2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER, accompanied by honorable members, having proceeded to Government House to present the Address in Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General’r speech, and being returned, said - I have to report that this day, accompanied by honorable members, I waited upon His Excellency the Governor-General, and presented to him the Address in Reply to His Excellency’s speech at the opening of Parliament. His Excellency was pleased to make the following reply : -
Mr. Speaker and ‘Gentlemen,
It is with extreme pleasure that I receive from you the address adopted by the House of Representatives in reply to the speech delivered by me on the occasion of the opening of the first session of the second Commonwealth Parliament. I trust that the deliberations of the House of Representatives during the ensuing session will be productive of much benefit to Hie people of the Commonwealth.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister for Home Affairs, without notice, if he is aware that at the recent ‘elections, in many instances in Victoria, the number on the roll of the person voting was written upon the ballot-paper, a violation of the secrecy of the ballot and a contravention of the provisions of the Electoral Act, section 158, which enacts that -
A ballot-paper shall be informal if- i
It has upon it any mark or writing not authorized by this Act to be put upon it which in the’ opinion of the Retum- ing Officer will enable any person to identify the voter. I wish to know from the Minister if he will see that at the Melbourne election, and at all future elections, the provisions of the Act are adhered to in their entirety, to prevent the country and candidates from, being put to unnecessary expense?
– So far as I am aware, the Electoral Department has no knowledge of the error to which the honorable member refers having been committed, though it is one likely to occur in Victoria, because the State electoral law requires that the number of the voter shall be marked upon the back of his ballot-paper. Every precaution will be taken to prevent the mistake being made at the Melbourne election and every forthcoming election.
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney, on Friday last, asked a question, without notice, in regard to the reported refusal of a pilot at Burnett Heads to send a telephone message for a passenger from the Aramac. As. the matter . is of some public importance, I should like to read the following correspondence which I have received on the subject : - ‘
Commonwealth of Australia. Postmaster-General’s Department,
Melbourne, 22nd March, 1904.
With reference to the question asked by Mr. Hughes in the House of Representatives on the 18th inst., respecting a complaint that the passengers in one of the boats from the Aramac, who called at a pilot station, were refused permission to telephone from there without paying, and the Prime Minister’s reply thereto, I forward herewith copy of a telegram which has been received from the Acting-Deputy PostmasterGeneral, Brisbane, in reply to inquiries made by this office in connexion with the matter.
Yours faithfully, (Signed) Robert T. Scott. The Acting Secretary, Prime Minister,
Copy of a telegram from the Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, Brisbane, to the Secretary, Postmaster-General’s Department, Melbourne, dated 22nd March, 1904 : - “Yours 19th and yesterday - on 1.5th inst. Officer in Charge, Bundaberg, in answer to inquiries from this office in reference to alleged refusal telegrams at Burnett Heads without prepayment from some of Aramac passengers, wired thus : Mrs. Jones, Burnett Heads, states none refused there’; later on same date he wired as follows : - ‘ Re previous memo, refusal to collect telegrams on further inquiry from Captain Jones, Burnett Heads, who was absent from home at time inquiry made to-day he states Mrs. Jones says one of pilot boat men brought piece of paper to her about 8.30 a.m. yesterday with something written in pencil on it which she could not read or make anything put. of . She gave it to boatman to give to the cabman he. got it from to ask person who sent it what it meant, and what was wanted ; says cabman was starting for town and supposed he had taken it -with him ; probably these were telegrams reported as refused.’ The Marine Department has since obtained a report from Captain Jones, Harbor-Master at Burnett Heads, dated “18th inst., in which he states ‘ No telegrams were handed in this office and refused to be sent as stated, owing to their being unaccompanied by cash. This office was attended to constantly day’ and night, therefore I do not understand their complaint.’ No complaints were made to this office; papers being posted you.”
– I wish to know from the Minister of- Defence if his attention has been called to a paragraph in the Melbourne press of this morning’s date, stating that a number of the officers and men of the Tasmanian Defence forces has been practically dismissed the service. When does he anticipate being in a position to lay upon the table of the House the papers in connexion with the military difficulty which has arisen at Hobart?
– My attention has been called to a paragraph in this morning’s newspapers relating to the disbandment of certain troops in Tasmania. That report is hardly correct, because only one officer has been retired, and the remainder have been placed upon the unattached list. I hope to be able to lay upon the table tomorrow particulars with reference to the disbandment referred to, and the recommendations made in regard to the matter.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade and Customs without notice, if he has observed that the return to an order of the House of Friday last does not give the information asked for? The information sought was in respect to “ goods, the product of the United Kingdom,” while that given is in respect to goods imported from the United Kingdom. Will further information be supplied?
– The reason why the return has been prepared in the way in which it has reached the honorable member is that it is almost impossible to obtain information as to what goods are. the product of Great Britain, because all the invoices come from Great Britain and the goods are credited to that country, even though they may have been made on the Continent.
At a later stage,
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has observed from the return which has recently been placed on the table, that the statement frequently made during the electoral campaign that the average duty upon goods of British production, imported into Australia, was 6 or 7 per cent., must have been very wide of the mark, and that the percentage on the imports of goods from Great Britain, which consist principally of goods of British production, amounts to about 25 per cent. That percentage applies to dutiable goods only, but if the goods which are not dutiable are taken into account, the average duty represents nearly 20 per cent. If the return be correct, does not the Prime Minister recognise the erroneous character of the statement referred to?
– I have not yet seen the return in question, but I am quite prepared to accept the statement of the honorable member as to what it discloses. It is perfectly possible, by selecting particular imports from Great Britain, to show any average of duty ranging, from 100 per cent, down to nothing. It is only necessary to select narcotics and stimulants in order to produce an average duty as high as you like, or by selecting free goods to reduce the average as low as as you like. Any average between these two extremes can be obtained by a selection of articles upon which varying rates of duty have to be paid- I have never attached any value to the 7 per cent, calculation, except that placed upon it by the British Board of Trade, which made it, viz., as showing the average duty paid upon the products named in the return.
– That was based upon the average production of Great Britain.
– Yes. The calculation of the Board of Trade was indisputable. I have stated on many platforms that by making another combination of goods an entirely different percentage might be shown. The value of the return lay in the fact that the Board of Trade considered that the articles named represented the principal British exports.
– Is the Minister for Trade and Customs willing to place copies of the evidence taken and the depositions made by his officers in Customs cases, and his final decisions thereon for the period he has filled the office of Minister for Trade and Customs, upon the table of the House or in the library?
– I have no objection to the information being given to honorable members, but at this moment I am not prepared to say that I will lay it upon the table of the House, or have it placed in the library. The honorable and learned member can see any. papers that he wishes to see, but I am scarcely justified in promising to lay every decision upon the table. Honorable members can see the papers if they wish to do so, or if they move for their production I shall be willing to lay them upon the table. If the honorable and learned member desires any information he can get it, or if he wishes to see any paper he can see it at any time if he will go to the Department.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper: -
Return to an order dated 18th March, concerning the appointment of the Federal Patents Commissioner.
asked the Prime Minister, upon 710 tic e -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Who intimated to the South Australian Medical Corps that a Medical School of Instruction would be held, and invited members, who were put to much inconvenience, to attend, when there was no officer available to conduct the school ?
– In reply to the honorable member’s question, I have to state -
The General Officer Commanding reports that the Director General of Medical Services intimated, by order, to the Commandant of the Commonwealth Military Forces of South Australia that the General Officer commanding desired a School of Instruction for officers of the Australian Army Medical Corps (South Australia). The dates suggested were found later to clash with other duties, which prevented the’ attendance of the instructor in question. Fourteen days’ notice was given of postponement that any inconvenience to officers might be avoided.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether it is a fact that Chinese are employed on the Iris, a boat owned by the Pacific Cable Board ; and, if so, will he take steps to protest against their employment?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General is not aware whether any Chinese are employed on the Iris, a vessel that has not so far been employed in Australian waters.
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s question I have to state : -
asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
Whether he will state to this House what his decision was in the inquiry he held into the reasons alleged for the retrenchment of Major Carroll, of Queensland. “ Mr. CHAPMAN. - In reply to the honorable member, I have to state : -
When retrenchment was in contemplation, the merits of. officers concerned were taken into careful consideration by the then Minister for Defence, in conjunction with the General Officer Commanding; and I think a bad precedent would be created by re-considering what was then done. No doubt there were many officers who felt themselves aggrieved by the decisions then arrived at - that is a feeling which naturally and inevitably accompanies all retrenchment, but opinions of this kind cannot in any way over-ride the action of constitutional authority, or deprive the conclusions arrived at of that finality which is essential to the successful control of the military forces. Unfortunately, on all such occasions it becomes the painful duty of a Department to sacrifice the services of some competent officers, and it is not necessary that charges of want of competence should be brought against those who suffer in the process of retrenchment. With regard to Major Carroll’s complaint that he has been for over eight months attempting to obtain satisfactory reasons, and also to receive an explanation as to why documents and records of service had been destroyed, I find that, on rst September, 1903, he was informed that only three papers in connexion with him were destroyed, and that none of these constitute records of service. As regards his claim to promotion, he has been dealt with similarly to other officers serving in South Africa, by his rank being confirmed as honorary rank in the military forces of the Commonwealth. After a careful consideration of the papers, it appears to me that Major Carroll rendered good service in South Africa ; that he is a good and zealous officer, and that no imputation of any kind rests on his character. But, unfortunately, the necessity for economy in military expenditure remains; and where further expenditure takes place it should not, in my opinion, be directed to an increase in officers and men so much as to a more substantial addition of arms and equipment.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the- honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow: -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member, I have to state: -
I may add, that if the honorable member desires further information upon this subject, he should direct his inquiries to the Minister for Trade and Customs. Of course, in the absence of my honorable colleague, I am only too happy to give the information now imparted.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
– In reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state : -
On the 21st December, the Chief Electoral Officer telegraphed to the Divisional Officer for Wimmera, clearly stating that the question was one absolutely for his own discretion; but, advising as to best course to pursue. A reply was received on the same day, and a further telegram was sent reiterating that the sole responsibility rested with the Divisional Returning Officer.
The polling at Ni-Ni took place on the 23rd - two days after these telegrams from- the Chief Electoral to the Divisional Returning Officer.
– , for Mr. Hughes - asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– In . reply to the honorable member’s questions, I have to state: -
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a Bill for an: Act relating to Bounties for the Encouragement’ of Manufactures.
Bill presented and read a first time.
.. - I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
There are times when even Hansard has its, uses, and on this occasion it renders the. task which I have to perform one of a different character from that which fell to my, lot last year. A reference to the report of. the previous debate upon this Bill willshow that, so far as I did not take part in it - if I may be permitted to say so - it was exhaustive in character, reviewing, as: it did, the measure, and most of its provisions, with great ability, and evidences of great research. I do not, therefore, propose to inflict upon this House matter, be it ever so weighty or valuable, which is already to be found in the official report of the debate to which’ I have alluded, and to which I take the liberty of referring honorable members. So far as my own’ comments are concerned, it did then seem desirable to attempt some examination of what may be termed the economic rootfrom which this and kindred proposals spring. That still seems to me to be’’ of the first importance, but to repeat whatwas then said would not add to its importance. Consequently, taking as my basis, the remarks which were then made, and’ assuming on the part of honorable members generally a knowledge of the debate: that followed, which either they dopossess, or will have an opportunity of possessing, before we reach the stage at which a vote will be taken upon the second reading of the Bill, I propose this afternoon to approach my subject from the stand-; point which has been rendered necessary by the alterations that have been made in the measure as it is now submitted. These are of two classes. The most numerous relate merely to matters of draftsmanship. Certain clauses have been consolidated, without any loss of clearness, I hope, but with a view to assist those who wish to grasp the purposes of particular parts of the Bill.:
A few notable changes have been made in substance, for instance, in clauses 54, 57, and 74. Prior to that, it is perhaps fitting that I should put before the House, as briefly as possible, an analysis of the measure, so far as to disclose its general scheme and enable honorable members to judge its applicability to the purposes to which it is directed. But I shall do this as largely as possible by reference to the particular parts of the Bill to which attention may be called with advantage, and shall not think it necessary to inflict upon the House the reading of these clauses in full, or any undue expatiation upon their meaning. The object of the measure has been stated to be, so far as its attainment may be possible, the establishment of industrial peace. The discussion upon the Bill, both at the time it was formerly submitted, and recently in anticipation of its re-introduction, has been concentrated upon the possibility or impossibility of achieving this task by legislative means. In the previous debate something was said as to that possibility, but further inquiry and examination will, I think, satisfy others, as it has satisfied me, of the urgent and burning need for making an effort - I would almost say any effort - to approach nearer to that most desirable end. I find that in the Commonwealth the burden of the argument in opposition to it is that’ the” proposal is made in the interests of the employes- that it is a one-sided measure which casts a burden upon employers, and yields advantages only to those whom they engage. I think that a glance, a mere reference to recent events Dr records in the two great countries to which we most naturally turn for enlightenment upon all industrial questions, will very largely tend to remove that supposition. They may find some confirmation’ in the recent enunciations of the law in Great Britain, in what is known as the Taff Vale case,’ and more recently still, in the Yorkshire Colliery cases. These have shown, first, that the action permissible by trades unions in connexion with strikes is much less ample than was previously . supposed, and next, that the power to obtain redress by any employers, proved to have been injured by the action of trades unions, is now N much more within the reach of owners and investors than it was previously thought to be. As a consequence, I .take it, that whatever hesitancy has existed on the part of the best informed trade unionists in the mother country in regard to submitting their disputes to arbitration, is in rapid process of being removed. In that country, at all events, a measure of this kind would give some such guarantee as it is supposed to offer in Australia - a guarantee that they shall not be left practically helpless in many emergencies of industrial warfare. We may anticipate, therefore, that a much more kindly eye will be cast by them upon this proposal, when it is considered at their future conferences. If we turn to the new world, and particularly to the eastern States of America, we shall see the other side of the picture. There, we find a state of affairs in which I imagine the employers of the United States may reasonably be expected to be looking with some anxiety for the passing of a measure of this character. Not possessing a personal knowledge of the circumstances of those States, more than was afforded by a brief visit some fifteen years ago, I do not pretend to weigh in the balance of judgment the statements which are made. I find, however, in the last few issues of one of the most reputable newspapers published in the eastern States - a newspaper which lies upon the table of the library - a series of four articles under the heading of “ The Strangle Hold of Labour.” It is true that they are written in a partisan spirit, but they aim at demonstrating, and cite a large number of facts to prove, that so far as New York and many other States are concerned, the mastery of the markets and the mastery of the masters lies with the trades unionists. These articles embrace a number of arguments which may be of questionable accuracy, but I am probably right in assuming that as these articles are signed, and have been published by such a journal as Harper’s Weekly, there can be little doubt of the authenticity ^ of the facts. Here is briefly the summary of the last of the four papers, published on 26th December of last year. Having considered the questions of food, clothing, transportation, and every day interests, it says of them -
The labour unions have unionized everything, and are now unionizing the home -
I shall not quote the whole paragraph, but only such parts as are pertinent to my purpose -
They have complained loudly of tyranny until they have had the opportunity to be tyrannous themselves. We have seen a few of the multitudinous ways in.which they have violated the principles of human justice; the constitution of the country, of the State; they have defied the police and the militia and the courts; they have killed and maimed others who opposed them; they have abused and fined and hounded their own members, and fought relentless duels against rival unions.
Rival unions of employes, not employers -
As a result of this warfare, the work of the world is no longer done by slaves or serfs, or.by the poor; it is done by autocrats who are not content with a normal and profitable scale of wages, but have forced prices to the breaking point and employers to the point of bankruptcy.
In the first of these articles, the writer alludes to unscrupulous employers as allied with unscrupulous trades unions. The summary goes to show that if this testimony can be trusted, the trades unions in the United States of America are in possession of the field, and are exercising their authority with a violence which calls for the restraint of the law.
– It does not agree with the report of the British Commission of 1903.
– I simply point out that this article was published in New York - in the very State to which it refers - and that it -appears under the name of an American, Mr. Keith. It is sufficient for my purpose if it establishes the necessity of bringing both employers and employes under the control of the law, and of endeavoring to obtain the creation of an impartial tribunal which shall mete out even-handed justice between them. It may happen that in some countries in which the law favours the interests of the employers, it would be resisted by that section of the community, while in others, as conceivably in the case of New York, it would be resisted by the employes. But this measure is aimed just as much at the existence of such a condition of things as that to which the article alludes - a condition created by the tyranny of trades unions - as it is to cope with the tyranny of employers. Its object is to forbid tyranny on both sides, and as far as may be possible, to introduce into our industrial system a new standard which shall apply to all the persons concerned, subject to the interests of the whole.
– What about the limitations ?
– I shall deal with the limitations presently; but, as this measure, whatever its limitations, follows the main lines of the Acts of conciliation and arbitration in force elsewhere, it can be dealt with generally on the basis on which they are founded. It must be admitted that, as was stated when the Bill was before the House last session, it would be idle to attempt to achieve this end by a precise mandate of the Legislature, framed in advance to apply to all cases and conditions that might occur. The intricacies of the constant changes in- and the enormous developments, the rapid transformations, and infinitely varying conditions under which modern industry is carried on, place it beyond the possibility of the grasp of the most, expert legislator and of the most enlightened Parliament to endeavour to frame such a piece of legislation. What is sought to be done, therefore, is not, as is popularly supposed and currently stated, to endeavour to declare in an Act of Parliament what wages shall be paid or what conditions shall be observed in any particular trade. That is obviously and transparently impossible. What is sought to be done is to create a tribunal which, having the confidence of the public, and possessing all the knowledge that can be obtained in relation to any matter that may be brought before it, shall have authority to pronounce judgment between the disputants. It is not to pronounce judgment, be it observed, according to the bidding of the statute which creates it. On the contrary, the Court is to be launched upon its work with a larger and more general charter than that of any other Court in the world. This may multiply some of the difficulties of its task, but it will remove immensely more. The Court, when it comes to consider any propositions submitted to it, by way of complaint, either on the part of employer or employ6, will look to no section of an Act which bids it fix such and such hours, wages, or conditions. What it will do will be to take evidence of the general conditions already obtaining in the trade in question. It will build upon facts as it finds them ; it will take the experience which has wrought out the customs and conditions of employment. It will take these as existing, and endeavour to shape them in accordance with its own conceptions of equity and good conscience, based upon an examination of the facts. Consequently no new element will be introduced. The ‘ existing system, with its hours, wages, conditions, and methods will be taken as a guide. Evidence as to these will be obtained by the Court, and they will be modified only in such particulars as may be necessary, according to the judgment of that impartial tribunal, in equity and good conscience. It will thus be seen that there is no breaking away from the traditions of trade. There is to be no antagonism between the new order of things and the old. The endeavour is to remove, first of all, the difficulties which patently exist here, often in the’ labour prices paid by different employers in the same country, and even in the same town. Our object is to see that, where other circumstances are equal, one and all shall pay the same and that a fair rate of wage for the same services; that competition, which is the life-blood of trade, shall not drain the life-blood of men, may not be pushed to that extreme, and that the advantage of the employer on the one side shall not be gained over the employer on the other, at the expense of the men, women, and children whom he employs. Equality of treatment in each business is the first end which is sought to be attained. Traders, investors, and capitalists, as between each other should fight fairly. Let them pick their men as they please, and obtain the best ability they can. Having done that, they are to compete against each other by means of the skilled labour they have thus secured, but not at the expense of those whom they employ. Underselling ought not to be occasioned by an unjust lowering of wages, the standard of which cannot always be raised by the workers themselves. In the next place, of course, the measure raises a larger question of equity, not only as between employer and employ!, but as between all employers in a particular trade, challenged on the general circumstances and standard of living which obtains in other trades. There are cases in which, from one cause or another, the wages paid in an industry have marched ahead, keeping a reasonable proportion to its prosperity ; there are others in which they have lagged behind, and in which there has not been the same equitable relation between the two that characterizes other trades. What is hoped from this measure is that in certain circumstances the laggards shall be brought abreast of the general march of the times and the country, and that within these conditions there shall be reasonable equity as between the different employers, having regard, of course, to the demands made upon them. In seeking these two objects, I do not think that we are setting before ourselves an ideal standard which cannot be attained, or to which, at all .events, Ave cannot hope to advance by degrees. It is all very well to attribute to the promoters of this Bill some of the visionary conceptions which naturally arise when one views the introduction of a new element of humanity into the world of competitive strife.
They are visions which hereafter, heaven helping, may possibly be realized. But they are not prospects on which it is necessary to dwell to-day. I am sure that, so far as the employes are concerned, if we could show them a fair wage being paid throughout each trade in Australia considered separately, and a fair wage being paid as between one trade or form of employment and the remaining employment in the community - if they could see these ends achieved, they would consider that this measure had amply justified its introduction, and that it was loudly called for by many of the circumstances of this new country. Now, allow me to quote, in commencing the examination of this Bill, a very pregnant statement of Mr. Justice Cohen, the President of the Arbitration Court in New South Wales, in the Hunter River case, which may, be found in the first volume of the N.S.W. Reports, at page 7 -
The basic principle of the Arbitration Act is continuity of industrial employment and operations.
This is the basic principle of this Bill. That is the kernel of the whole of the measure. It is to be found in what is now clause 6 -
No person or organization shall on account of any industrial dispute do anything in the nature of a lock-out or strike, or continue any lock-out or strike.
The central purpose of the Bill is to prevent strikes and locks-out. What is the cause of a strike ? Some difference of opinion between employers and employes, so grave that the men lay down their tools and refuse to work, in order, first, to issue a public protest, and next, if they can, to coerce the employer into granting their demands. And what is a lock-out? A lock-out is the reverse. The employer turns his operatives from his factory and locks his door upon them, shutting them out of the employment which they desire, but which he refuses in order to coerce them into granting some demand he has made upon them. These’ are the modes of war which rend our industrial system to pieces, and will be found, according to the debate of last year, to have cost civilized countries many millions sterling, and many thousands or tens of thousands of lives. The object of this Bill is to peremptorily forbid strikes and locks-out. What is the radical reform which this measure, if passed, will effect ? That there will be no more strikes or locks-out. I may be told that this is a counsel of perfection, and that a strike and a lock-out are possible. First of all, this measure imposes very severe penalties on those concerned in either a strike or lock-out, and I believe that the penalties can be made enforceable. There will be found in the Bill, because of the Teralba case and other incidents, new pro-,, visions, enabling them to be made more enforceable. But behind these penalties, and behind this Bill, there will be the everoperating force of public opinion, on which I believe we can rely when once an impartial tribunal has given its judgment. Those who oppose the execution of that judgment will stand no longer, as they do in a strike or lock-out, as the partisans of one side with their own story against another story conflicting with it, the public uninformed as to the merits of either. When the impartial tribunal has pronounced upon the case the public will accept its finding, not that it will be any more infallible than any other human tribunal; but, like bur best tribunals, being trained and disciplined and well-informed, it will be very rarely wrong, or, if wrong, then in a very slight degree. The public will have confidence in it, and the force of public opinion will support the execution of the penalties of the law, and will thus make them effective. If it should ever conceivably be proved - it might be among uncivilized peoples - that an Act of this kind was unworkable, it would be time enough then to repeal it. But I submit th’at among a civilized people it represents a noble effort to lift out of the field of strife and of mutual hatred the keen issues which have severed employers and employed, and to raise them to a higher level in the light of day and by impartial judgment. The Bill substitutes an appeal for a strike, and naturally an appeal to the Court will be a much simpler thing than a strike; can be undertaken by a much smaller number of persons ; can be undertaken, if they think fit, on much smaller grounds. It is stated in certain . newspap’ers that the Bill will not settle industrial disputes so much as create’ them. The answer to that statement is that the Bill will settle industrial disputes brought before the Court, but it must be admitted in all candour that it will thus multiply the industrial disputes on which the attention of the public will be concentrated. These industrial disputes exist at present in silence - in some corner of a city or in some part of this country. The’ antagonism is there, but the public are ignorant pf its existence until a s’trike calls their attention to it. But when we provide a tribunal, like all British tribunals, with its doors wide open to whomsoever may choose to enter, we necessarily provide a means by which the weakest and the humblest as well as the strongest can enter. The cause list is public, and when some critics see a long list of industrial disputes set down they will say that the Court created them. No ; the Court revealed them; they existed, and would have remained the festering sores which minister to strikes, and to the bitterness that unhappily prevails between the classes and the masses on too many occasions. If these causes of bitterness are removed, as they may be and can be by the decisions of an able and impartial tribunal, although, we shall have revealed more, we shall have cured more, and the state of society will be healthier than it was when we began. I am told that the effect of Arbitration Courts is disastrous to employment, discourages the investment of capital, and generally diminishes the fruits of industry. Here let me make a quotation from the speech of the honorable member for Bland last year, when he put the position in New Zealand after five years’ experience of a similar Arbitration Act. Stated briefly, what was that result? Seven hundred fresh factories, 14,000 new employes, ^1,000,000 extra paid in wages, ,£2,000,000 more capital invested in industries, and the output of factories under the Act raised by £2,700,000.
– It is increasing.
– It is still increasing. I endeavoured to obtain later figures, but. the New. Zealand census is quinquennial, and therefore fuller information is not available. That is why I fall back on the quotation of the honorable member for Bland. In the case of New South Wales I take the figures quoted only the other day by the Acting Premier, Mr. Wise, which have already been laid before the House by the right honorable member for Adelaide.
– Porson used to say - “Verify your quotations.”
– I am perfectly certain that the quotation of the’ right honorable member for Adelaide from the Acting Premier of New South Wales was accurate, and I venture to take the latter as the best authority in New South Wales.
– From what source were the figures obtained?
– His figures, as he stated, we’re obtained from the officials of the Government. .
– We do not think that he is the best authority in New South Wales.
– If my honorable friends were more impartial they would. In New Zealand and New South Wales, where Arbitration Courts have been employed, we have not found any diminution of capital or employment. On the contrary, we have found in both countries a gratifying advance. The experience is short, I admit - it is not final - but so far as it goes it is entirely in our favour.
– The voluntary system is accompanied by corresponding progress in England.
– When we measure the advancement of the voluntary system in England, we also have to deduct the estimated loss on account of the strikes which have occurred from time to time. Then we have to calculate how much greater the actual advance would have been in Great Britain if those strikes had been avoided by some such means as this.
– There were only three strikes, and 422 disputes last year in England.
– The last strike in England, of’ which I am reminded, was the strike of engineers. Can any one say what was the cost in suffering or in money to the disputants, or what was the loss to the country by the amount of business driven from its shores, in consequence of that strike? But, I now come to the general scheme of the Bill. When our critics remind us of the complexity of modern industry, we are able to point, in this measure, to very little that is hard and fast, and to a great many preparations for the adequate dealing with that complexity, in the immense area over which the measure is to operate, when it operates at all. For instance, in the forefront of the scheme of the Bill there is a Court - a Court in every sense of the name worthy of that title; but a Court which has not yet its parallel in this country, except in New South Wales, and which in the area of its jurisdiction has probably a parallel nowhere, outside the Supreme Court of the United States, and one or two of the courts of great nations. This Court undertakes the adjudication required under the Bill, but if honorable members will look - not now, but when they are criticising the Bill at their leisure - at the 32nd clause they will see there what its first operation will be. Its first line of de fence against strikes, so to speak, is the. duty of conciliation ; only after that is recourse had, where and when ‘ it is possible, to arbitration. The procedure of the administration of justice is not adopted until the methods of persuasion have been tried. Those methods are applied first, and must be exhausted before a case comes to arbitration. In New Zealand, as was pointed out last year, the Boards of Conciliation differ from the Courts of Arbitration. Under this Bill they are usually, or may be always, the same Court. When they can be the same Court, the forces that make for conciliation are very much more strengthened than would be the case if a threatened dispute had to come before two different tribunals. In litigation, there is always a chance of a different view when the parties go to different courts; but under this Bill, if the principal Court deals with the same matter,though acting in a different fashion, the parties will realize what the probabilities of the case are before risking an appeal. The Court is first a committee of conciliation and then a court of arbitration. In reference to its powers asto conciliation, I shall presently call the attention of the House to the fact that the Court is clothed with a power with which Judges are not endowed in our ordinary courts, except in very rare instances and to a very confined degree. Here we have connected judicial and administrative duties of the highest importance. The President of the Court must be a Justice of the High Court - clause 12. He receives no extra salary for performing the duties appertaining to the Court - clause 18. He exercises in this Court more authority than a Chief Justice or presiding Judge does in. any other kind of court. For instance, a large number of prosecutions cannot be launched without his consent. A number of such cases are covered by clause 6. Either the President of the Court, or the registrar, are required to indorse other prosecutions - clauses 9 and 10. No quorum of the Court -can be constituted without the President - clause 22. No majority of the Court can come to a decision unless he is one of the majority - clause 23. He has it in his power to add to his Court, if necessary, a number of experts, limited in number - clause 15. He can, if he pleases, make an entirely new court of experts, presided over by himself, or one of his fellow Judges, or by a State Judge - clause 15, sub-clause 2. He can appoint a deputy - clause 20 - clothed with as much of his power as he thinks fit to depute. He is much more than a Judge, because, under clause 24, the personal duty of attempting conciliation is cast upon him, whenever the public interest may demand it. He is a Court of Appeal, under clause 25, in regard to every action of the registrar ; the most important administrative officer, and also a judicial officer, comes under his control. Under clause 46, all the interlocutory applications - that is, the lay members will understand, intermediate applications as to any points in dispute, which are necessary to be determined before the trial of the case takes place - will come before the President, and be decided by him. He may require security to be given under clause 4r, if he so desires. He may move the Governor-General to exercise one of the largest powers under this Bill. The Bill depends upon the organization of both employers and employes. . It proceeds mainly when its machinery is put into action by them. But if any large body of employers or employe’s stand outside the Court, and do not register, there is power under clause 69 for the Governor-General to proclaim those bodies organizations under the measure, and when that is done they stand in the same position under the Act as if they had registered of their own accord. Under clause 71, the GovernorGeneral may revoke the power exercised under clause 69. Putting all these powers together, what does it mean? Mr. McCay. - That the President will be a verv busy man !
– That is another question. Here we have the President of a Court accorded greater powers than the head of an ordinary court ever has, and we have him in addition invested with administrative authority of a very high character. Consequently we have to look for something more than the familiar procedure of our Law Courts to meet the requirements of such a body. I turn now to the clauses with regard to the other members of the Court, who are to be two in number. Under clause 13, it is provided that one of them will represent the employers, and the other the employes. Under clause 16, it is proposed that they shall be appointed for seven years. Upon that point I have a word or two to say, because last year the leader of the Opposition and some other honorable members warmly– challenged this proposal. Their alternative suggestion was that a fresh member should be appointed by the employers and employes for every fresh dispute, and that there should be no such comparatively fixed Court as is here proposed. I hope that the House will not think of adopting that view. I do not believe that my honorable friends opposite will adopt it when they’ come to give further consideration to the tasks that lie before the Court. As it is, the President is made practically despotic in Court. Nevertheless it will be of immense assistance to him if the advice tendered is not that of men who come there to take their seats for the first time, men innocent of what procedure is to be followed, innocent of the circumstances under which judgment requires to be arrived at, innocent of the relative value to be attached to evidence, and of much’ knowledge which’ regular members of the Court will inevitably acquire.
– It would be much better to have men who understand the trade affected.
– That object can be attained by the addition of experts.
– Then what is the good of the regular members of the Court ?
– I was . just about to point out. First of all, they will acquire a certain knowledge of the mechanism of trials, and cannot help gaining a knowledge of the value of evidence and of the principles on which the Act is being administered by the presiding Judge. These regular members become sub-colleagues of the Judge, and thus gain knowledge of value. What is very important, the Judge gets to know them.
– I suppose lawyers will be appointed.
– Speaking professionally, I think we can never act unwisely in appointing lawyers to judicial positions, but under this particular Bill such a course is not intended. The point is, that if the suggestion to have temporary members were carried out we should place beside a comparatively despotic Judge, men whom he had never seen before, but who would proceed to take part in the case before the Court. The Judge would only know that such men were an employer and an employ^ in, say, the leather trade, and -he could not know to what extent they possessed the judicial faculty of discriminating between important and unimportant facts, or the further useful faculty of weighing evidence. Such members of the Court would present the additional disadvantage of not giving their whole minds to the Judge, and thus putting the latter in full possession of all the facts concerning them. This would place the Judge at a disadvantage. He would sadly need the assistance afforded by a knowledge of the extent to which he could lean on his colleagues. The President of the Court will need their moral support, particularly in the exercise of a power we have enlarged in the Bill, with an eye to the condition of things obtaining to some extent in New Zealand and New South Wales. I find reported in the newspapers a few days ago some remarks by Mr. Justice Cohen in the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, with reference to the Sydney and Mortlake Gasworks case. The newspaper extract is as follows : -
Mr. Justice Cohen stated today that he felt himself utterly incompetent to deal with all the issues involved in the dispute, and expressed the opinion that many of them were of a class that the Court should not be expected to settle.
The other members of the Court were also of opinion that many of the matters in dispute might very well be settled out of Court.
These are the regular members who have obtained an education by sitting in the Court.
Mr. Justice Cohen said it was time the Court took a firm stand. If parties in these disputes were animated by a desire to settle their differences on an equitable basis, and in a give and take spirit, enormous expense would be saved to themselves and the country.
– Mr. Justice Cohen went on to say that none of the three understood the case.
– English opinion is against the proposal in the Bill, because in the old country there is a belief in experts.
– I am glad to hear that there is so much against the proposal, because up to the present nothing I have heard affects my position one iota. Honorable members have not yet heard what I shall attempt to prove, viz., that there must be very large power in the Court, especially when it is only a single Court constituted in the fashion proposed, to brush aside firmly and with authority a number of the appeals made to it. That power, which the Court must be encouraged to exercise, is one which would perhaps be dangerous in an ordinary court of justice, though it is true that a Judge occasionally and unofficially says to litigants - “You have no business to come here with such a case ; settle it amongst yourselves.” But such a power is an integral part of this Bill. There is conciliation to begin with, but that conciliation has to be backed up by something more - by the power on the part of the Court to say - “ Even if you insist on coming to the Arbitration Court, I decline to hear you ; I have on my list some questions that may be properly described as of national importance, and, in order to deal with these cases, as I mean to deal with them, I must brush aside these other cases, which, though important to you, are relatively trivial questions. No doubt, the questions which you desired to lay before me would be proper to be dealt with, if we had a dozen Commissioners and unlimited time, but they are cases with which this Court cannot deal without choking the fountain of justice - without those undue additions to the list which we have seen in New South Wales and New Zealand.” We have to trust this Court a great deal ; and one thing we have to trust it to do is to discriminate between cases which it ought to hear and cases which, under the circumstances, it cannot hear.
– That is to say, to discriminate as to whether the cases are big or little.
– To discriminate as to whether cases are important or unimportant. What is termed a “ little “ case may sometimes involve principles affecting a large area, while a “ big’ ‘ case may turn on a relatively simple point. The question is not whether a case be “ big” or “ little,” but whether it be important or unimportant - the relative importance of the case. It would be too great a burden on a Judge, who, even after he has gained experience,, will be mainly a legal Judge, to place on him the responsibility of taking the very strong step of postponing, or, if he could see his way clearly enough, of definitely putting aside cases or dealing with them, not necessarily in the order in which they are submitted, but in the order which he believes to be in the public interest on account of the importance of the principles and issues involved. Without this provision, that difficulty may not arise in this Court, because it is a matter for argument at a later stage as to what will be the amount of business. At all events, if honorable member’s refer to clause 46, they will see that we are enlarging the power of the Court, so that it may, for self-protection in this connexion, have the power of controlling litigation. Mr. Joseph Cook. - It will break the Act down.
– I think the provision will be found necessary in order to prevent the Act breaking down. In New South Wales, New Zealand,, and Western Australia, similar legislation has not broken down, though that result has been threatened, for the very reason that no such section is found in their Acts. It is, therefore, proposed to endow this Court with these large and special powers. Under the circumstances, the Court cannot be constituted of two men, brought- together with the Judge to decide a particular dispute. If there were a dispute in the carpentering trade, for instance, an employer and a workman would be brought together for the first time to sit beside the Judge; and how could they lend any weight to his finding that the case was not one of first importance, but could afford to wait? Such members of the Court would be appointed for a’ particular purpose ; and if the plan is adopted of having a “ scratch “ Court, so to speak, on each occasion, the object of this provision will be defeated, and it will be absolutely necessary, unless we give the power to the Judge alone, to take every case as set down. If disputes do arise all over Australia, as some honorable members expect, a Court of the kind suggested would lead, practically, to denial of justice by the undue postponement of cases. I have indicated the position in passing, and it is a matter for discussion in Committee. In all other Courts, costs naturally impose limitations to litigation, but posts in this Court will not be high, and it is not desired that they should be. Nor is it desired to attempt the unachievable feat of endeavouring to determine what cases shall come and what cases shall not come before the Court. As in the case of other Courts of Justice, those who are affected may be left to decide whether or not they will apply. If honorable members will take the pains, as I have thought it part of my duty to do. to go through the reports of the Arbitration Courts of New Zealand and New South Wales, and. observing the nature of the issues submitted there, weigh them one against another, they will be satisfied that unless some provision of the sort is in the measure and used, the Court will commence its labours with a very severe handicap. It is not this Court alone which is provided for in the Bill. When honorable members see the tribunals tabulated together, they will be rather surprised at the variety of means which are provided for dealing with disputes which may arise. There is first the Court of which I have spoken, and which may be reinforced, as I pointed out, by a court of expertsunder clause 15, and superseded by a Court under sub-clause 2 of clause 15. It will be possible for the regular Court, if it feels overweighted, not only to have experts, but also to have assessors according to clause 43. But the work of conciliation does not depend entirely upon the President and his Court. On the contrary, under clause 42 a committee of reference is provided for, which can undertake conciliation in any part of , Australia. Under paragraph a of clause 44 any State industrial authority willing to act as a State Court, or Factory Board, may be used for the same purpose; and under paragraph b of the same clause, a local board may be appointed. We have here three different types of authority, by means of which the Federal Court may depute the work of conciliation to a Court in any part of Australia should the circumstances require it. It will not be necessary in these circumstances for the Court to remove to the scene of strife or dispute.
– The honorable and learned gentleman proposes to delegate the Federal power to a local body.
– This is only as regards conciliation.
– It is only a part of the same thing.
– Arbitration will be dealt with by the Court itself in all cases. When the efforts of these bodies to secure conciliation are exhausted without success, arbitration in the matters concerned will come before the Federal Court.
– But these matters will be dealt with by different persons, and I understood the honorable and learned gentleman to say that cases arising under the Bill should be dealt with by the same persons.
– They should be dealt with by the Chief Court wherever possible. I may say that I am pleased that the honorable and learned member for Angas should act as counsel for the other side, because he is not only willing” but fully competent to take all the points that ought to be taken, and some that ought not. He will know as well as I do that with only one
Judge to constitute the Federal Court, because there can be no quorum or majority without him, it would be impracticable to provide that every matter should be personally decided by the Court. When the President is sitting in Perth, for instance, should there be another case ripe for conciliation in Rockhampton, it would be hard to say that the latter case should not be touched until the President could visit Queensland. What we say is that the Court cannot reach every part of the Commonwealth, and should trouble arise in remote places it may be dealt with in this way.
– Not finally dealt with.
– No; only as regards conciliation.
– -The honorable and learned gentleman is forgetting that the Federal sphere is very limited.
Mr.DEAKIN.- I shall come to that. Then there are minor tribunals which may also be appointed with a view to giving elasticity to the operations of . the Court. Where the Court has registered a finding, and has determined a minimum wage in certain industries, we could not have the President of the Court arid his officers waiting to decide any point arising as to the persons to whom the minimum wage should apply. So there is given in clause 48, paragraph a, the power to appoint a minor tribunal for . that purpose. In a similar fashion provision is made where a preference is given to any particular class of labour or persons. Under paragraph c of clause 48 another minor authority may be appointed for that purpose. In addition to this, if evidence is required in regard to the circumstances of an industry at a distance it will not be necessary for the Court to visit the place, as, under clause 45, power is given to ap-‘ point a person to take evidence upon certain specified points, which will afterwards be transmitted to the Court.
– It is not contemplated that the members of these minor tribunals will be paid ?
– The probability is that they will, not be paid. They will probably be arranged for by the organizations of employers and employes who will be concerned in the settlement of any dispute. We know that very often, where work is carried on under an agreement, people do not choose to go to a court. They make an industrial agreement between employers and employes, and take power in the agreement to appoint private tribunals to deter mine any disputed reading of its terms in order to avoid going to law. In these’ various . matters we seek, as far as possible, to provide for the exercise of the powers of the Court over the whole Commonwealth. I now look at the administrative side. The registrar is the chief officer of the Court. He derives his authority under clause 60, but I will draw the attention of honorable members to the first reference to him in the Bill, which is to be found in the definition clause 4. Under the heading of “industrial dispute,” paragraph b - “ Industrial dispute “ means a dispute in relation to industrial matters . . “ . . . . (i) Certified by the registrar as proper in the public interest to be dealt with by the Court:”
That power is very important. It is aimed at several contingencies, but particularly at what has occurred often in America, and sometimes in Australia, and that is a fight between two unions of employes their employers have nothing to do with. A dispute of the kind occurred, I believe!; between the engineers and shipbuilders on the banks of the Yarra, and similar disputes have often occurred in America.
– They have occurred several times in- Sydney.
– The question arising is whether a particular kind of work is to be done by the members of one union or of another. In order to settle their differ-‘ ences they frequently strike, to the injury of the employers, who are faultless in the matter, who only desire to have the’ work done, and to whom it is immaterial.’ by whom it is done. That would be a dispute which, in the public interest, ought to’ be dealt with by the Court ; and, therefore, though most of the disputes inquired into will be those between employers and employes, if the employes fall out amongst themselves, or if for any reason a real dispute arises which does not come within the general definition, the registrar is empowered to give his certificate. Bevond’ that he will have most important work to1 do. Under clauses 9 and 10 his permission is necessary before suing can be commenced in certain cases. It is his certificate that prima facie determines whether a dispute has extended beyond the limits of - one State. That is a very important power, and it is open to challenge by those who may be aggrieved. Security may be taken by him under clause 48. The register is placed under his supervision by clause 58. He may refuse to register any union, or a second union if he thinks the first union sufficient for its purpose, under clause 66. That power would meet the case of the Machine Shearers’ “Union. He may cancel any registration, under clause 67. He is a most important officer, from whom an appeal in all cases lies to the President. He is a judicial officer, and also an administrative officer; his work will be extremely arduous. In addition to this, I invite the attention of honorable members to clause 49, which provides for inspection. Here will be found an answer to the question - “ When is a Court not a Court ?” Here is a Court which, in its administrative capacity, undertakes the task of seeing that its awards are carried out, and is empowered to take any and all steps which may be necessary to make this measure a reality, by making awards, given under it, binding. This is secured by the very large powers of inspection conferred in clause 49. When we have made all these provisions ‘ of machinery, we have not, by any means, concluded our task, because, under this Bill, as was explained last year, the organizations themselves, the unions of employers on one side, and the unions of employes on the other, for both are included, are sought to be made extensions of the machinery of this Court. The object is, by the organization of employers on one side, and of employes on the other, to enable findings to be binding; to allow the decisions to cover a large area ; to prevent isolated disputes, and to enable broad principles arid practices to be definitely adopted in particular trades. This is done by organizations created under clause 62, and capable of being registered under that clause. They are the bodies which have the power of referring cases to the Court, under clauses 31 .and 72. They are entitled to be represented before the Court, at the argument, under clause 35 ; they are incorporated under clause 65 ; their rules require to be such as the registrar approves, and, according to the schedule of this Bill - see also clause 63 - and they may have their registration refused or cancelled, as I have already pointed out. By all these ways and means they are, so to speak, constituted a part of the machinery of justice. They are required to administer it with their members, and are enabled so to do. They are required to assist the Court in carrying out its findings, and in working this measure. Because this Bill seeks, as its ultimate goal, the organization of industry on both sides. The one astonishing feature of the experience in New Zealand, so far as I am acquainted with it, is the apparent failure of the New Zealand Act to encourage the growth of the organization of employes, at all events. I find that, in 1900, out of 40,000 workmen, 26,000 only were in the unions. In 1901, whilst the number of workmen had risen to 57,000, the number of union men had fallen to 24,000. I have a telegram here, from Mr. Seddon, which I have mislaid at the moment, showing that in 1903 the number of union men was, I think, a little less - 23,800 only, as compared with 24,000 in the previous year. I confess that it is a circumstance for which I was not prepared. The New Zealand Act, of course, differs in some respects from this Bill. ‘
– Does that mean industrial unions, or all unions?
– The unions which are registered.
– They recognise both in New Zealand.
– Does the Prime Minister mean unions registered under the New Zealand Act?
– Yes. I think that includes all the unions, because I understand that they are all registered.
– Not necessarily.
– I think they are brought under the Act by virtue of being trade unions.
– I must confess that I thought that the operation of the New Zealand Act would have led to an increase in strength on the part of the unions of both employers and employes.
– One of the fears expressed by the employers is that this legislation will unduly increase the number of unions. .
– I do not assume that this will be its effect. I do not think it can increase them unduly.
– Notwithstanding the New Zealand experience, the Prime Minister proposes to coerce those who do not wish to join unions by compelling them to come under the Bill.
– Only if that be necessary in the interests of justice. If employers or employes do not join unions the Court will take no notice of the fact until a dispute occurs, and it becomes necessary, for the application .of the remedies herein provided for its settlement, that they shall belong to a union. Then they- may be proclaimed members of a . union.
– The Bill provides for that proclamation, without reference to the existence of a dispute. The power is left with the Executive. I refer the honorable and learned gentleman to the definitions in clause 4.
– The proclamation is made by the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the President, as the honorable and learned member will see by referring to clause 69, while clause 71 provides for the revocation of a proclamation. Before disputes come to the Court of Arbitration, they can be decided in a number of ways. Under clause 80, any organization may make an industrial agreement, which, under clause 84, shall be for a period not exceeding three years. Or the Court may intervene by way of conciliation, and an amicable agreement be arrived at under clause 42. This agreement, if, in writing, under clause 33, has the effect of an award. Awards under clause 33 (2) last lui a term not exceeding five years, unless otherwise specified, clause 36. Under clause 29, the State authority may be ordered to cease to proceed in the matter of a dispute, or its award may be overridden under clause 38. An appeal to the Federal Court may, under paragraph b of clause 46, be set aside upon the ground that the State Court is quite competent to deal with it, or can better deal with.it, or has dealt with it ; but once an award has been made, it stands, unless varied by the Court itself, without appeal to any other Court of the realm. The decision is final, unless, of course, challenged as outside the law altogether. Within its own limitations and the powers of the Court, an award is subject to no appeal. The special powers conferred upon the Court are large. Let me call attention briefly to the chief among them. The first is the power, under paragraph b of clause 46, to declare a common rule, by’ means of which an award may be made to apply to all engaged in a particular trade within any named area, or made binding upon the parties specified, as provided in paragraphs c and d of clause 37.
– The area of operation of the common rule is not limited.
– I shall come to that. The next large power is the right to fix a minimum wage in certain trades, clause 48a ; and to grant preferences in them, clauses 4&b and 46^. In paragraph g of clause 46’will be found the power to limit the area of operation of any award. It is recognised that the circumstances of the Commonwealth vary greatly, because of its sparse population and its extreme extent.
– Does the Prime Minister think that this limitation of operation can be provided for in Federal legislation? We do not wish the Act to be open to challenge on any point.
– If provision had not been made for the exercise of this power to limit the area of operation, the Court, in dealing with any dispute, might be compelled to deal with it everywhere in the same way, instead of determining, for example, that a rule which applied in New South Wales and Victoria, should not apply in Queensland and the Northern Territory.
– It shows the difficulties of the Federal legislation.
– Yes, but in industrial legislation for a country so large as Australia, such a provision is necessary. If honorable .members, will turn to clause 6, they will find that the penalty for doing anything in the nature of a strike or lock-out is fixed at £, 1,000, and the offences for which imprisonment is the punishment are enumerated in clauses 5 and 55. The enforcement of orders and awards is provided, for in clauses 52 to 57. The power of injunction has been extended, though the new clause dealing with the matter will need verbal amendment, as, upon further consideration, it seemed not quite to dovetail in with the others. The subject, is provided for in clause 46e, and clause 55. I have now concluded this difficult and tedious part of my subject. My remarks, will, I hope, supply honorable members with a convenient index when they desire to criticise the measure for. themselves. They must recognise first of all the innumerable and incalculable differences to be encountered in legislating for the settlement of industrial disputes. In making this new departure in legislation, we are entering into a field beset by a thicket of differing and sometimes contradictory conditions. Every employer carries on his business more or less in his own way, and develops his own system, methods, and practices. The success of a business often depends upon the brain power of the man at the head of it, or of the managers he employs, just as its failure is often due to a lack of business ability. But its situation, its proximity to population, to a seaport, or to a water supply, and many other conditions, affect its success, and its power of extension. Quite independently of the demands of the workmen there is a whole network of considerations surrounding the attempt to lay down anything approaching a common rule. To determine a minimum wage, or to apply any of the general provisions of the measure, the Court must bring .within the sweep, of its knowledge and consideration all the various conflicting sets of circumstances which determine the extent and character of the employment a trade affords, which affect the wages paid in it, although the demand of the workmen may appear to have nothing to do with them. It was, therefore, felt that any attempt to cope with industries which, in modern times, exhibit a protean rapidity of change and’ of adaptation to new conditions, arising out of the discovery of new inventions and methods, must fail unless at every, point the law is made as elastic as possible. That is why -we begin with and rest upon a Court, guided by expert knowledge, whose awards never run for more than five years, and may be amended on application; and is why we provide in all these different ways for the attainment of the ends the Court may desire to reach, instead of binding it to follow one set of rules, as a locomotive is bound to follow one set of rails, off which it cannot run.
– Does not that indicate the desirability of having an expert to represent each side?
– The representative of the employers and the representative of the employe’s will be general experts, besides which the Court has power to add to itself any number of experts, not exceeding four, in any. case requiring an intimate acquaintance with intricate details. Experts may and will also be called as witnesses by the parties concerned. Not only must we have elasticity in these provisions, but we must recognise that the provision as to area, to which allusion has been made, is, in a country like this, one of the most important of all. On merely climatic grounds an award that would be fair in Port Darwin might not be fair in Hobart. It is perfectly obvious also ‘ that the cost of living, for instance; at Kalgoorlie, would probably cause the Court to make its award there differ from one applying to Newcastle. It is also plain that the proximity of a supply of fuel, as in the case of Newcastle, or of water power in other instances, and similar circumstances, might demand consideration. Again, there is the application of the principle that the award of the Court may operate only with regard to a special area.
– That ‘shows that the question is one for the States to deal with.
– No; it shows that the question is one which should be left to the discretion of the Court so as to meet the varying circumstances.
– The power to regulate .the awards according to local condi-tions will rest with the Court. ‘
– Then why need Parliament interfere in that respect?
– So far from doing that, Parliament is specially empowering the Court to so frame the awards as to meet local conditions. I am calling atten-tion to all the authority which is given in this respect, because certain criticism has been directed to the impossibility of making full allowance for local conditions. I am now pointing out that these difficulties are recognised, and that they are provided for in advance in this measure.
– The criticisms referred to were based upon misrepresentations.
– Of course. But in a matter of this kind one has to allow for a certain amount of innocent misrepresentation, as well as a good deal that is not innocent.
– The Minister must remember that the Bill has never been fully expounded yet.
– I hope that this exposition will be full enough for any one.
– If a State Court were to arrive at a decision and a dispute afterwards overflowed into another State, would the Federal Arbitration Court have power to override the finding of the State tribunal ?
– The honorable member will find that clause” 38 provides that whenever a State Court makes an award which is in conflict with that of the Federal Court, the finding of the latter tribunal rules.
– But if the Federal Court thinks the finding pf the State Court is al wise one, it may indorse it.
– Exactly. If the Federal Court approves of the finding of the State Court, it can say, “ Why do you come to us? The finding of the State Court is sufficient.” Further than this, they can adopt such an award if they think it desirable to do so.
– The provision is open to challenge.
– To put the whole case shortly, we have to recognise that this Court is not administering any statute law with regard to the conditions of labour. This Bill will create the Court and give it general sailing directions. But, beyond that, the facts and customs of trade will determine awards. These may increase or decrease wages. If we could imagine an arbitration court sitting at Canton, we should be safe in assuming that its decision as to a living wage, whilst it might be perfectly fair and equitable so far as Canton was concerned, would still be very different from the decision given by a similar tribunal sitting at New York. We have to recognise the general standard of civilization of a country, and to assume that it is within the knowledge of the Court. But the question for the Court will be how to fix a fair level consonant with that standard, no higher and no lower, for those who are engaged1 in an industrial dispute as to wages and conditions of employment. To those who believe that the Court is to set to work by interference to create altogether new relations of employment, its work may well appear impossible. It will always take into account the conditions of the place with which it is dealing. When settling a dispute at Port Darwin it would make an allowance for the climatic and other conditions, just as it would do if it were adjudicating upon a dispute at Hobart. I canhot pass from this part of the subject without reference to my previous contention, that if justification be sought for the standards sought to be attained by these means, we must proceed much deeper than I propose to go to-day. I took a superficial’ glance at this question last year, which leads, as did the admission of the Chinese into the Transvaal, to a fresh scrutiny of the very foundations of industrial society. Only by a re-consideration of the principles upon which its progress has taken place, shall we be able to interpret or justify this measure. In this way alone can we justify the assumption of a living wage and a white man’s standard of living, insisting that the working creature, whether man, woman, or child, is entitled to be considered, not as a cog-wheel in a machine, but as a living human being, endowed with an immortal soul.
These are the considerations upon which, in legislation and administration, our ideals of modern social justice are based. Unless honorable members are prepared to admit so much, I grant that their antagonism to this and to all other legislation of the same class may be logical. The motives and spirit of this measure are not to be found in mere mathematics or, balances of profit and loss. We agree with Liszt, the great German, whose, protest may be translated into the aphorism - “ Account-books have no conscience.” To look at their account-books and see whether a profit or loss has been occasioned is all that the merchant or trader as such is called upon to do, and he is not to be blamed if he stops short at that. But the community would be to blame if they did not go further, because the profit may have been gained by an unnatural deterioration of the race by a degradation of the men, women, and children engaged in an industry. On the other side, the fact that the profits of the merchant are reduced may be a good thing, even, in the interests of the employer himself, if he is to live as a man’ among men with a proper appreciation of their aspirations, instead of regarding those whom he employs as the insensate pawns of his selfish will. This Bill starts with a confession that it is based on a humanitarian interpretation of the principles and obligations, which form the very basis of civilized society. It leaves to its opponents the creed whose God is greed, whose devil is need, and whose paradise lies in the cheapest market. No one anticipates that one piece of Legislation will .be sufficient to achieve our ideal. This is but a fragment of what will be needed. Again, no one supposes that the industrial world in Australia or anywhere else can be re-organized by legislation. We all feel that social progress must be tentative and slow. Although we have legislation in two or three States to guide us, this measure must be largely experimental, and will probably require amendment in the future. After having made a careful study of the Bill as it came from the hands of my former colleague, the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide, I have found it necessary to make few amendments or additions. Such alterations as are made are few and trifling when compared with, the complete scheme. I am quite prepared for additions and modifications in the future, but have not considered more necessary at this stage. We know that, bold as is this measure, its full application cannot be a matter of a few days, or months, or years. We look forward to it with most hope because it plants the seed of a new principle, which I trust will expand in the industrial affairs of the Commonwealth. We have the experience of only two, or at the most three, States - if Victoria be counted by reason of her factory boards - to guide us in this matter, and upon this we have been obliged to draft a measure which will apply to the whole of Australia under certain conditions. It is provided that wherever a dispute extends beyond one State, the jurisdiction of this Court will begin. These cases may be numerous, or they may be extremely few. That will depend, not upon us - because this measure has been drawn upon the most comprehensive lines - but upon the interpretation put -upon its charter in the Constitution. The scope of this measure provides for all possible contingencies that can be foreseen. It provides elaborate machinery for meeting them. It carries an enormous load. I venture to think that as it stands now it is weighted to the lowest load line of safety. If we add to the difficulties by which we are surrounded in applying this Bill, by attempting to place more . contentious provisions within it, that attempt will be made at the risk of the measure itself and of its effective administration. Those who are most anxious for its passage should not desire to add to the stress imposed upon the judicial and administrative machinery we create under it. They should rather seek to minimize that stress,* recognising, that the cases in which the Federal Court will be called upon to intervene will be those in which - at all events, in some instances - a great industrial conflict has begun, which’ has passed beyond the bounds and power of any one State. It will then be the duty of the Federal Court to step in and grapple with the dispute.
– Is that the full scope of the Bill ?
– I think so. It will require all the powers which have been included, supported by all the self-governing capacity of our people, together with their law-abiding instincts, to cope under it with some of the conflicts such as we have. witnessed in the past, which have shaken this continent from corner to corner. Under these circumstances, if we recollect the friction that has been occasioned in New South Wales and even in Victoria by legislation of this character, we must feel ‘the need - whatever may be our ideals and hopes of proceeding upon this road with circumspection and caution. We should not create unnecessary strife nor invoke conflicts, especially those of a deeply serious character. This brings . me to the question of the desirableness of including within the provisions of this measure the public servants of the States, particularly their railway servants. In that regard I have first to clear away one or two misapprehensions which have been made evident by some of the speeches delivered in this House. The first is, that either my colleagues or I entertain antagonism towards the public servants of the States, and especially their railway servants. During a life of twenty years, in the Victorian Parliament, I was associated with the public servants of this State, without, as far as I can remember, any cause df difference. With the railway servants, owing to mv constituency, I was in continual touch, and am not aware that I ever exhibited want of sympathy with them in their legitimate desires. It is neither from want of good will to them, nor because of anything which has since happened in this State, that I have adopted my present view. It has no reference whatever to them. I look back upon the unhappy strike
Of the Victorian railway employes with thedeepest and profoundest regret. I admit that they had received provocation, and pass no judgment upon their cause, but assert that no real relief for them is to be found by the opening of any door in this measure. As a whole, the public servants, and the railway employes, of Australia have less te* hope from a Court of arbitration than any other class of employes in the community. I do not say that they have no grievances - reasonable grievances - which call for redress, and which will be redressed ; but I do say that their grievances are comparatively small, when measured with thegrievances of those who are outside Government employment. Whatever the States Parliaments may have done, at least they have been generous to their employes, with the consent of their people, and at their instigation. If in one or more States they have fallen short in any particular, it has not been with the consent of the majority of the people. Moreover, they have a real and ready remedy close to them. I have also to point out that rarely, if ever, oan the disputes of public servants, or of States railway servants, become “ Federal “ in the sense contemplated by this Bill, because to do so they must “ extend beyond the limits of any one State,” and of course there are no employes of a particular State except within its own borders. Consequently, considering the comparatively little which they have to gain, the steady nature of their employment, and the urgency of the demands without, it appears to me that to risk this Bill because they are not at once included within its provisions would partake very much of that recklessness displayed by some captains of great steamers costing millions of money, and intrusted with hundreds of lives, when in order to save a few hours on their journey they steer very near to the dangerous reefs of a rockbound coast. There is one more misapprehension to remove, and then I shall have finished. My objection to including within the provisions of the Bill the public servants of the States was not the outcome of any suggestion on the part of any person outside the Cabinet. It is true that public protests were made against the proposal, first by the Premier of Victoria and afterwards by other Premiers. But the first protest was made long after this subject had been discussed at Cabinet meeting after Cabinet meeting, and long after I had taken up the position from which I have never since been able to swerve. It was because I thought, looking at this question as a lawyer, that it was not competent for us to include the public servants of a State within the provisions of this measure, as well as because I deemed it most impolitic, that I raised my objection to the proposal directly it was drafted.
– Does the Prime Minister mean “competent” or “expedient?”
– I have repeatedly said that it is neither competent nor expedient. I ask honorable members, who have spoken lightly upon this subject, and who’ Have approached me as if it were a small matter - “ Can they think that either my colleagues or myself regarded it as a light matter, when, because of it, and because of the constitutional objection which we entertained to making the provisions of the Bill applicable to seamen on foreign-going ships, we had to lose one of our most valued colleagues?” Should we have acted thus, lightly, when by so doing we rent asunder a Cabinet which had. lasted for three years, the members of which were upon the most amicable terms? Should we afterwards have ‘gone to the country - as I went, on behalf of my colleagues - and declared in our programme that we regarded the constitutional objections to this course as “ the most grave “ and its adoption most inexpedient, if it had been a matter that we could pass by, having the knowledge that many of those who ordinarily agree with us were not able to support us? Should we have come back from the country, . ready to stake the important policy which we have unfolded, as well as the life of the Ministry, upon a proposition of this kind, had it not been of extraordinary and overwhelming magnitude? This is my answer, as politely as possible, to those appeals which have been made to me upon the supposition that some mysterious constraint has prevented me from accepting the amendment. The proposal is one to which I should gladly assent, if the railways were ours, or if we had not a Federal Constitution, and were not bound to abide by it. Why do I attach so much importance to this proposal? It is not to be supposed that a Court of this kind would deal otherwise than justly. If the demands of the railway servants were comparatively small, there would be little to give to them. It may not mean much in money to the States. But this question is important, because, so far as I can judge, it touches the very vital principle upon which a Federal Government, a Federal Parliament, and a Federal community are founded. That principle defines the reciprocal obligations of the States and the Commonwealth to each other. This is a Commonwealth which has been created of and from States, and in which the States are intended to remain distinct entities, out of whose union new and imperative duties arise - those qf the State to the Commonwealth, and those of the Commonwealth to the State. Anti-federalists,- demanding what they call States rights, pushing them to the extreme, exhibit those centrifugal forces, the unchecked result of which would be to’ reduce our union to a mere scattered group of units. Those, on the other hand, who are, so to speak, anti-State - those who yield to the centripetal forces which draw towards the centre of union at the expense of the States. - seek not union, but unity. Although it may seem at first a matter of comparatively theoretical moment, yet it is the preservation of that poise and balance between the centrifugal and centripetal tendencies which makes the true federalist at one time the antagonist of State aggression, and at another time the antagonist of the undue aggrandisement of the central Government. In the poise and balance of the two “lies the very essence of the life of a Federal Constitution, as in the solar system the planets move in their orbits, neither falling into the sun to be consumed, nor passing into outer space. How is it that this arbitration scheme approaches near to the vital problem? In the working out of this Constitution, we are confronted with a number of difficulties to which I do not desire to allude except in passing. This was intended to be an absolutely Federal Constitution ; I do not say that it is perfectly Federal. We deliberately departed from that intention and inserted provisions, especially financial, which may in the future destroy that balance of which I have spoken. But the main intention of the Constitution and the spirit of its whole creation was Federal - that the States should remain in their integrity, except so far as they were limited by the Constitution, and that the Commonwealth should enjoy no more than was specifically given to it ; in that lies the very Essence of our form of government. The Federal principle, exceptions excepted, was embedded in the Constitution to the best of our power, and must raise from time to time constitutional questions. I always feel a disinclination to dwell on the constitutionality or unconstitutionality of a provision for two reasons. First, because until the Courts have decided, it is a matter of opinion, and secondly, because directly you tell a House that it cannot do a thing, it says, “ Well, I think I will try.”’ When, therefore, face to face with the two constitutional questions raised by my late colleague, the right honorable member for Adelaide - that relating to the seamen, and that relating to the public servants - I was obliged to argue the case of the seamen almost wholly from the stand-point of constitutionality ; on the other question I preferred to argue then, as I do now, not only from the side of its constitutionality andlegality, but from the side of its policy and its wisdom. Because, in this case, happily for me if I succeed in making myself clear to the House, I hope to be able to show that I do not rely upon a dry tech- nical interpretation of the law, a reference either to doctrines or to legal arguments which only appeal to the professional man, but upon a clear, plain statement of the inherent conditions of any ‘ Federal system. That ought to enable us to determine whether the power of including State servants in this Bill is within or without the Constitution. I have never had any doubt, in or out of the Cabinet,, last year or since ; for reflection has only strengthened my own opinion that this proposal is unconstitutional, as well as practically unwise. I have spoken with diffidence, because I have against me the opinions of three lawyers to whom I pay great respect. The first is that of my late colleague, the right honorable member for Adelaide; the second that of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and the last is that - although only expressed by implication - of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. When three authorities of their rank are found, as far as I know, clear in the view that this proposal is within the Constitution, I have always thought, and still think, it due to them to speak with the necessary respect of that difference of opinion, when indicating my own. As yet the constitutional question has not been exhaustively studied in the House ; it will require to be now and often afterwards. Honorable members will realize that it was because grave doubt existed that last year the Government put in a clause excluding the public servants. From my individual point of view the clause need not have been put in that Bill. The same qualification that we have put in this Bill need not have been inserted, because, as I told the House last year -
I have very grave doubts whether this clause carries us any distance. I have considerable doubt whether, if this clause was not included, the public servants of the States could be brought within the jurisdiction of the Federal tribunal. But I inserted the clause because I thought it was due to the House to tell them frankly what the effect of the law would be, whether the clause were inserted or not.
If my then colleague, the right honorable member for Adelaide, held the opinion that with the clause out the public servants would come under the Bill, while we held that with the clause out they would not come under the Bill, it was clear that the House could not be presented with any definite means of declaring its will.
– I think that the honorable and learned gentleman is mixing two points.
– My honorable and learned friend can refer to my speech.
– What is the good of the House declaring its will if it will have no effect?
– The House is asked to declare its will, though if it agrees with us it will only declare the Constitution. It will not alter the law of the Constitution if we say that the public servants do not come within the Bill, because in my opinion chey cannot, and do not, whether it is so stated or not. I thought that this was the frankest course to take, because otherwise we should have had two contrary interpretations of its absence placed before the House, and that would have been an entirely unsatisfactory method of procedure. The House means either to put in the State servants if it. can or to leave them out.
– Suppose that they were left out what would be the effect?
– In my opinion the public servants would not be under the Act. The High Court would decide the question.
– Is not that the solution of the difficulty?
– Yes ; we must leave it to the Court, but, nevertheless, a duty rests upon us having a strong and clear opinion, right or wrong, to say what that opinion is, and my opinion is that such a provision is unconstitutional. I am about to ask the House to look for a moment or two at the Constitution itself. Among the powers with which this Parliament is endowed by section 51 is that contained in sub-section 35, which enables us to deal with -
Conciliation and arbitration, for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
It may be said that there are seven very interesting words in that sub-section which will command some consideration. The words “ conciliation and arbitration “ need comparatively little attention, but the word “ prevention “ may require a good deal. The honorable member for Angas takes a view of that significance which, if it were correct, would render it necessary to cut out a number of clauses in the Bill. “ Settlement,” the next word, is fairly clear. “ Industrial “ is not clear. What are and what are not “ industrial disputes “ is a question on which there must be argument. It may be contended that no disputes in which States employes, or those of a public authority are concerned, can be industrial disputes, and other readings of the word : are also possible. The word “ disputes “ is fertile, useful, and general ; but it will require a limitation when it comes to be applied. Finally, we have the words . “ extending beyond the limits of any one State,” which, in German or Welsh, could be put in one word, the seventh.
– That is the greatest difficulty of all.
– It is a difficulty which confronts us at the outset.
– It does not touch the question of whether it is- proper to bring States servants under the provisions of the Bill.
– I am making a slight detour in order to more rapidly approach that question. What is the meaning of the words “ extending beyond the . limits of any one State?” That is a phrase which occurs in two or three other parts of the Constitution. In sub-section 13 of section 51, we find that the Commonwealth has power to deal with -
Banking, other than State banking; also State banking, “ extending beyond the limits of the State concerned,” while under sub-section 14 we have power to deal with -
Insurance, other than State insurance; also State insurance, “ extending beyond the limits of the State concerned.”
In both these instances the meaning of the words to which I refer seems to be that banking and insurance, even if they relate to State banking and insurance, can be dealt with only when they extend beyond the limits of the State in question. One very patent reading of the phrase is that it confers no power on the Commonwealth to deal with the questions of banking and insurance within the limits of a State, however much they may overflow. The narrowest interpretation of sub-section 35 would read it in the same light. It is possible grammatically to read the words -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, as meaning the right to deal only with an overflow beyond the State of origin.
– Does the honorable and learned gentleman seriously put forward that view of the sub-section?
– I am putting it seriously as the narrowest reading, and as one of the margins within which we must move.
– It would throw discredit on the Convention if it intended what the reading suggests, and yet did not say so.
– As has already been remarked, the intention of the Convention does not affect the question. It did not intend that, and it did not intend to bring public servants within this class of legislation ; but it may have made both possible. The widest interpretation of the sub-section would be to say/ that when it refers to disputes extending beyond any one State, it alludes only to the “ arbitration “ ; and that the “conciliation,” or even anything that can be deemed to be in the nature of “prevention,” may take place within the State. Thus while the narrowest reading would wholly exclude the State of origin, the widest reading would bring in the State of origin altogether, and enable us to commence to conciliate, and, if necessary, to deal with an arbitration dispute in that State in order to prevent it extending to any other State. These are the margins within which we move.
– The widest reading is at least as unlikely as the narrowest.
– This brings us to that crucial Federal issue : what are the limits of Federal and State power? We find an allusion to these in another part of the Constitution; and, although it may be somewhat irrelevant, it is, perhaps, as well to mention it. The one class of cases on which an appeal to the King in Council is taken only with the consent of the High Court, are those cases - howsoever arising, as to the limits inter se of the constitutional powers of the Commonwealth and those of any State or States.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is referring to section 74 of the Constitution.
– Yes. Cases which come within that provision fall within the principle to which I have already alluded as the essential principle of a Federal Constitution. They are questions inter se between the Commonwealth and the States, which go to the King in Council only with the consent of our High Court. The Commonwealth and the States are specifically dealt with in one particular; that is to say, they have . their rights defined in regard to the very important matter of the second power of taxation of the Commonwealth. Sub-section 2 of section 51 deals with the Commonwealth’s second power of taxation - a power limited by section 114, which provides that -
A State shall. not, without the consent of the
Parliament of the Commonwealth….. impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to the Commonwealth, nor shall the Commonwealth impose any tax on property of any kind belonging to a State.
Here we have, on the face of our Constitution, a recognition that one of the very greatest powers of the Commonwealth - the power of taxation - is limited in regard to a State, and that the otherwise unrestricted power of taxation which has been left within the discretion of the States is limited, with regard to the Commonwealth. In this way we have, embodied in our Constitution, a recognition of a delimitation of Federal and States powers which does not exist on the face of the United States Constitution, by which the Convention was largely guided. But, still that delimitation does exist under the Constitution of the United States, because it has been deduced from its Constitution by necessary implication as the one essential of a Federal Government. I trust that honorable members will see the force of that point. I propose to trouble the House for a moment or two with a few extracts, to show the importance that is attached to this Federal principle in the United States of America. It is to be remembered that the power of taxation is, in manyrespects, the greatest that any Government can enjoy. Without it no Government can live ; and it can be exercised so as to accomplish many purposes. The power of taxation, as Marshall puts it, is the power to destroy ; it is also the power to build up. It is the most indispensable power. I will read what Mr. Justice Nelson said in. Collector v. Day.
It is admitted that there is no express provision in the Constitution that prohibits the GovernorGeneral from taxing the means and instrumentalities of the States, nor is there any prohibiting the States from taxing the means and instrumentalities of that Government. In both cases the exemption rests upon necessary implication, and is upheld by the great law of selfpreservation ; as any Government, whose means employed in conducting its operations, if subject to the control of another and distinct Government, can exist only at the mercy of that Government.
That is a statement that, although nothing to that effect exists in the Constitution, the Judges of the Supreme. Court of the United States thought it necessary to lay it down as a law of self-preservation of the Union, without which the Union itself would be dissolved.
– That would not govern Customs taxation.
– No, that arises out of a separate grant. I may point out, to give a clue to the argument which I intend to follow, that if the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill embraced public servants, a decision of the Court might have the effect of raising their wages. That would increase the taxation of the State in which they were employed. It would impose a new obligation upon the States which does not now exist. Or, the Court might lower their wages; in that case the men would not receive the amount of money which the Parliament of the State had voted for them. Or, the Court might so alter the conditions of employment as to require a greater number of people to be employed. Any decision of the Court might, by increasing the number of men employed, increase the amount of taxation, or, by decreasing their number, diminish it. But the point is that the creation of such new obligations upon the States is equivalent to a power of taxation. In the same judgment from which I have quoted, though in another part of it, Mr. Justice Nelson went on to give a graphic explanation of a Federal system -
The general Government, and the States, although both exist .within the same territorial limits, are separate and distinct sovereignties, acting separately and independently of each other, within ‘their respective spheres. The former in its appropriate sphere is supreme; but the States within the limits of their powers not granted, or, in the language of the tenth amendment, “ reserved,” are as independent of the general Government as that Government within its sphere is independent of the States.
And then - omitting some words - he proceeds -
Such being the separate and independent condition of the States in our complex system, as recognised by the Constitution, and the existence of which is so indispensable, that, without them, the general Government itself would disappear from the family of nations, it would seem to follow, as a reasonable, if not a necessary consequence, that the’ means and instrumentalities employed for carrying on the operations of their Governments, for preserving their existence, and fulfilling the high and responsible duties assigned to them in the Constitution, should be left free and unimpaired, should not be liable to be crippled, much less defeated, by the taxing power of another Government, which power acknowledges no limits but the will of the legislative body imposing the tax. And, more especially, those means and instrumentalities which are the creation of the sovereign and reserved rights, one of which is the establishment of the judicial department, and the appointment of officers to administer their laws. . . . We have said that one of the reserved powers was that to establish a judicial department ; it would have been more accurate, and in accordance with the existing state of things at the time, to have said the power to maintain a judicial department. All of the thirteen States were in the possession of this power, and had exercised it at the adoption of the Constitution ; and it is not pretended that any grant of it to the general Government is found in that instrument. It is, therefore, one of the sovereign powers vested in the States by their Constitutions, which remained unaltered and unimpaired, and in respect to which the State is as independent of the general Government as that Government is independent of the States.
– A - A State is only a political convenience.
– So is the Commonwealth. The States had their railway laws, their Railway Departments, and their railway employes, before the Constitution of the Commonwealth was framed ;’ and there is no word in our Constitution which implies that the States parted with their power.
– They also had their private employers.
– With which we are here specially authorized to deal as the States have dealt with them under their State arbitration laws. Our Constitution is based upon that of the United States.
– With large departures.
– Yes; but our Constitution being so founded, it may be thought that Canadian precedents do not concern us. Nevertheless, the Canadian precedents have much value for us. It is true that our Constitution was only carried, because we departed from the Canadian precedents. But the judgments of some of the Canadian Judges are valuable, as expressing their view of the American law, and also because, notwithstanding the greater power of the Dominion Parliament as compared with ours and the more limited powers of the Provinces, the same principle is recognised, under which they mutually abstain from taxing each others means and instrumentalities. That principle is followed in both the Canadian and the United States Constitutions., without the clear leading which is to be found in ours. In Leprohon v, Ottawa, Chief Justice Harrison thus summarized the United States law -
The principles to be deduced from the (American) cases appear to be .that the National Government and the State Governments are, as it were, distinct sovereignties; that the means and instrumentalities necessary for the carrying on of either Government are not to be impaired by the other; that as the power to tax involves the power to impair, the exercise of such a power by the one Government on the income of the officers of the other is inconsistent with independent sovereignty of the other; and that in such cases exemption from taxation, though not expressed in the National Constitution, exists by necessary implication.
And Burton, J. A., in the same case on appeal, said -
For the same reason, although for some time a different opinion prevailed, the National Government cannot tax the agencies of the State Government. The same supreme power which established the departments of the general Government determined that the local Government should also exist for their own purpose, and should retain their original powers, except in so far as they were granted to the Government of the United States.
The original powers of our States are intended to be equal lv inviolate. Again, Mr. Justice Hunt in the United States v. theRailroad Company, 17 Wallace, p. 327, said -
There is no dispute about the general rules of law applicable to this subject. The power of taxation by the Federal Government upon the subjects, and in the manner prescribed by the Act we are considering, is undoubted. There are, however, certain departments which are excepted from the general power. The right of the States to administer their own affairs through their legislative, executive, and judicial departments, in their own manner through their own agencies, is conceded by the uniform decisions of this Court, and by the practice of the Federal Government from its organization. This carries with it an exemption of those agencies and instruments, from the taxing power of the Federal Government. If they may be taxed lightly they may be taxed heavily; if justly, oppressively. Their operation mav be impeded and may be destroyed, if any interference is permitted. Hence, the beginning of such taxation is not allowed on the one side,, is not claimed on the other.
The railways are agencies - are almost the chief agencies - of the States. We cannot begin to touch them in this way. Once more, Cooley, in his Constitutional Law, cited U.S. Reports, No. 157, p. 602, says -
The power to tax, whether by the United States or by the States, is to be construed by the light of, and limited by, the fact, that the States and the Union are inseparable, and that the Constitution contemplates the perpetual maintenance of each with all its constitutional powers, unembarrassed and unimpaired by any action of the other. The taxing power of the Federal Government does not therefore extend to the means or agencies through ov by the employment of which the States perform their essential functions, since, if these were within its reach, they might be embarrassed, and perhaps wholly paralyzed by the burdens it should impose.
Have we the power to embarrass or paralyze the railway development or management of a State? Again, the same writer says -
As the States cannot tax the powers, the operations, or the property of the United States, nor the means which they ‘employ to carry their powers into execution, so it has been held that the United
States have no power under the constitution to tax either the instrumentalities or the property of a State.
Finally, in the great United States income tax case, Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan and Trust Company, U.S. Reports 157, p. 560, recently decided, the following passage was quoted ‘from a decision by Mr. Justice Chase, in Lane County v. Oregon : -
The people of the United States constitute one nation under one Government, and this Government, within the scope of the powers with which it is invested, is supreme. On the other hand, the people of each State compose a State, having its own Government and endowed with all the functions essential to separate and independent existence. The States disunited might continue to exist. Without the States in union there could be no such political body as the United States.
The States are essentials as units to form the Federation. They must be preserved as such, for the reason laid down by the great Marshall, when, in a very few words, 4 Wheaton, p. 429, he alluded to the principle that neither should tax the other -
We have a principle which is safe for the States and safe for the Union. We are relieved, as we ought to be, from clashing sovereignty; from interfering powers; from a repugnancy between a right in one Government to pull down what there is an acknowledged right in another to build up ; from the incompatibility of a right in one Government to destroy what there is a right in another to preserve.
– Does that which applies to the States in this connexion apply also to the municipal bodies?
– Not as against their State ; municipal bodies are creatures of the State Legislature, which may, at any time it pleases, modify the law in regard to them. The Commonwealth is not endowed with the power of extending or reducing the States powers ; they are conserved in the Constitution which only the Imperial Parliament, or the people of Australia, by amendment, may alter. ‘
– Has the Prime Minister considered the position of the Swiss Cantons in regard to education under the laws of the Confederation?
– I have only one observation to add before I leave the passage in the judgment of Mr. Justice Marshall, who, in another part of his remarks, indicates one difference which may hereafter become important. The extract from the judgment is as follows : -
The difference is that which always exists, and always must exist between the action of the whole on a part, and the action of a part on the whole, between the laws of a Government declared to be supreme and those of a Government which, when in opposition to those laws, is not supreme.
– H - Hear, hear ; that covers everything.
– That covers nothing that the honorable member desires ; but it is a necessary qualification in regard to possible developments. Speaking from memory, I think that the case of the Swiss education grant rests on a different footing, and that its constitutionality is still contested. As the honorable member for South Sydney knows, the Swiss Court has not the same separateness from politics as the High Court of Australia, or the Supreme Court of the United States ; neither is the Swiss Constitution in this respect on a par with either the American or the Canadian Constitution. Speaking without book, I am unaware that this principle of reciprocal recognition of Federal rights, which lies at the foundation of Anglo-Saxon Federal Governments, has ever been acknowledged in its completeness in Switzerland. Why I burden the House with the quotations I have read is to show how highly the reciprocal limitation of State and Federal powers inter se is prized, and how emphatically it is expressed by important authorities on the American Constitution, which is, if anything, less unitary than ours, and also under the Canadian Constitution, which, again, is decidedly more unitary than our own. We, standing between those two Constitutions, have no other warrant than they have, looking at our Constitution as a whole. We have only this particular sub-section (35), with its large general words as to industrial disputes. The only claim that we have to exercise this power must be based on this particular subsection. Apart from this, I submit that the whole of our Constitution, like those of the United States and Canada, will require to be interpreted on the principles laid down in the United States and Canada, if it is to be interpreted in harmony and in a Federal spirit. Let me refer honorable members to some other parts of the Constitution, and briefly call their attention to the development of the argument. Section 107 is as follows : -
Every power of the Parliament of a Colony which has become or becomes a State, shall, unless it is by this Constitution exclusively vested in the Parliament of the Commonwealth or withdrawn from the Parliament of the State, continue as at the establishment of the Commonwealth……….
The remaining words do not apply. Here we have the two requirements - the power is to be exclusively vested in the Commonwealth, or withdrawn from the States.
No one can claim that the power in regard to the railways has been exclusively vested in the Commonwealth. Section 52, subsection 2, deals with the States Departments which were transferred to, or exclusively vested in the Commonwealth.
– Does the Prime Minister contend that a State can legislate in regard to an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State ?
– A new power is created.
– It is sought to create a new power. It is expressed in the Constitution, but there is the fact that no such power, and no such vesting, occurs elsewhere. The power is not exclusively vested in the Commonwealth, and no one can claim that the powers in regard to the railways have been withdrawn from the States.
– Neither has the power in regard to arbitration, and therefore, the whole Bill falls.
– No; that is. not a necessary deduction from- my argument.
– Neither has the power been vested in the Commonwealth.
– That is the point I am arguing - it is neither vested in the Commonwealth, nor has it been withdrawn from the States.
– Then the whole Bill is wrong.
– No; an express power is vested in the Commonwealth to legislate for conciliation and arbitration.
– Without limitation, except as to the area over which it extends.
– But without express extension to the States services. If honorable members look at the rest of the Constitution they will find that section 114, which may first be glanced at, provides that the Commonwealth may not tax the property of a State, nor a State the property of the Commonwealth. If we raise the wages of the railway employes are we, or are we not, taxing railways which are the property of the States?
– If the Federal Estimates are increased, are the States taxed ?
– No. They might be taxed because we are expressly entitled to take one-fourth. We are not free to go further, so as to affect their taxation. We must then raise more money ourselves.
– Do not the States tax the Federation?
– That point is not settled, some cases in which the question is involved being before the High Court.
– An Inter-State Commission might by its decisions increase the taxation of the States.
– Naturally, and that is a point with which I shall deal. The creation of an Inter-State Commission is an express power conferred by the Constitution for that purpose, but that with which I am now dealing is not an express power for State taxation. I quite realize the force of the point made by the honorable member for Bland ; it is one I have considered. The honorable member says that in the matter of conciliation and arbitration we are given power to legislate with the one limitation of area.
– But within that area the Commonwealth is given exclusive power.
– Only by overriding the States. The Commonwealth is not given exclusive power to legislate on conciliation and arbitration ; the States still retain the power. Unless an award of the Commonwealth Court comes into conflict with a State award they are not affected.
– Whenever a dispute extends beyond the limits of one State, the power of legislation is given to the Commonwealth exclusively.
– No; a power is given to the Federal Court if the Court chooses to exercise’ it by award; but if the Commonwealth Court chooses to exercise the power in such a way that the award does not come into conflict with a State award, the latter stands.
– The power to legislate and tq constitute a Court to deal with disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State is vested in the Federal Parliament only.
– The word “only” is better; I objected to the word “exclusively.” If honorable members glance at the remaining powers in section 51, I think they will perceive what my contention is. In every case where it was necessary to bind the States in that section, we find the States specifically referred to, though in subsections 13 and 14 they are specially exempted. If honorable members run through the ‘different sub-sections they will find that the limitations throughout are made by reference to the States. As a rule, where the States are intended to be bound they are specifically referred to, and where the States are not specifically referred to, they are not intended’ to be bound. Let us take the particular’ case which most exercises the minds of honorable members, namely, the case pf the States railway employes. It is with reference to these public servants that the strongest demand is made, and that the best appeal can be put forward, that a dispute in which they are involved is industrial. The manner in which the Constitution deals with the railways, because they are State railways, is very significant. If the railways had been private property, section 51 would have been considerably reduced, because from the general trade and commerce and other powers of the Commonwealth its authority over the railways would have flowed. But as they are States railways, they are singled out from all other institutions for special treatment. When they are intended to be bound they are specifically bound by express words, and where they are not alluded to, it is plain they are not intended to be bound. The strongest power, except taxation - in one sense a subdivision of the power of taxation - is the power to deal with trade and commerce, the first given in section 51. This is a power out of which the American Union has drawn inexhaustible potentialities. That embraces all trade and commerce except that within the several States, but it was not thought sufficient to confer authority upon the Commonwealth without express reference to the railways of the States. Because of that, after debate in the Convention, section 98 was introduced to supplement it. The expression -
Trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States - might have been deemed ample enough - and if they were relying upon American precedents it would have been - but what did the Convention do? The Convention specially inserted section .98 -
The power of the Parliament to mate laws with respect to trade and commerce, extends to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State.
That was not put in unnecessarily. It was put in because, when States railways are to be bound, States railways are expressly mentioned.
– Was there not a distinction drawn throughout the proceedings of the Conventions between industrial matters and State-owned railways?
– That is quite true; but what the Convention intended and what the
Constitution provides may be two different things. That is why I do not dwell upon intentions.
– If section 98 had not been included in the Constitution, would the authority of the Commonwealth, following the American precedent, have extended to State railways?
– That was open to argument, and section 98 was put in to remove all doubt. Here we have State-owned railways, whilst in America there are private railways. I have admitted that if we had private railways, the American precedent would have been binding ; but here, with State-owned railways, it might not have been binding.
– I ask whether, in the opinion of the honorable and learned gentleman, the large body of employes in the service, for instance, of a municipal authority, like the Melbourne Board of Works, would be included? I think they would be included, on the honorable and learned gentleman’s argument.
– They are included.
– The honorable and learned gentleman’s argument- would go as far as that?
– Certainly, to all public authorities; there is no doubt about that. I direct the attention of honorable members to the allusion to railways in section 51 of the Constitution. Sub-section 32 is as follows : -
The control of railways with respect to transport for the naval and military purposes of the Commonwealth.
It was thought necessary to include that sub-section, because we should be dealing with State railways. It was thought that, even for purposes of defence, the Commonwealth, without such a provision, might not be in a position to use the State railways, and therefore the special power is given. Then, again, if honorable members will look at sub-section 33, they will find the circumstances under which we can become possessed of those railways: -
The acquisition, with the consent of a State, of any railways o£ the State.
Why was it necessary to say that we should have the consent of the States if it were not’ to put the matter beyond all doubt ? It was because we should be dealing with Stale railways. A different attitude altogether was taken up when provision was made for dealing with private enterprises.
If we take the next sub-section, we shall find it refers to -
Railway construction and extension in any State, with the consent of that State.
This is a question of the expenditure of Commonwealth public money upon railway construction. The money would be voted by the Commonwealth Parliament, and yet it was decreed that we should have no power to give effect to a proposal of the Federal Parliament to spend its own money in this way except with the consent of the States.
– Suppose the latter words in that particular subsection were left out; would not the implication be that without that saving clause we could go as far as we chose ?
– I should say so, for this reason : on the spur of the moment, the only exception I can imagine would be that it was the intention of the Commonwealth first to purchase the land upon which it was to make railways, and then to construct them upon it. As the Commonwealth has no territory apart from the States, if those words were omitted, even with State railways the meaning might be the same; but their inclusion shows what is intended.
– Their inclusion shows that it was necessary to specify an exception.
– The’ only case where, as a rule, it is not necessary to specify any exception, is when the States are dealt with. Wherever the States are being dealt with, the States are almost always expressly named.
– The implication, I take it, is that all exceptions are specified, and where they are not specified they do not exist.
– Exactly ; that is the conclusion I intend to draw. I ask honorable members to look at section 102 of the Constitution. It provides -
The Parliament may by any law with respect to trade or commerce, forbid, as to railways, any preference or discrimination by any State.
Those .who framed the Constitution were not satisfied to give the Commonwealth power to prohibit preference, but because this covers the railways of a State they embodied that as an extra in a special clause. That would not have been thought necessary in America. If we had been on the lines of American precedent, as we should have been if our railways were private railways, there would have been no necessity for this. It is because State rail- ways are here referred to that this special section is inserted. This, again, can be shown by section 104, which states -
Nothing in this Constitution shall render unlawful any rates for the carriage of goods upon a railway, the property of a State.
If there should be private railways in Australia at any time, we shall not find ourselves governed or affected by these sections.
– There are private railways in Australia now.
– For them we do not need these sections. Whenever a State railway is intended to be affected,, it is expressly named in the Constitution. All these sections to which I have referred show that the same conception is running through the Constitution from first to last, and that the State is only bound when the State is expressly named.
– In dealing with trade and commerce, the Government propose to regulate the wages of foreign seamen ?
– That is in dealing with navigation, when we deal not with foreign seamen, but with men engaged in our own coasting trade.
– If we could regulate prices under the Tariff, why not regulate wages ?
– Of course, another argument which has been submitted is that public servants, because they are servants of the Crown, would require to be specially named as such. There is something in that argument - J do not say how much - but it appears to me that the doctrine as to Crown exemptions and Crown rights in the Commonwealth has been materially modified by our Federation, and will be very largely modified in the interpretation of the Constitution. How far that will go I do not pretend to say, and, therefore, do not dwell upon the point. There cannot be two Crowns, but there can be two agencies of the same Crown. The delimitation in that regard also is one which has yet to be determined. I submit broadly that the distinction, written largely across the face of the Constitution, in its dealing with State railways and State powers, as contrasted with its dealings with those of private persons, is judicious and necessary, even in this particular regard. I venture to submit that the circumstances of private employment, when wages and conditions of labour are governed only by the will of the employer, if he happens to be master of the situation, ‘ or a combination of employers, if they happen to be powerful enough to enforce their will, without any other consideration than that of their own self-interest, and without any other resistance than that which their employes can offer, are very different from the proprietorship of a Parliament or elective body dealing with its employes without motives of self-interest, and without any possibility of personal gain.
– Still, possibly tyrannically.
– It is possible that it may be tyrannical temporarily, but it is not possible that it can be pushed to anything like the same extent as in the case of the private employer. The public employes have always a court of appeal open to them in Parliament without cost, and in the long run they are certain to break down that tyranny, and to remove unjust conditions.
– They did not do it in Victoria.
– They will do it; we cannot expect all things in an hour. The broad distinction between public and private employment justifies the distinction which we find conserved in this Bill. Although there may be grievances here and there in public employment, they are not comparable to those which exist in private employment, and are much more easily susceptible of remedy. I think I have put the point with sufficient clearness before that whilst State rights, if they are put forward simply as demands, making for their independence of the Union, deserve to be resisted, State rights, when they are requested only in order to preserve the integrity of its units and their place in the Union, ought to be as dear to us as the rights which we claim for the Federal authority. They are equally essential to the maintenance of a Federal union. If, in respect to “ State rights,” we ever adopt a position of antagonism it is only to be supported when the demand of the State is to impair the Federal relationship and the harmony of its working. In the Judicial dicta to which I have called attention, the importance attached to the maintenance of a clear dividing line is in order that a happy medium may be ‘obtained and retained wherein the State fulfils all its functions as a unit of a larger Government, and not as hostile to it, while the larger Government fulfils its functions equally without hostility to the minor selfgoverning authorities within its bounds. They add to its strength and assist; its development, and their rights should be as much to it as its own authority. I have endeavoured to show that reasons of sound policy, as well as of law, justify the importance I attach to the maintenance of the independence of the States where, as in this instance, it is necessary for the maintenance of their dignity, of their self-governing responsibilities, and of their existence as States of a Federal Union. If, against their will, they are made subject to Federal law and to the control of a Federal tribunal in regard to the wages of their servants, the salaries of their officers, and their undertakings generally, they will pass from the position which they were intended by the Constitution to occupy, and in federating will have surrendered infinitely more than they believed they were surrendering, becoming mere subordinates of the central Government. Some dominion must be shared between the Commonwealth and the States, while other dominion cannot be so shared. The American authorities say that the power to tax is the power to destroy, and that a State tax upon Federal Departments, such as the States in America have attempted, and some of the States of this Union are now attempting, to levy upon Federal officers, would, if permitted, destroy the Federal agencies and instrumentalities, and impair the independence and authority of the central Government. I have every reason to hope, however, that the High Court and the King in Council will together resist those demands.
– Does the Prime Minister allude to the duty stamp case?
– I do. Although the honorable member considers that so small a matter, the case involves, indirectly, a great principle. As Marshall put it, it involves the principle whether you shall have two Governments working side by side, one in the other, without clashing and without antagonism, because the means and instrumentalities and officers and agencies of each are protected from the invasion of the other ; or whether you shall permit one to invade the dominion of the other, to interfere with its officers and agencies, to impair its power of working, and to destroy its individuality. There is no other choice. There must either be a complete severance of the functions of the two authorities, a complete division of their spheres of action, distinct even to the imposition of a duty stamp, or you must have confusion, the intermingling of conflicting powers of legislation exercised by Legislatures, each of which is an agent of the self -same people, and intended to fulfil special functions for them, without injury to the other. I believe that any aggression, however small, on the. part of the States on our Federal agencies and officers would be resisted by, this House, but, even if the law as to the States were other than it is, I would ask honorable members, as a matter of Federal policy, to say that the great principle which Marshall eulogized is as valuable and essential to Australia as it has been held to be to America and to Canada. Nothing can be gained commensurate with the injury that would be done if we allowed the operations of one of ‘these Governments to infringe upon those of the other. We must keep them free, each within its own sphere, unless the people of Australia choose to amend their Constitution, as they may, by taking away its Federal character, and providing for a unitary Government. They have not yet done so, and until they do, we should treasure the Federal principles of the Constitution. I do not contend that the power of award exercised by a Federal Court under this Bill would be exercised as a power of taxation employed by an independent legislation, which, as Marshall said, might be used to destroy. The railways would continue to be administered by the authorities of the States probably without much increased cost. I admit that, and the admission may appear to tell against me. But what would be destroyed by the intervention of a Federal authority, whether judicial or not, would be the power of self-government of the States, their control of their own agencies and instrumentalities which they possessed before Federation, and which they have never consciously surrendered. If we destroy their self-government, we destroy the Federal character of our Constitution. If this is legal, then under some other bill we might tax the lines to any extent. The railways are as essential now as they have always been to the development of the States, in the opening up of their lands, in the encouragement of producers, in providing for their traffic, and in a hundred other ways. While the Parliaments of the States retain the power to legislate for the administration of the land, surely the means and agencies by which it is to be made available or profitable to settlers can be allowed to remain -under their authority. If we desire to possess the railways for the advantage of the Commonwealth, let it be done, as it may be done, under the Constitution. Let the States surrender to the Commonwealth the control of their lines. Then, without trenching upon their functions, or interfering with their officers, we can fix the salaries of the railway employes.
– T - The New South Wales Arbitration Court deals with the railway servants of that State.
– Yes, because the Parliament of New South Wales created that Court, and gave it jurisdiction over its railway service, just as we can give our Arbitration Court jurisdiction over Commonwealth servants. That is quite a different matter. . I have a word or two to say as to the extension of a dispute beyond a State, to .which attention has been directed on more than one occasion. I have already hinted that the question, “ Can any dispute between the railway servants of a State and its controlling authority extend beyond that State?” has not been answered. I, myself, fell into an error when last year I spoke of such a dispute extending beyond a State by means of a sympathetic strike. I overlooked for the moment the fact that there cannot, under this Bill, be a strike.
– There may be a strike if the provisions of the Bill are not applied to railway servants.
– Neither a sympathetic, strike nor a sympathetic dispute can exist. If there were a dispute between the ironworkers on this side of the Murray and the woodworkers on the other, about the same question of hours, would that be the extension of a dispute beyond one State, since the trades and the circumstances would differ? Or if the ironworkers on one side of the Murray had a dispute about hours of labour, and the ironworkers on the other side of the Murray a dispute about wages, would that be an extension of a dispute beyond the limits of a State? Similarly, how can a dispute among the railway employes and the controlling authority of a State extend beyond its boundaries unless the same dispute arises between the employes and controlling authority in the adjoining State, and the men are working under precisely the same class of disabilities’, or have the same grievance in regard i to wages or hours of labour? It might , easily be that even if the Court had the I power to interfere, it would have to say i that the disputes were not the same disputes.
– What about the maritime dispute, which extended from the ! ships’ officers to so many different classes ; of labour, until it reached the country districts ?
– At chat time strikes were possible, and one strike followed another.
– The same thing may happen if the public servants of the States are excluded from the operation of this measure.
– No; that is impossible. In the first place there will not be a strike, but a dispute.
– There might be a strike, just as there might be a dispute.
– There can be no strike in any case after an award has been given by the Federal Court.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is contemplating the exclusion of the railway servants, and therefore should argue the question as if they were excluded.
– My conclusion may not be justified by the facts, although I think it can be by the circumstances ; but I assume that public servants cannot strike. I shall be told that public servants have struck. True ; but surely the consequences have been disastrous enough to show the futility of any such proceeding on their part.
– That is a very poor argument.
– The Prime Minister ought to know that two or three defeats will only spur men on, if they have any spirit in them.
– With all respect to the honorable member, I think that we are not likely to see any more strikes of public servants, because they, like other classes of the community, have other and more reasonable and effective means of obtaining justice.
– Sometimes. Mr. DEAKIN.- Always. I believe that the employes of the only State in which a strike of public servants has taken place will yet obtain, and without long delay, a full measure of justice. If public servants are excluded, strikes will be made impossible for every one outside the Public Service, and I think both impossible and illegal to public servants. I was pointing to the improbability of a dispute extending beyond any one State. It is a dispute and’ not a strike that has to extend beyond the limits of any one State before it can be brought within the purview of the Federal Court.
– The Prime Minister means the dispute, and not the disputants merely.
– Exactly. I mean a dispute extending beyond more than one State. Honorable members must see that my argument is plain in purpose. I have alluded to the advantages enjoyed by public servants, and wish to show how narrow the gain would be if the railway servants were brought within the scope of the Bill. There are few cases in which one could conceive of a dispute in one State being matched by a dispute in another State, so that the railway servants of both should be involved in such a way as to enable an appeal to be made to the Federal Court.
– The Minister’s point is that the cases in which an appeal could be made to the Court by public servants would be very few indeed.
– It would be practically impossible for the railway servants to engage in a dispute which would come within the purview of the Federal Court. I can scarcely conceive of a case in which a dispute could extend from the railway system of one. State to the railway system of another.
– Then where is the danger of including railway servants within the scope of the Bill?
– The point is that we cannot do so without disregarding one of the essential principles of the Federation, without an invasion of State rights, without interfering in a matter in which we have no. constitutional power to interfere. I am endeavouring to show that the practical usefulness of introducing such a provision as that indicated is very small, on account of the character of the control, the nature of the employment, and the almost necessary limitation of their disputes to one State. But I am urging that to bring railway servants within the scope of the Bill would involve a very serious invasion of State rights now, and means more in the future.
– What I understand is that a dispute would arise between the railway servants and their employers if a request made by them were not granted.
– Then the railway servants in two States might make the same request, and thereby extend the dispute beyond one State.
– They might make a request if they did not already enjoy that for which they asked. The railway servants of New South Wales and Victoria could ‘net very well join in making a request, because, as I understand, the railway employes of New South Wales are satisfied with regard to the matters which are the subject of agitation in Victoria. I entertain the gravest doubt whether the inclusion of railway servants within the scope of the Bill would be constitutional. I am satisfied that if it were constitutional, such a provision would be inoperative, and it is perfectly clear to my mind that it would not only be inoperative but unenforceable.
– In other words, it would be like a “chip in porridge.”
– Very much in practical effect. I would ask honorable members, and especially those who look forward to the application of legislation in accordance with advanced ideas, and who rely upon it for the achievement of many of their ideals, not to unnecessarily increase the strain upon this great Bill. I ask them not to stretch its principles to breaking point, if they see not only that they will be inoperative, but that they cannot be enforced without a resort to those extra legal conflicts to which I have alluded. An endeavour to impose our authority upon ‘ Parliaments which, in their own sphere, are independent, and upon Governments which owe no obedience to our will, would lead to the most disastrous results. If a finding of the Court could not be enforced, would it not be unwise on the part of those who are making the largest demands upon legislation for the sake of the advances it promises to attempt too much, and thus bring about a recoil? I cherish a high hope regarding this measure. Itsprovisions cover an immense area, subject to the limitations of which I have spoken, and which have yet to be precisely defined ; and I believe that it will accomplish our aims. ‘
– How does the Prime Minister define a dispute extending to another State? I understood him to say that the Bill did not define such a dispute.
– I was speaking of disputes as affecting public servants. It may not be a simple thing for a dispute to extend beyond one State even in the case of private employes; but with the federated organizations there will be many opportunities to bring it within the scope of the Act.
– That would apply to exactly the same extent in the case of States public servants.
– The conditions for railway navvies would be the same in each State.
– Their case would be very different from that of ordinary navvies. So far as I know the navvies upon the railways have no grievance. I believe that’ disputes in private employment which can be dealt with by the Federal Court will be fairly numerous. I omitted to point out that in clauses 7 and 8 we make a special attempt to deal with shearers and others who are not exactly employes at the time when a dispute arises, although they have entered into an agreement beforehand. Shearers, seamen, miners, and others embraced in large associations will be afforded an opportunity to submit their grievances to an impartial Federal Court whose finding will, I believe, be binding, not only upon those engaged in the dispute, but also, I anticipate, extend to others in similar employment throughout Australia. That point has yet to be established, but I venture to think that the Federal authority will extend so far. The powers included in the Bill, where they relate to private employment, seem to be ample. Those in State employment are excluded, because State employes would have been expressly mentioned if it had been intended that they should be brought within the scope of such a measure, and because thev have already special means of redress. They cannot be included without inflicting a deadly blow to the States and to the Federal principle that unites them under the Commonwealth. In dealing with private disputes the - Court will have ample work to justify its existence. Those honorable members who are most emphatic as to the right and power of the Commonwealth to include the public servants of the States within the provisions of this Bill, might well consider - even if they entertain the strongest views upon these points - whether the present is the time when they should launch this Court at the outset of its very great and grave responsibilities to prevent strikes and locks-out upon the exceptionally hazardous and difficult enterprise of dealing with State employes. As to this legislation, I have already pointed out what it may reasonably be expected to accomplish. I have not overstated the position. I look upon the Bill with most hope as the forerunner of possible developments - as the introduction of a noble principle - more than as a completed plan. I recognise - and ask honorable members to recognise - that by legislation of this character something can be accomplished, but not very much ; that by administration under such legislation, if it be sympathetic, wise, and not too rigid, a great deal more can be done, but not all. Beyond both the legislation and the administration there is the public opinion to which I have already referred, which, aiding legislation and assisting administration, can accomplish most. Unfortunately at present public opinion is too often biased, partial, and uninformed upon industrial affairs and their effects ; but as it consists of the collected thoughts of the community, it is possible that, by individual action and effort, it will become enlightened and informed in support of the awards of our Arbitration Court. It should prove the first and supreme power in the working of this and similar Acts, by its own force, guiding and elevating the necessary legal sanctions, tending to suppress industrial war, industrial destruction, industrial anarchy. By its own developed intelligence, its conscience, its judgment, and its humanity, it can combine employers and employes together with those who stand outside the ranks of both, in consciously fulfilling the duties arising out of modern industrial evolution.
– I beg to move -
That the debate be now adjourned.
In doing so I would ask the Prime Minister to consent to an adjournment until such time as honorable members have had the advantage of reading his very full and closely reasoned speech. The Prime Minister has opened up more ground than has been trenched upon in previous debates. He has put before the House a very close, ingenious argument, and we desire to test that argument, and to see what’ it actually means. Owing to the. fulness with which’ he dealt with his subject, as we’ll as its importance, we ought to be permitted to see his speech in print - as we were on a previous occasion - before being called upon to debate this Bill.
– We can obtain copies of the Prime Minister’s speech to-morrow.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat- Minister for External Affairs). - I fully recognise that, if no honorable member is prepared to speak to-morrow, the demand of the acting leader of the Opposition is a reasonable one. I recognise that he is entitled to an adjournment itf he wishes it; but at the same time I ask him not to stand in the way of other honorable members who are prepared to proceed with the discussion. Of course> I shall not seek to close the debate to-morrow.
– Will not honorable members be able to obtain copies of the Prime Minister’s speech to-morrow?
– I presume so.
Motion agreed to ; debate adjourned.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the consolidated revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Debate resumed from 18th March (vide page 755), on motion by Mr. Watson -
That this House records its grave objection to the introduction of Chinese labour into the Transvaal until a referendum of the white population of the Colony has been taken on the subject, or responsible government granted.
Upon which Mr. Johnson had moved, by way of amendment -
That all the words after the word “House,” line i, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - “views with extreme regret the proposal to import Chinese labour into the Transvaal, regarding such a step as prejudicial to the best interests of the Colony.”
– I listened’ with very great attention to the remarks of previous speakers, who, it? seemed to me, to a great extent lost sight of the most important points in this discussion. I regretted to observe that an effort was being made - I presume for party purposes - to burke discussion on this very important motion. * I use the phrase “party purposes” simply because it is desired to influence the voting on the motion of the leader of the Opposition in the House of Commons. I do not think that any such motive should influence us in coming to a decision on the question.
– Notice of my motion had been given before Sir Henry CampbellBannerman moved his motion in the House of Commons.
– If seems to me that we have to consider two questions very seriously. In the first place, is this a national question? Is it one that affects, not only the Transvaal, but also Australia and other portions of the British Empire? If it could be proved conclusively that it is, then I would at once admit that undoubtedly we have a right to deal with the subject. If, on the other hand, it is. purely a local question - one which affects the people of the Transvaal alone - then I unhesitatingly contend, that we have no right to interfere, because we have already laid down the principle that the Commonwealth shall not interfere with State matters. We understand that the mine-owners of the Transvaal found it extremely difficult to procure coloured labour to develop their mines and to obtain as much gold as they wanted ; and, in the belief that it would benefit the people of the Transvaal as a whole, an Ordinance was framed and carried by the Transvaal Council, sanctioning the introduction of Chinese. No Bill sanctioning «the introduction of coloured labour to any State could have been hedged round with more careful provisions. The Chinese are to be brought over to the Transvaal for a certain time to do certain work, and at the expiration of that time they are to be returned to their homes. I would remind honorable members that similar legislation has been in force in Natal, an adjoining State, in the Straits Settlements, and in Queensland. Before we venture to take such a step as to address a remonstrance, either to the people of the Transvaal or to the Imperial Government, we should seriously consider whether we have any right to interfere at all. We could only properly interefere if it were a national question ; and I contend that it is not. Had the Transvaal Government proposed to introduce a large number of Chinese, with their wives and families, as settlers, I should admit the objection of the honorable member for Bland, and those who support him. I recognise, as no doubt every honorable member does, that the presence of a large body of Chinese settlers there might at some future time become a menace to other portions of the British Empire, more particularly to Australia. Within the last few years we have seen a wonderful advancement amonga race of the same colour. At a bound the> Japanese have succeeded in taking a position* amongst the great nations, and they have not only the power but the will to enforce their claim to be treated with respect. I< is quite possible that the same force as enabled the Japanese to advance may enable the Chinese to advance at some future period, and, if they did, I repeat that the presence of a large number of Chinese settlers in the Transvaal - with the enormous population of China - itself not very far away - could and might very reasonably be expected to become a menace to Australia. For these reasons, and these alone, I could understand a remonstrance being sent to the Transvaal Government. But, so far as I know, no proof has been adduced that the Chinese are likely to become an evil. We are told that if they are introduced they will be practically slaves. I would ask those who use that as an argument to remember how, only a very short time ago, the kaffirs were practically treated - and they may still be practically treated - in exactly the same way as the Chinese will be treated. On the diamond fields of South Africa they were confined to compounds. When they came to their work they were stripped; and they were also stripped and carefully examined when they returned to the surface of the mine. No protest was raised by the people of Australia against that treatment of the kaffirs. But honorable members seem to have got the Chinese on the brain. If a man is ‘called a Chinaman, a member of the Labour Party will always be found ready to rise and protest against his employment. I have no sympathy with any such narrow-minded pettifogging views.
– What kind of treatment do they get in Tasmania?
– I have no doubt that the treatment of the Chinese in Tasmania is as good as it is in New South Wales. No argument has been adduced to convince me that the Chinese in the Transvaal are likely to be a menace to the safety of Australia. Therefore, I think, I am justified in refusing to recognise the advent of Chinese in the Transvaal for a particular purpose as a national danger. If they will not constitute a national danger, the next point we have to consider is, has the Parliament of the Commonwealth the right to interfere in local matters ? I would remind honorable members that they have already laid clown the principle of no interference in matters of State concern - of course, they have interfered in matters over which they have a control, but they have distinctly enunciated the principle that they have no right to interfere with local matters. For instance, when the Post and Telegraph Act was brought before the House some two and a half years ago, member after member rose and dilated on the vice of gambling. At the same time it was frankly admitted that the Parliament had no power to stop the evil by legislation, and it was not even proposed that we should remonstrate with the State or States in which gambling was allowed to be carried on. But by passing clauses 57 andi 58 of the Bill we declared, in effect, that, whilst we had no right to interfere in State matters, we should, nevertheless, do all in our power to suppress gambling. If the members of this Parliament considered that gambling was a vice, why did they not take action similar to that now proposed in regard to the introduction of Chinese to the Transvaal ? Why did they not by resolution remonstrate with the people of Tasmania, and request them to abolish the institution in question as being inimical to the moral welfare of the people of the States? Instead of doing anything of the kind, the Parliament decided that letters addressed to certain persons should not be carried through the post. We simply legislated in accordance with our powers, arid gave the Postal Department power to refuse to deliver letters addressed, for example, to “ Tattersall, care of George Adams.” We had no power to . do anything more, and why should we now endeavour to interfere in matters with which we are not concerned, and so make ourselves ridiculous in the eyes of the rest of the world? Let me put the position before honorable members in another way. Only some two years have elapsed since the Federal Parliament took action to prevent the employment of kanakas in Queensland. . When the Pacific Island Labourers’ Bill was before the House there were many people in Queensland who desired the abolition of kanaka labour; but there was a minority - and a very active minority - who believed that the Bill would be prejudicial to the best interests of the State, and used every means in their power to prevent its passing. If that minority of the people of Queensland, believing. that kanaka labour was necessary for the prosperity of. the sugar industry, had communicated with the authorities of the Transvaal, Natal, Capetown, or anywhere else, saying - “Remonstrate on our, behalf with the Commonwealth Parliament. They are going to introduce a measure which will be prejudicial to us. Help us or we perish,” what would have been said ? In that event the honorable member for Bland, and those who so cordially support him in this matter, would have been the first to say - “ This is arrogant impertinence. What right have the authorities of the Transvaal or the Government of any other country to dictate to us ?”
– The honorable member forgets that we are partly responsible for the present position in the Transvaal.
– I would remind the honorable member that it was within the power of the British Government to enlist men not only in Australia, but in any other part of the Empire. Had they called on the young men of Australia to volunteer they would have done what they did without any such appeal, and, in these circumstances, we can claim no credit for the action of our men.
– The honorable member is fighting for the Chinese.
– As I would fight for the honorable member, even if he were as black as coal, if I thought that he was being unfairly treated. I am not lighting any more on behalf of the Chinaman than I should fight for any one else whom I considered to be unfairly treated. I simply desire to remind the people of Australia that we have unfortunately an overweening idea of the importance of our action in sending a few troops - a good many in proportion to our population, but a few as compared with the number sent by other parts of the Empire - to carry on the war in South Africa. All our men, with the exception of those of the first contingent, were paid by the Home Government, so that after all very little credit is reflected on the Parliament of the Commonwealth for what they did. Even if Australia did all that has been claimed for it, it did no more than Canada; and the people of the Dominion, who are just as competent as we are to form an opinion, have decided not to interfere in this matter. Believing as I do that the motion is not calculated to reflect credit on Australia - believing that the question at issue is not one of national importance - I unhesitatingly declare my intention to vote against the motion, either as proposed or as sought to be amended. I sincerely trust that, even if those honorable members who share my views are few in number, they will join with me in dividing the House in order that the people of the old world may know that the people, or, at all events, a minority of the people, of the Commonwealth, possess some common sense.
– I I hold that this is really a question of Capital versus Labour, and I take the view that there is no reason for any extraordinary display of feeling in regard to it. It is a question of whether the South African war was fought to acquire colonies and to enfranchise miners, or only to enlarge the Chinese Empire.- Did Australians fight to provide a colony for China to take the place of Manchuria?
– Will the Chinese in question come from Manchuria?
– The The Russians have Manchuria, the Chinese have lost it, and the Japs, are after it. The question now arises whether we are prepared to furnish the Chinese with a colony, although they shed no blood in acquiring it. This motion has for its object one specific purpose. We seek to convince our British brothers across the seas, by arguments addressed to their consciences and to their hearts, that Chinese slavery in the British Empire cannot be for the well-being and progress of the Empire. That is the sole point. We are not seeking to interfere with another part of the Empire, nor have we any idea of doing so, but we claim, by the blood shed on the veldts of South Africa, by the memory of our Australian brothers who are sleeping in the silent bivouacs of the dead, the right to say whether their blood was shed for the glorification of China or for the advancement of the British people. I wish to confine myself to that aspect of the question. No doubt the honorable member for Wilmot views the matter from a different stand-point. His idea of a Chinaman is, perhaps, that he has a greater right in the British Empire than has the white man. But this is a white man’s country.
– South Africa is a black man’s country.
– It It was a black man’s country, and we had no right to go there; but the powerful races must always drive out the weaker. The black races must become extinct eventually. The blackfellow is dying out in Australia ; the Indian is almost a thing of the past in America ; and now in South Africa the blackfellow will have to go also.
– In the Transvaal as well ?
– I - It is’ only a matter of time. The white race is the dominant race, and it will take possession of the earth.
– What about’ the nigger in America ?
– T - The nigger was sent to America through the same greed that is sending the Chinaman to South Africa - the same contemptible greed and selfishness of the diabolical, organized, predatory wealth of the country.
– The nigger is not dying out in America.
– B - Because he struck a climate that was suitable for him. If you were to take the sons of Lord Salisbury, or of Mr. Gladstone, or of the greatest men in the British Empire - even of the Prime Minister, who made such a brilliant speech this afternoon - and sent them to that country, in four generations from now their descendants would simply be men with hair sticking through their sombreros, and would be seen with a rooster under each arm going to a cock-fight on a Sabbath morning. Climate is necessary to develop a capable race, and there are only a few parts of the earth where brainy men can be raised. The rest of the globe is only fit for fish. Most of the men of brains come from those quarters of the earth where the snow falls. The conditions of the hot countries, where a man can sleep without a blanket, are revolutionary. This is the position in the Transvaal in a nutshell. The measure permitting the introduction of the. Chinese to South Africa is the worst measure that was ever sanctioned by a British Administration. It is absolutely the most dangerous measure ever agreed to, so far as concerns the success of the policy of the Right Honorable Joseph Chamberlain. I will point out why. If it is a good measure, our fighting in South Africa was done under false pretensions. There is no question about that. Does any one think for one moment that we should have had armies parading our streets, and bands playing “ Soldiers of the Queen “ in front of regiments of heroes, if it had been thought that they were going to fight for enfranchising Chinamen, and to build up a new Chinese Empire? And for what purpose? To enrich men who, according to the Age this morning, made £8,000,000 last year - £3,500,000 of which they divided in dividends, and £4,500,000 of which they put into plant - out of the earnings of their mines. Yet they are not satisfied. If a dangerous policy like this had been put into execution in 1848-9 in the State of California or in Oregon, there would be no white population there to-day. The old pioneers were attracted from all quarters of the earth’s surface to the State of California to make wealth on the gold-fields. Many of them remained there and took up land, with the result that to-day California is one of the most prosperous States of the American Union. But the owners of the mines in South Africa want to take the gold out with the aid of Asiatics, who are to be their temporary slaves, brought there on a three years’ system of slavery ; and then they will abandon the country and leave it to the Chinamen. Gradually there will be no white population at all. Can it beimagined that if the white population does not flock there now to get the gold, they will go there afterwards to cultivate the land? How can the British Government be so very short-sighted as not to see this? But the trouble is that the influence of the worshippers of gold is almost too much for them. This influence is overbearing. The right policy would be to make the voice of the people potent in government, and the rights of the people pre-eminent in legislation. Is that being done to-day ?_ No fear ! Consequently the problem put in a nutshell comes to this : the Transvaal was formerly a Christian land, inhabited by a Bible-reading people. But we are going to drive them out, and put pagans there instead. The joss-house is to take the place of the altar of the church, and Chinamen are to spread their feasts where once the Boers worshipped.
– They are going to make a Little Bourke-street of the country.
– Y - Yes ; it is to become a Little Bourke-street, or a Chinatown, like that in California. I remember when the United States would not shut out the Chinamen. Congress laughed and sneered at the idea. But the people of California got some of the Congress men to go to San Francisco, and they dropped them at the fourth storey of Chinatown, and left them there for the night. Those Congress men could not get back to Washington fast enough. That is what we ought to do with the worshippers of the Chinese in South Africa. They should not be allowed to import Chinamen to that country unless they are prepared to marry their sisters and daughters to them. The British Empire is supposed to have a high standard of civilization. Yet in this measure the standards of labour are to be lowered, and the gates are to be opened wide to all the scandals, the shame, and the sorrow of human bondage. When Chinese labour was tried in the building of the Union Pacific railroad, and the
Chinamen came and lived on the coast of California, nobody ever made one dollar out of them. Of course, however, the time is fast approaching when boodling, black bloodsuckerdom will want ohe class only to do all the work, and Chinamen wil) form that class. I remember when all the servant girls in California were cleared out, and Chinamen were put in their places. But one day a rich man’s daughter fell in love with a Chinaman, and they went to Salsolieto and got married. When the. Chinaman claimed his white wife afterwards, his father-in-law pulled out his Winchester rifle, and the Chinaman was soon running down the street like Carbine in the Cup. That closed the employment of those beautiful Chinamen, who were at once all dismissed. To the other crimes in British history a new one is about to be added, which in better days and more honorable times will be read of with universal shame. I firmly believe that out of the vastness of the abominable crime now being perpetrated against the British white race by a ring of South African boodle bloodsuckers, a commensurate vastness of effort will be raised against them by an aroused British democracy, determined not only to vindicate right against wrong, but to redeem the British Empire from the thraldom of predatory boodle-bludgerdom which prompts, directs, and concentrates the distant wrong.
– I refrained from speaking to this motion on Friday last out of the desire - which, I think, I shared with most honorable members - that the debate should close on that day. However, as the debate has extended to this evening, I should like to explain, in a very few words, my position towards the motion. In the first place, I am in entire sympathy with the object which the honorable member for Bland has in view. But I disagree with the motion, in so much as I do not think it is so worded as to be best calculated to attain its end. The special knowledge which the people of the Commonwealth possess of the dangers which may result from Chinese immigration, added, I think, to the conviction which we all hold, that the future tranquility of South Africa absolutely depends on a large influx thereto of the white race of British extraction, are facts which make it almost incumbent on us to warn the Empire of the dangers which, we think, a sister State is on the high road to incur. But it is also incumbent on us to so frame our warning as to make it most easily, acceptable. We have all had experience of the man who gives advice only in order that, when it is refused; he may afterwards come to us and say, “ I told you so.” Such a man usually, either forbids us taking a course which we are prepared to take, or objects in such a way as to “ get our backs up ;” and in nine cases out of ten he, as I say, afterwards says, “ I told you so.” _ I sincerely hope that we shall not jeopardize our object by passing the motion in its present form. The fact that a precisely similar motion has been passed in another place should not deter us from amending the proposal before us, if we think that by so doing we shall make it more likely to be accepted in the quarters we wish. Unlike some other members who have spoken, I do not desire to move an amendment. It would please me better if the honorable member for Bland would consent to alter his motion. Personally, I think that a’ motion simply giving advice or expressing regret: - whichever honorable members may think best - would not only be more efficacious, but also more dignified. If we express an objection to affairs over which we have absolutely no control, and our objection is ignored, surely this House loses dignity thereby. But if we simply offer advice, and our advice is not accepted, the only person who loses is, I think, the person who does not accept the advice. To object argues a right to object; and if we wish to claim a right to object in the affairs of another Colony, when such affairs appear to us to have Imperial significance, we must, I think, concede a like right to that Colony towards us. I ask honorable members to remember that some of our domestic legislation, such, for instance, as the Immigration Restriction Act, and the proposed Navigation Bill, is of a kind which might easily be regarded by our friends across the sea as having Imperial significance. The good feeling which is at present existent within the Empire is dependent on the complete autonomy which each Colony at present enjoys. What will be the position if we set a precedent for the right to object? We shall find the right taken advantage of by other people as against us. Only the other day a Mr. Edmund Robertson, in the House of Commons, proposed practically to interfere in the affairs of the Commonwealth. That gentleman had no precedent for so doing; and the British Government have so far evidenced no desire to interfere, nor have they had any excuse for interference in the affairs of this Commonwealth. I take it that if we set a precedent by taking an objection to matters over which we have no control - whatever right we may have to express our views - we shall be open to interference on the part of our cousins beyond the seas. A motion expressing objection carries no more weight than a motion simply expressing our regret or our conviction. In fact, for the reasons I have already detailed, such a motion as that before us is apt to defeat itself. I therefore hope that the honorable member for Bland will amend it by leaving out the word “objection.” The integrity of our Empire absolutely depends on the continued free exercise of each Colony’s local autonomy. If the people of South Africa propose to take a course which our wider experience induces us to believe will probably prove so hurtful to that country as to make the whole Empire feel its consequences, by all means let us give the best advice we can; indeed, I think it is incumbent on us to do so. But let us not so frame our advice as to make the acceptance of it the more difficult. The difference, in a word, I am endeavouring to point out, is the difference between proffering help and obtruding interference. If the honorable member for Bland sees with me in this regard, he will not under-estimate the enormous load of responsibility which the present wording of the motion places on his shoulders. Scattered over the face of the world, each section of the British people has in the past devoted itself to the development of its own territory, free from all restraint, except the generous dictates of its own conscience. Our local autonomies form the pillars of that great arch of Empire under which we live; the keystone of which. is our common kinship. I hope that this House will do nothing to undermine the foundations of an Empire that is at once so generous, so great, and so free that to belong to it is our chiefest pride.
– I have no sympathy with the motion proposed by the honorable member for Bland. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lang is couched in milder language, and is preferable.
– It is only the original motion watered.
– That is so, but such watering down, often does good, because it takes the fire out of a statement, and makes it more acceptable. I cannot see why we should interfere in this matter. It appears to me that in Federal politics we have two controlling factors, from which the leaders in the Federal Parliament, and many of its members, take their cue. One controlling factor - and a very important one in these days, apparently - is the opinion of “ King Dick,” of New Zealand. It appears to me that we are always turning to New Zealand to know what is the latest proposal which Mr. Seddon has on the board.
– “ King Dick “ is a good man.
– For all ‘ our socialistic legislation we must go to New Zealand, and must take our cue from the people there. If we look through the correspondence on this Transvaal question, which has been laid upon the table of the House, we can imagine first of all that the telephone bell rings: The Prime Minister goes to the telephone, and says, “ Who’s there?” “It is I, Seddon.” “How do you do, Mr. Seddon?”
– The honorable member has been reading the Sunday Times, surely ?
– “ I am very glad to speak to you. On this Transvaal question, what do you think about the Chinese?” “Oh, I’m off Chinese. We are off everything but a White Australia over here.” “Well, I’m very glad to hear it.” So they go on talking for a long time. It is most amusing to read through this correspondence, and find the many expressions of “ thanks “ between the parties to it. Then there are such phrases as “ Earnestly hope reply will be favorable” - “Re Asiatic labour in Rand mines.” “Confidential. Entirely concur with’ you.” Really the way in which these two leading men of the Commonwealth and of New Zealand converse together is very pleasant reading. We can imagine that at the finish the Prime Minister says - “ Well, we have had an awfully good time, speaking together on this question; what a pity it is that the conversation should be so expensive; that we should have to waste so much money in cabling. Before I leave, I should like to know what your opinion is on our Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?” Then they ring off, and there is an end to the business. I think we have had too much of “ King Dick “ in Australian politics. What we require is a little originality. There is no originality in this motion, and there is no necessity for us to interfere in the affairs of the Transvaal. The other controlling influence in Australian politics to-day is the press, and here again we have another King - “ King David.” He is very delighted with the stand which the Federal Parliament has taken on this question; but I am glad to be able to say that there is by no means unanimity in regard to it in this House. There are honorable members who dissent from the proposal that the Commonwealth Parliament should interfere in affairs outside its own jurisdiction. I intend, if I get the opportunity, to move a further amendment to the effect that -
This House is of opinion that it would be impolitic to express any opinion upon matters outside its jurisdiction.
I may not get the opportunity, but if I do I shall move that as an amendment. In looking through the Federal Constitution, I find that we have ample power to deal with our own emigration and immigration ; but unless a very broad scope is given to the Department for External Affairs, I can see nothing in the Constitution giving us the right to deal with questions in the Transvaal, as proposed by this motion. I should like to compliment the honorable member for Bland, and other honorable members, on the exhaustive way in- which they have dealt with the subject. The remarks of the honorable member for Bland would have been all right if he had been speaking as a legislator in a Transvaal Parliament. His fine description of the evils he apprehends, and his figures, would have been appropriate there, but they are quite out of place in the Australian Federal Parliament. The honorable member did not mention one point to show that we have any right to interfere in the internal management of the Transvaal.
– Would the honorable member say that in regard to giving military assistance also?
– I should like to point out to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that interjections are disorderly. The honorable member for Bland has rightly stated that the Australian people are specialists upon this question of Chinese immigration. Nd doubt we are, and I am not one of those who would like to see Australia overrun by Chinese. But I am one of those, perhaps, misguided individuals, who were called on one occasion by the honorable member for Barrier “ antiquated fossils.” I believe that, in tropical
Australia, we should have a colour line, and that within that colour line indented labour should be permitted - not Chinese labour, because I dislike it, but indented labour, such as they have in Natal.
– Where would the honorable member draw the line?
– Somewhere up in the tropics ; I cannot say just now. I see that, in an article appearing to-day in the Argus, a prominent man recognises that something of this kind should be done. We do not wish to have Australia overrun by Chinese, but I believe that the Transvaal people, who are on the spot and know something about the circumstances, should be allowed to deal with this question. Lord Milner, than whom there is no greater authority on Transvaal questions in the world, has declared that he is ready to stake his reputation that the introduction of 100,000 Chinese to the Rand will immediately give employment to 100,000 white men in the development of the mines. I prefer the opinion of Lord Milner on this question to that of the honorable member for Bland or of the Prime Minister.
– What we are asking is that the opinion of the people of the Transvaal shall be taken.
– We are trying to dictate to the people of the Transvaal by asking for a referendum. I do not know that there is any member of the Labour Party in this House who is competent to deal with the question of the referendum. If we had Dr. Maloney from the State Parliament here, he would give us the history of the referendum from Kamschatka to Switzerland and all round the world.
– He will be here next week.
– That may be, and if we left the consideration of this motion until then it would be better than to suggest a referendum when we do not know a great deal about it. It is proposed that we shall offer to the people of the Transvaal the nostrum of a referendum on this question. In effect, we have had a referendum on this question, because we have had a free expression of the opinions of the people of the Transvaal, of Natal, and of Cape Colony. The people of Cape Colony object to the proposal, and they have a right to do so, because it is probable that in the nob very distant future there will be a federated South Africa. The people in Natal would not object, because they already’ have indented black labour in that Colony. We in Australia have no right to interfere in this matter.
– What about our citizens there ?
– It has been clearly shown by men who can speak for the Transvaal that the introduction of indented labour, whether Chinese or other coloured labour, will increase the demand for white labour in that Colony.
– For how long?
– I cannot say. I am not a prophet.
An Honorable Member. - What about the kanakas ?
– Some persons express one opinion and some another in regard to the exclusion of the kanakas. My conclusion, from what I have heard and read, is that the employment of kanakas in Northern Australia is desirable, and that if it were continued many of the unemployed who are now walking the streets of Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne would be able to find work on the land. Of course, some of the so-called unemployed for whom members of the Labour Party express such sympathy, and whom they are always asking the States Governments to spoon-feed, will not leave the dissipation of the cities and cannot be got to work. The honorable member for Bland contends that, because Australia sent contingents to South Africa, we have a right to interfere on this occasion. If that be so, have not the people of Canada, who did as much as we did, the sarnie right ? Of course “King Dick,”’ whose country sent contingents, is objecting; but there is no reason why we should follow him in this matter. Apparently the honorable member for Bland, and those whom he leads, believe that they hold a special brief for labour in every part of the world. If this motion be carried, let it be distinctly understood that it originally emanated from the dominant Labour Party of Australia. If that message is flashed across the lines I shall be quite satisfied, because then no notice of our action will be taken in the old country. If we allow this germ of unwarrantable interference to get into Australian politics we shall bring upon ourselv.es the anathemas of the other self-governing portions of the Empire. What an uproar there would be if the Canadian Government sent a protest to the Government of the Commonwealth complaining of the number of members of the Labour Party in the Federal Parliament ! Would not that be characterized as an unwarrantable interference ? Similarly this is an unwarrantable interference in the affairs of South Africa, and may do a considerable amount of harm to the Commonwealth, unless it is made plain that our action is due to the prompting of, and mainly supported by, a certain section in Parliament. The king socialist of the Southern ‘ Hemisphere, “ King Dick,” first brought the matter forward. Then it was discussed in the trades halls in Lygon and Sussex-streets, and finally it has come before this House. I should like to read a few words from the cable from the Colonial Secretary of Pretoria to the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth, dated at Pretoria, 21st January, 1904 -
This is not a new resource for South Africa inasmuch as the Colony of Natal a self-governing Colony has found it necessary for many years past to import large numbers of Asiatic labourers. ….. The importation of these labourers as proposed appears to this Government to be fully justified by circumstances stated.
That is a very mild snub, but we may get a stronger one if we persist. I think that that communication should satisfy us. The people on the spot, who have local knowledge, say most distinctly that the importation of these labourers appears to them fully justified, and, therefore, for us to do anything further would be an unwarrantable interference with their action.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).If there be any force in the contention of the previous speaker that this Parliament is not justified in interfering in this matter, the reply lies in the fact that we have already interfered. The main ground of those who conscientiously objected to the participation of Australia in the Boer War was that it was an unwarrantable interference in the affairs of another country. Our aid, however, was welcome at the time, and it was considered patriotic to show to the world that all parts of the Dominion belong to one undivided Empire. We in Australia have had experience of Asiatics, and can speak with greater authority about them than can persons in the old world. We know what a menace a large influx of mixed races is to our civilization and our common Christianity. The black man and the yellow man are both right in their own places and under their own civilizations, yet their admixture with a white population has a doubly deteriorating effect. But I would remind those who are now entering their emphatic protest against the importation of * Chinese into South Africa that the’ anti-war party pointed out at the start that the war was a capitalistic war. Although our voice was feeble, we spoke as strongly as we could against any interference in outside affairs. At the time we were told that interference was patriotic, and that that excuse covered everything. It was said that those were traitors who would not support the Empire in her struggles with South Africa. But the curses of our opponents have, like chickens, come home to roost. It has been verified up to the hilt that the war was not one of righteousness, but one having for its object the exploitation of the mines and the white labour of South Africa. The capitalists there, finding that they could not carry on as they did formerly, have resorted to the importation of Chinese to work the mines with cheap and nasty labour. It is time that we protested against this, and lifted up our voices in protest against the insults and obloquy which have been heaped upon those of our young men who have had the bad fortune to go to South Africa, and the worse luck to have to remain there. Australia has been made a by -word in South Africa, not because of the evil deeds of her people there, but because the capitalists of the country are afraid that our spirit and independence will inoculate the serfdom which they wish to maintain. They were only too glad, during the war, to point to the fact that the British dependencies in all parts of the world were sending men to assist Great Britain in the struggle. Our action in interfering then is the precedent we have for interference now. That is an answer to the contention of the previous speaker that we have no right to interfere in Imperial affairs. We were asked to help Great. Britain in her struggle for supremacy in South Africa, and our assistance was appreciated. Surely it is no unwarrantable intrusion of our opinions now to inform the people of the old country of our experience here, and to ask them to be guided by it in refusing to sanction the importation of Chinese into South Africa. The Prime Minister is to be heartily complimented upon his courteous yet timely action in seconding the protest made by that gentleman whom my slangy friend, the honorable member for Corangamite, has called “ King Dick.” I rejoice that Australia has at the head of its Government, administering its foreign affairs, a gentleman who, at a crisis of this kind, can with no uncertain sound voice the unanimous opinion of its Parliament and its people.
– I wish to say a few words, chiefly with the object of briefly explaining the reasons for which I shall support the motion. I think that the occasion has arisen for some such pronouncement of Australian opinion. The honorable member for Bland proved to the hilt that there is reason for our entering some such protest, and forwarding an expression of our opinion to those who superintend the Councils of the nation. The honorable member did full justice to the subject, while the action of the Prime Minister prior to the meeting of Parliament, and his brilliant speech in supporting the motion, .are also creditable. We should proceed in this matter with all the dignity we can assume. I deprecate the way in which the discussion has been carried on this evening, and regret that the debate was not concluded last Friday. I am sorry that certain references have been made to a leading statesman of a neighbouring Colony, who was designated by a nickname, because I think they were beneath the dignity of the House. The Prime Minister has laid it down very clearly that we are ahead of the text-books in regard to the diplomatic relations existing between different parts of the Empire. In this connexion I should like to briefly recall to the minds of honorable members some of the circumstances relating to the transportation of convicts from Great Britain to Australia. In 1859 Western Australia clamored for convicts to be sent to that Colony. The cry was that land had decreased in value to 2s. 6d. per acre, that no purchasers were to be found at that price, arid that if the settlers could not procure cheap labour they would be unable to successfully grapple with their difficulties. As a result of these representations, the system was continued longer than it otherwise would have been, but those who were aware of the democratic feeling in the adjoining Colonies might well have anticipated what took place. In Victoria an agitation was commenced, and in 1863 Sir John O’Shannessy succeeded in securing the adoption of an address to the Queen protesting strongly against the revival of the transportation of convicts to Western Australia. It was therein stated that the willingness of the people of Western Australia to receive these convicts had been taken for granted. It was denied that they were in favour of the continuance of the transportation system, and it was asserted that if a vote of the people were taken, they would not support the request preferred. It was argued that even if they were favorable, the English Government should not grant what they desired, because it would be against the interests of the whole of the Empire to continue the system. This representation to the Home Government met with practically no response, and it was followed up in 1864 by Sir James McCulloch. then Premier of Victoria, who wrote a strong Ministerial minute to the Imperial Government, expressing regret that no answer had been vouchsafed to the former communication. I wish particularly to direct attention to the fact that in connexion with that matter communications passed between Victoria and Western Australia, and between Victoria and the other Colonies in reference to the action of Western Australia, and the. want of action of the Imperial authorities. The Victorian statesmen of that day even went so far as to threaten extreme reprisals if Western Australia did not see fit to retire from the position she had taken up, or the Imperial Government did not yield to the remonstrances addressed to them. The Government of Victoria threatened that they would prevent the mail steamers from calling at Western Australian ports, and it was also suggested that immigration from Western Australia to the eastern Colonies should be prohibited.
– That is a very pertinent precedent.
– Some of the Colonies refused to take part in the agitation, but Victoria ultimately received a reply from the Home Government that the transportation of convicts to Western Australia would be discontinued in two or three years, and that promise was fulfilled. If we desired a constitutional precedent for our present action, I do not think we could find a better one. It must be recollected that Western Australia, although even now far removed, from the eastern States, was really more widely sepearted from us in 1863. It was almost as far ‘ away as is South Africa in these days of improved steam communication. Whilst I am somewhat surprised that a motion of this kind should have been’ brought forward by the Labour Party, who would no doubt most bitterly resent a protest from any other portion of the British Empire upon such a subject, for instance, as the Navigation Bill, I think that it is very much to their credit that they have submitted the motion. It shows that there is some solidarity between the various elements which compose this great Empire, and that we are desirous that other portions of the Empire shall not labour . under disabilities similar to those from which we have had to suffer in times gone by. ‘ Perhaps it would be better for us to tone down the terms of the motion- by some slight amendment, but some such motion should be carried to-night. I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that it is rather a pity that some honorable members should have expressed the idea that we have a special right to interfere in this matter because of the assistance we rendered to the mother country in the South African war. I do not think we ought to make too much of that point, because the service we rendered was a mere nothing, from an Empire point of view, and we could not reasonably base any claim upon it. Those, however, who believe in the solidarity of the Empire should at this juncture unite in making a dignified protest against what we conceive to be a great wrong. I do not attach much value to the arguments used by Lord Milner in his despatch to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Such arguments are always used by British Governors of his class when they are called upon to deal with similar difficulties. He is necessarily surrounded in his Council and elsewhere by mining speculators and investors, whose views would naturally have great weight with him. Although I have had no experience of mining beyond having lost some money in speculations, I venture to say that if the Rand mines were situated at Ballarat we should be very proud to work them with white labour, and, further, that we should derive immense wealth from them. I believe that South Africa would be able to do the same, if it were not for the greedy haste which is now being manifested to rip up the earth and produce wealth in the shortest possible space of time for the benefit of a few capitalists. These men have too long exercised a dominating influence over the affairs of South Africa, and it is not in the interests of the Empire that their present ephemeral views should be allowed to shape the destinies of that great portion of the Empire. I hope that the Imperial authorities will see fit to nullify the Ordinance relating to the admission of Chinese into the Transvaal, and that they will devise some better means of developing South Africa than that of introducing Asiatic labour. I believe that the future of - that portion of the Empire depends upon the introduction of a large British population, which will, like a sponge, ultimately absorb the Dutch element. Unless this is done, we shall have a kind of Irish question in South Africa for centuries to come.
– I think I may almost charge the honorable member for Corangamite with being responsible for my rising to address the House. When listening to him I felt that, notwithstanding the variety of methods of debate to which we became accustomed when the To riff was being discussed, we were for the first time passing through the experience of finding a grave and important subject treated after the manner of the funny column of a Saturday newspaper. Whether we approve of the motion or not, whether we regard it as properly or improperly worded, the matter dealt with is one of very grave importance to the Transvaal, and also to us as a part of the Empire, which is deeply interested in first introducing, and thereafter maintaining, in South Africa, the elements of prosperity and expansion. Whilst the debate has been going on I have read the despatch of the Secretary of State, for the Colonies, in reply to the protest of the Government of New Zealand, which was couched in the same words as that from Australia to the Transvaal Government. The Secretary of State for the Colonies says : -
I fully recognise the title of all the selfgoverning Colonies to explain their opinion on so important a question.
This is a self-governing portion of the Empire, and the Government of Australia in communicating with the Colonial Secretary at Pretoria, has purported to speak for the people of Australia. The Senate has shown that it indorses the action of the Government, and I think that we are almost under an obligation to make known our feelings on the subject. If we do not approve of what has been done it is only right that the Home Government and the Transvaal Government should know that the Commonwealth Government was not expressing the views of Australia. On the other hand, if they were right we should say so. We are practically answering an invitation from the Secretary of State for the Colonies by expressing our opinion upon this important question. His despatch proceeds - 13ut His Majesty’s Government declares that its policy is to treat the Transvaal as though it were a self-governing Colony.
That is exactly what the motion asks the Secretary of State for the Colonies to do. It asks him to recognise that the Transvaal is not at present self-governing, and either to wait until it is self-governing before taking a step which will probably prove highly detrimental to it, or to avail himself of the only substitute for self-government by ascertaining by means of the referendum the views of the white residents of the Transvaal - the very people who would be able to decide the question if it were a self-governing Colony. In that’ respect we are complying with the view expressed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, who goes on to say that it is the policy of the Government, unless a distinct Imperial interest is concerned, to interfere as . little as possible with local opinion and local wishes. We venture to think that the local opinion and wishes of the Transvaal have not been ascertained.
– Has the honorable and learned member the wording of the message sent by Mr. Seddon?
– I think that Mr. Seddon’s message was a verbatim reproduction of the Prime Minister’s message to the Colonial Secretary at Pretoria.
– Mr. Seddon adopted our message without a word of alteration.
– I recognise that we should interfere as little as possible with local opinion and local wishes; but I venture to think that ifr this matter local wishes have not yet been ascertained. I quite agree with the remarks of the honorable member for South Sydney, that it is just possible Lord Milner may be astray as to what local opinion in the Transvaal really is. I have recently had opportunities of conversing with a’ number of gentlemen from South Africa, and have also communicated with them by post on this very question. They assure me that Lord Milner is astray, for the reason that he is surrounded by those whose interests are in the direction of obtaining cheap labour with which to work the Rand mines rather than of securing a permanent and satisfactory settlement of the Transvaal with a white and practically British population. We merely desire to ascertain whether the proposal is right or wrong. The motion simply sets out that if the white people of the Transvaal desire the introduction of Chinese labour, much as we should regret their unwisdom, we can have no more to say on the matter. I am also told - not from the South African Lygon-street - that the feeling of the white population of that Colony towards the proposal is very strong indeed. There is, I am assured, far more prospect of bloodshed resulting from the introduction of the Chinese than there was of open hostilities occurring prior to the commencement of the recent South African war. Doubtless that is an exaggerated view of the matter, but it shows that the opinion which exists there is very pronounced indeed. I have only a few more remarks to make, because I am sure the House desires that this matter shall be settled reasonably soon.
– The amendment does not preclude the taking of a referendum.
– I am just about to refer to the quibbling which has taken place over the wording of the motion. Members of the legal profession are sometimes taunted with being very fond of quibbling over matters of verbiage. To my mind, however, there as been as much quibbling amongst the lay members of the House over the verbiage of this motion as I ever heard amongst lawyers when discussing a difficult and technical Bill. And it is all absolutely useless and very unwise. Personally I prefer the motion to the amendment, because, if ‘ we say that “ We regret the introduction of Chinese,” we practically admit that their introduction is an accomplished fact and express sorrow that it is so. On the other hand if we record “our grave objection” to their introduction we say in effect that the matter is not yet closed. I venture to think that it is not closed. Public opinion in England, Cape Colony, and Natal - despite the resolution of the Natal Legislature - indeed, public feeling everywhere throughout the Empire is so manifestly dubious as to the wisdom of this step, that it is quite possible it may be reconsidered, and that we may yet see the Transvaal freed from the trouble and danger which threaten it at the present time.
– But the amendment does not affirm what the honorable and learned member states.
– I do not think that either the Transvaal or the Imperial authorities are so “ pernikkety,” to use an old Scotch word, as to mind whether we say “ We record our grave objection,” or that “ We regret the proposal.” Australia, I believe, feels strongly up. this matter. It realizes that, by the introduction of Chinese to South Africa, the Empire, and consequently Australia, are being injured. It feels so strongly that, in dignified but decided language, it desires to record its grave objection to the project, in order to show that the Government of Australia, in the action it has taken, has behind it the people of the Commonwealth.
– I join with honorable members in regretting that it should be thought necessary, in the Transvaal to take any action such as is proposed. I should not have risen to address the House but for the question of verbiage which is involved in this motion. The honorable and learned member for Corinella has pointed out that the messages from the Premier of New Zealand and the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth were received in the most friendly and proper spirit by the Secretary of State for the Colonies. But honorable members should recollect that those messages were couched in language very different from the terms employed in the motion. They have been accepted as official, whereas the motion is couched in language which the very member of this House, who has brought it forward admits to be officious. It is intended that it shall reach somebody by a side-wind. I hold that it is beneath the dignity of this Parliament to pass any motion which we ‘cannot send direct to the central Government of the Empire. That is my objection to the verbiage of it. If the word “ object,” which it is proposed to substitute for “protest,” comes within the official scope of our present relations with the central Government of the Empire, why not forward our expression of opinion to the proper quarter. It is beneath our dignity to pass a motion which is not capable of being transmitted direct to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
– It will be sent on, will it not ?
– I understand that it will not. It is simply to be recorded in our Votes and Proceedings, and there it is to be left. That is not a proper course to pursue. To my mind, the wording of the amendment is better. Although people may talk about “ trifling differences of words,” there is a great deal lying behind the objection to this motion on the score of verbiage. If we had an Empire system of government, and were represented on some central Council, such as that which met at the time of the late Queen’s Jubilee, we might be in a position to adopt the language of the motion. I think that the Prime Minister was present at some of the meetings of the Imperial Conference then held in England. I recollect that on one occasion Sir Wilfrid Laurier, in addressing the Imperial authorities on this very matter of the Transvaal, said, “ If you want our assistance why do you not call us to your counsels?” and I think it was the Duke of Devonshire or the Earl of Onslow who replied, “Ask us to call you to our counsels and you will be surprised at the alacrity with which we shall respond.” Had we been represented on such a Council possibly the word “ protest “ would not have been too strong. But the action of the honorable member who has brought this motion forward shows that it is an officious rather than an official communication.
– How does the honorable member make that out?
– I say that any resolution which we pass, and do not transmit to the central Government of the Empire-
– We are prepared to send it on.
– Let the honorable member move subsequently that a copy of it be forwarded to the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
– Most certainly I shall do nothing of the kind, because I do not approve of it. If, -however, the amendment be carried, I shall be prepared to move in that direction.
– It will not be carried.
– If the amendment were carried and transmitted to the Imperial authorities as an official resolution, it would be of very much more value than a resolution which is to be left to reach the Home authorities through the medium of press reports. Under the circumstances I shall vote for the amendment.
– As was remarked by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, there has been a great deal of quibbling over the verbiage of this motion. But whilst that is so, no honorable member has supported the policy to which the motion objects, namely, the introduction of Chinese labour to- South Africa. If I understood the remarks of the honorable member for. Wilmot aright, he objects, not to the introduction of Chinese to South Africa, but to the interference of Australia in a question which he considers is altogether outside our jurisdiction.
– Does not the honorable member see that, as worded, the motion will constitute a very dangerous precedent?
– No. If I did, probably I should vote with the honorable member. I feel that in passing this motion we shall be merely doing justice to ourselves, and to our relations to South Africa at the present time.
– The Secretary of State for the Colonies recognises the title of the selfgoverning States to explain their opinions, but not to express their objections.
– We give expression to our opinions by objecting to the introduction of Chinese into the Transvaal. We are not attempting to dictate to the Home Government in. any way whatever. We do not ask them to veto the proposed introduction of the Chinese. It is for them to consider whether or not our objections shall weigh with them. Some honorable members are anxious to whittle down this motion to such an extent that it will carry no weight whatever. If it is to have any weight, it must be framed in language which will indicate our strong opinion on the matter. I desire the Home Government to understand that, whilst we do not desire to dictate to them as to the policy which they shall pursue, we object to the introduction of Chinese to South Africa, in the best interests of the Empire itself. It has been urged by the honorable member for Wilmot and several other honorable members, that we propose to deal with a matter which is altogether beyond our scope of action. They contend that we should, so to speak, institute a sort of Monroe doctrine, and abstainfrom interfering in matters that do not concern us. I hold that we should not unnecessarily interfere with questions that do not particularly concern us; but the limitation does not apply to the matter now before us. We have helped to deprive, at least, the Dutch portion of the white population of South Africa of the rights of selfgovernment.
– Has the Commonwealth, as a Commonwealth, contributed one penny to the cost of the war ?
–The people of Australia have, and the Parliament of the Commonwealth is now voicing their wishes. By our failure to observe the policy of the Monroe doctrine we have assisted to deprive a considerable proportion of the white people of South Africa of the means to express their wish with respect to the proposed introduction of Chinese to the Transvaal. A non-representative form of government has been established for the time being in the Transvaal and Orange River Colonies, and it is that Government which proposes the innovation. In this motion we express our opinion that the contemplated action will not tend to the stability of the Empire. We urge, further, that if the Government consider it necessary to take this step, the white population of the Colonies in question should at least have an opportunity to give expression to their wishes on the subject. If by means of a referendum they declare that in their opinion the innovation will be conducive to the welfare of those Colonies, we shall offer no further objection. We believe that the people themselves should have the right of self-government, and if they decide in favour of the introduction of Chinese to the Transvaal, we shall not attempt to take further action, although we may disagree with their decision. We shall concede to them the right of selfgovernment which we claim for ourselves. I have no desire to review the unfortunate incidents which lee? up to the war in South Africa; but if it had been understood at the outset that British and Australian money and blood were to be expended in that war fbr the mere purpose of securing for a few absentee millionaires an opportunity to tear out the natural wealth of the country at a cost less than that which would be involved by the employment of even native labour, I feel satisfied that the people of Australia would not have entered into the struggle with the same determination and zeal that characterized their efforts. We felt that we were fighting for other interests, and that fact should have some weight with the British Government, and lead them to veto the proposed introduction of Chinese labour at all events until the wishes of the people directly concerned have been ascertained. Australia is under some obligation to the people of the Transvaal. We helped to take away from the Boers their national independence. We helped to deprive them of the right of self-government, and therefore we should endeavour, if possible, to prevent the deep injury which it is now proposed to inflict upon them. If we occupied the position of the Boers, and, instead of having to deal with a just and fair-minded people, such as we consider Britishers to be, were called upon to deal with some great foreign power - Germany, for example - what action should we take? If Germany had acquired Australia, and, whilst proposing to assimilate our race with her own, introduced large hordes of inferior Asiatic races to exploit the natural wealth of the country, should we not feel indignant? Natural racial antipathies would be intensified by the proposal to heap upon us an additional injustice. That is the position of the Boers, and, inasmuch as we assisted to deprive them of their independence, it behoves us to protest as strongly and as reasonably as possible against the perpetration of the further injustice now proposed. The people of Australia have never been able to assimilate with the Chinese races, and the people of South Africa are not likely to do so. If that great country is to be part and parcel of the British Empire, and if the racial differences which have been intensified by the late war are to be removed, this proposal should not be carried out. Can it be’ suggested that it is a proper way in which to build up a great freedom-loving people? Do we not know, from our experience in Australia, as well as from the experiences of the United States of America, that the Chinese do not help to build up the population and develop the trade, wealth, and stability of a country? When gold-fields are discovered, there comes a large inrush of population, which remains as long as the fields continue to be profitable. But as soon as they become exhausted - and in South Africa as elsewhere that will be only a matter of time - the great bulk of the gold-seekers leave for other parts. Usually, however, a considerable number remain to develop the agricultural and pastoral resources of the country, and in that way help in the work of establishing settled communities. Is it not in that way that England has built up her Colonies? We know that it is, and I contend that the South African Colonies should be built up in the same manner. They can be properly and- permanently settled only by the introduction of white labour to develop their resources. If Chinese are utilized in the production of the mineral wealth of the country, they will disappear as soon as the mines become exhausted. The mine-owners themselves will go even before that stage is reached, and the work of colonization will have to be commenced again.
– We have a striking example of this in the Northern Territory.
– Quite so. The South Australian Government attempted to develop the Northern Territory by means of Chinese labour. The effort, however, was unsuccessful, and settlement there is now in the last stages of decay. That must continue to be the position until a white population is secured. The same may be said of South Africa. I believe that in the interests, not alone of the people of South Africa, but of the Empire as a whole, these inferior Asiaticraces should not be introduced. They do not conduce to Empire building. In Australia they have been naught but an obstacle to our progress, and their presence in South Africa will operate in the same way. I believe that those who advocate the importation of this cheap labour into South Africa do not contend that it will tend to permanently settle the country. They require this labour simply to exploit the mineral wealth of the country. They assert that they cannot carry on operations without it, and that the utilization of Chinese labour will afford increased facilities for the employment of white workers. This has not been our experience, and I do not think that these predictions on the part of the advocates of Chinese labour will be verified. If honorable members turn to to-day’s issue of the Age. they will find an interesting article, setting forth the yields obtained during last year from the South African mines. Notwithstanding the disorganization caused by the war, and the fact that a great deal of dead work had to be carried out in order to bring the mines up to a workable condition, their returns for the year represented something like .£12,500,000, while the total cost of labour, &c, used in securing that result was about ^£4,500,000. The article shows that the mine-owners, notwithstanding the disadvantages under which the mines were worked, were able to distribute about £3,500,000 by way of dividends, and to carry some ,£4,500,000 to a reserve fund. These figures show that there is a workable margin for the employment of white labour in the mines of South Africa. The cost of production there compares very favorably with the cost of working the Australian mines. I have here an extract from the Sydney Worker of last week, in which a comparison is made between the cost of working a South African gold-mine with black labour, and that of working an Australian mine - the Scottish Gympie. Without going into details, I may say that it shows that the total cost per ton of ore is j£i 6s. 11.14c!. per ton in South Africa, while in Australia the cost is 18s. 2. 5 2d. per ton, because of the fact that the country is more easily worked, inasmuch as the lodes are softer than in Australia. Fifty-three stampers in South Africa are able to put through as many tons as 125 stampers in Australia. That shows a very big difference in favour of the labour conditions in South Africa in that particular respect. Still, the mine-owners in that country say that they are not able to profitably produce this mineral wealth without the use of cheap labour. I have no doubt that if public opinion had permitted of the same interests advancing a like argument in Australia, it would have been just as emphatic here as it is in South Africa. I hope that the motion will be carried, and will reach it intended destination. I listened with great pleasure and satisfaction to the very able address of the Prime Minister. I have no doubt that the motion will be carried by a big majority, if a division is called for by those who wish to alter its wording .but do not attack its principle. I trust that the Prime Minister will take some means of conveying this further substantial backing to the Imperial Government. The action of the Prime Minister of New Zealand was worthy of him, and creditable to that portion of the British Empire. I have every admiration and respect for the right honorable gentleman who has controlled so ably and so long the destinies of New Zealand, and no belittling reference to him can detract from the great reputation which he has won and the important position which he holds in the British community to-day. I trust that the Prime Minister will have the satisfaction of transmitting to the Imperial Government the motion as it now stands on the business-paper, as a substantial backing to the very proper representations which he has already seen fit to make to them.
– I heartily agree with the motion. The amendments which have been put forward by enthusiastic new members of the House do not seem to me to contain anything worth taking up time in replying to.
– Do not take up the time then.
– Perhaps when the honorable member comes to reflect he may regret that he took up so much time this evening. The honorable member for Wilmot and the honorable member for Corangamite are the only two sympathizers in the House with the mine-owners in the Transvaal.
– With the Chinese?
– I am happy to say that they are the only two members of the House who have come forward to express their opinion in favour of Chinese immigration into that country.
– I have said nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member quoted from the communication which was received from the Government of the Transvaal, and when he quotes from a document of that kind he practically fathers its contents. After the able statement of his case by the honorable member for Bland,:’ the eloquent support of the motion by the Prime Minister, and the very forcible expression of his opinion by the right honorable member for Adelaide, it would indeed be a waste of time on my part to delay the House any longer in trying to advance any other reasons in its favour - not, perhaps, nearly as ably as those honorable members did. Therefore, I content myself with stating that I support the motion, because I think it is calculated to express the opinion of the House and of the people of this Commonwealth.
– I know that there is a general desire that this debate shall be brought to a close, and therefore I have no intention of detaining honorable members very long ; but I feel that I should say a word or two so that I may not record a silent vote. In the debate on the Address in Reply to the speech of the Governor-General I indicated, I think, with some clearness my attitude, which is one of strenuous opposition to the introduction of Chinese to the Transvaal. I am not quite sure that if I had drafted the motion I should have adopted the precise form which the honorable member for Bland has done. I am disposed to think that it would have been better simply to indorse the action of the Prime Minister. Still, the exact form of the motion is neither here nor there. In essence it expresses my views, and therefore it will receive my very cordial support. It seems to me that the introduction of Chinese to South Africa would be a great mistake. I think that the greed of the individual should in no way control the case. We should not forget that if a Chinese settlement were established in South Africa there would be the possibility of complications with China arising in the future. Whether we look at this matter from the stand-point of the Empire, or from that of the European labourer, it is clear to me that Australia is justified in expressing its strongest disapprobation.
– I do not desire to do more in my reply than to express my gratification at the unanimity which prevails in the House in respect to the general tenor of this proposal. There have, indeed, been two honorable members who have expressed their antagonism to the idea which is involved in the motion, but they only serve to accentuate the unanimity of the rest of the House. Regarding the amendments which have been suggested, there is always a great difficulty in framing a motion which will embody accurately the desire of all of those who may be willing to support it. In this case there are almost as many varying ideas as. to what the phraseology of the motion should be, as there are honorable members willing to support its adoption. If I had consulted my own feelings and those of some of the honorable members with whom I am associated it would probably have been couched in stronger language than it is. But with a desire to secure unanimity, I was willing to forego my own views in that respect. I ask honorable members now to look rather to the spirit behind the motion than to attempt the almost impossible task of making it accurately express the views of each individual. I trust that the motion will be carried, not by an overwhelming majority, but without opposition at all, in the interests of our fellow-citizens in South Africa, who would have to suffer from the effects of this error if it were perpetrated.
Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
The question - “ That the motion be agreed to ‘ ‘ - having been put,
– I think the “Ayes” have it.
– Honorable members opposite will not take the challenge.
– We will take the challenge, then.
-The call for a division came after the usual time that is allowed. Some time elapsed before there was any call, and then I think only one honorable member asked for a division ; -but if two honorable members desire a division,, it will be taken.
– I desire to have a division.
– I also- desire to have a division.
Original question put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
.- I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I have to intimate to honorable members that the Bounty on Manufactures Bill Will be the first business to-morrow, when the second reading will be moved by the Minister for Trade and Customs. If it is found inconvenient to proceed with the debate on that Bill to-morrow, an opportunity may be . afforded to the honorable member for Echuca to submit a motion which stands on the notice-paper in his name.
– I should like to ask the Minister for - Home Affairs, whether he is aware that the election expenses return, although it has already been corrected in some particulars, is still incorrect, and that, at any Tate in one State, the expenditure was very much in excess of the amount shown. It would appear as though the Department had issued the return before they were in posses: sion of the necessary details, and that the claim of economy and cheapness in the conduct of the elections is not justified by actual fact. It would have been far better for the Department to have waited until particulars of all items of expenditure had been received before issuing a return, rather than be compelled to issue, supplementary returns. I believe I am correctly informed that a very considerable expense incurred in New South Wales is not shown in the return last presented, and I presume the same may be the case in regard to other States. Seeing that we are basing arguments on the figures supplied to us, it would, as I say, have been far better to have delayed their issue until accurate particulars enable correct deductions to be drawn.
– The object in issuing the return to which the honorable member refers, was to give the House the desired information, so far as I had it myself, at the earliest opportunity. I was informed that the amount of ,£1000, shown in the return, was ample to cover all outstanding accounts, and since then I have heard nothing to the contrary. I was particular in asking the Department to exercise great care, and I was assured that the total amount of the expenses of the election” as set forth would not be exceeded. How.ever, I shall be very glad to again look into the matter, and, when the whole of the accounts have been received, to have the return made absolutely complete.
– I should like the Minister for Home Affairs, if he can see his way clear, to, at any rate, consider the advisability of making the remuneration to the various poll clerks something like commensurate with the work they do. I understand that 15s. was paid to poll clerks for a day’s work pf sixteen hours.
– There were a great many applicants for the positions.
– In this connexion, there has been an amount of sweating not very creditable to the Department, and I hope the Minister will take the matter into consideration.
– Some of the men employed received ‘ three guineas for three weeks’ work.
– I hope that the Government will take care that poll clerks in Commonwealth elections are paid as much as is paid to poll clerks in State elections. The payment in the case of the States is by no means extravagant; and if ,£40,000 has been saved by the Commonwealth, at the expense of those who did the drudgery, that is not a fact to be proud of. I hope that in the forthcoming election in the Melbourne constituency those who do the work will be .adequately paid.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 March 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040322_reps_2_18/>.