House of Representatives
4 September 1903

1st Parliament · 2nd Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 4660

PETITION

Mr. McDONALD presented a petition from certain female electors of Victoria, praying the House to so amend the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that its provisions shall apply to all persons engaged, in domestic and household work.

Petition received and read.

page 4660

QUESTION

MAIL SERVICE TENDERS

Mr PAGE:
MARANOA, QUEENSLAND

– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if the statements appearing in this morning’s Age under the headings “ New Mail Contract, Conditions of Tendering, A Seven Years’ Service, “ore correct. If so, docs ho think that Queensland is getting a “ fair deal “ in this Parliament?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Minister for External Affairs · HUNTER, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– So far as I can judge, the report in the daily press is a correct statement of the terms of the advertisement which is to be published in the

Gazette. I, in conjunction with my colleagues, have endeavoured to the best of my ability to so word the advertisement that justice may be done to all parties concerned. It must be remembered that Brisbane has not hitherto been- a port of call for the mail steamers, and that to insist upon the steamers calling there in future would be to introduce an element of novelty into the proposal. Tenderers will require a considerable length of time in which to make their arrangements. Tho acceptance of tenders will close on the 3 1st January, 1904, and if we made it an essential condition that Brisbane should be a port of call we should be exposed to this difficulty - that if we failed to receive a. satisfactory tender on that basis by the date mentioned, it would be practically impossible to arrange for on efficient and satisfactory service on the old basis before 1st February, 1905. Therefore we have thought it best to allow an alternative.

Mr O’Malley:

– Does the advertisement shut out the American lines ?

Sir Philip Fysh:

– No; it invites all ship-owners to tender.

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– In the event of Brisbane not being mode a port of call, will Queensland be expected to pay a full share of the subsidy ?

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– Mail contracts are entered into primarily to secure the carriage of mails, not to facilitate the export of produce. The State of Queensland will get its full share of the advantages of any mail service arranged for, and those advantages will not be detracted from by the fact that in the event of tenders on a certain basis being accepted, the steamers will not call at Brisbane for perishable produce.

Mr WILKINSON:
MORETON, QUEENSLAND

– In the event of Brisbane not being mode a port of call, will the cost of the service be shared among the States in proportion to the benefits received I

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I am not sure that that is possible under the Constitution, but if it is the matter’ will be considered.

Mr PAGE:

– Following upon that question.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

– I think that a Minister should not be, without notice, bombarded with half-a-dozen questions on a subject like this’. I ask honorable membera to give notice of their questions for next week.

page 4661

QUESTION

INTER-STATE COMMERCE

Sir LANGDON BONYTHON:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA

asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -

In regard to the following resolution, passed at & meeting of the General Council of Chambers of Commerce of the Commonwealth of Australia, held in Adelaide : - “ That it is in the highest degree essential to the commerce of Australia that statistics of the movements of all goods between the States should be published monthly - and that the Federal Government be respectfully asked to take the necessary steps to procure the issue of such statistics “ - why, to quote the words of a departmental letter, “ it is not deemed advisable to adopt the practice ?”

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Minister for Trade and Customs · HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES · Protectionist

– In reply to the honorable member’s question -

The Departmental intimation referred to was based upon the large additional expense which would necessarily be entailed by the monthly publication of the information as desired, and the doubt whether the resulting benefit to the. public would justify such expenditure.

I propose, however, to give the question my special consideration in connexion with the reorganization of the Customs Statistical offices, which I anticipate will be effected at an early date. Under an altered and improved system itwill perhaps be found that the anticipated expense may be so reduced as to enable the Department to afford the desired information.

page 4661

BONUSES FOR MANUFACTURES BILL

Sir JOHN QUICK:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Whether his attention ‘has been given to the large number of petitions presented to the House, signed by workers and others interested, in favour of the Iron Bonus Bill ?
  2. Whether, in view of the demand for employment in all the States of the Commonwealth, he will take steps to obtain, as early as practicable, the Report of the Royal Commission on the subject ?
  3. If the Report is consistent with the policy of the Government, will he take immediate steps to obtain the consent of Parliament to the Bill so as to stop the outflow of population to South Africa and elsewhere in search of employment ?
Sir EDMUND BARTON:
Protectionist

– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -

  1. Yes.
  2. I have hada conversation with the President of the Commission, who informs me that his draft report will be laid before his colleagues next Thursday, and that the Commission’s Report will be passed and circulated very soon afterwards.
  3. The action taken by the Government in Parliament will depend on the time available during the remainder of the session.

page 4661

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed from 26th August, vide page 4287) :

Clause 2 -

This Act has relation only to industrial disputes which extend beyond the limits of any one State.

Mr DEAKIN:
AttorneyGeneral · Ballarat · Protectionist

– I move -

That after the word “ to “ the following words be inserted: - “the prevention and settlement of.”

I propose to restore the exact wording of the Constitution, and to make the clause read -

This Act has relation only to the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.

It may be that in attempting to condense the language of the Constitution, we have narrowed its meaning.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr GLYNN:
South Australia

– I move -

That after the word” disputes “ the following words be inserted: - “in industries connected with trade and intercourse among the States.”

The object of my amendment is to confine the application of the measure to the InterState carrying trade. I could have accomplished that object by other amendments. For instance, I could have moved the insertion of words which would make the clause read -

This Act has relation only to the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes in relation to the Inter-State coastal trade.

But such an amendment would involve a greater limitation than that upon which I wish to test the opinion of the Committee.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– Does the honorable and learned member’s amendment cover the railway services of the States ?

Mr GLYNN:

– It would do so, but for the exemption of the public services of the States contained in clause 3. These are really the words of section 51 of the Constitution - of the commerce clause ; so that they amount to a limitation to Inter-State carriage within the meaning of the Constitution. If I had used the words, “ in the Inter-State coasting trade,” I might have raised the question whether British and foreign ships would be affected.’ I do not wish to do that at this stage, and therefore I propose to adhere to the words of the Constitution. The practical effect of the words, in conjunction with the limitations imposed later on in the Bill, will be to confine its operation to Inter-State shipping disputes. I think that that was what was intended by the Convention, and that that is the only power conferred by the Constitution.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn:

– Would not the honorable and learned member be able to more effectively deal with the matter by amending the definition of the word “ industry” 1

Mr GLYNN:

– No, I do not think so. I have looked into the matter very carefully, and I have tried various forms of amendment, which are open to more or less technical objection because they might prove too wide. I should like to make a further limitation than the words secure, and I think that that object may be effected later on. If I used the words “coasting trade” they might involve the exclusion of foreign ships. The effect of the amendment will be to confine the operation of the Bill to Inter-State maritime disputes, and I contend that we ought not at the outset to attempt to extend our powers beyond the limits contemplated by the Convention. It is clear thatthis power is an anomalous one. The other powers granted in section 51 relate to uniform legislation, which would supersede the legislation of the States. The provision relating to arbitration is simply intended to deal with cases over which the States have no jurisdiction. There is no attempt to accomplish the uniformity which was aimed at in regard to other matters. If honorable members look at section 51, they will see that it would be easy to bring about uniformity with regard to currency, quarantine, banking, insurance, &c. The moment that the Federal Legislature passed laws dealing with such matters the local legislation would go by the board to the extent to which it might be inconsistent with the Federal legislation. It is perfectly right that it should, because the object sought to be obtained is uniformity. The object in this case is not to promote uniformity, but to deal with disputes which cannot be settled by the States tribunals. I do not care what honorable members may consider expedient. We have to deal with the Constitution as it is.

Mr Watson:

– Why does the honorable member seek to qualify the terms of the Constitution 1

Mr GLYNN:

– Because the machinery, of the Bill goes far beyond the constitutional limits. It would confer powers coextensive with a number of those which have never been surrendered by the States.. Our powers have relation only to disputes, which are beyond the control of the States. The clause, as it stands, simply declares what the Constitution has already established, and my amendment would involvea limitation of the subsequent scope of the Bill, which, I contend, goes far beyond the powers conferred by the Constitution. The powers conferred .under the Constitution were never intended to be exercised except with regard to such matters as shipping; disputes. It was never contemplated thatthey should be exercised with reference tofactories

Mr Deakin:

– Not in regard to factories T

Mr GLYNN:

– No, it was never contemplated that the Federal tribunal should havepower to fix a uniform rate of wages, say,, for the boot trades in Melbourne and Adelaide, because that would involve an interference with the right of each State tocontrol its own domestic affairs. Each State has distinct authority over its internal affairs. At the Adelaide Convention! the Attorney-General pointed out the difficulty of inserting in the Constitution theprovision suggested by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. Although he was disposed to support thehonorable and learned member, he criticised him from the stand-point of one opposing the inclusion of the” words proposed in theConstitution. He pointed out that thehonorable and learned member could neverhave desired to insert a provision which would have the effect of superseding thefactory legislation of the States. The stand taken by him then was that if any attemptwere made to supersede the factory legislation of the States in these matters weshould land ourselves in all kinds of difficulties. Although the honorable and learned member for Bendigo supported the proposal by his vote, he pointed out the greater difficulty of enforcing awards dealing with. Inter-State disputes.

Mr Isaacs:

– How does that question arise under this clause 1

Mr GLYNN:

– It arises in this way : that the difficulties will be at a minimum if we confine the scope of the Bill to InterState shipping disputes. Such disputes clearly come within the terras of the provision in the Constitution. . The crews enter into a contract, the performance of which extends beyond the limits of one State, and therefore the settlement of any dispute would not be within the jurisdiction of any State tribunal. I believe that maritime disputes are the only cases which come within our jurisdiction.

Mr Kingston:

– No doubt the provision was intended to apply chiefly to them.

Mr GLYNN:

– Those were the only disputes mentioned by the right honorable gentleman at the Convention. The only cases mentioned by others as possibly coming within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court were shearers’ disputes, maritime disputes, and . differences in the coal trade. Personally, I do not see how a dispute in the coal trade, say, at Newcastle, could come within our jurisdiction. Its effect might be felt throughout Australia, but the State tribunal ‘would have full power to deal with such a difficulty.

Mr Watson:

– It might affect the InterState trade, and might extend beyond the State.

Mr GLYNN:

– How could a strike at Newcastle extend beyond the State of New South Wales ?

Mr Watson:

– A sympathetic strike might occur at Korumburra.

Mr GLYNN:

– But a sympathetic strike would not bring the Newcastle difficulty wiohin the jurisdiction of the Federal Court. The expediency of the provision in the Constitution cannot be justified, except in regard to one class of cases, namely, those with which the States cannot deal. A dispute in the coal trade at Newcastle could be properly and finally dealt with by the New South Wales Court. At the Federal Convention in Melbourne, Senator. O’Connor pointed out the danger of conferring the power now given by the Constitution. With several others, he raised a question as to the difficulty of applying the provisions, and also as to the expediency, as a matter of policy, of exercising such power. He urged that it was not required, and that its application would be accompanied by all kinds of difficulties, the chief of which would arise from any such encroachment upon the sphere of the States as is attempted by the” Bill. He pointed out fchat, owing to the tendency of some people to push their powers to the full. extent, a demand would soon be made for the application, of the compulsory principle. The Attorney-General then said : -

I think that Mr. O’Connor was mistaken, although he has very good reasons for assuming that the next stage in this matter will be that of compulsory arbitration. The Convention should not, however, allow itself to be influenced by that argument. I do not look forward to the time when it will necessarily be compulsory. The Federal Parliament will wait for the psychological moment.

That moment seems to nave already arrived.

This is about the last question it will touch until it can touch it usefully, and in the interests of commercial life. Honorable members seem to think that if they give this power to the Federal Parliament the Federal Parliament will rush in and use it without reason and common-sense. I can come to no such conclusion.

That conveyed that there was no danger, because the power was not likely to be used until the necessity arose and until there was a manifest failure on the part of the States tribunals. The Attorney-General’s present attitude is a complete reversal of that which he assumed at the Convention. Several other members of the Convention expressed the opinion that the power proposed to be given would be limited to the settlement of maritime disputes. Sir John Downer even doubted the expediency of conferring power to deal with maritime disputes, because he was of opinion that such disputes could be effectively settled by the States tribunals.

Mr McCay:

– Over what disputes would there be Federal jurisdiction?

Mr GLYNN:

– Practically over none, according to the argument then used ; but I am not adopting his opinion in the matter, because I think that maritime disputes are essentially of a Federal character. I merely wish to point out that the strongest case which could be set up was open to some criticism by Sir John Downer. I have already cited the utterances of the present Attorney-General upon this matter, both in Adelaide and Melbourne. The right honorablemember for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, laid particular stress upon maritime disputes. Sir Josiah Symon suggested very great difficulties in applying this provision, and Mr. Wise also opposed its insertion. He said that if it were included it would be used to interfere with State jurisdiction, and affirmed that no attempt should be made to interfere with the factory legislation of the States. That was the feeling of the Convention. Considering the scope of the provision, as defined by those who framed it, are we justified in passing an Act which will apply to every industry in which a so-called dispute by sympathy may be started ? If the Bill be retained in its present form, and if on any question being submitted to a State Arbitration Court, the Court holds that no dispute has arisen, nothing will be simpler than for a body, whose organization extends in to two States, to again start a dispute with. a view to test it in the Federal Court. The position of employers and employes will thus be one of continual unrest. From the inception of a dispute until its final settlement, perhaps twelve months may elapse. Do we not know that in New South Wales the business before the Arbitration-Court has become seriously congested ? May I also remind honorable members of the effect of making the provisions of the Bill applicable to disputes other than those ‘ of a maritime character 1 Surely, in the beginning we ought to proceed slowly. Should the Bill prove a success in its relation to maritime disputes, we can afterwards extend its operation. At the beginning, let us confine its operation, strictly within the lines contemplated by the Convention. In this connexion, I may, perhaps, be permitted to point to the attempt which was recently made by some of the employes of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company to raise a dispute in the Arbitration Court of New South Wales. The union which started that dispute contained only 1 00 members, of whom but twenty were financial. A great number of the other members were mere boys, and the man who actually signed the document necessary to bring the matter within the cognisance of the Arbitration Court was not a member of the union at all. Yet the total number of employes who would have been effected by that dispute, had it been entertained by the Court, was 3,000. Do honorable members see that that tremendous power to abuse its provisions is conferred by this Bill 1

Mr Watson:

– That is a reflection upon the Court.

Mr GLYNN:

– In the beginning, when the High Court may be constituted of purely political J Judges, I am not prepared to repose implicit faith in it. Probably that tribunal will be composed of individuals whose predilections are pretty strong, and whose opinions upon these matters have been practically stereotyped from the debates which have taken place in this Parliament.

Mr Fisher:

– Had not Sir Charles Russell strong political views when he accepted his position 1

Mr GLYNN:

– I do not see how that affects my position. A State Act can always cure the errors of any Judge. Parliament, which is omnipotent, can at once enact legislation which will bring him back to reasonable lines. But the moment we establish the High Court its decision will practically be final, unless its jurisdiction is kept within proper bounds by the appellate power of the Privy Council. Therefore I say it is inexpedient in the infancy of our political life to give doubtful powers to the Federal Arbitration Court. But to revert to the so called dispute in which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company was involved. In that case some busy-body, who was not a, member of the union which contained only 100 members, and was not necessarily composed of adult labourers, attempted to precipitate a dispute which, had it been entertained and settled by the New South Wales Arbitration Court, would have fixed the wages of 3, 000 employes who were scattered th roughout New South Wales, Queensland, and Victoria. What were the facts regarding the real cause of that dispute 1 It was a question of hours. The Court held that no real dispute existed, and asked that a conference between employers and employes should take place. A conference was held at which the great bulk of the employes declared that they were perfectly satisfied with their hours and their rates of wages,, and that the so-called dispute was practically confined to a very small percentage of their number. Under this Bill a little knot of unionists could initiate a dispute in the State Arbitration Court, and, failing to get it entertained there, could bring it before the Federal tribunal. Then, if they were successful, .despite the wish of the majority of the employes, a. common rule would be established fixing the wages in that particular branch of industry throughout Australia. Therefore I ask honorable members in the beginning to confine the operation of this Bill clearly to constitutional limits.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– Why does not the honorable member use the words “ trade and commerce,” which are surely wider than “ trade and intercourse 1”

Mr GLYNN:

– Because “ intercourse “ includes passenger traffic as well as commerce.

Mr Mauger:

– What about the dispute in Tasmania1!

Mr GLYNN:

– The honorable member’s idea of the function of the Federal Government is that whenever a dispute arises in a State which is practically confined to its borders the Federal authority should intervene. That I submit would constitute an invasion of State rights for which there is absolutely no justification. To my mind, it is clear that maritime disputes of an Inter-State character do fall within the terms of the Constitution.

Mr Kingston:

– They are the chief disputes contemplated by this Bill.

Mr GLYNN:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · FT

-A shearers’ dispute does not partake of an Inter-State character. In such a dispute the Court could not apply its award to all Australia, because if the rates of wages vary, there is a difference in climatic conditions, a difference in purchasing value, and in the cost of the raw material. It is therefore impossible to obtain uniformity.

Mr Mauger:

– Who proposes it?

Mr GLYNN:

– It is contemplated by this Bill. The Attorney-General declares that if a sympathetic strike is got up in another State, jurisdiction to intervene is conferred by this measure.

Mr Mauger:

– It does not follow that the Judiciary will intervene.

Mr GLYNN:

– I am not going to place implicit reliance in the judgment of the High Court at its inception, unless I am assured that it is to be constituted of one politician and two Justices who are not politicians. At the same time I do not question its integrity. It is all very well to talk about the High Court being free from bias. We enthused about Federation till we obtained the reality, but the very moment that we secured it, it was attacked. Similarly, if the High Court is composed of men who have been particularly active in politital life, my idea of its freedom from unconscious influence and predilection will not be so great as if it contained two Justices who had taken no part in politics.

Mr V L SOLOMON:
SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · FT

– The honorable and learned member will not trust the Court unless it is composed of two outsiders as against one politician ?

Mr GLYNN:

– I do not say that. We must have a politician upon the High Court, because politicians usually take a broader view of matters than do outsiders. But in the beginning, if the High Court is composed of three Justices who have gone from this Parliament red-hot, with opinions which have been formed here in the course of the debates to which they have listened, I shall not be able to regard them as being free from prejudice. It is therefore inexpedient to confer powers under this Bill which exceed those that were clearly contemplated by section 51 of the Constitution.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– If we use the words of the Constitution surely we shall be doing only what the Constitution contemplates 1

Mr GLYNN:

– What I lay stress upon is the application of machinery which can be useful only in relation to matters which are not within Federal powers - the principle of the “ common rule.” I trust that honorable members will see the expediency of confining the operation of this Bill to what are clearly its constitutional limits - at any rate during its probationary period.

Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- AttorneyGeneral). - -I.do not take any exception to the line of argument which the honorable and learned member has followed, because it may be as well, at the very outset of this discussion, to dispose of one or two contentions that must arise, and might just as well be dealt with at . the present stage. I do not propose to detain the Committee by a defence of any opinion which I expressed in the Convention, for the very simple reason that, to my mind, no defence is necessary. I expressed myself then in the most unqualified manner in favour of this propojal and its principle. My own view was that industrial legislation should be left wholly in the hands of the States until the Federal Parliament assumed this power, as it has a right to assume certain other powers under the Constitution, and that after it had assumed responsibility the industrial legislation for the whole Commonwealth should be in the hands of the Federal “Legislature. That was the view which I held then and which I still hold. I saw at the time that the particular manner in which it was proposed to insert this authority in the ‘ Constitution was open to objection on the ground of its vagueness and of the difficulties that must arise in endeavouring to apply it, and the present discussion proves that those anticipations were well founded. With these remarks I dismiss my own part in the phrase used in the Constitution ; but I think that the statement made by the honorable and learned member with reference to the proceedings of the Convention deserve a little more attention. It appears to me that the honorable and learned member could not have refreshed his memory of the proceedings by glancing at the speeches made by those who spoke against the introduction of this provision in the Constitution. If he had done so he could by no means assert, as I have taken him to assert, that when the sub-clause in question was inserted in section 51, the Convention intended that it should relate only to maritime disputes - that it should be an extremely narrow power.

Mr Glynn:

– I do not say that it was expressly limited to maritime disputes, but that it was probably intended to refer to them, and possibly to shearing troubles.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Quite so. If my honorable and learned friend, in addition to reading the speeches which were made by certain Ministers, had read those delivered at the Convention by the honorable member for Wentworth, Sir William McMillan, Senator Symon, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, Senator Downer, and a number of others, he would have seen that the Convention placed these words in the Constitution after those honorable gentlemen had pointed out again and again what their effect would be. When first it was proposed to give this power to the Federal Parliament, the honorable member for Wentworth pointed out that it would enable it to override the industrial legislation of the States. Senator Symon said that there was no clause in the Constitution Bill so likely to be perilous in its operation as this would be, because it would interfere with industrial laws and operations in all the States. Senator Downer went so far as to say that he saw in this one power the possibility of Federal action dominating State action to such an extent that it would eventually occasion the destruction of the States, so as to bring them entirely under the control of the Commonwealth. Then, again, the Vice-President of the Executive Council, who was one of the last speakers to deal with this question at the Melbourne Convention, was particularly explicit. He pointed out that exactly what has occurred would occur. He asserted that we could not have such a power in the Constitution without expecting it to be exercised ; that it would be exercised ; that to exercise it to the full meant that a compulsory power would be taken by the Commonwealth to control industrial disputes extending beyond a State ; and that this would mean eventually disputes within a State. The honorable and learned gentleman was one of the Drafting Committee, and he warned the Convention that if they placed this provision in the Constitution they would embody in it absolute authority for the Federal Parliament to deal with industrial matters all over the Commonwealth. The opinions expressed on both sides must be quoted.

Mr Glynn:

– Is the honorable and learned gentleman referring to the debate at the Adelaide or the Melbourne Convention, because the wording of the sub-clause proposed at the Adelaide Convention was different from that eventually adopted ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– The difference was very slight.

Mr Glynn:

– We amended the sub-clause at the Melbourne Convention to cover objections such as were raised at the Adelaide sittings.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, was President of the Adelaide Convention, and could not move as he did at the Convention of 1891 for the insertion of a provision in the Constitution enabling the Federal Parliament to deal with these matters. I am reminded, by the way, that I voted for such a provision at the Convention of 1891, in which there were only twelve members in favour of vesting this power in the Commonwealth Legislature. As the right honorable member for South Australia occupied the chair at the Adelaide Convention, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, Mr. Higgins, moved the introduction of a sub-clause in clause 51, enabling this Parliament to deal with -

Industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.

Mr Kingston:

– That was in Committee. I was not then in the chair.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The right honorable gentleman did not occupy the” chair in Committee, but he was President of the Convention, and I presume it was for that reason that he did not table a motion relating to this matter.

Mr Kingston:

– I was co-operating with the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne. It was the best we could obtain.

Mr DEAKIN:

– In the course of the debate which then took place, the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr.

Kingston, suggested that the sub-clause should read - “Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of” industrial disputes.

Those words, read with the motion submitted by Mr. Higgins, giving the following provision - “Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.”

It will thus be seen that the proposal that the Federal Parliament should have power to deal with these matters was provided for in the Constitution Bill practically from the opening of the proceedings at the Adelaide Convention, and notwithstanding the warnings uttered by opponents. At that time I still held the opinion that probably the exercise of this power would not occur in the earlier stages of the Federal Parliament, but events have marched since then, and in no direction have they marched more rapidly than in relation to industrial legislation. When this question was before the Convention, no legislation relating to conciliation and arbitration in Australia had been passed by any State Parliament, except that of South Australia. But, since then, New South Wales and Western Australia have legislated in this direction, while the New Zealand Act has been completed. We are today, consequently, in a very much more advanced position in regard to this question than we were in 1897, not to speak of 1891. Having disposed of these two preliminaries - and once having dealt with them, I trust that we shall be able to dispense with references to them hereafter - I shall ask the Committee to look for a moment at the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn. He is a candid opponent of the Bill as a whole. He does not approve of compulsory conciliation and arbitration ; he has consistently opposed it, and no one has a right to complain of his action. He was returned by constituents who were perfectly well aware of his views, and who, whatever their opinions may be, elected him, notwithstanding that he is antagonistic to proposals of this kind.

Sir William McMillan:

– Does the honorable and learned gentleman say that the amendment is a disingenuous attempt to kill the Bill?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Certainly not. The honorable and learned member is a . fail- antagonist. He was unable to defeat the Bill on the motion for the second reading, and he has availed himself of the .first opportunity to move an amendment the effect of which would be to destroy ninety-nine one-hundredths of the measure as it stands. He would limit a measure which is intended to deal with all industrial disputes to disputes in connexion with one particular calling, and that the calling of the Australian ship-owners who convey passengers and cargo from one part of Australia to another.

Mr Thomson:

– He would go beyond that.

Mr Glynn:

– The words used by me are very wide. They may be wider than I intended.

Mr McCay:

– Would not the amendment cause the Bill to apply to ship- builders 1

Mr DEAKIN:

– As I understand the honorable and learned member, he agrees with the provision in clause 3, which excludes State railway employes from’ the operation of the Bill.

Mr Glynn:

– Yes. I meant to refer to intercourse between the States. In America that covers most maritime matters. *

Mr DEAKIN:

– Looking at it again,. I see that the term “connected with” is much wider than would appear to be at first sight–

Mr McCay:

– Does it not limit the operation of the Bill to carriage, or to nothing at all ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– As an off-hand reading, I should say it would limit the operation of the Bill to carrying, and to industries which were connected with carrying. That is to say, it would apply, as the honorable and learned member for Corinella has suggested, to shipbuilding. It would refer als» to carriers, and I believe to those who build waggons for the purpose of carrying.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– And perhaps wharf labourers.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Quite so.

Mr McCay:

– Then it would refer also to those employed in manufacturing machines of any kind used in connexion with carrying.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Possibly. The words ‘ are much wider than I assumed at first sight.

Mr McCay:

– They leave the operation of the Bill nearly as wide as it would he without it.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not say that. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, would -exclude railways from the operation of the Bill, but I do not know why he considers shearing to be an industry connected with trade and intercourse among the States.

Mr Glynn:

– I do not, but another honorable member ma)’ do so.

Mr DEAKIN:

– We ought not to deal so much with the precise phrase which the honorable and learned member has employed as with the purpose which he has in view. That purpose is to limit the operation of the Bill ‘to two- or three leading Inter-State industries. My. honorable and learned friend overlooks the fact that industrial disputes in connexion with very much smaller undertakings than those to which he has referred might spread from one State to another, and kindle in States in which no Conciliation and Arbitration Act existed what is known as sympathetic strikes or related strikes. Thus, from a verysmall beginning, a very serious Commonwealth disturbance might occur.

Mr. Glynn. What disputes outside maritime troubles are there in relation to which such an occurrence could take place ?

Mr DEAKIN:

-Any industrial disputes.

Mr Glynn:

– What is the explanation of an open dispute in another State 1

Mr DEAKIN:

– That will be for the Cou rt to decide ; but if I am asked for an opinion I should say it is a dispute in relation to the same industry and to the same matters in connexion with that, industry. For instance, we might have a bootmakers’ strike in Victoria to obtain a certain wage extending to New South Wales, with the object of securing a similar wage.

Mr Glynn:

– Would not such a dispute be settled locally ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– But that overlooks the fact that if it overflows it could be much better dealt with federally. When the honorable and learned member says that this measure does not make for uniformity, he seems to ignore the fact that it is the one and only means to obtain that end. He must otherwise look forward to a time when six independent tribunals dealing with an industrial matter will all come to the same - or allowing for climatic and other conditions to what is practically the’ same - conclusion. The honorable and learned member will admit that it would take many years to reach that state of things, if it could be reached at all.

Mr Glynn:

– It will be necessary to amend the Constitution to do what the Attorney-General wishes to do.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The honorable member for Wentworth and others pointed out that directly a dispute extended beyond any one State the .Federal Court would step in and make a uniform rule binding upon the parties in the two or more States concerned.

Mr Glynn:

– The Attorney-General assured the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, during the Adelaide session of the Convention, that he did not desire to interfere with local enactments.

Mr DEAKIN:

– No; in 1891. At that time I was not. prepared to go so far. I proposed that the States should be absolutely independent in their industrial legislation until the Commonwealth assumed control and became the only industrial arbiter. That is what should have been provided. The present arrangement creates a number of difficult problems. The amendment cuts down the jurisdiction of the Court, and to that extent takes from the Bill the full measure of authority with which the Convention endowed this Parliament.

Mr Thomson:

– The honorable and learned gentleman has admitted that he does not know with what authority this Parliament has been endowed.

Mr DEAKIN:

– No. I admit that the provision of the Constitution is ambiguous, and will be subject to review by the High Court, but there is no doubt that it gives authority, whatever interpretation is placed upon it, for all, and more than all, that is provided for in the Bill. My view is that it gives the Commonwealth absolute control of industrial affairs in regard to disputes extending beyond any one State. The Bill goes not so far as it might legally, but as far as it is reasonable to go .at the present time, and I cannot consent to the limitation of its scope which the honorable and learned member has proposed, because such a limitation would deprive the community of many of the benefits to be anticipated from its operation.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:
Wentworth

– I am glad that the amendment has been proposed, because it gives us an opportunity’ to determine at this ‘early stage of the proceedings in Committee what the scope of the Bill shall be. My intention in supporting an amendment of this kind is not to destroy or emasculate the measure. I want to bring honorable members back to’ the real position. The Attorney-General has told us there is no doubt as to the powers conferred by the Constitution, but that is not the point. Let us look at the history of this matter. I suppose there was never in the world a larger assemblage of able consulting lawyers than was brought together in the Convention ; but even they found it difficult to insert in the Constitution a set of words which might hot be strained by the .Federal Parliament to the violation of the independence of the States. The whole debates of the Convention breathe the sense of this danger. It is no argument for the Attorney-General to say that I and’ others admitted that the Federal Parliament might exercise to the full the extreme power which it was proposed to give to it. “Who would have dreamed five years ago that’ a Bill of this kind would be introduced into the Federal Parliament? What member of the Convention thought that this power would be exercised by the first Federal Parliament ?

Mr Watson:

– Why was .this provision embodied in the Constitution if it was intended that the power should not be exercised ?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– Even the right honorable member for South Australia, who is largely the father of legislation of this kind, would admit that it was not intended that the Federal authority in regard to industrial matters should override that of the States. He would admit that the provision was intended to cover only those larger disputes of moving industrial populations affecting more than one State, to the mercantile marine, for example, whose members belong not to one State, but to all Australia. As the AttorneyGeneral has said, matters have advanced very rapidly since the Convention sat. Arbitration laws have been introduced into several of the States, though it cannot be said that we have yet had any sufficient experience of the operation of those laws. But the fact that they have been adopted to prevent disputes is a reason why, if we deal with the question at all, we should deal with it only in a tentative manner. The Constitution was accepted by the people upon the distinct understanding that the States authorities should have the supreme control in regard to social and domestic affairs. That principle was enunciated by every public man.

Mr Watson:

– Why does the honorable member wish to cut down the Constitution ?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– The honorable member knows that it .was intended that this power should be only latent, and not exercised unless absolutely necessary.

Mr McCay:

– Are we bound by the statements of members of the Convention who were opposed to the granting of this power to the Federal Parliament, or by the wording of the Constitution ?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– We are, of course, bound by the Constitution. Honorable members must not think that I am now speaking in antagonism to the Bill ; but since the House has passed its second reading, I wish to lay down the lines upon which I think this legislation should be framed. It does not follow that, because a certain power is given to the Constitution, it should be immediately exercised by this Parliament. Under the Bill as its stands, the Judge of the Arbitration Court could bring within his jurisdiction the whole industrial life of the people of Australia, not merely in regard to disputes extending beyond a State, but in regard to disputes occurring coincidently in more than one State. There might, for instance, be a dispute in a certain trade which was being conducted in Queensland under localized conditions as to wages, hours of employment, and so on, and at the same time a dispute in the same trade independently conducted in Victoria. These two separate and local disputes might, by a little finessing on the part of individuals who desired to keep matters in turmoil, and objected to the adjudication of the State Courts, be brought within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court. The Judge of that Court would have practically no discretion in’ the matter, because the Bill is mandatory.

Mr Mauger:

– Is it .undesirable to provide for the interference of the Commonwealth ?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– If the honorable member had listened to some of the speeches made at the Convention, he would know that the AttorneyGeneral declared most distinctly that the

Commonwealth Parliament would not for years attempt to deal with such a question. Yet, in the second session of this Parliament - a moribund Parliament - the Government have introduced this measure to save their political skins.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– How can that be, in view of the fact that several members of the Opposition are supporting the measure ?

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– I do not care about that. My position is quite logical.

Mr Deakin:

– What I said was “ not likely to be exercised by the Federal Parliament for many years to come.” That was in 1898 - five years ago.

Mr Mauger:

– Many things have happened since then.

Sir WILLIAM McMILLAN:

– In view of the fact that this Parliament is practically moribund, we should, to adopt the words of the Attorney-General, confine the operation of the Bill to the narrowest possible limits. The extreme advocates of theBill are taking advantage of the difficulty which was experienced at the Convention in framing the Constitution. If the members of the Convention had had any idea that an attempt would be made, not merely to deal with essentially Federal matters, but to bring under control the whole domestic and industrial life of the States, the Constitution would never have been framed in its present form. If honorable members, like the honorable member for Indi, had been asked three or four years ago to give evidence upon this point they would have spoken to the same effect that I am now doing. I think that the amendment requires some alteration, because it leaves matters much too open. At the same time, I doubt whether we shall find it possible, any more than at the Convention, to adopt language which would convey our exact meaning, and which would not be open to a mischievous interpretation. I am content to have this question settled at once. If the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, is lost, I say “ Take the Bill.” The Bill contains provisions which confer absolute power upon the President of the Court. If the President is to make his own rules, and, with the Registrar, is to be allowed to declare that certain disputes come within the jurisdiction of the Court, he will have unrestricted control. I shall watch with great interest the discussion which takes place with regard to the application of thecommon rule. Possibly some safeguards may be provided for, but, if we once agreeto some of the provisions contained in the Bill, it will be of little use to bother any further about it, because ‘its effect will be topractically hand over to one man, who may be steeped in prejudice without knowing it,, owing to his having been under certain influences all his life, the control of thewhole industrial life of Australia. TheAttorneyGeneral believes that the Federal Court will ultimately supersede the local tribunals, and therefore we shall be handing over to one man powers which will override those now exercised by the States tribu- . nals. We should thereby strike a severe blow at the sovereignty of the States within their own domain -a sovereignty practically assured by the Constitution and indorsed by the people.

Mr KINGSTON:
South Australia

– I heard an interjection of the honorable member for Melbourne with which, singularly enough, I thordughly agree. I would suggest to the honorable and learned member forSouth Australia, Mr. Glynn, that, instead of attempting to limit what is practically a. declaration of our constitutional powers, itwould be infinitely better to take the sense of the Committee with regard to the extent to which we should endeavour to exercise them, in connexion with the definition of the word “ industry.” It is my wish thatthe Court we are proposing to constitute should be invested with every power which the Constitution permits us to giveit, and I have every confidence that all such powers will be wisely exercised. In this connexion I was sorry indeed to hear a suggestion regarding the possibility of bias on tle part of thePresident of the Court. I do not think that the honorable member seriously intended toimpute anything of the kind.

Sir William McMillan:

– I did.

Mr KINGSTON:

– Whether in connexion with industrial matters, or in any others, the life training of lawyers operatesin favour of impartiality and openness of mind.

Sir William McMillan:

– I have never been able to convince the honorable and learned member.

Mr KINGSTON:

– Because the honorable member was always wrong. Strong as. is my partisanship in its proper place, I should scorn, and any member of my profession would scorn, to display it whilst occupying a judicial position. In politics we fight for our own hand, but a Judge knows no politics. That applies to every judicial appointment in Australia.

Sir William McMillan:

– Have Judges hitherto been called upon to deal with this particular class of cases ? Surely there is a difference between adjudicating upon industrial matters of this kind and upon ordinary disputes.

Mr KINGSTON:

– I do not think so. Every man has his prejudices, but the man who in his capacity of Judge allowed himself to be influenced by them would be unworthy of his office. I do not believe that any such man will be selected for the high office about to be created. I thoroughly agree with the. honorable member for Wentworth that there ought not to be any unnecessary interference by the Federal Court in matters with which any State authority is competent to deal, and I say further that 1 do not believe that there is any possibility of that occurring. When I first had the honour of introducing the subject to the notice of the Sydney Convention on 3rd April, 1891, 1 proposed to add a new clause, which would confer legislative powers regarding

The establishment of Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration, having jurisdiction throughout the Commonwealth, for the settlement of industrial disputes.

I then said -

I think, in view of the magnitude of the recent industrial disturbances which have affected Australia and the whole of the civilized world-

I was referring to the great maritime strike which had just previously occurred - it is desirable, when we are framing this Federal Constitution, that we should at least do something in the way of avoiding difficulties of the character to which I have referred. I am not in favour of conferring unnecessarily any powers on the Federal Parliament. I have hitherto seized various opportunities for advocating the expediency of leaving the settlement of matter’s of purely local concern to the local Legislatures. .But we cannot avoid recognising this fact - that in disputes of the magnitude to which I refer, whichaffect not only one, but all the Australian Colonies, it is utterly impossible for any local Legislature to constitute a tribunal competent to deal satisfactorily with the question.

Sir Samuel Griffith suggested that my amendment would more properly find a place among the powers to constitute Courts, and I therefore proposed to confer power to create Courts of Conciliation and

Arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes. Unfortunately I did not carry my amendment, but I am delighted to think that I had the honour of co-operating on that occasion, as I have done all through, with the Attorney-General. The matter was revived in 1897, and, as has already been mentioned, the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne was able to carry an amendment which is now embodied in the Constitution. That provision does not give all the power we should desire, and it is open to the objection that it has not yet been judicially construed. It is impossible to predict with absolute certainty what construction will be placed by the High Court upon the power conferred by the Constitution, but I think that the provision for. conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond any one State, preserves the line of demarcation which can be laid down between the State functions and those properly belonging to the Federation. Where a dispute is purely local, and does not extend to more than one State, we have no power, and we do not propose to .interfere. I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Wentworth that probably our prime care in this connexion is in regard to matters in which the States Courts are helpless - in cases, for instance, affecting the maritime interest, where the men employed are in one State to-day and in another to-morrow. No State Legislature can properly deal with cases in which, in the natural order of things, a man receives his wage in one State to-day and in another to-morrow. But whilst this is so, I by no means say that it is the only dispute with which the Federal Court can properly deal. We cannot look into the future with , absolute certainty. Reference has been made to shearers’ disputes. I am inclined to think that next to maritime disputes they would properly engage the attention of the Federal tribunal. There may be many more, but we cannot precisely lay our fingers upon them at the present moment. Let us give to the Federal tribunal such power as the Constitution enables us to confer upon it. Let us have trust in that tribunal. IE we do not trust it,’ do not let us appoint it. If it is unworthy of trust, let us leave the matter alone. I have confidence in it. Australian and British history teach us that we can well rely upon the intelligence, integrity, and honour of British Judges. Let us therefore endow them with as much power as we are enabled to .give them under the terms of the Constitution, relying upon their just exercise of every function which they are called upon to exercise. I put it to the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, that this matter must be thoroughly discussed in connexion with the definition of “industry” as laid down in clause 6 of the Bill. I therefore ask him to withdraw his amendment for the present. Do not let us complicate matters by discussing it upon a clause which simply sets out in such a way that all who run may read, what is really our position with reference to the power of conferring jurisdiction upon the Court which it is proposed to establish.

Mr THOMSON:
North Sydney

– I find myself quite in accord with the conciliatory spirit evidenced by the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston. I do not intend to attempt to destroy this measure by a side wind. I explained my opposition to it upon the motion for its second reading. I bow to the decision of the House upon that second reading ; but, at the same time, I shall not be debarred from attempting at different stages to remove some of the dangers to industry - both as regards employers and employes - which, I regretfully think, the Bill contains. The Attorney-General has sought to prove the incorrectness of the statement that the extent of this measure was never contemplated by the Convention, by quoting the views of those who opposed the inclusion of paragraph 35 of section 51 of the Constitution. But he quite forgot to cite the views of those who supported its inclusion and who urged it on the .ground that the fears of those who anticipated such an interference with the States control of their own matters, were not justified. The views of those who secured consent to the proposal are therefore of more importance as indicating what was the feeling of the Convention than are the views of those who opposed it. There is one striking fact which has to be taken into consideration in reviewing the decision of the Convention. It is that the first proposal imposed no limitation whatever upon the powers of this Parliament. The original proposal was for conciliation and arbitration simply.

Mr Deakin:

– Where1!

Mr THOMSON:

– The AttorneyGeneral will find that the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne expressed a desire that the Commonwealth Parliament should have power to legislate upon matters of conciliation and arbitration in the States.

Mr Deakin:

– But those words were introduced by the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne suggested .the words, “industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.”

Mr THOMSON:

– But the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne expressed his desire for the larger power. The father of this measure, the right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, showed by his resolution at a previous Convention what were his intentions, but in view of the opinion expressed by delegates to the Convention, a limitation was imposed in the resolution which was actually adopted. That limitation is that the power of Federal intervention shall extend only “ to the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” I have no hesitation in saying that for all practical purposes this Bil] strives to evade what was the evident intention of the Convention when it arrived at that decision. The right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, will not tell me that the provisions of the Bill, if its intentions are supported by the High Court, can be confined to disputes extending beyond the limits of one State. It can be applied in this way; a request for certain things may be made in one State. By simply extending that request to another State the so-called dispute will be made one of an Inter-State character. That is a deliberate evasion-

Mr Kingston:

– If it is a deliberate evasion it is not constitutional.

Mr THOMSON:

– Under the Bill there are provisions which are expressly designed to assist that being done.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– How can we prevent it from being done ? The Constitution does not limit it.

Mr. THOMSON.The honorable member for Bourke admits that it can and will be done.

Mr Fisher:

– I go further, and say that I hope it will be done. I desire to anticipate strikes.

Mr THOMSON:

– There is ah admission from a gentleman who represents labour organizations. He “ hopes that it will be done.”

Mr Fisher:

– Does the honorable member desire that a strike shall take place first t

Mr THOMSON:

– The honorable mem ber will perhaps allow me to express what I desire in my own way. Our guides in this matter cannot tell us whether the Constitution does or does not allow the Federal authority to intervene. All I say is that the provisions of the Bill allow it, and the honorable member for Wide Bay indorses my statement. I do not believe that that is the intention either of the Constitution or of the right honorable member for South Australia, whom I have called the “father “of this measure. If it be the intention of the Constitution, what follows?? This Bill is not for the prevention of disputes extending beyond any one State, but is intended to encourage the extension of disputes beyond any one State. In the Convention the Prime Minister stated that the proposal would offer, a premium to the extension of disputes between the States.

Mr Deakin:

– Did the Prime Minister say that ? I thought it was the VicePresident of the Executive Council.

Mr Fisher:

– Many things have happened since then.

Mr THOMSON:

– Yes; political and personal interests have arisen.

Mr Mauger:

– It is easy to impute motives.

Mr THOMSON:

– And it is not always easy to refute them. In the Convention Mr. Higgins, by way of interjection, said -

The dispute must be one extending beyond any one State.

To that, the present Prime Minister, also by way of interjection, replied -

That gives a direct incentive to the extension of the dispute.

That is the opinion of a high legal authority, as it was expressed in the Convention. I do not know what view of the matter the Prime Minister takes to-day.

Mr McCay:

– Surely when we accepted the Constitution we accepted those things which we did not like, such, for example, as the selection of the Federal Capital site in New South Wales.

Mr THOMSON:

– Certainly. Those who may have objected to the inclusion of that power of conciliation and arbitration in the Constitution have accepted it for what it means. They are not bound to take the presumed intention which is accepted by any Minister. They have a right in modelling any BUI to see that the power conferred is clearly defined, and that there shall . be as little injurious interference with the industries of the Commonwealth as possible.

Mr McCay:

– I admit that.

Mr THOMSON:

– That is all for which I contend. The illustration drawn from the quotation of the Prime Minister’s words is given only in support of the view which I am putting forward. If such a means of extending disputes beyond a State is to be availed of, and it is admitted that it will be, disputes will be created in a State where they would not otherwise occur ; the local tribunals will be constantly flouted by one side or the other, and a game of cross-purposes will be played by which each side will endeavour to gain an advantage by seeking at one time to limit a dispute to a particular locality, and at another time to extend it over the whole Commonwealth.

Mr Isaacs:

– That is an argument against the whole Bill.

Mr THOMSON:

– I have already argued against it.

Mr Isaacs:

– I thought the honorable member had accepted it.

Mr THOMSON:

– I have not changedmy views. I have accepted the Bill” only as we accept any measure to which the majority has agreed. No one can c^aim that the provision in the Bill which will make it advantageous for one side or the other to cause a dispute to extend beyond a State is in the interests of industry. A. limitation such as is proposed by the honorable and learned member for South Australia is desirable. He admits that the amendment is put forward simply to test the question, and that it may not be necessary to adhere to the exact wording.. But if it be carried it will more completely fulfil the intentions of the Convention than - will the clause as it stands. It will avoid the deliberate extension of a dispute by one party or the other from one State to another. The trades to which the honorable and learned member refers are thosewhich overlap the different States, and with which it was really the intention of theConvention to deal. When we ask theAttorneyGeneral whether we have the power that he claims under the Constitution, and under this Bill he simply replies - “ I do not know.”

Mr Deakin:

– I said, “ Yes “ ; but I remarked that I was not the final arbiter. The question must rest with the High Court.

Mr THOMSON:

– But the honorable and learned member alluded to the vagueness of the Constitution.

Mr Deakin:

– My attention was again called to the question as to when a dispute would extend beyond a State, and I said that so far as that matter was concerned the provision was undoubtedly vague.

Mr THOMSON:

– Will the AttorneyGeneral say that if a dispute occurred in one State, and one of the parties, for its own interests, created a similar dispute in another State, such an occurrence would amount’ to a dispute extending beyond a State?

Mr Deakin:

– The Court has nothing to do with the creation of a dispute. If there is a dispute in one State and it extends to another it must be dealt with.

Mr THOMSON:

– That supports my argument. The right honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston, appeared to have some doubt about this point, but my contention is supported by the AttorneyGeneral. I disagree with the right honorable member for South Australia’s contention that if we adopted this amendment we should practically attempt to limit our constitutional powers. It is unnecessary for us to avail ourselves of our full constitutional powers when we consider it undesirable to do so. Several measures which we have passed do not exhaust our full constitutional power in relation to the matter dealt with by them, and we shall certainly not limit our constitutional powers in this respect if we endeavour for the advantage of industry - and with no disadvantage to workers or employers - to make clear the extent to which we desire that this Bill shall operate. Some remarks have been made as to the possibility of bias being shown by the Court, but I am not adopting that line of argument. I simply say that we have to watch those who appeal to the tribunal, and who may interfere, to the detriment of the people of Australia, with the industries of the Commonwealth. We are giving both sides great powers, and we must take care that we do not give them a power which they will be able to abuse, to the great detriment of the industries of

Australia, on which others depend. We give the parties power in this Bill to extend disputes from State to State for the mere purpose of bringing them before the Federal Court.

Mr Kingston:

– And to secure peace:

Mr THOMSON:

– -No. They have a chance to secure peace by appealing to the State Court. They will be able to do so, at all events, in some of the States. This is a very serious power, and we ought to limit it, so that what the right honorable member for South .Australia describes as a misuse of the Act may not occur. The right honorable member said that to apply the provisions of the Bill to a dispute which was not a genuine one, arising in two States, but which had simply been extended for a purpose, would not be a legitimate use of the measure.-

Mr Kingston:

– I do riot think I put it exactly in that way ; but it is near enough.

Mr THOMSON:

– The remark made by the right honorable member was to that effect. We have -a right to see that some limit is fixed in this Bill to what may prove a great danger to the industries of Australia. If this overlapping is allowed, disputes relating to industries, whether large or small, may be taken first to the local Court, and then extended to the Federal Court. There may also be appeals, and, as is the case in New South Wales, a reference back to the Court. In some cases which have occurred in New South Wales, there has been a second reference to the Court in order to obtain an interpretation of a decision. All this may occur over a very small matter. It may relate to one particular man’s work, rights, or privileges, and surely in these circumstances there is good reason for limiting the extent of such disturbances of industry. I think that those who support this amendment should be regarded rather as the friends than as the opponents of the measure. I am satisfied that if there is to be any chance of successful results following from this measure - and no one will rejoice more than I shall do if my anticipations in this respect are not realized - we must observe caution, and clearly limit its extent and operation.

Mr SAWERS:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES

– The amendment is not very clear.

Mr THOMSON:

– We are not speaking of the wording of the amendment, but of the object of it. The honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, does not bind himself to these words.

Sir Malcolm McEacharn:

– These words evidently extend the powers given by the Bill.

Mr THOMSON:

– They could not do so. Will the honorable member say that we can extend powers which already cover every industry in Australia 1

Mr Isaacs:

– We cannot extend the powers of the Constitution.

Mr THOMSON:

– I was speaking not of the Constitution, but of the Bill. We cannot extend powers which, as the Bill is drafted, cover every industry in Australia. Therefore, the affect of the amendment must be to limit the scope of the Bill. I am not going to discuss the precise wording of the amendment. The honorable and learned member for South Australia has done what has been done on many occasions in this Chamber. He has brought forward an amendment to allow the discussion of a certain principle. If the principle which he advocates is adopted, the amendment can readily be altered to meet the case.. We have accepted our defeat upon the second reading of the measure, and we are- now trying to make the Bill as workable as possible. We want also fco make its interference with the authority of the States as, little as possible, because, we hold that the States Courts are better qualified than the Commonwealth Court will be to adjudicate upon local disputes. Our desire is to confine the provisions of the measure as nearly as possible to the evident intention of the f ramers of the Constitution. I shall support the proposed limitation.

Mr ISAACS:
Indi

– I intend to say only a few words upon this clause, because I feel that it is the duty of every friend of the Bill not’ to occupy more time than is jiecessaiy at this period of the session. A good deal of time has been taken up in the discussion of other matters, but I trust that now the consideration of this measure has been resumed, we shall be able to proceed with it uninterruptedly.

Mr Thomson:

– The supporters of the Bill occupied most of the time taken up in the second-reading debate.

Mr ISAACS:

– I am not going to indulge in any retrospect. I agree that the clause should be amended as suggested by the Attorney-General. It would be possible to strike it out altogether, and that course would perhaps have the same legal effect as the adoption of the amendments which he has suggested, but it seems to me desirable to retain the clause in order to allay certain Bears which have been expressed by persons outside. It has been stated that it is the intention of Parliament to intrude upon what are really State matters, and. thereforeI think it is necessary to insert in the Bill a clause, framed on the words of the Constitution, announcing that we do n«t intend to deal with any but Federal matters. It is not the province of this Parliament to interpret the Constitution by using words which are not contained in it.

Mr Deakin:

– Or by leaving out words which are used in the Constitution.

Mr ISAACS:

– That is so. By attempting to interpret the Constitution we may get ourselves into difficulties. The adoption of this clause does not increase our powers one jot, nor does it give to the tribunal which we are about to create any power which is not authorized by the Constitution. The intention of the honorable and learned member for South Australia is at the very threshold to limit the scope of the Bill. If there is to be such a limitation, however, this is not the occasion to discuss the matter, because we cannot wholly deal with it in connexion with this clause, and it would be most inartistic and unusual to deal with it> in a piecemeal fashion. Surely the occasion to discuss a proposed limitation will arise when we are dealing with clause 6. If a limitation is thought desirable, it should be . made by amendments of the definitions of “industrial disputes,” “industrial matters,” and “ industry.” Clause 2 stands merely as a placard to announce our intention to restrict the jurisdiction of the Court to the matters which we commit to its charge by the substantive provisions of the measure, and to assure the States that we are not intruding upon their domain.

Mr Glynn:

– Clause 3 contains a limitation of . the scope of the Bill.

Mr ISAACS:

– That is a negative clause for which there is a reason analogous to that which I have given for the retention of clause 2, since the States are afraid that we may intend to interfere with their control of their public services. I shall not address myself at this juncture, for the reasons I have given, to the other considerations which have been advanced by honorable members in support of the amendment. I prop’ose to address myself to them when we come to deal with the definitions. It seems to me, however, that their arguments were directed against the Bill itself. I should like, however, to reply to the contention that disputes may be made, in some surreptitious manner, to extend beyond any one State.

Mr Thomson:

– By a method provided in the Bill.

Mr ISAACS:

– The utmost care is taken to provide that the Court shall be able to deal with attempts . to misuse its jurisdiction.

Mr Thomson:

– Such attempts are authorized by the Bill.

Mr ISAACS:

– The Court has power to refuse to deal with a dispute, notwithstanding its cognisance of it.

Mr Thomson:

– The honorable and learned member will not say that the Court can refuse to hear a dispute which has extended beyond any one State.

Mr ISAACS:

– Under clause 60 the Court may refer an industrial dispute to a State industrial authority willing to act, and under clause 63, although it may have full formal cognisance of a dispute, it may take into consideration all the matters to which the honorable member for North Sydney has referred, and under paragraph f -

Dismiss any matter or refrain from further hearing or from determining the dispute, if it thinks the dispute trivial, or that further proceedings by it are not necessary or desirable in the public interest.

Mr Conroy:

– Every. Court has power to dismiss any matter brought before it.

Mr ISAACS:

– No Court has power to refuse to adjudicate.

Mr Conroy:

– A Court may dismiss a matter after the hearing of it.

Mr ISAACS:

– Only on the merits of the case.

Mr Conroy:

– The determination of the merits of a case rests with the Court.

Mr Thomson:

– The provision which the honorable and learned member has read does not touch my objection.

Mr ISAACS:

– It seems to me to answer the honorable member’s contention. Other clauses, too, contain further answers to the honorable member’s argument, with which it seems to me more proper to deal when those clauses are under consideration. Clause 2 confers no power, and should be passed for the reasons I have given.

Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN:
Melbourne

– I agree with the honorable and learned member for Indi that the proper time for the discussion of this matter is upon the consideration of clause 6.

I fail to see that the amendment would effect the object of the mover, and as a layman I feel that if the lawyers of the community would express their meaning in plain and business-like language, it would be easier for other honorable members to discuss matters of this kind. I wish to draw the attention of the Attorney-General to the bearing of the word “extending” upon the provisions of clauses 37 and 38. Clause 2 confines the scope of the Bill to industrial disputes “extending beyond the limits of any one State,” whereas clauses 37 and 38 give the Court power to deal with “ any industrial dispute “ at the request of any State industrial authority, or of the Governor of a State in which there i3 no State industrial authority.

Mr Deakin:

– The term “ industrial dispute,” occurring in clauses 37 and 38, must be understood to have the meaning attaching to it under the definition in clause 6.

Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN:

– Accepting that explanation, I do not see the need for clauses 37 and 38. It is not necessary for any State authority to call upon the Court to act.

Mr Deakin:

– No, but those clauses are intended to encourage State authorities to do so.

Mr WINTER COOKE:
Wannon

– This measure may fairly be described as a Bill for the creation of disputes, especially if it is to have the extended scope contemplated by the Attorney-General. As I desire to limit disputes as far as possible, I shall certainly support the amendment. In taking this step I am largely justified by the views expressed by the AttorneyGeneral at the Convention. He then said that in all probability the Commonwealth would not aet until after an abundant series of

W0ll-conducted experiments in the States.

Mr Deakin:

– What I said was- “The Federal Parliament will be impressed by the importance of the experiments that are proceeding in the States. It will watch them carefully, and will deal with the subject as soon as it feels that it is competent to do so.

Mr WINTER COOKE:

– But there was another passage in the speech in which the Attorney-General used the phrase I have indicated. Now he tells us that that view was expressed five years ago, but I would point out that the Federal Executive announced their intention to introduce a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in March, 1901, , or only two and a half years after the

Convention was held. Therefore the AttorneyGeneral must have changed his views within that period.

Mr Deakin:

– I did not change my views, but I admit that I was wrong as to the time.

Mr WINTER COOKE:

– The honorable member for North Sydney has pointed out that the desire of the Convention was to prevent disputes from extending from one State to another, and not to encourage the extension of disputes. I know that it is thought that shearing disputes should be. brought within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court. In Victoria, the pastoralists have entered into an agreement with the Australian Workers’ Union, whereas a dispute is still proceeding in New South Wales. If the Bill were in force, the Victorian shearers would, owing to their sympathy with the shearers in New South Wales, probably refuse to come to an agreement with the employers, and thus trouble would be extended rather than restricted by the operation of the law.

And I am quite certain that the same thing would happen in many other industries. Naturally men would desire to better their condition, and would extend disputes over two or more States if they thought they could thereby secure their ends. I hope that the Committee will agree to the amendment, which will have the effect of reducing the scope of the Bill.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– If the honorable member for Wannon can bring forward no better illustration than that which he has used, his argument must fall to the ground. He has failed to grasp the meaning of the word “dispute.” So far as the pastoral industry is concerned, both the employers and the men are organized, and the federated unions extend their operations over four States. The honorable member spoke of the creation of disputes by the operation of the Bill, but I would point out that a dispute now exists between the Pastoralists’ Union and the Australian Workers’ Union. It is true that a settlement has been arrived at so far as the Victorian sections of these unions are concerned, but disputes still exist in New South Wales and South Australia, which would come within the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court. The pastoralists in both those States refused to meet the representatives of the Australian Workers’ Union ; but the Victorian pastoralists came to terms with the men as soon as they received, permission to meet their representatives. I must do the pastoralists of Victoria the justice to say that they have always been anxious to settle their disputes with us by conciliatory methods. The Pastoralists’ Union has branches in Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, aud Queensland. The Australian Workers’ Union also has its branches in the three first-named States, and is associated with a similar organization in Queensland. A dispute exists between the two federated organizations at present because the employers refuse to meet the representatives of the men. It is not necessary that men should go to work in order to create a dispute. It would be competent for the Federal Arbitration Court to take preventive measures, otherwise the Bill would be of no value. The Court could make an award covering the whole of the Commonwealth, and lay down conditions which would be in accord with the varying customs prevailing in the different States. We know that the conditions in Victoria are quite different from those which obtain in New South Wales, and the terms of the award could be, and no doubt would be, so shaped as to suit the varying circumstances. There would be a common rule applying to each State within a given radius in the same way that the terms of the arrangements entered into for shearing in Victoria and New South Wales were varied to suit the respective conditions of the two States. Unfortunately the agreement which has been entered into between the Victorian pastoralists and the Australian Workers’ Union has no force in law. But having been voluntarily arrived at it could be registered as an award of the Court. It need not necessarily be reviewed by the Court unless either party wished that that should be done. A common rule could be applied to New South Wales and Queensland to suit the conditions of those two States, and special provision could be made for the difference in the conditions prevailing in the northern as distinguished from the south-eastern districts of South Australia. That is what we understand by the application of the common rule. I do not know why the Bill should be regarded as calculated to create disputes.

Mr Thomson:

– It will have- the effect of extending disputes.

Mr SPENCE:

– The honorable member must recollect that much injustice is now quietly endured, and thus remains unknown to the general public. If a court were established which afforded some means of securing justice the public would be made acquainted for the first time with grievances which had existed all along. Recourse could not be had to the Arbitration Court except by large bodies of men, and as their organizations .provide complete checks against hasty action, honorable members may rest assured that only genuine grievances will be submitted to adjudication. In my opinion the Bill should be made as comprehensive as possible.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– If I required any additional reason for supporting the amendment of the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, it has just been furnished by the honorable member for Darling. Either the Court which it is proposed to establish under this Bill will have the power to make awards or it will not. According to the honorable member for Darling, if a union extends into more than one State, and a dispute arises in which its members are interested, that dispute can be referred for settlement to the supreme arbiter - the Court which is to he established by this Parliament. Unfortunately for the soundness of his argument, he gave an illustration which seems to cut directly the other way. He pointed out that, after all, any award must necessarily be a purely local one. In this connexion he showed that in the case of the Shearers’ Union a different award would be required in New South Wales from that which would be given in Victoria, whilst in South Australia two different awards might be expected.

Mr Spence:

– Only partially so.

Mr CONROY:

– Whether partially so or not, it seems to me that that fact is equally destructive to his argument.

Mr Watson:

– We are prepared to accept the risk.

Mr CONROY:

– On behalf of the workmen, I decline to take that risk.

Mr Watson:

– We fought that principle upon the second reading of the Bill.

Mr CONROY:

– What we fought upon the motion for its second reading was whether or not we should have a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Having decided that matter, our next duty is to endeavour to make the measure as perfect as possible.

Mr McCay:

– Surely the point which has been raised upon this clause should he debated upon clause 6.

Mr CONROY:

– I admit that there is a great deal in the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. As a general rule, however, it is advisable - especially in the drafting of Bills - that any point which is raised shall be fought out upon the very first opportunity which presents itself. If we allow this clause to pass in its present form we shall require to change almost entirely the character of clause 6. This provision is practically declaratory of the scope of the Bill. I wish to submit one argument from the workmen’s point of view, as to the necessity for providing that the proposed Court shall not be empowered to interfere in any local dispute, merely because the union which is interested in it may extend throughout the different States. Otherwise, I can easily conceive the position which may be taken up by a smart body of the employers’ union. They may create a strike or lock-out in a certain branch of industry in Tasmania, where, owing to the fact that living is cheaper, the wages of the workmen are lower than those which are paid to men engaged in the same industry in Queensland or Western Australia. If they were, successful before the Court, the common rule would be applied to all engaged $in that industry throughout Australia. Would that be fair to the workers of Queensland or Western Australia? The Court must be guided by the evidence before it.

Mr Spence:

– Would the honorable and learned member do that if he were a Judge of- a Court1!

Mr CONROY:

– As a Judge I should be sworn to decide upon the evidence before me.

Mr Spence:

– No, upon common sense.

Mr CONROY:

– The1 honorable member talks about Justices being swayed by common sense. Yet the leader of the party to which he belongs has so little faith in lawyers that he has actually given notice of a proposal to the effect that in no industrial dispute shall counsel, solicitor, or agent appear before the Court, without having first obtained the written consent of all the parties to it.

Mr Thomas:

– Is there not a difference between a J udge who is sworn to administer justice, and counsel who is briefed by a client?

Mr CONROY:

– If lawyers cannot be trusted to appear before the Court as advocates, the same men. ought not to be trusted to act as Judges. In the Judiciary Bill we expressly provided that the Justices of the High Court should be chosen only from counsel or solicitors of five years’ standing.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– It is the duty of the Judges to rely upon evidence.

Mr CONROY:

– Exactly. I have already pointed out that a wealthy employers’ association having branches in Queensland, Tasmania, and Western Australia, might easily create a dispute, and obtain a decision in Tasmania which, by the application of the common rule, would bind the whole “of the men engaged in that industry throughout Western Australia and Queensland.

Mr Spence:

– We are not afraid of that.

Mr CONROY:

– May I ask the honorable member why he does not fear such a contingency 1 If there be an Employers’ Association, which has branches in Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania, and a dispute arises in the last-named State, will not the judgment of the Court be binding upon the unionists in Queensland and Western Australia? Will not the whole of the conditions which obtain throughout the remote parts of the country be governed by those which prevail in the more settled portions of the Continent ? I hold that we should be doubly careful, because the individuals who will be chiefly affected occupy an isolated position. They cannot come to Melbourne to fight the matter out; and, even if they could, they would be utterly overwhelmed by evidence from a hundred different sources.

Mr Spence:

– We are not alarmed at that prospect.

Mr CONROY:

– Does the honorable member imagine that the Court will not be guided by evidence 1 I trust that whoever is appointed President of the Court will not be a partizan, but will hold the balance of justice as evenly as possible. We call this tribunal a Court df Conciliation and Arbitration. I can only say that I entertain so much dislike towards it that I am compelled to fight against the whole scheme. I would allow the Court to take action only in the case of a dispute affecting an industry extending far beyond the realm of local considerations.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– Does the honorable and learned member think that the amendment would confine the operation of the Bill to the carrying trade ?

Mr CONROY:

– I thought so at first, but I agree now with the Attorney-General that it would go much further.

Mr Glynn:

– It would affect wharf labourers connected with the inter-State carrying industry, and is intended to do so.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– But it would confine the operation of the Act to that industry and all its ramifications.

Mr Glynn:

– Yes ; it would not, for example, affect bootmakers, carpenters, and others.

Mr Isaacs:

– Why would it not affect bootmakers if boots were sent from one State to another.

Mr CONROY:

– Do I understand the honorable and learned member for Indi to contend that this measure should control purely local disputes? Does the honorable member for Darling say that a union which is associated with another union in some other State should be given power to appeal direct to the Federal Court 1 If not, I do not understand the use of this measure.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable and learned member has said that he does not understand the Bill.

Mr CONROY:

– I do not understand the honorable member’s contention. Let us consider for a moment what would happen if we did not accept this amendment. There is already a Conciliation and Arbitration Act in operation in New South Wales which provides that parties bringing any dispute before the Court shall be bound by its decision. I will not take a case in which men in that State are bound by an award with which they are dissatisfied, but a case in which they are perfectly satisfied with the decision of the Court. In such circumstances, are we to give a Court in Western Australia or Tasmania power to upset that award, and to bring about a condition still more serious t Does not the honorable member for Darling see that I have a right on behalf of the men to protest against this clause 1 As one of those who oppose this measure because of the great injury which I believe it will inflict upon the people, I feel it is necessary to point out what will be its harmful effects. How can we go beyond the decision of the Arbitration Court in New South Wales, which has had to do exactly what the New- Zealand Court has been called upon to do ?

In New Zealand the Court has found it necessary to apply different conditions to the cities- of Auckland and Dunedin, and if the Federal Court is to have power to make a common rule, workers in South Australia or Western Australia, may be affected by ari award given as the result of a dispute arising in Tasmania. Who can best afford to bring evidence before the Court - the workmen or the employers?

Mr Spence:

– The workmen.

Mr CONROY:

– I have never heard before that workmen have an abundance of money to pay away in lawyers’ fees,’ and I feel that, on behalf of the workers, as well as employers, I must support the amendment. If there is one thing which is of more advantage to the workers than another, it is certainty of law.

Mr Page:

– In many instances the law is too certain for them.

Mr CONROY:

– I agree with the honorable member. What I object to all through is the certain injury.

Mr Mauger:

– Would it not be well for the honorable and learned member o let the Bill go through ?

Mr CONROY:

– I am at a loss to know why the honorable member occupies a ‘seat in this Chamber. I do not expect him to see both sides of this question, ; is he cannot even ‘see one. I trust that he will not repeat his parrot-like cries. I am now putting the question from the point of view of the workmen. I thought that the object of our legislation was to endeavour to bring justice within the reach of all, but if our laws be uncertain that” object cannot be obtained. It was- only a little while ago that the Attorney-General admitted that he did not know what the effect of this provision . might be. How dare we, as a Parliament, send forth laws the effect of which we do not know ? It seems that-the Judges are to be asked not to construe the law, but to make it.

Mr Sawers:

– This is a second-reading speech.

Mr CONROY:

– I am dealing purely with the clause. I am anxious that we should make the Bill perfectly clear, but we are not doing anything of the kind. The Attorney-General has just said that he does not know what force these provisions are going to have.

Mr Deakin:

– I did not say that.

Mr CONROY:

– The honorable and learned gentleman said it was for the

Judges to say how far these provisions should extend. Parliament should make the law, instead of leaving the work to the Judges. Can any honorable member give me an instance in which good has resulted to the people from judge-made laws?

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– There are thousands of instances. How did the law of insurance arise ?

Mr Deakin:

– Or practically the law of commerce, except out of Mansfield’s decisions.

Mr CONROY:

– It was judicial interpretation that first departed from common-sense principles. It was the judicial interpretations which for over 100 years enforced combination laws when not one of the provisions of those laws were really framed to repress combinations of workmen. The laws which kept workmen down until 1 799 were entirely Judge-made laws. From 1700 to about 1795, the judgments by which the workmen were oppressed were based upon statutes which had no reference to industrial combinations: That has been pointed out upon more occasions than one. Similarly, by placing the narrowest possible interpretation upon the laws directed against gambling, the Judges kept back the development of insurance societies for perhaps 150 years. Judges of sound common sense arose afterwards, and by refusing to control new conditions by old statutes made for other purposes allowed the work of development to proceed.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I ask the honorable and Learned member to confine himself to the clause.

Mr CONROY:

– I think that I am doing so, because I am endeavouiing to show how necessary it is to say exactly what we mean by this Bill. The honorable member for Darling does not share my distrust of the legal fraternity, but as a lawyer I have possibly a greater knowledge than he of the hindrances which judicial interpretations have placed in the way of industrial development, though I do not deny that occasionally a strong Judge ha3, by the exercise of his common sense in the interpretation of the law, enabled great strides to be taken by the community, and has often to a great extent corrected the folly of legislators. How can honorable members support a provision of the full effect of which the AttorneyGeneral declares himself to be unaware, and which must be therefore, left to the interpretation of the Court 1 Why not frame the Bill- in such a way that the parties coming before the Court will “know exactly what its jurisdiction is? Otherwise we shall be merely encouraging the unions to waste their money on law expenses. If the mere fact that the branches of a union ramify throughout the Commonwealth will enable the Court to deal with an industrial dispute in which the members of that union, are concerned, its jurisdiction will be taken advantage of, not only by the men to make a favourable common rule apply all over Australia, but also by the masters. It may thus happen that the Court may make a common rule which, although suitable to the conditions’ of an industry in Tasmania, where, living is cheap, may be altogether unsuitable to the conditions prevailing in Western Australia and in Queensland.

Mr Fowler:

– There is no possibility of the Court doing anything so absurd, because the J udge will exercise his common sense in dealing with these matters.

Mr CONROY:

– The honorable member for .Darling has argued that if there is a dispute in New South Wales in which the members of the .Shearers’ Union, which has branches in New South Wales, “Victoria, and Queensland, are concerned, and a sympathetic dispute occurs in one of the other States, the Court will be empowered to adjudicate on the question in the first-named State.

Mr Hughes:

– I submit that the honorable member is not confining himself to the amendment, which provides for the insertion of words limiting the application of the measure to certain employments. If he is allowed to deal with every matter affected by the various clauses of the Bill, he will be able to make what will practically be a second-reading speech.

Mr Conroy:

– I contend that I am in order,’ because I am drawing attention to what may happen if the clause is not amended as proposed.

The CHAIRMAN:

– A certain amount of latitude was allowed to the” mover of the amendment, and to the Attorney-General in his’ reply, but now that my attention has been called to the matter, I must ask all honorable members to confine themselves strictly to the amendment.

Mr CONROY:

– That is what I am doing. I am. merely using an illustration put forward by the honorable member for Darling, and endeavouring to answer his arguments. Let me try to state my point in another way. If the Court is to have jurisdiction to deal with a dispute whenever a sympathetic dispute occurs in some other State, the Employers’ Federation as well as the Workers’ Unions will be able to take advantage of the fact, and thus great injury may be done to either side. If I were called upon in my professional capacity to advise the employers, I would say - “ Create a dispute in Tasmania or in some other part of the Commonwealth where you are most likely to get a judgment favourable to your interests, and then threaten a lock-out in some other State, in order to bring the matter under the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court.” That being done, the Court would be bound to deal with the original dispute, and would be guided by the evidence brought before it in the State in which that dispute occurred. One honorable member said that men would be brought from other States to give evidence, but does he not see what a great expense that will involve? If that has to be done, all the money of the unions will be dissipated in law expenses. As the seat of Government is in Melbourne, most -cases submitted to the adjudication of the Arbitration Court will be dealt with here. Consequently, the working conditions throughout Australia will probably be regulated by ‘those which obtain in Victoria. What is to be done with regard to the States of New South Wales and Western Australia which have already established State Conciliation and Arbitration Courts ? There, the conditions of work, and wages are in course of settlement. In some cases, these Courts have given widely different decisions.

Mr Watson:

– Why is the honorable and learned member “ stone-walling?”

Mr CONROY:

– Does the honorable member regard my action in pointing out the objections to be urged against this legislation as “stone-walling.”

Mr Watson:

– The honorable and learned member has occupied half-an-hour in discussing the principles of the Bill.

Mr CONROY:

– Does the honorable member seriously think that I am “ stonewalling,” because I am indicating the objections which may be urged against the measure ?

Mr Watson:

– :Yes, because the honorable and learned member spoke to the same effect on the second reading.

Mr Cameron:

– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Bland in order in accusing the honorable and learned member of “ stone- walling “ ?

Mr Watson:

– I withdraw the expression - on reflection, no one would think that the honorable and learned member was “ stone-walling.”

Mr CONROY:

– Suppose that the miners of Bendigo and Ballarat entered into an industrial agreement which was registered by the Arbitration Court. Is it pretended that the miners, at Kalgoorlie, who have to work under entirely different conditions, should be bound by that ? If so, the owners of some of the big mines at Kalgoorlie would at once federate with the mine-owners of Victoria, and a dispute would be provoked at Kalgoorlie and brought before the Arbitration Court sitting in Melbourne, with the probable result that the wages at Kalgoorlie would be reduced to the Victorian scale.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I must ask the hon orable member not to discuss the powers of the Court. The question under consideration is the application of the Act to certain disputes.

Mr CONROY:

– Surely I can discuss the effect of the decisions of the Court 1

The CHAIRMAN:

– Not under this clause; the honorable member will have other opportunities of doing so.

Mr CONROY:

– Do not the members of the Labour Party see that an award of the Court sitting in Melbourne might prejudicially affect the miners at Kalgoorlie ? Do they not see that the Bill will be’ all in favour of the large employers 1 If I were an employer I should provoke disputes within the first twenty-four hours after the passing of the Act. The employers who are opposing the Bill will see later on that its machinery may be used to oppress the workers. The struggling employer may suffer, but those who are strong may use the Bill as a weapon of oppression. Therefore, on behalf of the struggling employer, and of the workman, I ask for the insertion of this clause. Otherwise the Bill will lead to the creation of trusts, and the impoverishment of the workers. I hope that the Committee will support the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr Glynn, in removing, as far as possible, all uncertainty from the measure. We should not make the Bill a means of feeding the lawyers. The Attorney-General admitted the uncertainty attaching to some of the provisions of the Bill, and that in itself should be a sufficient reason to induce the Committee to decline to pass it in its present form.

Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- I desire to withdraw my amendment. I thought over the form of words very carefully and they were not the result of my own judgment only. The amendment would extend the jurisdiction of the Court to all agencies connected with inter-State commerce. It would embrace, for instance, disputes with wharf labourers who might be engaged in connexion with inter-State shipping. The words, “ inter-State coasting trade “ might have been used, but they would not, I think, have applied to passengers carried in vessels engaged in the inter-State trade, nor would they have included oversea vessels. Words of the nature suggested by the honorable member for Melbourne, might be inserted as follows - “Disputes in the inter-State goods and passenger carrying industry.” But as honorable members do not seem to be inclined to adopt an amendment in the direction I have indicated in this clause, perhaps it would be better to allow their judgment to ripen and test the question in connexion with the definition of “ industry.” Personally I do not think that the amendment should be made in that way, but one has to bow to the judgment of others, such as the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Kingston. I therefore ask permission to withdraw the amendment for the present.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -

That the words “which extend” be omitted with a ‘view to insert in lieu thereof the word “extending.”

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– lam glad that the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, has withdrawn his amendment, because I think the proposal of the Attorney-General to adopt the precise words of the Constitution is preferable. I apprehend that the first duty of the High Court will be to decide how far the Bill complies with the Constitution and it is ‘ as well that we should not impose any qualification in this clause. I should not presume to express an opinion as to the limits of the Constitution, because that is a purely legal question which will have to be determined bj the High Court, quite apart from any discussion in this Chamber. I cannot take the view of the honorable member for Wentworth that if the clause is agreed to in the shape now proposed we should allow the Bill to pass without further opposition. I venture to express the hope that, notwithstanding the overwhelming majority of honorable members who are favourable to the main provisions of the Bill, an honest desire will be evinced on all sides - even by the the« members of the Labour Party - to render it acceptable to all sections of the community.

Mr Watson:

– Why say “Even the members of the Labour Party “ ?

Mr KNOX:

– Because the honorable members belonging to that party want the whole Bill and nothing but the Bill ; and they are perfectly justified in securing all that they can. I hope, however, that they will not refuse to listen to representations which may be made by honorable members who honestly desire to see a fair and equitable measure placed upon the statute-book. I should deprecate anymeretechnicalobjection or obstruction to the measure. Practically, one Judge will have to apply the Bill ; and, for that reason, I approve of the proposals made by the Attorney-General. But the very first step which this Bill contemplates is one of conciliation. Now the process of conciliation implies that the President of the Court shall endeavour to bring the rival parties to any dispute together. To this end he is called upon to separate himself from his ordinary judicial functions, and to discharge duties of a somewhat different character. Personally, I think it would be wise to limit this clause to the words which are used in the Constitution itself. It will then be for the High Court to determine exactly the extent of the powers which are conferred by that instrument of government. I shall support any amendment which will have the effect of limiting the operation of the Bill for the reasons which I stated upon the motion for its second reading. I do not think we are justified in fastening experimental legislation of this character upon the Commonwealth to the full extent of the powers conferred by the Constitution. There are sufficient representatives of the workers in this Chamber to speak on their behalf. I speak entirely from the stand-point of the employer. I hold that industrial operations will be unnecessarily retarded by the application of this Bill. I shall therefore endeavour to insure that proper attention is given to any representations which may be made for remedying its undoubted defects. At the same time, I have no desire to needlessly prolong debate, seeing that there is such an overwhelming majority in favour of the Bill. As to limiting the operation of the Bill to disputes which extend beyond the limits of any one State, I hold that such an extension can be easily secured, if it be to the interest either ‘of the employers or of the employes. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has’ referred to the Amalgamated Miners’ Association. I would point out that branches of one Association already operate in two of the States. If an industrial dispute occurred in one of those States, surely, under the terms of this Bill it would be an industrial dispute in which the Federal authority could intervene.

Mr Spence:

– It does not follow.

Mr KNOX:

– Those who were affected would be members of the same union in different States. Only to-day we had a very specific statement from one honorable member whodeclaredthattheintention was to take full advantage of the provisions of the BillTherefore all the talk which has been indulged in to the effect that the measure was intended only to meet maritime and shearers’ disputes falls to the ground. Evidently it is intended to apply to the whole industrial area of the Commonwealth.

Mr Fisher:

– It is intended to prevent strikes.

Mr KNOX:

– I hold that it will create disputes and industrial unrest.

Mr Spence:

– It will create a means for their settlement.

Mr KNOX:

– I trust that all the fears which I entertain may prove to be entirely groundless.

Mr Watson:

– Why does the honorable member not consent to arbitration in the case of the dispute which at present exists in Tasmania?

Mr KNOX:

– There is no question to submit to arbitration at the present moment, because the existence of a dispute has not been proved.

Mr Watson:

– The unions have decided upon a strike.

Mr KNOX:

– A minority has decided upon a strike, and I think that fact furnishes one of the most remarkable examples of a minority endeavouring to coerce a majority.

Mr Kingston:

– The result of the ballot does riot show that.

Mr KNOX:

– The number who voted both in favour of a strike and against it constitutes only a. small minority of the total employes of the company.

Mr Watson:

– They claim to speak only for the- miners - not for the other employes.

Mr KNOX:

– The case in question affords a remarkable instance of the evils which one organization can’ inflict upon their fellow-workmen. However, I do not think it would be wise to enter into a discussion of the details of that matter at the present time, because I lack accurate knowledge of it. I was merely remarking that the Amalgamated Miners’ Associations of Victoria and Tasmania are one industrial organization.

Mr Watson:

– That shows the necessity which exists for arbitration.

Mr KNOX:

– I feel assured that the delegates who went from Victoria to Tasmania will not be able to say that they did not receive every consideration. There has been a desire on the part of the Company to place all the facts before the two representatives of the men who have been acting as ‘conciliators ; and, although I have no wish to say anything that might prejudice their position, I am disposed to believe that, as reasonable men, they were satisfied with the position taken up by the Company. This is a most important clause; it lies at the base of the Bill, and it is a provision upon which the High Court will have to determine what are our constitutional powers in respect to it. The question is, therefore, so vast and intricate that I think it would be presumption on my part to express any positive opinion upon it ; but I appeal to honorable members who support the Bill to give due consideration to the amendments which will subsequently be proposed. ‘ I can assure them that I will be no party to any factious opposition for the purpose of merely delaying the passing of the measure.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– If I understand the Attorney-General correctly, the amendment will simply bring the clause into line with the express provision in the Constitution.

Mr Deakin:

– It repeats the words of the Constitution.

Mr CROUCH:

– That being so, I do not know what purpose will be served by it. The provision in the Constitution will govern this measure, even if it is not expressed in the clause.

Mr Deakin:

– That is so.

Mr CROUCH:

– Probably the original intention of the Government in introducing this clause in the Bill was to limit the powers taken under the Constitution.

Mr Deakin:

– I do not think that that was the intention of the right honorable member for South Australia, who framed the Bill.

Mr CROUCH:

– At all events that would be the effect of the clause as it stands.

Mr Glynn:

– The clause, as proposed to be amended, will explain to a certain extent, the meaning of the word “ extending.”

Mr CROUCH:

– As proposed to be amended by the Attorney-General, it will serve no purpose, and I think it would be well to omit it. I would urge the AttorneyGeneral to take the : course which I have suggested, because I dislike the appearance of the word “only” in the clause. If this Bill is to relate “ only” to the settlement and prevention of industrial disputes, it will not cover the co-relative powers which are given us by the final sub-clause of clause 51 of the Constitution.

Mr Glynn:

– The clause will be of no value as amended.

Mr CROUCH:

– I agree with the honorable and learned member, and I would like to ask whether, from the use of the word “ only,” we are to understand that this is something in the nature of an attempt to conciliate public feeling in the States t I should like the Attorney-General to, insert in the. Bill a provision similar to that which we have placed in the Defence Bill and other measures, declaring that certain State legislation shall not apply. If we have power to declare that industrial legislation of this kind on the part of the States shall not apply after the passing of this Bill, it will certainly be wise to exercise it. In any event, no harm would result from the insertion of such a provision in the Bill, because it may be found that the use of the word “ prevention “ means more than many of us believe. It might be held to give us absolute power in relation to all domestic industrial legislation, and it would be well for us to distinctly set forth that we desire sole control over Commonwealth industrial disputes, and that State legislation shall no longer apply to them after the passing of this law. One of the objections raised against the Bill is that it will give rise to two jurisdictions - that both the States Courts and the Commonwealth Court will have power to deal with these matters. We have Conciliation and Arbitration Acts in Western Australia and New South Wales, and Factories Acts in Victoria and South Australia, but no such industrial legislation in Queensland or Tasmania. If we distinctly provide in this clause that those measures shall not apply, and that the industrial legislation of the Commonwealth shall be the only governing power, much more good will be done than by amending this clause in a way that will cause it to have no effect. We do not wish to introduce useless verbiage into the Bill, and I hope, therefore, that the Attorney-General will substitute an amendment of the character I have indicated.

Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– I feel constrained to support the amendment, although I do not think it will carry us any further. We are face to face with the real difficulty associated with the Bill, and I think I can foresee the object which the Attorney-General has in view in framing the amendment submitted to us. We have to obtain a decision of the High Court as to our powers under the Constitution in reference to this question, and the phrase which the Attorney-General now proposes to insert in the clauseand the whole provision in the clause, by the way, might just as well have been used as the title of the Bill - will enable that decision to be secured. It appears to me that the difficulty is that the phrase used in the Constitution is exceedingly indefinite. The word “ extending “ will admit of two very clear and distinct definitions. “Extending” may mean “which have extended,” or, “ which may extend.” If it means “ which have extended,” we shall be forced into a difficulty in regard to the word “ prevention,” because we cannot prevent a dispute which has already extended to another State. If the phrase were held to mean “ which may extend,” it seems to me that the’ Commonwealth Parliament would have full power to pass legislation for the settlement of all industrial, disputes throughout the Commonwealth. I am rather sorry that we do not possess that power It would have been far better if the full power had been given to us. I can foresee the difficulty of the Federal law overlapping the States law, and producing not only a very great deal of friction between the two* sets of Courts, but friction amongst employers and employes which would not otherwise occur. When a workman or an employer is brought face to face with certain decisions by the Federal Court on the one side, and by the States tribunals on the other, he will not know how he stands. But, owing to the wording of the Constitution, I do not see any way out of the difficult)’. We have to make this amendment so that a test case may be taken to the High Court at the first opportunity to determine the meaning of this rather ambiguous phrase. To that extent, therefore, I intend to support it, because I see no other way of settling grevious trouble in connexion with the whole Bill. If we could have limited this measure to certain great industrial troubles, such as maritime disputes, and difficulties in connexion with coal miners, wharf labourers, carriers, and shearers - which, if they originate in one State, must necessarily extend to others - the position would be different. But if in this measure we lire going to take power to deal with every factory in the Commonwealth, then, although I should be prepared to adopt that course if we had the power to do so, I foresee great difficulty, having regard to the fact that certain power is reserved to the States to deal with those matters. We shall have two sets of Courts issuing different decisions, and the unfortunate workers and employers will be placed in a position of great difficulty. The amendment will enable us at the first opportunity to obtain the ruling of the High Court as to the meaning of the ambiguous words in the Constitution.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Progress reported.

page 4685

ADJOURNMENT

Queensland and Tasjianian Mail Services - Federal Capital Site - Queensland

Telegraph Offices

Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– I wish to bring before the House a matter of great moment to the State of Queensland - the tenders for a new mail contract which are being advertised for. The advertisement states that -

Tenderers are invited to state the additional sum required to proceed further to Pinkenba, in the port of Brisbane.

A deputation headed by the honorable member for Oxley waited upon the Prime Minister last Wednesday, and he promised to take the matter into his serious consideration. Yet he asks for a tender of that kind. Tenderers are also invited to state the cost of -

A fortnightly or weekly service . . . subject to special conditions relating to the carriage of fruit and the provision of refrigerating chambers, which include certain rates of freight.

This is not a party matter. I think that my State is being got at, and therefore 1 am standing up for its rights. The fact that I may be opposed to the party now in power in Queensland has nothing to do with the case. Queensland is to be asked to pay for the carriage of fruit and other perishable products without being able to take advantage of the accommodation provided. That is no proper Federal arrangement. In my opinion, if the steamers do not go on to Brisbane, Queensland should not be called uponto pay one-seventh of the mail subsidy. Surely the Government do not want us to pay for a service from which we get no advantage 1

Mr Thomas:

– The people of Queensland will have their letters carried by the mail steamers.

Mr PAGE:

– The people of the other States have their letters carried by the Vancouver mail boats, but the only States that subsidize that service’ are Queensland and New South Wales. I strongly object to the alternative allowed in the tender. The Premier of Queensland, when in Sydney some time ago, interviewed the manager of the P. and 0. Company, and was informed by him that the company would be willing to send their boats to Brisbane if they got the mail contract. The Queensland Government have intimated their willingness to forego harbor, wharfage, port and light dues in the event of mailsteamers proceeding there. Mr. Hertzburg, in his statement of the case to the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce, says -

  1. The trade of Brisbane is larger than that of either Fremantle or Adelaide.
  2. Brisbane has over 5,000 tons of available cold storage, which, I understand, is larger than any other town in Australia.
  3. The steamers are required here for the export of butter, fruits, meats, and station produce principally. The trade in the export of pineapples will equal the trade in apples from Tasmania.
  4. The Government here are agreeable to forego port dues and wharfage, and the accommodation at the Government wharfs at Pinkenba is sufficient for the largest vessels trading to Australia.
  5. The depth of water to the Pinkenba wharfs is also sufficient for the largest vessels.
  6. Two days Tit the most would be sufficient for vessels to stay here, leaving nine days for their stay in Sydney.
  7. Queensland pays one-seventh of the contract price for the mail service, which is of little advantage to her, as we get mails md America as quickly, and practically for nothing.
  8. Unless a direct cargo service is extended to’ Queensland, we get no equivalent for the cost of the service.
  9. New South Wales and Queensland pay for the Vancouver service themselves for the benefit of the rest of Australia.

If Queensland is going to be asked to pay her share of this mail subsidy, surely the other States of the Commonwealth should contribute towards the Vancouver subsidy, especially since the crews and stewards on the steamers trading to Vancouver are white men, and most of them Australians. If the representatives of Queensland do not look after her interests, I am sure that other honorable members will not do so. All we ask is that Queensland shall get as fair a deal as the other States.

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

-I wish to protest against the action of the Government in not making Brisbane a port of call for the mail steamers. To leave out Brisbane is to do a great injustice to the State of Queensland. The arguments advanced by the honorable member for Maranoa were placed before the Prime Minister and the PostmasterGeneral, and we expected that they would receive avorable consideration. I think that if any other State had been concerned it would have been treated differently. Tenderers, however, are asked to submit a statement of the cost of including Brisbane as a port of call merely as an alternative, while paragraph b of the advertisement asks for a statement of the cost of a service - between Sydney and Vancouver, calling at New Zealand and Honolulu; or, as an alternative, between Brisbane and Vancouver, calling at Fiji and Honolulu.

In any case, although Queensland pays her full share of the subsidy, Brisbane is only an alternative port of call. I feel indignant at the many injustices which have been perpetrated upon Queensland. A great deal has been said about the injustice which Ireland has suffered at the hands of the Imperial Government, but it is not to be compared with the injustice which Queensland has suffered at the hands of the Commonwealth Government. At the very outset, the Commonwealth Parliament passed legislation which interfered with and greatly injured some of the most valuable industries which the State possesses - industries which exist only in one other State, and there to a much smaller extent. I have already placed before the Prime Minister the following telegram received by me from the Premier of Queensland : -

In conversation with representative P. and U. Company, he was quite satisfied that Brisbane could be served without additional steamers, both companies wait now fourteen days in Sydney, five out of this would be ample for the voyage to and from Brisbane, giving us two days to load and unload.

That telegram was also placed before the Postmaster-General. Tenderers are asked, however, to state a price for including Brisbane as a port of call. The very fact of asking for a price implies that it is expected that something extra will have to be paid, and no doubt tenderers will take their clue from the wording of the advertisement, and charge highly for including Brisbane as a port of call. Queensland should be placed in this matter on the same footing as the other States. She is compelled to pay oneseventh of this mail subsidy, although she will get practically very little advantage from the service, but the other States contribute nothing to the Vancouver mail service, although they get nearly as much benefit from it as do Queensland and New South Wales. If all the States were treated alike, the cost of the Vancouver mail service would be distributed equally amongst them. I have a list of Queensland grievances in my hand which would occupy too much time to read now, but I regard this as the last straw. The injustice to Queensland has been so continuous since the inauguration of Federation, and it has been so impossible to get for her that favorable consideration to which she is entitled, that I cannot pretend to be any longer a supporter of the Government. I feel so strongly upon this matter that, until I find that they are willing to do justice to Queensland, and to treat her in the same way as the other States are treated, I shall be quite the opposite of a supporter.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I sympathize keenly with the representatives of Queensland in their efforts to obtain communication by mail steamer, and I earnestly request the Government to investigate, the matter, with a view to ascertaining whether 10 a 2 it is not possible to accomplish the desired end.

Mr Fisher:

– They have already considered the matter. It has been brought before them by deputation.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– But I do not suppose that the whole thing is settled. It is still open to make investigations. I am informed, however, that the extension of the mail service to Brisbane would involve the employment of an additional steamer.

Mr Fisher:

– That is not very much.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It is a good deal in the way of expense. Still, if it can be reasonably managed, Queensland is entitled to this communication. I have always considered that one of the advantages which chat State would get from Federation would be the calling of the mail steamers at Brisbane. I stood out very strongly some years ago for the calling of the .mail steamers at Fremantle, which the Minister for Home Affairs was then trying to bring about, and in consequence my action was very severely criticised in the New South Wales Parliament. Nevertheless I believe that I did right. It seems to me to be a matter of very great importance that, if possible, Brisbane should be placed upon the same footing as the other Australian capitals. No doubt the representatives of Queensland will be able to vigorously champion the cause of their State in this matter, and I shall content myself by expressing my sympathy with them. I desire to direct attention to a matter affecting New South Wales. The honorable member for Maranoa said that he was afraid his State was being got at. I do not wish to say that my State is being got at, but there is no doubt that the people of New South Wales are at present intensely agitated over the vexed question of the selection of the capital site. The Prime Minister has been considering the motion which is to be submitted in connexion with this matter for nearly three weeks, and I would urge him to promulgate his plan as early as possible.

Sir Edmund Barton:

– It will be promulgated early next week.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– I am delighted to hear that, and I shall say no more.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– I am heartily in sympathy with the representatives of Queensland in their desire to secure further advantages in connexion with the mail services. I speak with a good deal of fellow feeling,- because Western Australia found herself in similar difficulties not so very long ago, and felt very thankful to those who assisted her. It so happens that the capitals of all the States are practically on the seaboard, and therefore every effort should.be made to extend equal conditions with respect to the mail services. I realize that there are financial difficulties in the way of extending the service to Queensland, but the Government should be prepared to surmount them, even though the cost involved may be something more than would be approved of by the average Kyabramite. I hope that before long all the capitals of the States will enjoy the direct communication with the outer world which we have found of such great advantage in Western Austra ia

Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN:
Melbourne

– I also sympathize very much with Queensland in this matter. I think that State is entitled to every consideration, because it has in the past shown very great energy in regard to mail services. It is now paying £10,250 per annum towards the Vancouver mail service, from which all the States derive very considerable advantage. The P. and O. and Orient steamers have to wait so long at Sydney that very little extra expense would be involved in the extension of their voyage to Brisbane.

Mr Conroy:

– Would the honorable member permit them to carry cargo 1

Sir MALCOLM MCEACHARN:

– I do not desire to prevent the mail steamers from carrying passengers ; but I contend that the cargo traffic should be entirely left to Australian steamers. I do not wish to deal with that question now. It will be sufficient for me to indicate my views when the Navigation Bill is before us. Queensland has not derived any very great benefits from federation, and as the expense involved would not be very great, her request should be complied with.

Mr O’MALLEY:
Tasmania

– Any one listening to the remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa, and the honorable member for Oxley, would imagine that Queensland was lying prostrate on her stomach and that a wicked Government, shod with hob-nail boots, was dancing on her bare back ; but there is nothing of that kind. I sympathize with honorable members for Queensland, and all I ask is, “Is this a business proposition, and will it pay V It . would be ridiculous if, for the sake of mere sentiment, we sent the big mail steamers on to Brisbane. If, on the other hand, the extension of the service will pay, I hope that the request of Queensland will be acceded to. The mail steamers should be required to make Hobart one of their ports of call for at least three months in theyear.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– If it will pay.

Mr O’MALLEY:

– It is already paying. The mail steamers should be required to call at Hobart during March, April, and May in order to convey to England the Tasmanian apples, which are now competing successfully with the best in the world. The people on the west coast of Tasmania are much aggrieved because arrangements have been made under which they are to have a mail service to Burnie only once a w,eek.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

-It does not pay . to give them any more.

Mr O’MALLEY:

– Yes, it does pay well. I trust that the Postmaster-General will Inquire into the matter, and do his best to afford the fullest possible facilities to the residents of that part of Tasmania.

Mr WILKINSON:
Moreton

– The representatives of Queensland are asking for consideration, not on the ground of charity, or ‘because Queensland is lying prostrate upon her stomach, as the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, implies. We are asking for what is just and right ; and we claim that we are as much entitled to the full advantage of the mail services as are the other States. So far from the proposed extension involving any great expense, I am informed on very good authority that the mail steamers could go on to Brisbane and return to Sydney within such time that they would still have nine days’ stay in that port. The Government of Queensland have agreed to forego the harbor dues and other charges, and in view of the prosperous season which is now anticipated in Queensland, the mail companies may count upon receiving a considerable quantity of cargo from that State to compensate them for any extra expense. The outlook at present in Queensland is much more promising than it has been for a decade past, and there is no doubt that the export trade of the State will improve very much during the next few years. No doubt Queensland has suffered considerably by the disturbance of industrial conditions brought about by Federal legislation, but I deny that she has sustained any permanent injury. She has not had time to experience the beneficial effects of the legislation passed by this House. I believe that ever y Federal Act in which Queensland has been intimately concerned will prove of benefit to that State. I recognise the difficulties which confront the Government in this matter, and that the obstacles in the way of the extension of the service have been increased by the stipulation that the mail steamers shall not carry coloured crews. At the same time I hope that the service will be extended. 1 would not go so far as the honorable member for Oxley, and say that the Government are wilfully and callously ignoring what is due to Queensland. I would ask the Prime Minister, if it is not too late, to give this matter further consideration. I desire to make a complaint with regard to the postal and telegraph facilities in Queensland. I do not know anything regarding the relations existing between the Queensland Railway Department and the Post and Telegraph Department, but a large number of telegraph offices which were formerly managed by railway officials have been closed, in my own electorate and elsewhere, in that State. I hope that matters will be satisfactorily adjusted, and that the residents of the localities affected will not be deprived of facilities which they have enjoyed for years past.

Sir EDMUND BARTON:
HunterMinister for External Affairs · Protectionist

– One would suppose from what has been stated by some honorable members that -an attempt was made, in connexion with the advertisements for tenders for the mail service, to exclude Queensland. So far, however, from that being the fact, Queensland is being better treated than ever before in respect to the calling of tenders, because this is the first occasion on which tenderers have been asked to name a price for a service extending as far as Brisbane. In the next place, the position of the Government must be understood. It is for them to endeavour to obtain some satisfactory tender for ‘ the maintenance of mail communication with Europe. If they were to impose any conditions that would result in no satisfactory tenders being received, they would be very much to blame, because we might be left for a long period after the expiration of the present contract without a service suitable to our conditions and outlaws. When these facts are borne in mind, I may ask honorable members to concede that the right step was to call for alternative tenders. The condition that the steamers should call at Brisbane was not the only alternative. We have offered alternatives with regard to the treatment and carriage of perishable products, with regard to the route, “and many other matters, in order that we might secure reasonable tenders. It must be recollected that the tenders must be submitted to Parliament. Any proposal which the Government may make, irrespective of whether they submit it to Parliament before agreeing to it, or whether they agree to it subject to the approval of Parliament, is governed by the fact that it rests with Parliament to say whether one of these tenders shall contain a provision that Brisbane shall be a port of call, whether another shall go only so far as the previous, tenders went, or whether it shall stop short at another point. It will be recollected that Adelaide is the present terminus of the mail contracts. The visits of the mail steamers to the two chief centres of population in Australia are made for the purpose of obtaining freight and passenger traffic, which are profitable to the companies which secure them. Before the steamers called at Tasmania an offer was made to provide them with a certain quantity of freight, which appears to be payable, because they still continue to call there in the fruit season. If Queensland made a similar offer to the P. and O. or Orient Company, or to any other tenderer, it might secure equally favorable terms with those which Tasmania has obtained, because there is no desire on the part of the Commonwealth Government to prevent the boats going to Brisbane if it pays them to do so. What we have to do is to ascertain upon what terms we can get a satisfactory tender. It is therefore essential »that we shall obtain comparative tenders, so that we may make a proposal to Parliament, which will be open to its acceptance or rejection. But I cannot consent to import a new element into the tenders by declaring that the vessels must go on to Brisbane. We are prepared to do all that is fair.’ If their stay in Sydney is of sufficiently long duration that they can afford to travel to Brisbane without necessitating an additional boat, or if the cost of proceeding there appears to be reasonable, these are matters which will be taken into consideration by the Government and Parliament when tenders are received. But it is not fair to accuse the Government of treating Queensland with as much injustice as Ireland has received in the past, simply because we are endeavouring to obtain tenders upon a comparative basis.

Mr Thomson:

– Is there an alternative tender for the delivery of mails at Adelaide with no conditions beyond that 1

Sir EDMUND BARTON:

-There has been a condition. ,It has been one of the alternatives that the steamers shall proceed from Adelaide to Melbourne and Sydney. That has been a customary condition of such contracts. But, while that is so, it is equally an alternative that they are required to go to Brisbane. We have invited tenders for both services. There is no alternative that the vessels shall stop at Adelaide. Another clause in the agreement leaves it open to make offers which do not comply with the conditions laid down either as regards the route or otherwise, so that tenderers may, if they choose, put something forward for consideration. We desire to obtain tenders from as many sources as possible, and covering as many contingencies as possible, so that we may see what is before us, and then come to the most equitable arrangement that we can. To the honorable member for Oxley I may say that if it were necessary for him to declare that he was no longer a supporter of the Government - altogether irrespective pf whether the course which the Government are taking warrants such a declaration - it is equally necessary for me to say that since a memorable occasion in Brisbane when, by reason of some unfortunate occurrence, he fell into the arms of the Brisbane Courier I have not regarded him as a very warm supporter.

Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay

– The most unsatisfactory part of the Prime Minister’s statement is that but for an interjection by the honorable member for North Sydney, he would have conveyed the impression that there was no necessity for the mail steamers to go beyond Adelaide after they had . delivered their mails there. Previous contracts insisted that the steamers should go beyond Adelaide.

Sir Philip Fysh:

– They do so still.

Mr FISHER:

– That robs the argument that the mail steamers require to go only to Adelaide of all strength. All we ask is that these vessels should proceed as far as Brisbane for the purpose of carrying passengers and cargo, especially perishable cargo, which suffers from transport before it finds its way to the mail steamersproceeding to Europe. The Prime Minister has declared that the conditions under thenew contract are more favorable to Queensland than have been any previous conditions. Under Federation it is quite right that they should be so. lt must be remembered that Queensland has been growing at a greater ratio than any of the other States.

Mr Fowler:

– No. What about Western. Australia ?

Mr FISHER:

– Western Australia has had a very great influx of population of late years, but I venture to say that the population of Queensland will continue to increase, notwithstanding what has been said regardingthe injury done to that State by Federal legislation. I regret that there are somehonorable members who cannot touch upon any grievance without referring to someparticular act on the part of this Parliament which they regard as wrong. In my opinion the abolition of kanaka labour in Queensland was distinctly the right policy to insist upon. I hold that Queensland has not been injured by Federal legislation, and. if she has I am prepared to accept my shareof the responsibility, and to stand or fall by that legislation. Now is the time for the Commonwealth Government to deal with this question of the mail contracts - whicli is a Federal matter - in a Federal spirit. As theBrisbane River has recently been deepened and widened sufficiently to allow the largest mail steamers trading to Australia to proceed up to the Pinkenba wharf, this is a fitting opportunity for the Government to insist that the successful tenderers shall take the mail steamers to Queensland. It should also be pointed out that the Queensland Stateauthorities are prepared, as far as possible, to offer special facilities to those tenderers, in the shape of a free port. No State in the Commonwealth has been more maligned,, more misunderstood, and more injured than Queensland has by those who are constantly telling the people of the outside world that its productive capabilities are fit only to be worked by kanakas. What we require is more light. Let the steamers come to Brisbane, and observant travellers will quickly discover a land the capabilities of which they had previously not suspected. No better evidence of the magnificent resources of that country can be furnished than is supplied by the Queensland exhibit at the Victorian Agricultural Show. I urge the Government. to insist that Brisbane shall be made a port of call for the mail steamers. No one denies that it will involve extra expenditure, but I hold that that expenditure is justified by the benefit which will be derived, not only by Queensland, but by the rest of Australia. The northern State has never hesitated to spend money to provide an oversea mail service of its own. It has subsidized a mail service to cany goods to Europe, and at the present time it is paying a large part of the subsidy to the Canadian and Pacific service. It has never hesitated to support a direct mail service. Now that it is a part of the Commonwealth it is the duty of this Parliament to do justice to it. If the Government refuse to do it justice, I believe that Parliament will insist upon Queensland having its due in this direction.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– I trust that the Prime Minister, notwithstanding his announcement, will see his way to assist Queensland in this matter. There is one aspect of it which the Prime Minister has put, namely, that the mail steamers proceed to Sydney and Melbourne practically as a matter of their own choice, and that the subsidy which they receive is for carrying the mails as far as Adelaide. But, as a matter of fact, the subsidy is really one to induce mail boats to trade with Australia. They come to Australia for the purpose of trade, but at the same time the subsidy which they receive is a big inducement to them to extend their operations to Syd ney and Melbourne. Seeing that Queenslandcontributes a large portion of the subsidy paid to these particular vessels, it is only reasonable that they should extend their operations to Brisbane. The Commonwealth now has the power to enter into these postal contracts, which constituted one of the agencies used by the various States for the promotion of theirtrade and commerce. Queensland has handed over this power to the Commonwealth. She has no longer the right to offer these subsidies to induce the mail vessels to visit her jiorts, and therefore, we say that, as a matter of right, we are entitled to call upon the Postmaster-General to exercise this power, to promote the trade, not simply of five states, but of all the States of the Union. It is not from any mere sentimental standpoint, but on the ground that the industries of Queensland are progressing very rapidly that we make this demand. We do not wish the continuance of the existing system, under which it is necessary for Queenslanders to send their produce to Sydney for shipment to England on our mail steamers, and to incur the trouble, expense, and risk of transhipment at that port. We ask that these mail steamers shall come direct to our ports. Settlement is rapidly increasing in Queensland, The dairying industry has made remarkable advances. The output of butter alone increased from 3,000,000 lbs. in 1895 to over 9,000,000 lbs. in 1901 ; and this is merely a promise of what will ultimately be accomplished by the great Northern State. We are branching out in other directions. We are exporting fruit and meat, and a large trade is likely to open up in the export of frozen lambs. All that we ask is, that every facility shall be given to our people to utilize the very best and quickest means for conveying their produce to the old world. The position would be different if Brisbane were built on a mere shallow stream, in which large vessels could not obtain adequate accommodation. But the State Government has incurred heavy expense in providing ample shipping accommodation ‘ for the largest vessels, and we have now the very best river accommodation that could be desired. We have spent large sums of money in erecting wharfs and providing means of communication between remote centres and the sea-board, and we ask, in these circumstances, that the power which the Commonwealth has in its hands for the development of the industries of the State, shall be exercised. I do not agree with what the honorable member for Oxley has said as to the treatment which Queenslanders have received at the hands of the Federal Government. I believe that, on the whole, the people of Queensland are satisfied with it.

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– No.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– We realized when we entered the Federation that we should suffer a considerable loss of revenue by handing over the Customs to the Commonwealth.

Mr Thomson:

– And there is also the loss of the Inter-State duties.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– Yes.’ The removal of the Inter-State duties has also contributed to our loss of revenue ; but the Prime Minister and his colleagues, on the whole, have held the balance fairly and squarely between the different States of the Union. It would be unfair if we allowed such an attack as has been made upon the Prime Minister to go without contradiction. I do not doubt the sincerity of the remarks which were made by the honorable member for Oxley, but I consider that when we are asking for the exercise of a right by the Commonwealth we should not complicate the granting of that right by making political statements of any description. We simply say to the Prime Minister, “When you are calling for tenders, make it an absolute condition of the contract that Brisbane shall be the terminal port.”

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– We have made that request.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– That is so, and all that wo have obtained in reply is the publication of an advertisement calling for alternative tenders.

Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910

– We do not want alternative tenders.

Mr L E GROOM:
DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND · PROT; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917; IND from 1931; UAP from 1934

– No. We do not want it to be suggested for one moment that the Government are not taking up seriously the extension of the service to Brisbane. Now that Australia is united, we contend that our subsidized mail steamers should touch at all ports. We make this request, not as a matter of favour, but as a matter of right; and we urge that we are entitled’ to have this consideration extended to us. It is idle to say that these tenders are invited solely in relation to the carriage of mails. If that were so, there might be some force in the Prime Minister’s contention. But when we look at the terms of the proposed contracts, and note the provisions as to the storage of perishable goods and other matters, we must see that the Prime Minister realizes that these services are to a great extent to promote trade and commerce, and to encourage production in the various States. New South Wales and Victoria have the full benefit of these services. They can ship their produce straightway to the markets of the old world by these vessels, and we demand that similar treatment shall be meted out to the producers of Queensland. Another point is that these contracts will extend over a period of seven years, and that if the progress of Queensland during that period is anything like what it has been of late, it will certainly require these services. I agree with the honorable member for Oxley as to the Vancouver mail service, but when that question was before the House I understood that the Premiers of New South Wales and Queensland had assented to the adoption of the course proposed. Ifr seems to me that there is considerable force in the contention that the proposed service is really a new service, the cost of which should be borne by the whole Commonwealth. But even had we framed a resolution in thisHouse, we could not have determined that matter. It is purely a constitutional question, and if the cost of the service is beingimproperly debited to Queensland, there is no reason why the matter should not be determined by the High Court. I think that the answer given by the Prime Minister,, although on the face of it plausible, is not by any means satisfactory.

Mr CONROY:
Werriwa

– It is mostunfortunate for the consistency of some honorable members that a question of this kind should have been brought forward on a day during which we have been dealing with a Bill, one of the objects of which is toplace obstacles in the way of vessels carryingpassengers and cargo along our coasts.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The honorable and learned member must not deal with thatmeasure.

Mr CONROY:

– For my part, I should? be very glad if some reasonable arrangement could be made to facilitate the carriage of our produce to the great markets of the world ; but I was filled with astonishment when I heard some of the strongarguments that were addressed to the PrimeMinister in support of the request that Brisbane should be tine terminal port of call for these vessels. I trust that some honorable member’s who have spoken on this, question will reconsider what they have said on former occasions, and that we shall hear no more of their efforts to obstruct vessels trading along the Australian coast.

Mr A PATERSON:
Capricornia

– It appears to me to be a most extraordinary circumstance that the terms of the contracts have been published in only one Melbourne newspaper. It was owing to that fact that I did not see the advertisement in question until a few minutes ago. I am quite willingto credit the Prime Minister with an honest desire to serve Queensland as well as the other States in connexion with this service. I have no doubt that when the tenders come to be discussed we shall have some forcible remarks to offer on this question, but at the present moment we must deal with the question calmly and coolly. So far as. the Government are aware, they have acted fairly to all the States in relation to this matter, but it is unfortunate that they should actually be inviting tenderers to demand a higher subsidy for allowing their vessels to call at Brisbane. The conditions specify that tenderers are required to mention an additional sura for calling at Brisbane. We may depend upon it that neither the P. and O. Company nor the Orient Company will agree to call at Brisbane unles3 they make money from it, and. they can only make money if they get a certain quantity of cargo. No doubt they will be glad to have a cut in at the Queensland frozen meat trade, which is bound to develop in good seasons to a very great extent. It is essential to the prosperity not only of Queensland, but of the whole of Australia, that we should be in a fair condition to compete with our very dangerous rival, Argentina, in reference to frozen meat. The only objection I have to make to the tenders is that they suggest to the companies todemand a higherprice. Such being the case the Companies are bound to demand it. When the replies to these tenders are received we shall have a better opportunity of discussing the subject. In the meantime, it is desirable that the Government should send to England a supplementary cable withdrawing the present condition, and calling for absolute tenders, naming Brisbane amongst the ports of call.

Mr McDONALD:
Kennedy

– It is very nice to be talking about extending the mail service to Brisbane, and I am heartily in accord with those who favour that being done. But why is Brisbane the only port in Queensland that is mentioned ? Why not Townsville and Bockhampton? The only reason that I can think of why Brisbane should be mentioned is that if we can get the mail steamers to call at Brisbane, we may later on get the service extended to other ports. It has been properly said that we are really subsidizing these boats between Adelaide and Sydney to carry perishable products. Why should not that privilege be extended to Queensland 1 If the subsidy were merely, for the purpose of the carriage of mails to Adelaide, which is the first port of call at which there is railway connexion with the eastern States, there would not be so much to be said for extending the service to Queensland. But such is not the case. The Government have invited tenderers to tender for the carriage of perishable produce from Melbourne and Sydney.

Sir Philip Fysh:

– Where does that come in?

Mr McDONALD:

– In the terms of the contract. The Government ask for alternative tenders so that the boats may not only call at Adelaide, where the mail business is practically concluded, but also at Melbourne and Sydney. That is unfair to Queensland. While I am speaking on this matter I would remind my honorable friend the member for Oxley, to whom I give credit for being in earnest in this matter, that some time ago we in Queensland desired extra mail facilities for the benefit of the northern portion of that State, where there is a population of 100,000 people, who had to be content with practically only one mail service per week. There certainly were two boats per week, but practically there was only one mail service, because there was only a difference of a day between, the two boats. But Mr. Philp was by no means anxious to compensate the northern portion of Queensland in that respect. He is prepared to go to any expense to secure additional mail facilities for Brisbane, but when it was a question of accommodating about 100,000 people in Northern Queensland, and bringing them in closer touch with the southern portions of Australia, he adopted quite a different attitude. However, the present movement has my sympathy and support, and I indorse everything that has been said on the subject. Although there is no immediate opportunity of securing an extension of mail services to the north of Queensland, I agree that the Government would have shown a more Federal spirit in making Brisbane a port of call, seeing that they are subsidizing the vessels for other than mail services.

Sir PHILIP FYSH:
PostmasterGeneral · Tasmania · Free Trade

– I might be satisfied to leave the matter where the Prime Minister has left it, but probably honorable members might consider me wanting in courtesy if I did not follow up what has been said by . my right honorable colleague. I preface my remarks by saying that I agree with the honorable member for Carpentaria that this subject could better be dealt with later on, when we are discussing. mail services generally, upon the estimates. The honorable member for Maranoa has mentioned the question as to how the charges should be apportioned among the States. We have taken over certain departmental services, and were bound to continue the practice of charging to each of .the States their proportion of the expense. I shall be very happy indeed, when the period arrives, when we can deal with the whole of the States of the Commonwealth, not under the bookkeeping sections of the Constitution, but charging the people of the States per capita for the services rendered. Then we shall get away from the necessity of studying the interests of certain States instead of those of the whole Commonwealth. I am quite in sympathy with very much that has been said, and I am going to show that I have far more sympathy than would be represented by mere expressions. I recall the story of the old lady, who, when she had expressed her sympathy in a certain direction, was asked, “How much is your sympathy worth ?” I am going to show how much the sympathy of the Government is worth, as compared with that of some honorable members who have spoken so glibly with regard to the extension of mail services to Queensland. The Government sympathize to the extent that we have practically called for tenders under which the steamers will call at Brisbane. Such a condition has not been made previously. We have not only called for tenders for boats to call at Brisbane weekly, but by way of an alternative, for steamers to call fortnightly. If we cannot obtain the one let us hope that we shall obtain the other. A deputation waited upon us during the last few days with reference to this subject, and I put the question to them whether they demanded that the steamer should call at Brisbane at all costs, If we had advertised for tenders under those circumstances only, and had not named any alternative, it is very likely that we might not have secured any tender whatever, or we might have received one involving terms that we could not possibly accept. It is important to remember that we must close our contracts with the present Companies very shortly, and must give time for the steamship Companies that .tender for our mail services to make their necessary preparations. Special preparations will be required if Brisbane is included, and although honorable members from Queensland have been told by the agent of the P. and 0. Company that this very considerable extension of service may be accomplished in the days which are usually spent in Sydney, I ant better informed.

Mr Page:

– Does the honorable gentleman say that it is not true 1

Sir PHILIP FYSH:

– I am better informed.

Mr Page:

Mr. Philp said that emphatically.

Sir PHILIP FYSH:

– My information from head-quarters is that another steamerwill be required to perform such a service.

Mr McDonald:

– Does the honorablegentleman mind stating his authority t

Sir PHILIP FYSH:

– The P. and O. Company. The Ministers were not able to commit themselves, and ‘ cannot be said to have committed the Parliament, tothe extension to Brisbane regardless of cost ; first, because we thought it unlikely that we should get a tender by January, and, secondly, because we believed that the service would be rendered at a comparatively extravagant cost. We areaffording to the steamship companies an opportunity to say how much the extra cost will be. Honorable members have been premature in raising this discussion, because, as they were reminded by the Prime’ Minister, the matter will have to be fought out in the House after every tender has been laid upon the table. Honorable members who have doubted the bona fides of Ministers in respect to Queensland are mistaken in their view. I cannot say what may be done six months hence, but I know that the present intention is that if it should be found at all practicable, atnot too great expense, the steamers shall go to Brisbane, if not weekly, fortnightly. Honorable members who are now very properly caring for the interests of Queensland especially, may rest assured that, if the travelling thus far should not be regarded as - very detrimental to the business of the Companies, they will secure their end. I may point out that the steamers are not visitingany States by reason of the subsidies which are granted by the Government. Queensland may accomplish its object, as Tasmania did, by entering into a contract for a weekly supply of freight. If the people of Brisbane or Rockhampton can offer that inducement no doubt they will secure the visits of the mail steamers.

Mr Page:

– Does not the honorable gentleman think that we are doing enough in providing the Vancouver service without asking us to pay any more t

Sir PHILIP FYSH:

– The Vancouver service was taken up by New South Wales and Queensland, and for the portion of the service which is rendered by those States, through the contract, to other States payment is made. Unfortunately it amounts to a small sum, because the other States send most of their letters in another direction.

Mr Page:

– What does the honorable gentleman call a small sum? In Queensland we are paying over £10,000 u year.

Sir PHILIP FYSH:

– The other States are paying a small sum towards the Vancouver service by reason of the fact that most of their letters go in another direction.

Mr Page:

– What rot !

Sir PHILIP FYSH:
TASMANIA, TASMANIA · FT

– It is an absolute fact. How can the honorable member or anybody else be dissatisfied with a Government which is now calling for tenders for a service and wishing to learn, as all business men ought to learn, the cost of that service before it is undertaken? When the House is asked to consider the tenders will he the time for the representatives of Queensland to ascertain whether or not Ministers sympathize with their request. The Government have not been forgetful of the perishable products of Queensland. We hare asked for two alternative tenders at specially reduced rates of freight. The cost of those reduced rates will also have to be borne by States which have no interest in chilled meat or frozen butter. The charges will bed. per lb. for butter, and½d. per lb. for carcass meat, which includes beef and mutton. The Queensland companies which are in the habit’ of shipping chilled meat will derive an advantage, I hope, from our securing a maximum rate for the next seven years. Because, once a maximum rate for seven years has been fixed, it is not at all unlikely that the other large carrying boats will start to compete for freight at even lower rates. I. should have been satisfied to leave this matter where it was left by the Prime Minister, only that I desired to express my satisfaction a» regards the terms of this important contract - the first of the kind which Australia has ever sought to enter into, because these contracts have always been made by the Imperial Government - that no objection has been taken except that ithas not been made an absolute condition that, regardless of cost, the steamers should go to- Brisbane. Although that condition has not been made by the Government, still we believe that when the tenders are opened it will be found that the extra charge for the steamers going to Brisbane - particularly if Queensland can offer some inducement in the way of freight - will not be. so hea vy as to prevent our entering into a contract which will embrace its ports and satisfy its people.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjournal at 4.44 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 4 September 1903, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1903/19030904_reps_1_16/>.