1st Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Report (No. 8) presented by Sir John Quick, read by the Clerk, and adopted.
Mr. BATCHELOR presented a petition, from some 2,000 electors of South Australia, praying the House to pass into lav the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
Mr. HUGHES presented two petitions from the executive officers of the “Wharf Labourers’ Union, and from the executive officers of the Coast Trades Masters’ and Officers’ Association, praying the House to amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, so that it shall apply equally to all vessels engaged in the Australian coastal trade, whether Australian, oversea, . or foreign.
Sir LANGDON BONYTHON presented a similar. petition from the executive officers of the United Trades and Labour Council of South Australia.
Mr. McDONALD presented a ‘ similar petition from, the Queensland branch of the Seamen’s Union.
Sir MALCOLM McEACHARN presented a petition from certain residents of Victoria, praying the House to pass into law the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill.
Sir JOHN QUICK presented a similar petition from about 1,500 residents of Bendigo.
Royal Assent reported.
– I have received the following message from the Governor General : -
In accordance with section 58 of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia the Governor-General returns to the House of Representatives a proposed law entitled an Act to< ‘ regulate the practice and procedure of the High Court, which has been presented to him for the King’s assent, and transmits herewith the following amendments which he recommends to be made in the said proposed law : -
Clause 2, page 2, line 19. At end of line add, “ And any proceeding to review or call in question the proceedings, decision, or jurisdiction, of any Court or Judge.
Schedule. Part 1, order XXX, rule 2, page-
Rule 3, page 41. Omit the rule.
Government House, Melbourne, 25th August,. 1903.
Ordered - That the message be taken into, consideration in Committee forthwith.
In Committee :
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to. Honorable members will resolleot that the’original jurisdiction of the High Court was considerably curtailed when the Judiciary Bill was in Committee, but there has been allowed to remain in the schedule of Rules of Court in the High Court Procedure Bill, a provision for the obtaining of a jury by parties on notice. As that; is no longer required, I ask the Committee to consent, to its omission. I also desire to add to the definition of appeal words which, were added to the same definition in the -Judiciary Act and will make it read - “Appeal” includes an application for a new trial unci any proceedings to review or call in question the proceedings, decision, or jurisdiction Of any Court or Judge.
These amendments are necessary to make the provisions of the High Court Procedure Bill agree with those of’ the Judiciary Act.
Motion agreed to.
Resolution reported and adopted.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - ‘
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, Upon notice -
Whether it is in contemplation by the Government to establish an ammunition factory in connexion with the Defence Department ?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
In accordance with my promise made to the House, the confidential statements I referred to have been forwarded to Mr. McDowall for any remarks he may think fit to make, and consequently I do not consider it proper to enter further into the matter at present.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
Vouchers for £1,800 were rendered to the Federal Government some time ago, in connexion with the increased expenditure incurred by the Police Department in the collection of Federal Rolls, and a request was made for payment. Up to the present time the Federal Government has ‘done nothing in the matter.
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions are as follow :
Claims have been received from the Queensland Government in connexion with the collection by the Police of the names of the Commonwealth electors. The claims have been returned for amendment, and as soon as they are settled will be immediately paid.
Debate resumed from 25th August (vide page 4182), on motion by Mr. Deakin -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– It is not my purpose to speak at great length on this Bill, which I desire to see become law this session, if that be possible. At the same time, I think I am entitled to say a few words as one who has some experience of arbitration in industrial affairs. The opposition to the Bill is based upon the same grounds as is the opposition to all the legislation which, during the past few years, has tended to better the condition of the working classes. We have been told that this legislation will tend to frighten away capital and to cripple industry. As a matter of fact, it can be shown from the records of the whole of the States of Australasia, where legislation of this description has been in operation, that it has had an entirely opposite effect. I well recollect the arguments, used by the honorable member for Wentworth, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and others, at the time of the passing of the Coal Mines Regulation Act in the State of New South Wales. We were assured that the effect of legislation imposing restrictive conditions upon the proprietors of the coal mines would be to frighten, away capital, and to stamp out the industry. But, instead of anything of the. kind taking place, it is now admitted by those who own the coal mines that the> legislation has had a beneficial effect upon their industry ; that their output has increased ; that the capital invested has been augmented ; and that the export of cool has nearly doubled during the time of the operation of the legislation. The same considerations apply to the Bill now before the House. It is idle for honorable members to tell us that we have not tried the voluntary principle of arbitration, or that the conditions affecting capital and labour in Australia compare with the conditionsthat prevail in England. I admit that to some extent voluntary arbitration has done a good deal in England, but our experience’ of that principle in Australia has not been favorable. The artisans, the trades unions, and many of the employers have not been able to secure voluntary arbitration of an effective character. Efforts have been made to get friendly conferences in particularcases for the purpose of arranging the conditions of labour, but, largely owing to the. fact that the employers differed amongst themselves, amicable arrangements could notbe brought about. I know that that has happened, particularly in the case of the industry’ with which I have been more directly connected. It is feared, that the crucial test will come when wagesdecline, when the output in any particular industry is reduced, and when times are bad. . It is said that the men will not under those- circumstances be ready to accept an award which may be given against them. On the other hand, I can show from the experience of. the miners in the Newcastle district that, where the voluntary arbitration principle has been adopted, we practically had industrial peace while the awards were against the men. The failure came when the proprietors of the mines refused to accept the first award that was given against them. The first six awards went against the men. They accepted them, although they involved reductions which in some cases were enormous. The men honorably kepttheir part of the contract. But the first time an award was given against the employers, although it could not be shown that times were bad, or that profits were small, or that capital was scarce, they gave notice of an amendment in the agreement, which nullified the effect of the award given against them. When so many statements are being made to the effect that working men will not accept the judgment of the Court, I think it fair that the facts within our experience should be made known. I, therefore, mention this case in which the other side refused, under favorable conditions, to accept the award given against them. I have not known of any case in Australia where workng men have refused to accept an arbitration award which was against them. The unions of Australia are asking for legislation of this kind because they feel the need of it. It is also the request of those who desire to make genuine investments that this legislation should be carried to protect them against the speculators and share riggers who are so well known to the stock exchanges. I do not refer to the members of the Stock Exchange as a whole, but it is well known that there are different classes of investors. Genuine investors will be assisted by this legislation. The fact of its being upon the statute-book will riot prevent parties coming together to settle their disputes in a voluntary manner if they so desire. Those who can settle their disputes amicably will not be placed at any disadvantage by this measure. The Bill will not in any sense interfere with them, but is required to deal with those cases in which the parties cannot come to an agreement. It is designed in the interests of the general public as well as of those who are immediately concerned in disputes. T could quote figures which would bear upon the position, not only from the stand-point of those particularly interested, but from the point of view of the State, to show that when employers of labour engage in severe competition among themselves, and cut prices in order to sell more of their commodity, they receive less profit than they would do upon the smaller output at the higher prices ruling before the competition. When the commodity offered to the public takes the form of minerals it cannot be replaced, and every person in the community must be affected when an increased output does not result in any added gain. Competition such as I have described has taken place to a marked degree in the coal trade on many occasions. The miners have been unjustly blamed for evincing an undue disposition to strike and for having thus brought about great injury to the coal trade ; but they have had to take a most determined stand against undue competition amongst the mine owners at times when no one was deriving any great benefit from the increased output of the mines. Their action has resulted not only in benefit to the shareholders interested in the mines, but to the general community. That has been proved all along the line. The desire of the Miners’ Federation has not been to hamper trade or to create industrial turmoil, bat to submit their case to the adjudication of a fair and impartial tribunal. In protecting their own interests they have conferred benefit upon every individual in the Commonwealth. We are told that if the Court gave an award which would render it impossible to carry on an industry with profit, those who have their money invested would withdraw it and transfer their operations to another country.
– Would any Court be likely to give such a decision 1
– I do not anticipate for one moment that any Court would be so stupid. If a capitalist discovered that his investment in an industry was not proving profitable under present conditions he would withdraw, and therefore the position would be no worse under the operation of a i measure such as that now before us. It is i not to be’ assumed that all the judgments of the Court will be adverse to those who have s their capital embarked in industrial enter- prises. The legislation which we are now s invited to pass is quite unlike that which was enacted in the early times in England. In the olden days the laws compelled men to observe certain conditions without giving them any right of protest or redress,whereas it is now proposed to create a Court to which both parties interested in any industry may appeal for justice. The whole of the conditions are different, and any individual who may be afraid to submit his case to arbitration by an impartial tribunal must have a very bad case indeed. I have never been prepared to defend any body of men who were not ready to submit their case to arbitration by an impartial tribunal. The rules of every trades union in Australia set forth that the first object to be aimed at should be the settlement of all disputes by arbitration. Therefore, the failure of voluntary conciliation or arbitration is attributable to some other cause than an indisposition on the part of the workmen to submit their cases for decision. The fact is that on many occasions one side has occupied a much stronger position than the other, and has presumed on this fact to- place obstacles in the way of arbitration. In the case of the maritime strike the trouble was extended because the proprietors combined among themselves to lock the men out,
– That is not correct.
– I say it is. I was one of the unfortunates who had five minutes’ notice to clear out of one of the coal-mines at Newcastle.
– The strike originated with the seamen, and a woman was at the bottom of the whole trouble. A stewardess on a steamer was dismissed, . and the members of the Seamen’s Union were withdrawn.
– I was not speaking of the immediate cause of the trouble, but of its extension. I contend that the strike was extended because the employers combined together with that object in view. There was an absolute lock-out so far as the coal-miners of Newcastle were concerned.
– That was after the trouble had arisen with the seamen.
– Yes ; I was referring only to the extension of the trouble. If employers can combine together in the way I have described, surely we should do well at this early stage of the Federation to pass legislation which would have the effect of preventing either party to a dispute from taking any such extreme step. It is . impossible to arrive at any accurate estimate of the loss caused by extended labour disputes. The disadvantage that would attend any unfair decision by a Court of Arbitration could not be compared with the loss sustained by the community in the case of prolonged strikes. If by any mischance a decision were given whichwould operate against employes, or which they regarded as unfair, the position of the men would not be anything like so bad as if they were thrown into a state of enforced idleness for three or four months. They would have the right to have their case reviewed if they could bring any fresh evidence to bear, or if the conditions became in any way altered. The same thing would apply in the event of an adverse decision being given in the other direction. It is not proposed that an award shall be given for a definite period without the right of review in the event of conditions becoming altered from time to time. We have been told that the industrial conditions in Australia may vary from time to time, so that an award which is given today may require to be altered within three or four months, and that otherwise it may not be profitable for a capitalist to carry on a particular industry. But if the conditions materially alter, has not the person who is aggrieved power to apply for a revision of the award 1 In such circumstances, I have no doubt that the evil complained of will be speedily remedied by an impartial Judge. I need scarcely remind honorable members that the principle of voluntary conciliation has been tried in New South Wales and found wanting. In that State an Act was passed providing for voluntary conciliation and arbitration. True, that measure was compulsory to the extent that if conciliation failed, the parties to any dispute had to refer their difference to an Arbitration Court, which, however, lacked the power to enforce an award. That statute was in operation for some time, but was so little availed of by the parties to industrial differences that Parliament refused to vote the salaries of the officers of the Cou rt, with the result that the Act lapsed. Yet we are told that no attempt has been made to settle disputes between employers and employes by the voluntary system. I should be the last to ask for legislation of a compulsory character if I thought that any good could be accomplished by the adoption of the voluntary principle. It is not because we like compulsion that we support compulsory arbitration, but because we have learned by experience that the voluntary system has signally failed whenever a decision of a very drastic nature has been given against either party to an industrial dispute. I recognise that in the absence of some provision by which both parties to disputes are compelled to obey the awards of the Arbitration Court, legislation for the suppression of industrial troubles is absolutely useless. I hold that this Bill, if it be carried, will do more than guarantee industrial peace in .Australia. It will accomplish much for the genuine investors in the industries of the Commonwealth. Many of us are aware that disputes frequently arise, not so much on account of any real difference between fair employers and their employes as on account of the action of unscrupulous employers who take advantage of circumstances to force honorable competitors into line with themselves. In this connexion I would point out that our factory and early closing legislation has accomplished much more good for the fair employer, by protecting him against unfair competition, than it has achieved for anybody else. Similarly this Bill will equalize competition to a very large extent. It will protect the individual who desires to trade upon equitable, lines. It will also show the investor in industrial enterprise whether his management is up - to - date, and it is significant that the objections to legislation of this character very often proceed from inefficient or bad management. I know, in regard to the coal-mining regulations imposed in New South Wales, that it was not the managers possessed of a modem training who opposed them ; the opposition proceeded rather from managers destitute of such a training. Further, the Bill will secure in a very large measure stability in industrial production. It provides for the changes incidental to industrial development, and will foster improved methods of production. Holding that view, I intend to support the second reading of this measure. At the same time, I frankly admit that in its present form it does not meet with my unqualified approval. I think that the cases which will come before the proposed Court will not be nearly so numerous as those which come before the States Arbitration Courts. Consequently, I believe that if we simply provide for the appointment of a President of the Court, and allow the experts to be appointed as occasion arises, we shall not only be studying the interests of economy, but shall do much to establish confidence in that tribunal. The experience of trades unionists in New South Wales is that it would be wise if the two assessors associated with the Judge in the determination of disputes were representatives chosen from either side of the industry affected.
– The honorable member does not desire permanent assessors to be appointed ?
– No. I feel that two assessors who might be possessed of the necessary maritime knowledge to judge of the merits of a seamen’s dispute could not be expected to understand the conditions attaching to coal-mining, and vice versa. On the other hand, no difficulty would be experienced if either party to an industrial dispute were allowed to nominate its representative within a certain period. Failing to do so, the Executive could be empowerd to appoint representatives on their behalf. Such a system would create greater confidence in the minds of the disputants. In Committee I shall endeavour to modify the constitution of the Court to that extent. I shall also vote in favour of a proposal to expunge from the Bill the provision which permits of counsel being retained by either side.
– At present there is no such provision in the Bill.
– The matter is very open.
– The Bill leaves it open to the parties to a dispute to engage counsel to appear for them before the Court.
– Quite so! I shall certainly be found voting to prevent the appearance of lawyers before the Court.
– They are a bad lot.
– I do not approach the consideration of the question from that stand-point. While I am prepared to vote for the exclusion of lawyers from the Court, I shall ako be prepared to support a provision to prohibit any lay lawyer or agent appearing foi- the parties.
– But suppose he were an agent connected with a union, which was a party to the dispute ?
– I am referring to agents not connected with the unions. I should prefer to have a skilled lawyer to conduct my case rather than a bush one. The simpler we make the proceedings of the Court the better it will be for both sides, and the clearer will be the awards of the Court. If we compel the direct representative of the men on the one side and the direct representative of the employer on the other to appear in Court and lay their case before the Judge and the two assessors, we shall do all that is necessary to secure satisfactory awards. I come now to the question of the examination of books in camera. Under the working of the New South Wales Act, the provisions of which are somewhat similar to this, the men find it absolutely impossible to derive any benefit from the section relating to the examination of books. If the Court empowers the representatives of the men to see the books of the other side they may examine them ; but if the Court decides against their application they have no opportunity to obtain the necessary evidence from the employers. Any matter disclosed by the books which does not bear directly on the issue should not be divulged, but I contend that both sides should have the right to have the books of the parties examined in camera.
– That is a very dangerous power.
– Our experience goes to show that such a power could be properly safeguarded. Unless the clause dealing with this question is amended we should omit it altogether, for as it stands it will be found to be absolutely valueless. I fail to see that it would confer any advantage on either party. I hope that this Bill will become law during the present session of Parliament, and that it will be the means of preventing the repetition of any of the great industrial troubles which we have experienced from time to time in these States. I trust that it will tend to bring about security of investment throughout Australia, and that under it none of the ill effects which have been anticipated by those who are opposed to this class of legislation will be experienced. During my life time I have witnessed many strikes and locks-out. I have closely followed the struggles of men in deadly earnest to obtain redress of their grievances, and, although some political economists may I assert that, in agreeing to legislation of this kind, workmen are placing a shackle round their necks, and that under it they will be liable to imprisonment for refusing to obey the awards of the Court, I have no hesitation in saying that the workmen have no cause for fear in this connexion. I am sure they would far rather apply, from time to time, to an impartial tribunal for - the adjustment of their differences with their employers than be called upon to resort to strikes. Strikes of any magnitude have invariably resulted in the imprisonment of men in respect of offences of which they were innocent. I do not say that the wrongful conviction of these men has been wilful ; it has been due to the difficulty experienced by the Court in getting at the real facts. I honestly believe that legislation of this kind will enable the party who is in the right - whether it be the employer or the employe’ - to place his case fairly before the public of Australia. The men know that by appealing to a Court of this kind they will obtain justice. They know that if their cause be right they will obtain an award in their favour, and thus secure’ a settlement of their difficulties at a much cheaper rate than would be possible by resorting to a strike, with all its attendant turmoil and, occassionally, absolute disaster.
– I consider that I am very fortunate in following the honorable member who has just resumed his seat, inasmuch as he, like myself, is directly associated with one of the largest producing interests in the Commonwealth - the mining industry. He has just informed the House that he has frequently witnessed the ill effects which follow a great strike, and from a direct knowledge of the facts I can say, without any qualification whatever, that, the evils which follow great industrial disputes are invariably most serious. It was during the great strike of 1892, to which I shall subsequently refer, more for the purpose of drawing certain inferences than to state the cause or the particular effects of the trouble, that I became perfectly satisfied that something was wrong with our social conditions, if it were impossible to evolve some scheme for the avoidance of disasters so great as those which attended that conflict. I, therefore, indicated when I was before the electors at the last Federal election that, in my opinion, it was desirable that, if possible, a reasonable, effective, and efficient scheme of conciliation’ and arbitration should ultimately be passed by this Parliament, and I have seen no reason to change my opinion. X regard unionism as a great force for the protection of the labourer, and any one who attempts to ignore it must be ignorant of “what is taking place, not only within the Commonwealth and New Zealand, but in nil other parts of the world. Therefore, although for reasons which I am about to place before the House, it is my intention to vote against the second reading of the Bill, I wish it to be clearly known that I do not assume an attitude of opposition towards unionism. My attention was first drawn to this subject shortly after the great strike at Broken Hill in 1892. T had then occasion to visit London, and when there I availed myself of an opportunity to listen to an admirable address by Lord Onslow, who had just concluded his term of office as Governor of New Zealand. He dealt with the industrial developments which had taken place in that colony. Although the conciliation and arbitration legislation with which we are now familiar had not then taken definite shape and form, there was a movement towards securing it. I was greatly struck, however, by a statement which he made about an appointment to the Upper House of the New Zealand Legislature. He stated that a Mr. Jenkinson, who, I hope, still occupies a strong and forward position in the politics of New Zealand, received the notification of his appointment to the Upper House while he was inside a boiler engaged in the work of a rivetter. That case reminded me of the old Roman who was called from his farm to attend to the affairs of the State, and who, having done his work, went back to his farm again. The instance, however, seemed to me a novel one in modern society, though, on reflection, it appeared sound and proper that men who toil honestly and serviceably to build up the interests of the community should be asked to take part in the deliberations of the country. Since that time there has been a rapid development in industrial representation in every one of the States ; and perhaps it i3 going to be still more rapid in the future. If the principle be a right one, I say God speed it. I intend to vote against the Bill, however, because I think that its introduction is premature. I know >of no pressing necessity for it. In my opinion, the Commonwealth should deal with the subject only after the States have brought their industrial legislation into line. I am prepared to support legislation to deal with specific cases, such as a seamen’s or a shearers’ dispute, the former of which, it has several times been suggested, is likely to occur, but which I trust may be averted. Before proceeding to set forth my objections to the Bill, however, I wish to make a strong protest on behalf of the employers’ organizations of Australia, the United Manufacturers, the Employers’ Federation, and the Chambers of Commerce, against the omission to give their representatives the opportunity which was given to other bodies to examine the measure before its introduction in this Chamber. I make that protest at their desire. I think that honorable members who favour this legislation will admit that if it was right to give one side an opportunity to express thenviews beforehand upon this subject, the other side should have had the same opportunity. If the bodies on whose behalf I am speaking had been given that opportunity, they might have been able to convince those framing the measure of the desirability of certain modifications which would make it more reasonable. There may be some doubt in the minds of honorable members as to what the Employers’ Federation is. Let me inform them that it represents the following very important bodies, viz. : - The Victorian Chamber of Manufacturers, the Victorian Storekeepers and Traders’ Association, the Australasian Steamship Owners’ Federation, the Master Builders’ Association, the Victorian Clothing Manufacturers’ Association, the Woolbrokers’ Association, the Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association, the Melbourne and Suburban Timber Merchants’ Association, the Master Tanners and Curriers’ Association, the Manufacturing Jewellers’ Association, the General Cartage and Carriers’ Association, the Pastoralists’ Association, . the Master Coachbuilders and Wheelwrights’ Association, the Saddlers’ Ironmongers’ Association, the Chambers of Commerce, the Maryborough Traders’ Association, the Agricultural Societies of Geelong, Shepparton, Kerang, and Charlton, and the Bendigo, Goulburn, Lancaster, Wodonga, and Doncaster Fruit Growers’ Associations. The associations in that list alone were entitled, and ought to have had some opportunity, to express an opinion upon the Bill, if it were right to send copies of it for report and advice to other organizations. These bodies represent over 5,600 members.
– The Bill was not sent to any organization whatever.
– I am sure that the right honorable member will admit that the Bill was submitted to a number of individuals, though perhaps they were not official representatives of the organizations with which they were connected.
– They were representatives of their organizations.
– They were at any rate in the position of being able to express the views of their various organizations. Otherwise the advice which they were able to give to the Minister would have been of no value. I presume that the merit of the advice sought by the Minister consisted in the fact that he knew that it was representative of large bodies of workers. The organization to which I have referred is a local one, but another large body met in Melbourne quite recently. My honorable friend, the member for Melbourne, will be able to indorse my statement when I say that that body was representative of practically every manufacturing industry in Australia. Its members felt keenly aggrieved that no steps were taken to ascertain their views on a question which so seriously affected the interests they represented. These bodies have drawn up various petitions and memorials, some of which have been presented to the House. The whole of the papers have been forwarded to me, and I hope that other honorable members have also received and read them. There is one important document which I feel it to be necessary to trouble the House by reading. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, yesterday dealt with the matter infinitely better than I could hope to do, but the point is put so concisely in this document that I may be permitted to quote it.
– What is it?
– It is a memorandum addressed to the Commonwealth Government and Legislature from the Conference of the Chambers of Manufactures representing all the States. It says -
The Constitution Act in section 51, sub-section 35, empowered the Commonwealth Parliament to make laws with respect to “conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. “ His Excellency’s speech at the opening of the Federal Parliament in May, 1901, announced that “a measure was in preparation “ for this purpose. On the 28th June, 1901, the following resolution was passed by the House of Representatives, and adopted by the Senate on the 9th August of the same year : - “ That in theopinion of this House it is expedient for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to accept, if the State Parliaments see fit to grant it, under section 41, sub-section 37, of the Constitution Act full powers to make laws for Australia as to wages and hours and conditions of labour.” In forwarding a copy of this resolution to the State Premiers, the Prime Minister wrote : - “ It is by no means the wish of the Federal Government or the House to arrogate to themselves any power in this direction ; but recognising the importance of general legislation upon the subject, in view of the Inter-State trade which is soon to be inaugurated, the Government merely brings the matter under the notice of the State Governments so that they may have official information that any action on their part taken in the friendly spirit of the resolution, will be welcomed by this Government. “
It was a very proper thing, I think, todesire to ascertain on so important a subject what the views of the several States were, because they were profoundly interested in the results. In reply, the Premier of Tasmania wrote -
It is undesirable for the Parliament of this State to surrender its rights to make its own laws upon the important subjects named in the resolution.
– He is not the Premier now. He and all his party were swept away.
– He was speaking in a representative, capacity upon this occasion. Sir John See wrote -
In my judgment, that is a question which should be left to each State.
Mr. Jenkins, the Premier of South Australia, said that his Government did nob consider it expedient to take action in the matter. The Premier of Victoria merely acknowledged the receipt of the Prime Minister’s communication, but I am quite justified in saying that his views are distinctly opposed to interference by the Commonwealth with the State right to legislate upon this subject.
– What has all that to with the Bill?
– My honorable friend will soon find out. Mr. Leake, the Premier of Western Australia, wrote in August, 1 902, to the effect that - whilst he was not favorable to the transfer from the States of the powers to deal with industrial legislation, he would not oppose such transfer if the other States agreed.
These extracts show that legislation as to wages, hours, and conditions of labour is a State matter. If, therefore, the spirit as well as the letter of the Constitution is to be respected, Commonwealth conciliation and arbitration should be so limited as to apply to only bond fide Inter-State undertakings such as snipping. There should be no attempt in applying the prevention or settlement of trade disputes to disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State to establish a tribunal, practically equipped for the regulation and control of the producing, commercial, and all other business enterprises in the various States. An important conference, representing the manufacturing interests of all the States, decided by unanimous resolution that the Bill was an unnecessary and unjustifiable invasion of the rights of each State to regulate its own industrial affairs, not contemplated by and opposed to the true spirit of the Constitution. . I wish to emphasize the protest of the bodies represented at the conference against the failure to submit to them the provisions of the Bill- whilst others, who had opposing interests, were consulted. We may very well inquire whether the legislation for the settlement of industrial disputes in New Zealand has been effective. Mr. Pember Reeves has written a very admirable work, which all honorable members would do well to study. It deals with the whole question very fully, and although biased in one direction, still forms a valuable contribution to the information obtainable upon the development of industrial conditions in New Zealand. Mr. Reeves says -
New Zealand is perhaps the most simple and complete democracy in the world. Legislation is facile.
The conditions under which experimental legislation may be applied in New Zealand are much more simple than are those which obtain in the Commonwealth, and one might fairly expect to see the most satisfactory results achieved there. I have read Mr. Reeves’ book, and also the report of Mr. Judge Backhouse, with a desire to ascertain the effect of the legislation which has been in operation in New Zealand. Judge Backhouse does not claim that the results have been completely satisfactory. On the contrary, he points out that, whilst the results have been generally favorable, the Act has not accomplished all that was expected of it. We have other testimony in the same direction. I would recommend honorable members who have the time to spare to read an article entitled “Trades Unionism and British Industries,” which appears in the Worth American Review, vol. 173 of 1901. It is written by Mr. Benjamin Taylor, who has been a contributor to various other magazines upon the same subject. No one who reads the article can fail to be satisfied that the writer, though undoubtedly biased against unionism, supports his arguments by very striking illustrations.
– Do I understand that my honorable friend is opposed to trades unions 1
– I have nothing to say against trades unions. They have been extremely beneficial to all classes of labour. I fear, however, that legislation of the character that we are now asked to enact may prove destructive of that very unionism which, at the present time, is so beneficial. This writer, I repeat, deals with the effect of the compulsory arbitration law which is operative in New Zealand, in preventing strikes. He sets out his opinions upon each section of the Act in very terse, close language. I assume that most honorable members are familiar with the provisions of the New South Wales and the New Zealand Arbitration Acts, upon which this Bill has been primarily founded, and therefore I shall content myself with reading his concluding reference to that legislation. He says -
One searches in vain for evidence of that perfect satisfaction, with the results of which one has heard from the pamphleteers and platformers As for the new regime which the laws were to institute, from which distrust and discord were to be banished, and in which there was to be a spirit of mutual confidence between employers and employed, it simply has not arrived.
Mr. Dillingham, the United States Consul at Auckland, has made his views upon the subject perfectly clear in an official report to his Government. He says -
The abuses which the labour laws were designed to check have not yet been prevented. The lives of the working classes in that colony have not been fuller and healthier.
Of course the merit of that testimony must depend in a very large measure upon the responsibility of Mr. Dillingham.
– He was speaking of the results of a law which had been in operation for only three or four years at the most.
– The honorable member for Moira has supplied me with one of the most powerful reasons why we should defer legislation of this character, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned. It has not been effectively tried. The value of Mr. Dillingham’s testimony depends upon his research and the judicial view which he takes of the whole question. Similarly the merit of the article, which appears in the magazine 1 have quoted, depends upon the desire of the writer to ascertain the truth. , 1 am inclined to think that any one who will carefully peruse that contribution will be satisfied that its author is possessed of a largo fund of knowledge of the subject.
– Did nob some articles upon the other side appear in the same magazine ?
– If so, I have not seen them. I stumbled across this article in searching for reliable statistics relating to the product of each unit of labour. At any rate, the honorable and learned member for ludi will agree that the magazine in question is one of the first in the United States, and that no incompetent person would be accepted as a contributor to its columns.
– Half-a-dozen articles have since appeared in the same magazine expressing a contrary opinion.
– Before we deal with the details ofthis Bill in Committee, I shall probably endeavour to ascertain the contents of those articles. At present, I am merely giving expression to my conscientious convictions. My sole desire is to ascertain the truth, and what is best for the people of the Commonwealth, of whom the great bulk are workers. During this debate, Mr, Seddon’s opinion has been repeatedly quoted, and I have no desire to reiterate it, although as the author of some of this legislation, he has recently been feeling its lash. He has already explained that it is being ridden to death by being utilized for purposes which were’ never contemplated by its framers. Any one who will read the correspondence-relating to the subject in the New Zealand newspapers must admit that the system is still upon its trial there. It is ridiculous for us to enact similar legislation for the Commonwealth when there is no immediate necessity for it. I have already referred to the great differences which exist between the conditions that obtain in New Zealand, and those which prevail in Australia. If there be any justification for experimental legislation of this description, certainly New Zealand offers advantages which the Commonwealth area does not possess. It is composed of one people, and contains no important foreign element. It possesses a democratic form of government, and the Premier of the present Administration is supported by a very strong but pliant majority, so that it is not difficult for him to carry legislation of this ch:iracter.. But even he is feeling the lash of that legislation, and so are the people of New Zealand.
– They are feeling the lash of prosperous times.
– The honorable member has anticipated my remark that New Zealand, has not had any experience of adverse seasons.
– It was this sort of legislation which rescued New Zealand from the effects of adverse times.
– I cannot go so far as my honorable friend, nor can I be led to believe that we ought to attribute a general condition to any single set of circumstances.. Although the view is strongly held by men whose opinion cannot be questioned, that had there been conditionsunfavorable toindustrial affairs in New Zealand - had the colony suffered from a drought similarto that which we have-experienced throughout the Commonwealth - the position would have been different, and that we should not have heard the paeans in praise of the Act, which are now forthcoming from somany quarters, I am not prepared to saythat that opinion is correct.
– If we had had an earthquake our position would not have been so favorable.
– Even if an earthquake had occurred in New Zealand, as is interjected, it would not have affected the whole of the industrial conditions of thecolony. No one can deny that. New Zealand has just passed through fiveyears of unparalleled prosperity. It is blessed with magnificent lands which are being developed vigorously and successfully, and it has also the’ most favorable climatic conditions. During this period of prosperity the Waihi mining, dispute was brought before the Court with the result that a reduction of wages was made, and the unionists threatened to strike. Honorablemembers know that when they were prevented from taking that course, they petitioned for the removal of the impartial J udge to whose decision they took exception. I am glad to say that our Judges are impartial. Nevertheless, they are only human, and they will, ‘perhaps, be biased in one way or the other.
– What ? A biased Judge ?
– The right honorable member has hardly caught the meaning which I intended to convey. I contend that whatever position a man may occupy, human nature remains the same, and that he cannot avoid the influence of environment. These men petitioned for the removal of the Judge with whose judgment they were dissatisfied, and they declared that they would strike.
– Was the Judge removed 1
– Did the men strike ?
– No. I desire only to show what was the mental condition of these men. We are told that the workers will peaceably abide by the decisions of the Court; but we find that in the case to which I have referred - and it was a most important one - the men declared, “If we do not obtain what we want we shall strike.” They felt the restraint which was put upon them by the law, and the British desire for freedom was uppermost. I know nothing of the merits of the case, but I am prepared to believe that the judgment was a proper one. I am satisfied that the. Judge, true to the best of our British traditions, gave his award in accordance with the evidence that was submitted to him. This was not an isolated case. In connexion with another dispute - and I regret that I have not been able to obtain a copy of the New Zealand newspaper containing the full details of the case - one of the workers, in the course of a speech delivered at the Trades Council of New Zealand, said -
People say we can’t strike. I say, “ Let us strike when we are ready, and if we do there will not be enough gaols in the colony to hold us.”
– Did they strike 1
– I have no desire to place any unfair construction upon the facts which I submit to the House, and while I shall be glad to be corrected if I inadvertently misstate any fact-
Air. Kingston. - The honorable member was asking for information. He desires to know whether the men went out on strike.
– I have not that information.
– It seems to have some bearing on the point.
– I have not yet had an, opportunity to answer the honorable member’s question. I am unable to say whether or not the men went out on strike. We know, however, that if they had done sothey would have committed a breach of the law, and, as the intelligent worker to whom I have referred said, they would have filled all the gaols of the colony.
– But they did not go outon strike.
– If they refrained from going out on strike it was not because they were satisfied with their position, but because they knew that to do so would be tobreak the law.
– Is it not the feeling of dissatisfaction with the judgments of our civil Courts which leads to sp many appeals t
– P am referring to thesematters only because of the fact that many honorable members have dwelt upon thehappy results which will flow from the enactment of this law. I have no desire- to detract from any merits in the measure, but although many honorable members hail it with the cry of ‘‘Peace! peace ! peace ! “ I fear that no peacewill follow. I am informed that during the last five, years 400 disputes haveoccurred in New Zealand, and surely that fact indicates a great feeling of unrest on the part of the workers in that peaceful land? It surely indicates that the Actholds out an inducement to the workers to appeal to the Court and, as the Premier of New Zealand has said, to “ ride the Act to death ? “ -I wish now to read an extract froma very excellent production issued- by theNew Zealand Minister- for Labour, and it seems to me that the Commonwealth will shortly have to commence the publication of’ literature of this kind. I refer to the Labour Laws of New Zealand, for 1902, which I believe is the latest number issued by the Department. Before dealing with the details the writer sets forth in the preface that -
The most important statute affecting the workers of New Zealand is the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act. It was first passed in 1894; amending Acts were passed in 1895, 1 896, and 1898. In 1900 fi consolidating Act became law, but had to be supplemented b3’ an amending Act in 1901. Legislative measures of this kind, without historical or economic precedent, are necessarily of a tentative and- experimental character.
Therefore we are now being asked to establish within the Commonwealth legislation which, in the limited area of New Zealand, where conditions are uniform from north to south, is still experimental.
– The people of New Zealand will not admit that the conditions are uniform from north to south.
– The Attorney-General will not deny that the conditions of New Zealand differ immensely from those of the Commonwealth. Where, for example, is there a tropical area in New Zealand?
– Rates of pay are claimed in Auckland which differ from those paid in Otago, and the Court has had to deal with that claim.
– In this official report it is stated that year after year the people of New Zealand have to go on making changes in their legislation because it is still in the experimental stage. Yet we- are asked to transplant that incomplete legislation into the Com mon wealth.
– What legislation ever is complete ?
– As it is shown conclusively and authoritatively that the New Zealand legislation is incomplete, notwithstanding the small area of the colony, why should we
Adopt such legislation at a, time when there is no pressing necessity for it ?
– What does the honorable member mean by “pressing necessity”? Does he desire to wait until there is a big strike?
– Where is the possibility of an inter-State strike arising ? I have said that if there were a request for legislation to prevent a strike of the seamen, or of the moving population of shearers, there would be some justification for it. The honorable and learned members for Parkes and Northern Melbourne have differed as to whether the farmers come under the operation of the New Zealand Act. In order to obtain certain information on the point, I had a cable sent to New Zealand, to which the following is the reply -
The Solicitor-General states the Arbitration Act covers every form of employment except Government railways. Farmers not excluded.
I believe that the honorable and learned member for Parkes based his statement upon the following passage in one of the Melbourne morning journals: -
At the suggestion of the Premier the definition of worker was altered so that it now excludes an)’ person employed in any agricultural or pastoral pursuit. This is a concession to the country members and the recently formed Farmers’ Union, an organization that, once started, spread like wildfire throughout the State, and thus early in its existence is acting as a brake on labour legislation.
I had myself believed that the farmers were excluded from the operation of the New Zealand Act, and, therefore, I think it only right to give this authoritative information to the House.
– The farmers have not made use of the Act.
– No. I hope that I am not taking up too much time ; but I am sure that honorable members will admit that the subject is a most important one. Its importance has been shown by the speeches which have already been made, and, I think, justifies honorable members in extending their remarks somewhat beyond the ordinary limit. I have tried to get a list of the New Zealand cases, and I believe it is on its way here. It will arrive too late for me to use in this debate, but if any other honorable member wishes to use it, the information it contains will gladly be placed at his disposal. The New South Wales Act came into force on the 1 0th December, 1901. I assume that it took the people of that State some time to understand its provisions, so that the next year would be well advanced before anything was done under it. There have, however, been 140 claims filed for settlement already, and I will mention the names of some of the bodies which have brought cases before the Court. Claims have been filed by the Barrier Branch of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association of Broken Hill ; the Hotel, Club, Restaurant, and Caterers’ Employes’ Union of New South Wales ; the Coal Miners’ Mutual Protective Association of the Western District in the State of New South Wales ; the Monumental Workers’ Union ; the Broom Workers’ Union of New South Wales ; the Sydney Trade Union of Painters ; the Pastrycooks’ Employes’ Union of New South Wales ; the Gas Employes’ Union ; the Shipwrights’ Provident Union of Port Jackson, a Trade Union registered under the Trade Union Act 1881 ; the Trolly, Draymen, and Carters’ Union of Sydney and Suburbs; the New South Wales Operative Bakers’ Association ; the Brickmakers’ and Brick Carters’ Employes of New South Wales; the New South Wales Branch of the
Cigar Makers’ Union of Australia ; the Wool and Basil Workers’ Association of New South Wales ; the Cutters’ and Trimmers’ Union of New South Wales ; the United Furniture Trade Society of New South Wales ; the Bookbinders’ and Paper Rulers’ Union of New South Wales ; the Journeymen Farriers of New South Wales; the Tanners’, Curriers’, and Leatherdressers’ Association ; the Sydney and Manly Ferry Employes’ Union ; the Marble and Slate Workers of New South Wales ; the New South Wales Sawmill and Timber Yard Employes’ Association ; the Sugar Works’ Employes’ Union ; the Colliery Employe’s’ Federation of the Northern District, New South Wales ; the Sydney Wharf Labourers’ Union ; the Federated Stewards’ and Cooks’ Union of Australasia ; the Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners, Australian District ; the Sydney Coal Lumpers’ Union ; the Wire Netting Workers of New South Wales ; the Eskbank Ironworkers’ Association of Mill and Forge Workers ; the Amalgamated Coachmakers’, Railway Car and Waggon Makers’ and Wheelwrights’ Society of New South Wales ; the United Grocers’ Assistants of New South Wales ; the Colliery Employes’ Federation of the Northern District, New South Wales ; the Boot Trade Union of New South Wales ; the Tobacco Twisters’ Association of New South Wales ; and the New South Wales Association of Operative Plasterers. Those are the names of claimants in thirty-eight out of 140 cases which have been filed. Does the list show that the Act has been productive of anything but unrest ?
– Does the honorable member suggest that the Court has created those disputes 1
– My honorable friend can- not imagine that I would say anything so foolish. I have referred to the list of cases to show that the whole State is” in a condition of unrest, almost every worker in the community being affected. I do not say that there may not have been righteous cause for the bringing of every one of these actions, but the fact remains that, although the Act did not come into force until the end of 1901, it–
– Has been largely availed of.
– The workers of the State have largely availed themselves of the invitation to create unrest in its various industries.
– Did not that unrest exist before the Act came into force 1
– Probably it did. No doubt many of these people felt that their wage* should be larger or their conditions better ; and if their conditions can be improved no one will more sincerely rejoice than I shall.
– How would the honorable member remove this unrest?
– I do not wish to question, for a moment the legislation of the States, but having shown what a condition of unrest exists in the States which have adopted this compulsory legislation, what answer can honorable members give me when I ask if things will not be made very much worse by the passing of similar Commonwealth legislation ?
– One big strike would have caused much more unrest than that which now exists.
– I believe that some things, such as loss of character, loss of ambition, and loss of all sense of responsibility, are even worse than strikes.
– That all depends upon who are the judges of character. Some men have given the best evidence of their high character by striking to assert their rights.
– I admit that my honorable friend should be a very good judge of character. I am quite ready to acknowledge that the legislation directed to the improvement of our social and industrial conditions is deficient in that it doesnot provide some means of settling industrial disputes. At the same time, I do not wish to interfere with the State rights to manage their own affairs. It is also desirable that we shall take into consideration the feeling of unrest that exists in New Zealand under conditions particularly favorable to the amicable settlement of industrial disputes, and also in New South Wales under the operation of their State Arbitration Act. In view of these results, it is not unreasonable to suppose that this condition of affairs would be still more serious within the Commonwealth under the operation of a measure such as that now before us.
– Does the honorable member approve of the States legislating on this subject ?
– I do not approve of the whole of the provisions of the New South
Wales Act. I admit that it was a step in the right direction, and that it has many good points to recommend it ; but, in my opinion, it is, at the same time, attended with grave disadvantages. It is idle to suppose that the proposed Arbitration Court will have only a few disputes to settle, and that a judge of the High Court will be able to discharge his duties in connexion with that tribunal, and to also incidentally act as President of the Arbitration Court. There will be, I fear, an immense amount of work for the Federal Arbitration Court to do ; because this measure will have a disturbing effect upon the relations between employers and their workmen. I have had brought under my notice the case of the Colonial Sugar Company in New South Wales, which employs 3,000 hands, the majority of whom are thoroughly satisfied with the conditions of ‘ their employment. Two hundred of the workmen, however, made an application to the Arbitration Court because they desired to bring about certain changes, and the company may be called upon to submit to an award which will apply not only to the 200 men from whom the application has proceeded, but to the whole of the employes of the company. One of the men who was asked whether he considered it desirable to make any change said, “ Certainly not ; the majority of the men are satisfied, and we have enjoyed many concessions in the past.”
– Is the case pending?
– I am not quite sure.
– It would be interesting to know the decision of the Court.
– Perhaps the honorable member does not know that the 3,000 employes of the company are engaged in a number of occupations, aud that the 200 men who have applied to the Court are employed to perform a certain class of work.
– - I should be very sorry, indeed, to learn that the statement, which has been supplied to me from an authoritative source, is inaccurate. I am perfectly safe, however, in saying that there is no dispute between the company and the great body of its employes, but that an application has been made to the Court by 200 men, whose action will probably have a disturbing effect upon the relations between the company and their employes as a whole. I know that the operations of the company extend to Queensland and Fiji, and to the northern parts of New South Wales and other places, but it did not occur to me that the case might be as stated by the honorable member for South Sydney. It has been represented that there is a likelihood of many of the old employes of the company, who have been with them for thirty or forty years, being displaced by the award of the Court.
– Under the Bill the assent of an organization must be obtained before a case can be brought before the Court.
– I am sure that my right honorable friend would not approve of 200 men appealing to the Court in opposition to 2,800of their fellow-workers who were satisfied with the conditions of their employment.
– The minority of the members of any organization could not bring an application before the Court.
– Under the provisions of the Bill an “ industrial dispute “ means a dispute between an employer or an organization of employers on the one side and an organization of employes on the other.
– Yes, but there are more than 100 men concerned in the case to which I have referred, and they would constitute an industrial union of workmen under the terms of the Bill.
– But there may be half-a-dozen different organizations of workmen engaged in one industry.
– If 200 workmen out of 3,000 engaged in any industry could make an application to the Court and secure an award a grave injustice might bedone, and it seems to me that under the conditions of the Bill that would be quite possible.
– If the 200 men were in a union and the 2;800 were not organized the latter would have only themselves to blame.
– All the evils apprehended by the honorable member could only happen if we appointed a simpleton to be the Judge.
– I have before stated that so long as we have British Judges we shall have justice meted out, but I am afraid that the Court proposed to be created will be too closely restricted in its decisions by the provisionsof the Bill. The effect of an award secured by a few workmen might be to impose conditions utterly distasteful to a large majority of the employes in any concern.
I had not intended to refer to the Broken Hill strike, but I feel bound to reply to some of the observations made by honorable members. I am happy to say that Some of the men who took part in that strike now hold seats in this and State Parliaments, and I hope that they may long continue to do so. I wish to ‘ be perfectly straightforward in my references to that great dispute, which lasted for five months, and which was attended by disastrous results and much suffering to a great number of people. I was at that time acting on behalf of the mine- owners at Broken Hill.
– Why did not the directors of the companies agree to voluntary arbitration?
– I want my honorable friend to cast his memory back to the third strike which took place at Broken Hill. I refer to the big strike, and I trust that a similar industrial trouble will never be witnessed in Australia. In the first and second strikes, interference by trades unions was recognised. The mine-owners carried on operations for eighteen months or two years after the settlement of the second trouble. They were constantly humiliated by the intervention of men who absolutely believed in the extraordinary doctrine of the reduction of production.
– Why, the companies were making £1,200,000 a year profit at the time.
– If my honorable friend will allow me to say so, that fact had nothing whatever to do with the workers. It was a condition created by the phenomenal richness of a body of ore, and by the abnormal price at which silver stood at the time, and which constituted a record for the century. The fact that lead also commanded a high price conduced to a money value production per unit of labour which has not since been approached. Since that period the quality of the ore has deteriorated, and silver and lead have become almost unpayable quantities.!
– Have not the Barrier mining companies the internal contract system in operation ?
– In my district the miners would have been on strike till now before they would have subscribed to those conditions.
– I wish to convince myhonorable friend that the action of the com- panies was justified at the time, and has been justified since by actual results.
– Why did the directors refuse to meet the men under their own agreement to discuss the matter ?
– I have no desire to enter into a discussion of details of that dispute which do not bear upon the line of argument that I am presenting to the House. The honorable member for Barrier will recollect that the condition of affairs at Broken Hill became so intolerable that theunited .companies notified that within a month–
– Does the honorable member think that these remarks are necessary to his argument?
– I am answering a question which was put to me by the honorable member for Barrier.
– That is not necessary.
– If you will allow me, sir, I think that it bears upon what I shall subsequently have to say.
-If so, the honorable member is at liberty to refer to it.
– At the expiration of that month the companies refused to carry on under union control.
– Owing to the intolerable conditions.
– Owing to the intolerable, domination of the unions at that time.
– Why did the directors no alter that state of affairs by submitting their case to arbitration, as was provided for under their own agreement?
– Within three days after that letter was received by the leaders of the unions every man was called out on strike.
– After the receipt of the directors’ letter? We wrote offering to meet them, and they replied declining to do so.
– Order ! Will the honorable member resume his seat. It appears to me that the discussion of the merits of a strike which took place some years ago will probably widen the debate very materially ; it certainly does not directly bear upon the question which is under discussion. I therefore ask the honorable member for Kooyong to refer to that matter only so far as is necessary to illustrate his argument.
– I have already said that I am not anxious to be drawn, into a debate upon the merits of that strike on this occasion.
– The honorable member has declared that things can become intolerable, even when there is no Arbitration Court in existence?
– Yes, and they will probably become intolerable hereafter when there is such a tribunal.
– There will be a remedy then.
– I trust that the Court will prove all that is expected of it. My object in referring to the Barrier strike was to show that the action of the directors was justified. That is abundantly proved by the following quotation from the report of the general manager of the principal mine, which is dated the 30th November, 1892 - just three months after the termination of the strike -
While the men are making much better wages than when working for a day’s pay, the company is receiving substantial benefits from the new system, the best proof of which is that we are now making as large an output of ore as at any time in the past, and are yet nearly 500 men short of the number we bad underground when the strike took place.
– And the difference in cost 1
– The difference in cost was reduced very considerably. The result of that Strike was the introduction of the contract system, to which the honorable member for Newcastle, by interjection, has referred. I defy anybody to say that that system has not worked satisfactorily to the men themselves. In support of that statement, I will direct attention to the remarks of the presiding Judge in the recent arbitration case. He derived this impression from the evidence -
Considering the change in the personnel of thf. large body of men employed, they have carried on their operations with singular harmony ; and I give as much credit to the men as to the management.
I entirely indorse those sentiments. The harmony that has existed between the management and the men is truly remarkable. I wish to show that the unions were wrong in interfering with the productivity of each unit of labour. What has been theresult of the introduction of the contract system, as compared with the day-wage system ? The figures which I shall quote in this connexion were sworn to upon oath, and they show that in 1892, when the daywage system prevailed, the tonnage of ore moved per man per shift was -98. In other words, each miner moved only -98 of a ton per day. Surely, the weakest honorable member in this House could break down and move a ton of material in eight hours.
– It depends upon how hard it is.
– Truly ; everything depends upon whether the ground is hard or soft. But, whereas each man moved only 98 of a ton in eight hours, in the following half-year the tonnage removed per man under the contract system was l-83, or almost double.’ The present average is 3-8 tons per man. It is impossible to get away from the accuracy of these results, which have been carefully worked out and which were supplied upon oath. I do not attach undue importance to the fact that each man now moves 3-8 tons of material per day, because that improvement is largely due to the introduction of power drills.
– Admitting all these statements, the fact remains that the directors refused to meet the -men and to submit their differences to arbitration.
– Cannot my honorable friend see in these very figures the answer to his question ?
– The companies refused to -meet the men because they could do better.
– If the directors could have established their position they would have won in half-an-hour, without the necessity for a single man leaving his work, what it took them three months to accomplish.
– I merely wish to show the results which have followed from the adoption of the contract system. I would further point out that to-day 7,000 men are employed, in leading mines at Broken Hill, of whom only 1,700 or 2,000 men belong to the Amalgamated Miners’ Association. These men, who, it is admitted, are perfectly content with the existing conditions, are to be brought under the operation of the Act by the action of a discontented minority, and turmoil is to be created in connexion with the management of these properties.
– Does that remark apply to the Mount Lyell Mine ?
– I do not think so.
– I shall deal presently with the position at Mount Lyell. The 1,700 or 2,000 men in the Barrier Union have created this difficulty. What has been the practical result of their action t In my opinion it is impossible for any Judge to satisfactorily deal with all the details relating to work in the mines which is the result of years of experience. We were cited to appear before the Court over twelve months ago; but the final award has not yet been made. During all that time we have been kept in a state of suspense, and if we were to act strictly in accordance with business principles, we should not divide any profits. As a matter of fact we are not doing so at the present time, because we do not know what the result of the appeal to the Court will be, and pending the decision of the Court, we find it impossible to enter into the necessary contracts for the shipment of our material. Surely these facts indicate one of the baneful results of the operation’ of the Act in New South Wales, and it seems reasonable to suppose that, as the New . South Wales Act is the foundation of this measure, baneful results will -also attend the passing of this Bill into law. Suggestions have been made during the course of the debate, that practically all the profits obtained from the working of these mines go to the owners. But what is the position 1 The total wages paid by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company since its inception has been £6,325,000, while the dividends paid have amounted to £7,600,000. I have already pointed out that the abnormal conditions which at one time prevailed in connexion with the mine have long since ceased to exist. At one time in our history we had much richer ore than is now obtainable, and better prices could be secured for it, so that the financial results per unit of labour were very much greater than they now are. During the five years, 1S98 to 1902 inclusive, the wages paid by the company amounted, according to sworn testimony, to £2,219,699, while the amount to” the credit of profit and loss - not the profits actually divided amongst the shareholders - totalled £936,571. Surely workmen will agree that that is not an unfair proportion.
– How much did the capitalists originally put into the mine - a £5 note ?
– If there were no possibilities in connexion ‘with mining - if mining could be reduced to an exact science - there would be very little employment for minersin the Commonwealth.
– That is so, but in view of the fact that the honorable member has. quoted certain figures showing the amount paid away in wages by the Proprietary Company, I think he should inform the House what capital was originally putinto the mine.
– In that respect the history of the Broken Hill Proprietary mine is without parallel in Australia. I simply desire toemphasize this point-
– But the honorable memberallows my question to go unanswered.
– I know that the honorable member considers that the mine ought to belong, shall I say, to the nation, and that its profits should be distributed in somefanciful way.
– The honorable member hasnever heard me give expression to such an opinion.
– But I do not exactly apprehend the trend of the honorable member’s thoughts. The nationalization of our mines is one of the planks in the platform of the organization to which my honorable friend belongs. They look forward to the nationalization of the mining industry and legislation of this kind is regarded by them as being a step towards the attainment of that desire. That fact cannot bedenied. I have had another return prepared - and its preparation involved some trouble - in which the honorable member for Barrier will be interested. It shows that since the discovery of the Broken Hill field, the Barrier mines there have paid away £11,000,000 in wages.
– What proportion of that sum has been obtained by treating the lead and the silver placed in the field by Providence 1
– If Providence had not placed it there labour would not have been employed on the field.
– We admit that.
– If investors had no reason to believe that mineral wealth existed there and in’ other parts of the Commonwealth, if there had not been inducements such as Broken Hill offered thehundreds of thousands of pounds which have been expended on mining operations,, and from which no reward has been obtained, would never have been distributed. in that way, and the men who have benefited by that outlay would have been practically without employment so far as the mining industry is concerned. I wish now to refer to the position of the Tasmanian mines. As some honorable members are aware, I am largely interested in the mining industry throughout the States. I am associated with enterprises which give employment to large numbers of men, and I have under my direct control as a director of various companies at least 10,000 workmen. I am not aware, however, that any man can say that any company of which I am a director has ever evidenced a desire other than that the wages received by the men in its employ, and the general conditions under which they work, should be reasonable and just. I mention this fact because for some time past there has been reason to fear the occurrence of a strike on the Mount Lyell field, with which I propose now to deal. What are the conditions which prevail there ? At Broken Hill rich pockets of ore have been found, but at Mount Lyell we have to treat a class of ore which allows of only an exceptionally small margin of profit. The domination of the unionists there has been unreasonable, and however anxious the men may be that the unions shall be an influence for good, they have given rise to considerable difficulty in the arrangement of reasonable conditions.
– It is because of those difficulties that a Court is necessary.
– I intend to show that it would be impossible for the Court to deal with the disputes which occur on the Mount Lyell field.
– Is it unreasonable for the employers to ask the employes to meet them in conference %
– I purposely refrained from speaking at an earlier stage in the’ debated because I desired to be able to put before the House the information that the representatives of the unionists, who recently journeyed to Queenstown, had had an opportunity to interview the manager of the Mount Lyell mine. I am glad to say that I have just received a cable announcing that our manager has accorded these men an interview, and that the directors are perfectly satisfied that there will be no industrial disturbance. No legislation was necessary to bring about this meeting. Our manager, acting in accordance with the wishes of those who control the property from Melbourne, met the representatives of the men, because there was reason in their request. Originally that was not the position. The new unionism seems to be actuated bv better motives than prevailed under the old system. The new unionism is guided to a great extent by principles of common sense. It recognises the responsibility of the position occupied by the men, and that the destruction of a means of employment would be a great injustice to many innocent people. I am very glad to say that the difficulty has been overcome. Had it not been for the amalgamation of the two companies which I recently succeeded in effecting, the men who have been creating this trouble would have been unemployed. The dissatisfaction existed amongst the men employed in the mine which has been taken over by the parent company. They had been accustomed to work under a lax system, and when they were subjected to discipline, and called upon to work under the scientific methods that have been adopted by the Mount Lyell Company, they did not like it. The wages paid by the Mount Lyell Company amount to £1,500,000. I -am unable to say what wages have been paid away by the other companies on the field ; but the “ Mount Lyell Company has been compelled to work on an extremely narrow margin of profit. The amount I have named is irrespective of £690,000 spent upon machinery, the construction of a railway, and the provision of reduction furnaces, all of which, with the exception of the cost of material, was paid for labour.
– What was the amount of the profits distributed 1
– In round figures $1,000,000 has been distributed amongst the shareholders, while £1,500,000, in addition to the £690,000 just mentioned, has been spent in wages. I have other figures with which I do not intend to deal. These statements, however, lead up to one or two facts which underlie the objections which I have to the Bill. In the first place, the measure will create unrest by the invitation which it extends for the multiplying of disputes, and in the next place it is unnecessary, because a strike extending beyond any one State is quite unlikely, except in the two cases to which I have already referred. But, in addition to the objections which I have to. the Bill because of the unrest which it has created, and because it seeks to secure settlements by compulsory State interference, notwithstanding the fact that existing difficulties are being advantageously dealt with by ordinary business methods, I think that its provisions are unnecessarily wide, and, in my opinion, opposed to the spirit of the Constitution. I do not, however, propose to discuss the legal aspect of the question, because I wish to confine my remarks to subjects upon which I have some definite information. In my opinion, an “ industrial dispute “ should be defined as a dispute between an employer, or an organization of employers, and a majority, not a minority, of its employes. As the measure stands at present, it provides for the coercing of majorities by minorities. Employers are very much more affected by industrial disputes than are their employes, Such disputes may mean absolute disaster to them by causing the ruin of their businesses. I have shown how greatly the Broken Hill Company has been affected by the operation of the New South Wales Act ; and I have referred to concrete cases, because I think it is better to do that than to make mere general statements.
– Is the company being more harassed now than it was in the old intolerable days of which the honorable member has been telling us 1
– We released ourselves from former troubles ; but if this measure passes there will be 7io possibility of relief.
– But there is no guarantee now that the present state of affairs will continue.
– The Bill will bring the honorable member to the bar of justice.
– I hope that when we come before the bar of justice we shall both of us be able to say that in the consideration of this measure, which involves the interests of so many of our fellow men, we tried to do our duty. I dislike the proposed constitution of the Court. The -two assessors who are provided will act as partisans, and in this connexion I should like to read the following account of an interview which appeared in the Age on 28th July last -
Mr. Samuel Smith, representative of the employes in the Arbitration Court, maintains that if the legislation asked for by the seamen were introduced in the Federal Arbitration Bill, it would not be a breach of international law …….. The Federated Seamen’s “Union did not intend to be satisfied with . the introduction of certain clauses in the Federal Navigation Bill. They would insist on legislation through the Federal Arbitration Bill, and nothing else, and if they did not get it there would be another big maritime trouble. It was to be hoped that the Federal Cabinet would immediately become seized of the true meaning1 of the proposed clauses, and introduce them in any Bill brought before the Federal House.
It must be remembered that Mr. Smith sits as a Judge in the New South Wales Arbitration Court. He is, of course, a biased Judge, inasmuch as he was appointed because of his familiarity with the wishes of his own side.
– Each of the assessors is biased.
– I think, however, that in his position he was not justified in making a declaration such as I have read. It is practically a threat to this Parliament that if certain legislation is not introduced certain results will follow. Was that a statement for a Judge to make? Surely my honorable friends who favour this legislation see that it provides for the creation of the greatest political power ever constituted.
– Does the honorable member refer to the Court 1
– I refer to the system of unions and labour organizations generally which will be created by the Bill.
– What are companies but organizations of capital ?
– Companies do not meddle in politics.
– Apart from the methods of conciliation and arbitration for which the Bill provides, if I were of the party to which the honorable member for Maranoa belongs I would hail the Bill as a measure for strengthening, the position of Labour against the so-called tyrant, Capital. Under the Bill we shall have a great political organization created by Act of Parliament ; and members of the Labour party should hail the measure as the greatest weapon ever conferred by a Constitution in support of the theories, good, bad, or indifferent, which they hold.
– In what respect does the honorable member regard this legislation as dangerous 1
– Its effect will be to range Labour and Capital in hostile camps, and the sooner the public understand the principle underlying all such legislation the better. If I thought the Bill would be attended with beneficial results, I should certainly support it, but why should we have thrust upon us something we do not want, and which is not based upon sound principles’!
– I thought the honorable member was in favour of arbitration.
– Not arbitration of the character now proposed. I think that the Registrar is to be invested with too much power, and that grievous wrong may be inflicted upon employers or employes no appeal being allowed from the decision of the Court. I fear also that the decisions of the States Arbitration Courts may be held in abeyance pending an action in the Federal Court. If industrial agreements are to be made for five years, shall we at the end of that period have a renewal of the industrial turmoil which preceded the settlement of the disputes ?
– All differences, would then be settled by conciliatory methods.
– I am not so sure of that. The workmen, realizing that they had the upper hand, might push their advantage to the fullest extent.
– That has not been the experience of the honorable member.
– I am happy to say that it has not. I have had to do only with miners, and a straighter and better body of men are not to be found in any industry in the world. I am afraid that the Bill will be destructive of that personal interest which now exists, and which it is desirable should continue, between employer and employes. Surely it must be granted that the majority of employers take an interest iff the prosperity of their operatives, and that most men desire to act justly by their fellow men. I believe that most men desire to do what is right and fair, and that it will be a sad day for us when we entirely eliminate the element of personal interest from the relations between employer and employe. Legislation of this kind also has a tendency to reduce the productivity of the unit of labour.
– In what way would the productivity of labour be lessened by the operation of the Bill ?
– It would encourage the development of the “ ca’ canny “ system, under which every man tells his neighbour not to do too much, lest he take work away from some one else.
– But why should the Bill bring about that result?
– Because that is the .underlying principle of the organizations in whose interests it has been introduced.
– If workmen produce less, will not their wages be reduced 1
– They ought to be, and T believe that the reduction of the productivity of labour which is now going tin will operate to the great disadvantage of the workers in the community. The more the labourer produces, the more will there be for the consumers, of whom the labourers themselves form the great majority. The greater the results of their energy, the better will be their position, and the more complete the comforts which they will be enabled to enjoy. “We have all been, labourers ; we have all had to fight’ ourway up, and we all desire to give others the same opportunities that we have ourselves enjoyed. The effect of legislation such as that now before us is to reduce the opportunities of individuals to rise to thosepositions to which their special capabilities may entitle them to aspire, and tocontribute to the wealth of the community by directing their energies into the best possible channels. Everything which restricts the productivity of the unit of labour also diminishes the wealth of thecommunity.
– Surely the honorable member does not pretend that the “ ca’ canny” system is in operation to any great extent ?
– I have already given instances which I think should show the honorable member that it is largely practised.
– Its existence is denied,, and the system is loudly condemned by all the trades organizations.
– I have shown how, in one instance, the men doubled the output under conditions which did not involve any distress to them.
– But the increased outputwas partly due to the introduction of improved machinery.
– Tes. I have taken that into account, “and I can assure the right honorable gentleman that I have not madeone statement which I am not able to substantiate.
– Has the honorable member the details which would indicate how his results were arrived at ?
– Yes, and I shall be happy to supply them to the right honorable gentleman. It has been pointed out that, taking one as the unit, the productivity of the labour unit in the United Kingdom is represented by one to one and a quarter, whereas in the United States it amounts to two and a quarter. The whole trend of the Bill is in the direction of increasing rather than of reducing the cost of production. Mr. Victor S. Clarke, of the Labour Bureau of the United States, who is now visiting Australia to inquire into our methods for the settlement of industrial disputes, in the course of an interview recently stated -
It is certain that the Labour leaders are becoming more conservative. Most of them are opposed to sympathetic strikes. Many preach the doctrine that wages ore governed in the long run by the economic product of the individual workman, and that the more and better work a man does the more important factor he becomes in raising wages.
In view of- the extent to which I have already had to trespass upon the attention of honorable members, I propose to reserve any comments I may have to make upon the provision with regard to the common rule until the Bill reaches the Committee stage. I admit that under the Bill conciliation plays a more important part than in New Zealand, and to that extent, no doubt, the Bill is an improvement upon the Act of that colony. I certainly think that the application of the Bill should be limited to industrial disputes which extend naturally and not by invitation beyond the limits of any one State. Except in the case of seamen and shearers there is very little probability of the proposed Court being called upon to deal with disputes of any magnitude with sufficient cause.
– Those are the kind of disputes to which the Bill is intended to apply.
– Then why create all this elaborate machinery for that purpose ?
– Why should not others avail themselves of the provisions of the Bill?
– Disputes of a minor character should be dealt with by the State tribunals. We shall never secure satisfactory industrial legislation until it is made uniform throughout the Commonwealth.
– -‘How can we secure uniformity by State legislation ?
– I consider, also, that the operation of this Bill should be limited to individual causes of action. It is proposed to apply the “common rule” to a very wide area, and I hold that Commonwealth legislation should deal with complaints and actions which are instituted by specific individuals or organizations.
– The honorable member thinks that the decision of the Court , should be binding only upon the parties who appear before it ?
– That is exactly my meaning. Alternately Federal action should be undertaken at the request of a State industrial authority, or failing that, at the request of the Governor in Council, if no industrial authority exists within a State. In my judgment the Court should consist of three Justices, who should have Federal jurisdiction in disputes of this character. No trivial actions should be brought before the Court.
– The Court will refuse to hear trivial causes of action.
– The honorable member is meeting trouble half way.
– I am merely looking into the future to a reasonable extent. In view of the importance of the actions which ought only to be decided by the proposed tribunal, I claim that it should consist of a Justice of the High Court and of a Justice from each of the States in which the cause of action arises. I admit that in connexion with ordinary State legislation there is considerable merit in the objection which has been, urged against the power of either party to retain the services of counsel except by mutual consent. But we have before us the statement of Judge Cohen, that in the conduct of actions which have come before him, the lawyers have effected a considerable saving of time to litigants. Moreover, in the recent arbitration case which was heard at Broken Hill, counsel was retained upon both sides, and at the instance pf the presiding Judge, who pointed out that the parties to the dispute were repeating evidence, the expenses of the action were considerably reduced. A Federal Act may prove serviceable if it provides the machinery necessary to deal with large and special questions such as those to which I have referred. If the existing legislation in the various States for the settlement of industrial disputes should prove unsatisfactory, it may be wise hereafter to introduce a comprehensive Commonwealth measure so as to secure uniformity of labour conditions throughout Australia. In the absence of factory legislation in Queensland, it is undeniable that a manufacturer there occupies a very different position from a manufacturer in Victoria. If we are to enjoy to the full the blessings of Inter-State freetrade, I think that we should gradually bring about uniformity of industrial conditions.
– This Bill will effect that.
– I do not think so. I have previously described the la,bour creed as consisting of a demand for higher wages, shorter hours, and a lesser production.
– Where did the workers ever contend for a lesser production ?
– I have answered that among other questions that have been put to me.
– When did they ever collectively ask for a lesser output?
– I do. not think that collectively they have done so. Nevertheless, as one who has been associated with large employers of labour, I hold that the existence of that feeling amongst the labourers themselves cannot be denied. The dominating principles of the labourer should be energy, diligence, and efficiency. The greater the efficiency, the greater will be the advantage to the workers themselves.
– Has the honorable member ever heard of lazy employers 1
– I consider that any individual who does not assist in production is merely cumbering the earth. I have no sympathy whatever with the lazy individual. It is the duty of all to contribute to the general good. Certainly I desire to occupy, that, position, because it is my ambition to die in harness.
– Why judge the many by the few?
– It is admitted that what I have stated constitutes the creed of many labour organizations.
– Not of labour organizations.
– Perhaps my honorable friend is justified in declaring that there is a distinction between the declared creed of the organizations and that of the average labourer.
– All good men are unionists.
– I object to the iniquitous provision in the Bill which requires every labourer to become a unionist.
– There is no such provision.
– We know that it is theduty of every honorable member to uphold the honour of the House, and that, if anyone of us failed to act in accordance with the accepted principles of honorable conduct, those with whom he is now associated would ostracise him. In the same way I contend that under this Bill a man who does not join a union will be regarded by his fellows as one who should be ostracised.
– That has not been the case in. New Zealand.
– I am glad to have that assurance.
– There are more non-unionists than unionists in New Zealand.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance, but I contend that the provisions in the Bill which relate to the recognition of organizations will prove one of the greatest weapons possessed by the unionists, and that, after it becomes law, those who remain outside a trades union will be ostracised by their fellow workers.
– Does not the honorable member know that there are many men who are prepared to remain non-unionists, but are yet willing to profit by the labour of the unions’?
– Order. The honorable member cannot make a speech at thisstage.
– I trust that the honorable member will not expect me to follow all his arguments. I may be attaching undue importance to these provisions in the Bill, and my apprehension in this regard may not be wholly warranted. I feel, however, that no measure of greater importance has ever been submitted to this House. We do not fully realize what the consequences of the passing of a measure of this kind may be. The Bill will affect the home of every worker and employer in the Commonwealth, and the consideration of legislation of this kind dominates every other political question.
– Surely the Bill providing for a white Australia was of greater importance than is this measure?
– The honorable member knows that I favour the policy of a white
Australia, although I was opposed to the deportation of kanakas as provided by the Pacific Islands Labourers Act. They were designed by nature to do the work which we are now asking white men to perform to their own physical disadvantage. It is said that we have a free Constitution, and no - one can deny that Australia has never worked under freer conditions than now exist. But in this the first Federal Parliament, created under a free Constitution, we are being called upon to pass legislation which will bind our workmen in shackles, and compel them to join organizations whether they desire to do so or not.
– Certain associations of employers boycott those who decline to join them.
– I trust that the honorable member will not misapprehend my views. I admit that the motives which influence an employers’ union are the same as those which operate in the case of an employes’ organization. Both parties are equally selfish, and equally anxious to secure their own ends. I regret that time will not permit me to deal with the speech delivered by the honorable member for Darling, and with many other matters to which I proposed to address myself. The honorable member for Darling has been kind enough to furnish me with a printed copy of his address, and it contains many pregnant suggestions upon which I should like to dwell. I feel, however, that I have already occupied too much time in addressing myself to this question, and that I must draw my remarks to a close. The gigantic federalization of unions under an Act of Parliament must result in the coercion of non-unionists, and an interference with the liberty of the subject. In view of the importance of the subject dealt with by this Bill, I think that a proper body should have been appointed to inquire into the working of similar legislation. If that had been done there would have been persons able to speak with authority and to lay on the table of the House a report which would have shown whether or not my opinions were erroneous.
– We have the report of the Yictorian Factories Commission, as well as that prepared by Judge Backhouse.
– I have already dealt with those matters. At the proper stage I shall invite honorable members to consider the desirableness of limiting the time during which this law shall remain in force. If it is productive of much good every one will desire its re-enactment, while, on the other hand, if it fails to effect the object for which it has been introduced, even its strongest supporters to-day will agree that it should lapse. When the Convention was considering the desirableness of allowing the Federal Parliament to deal with the question of conciliation and arbitration, the Attorney-General did not anticipate that a measure of this kind would be introduced during the sessions of the first Parliament, and even the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, who was responsible for the insertion of the provision in the Constitution under which this Bill has been presented, has admitted that he never anticipated so speedy ‘ a realization of his hopes. There are many other matters with which I shall have to deal when the House goes into Committee on this Bill. I trust that honorable members will recognise that I am sincere when I say that I shall support any legislation which in my opinion will tend to better the position of the worker. As a matter” of fact, we are all workers. Many honorable members know that I have worked hard since my boyhood’s days, and I shall go hand in hand with them along the road which must be traversed in order that legislation for the improvement of the condition of the workers may be passed. In my opinion, however, legislation of this kind is calculated to stifle ambition, to crush enterprise, and to bring workers under the subjugation of unions. It will take away their freedom. There is something worse than a strike. Loss of freedom, for example, is far worse than a strike. I do not believe that in passing this Bill we shall take a step that will be in the interests of the workers, or tend to the good of our national life. I hold that the Bill will take away that which has built up our nation. It will go to support what has come to be known as the “ lean-to policy “ - the policy of leaning on Governments and Acts of Parliament. That is an objectionable system. I have no feeling against unionism. It is not because I have no desire to see our workers elevated to a larger view of life, but because I believe that this Bill is inopportune and unnecessary, and that it will operate against the best interests of the workers, that I view it with disfavour ; and it is because I feel that I shall be doing my duty to those who have-returned me to this House and to my conscience that I intend to vote against the second reading.
In the multiplicity of material which is at one’s disposal to support the wisdom of the measure now before the House, I feel disposed, to take up the argument at the point at which, it was dropped by the honorable member for Kooyong, and to deal with the question of the utility of legislation of this kind. The honorable member practically closed his peroration with the remark that there were worse things than strikes. Apparently, he conceives a settlement adverse to the class for which he is contending to be worse ‘ than a strike. I am prepared, however, to show that there is nothing worse than industrial war. A strike, Or a lockout, is nothing more nor less than civil war. We have heard, on the highest and best authority, that there never was a good war or a bad peace, and consequently, we can infer that there never was a good strike Or a bad conciliation. I say, therefore, that this laudable effort on the part of the Government to bring about a condition of affairs under which a strike will beimpossible is one of those measures which will redound tothe credit of the present Government. In days to come, when the history of the Government comes to be written, it will be said that they made an effort to exhaust the resources of conciliation and. arbitration in order to put an end to the present barbarous methods of settling those disputes which arise from time to time between master and man. Let me take one pregnant fact. One of the largest strikes - although not the largest - that we have had, arose out of the shearers’ dispute. The total cost of the New Zealand Arbitration Court for the first four years after its establishment in 1894 amounted, to only £4,400, while the shearers strike has been estimated to have cost, at the very least, £100,000. That one fact is a complete answer to the assertion that we are now being asked to take an unwise course in the establishment of a Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court. In ‘ passing this legislation, we are not commencing a new epoch. As I read history, the industrial conditions of the world may be marked off into three periods. First, we have the period of privilege; when each man was absolutely the owner of all that he had, and did not look upon himself as a steward, responsible to others, and holding his possessions for the benefit of the State, subject to a higher power. The second period was that of universal competition, which was a brutal period, during which the Darwinian theory of the survival of the fittest had full play, the weakest going to the wall, to be trampled upon by the strong. We have now come to the third period, and we should thank God for it, when we recognise man as an end, not as a means to an end, and when under State socialism each holds his possessions, not for the benefit of himself alone, or of any one class, but for the whole community. The day has passed when it can be considered outrageous to interfere between two classes of citizens who are disputing about hours of labour, wages, or conditions of employment. The period of State interference has come. If what is proposed were an innovation or an experiment, I could understand an outcry being raised against it, but it is neither an innovation nor an experiment. Other methods have been tried and found wanting. The period of privilege, which began in the hoary ages of antiquity, was a period of disastrous struggle. The history of that . period is not unwritten. Any one who cares to read it will find it in such books as The Ancient Lowly, by C. Osborne Ward, and other works. As far back as 2,000 years ago a struggle was taking place for the amelioration of the lot of the working man, and there was the same aspiration towards justice then that there is now. The progress of humanity has hitherto been marked and stained with blood. But at last, in this new country, where conditions are not too complicated, and the relations between capital and labour are clearly defined, we can, without entering upon any dangerous experiment, regulate industrial disputes so that they shall do the least possible amount of harm, or, rather, so that out of them shall come the greatest possible good. I deduce, from what I have shown from the New Zealand experience of the utility and economy of methods of conciliation and arbitration, the conclusion that if we are wise we shall do all that we can to make strikes and locks-out utterly impossible. If the utility of Parliament is to be justified, it can be best justified by legislation which will’ put an end once and for all to struggles which embitter the whole people, and, by setting class against class, make a pandemonium of the world. We should try to legislate in the interest of those things which make for peace, progress, and prosperity. We have been accused of driving capital away. But capital is a sane thing, and I am perfectly sure that those who have money to invest will look to the countries where they can calculate the cost of the labour which they will have to employ, and where they will not have to reckon with an unknown quantity such as the probability of strikes. If there is anything which will make Australia a safe place for the investment of capital, it is legislation which will prevent serious labour struggles. Away with theories. Let men know upon what terms they can invest their capital. Let them know that there is no intention to interfere with legitimate enterprise. I would write on the top of this Bill, as its motto, the motto of the party to which I belong, Fiat justitia ruat ccelum. We are not plunderers of capital. There is no irreconcilable feud between us and the capitalist. That is shown by the fact that many of the representatives of capital are supporting the Bill. It is to their credit that they have been able to lay aside their past prejudices, and to look at this issue clearly. Those who wish to make it still possible for unnatural struggles to take place between masters and men are the worst enemies of the country. They are the great disturbers of peace ; they are the men who are likely to drive capital away. We were told by the last speaker that the Labour Party has contended for higher wages, shorter hours, and decreased production. I cannot understand how any honorable gentleman can conceive that we, who are working for the welfare of the country, can look upon it as inimical to our interests that production should increase. The production of wealth as much affects the workers as it does the employers. We want to obtain the maximum of production, but we also want a force which will distribute the fruits of labour in something approaching an equitable manner, if absolutely equal apportionment is not possible. I would take honorable members back to a great teacher, a great thinker - in my opinion, the greatest political, ethical, and mental philosopher who ever lived ; I refer to the German philosopher Kant. The politics of those whom I esteem and revere as teachers are based on his thesis - “ Treat every man as an end in himself, never as a means to an end.” When a man is an end in himself, and not a means to another man’s end, we shall have a recognition of the rights of labour, and there will be no need for the processes of conciliation and arbitration. I am sure that all well-wishers of the Commonwealth will hail with delight the appearance of this measure, and when it is placed on the statute-book we shall look for results which will fully justify our action in passing it. That it is a measure much needed is to be seen from the hearty reception which it has received from honorable members. Men of all shades of political opinion, men differing absolutely upon the fiscal issue, have agreed that this is a salutary, safe, and useful piece of legislation, which will work for the good of the people - the people, the whole people, and nothing but the people. I should like in this connexion to say a word or two about the desirability of uniform industrial legislation. We oughtnot to exclude from the operation of this measure any working man in Australia. The Court shojuld be a final Court of Appeal in connexion with every industrial dispute in theCommon wealth. Neither State nor Commonwealth servants, nor seamen, nor any other class of the community, should be exempted from the operation of the Bill. Wherever the Court may be’ located, it will be uninfluenced by State prejudices and interests. It will sit apart, and give unbiased, unprejudiced judgments upon the disputes which arise between class and class. Such a tribunal is likely to commend itself to the intelligence and sense of justice of every section of the community. ‘There is no Court in Australia, or in the world, for which may be claimed the confidence of the whole community in which it exists, if that cannot be claimed for this Federal Court. I should be very sorry to interfere : in international relations, or to bring the Commonwealth into conflict with foreigners.
– The foreigner is a bogy.
– To a large extent I think he is. In my opinion, however, it will ultimately be found absolutely necessary to bring the seamen under the jurisdiction of the Court. The honorable member for Kooyong also spoke about the danger of the provisions of this measure overlapping the provisions of Acts passed by the States. So long as the legislation of the States varies and conflicts, and may operate for the benefit or injury of the people directly concerned by it, enhancing the value of their property and increasing their wealth or injuring their industrial conditions, there may be danger. But I contend that above all things there should be uniformity in legislation of this kind. While we have one Act in one State and a different Act in another State, it will always be said that the more drastic measure is driving capital away from the State in which it operates. That has been said in Victoria in regard to our Factories Act. But if you compare that measure with similar legislation passed elsewhere, you will find it is one of the finest Acts upon the statute-book. The Victorian Factories Act reflects great -credit upon the wisdom and justice of its framers. Personally, I prefer its methods to those provided for in the Bill, because on the Wages Boards the masters and men interested in a trade are equally represented, and know what they are talking about. When the final solution of this hitherto insoluble problem is arrived at, it will come in the meeting together of employers and employes, who know the conditions of the industry in which they are engaged, and the profits which are being made in it, and thus meeting together will be able to arrange for an equitable distribution of the fruits of their labour. It is impossible to adopt that system under this Bill. We have, however, gone as far towards its adoption as we can go in appointing assessors, who, although they cannot be conversant with the conditions of every trade, will be enabled by their previous training to deal intelligently with the facts brought before them. I regard this as an epoch-marking measure. I am perfectly certain that its effects will be salutary. When the history of the Commonwealth comes to be written, and the strikes which it has averted, the disputes which it has settled, and the kindly feeling between masters and men for which it has given opportunity, are known, it will do the Barton Government credit, and, one might almost say, be an everlasting glory to them. The bitter struggles which have marked the’ history of the world, and have brought sorrow, sadness, despair, and death into the hearts and homes of so many of our people, will be done away with, and in their place we shall have peace, progress, and prosperity.
– This debate has now proceeded at such length, and so many excellent speeches have been made dealing with every aspect of the subject under consideration, that there is no occasion to weary members by repeating arguments which have already been used. I feel that it would be quite impossible to deal with this matter at all fully, without travelling over ground which has already been well worn by previous footsteps, and I shall therefore content myself by indicating as briefly as possible the position I take up with regard to this most important Bill. Honorable members may remember that when Darwin announced his evolutionary theory, and suggested the inquiry whether man had descended from angels or ascended from apes, Lord Beaconsfield -declared that he was on the side of the angels. In this case I must make a similar declaration, and the angels that I refer to have frequently been mentioned in the course of this debate. I am afraid that the honorable member for Kooyong will be rather astonished when I add that these angels are conciliation and arbitration. If it be their mission to remove from the industrial world discord and strife, they may be classed amongst the most beneficent angels that have ever visited this earth. Pictures have been drawn of the sufferings and hardships which have resulted, especially to women and children, from strikes and locksout, and I am not sure that the pictures have been at all overdrawn. We have also had figures quoted showing the appalling monetary losses involved to both employer and employed. I know there are people who say that a fight to a finish is a good thing, because it means that there will be no more fighting, at any rate, for some time to come. But is that not proceeding upon the principle adopted by the Romans, who created a wilderness, and called it peace t Have we not lived into a better time, and should it not be possible in these days to establish relations between the employer and the employed, which shall insure lasting peace, because based on justice .and mutual consideration 1 I am aware that there are those who assert that anything of the kind is quite impracticable, that to achieve any such result would involve an alteration in human nature, and that it is entirely wrong for this Parliament to attempt to deal with such matters, because they are outside the realm . of effective legislation. All I can say is that I differ from those who hold that view.
Like the majority of honorable members, I «m more hopeful. I am prepared to concede that the provisions of the Bill are to some extent experimental, but I do not think that that fact in itself would justify its condemnation. I am very sanguine regarding the influence exerted by enlightened public opinion. I stand here us one who has been a large employer of labour for many years, and therefore I approach the consideration of this subject not exclusively from the stand-point of the worker. It will be my .aim to do justice, and I take it for granted that all the worker wants is fair play. I think that the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, was quite right when he remarked the other daY that justice should be the foundation of whatever is done, and that no special heed should be given to one side or the other, but that fair provision should be made for both. We must be careful not to establish conditions which will so harass the employer as to prevent the development of industry or to check enterprise. If anything of that kind is done’ it will prove disastrous to all concerned. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa, with an industry worthy of a Thorold Rogers, has been making investigations into the industrial legislation of the middle ages, and, as a result, has become pessimistic. I listened with interest to the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member, and the effect produced on my mind was by no means so discouraging. All that he proved was that the problems of to-day are not new ones, that they are old - very old indeed. But the fact that they have not been solved in the past should not lead us to regard them as incapable of solution. To take up that position would be to accept the gospel of despair. I admit with the honorable and learned member that the conditions prevailing in the world to-day are probably more complex than at any previous period of its history, but it should not be forgotten that people are better, and more generally, educated than ever before. Personally, I am sufficiently an optimist to hope that the dim.culties which have in the past seemed to be in.superable may be overcome in this twentieth century. I am glad that the Bill provides for both conciliation and arbitration, and I am glad also that these powers are to be exercised by one tribunal instead of by two, as is the case in New Zealand. I sincerely hope that in framing this measure we shall be very careful to keep strictly within the limits of the Constitution. I know quite well that if we act otherwise the legislation will be vlt/ra vires, but I agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that it would be. unwise to manifest any desire to exceed those limits. I trust that the honorable and learned member was right when he said that this House had no wish to usurp the powers which could be effectively exercised by the Parliaments of the States. I shall support the second reading of the Bill.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi).- This Bill appears to come to us recommended by the very highest public considerations that could justify any legislative proposal. I am among those who believe that it makes distinctly for industrial peace, for commercial stability, and for national elevation, and in that belief I shall support it. Looking at the measure with the eyes of a student, as well as with those of a man in political life, I regard it as the natural outcome of many generations of development, as providing the substitute that the higher civilization of to-day demands for what is undoubtedly an archaic, erratic, and ruinous personal struggle, and as affording at least a possible - it may be a probable - key to some social problems which up to the present have defied all satisfactory solution, and some of which are gathering day by day in volume, intensity and intricacy, and are at times hanging over us like threatening clouds. My inclination towards a Bill of this nature is not of yesterday, because in the very first words I ever had the honour to address to a parliamentary assemblage, I advocated the adoption of some such provision in this State. At the Federal Conventions of Adelaide and Melbourne, also, I was privileged to assist in creating the power which we now possess to deal with Australian labour troubles, and I am very glad indeed to have had an opportunity, in this, the first Parliament of the Commonwealth, to assist in exercising that power, and in enacting a Bill, which, I think, fully justifies the observation made by the Attorney-General, that it marks an era in our social and economic history. I have heard that statement questioned by more than one honorable member. But if we wish to be entirely satisfied of its accuracy, I think we have only to look back, as far as the light of history will enable us to see, upon the long line of human progress, to enable us to trace without very much difficulty the steep and tortuous path by which the greater portion of mankind have sought emancipation, right upwards from slavery, through serfdom, until we find them to-day groping almost at haphazard through industrialism. I -take this opportunity of saying as a matter of pride - as a member of this Parliament - that the debate upon this measure has been of the highest possible tone and level. We have heard to-day representative speeches on both sides of the question, and one of them leads me to say, almost at the beginning of my observations, that I think it is our duty not to take any side whatever in the great controversy of merits between masters and men. We are not inquiring as to particular disputes in the past, as to who have been in the right or who have been in the wrong, and I hold that it is no part of my duty in connexion with this matter to ask whether the workers of the world are better or worse on account of the remorseless discipline to which they have been subjected. These are inquiries which I think belong more appropriately to another field of investigation and to other occasions, and in dealing with this matter I think that it is quite sufficient, as well as appropriate, that we should accept the undoubted facts of industry as we find them, and that without condemning any, without reproaching any, we should endeavour to sympathize with all and to befriend all. I could not help thinking to-day, as I listened to the observations of the honorable member for Kooyong, that the position as he put it was somewhat misunderstood. We have no quarrel whatever with individuals or’ classes. We have not, and ought not to have, any favorites whatever in dealing with this question, and -although most of us would be disposed to concur in the observation of Lord Rosebery that “the politics of the present, and still more the politics of the future, must be the politics of the poor,” yet I wish to disclaim for myself - and I believe that I am uttering the thoughts of other supporters of this Bill - that in the smallest sense I seek to obtain for any one portion of the community an advantage over any other portion. That is the position which I think ought to be placed in the very forefront of our considerations. Our quarrel is with the system - a system which we think is inadequate to our social wants, unsuitable to our national requirements, destructive of our present national welfare, and obstructive to our future progress. Our sole desire - and this is the centre point as I understand it of the entire scheme - is thewelfare of the State as a whole. With this single aim in view - notwithstanding all thepessimistic prognostications which we haveheard - we cannot fail to recognise that we are in the presence of a great social problem, greater in its own inherent magnitude and in its consequences than any the world has. ever known, so great that it will tax theutmost resources of human skill to solve it, and yet one which, whatever may be thedifficulties, is imperatively and ceaselessly demanding some better answer than has yetbeen returned to it - the problem of modern industry. What is that problem 1 Upon, the one side we have capital organ- ized and powerful - every day becomingmore commanding in its power - and on theother, labour, aggregated, mighty, every daybecoming more closely knit together, theone the very life-blood of our prosperity, the other the bone and sinew and frequently the brains of that prosperity. These are thetwo great motive forces of our national progress. These are the elements the disturbanceof whose relations makes all our progress halt. When, therefore, we are asked what right we-have in a national Parliament to interfere with their relations, no matter how disturbed they may be, my answer is, that itis more. than a right - it is a responsibility.. It is a responsibility as well as a right, because these two elements are essential factors, not only in our well-being, but in ourvery national existence. Their harmony is essential to our advancement, and therefore must be sustained. Their discord is dangerous to the State, and therefore ought to be repressed. That is thekeynote of the whole situation. If it be ourduty to guard our commerce from foreign invasion, I take it to be a much greater obligation upon us to protect it from civil dissension, because, after all, foreign attack merely destroys results and leaves us still a united people to repair the damage done, whereas civil dissension not only causes loss immediate and direct, but impairs our friendly sentiments, our community of purpose, aye,, and of feeling,’ which is the very vital spark of nationality itself. Therefore, it seems tome that this question cannot be turned aside by considerations such as we haveheard advanced, that we have no right to- interfere in private matters. They are not private matters. Under the most favorable conditions in which we find capital and labour in juxtaposition both are essentially selfish - and I do not use that term in any opprobrious sense. Each of them knows that the other is its necessary complement, yet each of them looks to its own interest and advantage even at the expense -of the other. Thus demands are constantly made and concessions frequently compelled that justice cannot sanction. It is true - and we have heard it said ‘ in support of the -argument that voluntary action is sufficient - that equitable adjustments are often made. But there are times - and this seems to me to be the answer to that argument, because modern development tends to increase the frequency of these cases - when industrial differences become far too acute and the tension far too great to withstand the strain imposed, and then unfortunately the whole dispute eventuates in prolonged hostilities. How are they to be dealt with by the devices to which reference was made this afternoon ? The very position put by the honorable member for Kooyong seemed to me to supply the answer. Take the instances which he gave and apply them generally to the whole community. What should we have ? A vast army of capitalists and a vast array of human labourers ranged one against the other. Thisis the case in nearly all these great disputes, and the description given to-day would apply to many of them. What are we to say to that position? With capital and labour opposed to each other their activity is arrested, their power turned aside from public duty, their forces are no longer friendly, no longer harnessed together for mutual benefit and advantage, but all their possibilities are lost - nay, worse than lost, because there is a general disorder and struggle to gain by what is virtually subjugation, that which reason and argument have been powerless to win. It is too often “the case that these contests are decided by what has been most aptly and graphically called “ an ordeal to ascertain whether the man or the machine can go the longer without food.” That is a deplorable condition, and the very description that we heard to-day from the honorable member for Kooyong confirmed the judgment which I had previously formed upon the matter. This is not the age of small enterprises. We have co-operation and associations of capital.
We have large, and in some cases, colossal undertakings, and present indications still point in that direction. Labour, on the other hand, is no longer a disconnected set of units. We must face that position and recognise it. Irrespective of whether or not we carry this Bill, and thus encourage the formation of larger organizations, we must recognise the fact that labour and capital have now reached a point when their dislocation for any appreciable period is injurious to the whole body politic. It impairs its daily action, it threatens its stability. In view of that state of things I would seriously ask the opponents of this measure - and I know their opposition to it is honest and earnest - whether they are content that the State shall stand idly by and witness its own injury unmoved ? After all, what are the reasons which have been advanced for this inaction ? I have heard one additional reason to-day, namely, that it is premature to adopt- the legislation proposed. I do not consider that, at the most favorable instant we can have before greater vested interests have arisen, it is any more premature to provide this tribunal than it is to provide a defence force before a war breaks out, or to institute a fire brigade before we have a conflagration. But, apart from that argument which we heard this afternoon, I think we may reduce the objections which have been urged against the Bill to two. The first is that the compulsion is wrong and improper upon principle ; the second, that compulsion has been demonstrated, both by history and experience, to be unnecessary and prejudicial to all concerned. I believe that both these contentions are unfounded, and I shall briefly explain why I have arrived at that conclusion. Is compulsion in trade disputes improper ? If it is, can any man honestly say that there is no compulsion under present conditions ? What have we to say of the compulsion of starvation - the compulsion of necessity of every kind - by which, in spite of the strongest faith in the justice of his cause - irrespective of whether it be just or not - the worker is often brought- to his knees, so that we find his poverty, and not his will, consents ? Can any man who claims to be a sentient and sympathetic being honestly say that there is no compulsion, in the case of a man who sees his wife and children holding out their hands for bread ? Is submission under such circumstances purely voluntary ? Let me take the other side of the picture, because I desire to be fair. I would ask, “Do employers always willingly concede demands to which they find it expedient to yield? Do they feel no compulsion when they submit to demands ? “ Can we honestly assert that when a man sees his capital lying idle, his mine deteriorating, his factory wheels rusting, his trade diverted, and when perhaps he hears threats of personal violence ringing in his ears, that these influences exercise no sort of compulsion upon him? It seems to me that the truth is that there exists to-day in trade disputes far more real compulsion than this Bill seeks to introduce. “ Compulsion,” to my mind, after the best consideration that I have been able to give to the matter, is not a fair term to apply to the remedial provisions of this measure. This Bill simply bids the waves of passion, prejudice, and partisanship to be still. It evolves order out of chaos. It is a national proclamation of peace. With equal voice to all, it commands that none shall ever lay down the implements of labour and take up the weapons of war, and it tells all - whether employers or employed - to bring, if need be, their mutual controversies and estrangements to the national judgment seat for pacification and final appeal. Honorable member after honorable member has pointed out, during this debate, that there is no more compulsion in this measure than there is in the numberless Acts operating throughout the British dominions, which deal with the regulation of labour, which prescribe conditions, which sometimes prohibit the employment .of women and children, and, in some cases, of men in certain avocations ; which settle the conditions under which mines shall be worked and ships shall go to sea, and in a vast variety of ways refuse to leave to the uncontrolled play of selfish and antagonistic forces the fate of individuals or the future of the State. I can see no fair ground for saying that there is any new compulsion in this Bill, or that, looking at the circumstances fairly and honestly, compulsion is really introduced by it. Then our opponents take up a “second objection. As I understand them, they say that, conceding for the sake of argument that the position is unassailable in point of principle, yet history discredits provisions such as these, and experience stamps them as unnecessary and injurious. I am not afraid to appeal to history and to experience in support of my position. I do not intend togo back to antediluvian history. We should confine ourselves to such considerations and to such portions of our history as have a direct and immediate bearing upon the conditions to which we areattempting to mould our institutions. But,, even when we recognise that principle, wehave to go back some considerable period in our history. I believe that we are often, right in asking, in order to test its worth, what is the origin of some institution, and, that test can be applied in some satisfactory degree to this matter. If we were to ask ourselves what man stands out foremost ia the pages of history as a master of military achievement, no one would hesitate for a moment to name the great Napoleon. Weknow 1dm for the warrior, the ruler, the law giver - for the man whose conquest and policy extended far beyond military achievement. He laid the foundations for the unification of Italy and the federation of Germany, but how many of us recognise inhim the grand pacificator of labour 1 It is to his transcendent genius that we owe the first of the great tribunals that we may regard as the prototype of that which, in a more improved form, we are endeavouringtoestablish by this measure. In 1806, when the workmen of Lyons approached their Emperor to devise some means of settling trade disputes in a satisfactory manner, Napoleon established what were then known - and are still known, because so great has been their success that they still exist - as the Conseils de Prud homines - the Councils of Experts. These councils or courts - because they are. really judicial tribunals - are composed of equal numbers of representatives of employers and employed working: under the presidency of a Government, official. Their jurisdiction embraces almost* every possible dispute, save in relation to the fixation of future wages, in the trades to which they apply. They commence with conciliation, and their success in that respect is very great. We have heard to-day that, if we establish at once a Conciliation: Tribunal and an Arbitration Tribunal, weshall have no conciliation. Experience, however, demonstrates the inaccuracy of thatassertion, because, in about 90 per cent, of the disputes which have occurred thesetribunals have reconciled the parties bymeans of conciliation. At the back off that conciliation there is compulsory arbitration, and I can only say that these tribunals are recognised as having done the greatest possible service to France. M. Chevalier says of them that they constitute the noblest creation of the nineteenth century. Therefore when we deal with the history of these tribunals we ‘start with something that gives the greatest hope for the future. Belgium adopted the French system but with Jess success, because, it is thought, a criminal jurisdiction was given to the tribunals. Switzerland has adopted it in some measure, and I believe that Austria has also tried it. England, in 1824, framed -an Act somewhat on the lines of compulsory -arbitration in relation to certain matters, but that Act, together with the later law of 1837, was so inadequate to meet requirements that for over half a century it remained in disuse. In 1867 and again in 1872, the position was sought to be bettered by th6 passing of two other Acts which, I believe, never came into operation on any -occasion. The Labour Commission of 1894 - I think it was the Duke of Devonshire’s Commission- ^
– He was the President of “the Commission.
– That Commission recommended, after a good deal of debate, that “these Acts should be swept away. The result of their recommendation was that in 1896 a law was placed on the British statute-book, entitled “ An Act for the better prevention and settlement of trade and industrial disputes,” which provides for a system of purely voluntary conciliation. It is claimed - and this is the point at which I desire to arrive at this stage - tha’t voluntary conciliation is sufficient. Let us test the assertion by what has occurred in England. In 1860 Mr. Mundella, in connexion with the Nottingham hosiery and glove trade, established the first of the permanent Boards of purely voluntary conciliation and arbitration. It must be admitted by the strongest supporters of this Bill that voluntary action has, in England, been productive of a large amount of good. Both sides have endeavoured, and have succeeded in many instances, in averting a great deal of trouble and suffering by means of voluntary conciliation; but the system has not proved to’ be sufficient. I think that we ^should endeavour to deal with this matter by considering what has taken place in England since this system of purely voluntary action has been in force. We have the experience of England to look at in determining the value of a voluntary Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and I have taken the trouble to ascertain what results have followed the passing of that Act. The combined operation of the system of purely voluntary effort and the Act I have named did not succeed in averting the terrible disaster of the engineers’ strike in 1S97. After thirty weeks of conflict the men had to yield. They lost their demand for a working day of eight hours, and gained nothing in return but a formal admission of trades unionism, which was never seriously disputed. We have had since that time the settlement of the Miners’ Federation dispute, which occurred in 189S and 1899; and the dispute in the shoe trade, which took place in 1898-9. We have had matters settled by arbitration there, but what is there to guarantee either that the same trades will continue to arbitrate or that other trades will follow their example1! There is no guarantee whatever. Since the Act of 1896 was passed an immense number of disputes have been settled, some .satisfactorily and others unsatisfactorily. I shall now put before the House the total number of disputes which occurred in England during the years 1897 to 1901 inclusive. I think it better to deal with the whole period, because the figures for the individual years may differ, and by taking the returns for a stated period in respect of which it is possible to obtain them, one is able to form a more accurate view of the position. The total number of disputes for the years 1897-1901 inclusive was 3,584, and theyinvolved stoppages of work, the duration of which aggregated 35,446,398 working days. I wish honorable members to realize what a loss that represents to the nation. Of these 3,584 disputes, 85 were ended by arbitration, 110 by conciliation, 2,624 by direct arrangement and negotiation between the parties or their representatives; 259 by the employes having to return to work on the employers’ terms ; 449 by the workmen being replaced by others; and 19 by the closing up of the works ; while 38 remained unsettled. I would ask honorable ‘ members whether these figures disclose a satisfactory position.
– It is a terrible picture.
– They seem to me to furnish a conclusive answer to the question of whether the English system of purely voluntary action is sufficient to meet our requirements. I shall now give a quotation from Hazell’s Annual for 1903. I take this quotation because it is a decided instance, and I think the latest -
The cessation of work at Penrhyn quarries, which began in December, 1900, to. compel recog- nition of the men’s union, still continued throughout 190.1-2, only 1,000 out of 3,000 men being reported at work, and all efforts at conciliation having failed.
– This Bill would not affect such a case as that. It could not prevent an employer from closing his works.
– But Lord Penrhyn has not closed his quarries.
– Under this Bill there must be no lock-out -
An appeal was made to the Board of Trade. But the Hoard (December 15th) were reluctantly compelled to declare their inability to do anything which would have any probability of effecting a settlement.
There we have what I consider the most striking example it is possible to conceive. The parties themselves were unable to effect a reconciliation after a terrible period of strike, and even the official tribunal - the Board of Trade - when appealed to, was unable to do anything. I . cannot imagine that honorable members consider that a desirable state of things to continue. At all events, no one can urge that conciliation has been effective there. There is no doubt that arbitration is the very backbone of conciliation, and, even in America, where an objection exists to allow the Courts of Law to decide trade disputes - though I think it is a fast diminishing objection - there seems to be a universal admission that arbitration of some sort is absolutely necessary to accompany conciliation. Otherwise conciliation is a mere name. We know that the Federal authority in America has no such power as we have of dealing with the matter. It is no part of the duty of the President of the United States to interfere in State affairs; but, as recently as 6th April of this year, when speaking at Sioux Falls, he thought it his duty to call attention to this matter. I am going to read the statements of three representative Americans upon this subject, which throw some light upon the position there. The
President, dealing with social legislation, said -
The line of demarcation between unhealthy over-interierence and unhealthy lack of regulation is not always well defined, and shifts with the change in bur industrial needs. Most certainly we should never invoke the interference of the State or nation unless it is absolutely necessary; but it is equally true that, when confident of its necessity, we should not on academic grounds refuse it.
He then dealt with factory laws, the employment of child labour, and so on ; and. proceeded -
Very much of our effort in reference to labour - matters should be, by every device and expedient,, to try to secure a constantly better understanding between employer and employe. Everything, possible should be done to increase the sympathy and fellow-feeling between them, and. every chance taken to allow each to look at all questions, and especially at questions in dispute, somewhat through the other’s eyes. If met with, a sincere desire to act fairly by one another, and if there is, furthermore, power by each to appreciate the other’s stand-point, the chance for trouble is minimized. I suppose every thinkingman rejoices when by mediation or arbitration it proves possible to settle troubles in time to avert the suffering and bitterness caused by strikes.
Another quotation which’ I will read is from a statement of a gentleman who is an avowed opponent of compulsory arbitration, Mr. Carroll D. Wright, the United StatesCommissioner for Labour. It seems to nib, in reading his observations, that he will not long remain an opponent.I take this admission from a paper which he read in 1900 to the National Civic Federationof Chicago -
Probably the essence of its strength -
He is referring to conciliation - lies in the fact that arbitration is back of it,, or at least that arbitration may be resorted to, provided conciliation fails to effect its purpose, because, ultimately, where parties . cannot reason together, there must be the power to determine.
When we speak of America we know the substitute for compulsory arbitration which exists there.
– . The injunction.
– We know perfectly well that peaceful and amicable settlements are not always arrived at.. We know that one party does resort to the Courts, and to compulsion. It flies to the process of injunction for the purpose of compelling the other party to surrender.
– It goes to the State Courts.
– Yes, and, when a Federal question arises, to the Federal Courts. The-
Federal. Judges, as J Judges, must know nothing but the law in their decisions, and are compelled to give effect to it ; but I find a most recent expression of opinion from the Federal Bench deploring the absence of some such provision as we are seeking to enact. I will read it to honorable members, because when I have done so I shall have read to them American opinion of the highest character - that of the President, that of the Commissioner of Labour and that of a Judge of the Federal District Court.
– The honorable and learned member does not refer to the Commissioner of Labour as one who is in favour of this legislation.
– No. I said distinctly that he avows himself to be an opponent of it, but he has made admissions which, I “think, ought to carry him to the position at which we have arrived. What he says is, that he thinks that up to the time at which he spoke - 1900 - the English system was working well. That is the basis of his opinion. In the case of the Union Pacific Railroad Company v. Ruef, which was decided on 8th November, 1902, an injunction was granted against picketing and -assaulting workmen, and engaging in what the Court found was a violent and unlawful conspiracy. But, in the course of his judgment, Judge McPherson i said this -
Many of the questions of economy are not yet settled. But someday, when parties cannot be prevailed upon to agree, their disputes will be adjudicated by a Court of Chancery, in a way satisfactory to all fair-minded men. If parties cannot agree, they must arbitrate by agreement, and if they will not arbitrate, they must have compulsory arbitration. And compulsory arbitration is neither more nor less than some proceeding in some judicial tribunal, compelling the party in the wrong to submit to a decree of that which is found to be for the right. Capital or labour may in one case or in another case dominate the other, but in the end right ‘and justice will dominate both, and what is right and what is justice will be descreed by a tribunal, by whatsoever name, having Chancery powers.
I may pause for a moment to say that that idea has been carried out in this Bill by the proposal to confer upon the Court power to do that which is equitable and right. Then His Honour proceeds -
The liberty of contract and property rights will not be destroyed, and labour will not be reduced to slavery, and the public will not be ridden down for want of a tribunal ; and that tribunal may be called by one name or another, and it may be presided over by a man called “ judge,” or a “ chancellor,” or an “ arbitrator,” but such a tribunal will have chancery powers, and with all the powers developed by the growth of equity jurisprudence for the last 200 years, and the growth 3’et to come.
I think those words, coming from a distinguished tribunal like that, in a country the people of which are said to be averse to compulsory arbitration, is of the utmost value. It emanates from a source which cannot be designated as partisan or tainted, or one that is moved by prejudice. If this principle be accepted, if the central idea of this Bill be right, then I think we may properly designate the measure as a meritorious and statesman-like formulation of this principle. I think that the Government are entitled to the congratulations they have received from most, honorable members. I believe, moreover, that if the admirable exposition by the Attorney-General of its principles and provisions - an exposition which, in spite of the suddenness with which he was called upon to take up the task, omitted no important feature, and showed him to be the master of his subject - were carefully considered by the commercial community, by those bodies which we all respect, and to which the honorable member for Kooyong has referred, there would be an end of most of the opposition of which we.have heard and read. I do not forget the services rendered to this cause by the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– They have been .great, they have been recognised, and they deserve to be recognised. I must be allowed to say, however, that I think it is a thousand pities that the right honorable gentleman felt compelled to sever himself from a Ministry which I have no hesitation in saying has given ample assurance of its active sympathy with Australian democracy. I think, too - after the best consideration I have been able to give to the matter, and for reasons which I shall shortly state - that the difference between my honorable friend and his late colleagues was not due to divergence of opinion upon any vital principle, but was more, in the nature of a difference as to method. I do not think it was a. difference upon a vital principle, because I have understood all through that the Government are as firmly resolved as any of us that, the objects of the Bill shall not be defeated by any outside interference
If I understand the contention of the Government aright, I think it may be shortly summarized in this way : That in order to deal with the particular phase of this question, which, unfortunately, caused the severance, and in order to deal with it at once effectively, unoppressively, and legally, it is advisable to do so in a comprehensive Navigation Bill - effectively so that no loop-hole shall be left for foreign vessels to nominally comply with Australian conditions whilst round about our coasts, and yet to afterwards equalize conditions and practically elude the provisions of the Bill whilst outside our jurisdiction ; unoppressively, so that while securing our object in the one direction we should put no unnecessary hamper upon our foreign commerce ; and legally so that while complying with both the conditions I have mentioned we shall not overstep the limits of our constitutional powers, and shall not, whilst undoubtedly including foreign vessels within our legislation, transgress the well-known principles of international law.
– We need to deal with British as well as with the foreign vessels.
– If we include foreign vessels we can easily deal with British vessels.
– It is more easy to deal with British than with foreign vessels.
– I do not know that it is.
– I do not intend at this juncture to ask honorable members to accompany me through a maze of legal intricacies. When the Bill reaches the Committee stage I shall, as far as I am able, endeavour to deal with the question to which I have been referring. But at present I think it is right so say that I agree with the substantial position put by the learned Attorney-General that- although we have the power, provided we inserted what would practically be a short Navigation Bill into this measure to effect the object desired and to comply with all the conditions to which I have referred, still the surest, and the safest, and the simplest means of proceeding in relation to this matter is in a separate general Navigation Bill. I should also like to put forward another consideration which the Government naturally have not submitted, but which must have occurred to us as members of this House, namely, that, unless there be some overwhelming necessity compelling us to take any risk - even the risk indicated by the learned AttorneyGeneral of New South Wales, namely, the.- reservation of the Bill-
– Does the honorable and. learned member think that the Bill would, have to be reserved for the assent of HisMajesty?
– I should be very sorry tosee the Bill reserved. Of course it might bereserved, but I do not say that there is anylegal necessity for it. I express no opinion about that. What I do say is that no onewould ever desire such a reservation, and I should not like to run unnecessary risk, If there should unfortunately be a reservation it would cause delay. Apart from thisrisk, I say, further that unless there be some’ absolute necessity compelling us to run any risk rather than abstain from action in the direction indicated at the present time - unless there be some necessity so overwhelming as to induce us to override the considered attitude of the Government, weshall be taking a very strong step indeed if we say to a Ministry that is in acknowledged sympathy with us, “Weshall not allow you to exercise the ordinary discretion which every Government has of deciding the bestmeans of achieving the desired object.” TheBill, as to the rest of it, causes no difference’ or divergence of opinion among its supporters, and I do not know that I could: better describe its object and purposes, than.by quoting some words of the learned Judgewho presides over the New South WalesArbitration Court, Mr. Justice Cohen, inthe very first case that was decided by the Court, namely, that of the NewcastleWharf Labourers’ Union. His Honoursaid -
The basic principle of the Act is continuity of industrial employment and operations, a prohibition of industrial warfare and of anything in the nature of a strike or a lock-out, which experience, has proved to be a method of attempting toremedy grievances disastrous to those immediately concerned and most inimical to thegeneral welfare.
I think that those few words describeexactly the meaning and effect of the Bill, and they come very strongly from a Judge who is not immersed in political life, and who has no party purposes to serve. Thegoverning clause of the Bill, described by the Attorney-General as the keynote to themeasure, is clause 9, which prohibits strikesand locks-out. The clause is a whole constitution in itself. All the rest is ancillary. I regard the few words contained in that. clause as a solid and enduring pledge of commercial peace in this Commonwealth. And it is no dishonorable peace for those who claim, like some of my honorable friends, that voluntary conciliation is sufficient to meet every emergency, because the Bill places no obstacles in the way of voluntary agreements or settlements. ‘Industrial agreements are specially provided for. They are not only recognised but encouraged and supported. If parties can come to any agreement among themselves, and independently of the Court, they are at perfect liberty to do so. If they cannot, the President of that tribunal, as the good friend to both parties and to the country at large, endeavours by mediation to reconcile their differences. If he succeeds in doing so, the settlement is still voluntary. Years ago, before I had any thought of entering Parliament, I had some experience of acting as mediator .in trade disputes. Upon one occasion there was in this city some trouble in connexion with the iron trade, and I was asked to act as chairman of a conference at which both sides were represented. I succeeded to this extent : that we whittled away the differences of the two parties to such a degree that they arrived at an amicable understanding. Indeed, amongst my most treasured possessions to-day, is what I may term a very generous acknowledgment of my efforts in the shape, of a letter, which bears the respective seals of the organizations of both employers and employes. That was conciliation, and very successful conciliation, too. It shows that it is very necessary and proper to make provision for voluntary conciliation by some independent person in a Bill of this nature. But it does not show that that is all that is necessary. In the case of men of the stamp which it was my good fortune to meet, it was all that was necessary. But the result might not have been so happy, because honorable members know that only to-day we have had instances - I am not going to express an opinion as to who was in the right or who was in the wrong - of the most flagrant nature, showing that, notwithstanding the enormous stake of both employers and of employed, it was impossible for them to come to any amicable arrangement. The instance which the honorable member for Kooyong gave today proved to me - and I think to us all - in the most startling manner, that the law was weak indeed which failed to provide a remedy for such a huge impending industrial disaster. So far from that case affording any argument for the absence of State intervention, it seemed to me to speak trumpet-tongued in favour of such a provision as I am now advocating. We know that these cases do occur. What if such a condition of affairs should be repeated - if, after all negotiation, conference, and f friendly offices, there should be a dead-lock ? Let us suppose that, after all these stages in a dispute, the gulf between the parties is still too broad to be bridged over by themselves. What is to happen t Either side may be obstinate, either side may be ignorant of the true’ facts of the case, or may lack information as to the true position of the other. Each may think that the other is wilfully obstructive. In such circumstances, this Bill says to those who are in darkness “ Let there be light,” and to those who in face of the light are still obdurate, “Let there be peace.” When matters have reached such a pass the State steps in, in all its power and- majesty, and commands its citizens to continue their duty upon the field of honorable and productive toil, just as in the case of necessity it would call upon them to do their duty upon the field of battle. The State, above us all, not as’ a tyrant but rather as a loving mother, assumes the task of reconciliation when it proves too heavy for her unaided children, and ends their quarrel with her just award. If that is the purpose of this Bill, who among us will cavil at it ? I have put forward at the present time only a few general reasons why I am in favour of this measure. In Committee I know that the struggle will be great. I know that we shall have to consider in detail the various clauses of the Bill in order that we may determine whether they fairly carry out the principles which we favour. I think we shall find that in the main they do so.
– Do the provisions of the Bill exceed our constitutional power ?
– I have said already that these are matters which can best be debated in Committee when we have before us the form of any proposed amendments ; otherwise we may be beating the air. I believe that when the labours of this first Parliament of the Commonwealth come to be reviewed, Australia, taking our work all in all, will look upon it, guided as it has been by the able leadership of her first Administration with pride and satisfaction. I believe that Australia will concede that our life here has been strenuous, that our efforts have been earnest, and that our achievement, with all its faults, has been not unworthy of the great trust which has been committed to us. I believe that this great measure will represent not the leastof our endeavours. To some extent it travels into the ideal. I am aware that not even our ideals can tell us just the point that we shall reach. I thoroughly agree in that respect with what has been said concerning the provisions of this Bill. They do one thing, however - they guarantee our direction. Only time and experience can insure results. I repeat that they guarantee our direction. When Columbus set out upon his renowned voyage to find a better and an easier path to India, as he thought, he had his theory, his ideal. His general idea was right, his faith in it was unshakable, and his triumph “was great: His triumph was greater even than he had dreamed of, because his gift to the world was not another path to the Indies, but something richer and greater - a new Continent, America. I dare hope that this Bill, which aims at closing every chasm that separates labour from capital and at keeping both on the continuous field of action, may bring to us greater blessings than even the clearest sighted of us can foresee. I venture to think that it is by means of laws based on the same noble sentiments, with the same simplicity of purpose, and the same grandeur of design, that this young Commonwealth, the latestin the field of nationhood, will so write her history that it may be truly said of her -
Time’s noblest offspring is the last.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).The House listened most attentively to the last speaker, and rightly so. A number of very able speeches have been delivered upon this important subject, and I should like to say in the first place that I am quite unable to venture upon any predictions whatever concerning the issue of this legislation. I do not pretend to say what the ultimate result of it will be. That is beyond the province of any individual to foretell. Nevertheless, I believethat the experiment is well worth making. I believe that it can be made safely, and that none of the ill-consequences which have been predicted by the opponents of the measure are likely to disturb very greatly the future of the Australian people. I do not intend to weary the House with any lengthy remarks; indeed, I should not have spoken upon the second reading of the Bill but for the remarks of the honorable member for Kooyong. Whilst he was speaking I was, however, induced to make a few notes, and I wish to offer one or two practical observations upon this proposal. In doing so, I desire honorable members to understand that I speak not as one who has read up the subject, but rather as one who has had a long and practical experience in industrial warfare. After all, I take it that experience is the test of all truth, and I can speak from experience with far greater certitude than does the honorable member for Kooyong from the purely philosophical stand-point. Whilst I make no attempt to decry the excellence of the speeches which have been delivered from the philosophical side of the question, we cannot, do better than follow the teachings of experience in dealing with these knotty industrial problems. In the first place, I should like to say that those honorablemembers who have advised the adoption of different methods from those contemplated in the Bill might very well have reserved their advice, because it was not needed, inasmuch as the Bill will not affect any proposals which they have made.
– It does.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. It is still open to him to advise disputants to settle their differences without the aid of. the proposed Arbitration Court.
– Does the honorable member think that is likely to be effective?
– If not, any agreement which may be. made without the aid of the Bill is not purely a voluntary one. There must be some element of compulsion in it.
– Of course, there is.
– If the honorable member admits that in all these voluntary agreements there is an element of compulsion I consider that he gives his case entirely -away.
– It is not State compulsion.
– There are other kinds of compulsion which are just as effective in the settlement of disputes for the time being. But the difficulty is that the adoption of those methods does not bring about industrial peace. They rather tend to foment strife, and to perpetuate conflicts which we deplore. We have our Conciliation and Arbitration Courts upon the purely voluntary principle, and in some cases after they have .failed strikes occur. It may be that the capitalist wipes out the labourer for the time being, or that the labourer compels the capitalist to come to his terms. Neither result insures industrial peace or promotes cordiality. Great strikes have occurred again and again. What has been the result ? They always leave in their train incalculable bitterness of feeling, which almost invariably breaks out immediately an opportunity occurs. A dispute has recently been settled in Victoria, and a great triumph has been achieved, ‘ but the results of the trouble remain. The dispute has not been settled in the true sense of the term, and we may he sure that the men who have been compelled to submit to the impositions of the Victorian Government will seek the earliest opportunity to secure a redress of their grievances. I speak not as one taking sides in that dispute. I am simply relating a fact which has had abundant confirmation. Wherever a strike- has been resorted to and peace has been secured by methods such as were recently adopted in Victoria, it has led only to the breakingout of the trouble again as soon as one side or the other ‘has been in a position to seek a remedy for its grievances. I feel that there is, therefore, no prospect of immunity from these industrial troubles unless we resort to the method prescribed by this measure or some law of a similar kind. Before this Bill can have any meaning we must presuppose a condition of things which has so shocked the public sense as to imperatively lead to the adoption of some better method of dealing with these industrial troubles than at present exists. This Bill postulates that these things cannot satisfactorily be settled by means of the old systems which have been indicated during this debate. It presupposes that all other methods have been tried and failed, and that for that reason it is necessary for the State to step in by way of final resort to remedy a condition of things which it can no longer tolerate. What does’ experience teach us in regard to this matter? The voluntary system of conciliation has been tried in New South Wales. After the last maritime strike the
New South Wales Government established a Court to deal with labour troubles, and appointed the very best man that could be found in the State to preside over the tribunal. I refer to the late Dr. Garran, who was a man singularly qualified, both by study and temperament, to bring about the best results from a Court of this description. The result, however, was utter failure. The Court for two or three years did practically nothing, and the Legislative Assembly terminated its inglorious existence by striking off the Estimates the amount necessary for its up-keep. We also tried the system of compulsory investigation. The State Government with which I was associated passed a Bill enabling the Ministry to take action for the prevention of disputes. What . was the result ? The honorable member for Kooyong referred this evening to a dispute which is down for settlement just now at Lithgow, a town in my own electorate. While this system of compulsory investigation was in force a labour difficulty occurred in that town, and my colleague, Mr. Hogue, requested the parties to meet him in conference. The reply of the employers was that they would meet the Minister as a matter of courtesy, but that they would not submit to any suggestion that he might make.
– That was conciliation.
– Quite so. Thus it was that that system, having proved in its turn to be utterly inadequate to meet the industrial conditions which prevailed, was allowed to pass away, and gave rise to the compulsory methods of the present day. We have reached the present stage in the industrial legislation of New South Wales by a purely evolutionary process, which has extended over a period of twelve years. We have to-day an Act in force in New South Wales which, I venture to say, is doing good work in. many directions. I do not pretend to assert that the method is a perfect one. I am afraid we shall never have a perfect method of settling trade disputes. We should be very foolish to anticipate the adoption of a method on this mundane sphere which will be perfect in its operation and effects. What we hope is that by this means we shall succeed in reaching, as far as possible, the point of equity in connexion with disputes ; that the finding of the Court will be proclaimed to the world, and that the combatants will be asked to respect it for the time being. This
Court will come into operation upon the presumption that each party to a dispute has failed to come to an agreement, and that the social peace of the community is threatened. It will then call a truce between the parties while it investigates the trouble which they have failed to remove. It is quite true that, in seeking for this point of equity in the industrial conditions of our time, a great deal will be done to create friction. I have been informed that, in some trades, the New South Wales Act is producing a feeling of unrest. That is due to the fact that the initial process of seeking for the point of justice is still in course of operation. When the Judge has found what he conceives to be the point of equity as between those who employ labour and those who work for their living, these troubles will diminish, and the relations will be better than those which existed before the Act came into force. It is unfair to judge of the operations of a Court of this kind during its initial stages. It has many prejudices to overcome, lt has, shall I say, much industrial rubbish to shift away, in order that the point of justice in connexion with trade disputes may be found. When the industrial house has been swept and garnished, so to speak, we may hope that more peaceful relations will obtain. Reference has been made to the fact that there is no legislation of this kind in America and Great Britain. It is true that there is no such legislation at present in operation in the United States of America; but it is equally true that almost all the American magazines are discussing this question. The Arena last month published a very able article, in which the establishment of a Court, similar to that which we propose to create, is urged for the settlement of disputes in America. One can scarcely peruse an American magazine without finding that it contains an article in which legislation of this kind is commended to the local authorities, and in which the hope is expressed that something of this description may soon become the law of the land in the United States of America. There is no compulsory arbitration law in Great Britain. J do not know exactly what will be the result of the present agitation there; but I freely and gladly admit that the voluntary method of conciliation has succeeded, to a very great’ extent, in England. The honorable and learned member for Indi to-night indicted the voluntary method adopted in England, and succeeded in showing that it had not accomplished all that is claimed for it by its advocates. But it has nevertheless done a great deal, and we ought very cheerfully to recognise that fact. Why has that system accomplished so much in many of the well-regulated industries of England 1 It seems to me that there is a difference between the spirit in which the employers there approach these questions, and that in which many of the employers approach them in these newer countries. There is in Great Britain still a remnant of the spirit of noblesse. It has not yet died out, and it is that which to-day differentiates the capitalism of Great Britain from the capitalism of these younger countries. The -capitalists of Australia are men who have carved out their own way in life. They are therefore not in the same position, and do not approach these industrial troubles in quite the same spirit as do the aristocrats of Great Britain. There is just a little of the old patriarchal leaven left in Great Britain, and this has something to do with the successful working of the voluntary methods of conciliation in relation to many of the trades there.
– The honorable member does not in’clude Lord Penrhyn in that observation.
– I am afraid that he is a very “hard case.” We recognise that the voluntary method which has been successfully employed in settling many of the great trade disputes in England has not been successful here. It has failed to succeed in Australia, not because we have neglected to try it, but because there is a difference of some kind between the position of the parties in the old world and the new, and I think the difference is that which I have just indicated. We are told, also, that legislation of this kind - and I desire to reply to only a few of the objections which have been raised to this measure - is a violation of the principle of freedom of contract. We are told that it violates the principle of freedom. I should like at this .stage to , refer briefly to certain remarks which have fallen from two honorable members sitting on this side of the House. Last week one of them declared that this proposal was the natural corollary of protection, and of course he was cheered by honorable members sitting on the
Government side of the House. Another honorable member declared that if we pushed legislation of this kind to extremes we could not hope to compete with the lower paid labour of the Continent of Europe. I do not agree with either of those assertions. I absolutely deny on the best authority that this legislation is either the natural corollary of free- trade or protection. I deny that anything which has to do, merely as this Court will have to do, with the distribution of a product is necessarily related to a policy which has to do with the production itself. The return to capital in any of these industrial enterprises is not a necessary guarantee of what the return to labour will be. The one is governed by a set of laws entirely different from that which governs the other. I should like here to make a short quotation. I think that it is time for some one on this side to repudiate the contention that, in seeking to get justice for those who are engaged in industrial operations, we are in any sense trenching upon fiscal ground or giving away our pos’ition as advocates of freedom of exchange. I propose; therefore, to quote a passage from Mill’s Essay on Liberty. I think both my honorable friends who have raised the contention which I wish to rebut will accept this authority as conclusive on the point. We hear Mill’s doctrines very frequently quoted by them, and I think they do right in quoting them. He uses this language -
Trade is a social.act. Whoever undertakes to -sell any description of goods to the public, does what affects the interests of other persons and of society in general; and thus his conduct, in principle, comes within the jurisdiction of society.
That is a clear economic mandate for this interference with what is called individual liberty -
Accordingly, it was once held to be the duty of Governments, in all cases which were considered -of importance, to fix prices and regulate the processes of manufacture. But it is now recognised, though not till after a long struggle, that both the cheapness and the good quality of commodities are most effectually provided for by leaving the producers and sellers perfectly free, under the sole check of equal freedom to the buyers for supplying themselves elsewhere. This is the so-called doctrine of free-trade, which rests on grounds different from, though equally solid with, the principle of individual liberty asserted in this essay. . . . As the principle of individual liberty is not involved in the doctrine of free-trade, so neither is it in most of the questions which arise respecting the limits of that doctrine ; as, for example, what amount of public control is admissible for the prevention of fraud by adulteration ; how far sanitary precautions, or arrangements to protect work-people employed in dangerous occupations, should be enforced on employers. Such questions involve considerations of liberty, only in so far as leaving people to themselves is always better, cateris paribus, than controlling them ; but that the)’ may be legitimately controlled for these ends ‘is in principle undeniable.
That is my answer to those who affirm that in advocating legislation of this kind we are doing something which is in dissonance with our free-trade professions. I should cease to advocate the doctrine of free-trade if I believed it to be inconsistent with the payment of good wages, and the insuring of comfortable industrial conditions to the workers. I do not think a reform would be worth advocating if it did not carry with it those corollaries. One of the doctrines most emphasized in all fiscal treatises written by free-traders is that freetrade means the ability to employ labour under the best possible conditions ; that labour freed from restrictions can employ itself most effectively in production, and that therefore there is more of the product to be divided amongst the labourers. That is the doctrine which, rightly or wrongly, we hold. To say that those who under free-trade conditions produce wealth are not entitled to a fair share of the fruits of their labour and to the enjoyment of good industrial conditions, is to say something to which I decline to subscribe. I regard this Bill as following in the train of others which have already secured good results. The honorable member for Kooyong spoke of two disputes in the electorate which I represent which have been set down for hearing before the New South Wales Arbitration Court. In one of those the Lithgow iron-workers and in the other the Western miners are interested. The trial of the issues in which the miners are concerned commenced this week, and I regard it as a triumph for this legislation that, although the dispute has been in existence for more than twelve months, both the miners and proprietors have been content to wait patiently for the hearing of their case. If the New South Wales Act had not been in existence the case would have been settled long ago, but very probably as the result of a strike. Had there been no Court of Arbitration we should during the past twelve months have seen a repetition in New South Wales of the maritime struggle. Unionism is now particularly strong in that State, and has been on the- up-grade for some years past. I am certain that without the Arbitration Court there would have been a .huge strike of miners at Newcastle, in the Illawarra district, and in the western coal-fields, and there would have been strikes of other huge aggregations of labourers. We have to set that fact against the irritation which has arisen- in the ordering and working of compulsory arbitration. In estimating the results of this legislation, one has to make his choice between industrial peace, even though there has been the irritation to which I refer, and the great industrial cataclysms which we have had in the past. I infinitely prefer the present method of settling disputes to that which has been adopted in the past. We have been told that this legislation is only tentative and experimental. I admit that it is. We have had experience of its working in New Zealand for a period of nine years, and in New South Wales for a period of two years. I do not say that the New South Wales experience is conclusive, nor do I go so far as to assert that the future is assured. I do not know. All I know is that so far the experiment has shown itself worthy of the trial. Surely if there is any country where these huge industrial statutory experiments may be made it is here, where adult suffrage is the basis of legislation. If our experiments prove failures, it will not be a difficult thing to return to the old methods. The people have the control of these things in their own hands. With triennial Parliaments and a franchise such as ours legislative experiments can safely be made. The results, so far, have been encouraging. The industrial peace has been kept, and we have been saved from a repetition of those terrible struggles in which capital has been wasted, while the worker and his family starved. It has been stated that the causes of strikes are mainly differences as to rates of pay and hours of labour. There is a great deal of truth in that remark, but it does not convey all the truth. My experience is that the immediate cause of strikes is often the smallest imaginable irritation. As it is the last straw which breaks the camel’s back, so a strike is frequently the culmination of a series of irritating differences which have been in existence for a very long time. The immediate cause of a strike is often the personal relations between an employer and his employes; and I think that the Arbitration
Court will do its best work in going between: the combatants, and preventing differences from ending in the trouble to which we havehitherto been accustomed.’ I could point to disputes in which the immediatecause would appear to any unbiased person ridiculously inadequate, whereas those fully informed would know that the real cause was an aggregation of irritationsreaching back months an’d perhaps years. I could not help thinking, when the honorable member for Kooyong was speaking against the measure, that those who are sostrongly opposed to legislation of this kind are also strongly opposed to strikes. We used to hear a great deal of the infamy of strikes. ‘ They were denounced from thehousetops, and almost hysterical steps weretaken to put an end to them. But now wehear only of the irritation caused by theworking ‘of a measure which is preventingstrikes. Those who denounce this irritation are those who have spoken mostloudly against strikes, in which there is an exercise of that individual liberty which, they are so anxious now to preserve. We have to make our choice, not between this Bill or nothing, but between themethods of preserving industrial peace for which it. provides, and the old methods of strikes and locks-out. Some persons argueon the subject as though, if there were nosuch legislation, our industrial troublescould be resolved without difficulty, and there would be settled and continued industrial peace. Nothing of the kind. Honorable members must see that they ha veto maketheir choice between the methods provided in the Bill, and the methods of the past, which, must be revolting to every civilized person. I could not help feeling that the honorablemember for Kooyong, when he spoke of the Broken Hill strike, advanced the very best possible reasons for constituting the Court contemplated by the Bill. He spoke of theold, intolerable conditions, which could no longer be borne, and one would have thought that he would be glad to avail himself of the means of escape offered by the Bill. The honorable member referred , to the great injustice inflicted upon the Colonial Sugar Company because of someapplication which had been made by a section of their workmen to the Arbitration Court in New South Wales. I do not know the particulars of that dispute, but if they are as stated by the honorable member for Kooyong, we may fairly assume that the Court will not permit 200 men to drag out 3,000 men, or to determine their conditions of employment. The Court may be relied upon to act according to the dictates of common sense, and to do that which is fair and just. If we cannot trust a Judge in a matter of this kind we” had better not legislate at all. Everything depends upon the extent to which we can trust the Court to mete out justice between the contending, parties. Before we can imagine that the Court will revolutionize industrial conditions, or harass capitalists on all occasions, we must divest ourselves of the idea that J Judges are the high-minded and patient investigators that we have been led to believe. The President of the Court should.be a J udge, and with him the decision of all cases should rest. Assessors selected from time to time by the parties interested in industrial disputes should be appointed to sit’ with the Judge, and inform him of the -facts. It is useless to expect any permanent expert members of the Court to have a thorough acquaintance with all the minutiae of industrial affairs, and in the appointment of assessors from time to time, consideration should be paid to the special knowledge which they would be able- to bring to bear upon the subject in dispute. The weaknessof the New South Wales tribunal lies in the fact that two of the members of the Court are partisans.
– They are both partisans and Judges.
– Exactly. They are elected upon a partisan basis, and, therefore, upon an utterly wrong principle. One arbitrator is selected by the employers, presumably on account of some bias in their favour, and the same thing applies to the arbitrator chosen by the members of labour organizations. Therefore, we should appoint assessors from the trades in dispute to advise the President of the Court upon technical matters, leaving the decision to him alone. In dealing, with this matter we should, as far as possible,. bring our experience to bear. It is far better than all the book knowledge in the world in dealing with a practical matter such as that now under our consideration. We are all deeply interested in the settlement of industrial disputes, and the main point for us to consider is whether the proposal now before us is likely to bring about conditions more in consonance with our latter-day civilization, and with the trend of social and industrial evolution all the world over. If we believe that this measure is a good one, we should not stop to consider whether the principles upon which it is based have stood the test of experience elsewhere, but we should experiment for ourselves. If mistakes be made, we can readily apply the remedy, but I do not think that we are making a mistake in endeavouring to bring about the reign of reason instead of one of brute force. While some of the legislative experiments made in the direction of settling industrial disputes by legislation have failed, and whilst no doubt many failures await us in the future, we may very well venture to adopt the measure now submitted to us. I should be. the very last to’ dog:matize with regard to the results of such legislation. We cannot foretell the future. We do not know which side will be the first to seek relief from the operation of the Bill. It may be that both employers and workmen will do so. We cannot tell, and, therefore, it is useless to speculate. With a franchise such as we have, we may safely make this experiment in the hope that we may at least do something towards the solution of problems which have vexed the world for years, and which have formed a most serious obstacle to human progress.
– In view of the state of public business and the probability that within five or six weeks honorable members will be wooing the electors, I could well understand an inexperienced observer arriving to the conclusion that we were making faces at the people with an ulterior object in view. But I am quite sure that honorable members have no such intention. Their desire is to bring the fullest amount of information to bear .upon the discussion of this important measure, so that if it be found impossible to bring it to fruition during the present session, it will be unnecessary to appoint a Select Committee to inquire into the merits of the Government proposal. I was very much surprised to hear for the first time from such a high authority as the honorable and learned member for Indi, that Napoleon, was practically the first to apply the principle of conciliation and arbitration to industrial disputes. I was amazed to learn that the man who attempted to enslave Europe, who walked to power through rivers of blood, -who, in his retreat from Moscow, proved himself absolutely callous to the sufferings of humanity, and who slumbered on the field of “Waterloo, was, forsooth, the author of the first measure of conciliation and arbitration.
Is this the man of thousand thrones,
Who strew’d our earth with hostile bones,
And can he thus survive?
Since he, miscalled the Morning Star,
Nor man nor fiend hath fallen so far.
I hope the workmen of Australia will not hold up Napoleon as worthy of any honour from them.
– He was one of the greatest men who ever lived.
– He was not great from the workmen’s point of view. I hope that we shall evolve a measure which will be fair to both the employers and the employes who may be involved in industrial disputes. We must take care that we do not give them awooden nutmeg, instead of the genuine article. Some doubts have been expressed regarding the probable operation of the provision relating to the common rule, and I can conceive that the application of a common rule to widely separated portions of the Commonwealth, under divergent conditions, might result in serious injustice. I hope, therefore, that the provision will be so hedged around that no great difficulty may arise. A rate of wages which would be fair in one part of a State, mightly be utterly inadequate in some other part.
– Does not the honorable member think that the Court would consider that?
– I hope that it would. But I have heard Judges say that the law should be their guide, and that too much ought not to be left to their judgment in matters of this kind. The common rule ought to be made so comprehensive in its effect that there will be no possibility of injustice being inflicted even by the decision of a Justice of the HighCourt. I quite agree with the objections which have been urged against clause 6 by many honorable members who have instanced the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. The further explanation of that provision has, however, placed a very different complexion upon it. Still it would be better if the Bill provided that the consent of a majority of the employes should be necessary before an appeal could lie to the Arbitration Court. I am also of opinion that we should appoint only the President of the proposed tribunal, and select skilled aribitrators as occasion’ demands. It would be the function of the arbitrators to give the President the benefit of their skilled knowledge, ‘ with a view to enable him to arrive at a just decision upon any matter in dispute. In my judgment no barrister should be permitted to appear before the Court. Experience teaches that their presence materially prolongs proceedings, and I hold that essential justice may well be dispensed without their aid. I do not view clause 65 with favour, because it requires an employer to give a preference to members of a union.
– Only if ordered to do so by the Court.
– I do not think that such a preference should be given under any circumstances. All men, irrespective of whether or not they are associated with a. union, should be equal in the sight of the law. Probably, in Committee, a more complete explanation of the reasons for this preference may be forthcoming. Another provision which has engaged my attention is clause 11, under which an employe cannot be dismissed as the result of any award given by the Court.While human nature is what it is, I think that after a dispute has occurred it would be very much better to allow the workman and the employer to go their respective ways. I know that whenever. I have a serious dispute with anybody we are infinitely better apart until our differences have been settled. If we chain people together when they are smarting under what they conceive to be legitimate grievances, no cordiality can exist between them. I think it is desirable to exempt from the operation of this measure farm labourers and persons engaged in rural pursuits. I am quite convinced that it is impossible to apply a Bill of this description to the peculiar circumstances of that industry, which are altogether different from those connected with the manufacturing industries. Of course much that has been said concerning this Bill is applicable only to cases in which industrial disputes extend beyond the limits of any one State. Personally, however, I have never attached much importance to that provision, because if a dispute arose in one State I do not think it would be a very difficult matter for the trades unions interested to secure its extension to another. All these organizations are so entirely under the control of their leaders that such an extension could be speedily effected. I shall await with very great interest the amendment of which notice has been given by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, who objects to any interference with State factory legislation. I am strongly of opinion that the Commonwealth should not trespass upon the domain of State legislation. I shall need further knowledge regarding the provision which is intended to prohibit locks-out from taking place before I can support it in the form in which it now appears. Surely if an award is given against an employer, , which will prevent him from profitably carrying on his industry, no power upon earth ought to compel him bo continue it merely for the satisfaction of the workmen.
– The Bill does not contemplate that.
– I am pleased to be assured upon the point. Nevertheless, if the provision relating to locks-out compels an employer either to reduce his establishment, or to relinquish his business, enormous injury must be done to trade. Irrespective of whether or not this Bill becomes law, I sincerely hope that the industries of Australia will continue to progress. I am sorry to confess that in my own State, where there are many industries which might be profitably worked, capital is exceedingly shy, owing to the probabilities of labour difficulties in the future. Some five or six years ago infinitely less trouble was experienced in inducing capitalists to engage in speculative investments than would be experienced now. At the present time it would require almost a team of bullocks to drag their capital out of the 3^ per cent, investments. That is not a good thing for the general community. Whatever the outcome of this measure may be, I am convinced that we shall all work harmoniously for the welfare, not only of the capitalist, but of the workmen throughout Australia.
– Before my election one of the questions which was repeatedly asked me upon the hustings was - “Will you support a Bill for compulsory conciliation and arbitration 1 “ I replied that in my opinion compulsory conciliation was almost unthinkable, but that I should be very glad to support any measuredesigned to promote conciliation, and, failing that, a Compulsory Arbitration Bill . That is exactly what is provided for in this measure, and though there are some clauses. in it of which I do not approve, I approve of its main principle, and shall support its second reading with great pleasure. I must say, however, that to continue this debate any longer is suggestive of flogging a dead horse. I think that about thirty -five honorable members have already poured out their souls upon it. I am somuch in agreement with the delicate hint which was thrown out last night by theAttorney-General that the discussion had. continued rather long, that, although I had resolved to make a monumental speech, forthe sake of my country I am willing toforego my opportunity. Although I am naturally a man of peace, for the pastfourteen years I have been in a continual state of warfare, and this has culminated in my return to this House. I have had’ considerable experience of strikes, and thereis one incident in this connexion which istoo good to withhold from honorable members. When I arrived at Rockhampton, the air was simply blue with strikes. I wasafraid to go down to the office in the morning lest I should be met by a committee asking for concessions which, if granted, would be followed two or three days later by another request. The position at last became intolerable. The company in which I was interested was making plenty of money. It gave full employment and paid good wages. One morning a solution of the difficulty presented itself to my mind. I called in the secretary of the Butchers’ Union - thebutchers are the aristocrats of all meat works’- and said to him, “ How would it suit you to take the foremanship of thedepartment?” He replied, “Would you trust me with ib after all the agitation which I have raised amongst the men ? “ ‘ “ Certainly,” I answered, “if you servethe company as well as you have served your comrades you will suit us splendidly.” The bargain was made, and wehad no more strikes for two years. I heartily support the second reading of the Bill.
– Ib was not. mv intention originally bo join in this debate, for members of the Labour party share the - desire of their leader that we should refrain, . as far as possible, from making speeches at this stage, in order that the Bill may reach the Committee stage as soon as possible. I wish, however, to make a brief reply to some of the remarks which have fallen from the honorable member for Kooyong. I am one of those who believe very strongly that voluntary conciliation and arbitration is inadequate to secure the settlement of labour disputes. We have had examples of the ineffectiveness of that system in England, America, and other countries, but we need not go. away from the experience of Australia in order to prove that it is a failure. I may be permitted, perhaps, to give some -details of the great strike which took place at Broken Hill some years ago, and which go to prove that the voluntary system of conciliation is not in itself sufficient to secure the settlement of labour troubles. As the honorable member for Kooyong has said, there have been three strikes in connexion with mining operations at Broken Hill. As the outcome of the second strike, an agreement was drawn up between the mine-owners and the miners, the first clause of which provided that if at any time the mine-owners or the miners desired thattheagreement should be amended they should resort to arbitration. At the conference at which this agreement was arrived at, Mr. Cann, now Chairman of Committees of the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, and a highly respected member of that House, was one of the representatives of the men, and expressed a desire that the agreement should remain in operation for a certain number of years. Mr. Wilson, one of the representatives of the mine-owners, said - “ No. Do not let us fix any period during which this agreement shall remain in force. Let us agree to the first clause, and when any alteration is required it will only be necessary for us to resort to arbitration. Go back to the men and endeavour to keep them true to this agreement.” The agreement was adopted, and I am pleased to say that both parties observed it for a period of two years. At the end of that time, however, a letter was received from Mr. W. Knox, who was then Secretary of the Associated Mines, stating, amongst other things, that -
In consequence of the altered circumstances at the mines power to stope ore by contract must form a portion of any agreement.
On behalf of the men, Mr. Sleath, who was the secretary of the Miners’ Association, applied for definite information as to the contract work sought to be introduced, and; inquired whether it was desired to have the existing agreement between the companies and the miners of the Barrier district altered, since it provided for the settlement of disputes by a Board of Arbitration. Perhaps at this stage I should indicate the way in which it was determined that the Board of Arbitration should be created. 1 It was agreed that each party should appoint three representatives to act for them ; and that if they were unable to arrive at a decision they should call in a Judge, of one of the Supreme Courts of Australia to act as umpire. The method to be adopted in selecting the Judge was also arranged. It was agreed that the names of the Judges of the Supreme Courts of Australia should be submitted to the parties ; that each sideshould have the right to erase one name at a time from the list until the number had been reduced to two ; that the two remaining names should then be placed in a hat, and that the Judge whose name was first drawn from it should officiate as umpire.
– I suppose the mine-owners would not have selected Judge Higinbotham.
– Probably not; and probably there were some Judges who would not have been selected by the men. The secretary of the Miners’ Association, Mr. Sleath, wrote a second letter to the mineowners,’ in which the following paragraph occurred : -
The executive would also point out that if it is the desire of the Associated Mines to have the agreement of 1890 altered or amended, provision is made for that in the agreement aforesaid. As to the proper course to pursue, should the Associated Mines desire to have the agreement altered or amended, no doubt the Miners’ Organization will be prepared to meet them in a fair and open manner.
In reply to that communication, a letter was received from Mr. Knox, in which it was stated that -
It would appear that their previous communications of .Tune 10th and 17th had not received an adequate consideration by your Executive Council, and, after carefuL deliberations, the mining companies are of’ opinion, from the tenor of your correspondence, that no good results are likely to be arrived at by its continuance. The mining companies have therefore unanimously decided to give your Association notice that all agreements existing between the mining companies and the A.M.A. will terminate on and after Saturday, July 30th next ensuing, and such notice is hereby given.
– Is the Mr. Knox who signed that letter the honorable member .for Kooyong?
– I think so. He signed it simply as Secretary of the Associated Mines. The letter was dated 29th June, so that one month’s notice w,as given to the men of the intention of .the Associated Mines to terminate the agreement. Negotiations were thus brought to a conclusion, with the result that the men went out on strike. I have been led to quote this letter because of the fact that the honorable member for Kooyong stated to-night that certain workers in New Zealand were dissatisfied with an award given by the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration in that colony, and had threatened to strike. We find that in this case an arrangement arrived at between the parties was loyallyobserved for two years, but that at the end of that period the mineowners were not prepared to go to arbitration in accordance with the terms of the agreement into which they had entered with the men. The result was that the men dropped their tools and went out on strike, and a bitter conflict, extending over some four or five .months, ensued. If, instead of a purely voluntary system, there had been a compulsory system of arbitration in force, rendering it necessary for the parties to arbitrate, that strike would not have taken place. Whether the mine-owners or the men would have won on appeal to a Court of Arbitration is a question which must remain unsettled ; but the facts. that I have quoted show that in this case the system of voluntary arbitration absolutely broke down. To my mind, this is a very strong case in point. I believe that the difficulty would have been amicably settled to the satisfaction of both parties if a system of compulsory arbitration had been in force, and that much bitterness would thus have been avoided. I am glad to say that the bitterness to which the strike gave rise, and which has unfortunately existed in Broken Hill for a number of years, is now dying out, and that there is a better feeling prevailing between the men and the mine managers.
– That is . because there is an Arbitration and Conciliation Act in force in New South Wales.
– We know that time very often heals many wounds, and it is true that we have an Arbitration and Conciliation Act in operation to-day in New South Wales. While seated in this chamber some days ago I happened to glance at theSpeaker’s gallery, and saw there two members of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales - Mr. Smith and Mr.’ Cruickshank - sitting side by side with Mr. Zebina Lane, who was a prominent mine manager at the time of the Broken Hill strike, and took an active part in the conflict. I havenow no feeling against that gentleman, but the fact that he fought well for the mineowners caused a very bitter feeling against him on the part of the workers, just as’ the fact that Mr. Sleath and Mr. Ferguson fought well .for the miners caused thebitterness of the employers to centre round them. But I could not help being struck by the change which had been wrought by the introduction of the new system intoNew South Wales. The arbitrators wereproceeding to Broken Hill to settle a dispute which had arisen there, and tosee them sitting side by side with’ Mr. Lane, seemed to me to afford a remarkable illustration of the altered condition of affairs. The appearance of the arbitrators in Melbourne occasioned no excitement. There were no paragraphs in thepress announcing their arrival in the city, and they were quietly proceeding to Broken Hill to settle a dispute in an amicablemanner just as the Judge- of a SupremeCourt might pass through Melbourne on hisway to that town.
– There were no Gatlingguns.
– There were no Gatling guns, nor were there any bitter letters passing between the mine-owners and the union. Honorable members who come from South Australia must recognise the vastdifference between the provisions which exist to-day for the settlement of disputes and the barbarous system of strikingto which the men have in the past had toresort. You, Mr. Speaker, were Treasurer of South Australia when the great Broken Hill strike took place, and therefore you must be familiar with the ill effects which followed the disaster so far as that State isconcerned. The occurrence of the dispute seriously affected the South Australian Treasurer’s estimate. In the course. of his Budget statement he intimated that heanticipated that the year would close with a surplus ; but in consequence of the strike the revenue derived from the Broken Hill railway showed a falling off of .something like £100,000 for the year, with the result that the anticipated surplus was turned into a deficit. If the Broken Hill railway should cease to work for a day and a half during the current financial year the surplus which the present Treasurer of South Australia hopes to show at the end of the twelve months will be swept away. In his last Budget statement he intimated that he anticipated that the year would close with a surplus of £1,500. The revenue derived from the Broken Hill railway amounts to about £1,000 per day, so that if it ceases work for a day and a half South Australia would close the year with a deficit instead of a surplus. It will thus be seen that it is of the utmost importance, not only to the men directly concerned, but to thousands of others that an amicable means of settling industrial troubles of this kind shall be arrived at. We require something different from the barbarous system which has so long prevailed. I am not one of those who believe that if we pass the Bill the millennium will have arrived, but, in conclusion, I should like to quote a few words by a statesman for whom I have no particular regard, but whom the honorable member for Kooyong doubtless believes to be one of the ablest in the Empire ; I refer to the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain. He has said -
But now that we have a Government of the people by the people, we will go on and make it the Government for the people, in ‘which all shall co-operate in order to secure to every man his natural rights, his rights to existence, and to a fair enjoyment of it. I shall be told to-morrow that this is Socialism. I have learnt not to be afraid of words that are flung in my face instead of argument. Of course, it is Socialism ! The Poor Law is Socialism, the Education Act is Socialism, the greater part of municipal work is Socialism, and every kindly act of legislation by which the community has sought to discharge its responsibilities and its obligations to the poor is Socialism. But it is none the worse for that….. I do not pretend that for every grievance a remedy will be found. But we must try experiments, as we are bound to do. Let us continue to pursue our work with this object, and, if we fail, let us try again and again till we succeed.
I repeat that sentiment. If we fail in this attempt, it is our duty to persist again and again until we succeed.
– I am very sorry to take up time at this late hour, but as I have listened to the Attorney-General for two solid hours, he will surely not object if I say a few words in regard to the Bill. Several great speeches have been made during the debate, speeches worthy of the occasion, and of those who delivered them, to which I have listened attentively ; but in my opinion the greatest of them was that delivered by the Right Honorable G. H. Reid. His speech was simply marvellous. I confess that I w,as a good deal against the measure until I heard it, because I am not too sweet on the Judges.
– But the honorable member was a strong advocate of the High Court.
– I believe in the High Court, but although I have battled on the West Coast of Tasmania for a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, there has always been the fear rankling in my bosom that eventually, the powers that be may control labour unions and everything else, and that we shall have to submit, because we shall have lost the right to strike. I have, however, faith in the High Court, and the Justice of the High Court appointed to control the Arbitration Court, will sit aloof from local environment, prejudice, and bigotry. I have more faith in that arrangement than in any other, though I have not too much faith even in that. A man may win a great battle for the cause of righteousness, and yet not have great faith. That is my position. Mr. Reid’s speech on the Bill was one of the greatest to which I ‘ have ever listened, and I arn very sorry that he is out of the House. I am a great admirer of him. I do not agree with him on the fiscal issue, but we want men like him to illumimate the country, to fill it with jollity and hope, and to substitute a little brightness for the prevailing gloom, which is deeper than an Egyptian midnight.
– I ask the honorable member to address himself to the Bill.
– We are all born into this world with very solemn and gloomy ideas, and it is no wonder that they continue, seeing that the resources of the earth are in the hands of a few. Our object should be to pass laws which will prevent the few from appropriating the earnings of the many. I am sorry that young Australians are growing up full of their inherited sadness. I listened very carefully to the honorable member for Kooyong. He is ab the present time doing all in his power to prevent a strike on the West Coast of Tasmania. Yet some of the best union men there, first-class miners, whom I have known for a long time, have been dismissed lately, and they say that they were dismissed because they are unionists.
– That is not correct.
– It was stated in the Argus recently that the authorities of the Mount Lyell Mine refused to meet the men. That is a high-handed position to take in this twentieth century. The honorable member for Kooyong told us that the employers are always ready to conciliate. They are willing to conciliate when they have got your right hand down their throats, and they are chewing off the ends of your fingers,
– How is that possible1!
– It is possible, because capitalists have four rows of teeth, one row being in their stomachs. In the reports which are issued from time to time, many causes of strikes are set forth, but most of them are subsidiary to the real causes, which are - first, the desire of wage earners to obtain higher rates of pay, or to prevent the reduction of their wages ; secondly, their attempts to shorten the hours of labour; and, thirdly, their efforts to improve their general environment. I have always advised men against striking. I have given that advice to the miners on the West Coast. I know chat the capitalist always has the better end of the stick. He has always means to live on, but the worker has not. As the honorable and learned member for Indi said in his magnificent presentation of the subject, there is always the compulsion of starvation. I do ‘ not know that any other honorable member besides myself has ever experienced starvation, but I experienced it when I ran away from home as a boy, amd I know what it means. I have worked at miserable occupations for a mere pittance. When starvation takes place a man does not get the benefit of his intelligence. He cannot suit his requirements, but is forced to take what is offered to him. The wage earners often consider that the resistance of employers to their applications for higher pay, shorter hours, and better conditions is unjust and indefensible, while the employers feel that the demands of their employes are unreasonable and impossible of fulfilment. Thus you have the irresistible force opposed to the irremovable body. What is the result? Old night and chaos. That happens, which always must, in the nature of things - an attempt by the workers to secure the satisfaction of their desire by economic force. A dispute as to certain economic rights and privileges is considered chiefly or wholly a matter of private-, concern, and no regular legal tribunal is. provided for its adjustment, or if oneis suddenly improvised, it does not possess adequate power to settle such a difference. What is the result? Theworkers endeavour to secure the satisfaction of their needs by an appeal toarms - a strike. The suffering of the persons engaged in this modern industrial strifeis proportionately equal to, if not greaterthan, the suffering of those engaged in international warfare. Notwithstanding theexistence of this fratricidal strife, this domestic warfare, we are told that peace reigns supreme east, west, north, and south throughout the Commonwealth, and thatthe peoples of the world are gradually advancing towards that ideal state in which, war will be abolished. The consolidation of capitalistic enterprises has made giganticstrides in the past twenty-five years. Underthe system of great combinations, trusts, and rings, capital has drifted intothe hands of a comparatively few men. They are so few that they could all be accommodated in one “ Pullman” sleeping car. The whole of the employment for the labourpower of the Commonwealth is controlled by conditions of economical and financial unity such as have not hitherto existed. There isa difference, not only in degree, but in kind,, which must be recognised alike by the mostretrogressive catacomb Tory as well as by the most progressive Democrat. Thebusiness enterprises of the Commonwealth will have to be classified in accordance with, their public importance, and those relatingto transportation and communication, : ind other great public services, whether operated by the State, by municipalities, or by private individuals, must rank first. The Government made a great mistake in not endeavouring to bring the States civil servants within the scope of the Bill. They should at least have endeavoured to include: the railway servants. It is the duty of theCommonwealth Government to providesafeguards against interruption of the great public services of which I have been speaking, and there is no doubt that we have the. power to prevent industrial warfare which” would endanger the well-being of the community. I have had experience of strikes,, and it is a great mistake to suppose that,, in the midst of an. industrial struggle, therepresentatives of either party are fit to discuss matters with a view to arrive at a settlement. Reason is then dethroned, and the sweeter instincts of life are blotted from the human heart. Bitterness becomes so intense, that evenhanded justice flings aside her balance, and shrieks for revenge. Philanthropy, with blood-stained hands, applauds -deeds of outrage, and efforts are made to persuade us that the revenge of monopolyis the justice of God. The time has now come for us to devise means for settling strikes more in accordance with the progress of civilisation. I intend to support the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, in his efforts to bring seamen within the scope of1 the Bill, and I shall also make an effort to extend the benefits of the measure to the railway servants of the States. It is -useless for the Attorney-General to tell us that we have no power to do so. The Commonwealth is the paramount power. Suppose there were a railway strike in South Australia or New South Wales, and the Commonwealth could not transfer its troops from place to place, as might be required. Is it to be supposed that we should submit to a suspension of traffic because the State Government and the railway servants could not come to an agreement? The Commonwealth must wield the dominant power, which, when occasion arises, must be exercised to the full. When the great war was proceeding between the Northern and Southern States of- America, the Northern States brushed aside all private ownership in railways and took possession of the lines for military purposes. Would the Commonwealth Government submit to having its mails stopped because of some quarrel between a State and its railway servants? The honorable member for Kooyong had a great deal to say about the opinions of the merchants- regarding the Bill. When men are making money very fast they do not wish to disturb the methods by which they are accumulating their wealth. The great merchants and manufacturers have in bygone times supported evils, not because they believed in them, but because they did not want trade and commerce to be interfered with. In 1854, the merchants of Boston captured negroes in the streets of that city, and sent them back to the Southern States. The)7 did not believe in slavery, but they were selling goods to the slave-owners of the South and they ^thought it undesirable -that business should be disturbed. In 1808, the great merchants of England opposed the’ abolition of slavery. The members of the great Gladstone family, who made fortunes by shipping slaves from Liverpool, were opposed to emancipation. The great merchants, manufacturers, and bankers in Utah were opposed to the abolition of polygamy, not because they believed in it, but because they feared that the change would have a disturbing effect upon their community. I give all credit to the honorable member for Melbourne for having been strong enough to stand up like a bare-headed Titan, and say to men of his own class - “ God pity you in your darkness ; in time’ you will be brought out of Egypt.” Within ten years from to-day the very merchants who are now opposing the Bill will be ready to take . up arms to resist any attempt to repeal it. I am half afraid that if we exclude seamen from the operation of the Bill we may expose them to the reduction of their wages to the level of the rates paid to foreign seamen, and I shall therefore support the right honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, in his efforts to amend the Bill.
– Although I have been holding myself in readiness to speak at some length upon this most important measure, I think that, in view of the great number of eloquent addresses to which we have listened, those honorable members who desire to see the Bill passed should, as far as possible, facilitate an early division. Therefore I shall say only a few words. In the district which I have the honour- to represent there is one of the strongest unions in Australia. The members of that body are strong supporters of the principle of- conciliation and compulsory arbitration, and I am thoroughly in accord with them. I shall, therefore, heartily support the motion for the second reading of the Bill, and I shall do my best -in Committee to make it a workable measure, acceptable alike to employers and employes.
– I had not intended to address myself to this Bill ; but, being a large employer of labour, I do not care to allow its second reading to pass without making a few observations. When I canvassed my electorate as a candidate for this Parliament, I promised to vote for any reasonable Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that might be introduced. I well remember the satisfactory settlement of the great shearing trouble in New South Wales which was arrived at by the conference which met in 1891. It enabled us to shear our sheep with complete immunity from, labour troubles for some time afterwards. I am in favour of this Bill, because I hold that whenever a dispute arises, a conference should be held between the parties interested, with a view to arrive at a satisfactory decision through, the medium of some authoritative and independent arbitrator. If either employers or employed refuse to meet in conference the difficulties of the position are thereby increased. I also recollect when the Fastoralists’ Union was formed in New South Wales. At that time I recognised the difficulties which beset a member of Parliament who belonged to any union, in that when disputes arose in which he was interested, they were, in the absence of any court of final appeal, constantly brought under the notice of Parliament. Thus honorable members became the judges Of who was right and who was wrong, and I am afraid that they are more apt to be swayed by partisan feeling than is the Judge of a properly constituted Court, whose function it; is to administer the law as he finds it. All’ that the capitalist requires in this connexion is something definite. If we enact legislation which is detrimental to the prosperity of certain industries, capital will not beinvested in those industries. At the some time I do not fear that the operation of this Bill will work the injury which is predicted by so many. In considering it we are face to face with a very grave responsibility. Personally, I have never taken the side either of the capitalist or of the labouring classes in industrial troubles. Disputes are bound to. arise from time to time, and it is better for the labouring classes to have constant employment at a fixed wage than to receive abnormally high wages in good seasons and be subjected to a lower rate of remuneration or a dearth of employment during periods of depression. Having been interested in some large stations upon which strikes have occurred, I have felt the necessity for some authoritative tribunal to settle these disputes. As soon as the New South Wales Parliament passed a Conciliation Bill I felt perfectly free to join the Pastoralists’ Union, and ‘I frankly avow that. if I were a working man to-morrow I should belong to a trades union. I hold that the proper person to settle our industrial troubles is a Judge who is appointed in times of industrial peace. He is most-fitted to pronounce decisions which Will give satisfaction alike to employers and employes. I presumethat the hours of labour to be prescribed will apply to particular industries.. There are some industries in which it is necessary for men to work all hours, because thegoods which they produce have to compete in the markets of the world. If I see any reason why any provision in this measure should not be extended to a particular State, I shall vote against that provision. At the same time, I take, as is generally admitted, a fairly liberal view of measures of this character, and I intend to vote for thesecond reading.
. The practical unanimity of the Houseupon -this question happily relieves me of any obligation other than that, of expressingthe acknowledgments of the Government of the high character of the debate which has. just closed. All those questions upon which differences of opinion exist will present themselves in practical form during our deliberations in Committee, when I shall be prepared to make any reply . which it may be necessary to make on behalf of the Ministry.
Question resolved in. the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 agreed to.
Sir EDMUND BARTON (Hunter-
Minister for External Affairs). - In moving
That the House do now adjourn,
I desire to say that we shall deal to-morrow with the distribution of the electoral divisions of the States of Tasmania and Western Australia, and that upon the determination of those divisions we shall proceed at the first opportunity with the consideration of the measure relating to elections.
– I notice that the further consideration in Committee of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill has been set down for Friday next. Is it the intention of the Attorney- General to proceed with the consideration of the Bill on that, day?
– It is probable that other matters to which reference has been -mode will -occupy the attention of the House on Friday, but if’ we have any time to spare we may . proceed with the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill on that day.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.56 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 August 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030826_reps_1_16/>.