1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. BROWN presented a petition from the executive officers of the Federated Stewards and Cooks’ Union of Australasia, praying the House to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill so that it shall apply equally to all vessels engaging in the Australian coastal trade, whether Australian, oversea, or foreign.
Mr. MAUGER presented a similar petition from the executive officers of the Victorian Branch of the Federated Seamen’s Union.
Mr. SPENCE presented a similar petition from the executive officers of the New South Wales Branch of the Federated Seamen’s Union.
Mr. TUDOR presented a similar petition from the Amalgamated Society of Ironworkers of Victoria.’
Mr. KINGSTON presented a similar petition from the executive officers of the South Australian Branch of the Federated Seamen’s Union.
Mr. POYNTON presented a similar petition from the Port Adelaide District of the Trades and Labour Council.
Mr. RONALD presented a petition from 3,000 electors of Southern Melbourne, praying the House to pass into law the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill.
Mr. MAUGER presented a similar petition from electors of Melbourne Ports.
Mr. HARTNOLL presented two petitions from residents of Tasmania, praying the House to prohibit the importation, sale; and -manufacture of intoxicating liquors in British New Guinea.
Sir WILLIAM MCMILLAN presented a petition from electors of New South Wales, praying the House to delay the further consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill until further publicity had been given to it, and until persons specially interested had had an opportunity to become acquainted with its provisions.
Petition received and read.
– I notice in the Argus of to-day the following telegram from Brisbane : -
Mr. Philp denies tonight that either he or Mr. Leahy, the Minister for Railways, had any communication with the Commissioner on the subject of the electoral boundaries, either personally or by letter. The editor of the Brisbane Courier also denied the allegation that he had used any personal influence whatever to induce an alteration of the boundaries.
I desire to know if the attention of the Minister for Trade and Customs has been directed to that telegram, and, if so, what steps he intends to take with regard to the charges made against the Commissioner 1
– I did not make any charges.
– But the Minister allowed the charges to be made without challenge.
– I never mentioned either Mr. Philp or Mr. Leahy. I did mention the editor of the Courier, and I had in my possession last night a statement to the effect that that gentleman did interview the Commissioner, and that he introduced others to interview him, with reference to the distribution of the electorates.
– I desire to know when the Minister for Trade and Customs will submit the report of the Commissioner for the distribution of Tasmania into electorates 1
– I think that the report reached my office .to-day, and, if so, it will be laid upon the table of the House to-morrow. I anticipate that it will be dealt with early next week, but I do not propose to ask honorable members to consider it until we have also received the report from the Commissioner for Western Australia. I am informed that the latter report is on its way, and as soon as it reaches us I shall ask honorable members to deal with the two distributions.
– I desire to ask the
Minister for Home Affairs when he proposes to appoint the electoral officers, deputy electoral officers, and other officials who are required to administer the Electoral Act ?
– As soon as possible.
– In view of the necessity which has arisen for filling the vacancy caused in the electorate of East Sydney by the resignation of the Right Honorable G. H. Reid, does not the Minister consider that it would be advisable to appoint the officers referred to almost immediately ?
– The honorable and learned member should be aware that vacancies in the present Parliament will have to be filled under the electoral laws of the States, and that the Electoral Act does not come into force until the next general election. Therefore the necessity for the appointments will not arise in connexion with the election to fill the vacancy for East Sydney.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he will lay on the table of the House correspondence which has passed and other papers relating to the administration of the Immigration Restriction Act so far as it bears upon the landing of the crews of vessels engaged in the Australian coastal trade?
– Yes, with pleasure.
– I desire to ask the Minister in charge of inquiries in reference to the Federal Capital site, without notice, whether he has yet received the memorandum or supplementary report to be supplied by Mr. Oliver, the New South Wales Commissioner ?
– The report has not yet been received.
Sir JOHN FORREST laid on the table the following paper : -
Minute with regard to the appointment of the senior clerk of the Commonwealth Electoral Office.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Whether his attention has been drawn to the statement of the Treasurer of Queensland with respect to the expenditure on transferred Departments in Queensland, and will he explain the exact position with respect to such expenditure.
– This is the old question with regard to the mode of arriving at the cost of the different Departments. The figures, as given by the Queensland Treasurer, are correct on a cash basis. But for the first year, the year before the Commonwealth took charge of the Departments, the figures given do not include a considerable amount of expenditure which was then paid out of other departmental moneys. The figures given for the two years, 1901-2 and 1902-3, include new works and buildings which were not included in the previous year’s expenditure. The expenditure for 1900-1 is not included, but that was the year when the expenditure was really on the basis of the estimates of the State Government of Queensland and a year in which the expenditure had been very largely increased. The total as given by the Queensland Treasurer for 1900 is £527,675. But the real cost of the Departments in that year was £549,111. In 1901 the expenditure had increased to £606,902 - a very considerable increase. The figures given for 1902 by the Queensland Treasurer are £670,147, but the actual expenditure was £598,654. That included a very large amount of arrears from the previous year. For 1903, the Queensland Treasurer states the expenditure was £611,216, while the actual cost was £567,8.17. I give the following detailed particulars in reply to the honorable member’s question : -
These figures do not include proportion of ‘ other “ (new) expenditure.
(ft) Actual cost of Departments, not including new works and buildings or Defence compensation.
These figures do not include proportion of “other “ (new) expenditure.
Debate resumed from 12th August (vide page 305-7), on motion by Mr. Deakin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– Before proceeding with the remarks which I have to make upon this measure, I desire to congratulate those who have preceded me upon the very able addresses they have delivered. It does not follow that I agree entirely, or in some cases at all, with the conclusions at which the speakers have arrived; but I can always appreciate a man who has the courage of his convictions, andIcan respect his opinions though I may differ from him. I do not intend to occupy a great deal of time in dealing with the Bill itself. But I wish to refer to a. few clauses to which so far no reference has been made, because I think it important that the attention of honorable members should be directed to them, so that in Committee we may be able to come to some better understanding as to what they mean. Before proceeding with my criticisms, I should like to say generally that I think the weakness of the Bill is in the limitation of the powers assumed. I refer to clause 85, because it is entirely new, and it has, so far, not been dealt with during this debate. It appears to me, that under this clause, in conjunction with certain clauses which precede and follow it, there is a danger not only that the stability of industrial organizations may be affected by this measure, but that’ the individuals who may come under its operation may also be injuriously affected. Honorable members will see that under the clause powers are given to trades unions to make certain rules, and to impose penalties as may be prescribed. In clause 90, power is given to organizations to recover fines and penalties, which may be imposed under the operation of rules adopted under the power given in clause 85. But, so far as I can see, there is nothing in the measure to determinewhat rules may be adopted.
– If the honorable memberwill look at schedule B he will see fhat it gives an outline of the conditions to be complied with by organizations.
– I referto this particularly, because in an article written by theright honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, in 1890, a pointed reference is made to something of this kind.
– The honorable member will see that clause 84 provides -
The conditions to be complied with by personsso associated applying for registration shall, until otherwise prescribed, be as set out in schedule B. and schedule B gives a sketch of the provisions that must be compulsorily included.
– I have looked at schedule B, and I am afraid it does notcover an objection which I have in my mind. But I do not intend to labour that particular question now. I desire to impress on honorable members what the right honorablemember for South Australia, Mr. Kingston,, said upon this aspect of the question in 1890.
– The right honorablegentleman said -
Provision should be made for controlling thecommittee council, by general meetings, and the mode in which individuals or unions will become or cease to be members of unions or associationsshould be strictly defined. Registered unionsand associations should be clothed with power to enforce their rules against their members, by appropriate penalties summarily recoverable, and the most important power of making industrial agreements.
He then goes on to say that this ought to be done within prescribed limits. I desirenow to refer to the interpretation clause which sets out the scope of this Bill I am surprised to find the limitation laid down in the definition given here of “industry.” I cannot understand thegrounds that can be advanced in justification for putting a foreign trading vessel on a better footing than a British vessel ; norcan I understand why the limitation is somuch greater, andthe power assumed is somuch less in this particular Bill than that, assumed in similar legislation which hasbeen passed elsewhere. I have before me theNew Zealand, Western Australian, and New South Wales Acts. In the definition clause of the New Zealand Act, which practically- sets out the scope of the measure, I find that every industry is included with the exception of what is here called the “ clerical industry.” I was not previously aware that the term ““industry” included those who are engaged in a clerical calling. The only persons exempted from the operation of the New Zealand Act are the State employes.
– This definition is at least as wide as is any one of them.
– Oh, no. The AttorneyGeneral does not do himself justice in making that statement. Under the New Zealand Act the term “ industry “ means “any business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, or employment in which workers are employed.” The term “ worker is defined as “any person of the age of eighteen years or more, engaged in any employment other than clerical in the service of an employer.”
– That Act has been amended, and the term now includes clerical employes.
– The Act from which I am quoting was passed by the New Zealand Legislature in 1900. The New South Wales Act covers the whole of the State employes, including those engaged (upon the tramways and railways, and its provisions also apply to seamen. In New Zealand the legislation extends to over-sea shipping, irrespective of whether it be British or foreign, so long as the vessels trade between the ports of that country.
– That is not under the Arbitration Act 1
– No; but under the “Seamen’s Act. I look upon the definition -of the term “ industry “ in this Bill as the -one blemish upon it, and I am speaking as a friend of the measure. In no branch of industry is there a possibility of a greater strike -occurring than in the shipping industry, and it is impossible to foresee how far such ian occurrence may affect other industries. The very moment that such a catastrophe took place the labour which is associated with the wharfs throughout the Commonwealth would be affected. It is almost impossible, therefore, to forecast the extent to which other industries would be disturbed immediately a maritime strike occurred. I regret, therefore, that the .provisions of this Bill have not been made applicable to the whole of. the persons who are engaged in our coastal trade. In Germany and the United States foreign ships are prohibited from trading between port and port. If a similar provision were inserted in this Bill we should do only bare justice to the local ship-owners, who, according to the statement of the honorable member for Melbourne, pay their seamen three times the wages paid by foreign vessels with which they have to compete for our coastal trade. I do not intend, however, to dwell upon that aspect of the case. I shall devote the remainder of my time to replying to the chief objections which have been urged against this measure. These may be summarized as follows : - First, that there is no necessity for such legislation, and that it has not been asked for ; secondly, that if legislation is passed it should be upon the voluntary principle ; and thirdly, that clause 65 constitutes an unwarrantable interference with the liberty of the subject. Of course, that is the provision which deals with the question of the payment of a minimum wage, and enacts that a preference shall be extended to unionists. A further objection which has been urged against the Bill, both in this House and outside of it, is in opposition to the application of the principle of the “ common rule.” It is declared that if the measure be passed it will have the effect of closing down industries and of driving capital out of the country. In support of that contention, it has been pointed out that in New Zealand, where a similar Act is in operation, the number of industrial disputes, instead of diminishing, is increasing: Finally, the opponents of the Bill declare that it constitutes a gross violation of State rights. Concerning the last objection, it is not for me as a layman to determine whether or not the measure invades State rights. In dismissing that objection, however, I would point out that, so far as the Bill may constitute an invasion of State rights, so far will it become a dead letter. The opponents of the measure have therefore no cause for apprehension upon that ground. In dealing with these objections the first point which presents itself to my mind is “Have unions, irrespective of whether they are unions of employes or of employers, come to stay?” To that question I think the answer will be a direct affirmative. The whole of the indications of the present age point to the fact that unions have come to stay. In every direction combinations, either of labour or of capital, of employés or employers, are extending. These organizations now present an aspect which is distinctly different from that which was presented by them a few years ago. The question which we have to consider is, “Are we to allow these two great forces which possess such potential power, either for good or for ill, to have unlimited control of industry, and to be in a position to bring disaster, not only upon themselves, but upon thousands of innocent people ? “ Are we to recognise the fact - and it is time that we did - that so long as the people enjoy educational facilities and liberty of speech, so long will combinations exist 1 In my judgment we should treat these combinations in such a way that they will be powerless to inflict injury upon the community, and will be capable of conferring immense good. My experience of the operations of unions, which extends over a period of twenty years, teaches me that no large dispute ever takes place without affecting thousands of persons who are in no way responsible for it. Even the smallest dispute necessarily involves hundreds of persons innocent of any association with its origin. They are dragged into these conflicts chiefly by reason of the stubborn resistance of one or two employers. I think it was William Pitt who, when discussing an Arbitration Bill in the House of Commons many years ago, said that -
The time will come when manufactures will have been so long established, and the operatives not having any other business to flee to, that it will be in the power of any one man in the town to reduce wages, and all the other manufacturers must follow.
– It could not have been Pitt.
– We have known such a thing to take place even in Australia. It may not be the manufacturer who is responsible in every case ; but it is generally an employer of some kind or other. In every instance a minority of employers are responsible for conflicts eventuating in strikes. The Shearers’ Union, with which the honorable member for Darling is so prominently associated, has time after time asked for a conference with the employers, in order that a satisfactory settlement of their troubles might be arrived at. I arranged conferences between the employers and the shearers’ in several parts of South Australia. I succeeded in inducing some of the employers to meet the men and to arrive at an agreement for the timebeing ; but there were others who invariably stood out, and would not under any conditions meet the men. The same thing has occurred in connexion with many other trades. Efforts to secure the recognition of the principle of early closing, and to add to the comfort of the worker’s, have time after time been frustrated by the action of a few selfish employers, who refuse to listen to the appeals of their fellows, and succeed in breaking down all agreements made between master and men. Prior to the passing of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act in New Zealand, the great bulk of the employers in the boot trade agreed, after much trouble, to meet a large organization consisting- of the Bootmakers’ Union. A dispute had existed in the trade for a long time, but the conference ultimately adopted an agreement which appeared to be satisfactory to both parties. A few manufacturers, however, stood out from the conference. They declined to be bound by the decision of the majority, and, before long, so undermined the understanding which had been arrived at that another conference became necessary. I strongly favour the passing of a law for the settlement of these disputes, because I desirethat it should be beyond the power of. either employers or employes to bring about strikes with all their attendant disasters. It was truly said in this House a few days: ago that the party which emerges victoriousfrom a strike is often a very heavy loser. The mere fact that one side finds it necessary to give in does not always prove that its cause is a bad one. A strike is frequently brought to a termination because of the fact that the environment of one side compels thern to submit to the conditions imposed, while the other side perhaps possess extraordinary facilities to obtain labour to enable them to carry on for the time being. Whilea number of people favour the principle of conciliation and arbitration, they emphatically object to anything of a compulsory character in relation to it. They contend that it should be purely voluntary. The same argument was used in New Zealand prior to the passing of the Conciliation and Arbritation Act by the Legislature of thatcolony. I should like at this stage to quotef rom a work by Mr. Lloyd, in which he deals, fully with this question as affecting NewZealand. Mr. Lloyd went to that colony as one whg was not interested in any way with local disputes. He belonged to neither of the opposing factions, and went there eager to arrive at the true position of affairs.
– The honorable member refers to his work, A Country without Strikes ?
– Yes. He says at page 42-
The compulsion, let it never be forgotten, was not that employers or working men must do business at “prices fixed by law and force.”
The compulsion was that they must settle these prices by arbitration instead of vendetta. The compulsion was to arbitrate. The arbitration being by an outsider-, an impartial and competent person, would decide on prices that would be fair “to all. If there must be a sacrifice, it would apportion it justly. If there was a profit, it would see that all got their share of it. ‘
It is interesting to observe that although the New Zealand Act has now been in operation for some years, no evidence of importance is forthcoming of any desire on the part of the people that it shall be repealed. Indeed, I have not been able to find any evidence pointing to such a wish. The honorable and learned member for Parkes quoted from a work by a gentleman who was opposed to the New Zealand Concilliation and Arbitration Act, but I have here a report of an interview with Mr. McCulloch, a member of the New Zealand Parliament, who was recently in this city, and who strongly favours it. He said -
You cannot go wrong in getting an Arbitration Act.
He pointed out that, althpugh there had been some friction in the detailed working of the New Zealand legislation, no party there would like to see it either repealed or seriously amended, though it is thought by some that it could be simplified. He also pointed out that it has done immense good in the settling of disputes. Mr. Walpole, the secretary of the Employers’ Union of Victoria, has stated - and I heard the same statement at a meeting in South Australia, which I was invited to attend - that the effect of the New Zealand legislation has been to increase disputes, and in each case figures were given to support that contention. I admit that there has been a great increase in the number of disputes, but that is because the law has created facilities for inquiring into and settling them. But how different the settlement of disputes in New Zealand has been compared with that which obtained under the old order of things ! Reference has been made to the bootmakers’ dispute, in regard to which it took six months to oJbtain a final settlement. Mr. Lloyd, speaking of that case, says -
Like the strike that had preceded it, this contest with the masters before the Board of Conciliation and the Arbitration Court lasted six months - from May until November. But with what a difference ! One had stopped the factories, and brought miiery and. distress to thousands of men, women, and children ; the other took only a dozen men from their counting-rooms and the working bench.
Again, he says -
For six years - from September, 1895, until September, 1900 - the manufacturers and the men in the boot trade will have been enabled, notwithstanding many serious differences, many of them still existing, ito go on working. For six years they will, have had no strikes, no lock-outs ; there will have been no unexpected demands by the men, no sudden cuts by the masters. These six years have been years of constant dispute, but there has not been one day’s idleness, not one day of passion, not one blow struck. Both sides are still contending, but they continue at work, aud are prosperous.
The experience in New Zealand goes to show that the Government have had the cooperation of some of the best employers there, and that it is difficult to get anything like a body of employers to speak against this legislation. Something- has been said about the cost of administering .the New Zealand law, and it is therefore interesting to know that the actual cost for the four years in which the New Zealand Act had been in operation, by the end of 1899, was only £4,400. The honorable member for Darling made reference to the cost of strikes. I do not intend to’ go into that question at length, but honorable members are aware that a very small strike costs an enormous amount of money -when its direct and indirect effects are reckoned up. It has been estimated by one authority that the direct loss from strikes amongst English-speaking people amounts each year to about £12,000,000. There is another phase of the question with which I wish to deal briefly. It is frequently said that labour is a commodity, and, as such, is subject to the fluctuations of the market. I admit that labour is a commodity, but I do not admit that it is to be placed on the same footing as other commodities.
– The price of other commodities is regulated.
– Labour is a commodity, plus something else.
– Yes ; and a commodity which must be placed on a different footing, and weighed in a different scale from other commodities. This phase of the question is somewhat interesting when looked at in regard to the advantage which it is proposed by clause 65 to give to unionists. A number of employers object to that preference, because they think . that it will lead to an increase in the. number of trades unions. They speak as if trades unions, properly managed, were a detriment to society. I have before me an important work by Professor Ely upon the American labour question. In one of his articles he treats of the economic value of labour organizations. He shows, first of all, what trades unions are designed for. They are designed, he says, to protect the interests of the great mass of the working classes, and are intended primarily for the average man, not for extraordinary economic capacities. He then refers to a number of the fallacies of others who have written about what unions have done, and how they should be affected dr considered in connexion with the economic progress of any country. Time will not permit me to make as many quotations from the work as I should like, because it is of great interest, but he goes on to say -
Trades unions and labour organizations are then designed to remove disadvantages under whch the great mass of working men suffer, and must continue to suffer unless they get relief either by voluntary combination or by combined political action. What are these disadvantages ?
Having dealt with them, he says, further on, speaking upon the assumption that labour is a commodity -
While labour is a commodity it is an expenditure of human force which involves the Welfare of a personality. It is a commodity which nseparably bound up with the labourer, and in this it differs from other commodities.
He further points out that reasons for this difference are that men come into this world without reference to the laws of supply and demand ; that the poverty of labourers compels them to offer the use of their labourpower unreservedly and continuously, and that the purchase of labour gives control over the labourer, and a far-reaching influence over his physical, intellectual, social and ethical existence. Then he points out that where the demand fails labour cannot be withdrawn like ordinary commodities. We know that the large industrial combines can not only withdraw their commodities, but by so doing can very materially increase the cost of living, although at the same time wages may be falling. The same writer also deals with the question of arbitration, and says -
Arbitration and strikes are important topics in any treatment of labour organizations. First it should be known that arbitration is impossiblewithout labour organization. The difficulties in the way of arbitration have come chiefly from the side of the employers, for it is a rare thing when labourers refuse to arbitrate their difficulties with their employers. Few cases of such refusals have ever come under my notice. The pride and arrogance of men who do not like tomeet their employes on an equal footing havebeen the chief obstacles to a peaceful settlement of disputes which have arisen between capital and labour.
I heard one honorable member refer to the Broken Hill strike, which was also spoken of at a meeting at which I was invited tobe present, in South Australia, recently. It was pointed out that one of the greatest objections to the proposed legislation was the demand which it made upon ‘the timeand attention of employers. It was stated that the officials of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company had been for some timeengaged in drawing up answers to thedemands made by the other side for increased wages. I do not wish to enter intothe merits of the case at present, but surely it must be evident to any one who will givea second’s thought to the matter, that the present position is preferable tothat in which the company found itself” during the great strike of 1891. Surely the advantage lies on the side of themore modern method of deciding disputes. In 1891 the whole State of South Australia was in a condition of excitement, and the strike ‘ had a disturbing influence over a great part of Australia. Is it not much better that the company’s managers and officers should be, for a short time, taken away from their ordinary work to preparestatements and evidence for the Arbitral tion Court, than that the company should be subjected to the severe loss involved by a prolonged strike 1 Common sense points to the new method of settlement as being by far the best. It has been urged that thelegislation now proposed is experimental. The right honorable Mr. G. H. Reid, when he was criticising the provisions of the Bill and pointing out what he considered tobe its defects, declared that it was an. experiment, and I heard that statement sneeringly referred to as a very poor reason for supporting the measure. I would ask those honorable members who think that we should not try any such experiment if they have ever been behind, the scenes ? Have they taken part in any -conflicts between capital and labour ; have they seen the disastrous results - and I am now speaking from the workmen’s standpoint - that always follow in the wake of a strike? The greater the strike the greater the trouble and suffering. Have those honorable members seen honest noble men practically torn asunder between their duty and their loyalty to their unions, and their duty to their families ? I have seen these things. When I was actively connected with labour organizations in the past, it often made my heart almost bleed to Iia ve to tel2 men that they must stand out, notwithstanding the great sacrifices they were making. We knew the conditions, but we had to ignore them as much as possible, in order that the principle at stake might be upheld. When the gaols have been emptied, and the
Tiff-raff of the cities have been collected at great expense by employers who desired to make use of them to fill the places of the strikers, and to defeat the unions, it has been most difficult for the best and noblest of the workmen to stand out for their principles. Under the proposal now before us, there will be no necessity for anything of that kind. I am prepared to admit that there will be many disputes, because they will continue to occur while labour and capital exist. But what we have to consider is how we can minimize the evils arising from such disputes, and to endeavour to settle them as peaceably as possible. I feel that we are standing almost on the threshold of a new era - an era that will form an important one in the history of the industrial movement. With other honourable members, I recognise that I am about to take part in placing upon our industrial structure what I choose to designate an emblem of peace. Looking back over the rugged pathway along which -this industrial movement has passed, I see that at times it was on the mountain of success, and at other times in the valley of despair. All. along the right side of this rugged track I note the numerous Acts that have been passed up to a comparatively short time ago for the suppression of industrial organizations. And on the other side of the track, as it presents itself to me in this panoramic view, 1 see the mounds that cover the remains of those who have been sacrifices to the cause. Here and there I see the finger posts which point to the men who sacrificed life and liberty to keep the light of unionism burning. It has been kept burning, and there is no power in existence that can extinguish it. I see in this vision the rise and fall of this movement from the time of that King who, building better than he knew, divided his people into companies according to their trades and professions. I see the progress of the movement in the early Christian era, and I trace it on until, at one time, I find it is considered to be not unbecoming for a King to be a member of a union or of a craft guild. I refer to the historical fact that King Edward III. was a member of the Linen Armourers’ Guild. Immediately after, notwithstanding the popularity of the movement at that time, we find the commodity of labour ill-used. Later, I see the scourge of the Black Death spreading across the land, and unsatisfied until it has carried off one- third of the population, and with the result that I see the first labour statute passed and the first conspiracy law that was ever introduced. I trace the movement further, and in my vision I see Henry VIII. confiscating the accumulations of years, and while I gaze, I can almost hear the troubles of the weavers. Then I am confronted by the Luddite rising. When I think of that, and compare the conditions then existing with present conditions, I cannot help reflecting that the natural offspring of oppression and tyranny is revolution and anarchy. A little further along the track I see a banner floating past emblazoned - “ Educate ! Educate ! “ I see following it another banner, on which is inscribed the magic word, “Ballot-box,” and immediately afterwards I find that some 3,000,000 of the workers have secured their political rights in the shape of votes. So on and on the movement proceeds until I arrive at the day when I find a deliberative assembly providing means for the purpose of preventing industrial disputes, and in my vision I can almost see the Judge, as he sits above the contending forces of the representatives of labour and of the employer. And, comparing this picture with that of ‘ tho past, I fail to understand how there can be any one desiring to oppose legislation having for its object peace, the bringing of the combatants together, the amelioration and betterment, not only of the employ^ but of the employer, for undoubtedly peace in industrial life makes for the advantage of both interests. If we are able now to put the coping stone upon the industrial edifice it is because by virtue of their moral and numerical strength the labour unions are in a position to achieve for themselves by constitutional means their full social and political emancipation. A well known writer has said -
After a long weary pilgrimage, labour has emerged from the valley of the shadow of political death on to the broad plane of freedom, and now demands an equitable re-adjustment of the relations between itself and capital. Prejudice and self-interest may refuse concession, but sound policy and justice will accede to the reasonable demands of those who constitute the wealth and power of the nation.
I heartily support the second reading of this Bill, -and in Committee I shall do my best to extend its operation.
I think that all will allow that this measure is more far-reaching in its effect than any measure that has yet been brought before the Commonwealth Parliament. It. could not but be a matter of much regret for me to feel that, on the opposite side from where I stand, a large and probably an overwhelming majority is to be .found entirely against my views. But, added to that, one has always an uncomfortable feeling when not merely a majority of the House, but a majority of one’s party, is absolutely opposed to one. However, I have a duty to perform, and under the circumstances, in an almost unanimous House, I am sure I shall have that consideration which I have always received when I have differed from honorable members since I have been a member of the Federal Parliament. There is another consideration which is also a little oppressive. Whether rightly or wrongly - I think wrongly - ina great com.munity like that of Australia, the industrial interests - those interests which, in so far as they are represented by those who have control of them are very badly represented in the Parliament of Australia. Whose fault that is, it is not for me to determine. I do not desire ‘ to see a Parliament representing any particular section, any particular view, or any particular creed. But I do say, seeingthat we are here as a representative assembly, that in the nature of things, as a matter of common sense, apart from the principles of representative government, those interests ought to be ‘ more directly represented than they are. Although I have never in my parliamentary “career sat as the representative of any particular interest, I still feel that what I may say upon ° this question may be ascribed to a certain amount of class feeling, to the fact that I do represent in some degree capitalistic interests ; but I can honestly say that I have no partiality in these matters, for there is no class of industry in Australia which I donot in some way or another touch. I was led to this thought by a remark of theAttorneyGeneral. He has a quickness of imagination to which none of us can attain. He saw something in my face - I dp notknow whether it was a facial contortion which he interpreted to express dissent - but it gave him a text upon which to hang long sentences of farago. At the same time the genial member for Maranoa interjected, “ They do not like it.”’ That interjection is based upon an assumption that all employers of labour are entirely opposed to this industrial proposal of the Government. I do not think that they all’ are. There is nobody so interested in illdustrial peace as is the business man. Nobody is so hard hit by industrial convulsions as are those who are engaged in mercantile pursuits. Certainly I have no reason to be taunted with political or selfish interests merely because I am -a Member of Parliament. Whoever, if he were an honest man, made anything out of being a Memberof Parliament 1 Had I remained outside of’ Parliament during the past ten years whatever possessions I have would certainly havebeen ten times what they are. I say, notwithstanding what may be the opinions of labour representatives and ultra democrats^ that my one object in entering the publiclife of my adopted country is to do everything I can to alleviate the condition of thegreat masses of the people, to make industry run in its natural channels and topromote throughout the length and breadth of the land the welfare of the toilers of Australia. In dealing with this question apart from rhetoric and extreme views I desire to say that, considering all the circumstances, the industrial history of Australia, as compared with that of other countries, has been one of peace. True, we have had our strikes and our industrial troubles, but if we take that long, rugged road to which the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, referred, and consider the peaceful triumphs of argument and conciliation, which have been won without any legislative coercion, I say they constitute a great triumph for the British people of this country. What about the eight hours movement? What about the general condition of the people of the Commonwealth from one end of it to the other ? ‘ The whole history of our industrial life in Australia is proof that there is no necessity for us to adopt these extreme acts of coercion. This is not n Bill to prevent strikes and to provide for conciliation. It is a Bill which will affect the daily habits as well as the industries of the people of Australia. Its title is a misnomer. Further, it is not a Bill based upon the understanding which was arrived at in the Convention which framed our Commonwealth Constitution. It is nothing of the kind, as I shall prove Later on. It is a Bill which is intended to supersede the States Acts upon the subject. Those who desire that the management of their own industrial affairs shall be taken out of the hands of’ the States wish to see it passed in order that all the industrial disputes of Australia may be brought under the Federal regis. That is the object of a large number of honorable members. Before dealing with the measure itself, I should like to refer to a few of the speeches that have been delivered in the course of this debate. One would think that upon a Bill of this character, which in its importance overshadows almost anything that has yet been submitted to this House, we should have had some statesmanlike deliverances setting forth conclusive reasons in its favour, giving us the experience in detail of other countries, and in some way or other supporting its very extreme proposals. But let me take the speech of the Attorney-General. He declared that this Bill is the result of Australian experience, while, on the other hand, the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, said that it constituted purely an experiment. Let me see how my honorable friend sustained his position. He sustained it by the following remarks regarding New Zealand : -
Those who wish to appreciate not only themeasures themselves but their differences and lessons can do so most readily-
That expression relieves him of all obligation by consulting the second volume of Mr. Pember Beeves’ book upon- State Experiments in Australia.
Mr. Reeves is the author of this legislation inNew Zealand - the man who is probably the most prejudiced individual to whom the Attorney-General could go. After having said that which amounted to nothing, the right honorable gentleman concluded as follows: -
Therefore I venture to submit that the experience of Australia justifies us in claiming that that great essential, social order, can be secured without unduly - and this is an important matter - interfering with the course of trade and business.
His remarks are based upon a complete assumption which is covered by a perfect ocean of rhetoric, in which there is nothing to show that this experiment in the industrial life of the people, the end of which no man can see, and which, in essence, is entirely a socialistic movement - although it is not intended to be so by many of its advocates - is not a movement which absolutely destroys the liberty of the people of this country putting their daily habits and, in fact, the whole of their lives into the hands of one man. Then the leader of the Opposition in a speech, three-quarters of which was devoted to an absolute denunciation of this Bill, decided to vote for it. But he said -
It is only a temporary measure, which must give way as time goes on to better ideas.
At that stage the Attorney-General interjected -
No, it goes on for ever.
What is the principle which is here laid down 1 It is that it is an advance in civilization, an advance in that liberty which, I suppose, every man cherishes. Is it an advance, seeing that we are asked to give up the whole of the principles which have made our race what it is, that instead of confining government to the sanitary inspector and the policeman, we are called upon to sacrifice all our cherished ideas of individual liberty in order that the police court, in other words an arbitration court, may be so brought into the life of the individual that he cannot exercise individual intelligence in his own pursuits. Of the speech of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney I do not care to say much. It was certainly very vitriolic. But when an honorable
Member indulges in this sort of language - We have permitted these people to go on until licence has ensued - what does it mean ? It means that a handful of Members of Parliament, newlyelected to this Chamber, and many of them men of very small experience, consider that they have a right - Parliament, of course, can do anything - to practically challenge and defy the whole system of our industrial life, which has built up this great country, and made their positions here possible. I have been in this country for the last thirty-four years, and knowing what has been done by the pioneers, the men who have risked everything - and capital has suffered asmuch as labour in this country - it seems to me to be a piece of audacity and presumption for any one to talk of these men, who have really made this community, being under the heel of a few- persons who happen to be for some little time Members of Parliament. Parliament is the highest tribunal of the country. I arn not going to belittle it, but I assert that it was never instituted to interfere with the industries of the people of a country. It was designed to make laws for the preservation of those industries - certainly not a law which would bring every industry under the heel of a Court of Arbitration. I should like for a moment or two to draw the attention of honorable members to the history of legislation of this kind in New South Wales. The New South Wales Act is of very recent date, and although it avoids those intermediate Boards of Conciliation which are a purely bogus institution in New Zealand, it is based to a large extent upon the law of that colony.
– Bogus ?
– The’ intermediate boards simply cause the parties to lose time in reaching the Arbitration Court.
– They are not bogus.
– They do nothing but create warfare in the industrial life of New Zealand. They settle nothing. They result only in agitation. I have no doubt but that under that system thousands and thousands of people in hundreds of industries who previously were perfectly satisfied with their condition and worked without the slightest check or hindrance - an amicable feeling existing between them and their masters - became dissatisfied. As the outcome of that pernicious system, which is worse than the proposal now before us, there has been something worse than warfare and continual irritation going on in the industrial life of New Zealand. The honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Poynton, in the course of his speech on this measure, referred to the position in that colony, and said - I made a note of his words at the time - that -
Disputes still continued for years, but no blow has been struck and no men have been idle.
Every honorable member who has addressed himself to this question has said that anything is better than a strike. I agree that there are thousands of things that are better than a strike, but war is often better than peace. Have honorable members any reason to believe for one moment, that when this Court is in full force and is giving decisions from time to time, the bitterness betwen the parties will be anything less than that which is created by a strike ? I have not. The Arbitration Court emanated from the feeling which has become rampant in the political life of Australia that Parliament can do everything. We may depend upon it that when a law of this kind is passed in any State of Australia, and fails to effect the purpose for which it is designed, there will soon be cries to amend it. There is already a cry in New South Wales for the amendment of the State Act. The fact that awards are made and strikes are prevented by these Courts gives us no reason to hope either for immediate peace or the ultimate success of the system. I take it that we all desire to see the industries of Australia carried on upon common-sense lines, so that in every case capital will be continually increased, wear and tear made good, and the machinery necessary for manufacture renewed from time to time. There must be a fund which, in the first place, will pay capital for its use, and an added fund which will repair the waste and wear and tear in connexion with the work associated with industrial life. There must be a fund which will enable the machinery employed in the great competition of the world to be renewed from time to time, and which will, if necessary, absolutely recreate industrial conditions. T am very much afraid that we are dealing with this question largely from a provincial point of view. What is all this protectionist craze about ? It has but one object, with which free-traders agree, although we seek to achieve it in a different way. We all desire to see ‘ Australia a great industrial continent. We wish to see every possible manufacture set on foot here, and we desire, at the same time, a great primary production, which will give us the markets of the world. We must recollect, however, that although we ma,y make laws to meet certain conditions of our provincial life, we cannot, meet the competition of the world by any legislative act. We shall have to enter into competition with the world, and honorable members may take my word for it that the economics lying at the base of the present industrial system - unless they desire to destroy that system altogether - will force them against their will to take certain action. If this State interference goes on - if this control of our industries by one man works out the results actually anticipated - we shall find that Australia will have to become a second China, and take a secondary place among the nations of the world. I should like to draw attention to the spirit in which this Bill has been introduced. I should have thought that in framing this measure, the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, would deal with it very much like the Treasurer would deal with a Bill relating to banking. It has always been understood that in relation to every measure affecting very largely the practical life of the people - a measure which we may say is not purely one for lawyers - the Government as practical men invariably take the advice of those who are supposed to be experts, and those whose industries will be affected by it. Was that course followed in this case? We understand that not one individual who would naturally be opposed to this Bill ever received a copy of it, or had an interview with the Minister in reference to it. The right honorable gentleman has confessed that an exactly opposite course was followed by him. In the first instance a draft copy of the Bill was given to the Age newspaper long before even the Parliament saw it, and whatever information was disclosed in relation to the measure was given to associations and people who were known to be favorable to it and absolutely hostle to other interests, kind ? According to the views of men like Mr. Wise and others who have given attention to these matters in Parliament, it is intended to divide the whole community into two warring camps. We must recollect that it is not designed to deal merely with large bodies of men - like the shearers and the men employed in the marine service - who may come into, conflict with their employers, but that it is an insidious mode of throwing the hand of the State upon every industry. What is’ going on in Sydney at the present time’! We find that the time of the Court is engaged in an investigation relating to the wages of cooks in restaurants ; that a restaurant owner complains to the Court that the hotel keeper gives a free lunch with a glass of beer and is thus interfering with his industry, and that there is also a conflict of jurisdiction. The early-closing lawstipulates that a butcher, for example, carrying on business in Sydney, shall close his shop every Saturday at 10 p.m. We then find the Arbitration Court, which is presided over by Mr. Justice Cohen; deciding that he shall close his shop at 9 o’clock in the evening. The man is naturally perplexed. He does not know what to do, .and applies for an injunction. We are now going to add to this double perplexity the further interference of a Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. Not only have we surrounded the industrial life of Australia with all sorts of irritating restrictions, which it was never intended, even by the most extreme advocate of this kind of legislation, to create, but we are about to set up a new Court, so that after a State Court has dealt with and decided an industrial dispute, it cannot be regarded as settled, because a little chicanery or subterfuge will make it appear a Commonwealth affair, and then the Commonwealth Court can be invoked to upset the judgment. Besides that there are further complications created by this fearful intrusion of the process of the law courts into the private affairs of the people, and at the present time the position in New South Wales has become so serious that the Court cannot overtake its work, so that, I believe, there are cases pending which it will take two years to hear.
– But there is no strike on now. sir william Mcmillan.- That is no answer to my argument. Parliament must either be content to allow the work of the Court to fall into arrears, and to leave the community in a state of ferment, or it must appoint another Judge. If there are two Judges, how will their divergent opinions Joe reconciled ? We are only at the commencement of this experiment, and no one can foretell what the final result of it will be. . As a rule, i am not an alarmist, «,nd do not take an extreme view in regard to the effect of Acts of Parliament upon the investment of capital. But honorable members must admit that if we pass legislation which is so difficult to administer that it leaves the whole industrial community in a state of ferment, upsets the businesses of hundreds of people, and creates general turmoil, the interests of the country must be injured. No place in the world requires the expenditure of capital from abroad more than does Australia. i should like here to refer to the three classes of people who favour legislation of this kind. They are what i call the opportunists, the peace-makers, and the socialists. i do not take account of a fourth class, who might’ be called the sudden converts, the appearance of whom we have recently witnessed in this House. Let me deal first with the opportunists. Legislation of this kind was first passed in New Zealand, and no one who has studied the public life of Australia during the last seven or eight years can fail to see that a large number of people and politicians is determined to seize upon and support, without regard to consequences, whatever they term in their clap-trap phraseology progressive movements. i read very carefully the Hansard reports of the debates in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly upon the Bill introduced by the AttorneyGeneral of that State. Some of the ablest men in that House spoke of that Bill in terms of denunciation far beyond the capability of my vocabulary ; but there was no attempt to vote against the second reading. It seems to me that we have lost sight of the original constitutional meaning of the second reading of a Bill. The second reading is an affirmation of the principles of a measure. But, notwithstanding the denunciation of the New South Wales Bill, it was allowed to pass. A few able men spoke against it, and showed the dangers which it would produce, but two-thirds, if not threefourths, of the members voted for it without giving an opinion upon its provisions, and probably knowing very little about it.
– Does the honorable member expect every one who votes upon a Bill to express his opinions upon its provisions ?
– No. It is often a good thing that honorable members do not give their opinions, because if they did it would be fatal to their reputation for intelligence. But are we to allow legislation like this to pass merely because it is termed progressive? Prom time to time we pass legislation which a few years ago would have been scouted. It is put forward as progressive legislation, and men who are afraid to be thought behind the times feel that they must vote for it. They see that the surface intention is good, and they give very little consideration to the probable effects. I believe that every member of this House who approves of the Bill before us belongs to the second class of those who are in favour of this legislation - the peace-makers. They think that it provides a means of preventing disastrous strikes- such as have been so heartbreaking in the past, and that such means should be adopted even at the risk of some injury to the industrial life of Australia. But many of those who hold that view - and I say this without want of respect for them - have not sufficient knowledge of the complicated questions affected. In my opinion this legislation will do what it was never intended by its loudest advocates should be done. I am sure that even those who approve of its principles never intended that discontent should run riot throughout the industries of the country, petty as well as great ; but some of them have seen action taken in NewZealand, and lately in New South Wales. ( which they must have regretted. And, as I have said, there is a third class - the socialists - who favour this legislation: I look upon a Bill of this kind as another link in the great socialistic chain which has been forging in Australia for some years past. A process is going on - of which some are well aware, but in regard to which others have been duped - by which the inner life of every citizen is being disturbed by the operation of interfering laws and the vexatious application of the paraphernalia of the Courts. I do not desire to refer unnecessarily to free- . trade and protection, but there is no doubt that this class legislation is the corollary of the protectionist principle. It is certainly not the corollary of the free-trade principle, and therefore I hold that I am perfectly consistent as a free-trader in opposing the Bill. At the same time, I should not be consistent in anything if I thought my inconsistency would be likely to bring about beneficial results for my fellow creatures. This, however, is undoubtedly another of those movements by which the State gradually is taking control of the industrial affairs of the people. That principle has been openly avowed in this Chamber. We have been told with a great rhetorical flourish, and with a fine appearance of humanitarianism, which, no doubt, has been perfectly sincere, that the. time has come for another step forward in the march of civilization. I thought that when every man was granted the privilege of the vote, when education was made free and compulsory, and almost every restriction was taken off every human being, owing to- the action of the great Liberal party in England during the last century, our legislation in the future would be directed to promoting the progress of this great country, with its -boundless resources. But what are we asked to do now ? We are passing into another stage of civilization, in which the Parliament -of the country is practically expected to meet every difficulty of social and industrial life. Does any honorable member really believe that Parliament is fit to interfere in the management of industrial affairs ? We can do it only by delegation, and what must be the result of that delegation? What does the Bill provide ? If the AttorneyGeneral were here I should point to the Bill, with its 130 clauses, and the various provisions which are no doubt necessary to carry out its objects, and I should tell him what it all meant, lt means giving into the hands of one man - because the assessors are always partisans - the whole industrial life -of Australians. Is it to be supposed that one man, a lawyer, more than any other, could adjudicate upon all the complicated issues which would come before him in matters of this kind ? What power does the Bill give? We find that “industrial matters “
Include all matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, rights, or duties of employers or employes, or the mode, terms, and conditions of employment or nonemployment ; and in particular, but without limiting the general scope of this definition, include all matters pertaining to the relations of employers and employes, and the employment, preferential employment, dismissal, or non-employment of any particular persons or of persons of any particular sex or age, or being or not being members of any organization, body, or society
That sounds like a memorandum of association which is intended to leave nothing out. Then, in order to connect the law with the Executive Government, “organization” is defined as meaning -
Any organization registered pursuant to this Act, and, so fur as applicable, it also includes any proclaimed organization to which the GovernorGeneral declares this Act to apply.
So that not merely the Parliament which creates the tribunal, but the Executive Government of the Commonwealth has to decide several matters to which I shall presently refer. Then in clause 41 it is provided that -
A certificate by the Registrar that any dispute relating to industrial mutters is an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State shall be prima facie evidence that the fact is as stated.
Where are the States rights ? The Registrar can decide the complicated question whether a dispute extends beyond the limits of any one State, and according to the dictum of one man from whom there is no appeal, the whole of the industries in two States or more may be dislocated pending adjudication. The Bill goes further by providing that -
The Governor-General may on the recommendation of the President . by proclamation declare this Act to apply to any trade or other union or branch of any union.
In other words, the common rule may be applied to all parts of Australia. I am trying to show the absolute power of the President of the proposed Court. He will be able to create for himself any rules he likes, subject to their being laid upon the table of the House for fifteen days. He will have the power to bring any industrial dispute within the scope of his adjudication, and to make a common rule, which may not be confined to the particular State in which the dispute has arisen, but extended to every State. Even though a common rule could not be extended, beyond one State, the power of the Court . would be enormous, in view of the vast areas of some of the States. If an isolated dispute occurred, involving a certain section of a certain trade, the Court might make a common rule which would apply to the same industry hundreds of miles away, and I think that when the Act comes into operation we shall have a lively time with the different States over this mode of interfering with them.
– The Court can also vary tho rule.
– Yes, that is the point ; it can do anything. There is no appeal from the decision of the Court except on a point of law, and there is practically no provision for review, because the Judge is not likely to do anything inconsistent with his own judgment. Therefore, one fallible man might make a rule which would have force for five years, and with which nothing could interfere.
– That state of affairs exists in all the Courts.
– Only so far as a verdict may be obtained regarding a specific case arising out of the difficulties of the past. But no one ever heard of any Court being able to interfere with and to adjudicate upon affairs of industrial life the conditions of which might alter altogether within twelve months. I think that everyone will agree that no higher class of men has ever existed in any country than the Judges of our Supreme Court Benches. But what will the future have in store for us? If the whole industrial life of Australia is to become the subject of political scuffling ; if Parliament is to enunciate the principle that it can and will settle all these matters without regard to the extent to which it may, by so doing, interfere with human freedom ; if we depart more and more widely from the principles which have made the parliamentary system of England the first in the world, what will be the result ? Who will be our Judges ? We know that a great many of the appointments to-our Supreme Court Benches are of a political character, and no man can help being biased to a large extent by his political leanings. Is it to be pretended that some honorable and learned members who might be appointed to the Bench in the future and who might be capable of giving a sound opinion upon many questions of dry law, would be absolutely unprejudiced? Is it contended that the influence of politics would not make itself felt upon this tribunal in the future ? There are great dangers ahead, and I think that the public conscience - if there be any public conscience left - will be greatly tried by the decisions given. One decision was recently given in New South Wales which was utterly opposed to our ideas of human liberty, and if similar control is to be exercised in all industries, there will be no freedom in thecountry. In spite of all the eulogiums passed upon similar legislation in New Zealand, there is no freedom in that colony, because the Government dominate industrial life to an extent never before known in a British community. A system of espionage and tyranny exists there which no Englishman should ever be called upon to endure.
– Does the honorable member say that as a free-trader he cannot logical] v support the Bill?
– No, i stated that as a free-trader I was perfectly consistent in opposing the Bill, because my view is that Government should be confined to those duties which it is necessary for the State to perform, leaving all other matters to the intelligence of the individual. The intelligence that lias built up Australian civilization ought to be able to look after itself. How is it intended to deal with the varying conditions of industrial life if, for instance, a common rule is to made for a period of five years ? I know of an industry in New South Wales which came under the adjudication of the Arbitration Court in the State, and I can assure honorable members that owing to the loss of business, resulting from thedrought and other circumstances, the wholeof the features of the enterprise have been altered, and the settlement, which on theface of it was a very fair one twelve months ago, is now absolutely unfair. How is such a case to be dealt with ? Then again, is the Court to be called upon by the labour organizations to insist upon conditions which are absolutely incompatible with the solvency of a business ? Because, whatever may be the minimum wage there is a point at which operations must come to an end. I am connected with an industry in New South Wales, in which for fifteen years we paid a living wage to our men without returning a single penny to any one but debenture holders. How can a Judge dictate to individuals regarding the wages to be paid in an enterprise in which money has to be set aside every year for depreciation, and for the payment of. a certain rate of interest upon a reasonable capital? The position of affairs, so far as profits are concerned, and also the element of insecurity, have to be taken into consideration.
Bo honorable members think, because soma settlements are being arrived at, that those settlements will not affect the future expenditure of capital ? “We have heard nothing but a universal crow over the fact that settlements have been completed. Of course they have. The only alternative was for the employers to close their businesses, and people will carry on a very long time, hoping against hope, before they adopt that extreme course. But I can assure honorable members that settlements are now being effected in New South Wales which are absolutely ruinous to business, and if mutters in that State do not improve - I hope they will, but there are conditions which nobody can control - very serious loss will accrue, very heavy withdrawals of capital will follow, and there will be a very natural disinclination to invest money in the country. We have been told by some honorable members that the very fact that the Arbitration Court will be able to settle disputes and prevent strikes will give stability to capital. I do not think that honorable members who make th.it assertion understand the capitalist. If I were in England with a capital of £100,000 or £200,000, which I was asked to invest in Australia, and if I were told that not my Own managers, nor my own board, nor those who understood all the conditions of the business, but a High Court Judge, who might, or might not, be biased - because, although he might be as pure as any man in the community, he must necessarily have a limited knowledge of these things - was to be the arbitrator in regard to the conduct of my affairs, I should say “ No, I thank you.” I think that every man of business would entertain the same feeling. This sort of humanitarianism which seems to lie at the bottom of these proposals is all well enough in its way. But to my mind there is a false humanitarism which may be very destructive, first to the industrial conditions upon which we are existing at the present time, and secondly, to the interests of the very people whose welfare we are endeavouring to conserve. But the insidious nature of this Bill, and the insidious character of the advocacy of it - which I fear more than anything else - is evidenced by the fact that up till a few years ago the workmen were fighting only for their rights. They were at perfect liberty to do so. Labour has a perfect right to get a fair price for its commodity, and I hope that it always will get that price. Those who were the strongest advocates of the working man believed in fair play between capital and labour. But the legislation which it is now proposed to enact - despite the statement of the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, to the effect that socialists are opposed to such legislation - is undoubtedly of a socialistic character, and the socialist does not meet the capitalist fairly, when questions between capital land labour are in the balance. He says - “I want to destroy capital.” If we pass this Bill I am convinced that before many years have passed we shall find that we have simply played into the hands of those who wish to take the control of all industrial enterprise from private individuals and to put it into the hands of the State. I have been struck once or twice by the wonderful magnanimity with which some of our legal friends enter into discussions of this character and advocate these highflown, humanitarian principles. They never suffer themselves. Some of the greatest advocates of this socialistic legislation are the barristers of Australia, who make £3,000, £4,000, £5,000, and .16,000 a year, and who know perfectly well that it will not affect them. Moreover, I do not think that they are always the best judges of industrial conditions. I should like to say a few words upon another point which I have previously touched upon. What is the meaning of the provision in our Constitution which gives this Parliament power to legislate upon matters relating to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State ? As honorable members are aware, our Constitution is based upon the Constitution of the United States. We have no jurisdiction, except in those matters which are specially delegated to us under that Constitution. In the Convention, the question arose as to the desirableness of giving this Parliament power to legislate in reference to industrial disputes. I am sure that my colleagues in that Convention who may be present will agree that it was decided, after a long discussion, that all industrial disputes were practically matters within the control of the States Governments - that they were social, domestic matters which ought not to be dragged into the arena of the Commonwealth Parliament. But some delegates were of opinion that we should insert in the Constitution a provision by means of which, if occasion arose - I. suppose the seamen’s and the shearers’ disputes were those most in the minds of members of the Convention - the parties to any trouble could be brought together and the matter dealt with as a whole. That limited power was intended to be exercised only as a last resort - there is not one word in the Constitution in reference to compulsory arbitration.
– There is not one word against it.
– No, but I say it was never intended by the framers of that Constitution ‘that this power should be used as a means of dragging the whole of the industrial life of Australia before a tribunal such as it is proposed to establish. Moreover, that tribunal has not been framed upon modest lines. It has. been framed, from whatever stand-point it may be regarded, in such a way that it will inevitably bring about a conflict between the different States and the Commonwealth. It is to be given powers which I do not believe this Parliament can lawfully confer. 1 shall refer to one or two of these. Of course the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, who even attempted to def)’ us upon some matters connected with our own legislation - I refer to the duty chargeable upon cartridges and shot - has an idea that so long as we are strong and can assert ourselves we have no right to consider these small constitutional differences. He says -
Surely the interpretation of our Constitution is not of a character which will deny the most beneficial results !
In other words, if there is anything which can come within the. category of “beneficial results,” according to the views of some strong-minded individuals like himself, it is our duty to strain the Constitution. I wish to refer very briefly to the powers which -are conferred by that instrument. The Bill contains the following provision : -
The Court shall have cognisance of the following industrial disputes - . . . All industrial disputes with which any State industrial authority or the Government of a State requests the Court to deal.
What is the meaning of that ? It means that the Executive Government of the Commonwealth, through its own Judge of this Court, can practically remove every industrial dispute into the realm of its own jurisdiction if, as I said upon a previous occasion, it can obtain the assent of the Executive of one of the States. Then clause 41 reads -
A certificate by the Registrar that any disputerelating to industrial matters is. an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any oneState shall be prima facie evidence that the fact, is as stated.,
I hold that that provision is entirely unconstitutional. The provision in the Constitution was intended to be a sort of safeguard for the industrial legislation of the States. It was never intended that it should bemade a supreme means of forcing the industrial disputes of a State into the arena of the Commonwealth. As showing how farsome honorable members are prepared to go in their desire to ignore all principle whatever, they have actually declared that the word “ prevent,” which is used in the. Constitution, shows that the Commonwealth can actually take cognisance of the brewing of an industrial dispute before it has cometo a head. To begin with, that is an absolute impossibility, because we cannot know that a dispute will occur until it has cometo a head, and in the next place those whoargue, like the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, that this Court has actually the right to decide, when a dispute is brewing, would actually giveaway the liberties of any people in any country.
– Oh no.
– What did my right honorable friend mean when he told the House that before there was a lock-out, or a strike, or indeed any manifestation of a real struggle, the Judge of thisCourt had the power of his own initiative todetermine whether or not a dispute was about tq take place and to intervene.
– The Courthas the right tointervene when a dispute occurs and beforea strike takes place.
– - I say that the language of the right honorable memberis absolutely inconsistent.
– How are we going to”prevent” a strike if we allow it to occur ?
– The word, “prevent” is not used in that sense.
– Is it used in the sense of “permit “1
– It cannot be used iri the sense of “ prevent,’’ because a strike does not come within the; cognisance of the Court until it has happened.
– The honorable member is confusing a “dispute” with a “strike.” I should be sorry indeed if the Court could not intervene before a strike occurred to prevent its extension to two or more States.
– We can settle a dispute, but how are we to know that there is such a thing until it has actually occurred.
– Surely we can distinguish between a “dispute “ and a “ strike.”
– I come now to one or two details in the discussion of which I have no desire to occupy any length of time. We have first Of all to consider the application of the common rule. In my opinion the power to make a common rule should not be placed in the hands of any man in a country like Australia. When we give to a Judge the power to make a common rule applicable to the whole of Australia, - and it is no answer to say that he will be a man of common sense, and so forth - we cannot blame him if he exercises it. In Australia we have such varied conditions, and such an enormous area to deal with, that in my opinion no man ought to be allowed to apply such a rule. It may give rise to the greatest amount of friction between the States and the Commonwealth Let us imagine that a dispute occurs in an industry which overlaps New South Wales and Victoria, and that a certain decision is given by the Court. Does the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, say that in that case the common rule might be applied to Queensland 1
– Wherever it was required.
– Let us suppose that in such a case the common rule was applied to Queensland, where a local Judge under a simple mode of procedure had given a judgment dealing with the matters determined by the Commonwealth Court. What would happen if the two decisions differed? Does the right honorable member mean to tell me - and this is the time for us to consider this outrageous aspect of the question - that if there is a dispute between employ^ and employers in an industry in Victoria and New South Wales, which does not extend to Queensland, where both parties are working under a rule laid down by a local Court, the moment that dispute is settled by the Commonwealth Judge, he* can make a common rule which will extend to Queensland and interfere with the Statejurisdiction ? That is exactly what he contends. Those who argue that a Judgecan interfere before any real dispute hasoccurred and bring the powers of the Court into operation, and those who say that a common rule may be applied to a placein which there is no dispute and where theconditions may be absolutely different, are absolutely willing for the sake of their socialistic principles to stifle all the liberties of Australia.
– Is’ the honorable member contending for the liberty of Australia to strike ?
– I am contending for- the liberty of men to manage their own business according to ordinary principles, which they best understand.
– Although the highestCourt in the land says that something should be done 1
– The right honorable member’s recent work is not a good example of the application of the legal mind to industrial affairs. I should like to quote a passage from the speech made by the honorable member for Bland in dealing with this question, becauseI think it shows the reductio ad absurdum of my right honorable friend’s argument. He said -
In New Zealand the same difficulty has been experienced. Applications were made for an award of the Court in the three large southerncentres of Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington. No such application caine from Auckland, withthe result that the Court made an award which affected each of these three large towns.
The conditions probably varied in each of these towns. They are towns of marked individuality. I know that the countrymen of mv honorable friend opposite preponderate in New Zealand, and I should not give others much hope of successfully competing with them.
The position in Auckland was that the employers and employes came to an industrial agreement without invoking the aid of the Court - an agreement under which the rates fixed were lowerthan those which the Court hod decided upon in the case of the towns mentioned. As the New Zealand Act applies to provincial districts, and not to the whole colony -
That is a very wide reservation - the Court could not alter the agreement entered into between the Auckland employers and employes, but it felt that, as the goods manufactured in that city entered into competition with those produced at the other centres, its only alternative was either to force the Auckland rates up a little, or to reduce those of Dunedin, Christchurch, and Wellington.
We have come to a peculiar position in the history of Australian legislation when it is proposed to pass a bill, one of the principles of which - and that principle has been carried out in New Zealand - is that when one particular set of employes and employers in a certain business disagree, and go to the Court, the Judge who deals with the matter may make an award which will apply to other communities where the employes and employers are perfectly satisfied with the existing condition of affairs, and between whom there has never been a murmur of dissension. The argument, I suppose, is that the Judge will use his common sense and refrain from the adoption of such a course. But this has actually occurred in New Zealand. Under this Bill the Court will be able, in the circumstances I have named, to say to men who were no parties to the dispute dealt with by it - “Your employers are tyrants. We believe that the case of the other men is a good one, and although you have been perfectly satisfied, and although industrial peace has actually existed here, we apply this Gommon rule to you.” Is that conciliation?
– It is not. Industrial warfare is created in this way in certain districts and amongst certain people who were perfectly satisfied before this bogus legislation was passed. By giving these powers in the Bill, we inferentially declare that they shall be exercised. We practically direct that the Court shall exercise these powers, and that it shall make a common rule wherever it is possible to do so. Honorable members talk about strikes and industrial commotion, but no strike is equal to the injustice, tyranny, and degradation which, so far as many people are concerned, must ensue from this proposal. Underlying all this a great principle is involved - the principle of independence of mind, the leaning of individuals upon themselves ; the dissociation from improper Government interference of the multiform activities which have built up all the best industries of this country. This Bill enacts that a man’s individual intelligence, character, experience, and money, properly expended shall no longer have due effect in his business dealings. Under a law of this kind a man may go on building up his business for ten years on lines that are perfectly satisfactory to himself and his employes ; but, as the result of a dispute in which he has had no concern, his whole business system may be disarranged in one moment. He may be compelled to alter the whole of his arrangements. There are various conditions which affect business. Consideration has to be paid first of all to the locality, the price of food, the rent charged, and many other things which make it far more expensive to live in one place than another. But the character of the employer, the mode in whichhe deals with his employes - his bonus or profit-sharing system - has also to be considered. There are all the conditions which arise from long employment in a certain business, with a certain amount of what one may call parental control, which to many men are often worth more than a rise of 5 per cent, in wages. But when this Bill comes into effect we shall destroy the very principle of conciliation, the very principle of mutualitj’. We shall destroy that principle which causes a man to be, not a mere nigger-driver, but one who is sensitive as to his position, sensitive as to his responsibility, attached to his employes, and willing to treat them, not as a mere slavedriver would do, but as an intelligent person.
– Is the honorable member an example of that class of manf
– The honorable member knows nothing about this question. Under this Bill it is proposed to do what Mr. Wise distinctly said he desired to see accomplished by the passing of the New South Wales Conciliation and Arbitration Act. He said that he desired to create two industrial parties absolutely at war with one another, and then, because there was no freedom of contract on the part of the employé - seeing that the employer could wait whereas the employe could not - he desired to set them in two separate camps, as he has done, without any regard to those conditions which go to make up the decency and the humanitarianism of life. I shall give an instance of the difficulty of dealing with these ‘matters at the present moment. Honorable members say that under this Bill disputes will often’ be settled by conciliation, without resort to arbitration. I deny it. Under this Bill there will be no conciliation. Our experience, both in New Zealand and elsewhere, is that the employes will always go to the Court, because they believe that they cannot do worse. They start, not in a fair position in which the Judge might say to them - “ You are perhaps receiving too much ;” but just as in dozens of cases-
– The honorable member does not think there is any case in which the men would be receiving too much.
– I have as much regard for the labouring classes as has the right honorable member.
– I did not say that such was not the case.
– I contend that there will be no conciliation under this Bill. The moment that the Arbitration Court is created the position will be just as it is under the States Conciliation and Arbitration Acts. Instead of matters being arranged by mutual agreement - and, in spite of the false rhetoric which we have heard very largely on this subject, that has been the case in connexion with innumerable businesses, and is still taking place - we shall have a Court-
– Does the honorable member think that either party will ever receive what it does not prove itself entitled to ?
– i do not know. But I contend, now, that conciliation has gone. Awards made by the Court in New South Wales have, in some casas, given effect to proposals which were made long before by the employers. In one case an award gave effect to terms which were offered to employes, perhaps two or three years before. Honorable members may say, then, that the Court, at all events, settles the difficulty. We are replete with this sentiment in the Parliaments of Australia, - “If you can obtain a thing by law why not get it.” But the moment we bring a law into operation as between employers and employes we alter the whole position. We alter the mutual relations between the two parties. What will be the outcome of the passage of this Bill ? In many cases it will not result in benefit to the workmen or employe’s. We shall find that the relationship between employers and employed will be brought down to the very lowest level by an adjustment of conditions in which a man’s abilities and other circumstances, which the employer alone is capable of understanding, will be set aside. A fierce feeling of injustice will be created, and” we shall find in the long run that, instead of there being that liberal encouragement which should be given to brains and experience, this law will in many respects react against the men themselves. Here we have a country now possessing absolute freedom, and with universal education. Every man has a reasonable education, and there is no position in. life to which a man with brains and a fair English education may not aspire. Some of our best men have graduated from the ranks, and, having taken their places amongst the masters of industry, are now leading both the industry and thought of the country. But what will this Bill do ? It will create two great camps. It will marshal the two great industrial forces oneagainst the other, as though they wereabsolutely antagonistic. It will put it intothe power of 100 men, when 400 of their fellows are perfectly satisfied with the conditions of their employment, to approach, the Court and say, “ We are a degraded: people ; we want our conditions altered.”’ There might be 5,000 men employed in anindustry, 4,900 of whom were perfectly satisfied with their conditions ; but if the remaining 100 were dissatisfied, they could,, if I understand the provisions of theBill aright, create a disturbance, and,, by taking their employers and their fellow employes before the Court, throw the whole industry into a state of” turmoil and unrest. Furthermore, we arefostering in this country the idea that nothing can be done except by Act of Parliament. We are making our labouring population feel that they have only to apply to Parliament to get anything they want that whenever they apply to Parliament they will get an Act which will do all that isnecessary to better their condition, and, which, if it is found not to quite suit, can be amended until it does. There is no rest and satisfaction to-day in New South Walesin any of the industries in connexion with which there has been adjudication by theArbitration Court. Furthermore, we areimplanting false and delusive hopes in the minds of the people. Legislation of this kind is part and parcel of the system of State interference with private industry, of which we have seen somuch in New South Wales, and which has resulted in molly-coddling and extravagance in public expenditure, until, the country has become crowded with. loafers, to the injury of the honest working man. I believe that nine-tenths of the working men of Australia are as fine a set of men as there are on the face of the earth. But there is a remnant of loafers, to whom the honorable member for Darling referred, who are eating out the heart of the ind ustrial life of the country. They crowd out towns and cities; but the’real honest working men should have nothing to do with them. Honorable members apparently do not realize that in passing legislation of this kind, they are undermining the intelligence, the hardihood, the manliness of the working classes ; that they are sapping the love for improving their position and enjoying the results of that improvement which is the first effect of civilisation. This movement is the result of a wave of thought which brings everything to the Government and to Parliament to be set right. Instead of leaving us to pass the statutes which are necessary for the improvement of the country, and to place our people in a position in which they can freely meet the competition of the world, we have to spend half our time in the consideration of matters which are really outside our parliamentary duties. As a citizen of Australia, I do not look with any great hope to the prospects of the next twenty or thirty years. I believe that this rage for parliamentary interference, which has been produced by a false and exaggerated humanitarian feeling, will sooner or later have its reaction. But we should only hark back after a very bitter experience of the effects of our. legislation. Until that reaction comes, our industrial life will not improve, and our manhood will be unequal to that of the country from which we have sprung. I have not dealt with outside questions, such as the advisability of including seamen in the operation of the measure, in connexion with which the right honorable member for South Australia retired from the Ministry.
– The honorable member should say a word or two on the subject.
– As a layman I cannot see much difference between dealing with the seamen in this Bill, or in a Navigation Bill. Whatever the difference may be, it appears to me to be the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. Remembering the country from which we come, and the fact that we live on an island continent, we should be very careful to prevent anything like provincialism in dealing with maritime affairs. We should be very careful that the facts are sufficiently big to warrant us in interfering before we take any step which will make the captain of a British vessel feel that when in Australian waters he is on what is practically a foreign coast.
– Does the honorable member favourtheexemptionof foreign ships from the operation of this measure while it is applied to British vessels?
– British ships cannot be regarded as foreign vessels.
– I do not refer to British ships as foreign.
– What I intended to say is thatI do not think that we should attempt to pass narrow legislation. We should see that the facts are sufficiently big before we interfere.
– Can any case be made out for exempting a German ship from legislation which is applied to British ships ?
– I do not intend to deal with that question. What I understand my right honorable friend really desires is that if the ocean-going mail steamers are permitted to carry passengers between Australian ports- - they carry practically no inter-State cargo - they shall pay the same wages to the seamen employed on them that we pay to our own seamen.
– Not quite that. It should be within the power of the Court to make such a rule if they consider it desirable to do so.
– If we give the Court that power, we by implication require them to exercise it ; just as if my right honorable friend succeeded in getting a resolution passed by a huge majority, he would require the Government to carry it into effect. After all, regard must be paid to proportion in everything. Is the amount which is taken from the earnings of the mercantile marine registered in Australia worth talking about?
– Undoubtedly it is.
– I think it is not, Only a few thousands of pounds are taken from the pockets of individuals, but that money would not go into the pockets of Australian ship-owners if the thousands of people who now travel each year between Sydney and Melbourne by mail steamer for the sake of their health were obliged either to use the coastal boats or to go by rail, because they would choose to travel by rail. My right honorable friend’s proposal will, however, hit Western Australia particularly hard. At a time when this House refuses to complete the transcontinental railway line - purely for financial reasons, because I believe that that line must ultimately be made - any policy which would isolate that great State is small-minded, and out of all proportion to the result that is hoped from it. The whole thing resolves itself into a matter of pounds, shillings and pence, and in my opinion the amount involved is not worth the trouble which it is proposed to take. The right honorable gentleman takes the same stand in regard to this matter that he has taken in regard to the fiscal question. If there were some small industry in Australia occupying ten persons, he would rather place a burden upon the whole Commonwealth for its maintenance than allow the people of Australia to purchase from the foreigner something which he could make much more cheaply and much better.
– In this case an advantage is being given to foreign shipping over British shipping.
– To the right honorable member the foreigner is a perfect bogey.
– I think, at least, as much of the Australian as I do of the foreigner.
– The people of Australia are now a Commonwealth, and a factor in the civilized world. We are part of the British Empire, and we cannot in legislation of this kind apply all our principles to their fullest logical extent. It is in the interests of all parties to leave some loop-holes. I have taken up more time than it was my intention to occupy, and I do not suppose I have convinced many honorable members of the wisdom of my position. I shall be asked - “What is the alternative ? Is there anything worse than a strike?” .My reply is that this legislation has been forced upon Australia before any alternative worth considering has been tried. In New South Wales there has never been an honest attempt to obtain industrial conciliation by mutual consent. With the wonderful buoyancy which is as characteristic of youthfulness in a people as in the individual, and with that love of experiment of which the right honorable member for South Australia is so prominent a champion, honorable members say - “Why should we wait for the mother country ? Why should we not experiment for ourselves 1 Why should we not do this, that, and the other V It would be well enough to experiment for ourselves if we had fair grounds for experimenting, or if the experiment were such that we could afterwards recede from it. But this is not an experiment from which we are likely to recede until there has been a very bitter tale told. We are experimenting with the industrial life of Australia. We are altering the principles upon which business has hitherto been conducted. The Bill has been so framed that, instead of merely allowing Commonwealth intervention in the case of a great strike like that of the seamen or the shearers, it allows a Commonwealth Court to practically snatch* away the jurisdiction of the States Courts. We are providing, not merely for the prevention, in the ordinary acceptance of the word, of strikes, but for carrying out a socialistic propaganda. Every industry in Australia will be brought before the Court, until the tribunal is completely glutted with work ; and the Judge will have no power to put one case aside to allow of the hearing of another. The result will be, I am afraid, that a very serious blow will be struck at private enterprise. We are entirely altering the relative position of employers and employes, and when disasters come, those who write om? history will have to say that this legislation was passed without proper consideration, and without real experience, at a time when the Commonwealth Parliament could very well have held its hands, and when the Commonwealth Government should have exercised prudence, and have safeguarded the interests of the people, instead of rushing into a rash experiment.
– The speech of the honorable member for Wentworth has removed the debate beyond any danger of falling flat for want of point. In his wild and whirling denunciation of the Bill and its sponsors, there is material for half-a-dozen speeches in reply, therefore, X very much fear that in the short time at my disposal I shall not be able to answer half the objections raised. The honorable member claims to be representative of those who belong to the capitalistic class, and if his claim has a good foundation we may regard his speech as condensing all the arguments which can be used Against the proposals we are now debating. He has described the Bill as a coercive measure, as the result of the socialistic movement, as a measure calculated to destroy the liberties of the people of Australia, as designed to put their’ lives and businesses into the hands of one man, as destructive of all our cherished ideas of individual liberty, and also as exceeding the functions of parliamentary government. But we do not find very much to answer in those statements, because they contain no argument. They are mere words of condemnation, but at the same time they adequately represent a great deal of the opposition which has been expressed by those who, for reasons best known to themselves, are afraid of the Bill. Most of this fear is based not upon actual experience, but upon unreasoning distrust. The honorable member has expressed distrust of those who will constitute the Court. One would imagine that the gentlemen who in times past have constituted the judiciaries of Australia were absolutely unworthy, but the fact is that no courts in the world are so free from party bias, or so little disposed to do wrong, as are our own. No other judiciaries have such a splendid record. The honorable member delighted in the fact that our history had been one long record of peace, and as there is no reason why we should not be as fortunate in the selection of the members of the Arbitration Court as in the appointment of our Judges it is to be presumed that the public will be as ready “to peacefully submit to their awards as they have been to bow to the decisions of other courts. I was amused at the statement of the honorable member respecting the audacity and presumption of Members of Parliament in dealing with a question of this kind in view of what he termed their fugitive rights of existence here. We all recognise that Members of Parliament come and go, but the honorable member failed to appreciate the fact that Parliament itself goes on, and that there is nothing fugitive about its rights. Those rights are conferred by the people, and are exercised for their benefit. The right to legislate and the permanency of the legislation itself is not affected by the change in the personnel of the legislative body.
The honorable member further stated that the Conciliation Boards in New Zealand had proved to be bogus tribunals - that they had done nothing and settled nothing. Surely he must have forgotten that the shortcomings of the New Zealand system have been omitted from the’ Bill now before us. We know that the Conciliation Boards in New Zealand have not proved successful, and that they have resulted in obstruction rather than otherwise ; but we have been safeguarded against similar difficulties arising here by the proposal tq constitute a Court which shall discharge the double function of conciliation and arbitration. The honorable member’s condemnation, therefore, applied not to the New Zealand Act, but to an incidental feature of the system. After all that has been done by means of legislation in New Zealand and New South Wales, and all the alleged dissatisfaction which has been caused, the most the honorable member can say is that there is a strong outcry for an amendment of the existing Acts. So far as I am aware, no one having any authority has at any time, or in any place, declared that the Acts should be abolished ; . but, on the contrary, the aim has been to improve them, and to increase the advantages which they already confer. It is all very well to say that alternative methods have not been considered. It was the duty of the honorable member to suggest them, but he failed to do so. The method of voluntary conciliation mentioned by him has proved almost absolutely useless for the settlement of great industrial disputes. As I shall show at a later stage, it has so many disadvantages that it must be abandoned in favour of the system now proposed, if we are to have industrial peace and progress. I have no desire to introduce what the honorable member terms the protectionist craze into this discussion, but I will say that’ he was perfectly right when he said that free-traders were logical in opposing legislation of this character. And I claim that protectionists are consistent in supporting legislation which aims at the improvement of the condition of all those who are engaged, whether as employers or employes, in industrial concerns. While we afford protection, through the Customs, to those who are conducting enterprises, it is our duty to look after the interests of those who work in the factories and shops, and until we have passed legislation such as that now before us, we shall not have completed our work in that direction. We have been told that what was required in this country was capital. I do not know that we require it any more than does any other country ; but what we do desire is that when capital has been invested, and people have opened up new industries, the conditions under which they are to carry on their business shall be settled. This desideratum cannot be secured so long as the right to strike exists, so long as individual employers can make bargains with individual workmen or so long as lock-outs can be resorted to to coerce workmen into accepting wages which are totally inadequate. I have no desire to keep capital out of the country ; but, on the contrary, I shall welcome every addition to our capital which is invested upon right lines. At the same time I see no advantages to be derived from the introduction of capital which may be utilized merely for the purpose of crushing labour or forcing it to accept unfair wages. The member for Wentworth was pleased to be a little facetious in regard to the sudden conversion of the honorable member for Melbourne. But he forgot to mention that the honorable member who recently led the Opposition, was also one of the principal opponents of the New South Wales Arbitration Act. That gentleman is a supporter of the Bill before us, and his sudden change of front is quite as remarkable as that of the other honorable member. Indeed, it is even more striking, for from an active opponent he has turned to an earnest advocate. The fact that individual liberty may in some sense be interfered with under the provisions of the Bill affords no warrant for destroying the measure. As the honorable member pointed out, we have already interfered to make education corn.pulsory, and if compulsory education be good as now applied, by a parity of reasoning, compulsory arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes should also operate for the benefit of the community. It is idle to say that we must not interfere with individual liberty or personal freedom. Individual liberty, in the twentieth century, is permissible only when it is consistent with the liberty of the people. When individual liberty interferes with the general well-being of the community it is time to interrupt its flow. Personal freedom, so far as it is consistent with peace and order, is an undoubted aid to civilization and progress, but when the honorable member for Wentworth declares thatin many cases, war is preferable to peace, I fail to understand his attitude. When heasserts that we must not interfere with individual liberty, and supports war rather than peace, he surely forgets that, so far asthe British race is concerned, war has always been their last resort, and that, when it hasbeen entered upon, their desire has been to bring it to as speedy a termination as possible. So it is with industrial war. As to theright of the State to intervene, have we not in the public interest already taken upon ourselves functions which even the honorable member himself will admit must bedischarged? Do we not insist upon freeand compulsory education, and that law and order shall be maintained in our public places 1 Do we not regulate and determine the conditions under which almost every human function can be exercised ? In connexion with almost every industry there are laws and regulations which have to be obeyed. In almost every walk of life the State has already interfered with individual liberty. Further,., it is interesting to note in connexion with legislation of this kind that, as far back as 1884, a recommendation for the settlement of industrial disputes was madein Victoria, somewhat upon the lines proposed in this Bill. I was greatly interested in the remarks of the AttorneyGeneral regarding the efforts which havebeen made in this direction by the right honorable member for South Australia,. Mr. Kingston, by Mr. Pember Reeves, and others. In the report which was presented to the Victorian Parliament, on the 5th June, 18S4, by the Royal Commission upon employes in shops, the first recommendation of the Commissioners readsthus -
In the opinion of your Commissioners, themost effective mode of bringing about industrial co-operation and mutual sympathy between employers and employed, and thus obviating labour conflicts in the future, is by the establishment of Coutts of Conciliation in Victoria, whose procedure and awards shall have the sanction and. authority of law.
– Did the Victorian Parliament carry out that recommendation ?
– The fact that itwas not carried out has no bearing upon my argument. I merely cite it here for its- historical value. The present AttorneyGeneral was a member of that Commission, as were also two ex-Premiers of Victoria. As a matter of fact, that recommendation was the first of a series which eventually led up to the passing of the Factories Act in this State. That Act is in large part a very good substitute for the kind of legislation which is now proposed. The idea underlying it is exactly the same, although the method of applying it i? somewhat different. But, though I strongly support this class of legislation, I entertain grave doubt as to whether it will prove as beneficial to the labouring classes as most of them hope. I am inclined to think that, in accepting this principle, labour is making a greater sacrifice than those upon the opposite side realize. In the long run it may probably be found that those who will chiefly benefit by this legislation are the employers. Personally, I hope that both sides will receive justice at the hands of the Court, and that, as a result, we shall have order, safety, and progress in respect of our commercial affairs. The honorable member for Wentworth declared that the solvency of our businesses was of more importance than an award under the industrial legislation proposed.
– In New Zealand there have been fewer insolvencies since the Act was passed.
– I gather from the honorable member for Wentworth that he thinks it would te unwise for the Court to enforce an award for the payment of wages which an employer could not afford.
– I pointed out that the award covers a period of five years, during which the conditions might alter.
– Whilst the Court lias a discretionary power to make an award operative up te five years, that is the maximum period which it can cover. Naturally the Court will take into consideration every circumstance surrounding an award, and limit its application .to a proper period. Coming to the question of solvency and profits, it is interesting to note the remarks of a Commissioner in America upon a cognate subject. Mr. Justice Gray, Presedent of the Commission which dealt with the anthracite coal strike there, made some noteworthy observations in this connexion. It was proposed to tender evidence as to the profits of the company, but he declined to hear any .evidence upon the subject. He said -
We are going to assume that they are able to pay fair wages. If they cannot pay fair wages they had better go out of the business.
Similarly it would be better if a number of employers who are engaged in sweating their employe’s went out of business, rather than that they should remain in it and continue the practice. Prior to the institution of the Factories Act in Victoria I recollect that there were a number of individuals who, as journeymen in different trades, were able to earn good wages. Having saved a few pounds,, many of these entered into business for themselves. On their own account they were quite willing to accept less than they had received as employes, and consequently they forced the honest employer, who was willing to pay fair wages, to make reductions in the wages of his workmen which otherwise he would not have made. Upon the passing of the Act, however, these individuals, being forced to pay the proper rates where they had any one employed, were in many instances compelled to relinquish their businesses and to accept employment once more as journeymen, with the result that in most cases they are now very much better off.
– They ought to have an insurance policy before they embark upon business ?
– The insurance required by the ordinary man before he enters into business is a sufficient capital, together with the knowledge that is necessary to enable him to compete successfully. The honorable member for Wentworth affirms that if this Bill be carried, there will be no such thing as financial stability. What is the case elsewhere? In New Zealand, instead of financial stability having been shaken by the operation of similar legislation, it has been augmented. The bank deposits areincreasing every year, despite the fact that the country has had an Arbitration Act in force longer than has any of these States. In Western Australia, where a similar Act is operating^ capital is increasing, commerce progressing, and industry flourishing. As a matter of fact, we have in Victoria to-day a Government of the very type of which the honorable member for Wentworth approves. Yet it has failed to effectually stop the exodus of population from this State, [n fact, during its tenure of office, there has been a greater loss of population than at any time previously. Where are the people who are leaving Victoria going ? To those two countries where this so-called socialistic legislation is in full swing, namely, to New Zealand and Western Australia.
– They are going to South Africa.
– Since 1894 the population of New Zealand has annually increased by 15,000, a great many of whom have hailed from Australia.
– I think the honorable member is incorrect.
– My authority is the Year Book of New Zealand. If the statement of the honorable member for Wentworth is correct, it is remarkable that population is leaving a State which possesses a very strong anti-socialistic government for countries where what he calls socialistic legislation is in full blast. The honorable member asserted that this class of legislation would destroy business and drive capital out of the country. He declared that the Bill constitutes an interference with individual freedom, and places the lives and liberties of the people in the hands of one man.
– So it does. Most of the people who are leaving Australia are going to South Africa.
– It is true that many Sire going to South Africa because of the prosperity which that country is enjoying by reason of the large expenditure of loan moneys. But a good many people are leaving Victoria for Western Australia and New Zealand, where legislation similar to that which is now proposed is in active operation. As already stated, I find from the Year Book of New Zealand that between 1894 and 1901 there was an average annual increase in the population of 15,000. The total population of that country to-day is 787,600. Taking the same years, I find that the population of Western Australia has. increased by 13,000 annually. If the statement of the honorable member for Wentworth is correct, how is it that the two countries where this legislation has been longest in operation are the most progressive, that population is flowing to them, and that increased capital is being invested there 1
– I suppose the fact that the gold production of Western Australia represents 8,000,000 or £9,000,000 per annum has nothing whatever to do with it ?
– I am not going to deny that elements of prosperity exist in Western Australia which have attracted population to that State, and are still attracting it. But I am replying to the statement that when legislation of this character is put into operation capital at once loaves the country. I am showing that, as a matter of fact, capital is flowing into these countries, and that population is following in its wake.
– Then there is a relation between labour and capital ?
– I think the relationship is too obvious to call for any reply to the honorable and learned member’s interjection. So far as this class of legislation in Victoria is concerned, the Factories Act does not apply to the country districts. But, notwithstanding that fact, people are leaving the rural districts for New Zealand and Western Australia. The Factories Act does not apply to the miner or the’farmer in this State, nor to a large number of people engaged in various occupations in the country, but even making a liberal allowance for the disastrous effects of the drought - which was not so severely felt in Victoria as in some of the otherStates of the Commonwealth - we know that a number of persons are leaving the provinces of Victoria for New Zealand and West Australia. They are leaving because they know that they can do better in those places, despite what the honorable member for Wentworth has said as to the destructive character of legislation of this kind.
– Does the Conciliation and Arbitration Act apply to the farming industry in New Zealand?
– I believe it does not.
– I am told that it does.
– Then I have been misinformed. If it does apply to the farming industry, the fact gives even stronger support to my argument. In any case the Factories Act of Victoria does not apply to miners yet they are leaving this State for Western Australia where the Arbitration Act does so apply. The last point I wish to make in regard to this matter is that in spite of the conditions which are in operation in Victoria with respect to the government of the people, there has been a distinct increase in the number of persons engaged in trades affected by the Wages Boards. Speaking from memory, and subject to correction, I believe that last year there was an increase of 3,000 in the number of persons employed in trades affected by the Victorian Factories Act.
– How many trades ? There are only two or three.
– The honorable member can have no knowledge of the subject when he makes an assertion of that kind’. I believe that here are some twentyfour trades affected by the Wages Boards.
– Twenty-four industries.
– Quite so. If it be true, as the honorable, member for Wentworth asserts, that legislation of this character destroys trade, is it not strange that in Victoria where factory legislation has been in force for some time there has been an increase in the number of workers, and an actual increase in the output of the various trades ; that in New South Wales, where we have legislation of this kind in operation, there has been an increase in trade, capital, and in the number of persons employed, and that in Western Australia, where there is also a Con: ciliation and Arbitration Act in force, all three conditions obtain.
– That is why they are so anxious to extend the operation of the Factories Act in Victoria.
– I know of no person engaged in business in Victoria, unless he be an employer who has been cured by law of his sweating practices, who is opposed to the extension of the Act. I know of a number of employers who are most anxious that it shall be re-enacted.
– Some of the largest employers.
– As my honorable friend reminds me, some of the largest and best employers of labour in Victoria are amongst its most active and sympathetic supporters.
– The local Parliament will not set itself on fire in its haste to re-enact the Factories Act.
– Order. The honorable member is out of order in conversing across the chamber.
– Turning from the operation of the Factories Act in Victoria, I wish to give an illustration of the benefits which have been derived from legislation of this kind in Western Australia. I am in debted to Senator Pearce for the facts which. I am about to mention, and I desire to pay him the courtesy of this acknowledgment.We are told that those who are affected by adverse awards of the Conciliation Court refuse to abide by them. But it is not so long ago, according to Senator Pearce, that some 15,000 miners in Western Australia, threatened to strike for better conditions of employment. The Act in operation theremade it possible for a Court of three Commissioners to take into consideration all the circumstances affecting their case, and, asthe result of what was graphically described as the meeting of three men in an iron shed on the Coolgardie gold-field, 15,000 men, without leaving their work, obtained an award which altered the whole scale of” wages paid. In a great number of instances the award reduced the rates of pay, whileit increased them in others.
– To what is the honorable member alluding 1
– To the threatened strike of miners in Western Australia last year. The result of the award made by the Court, which was more in the nature of a . revision than an alteration, was that thousands of men had their wages reduced, but were willing to abide by the decision of the Court; while thousands of others had their rates of pay increased. Neither party losteither time or money in the settlement of the difficulty. The mines declared their ‘dividends as usual, and the men received their wages as before.
– I do not think many of the mines declared their dividends . as usual.
– If the honorable member looks up the facts he will find that the mining company which was principally affected - I believe it is known as the Great Boulder - paid a very high dividend immediately afterwards. The chairman of ‘ directors, in addressing the shareholders in London, said he was pleased to be able to announce that the usual dividend would be paid, and at a later stage he expressed regret that the company could not increase the dividend - which I believe was equal to something like 22 per cent. - becauseof the socialistic legislation in Australia, which controlled the wages paid to their men.-
– It has shut uphalf the mines in -Western Australia.
– In this case 15,000 men were able to arrive at a settle– ment of their difficulty without any loss of employment, without resort to a ‘strike, and without any loss of capital. One fact of that kind is worth a ton of the vituperation which the honorable member for Wentworth heaped upon this Bill. The honorable member severely attacked the measure without adducing any facts in support of his assertions. We are discovering in these modern times that compulsion is necessary in almost every walk of life, and in a matter of this kind it is so essential that we cannot leave it out of consideration. Voluntary settlements- have been and are likely to be failures everywhere. They must fail in the nature of things. Let me refer again for a moment to the Victorian Factories Act as furnishing a case in point. Some time ago the Act was amended, a provision being inserted that a decision given by a Wages Board should have no force unless it were the award of a seven-tenths majority. The effect of the Act first of all is that it compels a conference of employers -and employes, and it suggests a voluntary settlement, because the seven-tenths provision is so unworkable that it can only be regarded in that light. The Act says in effect to the parties - “ Unless you can arrive at a voluntary argreement you can obtain no settlement of your dispute.” As the result of that voluntary condition of affairs in relation to some of these Wages Boards, no determination has been arrived at. Thus, from practical experience, we see that the voluntary system of conciliation will not work, and that compulsion must be introduced into these matters. I sympathize with the honorable member for Wentworths desire for liberty and personal freedom. W e are all bound to worship at that shrine, but we are -also bound to recognise that industrial peace and commercial progress are of vastly more moment to the community than is the right of an individual to conduct himself as he pleases as against the wishes of the great body of the people. Recognising that the good of the individual is embraced in the proposition which provides for the good of the whole, we have, therefore, to resort to a class of legislation which will secure that end. I contend that the best results for all parties are to be obtained by resorting to the compulsory system of conciliation. On this topic the Lord Bishop of Hereford some time ago instituted a very interesting discussion by a letter to the London Times. Its publication gave rise to a great deal of correspondence on the part of eminent public men and parliamentarians. Some of them were strongly opposed to the application of compulsion to the principle of arbitration. Others supported it in part, while others again were neither in favour of or against it, but expressed a desire for some system to settle industrial disputes. In reply to all the criticisms with regard to compulsory arbitration, and summing up the correspondence generally, the Lord Bishop of Hereford said in a letter dated 6th January, 1899 -
Your readers can hardly fail to have noticed how those who persist in their claim to inflict upon us all the loss and misery of the strike and the lock-out seem to fear or distrust the law. This, to my mind, more than anything else, shows the weakness of their case. They argue as if justice were blind and deaf, ignorant, sentimental, and prejudiced.
I desire to interpolate here that the honorable member for Wentworth asked us in the some way to agree that justice was blind and deaf, ignorant, sentimental, and prejudiced. He seems to imagine that if. we create this Court it will so biased that its decisions will always be unfair and interfere with the rights of individuals, and that it will compel great business concerns to close their doors. But our history shows us, so far as our Justiciary is concerned, that the very opposite result may be expected from the Court which is now to deal with these questions. The Lord Bishop of Hereford continued -
When 1 plead that industrial disputes should be settled, if possible, by Conciliation Boards, and, failing this, that the points still in dispute should be referred to a court of justice, I am simply asking that instead of leaving them to be fought out by men heated and blinded by bitter conflict, the nation should insist that that last word shall be spoken by a body of Judges, who may fairly claim our respect and confidence, as being men of pre-eminent ability highly trained for the work, or varied experience, and beyond suspicion of prejudice or passion.
I ask that the same state of things shall apply to the conditions of Australian trade and commerce ; that the men of the Court shall be of pre-eminent ability, highly trained for the work, beyond suspicion of prejudice or passion, and able to give judgments satisfactory to the people’s sense of justice, and calculated to meet the needs of those who come before the tribunal. Other critics assert that there is no need for a measure of this kind ; that America, has found no necessity for it. That is true in part, but it is also true that whilst the people of the United States of America have not yet resorted to any considerable extent to the system of compulsory arbitration, the trend of legislation there is now in that direction. Unfortunately, there is among the American people a mistrust of their J Judiciary such as does not exist in any other Englishspeaking community. I do not say that the Americans consider their Judges venal, or expect to get from their Courts decisions which might be called purchased verdicts, but they have an unmistakable mistrust of them.
– Is the honorable member speaking of the Courts of the States 1
– I am speaking chiefly of the Courts of the States ; but the same feeling exists in some degree with regard to the Federal Courts. Becuase of the existence of this feeling, the great mass of the people of America are unwilling to trust their industrial liberties to the Courts. But that is not the case here. As the result of their unwillingness to trust their affairs to the Courts, the Americans have engaged in what might be called committee bargaining. But the bargains are so short-lived that there is a constant danger of strikes, locks-out, and other industrial conflicts. If we take the evidence of men like Samuel Gompers, the President of the American Federation of Labour, and Senator Marcus Hanna, we find that these committee bargains are constantly being made for such short periods as six months. At the end of that time new agreements have to be entered into. Luckily, for some years past, the state of trade and commerce in America has been such that up to the present time they have been able to continue this system with great satisfaction. That their trade is so brisk is due to the wonderful natural endowments of the country, its immense progress and prosperity under protection, and the vast influx of population which is continually taking place. But those conditions do not obtain in Australia, and, therefore, what has been found to act well to a certain extent in America cannot be expected to act well here. Therefore we must frame somewhat different legislation to meet our case. But even in America they have found it expedient in some of the States to provide for what may be called compulsory arbitration. In proof I propose to quote now from a book entitled “ Questions of the Day - Industrial Conciliation - Report qf the Conference of the National Civic Federation.” The speaker, whose words I shall read, is the Honorable R. S. Taylor. Referring to the Indiana labour law, he said that he thought the best contribution he could make to the discussion of the conference was to tell them exactly what had been done in the Statefrom which he came. He continued -
The law provides for the appointment by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, of two labour commissioners - one from the employing interest and the other from the labour interest, not less than forty years old, and not of the same political party. It is the duty of these commissioners, upon receiving information of any strike, lock-out, boycott or other labour complication in the State affecting the employment, of fifty persons or more, to go at once to the place and exert themselves (1 1 to adjust the controversy by conciliation; (2) if that effort should be ineffectual, to endeavour to induce the parties to submit their differences to arbitration ; and (3) if that should be unsuccessful, after a lapse of five days, to investigate the facts with or without the consent of the parties. For arbitration, the law provides a board consisting of the two labour commissioners and the Circuit Judge within whose circuit the controversy is located. To these the parties may,, if they choose, add an additional arbitrator each, making in that case five in all. The judge is thepresident of the board, and the proceedings are. conducted according to the rules of civil trials. The finding of the board is spread on the record of the Circuit Court, .and has the effect of a. judicial Order. Upon complaint of either party that the other is not obeying the order, a rule to. show cause is issued by the Court, upon which proceedings are had, as in other orders, in personam. These provisions invest the board with full judicial authority, and vest in the Court power to compel obedience to the award in any suitable manner.
That statement goes to prove that even iri America, in spite of their mistrust of their judiciary and the comparative success of their short dated committee bargains, they have found it necessary in some of the States - because I believe that a similiar step has already been taken, -or is about to be taken, in Massachusetts - to provide for compulsory arbitration in connexion with industrial disputes.
– I think that in Massachusetts the arbitration is voluntary.
– 1 am not quitesure of the facts in regard to the Massachusetts legislation, but I would impress upon honorable members the fact that Indiana legislation, an account of which I have just read, is practically upon all-fours, with that which is proposed here, and that* the construction and procedure of the
Court is almost the same as that provided for by the Bill. The speaker went on to show that hundreds of. cases had been investigated, and that thousands of persons had been interested in the verdicts given, but that, so far - and he covered a period of three years - the results had been extremely satisfactory, and there was no desire to alter the law. I wish now to say a few words with respect to the fallacies underlying the advocacy of the voluntary system. In the first place, I would remind the honorable member for Wentworth and those who hold similar views, that the initial difficulty of getting the parties to a dispute to come together is greater than most people imagine it to be. For a number of years I have been a member of the Victorian Antisweating League, of which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is the Secretary, That league, both before and since the Factories Act was passed, has acted as a kind of public mediator. The phrase may appear a large one, but I think it conveys the idea which I wish honorable members to have. The ladies and gentlemen who compose the league, who have no other cause to serve than the promotion of industrial peace, interest themselves in endeavouring to bring employers and employed together, in order to obtain the satisfactory settlement of disputes. Before the Act was passed, however, we found that it was almost impossible to do anything. After the Act was passed, breaches of the law constantly occurred, and the league was frequently appealed to to get employers - I regret to say that it was always the employers who were offenders - to conform to the law. In many cases we were successful in inducing them, either by threats, or by more suave action, to do what the law said they should do. But, prior to the passing of the Act, it was utterly impossible to get them to agree to fair conditions. Afterwards, when they could be threatened, they invariably gave way. That fact proves the difficulty of bringing parties together in the absence of any compelling power. If the experience of the Anti-sweating League can be taken as a guide as to the manner in which industrial disputes will be settled under this measure, we may regard it as certain that it is the conciliation provisions which will be most often brought into requisition, while the arbitration provisions will scarcely be used at all. The fact that the parties will know that if they do not agree to a friendly settlement they will be compelled to go toarbitration will nearly always lead to the end we have in view.
– Does the honorable member think that compulsory arbitration has never been tried before ?
– I know that the. principle of fixing wages is probably 300 or 400 years old. Under the old’. English guild system efforts of this kind were constantly made. In some cases they failed, and in many cases they were abandoned. But the world has moved since then.. The conditions of modern society differ sovastly from the conditions which prevailed_ some centuries ago that we wantnew methods. The second difficulty with regard to voluntary agreements is that when you have brought the parties together you cannot always get them to agree, and if they do agree they may, and very often do, as the agreement is not binding, violate it at any time. The next objection to voluntary agreements is that they affect only the parties who make them. There cannot be such a thing as a common rule under the voluntary system. One employer may be got to agree to do something, which is fair to his employes and not unfair to himself, but next day some unscrupulous rival may so cut into his business, and reduce his profits, as to make it impossible for him to keep his bargain. The result is constantly recurring trouble, and no definite settlement. “What we de-‘ sire is perpetual peace, if such a thing can be obtained. If we can get it by means of voluntary agreements, so much the better ; but I fear we shall require to use othermeans to obtain it. Once an agreement. which is satisfactory to both parties has been-, entered into, no third person should, byreason of his competition, be able to causeone of the parties to break it. Under thevoluntary system, however, this is not. possible, for there can be no control’ of the sweater. What we want is a measure which will get at the sweater and compel him, as well as the honest man, to submit to proper conditions. If it does not’ control the sweater, our legislation will be of no service at all. If, however, it does control him, it will set up a condition of things such as the Victorian Factories Act has set up. It will weed out employers who have insufficient capital, will compel those who are over-avaricious to satisfy the reasonable demands of their employes, and will put employers and employes on a more certain footing. The honorable member for Wentworth said that lie expected to be asked to suggest an alternative to compulsory conciliation and arbitration, and the alternative he suggested was voluntary conciliation. I have endeavoured to show that that is utterly impossible under the existing state of things, and is foredoomed ‘to failure. This being so, I think we ave justified in attempting, in the words of the right honorable member for East Sydney, this daring experiment. We are justified, too, by the experience of New Zealand and Western Australia. That experience shows that industrial peace makes for industrial progress, and industrial progress makes for conditions of happiness, and all that pertains to proper modes of living. What we have to ask ourselves is, not which is the stronger party, but what party in the last resort bears the burden 1 We have also to ask ourselves why, if the State asserts its rights in other matters, it should not interfere here, and, to use the expression of the Lord Bishop of Hereford, speak the last word in the settlement of a dispute affecting the public at large as well as the immediate parties to it ? If I rightly read the Bill, the President of the Court will be a Justice of the High Court, and will be in very fact a public mediator. Unlike the Anti-sweating League to which I have alluded, he will have such power and authority as will give him a right to interfere which is not vested in any other person. It will be his duty, as well as his privilege, to intervene at any stage of industrial strife, to prevent locks-out or strikes. The intervention pf the Arbitration Court will not be needed if locks-out and strikes are prevented. Before a dispute reaches that stage, the President will be able, on his own initiative, to interfere, and alone and unaided, try to bring the parties together by conciliatory methods. If my interpretation of the Bill is correct, I am right in assuming that, in probably 80 per cent, of the cases, the President having so intervened will have brought the parties together, and by his own good offices entirely overcome the necessity for resorting to arbitration.
– Does the honorable member consider that the State should come to the rescue of employers when they cannot pay the rates of’ wages specified by the Courts ?
– My contention is that no person is justified in employing men at rates of wages below a fair standard, or insufficient to enable them to exist. Furthermore, no employer should be permitted to carry on business at a profit to himself by grinding down those whom he employs.
– Who takes any other view 1
– There is no other view to take if my contention be correct. The Court will not enforce unfair terms. It will not arbitrarily compel an employer to pay rates of wages irrespective of the circumstances of his business. It’ will not impose conditions which will force men out of business if they are willing to pay fair rates of wages.
– Who is to decide what is fair, the man who is interested in the business or the Judge of the Court, who has no interest in it 1
– The Court will consist of impartial men eager to do justice. It will be a public tribunal, constituted in the public interest and bound in honour and good conscience to preserve the industrial peace. Its chief function will be to step between the parties and, on behalf of the public at large, endeavour to prevent great industrial disputes such as have set half the people of a State by the ears and have reduced thousands of people to destitution. I am sure that the honorable member must agree that it would be better to settle industrial difficulties peacefully rather than to have the whole community upset by industrial strife. If, however, the President of the Court has the power to act as a public mediator, the Court will not often be called into requisition, and those consequences which honorable members who are opposed to the Bill appear to view with apprehension will never be in evidence. At the same time I am inclined to think that it would be better if the three members of the Cou.i;t were all t rained to the law. The Attorney-General said that the reason why the lay members of the Court, as distinguished from the President, were to have seven years’ tenure of office was because it was desired to place them beyond the suspicion of bias. The right honorable G. H. Reid Said that later on the decisions of the Court might be questioned because of the bias displayed by some of its members. The honorable member for Dalley said that the Conciliation Boards of New Zealand were partisan Boards, and the honorable member for Wentworth asserted positively that the Court would be biased, and that practically every decision would be given by one man.
– That has not been the experience in New South Wales.
– I hope that it will not be the experience in connexion with the Bill. Because I hope so I do not intend to oppose any of the provisions of this measure, but I am afraid that the expressions used by the honorable members referred to may be repeated by those who are adversely affected bv the decisions of the Court, and that bias may be attributed to it. If we had a Court constituted of Judges such as those who sit on our Supreme Court Benches, we should place the tribunal beyond suspicion and should insure the highest respect for its decisions. I believe that there will be very little need for the Court as an arbitration tribunal,’ because the conciliatory efforts of the President, with the force of the law behind him, will prove so effectual that there will be no need, except in a very few instances, to refer matters to arbitration. We may, therefore, look for the triumph of this legislation rather than for that dismal failure which some of its opponents forecast, and which some of them hope for in order that effect may be given to their petty theories regarding the importance of individual liberty, even though that liberty may operate against the interests of the great mass of the people whose concern it is that industrial peace shall be preserved and that our progress and. prosperity as -a community shall not be retarded by industrial strife.
– I regard this subject as the most important we have had to deal with in this Parliament. Some of us may escape from the effects of an imperfect Customs Act or a faulty Judiciary Bill, but the measure now before us will, if it proves a failure, adversely affect every man, woman, and child in the community. We must, therefore, approach its consideration with the utmost seriousness.
– If it succeeds it will beneficially affect every person in the community.
– No doubt. We are looking at the measure from different points of view. I have grave doubts as to the effects of such legislation, and I desire to approach the subject in the fairest manner possible.
– The Act could be repealed before Australia was ruined. 8 z 2
– A very great’ authority has written that a man sees what he brings eyes capable of seeing, but in this case we require to bring, not only capable eyes, but willing eyes. I should like to say that I have never regarded conciliation and arbitration with any hostility. When I was a candidate for election to the State Parliament in 1892, I made a reference to the subject in the speeches which I addressed to the elector?. I notice that the honorable member for Bland said that many honorable members came here pledged to support a particular line of action in regard to the Bill. So far as I am concerned I neither spoke upon the subject myself, nor did I ever hear it mentioned during the whole course of the Federal campaign. Doubtless this was because it was then thought to be beyond the immediate range of Federal politics.
– The honorable member for Melbourne mentioned it on every platform.
– That may be ; but I did not even hear it referred to. I am not hostile to the principle of conciliation and arbitration, although I may be opposed to the compulsory principle embodied in the Bill. In addressing the electors in 1892 I said -
I am in favour of Courts of Conciliation. I favoured the project when it was first brought forward by the Chambe of Commerce in England. There was then published in the Nineteenth Century a description of the idea, and I furnished this to the president of the Pastoralists Association in Victoria, suggesting at the same time to the secretary of the Association that something should be done in this way. The proposal now before us, which is the outcome of the Trades Hall and the Chamber of Commerce, is on a similar basis, and is of a good, workable nature.
– Was not that a proposal for compulsory arbitration ?
– No. T went even further. As a member of the Pastoralists’ Association, I suggested that a board should be formed of two shearers and two of the employers, with a police magistrate as chairman, but my fellow-pastoralists at that time did not agree with me, and the proposal was never submitted to the shearers.
– That would be rather a biased board of conciliation.
– Why ?
– Because of the difficulty of securing an impartial magistrate.
– I think that the honorable member is going too far. Last season the pastoralists and the shearers settled their difficulties most amicably by means of a board consisting of three pastoralists and three shearers, one of the pastoralists acting as chairman and the honorable member for Darling as vice-chairman.
– The pastoralists of New South Wales are not so reasonable as those in Victoria.
– I am sorry to hear it.
– I believe that the President of the South Australian Conciliation Board rendered good service in the settlement of the difficulty between the pastoralists and shearers in that State last year.
– Conciliation boards are not of a very recent date. We are told that attempts to settle questions, relative to wages and hours of labour, and the conditions of labour, were made ages ago, almost beyond the range of authentic history. The honorable member for Bourke said that conciliation boards had been absolutely unsuccessful in England.
– No. I said that where they were successful, they were limited to particular disputes which did not cover a very wide range.
– Lecky, in his Democracy and Liberty, vol. II., p. 397, says -
Conciliation boards and arbitration boards on which both parties in the dispute are represented, and which consist of men in whose judicial qualities both parties have confidence, have attempted, with great success, to prevent and to terminate strikes. Sometimes these boards are permanent bodies. The North of England Board of Conciliation and Arbitration for the Manufactured Iron Trade, which was founded in 1869, has been the most successful, and the London Chamber of Commerce has shown itself very useful and active in the same direction. It is said that some 3,000 disputes in the Northumberland coal trade have been settled by joint committees.
The example has been chiefly set in France, where, as early as the reign of the Great Napoleon, conciliation boards were established, under the name of Conseils de Prud’hommes, for the purpose of settling disputes about the terms of labour compacts. Each of them is divided into a bureau of conciliation and a bureau of judgment, or, as we should say, of arbitration. They are instituted at the initiative of the local chamber of commerce by Government decree, and they consist of equal numbers of employers and workmen, with a president and vice-president, who were once appointed by the Government but are now elected by the body itself. The success of these bodies has been very remarkable. From 30.000 to 45,000 cases are said to be annually brought before them, and in about 70 per cent. of these cases they succeed in reconciling the disputants. In Belgium, Austria, and Germany, also, there are elaborate provisions for settling labour disputes. In England an Act was passed in 1867 authorizing the Secretary of State, under certain conditions, to grant a licence for the formation of councils much like those in France, and, while strictly limiting the subjects on which they might pronounce, it gave them powers of enforcing awards ; but this Act, as well as a later one which was carried in 1872, appears to have been a dead- letter, and conciliation and arbitration boards of a purely voluntary character have been found most acceptable both to employers and workmen. They have greatly multiplied, and boards of this kind, consisting of equal numbers of employers and workmen, have been established in a great variety of trades.
That shows that the honorable member was hardly justified in saying that there had been no successful conciliation in England. Of course, in America it has not met with the same success ; but the Americans, it must be remembered, have adopted other means to avert industrial strife. Because in England and America the system has not been successful, some honorable members appear to think that we should legislate in the direction now proposed.
– Some persons think that we ought not to touch the question at all.
– I do not intend to discuss the views of the extremists of either side. But the fact remains that if, in the huge operations conducted in England and America, the system has proved unsuccessful, we shall only make it successful because of our smallness.
– America has not found it unsuccessful.
– America has found it unsuccessful, because she has adopted other methods - methods which are a great deal more calculated to insure success - in some of her largest undertakings. I admit that the conditions of labour in these large undertakings eliminate the personal element, and that some substitute should be found for it. I have here the presidential address which was read by Mr. Andrew Carnegie before the Iron and Steel Institute, on the- 7th of May of this year, and it seems to methat if the methods which are adopted by the capitalists of America were followed by our own people, much more good would beaccomplished than is likely to be conferred by the establishment of an Arbitration Court. Mr. Carnegie is thus reported -
Speaking from experience, we of the Carnegie
Steel Company had not gone very far in manufacturing before discovering that perfect management in every department was needed, and this depended upon the men in charge. Thus began the practice of interesting the young geniuses. around us, as they proved their ability to achieve unusual results - the source of big dividends . . . This practice resulted in making forty odd young partners, a number which was increased at the beginning of each year.
Then Mr. Carnegie attempted to take in one of what he calls his “ captains of industry.”
– Surely all that is compatible with compulsory arbitration ?
– Mr. Carnegie has made his vast fortune by using the brains of other people.
– Mr. Carnegie then offered his leading “captain of industry “a partnership. The captain, however, said -
I am much obliged, but I know nothing about business, and never wish to be troubled with it. I have plenty to trouble me here in these works. Leave me as I am, and just give me a thundering salary.
He then relates that the “ captain “ afterwards drew a salary which was equal to that of the President of the United States. Of course, Mr. Carnegie draws a very great distinction between large undertakings and those fields of labour in which the working master and the men are brought into close contact. There, he says,very many other considerations arise, and -
The strict terms of the contract are drowned in the deep well of mutual regard. Labour is never fullypaid by wages alone.
The difficulty which the Carnegie Company encountered in endeavouring to take in the workmen as shareholders was the risk which the worker had to undertake owing to the possible failure of the Company. Mr. Carnegie instances many Companies which have failed. He says -
More than once in the history of the Carnegie Company, leading partners have been so doubtful of its future as to beg their more optimistic senior to buy large amounts of their interests at actual cost.
To overcome the difficulty a sliding scale was introduced. Mr. Carnegie continues -
Labour is worthy of its hire, and is now paid this in coin, the law in any land going so Far as to make its claim a first charge upon the employers’ property - a great advance. But the irresistible pressure which has forced change after change in the relations of capital and labour, still operates unchecked - a sure indication that the final stage has not yet been reached. We have evidence of this in another important advance, the sliding scale, which provides not a fixed wage, but in some degree a settlement by results. Increased demands bring higher prices and profits to the employer, which in turn bring workmen higher returns, so that as the employer’s profits rise and fall, so do the workman’s rewards.
If I were asked what was the best service the Carnegie Company was ever able to render the wage-earner, next to giving steady employment at wages equal to any. I should answer, by persuading them to adopt the sliding scale with a minimum insuring living wages, at its works, at Braddock, fourteen years ago, which has given perfect satisfaction from that day to this, and is still in force, and has produced undisturbed harmony between capital and labour. The sliding scale is u great advance over the lixed wage, not only by securing the workman a prompter and more certain share of the profits, but also because’ it raises his status.
He then refers to the United Steel Company as having advanced so far a’s to make every one of their workmen a shareholder. Indeed they contemplate going still further by giving the workmen a preference so as to guard against the possible failure of the company involving the workmen in a loss of wages. Mr. Carnegie says -
Every workman a shareholder would end most of the conflicts which sadden us, between capital and labour. To effect this, every corporation could well afford to distribute part of its shares among the Saving workmen, and in case of disaster give preference to repayment of principal as a first charge.
In connexion with that matter there is another writer, who in an article in one of the North American reviews entitled “ Shall we continue our Iron and Steel Tariff”? makes the following observations : -
Assuming, then, that tariff reductions are desirable, but can only be brought about by concessions of wage-earners, the remedy is to make the men partners in the business. Skilled and selfrespecting workmen who desire to get ahead should be encouraged to become stock-holders by the corporations they serve.
If we attempt legislation for bad methods we ought also to consider how it may possibly affect good methods. It appears to me that a Bill of this sort may have a very bad effect in that way. Is it likely that a man would contemplate taking into partnership his foreman or his workmen if the Court has power to regulate how such partnerships shall be arranged 1 In that way this Bill might have a very prejudicial effect.
– We could grant exemptions in such cases.
– It may be possible to do that. In my own little way I have tried the system of dividing profits, and found it most successful.For eight years I had a manager who grew wheat for me upon that system. He was managing my property, and it was he who made the suggestion.
When he did so, I said “ I suppose I shall have to increase your salary V His reply was “No, if I cannot make money for you I do not desire to make it for myself !” The result was that I agreed to give him 10 percent, upon the net profits up to £1 per acre and 20 per cent, of the net profits above that amount.
– That principle is very widespread throughout the States.
– That is so. The difficulty is that the system cannot be extended to the casual hand. According to one authority -
No motive power of production beyond that necessary to stay hunger except the desire of property is at present known. Profit sharing appeals in this way to both master and man by the employer receiving better service and the employe better returns.
I view with considerable apprehension the operation of a Bill of this character. When we speak of conciliation having failed in America and England, it almost seems that big operations outgrow that method of settling industrial disputes, and .that something broader and of more general application is necessary. The honorable and learned member for Parkes the other night made a remark which was perfectly true, but which was not well received by the House. He declared that there was no difference between the principle underlying the action of a man selling his labour and that of a shopman selling a hat. That is absolutely true, and it accords with what Carlyle calls the cash nexus ; in other words, making cash payment the sole connecting principle. But the personal element is not brought in, as it always is in the case of people who are closely associated. It introduces a different factor altogether. The difficulty, of course, is to introduce the personal element into these large concerns. But, if we cannot have the old feeling of mutual regard, we can at least secure mutual interest by resorting to methods of this kind, which are growing in the United States of America. What I fear in connexion with a proposal of this kind is not so much the actual effect of the decisions which may be given by the Court, but the general effect which the passing of legislation of this kind will have. We are constantly going farther and farther in this direction. It is said that the voluntary’ system of conciliation is not quite successful. I hope that it has, and indeed I think that it has, been very successful, but because it is contended that it has not been wholly successful, it is suggested that we must, perforce, put on another turn of the legislative screw. As our working classes increase - and although we are losing some of them at present, I trust that the drift will soon be stopped - our industrial undertakings must keep pace, or there will be no work for the increasing number of workmen to perform. We are all familiar with the old story : Two employers seeking one workman - high wages ; two workmen seeking one employer - low wages. I am afraid that this class of legislation is tending to discourage the expansion and multiplication of industrial undertakings, and it is only by the extension of these undertakings that there is likely to be any prospect of an increase of wages. I notice that Mr. Carnegie asserts that ninety-five out of every 100 men engaged in small business enterprises fail. That is an extraordinary and startling statement to make. Mr. Carnegie admits that it is ; but, if it be true, it serves to show that it is not all skittles and beer for the employer. I am also inclined to believe that, as the result of the operation of this measure, a good many people will think life too short to warprant them in enduring all the worries which business must in these circumstances entail upon them. Many of them will withdraw from business, and be content with smaller profits derived from other sources. I rercently heard of some men who had been engaged in dairy farming in Gippsland, but who, having carried out all the work of the farm without outside assistance, have done so well that they can now afford to take life easily. They have accordingly given up dairy farming, and are now putting cattle on their land for fattening purposes. They may not make large profits in this way, but they will be able to lead a more comfortable life than before. If they could secure men who would render faithful service to them they would probably continue dairy farming, which they have found so profitable, and, being now able to afford it, give employment to a certain number of hands. My experience, of agricultural and pastoral work teaches me that it is the casual hand who invariably causes difficulty and trouble. The men who are engaged working on the farm all the year round never originate any disputes. With the introduction of new machinery, the casual hand will practically be done away with. The reaper and binder, the complete harvester, and other improvements in agricultural machinery, make it possible now to carry on farming operations with the few hands who may be employed on a farm all the year round, and, therefore, I do not apprehend that this measure -will give rise to much trouble so far as casual hands are concerned. I am satisfied, however, that if they could be secured for ordinary rates of pay - and in my district they receive £1 and £1 10s. per week during the harvesting season - our operations would be materially extended. The shearing difficul tj’ is also being overcome, and I do not apprehend much trouble from the working of the Act in that direction. In all probability, in a very short time, the pastoralists will rid themselves of the disputes which so frequently occur between the employers and the shearers, by entering into contracts for the shearing of their sheep, although I do not suggest that that course will be a good thing for the men or for the people residing in the pastoral districts ; it is one of the outcomes of labour troubles. I have here a statement taken from the Age, which I know to be correct. In a report from Mount Gambier it sets forth that -
The managers and owners of the Mount Schanck and Moorak stations, the two largest in the south-east, have let their shearing to machine shearers in Melbourne, and much concern is felt by local hand shearers, as the two stations engage about 150 men in all for over a month at shearing time in November. The action in securing machine shearers was due to expected trouble with the men regarding rates of pay.
– We might get over the difficulty, so far as the local hand shearers are concerned, by proposing that the men should not be allowed to go from one place to another. That would be quite in accord with the ideas of some honorable members.
– I agree with . the honorable member for Wentworth that the creation of this Court will encourage many men to enter upon trade disputes. The honorable member for Bourke said that people might be induced to adopt the more moderate course of conciliation, because of the fear of compulsion.
– “Fear” and “conciliation.” That is a peculiar grouping of words.
– Quite so. I have known honorable members of this House to strongly resent the mere, semblance of a threat, and I fail to understand why they should imagine that people outside are of a different clay. “ Conciliation “ may be a very good word to conjure with in its ordinary sense, but if it is meant to be simply the velvet covering of an iron hand, it will have an effect very different from what some people imagine.
– It means in.’ this Bill “ No compulsion : but you must.”
– Yes. The honorable member for Bourke also expressed the desirethat we should have perpetual peace. I amglad to hear that cry raised by anyone whoadvocates the cause of labour. Many people seem to think it necessary to agitate ! agi-tate ! agitate ! And if this Bill would have the effect of putting an end to undue agitation some good might come of it. I wish- to refer to a quotation which was made by tha honorable member for Melbourne Ports, from an article iu the World’s Work, in relation to certain injunctions granted in the UnitedStates of America. The honorable member failed to quote a few words at the end of a paragraph which appear to me to-give a different complexion to the matter. He spoke’ of certain injunctions, which I think were the outcome of the Taff Vale decision, and other matters, but the few words which he failed to quote bear very strongly upon the question of compulsory conciliation. The para, graph sets forth that -
An even more drastic writ of injunction hos= been issued in Waterbury, Connecticut, where a> difficulty arose between the trolley company and its employes, which led to serious rioting, and finally the murder of a policeman. The trolley company obtained a writ of injunction enjoiningthe strikers, and attaching the funds in the handsof the unions. This injunction is more sweeping: than any that has hitherto ever been granted in any labour dispute, and is, according to many good, authorities, of doubtful validity.
But these are the words to which I desire ta draw particular attention -
Leaving aside for the moment the question of . its legality, it is generally admitted that its effect will be to make the men more determined than ever to win their strike, and probably will lead to other and more serious conflicts with tha police.
I believe that will probably be the effect of compulsory legislation of this kind. What would be the position assuming that the; whole of these workers refused to obey the injunction ? If they were arrested by the police, it would settle one difficulty in the, form of war of folded arms. ,-
– That is the doctrine of passive resistance.
– Yes. It would supply the one thing wanting, because if a man attempts to carry out the doctrine of “folded arms” he finds that there are material considerations which come into play. If he posseses good digestive organs he cannot afford to long resort to the system, but if arrested he must be fed and his position is strengthened.
– Any law would break down if it were resisted by a considerable section of the people. There is the Education Act of England, for example.
– I have always favoured voluntary conciliation and arbitration, but I am afraid that the compulsory system will lead to strife, which may ultimately be beyond the reach of any law that we might make. I have no desire to take up the time of the House further than to say that I feel I am quite justified in the attitude which I take up in regard to this matter by reason of the action of leading members in the more serene atmosphere of the Convention. It appears to me that we are hurrying on very rapidly with legislation of this kind. We heard much of mandates from the country in relation to various questions, but so far as I am aware we have received no mandate in regard to this matter. The honorable member for Wannon, who is engaged in public business elsewhere and is unable to be in the chamber to-day, drew my attention before he left the House to certain passages in the report of the Convention which took place in Melbourne, and which I shall quote in justification of the attitude which I propose to adopt. I contend that we should not hurry into legislation of this kind. This is a question rather for State legislation than for Commonwealth enactment. I have heard the Attorney-General more than once use the. illustration of the coat and the shirt in reference to the State and the Commonwealth forms of government, and, possibly, if a man’s shirt were made of hair, he would prefer to wear it on the outside, even at some inconvenience to his neighbour. It would be well, in my opinion, however, if the States were left to their troubles at home, until we have gained more experience in this direction. In looking over the Contention debates on the question of conciliation and arbitration, I find that the power given to the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate in this direction is placed very low down in the section defining our powers. It does not seem, to me that any member of the Convention anticipated at the time that there would be any haste in bringing this principle into force.
– Did they not?
– The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne proposed the provision in the Constitution enabling this Parliament to make laws relating to conciliation and arbitration, and I find at page 180 of the report of the proceedings of the Convention at Melbourne, the following statement made by him : -
I do not ask the Committee to say that arbi tration shall be compulsory, or even that any steps shall be taken to secure the settlement of industrial disputes. I simply wish to give the Federal Parliament power to legislate on the subject.
I do not think it was contemplated then that conciliation and arbitration should be compulsory.
– It wasleft optional.
– That is so. Senator Symon, at page 193 of the record -of the Melbourne Convention debates, is reported as follows : -
My view is that it is purely a matter of domestic concern ; that if we hand it over to the Federal authority we shall be introducing greater difficulties than we can ever hope to cure, and that it will be an invitation to mischievous men to increase and extend the area of a strike in order to bring about civil war.
Senator O’Connor, in his calm, judicial manner, said -
I do not say for a moment that I would interfere with the right of any State to place this matter upon ‘a compulsory footing. Any State may make that experiment if it thinks fit. Personally I am infavourof sucha provision, but Isaythaton this short ground I oppose the introduction of this power into the hands of the Federal authority ; because I feel convinced that compulsory power would be sought for and would be obtained.
He went on to say -
It is a dangerous argument to use in favour of this power being inserted in the Constitution that it consists merely of “ idle words.”
Again, on page 202, he is reported to have said -
If it is put in the Constitution it will be exercised -
That statement shows that the members of the Convention did not seek its exercise at any time in the near future - and if it is exercised it will be exercised in the direction of enforcing, by the powers of the Federal authority, interference with contracts in a State, the carrying out of which must depend originally upon an agreement, and, in the second place, upon conditions which are undoubtedly local.
To these objections the Attorney-General replied that -
In all these delicate and intricate social questions there will have to be an abundant series of cautiously -conducted experiments before we can hope to arrive at a final settlement.
Where are those cautiously-conducted experiments? The honorable and learned member went on to say -
At the same time this is a power, like many, others, not likely to be exercised by the Federal Parliament For ninny years to ‘come. The Federal Parliament will be impressed by the importance of the experiments that are proceeding in the States. It will watch them carefully, and will deal with the subject as soon as it feels that it is competent to do so. It will be under no compulsion to accept any. solution of these difficulties until it feels itself competent to do so.
Yet the honorable and learned member is introducing this measure before any of those conditions have been fulfilled. We have been told that there is similar legislation in New South Wales and in New Zealand. Some one referred the other night to certain leaders which have appeared in the Times. I have read those articles. Indeed, I regard this matter as of so much importance that for some years past I have been in the habit of reading everything bearing upon it which has come in my way. I cannot find, however, that the New Zealand legislation has been a success. The people there seem to be continually asking for more law.
– It is the goodness of the Almighty and the seasons which the country has had that account for the prosperity of New Zealand.
-After the soothing utterances of the Attorney-General in the Convention, the Bight Honorable Mr. G. H. Reid said that he admitted that compulsory arbitration might be useful in the States. But he added -
A proposal that the Federal Parliament shall provide for the compulsory investigation of trade disputes passes my comprehension. It seems to me that any such proposal would put a premium upon one side, enlarging the area of mischief.
The division resulted in the declaration of twenty-two ayes and nineteen noes, among those who voted against the proposal being three members of the Government - the Prime Minister, the PostmasterGeneral, and the Vice-President of the Executive Council - and the Bight Honorable Mr. G. H. Reid and present AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales. To my astonishment, in view of the remarks which he made the other evening, I find that sitting alongside the right honorable member for South Australia was his late colleague, the present Minister for Home Affairs. I shall not take up the time of the House any longer in discussing this matter. I feel, however, that in voting against the measure, I shall be following gentlemen who, in the. calm atmosphere of the Convention, were opposed to legislation of this kind being undertaken by the Commonwealth. To my mind, we are now in a somewhat different atmosphere - I do not know whether I am justified in calling it tainted. But I decline to rush into dangers which we have been warned to avoid by members of the present Government and other leading members in the calmer arena of the Convention, and if a division is called for I shall vote against the Bill. I hope that, if it is read a second time, a more moderate tone will prevail in Committee, and that amendments will be made which will free the minds of a good many people from the fears which they are now compelled to entertain.
– This question is one of the greatest importance of all that have come before the House. To my mind, the beneficial results which will flow from the proposed legislation cannot be overestimated. Honorable members, in discussing the Bill, have wisely, I think, confined their remarks to its general principles, and have, so far as possible, refrained from dealing with its provisions in detail. If they had done otherwise, the debate would have been robbed to a great extent of its educational value, which in my opinion is very great. Having listened attentively to the speeches of honorable members, I have been struck with the weakness of the opposition to the measure. It seems to be based entirely upon misapprehension and fancy. Those who have spoken against the Bill appear to be afraid to be guided by the teachings of recent history, or to give up a weapon which they have found of use in the past. The conservative method of dealing with a great industrial problem such as this is al ways out of place. Honorable members need a wider vision. They should take that ampler view which we hoped when we entered upon our national life would always be taken of matters coming before this Parliament. From what I have read, the legislation which has been called experimental has amply demonstrated the soundness of the principles upon which it was framed. I should not have been surprised if the opposition to this measure had come from those who are being asked to lay down the only weapon which they have possessed in the past, and which they have often wielded with great effect. But in this matter, as in many others, the labour organizations of Australia have shown themselves to be in advance of the labour organizations of the old world. They have been able to get rid of the old traditions and conservative trammels. The representatives of the workers in this Commonwealth are entitled to all the credit that can be given to them for the courage which they have shown, not only in the expression of their opinions, but by their trustfulness in placing their destinies in the hands of this Parliament. We have been told that the labour unions of Great Britain object to compulsory arbitration, and I believe that that is a fact. But they are not on anything like the same plane as those of Australia. I do not wish to decry the workers of the old country, but, speaking from a personal knowledge of them, I say that the Australian workers occupy a higher plane as regards education, and especially as regards political education. The history of labour struggles has been alluded to more than once in this debate, and therefore, it is not my intention to go very deeply into the matter. I ask honorable members, however, to recollect the inevitable results of great industrial struggles. Such struggles have always resulted in personal loss and suffering, and nearly always in injury to the State. The loss and suffering is not confined to those immediately concerned in the dispute. It has always gone beyond them, and has perhaps been greatest among those who were not in any way responsible for either the beginning or the continuance of the struggle. I have a lively recollection of the great Scottish railway strike, which occurred when I was a student in the old country. I had then an opportunity to learn .something of the condition of the helpless ones during a great struggle between two large contending parties. The men who were out on strike paraded the streets of Edinburgh, and their condition - which is never anything like so good as that of the railway employes of Australia - appealed so strongly to the charitablyminded of that city that arrangements were made for supplying them with at least one meal a day. But there were hundreds of helpless women and children who, on the average, did not get one meal each day during the strike. The things which I saw and the facts I heard then drew my attention to the “ evil of these pro:ceedings, and the recollection of them has never faded from my memory. In the pursuit of my studies I had to visit parts of the city where these people resided, and, as I do not wish to dwell upon what must always remain in my mind as a very painful memory will only say that the scenes which I then witnessed were sufficient to create the resolution within me that I would take any and every means to prevent such an occurrence wherever I might be placed, and especially in the country which I am proud to call my native land. I saw there the inevitable results which are not always apparent to the public, and which are, I regret to say, in some cases almost completely unknown to those who are, at any rate, in some degree responsible for them. I allude to the employers and the capitalists, whose surroundings are totally different from those whose condition I have attempted to describe. As has been pointed out, the women and children are not aggressive. If they take any action in regard to strikes, it is of a protective character, and intended rather to resist enroachment than to secure concessions. To these silent and undoubtedly suffering ones, the House owes a very evident duty. The Joss to the State occasioned by strikes must be enormous. I admit that it is not always ascertainable. We cannot gather information by the means at our disposal which would enable us to accurately gauge the consequences of these great industrial struggles. They are not always immediately felt, but as surely as the sun rises so surely must the State as a whole feel them. In these days, when the very existence of a State depends not upon the soldiers upon its borders, nor upon the ships sailing its seas, but upon its power of production, any interference with the course of trade and commerce is a matter of the most vital consequence. We have been told frequently during this debate that if the Bill becomes law capital will become affrighted - capital which is always on these occasions described as a very shy bird - and that we shall be driving away that element which is so necessary to complete an effective production. I would, however, ask those who advance that argument whether stability and fixity of labour conditions will not rather offer an incentive to the investment of capital in our midst; 1 We have been told that every action on the part of the worker to improve his condition, however minute it may be, will increase the alarm of capital. But if we erect a Court which will do away with the possibility of the stoppage of production, we shall invite capitalists to invest their money amongst us rather than scare them from our midst. Under the provisions of the Bill there could be no stoppage of the wheels of industry. They would revolve as regularly, production would continue as if no dispute had occurred, and except for the few men who might be required to attend the Court as witnesses, there would be no cessation oi work. There would be no loss to the State, no loss to the employer, because his output would not be interfered with, and no loss to the workers, whose wages would beregularly paid. Under these circumstances we must admit that just as it is good for the worker to have a Court of this description, so should it prove advantageous to the capitalist to have an opportunity’ to settle all disputes without the machinery and buildings, in which most of his capital is sunk lying idle. I should like to read a short extract from a speech made by the Honorable M. A. Knapp, Chairman of the Inter-State Commission of the United States. He says -
Shall we continue” to enforce with precept and penalty the rule of competition, whose cruel creed is: every man for himself, or shall the effort and industry of the world be hereafter conducted on a more humane and fraternal principle? Can we raise the wide realm of industry from strife to friendship, from competition to cooperation. from the warring instincts of the savage state to the larger and nobler needs of associated life?
There is a question which we may endeavour to address to ourselves. In my opinion we have here placed at our disposal the very means for carrying out in its entirety the desire expressed in that sentence. I remember that some years ago a proposal was made to fix a minimum wage for the men employed in the Government workshops of Victoria. A very determined effort was made to stem what was afterwards proved to be an irresistible tide. I. had just previously entered the State Parliament, and I was carried away by the eloquence of those who were pleading on behalf of the familiar, never-to-be-forgotten, and I am afraid never-to-be-lost, old and slow worker. He was paraded before us then, and I suppose he will be trotted out again. I must admit that the eloquent words uttered by those who were pleading his cause - I have since found out that they were rather pleading their own cause - so impressed me, that I refrained from supporting the proposition. Very little inquiry, however, was sufficient to show me, when the resolution was passed a few months later, that there was nothing in the fear that was then expressed - a fear which I feel sure will rank with those now being entertained with regard to the present movement. It was years before the Parliament of Victoria could be prevailed upon to pass a resolution insuring to the State employes a minimum living wage. Almost directly after this Parliament assembled a motion of a similar character was proposed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and I had the pleasure of seconding it. It was carried without any opposition, and it has remained in force to this day. We have not heard that any of the old or slow workers in the Commonwealth service have suffered in consequence.
– On the contrary, many of those Who were almost starving before are now receiving a living wage.
-Undoubtedly. With regard to the minimum wage, I should like to read a sentence or two from Buskin’s Unto this Last. At page 18 he says -
The first question is, I say, how far it may be possible to fix the rate of wages irrespectively of the demand for labour.
There is a familiar sound about that, because we have been repeatedly told that the rate of wage is simply a question of supply and demand. Buskin goes on to say -
Perhaps one of the most curious facts in the history of human error is the denial by the common political economist of the possibility of thus regulating wages ; while, for all the important, and much of the unimportant, labour on the earth, wages are already so regulated. We do not sell our Prime Ministership by Dutch auction, nor, on the decease of a bishop, whatever may be the general advantages of simony, do we (yet i otter his diocese to the clergyman who will take the episcopacy at the lowest contract. We (with exquisite sagacity of political economy !) do indeed sell commissions ; but not openly, generalships ; sick, we do not inquire for a physician, who takes less than a guinea ;. litigious, we never think of reducing six-and-eightpence to four-and-sixpence ; caught in a shower, we do not canvass, the cabman, to find one who values his driving at less than sixpence per mile …. but, so , far as the practical and immediate administration of the matter is regarded, the best labour always has been, and is, as all labour ought to be, paid by an invariable standard. ‘ What ! “ the reader perhaps answers amazedly , “ PV good and bad workmen alike ? “ Certainly. The difference between one prelate’s sermons and his successor’s - or between one physician’s opinion and another’s t- is far greater, as respects the qualities of mind involved, and fatmore important in result to you personally, than the difference between good and bad laying of bricks, though that is greater than most people suppose. Yet you pay with equal fee, contentedly, the good and bad workman upon your soul, and the good and bad workmen upon your body ; much more may you pay, contentedly, with equal fees, the good and bad workmen upon your house. “Nay, but I choose my physician, and (?) my clergyman, thus indicating my sense of the quality of their work.” By all means, also, choose your bricklayer ; that is the proper reward of the good workman to be “chosen.” °
I think that places the whole matter in a nutshell. There is no desire on the part of the framers of the Bill or of this Parliament to compel the employer to employ the good and the bad workman alike. The employer is to have his choice. The question I asked was whether it was possible for us to apply any remedy. Mr. Pember Beeves, in his introduction to Henry Demarest Lloyd’s work A Country without Striken, says -
Those political laboratories, the colonies of Great Britain, shrink from no experiment the object of which is to regulate and improve the condition of the worker.
I sincerely trust that that definition of Australia will be amply verified by the action taken with regard to this measure. The right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr Kingston, said that Australia was content to make her own precedents. I think that that is a very proper attitude to adopt when we are following the line which has already been laid down by some of these States and by New Zealand, which are leading the rest of the world with regard to industrial legislation. The right honorable and learned member truly said that Australia “does not fear to embark on a course of legislation for which there is no precedent.” With regard to what has been done in the past I may point out that we have in Victoria the Factories and Shops Act, which was designed - and it has amply fulfilled its object - to relieve the workers from the consequences of sweating. lt was not designed to deal with disputes, but simply to fix working hours and rates of pay in certain cases. The Wages Boards had no power to deal with any dispute that might occur between employer and employe. The object of this Bill is not only to stamp out sweating - because undoubtedly that will be one of its first results - but also to improve the condition of the worker. It is intended to give him an opportunity to appeal to a judicial tribunal - a tribunal composed, not of members of one class of the community, but of a representative of his own class and a representative of the employers, together with a Justice of the High Court. It is designed to prevent industrial conflicts. Under the Factories Act of Victoria, we had no opportunity to deal with any impending disputes, and the benefits conferred by that statute have therefore been of a very limited character. The opportunities for arbitration have not been very many in this State, but nevertheless the benefits which flow from arbitration have been felt very strongly in connexion with one industry - I allude to the mining industry. In that industry there were a large number of men who were engaged in very laborious work under conditions which were not’ at all conducive either to their health or their well-being. From time to time disputes arose between them and their employers. In the district of Creswick thousands of miners were employed under conditions such as I have already described. Those conditions were improved year by year without the great majority of the men being cognizant of the fact. The honorable member for Darling was the intermediary. He went between the men who were suffering and the employers who had no desire to inflict suffering upon them, but who were ignorant of the conditions under which they laboured. The result was not only an improvement in the condition of the miners of the district I have named, but the “ common rule “ was observed, and a better state of things now obtains throughout the whole of Victoria. The improvement is very largely due to the conciliatory methods of this the first Arbitration “ Bill “ of Victoria. Of course we have only to look to New Zealand to witness the results of legislation such as that which is now proposed. There a similar Act has been in operation for some years, and I have carefully studied the writings of those who have reported both in favour of it and against it. The weight of evidence is very strongly in its favour. I admit that the Conciliation Boards have not given the same satisfaction as have the Courts of Arbitration. At first not very much advantage was taken of the Arbitration Courts in New Zealand, but as they became better understood they were more availed of. The result has been that not only do the employes desire to see the principles of the Act maintained, but the employers are now registering and coming under its operation as rapidly as possible. They freely recognise the benefit to be derived from so doing. We have recently had the advantage of a very valuable report by a Royal Commission in Victoria, which was appointed to investigate the law relating to factories and shops. That document, compiled with magnificent industry and impartial accuracy, contains facts in regard to the working of the Act in New Zealand, obtained on the spot, which are of the utmost value to us in considering this question. But, before dealing with those facts, I desire to point out that the Commission consisted of the Honorable A. R. Outtrini, M.L.A., Chairman ; the Honorable George Godfrey, M.L.C., the Honorable Jos. Sternberg, M.L.C., the Honorable J. F. Levien, Messrs. G. H. Bennett, F. H. Bromley, H. S. W. Lawson, E. Wilkins, and J. W. Mason, members of the Legislative Assembly. It will be seen, therefore, that the Commission was composed of members of both branches of the Legislature, as well as of representatives of the town and the country. Concerning the Conciliation Boards,they say -
Their shortcomings are unquestionably due in an even greater degree to the weakness of their powers than to the errors made in some districts in selecting trade representatives and chairmen.
The report goes on to say -
On the other hand, wo are assured that it was the employers who pressed for the right of reference of disputes direct to the Court, and who, now that it is granted by the Amending Act of 1901, avail themselves of it, as well as of the power of appeal from the Boards, more readily than the workers’ unions.
That disposes at once of the argument that we require Conciliation Boards only. That is a sufficient commentary upon the statements which have been made from time to time that we should endeavour to establish Conciliation Boards rather than an Arbitration Court to deal with industrial disputes. I have in my hand the report of a Royal Commission “which was appointed in New SouthWales to inquire into the working of the conciliation and arbitration laws of New Zealand. In the general summary of that report Judge Backhouse says -
Although I have gone fully into matters in which the Act appears to be defective, I wish it to be clearly and unmistakably known that the result of my observations is that the Act has so far, notwithstanding its faults, been productive of good. The Act has prevented strikes of any magnitude, and has, on the whole, brought about a better relation between employers and employes than would exist if there were no Act.
After such evidence, which every one will admit is not tainted in the slightest degree, we should hear no more about such an Act breeding discontent amongst employers and employes. Demarest Lloyd in his book, A Country Witliout Strikes, gives a couple of quotations which I think are worth repeating. One from the Otat/o Daily Times, a leadiug journal, which is strongly opposed o the Seddon Government, is as follows : -
It cannot even be plausibly urged that the effect of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act has so far been injurious or damaging.
The Wellington Times says - .
The result has been a great spread of industrial peace.
Mr James Mills of the Union Steam ship Company, speaking before the Dunedin Chamber of Commerce in 1897, is reported to have said -
Personally he thought that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was a very beneficial one. Probably the measure was capable of improvement, and it could be improved from time to time, but he was sure that compulsory arbitration was the true solution of all labour difficulties.
Demarest Lloyd, who went through New Zealand for the special purpose of inquiring into the working of the Act, says -
I heard of no case in which an employer had been crippled or an industry hurt by an award.
Giving a concrete instance of the beneficial working of the Act, he says -
The employers of the sewing women in , Auckland gave notice, shortly after the new law came into effect, of a reduction of wages. Under the old regime of the woman who sits in unwomanly rags, with fingers weary and worn, these sewing women would have no recourse but to retreat from their crust and tea and garret, to a weaker cup of tea, and a scantier crust and a dingier garret. But, under the compulsory arbitration law, the “ Old Song of the Shirt “ is a “ Lost Chord “ in New Zealand. In this case the women’s organization called the manufacturers into court. They had to show their books and to make good every statement as to *thai** profits and the wages their women were earning. While this debate was proceeding in the roomy Arbitration Court, the sewing women sat secure in their factories, lighted and ventilated, and safeguarded by the sanitary and other care of the State, and their work went on. The sewing woman did not have to strike ; she could not be looked out ; her work could not be taken from her ; her wages could not be cut down except with the approval of the court. This is the new “ Song of the Shirt.”
The same writer, on page 15 of his work, also says -
One of the most successful employers and capitalists in the country described to me the situation of the emplo3’er under compulsory arbitration as one of “perfect comfort.” “ Under the old system,” he said, “our differences with our men had to be settled by a brutal fight. Now two committees meet before the court, and meanwhile the industry goes on as if nothing were the matter.”
J udge Backhouse, in the report to which I have previously referred, declares that he saw none of the bitterness which is engendered by a strike, even on a small scale. The Factories Commission report stated their final conclusion as follows : -
Despite certain defects in detail which have been revealed by experience, the New Zealand Conciliation and Arbitration Act remains to-day the fairest, the most complete, and the most useful labour law on the statute-books of the Australasian States. And it is, on the whole, a wise social law. on the one hand protecting the fair-minded employer from the dishonest competition of the sweater, who keeps down the cost of production by paying miserably low wages, and on the otherthe toiling thousands, to whom a rise in wages of a fewshillings a week when an industry can fairly bear it often means the difference between gripidg poverty and comparative comfort. But beyond that, it has the great merit of providing effective meaus for preserving unimpaired the industrial relationship of employer and worker, in forbidding the miserable warfare which displays itself in strikes and lock-outs, and the stern reprisals which too often accompany them, while ample opportunity is given for conciliatory methods of settling disputes before compulsion is invoked. The law may fairly be said to have passed successfully through its period of probation. Its main principles have stood the test of time, and while em plovers- and workers alike keenly criticise each other’s actions in connexion with its operation in certain industrial centres, in no part of the colony which we visited did we hear any general desire expressed for its repeal. Many suggestions were, indeed, made for minor alterations, but they were put forward with the view of improving the general administration of the Act, while preserving its main principles in their integrity.
We have frequently been told during the debate that as the result of the passage of this measure, the number of disputes will be increased, and that a number of trivial cases will be brought before the Court ; but [ those who advance that argument appear to forget that the Court will have power to inflict a fine upon any body of men - whether employers or employés - who bring trivial matters before it.
– It will also have power to put aside such cases without wasting time in hearing them.
– Therefore, the argument that trivial disputes which have not been heard of before - and there seems to be a desire on the part of some honorable members that they should be heard of no more - will be brought before the Court has no force. With regard to the operation of the Act in New South Wales, I desire to quote only one statement. The Ballarat Courier of 19th May contained the following paragraph: -
The New South Wales Attorney -General, speaking of the operation of the Arbitration Act in that State, remarked that during theyear just closed sixteen industrial disputes had been adjudicated on by the Court ; seven applications to make the decision a common rule in thestate had been determined ; forty minor matters ban been disposed of, and the Court had transacted other business, while the President sat in over 100 chamber matters.
This is the important statement to which I would draw special attention -
The parties to the sixteen disputes determined comprised more than 250 employers and more than 13,000 employes. The parties to industrial agreements comprised 500 employers and 0,000 employés, and in regard to the common rule 7,000 other employés had been brought within the terms of agreements. Altogether conditions had been settled affecting 36,000 employes and 1,000 employers.
That is evidence that this measure will afford opportunities to bring into accord bodies of men who up to the present time have had no chance of communicating with each other. The honorable and learned member for Parkes, in dealing with this point, seemed to have in his mind the lines -
How oft the sight of means to do ill deeds
Makes ill deeds done.
He apparently desired us to believe that if this measure became law we should have attempts on the part of the workers - he did not say the employers would rush the Court - to take up the time of the Court by submitting cases which might have been settled without any trouble. I would remind the honorable and learned member, and those who think with him, that no strike of any magnitude has been caused by a single act. Men have been caused to go out on strike by the commission of a number of acts by an employer, and it has probably been the commission of a number of acts on the part of employes that has led the employers to lock them out. The aggregation of a number of these acts might have been avoided altogether if we had had an opportunity to deal with them as they can be dealt with in a measure such as this. We should prevent the particles from accumulating. The momentum which a large moving mass acquires depends very largely upon its weight, and if we can prevent the weight from accruing we shall probably avoid the resulting avalanche and all the suffering and loss which are the inevitable consequences of a great industrial struggle. The number of cases which come before the Court prove, to my mind, the efficiency of the law, but some honorable members appear to think that it would be well if none were forthcoming. The only way in which to secure that end would be to resort to a complete system of cooperation as between employer and employe. When that system is adopted - and the honorable member for Grampians desires to see it - when we have the employer and the employe mutually benefiting from the operations of both, we shall require no Arbitration Courts. But as long as Capital and Labour are divided, as they are under our present conditions - as long as Capital determines to get all it can out of Labour, regardless of the consequences to Labour - we shall require such Courts for the protection of Labour.
– Will the honorable member join me in seeking to pass a law to rid the whole world of evil?
– I am not going to embark on such a Quixotic quest, but, during the consideration of this measure by the House, the honorable and learned member for Werriwa will find ample opportunity to destroy some of the greatest evils that are inflicted upon humanity. He will have an opportunity to show his compassion for the great masses of the people who under legislation such as this will have a chance of deriving some benefit from the labour in which they are engaged.
– I wish that I could agree with the honorable member.
– As to the innumerable disputes which it is said will arise, it seems to me that prevention is better than cure. If we deal with them in time we shall prevent the occurrence of any strike. We have no desire to institute a Court of Arbitration in order that it may be continually employed in dealing with great matters. We prefer that it shall deal with the smaller questions, for we realize that in that event great disputes will never occur. It is like removing dust from the mainspring of a watch. When we do that we relieve the cause of friction, and all the parts are able to work harmoniously together. Honorable members of the Opposition say that thefact that a number of small disputes have engaged the attention of someof the Arbitration Courts proves that legislation of this kind is a failure, and that we do not require an Arbitration Court to deal with such questions. But I should be surprised if the honorable and learned member for Parkes were to assert that, because a great number of people in Tasmania are applying to be vaccinated, owing to the outbreak of small-pox in that State, the. Health Act should be abolished, inasmuch as the fact that so many people are seeking to be vaccinated proves it to be of no service. Organization is necessary on both sides for the proper working of this measure. The fruits which we hope to derive from it will never be obtained without that organization. Professor Marshall says in Economics of Industry -
I believe in organized labour, and I have for thirty years. I believe in it, because …. 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.
There is not the slightest doubt that organization tends to prevent disputes. When a dispute does arise it is possible to arrive at a more speedy settlement if one has an organization to deal with, instead of large bodies of men who are under no control. There is one matter which I feel bound to mention. During my study of this subject I have come across a statement showing that, during the operation of the Act in New Zealand the number of unionists has decreased instead of increased, whilst the number of unions has increased. The cause of this is a matter for speculation. In March, 1900, there were 26,067 unionists out of 48,938 operatives. In December, 1901 - I was unable to obtain a comparison for the corresponding period of the year - there were 23,769 unionistsout of 57,098 operatives. During this period of twentyone months the number of operatives increased by over 8,000, while the number of unionists decreased to the extent of nearly 3,000. Many new unions were also formed. Their creation, I am told, was due largely to the representations of the employers. This shows that the employers are discovering the beneficial results which follow from union amongst their workmen. They are able to deal with the executives of the unions, and thus to secure a more rapid and satisfactory settlement of their difficulties. It is clear from these facts that the members of the unions, in view of the character of the Arbitration Act in force in that colony, rely more trustfully upon the Court than they would upon any ordinary means adopted for the settlement of disputes. It is said that it would be unfair for us to pass legislation which would affect the whole of the States. I do not propose to deal with the question of the “prevention” of disputes, nor with the terms of the section of the Constitution which enables us to deal with this subject. That is a question to be considered perhaps in Committee, and the legal members of the House will probably be able to deal more satisfactorily with it. It seems to me, however, that we must have one uniform law operating throughout the Commonwealth. One reason why we should take action at the present time is that there is a desire on the part of a very large number of people residing in States in which there is no local Conciliation and Arbitration Act that such a measure should be placed on their statute-book. It is well that they should not have States Acts dealing with these matters. It is far more desirable that the Federal authority, which knows no party, so far as States are concerned, should deal solely with this important subject. The application of the common rule has also to be considered. It would be manifestly unfair if an award were made, for example, in the boot trade in Victoria which would not apply in New South Wales. We have only to look at recent events in order to discover how such a system would operate. Tn this State we had a Factories Act which settled the rates of wages, the hours of employment, the number of improvers and apprentices to be employed in factories, and other matters in connexion with the boot trade. In New South Wales they had no such provision, but when the Arbitration Act was passed in that State, an application was made to bring the trade under the law. The consequence was that wages in two branches of the trade were brought up to the” level of the Victorian rates. We have often been told that New South Wales manufacturers under free-trade were paying very much better wages than were being paid in Victoria under protection, and that, in the boot trade, Victorian employes were being sweated to an extraordinary degree. The fact which I have just mentioned shows that in two branches of the trade the advantage was on the side of the Victorian operatives. The result of uniformity has been that the boot importation from Victoria into New South Wales, although in 1901 valued at only £33,925, rose during the first nine months of 1902 to £64,666, so that it as nearly as possible doubled in that period. Of course, the abolition of the border duties, and the operation of the uniform Tariff, was responsible for some part of that increase, but those facts do not account for the whole of it. This is proved by the fact that the number of operatives in the boot factories of New South Wales has been reduced because the work is being done in Victoria. It is being done here because legislation has assisted our industries until they have arrived at such a condition that they are able to more than withstand the competition of similar industries in the neighbouring States. I have been told that in one Ne,w South Wales factory alone the number of hands has been reduced, since the alteration of wages, from 450 to 80.
– In one factory the reduction of hands has been due to the adoption ‘ of improved machinery. The employer told me two years ago that that would happen.
– Last week, when the Bill was under consideration by the Chamber of Commerce here, a Sydney boot manufacturer stated that he intended to close his factory because of the operation of the New South Wales Arbitration Act. His action is -not due to the introduction of machinery.
– He was a candidate for one of the assessorships, and lost it.
– I should like now to refer briefly to one or two of the details of the Bill. Clause 3 provides that employes of the Commonwealth, or of a State, or of a ‘ public authority constituted under the law of the Commonwealth, or of a State, shall. be exempted from its provisions. The Attorney-General stated that a public body, constituted under a State, means such a body as the Railway Commissioners, or the Harbor Commissioners. I should like to know whether the term, applies to such a body as the Metropolitan Board of Works t
– Hear, hear.
– Would it apply to the Melbourne Tramway Company ?
– That is not an authority constituted under the authority of the Government of a State. It. is a municipal body.
– Would the measure apply to corporation labourers?
– It might.
– The Attorney-General has given as his reason for exempting public servants of the Commonwealth the fact that they are employes of the whole people, and that they have Parliament as a Court of Arbitration to remedy their grievances. Furthermore, he told us that no request to be placed under the operation of the Bill had come from them.
– They would all be dismissed if they sent in any such request.
– The Attorney-General then referred to the possibility of a State Parliament having its Appropriation Act made subject to an award of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, and he asked if such an interference would be tolerated. He also drew a very telling picture of a bailiff of the Court being placed in charge of the Chief Secretary’s Department in Melbourne. I was very glad to hear him say, however, that the clause was inserted, not because it was needed, but to invite from honorable members an expression of opinion on the subject. I am very pleased to be able to give my opinion upon it. So far as the employes of the Commonwealth are concerned, I think it is necessary that they should be placed within the scope of the Bill, because the Commonwealth should begin by setting its own house in order. It should not ask private individuals to do what it is not prepared to do itself. In New Zealand, although State employes were not at first included within the scope of the Act, they were subsequently brought under its provisions.
– In New South Wales the employes of the State come under the Act.
– In New Zealand they were brought under the Act at the request of the employers, who passed a resolution, inviting the Government to include the railway servants. The Governments of the States of Australia are different from Governments in any other part of the world. They do a greatdeal that in other places is left to private enterprise, and enter into competition with private employers to an extent which is not known elsewhere. In Victoria, for instance, not only does the State maintain and work the railways, but it also constructs them, the contractor having been done away with for some years past. But under the Bill as it stands, the navvies employed by the Construction Branch of the Railway Department are outside the scope of the Bill. Some of us hope to see State enterprise extended. We hope, for instance, that the Government will see the advisability of establishing an arms and ammunition factory under the provisions of the Defence Bill. Surely men employed in such a dangerous occupation as the making of ammunition should . not be exempted from the provisions of the Bill merely because they are employed by the Government? The honorable member for Maranoa, too, advocated the establishment of aclothing factory, where, I suppose, the wool from the sheep’s backs will beconverted into cloth, and made up into uniforms for the members of our Defence Forces, the postal officials, and other public servants. Why should not the States, when competing with private enterprise, be compelled to conform to the conditions which are imposed upon private individuals ? . I think that we are bound to place ourselves under exactly the same conditions as we impose upon private employers. We are told that Parliament is a sufficient Court for Government employes. But Parliament is under the duress of party Government. Here parties are continually striving bo maintain or gain positions, and to keep or win place and power. Surely such a state of things as that means that attention cannot be paid to the details with which a Court would be concerned. It is notorious that a great deal of the unrest and dissatisfaction in Great Britain is caused by the fact that affairs of Empire prevent the House of Commons from undertaking the social and domestic legislation which is so necessary at the present day. We shall probably find ourselves in the same condition. It will be impossible for us to give attention to the righting of abuses which may arise in connexion with the employment of persons under the authority of ‘ the Government. Therefore I think that the argument of the Attorney-General as to the competency of Parliament to deal with these matters is of no value. Experience shows that the clerical class does not care to come under the operation of these Acts. They refused to.do so in New Zealand and also in Victoria. I believe that originally the Government intended to bring them under the law, but they petitioned against it, and were exempted.
– Does not the argument in favour of this legislation make for the establishment of State workshops in every line of industry.
– Not necessarily. I am referring only to the enterprises which are now carried out by the States or by the Commonwealth. I am not saying anything in regard to the future undertakings of these Governments. Some of the. Commonwealth public servants have a right to congratulate themselves that they are no longer under the control of the States authorities ; and I think that the absence of any desire on their part to come under the provisions of the Bill is due to contentment with their present conditions. I recognise that the States Governments could refuse to submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the proposed Court. There are, however, very few cases in which they refuse to appoint nominal defendants who can be sued in the civil courts. If there is no loss of dignity in appearing before the civil courts, surely there would be no loss of dignity in appearing before an Arbitration Court.
– But how can an award of the Court be enforced?
– How can any award of a civil court be enforced ? As a matter, of fact the ‘State, for very honesty’s sake, always pays up when a verdict is given against it, and we need have no fear that if a State submitted to the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court it would refuse to obey the award. The AttorneyGeneral painted this Court in glowing colours. It seems to be a Supreme Court, an Appeal Court, a High Court, a House of Lords, and a Privy Council all rolled into one. At any rate it would be a very great
Court, and there will be no loss of dignity to a State in appearing before it. The Attorney-General in concluding his masterly exposition upon the subject said -
We have trusted for centuries to the various tribunals erected for the administration of civil justice, and I hope we shall be able from this day forth to trust to these Courts for industrial disputes.
As he holds that opinion, he should be the first to declare that a State Government would suffer no degradation in appearing before the Court. At least those who are employed under, and whose hours of labour, rates of wages and conditions of employment are determined by, intermediate authorities constituted under the law of a State of the Commonwealth should come within the scope of the Bill. I consider that the constitution of the tribunal is a vital matter. There should be no partisans upon it. On some of the Conciliation Boards of New Zealand the sorry spectacle has been presented of men announcing themselves as partisans. They altogether failed to realize the positions they occupied. They were not there as advocates, but as judges, and they should have absolutely divested themselves of all party bias or feeling, and have given a verdict in accordance with the evidence submitted. I am glad to say that the Arbitration Court in New Zealand is held in the highest esteem. The only serious statement made regarding it took the form of a charge against Mr. Justice Cooper, which was, at the request of the Premier, Mr. Seddon, fully and completely withdrawn. The Court possesses the fullest and most complete confidence of both parties in New Zealand. I think that a time limit should be fixed between the hearing of a case and the award. One of the objections urged in New Zealand is that cases are allowed to drag on for a considerable time, and that even after the hearing considerable delay occurs before the award is given. Happily there is no cessation of work, but it is desirable that all feeling of unrest should be avoided, and that the award should be given as soon as possible. I think that the evidence is all against “the proposal that lawyers should be permitted to appear before the Arbitration Court. In New South Wales the practice is said to lead to enormous delay, and to involve great expense. The proceedings of the Court should be conducted at a .minimum of expense. It should be open to the poorest in the land, and no barrier to a hearing should be erected. We should endeavour to place the Court at the disposal of every one, and we cannot hope to achieve success if we do anything that would lead to unnecessary expense. Finally, I desire to say that, in my opinion, the Bill represents a part of the true protective policy which has been laid down by this Parliament. I believe that it is the natural corollary of our legislation with regard to customs and excise duties. We have enacted that the manufacturer shall be protected against the cruel and cutting competition of foreign rivals, who are working under more favorable conditions to them, and it is now desired to go a step further and extend to those who are employed by the manufacturer some of the benefits which we have given to their employer. We are seeking to protect the workman against the competition of the sweated labour of other parts of the world. In this twentieth century we have almost annihilated space. The distance between the old world and Australia is now a mere matter of hours, and we can readily understand that the labour conditions in the older countries will have a most potent effect upon our production. We have legislated in the direction of excluding undesirable persons, and securing a white Australia, but we cannot hope to maintain a perfect white man’s country unless we protect our people from the competition of those who are working under sweating conditions. We must start by making our own doorstep clean, and we must not allow sweating to continue in the land. We know that we have already a number of undesirables iri certain parts of the Commonwealth, and a great deal of effort will be required on the part of those chiefly interested to make this element loosen the fangs which it has so deeply embedded in our heritage. By passing the measure now before iis, we shall open a new era of prosperity, not only for the employer, but for the employed. I trust that we shall be able in the near future to turn our attention to the third branch of the true protective policy, by insuring that the consumer shall obtain from the manufacturer, and the worker who are protected by us, a pure and unadulterated article at the lowest possible cost. The consumer will derive far more pleasure from the use of our products, when he is able to realize that that which he enjoys has not been secured at the expense of the bone and sinew of the country, and that to the extent to which he uses such products he is helping on that era of prosperity and industrial peace which we believe is now being opened to Australia.
I recognise that a question of such transcendent importance and far-reaching interest as this demands consideration at the hands of every honorable member, and that, even though the attendance of honorable members may be small at times, that fact does not indicate that they are not only profoundly interested in the Bill, but determined to see it through, and at the same time to do full and ample justice to every important proposal it contains. On the one hand, I see no reason for delaying the continuation of the debate, as suggested in the petition presented to-day by the honorable member for Wentworth, whilst, on the other hand, there is certainly no desire to rush it forward with unseemly haste. The petitioners may rest assured that the Bill will receive -the most earnest and careful consideration - clause by clause, line by line, and word by word - and I sincerely hope that there will be no ground whatever for the complaint that every one has not had an opportunity of being heard, or that abundant time has not been given to thoroughly understand the principles and leading provisions of the Bill. Although every honorable member may not regard it as necessary to address the House on this question, I am not disposed to give a silent vote, ‘because I think my constituents have a right to be acquainted with my views, and because silence may in some cases be misconstrued I am proud to have an opportunity to. express my opinions, although I am afraid that I shall not be able to add much to the enlightened expositions of the principles of the Bill with which the House has been favoured by previous speakers. I have listened to some of the speeches which -have been delivered, with something like despairing admiration, and I am sure that they will hereafter be regarded as monuments of the oratorical ability of honorable members, and as evidence of great industry and profound study on their part. The honorable member for Wentworth summarized the arguments against the Bill as comprehensively and fairly as possible, and I think the House’ was rather glad to hear the case stated from the side represented by the honorable member. The . House is anxious that views such as those referred to by the petitioners shall be fairly placed before us, so that we may have another opportunity to consider them. The views presented by the honorable member for Wentworth, as well as those put forward by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, will receive - as indeed most of them have already received - careful consideration. 1 was struck by one assertion made by the honorable member for Wentworth. He drew a picture of some capitalist who might have £100,000 or £200,000 to invest in Australia. He represented that capitalist as asking himself why he should come to Australia to invest his money in industrial enterprises and expose himself to the liability to be called before some industrial tribunal, in order that the amount of wages to be paid by him, and the hours of labour of his employes, might be fixed. The honorable member thoughtthat the position was so unreasonable that the capitalist would pause before he launched himself upon such a rash enterprise. I would point out, in reply, that this Bill is intended rather to give strength, stability and continuity to the enterprises of capital. On the very face of it, it imposes a new command upon labour by saying to it, “ Hereafter labourers shall not be allowed to strike.” On the other hand, .it says to the capitalist, “ You shall not sweat your employes or bring about a lock-out.” I submit that when a prohibition of that kind is ‘placed upon the statute-book of the country its tendency is rather to augment financial stability than to shake confidence in the investment of capital. It i3 not a one-sided arrangement ‘ which permits an employer to be dragged into Court without any corresponding obligation being imposed on the workmen. It is#a scheme of a co-relative character in which obligations are imposed upon both sides, so that on the one hand the worker is secured against unfair treatment, and on the other the employer is secured against the workmen unjustly deserting his service. I should like to point out that even in countries where there is no such legislation very powerful agencies are sometimes at work which compel capitalists as .well as workmen to submit their disputes to arbitration. Need I’ remind honorable members of the extraordinary spectacle which was recently witnessed in the United. States in connexion with the great anthracite coal strike. In that case about 150,000 men were on strike for upwards of four or five months, during which time capital to the extent of many millions of dollars was wasted, many lives were sacrificed, many homes ruined, and the prospects of many a man were blasted for ever. What occurred in that great, free Republic where there is no compulsory Arbitration Act operative? Things reached an extraordinary pass -a state almost amounting to civil war - the public safety was endangered to such an extent that the president of his own initiative intervened. He sent for Mr. Pierpont Morgan, the millionaire, and informed him that he would hold him responsible for the strike, and that unless it was terminated by reference to arbitration, the armies of the United States would take possession of the field of struggle. What was the consequence? As the result of his intervention, Mr. Morgan communicated with the coal-owners as well as with the workmen and compelled them to submit their case to arbitration - a course which they had refused to adopt for months previously. In that case arbitration was forced upon the employers as well as upon the workmen, even in the absence of an arbitration law. Ear better is it for us to so legislate that the tribunal which it is proposed to establish can intervene in a legal manner for the prevention of occurrences of such a serious character. But for the intervention of the President in the manner I have described, it is impossible to predict what might have happened, because practically a state of civil war prevailed. Both parties were at arm’s length, and neither evinced the slightest disposition to terminate hostilities, But the strong arm of the Executive intervened, and the parties to the. dispute yielded to the intervention of that authority, as typifying law and order, when they declined to yield to the pressure of unorganized public opinion. So much for the 4.200,000 which, according to the honorable member for Wentworth, a London capitalist, would be afraid to invest in Australia lest he should be called upon . to appear before a legally-constituted Arbitration Court, empowered to deal with any question as between an employer and emPloyé. The honorable member has practically repeated. the contention which was the basis of the speech of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. The chief objection of the latter to this Bill is that it will take the management of business out of the hands of the men who own and conduct it. The honorable and learned member for Parkes declared that during the whole of English history the tendency has been in the direction of individual liberty as against restraints imposed by the State.
– The mail who says that has been asleep for forty years.
– Certainly he has not studied the lessons of English history, to say nothing of the history of other countries. I need scarcely remind the honorable and learned member for Parkes that the Parliament of England has at various stages of its history asserted its right to intervene in questions of capital as against labour. Need I refer to the celebrated Act known as the Statute of Labourers, which was passed in the reign of Edward III. That is the first Wages Act, perhaps, which is recorded in history. Under it the Parliament actually regulated the price of labour. That Act was’ in force in England up till the statutory law revision of 1S26, and it is an interesting example of how the Parliament of England, of which we are an offshoot, has asserted its right to decide even the question of the price of labour. Then again, there is the Statute of Apprentices which was passed in the reign of Elizabeth, and which recognises the customs of certain craft guilds well known to the common law of England, which were the prototypes and’ predecessors of modern trades unions. Under those guilds the masters were allowed to organize and associate themselves for the purpose of promoting their interests, and to make arrangements for the hours of labour and the number of apprentices to be employed. It is a curious fact that this apprentice question, of which we hear so much in modern times, has been the subject of controversy in England for hundreds of years. One would think from the way in which it is sometimes referred to in the press by well-meaning employers that it was an unparalleled act of tyranny for Parliament to interfere with the regulation of wages and the limitation of apprentices. Yet we find similar Acts right through the whole course of English history. Regarding these craft guilds, I believe that a great deal of the cleverness of English workmen of modern times may be traced back to them. They were the nuclei for the spreading of craft ability in connexion with all kinds of trades. At any rate, Parliament, in the reign of Elizabeth, actually legalized the rules of these craft guilds with reference to apprentices. That law remained operative for many years. It is interesting also to be reminded that we may read of such a thing as the mimimum wage in English history. . The first Act relating to this subject. was passed in the reign of Queen Anne, It provided that the mimimum wage of curates should be £20 a year.
– They have never got beyond that sum. ‘
– Yes they have, because in the reign of George III. the mimimum was raised to £80 a year. To some honorable members these matters may be considered ancient history, but they are of peculiar interest in these times when we hear the honorable and learned member for Parkes declaring that this Bill represents a retrogade movement. In some of our old English laws there was a curious provision to the effect that whilst the masters and members of the guild could combine to keep up the price of their materials, and to limit the number df - their apprentices, the workmen could not do so. They were not permitted to combine for the purpose of increasing their own wages. Adam Smith mentions that as a curious instance of antiquated law. He says - lt is not, however, difficult to see which of the two parties must, upon all ordinary occasions, have the advantage in the dispute, and force the other into a compliance with their terms. The masters, being fewer in number, can combine much more easily ; and the law besides authorizes, or at least does not prohibit, their combination, while it prohibits those of the workmen. We have no Acts of Parliament against combining to lower the price of work ; but many against combining to raise it. In all such disputes the masters could hold out much longer than the men.
These are the views which are put forward by the father of political economy, the author of the Wealth qf Nations. at page 50, McCulloch’s edition. But it is gratifying to know that that inequality in the law of England, to which Adam Smith referred, was removed from the Statute-book by the Act of 5, George IV. Chapter 59, 1824. By that Act the law prohibiting workmen from combining for lawful purposes - including the purpose of obtaining a rise in wages - was repealed. That marks the beginning of this new era about which we have heard so much. This Bill certainly does not do so. It may be traced back through English history to the repeal of that Act.
– It really started in the time of Moses.
– “Thou shalt not steal” would probably cover it.
– Probably. The Trades Union Act of 1871, and the Act of 1876 legalized combinations for trade purposes in England. This was the beginning of the modern legalization of trades unions. By the Employers’ Liability Act very valuable concessions were made to the workmen of England in the shape of provision for compensation in case of accident. But the Employers’ Liability and Workmen’s Compensation Act of 1897 was certainly an innovation of a most advanced, progressive, and democratic kind. I wonder what would be said if a proposal of that kind were made in Australia ? We should have petitions, no doubt, of tho type and character which we have had to-day from the merchants of New South Wales, protesting against it as an unheard of innovation. We should be told, no doubt, that it would drive capital out of the country, and ruin the future prospects of the Commonwealth. What do we find in conservative England in relation to this measure which was brought in by Mr. Chamberlain, a member of a Conservative Government. It introduced an entirely new principle as to the liability of a master to his workmen. It was to the effect that the workmen engaged in certain trades and occupations should have the right to obtain compensation from their employers, whether there was negligence or not, in the case of accident resulting in injury. Under the old law, a workman could not obtain compensation from his master unless there was negligence or some breach of a statutory duty. But now, under this Act, the master is liable to compensate his servant to the extent, I believe, of three years’ pay, in case the servant suffers any injury whilst engaged in his employment. It is not necessary for the man to prove negligence, or any’ breach of duty against the master. He is not barred from right of action even if he is guilty of contributory negligence.
– But if negligence is proved against him he loses his claim.
– According to the English decisions the employer is to insure the safety of his workman from accident in the course of his work. I mention this matter as showing the drift of English ‘ legislation, which, although not on the lines of this Bill, is at any rate in the same direction. “The whole trend of it is to ameliorate the condition of the workman, to place him on a footing of security, and to give him the protection of law. How does this principle square with the principle enunciated by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and the honorable member for Wentworth, that we should practically leave master and workman to settle their own affairs, and that it is not the duty of the State to intervene? Such a contention is contradictory to the whole course of English legislation, and also to the whole course of Australian legislation. I shall refer now to’ some Acts passed in the Victorian Parliament, which I believe led the way in legislation of a liberal character for the relief of workmen from some of the serious disabilities and dangers and harassing conditions under which they formerly laboured. The Regulation of Mines Acts is an enduring legislative monument to the liberalism, not only of the State of Victoria, but of its Parliament. So far back as 1S73, the Regulation of Mines Bill was brought in by the Honorable Angus Mackay, a predecessor of mine in the representation of Sandhurst in the State Parliament. He was a member of a Government which was supposed to contain a number of Conservatives, but that measure was one of the most liberal pieces of legislation, and showed such a sympathy for the working miner that it deserves to be mentioned in a debate of this character. I ought also to mention the names of those who years ago worked on the same lines - who laid the foundations for legislation such as this, and - rendered it possible. In the Regulation of Mines Act, the Parliament of Victoria prohibited the employment of women and boys in mines, and regulated the working hours of miners. That Act has been adopted by most of the State Legislatures of Australia.
– It has been adopted in New South Wales.
– Yes. How does that Act square with the principle that the State ought not to interf erein matters between master and workman ? It has worked well, and although there may have been a few murmurs at that time from timorous employers and mine-owners, who regarded it as an experiment, still, in the light of twenty years’ experience, I venture to say with the greatest confidence that no mineowner in Australia would be heard to-day to take any seriousobjection to its provisions. It is not only operative in the interests of workmen, but in the interests of mineowners, because the owner gets more work out of the min.er when the miner works under conditionsof safety, conditions of cleanliness, and conditions conducive to health - such as good ventilation and security of surroundings, as well as moderate hours. I have been informed by mine managers and owners that a miner working under favorable conditions such as these is able to do more work, and consequently he earns his wages in a much more satisfactory manner than if he were labouring under the old system of ten hours a day, and under conditions of insecurity. I regard the terms of that Act as the germ from which many of the leading provisions of this Bill have been evolved in the gradual process of development. I do not regard this Bill as being purely an experiment, which we should contemplate with doubt or misgivings. It is founded on principles which have already stood the test of time. We are not in an experimental stage ; we have rather reached the stage of universal approbation. The honorable member for Laanecoorie read a passage from the report of the Victorian Factories Commission - an impartial tribunal which included several members of the Legislative Council of Victoria, whose disposition would certainly not be in the direction of democratic legislation unless it were recommended by experience and had stood the test of time. We have it stated, in the passage read by the honorable member, that the principle of the New Zealand Act has stood the test of time, and is entitled to approbation. This is, therefore, no new era in our social legislation. I regard it merely as a development and an expansion - a new application of principles previously in force. The Victorian Factories Act itself, which instituted wages boards, was a piece of legislation of a pioneer character.
– Surely not.
– It was, undoubtedly.
– It was in this State, but it was still a very old principle.
– The Act was considered at the time to be experimental ; but it has stood the test of experience, and it has in many respects worked very well indeed. The Commission, referring to the Victorian Factories Act, pronounced an opinion which has not been quoted by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, and I shall take this opportunity to mention it. In referring to the Wages Board system, it said -
It must be remembered that the Wages Boards were at first constituted to deal with industries in which sweating was rampant, such as the clothing, underclothing, and shirt-making trades. They unquestionably did good work in these, and the fact will always stand to the credit of the system.
They said, further -
We have already pointed out the defects of their constitution and work, and there is no necessity to go over the ground again. Their powers in many respects ore weak in comparison with conciliation or arbitration tribunals, and consisting, as they do, of direct representatives of employers and employed in each trade, the prospects of methods of conciliation in a dispute are almost hopeless. . . . While, however, all this has to be admitted, we recognise that there cannot, in the circumstances of the time, be any return to the old conditions of freedom of contract in factory labour.
I think that passage embodies the views of the majority of the Legislatures of the Australian States. It embodies the views of the most advanced thinkers in Australia, as well as the most advanced thinkers on social and industrial legislation throughout the world. It is supported by the following passage : -
The well-being of thousands of wage-earners, with thousands of others dependent on them, rests on a humane, well-conceived, and properlyadministered law for the protection of this kind of labour. It is clearly our duty, therefore, not to destroy the good work already done in the cause of hrmanity and justice, but to so modify and correct the defects which experience has shown to exist that the best principles of our factory legislation may be maintained and extended, although in a different form.
This is eloquent testimony. The report of this Commission ought to be a little better known than it is. The services rendered to the cause by the Commission is most valuable ; but thereport, unfortunately, is buried in the vaults of the State Parliament House. It wouldbe well if the gentlemen in New South Wales, who got up the petition which was presented to the House to-day by the honorable member for Wentworth, were supplied with copies of this Bill, and also of that report. It would certainly be an eye-opener to them.
– Who signed that report ?
– It is signed by A. R. Outtrim (President), Geo. Godfrey, Jos. Sternberg, J. F. Levien, Geo. H. Bennett, F. H. Bromley, Harry S. W. Lawson, Edgar Wilkins, and John W. Mason. It would be as well if the petitioners who signed the documents presented to-day would study that report. If they did, they would find there an answer to the following allegations which they make : -
Your petitioners respectfully urge that you will see fit to delay the further consideration 0 this measure until time has been given to those so greatly interested to become acquainted with its many provisions, which we fear suggest serious innovations in the conduct of all classes of manufacture and trade, and which are calculated by their interfering effect upon private enterprise to seriously jeopardize the commercial and industrial future of the Commonwealth.
In the report to which I have referred, they would read the conclusions arrived at by a disinterested tribunal appointed by the Victorian Parliament. That tribunal had a free hand, and abundance of time for its investigations, which extended over twelve months. The Commissioners visited New Zealand, and most of the Australian States in which there was cognate legislation in force, and their verdict is that the legislation upon which this Bill is founded is not of an experimental or doubtful character, but has been found to work fairly well, and to give satisfaction in both New Zealand and New South Wales.
– The verdict of history is quite a different one:
– I prefer to take the report of a disinterested commission rather than the ex pa te statements of either masters or men. We are entitled to regard this report as a document of a judicial character. In referring to New Zealand the Commissioners say -
The New Zealand system seeks by substantial penalties to prevent strikes and lock-outs. It protects from tyrannical -discharge or dismissal the worker who lawfully strives to maintain or expand the responsibilities and privileges of his class. But, whilst forbidding unjust dismissal or. the one hand, it likewise forbids the imprope stoppage of work by the employe in the event o’ an industrial dispute.
It is not one-sided. It protects both masters and men. It says to the workman - “Thou shalt not strike,” and to the employer, “Thou shalt not sweat thy workman.” These two new commands have been placed upon the statue-books of at least three of the States, and experience is emphatic and eloquent to -the effect that this legislation has been successful in the prevention of strikes and the mitigation of some of the well-known evils of unrestricted competition. It has been said by the petitioners, and by those who hold similar views, that we should allow unrestricted competition ; that we should permit industry to take its .own course. The honorable and learned member for Parkes quoted the well-known dictum of Mr. Herbert Spencer, known as the law of equal freedom. Mr. Herbert Spencer says - at page 56 of his well-known work, Social Statics Abridged and Revised -
Every man should be free to do that which he will, provided he does not interfere with or infringe the equal freedom of any other man.
How does that law work out ? In my old university days it was drilled into us, and I remember the reverence with which I used to regard it. But in course of time, when Iliad gained more experience, I, like others, came to examine and to analyze it, and I found that, if rigidly applied, it would lead to sweating, to child labour, to involuntary servitude, and even to slavery. Because it says that a man shall be allowed to sweat and to enslave others so long as he does not interfere with the equal freedom of other men to sweat and to enslave. Mr. Herbert Spencer has bewailed the interference of the State in the regulation of -factory labour as it affects the employment of women and children and the limitation of hours. He has objected even to sanitary regulations ; to the passing of laws relating to drainage, and the prevention of contagious diseases. He would leave all to competition, and would apply to industrial matters the Darwinian law of the survival of the fittest which obtains in the lower orders of creation. According to his doctrine, human beings should be allowed to struggle and to fight with one another, and to enslave ea.ch other, without the interference of the laws of the State. He says -
Interference with the free play of the competitive principle will cause immediate or remote danger to the State.
The results of the legislation to which I have referred to-night are not shown to have caused the decadence of the industrial life of England, or decline of her national wealth nor have they shown loss of trade or repression of enterprise in Australia.
– Disaster was predicted when the first Factory Act prohibiting the employment of child labour was introduced in England.
- Mr. Spencer says that all these matters should he left to the regulation of unrestricted competition. He would have objected to the Regulation of Mines Act of 1873, and to all our factory legislation prohibiting the employment and practical enslavement of women and children.
– And to State education.
– Yes. He would leave all to the struggle for existence and the survival of the fittest. Within certain limits competition is a most healthy principle, but genuine competition is possible only where the competing parties possess a comparative equality of strength. Without equality of strength and of conditions there can be no competition - no fair competition -and the weak must be destroyed. It is said by some of our best modern thinkers, however, that the intervention of the State is justified, not only on philosophical, but even on economical grounds ; and that the State may legitimately intervene in order to equalize conditions, and to promote instead of destroying competition. Dr. “Westall W. Willoughby in his work, The Nature of the. State, page 335, states that -
Where the Darwinian law in its application to social man is too cruel or wasteful, or works in any way to destroy those who, from the broad and highest stand -point of race improvement, are best fitted to survive, to that extent the law is to be checked or regulated if possible by the organized effort of society.
Dr. Burgess, in his Political Science and Constitutional Law, says that -
It is the primary duty of the State to establish the reign of peace and law, to resist external attack and internal disorder.
During the investigations of some of the Victorian Wages Boards many of the masters stated that, personally, they had no objection to the increasing of wages in their trades if they were not sure that it would lead to the loss of their export trade, because they would be unable to compete with manufacturers in some other States where there were no Wages Boards. They said - “If the wages of our employes are increased, we shall have to shut up our factories altogether, or else remove to the other States.” I have been informed by a gentleman who presided over at least three Wages Boards that overwhelming evidence was given to that effect. The employers objected to the intervention of the State until the introduction of Inter-State legislation, or the bringing about of uniformity of wages. They said that they did not object to the raising of wages if the employers of all the States were compelled to adopt the same standard. But what is their contention now’ I invite honorable members to read the circular which has been issued by the Inter-State Conference of the Chambers of Manufactures of all the States, held in Melbourne on the 11th and 12th of this month. No resolution was passed at that Conference objecting to the principle of arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes. The attitude the Conference took was that, as these disputes involve matters appertaining wholly to State legislation, there is no need for the intervention of the Federal authority. While, a few years ago, the Victorian manufacturers were asking for an Inter-State law, and urging the State authority to postpone action until there was a Federal law and uniformity of conditions, they say now - “ Leave us to the State law. Do not let the Federal authority interfere.” That is an inconsistent attitude. They complain, too, of the possibility of being liable to two awards. They say that they may be compelled to comply with the award of the State board, and that upon the top of that award they may have to obey the award of the Commonwealth Court. I think it would be as well if they could receive an authoritative assurance that they will not, under any circumstances, be required to comply with two awards. It would be absurd if they had to do so. They could only be liable to obey the award of the Federal Court acting within the scope of its jurisdiction.
– Of course the award could be varied according to the locality, if necessary. If the Federal Court found an award existing in any State, they could allow it to stand for, say, twelve months.
– That brings me to the constitutional aspect of this question. The view I take of the constitutional power we possess is this : I believe that this Parliament has power to deal only with what may be described as Inter-State disputes, or disputes which extend over more than one State. I do not agree with the view that this Federal power may be exercised in such a way as I have seen suggested, namely, that some little dispute existing in one State might be made the basis of Federal jurisdiction, because of the mere possibility of the dispute ultimately extending beyond the State. I think that in such a case the Federal Court to be created by the Bill would not have any jurisdiction. In order to give the Court jurisdiction certain facts must be presented, showing, either that a dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State actually exists, or that there are certain facts which prove reasonably, and almost conclusively, that a strike which will extend over at least two States is imminent. The mere existence of a dispute in one State would not be sufficient to give jurisdiction. I do not think that the Court could give itself jurisdiction merely by its own finding, unless there were facts which would justify that finding. The Court would not be able to give itself jurisdiction by a fiction, by finding facts which did exist, or merely by the issue of a certificate by the Registrar. The honorable member for Wentworth complained that the certificate of the Registrar was to be primd facie evidence of a dispute within the meaning of the Act, but, as I interjected, that would be merely prima facie, it would not be conclusive. I apprehend that it would be the duty of the Court to enter upon an inquiry, and . ascertain whether there were sufficient facts to give it jurisdiction. It would never do to allow the Court to give itself jurisdiction by finding facts which would not be examinable by a higher tribunal. I believe that if the Court found as a fact that there was a dispute within the meaning of the Act, and it turned out, after further investigation, that there was no dispute within the meaning of the Act, its finding could be set aside and quashed by the High Court. All inferior Courts which exceed their jurisdiction are liable to have their finding upset by the superior Court, so that a safeguard against any overlapping or duplication of award or usurpation of jurisdiction by the Arbitration Court will be afforded by the High Court, which will have control over all the inferior Courts.
If the Court of Arbitration should exceed its constitutional power its finding would be liable to be set aside. It is contended that the mere existence of a dispute in any one State might be sufficient to give the Court jurisdiction, because the Federal authority gives the power of prevention, which might be so utilized as to give jurisdiction over a dispute iu one State, merely because it might possibly spread into another. I think that the Federal power of prevention may be. interpreted in this way. Take the case of the Seamen’s Union and the Steamship Owners’ Federation at the present time. They represent industrial organizations whose operations extend continuously over at least two or more States. That is a fair case to take, in order to illustrate my view of the power of prevention, lt is well known that the existing agreement is almost at an end, and that neither party will approach the other for the purpose of negotiating a new agreement. They are almost challenging each other. The employers are saying - “ Why do you not approach us with a suggestion?” and the seamen are refusing to make any Suggestion. At present, no dispute exists between these bodies. There is no disagreement, because, on the one hand, no proposition has been made, and, on the other, no proposition has been rejected. A dispute means a disagreement or a controversy, so that, in my opinion, there is no dispute within the meaning of the Act. Now, the power of prevention of the Arbitration Court might be exercised in this way : Either the seamen on the one hand, or the employers on the other, might say - “ We refuse to approach the other side, and we shall go into the Arbitration Court and ask it to undertake a settlement of the question of wages between us in anticipation of a dispute.” . There is no dispute and no controversy, but in order to prevent a dispute arising - in order to prevent matters reaching that stage - either party would have the power to ask the Court to cause the other side to be summoned, and to exercise its jurisdiction by settling the rate of wages, and thus preventing a dispute. That is my interpretation of the power of prevention ; namely, the power of intervention between the employer and the employed before they have arrived at the stage of disagreement. That is a solution of the constitutional problem which, I think, is preferable to the view that the Federal authority has the right to intervene simply ‘because there is an industrial dispute in one State and before it has extended to another. Whilst we are disposed to view this question. with the greatest amount of generosity, with the greatest desire to give effect to the legal power to prevent disputes, I think that we ought to confine ourselves strictly within the limits of the Constitution. No desire should be exhibited to exceed those limits. Whilst we are to some extent groping in the dark to ascertain the exact extent of our powers, we should be careful to limit the operation of this Bill to industrial disputes which unquestionably extend from one State into another. If we do that, there can be no ground for complaint, as is alleged in the circular of the Employers’ Union, that this Federal power is being utilized for the purpose of settling disputes which properly come within tbe jurisdiction of the States authorities. I do not think that this House has any desire to usurp powers which can be efficiently exercised by the States Parliaments. I believe that the Victorian Parliament is quite able to legislate for the prevention of industrial disputes within its own borders, and the same remark is applicable to the other States. Let us confine our efforts to the settlement of disputes which unquestionably are of an Inter-State character. If we do so I believe that we shall serve a very useful purpose. We shall remove complaints such as those made to the Victorian Boards before the possibility of Federal legislation upon the subjoct became apparent. At the same time, our aotion will tend towards bringing about uniform conditions as to wages and labour which are most desirable in the cose of industries that are common to two or more States. The result will be to conserve the interests of those whose capital is- invested in industrial enterprises, and also to benefit the workmen. We shall thus exercise our Federal power in a manner which will disappoint those croakers who are now indulging in prophecies of ruin and disaster. They are only repeating the old forebodings of Herbert Spencer, and of the old advocates of Darwinianism in politics, which have not- been fulfilled. On the contrary, it has been conclusively proved that wherever this liberal legislation has been adopted in Englishspeaking communities it has been fairly utilized, both by employers and employes. It has tended rather to the encouragement of enterprise, affording security to workmen and employer, tending to the amelioration of the conditions of the people, and adding an impulse to civilization generally.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Conroy) adjourned.
Mr. SPEAKER informed the House that he . had issued a writ for the election of a member to serve in the House of Representatives for the electoral district of East Sydney in the place of the Right Honorable George Houstoun Reid, resigned.
Sir EDMUND BARTON (Hunter-
Minister for External Affairs).- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In doing so, I desire to intimate to honorable members that it is the intention of the Government to proceed with tbe debate upon the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to-morrow morning. I hope during the day to be afforded an opportunity to deal with the new clauses in the Defence Bill, because it is time that measure was sent to the other Chamber.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.27 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 August 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030820_reps_1_16/>.