future, is within our powers.
– I think that is very doubtful.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that that was understood when the Constitution was adopted?
– Certainly. I can assure the honorable member that the representatives at the Convention had their eyes wide open when that provision was adopted. I regret that the Government have not seen fit to include public servants of the States, including railway servants, within the operation of the Bill. I cannot see any sufficient ground for the omission. It may be said that an award of the Court might disturb the finances of a State, but I do not think so, because the utmost award would be for £1,000.
– That is the maximum penalty that can be inflicted, but an increase of wages decreed by the Court might involve a very much larger sum.
– Yes ; but a State Government might prefer to pay the fine.
– But the Court could keep on fining.
– I think that . with due safeguards the principle of the Bill could be applied to State public servants. It is a mistake to regard railway servants in Victoria and New South Wales as servants of the State, because under the very Acts which create them the)7 are the servants of the Commissioners. The object was to make them the servants of the Commissioners in every respect. Parliament, of course, has the power to appropriate such moneys as it thinks fit, but it leaves the Commissioners full power to act. We are going back to the old days of political influence in Victoria and other States, when we find the Premier of a State bargaining with railway men, and bringing his pressure to bear upon them, to induce them to accept certain terms. Inasmuch as railway strikes produce such devastation, and involve interfererence with the play of industry and commerce throughout the country, I do not see why we should not include railway servants within the scope of the Bill. Of course it may be said that a railway dispute would not extend beyond any one State, but that is an erroneous idea. Suppose an agitation were raised for a fortnightly payday. Would it not be possible for it to extend to Victoria and New’ South Wales, and perhaps to Queensland ?
– Will the Bill apply to the public servants of the Commonwealth ?
– Would it not be better to apply it to them before taking action with regard to railway servants ?
– The positions of the two classes of servants are different.
– But both are under the control of Parliament.
– But not in the same sense. It is true that Parliament can alter the conditions at any time, but the railway servants in Victoria and New South Wales are under the immediate control of the Commissioners. In New South Wales the Government had the courage to include railway servants, as well as Harbor Trust employes, within the scope of the State Acts, and I cannot see why, if we are to interfere between employers and employes, we should not include railway and other public servants within the scope of this measure. I admit that the proposal must be thought out, but at the same time it would be better for the Government to be bold in this matter and to let the country know that what is sauce for the goose shall also be sauce for the gander. Concerning the employment of lawyers in the Court, the proposal contained in the Bill is that the parties to an industrial dispute may obtain the services of counsel, but no costs shall be allowed them. I think that of all possible arrangements that is about the worst which could be made. Paragraph (g) of clause 63 says that -
The court shall, as regards every industrial dispute of which it has cognizance, have power . . to order any party to the dispute to pay to any other party such costs and expenses^ including expenses of witnesses, as are specified in tlie order, but 60 that ho costs shall be allowed for the services of any counsel, solicitor, or agent.
There are two views that can be taken of the employment of skilled assistance in connexion with these matters. One is that the ability to retain the services of a lawyer may place a man who is weak in putting his case before the Court upon a level with his opponent who is well qualified in that respect.
– If he has the power of retaining counsel 1
– Exactly. Unfortunately, however, all persons have not the necessary funds to secure the skilled assistance of a lawyer, so that, although there would be an advantage conferred upon the one side there would be a disadvantage upon the other. The proposal in the Bill simply means that the wealthy party to a dispute may employ a lawyer, but if the other party does so, and wins his case, he cannot obtain any costs. It therefore favours the man who has money as against the man who has not.
– The honorable and learned member is instancing the case of a man who employs a lawyer for his own purposes, and who, therefore, should pay his own costs.
– But if he wins his case with the help of a lawyer, he will lose all ‘ that he has to pay to the lawyer. That is not a good arrangement. Upon tlie whole I think it would be better to settle these disputes without the aid of lawyers. As honorable members are aware, the parties to a dispute are not required to deal with questions of law. The Court is to disregard all rules of evidence, and to simply deal with matters of practical arrangement in the working of industries. Lawyers know no more about these than do other people.
– Would not the honorable member’s proposal create lay lawyers ?
– As a rule the contests will be between unions. Generally speaking, those unions have skilled secretaries, who will be able to present their case very fully.
– I have heard that in Western Australia they harangue the Bench politically.
– If we have a strong Bench it will soon put a stop to a practice of that sort. The Bench have absolute power in these matters. If they find that men are unduly occupying time by speaking to their organizations, they will quickly prevent them from continuing to do so. . Of course, the pivot of the whole scheme is the President of the Court. If we have a sufficiently strong President - a man who understands how to handle men - the time of the Court will not be occupied at undue length.
– Both sides might agree to retain lawyers.
– I had not thought of that. In my judgment no party to an industrial dispute should be represented by counsel unless both sides agree to it. I thank honorable members for having listened to me so attentively. This is a subject well worthy of the serious consideration of the House. AVe have before us a genuine attempt to fulfil the responsibilities committed to this Parliament by the people and by the Imperial Government in our Constitution. I never expected that in the first Commonwealth Parliament an attempt would be made to exercise this power. I rejoice to find that it is to be exercised. I am very glad, too, that the Bill is to receive the support of honorable members upon both sides of the Chamber. The measure is not one which is of a party character. It rises above that. It is one upon which men holding such extremely divergent views as the honorable member for Melbourne and the honorable and learned member for West Sydney can come together. Anybody who looks at the state of affairs which prevails in Europe, America, Australia, and in all civilized parts of the world, must see that it is our duty to find some modus vivendi in the settlement of the grave industrial problems which we have to face. The honorable member for Melbourne has been driven back from his opposition to conciliation and arbitration by the stern logic of facts, and the House listened to his statements because it was aware that he knew the facts. Honorable members always listen to men who know the facts. Indeed “ it must be said in justice to Australian Parliaments, that they always lend an attentive ear to men who speak from personal knowledge. I cannot speak upon this Bill from my own knowledge as I should like to, but I’ recognise that some most valuable information has been imparted during the course of the debate. The speech delivered by the honorable and learned member for Parkes was a valuable contribution. I am aware that he was a director of the firm of Howard Smith and Co., and that he spoke from very large experience, but any one who watched the line of his arguments must have seen that they were based upon the theories of the sixties and seventies, and not upon the experience which we have had of industrial struggles recently. The time of constipation in political economy was in the sixties. A great change has taken place since then. I regret to find that my honorable and learned friend, who put his case with the utmost ability, has not gone beyond the political economy of the sixties. In the course of a few years, experience will show whether our civilization can hold together in the face of continual strikes. I should like to hear any other means suggested by which we could avert the suffering, devastation, loss, and ruin which follow such industrial struggles.
– I rise with very great diffidence to address myself to this Bill. It is one of such overwhelming importance, that I extremely regret my inexperience in parliamentary speaking, and I trust that the House will grant me its indulgence in the somewhat disjointed remarks which I may offer. I recognise that a modern Parliament must keep pace with the conditions of modern life. Therefore legislation upon a question of this kind is to my mind imperative. The great doubt which presents itself to me is as to whether it is wise to introduce this measure at the present time. I confess that I have learned something from the speech of the honorable and learned member .for Northern Melbourne. As a layman possessed of little knowledge as to how lawyers construe Acts, I was under the impression, when reading the Constitution, that any Arbitration Court created by the Commonwealth could interfere in industrial disputes only when they had spread beyond the limits of any one State. That was my reading of the Constitution, and I regarded it as a somewhat sorry compromise of a great question, because if there is one matter more than another upon which the national Parliament ought to legislate it that of the industrial conditions which should obtain in the community. But the Constitution does contain this particular provision, which, -I am sure, the masses of the people have interpreted as I have hitherto done, and not as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne reads it. He maintains that a Federal Arbitration Court can interfere in an industrial dispute at any time, because such a dispute may extend beyond the limits of any one State. He thinks that prevention is better than cure. Being a warm federalist myself, I am deeply impressed - especially when I travel throughout the country - by the intense antagonism which is exhibited towards our Federal system. I extremely regret to say that if a referendum of the people of Australia were taken to-morrow, the vote cast would be adverse to Federal union. It is because our aim should be to avoid friction with our States Parliaments - I am not committing myself to a decided opinion - that I think it may be imprudent’ and unwise to enact legislation of this character at the present time. According to my reading of the Constitution, any dispute of importance is sure to spread beyond the limits of a State. If the question at issue is a serious one either party concerned will have the power to see that the dispute extends beyond the limits of a State. In that way the decisions of the State Court of New South Wales, for example, would be questioned, and might be over-ruled by the Federal Court. I ask. honorable members to say whether such a scheme is -likely to bring about contentment and peace and satisfaction with our Federal system. There is a provision in the New South Wales Act that there shall be no appeal from the decision of the court. But if this Bill be passed, either party to a dispute in New South Wales will be able to cause the trouble to extend beyond the limits of the State, and, in that way, to appeal from the State to the Federal Court. This Court, contrary to the policy of the New South Wales Act, will practically become a
Court of Appeal. If either party to a dispute were dissatified with the award given by the New South Wales Court, and the matter at issue was of sufficient importance to warrant the prolongation of the trouble, they would have no difficulty in causing it to spread to another State, so that they might take their case to the Federal Court. Let us take for example the mining industry. If the proprietors of collieries in the Hunter River district had a dispute with their miners in reference to a question of importance, and the matter went before the State Court, the defeated party, by means of its organization, would be able to cause the disturbance to spread beyond that State, so that it would then become a Federal question. That stage having been reached, there would practically be an appeal from the New South Wales Court to the Federal Court. I simply refer to these matters by way of illustration, and I desire to ask the House, without expressing an opinion on the general principles of the Bill, to say whether it is really wise and prudent for us to enter upon this course.
– Would the Federal Court interfere in a case of the kind which the honorable member has mentioned ?
– It would be compelled to do so.
– It would not be under any obligation to alter the award given by the State Court.
– Is the Attorney-General prepared to say that he will move to” insert a clause in the Bill providing that any case determined by a State Court shall not be dealt with by the Federal Court? I am satisfied that he is not prepared to do anything of the kind.
– Would not the Federal Court take the decision of the State Court into consideration 1
– Hear, hear. One Court would support the other.
– No doubt it would. But I am directing the attention of honorable members to the irritation which a course such as this would create in the minds of the public, and in the States Legislatures.
– Without the Federal Court we should have strikes extending beyond the limits of the different States. ,
– I admit that if the question of arbitration were left solely in the hands of the States the system would he incomplete. There are certain industries which are national rather than State undertakings. We have, for example, the maritime trade of Australia. The sailors and others engaged on ships trading along the Australian coast could not be dealt with by any State Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, because the industry is not a State, but an Australian one. I should have been very glad if the Government had introduced a Bill confined to disputes affecting industries such as the maritime trade, which is a national rather than a State undertaking.
– There is also the shearing industry.
– Interference with the shearing industry would be one of the worst features of the Bill. I am satisfied thatthe industry is far better dealt with by the States Courts than it could be by a Federal Court, because the conditions prevailing in the various States are widely different.
– The Court would take all those differing conditions into account.
– It would require a very wide knowledge to enable it to do so. That is one grave feature of the Bill which causes me some disturbance of mind. I do not say that arbitration is not a good thing ; but the question is whether we should, at this early stage in our Federal career, deal with this matter when we have not received the slightest hint of any desire on the part of the States that we should do so.
Mr.Ronald. - The people of the States gave us the power under the Constitution to deal with this question.
– I am quite sure that even the lay members of this House, when they read the Constitution, did not interpret it in the way that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne has done. Before passing on to other questions, I should like to say a few words in connexion with the vexed question of foreign shipping on our coasts. If we interfere - and I suppose we shall do so - and regulate the wages and the conditions of employment of those engaged on vessels trading on the Australian coast, it will be absolutely unjust to allow any foreign vessels to compete with those whom we control. It would be wrong to give foreign and British vessels trading on our coast a free hand, whilst we handicap Australian ships. So far as my judgment permits me to form an opinion on the subject, I am in. sympathy with the Government in refusing to introduce into this Bill a provision which would have the effect of bringing; foreign shipping companies trading on this coast within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Such a course would lead to friction and serious embarrassment. I should not as an honest man help to impose conditions upon Australian owned ships, and at the same time lay them open to the unrestricted competition of foreign vessels. But I think it would be far better to introduce a separate Bill - call it a Navigation Bill or what you will - providing simply that foreign shipping companies shall not engage in our coastal trade.
– That would not cover anything like the details covered by this Bill.
– I have no desire to go into details. If a Bill of the description I have indicated were passed, it would avoid the complications and friction that mightotherwise ensue. Other civilized countries have adopted the system I have mentioned, and why should we not follow their example? I draw a very broad distinction between passenger traffic and goods traffic The honorable member for Melbourne last night gave us some very interesting information in relation to the subject. It appears from what he said that the oversea, vessels derive a revenue of something like £120,000 a year from the Australian coastal trade, and I believe that something like £100,000 out of the total of £120,000 is obtained by the carriage of passengers. If I also followed the honorable member correctly, almost three-fourths of that return represents fares paid by passengers travelling between the eastern States and Western Australia.
– More than three-fourths.
– From the information obtainable, it seems to me that, strictly speaking, the British and foreign oversea, ships do not compete with Australian vessels in the Australian coastal trade. As a. matter of fact, their fares are nearly double those demanded by the owners of Australian vessels.
-They are much higher, but are not double.
– The rates are very much higher, and I am informed that the owners of these vessels do not seek for traffic between Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. It is not so much a question of whether we should debar these oversea vessels from plying for passenger traffic along our coast, as it is a question of the convenience of the Australian people. I believe that we shall find that honorable members from Western Australia with the people of that State, will be very antagonistic to any attempt to prevent them from travelling by those vessels. ] believe that if we debar the oversea vessels from engaging in the Australian coastal trade, we shall not have a sufficient number of vessels to meet the passenger traffic. One clause in the Bill to which I should like to draw special attention is that which provides for the appointment of one Judge. If, as the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne suggests, this Court will be able to deal with all Federal matters - if it will be able to take action to prevent strikes, and to intervene and say, “ This dispute is not going to stop in New South Wales or in Victoria. It is likely to spread beyond the limits of the State, and we must take it up and prevent it from extending in that way “ - I am perfectly certain that it will be impossible for one Judge to do the work involved in covering so wide a jurisdiction.
– I did not say that all these things should be done in this Bill.
– And it is not.
– I merely say that the limits to the power of the Court are not so narrow as some people would have us believe.
-The honorable and learned member says the Constitution gives us power to deal with these matters.
– There is power for us to pass a Bill of that kind j but it is not proposed in this Bill to go to the utmost extent of our constitutional powers.
– Hear, hear.
– I am not so sure of that, although I shall not enter into a controversy on the subject with two eminent lawyers. As I have already pointed out, an important dispute involving far - reaching issues, might, under the terms of this Bill, spread beyond the limits of one State, and would thus become a Federal question. If we had a mining dispute at Broken Hill, and another in some other part of New South Wales as well as in Victoria, would not that be a dispute extending beyond the limits of one State ? Take a shearing dispute, for example. If there was a shearing dispute- in Queensland, my friend, the honorable member for Darling, would only have .to lift his little finger and he could make it extend beyond the limits of one State, and - come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Court. In that way the Federal Court will practically become the Court of Appeal from the States Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration, and it is absurd to imagine that one Judge will be able to cope with’ the work which will have to be done. But if we have one Federal Judge in Victoria, another in New South Wales, and a third in Queensland, is it to be expected that their decisions will be in perfect accord ? Will not the system lead to diverse - and, perhaps, conflicting - judgments? The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has referred to the case of Switzerland, where, he said, the different cantons had different arbitration laws, and the varying decisions upon them were found so inconvenient that latterly the Swiss people have resolved to make the subject a Federal matter. But how absurd it is to compare Switzerland, which is not so big as Victoria
– It is not so big as Tasmania.
– Fancy comparing a country not so big as Tasmania with the great continent of Australia ! I hope that before the debate is over some one like the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, will throw a considerable amount of light upon this subject. I am in grave doubt as to whether it is wise or prudent for us to pass a measure of this kind, because I feel that it will bring about great dissatisfaction, and cause friction with the States. The Bill, according to the phraseology of its title, is a measure for the “ prevention and settlement of industrial disputes. “ No better or nobler purpose than that could be set before any Parliament. If we can prevent strikes, and put an end to industrial warfare, the end will be worthy of our highest efforts. I remember reading the statement of a certain writer on economics that to establish a minimum amount of well-being should be- the first and chief aim of all statesmanship, and, believing that to be so, I cannot but approach the consideration of the Bill with feelings of sympathy. The end which the measure has in view is to be accomplished first of all by the establishment of a Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. In regard to that Court, let me say, in passing, that I am not at all satisfied with the principle which has been adopted in New Zealand and in New South Wales, and which it is proposed to follow here, of appointing a Judge and two associate members, one representing the employers and the other the employes. The persons chosen to represent the respective parties can be nothing else than partizans. They may be thoroughly honest and honorable men, but as they are elected to protect the interests of, and to do their utmost for those who elect them, they must be partizans. Why should such men sit upon the Bench ?
– They are appointed because of their practical experience.
– No one man can have experience in all the trades and industries in regard to which disputes may arise. I do not wish to criticise the personnel of the New South Wales Court, but does any one imagine that the gentleman who is the representative of the employes there is an expert in every industry, or that the representative of the employers understands the intricacies of every trade?
– Practical experience should be obtained from the evidence of experts in the witness box.
– Yes. If we require more than one Judge, let us appoint as many as are needed ; but do not let us play with this great question. Parliament should not cavil at the expense of as many Judges as are necessary to give ample satisfaction ; but it is againstall judicial principle that partisans should be chosen as Judges.
– Does the honorable member think that none but the Judges can give fair decisions?
-I do not think we should have partisans on the Bench, and the lay members provided for in the Bill must of necessity be partisans.
– The same sort of men are chosen on an Arbitration Board.
– Yes, but they are chosen for the decision of the particular case, and appointed for their special knowledge of the subject. Their position is very different from that of the members of this Court. The honorable member for Melbourne not only approves of the arrangement in the Bill, but has indicated his intention to move an amendment reducing the term of office from seven to three years.
– That makes the danger greater.
– I was turning the matter over in my mind when the honorable member for Melbourne was speaking, and to my thinking it would be better, instead of reducing the term of office, to increase it to, say, twelve years, so that the appointees “will have less temptation to play to the gallery, or to try to win the suffrages of those whom they represent. If their term of office is limited to three years, they must be keener partisans than if they had a term of seven years, because they will always be considering their chances of re-appointment. What likelihood would there be of a man who had the courage to decide a case on its merits, against the interests of those whom he represented, being re-elected ? I agree, of course, that all the members of the Court should be removable if good cause is shown. If the members of the Court are given a long term of office, they will no doubt rise above partisanship, and will cultivate a judicial turn of mind ; but to shorten their term of office will make them all the keener partisans. I come now to the recognition of trades unions and employers’ associations for bringing about the system of collective bargaining. Whether preferential treatment is or is not given to members of trades unions, the recognition of trades unions as industrial unions must tremendously swell their ranks. I, personally, have no objection to the principle, though I feel that great care must be taken in preventing the unions from becoming political organs. When the Australian Workers’ Union came before the New South Wales Court, it was shown that it had a rule under which every member was bound to vote for whatever parliamentary candidate was recommended by the association, and that outrage upon the principles of personal and political conduct was the Waterloo of the Union, because the Court refused to entertain its case until the rule had been altered. Recognition of trade unions is, however, the only way of forming industrial unions. Three years ago, when a member of the New South Wales Assembly, I opposed very strongly the first Arbitration Bill introduced by the Attorney-General of that State, and I do not regret having done so, because the measure was very crude and imperfect, and another Bill was subsequently introduced, the provisions of which had benefited by the criticisms passed upon its predecessor, and that Bill is now law. I remember saying then that, if I thought that the only, or the best, or even a good way of forming industrial unions would be to recognise the trade unions, I would throw all prejudice aside, and give the system my support. 1 have come to the conclusion that that is the only course, but not without great reluctance and after much consideration, and I defy any opponent of arbitration to point out a better way, or indeed any other way. I have to make my choice between the continuance of the old condition of affairs under which we had hateful strikes, disastrous alike to the victors and vanquished, and the adoption of’ the method of conciliation and arbitration, and, being hopeful of peace, how can I do otherwise than act as I am now indicating. The New South Wales Act contains no provision for conciliation, and that seems to me to be a vital flaw. Conciliation has been often tried there.. Some years ago a Conciliation Act was passed at the instance of the honorable and learned member for East Sydney, and it was only yesterday that the honorable and learned member for West Sydney threw ridicule upon it, and told honorable members that the vote for the salary of the Chairman of the Conciliation Board had been struck off the Estimates, because there was no work for him to do. That Act was a failure, because behind the conciliation there was no reserve power of arbitration. Where that reserve power exists, conciliatory methods are likely to be successful in the great majority of cases.
– Not judging by New Zealand experience.
– If the, parties to a dispute, who come before a Board of Conciliation, know that there is a reserve power behind to “force them to arbitration they will probably arrive at a settlement. At all events, I believe that the absence of some such provision is one of the principal flaws in the New South Wales Act. In the Bill now before us we have provision for enforced investigation, and I am completely iri accord with the proposal. It is essential to the public peace and welfare that employers and employes should come to an amicable settlement of their differences, and that they should not be permitted to disturb the public peace. My view is that conciliation without a reserve power of enforced investigation, and arbitration without previous means for conciliation, are alike imperfect. I am prepared toadmit that conciliation has been very succesful in other countries, where industrial conditions are very different from our own. I could produce evidence to show that great success has attended the operations of the conciliation tribunal in Great Britain. Mr. Edward Pry, a large employer in England, states that in the cotton trades, and in the .manufactured iron and steel tradesof the North, and in the miscellaneoustrades in London, the machinery devised for the settlement of trade disputes by conciliation has proved very successful. I suppose that- honorable members are familiar with Lecky’s work, Democracy and Liberty, in which ‘ he shows that 3,000 disputes in the Northumberland coal trade have been settled by joint conciliation committees. Healso says -
Such boards in France have been very successful. In Belgium, Austria, and Germany there* are elaborate provisions for settling labour disputes.
The report of the Royal Commission in New South Wales contains the following passage : -
The latest localized industry we have in this, colony is that of coal-mining in the Hunterdistrict, and there the miners and the colliery proprietors have substantially worked out forthemselves a system of agreement and arbitration.
In England an Act was passed in 1896- called the Conciliation Trades Disputes. Act, in which was embodied the principle, not of coercion or enforcement, but of mutual application or optional conciliation. According to the most recent report of theBoard of Trade there were arranged reductions in wages in 1901 amounting to- £1,600,000. In 1902 the decreases consented to represented a total of £2,300,000. These l eductions were effected by means of conciliation boards without any arbitrary provision for the enforcement of their awards.. The report says -
The proportion of changes of wages in one line or two which were preceded by disputes causing a stoppage of work was even lower than for 1901, hitherto the lowest on record.
Therefore those honorable members whoargue that conciliation can be brought about without any provision for the enforcementof the agreement arrived at are quite rightso far as other countries are concerned-
But failing efforts, either by mutual agreement or by means of conciliation, there must be enforced investigation, which, I think, is miscalled “arbitration.” Employers no longer have the right to say, as they have said in the past - “ Such and such are our terms; take them or leave them.” The law of supply and demand, as applied to human beings, has been referred to by the honorable and learned member for Parkes ; and it repelled me to hear him say that if a citizen desired -a horse, he bought it on the very cheapest terms, and that the same principle applied to workers in the matter of wages. He said that all businessmen must get their work done at the lowest possible price. The law of supply and demand so applied seems to me to be an outrage upon civilized manhood. With a redundant population what does the application of such a law involve ? lt surely means that where there are many men clamouring for one man’s work, the employer will be able to get his work done for the very lowest wage which human beings will accept. The law of supply and demand, if carried to its legitimate conclusion, would mean hopeless misery and despair for the greater number of the people ; and if we are not able to achieve all we desire, it is surely worthy of the Parliament of Australia to at least make some effort to modify the application to human beings of a hideous and barbarous law. “ Freedom of cod tract “ has been emblazoned on the scroll of every Employers Association. It is a high sounding phrase, -and has imposed upon many. I quite admit that if we accept the definition adopted by the Pastoralists’ Unions, namely, that freedom -of contract means the right of employers to engage any man they choose, upon satisfactory terms to be agreed upon, without asking him whether he is a unionist or a non-unionist, the position would be a simple one. But freedom of contract means much more. It means the right to employ men at any wage which they will accept. I consider that freedom to employ men at any wages which they may be content to accept means liberty to offer them any wage which they are prepared to take in preference to starvation and death. That is not a principle which should obtain parliamentary sanction in any civilized, country. I abhor the doctrine with all my heart and soul. “The honorable and learned member for Parkes thinks that because I am an employer I approve of it. He is, however, absolutely wrong. Such a doctrine is opposed to all the higher promptings of civilization, and certainly to .the Christian law. Well might Professor Huxley exclaim -
A population whose labour is insufficiently remunerated must become morally unhealthy and socially unstable; aud, though it may succeed for a while in industrial competition by reason of the cheapness of its produce, it must . in the end fall through hideous miser3’ and degradation to utter ruin.
Is this Jaw inexorable ? I do not know. At all events, I know that if this were a free-trade country, if Parliament upheld the principle of unrestricted competition, such a principle could be carried out. I quite recognise the consistency - although I dissent from his conclusions - of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. Indeed, I honour his consistency. To my mind, he is the most consistent free-trader I have ever met in this country. Of course I am quite consistent in arguing that we should make some legislative provision for improving the condition of the workers, seeing that I do not approve of open ports and unrestricted competition. The Bill aims at fixing a minimum wage. In other words, its object is to control wages. It cannot be otherwise. The “ minimum wage” is, I think, an unfortunate term to employ, though I admit that this Bill does not even provide for such a wage, because it contains modifying clauses in reference to that matter. Mr. Sydney Webb - at whose feet, I dare say, some honorable members have sat - admits that compulsory arbitration means the fixing of wages by law. I think that_ another term might have been substituted for that of “ minimum wage,” because such an expression invites hostile criticism and misunderstanding. To fix a minimum wage is, I admit, beyond the power of any Parliament. Wages do not depend upon what a philanthropist is prepared to pay, or upon what the workers may think they ought to obtain. It depends upon the power of any industry to provide that wage, and to leave a margin of profit to the employer. If an industry cannot yield a margin of profit, no minimum wage established by any Parliament can ever be effective. So far as this question of wages is concerned, I hold that we cannot hope to arbitrarily fix a minimum wage. We must rely upon the wisdom of the Court and upon the moderation of the people of this country. In this connexion, I would point out that the English Royal Commission, which was appointed in 1 894, and which was composed of some of the ablest men in Great Britain - men representing all shades of political opinion - failed to recommend any proposal for the establishment of a minimum wage. The recognition of collective bargaining was about the extent of their recommendations. Their report says -
We do not think it has been seriously maintained on either side that the remuneration of work or rate of profit, or maximum or minimum wage rates in the general field of labour, should be fixed by law.
Perhaps honorable members will pardon me if I quote another extract from that report, which is about the only authoritative document that has been cited in reference to this aspect of the subject. It reads -
Again, many of the witnesses on the side of the workmen, who most strongly advocated legal limitation of hours of labour, were asked whether they would also approve of State intervention between employers and employed in the matter of wages, and with very few exceptions they returned a negative answer to the question.
I wish now to refer to clause 65 of the Bill. It provides not only for a minimum wage, but for giving a preference to unionists as against non-unionists. I certainly stop short at a proposal of that kind. I am strongly in favour of unionism. I recognise that it has done much for the amelioration of the condition of the workmen of the world. But I shall be no party to any attempt to coerce free men to join any union. All those who are engaged in industry should become unionists, and I have little doubt that, without giving unionists a preference, the operation of this Bill will prove a mighty lever in inducing them to join trades organizations. If I were a workman I should be a unionist. At the same time, it is an outrage upon the principles of freedom to coerce free men by declaring - “You must either be a unionist or you will receive no work.” Surely it is beyond the province of any Parliament to go so far as that. Such a step would constitute an outrage upon personal freedom.
-Suppose that any emplover prevents his men from organizing?
– No employer could do that.
– But they do it.
– I have never seen any attempt made by employers to prevent their nien from organizing.
– The Melbourne Tramway Company will not allow their employes to become unionists.
– I take up the broad position that there are certain principles of human freedom which we must recognise. “A man’s a man for a’ that,” and he is entitled to say that he will or will not be a unionist. Reference has been made to that portion of the Bill which comes under the heading “ Enforcement of Industrial Awards.” Again, I say that that term as applied, is most misleading. The actual enforcement of any award is impossible. I know that the answer of some honorable members will be that we must trust to the Court and to the good sense of employes and employers. I am quite prepared to do that. I merely point out that in this Bill the term is altogether misapplied. We cannot force an employer to pay wages which will result in his industry proving unprofitable, nor can we compel free men to work against their will. It is generally admitted that no Court can compel employers to carry on their operations against their will, or force unwilling men to work for wages which they decline to accept. As a matter of fact there is no serious attempt at enforcement in this Bill. The measure merely provides that if- an. award is given, and the other side disobeys that award, the organization in question can be. fined the maximum penalty of £1,000. If no funds are available in the case of the employes they may.be fined up to £10 per man. But can we exact a fine more than once? Letus suppose that an organization of employers or employes refuses to obey an award of the Court, and that the maximum fine is inflicted. If the organization which has transgressed still refuses to obey the law will it be fined again?
– If such be the case, this provision in the Bill is a very inequitable one, because, whilst it will be possible to get at the employers who are possessed of property, and to. fine them to the verge of ruin, it will not be so in the case of the employes. Their funds may be depleted if they refuse to obey an award, but what then? If the Court attempted to levy upon large bodies of workmen, it would find that it was absolutely impossible to do so. Clause 73 contains a further provision having reference to disobedience of an award. Under that clause, employers or workmen may be imprisoned. But what a farce such a clause is. I trust that in Committee we shall excise it. It is altogether too onesided and inequitable. “Would any court dare to levy upon large bodies of workmen ? Let honorable members imagine a great disturbance occurring in the district of Newcastle, New South Wales, where there are between 10,000 and 11,000 miners. Supposing that an award were given against that combination, which they refused to obey. The organization would be fined till their funds were depleted, but would any court dare to levy upon such a body of workmen ? Certainly not ! All the military forces of the Commonwealth could not compel those men into obedience.
– The argument is that they have never refused.
– We have no opportunity of determining the possibilities. If the men are never going to refuse to accept an award of the Court, why should we provide penalties for failure to do so ?
– The employers have refused.
– Human nature is the same in both cases, and no doubt we may find that employes, as well as employers, will refuse to accept awards. Any attempt to enforce heavy fines for the refusal to accept awards would, I believe, lead to riot and bloodshed, and generally to a condition of affairs far worse than the desperate strikes of the past. I agree, of course, that such a thing is not likely to happen, and that we shall have to rely upon the good sense of both parties, and the prudent judgments of the Court. At the same time, when provisions such as these are made in the Bill it is our duty to see that some protection is given. The honorable member for Darling agrees with the views I have expressed. I am glad to admit that he has probably a greater knowledge of trades union matters in this and other countries than has any other man in Australia. What does he say in regard to this question, which has received his special attention? He says -
There is almost unanimity amongst trade union leaders all over the world in regard to the impossibility of enforcing awards.
He says further -
If an agreement is broken, and an award is given by the Court, certain penalties may be enforced. It would be unwise togo further.
– When did he make that statement?
– When, as a member of the New South Wales Parliament, he discussed the first Conciliation and Arbitration Bill introduced by Mr. Wise in that Legislature. The word “ enforcement “ is a very unfortunate one, and invites hostile criticism of the Bill. I contend that it is misapplied in this instance, because no enforcement is even seriously attempted. Our hope must be placed in the wisdom of the Court, the loyalty of the people, and the force of public opinion. The honorable member for Parramatta, as a member of the State Parliament, also made a very able and instructive speech on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill first introduced by Mr. AVise, and I had not long ago the pleasure of reading the Hansard report of it. In referring to the French Arbitration Courts he said that -
They do not go to the length of enforcing awards by legal process, but there is a compulsory investigation.
We call it arbitration-
The decision can be advertised and placarded in all public places. It is said that this method of enforcing awards in France is almost as effective as the method of legal process.
I am prepared to support the imposition of monetary penalties, but I hope that the House will never pass the provisions for imprisonment. During the debate a good deal has been said in regard to the opinions held by trades unionists in the United States of America. It is singular that the trades unionists in different countries differ very seriously in reference to this question. I could understand the existence of a great difference of opinion between the leaders of trades unions in Australia and in England, but one would imagine that the conditions in the United States of America are somewhat similar to our own. I find, however, that Mr. Lennon, who, two or three years ago, was treasurer of what is known as the American Federation of Labour - a huge confederation of labour, containing perhaps 3,000,000 or 4,000,000 members- has written as follows : -
We believe in arbitration, if it be voluntary, but we have more faith in conciliation. . . . The Federation is unqualifiedly committed against compulsory or legal arbitration.
We object to compulsory arbitration as the introduction, in a degree at least, of a system of slavery ; as, if compulsory, it must be followed by penalties which would probably make it a legal offence for a man to quit work or to continue it if a Board of Arbitration should have decided against him. We also consider such a method inconsistent with the principles of our American Government and with the natural rights of man.
The English Royal Commission did not recommend enforcement of any kind, and I am satisfied that it would never have dreamt of recommending the enforcement of awards. It simply recommended that collective agreements, voluntarily arrived at, should be recognised, and be enforceable at law. I imagine that they are already enforceable. If A and B come to a legal agreement, that agreement should be enforceable, and if two bodies of men arrive at an agreement that determination should also be enforceable at law. I think that the Royal Commission of Great Britain came to a somewhat impotent conclusion on this mighty question, and that its report fell far short of what I consider should be recommendations upon such a subject. Another important feature of this Bill is the liability of the funds of either employers or employes’ unions for failure to carry out agreements. I am glad to read that the leaders in trades unionism in this country are agreeable that the funds of the unions shall be liable for any breach of good faith in carrying out agreements. I maintain that there should be mutual responsibility ; but it is strange that the leaders of trades unions in Great Britain have most bitterly opposed the proposition that trades union funds should be held responsible for good faith in the carrying out of these agreements. I have here an extract from a minority report of the British Commission, signed by trades union leaders such as W. Abraham, Michael Austin, Jas. Maudesley, and Tom Mann. In referring to the question of the liability of trades union funds, they said -
Any attempt to revoke this hardly-won charter of trade union freedom, or in any way tamper with the purely voluntary character of their associations, would, in our opinion, provoke the most bittered resistance from the whole body of trades unionists.
I have no desire to refer at length to the Taff Vale decision. We all know that it paralyzed and astonished the trades unionists of Great Britain. It appears that they were previously under the delusion that their funds were sacred and secure from any interference on the part of a court, but the decision dispelled that idea from their minds. In my opinion they were absolutely wrong. As I have already said, agreements made in good faith should always be backed up by substantial guarantees. The honorable member for Darling will also acknowledge that the New South Wales Court has held the trades unionists of that State liable for certain acts - a decision which, no doubt, will be dissented from. Some time ago a case relating to the shearing trouble arose in New South Wales. Mr. Keogh, a squatter, residing near Coonamble, on his own responsibility, and, so far as I know, without any support from the Pastoralists’ Union, brought an action against the Australian Workers’ Union for an injunction to prevent it from interfering with non-union workmen while they were proceeding to their work on his estate. He was seeking to shear with non-union labour, and he complained that the union had interfered with his men. The Court held that the union was responsible for the formation of a camp, which interfered with his nonunion workers, and it imposed a very considerable fine.
– That is incorrect. The case was never tried.
– I read the decision of the Court. There was another case which was never tried.
– Mr. Keogh’s case never went to trial, but he obtained costs.
– I have no desire to draw any fine distinctions, and I am ready to say that instead of a fine being inflicted Mr. Keogh obtained costs. The honorable member knows that another case occurred which was settled out of court. Mr. Horsfall, of Widgewa, made a similar complaint, and he stated publicly that he received a substantial sum in settlement of his claim against the union. I have no desire to labour the matter. I am sure the honorable member for Darling knows that 1 am not antagonistic to shearers’ unions or any other unions. I am merely stating facts in order to support the opinion which I have expressed, that the funds of the organizations, whether of employes or of employers, must be held responsible for breaches of good faith in carrying out agreements. Clause 51 provides that an award shall be binding on all parties, and I wish to point out in this connexion that a shearing dispute will be one of the most difficult matters to settle. The shearing industry differs totally from any other calling. It is not one in which men are employed all the year round, and there can be no lock-out or anything of that kind in connexion with it. The men work in one particular shed for only a few weeks, and then move on to another. They go from shed to shed in the course of their occupation. There is in Australia a powerful organization known as the Pastoralists’ Union, and there is also a powerful organization, headed by the honorable member for Darling, which is known as the Australian Workers’ Union. I trust that those unions will come to an amicable settlement of their differences in regard to wages and other matters affecting the pastoral industry. But if they were unable to do so, and a case were brought before the court in January, February, or March, when shearing was not in progress, what would be the position 1 If an award were given against the pastoralists, they would be bound to abide by it. The men would have the force of public opinion behind them, and if the award were satisfactory to them they would stand out and “ win in a canter.” But if the award were unsatisfactory to the men, they would find it unnecessary to strike or refuse to work. All that they would have to do would be to fail to apply for work when the shearing season came round, and therefore they would not render themselves liable for refusing to abide by the decision of the Court. That is one of the greatest difficulties associated with an industry of this kind. If the award were unsatisfactory to the workers they would not refuse to obey it. They would simply fail to apply for work at the sheds, and it would be impossible to hold their organization responsible. We might believe that the union had given a hint to the men to refrain from applying for work, but unless it could be proved that it had coerced them, it could not be held responsible for their action. That is one of the most serious difficulties which we have to face, and I . hardly see how to deal with it in the Bill. But, as I have said before, T have little doubt that some amicable arrangement will be come to. I am prepared to trust the workers, and, indeed, the whole justification for the Bill is the trust of each side in. the other. We are constantly asked by members of the labour party if we can cite any case in which there has been disobedience of orders of the Court. 8 g z
My reply is that we have had no proper experience of legislation of this character. I, however, am prepared to trust the workers, and I hope that the workers will trust the employers, and that both sides will honestly abide by the awards of the Court. If experience proves that they will not, we shall have to repeal the Act. I shall support the amendment of “the honorable member for Kooyong to confine the operation of the Bill to a few years, because it will be easy enough to re-enact it by the introduction of a Bill of one clause, if the public demand its’ renewal at the end of that period. But while I object to many of the provisions of the Bill, I am in accord with its general principles. Some of its provisions are excellent. Clause 2, which excludes the public servants of the Commonwealth and of the States from its operation, meets with my approval. It would be a dangerous thing to try to establish a Federal Court to regulate the pay, hours of labour, privileges, rights, and duties of the employes of the States. To do so would be to attempt to flout the States Parliaments, and would bring upon the Federation a sea of troubles. There is already enough State jealousy of the Commonwealth without it being necessary to do anything to increase it. With regard to the public servants of the Commonwealth, it must be remembered that they are already provided for in a special Act, and it would, therefore, be unwise to attempt to bring them under this provision. I approve, too, of the collective agreements, and of the penalties for the non-observance of awards. But, while I strongly advocate the. provisions for conciliation, and for the enforcement of penalties, I object to imprisonment.
– How can the payment of fines be enforced if no provision is made for imprisonment 1
– I have no objection to the enforcement of fines and the levying upon the funds of the organizations, but I regard the imprisonment of the individual members of unions as impossible. Reference has been made to the satisfactory results which have been obtained from the operation of the New Zealand Act. I have no special knowledge of the cases which have been dealt with in New Zealand, but it is generally known that that colony was on the eve of a boom period when the Act was passed, n almost every case that has come before the Arbitration Court there, the wages of the employes have been increased, and the employers have not objected, because the industries of the colony have been flourishing, and the country has been enjoying a career of almost unexampled prosperity. Therefore the experience of New Zealand is not enough to guide us.
– If ten years’ experience of the working of the New Zealand Act is insufficient, why does the honorable member propose to limit the operation of this Bill to five years?
– If it does well in that period I should be willing to vote for its re-enactment, but if its operation be bad we shall have to review the whole matter. If New Zealand entered upon a period of depression and industrial decay, and the Court reduced, instead of increasing, wages, we should have an opportunity to discover whether the system will always give satisfaction. It is a matter of fact that the New Zealand Court has only once reduced the wages of the men. On that occasion a perfect clamour arose among the trade unionists, and it was actually proposed that the Judge should be removed from his position.
– Because he awarded a rate of wages lower than that offered by the employer.
– In New South Wales, although that State has been going through a most disastrous period of late years, the Court has in every instance increased the wages of the employes coming before it.
– No. Take the case of the Newcastle miners, for instance.
-I had some other matters to bring before the House, but as they were referred to by other honorable members, I shall not mention them. I would, however, direct the attention of the AttorneyGeneral to the definition of an industrial dispute, which is given in clause 6. It is as follows : - “ 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, and extending beyond the limits of any one State.
Clause 42 provides that -
No industrial dispute shall without the approval of the President be submitted to the Court by an organization unless the Registrar certifies -
So that a trade dispute could be brought before the Court on the written request of a majority of the members of the committee of management of an organization. A more serious attempt should be made to limit the submission of cases to the Court. In my opinion, it should be necessary for a majority of the members of the organization to make a request for submission. Only the other day at Broken Hill a minority qf the members were able to involve all the others there in trouble without consulting them. It is notorious that only one-third of the men employed at Broken Hill are unionists, and these men were able to bring a case before the Arbitration Court which affected the whole number. I have here another illustration of the danger of allowing a small body of men to bring a case before the Court. The following statement is that of the writer of a private letter, in whom I have the utmost faith : -
The Colonial Sugar Company, Sydney, employ something like 3,000 hands, and a little while ago they were cited to appear before the court to show cause why practically the whole of the wages of the men in their employ should not be raised. The point was taken that no industrial dispute existed, and when the matter came before the court Mr. Justice Cohen had no alternative but to find that no industrial dispute existed ; but adjourned the matter to enable a conference to be held between the parties. The conference took place, at which were present the representatives of the union and representatives of the men themselves. One. of the principal claims put forward by the union was that eight hours should be adopted. Now, the sugar company have had in their employ some men who have been with them from 30 to 40 years, and if the eight hours system is adopted these old men could not do the work. . . . The representative of themen, as distinct from the representative of the union, at the conference stated that he was satisfied with the conditions of the company’s work, and that his following - that is the great bulk of the workers - desired no change until the company should be able to see its way clear to offer it. The majority are satisfied with things as theyare.
That union consists of 100 men, and it is hinted that a good many of them were not what is called financial.
– Unless the men could prove to the Court that they were entitled to better conditions they would not get them.
– Is it not absurd’ that a body of 100 men could drag into court 2,900 men who were perfectly satisfied with their conditions t If it is desired to make this Bill a success, and such as will meet with the approval of fair-minded men on both sides, we should not permit a miserable handful of men to drag into court 3,000 or 4,000 others who are satisfied with the conditions under which they are working.
– What would the honorable member suggest as a minimum.
– I would suggest that an application to the Court should be made by a majority of the workmen employed in any trade- That should offer a very easy way out of the difficulty.
– Suppose the majority were men such as the members of the honorable member’s union want - “scabs.”
– I want no “scabs.” I am as warm a friend of unionism as is the honorable member. I am here to fight not for unionists only, but for fair play all round. I am not the representative of any one section in the community, but I represent all sections, and any man who charges me with being favorable to “ scabs “ or antagonistic to unionism is making a huge mistake. I have only one or two remarks to make with reference to the constitutional difficulty. I repeat that I have grave doubts as to the wisdom of passing a Bill of this character. I am not sure that it would not be wise, for a time at all events, ito leave the States Governments free and unfettered to manage their own industrial affairs, and to confine our attention to matters such as those relating to the shipping trade, which are of an Inter-State character. The whole crux of the position seems to hang upon the word “ prevention.” It seems to me that we are claiming the right to intervene before a dispute has actually extended beyond any one State. In my innocence I never dreamt that that provision in the Constitution had any such significance. If it has, I think we should do well to pause before passing the Bill. I am afraid that in the event of their failing to obtain satisfaction from the States Courts, the labour organizations will take very good care that the disputes in which they are concerned are extended beyond one State. The result would then be as I have stated previously. Although the New South Wales Act provides that there shall be no appeal from the decision of the Arbitration Court, if a dispute is carried beyond the borders of that State, and the Federal authority intervenes, the Federal Court will become a court qf appeal which has not been sanctioned by the State. The effect might be to hang up a dispute for two or three years owing to the congestion of business in the Federal Court. I am quite aware that upon tlie general question of my sympathy for enforced arbitration and conciliation, or for the creation of some authority to bring about industrial peace, I may have laid myself open to some charges of inconsistency. But I am notinconsistent, although my views may have developed to ‘ some extent. I have always said that if I were once satisfied that by such means as those proposed in the Bill we could devise a satisfactory method of dealing with industrial disputes, I should throw my prejudices on one side. The application of a common rule will be one of the most delicate and dangerous operations in which the Court can engage. In my constituency there are two or three boot factories which, according to our ideas, are large and important, and which employ a considerable number of men. Suppose that the Federal Court gave a decision with regard to the boot manufactories in Melbourne or Sydney, where they have the most up-to-date machinery, and that that decision immediately became the common rule so far as wages were concerned. I know that the Court has certain discretionary powers, but I am sure that the. difficulty and trouble that would be created by the application of a common rule would be intense, and that it would probably have the effect of closing up many small establishments. I shall support the second reading of the Bill in order to show my sympathy with the principle of conciliation .and arbitration, but I shall assist other honorable members in amending some of the clauses in order to bring them into closer accord with my views. If the opponents of the Bill can show any other way of achieving the object at which we are aiming, I shall be prepared, even at this stage, to throw over the Bill and adopt their scheme. At present [ know of no better way. I can only say in justification of my somewhat lengthy remarks that, for years past, I have given my very best thoughts to this question, and that I have considered the provisions of the Bill without prejudice or passion. I neither dread hostile criticism, noi’ court popular applause. It may be beyond the power of statesmanship to modify the hideous law of demand “and supply, as applied to flesh and blood, but I, at least, shall be abundantly satisfied if by my presence here I Gan assist to remedy the evils of industrial strife, or modify the inequalities of social life, and as far as may be within my power bring about the triumph of justice, conciliation, and peace.
– Those who belong to the party with which I am associated, and who, from their personal experiences, as well as from their more or less close study of social science, are naturally deeply interested in this measure, cannot but be pleased with the reception with which it has met at the hands of the House. If one had stated some years ago, when Federation was first proposed, that the first Federal Parliament would have received, with so little opposition, a proposal to deal with the great industrial problem, he would scarcely have been regarded as a true prophet. It can hardly be said that the Bill has met with any opposition on general principles. The Attorney-General was twitted by the honorable and learned member for Parkes with having given us a poem, which he suggested should be set to music. I think that that is a very good idea, because we are endeavouring to bring about harmony between employers and employes. The honorable and learned member for Parkes seems to rest content until he hears the rumble of a progressive .movement, and then he rises in his place in the House and gives us a sample of thirty yearold political economy. We know very well that there are many difficulties to be overcome in connexion with a measure of this kind, and that we have to give full consideration to its possibilities under the limited powers with which we are invested by the Constitution. But we can at least devise means for the settlement of those larger difficulties which undoubtedly come within the purview of the Federation, namely, those which extend beyond any one State. I think that I am justified in claiming to speak with some authority on the subject, because I have had twenty-five years’ continuous experience as an agitator, and for a considerable portion of that time as a paid agitator, which is considered by some Conservatives to be very much worse than any other kind..
– What is an agitator?
– I believe that every honest man is an agitator. I cannot conceive of any man failing to be an agitator in the midst of the many evil conditions under which we live, and which we can at least do something to remedy. I propose to address myself to some of the concrete difficulties with which we are faced, and to consider whether the Bill offers the best way of overcoming them. It is scarcely necessary to say that strikes are inevitable under our present social conditions, nor is it required of me to advance the proposition that they are an evil. I wish some of those gentlemen who talk solightly of strikes, and, in a fatherly way say, “We believe in trades unionism, but whatever you do, do not strike,” had had some experience as executive members of some of the trades organizations.’ They would then realize that strikes are always the very last resource, and that they are only declared when they are forced upon the unions. I am speaking of the wellorganized and older unions. No doubt there are odd cases in which the men act hastily, but in the older unions many hours, or days, or even weeks, are devoted to the close consideration of the dispute before a strike is declared. They know what suffering it -involves to those who are dearest to them. No one who has made a close study of strikes can fail to admire the heroism exhibited by women and children in connexion with many industrial struggles. In my judgment, they have displayed far greater bravery than has been exhibited upon any battle-field. They have always fought to’ resist encroachments rather than to obtain concessions. A great deal of good work has been done by individual writers and thinkers; but the great improvement of conditions which the workers have gained has been due solely to the power of trades unionism. I have been looking up some statistics relating to industrial struggles, and it appears to me that they run through the whole commercial life of every country in a somewhat similar proportion. Under present conditions that seems inevitable. Striking an average for ten years in the case of England, France, Germany, the
United States, and Belgium, I find that there have been more than 9,000 industrial battles per annum. In the United Kingdom and America, during a single decade, there’ were over 21,000 disputes. The figures, moreover, seem to have some relation to population. I have not attempted to go into the question of the cost which these struggles involve, because I do not think that it is ascertainable. Some of those who argue that strikes on the part of workmen are foolish, assume that the latter are always influenced in their action by fatuous motives. The statistics of America, however, show that in 60 or 70 per cent, of the strikes that occur the workers secure an advantage. Of course the loss which they sustain is considerable. In the Newcastle district, New South Wales, I am aware that a few years ago Mr. James Curley, the secretary to the Miners’ Association, made a calculation of the amounts which were contributed towards the support of the men during strike time, clearly demonstrating that it had actually paid them to go upon strike.
– But it did not pay the country.
– Certainly not. I am merely pointing out the insurance which the strikers were called upon to pay. Of late years, however, the conditions have completely changed. In giving evidence before the Royal Commission on strikes which sat in New South Wales in 1890 I expressed the opinion that probably the loss sustained as the result of the great maritime trouble in that State was about £1,000,000. The actual loss of the New South Wales unions was £37,272, and of those in Victoria £31,209. In the Queensland shearers’ strike, which occurred in 1891, the loss of the unions totalled £20,583, in the Barrier miners’ strike of 1892 it represented £22,000, and in the shearers’ strike of 1894 it amounted to £20,000, making a total of £131,064. That was the cost to the unions alone. In Queensland the Government spent £137,000 in sending quite unnecessarily soldiers to the affected districts. Since then the estimated cost to the unions has been £32,000. In other words, the total loss to the unions, from 1890 to the present time, is £163,000. Prom these figures one ran imagine the enormous sacrifice which the other side sustains, quite apart from the loss to the country.
When I hear honorable members referring to the cost of the proposed Arbitration Court, I feel almost inclined to suggest that it would pay the unions themselves to bear it. In the United States an estimate has been made of the cost of strikes which have occurred there. Between 1881 and 1886 there were 3,902 industrial disputes, involving 22,304 establishments, and affecting 1,332,203 employes. From 1887 to 1894 there were 14,389 disputes, involving 69,166 establishments, and affecting 3,714,231 employes. The loss to the employers between 1881 and 1894 inclusive, was 82,589,786 dols., and to the employes, 163,807,657 dols., or a total of 246,397,443 dols. It is interesting to note that the cost to the strikers represents 3-77 dols. per year. That is the premium which they have to pay. It is also worthy of remark that the eight hours movement, which was inaugurated in Australia, reached America about that period, and that a year or two later one of the very big strikes which occurred there was for a shortening of hours. In that case, 240,000 men were successful in obtaining a recognition by the employers of the eight hours principle, and 210,000 had their hours of labour reduced to nine per day. Reference has been made to the great Pullman strike. In that struggle the loss sustained by the workers in wages was estimated at 350,000 dols. About 100,000 railway men came out in sympathy with the Pullman employes. During its continuance the railway companies concerned lost by damage. 685,308 dollars, and in earnings ‘ 4,672,916 dols. The estimated loss to the country was 80,000,000 dols. Of course the question of the loss sustained as the result of strikes is a serious one in itself. But there is infinitely more than the direct loss involved. We have to consider, not only the loss of time and wages, but the number of very serious evils which flow from industrial strife. I intend to quote just a few of them. I have no desire to say hard things concerning employers, but I shall show what has been the effect of these disturbances upon really good men. I shall state facts which are within my own personal knowledge, and I am justified in doing so, because of the amount of misconception which exists in the public mind. First, however, let me again refer to the Pullman strike and the trouble which occurred in Carnegie’s works. We all know that Mr. Carnegie is not a poor man. It cannot be urged that he cannot afford to pay his workmen a fair wage. I quote his case with the object of showing that attempts are frequently made to reduce wages altogether irrespective of whether or not an industry pays. An attempt was made by him to reduce the smelting rate from 26-Jr dols. to 23 dols. per ton. At first there was a very small number of men affected. The manager of the works prepared for a lock-out most deliberately. He erected a fence 12 feet high upon a 3-ft. base which ran round the whole of the works. That was done prior to a reduction being made. He engaged 300 of the Pinkerton brigade, who entered the State without arms, the latter being brought with them in boxes. By this time a lock-out had occurred, and the Amalgamated Engineers’ Society offered to escort non-unionists safely into the works. Their offer was refused. In the meantime the Pinkerton men had armed. Firing took place and eleven men were killed. In the end the Pinkerton men were defeated and had to retire. Enormous cost was involved. The State militia was called out, and the Federal troops were also sent to the scene of disturbance. I need not do more than remind honorable members of a great many other incidents which have occurred, for I have no desire to dwell unduly upon this matter. I simply desire to show that the dispute was provoked, as scores of strikes are provoked, by the employers. It was prepared, plotted, and planned by them. The employes claimed that the McKinley Tariff justified their demand that the old rates should be retained, and the occurrence affords another illustration of the attacks which are made on the men. The Pullman strike was a comparatively small affair at the- outset, yet every effort which the Civic Federation or Board of Conciliation made to settle it, proved unavailing. As a matter of fact, the Board endeavoured to settle the dispute before the strike eventuated, and one of the largest employers in America also sought to use his influence with a view to the avoidance of the difficulty. The employers, however, refused to listen to their proposals. In the end the railway men came out on strike and the result is familiar to us all. What happened ? Let me show honorable members what they do in glorious, froe America. The manager of the company was allowed to select 3,600 men, just as special constables would be enrolled here. The men were sworn in, and they were placed under the sole command of the manager. Instead of calling in an independent police force, as we should do, . the authorities left all these men under the control of the company’s manager, and in such circumstances it is not surprising thai; the workmen became somewhat provoked. When the rail way men came out on strike, their leader, Mr. Debs, was arrested ; and when application was made for bail, a surety of 100,000 dols. was demanded. Mr. Debs was tried without a jury, and certain injunctions were obtained. During the struggle twelve . men were fatally shot, and 515 were arrested, 71 being arrested under the United States Statute, while 119 were arrested but not indicted. It is important to know that the Commissioners appointed by Congress found upon examination that the officers of the union had nothing whatever to do with the damage to property and other serious trouble which took place in connexion with tha strike. The unions and their officers were acquitted of any participation in the destruction of property. Let me now draw attention to the railway strike which took place at Pittsburg. The militia refused to fire on the men, and the United States troops were then called out, with the result that 22 men were shot down in one day, Gatling guns being trained on the strikers. In that case the loss amounted to 5,000,000 dols., something like 1,600 railway carriages being burnt, while 120 engines were destroyed. The bituminous coal miners came out on strike in 1897, and while the unionists were marching to a neighbouring town they were met by the sheriff, who caused the Riot Act to be read. Most of the strikers were foreigners and did not understand the true significance of the reading of the Act. Instead of dispersing they sought to continue their march,, with the result that they were fired on and that 23 were killed, while many others were wounded. I desire to refer briefly to the celebrated anthracite coal strike, and I think I shall be justified in giving two quotations from Henry D. Lloyd’s work in order to illustrate the past and present position of the industry. The report of the Committee of Inquiry shows that for 40’ years the mines in Pennsylvania were worked by individual owners. The men and theemployers had interests in common ; the employes worked under fair conditions, and during the whole of that time scarcely any trouble occurred. When the mines came into the possession of big railway companies, and the small employers were shut out, what happened ?I should mention, by the way, that the railway companies of America are in eight great combines, and are the owners of 95 per cent, of the coal mines of America. They are coal-mine owners as well as carriers. The report of the Committee of Inquiry appointed in 1887 shows how the men were treated. It states that -
The coal companies in the anthracite regions keep thousands of surplus labourers on hand to underbid each other for employment and force admission for all exactions ; hold them perfectly ignorant when the mines are to be worked and when closed, so that they cannot seek employment elsewhere; bind them as tenants by compulsion in the companies’ houses, so that rent shall run against them, whether wages run or not, and under leases by which they can be turned out with their wives and children on the mountainside in midwinter if they strike ; compel them to fill cars of larger capacity than agreed upon ; make them buy their powder and other working outfit of the companies at an enormous advance on the cost ; compel them to buy coal of the company at the company’s price, and in many cases to buy a fixed quantity, more than they need ; compel them to employ the doctor named by the company, and to pay faim whether sick or well; “pluck” them at the company’s stores, so that when pay-day comes round the company owes the men nothing there being authentic cases where “sober, hard-working miners toil for years, or even a life-time, without having been able to dra w a single dollar, or but a few dollars, in actual cash,” “in debt until the day they died” ; refuse to fix the wages in advance, but pay them upon some hocus-poens sliding senile varying with the selling price in New York, which the railroad slides to suit itself ; and, most extraordinary of all, refuse to let the miners know the prices upon which their living slides - a fraud says the report of Congress of 1888, “on its face.”
The report to Congress shows that, having crushed out the smaller employers and gained complete control of the coal market, these very companies, in connexion with which a big strike recently occurred, are taking from the public of the United States of America 41,000,000 dollars per annum in excess of the price at which the small companies could previously supply the coal. In view of these facts, it cannot be asserted that they are unable to pay fair wages. We know that the coal miners came out on strike and remained out of work from May until October of last year. President Roosevelt then stepped in, and by threatening to start Government coal mines succeeded in inducing the employers to meet the representatives of the miners. The mine-owners refused at first to meet Mitchell, and actually insulted the President of the United States. They said that instead of asking them to effect a settlement of the trouble, he should have brought the Federal troops to their assistance. They were not satisfied to have the State troops on their side ; they desired also to have the assistance of the Federal forces. President Roosevelt, to his credit, be it said, adopted a firm stand, and by his threat to establish Government coal mines succeeded in inducing the employers to meet the workmen. A Commission then made an award, but within the last fortnight the employers have repudiated it. Is it reasonable to suppose that men who control great industries, and are prepared to go to the lengths I have indicated, will care anything about a conciliation award which is not binding upon them ? They do not care 2d. for such awards. I am not surprised that they should have repudiated the award in question, and that the men now find themselves compelled to fight their battles over again. I think this case is a very forcible illustration of the position in which men are placed in a great country like the United States of America. It is only one of many instances of the kind that might be cited, and in view of these facts it must be evident that all that has been said about the inability of these large companies to pay the wages demanded by the men should be set aside. Strikes occur in every country. The admirers of the little Japanese - and some employers object to our action in shutting out the Japanese workman from Australia - must know that with the extension of Western civilization to, and the establishment of factories in, Japan, many strikes have occurred in that country. I cannot refrain from quoting a case which shows that in matters of trades unionism the Japanese is prepared to go one better than any member of an English-speaking community. The menin the railway service demanded better wages, better treatment, and a better social position. The demand for a better social position is rather interesting. The company which owned the railways removed the men who made this demand, and, having requisitioned the services of detectives in order to discover the identity of the agitators amongst their employes, lost no time in getting rid of them. As soon as the so-called agitators were discharged, 4,000 out of the 10,000 employes on railways went out on Strike. The company procured the services of 50 engine-drivers to fill some of the vacancies thus created in their service, but as soon as these new employes ascertained the true position of affairs they refused to blackleg. They disguised themselves and left the service of the company. The result was that within five days the strike was brought to an end. The men secured better wages - they got three yens a day instead of one - they secured better treatment, and they also obtained a recognition of their demand for a better social position, the company deciding that porters and guards should in future rank equally with stationmasters. They evidently consider social position to be a matter of importance. The Judges in Japan considered that they were being treated unfairly, and a Commission was appointed to inquire what salaries were paid to occupants of seats on the Judicial Bench in the western countries. The Commission sent in its report, and the Judges immediately went out on strike, contending that they were underpaid. The Government pointed out that the purchasing power of the salaries they were receiving was quite equal to that of the judicial salaries paid by western nations, and, some of the foremost fighters having been replaced by other men, the remaining Judges gave in. Thus the railway servants of Japan did better than did the Judges. It is a question whether this Bill should not apply to our Judges, because I think I am correct in saying that at one time something in the nature of a strike of Judges was threatened in Queensland. Some difficulty arose in regard to the allowances granted to them.
– Mr. Justice Cooper struck.
– They proposed to let off. every criminal who came before them - a suggestion which evidenced more astuteness on- their part than was shown by the Japanese Judges.
– The honorable member thinks that there should be an anti-strike Bill against Judges.
– Yes. I desire now to show why strikes are inevitable under the present system, and why the system of conciliation has hitherto failed. France has had Conciliation Courts in existence since the year 1296, so that the people of that I country should be fairly familiar with the system. The lines upon which the courts work in France are well known, and it will be unnecessary for me to deal with the subject at any length. The courts dispose of a great many minor cases, and consequently the statistics relating to their operation in the early part of last century cannot fairly be compared with those of .more recent years. I find, for example, that four of thesecourts in Paris are said to have disposed of about 24,000 cases annually in the early days. In 1889 they dealt with 43,141 cases, but in 16,178 instances they failed to effect a settlement. In 1890, 3,112 cases in the textile tradescame before the courts, but 1,124 were not settled. In 1891, 940 out of 2,841 werenot settled. From 1871 to 1880, conciliation was arrived at in 71 per cent, of the cases ; in 1881, in 61 per cent. ; and in 1882’ and again in 1883, in 64 per cent., while sincethen the average number of cases settled hasbeen 53 per cent. After the big coal strikeof 1892, which was settled by M. Loubet, the present President, power was taken by the State to interfere, but they stopped short of the compulsory enforcement of decisions. From 1893 to 1899 the Act was brought into force in 778 cases. Of those cases, 425 came before the Courts on the application of the men, 23 on the application of the employers, 18 on the joint application of the two parties, and 312 by the interference of the officers of the State. There wasa settlement in 204 cases, but the remaining 574 were not settled. In the six months ending April, 1902, of 293 cases in dispute only 26 reached the Courts ; 1 1 by theinterference of the State officials. In 7 of those cases the employes refused conciliation. In the three months endingJanuary, 1903, out of 84 ‘cases in dispute only 1 6 went before the Court, and only two were settled. I will not read all the figures in detail, but they show a steady decrease and latterly parties have declined to go before the courts because of the failure to settle cases. Similar courts, Conseils dePrud’hommes, were established in Belgium in 1806,- and in the period between 1887 and 1891, 22,691 -cases occurred, of which 16,190 were settled by conciliation, and 2,704 by arbitration, while there wasa failure in 3,696 cases. In England an Act of 1824 gave a court, power tofix wages if ‘both sides accepted the award. In 1867 the Act was amended to give equal representation to both parties. In 1872 the arbitration principle was introduced, and it was provided that if either side presented a printed copy of its terms to the other side they became legally binding upon both, unless they were repudiated within 48 hours. The English Labour Commission of 1891-4 favoured some compulsory system. The big coal strike of 1893 lasted sixteen weeks, and then Mr. Gladstone took action, and it was settled under the arbitration of Lord Rosebery. In 1894 Mr. Asquith was the arbitrator in the great cab-drivers’ strike. In 1895 the difficulty in the boot trade was settled under Sir Courtenay Boyle. In connexion with that settlement a principle was introduced which is contained in this Bill. Each side put into the hands of the chairman £1,000 as a guarantee that it would comply with the award, and part of that money has since been forfeited for a breach of the- award. If we take the Board of Trade reports, the strikes seem to have aggregated for the seven years ending 1894, 5,949, and are about the same for a similar period since. Taking an average of years, 300,000 persons were involved. It is strange to see how evenly the figures run -900, 700, 600, and 900 cases each year. Statements have been made about the success of the English boards. It goes without saying that in every industry disputes will arise which never see the light of day, being settled in a friendly spirit. Others come to & head sufficiently to be reported, but are quickly settled. Others are referred to Boards of Conciliation, and in others again persons of tact and judgment interfere and bring about a settlement. All these methods of settlement will be possible under the Bill. There were 139 of these boards in operation in England in 1899. The cases listed number 1,232, of which 506 were withdrawn, and 675 settled, while 51 remained unsettled. Most of them were settled by joint committees. I think that one of the most valuable clauses in the Bill is that which provides for committees of that kind. It is an extraordinary fact that the Sydney Daily Telef/rofjh had an article one day speaking strongly in favour of the English system, and next day an article denouncing this Bill, which provides for joint committees of the trade. In New York, for ten years past, there has been one in the brick industry which has been very successful. Builders and their workmen meet every “Wednesday.
The arrangement has been a great success, and could be adopted in many other industries. In England in the five years between 1894 and 1^99, the courts settled from 38 to 45 cases a year out of over 700 cases that arose. Notwithstanding the large number of cases settled, if the number of men concerned is taken into account, only about 6 per cent, appear to have been affected by the settlements. Out of 113 cases in 1901, 70 were settled ; 32 by conciliation and 38 by arbitration. The experience of England, as well as of other countries, shows a falling-off in the number of cases settled by ordinary methods of conciliation. In Germany they have Industrial Courts, and although they have not the compulsory system, they have some means of interfering. I will not give the whole of the details connected with the German experience, because it would take too much time to do so. I will, however, quote the figures for 1896. In that year the intervention of the Courts was sought in 44 cases, eighteen of which were settled, and, out of eleven decisions, two were accepted and nine rejected. Those are the latest figures I happen to have. Reference has been made to Switzerland. That country has already moved in the direction of preventing strikes. It has been found that to leave the cantons to deal individually with matters of this kind has not been a success, so the law has been amended, and every effort is now made to arrive at the settlement of industrial disputes, first by conciliation and afterwards by arbitration, and there can be no strike or lock-out while a case is pending. In Italy they have ah official conciliator who can interfere, . and they also provide for arbitration. In Austria they do not allow strikes or locks-out. They have arbitration courts to which the parties must go, and if a settlement is not obtained there they can go to the ordinary courts. In Denmark and Norway the Conciliation Court is the court of first instance, where disputes such as would come into our police courts arise. I think that their system would be a good one to copy here, though the members of the legal profession would not favour it. Although my authority in the case of Norway is a few years old, I have been told that 88 per cent, of the cases are successfully settled, the fees amounting to 10 1/2 d., and the whole cost of settlement being 2s. 7id. People accustomed to that method of conciliation would easily be got to agree to a similar method for the settlement of industrial disputes. Denmark has a somewhat similar law for rural districts, and parties must go to the Court set up under it before going to any other. In the Provinces of Ontario and Quebec, Acts providing for conciliation and arbitration have recently been passed, though their provisions are not compulsory. In sixteen of the States of the American Union similar Acts have been passed, though, as in other cases, they have failed. In Massachusetts and New York the Courts have some power of enforcing their decisions. Unless 6.0 days’ notice is given decisions are enforceable. I call attention to that fact to show how different is our position in Australia. Here, if employers and employes come to a friendly arrangement, it is not binding. An arrangement between two individuals can be enforced as a contract, and either side can be punished for any breach of it. But if a trades union makes an agreement with a body of employers, either side can break it, notwithstanding the trouble in bringing it about. In concluding my remarks upon the experience of America, I should like to emphasize the fact that, in 188S, they passed an Act dealing with the rail way companies and the shipping on rivers and lakes connecting the railway lines. That Act was amended in 1898, and, to show the trend of opinion in the direction of the principles of this Bill, prohibits strikes and locks-out. ‘It also provides for the enforcements of decisions and makes them binding. Cases go first before the Conciliation Court and then before an Arbitration Court. The decision ©f the latter is binding, being placed in the same position as a decision in a Court of Equity. Penalties from 100 dols. to 1.000dols can be imposed upon the employers, to check them from doing certain things, such as discriminating between unionists and nonunionists, boycotting, and requiring the men to sign agreements to make payments to a doctor or to a society. That is the latest legislation, and it shows that the trend of events is in the direction in which we are going. I think that it will be generally conceded that the opinions of the leaders of labour in Australia are worthy of as much consideration as are those of the American labour leaders. They both speak from the stand-point of their own surroundings, and judge from their experience as to the probable effects of any law of this kind. In view of what we know of the American Courts, and of the system of electing Judges, I am not at all surprised that the American labour leaders should hesitate, in spite of their difficulties, to hand themselves over to the courts. The information which I have presented to honorable members shows how the law isused against the workers, and how all the powers of the States and Federal Governments are employed to coerce them, unreasonably in many cases. I desire to read one quotation to show that there is still some misunderstanding in the minds of American labour leaders regarding the effect of the New Zealand and Australian arbitration laws. Some extracts have been . read from the utterances of Mr. Gompers, and I wish to quote a paragraph from a speech he made quite recently at the meeting in connexion with the Civic Federation, at which it was proposed to form a greatconciliation board, and at which a number of leading employers were present. Mr. Gompers quotes Lincoln as having said : “ Thank God we live in a country where people may Strike. He remarks -
Nevertheless a strike ought to be avoided by every means within the power of every man, capitalist, labourer, or the neutral citizen, and hewho would not give his best efforts and thought to prevent a strike is scarcely doing justice to his fellow-men, nor is he loyal to the institutions under which we live. But X re-assert that there are some things which are worse than strikes, and among them I include a degraded, a debased,, or a demoralized manhood. Labour insists upon and will never surrender the right to free locomotion, the right to move at will, the right to go- from Philadelphia to Camden, or California, or vice versa, at will. To achieve that right it has cost centuries of struggles, and sacrifices, and burdens. Labourers, moreover, will insist upon the right freely to change their employment, a, right which they have secured through centuries of travail and sacrifices. That right three-fourths of the nation was up in arms a little more than forty years ago to achieve for the black man, and the white labourers of America will not surrender that prerogative. Labourers are aiming at freedom through organization and intelligence.
Several other remarks uttered by the same gentleman show that he has failed torealize that we have a system for the compulsory settlement of disputes which still leaves the workers and the employers free. He and other leaders in America havefailed to grasp the fact that under our laws we have the power to prevent locks-out and strikes without compelling an employer to carry on his industry. We simply tell the employer that if he desires to carry on he must comply with the conditions of the award, whilst, on the other hand, the workman is free to leave his employment and to engage in another. Therefore, the freedom of the individual is not interfered with. We quite agree with Mr. Gompers in the position he takes up, but we claim that the advantages to be derived from a peaceful settlement of disputes more than counterbalance any that may be gained by the exercise of the liberty to strike. I propose now to deal with tlie attitude of the employers. I have had experience as a labour leader for a quarter of a century, and it appears to me that the employers are like spoilt children crying for what they will never get. They are closing their eyes to facts which are patent to every student of political and social economy, and which ought, perhaps, to be better known to business nien than to many others. Instead of directing their energies to the prevention of trouble, they are doing their best to throw obstacles in the way of any scheme having such an object in view. I have no recollection of any measure ever proposed for the benefit of the working classes that was not opposed by the employers. In an exceedingly interesting summary of the labour laws of Massachusetts, I find it stated that the first law was passed in 1836, and that there have been altogether 238 Acts or amendments of Acts dealing with labour. The report says that these Acts contained many imperfections that were retained with the definite purpose of defeating the object of the legislation, and they attribute all the best results of such legislation to the efforts of labour agitators. The Employers’ Unions have been distributing circulars containing statements which do not closely adhere to facts. Mr. P. T. Derham, president of the Employers’ Federation of Victoria, is reported as having recently stated -
Free men would be compelled to join unions, and be brought to heel under unionist leaders, many of whom - not all - -were self-seeking, and looking for fat billets.
Those who were listening to Mr. Derham said “Hear, hear.” If there had been any truth in that statement, and the members of the unions had followed their leaders, we should have had labour Parliaments in all the States long ago. They do not, however, act as their leaders tell them, otherwise gentlemen like Mr. Derham would not occupy positions of authority. The employers have not made any progress in the study of economic questions during the last few. years. I think it would be fair to quote a statement made by the late Mr. E. M. Young, who was reported in the Argus of 27th February, 1891. I quote the statement only as expressing an idea. Mr.. Young said-
Unfortunately we had in this community leaders of men who asserted that labour was not receiving its fair share, and their agreements, ar.d utterances, and manifestoes, fairly showed that until they possessed the properties of the employers, and afterwards their lives, they would not be satisfied. . . .
The working men were simply asking for control. There was no question of wages, of hours, nor of terms. All that the employers insisted on was that they should be allowed to conduct their business as they pleased, and to employ whom they pleased, whether the men were in unions or not.
To the idea of non-interference with their business the employers seem to hold fast as a creed. I took some trouble to obtain a definite expression of the employers’ creed, particularly in regard to the term “ freedom of contract.” In a statement compiled by the president of the Master Bakers’ Association in Adelaide, freedom of contract was defined, the fourth paragraph reading as follows -
They shall pay what they choose without being questioned in the matter by anybody.
I was present when that statement wasobtained. The definition adopted by thePastoralists’ Union is -
That employers shall be free to employ, and shearers shall be free to accept employment,, whether belonging, to shearers or other unions ornot, without favour, molestation, or intimidation: on either side.
I think that the best example of a concretestatement regarding “freedom of contract” was a notice posted at the time of the 1890 strike in. Sydney outside the offices of Messrs. Flood, and Company on the Circular Quay. The notice read as follows :- -
Let it be understood that for the future all men working for us will be expected to do such work on such terms and arrangements as moy be required by us.
This is the position that the Employers’ Federation takes up to-day.
– Would the honorable member object to that if the terms of employment were fair 3
– I should decidedly and emphatically object to it.
– The honorable member surely does not object to the principle of employers fixing the wages 1
– Yes, I do. What I want is a collective agreement. I have endeavoured to find out what the employers want. They will not tell us straight out. It seems, however, from their recent utterances, that they now hold the same view as in 1S90, and that they claim the right to dictate the terms upon which they shall employ labour, and that the workmen must accept such terms or leave them. Many employers have absolutely refused to recognise the unions, or to have anything to do with collective bargains. They want what is called the economic iron law of wages to operate. That law is that wages have a tendency to fall to the lowest sum that any individual workman is prepared to accept, or any individual employer is prepared to give. But in the midst of a society that is departing from that principle, what is the use of the employers refusing to recognise patent facts. The unions have been formed with the object ,of defeating the operation of any such law. I believe in a mutual arrangement between the parties, under which a minimum can be fixed. It is not right that the employer should be allowed- to dictate to the workmen as to the rates of pay which shall be given.
– Some one must take the initiative. Is it a sin for an employer to say - “Prom my point of view these are the wages which shall be paid.” It is for the workman to say whether he considers they are fair. After that I believe in mutual concessions, but the honorable member seems to think that it is a crime for an employer to fix his own rate of wages.
– I recognise that the employer must fix the wages in the first instance, but in cases where the employers break away “from collective agreements and start a free labour bureau, the conditions are altogether altered. The employers seem to think that they should be free to prescribe the conditions of employment. They resent anything in the shape of what they are pleased to term “dictation.” In connexion with this very Bill is it not bandied about that we desire to control their business ? We want to do no such thing. We merely ask that something like reasonable conditions as regards workmen shall be imposed. Not only have the employers failed to put unionists upon an equality with non-unionists, but they have instituted a system of boycott against the former. I cannot find a stronger case in favour of compulsory arbitration than that which is presented by the Pastoralists’ Union. I have just read the definition of freedom of contract which it adopts. It insists upon putting that definition at the head of its agreements. But does it carry out those agreements 1 Certainly not ! I have seen confidential circulars which were sent to employers - particularly in Queensland and New South Wales - asking for reports upon the shearers engaged by them. Those confidential reports, when forwarded, contained references to every individual shearer. These were frequently marked “good,” showing that a man was quite capable of performing his work well. The references were printed with a special kind of type. The lists of men marked off on these reports distinguished union men and agitators. As a result, when the men sought employment from the Pastoralists’ Union one would be engaged . whilst the services of another would be declined, although both were equally competent according to the references of their employers. Thus some of the best menin Queensland have been boycotted by the Pastoralists’ Union. Any number of them have drifted to Western Australia. I am glad to say that they carried their principles with them, and that they assisted in the return of representatives to this House who are in sympathy with labour legislation. It is sixteen years since the Shearers’ Union was organized. In every district in which it established itself it issued circulars to the pastoralists, together with a copy of its rules, and invited suggestions to render the scheme which it had in view a workable one. In some instances these overtures were met in the most friendly manner, but in most cases its request Vas absolutely refused. We have had any number of strikes. I believe that the Shearers’ Union alone has experienced close upon 6,000 of them.
– The honorable member was responsible for the first one.
– I state most emphatically that no man could have made a more determined effort than I did to bring about conciliatory action. The South Australian pastoralists met us in 189.1, and as a result we arrived at a friendly agreement, although the Federal Council of the Pastoralists1 Union subsequently compelled its members to repudiate it. In Victoria^ the pastoralists have always been willing to come to an amicable agreement, but have been prevented from doing so by their own association. In New South Wales the squatters refused to meet us year after year. In 189.1, it is true, they did meet us in conference, and we adopted an agreement which, it was expected, would last until an alteration was effected in it by mutual arrangement. In 1894, however, the pastoralists deliberately repudiated it, and brought about one of the biggest strikes that has been experienced in the bush country - a strike which cost us about £12,000, and which involved them in an expenditure of £2,000 upon the western line alone. They raked the cities in order to get men, and as a result induced all the criminal class available to go into the bush country. The most notorious burglars were sent out there under police escort, and the managers of the back country stations declare that things have not yet resumed their normal condition. What was the object underlying the action of the Pastoralists’ Union ? They inserted a clause in the agreement relating to the conditions of labour which would make the employer the sole judge in any dispute. That is their idea of freedom of contract. When we discovered that they had broken the agreement, we called into operation the machinery of the Conciliation Court. Sir George Dibbs did all that was possible to bring about conciliation, and I personally drafted a telegram winch he sent to the Premiers of Queensland and Victoria soliciting their friendly co-operation. Sir George Dibbs also induced the managers of ‘the big banking institutions in New South Wales to come together. The Banks refused to use their influence to prevent trouble. The pastoralists refused to meet us in conference. I make this statement because we are constantly charged with having promoted trouble. Five times in eight consecutive years we have applied to the New South Wales pastoralists to meet us in conference, and they have consistently declined to do so. It is not the bond fide pastoralists who are to blame, but in dealing with them officially we have to treat with them as an organization, and I say that the union in question has forced upon us quite unnecessary trouble. The result of the serious strike which occurred in 1894 was not only a tremendous loss to the State, but 87 members of the Shearers’ Union were consigned to gaol under the extraordinary law which prevailed. Of course it is easy enough to send a man to gaol under the Act dealing with the creation of disturbances, as the Attorney-General knows. For example, one of our men was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment, simply because he was a member of a camp from which some men went out and created a disturbance. The Chief Justice declared at the trial that it did not matter if he were 100 miles away at the time the offence was committed. Two of our men were shot, and one of themdied after leaving gaol from the effects of his wound. The non-unionist who shot him received a medal from the President of the Pastoralists’ Union for his bravery. In Queensland a great many men have suffered unjustly.
– Did they not pull the non-unionists out of their bunks?
– No. I have no desire to enter into details, or I could tell honorable members that some of the stories which were circulated in the public press have no foundation in fact. For instance, the statement was wired to England that a wool-shed had been burned down, when, as a matter of fact, there were 2 feet of water in the building at the time. The whole story was concocted as a bit of fun. I do not forget that in a great many disputes conciliation is possible. But in this connexion, what is our experience in Victoria ? In Victoria I organized the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, which had branches all over Australia. In our earlier history we had to fight. In thirteen out of thirty-six disputes, the employers posted a notice declaring that any man who joined the union would be dismissed. In Melbourne - to come nearer home - there is in existence a wages-board system. It is not satisfactory - certainly not so good as would be an Arbitration Court. But let us look at the attitude adopted by the employers in this connexion. The wages boards consist of representatives from both parties to a dispute, with some independent person acting as chairman. Yet I find that in the butchering, in the tanners, and in the fellmongers trades, all those who represented the workmen have been discharged, with the exception of the secretary. I have a newspaper report setting forth that last month one of the employers was proceeded against by the Inspector of factories for failing to pay the rate of wages fixed by the determination of the Board. Several of his employes were called to support the case, and I learn that they have since been discharged. In another case, certain men have been boycotted since 1901, and have been unable to obtain employment. I remember a case in which a man was boycotted, because of a remark which he was alleged to have made at a meeting of the Miners’ Association in Victoria. As a matter of fact he was misreported ; he never made the remark attributed to him j but- he was boycotted, and had to leave the district. In thirteen cases, at least, a lock-out was resorted to in order to prevent men from joining unions. I should like to refer to another case which I also inquired into. In the early days of Broken Hill, the Mine Managers’ Association circulated, a list, giving the names of eight miners whom the managers of the mines were requested not to employ. I have the authority of one of the managers, who received a copy of the circular, for the assertion that it was sent to all the mine managers. No reason was given for the request that these men should not be employed. The men went from mine to mine, and were unable to obtain employment. They knew* of no reason for the refusal to employ them, and they were not aware of the fact that they had been placed upon a “ black list.” The system of issuing “ black lists” was freely adopted in America a few years ago. When the employers agree to meet the workmen,, the system of conciliation works very well ; but, unless they are prepared to do so, it is .utterly useless. In this, as in other matters, we’ have to look at the percentage, for we find that there is no great difference between employers and workmen. There is often a readiness on the part of employers to break the factory laws, and they are occasionally fined for such offences. We have also known the Cnstoms Act to be violated by respectable people, many of whom are always ready to. talk about the violence sometimes associated with strikes.
– What about the “black list” which was sent round the sheds in Queensland?
– I have already explained that matter. ‘I have seen certain reports in which statements relative to a man’s capacity, the union to which he belonged, and other details, were set down under the heading of “ remarks.” The union to which I belong has taken some trouble to investigate cases of the kind, and we find that these tactics have been adopted by a union which refuses to conciliate or to meet us ; but is, nevertheless, ready to charge our organization with all the evil things which sometimes occur when trouble arises. I wish those who are so ready to speak of the violence associated with strikes to take a note of what is done by the big trusts in America. Those trusts scarcely stop at any crime. Henry D. Lloyd, in his Wealth against Commonwealth, deals with the tactics adopted by the Standard Oil Company in the United States of America. He shows that the company has destroyed the property of opponents, and that, by requisitioning the services of soldiers and planting cannon, it has prevented its opponents from laying pipes with which to carry on their operations. I have even seen violence used by employers in Australia. I have been drilled with others in the use of spears 9 feet in length, which we were expected to prod into the bodies of miners working a claim adjacent to that in which we were employed, and who, in following up the gold, were getting very close to us. I remember also a case in which a few years ago a truck load of pick handles was sent down a mine near Ballarat for fighting purposes, and we were expected to use them. Sometimes, when a man is provoked, an incident occurs which every one regrets. We find certain people always ready to make the most of such cases ; but they have nothing to say in regard to the wrong-doings of their own class, oi’ of the violence which they are prepared to use when it suits their ends I have no desire to say that such a practice is common. Happily it is disappearing. I wish now to refer to the question of unionism. Unionism seems to be a bugbear to many people, but I. think I shall be able to show not only that it has proved useful in the past, but that if this Bill be passed it will te an advantage rather than a disadvantage - if it has ever really been disadvantageous to any class. Shulze. Gaevernitz, at page 24S of Social Peace, writes -
The more intellectually gifted employers in the most important English industries have given an ungrudging recognition to the unions, and comparing the present with the former state of incessant strife, the)’ see in the trades union movement the instrument which is to restore English industry to -the paths of peace.
The late Mr. Gladstone said that trades unions were “the bulwarks of democracy,” while Professor Marshall in his work, Economics of Industry, says -
Little but mischief comes from weak unions, always ready to interfere, but seldom able to secure the faithful carrying out of an agreement to which its own officers have been a party. But a strong union, guided by able and far-seeing men, who have a grave sense of responsibility, is found to enable a few minutes of conversation to settle innumerable petty disputes that in old times would have caused much delay and worry and loss of mutual good feeling.
My experience is that whenever the employers are willing to confer with the men much good is accomplished. One of the beneficial influences of unionism from tlie standpoint of the employer is that it sifts all grievances. I was for sixteen years secretai’3’ of a very big branch of a trades union. For eleven and a half years I acted as general secretary of a union, and I have held office for seventeen years in another large union. I claim, therefore, to know something of unionism. I have made a close study, of the system and of its effect upon individuals. T. assert, as the result of my experience, that all grievances are examined by the unions, and only genuine or what appear to be genuine grievances in the e)’es of the workmen, are presented to the employers. In that way employers are saved much trouble and annoyance, and it is because of this fact that the trades unions are largely recognised. It is only when the employers refuse to recognise them, and wish to do as they like with their workmen, that difficulty occurs. The testimony given by Mark Hanna, who is a very large employer of labour, and has taken an active interest in this question, is worthy of attention. He says -
I believe in organized labour, and I have for 30 years. I believe in it, because it is a demonstrated fact that where the concerns and interests of labour are intrusted to able and honest leadership, it is much easier for those who represent the employers to come into close contact with the labourer. and, by dealing with fewer persons, to accomplish results quicker and better.
We have also the testimony of Potter Farmer, of Chicago, who is reported to have said -
For ten years I made as desperate a fight against organized labour as was ever made by mortal man. It cost me considerably more than 1,000,000 dols. to learn that there is no labour so skilled, so intelligent, so faithful, as that which is governed by an organization, whose officials are well-balanced, level-headed men. I now employ none but organized labour, and never have the least trouble, each believing that the one has no right to oppress the other.
This is splendid testimony to the value of trades unions. Any employer who’ shows tact in the management of his affairs will indorse the opinion I have just quoted. Of course every rule has its exceptions. But I am prepared to assert that strikes generally take place because an employer or his manager shows a want of tact and judgment in dealing with his men. In spite of what may be said to the contrary, I hold that workmen are very easily managed, and I have arrived at that opinion after closely observing their habits. An employer may sometimes have an excellent manager ; but. when he refuses to’ listen to any grievance, or to have a grievance sifted by a trades union, and even declines to recognise a union, trouble often takes place. I know full well that men have no desire to quarrel with their bread and butter. They have no wish to enter, upon a strike, and the larger a union becomes the greater is the safety to the employer. I propose now to deal with some of the statements which have been made during this debate. It is said that unions are tyrannical, and that men are forced to join their ranks. I do not think that much attention need be given to a statement of that kind. All unions are democratic in their form of government. Membership must be purely voluntary, aud no man can be coerced into joining them. Another statement is that trades unions are led by .agitators, who induce the men to strike. It goes without sa.y.ing, however, that if any one attempted to lead a good, solid body of unionists he would very rapidly discover that they had opinions of their own. It is idle to say that they are led this way or that way by agitators. Lord Rosebery has described the hard- headed unionists of England as “the aristocracy of labour.” It is well known that the unions are managed with great care, and it is only necessary for a man to become a member in order to discover that there is no truth in the assertion that unionists are led by the nose by agitators. Another contention is that unionism interferes with the efficiency of labour. It goes without saying that business undertakings often fail because of influences which are quite apart from industrial difficulties. Competition may crush them out ; but I have never found any evidence of interference on the part of unions with the management of a business or any indication that unionism tends to impair the efficiency of labour. It is frequently asserted that this Bill will interfere with the employment of old and slow workers, and many people believe that trades unionism causes many old men to be thrown out of work. My experience is that the manager of a business invariably takes care’ to secure the services of the best workmen available, and I have heard some aged men say that they find it necessary to dye their beards in order to obtain a billet. I have never known an employer to evince a special desire to obtain the services of old men, unless their capacity was equal to that of younger workmen. I should like . to draw attention to the experience of the Victorian boot trade. A wages board was appointed to deal with the boot trade in this State, and the men, being anxious that there should be no interference with the employment of aged workmen, asked for the adoption of piece-work rates. The employers, however, refused that request. The men were anxious that the old workers should be affected as lightly as possible by the change, and on the promise of the employers that they would not discharge the old men, they accepted a minimum wage of 36s. -per week, the employers agreeing to pay more to the better class of workmen. That was ls. a day less than labourers obtain for unskilled work. They reduced all to 36s. a week,’ and I am informed that when they decreased the number of their hands they kept only the best men. The wages of those men have twice been raised by the board since then.
– Is the honorable member speaking of a time when they had duties of 35 and 50 per cent.?
– Yes. The manufacturers always ask the workmen to support high duties, but they try at the same time to reduce their wages. I do not wish, however, to be understood as making a charge against employers as a class. There is enough in the social system to find fault with without abusing particular classes. Indeed, I am in a way an admirer of the tyrannical employer, and if I favoured the setting upof monuments to any one, I think it would be Co the tyrants, because of the good they do in shaking other people up. I have done a great deal of organizing in my time, and I know that the difficulty . which all organizers find is, not in getting men who have big grievance’s to organize, but in getting those who are satisfied with their conditions of employment to join the unions. Of course, now that education is widespread, the principle of unionism is very strong. It is stronger in Australia in proportion to population than in any other part of theworld, as I have proved by careful calculations, though the strength of unionism is not to be measured by the number of members, in any organization. Let me now show what there is in this talk about union and non-union men. When the workersin any particular trade become organized, it is the best men who join the union, because the employers, sofar as they can get them, will have none but the best men. The weaker men, as a rule, do not join the unions, and the feelingagainst them is very strong when trouble takes place, and they are ready to fill thepositions of unionists. The idea that theBil] will coerce men to join unions is a mistake. Men will, however, readily join unions under its provisions, because of theadvantages which they can so readily obtain by combining, since if they have grievances they will be able to get them remedied. The men of what I term the antiunion class are invariably men of the criminal type. I do not refer to all men who are not members of unions, though I believe that every man is the better for joining a union. Our experience has been, however, that a big percentage of those who cause trouble are well-known criminals, and in that statement I am borne out by the police. The pastoralists, too, out. Bourke way, have lost jewellery and other effects from their homesteads, through the dishonesty of these men. A dog if he sees a bone will not worry about its ownership. He has no sense of proprietary rights, and promptly seizes it for himself. In the same way, when a burglar enters a house, he does not care what value is attached to the jewellery which he sees lying about. It might be an heirloom which the owner would not sell for any money. That does not trouble him. All he wants is to satisfy his own particular needs. There are many men who are so utterly selfish that they care nothing about the injury they inflict upon others so long as they make some gain for themselves. These men, who will selfishly cut the throats of their fellows in industrial warfare, are always men of the criminal type. They may not be professional criminals, but they belong to that class. They are generally the rakings of the city - men who are only given occasional jobs. They are employed when there is trouble, but they are not generally kept on very long after the trouble is ended. Men of that class are not entitled to consideration. We should consider the decent, honest working man, whether he be a member of a union or not but men of the class I speak of are not such as any one would trust, and if I were an employer I should be very sorry to have them in my factory. The introduction of such men into a factory or workshop invariably causes annoyance and loss. When a non-unionist is forced upon a number of unionists they put a lot of trouble in his way. Human nature being what it is, they humbug him in a great man)’ ways. Who loses 1 The foolish employer who is trying to make a stand against a principle which has been gaining ground for a century, and which nothing has been able to kill. There has been a great deal of talk about this kind of legislation frightening- away capital. I do not take much notice of that cry. When the Tariff was under discussion, and protectionists desired the imposition of high duties, we heard a great deal about men walking about with millions in their pockets, which they were ready to embark in suitably-protected industries ; but now that the discussion is over, we hear nothing of them. We have been told by the Premier of New South Wales, however - and this is a material fact - that, since the passing of the Arbitration Act there, £1,000,000 has been invested in the State. That fact is more ‘ tangible than the talk about millions of money having been withdrawn from the country. The honorable and learned member for Parkes told us that some firms in England have withdrawn several millions of money from the country.
– It is quite true.
– I have a very grave doubt about the accuracy of the statement. But if several millions of money have been withdrawn by English funis, I believe there is enough money left in Australia for our purposes. We have the richest country in the world. We produce more wealth per head than does any other country. We have more property owners ; we have a tremendous sum per head deposited in. the Savings Banks - in fact, we have everything to indicate that there is plenty of capital available. I should like to see something more tangible than mere assertions. I cannot find any evidence of the withdrawal of millions of money. The other day the Age reprinted a paragraph from a New Zealand newspaper stating that in that country the ladies were taking round a petition to the Parliament in favour of immigration, because all the, girls there were getting married, and therefore they could not get domestic servants. That is a pretty good sign of the prosperity of New Zealand, quite apart from the many interesting facts which the honorable member for Bland brought out, and which I do not wish to repeat. There is a good deal of truth in a paragraph of the report of the Royal Commission which sat in New South Wales in 1891, and inquired into the cause of the maritime trouble, and of strikes generally. In paragraph 3 the Commissioners state -
Many investors are timid about embarking their savings in any industrial pursuit which can at any time be brought to a stop by a strike or lock-out, and if this uncertainty could be removed, there would, in all probability, be a great development of industry.
I think that is much more likely to be true than is the talk of this legislation frightening away the capitalist. If a man is to be subject to the annoyance of the unions of which he is always complaining - and he is sure to have that annoyance - if he is to be subject to the risk of strikes which may upset his industry, drive away his trade, and put him to great loss, surely he need not be afraid of a court which will prevent that kind of thing from taking place 1 I wish to present an economic phase of this subject, which has an important bearing upon some of the arguments which have been levelled against this kind of legislation. I desire to show why it is thought necessary to have a minimum wage, and the conditions somewhat uniform, in order to give fair play to industries, and that if some of the employers had their way the inevitable result of the present social system is such that they would be crushed out anyhow. I have taken a quotation from a speech by Mr. G. A. Chace, of the Bourne Mills, Massachusetts, who has had a profit-sharing system with the workers for twelve years. He says -
Aside from any sentiment of philanthropy which may lurk in the motives of a broad-minded employer of a large number of workmen, it seems to me that there is a good business reason for high wages, provided a minimum cost is secured by a maximum wage. We have recently expended a million dollars with the express purpose of securing improved products at lower cost ‘ with higher wage scales.
That is a most important statement, which I commend to manufacturers who are entering into competition. I shall now quote from a wonderful analysis made for the Labour Bureau in America in 1898, to show the cost of producing, by hand labour and by machinery, a few articles which I havepicked out : -
Some manufacturers talk about the wages which they pay to the workmen, and they think that if they were to pay a little more it would add to the cost of production. Now, in manufacturing to-day, labour is only a very small factor indeed in some cases. The figures I have quoted illustrate what an enormous difference in cost there is between hand-labour and machinery. The more machinery is introduced the more rapidly is the production of the article hastened, and the less interest the capitalist has to pay. Take the spinning and weaving industries. The cost of labour has ceased entirely to be a factor in the production of cloth. Unless colonial manufacturers - the men who are likely to come under a law of this kind - recognise that, in the organization of industry, in the perfection of its machinery, and endeavour to keep up with the rest of the world, inevitably they must go down, and it cannot be averted by any reduction in the wages. We should also remember another important economic truth, namely, that there is a constant decrease in the number of smaller employers. This class of employers must go to ruin in any case. In this connexion I desire to quote some interesting figuresapplying to Germany and covering a period-, from 1882 to 1895. The number of independent manufacturers was diminished in. numbers during the period mentioned by 139,382, whilst the total, inclusive of labourers, increased by 861,468. .Takingthe whole of the manufacturing, agricultural, and commercial industries, the independent manufacturers increased by 5 per cent., the labourers by 20 percent., and theemployes by 100 per cent. In England,, since 1895, the number of the joint-stock companies has been trebled ; in fact, the independent employer is disappearing altogether.. In the State of Massachusetts, from 1885 to 1895, the private employers increased in number by 9-33 per cent., and the corporations or companies by 77 per cent. The fact is that everywhere the same development is noticeable. Perhaps I cannot do better than quote some other figures given by Leroy Beaulieu. He says that in tlie big manufacturing countries with which wee have to compete for every ten men who embark in manufacturing or commercial enterprises, two or three fail totally, five or six manage to make a livelihood, and only one or two make fortunes. Out of 2,554 German companies, the affairs of which were investigated between 18Q1 and 1892, 471 went into liquidation with deficits, 888 declared no dividends, 641 gave a return of from nothing to 5 per cent., 734 paid dividends of from 5 to 10 per cent., 149 from 10 to 15 per cent., 64 from 15 to 20 per cent., 39 from 20 to 30 per cent., 18 from 30 to 40 per cent., and 21 over 40 per cent. Included among the last of these was the Arenburg Coal Company, of Essen, which paid a dividend of 80 per cent. A strike recently took place at their mines, although one would suppose that they could afford to pay good wages. The list also includes the Goetlingen Sugar Company, which 1 paid 834 per cent. ; the Marine and River Transportation Company of Dresden, which paid 100 per cent.; the Upper Silesia Wood Pulp Company which returned 120 per cent. The average obtained by all these companies represented S-S per cent, interest upon their nominal capital, and they paid dividends of 6”1 per cent. In their attitude towards the wages question, manufacturers seem to overlook the industrial evolution that is being pushed on rapidly by the capitalists themselves, not by labour or by labour legislation, but by the competitive social system under which we live. The individual employers and smaller companies are rapidly being crushed out. Those who can pay no dividends, and there are a very large number of them, before they disappear attempt to reduce wages, and even if they succeed in this they still have to succumb, because the system under which we live inevitably crushes them out. The evolution goes through various stages. First of all, the individual gives place to the company. Then the companies enter into agreements under which they adopt a list of prices : the same plan is adopted in many country towns in Australia. The law of supply and demand goes by the board the moment it is applied to commercial enterprises. There is no such thing in its strict application, and the very people who talk about it do not practise it. Then the companies, in order to keep up prices, restrict production. In Belgium there is an arrangement among some of the cotton manufacturers under which they can order a reduction of the output by one-sixth, in, order to keep up prices. They also regulate the markets by fixing the sphere of influence of certain manufacturers. In many cases also pools are formed for the distribution of trade and the division of profits. The Dynamite Trust, which is formed of English and German manufacturers,, have a pool and divide the trade among the various manufacturers. The agreements among manufacturers in their turn lead to the formation of trusts and combines, which eventually become monopolies. In 1889 there were 353 trusts in the United States, with a total capital of £5,S32;882,842, and in an article in the Review of Reviews for May, 1900, it was estimated that the American trusts had a. capital of 10,000,000,000 dols., or more than ten times the amount of the war indemnity paid by France to Germany. The trusts operate in the direction of closing upestablishments and reducing the means of employment. The “Whisky Trust, for instance, took over 80 firms and closed them all except twelve, which possessed the best plants, and by which production could bemost economically carried on. The SugarTrust took over 49 firms, and now they carry on only one. Dr. Adam Smith said that certain enterprises could not be conducted by joint-stock companies, and Lord Ulverstone, who knew the difficulties of banking, said the same thing with regard to that class of business. Yet we find that joint-stock banks are crushing all the private banks out of existence. TheEnglish statistics show that the whole of the conditions of manufacture and commerce are being entirely revolutionized. I contend that strikes are inevitable under the conditions of life in which we live, and that they are increased in’ intensity because of the industrial evolution, which leads to the creation of big companies and the separation of the employers from direct contact with the workmen. It is not that the shareholders of the companies are more heartless than others, but the conditions under which manufacturing enterprises are carried on are responsible for the want of consideration now shown towards the workmen. The idea that.- more than a certain rate of wages cannot be paid in any industry , must be entirely set on oneside, because industries cannot be saved unless they can stand in competition. That is the position they are in. They cannot be saved by reductions in wages, as if the men worked for nothing it would not save them. What is wanted is that those who are working under exactly the same conditions shall have equal competition. The gentleman who was at the head of the Pastoralists’ Union, in an address sometime ago, desired to make out that if we took’ the whole of the results from the woolgrowing industry, they showed that there was a certain wage fund, and that if the workmen took more out of it the effect would be to crush the industiy. In connexion with that, I refer honorable members to the illustration I have given, and they will see that, while a profit might be shown on the total of the companies floated in Germany, the case in connexion with individual companies was different. They lost, and eveiy investor to-day knows, if he knows anything about the social system, that when he invests in a small concern he is taking big risks of being crushed out. I had intended to show how the system worked out until we reached the trusts and combines. I regret that I have not had time to deal more fully with that phase of the question, but, perhaps, it is now sufficiently known. It is clear now that we must change the idea that an individual concern has to be run on the question of whether it can pay, a certain wage or not. The employer takes that risk, and the employe has to have a living wage to enable him to maintain himself and family. He takes the risk of his employment being lost through the employer by whom he is employed being crashed out by the system of trusts and combines which is coming on so rapidly. We already have them in Australia, and they will increase here more rapidly now that we have federation than they did before. What we have to do then is to see that conditions are at least equal, and that men are not depressed below a certain point. They have to take the risk of the way in which business works out, and I should like to have dealt with a number of points in connexion with that at greater length.
– Some of them will come up in Committee.
– That is so, and I must leave their consideration until we get into Committee. I did not intend when I began to deal specially with the Bill. I think we shall save time by postponing a discussion on the details of the Bill until we get into
Committee. The measure is perhaps defective in one or two points. . Some reference was made to-day by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, to the Taff Vale decision, and I desire to correct an inaccurate statement which was made in that connexion, and at the same time to call the attention of the Attorney-General to a particular matter requiring his consideration. It is altogether incorrect to say that we are objecting to having unions made responsible. I was on the deputation that waited uponMr Wise, and I know what the members of that deputation asked. They asked Mr. Wise to give effect to what he said was contained in the New South Wales Bill when it was being passed through Parliament. He said that the Compulsory Arbitration Bill protected the funds of the union. We have found out in law cases, in which I was interested, that that is not so. We had that point argued by admittedly one of the ablest counsel we have, Sir J ulian Salomons, and although that gentleman devoted a solid hour to the discussion of the matter, and made out, perhaps, the best case which could be made out in the circumstances, Mr. Justice Walker was against him. I may say that all the legal gentlemen whose opinions I have had on the point agree that the J udge was quite right, and that the section in the New South Wales Act, to which reference was made, does not give the protection to the uniou funds that Mr. Wise said it would. If I mistake not, we have a clause in this Bill which is a copy of that section in the New South Wales Act. If that is so, the Attorney-General will probably consider that phase of the question, and see whether that clause cannot be so amended as to conserve the funds of the union for the purpose of this Bill. Unless that is attended to, we shall not have the protection of union funds which is necessary for the carrying out of awards under the Bill. This is the position - The registration under this Bill may make some little difference, but in New South Wales a trades union has to be registered as a trades union and also as an industrial union, and it is therefore liable under the Trades Union Act or under the reading of the law given in the Taff Vale and one or two other cases. It is by no means clear what the legal position is, but while the law for thirty years has been held to be in a certain direction, the Taff Vale decision has altered that and leaves the unions at the mercy of any one’ who chooses to take out injunctions, and by interfering with them in that way deplete their funds in law expenses. It is not necessary that he should win, but if the intention is to fight the unions, he can deplete their funds. I think that some provision is necessary to secure the protection of union funds. 1 should like to have said a great deal more, but I do not desire to keep honorable members too late, and I shall reserve anything further I have to say until the Committee stage of the Bill. As u reflection has been cast upon the trades unionists of Australia, I should like to remind the honorable and learned member for Parkes, if he were here, that exactly what we are asking for in Australia in the trades union movement has been nearly carried in the House of Commons. The proposition made was defeated by only twenty votes, and was remitted to a Royal Commission to take evidence upon it, with a view to having the law laid down. The vote upon the question was 240 against 226, so that honorable members will see that a big vote was taken, and it will interest them to know that Mr. Asquith, the late Home Secretary, voted for the proposition, and also Mr. Haldane, who is admittedly a very able barrister. It is, therefore, an unfair statement to make that we are asking for special protection. We do not object* to be liable for acts done by the unions, but we have been made responsible for the acts of people outside the unions, and with whom we have had no connexion. That is what we object to. I thank honorable members for the attention they have given to mo. I think that perhaps I undertook a bigger task than I had time to-night to satisfactorily complete. I should like to conclude by a final quotation which seems to me to express the right spirit. It is from the Honorable M. A. Knapp, Chairman of the Inter-State Commission of the United States, who said in a recent address -
Shall we continue to enforce with precept and penalty the rule of competition, whose cruet creed is every man for himself, or shall the effort and industry of tho world bo hereafter conducted on a moro humane and fraternal principle ? That is to say - is society stripped of its polished and altruistic pretences ; is society, after all, only n mass of struggling brutes, fighting for the best places and the biggest bones ; and is the Government simply an armed ‘ referee standing by to soo that every dog has fair play? In snort, is personal selfishness the ultimate force arid individual greed the bottom fact. . . . Can we settle the economic questions ? Can we raise the wide realm of industry from strife to friendship, from competition to co-operation, from the warring instincts of the savage state to the larger and nobler needs of associated life ?
I think we are moving in that direction. The advance may not be very great, but I think it is in tlie right direction, and honorable members will never regret passing thisBill, possibly with some improvements. I do not expect that it is going to bring about very great changes, or that it will entirely accomplish the main object which it has in view, that of securing peaceful industrial conditions. Tho result of such legislation has so far not been to raise wages beyond the rates which fair employers willingly pay. In the sameway trades unions have only succeeded in securing wages which the best employers pay without any pressure being brought to bear upon them. The most -favorable decisions in New Zealand and New South Wales have had only that effect. Therefore, the employers have nothing to fear. On the other hand, the Bill gives them a great deal, as I could show if I had time to do so. The workers are, in my opinion, taking the greatest risks by accepting the Bill. They surrender privileges for which they have fought hard in the past, and for which many have suffered. They are giving up those privileges into tlie hands of one man. - If that man is able and fair - as I have no doubt he will be - there need be no fear of the result. But still it is a big thing to do and a great risk to take. The employes are certainly taking greater risks than are the employers. If we consider the general bias and trend of society, it will bc apparent that the employers have nothing to lose. It cannot be said that the Judges are drawn from those social circles who are generally favorable to labour, though I believe that they are as unbiased as men can bc expected to be. But we willingly take these risks, because we know what terrible things strikes are, and we recognise how much more severe they must become in consequence of the trend of industrial evolution, which hands over the control of capital to comparatively few persons. Therefore, Tam proud. that the Common wealth Parliament is taking a step in this direction. I deny that it is to be regarded purely as an experiment The evidence is that arbitration without compulsion is ineffectual for settling disputes, and that nothing short of compulsion’ will secure that industrial peace without which no country can prosper.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Poynton) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
House adjourned at 10.52 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 August 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030812_reps_1_15/>.