2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have received a return to the writ issued by me on the 15th March last for the election of a member to serve in the House of Representatives for the electoral division of Melbourne, in the State of Victoria, and, by the indorsement upon the writ, it appears that William Robert Nuttall Maloney, Esq., has been, duly elected in pursuance thereof.
Mr. MALONEY made and subscribed the oath of allegiance.
Mr. SKENE presented, a petition from the Pastoralists’ Federal Council of Ausr tralia, praying the House not to pass the clause in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill which provides for giving a preference to unionists.
Petition received and read.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– I have been supplied with the following information : -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice- -
– I have been informed that-
Mr.R. EDWARDS asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice - ‘
Mr. DEAKIN__ On behalf of my honorable colleague, I have to say-
In order to secure the prompt and regular exchange of mails between the Commonwealth . and Great Britain after the expiration of the present contract, the Postmaster-General proposes to favorably consider any proposals that may be made for a suitable contract, to alternate with, the contract entered into by the Government of Great Britain, for a continuance of the existing fortnightly service ait present being carried out by the P. and O. Company ; or failing such a proposal, to make, as the only alternative, the best arrangement possible for the carriage of the mails by suitable steamers leaving Australia, in accordance with the provisions of the Postal Union and the power given by the Post and Telegraph Act.
On the basis of statements of the actual weight of the articles contained in mails from Australia during the quarter which ended on the 30th November, 1903, and of the rates prescribed by the Postal Union Convention for sea transit on steamers under contract, and also for territorial transit through Italy and France by both ordinary and special trains.
Yes, when the subject is ripe for discussion.
Motion (by Mr. G. B. Edwards) agreed to-
That a return be laid upon the table of the House, showing separately the imports from and the exports to (1) the Dominion of Canada, (2) the South African Colonies, (3) New Zealand, (4) Fiji, and (5) the New Hebrides, distinguishing as far as possible the class of goods or products, for the years 1902 and 1903.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Regulations under thePost and Telegraph Act for the use of subscribers telephones by the public; addition to regulation as to “Reply prepaid telegrams”; new regulation, No. 21, as to Money Orders, dated iSth December, 1903.
Transfers of amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council, financial . year 1903-4, dated 24th March, under the Audit Act.
Provisional regulation, No. S, as to ballot-box for postal votes, dated 22nd March, under the Electoral Act.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following papers : -
Return to an order of the House, dated iSth March, as to Foreign Immigrants and Emigrants during the year 1903.
Return to an order of the House, dated 13th April, showing the imports from and exports to Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, Fiji, and New Hebrides.
Debate resumed from 22nd March (vide page 790) on motion, by Mr. Deakin -
That the Bill’ be now read a second time.
– I have a full appreciation of the motives of those who support this Bill. I believe they are inspired by a desire to apply humanitarian principles to the relations of capital and labour. But I hope that they will credit some of us who are opposed to the Bill with an equal desire, and acknowledge that though we may differ as to the methods to accomplish the end, at the same time we are actuated by an ideal which we hold in common. In his excellent speech, the Prime Minister stated that -
There is an urgent and burning need for the passing of this legislation.
When I consider the limited scope of the provision in the Constitution, I cannot agree with my honorable and learned friend that there does exist any very imperative necessity for immediate legislation. In fact, he himself mentioned that the scope of the Bill is limited at the very outset when he said that the cases to come under its provisions may be numerous or may be extremely few. He told us that the Bill was drawn up on the most comprehensive lines - that, in other words, it was drawn up on the principle of covering anything which could possibly fall within its provisions. At the same time,- honorable members must have noticed that the opinion, of the Attorney-General of last year, and of the Prime Minister of this year, are somewhat different as to the cases which are likely to come within the constitutional provision, because we were told in the second reading speech this year that there could be no sympathetic strike, and that before jurisdiction could arise the dispute must extend bevond the limits of one State. I merely mention that now as a qualification of the statement of the Prime Minister as to the urgency for the* passage of this measure. But when honorable members bear in mind that there has been no strike within the last eight or ten years, which, by common acknowledgment, could come within the limits of the Bill, they will see that there is no pressing need for its passing.
– We had the shearers’ strike of last year.
– That is the only one, and I doubt if it could be brought under the provisions of the Bill. For the present let us acknowledge that it could. The maritime strike of 1890 could undoubtedly be adjudicated upon by the Federal tribunal. We have the maritime strike of 1890, the shearers’ strike of, I think, 1894, and the shearers’ strike of last year, and it is open to question whether the Bill can constitutionally extend to the settlement of any disputes except maritime or shearing disputes. Even as regards the latter, as I think I can show, an extreme doubt exists. Let us exercise patience. Let us await the result of State experiments. We should remember that it was only in 1894 that the prinicple of compulsion was applied by the passing of the New Zealand Act. The Western Australian Act was passed in 1900, and the’ New South Wales Act was only placed on the statute-book in 1901, so that there has really been no opportunity of testing the principle of compulsory conciliation, even within the States, up to the present. I know that in New Zealand some disputes, which had been agitating capital and labour for some years, were settled under the Act. There was the dispute in the shoemakers’ trade, and I think the tailoresses’ dispute was settled; but it does not for a moment follow that it could not have been settled on the voluntary principle. However, we should credit the law with the settlement of that dispute. What I would insist upon is that the principle of compulsory arbitration has never been tested on a falling market. Up to the present time the awards have been in the direction of an increase of wages, justified by the strength of industrial conditions in New Zealand. But neither in New Zealand nor in New South Wales, nor anywhere else, has a compulsory adjustment of the relations between capital and labour been tested by a fall, under an award of the Court, in the rate of wages except in one case in New South Wales,, which does not tell in favour of the introduction of the compulsory principle.
– Yes, it does.
– Perhaps so; but I doubt it. At all events, the men, for one reason or another, refused to abide by the award as given. They took a technical objection to the application of the provision, and thus morally dissented from the award. It is also worth bearing in mind that even the New Zealand Act of 1894 has been amended no less than eight times, showing that even .the machinery of the law is still open to very serious criticism from the point of view of its efficacy. It all points in this direction : that, considering the very limited jurisdiction vested by the Constitution in this’ Parliament, we ought not to be in too great haste to add this additional tribunal to the administrative machinery of Australia. There was a report by Judge Backhouse on the New Zealand system. He stated that the Act has, to some extent, been strained from its ori ginal purpose ; that instead of being as it was intended to be. an Act for the adjustment of disputes, it is really one for the regulation of the rate of wages. I would ask honorable members, in discussing this question, to endeavour as much as possible to keep their minds clear of mere matters of prejudice. There has been too great an inclination, both in the House and in the press, to separate parties on this Bill into those who are called socialists and those who are called anti-socialists. But I hold that the principle of individualism and socialism is not raised by its provisions - that we can still have a very large sympathy with many of the aspirations of true socialists while standing in opposition to the measure. I regard the aim of socialism as an exceedingly commendable one; it is really to raise the lot of the working classes, whatever may be said as to the efficacy of the methods adopted. Some years ago John Stuart Mill, viewing the conditions of the time, said, in his book upon Political Economy -
If the bulk of the human race remains as at present, drudging from early morning till late at night for bare necessaries, and with all the intellectual and moral deficiencies which that implies, I know not what there is which should make a person of any capacity of reason concern himself about the decline of the human race.
I acknowledge that the aim of the socialist is to put a stop to a state of affairs then commented upon by such a great writer. It is just as well, perhaps, that capital itself should be a little modest in approaching this question. There is too great an inclination on the part of capitalists to regard capital as the only essential element in production. We know that in the ultimate analysis the only essential element is really labour, and that if the accumulated wealth of the world were swept away to-morrow, there would remain in labour the power to re-create and restore. In fact, we all must agree that if the aims of socialists, as regards the position of labour, were realized, the rewards of labour would be still far short of the ideal Conditions which we would all help to attain. I merely refer to these things to avoid the prejudice which is raised by putting what I consider to be a false issue in connexion with this Bill - as if the socialists, as they are called, were arrayed on the one side, and the rampant individualists on the other. I believe that there is room for the exercise of common sense and moderation between the two extremes. I hold that the question that is really put in issue by the Bill is not the settlement of disputes by force or by strikes, as distinguished from their adjustment by conciliation, but that of the efficacy of the voluntary as against the compulsory method. We are seeking, in our impatience, not to apply the compulsion of law to the settlement of industrial disputes so much as to at once place upon our statute-book a premature declaration of the inefficacy of the voluntary method. I further submit that if we are driven to compulsion the matter lies in the sphere of the States rather than the Federation. The widest jurisdiction still rests with the States.
– The widest?
– Yes; the widest jurisdiction rests with the States in regard to the compulsory settlement of industrial disputes. As I have before remarked, and as the Attorney-General is beginning to recognise, the sphere of the Federation in regard to this matter is particularly limited by the Constitution. As to my statement that the voluntary principle has not yet received a fair trial; may I, without at ali repeating what I said last year, refer to the position of affairs in America and the United Kingdom. I shall first refer to the case of the United Kingdom, and in giving an outline of what is occurring there shall as much as possible rely upon the evidence of American experts. In dealing with the American position I shall refer to the reports of English experts. We must bear in mind that the first condition ‘of successful conciliation is organization, and that effective organization was impossible in England until the amendment of the laws regarding conspiracy in 1873. It is from about 1870 that we have to date the beginnings of the acknowledged success of the voluntary principle in the United Kingdom. In 1866 the first experiment was tried in the hosiery trade, by the Honorable Mr. Mundeila, and in 1896, when one of the Arbitration Bills that failed in England, was under discussion in the House of Commons, Mr. Mundella said that from the time of the first organization of a conciliation board in his trade there had been no strikes.
– In that case there war. a strong trades union that made the findings of the Board as powerful as if there were a Jaw.
– I do not propose to discuss that aspect of the matter. I am merely dealing with public statements of experts. Now let us refer to the case of the iron trade, which is perhaps the largest in the United Kingdom. The net output of that trade last year was valued at ,£130,000,000. In 1866 there was a most disastrous strike of .the iron workers in the North of England. The works were shut down for six months, and one of the results was that Sir Donald Dale founded the Northern Conciliation and Arbitration Board, whose jurisdiction now extends over five counties, and which has branches in Wales, as well as other affiliated bodies, which, although they are not bound by its rules, morally accept the awards given by the Board. The establishment of the Board referred to was followed by the constitution of the Midland Iron and Steel Wages Board in 1872. Mr. David Jones, one of the secretaries of the Midland Iron and Steel Wages Board, in a lecture delivered on the 30th October, 1902, says that -
Amidst all the labour troubles of the last thirty years our method of treating the relations of employers and their operatives has proved successful, not a single strike having occurred during that time.
The Board has jurisdiction over works in no less than seven counties. Under the method followed resort is first had to conciliation, which generally succeeds, and renders it unnecessary to arbitrate. The Board of Conciliation is composed of thirteen representatives of labour and an equal number of. representatives of employers. As a general rule the wages are adjusted from month to month upon a sliding scale, which moves upwards or downwards according to the prices of the manufactured article. Here we have an admirable example of the successful working of the voluntary principle, because we find a Board, having a jurisdiction over not less than 200,000 employes, successfully settling all disputes without resort to compulsion. The Durham Miners’ Association affords another example of the success of the voluntary principle. That association has 192 branches, and exercises jurisdiction over 90,000 workmen. The Board consists of thirty-six members, eighteen of whom represent employers, and the remained the employes. In ninety-nine cases out of 100 conciliation is successful in settling disputes or adjusting claims made by either party.
– That is providing that the parties can be induced to conciliate.
– They do so in the cases to which I have referred. These show that, by being temperate and bringing common - sense and honesty to bear, all disputes may be settled on the voluntary principle.
– But how are we to induce the parties to submit to conciliation ?
– By persuading politicians to leave them alone. Surely we can do what has been done in England. The spirit displayed by the English employers and workmen, which has resulted so successfully, may be relied upon to prove equally efficacious here if we are not too impatient, and do not impose compulsory conditions upon the parties. Surely by travelling 13,000 miles across the seas we have not lost the benefit of our hereditary training.
– We had a Boot Trade Board in South Australia; but it is no longer in existence.
– I know the reason of that ; but I do not propose to allow reference to generalities to upset what I consider to be particular arguments. In connexion with the Durham Miners’ Association, there is an Arbitration Board which is seldom called into operation. Lord Davey is the President of the Board, and two cases may be mentioned which came before him for adjudication. One of these in 1895 arose out of an appeal by, I think, the workers, whose wages were actually reduced by the award. In the other case a demand was made for ai holiday, and the decision was given against the employers. In both instances the awards were religiously observed. If honorable members wish to know the reason for this, I may refer them to a paper published in the Bulletin of the Bureau of Labour of the United States, in January, 1904. An expert named Maurice Low was sent to England to report upon the conditions there, and the results of his observations were published in extenso in the Bulletin of January last. He says: -
The awards are obeyed because in advance both sides have acquiesced in the finding, whatever it may be. In short, it is a beautiful example of all law in a highly civilized state of society depending for its enforcement upon the consent of the governed.
As a matter of fact, nine-tenths of the relations of daily life are settled without the aid of the law. We submit ourselves to “ the soft collar of social esteem.”
– Surely the honorable and learned member would not, on that ground, argue that there should be no law ?
– The honorable member surely does not do me the injustice of supposing that that is the inference to be drawn from my arguments. What I do say is that where social order can be main tained upon the voluntary principle, where common sense, public opinion, and social esteem are sufficiently. strong to enable us to dispense with legislation, we should not like the lower civilizations, develop a system of regulation by law.
– What would the honorable and learned member do- in case of a refusal by either party to a dispute to abide by an award made under the voluntary system ?
– I am not discussing that matter at. the present time. I am merely endeavouring to prove that the voluntary principle has been a success-
– It has not been successful in Australia.
– Has it been fairly tried ?
– I doubt it. As I have previously pointed out, organization, even in England, is of quite recent origin.
– In New South Wales the principle of voluntary arbitration was tried for years in the case of certain industries.
– But the honorable member knows that even ten years ago the principles of unionism were practically banned by the law. Were not prosecutions instituted in Broken Hill as the result on the whole of the legitimate development of unionism ? Indeed, the old oppressive spirit has not yet entirely disappeared from Australia. It is disappearing gradually, but it takes more than a generation to attain those conditions which will yet establish themselves, and which form the very basis of the success of the voluntary principle. It may be said - it was stated last year - that we still have strikes in England. But I would point out that within the last, ten or fifteen years every large strike in the United Kingdom has been followed by the formation of a Conciliation Board, having for its object the prevention of its repetition. Take the case of the engineers’ strike of 1897 as an example. That strike affected no less than 27,000 men. It was followed by the ratification of an agreement between the parties to the dispute, under which all future differences are to be referred to a voluntary Board of Conciliation, and I do not think there has been a strike since 1897. Another instance is provided by the great dockers’ strike of 1889. That was followed by the formation of the London Labour Conciliation and Arbitration Board, which contains representatives, of the Chamber of Commerce and of twelve groups of London trades. Practically all disputes within the jurisdiction of the London County Council are now settled by this board. Take still another great trade - the Boilermakers, and the iron and steel shipbuilding trade. That organization has not been involved in a strike during the past twenty years, although about 97 per cent, of all the workers have voluntarily placed themselves under the jurisdiction of a board. Does not that indicate a greater measure of success than the Prime Minister has shown to have followed the operation of the New Zealand Act of 1894? In England the workers voluntarily place themselves under the jurisdiction of the Board, whereas in New Zealand we find that the number of unionists has not kept- pace with the increase in the number of workers. Although the whole principle underlying the New Zealand Act is to force the workers to join the trades unions, we find that they display reluctance to do so, whereas in England 97 per cent, of them have joined those organizations voluntarily. In 1902, 678 claims which never reached the stage of disputes were settled in England by 57 voluntary boards. There were 442 disputes, affecting 256,000 workers, and of these disputes only three were followed by strikes. Surely that is an indication of the growing success of the voluntary principle in the old country.
– The honorable and learned member is referring to the disputes which came under the notice of those boards.
– I say that in England there were 442 disputes altogether.
– The honorable and learned member is wrong.
– I do not think so. If I am, the honorable member can correct me. I repeat that there were 256,000 persons affected by 442 disputes, and in any case the fact that only three resulted in strikes, attests the success of the voluntary system, there being no law against a strike.
– The honorable and learned member will find that the cases to which he refers are those in which the parties to disputes voluntarily agreed to submit their differences to Conciliation Boards.
– I do not think so. At any rate, 678 cases never reached the stage of disputes,” and I think that these claims cover all that were made in England. In that country the voluntary system has been pioneered. America is about twenty-five years behind England in this respect. In the mother country the voluntary system was opposed at every step by law, prejudice, and lack of sympathy on the part of public opinion. Nothing is a finer subject for contemplation, or more inspiring to those who hope for and believe in the possibility of a higher social state, than the steady, unfaltering march of the masses, against the obstacles of law and privilege, towards a recognition of their claims to fair conditions of remuneration and hours of labour, and to some share in the control of public affairs. But that march was conducted against opposition - opposition which is still potent in America. The law which is operative there may be q’uite as liberal as is that of England ; but, as we know, the machinery of government in America i ; more often brought into operation to suppress combinations and unions than it is in the old country. As a matter of fact, those amenities which soften the relations between employer and’ employe exist to a very small extent in America. There, capital is more callous and insensible to the welfare of the working classes. This- results from the fact that to a large extent the trust system controls the operations of labour. Thus, if we find very many instances of social unrest in America, we must remember that the system of “cornering” markets has made employment there exceedingly fitful, and the result of course ii a popular discontent, all aggravating the still unsettled relations between capital and labour, and preventing that degree of success which has been attained in England under the voluntary principle. Nevertheless, events- are shaping themselves fairly well there. In the report of Mr. John B. McPherson - a report which appears in the Bulletin of the Department of Labour for May, 1900, and which deals with the working of the English system - we find, the following: -
Notwithstanding the severity of some great strikes in England, and the reputed success of the compulsory law in New Zealand, the writer could find little or no sentiment favouring arbitration by means of a Statute.
– Who is Mr. McPherson?
– He seems to be an expert, because his report in the publication to which I have referred, and which is issued by the Government, covers, if I remember aright, some 70 or 80 pages. He states in the preface to his report’ that he went to England to examine the voluntary system.
– I am informed that he is secretary to the Bureau.
– That fact in itself proves that he is an authority upon the subject. He goes on to say -
All previous legislation in respect to labour and wages has been ineffectual, and the opinion expressed more than twenty years ago by Mr. Compton that “ the law and our tribunals, adminable and worthy of veneration as they often are, cannot be the means of reconciling capital and labour,” finds as nearly a response as when first written. The prevailing opinion among employers and employed favours conciliation first, arbitration rather than a strike, and then a referee or umpire, to whom appeal can be made for final decision and settlement.
Another reason of the want of success in America is that unionism there is almost in its infancy- The Prime Minister, in moving the second reading of the Bill, referred to an article in Harper’s Weekly denouncing unionism. But we had a similar state of affairs in England twenty years ago. It is nothing more than the reprisals of capital at being collared.
– The article refers to only some portions of the United States of America.
– To New York.
– In other parts of the United States of America the unions are strong, and are recognised.
– -Still they are in a militant stage, and the bitterness of capital appears to be very pronounced. When we come to look at what has been done in England we must see that people of the same blood and traditions in America are likely to make a great success of unionism there. I read an article the other day by Mr. Richard Bell, M.P., who is secretary of one of the biggest railway organizations in England, and who points hopefully to the possibilities of unionism in America. He states that in England it has shortened the hours of labour, increased the wages of the workers, bettered their social conditions, and improved the standard of the workers generally. Dealing with’ the question of social order, he points out that no less than nine out of ten of the labour leaders are teetotallers. In proof of my contention that the want, of success of conciliation in America, to which the Prime Minister referred, is due to the imperfections of the organizations there, and to the antipathy of capital and law towards unionism, I shall quote from an article by another American, Mr. Maurice Low.
– He is hardly an authority on labour.
– He is a publicist, and a good authority on any, subject.
– He has written on this question, and he points out that -
Viewing the present condition of trades unionism in the United States in the light of the history of the movement in Great Britain, the men whose opinions are here presented, believe that, in the United States, trades unionism has not yet advanced to the high level it now occupies in Great Britain. This is one reason why, in their opinion, the relations between capital and labour in America are not so cordial as in England ; it also explains why strikes in America are more common than in England, and are carried with greater bitterness on both sides. .
But, nevertheless, conciliation has attained a very considerable degree of success in the United States. The British Iron Commission of 1902, reporting upon the position there, states that the bulk of the disputes are now settled by conferences between employers and employes - by meetings between organization and organization, and by industrial agreements, extending, in some cases, over several States. I would, therefore, put it to honorable members whether, in the two great English-speaking communities, we have not evidence of such a success of the method of adjustment of trade disputes, without law, as to call for the display of a-‘ little patience in Australia, and for the postponement of the proposal to add another tribunal to the already overweighted Federal and State machinery of the Commonwealth. On the whole, unionism in the United Kingdom has successfully modified the relations of capital and labour. When it can clearly be shown to have failed, then, and only then, does the necessity for legislative interference arise, and, when we do interfere, our interference ought to be strictly limited “to the proved necessity. I “ have mentioned that the Bill is framed to cover every possible case that can be assigned to the Federal jurisdiction. It is designed, indeed, to cover not only every acknowledged but every doubtful case. The Prime Minister, in moving the second reading of this Bill, stated, according to Hansard, page 776, that -
The scope of this measure provides for all possible contingencies that can be foreseen.
It goes far beyond the necessities.
– That has to be determined.
– The Prime Minister went on to say that we should recognise -
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.
This shows that the Prime Minister, at all events, in one instance, felt that his statement was having a rather peculiar effect , upon the House, and that it was necessary for him to qualify it. I put it to the honorable and learned gentleman, whether he really has not come to the conclusion, since last year, that before the jurisdiction of the Court can arise, a dispute must have extended beyond the limits of any one State - that the identical point claimed in one State must be claimed in another.
– That is very probable.
– And that a mere sympathetic strike in one State to co-operate with strikers in another State, upon a different point, would not be within Federal jurisdiction.
– Hear, hear.
– The Prime Minister indicates, then, that the Federal jurisdiction in these matters is greatly limited. If it is as limited as has been indicated then the Bill is to a great extent a delusion. If it can extend only to maritime matters and perhaps to shearing disputes, where are the great possibilities of social amelioration to flow from the passing of this Bill? In that event it must be to a large extent a delusion, even from the point of view of the working classes, and to the extent that it is not it means that, with a view to obtain benefits which may come from proper organization without law, they are placing themselves under a penal system which, on a falling market, would prove particularly galling. The Bill is full of provisions for the imposition of penalties. Under clause 46 a fine of £,10 may be imposed on an individual member of an organization for breach of an award, and if that breach be a wilful one he may be fined £20. Clause 57 provides that, for a breach of an award, the rights of a member under the Organization in question may be cancelled. In other words, the benefits which would come to him - the old-age pension, sick pay. and allowance in the case of death - might be abrogated by the disobedience of an award. For the future then, if an employe joins an Organization under this Bill he will be liable to these penalties. Even if he joins an organization which is not under the measure, that organization, without his consent, may be brought under it. The Governor-General has power, on the recommendation of the President of the Board of Conciliation, to proclaim any association as being one coming within the terms of the Bill. It will thus be seen that an employ^ may join a friendly society - if we choose to call it so - for purposes outside the scope of this Bill, but that that organization may be proclaimed, without his consent, as one coming within this measure. He may then be fined £10 for disobedience of an award of the Court, and £20 for wilful disobedience, while the whole of his benefits as a member of the society may be cancelled. For the mere possibility of benefits to come under this Bill there is to be an immense surrender of independence on the part of the working classes. In addition to this, an employe1 may, whilst subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Act, be subject to a State Act. He would have to belong to one organization under the State Act, and to another, with a second set of penalties, under the Commonwealth Act; the jurisdictions are not mutually exclusive. Before the Commonwealth jurisdiction can be exercised, provision has to be made for the forming of organizations, and the same steps have to be taken under States legislation. So that in anticipation of the possibility of a dispute occurring, men will have to join two organizations, with different sets of rules, and will be subject to two Acts, and to a double set of penalties. It could not have been contemplated when the clause now in the Constitution, was drafted by the members of the Federal Convention that a Bill of this sort would be introduced, and the extensive powers provided for given, except in a few cases. The real scope of Commonwealth legislation in this matter is limited to maritime and shearing disputes, as to neither of which is there urgency. If the prevention -of maritime disputes is a pressing matter, what is to hinder us, as we are about to create an Inter- State Commission to deal with InterState commerce, from investing it with jurisdiction for the prevention and settlement of maritime disputes? If the power to regulate rates of freight between State and State is to be vested in that Commission, it will be to some extent an expert body for the settlement of maritime disputes, and by giving it jurisdiction in that regard a duplication of machinery would be prevented.. The section of the Constitution under which the Bill has been introduced speaks of legislation -
For the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
My opinion is that those words apply to the settlement of disputes which have extended beyond the limits of a State, and to the prevention, by anticipatory penalties, of their extension. They do not give power to the Commonwealth t? interfere before the limits of State jurisdiction have really been passed ; they merely give power to this Parliament to frame a set of laws which will become operative the moment a dispute has extended beyond the borders of a State. We are not to go into the field of State jurisdiction, and say, “We will take charge of the settlement of this dispute, lest it extend beyond the borders of the State.” The moment a dispute extends beyond the borders of any one State, it is the province of the Commonwealth to interfere, But it was never contemplated by the members of the Convention that a sympathetic strike - a contention which has now been abandoned - should give jurisdiction to the Commonwealth, that if a strike of the members of an organization having a branch in another State took place in one State, it would give jurisdiction to the Commonwealth to interfere for the settlement of the dispute. The provision in the Constitution was introduced merely to cover a gap, to create a power which was not possessed by the States. It is a power rer quired in connexion with the settlement of maritime and shearing disputes, but it does not cover 95 per cent, of the disputes which honorable members appear to think fall within the province of Commonwealth legislation. The scope of the Bill is limited to the cases I have put. If the Commonwealth is to step in to settle a State dispute for fear it will extend beyond the limits of the State, the State will have no sphere of jurisdiction in industrial matters left, because every dispute may extend beyond the limits of the State in which it occurs, though, in many cases, the possibility of extension may be very small.
– If a dispute has extended, the Slate authority cannot settle it.
– When a dispute has extended, the Federal Act will come into play. But the extension of disputes within the meaning of the Constitution will be comparatively rare. For instance, if a strike occurred in the bootmakers’ trade in Sydney, and another strike in the same trade occurred in Melbourne, the Commonwealth would not have jurisdiction, because the strike in New South Wales would be capable of settlement by the Arbitration Court there, and the strike in Victoria could be settled under similar local legislation if the members of the State Parliament wished to interfere.
– But suppose they did not wish to interfere?
– Interference would still not be within the province of the Commonwealth authority. In many instances, no doubt, the public voice is not obeyed by, or public opinion is not properly represented in Parliament, and there are many things that call for interference by legislation ; but it is not the province of the Commonwealth to make good the apathy of the State. I might say something as regards the constitutionality of the extension of these provisions to the States, though personally, I think that a higher ground than mere constitutionality is that of expediency.
– A higher ground in. this case.
– Yes. There is the test of expediency and the test df constitutionality. As to the expediency of this proposal, I would remind honorable members that the Federation is still young, and that the time has scarcely yet arrived when its strength should be tested by pushing the powers of the Commonwealth to their extreme limits. We must remember that, perhaps through misunderstanding as much as through mistakes of policy, the enthusiasm with which Federation was resolved upon has somewhat waned, that the Commonwealth has still to acquire the full moral support of popular affection, and that temperance in the exercise of even our undoubted powers is the best way to .win the confidence of the States, and to perfect their loyalty to the union. If one might apply an illustration which would come home to most of us, the end of the honeymoon, when the marital relations have lost those early attractions which for a time dulled the sense of diminished individual independence, is not the best time for experiments in the exercise of transferred powers.
The parties to the Federal tie are suffering from the reaction which inevitably follows moments of high tension. The Parliaments Of the States, although they still retain the wider sphere of jurisdiction, are undoubtedly conscious of a slight loss of dignity as well as of power. They are still composed largely of men who were members under the old conditions, and who therefore are all the more likely to resent any aggressive advance on our part into the field of doubtful jurisdiction. For these reasons, it seems to me that nothing could be more obnoxious to the States than outside interference with the internal management of any of their great Departments of the Public Service. Nothing except the strongest grounds of necessity and public interest would justify any such interference. Instead of adopting a policy which must prove irritating to the self-respect of the States and be regarded as dangerous to their autonomy, we ought, as the greater body - as the one who should display a special solicitude for the integrity of the union, that, to an extent, can, by legislation, or by the executive, contract or expand the jurisdiction of and determine the personnel of the Court that keeps the parties to the Federation to their respective spheres - to exercise a good deal of tact and delicacy in our relations with the other parties to the Union. I speak as an ardent federalist, as one who believes that the economy which must be effected in the machinery of administration, if the people are not to be crushed beneath its weight, must take the direction of an extension rather than of a contraction of the field of Federal jurisdiction. But when additional power is granted and assumed it must be accompanied by a corresponding responsibility. We can scarcely expect the States to pay the piper when we call the tune. So much as to some general grounds of expediency. But I ask honorable members is it expedient that we should take away from the Railway Commissioners of the States the power to determine the hours of work of their employes, to determine the wages, not only of the day labourers, but the salaries of those who are paid by the month, or b’ the year? Is it expedient, for instance, that the power which is vested in the Railway Commissioner of South Australia, under its Act of 1887, to prescribe the wages, the duties of the employes, their classification, the method of their compensation, their pro’motion, should be abrogated and shifted on to a Federal body, which does not take the corresponding financial responsibility ?
– Do we take these powers from them?
– Undoubtedly we do, if we place the States under the jurisdiction of the Court.
– The Court will merely prescribe the conditions under which a man shall work.
– It will prescribe the terms of employment, the hours, and the compensation.
– Does the honorable and learned member think that a Court would fix unfair wages?
– That is not the point. The question is whether it is expedient to hand over the power to do that when the States have not the power to check any mistake made by the Court ? I submit that we cannot afford to sever responsibility from power. What is the very essence of the British Constitution ? It is that the Parliament shall not tax unless those it taxes are represented. Why was it that the masses ultimately succeeded in carrying the principle of adult suffrage? Because the theory is that we tax a man through his daily consumption, that when we place a very heavy levy on ordinary articles of dail, use, we must give him representation, and that principle was acknowledged in the expanding suffrage of each State. It is the old principle, the non-recognition of which separated America from England. What was the cause of the quarrel? Taxation without representation. What is representation? The power of the people to control the body which imposes the tax. What honorable members are seeking to do here is to hand over to a Federal body, which the State has no right to control, the power to determine the hours, the pay, and the general conditions of employment of State employes.
– In the Court the Railway Commissioners would have representation.
– There is no special representation provided. The Railway Commissioners will become, for the future, part of an organization. I do not know how they are’ to become so as a matter of practical working, but it is necessary for the machinery of the Bill that they should. Thev can be brought in as an organization by proclamation. When honorable members urge that this should be done they are mistaking what a Federation is. It is not a unitary system. Under a unitary system there is a complete absorption of power and responsibility together. If honorable members wish to have that, it would be fairer to abolish the Federation, and to adopt the unitary system throughout Australia. We were told before we federated that the Federation was to be a union of co-equal States, that the integrity of the States was to be respected in all matters not essential to the efficacy of the Federal power, that power and responsibility were not to be severed. If I may quote from the resolution which preceded the first draft of the Constitution in the Adelaide Convention, the object of our federating was not to limit the power of the States, but - in order to enlarge the powers of self-government of the people of Australia.
– In matters of common interest.
– Yes. Is it enlarging the powers of self-government of the States to sever the power of controlling their institutions, at the same time leaving the financial responsibility to them ? There is no Federal Constitution under which such powers have been assumed. The German Constitution gives control as to rates, of the management of railways; but it stops short of power over the salaries and conditions of employment of the employes. Now as to the strict constitutionality of the provisions of this Bill. It is said that we have nothing to do with the constitutionality of the Bill, which is a matter. that should be left to the decision of the Judiciary. But I would point out that this principle cannot be admitted without some limitation. The Judiciary is, no doubt, the final arbiter as to the limits of our powers; but I submit that in the interests of harmony between the States and the Common-wealth, in the interests of possible litigants, “who would have to pay for the solution of these problems, which we so light-heartedly raise, we ought to apply our common sense in testing the constitutionality of the provisions of each Bill, and not to multiply recklessly occasions for litigation. What is the principle of construction? Every power must be shown to be affirmatively granted, and the burden of proof is thrown on those who allege its existence. When the power is found to be granted, it must be liberally exercised. The construction to this extent must be liberal. Not only is that principle applied to the construction of Constitutions like the American, but it is expressly embodied in our own. Section 107, which deals with the saving of the power of the States Parliaments, reads 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, or as the admission or establishment of the State, as the case may be.
The express declaration is that, unless the power is clearly granted to the Commonwealth Parliament, it remains with the State. Then the other principle of liberal construction, when a power is acknowledged to be granted, comes in under section 51, sub-section 39, which empowers the Parliament to legislate in respect to all matters which are incidental to the efficacious working of the powers conferred and specified. To say that we can give jurisdiction over the States under the implied powers of the Constitution, is going against all the decisions even in the United Kingdom, where the Crown must be expressly mentioned, and in America, where the States must be expressly mentioned. Besides, a Federal Constitution is different from a Confederal one. Under the Confederal system, the power is over the State as a body. Under the Federal system, the power is over the individual. Under the Federal system there is no power conferred over the State as such. Just after the American War of Secession it was laid down by Chief Justice Chase, in the great case of Texas v. W kite, that -
The Constitution in all its provisions looks to an indestructible union of indestructible States.
What does another great Chief Justice say? In the case of McCulloch against Maryland, Marshall says: -
To the formation of a League, such as was the Confederation, the State sovereignties were certainly competent ; but when, ir» order to form a more perfect union, it was deemed necesary to change the alliance into an effective government, possessing great and sovereign powers, and acting directly on the people, the necessity of referring it to the people, and of deriving its powers from them, was felt and acknowledged.
Honorable members will notice the reference of Marshall to acting directly on the people. This is the federal principle, viz., to act not on the States, but directly on the units of the population. The fact that that is an essential condition of the Constitution is proved by a reference to the main powers of our own Constitution. The Constitution is conferred by the people, and when the time for amendment comes we send it back to its source, and ask the people who had granted it to amend it. We do not go to the States Parliaments, because, in our solicitude for the integrity of those bodies, we have advanced a step beyond America by placing the matter entirely beyond their sphere. Here we go directly to the people. Section 128 of the Constitution provides that amendments of the Constitution must be carried by a majority of the people of the States voting together, and by a majority of the electors in the majority of the States. Never is the State as a parliamentary unit called upon. That is the principle laid down in the great speech of Webster, which really gave us the first proper interpretation of the spirit of the American Constitution, and which’, in fact, is the charter of true federalism. In his reply to Hayne, in 1 830, he said, it is -
The people’s Government, made for the people, made by the people, and amenable to the people. But the National Government possesses those powers which, it can be shown, the people have conferred on it, and no more.
If honorable members will look at the American Constitution they will find that, like our own, it expressly places a limit in certain cases upon the powers of the States, thus showing that the abrogation of those State powers could not be implied from the genera] delegation of powers to the Federation, but must be made in express terms. In other words, State powers, which might be regarded as sovereign, must be expressly negatived. Article 1, of section 10, of the United States Constitution, gives a list of the powers which no longer belong to the States, thus showing that the withdrawal of these powers from the States was not included in the sections analogous to our section 51, which conferred general powers of legislation upon the Federal body. The control of the State as an organization can only be given expressly. As -the Prime Minister has pointed out, so jealous is the spirit of federalism regarding the integrity of the States that it has been decided in America that the Federal power of taxation does not extend to State agencies or their instrumentalities. It has been recognised that the possibility of any encroachments upon the States must not be permitted, and that, as a corollary, the States must not interfere with the agencies or instrumentali ties of the Federation. Cooley, in his Principles of Constitutional Law, says : -
The very power would take from the States a portion of their intended liberty of independent action within the sphere of their powers, and would constitute to the State a perpetual danger of embarrassment and possible annihilation. The Constitution contemplates no such shackles on State powers, and, by implication, forbids them.
Hence it has been decided in America that the Federal authorities cannot tax railways owned by the States. If the power of taxation be denied, the same principle would preclude any interference with the salaries of State officials. We cannot tax; because, if we could do so, we might destroy. The body taxed would have no power of control, because the State is not represented in the Federal Parliament, and by a parity of reasoning we could not interfere to force the States to pay higher emoluments to their servants, because, whilst having to find the funds, they could not apply a corrective. So that, if we analyze the Constitution, or recognise the very essence of the British system of government, we shall find it impossible, while respecting leading principles, to place the States under the jurisdiction of the proposed Conciliation and Arbitration Board. Our power might be tested by the consideration whether we have the necessary machinery to enable us to give effect to the decisions of the Arbitration Court. We cannot issue a mandamus to compel a State to find funds. We have taken away that power, lest, if it existed, it might be exercised. It does not exist under the Judiciary Act. I pressed the Government, when the Judiciary Bill was under consideration, to make provision for enforcing the verdicts of the High Court against the States. All that was done, however, was to provide that the Court should issue a certificate. This would be handed to the Treasurer of the State, who would presumably make provision upon the Estimates for the necessary payments; but there is no power to compel a State Treasurer to follow this course, and the non-existence of any machinery to give effect to the findings of the Arbitration Court shows that the exercise of such a power was never contemplated.
– But the States can be sued only in matters within the judicial power of the Commonwealth.
– No doubt; and that raises the question whether a mandamus after an . award could be granted against a State Government. In the United States it has been expressly decided that a mandamus cannot be directed to compel a State Government to find funds for any purpose whatever. According to Baker’s Annotated Constitution it is held that the United States has no jurisdiction to issue a mandamus to the Federal Secretary of the Treasury, commanding him to pay money out of the Treasury over a disputed claim. The same principle applies to the States, and we have here a recognition of the absolute severance of their spheres where representation does not exist as a corrective to abuses of power. I would point out that if we could interfere by means of an Arbitration Court we could interfere by direct legislation. An Arbitration Court is now proposed as a method, of settling disputes, but that is not the only means which could be adopted. Our power relates to the settlement of disputes that have extended beyond any one State, and, on the analogy of the States laws by means of arbitration and conciliation. That, however, is not the only method that might be followed. In the beginning of the last century an Act was passed in England to enforce the judgments of the Court by imposing penalties and to rend-w strikes penal. No board was set up in that particular case. Therefore, we might pass a Federal Act which would interfere directly with the conditions of employment’ in the railway services of the States as a preventive of disputes which might ailed more than one State. I dj rot wish to labour this matter, but to discuss the inexpediency of passing the measure in its present form, and to express my extreme doubt as to its constitutionality. As the general principles of the Constitution are opposed to giving direct control over the States, honorable members ought to hesitate before overloading with doubtful provisions a Bill which might otherwise be acceptable to the majority of honorable members. I desire to refer to the question of the maritime jurisdiction. I notice that the word “ industry “ is defined as follows: - “ Industry “ means business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment on land or water.
These words “land or water “ were inserted last year, I think, as the last amendment, and ‘it was argued by the Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs that they or the words for which they were substituted did not confer all that the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide desired to attain. I hold that they give absolute jurisdiction over all ocean-going vessels under this Bill, and that, no matter what limitation may be placed in the Navigation Bill in regard to excluding Western Australia from the operation of its coasting trade provisions by means of clause 296, these words, unless limited by the Navigation Bill, apply so far as the arbitration award is concerned. The rule, I take it - and I think my position can be established by legal decisions - is that a foreigner is bound by our laws the moment he comes within our jurisdiction. In the case of Regina v. Keyne, commonly known as the Franconia case, a majority of the Court decided that the limit of English jurisdiction was low water mark, that by the acquiescence of other international Powers, England could have assumed jurisdiction up to the range of cannon shot, or three miles, but that, as no Act had been passed by the Imperial Parliament extending its jurisdiction beyond low water mark, jurisdiction did not exist beyond that point. But the year after that decision was given, an Act was passed which provided that English jurisdiction should always be held to extend to the three miles limit. It was thus rendered certain for the future that that was the limit, and the decision was accompanied by the exercise of a power which was acquiesced in as a matter of international comity. It was laid down then, that the moment a foreigner came within the limits of English jurisdiction he was amenable to all those English laws that were not suspended as a ‘ matter of international comity in his favour. None of our maritime laws are suspended except by express enactment in the Merchant Shipping Act in relation to petty matters of internal order when a vessel is in any of our ports. They are not suspended in respect of crimes, wages, or anything of that sort. I hold, therefore, that the moment any British or foreign vessel approaches within three miles of our coast, it will become subject to the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court, whose award will be binding upon it, notwithstanding any limitations - unless they expressly affect this measure - which may be imposed by the Navigation Bill. Last year the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, referred to what is known as the “A B C “ case of 1900, in which the Bankruptcy Court decided that it had no jurisdiction to declare a foreigner bankrupt. But I would point out that the foreigner in question was not resident in England, otherwise he would have been subject to all our laws. Therefore I do not think the Prime Minister will dispute that this Bill brings within the scope of an award by the Arbitration Court all foreign or ocean-going vessels engaged in the coastal trade.
– They are engaged in it subject to the definition.
– The honorable gentleman does not define the coastal trade as beginning and ending here.
– Practically, I think.
– Does not the Prime Minister say that a vessel which came from London, and shipped goods at Fremantle, intending to land them at Sydney, would be engaging in the coastal trade?
– Yes ; except within the exemption.
– The representatives of Western Australia must bear in mind that all vessels coming from Fremantle, which carry passengers or freight, will, as far as this Bill is concerned, be subject to the local award of the Arbitration Court. Now as to the wisdom of the policy of bringing all ocean-going vessels within the scope of this Bill. The Premier of New South Wales stated at a luncheon which was held on the Yongala, one of the Adelaide Steamship Company’s vessels, on December 30 last, that foreigners ought to be forced by British legislation to recipro- cate. I intend to deal with the question of reciprocity presently, because there is really a good deal of misunderstanding as to what foreigners are doing in regard to British trade. What is the Australian trade to be affected by these provisions ? Last year Sir Malcolm McEacharn gave us some figures which showed that the value of the Australian coastal trade carried by ocean-going vessels represented only £125,000, out of a total trade of £2.250,000. He also showed that the bulk of that trade is between Western Australia and the eastern States. Out of that £125,000, some £25,000 is represented by freight, and the balance is made up of passenger traffic. The representatives of Western Australia desire that passengers shall not be affected by this Bill. So that, for the sake of interfering with a freight trade of £25,000 annually which is done by ocean-going vessels between Fremantle and the eastern ports, we are asked to introduce harassing provisions which may militate against the large carry ing trade enjoyed in foreign waters by the British Empire. But before dealing with that matter I wish to touch upon the question of. reciprocity. In four out of seven of the principal foreign countries with oversea possessions, the trade between the home country and its oversea possessions is open to all vessels. In the cases of Germany, Holland, Denmark, Portugal, France, except in the Mediterranean, the trade between the home country and its Colonies is open to the vessels of any registration. As regards the coasting trade, that of Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria-Hungary, Belgium, and Greece is either open unconditionally or upon terms of reciprocity.
– What coasting trade has Austria-Hungary ?
– At any rate, the bulk of the carrying trade is done by British vessels. The question is this : Are we foolish enough, for the sake of £25,000 worth of traffic, which is partly done by foreign-owned vessels in Australian waters, to introduce provisions which may strike at. the very large carrying trade which is done by British vessels in foreign waters? Take the trade of the United Kingdom with British possessions. Ninetyone per cent, of the shipping in cargoes, and 76 per cent, of the shipping in ballast, is done by British-owned vessels. Of the vessels engaged in the trade between Colonies and Colonies, 87 per cent, are of British registration. Again, let us look at the colonial coasting trade. The figures in this connexion are not, perhaps, so accurate as they might be, but it has been roughly estimated that 96 per cent, of that trade is done by British vessels. Now let us examine the other position - the trade of foreign countries. Sixty-one per cen.t. of the trade between the United Kingdom and foreign countries is done by British vessels. If we take the total British tonnage entered and cleared in foreign ports, we find that it represents 106,000,000, whereas the tonnage of foreign vessels entered and cleared in British ports amounts to only 48:600;000 tons. Taking the conclusion of one who may be regarded as an adverse witness - the economist who was specially employed to write up Mr. Chamberlain’s policy in the pages of the Times - what do we find ? In a special article devoted to the shipping trade, he had reluctantly come to the conclusion that, if foreign countries wish to enter upon a game of reprisals, undoubtedly the mercantile marine of Great Britain affords a noble target. He says that even if subsidies were granted, they would only prove of great benefit to a maximum of 39 per cent, of British shipping, that they would injure 47 per cent., and would have little effect on 14 per cent. This leaves out of account possible retaliation by other governments in the form of tonnage dues. I again seriously ask honorable members why we, as a part of a noble Empire, which has hitherto ignored the petty reprisals of other countries - whose trade has attained the enormous dimensions of nearly ^950,000,000, which does the bulk of the carrying trade of the world - should, for the sake of preventing foreigners taking ^25,000 worth of a trade of ^2, 2 50,000, enter upon a policy of pin-pricks that may be disastrous to the Empire as a whole? It seems to me to be pushing pedantic adherence to principles to the most absurd limits. I shall not further trespass on the patience of honorable members, beyond saying that, in my opinion, this measure is one which might very well wait for the experience of the States, whose legislation, as I have endeavoured to prove, we can but to a slight extent supersede, and may not for years be required to supplement. Federal interference, as long as the principle of voluntary adjustment, and even State compulsion has not been shown to have failed, is not called for, and, on the whole, it is not the province of a Legislature to anticipate every possible contingency, or to set up complex political machinery against evils that may never arise. The Bill, even as now drafted, goes far beyond the powers contemplated by the members of the Federal Convention ; but if its provisions be amended so as to restrict local autonomy by transferring to a board of three business amateurs the control of a very considerable part of the Public Service of the States, . I can onlysay that public confidence in the Commonwealth will be somewhat rudely shaken at a most critical period of our Federal growth.
– I am one of the minority in this House who are opposed, lock, stock, and barrel, to this Bill; and I have, therefore, risen to state my objections as briefly as possible before the division on the second reading takes place. I take it that industrial legislation is yet in a very experimental stage, and that the experience we have gained in the Australian States is not. sufficient to warrant the Fede ral Parliament legislating in the wholesale way proposed in the measure now before us. The remark made by the honorable and learned member for Angas, that the Bill goes to lengths which were never dreamt of by the founders of the Constitution, will be amply verified by those who take the trouble to peruse the debates of the Convention in 1 elation to this question. I find, on referring to them, that there was a distinct consensus of opinion on the part of the members of the present Federal Ministry, that proposals of the kind now before us were of a highly experimental character, and that such legislation should not be entered upon by the Federation, if at all, until many years had elapsed. For instance, at page 203 of the debates of the Melbourne sittings of the Convention, the present Prime Minister is reported to have said -
I do not regard the proposal - that is, the proposed addition of the clause in the Constitution giving us the power to legislate upon this subject - as a form of idle words, or as conferring a power that is to be allowed to remain unused. At the same time this is a power, like many others, not likely to be exercised by the Federal Parliament for many years to come. The Federal Parliament will be impressed by the importance of the experiments that are proceeding in the States. It will watch them carefully, and will deal with the subject as soon as it feels it is competent to do so.
– That is why we are dealing with it now.
– Quite so. Instead of carefully watching the experiments of the States the first Federal Government embodied this proposal in the famous Maitland manifesto - before the Federal Parliament had had an opportunity to watch anything, as it had not even been elected. This Parliament is now asked to proceed to experiments in legislation which at the time of the Convention were unthought of by the members of the present Federal Government, and which, I venture to say, would not be undertaken now but for trie peculiar constitution of the Federal Legislature in the first and second Parliaments. I find, also, that other members of this Government took up an even more extreme attitude than that of the present Prime Minister. Mr. O’Connor, who was at one time a member of this Government, and leader of the Senate, stated that he based his opposition to the insertion of the clause in question in the Federal Constitution upon one ground only, namely, that it was a matter not for Federal control, but for State control. The late Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, took up the same position. He said that this was not a question for Federal legislation, and, therefore, he would oppose the Federal Parliament having power to deal with it. That is the position that I take up. I contend that the question before us is one with which members of the State Legislatures are far more in touch than are the members of this Parliament. Their constituencies are smaller than ours, and their daily work as members of Parliament brings them into closer contact with industrial interests. They are, therefore, better able to determine questions relating to industrial legislation than are members of the Federal Parliament, elected to deal with only wide, national questions.
– What about a dispute that extends beyond the limits of any- one State?
– Under that guise an effort may and will be made to bring every kind of dispute under this Bill.
– That is the worst feature of the Bill.
– Yes. It is a deliberate attempt on the part of the framers of the Bill to bring within its provisions every trade and industry, no matter how small or slight it may be. The only exception is in the case of domestic servants. For the first time in the history of any Australian. Parliament the whole of the farming industry is to be brought at one swoop under legislation of this kind. Not in any State of Australia, nor in New Zealand, has any Parliament attempted to deal with such’ a proposal, but if this Bill be carried the farmers of Australia will stand in peril of having their hours of labour laid down for them, and the wages which they are to pay their sons and other employes specified. They will be bound hand and foot to carry out what a certain Court of Arbitration compels them to do. Farming is an industry which cannot be carried on under such a system, and I feel satisfied that the great majority of representatives of farming districts are with me in this contention. In order that the opinion of the House in regard to this phase of the question may be obtained at the proper time ‘by means of a fair and square division, I have given notice of an amendment to exempt the farming industry from the provisions of the
Bill. I am not satisfied that the principle of conciliation and arbitration is better than the principle adopted in the Victorian Factories Act.
– Under which men who join the wages boards may be dismissed by the employers.
– I have no particular love for the Victorian Factories Act, or for the wages board provisions, but I think them a lesser evil than the provisions of this Bill. If a dispute is to be settled by force of law, I think it far better that those who settle it shall be men elected, as under the Victorian Factories Act, by the employers and employes concerned, and shall choose their own chairman, than that it shall be dealt with by a Court. That arrangement is far more likely to lead to satisfactory results than is the arrangement provided for in the Bill. Where the interference of a Court is provided for, there is always an undue tendency to bring trivial matters before the tribunal. A few days ago, the people of Sydney were plunged in sorrow, because it was doubtful whether they would be able to obtain hot cross buns on the morning of Good Friday, and an application was actually made to the New South Wales Arbitration Court for a direction as to whether the buns could be delivered. One has only to look at the list of cases to see how the Arbitration Act has been ridden to death there, the valuable time of the Court being taken up by trivial disputes such as I have mentioned ; and the same thing would occur under the Commonwealth Act. Those who have been working under satisfactory conditions, without complaint, formally years, will say - “ Let us have a shot at our employers by making a claim for higher wages. If we lose our case, we shall not be worse off than we are now, while, on the other hand, we may gain something.” Universal testimony goes to show that that is what has happened in New South Wales, and will happen throughout Australia if the proposed Bill is passed. In dealing with this question, we are, to a large extent, passing legislation which will overlap the legislation of the States, and as State legislation on the subject must be more satisfactory to both masters and to men, the power of the States to legislate upon it should remain unimpaired. If we pass this Bill, the employer of labour, notwithstanding the old proverb that no man can serve two masters, will be compelled to do so, and when he is in doubt as to which he must obey, the only certain way of settling his difficulty will be by appealing to the Law Courts. That is not the position in which employers of labour should be placed. I think that this subject should be left to the Parliaments of the States, and that we should not interfere in regard to it.
– How would the honorable and learned member provide for the settlement of disputes extending beyond the limits of a State ?
– If there were a dispute in New South Wales, and another dispute in Victoria, the New South Wales dispute could be settled by the New South Wales Arbitration Court, while the Victorian dispute could be dealt with under the provisions of the Factories Acts.
– Disputes in some trades could not be dealt with by Victorian legislation.
– The farming industry is exempt from the Victorian Act, and I hope that we shall not bring it under this Bill.
– Disputes in the building trades could not be settled under the Victorian legislation.
– I have now a word to say in regard to the proposal to apply the provisions of the measure to public servants. I feel that that proposal is an unwarranted interference with the rights of the States, and that the High Court, if appealed to, will declare it unconstitutional. Therefore, I see no reason .why the Bill should be amended so as to make its provisions apply to the public servants of the States. However, I regard with less trepidation than do other honorable members a possible crisis in connexion with this particular matter, because anything which delays the passing of the Bill, and gives those of us who are opposed to it more breathing space, is something for which we have cause to be thankful. I atn certain, from what I know of the Prime Minister, that if the Bill is made to apply to public servants its passing will be delayed. If, however, its provisions are made to apply to public servants, I hope that the constitutionality of tthat proceeding will be referred to the High Court at the earliest possible moment. I feel confident that the Court will declare the provision unconstitutional. I shall support the Government in regard to this matter, not because I love them more, but because I like the proposal of the labour party less. As the leader of the Government, and the Government organ in Victoria, have been lecturing the members of the Opposition upon the attitude which, they should assume in connexion with the Bill, I suggest that they might do better if they turned their attention to the attitude of Government supporters, and left the members of the Opposition to do what they conceive to be their duty to the country. On looking up the division list of last session, I have found that if the so-called supporters of the Government had stuck to their leaders, this proposal would havebeen defeated by nine votes, and this Parliament would have been saved from the introduction of the measure at this particular time. It surely would be a grateful task for the Prime Minister, or the Minister for Trade and Customs, to persuade that eminently tractable individual, the right honorable member for Adelaide, to reconsider his position, while the honorable anc) learned member for Northern Melbourne, who is known to be always open to reason, might be asked to do the same. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is in a dilemma, between the wishes of his constituents and his own desire to support the Government ; but no doubt if the Prime Minister turns his attention to him, good may be done, while steps might be taken to render the position of other members of the party, who previously deserted the Government, somewhat different on this occasion. We, on this side, who will vote for the Government, will do so without any shadow of reluctance. We shall resist the proposal of the labour * party, because we regard it as an infringement of State rights,, and, therefore, unconstitutional, and we shall support the Government because they will be doing what is right. I hope that the Prime Minister, if the amendment be carried, will adhere to the intention which he has already expressed. By doing so, he will be acting honorably towards the country, and the people will think more of him. If it is to be a case of “Toyour tents, O Israel,” the sooner we gothe better. But the dissolution of one branch of the Legislature alone will have little effect in securing the permanent settlement of this question. It isonly by a double dissolution that a clear and definite expression of public opinion, upon the question can be secured. If a majority be returned to this House ready to .support the attitude taken by the Government, it will mean, I hope, that the measure will be hung up for some years to come. Anything that will tend to delayits passing will have my hearty support and approval.
– The honorable and learned member for Wannon does not make any secret of his intention respecting this measure. To quote his own words, he is opposed to it “ lock, stock, and barrel.” I am happy to say that that is not my position. Although I find myself in somewhat of a difficulty respecting action which it is proposed to take in connexion with the measure, and have therefore risen to say something on this occasion, when otherwise I might have remained silent, I hope that, whatever may be the fate of the amendment for including public servants, we shall have an Arbitration Act of some sort placed upon the statute-book. I think that it is necessary to industrial peace and progress that there should be a more modern method resorted to, in the shape of arbitration, for the settlement of the crises which occasionally arise in connexion with the conduct of great manufacturing, pastoral, or other industrial concerns, than that the decision should be left to force. I think it is to be regretted that something of the sort was not adopted years ago by the States, before Federation came about. So far as our knowledge and experience go, arbitration has been useful, and has been followed with good results wherever tried, and if it be good for the individual State, it must be good for all the States and for the Commonwealth. It may, of course, be. urged that our experience of compulsory arbitration is not very far reaching, or of long duration, but that is not a valid argument against the introduction of a measure of this kind. We must occasionally be pioneers in legislation. We cannot alwayys refuse to take any step within our own legislative domain until we have the experience of others to guide us. That might be a good plan to adopt in some cases, but it will not always harmonize with Australian ideas of statesmanship or progress. The honorable and learned member for Angas spoke of voluntary conciliation and arbitration, but I do not quite understand how one can at this late stage of affairs insist upon that method. We know that, with very few exceptions, voluntary arbitration has never been successful. South Australia has had for years an Act providing for voluntary arbitration, but I do not think that the honorable and learned 2 g member, notwithstanding his wide knowledge and experience of its working, can point with confidence to any splendid or striking example of its success. As a matter of fact, we know it to have been entirely unsuccessful. If we look further afield, to countries such as America or Great Britain and Ireland, we find that, with few exceptions, voluntary arbitration has been unsuccessful there. What militates against its success is the fact that the parties to a voluntary agreement cannot be bound to respect it any longer than they wish so to do, and the sweater and unscrupulous employer can at any time put an end to conditions which honorable men are willing and anxious to maintain. Our experience in Victora has been that it is not the honorable men for whom we have to legislate. They are always ready to agree to voluntary arbitration, and there are splendid instances upon record in this State in which reputable manufacturers and importers have voluntarily arranged rates of pay and hours of labour which were a credit to them. . It has, however, been necessary to legislate against the unscrupulous individual who, to become rich quickly, grinds down his employes, and seeks to make money at the expense of the flesh and blood of his fellow citizens. Such men do not respect voluntary agreements. In some cases employers who had agreed to comply with certain conditions have deliberately broken their agreements, and have unfairly competed with others by sweating their employe’s. Under these circumstances any reference to the efficacy of voluntary arbitration appears to me to be farcical. It is for those men who will not agree to fair conditions, and who will not abide by the bonds into which they enter that legislation of this character is necessary. The rough experience of the world shows that it is the unscrupulous - those who will not be bound by honorable obligations, who have no respect for their fellow citizens,’ and no regard for the feelings of the poor - to whom we have to apply compulsion. Therefore, I am amazed that any one can seriously suggest, that voluntary arbitration is sufficient to meet the necessities of the’ case. Honorable members who are more closely acquainted than I am with these matters could cite many instances in support of mv view. My experience as a member of the Anti-Sweating League of Victoria showed that even in cases where compulsion was exerted,- under the operation Of the Factories Act, in connexion with the regulation of the rates of wages and hours of labour, the results were advantageous to the employers as well as to the work-people. Prior to the introduction of that Act, a number of men who had been thrifty, and who had saved a small amount” of money, had been enabled to enter into business. In order’ to establish themselves firmly they, in many cases, adopted methods to which they would not have submitted as employes. Scores of these men found themselves unable to comply with the conditions imposed by the Factories Act, and had to resume their positions as employes. This was particularly the case in the baking trade. Many men who had been excellent workmen or capable foremen had saved money sufficient to enable them to enter into business. It was only by working for far less return than they would have received as employes that they were enabled to carry on. And as they, were not able to comply with the Factories Act they had to resume their positions as workmen. In many cases this proved of advantage to the individuals immediately concerned, and conferred benefit upon the trade generally, by removing unfair competition. I believe that equally good results will be brought about by the application of the compulsory principle under the Bill now before us. On a previous occasion I voted in favour of bringing States public servants within- the provisions of the measure. I acted then under the belief that there was no constitutional obstacle, and under the impression that in New South Wales and in New Zealand public servants had been brought within the scope of State legislation dealing withconciliation and arbitration, and that these Acts had given satisfaction. It is true that in New South Wales the railway servants are brought under the Arbitration Act, and that in New Zealand they are also included within the scope of similar legislation. I have discovered, however, that the position of affairs is not quite as I understood. I was under the impression that, in New Zealand, civil servants were placed in exactly the same position as persons in outside employment, but, upon looking through the debates which took place upon the Bill in the New Zealand Legislature, and at the Act itself, I find that that impression was incorrect. The New Zealand Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, as submitted to the House of Representatives there, embraced all classes of employes. Mr. Pearce, a member of the House of Representatives, proposed to exclude civil servants, and upon that being carried, Mr. Seddon, the Premier, moved that the amendment should not apply to those engaged in the Post-office and Railway departments. That had the effect of bringing within the scope of the measure all the State employes in those Departments and excluding all others. At a later stage it was found necessary to hold a conference between the two Houses, and eventually both Mr. Pearce’s proposal and that of the Premier were abandoned. The Act now contains clauses which deal specially with railway servants. These are known as the railway clauses, and an examination of them shows that they do not place the railway servants of New Zealand upon the same footing as those who are employed outside. It is provided that, in making its award, regard shall be had by the Court to the schedule of the Civil Service Act of 1896. I referred to Stroud’s Judicial Dictionary, in order to find out the meaning of that reference to a schedule in an Act of Parliament. At page 1693 of the second edition, it is stated that -
This phrase limits discretion to the amounts of allowance prescribed by the scale ; but there is full discretion to act within the scale.
I take that to mean that the Arbitration Court cannot increase the pay of railway servants in excess of the rates provided ‘for in the schedule of the Civil Service Act. Provided, however, they keep within the four corners of that schedule, they have the right to increase the rates. I take it for granted that if a man were receiving the minimum rate prescribed by the schedule, the Court would have the right to increase his pay to the maximum rate therein provided. Of course, if I am wrong, the Arbitration Court has even less power than I have indicated. In any case, the Court must have regard to the schedule, and, consequently, has a restricted power in regard to railway servants. Assuming that the Arbitration Court decided, while keeping within the four corners of the scale provided for in the schedule, to raise the rate, of pay previously given, they would naturally interfere with the Appropriation Act for the year. I am at a loss to understand how the New Zealand Government would view such a decision, or what they would do. I have not been able to discover whether any award has yet been given. I know that unions of railway employes and the Railway Commissioners may be registered under the Act, and that disputes may be referred ‘ to the
Arbitration Court, but whether the provisions of the Act have been availed of, I do not know. I should like to know what would happen in the event of the rates of pay being increased beyond the amount provided for in the Appropriation Act for the year ?
– Does the honorable member suppose that a Government would act contrary to the decision of its own Courts ?
– . 1 should hope not. I take it that any Government would be bound to respect the decision of a Court practically created by itself.
– Such a Court would not be likely to give an unreasonable decision.
– I do not suppose it would. My own view is that Governments, like individuals, are disposed to respect decisions of the Courts they create. At the same time, it would aid us greatly if we knew that a decision had been given by the Court which would render an increased appropriation necessary ; and that such decision had been respected by the New Zealand Government. I have also sought information with respect to the condition of affairs in New South Wales. There the Railway Commissioners and their servants can be registered under the Act, and disputes can be referred to the Arbitration Court. I was unable to ascertain whether any dispute had been brought before the Cour.t,and eventually I wrote to the Honorable B. R. Wise, the Acting Premier of New South Wales, who is the father of the Arbitration Act, and a strong supporter of its principles. I believe that he was responsible for bringing railway servants within the scope of the Act.
– I think that that was brought about by means of an amendment proposed by some one else.
– I would not be positive upon that point, but I know that he supports the application of the Act to the railway servants. I wrote to him, as the most competent authority to give me information, and asked if any disputes between the railway servants and the Commissioners had been referred to the Court, and if so, with what result? Further, I inquired whether, if there had been a dispute, he would favour me with his opinion as to what could or would be done in such a case as I have just stated, namely ‘ one in which the amount provided for in the Appropriation Act for the year would have to be supplemented owing to the award of the Court. I also desired him to inform me what could be done or might be done if the Government refused to recognise an award which would have the effect of increasing the appropriation? These, in brief, were the questions which I put to him, and his reply, which is dated Sydney, 6th April, 1904, reads . as follows : -
In reply to your note of the 30th ult., respecting State Railway Servants and our Industrial Arbitration Act, I see no reason to doubt the legality of any award made by the Court of Arbitration, granting higher pay than that provided by Parliament, but as the Commissioners under the Government Railways Act are to “ pay such salaries, wages, and allowances to officers as Parliament appropriates for that purpose,” I think that any award must be subject to such appropriation. The Government and the Railway Commissioners would doubtless do what was necessary towards submitting to Parliament any amounts awarded by the Court, and towards paying such amounts when voted, but if Parliament refused to vote the amounts awarded, and the Commissioners consequently could not pay, I do not see how the award could be enforced against them.
The New South Wales Government Tramway Employes’ Union, Industrial Union of Employes, has filed a case against the Railway Commissioners demanding higher wages than those at present paid, and improved conditions. The Commissioners dispute the claims, but the matter had not yet been heard by the Court.
Those answers show that, in the opinion of Mr. Wise, whilst there is legal power to Obtain an award from the Court there is’ no power of enforcing such an award if the State refused to recognise it. In my judgment, the States would be in honour bound to respect the decisions of the Court. I am, however, quoting not my own view, but that of an eminent legal authority, who is well known to be an ardent sympathizer with the principle of compulsory arbitration. In effect, he declares that, whilst it would be quite within the province of the Court to make an award which would have the effect of increasing the amount of an Appropriation Act, he does not see how that award could be enforced if Parliament refused to recognise it.
– Nor could any other award if Parliament refused to recognise it.
– If the States would not refuse to recognise the award of a State Arbitration Court how . much more likely would they be to respect the opinion of a Federal Court?
– I am merely endeavouring to give honorable members the benefit of the information which I have received. In view of. the fact that Mr. Wise is an ardent sympathizer with this Court, and a man who has done a very great deal towards bringing about industrial peace in the senior State of the Commonwealth, it is interesting to have his opinion expressed in this terse way upon a question that is of very great moment to this Parliament. If that opinion be correct, it shows very clearly that it is idle for us to proceed if the States Governments do not intend to recognise the decisions of the Arbitration Court. Personally, I see no constitutional reason why we should not bring the public servants of the States within the scope of this measure. I am still as strongly in favour of making the Bill applicable to them as I previously was, though I have to admit that my opinions on’ the subject have been a good deal shaken by the two circumstances which I have just narrated, namely, the special provisions which are contained in the New Zealand Act, and the very strong opinion which has’ been expressed by Mr. Wise. But, though I favour bringing the State public servants under the operation of this Bill, I feel bound to say that the industrial community, and more particularly the workers, are expecting too much from this legislation. I have already declared that in my opinion the working classes will lose more than they think by the passage of a measure of this character.; I believe that the employers generally have more to gain from it than have their employes. Yet is is singular that the greatest opposition to the Bill emanates from the employers. Indeed, what strengthens me in my support of the measure is the fact that those who, like the honorable member for Wannon, are entirely opposed to industrial arbitration, are those who principally oppose its application to the public servants of the States. All that they would support is some useless Bill embodying the voluntary system of arbitration, such as is advocated by the honorable and learned member for Angas. When I was before my constituents I expressed the same views that I am voicing now. I declared that I saw no constitutional reason why the. States public servants should not be brought within the scope of this measure. But I also took occasion to point out that I would prefer to lose that partiular provision rather than sacrifice the whole Bill. In order to retain the Government in power - not because of any special circumstances attaching to the individual members of the Ministry, but because it is most undesirable at the present time to effect a change of
Government - I would prefer to forego that proposal. I would rather do that than lose both the Bill and the Government. It has been asserted in the press, and especially in the conservative journal of this city, that my vote was purchased by the Government offering me the position to which I have been appointed.
– Which is the conservative journal ?
– The Argus.
– I thought they were both conservative.
– It has been said that my vote was bought by my acceptance of the* position of Government Whip. I desire to say that that statement has no foundation whatever in fact, because long before I accepted the appointment I told my constituents exactly the course which I intended to take. Had I felt free to saythat I would have voted for the inclusion of State servants in any circumstances, my majority would probably have been very much larger than it proved. Scores of electors voted against me because they believed that the Government would make this question a test one, and because they felt that if that were done I would vote with the Government. But altogether irrespective of what may be the fate of the Ministry upon this measure, and of what party may lead in this House, i sincerely trust that we shall secure an Arbitration Act of some sort. I feel strongly that the progress and prosperity of Australia is wrapped up in that industrial peace which she needs for the conduct of her business. If we secure an Arbitration Act I believe that we shall for ever get rid of the disastrous strikes and locks-out which have in times past disgraced our industrial affairs. Industrial peace will do more to attract capital to this country, and to set the wheels of progress in motion, than will anything of which I know. Believing that, I am a strong supporter of the Bill, and whatever may befall the Ministry, I hops that we shall secure an Arbitration Act for Australia, and in so doing obtain that industrial peace and progress which will follow in its train.
– After the remarks of the right honorable the Leader of the Opposition upon this measure not being regarded as a party one, I need scarcely say that the criticism which I propose to bestow upon it is my own., and does not necessarily represent the views of other honorable members upon this side of the House. Whilst the speech made by the Prime Minister upon the second reading of this Bill was not as eloquent as his previous effort in the same direction, I think it was a much more valuable exposition of the measure, and gave honorable members some very desirable information, not only as to the legal interpretation of certain clauses but also as to the intention of the Government in connexion with some of its more doubtful provisions. To the tone of that speech generally no exception can be taken, and, therefore, I am the more reluctant to object to one remark which was made by the Prime Minister. He said that he left to the opponents of the measure the creed “ whose god is greed, whose devil is need, and whose paradise is the cheapest market.” I do not know whether his reference to the cheapest market was intended as a sly hit at the free-traders, but I would tell the honorable and learned gentleman that free-traders have always favoured allowing men liberty to sell their labour in the dearest market, and to purchase their supplies in the cheapest market. That policy has not proved unfortunate for the working man in the countries which have adopted it. I also desire to say to the Prime Minister, that some of those who are opposing this measure have done far more for the workers with whom they have been associated than this Bill can ever do, even if it fulfils the most sanguine expectations of its authors.
– That is prophecy.
– It is fact, not prophecy. In making the remark to which I have called attention I think that the Prime Minister exceeded the moderation which characterized the remainder of his speech.
– It was not intended, I find, to apply to the opponents of the Bill, but to the humanitarian interpretation of the principles and obligations which form the very basis of civilized society. I admit that the honorable member’s reading of it is nuite defensible, but I was not alluding to the opponents of the Bill.
– I am very glad to hear the Prime Minister’s explanation. In dealing with this measure, I do not intend to resurrect the speech . which I delivered last session, and which is decently buried in Hansard. At the same time, I wish to allude briefly to some of the objec tions which I then urged against the measure - objections which, in most cases, have been confirmed by’ subsequent experience. I then pointed out that the system of fixing the remuneration to be paid, and of determining the relationship between employers and employed, was no new system - that it was in vogue generations, and even centuries ago, and was abandoned after a full trial had been given to it, because of the injury which it inflicted upon industry, and those employed in it, and because of its Ill-effects upon the general community. I am aware that to-day people think that they are cleverer than were their ancestors. In some respects they may be, but I would point out that this revival of a system, which has been tried and abandoned, is at the best - and is admitted oy the Prime Minister- to be - merely an experiment. As an experiment, which is on its trial in different States of the Commonwealth, under different industrial Acts, it should be fully tested before we adopt it in the larger arena of Federal politics. We have every opportunity . to watch the operation of the Arbitration and Conciliation and other Acts in the different States, and to determine which are beneficial and which are not, and to ascertain in what respects they fail or succeed. It would be wise for us as a Parliament, having the opportunity to judge the working of industrial legislation elsewhere, to await the result of those experiments before passing a complicated Federal Arbitration Act. Strange to say, the Prime Minister, as a member of the Federal Convention, appeared to hold this opinion. In speaking of the power under the Constitution of the Federal Parliament to legislate in matters relating to Conciliation and Arbitration he said, at the Melbourne sittings” of the Convention, that -
At the same time, this is a power, like many others, not likely to be exercised by the Federal Parliament for many years to come. The Federal Parliament will be impressed by the importance of the experiments which are proceeding in the States. It will watch them carefully, and will deal with the subject as soon as it feels it is competent to do so.
I am sure that no one who has had experience of the working of the States Acts will yet say that they have proved themselves either a success or a failure.
– They have, at all events, put an end to strikes.
– I shall refer to that matter later on. and we shall then be able to determine by comparison whether they have really put an end to strikes. I contend that they have not yet been proved. They may possibly prove successful, while, on the other hand, they may turn out to be absolute failures. I previously indicated that the experience of the working of the Arbitration Act in New Zealand gives us no assurance of the successful operation of such a measure. I have pointed out that in view of the prosperity which New Zealand enjoyed for some little time before the introduction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and since any such legislation would be not only tolerable, but would fail to be seriously felt by industry.
– The honorable member should put the position the other way - cause and effect.
– The honorable member wishes to insinuate that the Act is responsible for the prosperity of New Zealand.
– That legislation of that kind has improved the position of the Colony.
– There is not the slightest foundation for that opinion. The honorable member should be aware that during the last few years New Zealand has had an exceedingly favorable experience; that whilst we have been suffering from the effects of drought, she, by reason of her rich harvests, has been profiting from our reverses. He also should know that the South African war poured immense sums into the pockets of New Zealand’s producers and exporters.
– That may also be said of Australian exporters anc! producers. .
– But to a far more limited extent. Practically only the southern States were benefited in that way. The honorable member should likewise know that New Zealand has been fortunate in many ways; that owing to exceptional circumstances - such as the ability to export her oats to Great Britain, and the enormous meat trade which she has developed with the old land - she has enjoyed a time of prosperity which would have enabled the people to work under any Act of Parliament without any appreciable reduction of prosperity. The time to test such legislation in New Zealand, as elsewhere, is the time of adversity. Until they have passed through the cauldron of adversity no one can say that measures of this kind, which are in force in some of the Australian States, are successful. In support of that view of the position, I should like to read a letter written by a- member of the New Zealand House of Representatives who is friendly to the Bill, to a gentleman in this city, who requested him to favour” him with his opinions on the working of the New Zealand Act. It is only fair that I should read the whole of his letter, although some portions of it may tell against my argument. The letter is as follows: -
Your letter of the 20th June reached me only a few days ago, and the excitement of beginning the session of Parliament has prevented me from replying fully to your letter.
You want to know, regarding the working of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act, whether the dissatisfaction that you hear of is caused by the defects of the Act itself or in its administration, or comes from larger causes. You, probably, have at hand a copy of the Act, and the date on which it became law.
We have had an amendment made in the Act nearly every year since it was first passed, and a fresh amendment promised this session.
That shows, of course, the need of experience -
During the first few years the Act was in operation the great body of the workers believed that it was a charter of salvation to them, because it gave a continued series of increases of wages and other advantages of shorter hours and better conditions generally. One thing to be borne in mind is, that, .from the date the Bill was passed, the conditions generally in the Colony were improving. The grice of our produce had increased in the London market, and the effect of the imposition of the land tax, a few years before, had made access to the lands of the Colony more easy. That meant a greater demand for labour, the ranks of which had been thinned in the cities by the exodus of people on to the land. When the Court had once gone round the different industries fixing the rate of wages and other conditions, fresh applications were lodged from those who had been first in the field in getting increases before, and reasons for further increase were given - that the cost of living had increased, which, of course, was the inevitable result of an increase in the wages of those producing different articles.
– That has not been the result here.
– It must be the result everywhere.
– It has not taken place here.
– Because the provisions of the Victorian Act are not so generally applied as in the case of the New Zealand Act.
– Where they do apply that has not been the result.
– Where the increase of wages is universal, there must be of course an increased cost of living, especially when those conducting the industries in question continue to make as large a profit as before the passing of such legislation.
– That is the whole crux of the question.
– I would refer the honorable member to the New Zealand income tax returns. They show that those conducting industries affected by the Act have made, not a smaller, but a larger profit since its introduction, and that that result has been due to the prosperity of the Colony as a whole. Mr. Wise, in introducing his Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in the New South Wales Parliament, quoted the dividend returns of New Zealand companies, in order to show that their profits had not been reduced by the coming into force of the Act. I showed at the time that, those dividends were considerably higher than were those of similar companies carrying on business in Australia. This proves that the Act has not lessened the profits of those conducting industries affected, but that the increased charges have been passed on to the consumer - and that the consumer being able to bear them, owing to the splendid prosperity of the Colony, has made no complaint. The writer continues: -
The first check which the popularity of the Act received was when a decision had been given in the case of the Miners’ Union in the Auckland Province, the conditions there being that, one mine, the “ Waihi “ Mine, was doing very well, making large dividends for their shareholders, while nearly every other gold mine in the Province was just ‘struggling along barely paying expenses. The miners employed in the Waihi Mine naturally felt they were entitled to a greater portion of the rich finds in that mine ; but one of the principles of the Arbitration Act was that the awards of the Court should extend over large areas, in fact, the ideal of many trade unionists was to get a colonial award, and when the Court, in the case of the Waihi miners, heard the evidence of the conditions of the industry in the district generally, they came to the conclusion that the demands of the men could not be complied with, and gave their decision accordingly. The result was an immediate outcry against the composition of the Court -
Adverse decisions against a body of men - I do not care what body it is - are sure to lead to resentment and cause the parties concerned to take action to secure a change.
– The every-day “ drunk “ in the police court complains of the magistrate.
– Quite so; but he has no power to force the hands of Parliament - to secure a revision of his sentence. The letter proceeds - and a deputation of the men waited on the Minister of Justice asking that the President of the Court, who is a Judge of the Supreme Court of the Colony, should be removed from his position. Since then resolutions have been passed by various bodies of workers condemning the decisions of the Court, and in some cases it has been publicly announced that cases which were intended to come before the Court have been withdrawn, because the men had no confidence in the Court.
– Those cases are not very numerous.
– I am only giving a New Zealand legislator’s statement of the working of the Act, regardless whether it operates against my argument or not.
– I am aware of that ; but I repeat that those cases will not be numerous.
– They are not likely to be when, under the decisions of the Court, wages have always had an upward tendency. There are only two or three cases in which a reduction has taken place.
– That is likewise correct.
– The writer of the letter proceeds -
I may say that the present President is a man of the very highest character and impartiality in labour questions, and if he cannot give satisfaction, no President could give satisfaction unless he made a general practice of giving the men all they asked for. Hitherto the Court has been able to, in most cases, grant some portion of the demands made by the men, because the general tide of prosperity has been rising in the Colony ; but, if a reverse comes in the general prosperity, then will be the testing time of this particular Act. When applications are made by the employers for a reduction of wages, it will take great courage on the part of the Court to grant their request -
I do not agree with the use of the word “ courage ; “ I do not consider that that is altogether the . right word to employ - - and failure to do so, with shrinking trade, will mean stoppage in some industries, and a throwing of people out of work. I believe the opinion amongst the most intelligent of the labour leaders in this Colony is that the Act has been a useful instrument in equalizing labour conditions; that is to say, it has been the means of bringing the sweating employers into line with the best employers, but that, as a means of permanently increasing the proportion of the products of labour, which come to the producer, it must of necessity fail ; that some more radical cure is required to raise the whole body of workers, but that in the present artificial conditions of society it has artificially stimulated (he upward tendency in the wages of labour. At the present time we have numerous instances of a natural law of wages superseding the awards of the Court. In places where the -Court has fixed is. 2d. an hour as the rate of wages, from id. to 3d. an hour more is being paid, because the demand for labourers in that particular branch is greater than the supply, and, in some instances, where the Court has fixed a minimum wage, which employers found to be too high for all except picked men, large numbers have been left out of work, and they had to go to other parts in search of employment.
As a regulator of labour conditions, I believe it has done good service in preventing unfair competition between the fair and honest employer and the dishonest, but its true value can only be ascertained .after having passed through the testing time of an industrial depression.
I hold, therefore, that the New Zealand Act which is invariably put forward as a proof of the successful results attending industrial legislation, has not yet proved itself and cannot do so until it has been subjected to the conditions of adverse circumstances. I have before said that the great majority of the English-speaking workers are absolutely against such a proposal as this.
– They require to be educated on the subject.
– We cannot say that they are not led by intelligent men, or that they themselves are not intelligent. We know that the vast mass of the British and American workers has amongst its numbers some of the ablest leaders in the world, and that these men, by a large majority,, declare that they do not desire the system. Last year, even after the Taff .Vale decision, which the Prime Minister thought might convert them, they rejected, by a majority or three votes to one, a proposal for a measure providing for conciliation and arbitration. They consider that they are doing infinitely better by their system of voluntary arbitration, and that no compulsory Act will stand the test to which it will have to be put. That is their opinion, and it is mine.
– I think that they wish to hold to the strike system; but that weapon has r.ot Deen left in their hands.
– They do not like strikes any more than other working men like them. They have been successful, very largely by voluntary arbitration, in accomplishing the avoidance of strikes. They say that their system is sufficiently successful to promise better results than are promised by a system which they believe, as I believe, would break down when put to the strain which it will have to bear if many -circumstances which have occurred in the past arise in the future. In reply to the question put by the Prime Minister previously, why, when we refer so many matters to courts, we should not refer industrial disputes relating to rates of wage, hours of work, and relations between employers and employes, I pointed out on a former occasion, what has since been proved, to some extent, at any rate, by actual occurrences, that where there is no legal compulsion, and extreme dissatisfaction with an award exists among a body of men, effect will not be given to it. Whenever a Legislature refers matters te law courts, it accompanies the. right of jurisdiction with power to enforce obedience to decisions; but it is not so in this Bill. Since the last Bill was introduced, cases have arisen in which limited and comparatively small bodies of men have rebelled against the decision of an Arbitration Court. Strikes have occurred, notwithstanding the existence of the Court, against the advice of the leaders of the men, and in opposition to the opinion of the bulk of those employed in the industry concerned. There have been several such occurrences in the neighbourhood of Newcastle, and every one of the leaders, or at least, all those whose remarks were reported, advised against them. The great body of men employed in the interests concerned were also opposed to them. Fortunately the men who struck were only a limited number. Had the feeling which, possessed them obtained sway amongst an extensive body - say, the great majority of those engaged in the industry - there would not have been the’ repression of their fellows, such as these smaller bodies had to. contend against, and nothing would have prevented a strike as serious as any which took place under the old conditions.
– More breaches of the Act are committed by employers than by employes.
– I do not say whether that is so or not ; but the Court has power to enforce its awards against employers, while it is without that power in the case of employes. The decision of the Arbitration Court in the cases to which I have referred was that it had no power of enforcement ; neither is there contained in this Bill any power of enforcement against the employes, although an attempt has been made by an amendment to prevent the measure from breaking down by the action of the employes in refusing to abide by an award.
– In the cases referred to by the honorable member, the Arbitration Court decided that there had been no breach of the award.
– The men would not accept the award. Mr. Spence. - The Court decided that, the action of the men was not a breach of the award.
– There was a breach of the rule requiring the giving of fourteen days’ notice.
– That rule was not contained in the award.
– The giving of fourteen days’ notice was the rule of the district.
– Not under the award.
– The facts are as the honorable member states them. -But they support my argument. There was a breach of the rule requiring the giving of fourteen days’ notice, but there was no breach of the award, because it contained nothing about the giving of notice. If the men had waited fourteen days they could each have marched out of the mine without committing a breach of either the award or the law. That has been seen by the Prime Minister, and he has attempted to deal with the position by placing certain new clauses in the Bill. Those clauses, however, do not meet the case, and it cannot be met. “Under the Bill, men could leave their employer at the end of a week, or whenever the legal notice had expired, and they could not be prevented from doing so. It is proposed that we shall do in connexion with the Arbitration Court what we would not attempt to do in connexion with any other’ Court of law, and that is, refer matters to it for decision without putting it in a position to enforce its awards. How could we put it in that position? No one wishes to see large bodies of men sent to gaol. It would be ridiculous to expect that to happen, even if we provided for it in the Bill.
– We cannot compel employers to continue to carry on their businesses.
– No; but if they refuse to comply with an award they are practically forced out of the industry in which they have been engaged. That does not happen in the case of the men. They can go elsewhere and find employment. Overhanging the employer is the tremen dous penalty of a possible shattering of his business, and sacrifice of his buildings or machinery. Some employers would suffer more than others.
– An employer could put on other men.
– But in any case he would be forced to comply with the award of the Court, so that it would be better for him to keep the men he had got. I am not complaining of the compulsory enforcement of awards against employers ; I am only showing that it is impossible in regard to employes. That is where I anticipate failure will occur, and the labour leaders in England and America agree with me. Without the power to enforce compliance, wherever there is among a large body of men dissatisfaction, justifiable or unjustifiable, with an award, we shall have in the future strikes as serious as any we have had in the past.
– We have made special provision to meet that difficulty.
– The facts I have referred to show how great is the need of experience. It would be unwise for us not to profit by the experience we may get of the working of the industrial laws of the States. There is, however, nothing in the provisions to which the honorable and learned gentleman refers which meets my objection. Men who were dissatisfied with an award could, under his provisions, give a week’s notice of their intention to leave their employment, and at the end of that time walk out of their workshop, thus practically refusing to abide by the award without actually declaring their intention not to do so.
– That action would be equivalent to the action of an employer in discontinuing his business.
– Yes. But while an employer is’ practically prevented from continuing to carry on his business, unless he is prepared to comply with the awards of the Court, employes may refuse to do so, and yet still obtain employment in their industry. I have no desire to make the provisions of the measure so drastic that large bodies of men would be compelled to labour under conditions of which they do not approve; I am simply pointing out that, as employes cannot be compelled to comply with the awards of the Court, the Act may at any time break down in its most important particular. Whatever our associations, our prejudices, or our interests, we should try to regard both side’s of this question, and to look at it from all aspects. We should avoid extreme views. I- do not deny that there are industrial evils. One of them is the unnecessary reduction of wages. One justification for, and a great purpose of, unionism, is to resist such reduction. Reductions in wages are due to a variety of causes. In some cases they are caused by the -greed of an employer who is able to afford good wages. In many cases, however, they are brought about by want of capacity, or of business connexion, or of capital. There may be a dozen firms in an industry, eight or nine of which are willing and able to pay good wages, while the remaining three or four, for lack of some quality or characteristic, or through’ want of capital, are in difficulties. These latter thereupon try to discover how they may reduce expenditure, and if their wages expenditure is their largest item, as it often is, they reduce wages. In these cases that reduction is due entirely to the deficiencies of the firm conducting that business. I quite admit that that creates an undesirable condition of affairs. As I say, unionism was designed in the first place to correct this, and British workers have found that by means of their unions and voluntary arbitration they can adjust disputes arising in that connexion in many of the largest industries. The results have been entrely satisfactory, because those who have had the decision of disputes have been fully acquainted with the resources and possibilities of the trades concerned, and have not imposed impossible conditions, but have adopted a rate of wage’ fair to the industry and satisfactory to the men themselves. As the honorable and learned member for Angas has pointed out in his very able speech, more permanently satisfactory - I am not speaking of temporary - results would accrue from a voluntary system than from any attempt at compulsory arbitration such as that contemplated by this measure. I should, be only too glad if I could believe that this proposal would afford a true remedy for some of the admitted evils of industrial life. If you try to remedy an evil by adopting something which will only aggravate.it, or if you succeed in remedying one evil, but at the same time create a greater one, you will not bring about any improvement in the industrial world. I very much fear that eventually a greater evil will be substituted for that which the Bill seeks to cure. The Prime Minister has described the Bill as something which will lift a great burden or pick up pins. Heis no doubt quite correct in that description. He has likened the Bill to an elephant* but it might as well be compared to a hundredton crane. Any one who would employ a hundred-ton crane to pick up pins would be considered a lunatic. An enormous measure, which is necessarily clumsy in its operation, is to be employed for the purpose of picking up industrial pins. All sorts of small matters will be brought within the scope of the measure. Even an angry word spoken in Western Australia might be brought under the cognisance of the Arbitration Court, and become the subject of inquiry.
– That is if the dispute extended beyond the limits of any one State.
– Now the Prime, Minister is dealing with his mystery. I have given him credit for having furnished us with a fuller exposition of the Bill than on the previous occasion, and of having treated us to a very instructive speech. But he carefully avoided saying what would be regarded, within the meaning of the Constitution, as a dispute extending beyond one State, and with even greater care he avoided indicating the disputes which he desired to bring within that category. Surely we ought to know what we are doing. Are we to legislate blindfold ?
– I said that we were endeavouring to legislate in such a way as to take advantage of all the power contained in the sub-section of the Constitution, but I admitted that it was very difficult, without a decision of the High Court, to say exactly how far our power extended.
– That reminds me of the words of an old song : “ Leave it to Your Solicitor.” In this case the Prime Minister would have us leave it to the Court ; but we ought to make up our minds how far it is wise to go. In regard to other measures we do not say, “We do not know exactly how far our powers go, and we will trust .to the Court.” We say that we wish to exercise our powers so far and no further.
– We wish to exercise our powers as far as they will go.
– Will the Prime Minister say how far he thinks it wise to exercise those powers?
– If it is a good thing we cannot have too much of it.
– Then why is it not intended to apply it to the States servants?
– That is what we want.
– There is to be a limit in certain cases, whereas in other regards the operation of the measure is to be without limit. We do not know where its operation will end. That is not a desirable method of legislation. We ought to know what we are doing, and decide how far it is wise for us to go. We are simply shutting our eyes and taking a leap. We do not know where we shall land, but the High Court is to be left to decide for us. We should have some assurance as to how far our constitutional powers extend. At any rate we should know how far the Ministry think it desirable to exercise these powers. We should not be content with the vague statement “as far as it can go,” but should have a distinct definition in the Bill. Some people still think that the measure will apply only to disputes extending beyond any one State.
– Hear, hear.
– In my opinion, unless the High Court decides that some of the provisions of the Bill are ultra vires, the measure will extend to the smallest details of every employment in every State. The least transaction, will come within the jurisdiction of the Court. As I have said, even a rude word spoken by an employer, to a foreman or an employer, no matter in what part of Australia, might result in an appeal to the Arbitration Court. The Prime Minister has already referred to the fact that a dispute, with an organization extending beyond any one State is intended by the Bill to constitute an Inter-State dispute.
– It may.
– The Prime Minister will not deny that that is provided for in the Bill. That is to say, that a dispute affecting an organization which extends beyond one State will be regarded as a dispute extending beyond any one State.
– Oh no; the dispute itself must extend beyond the State. I did not understand the honorable member in the first instance.
– I hold that a dispute with an organization extending beyond any one State is, according to the intent of the Bill, to be regarded as a dispute coming within the purview of the Arbitration Court. Of course, we cannot say what the decision of the High Court will be. The Prime Minister cannot tell. This is a species of agnostic legislation.
– Under an agnostic Gonsitution.
– Yes; perhaps the Constitution is agnostic too. The Bill contemplates that a dispute with an organization extending beyond any one State shall be regarded as an Inter-State dispute.
– With all respect to the honorable member, I think not.
– That is my own opinion, and at any rate, the Bill provides machinery with that object.
– That is only when a dispute has extended beyond one State.
– It is not necessary for me to labour this matter,, because I have stronger arguments to urge in this connexion. The provision as to the common rule would bring every industry in the Commonwealth within the scope of the Bill.
– Unless the operation of the common rule were limited.
– I mean that, if it were desired by the Court, the common rule might be made to extend to every industry in every part of the Commonwealth.
– Therefore, if a dispute arose, and were brought before the Court, the decision could be made to apply to every industry of the same character, or of a cognate character, in every State. Consequently, as the Federal law will override all the State laws, control will be exercised by the Court over the smallest particulars relating to every industry in the Commonwealth. Suppose that a man were discharged as the result of his addressing an angry word to his employer. He might make an appeal to the Court’, on the ground that he was discharged because he was a unionist. Or a man might . be refused employment, whilst others were being taken on, and might appeal to the Court upon his right of preference as a unionist, and the employer might, have to satisfy the Court that there was good reason for not giving him employment. That is an enormous and far-reaching power, and one which I cannot conceive will be good for the industries of Australia.
The Bill provides machinery for the establishment of Courts of Registration in the different States, and for what purpose? The intent of the Bill is as clear as possible.
– The honorable and learned member for Angas declares that the Bill provides for only two classes of disputes.
– That is an entirely different question, which I am content to allow the legal talent in this House to discuss. I am merely pointing out what the Bill is intended to accomplish. Of course it will be for the High Court to decide how far our powers extend, but the Bill undoubtedly makes provision for all that I have stated. If we desire to see the extent of the matters with which it proposes to deal, we have merely to look at the. definition of “ industrial matters,” as set out in clause 4. There we find that - “ Industrial matters” includes all matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, rights, or duties of employers or employes -
Under this definition the Court would even have power to say in what work an employer shall engage. That has actually been done under the New Zealand Act. In that country the Court has fixed the work of ah employer. The definition continues : -
Or the mode, terms, and conditions of employment, or non-employment; and in particular, but without limiting the general scope of this definition, includes all matters pertaining to the relations of employers and employes.
Could anything be wider than language of that sort? -
And the employment, preferential employment, dismissal, or non-employment of any particular persons, or of persons of any particular sex or age, or being or not being members of any organization, association, or body.
That Court will not lack business. I was rather amused by one remark made by the Prime Minister. He said that even if the merchant suffered a reduction in his profits it might be better for him. I think that any conductor of industry who has to carry on operations under these conditions will most certainly suffer a reduction in his profits. I only hope that he will not experience such a reduction as will cause him to abandon his industry.
– Trie experience of New Zealand is not in that direction.
– But these provisions are much more severe than is the law of New Zealand, because in some of the States there will be two codes of laws to deal with, and, in addition, we are legislating for the larger territory of Australia. Of course, under the influence of a wave of prosperity an industry may be able to carry on, even under this Bill, and not suffer a reduction in its profits. But we must remember that in Australia our prosperity will be much more intermittent than is that of New Zealand. The recurring droughts which afflict us, and which are practically unknown in New Zealand, are bound to make our seasons of prosperity more intermittent. But, adverting to the reduction in the merchants’ profits mentioned by the Prime Minister, it is interesting to note that the Bill does not propose to deal with professional men. The honorable and learned gentleman doe’s not attempt to do anything in the way of reducing the earnings of lawyers.
– Yes, he does not propose to allow them to appear before the Arbitration Court.
– That will not reduce their earnings. They are provided with fresh fields and new pastures in which they may grow fat. I have no resentment against lawyers, but I was irresistibly reminded by the Prime Minister’s remark that he does not propose to apply the same principle to the professional men % of the community that he wishes to see applied to the merchant. If honorable members wiil read the interpretation clause they will see that - “ Industry “ means business, trade, manufac- ture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment on land. or water -
I think that covers everything save submarine diving - in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage, or reward, excepting only persons engaged in domestic service.
Let honorable members reflect what an enormous power this Court will wield, and. the vast quantity of business which must . come before it, especially when it has a host of other matters to attend to, such as union . rules and levies, . the recovery of union subscriptions, the terms of awards, the interpretation of awards, breaches of awards, &c.
– It will all depend upon the interpretation which the High Court in the first instance puts upon its powers.
– But even if the High Court declares that the Commonwealth possesses the fullest powers which are claimed for it, are we prepared to set up such an enormous tribunal in Australia ? The cost of the Court will, I am sure, be tremendous. I know that the Bill provides that a Justice of the High Court shall be the President of the proposed tribunal, and that he shall receive no additional salary for his services in this connexion. But Mr. Wise has already pointed out how impossible it will be for a Justice of the High Court to occupy the dual position very long. He declares that the time of this tribunal will be largely occupied in hearing appeal cases for the determination of which the attendance of three Judges is necessary. Consequently, no Justice will have time to exercise the enormous jurisdiction of this Court.
– Of course it may mean the appointment of an extra Judge.
– That will mean great extra cost. In New South Wales, at the present time, there is need for the establishment of an additional Arbitration Court in the Newcastle district. T am not aware that it has not been promised. There is certainly need of it.
– Only whilst there is a “spurt.”
– When is the “spurt” to stop? The honorable member has been absent from the chamber, otherwise he would have gathered from a letter which I read from a New Zealand legislator, who is favorable to compulsory arbitration, that no sooner has one crop of disputes been disposed of than another is forthcoming, because the workers receiving the first awards affirm that the expense of living has been increased. Further, the New Zealand Court is in arrears with its work to-day, although it has been in existence for six years.
– It is only in arrears because one of its members was ill during nearly the whole of last winter.
– The members of the proposed Arbitration Court will not be proof against illness. Must not a Court be able to meet the ordinary contingencies of life?
– But the honorable member’s point was that the work accumulated beyond the powers of the Court.
– I say so still. The New South Wales Court has certainly sufficient work before it to occupy it for a year. I believe that if the measure is to prove successful, there ought to be another Arbitration Court established in that State to deal with the mining industry. Possibly there ought also to be a tribunal to deal with the city industries, and there might be a third to deal with rural industries. If three Courts are required in New South Wales, ten or eleven would be necessary for the whole of Australia. When honorable members reflect that in New Zealand, with its circumscribed area and limited population, which does not exceed one-half that of New South Wales, one Court is not more than sufficient to cope with the business coming before it, it will be seen at once that we shall need a large number ot Courts if these tribunals are to be granted the full powers with which it is proposed to invest them. Now I come to the matter of Whether the other two members of the Court, should be appointed permanently, or only in connexion with each dispute. I have watched the operation of the Act in New South Wales, under which permanent appointments have been made.
– We propose to limit the term of their appointment to five years.
– In my opinion, it would be far more satisfactory to make fresh appointments in connexion with each dispute. One good reason only was advanced by the Prime Minister in favour of permanent appointments, namely, that the Court was given power to reject some unimportant disputes, and that one Judge would not care to exercise that power. Perhaps there is something in that contention ; but I think that any Judge ought to be prepared, as he is in more immediately serious matters in other Courts, to accept the responsibility which attaches to his office. But, as a matter of fact, the method of appointment of the members of the Court, other than the Judge, is one which makes them to a large degree advocates. I consider it would be infinitely better to have advocates with knowledge than advocates without knowledge of the particular industries with which they are called upon to deal. For example, in New South Wales, we recently witnessed the spectacle of a Judge, an engineer, and a fireman deciding a dispute in connexion with a tailoring trade. We see them puzzled with cases relating to coal mines, and having their awards referred back to them. They cannot be expected, at the first attempt, to enter into all the ..intricacies of coal mining, which they are not acquainted with. We see them absolutely embarrassed by a request to give a decision relating to the employes of gas works, and we have, in connexion with that case, an expression of opinion which shows what a vast quantity of work is thrown on the Court under the New South Wales Act - Avork with which no Court should have to deal. According to a recent newspaper report -
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.
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.
– In New South Wales they have not the power of conciliation for which we provide in this Bill.
– That will overcome the difficulty.
– It will not; the Commonwealth will have a similar experience.
– The issues are materially reduced, it is said, by Boards of Conciliation.
– Those Boards may reduce the issues; but I have just given an instance of the work which the New Zealand Court has to carry out.
– Quite so ; but I can show special reasons for that.
– Then Mr. Samuel Smith, the representative of labour organizations in the New South Wales Court, said in February hist-
Unfortunately the congestion of business in connexion with the Court was largely caused by the introduction of matters that might easily be settled on a common-sense basis. It was simply astonishing to find so many adopting a course which caused trouble, annoyance, and loss to all concerned, when there was really no necessity to apply to the Court at all.
– We give the Court power to brush such cases aside.
– Why give the Court power over a long list of minor matters, such as I have mentioned, when the New South Wales Court has already expressed the opinion that many such cases which come before it should not be referred to it.
– Exactly ; but the Commonwealth Court will be able to brush aside such matters.
– The New South Wales Court can do so.
– But not to the same extent.
– It can do so, but is loth to. brush them aside.
– It has not the specific authority which we propose to give to the Federal Court.
– It is desirable that the advocacy which takes place in the Court should be the a-dvocacy of those who understand the occupation with which the Court is dealing.
– We have also provided for that.
– By appointing additional assessors, and in that way increasing the membership of the Court-
– When necessary.
– That means more expense. Two experts should be sufficient to explain to the President the technicalities of the evidence. If the explanations of one were not satisfactory, the explanation of the other would be available, and enable the Judge to discover any inaccuracy. In this way the experts could thrash out the case with the Judge, and assist him to arrive at some practical knowledge of the matter in dispute, which should enable him to come to a better decision than he would if the members of the Court possessed no technical knowledge, and knew no more about the industry in which the dispute had occurred, than did the Judge himself - the one feeling that he ought to support the side of labour, and the other that he should uphold the side of the ‘employers.
– Surely the best place for the experts is the witness-box.
– Any number of experts may be placed in the witness-box. We have had experts in the witness-box in the New South Wales Court, yet we have the admission of the members of the Court, in one case, that, at the close of the evidence, they understood nothing about it.
– Judges in our ordinary Courts of Justice have greater difficulties, such as, for example, when they, have to deal with mining cases.
– I do not think that any Judge, in our ordinary Courts of Justice, is confronted with the difficulties that face a Judge in dealing with some of the industrial arbitration cases which present many complications and- require the consideration of a vast number of intricate technical details. An ordinary law suit may be determined on two or three details, but in these cases the whole of the details must be considered.
– Did not the objections of the Court, to which the honorable member has referred, relate more particularly to the trivial nature of the matters brought before it?
– No. In the case to which I have referred the Court had to request the employes who were a party to the dispute to appoint a skilled man to decide the matter. The men agreed upon the appointment of a skilled representative, -and he gave his decision.’ Then we had the statement of the men that the decision was practically unworkable. They asked for an order that it should be put in operation for a week, and that if at was found to be unworkable at the end of that period further action should be taken. But the Court said, in effect - “You agreed to the appointment of this representative, who is a man of experience, skilled in the business, and he has given his decision.” As a matter of fact, he was at one time in charge of the works in question, and supervised the operations of the men, and the Court said to the men - “ You will have to abide by his decision. We shall not allow your request that the decision shall be in operation for a week in order to prove whether it is workable, because in that event you might take care to make it impossible to conduct operations in such a way that a satisfactory trial could be made.” A number of the matters in dispute were unimportant ; but some were of importance, and it was in relation to those that the Judge made the remarks to which I have referred. I quite recognise that the majority of honorable members of this House - and in that majority I do not include myself - are in favour of the acceptance of a measure of this kind. Personalis, if legislation in this direction is to be accepted, I should prefer to see an elaboration or extension of the Victorian wages board system, inasmuch as, although compulsory, it more closely approximates to the voluntary arbitration system. . In principle it more nearly approaches the system which has been found so effective in Great Britain. In other words, the representatives of each side on these boards understand the business iri dispute. They understand its limi tations, and to some extent its difficulties and possibilities, when they come to discuss and thrash out the question at issue. If they agree in regard to all or even some of the points at issue, well and good; but if they cannot agree on all, then there is an independent party to decide the points on which they differ. To my mind that is a much more satisfactory system, and one that is more likely to be permanent than is the proposed system of compulsory conciliation and arbitration.
– It is a modern adaptation of the old guild system.
– Exactly. But it has this advantage : that, instead of requiring all the industries of Australia to be dealt with by one Court, it allows of a policy of decentralization, and enables different industries to be dealt with by different boards. I am not arguing against the proposal, save on the ground that I do not believe that it will be successful. I shall, be pleased if it does succeed. I would infinitely prefer that the attempt to secure the objects which honorable members have in view should be made by means of a measure different from that now before us. If, however, honorable members insist upon the system laid down in this Bill, I, with a view to its success, should much rather see it confined in the first instance to the larger questions which usually give rise to strikes. It is easy to enlarge the scope of a measure, and one may often be destroyed by including too much within its scope at the first attempt to legislate in any desired direction. Experience gained on the main issues which arise between employer and employed would be an infinitely safer test on which to base these legislative experiments than is this extensive basis, which, I fear, will have the I results that I have already outlined. There is a proposal to still further extend the Bill by bringing States servants within its provisions. Personally I cannot see any logical difference between extending the operation of the Bill as far as the Government propose in relation to industries in the States and the extension of its operation to States servants. The reasons given by the Prime Minister against this proposed amendment were not, in my opinion, valid ones. He said 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.
The raising of the wages of the men employed in other industries would increase the cost to the people of that State. Then again the Prime Minister said -
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.
The same may be said of the industries of the States. I am perfectly satisfied that the States never anticipated surrendering their power over their own internal industries, when they agreed to that section of the Constitution, which enables us to deal with conciliation and arbitration. They believed that it applied to disputes with which the States Parliaments could not deal. I am satisfied that some of the members of the present Federal Ministry who supported the inclusion of that power in the Constitution were under the impression that it applied only to disputes with which a State could not deal. They never anticipated that it would extend to the variety of matters proposed by this Bill. I therefore hold that the argument against the handing over of the State-owned industries to a Federal authority applies to the handing over of the privately-owned State industries.
– Is that proposed?
– Yes ; the power of control over States industries.
– I do not admit that.
– That’ is provided for in the Bill, but the question is whether the House will agree to it. The common rule will apply to every State industry. Those common rules, when multiplied, as they’ will be, will soon embrace the whole of the industries of Australia, of whatever nature, from the farm to the factory, and from the mine to the sea.
– To what Government industries does the honorable member refer ?
– I am referring to private industries. I do not see the distinction in the reasons given by the Prime Minister for not including State servants. If those were the only reasons, I should be found voting against the Ministry on that point. I shall not do that, however. I intend to support the Ministry on that question. I shall do so because I think that we have extended the scope of the Bill too far in trying to control industrial disputes with which the States can deal, and that therefore a limitation, rather than a further extension, is necessary. The Postmaster - General, addressing a New South Wales audience, spoke of the extension of the provisions of the Bill to State industries as likely to create a sort of Frankenstein monster which would devour its author. The monster has been created in this Bill, and the danger is that it will devour some of the industries now carried on by private enterprise in these States. At all events, that is my opinon. I have expressed it before, and supported it by arguments, and I can only hope that my anticipations will not be found correct. The advocates of the Bill have said that in any case it can do no harm to try the experiment which they propose. I think that that is the most unwise argument that can be used. It must do harm to tamper seriously with the industries of Australia, unless one is pretty sure of success in the endeavour to bring about better conditions. We have every opportunity to experiment. Trials are going on now in the States ; we do not need Federal legislation in order to obtain an experiment. Different systems are being tried in different States. Why not await the result of these experiments, instead of superimposing one Court upon another before we have any reasonable evidence of the success of compulsory arbitration, or any knowledge as to which of the systems now under trial is the best ? The advocates of the measure say that the only alternative to it is the system of strikes ; but even if we pass the Bill, we shall not be secure from strikes. There have been strikes in New South Wales, even in the short period during which the Arbitration Act of that State has been in operation, and, as J have already pointed out, we may be in a worse position under an arbitration law when an award upon some burning question is distasteful to a large body of men than we are in now-. It is not sufficient to say that the alternative to the Bill is strikes, because there may be strikes even under this legislation. It is a curious thing that there have been at least as many - I think rather more - strikes in those States in which legislation for the settlement of industrial disputes has been passed since those measures were introduced as there have been in the States of Queensland and Tasmania, in which there has been no such legislation. I do not say that it is not a desirable thing to try to prevent strikes; hut I contend that it is desirable to know that the measure proposed will effect the object aimed at. I wish now to make a brief reference to statements of the Prime Minister which are either inconsistent with the Bill, or with facts, or with previous remarks made by him. He said in his Speech on the second reading that the Arbitration Court has only revealed disputes which previously existed. I do not think that that is a sufficient or an accurate answer to the complaint that the Court has caused disputes. The differences, if they existed at all. did not exist in the form of disputes. But they became disputes. I . have shown by . the remarks of Mr. Justice Cohen, and of the representative of the labour organizations in the -New South Wales Court, that that body was appointed to deal with every matter, how ever trifling, affecting every branch of industry. Since the passing of the Act, dis.putes have been created which would never have been heard of if it had not been for the existence of these wide powers of the Court. The Prime Minister also said that the tribunal Ke proposes to create will be very rarely wrong, or, if wrong, then in a very slight degree. I think he would have to import members from Heaven-
– They would be less familiar with the matters to be dealt with than those I propose to appoint.
– They might be less familiar with them, but they might possess an omniscience which would be a substitute for experience. We cannot expect omniscience in human beings. If any three men could manage - the Bill practically provides for management - all the industries of Australia they would be the most valuable men on the face of the earth.
– They would hear both sides.
– They might hear a hundred sides, but if, after hearing all sorts of views on the practical management of the various industries concerned, they could come to correct decisions in every case, they would be more than human. The Bill gives the Court power to deal with every business in Australia, whatever its character, and to control it to whatever extent the Court may think, proper. If, under such circumstances, the Court will be .rarely if ever wrong, its members will be men such as, I believe, no other country in the world could produce.
– Our State Supreme Courts have a far wider jurisdiction than the proposed Court, would have.
– Noi in the management of private businesses.
– They have continually to consider questions affecting the management of private businesses.
– Whenever they have to do with the management of private businesses, they admit their incapacity by appointing managers.
– The Supreme Court has an infinitely wider range of questions to deal with than will be referred to -.he Arbitration Court.
– Not aninfinitely wider range. It could not have a wider range. Questions affecting every industry will be referred to the Arbitration Court.
– The Supreme Courts deal with men’s relations, transactions, and bargains in every department in life.
- Mr. Justice Cohen has admitted that the intricacy of the work of the Arbitration Court is much greater than that of the Supreme Court. The Prime Minister also spoke of the value of the provision under which the same Courtdeals with conciliation as well as with arbitration ; but there are other provisions under which separate bodies will deal with conciliation. As a matter of fact, the Arbitration Court is by no means the only judicial machinery provided for. We may have a Court with three permanent members, or; that Court with four other members added, or with other members substituted, or two assessors may be appointed, or the GovernorGeneral may appoint at any stage of a dispute a High Court Judge or a Supreme Court Judge to be president during the hearing of that dispute, or the Court may appoint committees of reference for conciliation purposes, in any part of Australia. It may use any State industrial authority that is willing to act, or may create a local board, with the Judge of the High Court or of a Supreme Court as chairman, and it may authorize any person to hear evidence, summon witnesses, and to demand the production of books and documents. All that mass of machinery may have to be multiplied considerably, if it is found that one Court cannot do the work.
– The provisions to which the honorable member refers are designed chiefly to remove the difficulty of dealing with disputes at a distance. A dispute which arose at Broken Hill might be more conveniently heard in Sydney.
– But in some cases reports from Boards of Conciliation have to be referred on from distant places to the Court itself. I am pointing out the complexity and the massiveness of the machinery provided for.
– In a sense, the complexity is required to provide for simplification.
– The Prime Minister, in replying to an interjection, said that disputes, not disputants, must extend beyond the limits of a State before the Court could have jurisdiction. But a few minutes later he said -
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.
– First there is the difficulty of it extending beyond a State at all ; but if it does extend, having a Federal organization enables us to deal with it effectively. That is the meaning of what I said.
– Well, I have already alluded to the question of extension beyond a State, and the power sought by the Bill. I notice that the Minister, in providing for arbitration between employes and masters, has not made any provision for the important class of small farmers, graziers, and miners, who work under great difficulties. No Arbitration Court is appointed to’ render things easier for them. The employers and the employes in the cities may have recourse to the Court, but those who are engaged upon small mining ventures, or in tending their little flocks of sheep, or herds of cows, who are their own employers, and who are entirely dependent upon nature, will gain no advantage from the Court. No provision is made, or can be made, unless Nature is to be a party to the dispute, for them, although they have to pay the piper in bearing part of the cost of an expensive system such as this. They are left to the difficulties heaped upon them by droughts and other disabilities of climate and circumstance; and they will be taxed to pay for this immense piece of machinery, the creation -of which, in my opinion, would be justified only if we were sure that its operation would be successful. The Bill is more burdensome than any of the Acts now in force in the States, for the industries in the States, in which there is already similar legislation, will be under, not one, but two tribunals. The State tribunal will be able to deal with disputes as it likes until the Federal tribunal interferes. The Federal Court, however, may take charge only of part of an industry.
– It will take over the whole dispute.
– It may take over either the whole or part of an industry. It may, for instance, deal only with a question affecting wages, and leave other questions at issue to the State Court.
– It will exercise its judgment as to whether it shall take all or none.
– If only one question is referred to it, that will be the only question it will decide.
– It is not a matter of reference. If a dispute extends beyond the limits of one State the Commonwealth Court will deal with it wholly.
– I have already shown that the Bill seeks to interfere, not simply when disputes extend beyond a State, but with the control of every’ industry in Australia in every detail. The Court can do that, as the Prime Minis?ter cannot deny, merely by the creation of common rules ; and in my opinion there are other provisions .which allow for similar interference. It can extend the common rule to every industry in Australia, and to every circumstance of that industry. Therefore I contend that the States Court may deal with an industry, and that the Federal Court, towering above it, may go into every detail in connexion with that same industry, the industry having to work under its decision, so far as that decision goes. Some employes may be subjected at the same time to the verdict of one tribunal in r’egard to one set of matters, and to the decision of another in regard to other matters. I cannot conceive how such a state of affairs would prove beneficial to the industries of Australia.
– Everyone in the Commonwealth is subject to the operation of two sets of laws - the States laws and the Commonwealth laws.
– They are not liable to two sets of laws after the Commonwealth has legislated.
– They may be, because the Commonwealth law may not cover the whole of the ground.
– The honorable and learned member cannot draw me aside on that issue. In the case I am now discussing we shall have two sets of laws for the management of the industries of Australia. There will be two managers for every industry, and one may take control over one set of affairs, and the other of another set. I cannot think that that will be good for the industries of Australia. The Prime Minister stated that the opponents of the measure considered that it was Collceived in the interests of the employés only. I do not take that view. If I thought that the measure were calculated to .confer a benefit upon the manual workers of Australia I should be very much inclined to support its principle in some modified form, because, as I have previously mentioned, we cannot really benefit such a large section of the community without conferring advantage upon the whole. I believe that the Bill would impose a serious burden upon our industries, and might deprive some workers of their occupation.
– The honorable member must remember what was stated by a member of the New Zealand Legislature.
– I admit that in times of great prosperity all difficulties may be. overcome.
– It is contended that the New Zealand Arbitration Act has brought the sweating employer up to the level of others. ‘
– I quite agree that it is desirable that those employers who reduce wages unnecessarily should be brought up to a higher level. But I say that the best means of achieving that result is by unions among the workmen, and by resort to voluntary arbitration. I do not believe that under adverse circumstances the Bill will accomplish what is desired. The successful conduct of industry must depend largely upon the intelligence exercised in its management, and if capital - which, accompanied by intelligence and skill, gives the greatest stimulus to employment, and, by creating demand for labour, tends most to the increase of wages - is discouraged, we shall do harm and not good. If Ave encourage capital, skill, and enterprise, we shall stimulate employment, but I am afraid that the effect of this measure will be io discourage enterprise and skill, and also the investment of capital, and such results must seriously re act upon the workers of Australia. If I am wrong, and if, despite all the difficulties which I apprehend, this and similar measures result in removing the evils connected with our industries, without at the same time inflicting any injury upon them, I, for one, shall rejoice.
– I had not intended to speak until I could tabulate my notes, and make ‘a concise and full statement of my views upon this very important question. I find, however, that no other . honorable member is very keen to speak at this stage, and therefore I have to take time by the forelock! It seems to me that recent events have carried us beyond the original intention of the Bill, which is stated to have relation to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. Now we find that the labour unions are amalgamating, or propose to amalgamate, upon a Federal basis. If a dispute occurred with a union in New South Wales which was amalgamated with a similar organization in Victoria, the dispute could be regarded as extending beyond the limits of any one State, and could therefore be brought within the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court. That is the way in which I read the Bill. Sup- . pose, for instance, that the Tailors’ Union in Sydney were amalgamated with the Tailors’ Union in Melbourne, and a dispute arose in Sydney, the employes there, if they were not satisfied with the award of the State Arbitration Court, might appeal to their Melbourne confreres to bring about a dispute covering a larger area, and thus afford them an opportunity to appeal to the Federal Arbitration Court.
– The same grievance must exist in both States.
– That could be arranged without much difficulty, and I believe that could happen under the provisions of the Bill. What is the position in the States with regard to conciliation and arbitration? We find that in three States the compulsory principle has been adopted, whereas in three other States the fact that it has not been adopted looks as if it is regarded with doubt or absolute hostility. These States have representative Government, and if it be right for us to interfere in the affairs of the Transvaal because that Colony does not possess selfgovernment, it seems to me clear that we should lack justification for interfering in the affairs of three of our own States which enjoy that privilege. If these States had desired, they might have adopted the principle which we now seek to force upon them. As they have not elected to do so, we should not interfere with their rights as States by bringing pressure to bear in the way proposed. My main objection to the principle of compulsory arbitration is that the application of the common rule appears to be absolutely essential to its easy working. The common rule and the minimum wage will operate with special harshness upon the small employers. Those managers of industry will gradually drop out and leave the field to the large employers only.
– Because the small employer always feels most keenly the hardship attaching to new and restrictive conditions. Legislation of this character has had the effect of knocking out the smaller employers in New South Wales. I represent a constituency which contains perhaps as many shopkeepers as any in Australia, and I know that the effect of certain legislation in New South Wales has been to drive out of business a number of small shopkeepers.
– The honorable member for Bourke stated that the effect of such legislation in Victoria had been to knock out the small employer.
– The minimum wage, which is a vital principle of the Bill, practically becomes the maximum wage.
– That is not borne out by Victorian experience.
– The honorable member might wait until he hears my argument fully before he replies. The minimum wage principle, which practically means a maximum wage, has the effect of denying to the workmen the opportunity to rise from the ranks of labour and become commissioned officers. In other words, they have no chance of entering into business for themselves.
– Where does that occcur?
– It is occurring every day. Where have all our capitalists sprung from but from the ranks of labour?
– Would an Arbitration Act prevent that?
– The principle of the minimum wage levels up, but also levels down, and prevents workmen from rising above their fellows and becoming recruits to the ranks of employers. One of the principal safeguards of our present society is afforded by the constant change of the employe into the employer, and if we restrict the operation of natural laws in this respect we shall adopt a very dangerous course. Whilst under a restrictive system such as that now proposed, the employed cannot rise to the position of an employer,, there is nothing to prevent the incapable employer from being crushed out. Therefore, we shall gradually have fewer and fewer employers, until eventually there will be only the State left. I was very much amused on opening a letter to-day to find myself confronted with a question, printed in black type - “ What is socialism?” That seemed to be very much in the nature of a puzzle, but I think that the enterprising journalist who prompted that question would soon find his answer if the Bill now before us were to be allowed to operate for a term of years. If the principles of the measure now before us were fully applied for a generation, we should, in those pleasant days, find that an honorable member’s child would be born in the State hospital, and forthwith be handed over to the State matrons - because personal ownership in babies would no doubt be sternly discountenanced. The citizen would probably be wedded, if it were thought advisable, to a ‘State wife, and he would go down the path of years until eventually he would be handed over to a State Board of Extermination, and undergo euthanasia in the State lethal chamber. That, would be a very happy age. To come back to the unhappy state of things existing to-day, the two principles of the common rule and the minimum wage would probably act in such a way that the State would eventually become the only manager of enterprise in the Commonwealth. We find that it is proposed to erect a Court upon practically the same lines as that which has been established in New South Wales, upon the bench of which there is a representative of labour and a representative of capital. In New South Wales we find that the Court is practically a ring in which two of its judges pound each other with 4-oz. gloves, whilst the other holds the sponge. There is nothing judicial about its proceedings. Two of its members are appointed for a period of five years, at the end of which time they present themselves for reelection. In such circumstances, they are constantly “barracking” for their own side. I do not think it is either creditable or useful to the community to have individuals able to sit upon the Bench in the capacity of partisans, rather than of Judges. If we must have this principle - and I suppose we must - we should insist that the Bench shall be kept free from all partisanship. I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that special representatives should be chosen in connexion with each dispute. I am almost inclined to go further, and to say that as far as possible, a man should be ineligible for re-election to a seat upon the Bench as the representative of any particular class.
– That would make the members of the Court still more partisan.
– I do not think so. I believe that the Judge could be given power to object to any man whom he regarded as elected to act as a dishonest partisan. Of course there are a number who simply regard this Bill as a means of gaining further political influence for the leaders, of labour. Personally, I think there is more behind it than that. But whilst we have a trades union acting as an industrial union - as we have in New South Wales - I believe there is a great deal in that contention. A trades union is a voluntary organization. It can frame any rules that it chooses,’ because the individuals who join it do so voluntarily. An industrial union, on the other hand, is one which the State compels ‘ individuals to join at the peril of their livelihood; consequently an industrial union should be kept absolutely free from anything in the nature of political propaganda work, whether it be by way of levying subscriptions for a political fund or of running newspapers. If we are to have industrial unions, not only ought we to schedule the rules which they shall have, but also the rules which they shall not have. If we are to compel persons to join industrial . unions, let us make perfectly sure that we do not sacrifice their political liberty as well as their individual industrial freedom.
– Does not the honorable member think that they know what they are doing ?
– I have no doubt upon that point, but it is evident that many persons do not wish to join, the trades unions, or thev would have done so years ago. This Bill, however, will compel them to join those organizations. The honorable member is aware of the litigation which has ensued for some time in New South Wales between two of the shearers’ unions.
– Not between two shearers’ unions.
– Between two unions certified by the Court.
– I will give the House a resume of what happened between those unions. The Pastoralists’ Union and the Machine Shearers’ Union held a conference to which delegates from the Australian Workers’ Union were invited. The lastnamed refused to join in the movement. The Pastoralists’ Union and the Machine Shearers’ Union thereupon registered an agreement. Then the Australian Workers’ Union applied for the cancellation of the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union, which application was first of all recommended by the Registrar. The Registrar’s indorsement was, however, disregarded by the Court, on the ground that the rules of the Australian Workers’ Union contained provisions which might reasonably, exclude members of the Machine Shearers’ Union from joining it. Then the Australian Workers’ Union again applied to the Registrar for the cancellation of the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union. That official once more refused the application, upon the ground that the rules of the Australian Workers’ Union had not been altered. The Australian Workers’ Union subsequently altered their rules, and renewed their application. By this time the Court entertained the opinion that the behaviour of that organization had not been such as to inspire confidence-
– When did the Court say that?
– The Registrar said so, and, for all practical purposes, the Registrar, as the representative of the Court, was the Court in this case. The Registrar again refused the application.: because of what, to my mind, appeared to be gross misconduct on the part of the Australian Workers’ Union. I quote this case with a view to showing the necessity of insisting that all these compulsory industrial unions should be absolutely free from political influence.
– And the employers’ unions also.
An Honorable Member. - They should not petition Parliament.
– Yes; I would treat them all in the same way. I do not think the employers should, as an industrial union, be permitted to petition Parliament. But I would point out to the honorable member for Darling that the employers’ unions are not industrial organizations. That name is merely given to a number of persons who associate themselves together for political purposes.
– Why does not the honorable member tell the employers’ unions that they ought to keep out of politics?
– I have told them so, I said, upon the public platform, that I would no more accept the nomination of the Employers’ Association than I would that of the party to which the honorable member belongs.
– The honorable member was very wise in so doing.
– It was not canniness that prompted my action. A revulsion of feeling is being experienced in my State which does not augur well for any of these class parties. Personally, I hate class discussion. I am debating this question absolutely from an impartial stand-point. I repeat that, as far as possible, we should see that these unions have a uniform constitution, excluding all objects other than those drawn up for the easy exercise of the Bill.
– Under this measure we take power to control all their rules.
– I do not know that the Bill does that. . It declares that the unions shall have certain rules, but it makes no provision as to what rules they shall not have.
– But the rules may not be approved.
– Another change that I should like to see is in the direction of enlarging the Registrar’s powers, which have been expressly cut down in this measure. If it were not for the alteration that I think should be effected in the constitutions of industrial unions, I would not advocate giving the Registrar any extension of power. My idea, however, is that he should be the watch-dog of the Act, his duty being to see that neither employers’ nor employes’ industrial unions infringe its provisions. A clerk of the Court would also need to be appointed, as the duties of the Registrar would be too large to enable him to satisfactorily fill both positions. My own view of this Bill is that the principle of arbitration has not been given a sufficient trial in the other States to justify us in embarking upon legislation of this character at present. Some of us may think that the securing of industrial peace justifies almost any sacrifice. I quite agree that it does, but until we know that we shall secure industrial peace, and until we have ascertained definitely what our sacrifice is to be, we should act with the utmost caution.
– We should wait another 100 years, I suppose.
– No. I think that another three years might reasonably be allowed to elapse before we engage in this experiment. I can see signs of a falling market in the near future, and, after we have had experience of it under those conditions, we shall be able to speak definitely as to this principle. Until then, however, there is no necessity for this Parliament to do more than the States Parliaments have already done. I sincerely hope that some attention will be given to my suggestion regarding the constitution of industrial unions, and if I have directed the notice of abler men than myself to this very crucial point, I feel that I shall not have spoken in vain at such very short notice.
– I think I shall be able to satisfy the honorable member that the provisions which he desires are contained in the Bill.
– The only question under consideration to-night has reference to the main ‘ principles underlying this measure. The point to be decided first is whether honorable members believe in the parliamentary method of reform, or in what has been termed the arbitrament of blue metal. The next question is whether the public servants of the States ought to be brought under this .measure. Although I have listened with a great deal of attention, and with some educational result, to the speeches of the honorable member for North Sydney, and the honorable member for Wentworth, I do not think that there is any need to enter into a dissertation on the details of the Bill. There are two main points.- The first is whether we believe that our knowledge of history and our experience with regard to the upward tendency and progress of nations entitles us to consider that it is better for a community to deal with its industrial troubles, or to leave the people to find their own way out of their difficulties. The next question is how far legislation of this kind should go. I am prepared to acknowledge, “with the honorable member for North Sydney and the honorable member for Wentworth, that we should approach the consideration of this matter with a considerable amount of diffidence, and with a caution amounting almost to temerity. But we should also approach it in a spirit pf hopefulness. We *are especially hopeful in regard to this Bill, because a man possessed of any humane feeling would take all the risk that might be involved in passing legslation of this kind, if he believed that it was possible to do any good in this way. I agree with the member for North Sydney that we should approach the question with caution, for if our experience of history and of Governments brings us to any conclusion, it is that in the evolution of every community the best work done by one Parliament may include the destruction of the work of a past Legislature. Even the best laws evolved by Parliament, supported by our more advanced knowledge, and the honest belief of -every honorable member must, in the course of a few decades, become obsolete. There may be, in years to come, evidence of the stupidity, barbarism, or unwisdom of those who. passed them; and the feeling that what we may describe as the vagaries of the human family causes legislation sometimes to be attended with results different from those expected must make us cautious. How frequently do we find, on looking back as. far as we are able - and it may not be very far - that the laws made by Parliaments for the protection of life, property, and trade, have absolutely failed. Passing from this aspect of the case, I therefore grant at once that every honorable member who approaches the consideration of this measure with caution, apprehension, and doubt is possibly on very sound ground. But our experience causes us to press onward. Judging from the views expressed by the last two speakers, some honorable members appear to have the idea that we are living in what is really a dreadful century ; that the troubles which beset us in Australia are graver than any which have beset any other nation. That idea can be the outcome of only thoughtlessness or ignorance. There never was a community that did not possess as great or greater troubles than those which to-day beset Australia. I make that assertion with a knowledge of the difficulties which surround us, with a knowledge of the apprehensions and tumult which disturb the minds of many people with regard to government. Australia is to-day in a more wholesome and solid position, not only with regard to social reform, but in relation to most political matters, than was ever any other community in the history of the world. Entertaining that feeling, let me give honorable members an illustration of the present position. If for example, an honorable member who is an inexperienced father heard his boy complain of pains in the limbs, he would no doubt be anxious about the lad. But a man who is familiar with the cause of the trouble knows that the pain is due to the fact that the boy is growing, that his sinews are stretching, and instead of being anxious about these growing pains, he regards them as harbingers of an evolution.; He looks upon them as an indication that the boy is growing. A scientific writer, referring to this subject on one occasion, pointed out that, after all, these tumults, agitations, and difficulties were no more than the growing pains of society. If we view history aright, we must see in strife, in the upward tendencies of the community, in the desire on the part of the people to prosper more and more in the conduct of industries in which labour plays so great and important a part, a sign not of discrepitude, but of virility, which should give any reasonable man great hope of the future. I do not desire to go into any details, but only to deal with’ those broad principles which must appeal to all men, and which lie close to the root of national reform. Without these principles all methods of Parliamentary reform are useless ; without them measures of this kind are purely experimental. The honorable member for North’ Sydney, when thinking over the apprehension that he feels with regard to the difficulties which beset this community, should cast his eyes to a country in which there are no strikes or industrial troubles. Let him look at China.
– There are many strikes in China.
– Now and again a revolt of Boxers occurs there, and gives rise to trouble. But we know that the Chinaman is satisfied to end his life as he began it. He is satisfied to have the same environment in which his father lived. He has no hope of advancement, no hope of any great national purpose to be achieved, and lives simply a dull, material life. China is in a state of what I have previously described as national hibernation. She is in a condition of national, mental, physical, political, and ethical hibernation. I do not desire to enter into a discussion of the fiscal issue, although we all know that honorable members opposite at once become alert when the question of cheap labour is brought forward. In China, the people have no hope of advancement, and there there are no strikes, no trouble.
– What about the strike of Chinese cabinet-makers in Little Bourke street ?
– No doubt they have become Australianized ; but, generally speaking, honorable members know that if we turn to a nation undergoing a long winter of intellectual stupor, we find that it has no strikes or difficulties of that kind. Therefore, instead of regarding the ordinary growing pains of society as a serious matter, we should look upon them as indications of better times. The honorable member for Wentworth and the honorable member for North Sydneiy do not desire arbitration. They believe it to be a bad principle. One hundred years ago another nation considered that any interference with the affairs of the people was wrong. I refer to France, and I should like honorable members to bear with me for a moment or two while I speak of that class of thought which dominates the honorable members to whom reference has been made. It nominated France towards the end of the eighteenth century, when the upper classes, socalled, or the second class, as described by an honorable member here, controlled the country. This is a matter which absolutely deals with the point at issue. It is a question of parliamentary reform, or the survival of the fittest.
– The principle of arbitration was enacted in France by the greatest tyrant she ever had.
– After the Revolution.
– If the honorable member had lived in _F ranee in those days - and I am glad that” he did not, for in that event we should not have him here - he would have thought, had he belonged to one of the classes, that the masses ha’d no rights at all.
– On the contrary, I think that the masses have political and individual rights.
– I do not understand exactly what the honorable member means ; but I know that the opposition to the principle of conciliation and arbitration, and to the legislation of the great democratic platform generally is based upon the principle of free will and the survival of the fittest. Those are the two forces which stand in practical antagonism to the parliamentary method of reform.
– The question of individualism has nothing to do with the question of the artistocracy in France.
– I shall show the honorable member that it has something to do with it. If I were to ask him when the Reign of Terror occurred in France he would say that it was during the time when they carried the “ fairest born of the people “ on tumbrils to the guillotine and when the streets ran blood. But the real Reign of Terror was not then. It had existed for hundreds of years before. It existed when there was a class living in its battlemented towers, while the people crouched in hovels outside their gates; wh’en neither honour of woman, the results of industry, the labour of the community, nor wealth was safe. That was the real Reign of Terror in France.
– Is the honorable member likening that period to the condition of affairs in Australia to-day ?
– I am not. I am simply endeavouring to explain that we should be influenced by the methods of the past. To go a little more fully into this question of the French, to which the honorable member for Wentworth has pinned me, although when I referred to it, I had no desire to go into details, I would ask him why did the Reign of Terror which cast such a lurid glare over the pages of history occur ? The answer is, that it was largely due to the absence of any measures of this kind to deal with conflicts between the classes. The embankments were kept too high, there were no sluice gates through which public opinion might pass, and the result was that the great masses of the French people burst through the barriers. Then followed what the honorable member has erroneously termed the Reign of Terror. The incident referred to must surely teach the people that it is better to have parliamentary methods of reform or unredressed grievances than to perpetuate quarrels between individuals. It is better that the people, through Parliament, should gradually bring into existence a Better state of things than that those who are down should be forced to fight for better, conditions, merely because there is no alternative. .1 have, in this Chamber, before referred to the example furnished by English history of the results which have followed the obtaining of reasonable control by the mass of the people. A few centuries ago, when the barons held sway, a nobleman could not cross the drawbridge which spanned his moat until he had cased himself in armour, and had gathered his retainers around him ; and even then he could *not go half-a-mile beyond his boundaries without the risk of being destroyed by some other nobleman who was similarly situated, so that few of them lived out half their days. If any one had entered the castle of such a person, and had told him that the time would come when the serfs without his gates would aid in governing England, when the nobleman would be wealthier and safer, so that he could go from end to end of the kingdom without let or hindrance, that person would either have been relegated to the dungeon, or laughed out of the hall. Honorable members should remember that we are now dealing with the question of how best to control industrial management by the people through Parliament. What is the alternative? The alternative is might. The alternative is war. Might and war have existed for centuries,, and what has been the result? Honorable members who smile at my statements cannot deny the basic facts from which a reasonable man argues. They are the facts which underlie the agitation of the party sitting in the horseshoe bend, and of every man who is entitled to be regarded as progressive. Governing this subject is the one salient question - are we to have revolution by war or revolution by constitutional government ? The reference to the French Revolution naturally turns the mind to the English Revolution. ‘ When the English people wanted a revolution, what did they do?
– They cut off the King’s head.
– The execution of Charles I. is not what is known as the English Revolution. That revolution took place when the people of England allowed their King to abscond, and sent over the water for a Prince, who had married his daughter.
– Does the honorable member think that this has anything to do with the Bill ?
– I shall connect my remarks with the subject under discussion to,
I think, your satisfaction, sir, and in compliance with the rules of the House. They made that Prince the successor to the throne, exacting from him only one promise - to govern in accordance with the will of Parliament. He, dying without an heir the throne was given to an estimable lady, another daughter of the absent exmonarch, then living near London, and she, dying without issue, a prince was brought from Hanover, with whom the people were not prepossessed, but who, they knew, would serve their purpose. Each of these sovereigns and their successors promised to govern by and in accordance with the will, of Parliament, and they kept that promise. That was the real beginning of our constitutional government, and the origin of legislation such as that we have now before us.
– Legislation of this kind originated in Elizabeth’s reign.
– The constitutional interference of the people in these matters has been possible only since we have had the constitutional arrangement to which I refer. By electoral laws, reform laws, and other legislation, labour, industry, and wealth have become safer in Great Britain to-day than they ever were before.
– And without legislation such as that now proposed !
– The whole trend of the legislation to which I refer is in the direction of this Bill. But legislation of this description has always been opposed, and always will be opposed, by those for whom it does most. Whatever is done to elevate the masses and place them in a better position, still more is done for the industrious and the wealthy. Imagine the position of a wealthy man, if he had to fight for his own hand, without the support of public opinion, and the protection of the police ! Very few of us would desire to be wealthy under those circumstances. But how is the legislation to which I refer viewed by the well-to-do, who benefit so largely from it ? For example, one may be asked to the house of a prosperous man, and after an extremely good dinner, the host, the typical commercial man, of ordinary ability, and not distinguished for his philosophical thought, or his philanthropic deeds, lies back in his chair, and tells you, knowing you io be a member of the Federal Parliament,that the country is not worth living in, that it is going to the dogs. We hear that every day of our lives from very ordinary persons, who are surrounded by comfort, and have everything that they reasonably require. They may be persons whose commercial value for manual labour would be about three shillings a week, and who, as clerks, might possibly earn £i a week. but who by accident or inheritance have been placed in possession of much. The next indictment the host may make against the Federal Parliament is its responsibility for the legislation which brought about the detention of the six hatters, lt has not dawned upon those who refer to that case, although it is months since it happened, that almost every country in the world, Great Britain included, contemplates similar legislation. Then these men. who have so much, and may be worth so little, speak of the Petriana case. It has not occurred to their stodgy intellects that this case was simply a crafty political electioneering squib, started bv an able press, which rightly appreciated the intelligence of the men with whom it had to deal.
– Have the honorable member’s remarks anything to do with the Bill?
– I submit that they have. I am showing that men of a certain type are opposed to reform, because they believe that legislation such as is now proposed will bring about destitution and ruin, whereas their circumstances show that that attitude is utterly unjustifiable. It is held by them that, under any circumstances, arbitration and conciliation must mean absolute ruin. Does not one feel inclined, when dealing with such men, to tell them in plain earnest, to how little, if might were right, their strength and intelligence would entitle them? One might well become indignant, if, under the circumstances, it were worth while, with those whom legislation permits to have and to control so much, and who yet so stolidly oppose all reform. But this spirit rf opposition will always exist. It lies at the base of the speeches delivered by the honorable member for North Sydney, and the honorable member for Wentworth. It is the experience of the past, the onward and upward tendency of communities, that we must regard, not small details and trivial objections as to the possibility of the Court doing this or that. For those who read the history of the nation, there is but one conclusion, that what Parliament has done for the safety of the King’s highway, it can do for the improvement of the relations of trade and commerce. Our knowledge of the past should make us hopeful for the future.
– In the past arbitration legislation has been tried and abandoned.
– Before leaving the historical argument, I will grant one thing to. honorable members opposite, that nothing entitling the doer to high position in the eyes of posterity has ever been done by men to whom an eight hours day or similar privileges were of any importance. Everything worth doing has been done by men of ability and strength of purpose, who gave their whole lives to their task. When the Minister for Home Affairs was an explorer, did he bother about the eight hours day ? No. He did his work when he could do it. So with the inventors. Those men who have taken a high position in the world stand before us as beacon lights to show us that what we have to do should be well done. They have totally disregarded legislation of this kind, and they have thrown their whole life into the work ready to their hands. Do honorable members suppose that the position of Speaker of an assembly such as this was ever achieved by working only eight hours per day ? It could not be attained except by -bringing a trained intellect to bear upon the acquirement of information, and by working to the full limits of physical endurance and mental power. Everything that has placed a man above his fellows has been accomplished by working for longer hours than the democratic party would now permit. It has been a case of the survival of the fittest. All our ablest generals, all our best explorers, all our most capable inventors, all our most gifted musicians who have left behind them symphonies to charm the ears of millions, have done their work strenuously, and without any regard to legislative restrictions upon labour. In this connexion I am reminded of the conditions of daily life in some parts of Australia, in the description of which I shall probably be borne out by the honorable member for Gippsland. Along the eastern seaboard of Australia, in New South’ Wales, and along the southern seaboard of Victoria, are great’ forests. There, as soon as the morning breaks and the mists lift sufficiently to enable the axeman to see where his axe will fall, he is at work, at which he continues all day long. When twilight comes, and the work of felling timber can no longer proceed, the sound of hammers may reverberate through the forests nailing the slabs which have been hewn throughout the day. These are no eight-hour men. The honorable and learned member for Illawarra knows how men, such as I have described, have performed their work. Although these men have triumphed by their resolution, their vitality, and strength of industry, not one of them would say that we should permit men and women to stand for fourteen hours a day without a seat behind counters in the city. They would agree that factory legislation was necesary to ameliorate the conditions of the workers in the city, and would say that the capital and labour, which form our two great national assets, should not be allowed to tear each other to pieces. Every one of them would say that Parliament should do its best to bring about industrial peace. A passing reference to the statement that we are doing well enough will not be out of place. Are we doing well enough ? The honorable member for North Sydney, one of the most intelligent and modest representatives in this House, .is under serious apprehension as to the cost of the proposed Arbitration Court. Li he aware that the Commissioners for Labour in the United States report that from 1880 to 1900, 22,793 strikes occurred, which affected 117,509 establishments?
– I say that the Bill will not have the effect of preventing strikes.
– What would the honorable member do if he saw two persons fighting; would he not endeavour to stop them? I have already stated that we should proceed in this matter with great caution, but I hold that we should not be turned aside from the object which we desire to attain by any consideraton as to the cost of establishing the proposed Court. The loss to the workmen through strikes in America for the period indicated amounted to £55,000,000, whilst £24,500,000 was lost by the employers, the total loss being £79,500,000. The honorable member has stated that it will cost a great deal to establish the proposed Court, and I am endeavouring to show what will be the cost if we do not create such a tribunal.
– I contend that we shall still have strikes.
– We should at least do our best to prevent them. The South Wales miners’ strike in 1898 kept 100.000 colliers idle for five months. The great mining dispute which was settled by Lord Rosebery kept idle 300,000 men for many weeks, and involved a loss of millions of money. The cotton strike in Lancashire extended over twenty-two weeks, and threw 50,000 men out of employment for that period. The great engineers’ strike in 1897 involved a loss of wages to the men of £3,255,000 ; the union pay, levies and loans amounted to £925,000, the savings expended represented ,£500,000, and the loss to the employers amounted to £5,776,000, the total loss amounting to £10,356,000. Surely honorable members will see that this matter is of sufficient importance to demand our serious attention. I have obtained these figures from the Hon. W. P. Reeves, the very able Agent-General of New Zealand. I express no opinon with regard to them, but Mr. Reeves is inclined to think that the estimate of £10,356,000 is rather too high. I do not propose, however, to quote Mr. Reeves’ comments, because, perhaps, he may be regarded by some honorable members as too democratic. The strike of glass-blowers at Charleroi involved a loss of £400,000, and many other instances might be quoted in the same connexion.
– Then there was the great maritime strike in Australia in 1890.
– Exactly. In dealing with a matter of this kind, it is only necessary for us to draw upon our own experience. . Let us assume the existence of a strike in connexion with the ferry service from Sydney to North Shore, and imagine the most conservative of men coming down to Milson’s Point, with the intention of going across, as usual, to his office in the-city.. The ferry employes would tell him that they did not intend to work, and the employers would inform him that the boats were not to run. What would he say ? He would ask - “ Do you mean to tell me that I am not to be conveyed to my office, because you are quarrelling as to the conditions upon which the boats shall run ? Do you not see that you are interfering in a public matter ?” Would not that conservative citizen consider it right for the State to refuse to allow such men to strike, and to insist that the work should go on for the benefit of the public, who have to pay for it? After all, who’ pay the wages of the ferry-boat employes, and the dividends to the shareholders in the companies? The public.
An Honorable Member. - Who pay the calls ?
– The public pay them every time. The matter is a public one, and the community should not be made to suffer whilst two parties throw stones at each other, and hit the public with most of the missiles which leave their hands.
– The honorable member might point to the fact that the Arbitration Court in New South Wales prevented a strike of the kind, to which he is now referring, not more than three months ago.
– The question for our consideration is not only how this Bill would affect the employers or the employes, but how the resources of the country can be best developed. It should be our endeavour to prevent any interference with the progress of the community, whilst securing reasonable consideration for all classes. I take it for granted that the great majority of the people are in favour of the principle of conciliation and arbitration. Although doubts upon this point are expressed by some honorable members, there are very few men who do not believe in the principle and who would not like to see it applied. I now come to the very important question, whether the public servants of the States should be brought within the scope of the measure. There is not a single member of the House who does not entertain the most serious doubt as to whether any attempt which may be made in this direction can succeed. A vast majority believe that no such effort can be successful. No doubt to-morrow evening we shall have dissertations from the lawyers upon the matter; but how does the proposal strike a layman? First of all, the States have entered into a federation - not a unification. To prevent friction arising between the Federal and the State authorities it was laid down that certain departments should be transferred to Commonwealth control. In regard to those departments the Federal authority is supreme ; but in regard to the other departments, the States possess sovereign power. I repeat that we have entered into a federation, not a unification. If this Parliament interferes with the departments which are under the control of the States it will create that friction which federation was specially intended to avoid. It is specifically laid down in the Constitution that the acquisition or construction of railways can be entered upon only with the consent of the States. The reply of every honorable member who was asked during the referendum periods anvthinp in regard to the Works, Lands, or Railway Departments was that the Commonwealth Parliament had nothing whatever to do with those Departments. The States alone are concerned with them. Moreover, a vast majority of the public servants of the States do not desire to be brought under the provisions of this Bill. It appears, therefore, that we are endeavouring to seize powers of which no one suspected we were ever possessed. Nobody imagines that this Parliament has anything to do with Departments which remain under the control of the States. Some honorable member may say, “ Suppose that a civil servant is a citizen of New South Wales. Surely he has a right to go to the Arbitration Court of that State for redress of his grievances.”
– But he is also a citizen of the Commonwealth.
– Exactly. The argument was used last session, that a citizen of New South Wales should receive all that the State could give him. But let honorable members imagine a judgment being given by the New South Wales Arbitration Court in reference to the amount of money which shall be paid to our servants, either in the Defence Force, or in the Post-office. What would happen? We should probably tell the Court that we had a perfect right to manage our own affairs in our own way, and we should refuse to pay any attention to Its decision. In the same way, the States will disregard any action of the Commonwealth in this direction. Honorable members know that there is a vast amount of work before this Parliament. But instead of doing that work, we are asked to turn aside to undertake duties which unquestionably belong to the States. What will be the result ? Is it not perfectly clear that the Commonwealth Parliament is not too popular in many parts of Australia ?
– Does that affect the hon-. orable member’s vote?
– Nothing affects my vote except rectitude and party responsibility. Although we are not affected by it, there is no doubt that Federation is not so popular as it might have been. Why ? Because it was established at a time of great stress, when nature refused to yield to labour a fair return for farming operations. This Parliament is temporarily unpopular, because it has governed in time of drought. Now we are invited to seize the opportunity to fling our gauntlet in the face of the States. We are asked to tell them that they are not competent to manage their own affairs, and that since we left their legislative halls, there is nobody left who is fit to govern them, or to <leal fairly with State servants.
– Does the honorable member believe that?
– No; but I believe quite a number of things of the honorable member to which politeness forbids me to give expression. .We are neglecting -work that we ought to be performing, for the sake of protecting the public servants of the States, who desire no protection, and who have the best masters in the world, namely, the people themselves. I have been in parliamentary life for a considerable number of years, and I have seen Parliaments do some thoughtless and inconsiderate things, but I never knew them to do an unjust thing-
– What about depriving the public servants of the franchise?
– I have even known freetraders to destroy an industry, but in their ignorance they imagined that they were doing right. Similarly, no Parliament wittingly acts unjustly. If the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales wanted the services, of 10,000 men to-morrow, they could easily get them from the very flower of our population.
– The people could get plenty of members of Parliament for £300 a year.
– It is a pity that we have some honorable members at £400 a year. Any one who has noticed the individuals who are engaged upon the trams in Sydney, for example, must know that they are not inferior men. But they have the best of. masters in the world, every arrangement is made for them which Parliament can make, and they have Parliament itself as a final Court of Appeal to redress any legitimate grievances.
– Does the honorable mern. ber think that Parliament is a competent Court to deal with the intricacies of business ?
– It is competent to express an opinion on the merits of a concrete case. One other allegory to explain my position. A great divine to whom I listened some years ago pointed out that the human family was wallowing in a great morass, and that the best one could do was to assist in pulling a few of his fellows out of it. It appears to me that we have reached the edge of a morass, in which there are a vast number of sheep. The matters which are specifically delegated to this Parliament, under the Constitution represent the sheep, and they are nearly all in the morass at present. Instead of attending to them, we are asked to attend to sheep in the fold of somebody else, and which are fairly comfortable. That is the position of the public servants of the State. They are satisfied to remain where they are, and surely there is no need for us to interfere with them. As it is the Commonwealth Parliament will never finish its work, because there is no plateau upon which a nation can rest. There is no point at which a nation can remain century after century - there is only an Avernus below. We have plenty of work to do, but instead of doing it we are asked to turn aside from what is legitimately our duty and to perform work which belongs to others.
– How did the honorable member vote upon the Arbitration Bill in New South Wales, which is applicable to the railway servants?
– Perhaps the honorable member can supply the information?
– That is very amusing.
– There are some things which are worse than amusing, and to be absurd is one of them.* The honorable member must see that to put one’s own servants under an Arbitration Bill is a very different matter from making the measure applicable to other people’s servants. We may be told that the provisions of the New Zealand Act extend to its public servants. It does not with the exception of the railway men. We can see at once that the statesmen of New Zealand did hot view with satisfaction the principle of bringing public servants under the Act; but that the railway men were so strong that they succeeded in winning their point. It was expedient, and they were- brought under the Bill. It is necessary at times to do expedient things in order that more inexpedient things may not occur.
– That is what we propose to do next week.
– A Government doing much good is justified in doing many things to keep in office in order that an Opposition that can do no good shall not take its place.
– What about the previous convictions of the honorable member?
– A progressive man, like a progressive nation, is not to remain for ever in swaddling clothes.
– But it is only a short time since those convictions were expressed.
– I have already explained, and as I wish to conclude my remarks I shall not make further reference to it. I would, however, ask honorable members to bear in mind the wide distinction between placing our own officers under the Bill and bringing those of the States under it.
– Will the honorable member support the bringing of officers of the Commonwealth under this Bill?
– I would not have so much objecion to that proposal. When the Public Service Bill was under consideration in this House not one reference was made to this matter. The proposition in regard to the Public Service is a new one, and has sprung out of the troubles of Victoria. I wish to say a word or two of advice and caution, which honorable members will, I am sure, accept in the friendly spirit in which they are given. A party of reform should be broad enough, and reasonable and temperate enough, to embrace all classes of opinion, provided the members of the party set their faces in the right direction. A reform party, whether it be called the A or the B party, or by any other name, that does not carry on its work in accordance with those definite general principles which I have enumerated, is bound to fail. This Parliament is divided into three parties,, and only two parties are required to govern. The party of reform should be broad-minded, and should embrace all reformers. But we are now’ confronted by an unreasonable party, which seeks to snatch the public servants of the States from the local authorities to place them under the control of the Federal Government, and so to break the compact we made with the States ‘to leave them in absolute control of certain departments. Imagine a man standing under a red flag in a park, and delivering an address. What is the result of his utterances? His ideas of reform may be serious. He may be only in advance of his times ; but, because of that fact, and his unreasonableness, he alienates the sympathy of every one who desires to march with him. The police walk past him, and shrug their shoulders. The people simply look at him and pass on. He is nothing more’ than a Christy minstrel entertainer. The Government of no country trouble about any one who speaks under a red flag in the park. Such men are unreasonable, and can secure no support. But when men are resolute and reasonable, and when they are determined to carry out certain principles in accordance with temperate ideas, the position is different. If honorable members endeavour to do impossible^ things, and so alienate the sympathies of all reasonable men, they injure not the evil-doers, but those whom they honestly desire to assist.
– I had’ hoped that when the House resumed after the Easter recess all the big guns of the Parliament would be here to fire off their heavy shot, either for or against this measure, and that the small shot would be discharged some time next week. Such, however, is not the case, and I have therefore a few small shot which I now desire to fire against the Bill. The speech just delivered by the honorable member! for Richmond is, so far as most of its points are concerned, the best I have yet heard in opposition to this Bill. Most of the points which the honorable member made in support of it were certainly points which might have been urged by opponents of the measure. The honorable member has referred to the Reign of Terror as having occurred prior to the actual French Revolution, and it seems to be fitting, when one comes to think of it, tEat as we are living in the antipodes’ things should be upside, down. The Reign of Terror that we have in Australia and particularly in regard to matters relating to the Federal Parliament, is that the masses are on top and endeavouring to guillotine the classes.
– Are the Government going to retain or lose their position ?
– That is a question with which I am not particularly concerned. I do not think it will be a very serious matter for Australia if there is a change of Government. I am satisfied that the resources of Australia, if not of this Parliament, are sufficient to produce a new Government in due course, which will carry out wise legislation for the benefit of the Commonwealth. In moving the second reading of the Bill, the Prime Minister towards the close of his speech said he looked upon it as “the introduction of a noble principle more than a completed plan.” I am quite sure that in his ‘hands the noble principles of arbitration and conciliation would be perfectly safe, but we have to remember that those principles, noble as they are, will not long remain in his hands - and that when they pass to others they may not be properly used. On the contrary, they may be considerably abused. We have to remember that this Bill, by the free introduction of the principle of compulsion, apart from the grand principles of conciliation and arbitration becomes neither more nor less than a coercion Bill. Instead of being known as a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill it should be entitled “ A Bill for an Act to be called the Industrial Coercion Act “ ; or “ A Bill for an Act to promote unsettled conditions in all industries to which it can be applied “ ; or “ A Bill for an Act to create discord and strife between master and man.”
– That is only the honorable member’s opinion.
– Quite so. I spent some time during the Easter adjournment in reading some of the very admirable speeches delivered on this question by the Prime Minister, when Attorney-General, as well as by the honorable member for Bland, and the leader of the Opposition.
– The honorable member’s reading has been attended with very bad results.
– I have read other speeches on the subject, and so far as I am concerned they have had, as the honorable member says, very bad results. I have failed to find in any one of those speeches, or in any one of the speeches that I have heard in this House, one single reason why this Bill should be brought before Parliament at the present time. Every honorable member who has spoken to this question has admitted that this is distinctly experimental legislation.
– In this case we have for instance, of all legislation.
– It may be so of initiatory legislation.
– In this case we have for our guidance ten years’ experience of the working of similar legislation in a neighbouring Colony.
– I shall refer later on to our experience of the results of that legislation. We have greater Parliaments and older countries from which we might learn a lesson, and thus avoid falling into a very serious error. We find that the leaders of (he great labour parties in America and Great Britain will have nothing to do with compulsory arbitration and conciliation. I am aware . that the reasons for this feeling on their part is that labour has not sufficient representation in Parliament. At the same time we have the broad fact that they will have nothing to do with compulsory conciliation and arbitration. They are in favour of voluntary conciliation and arbitration, which I believe to be the panacea for all industrial ills in this or any other part of the world. We desire a proper feeling to exist between master and man. That feeling has of late disappeared, or at all events it does not exist as it did in former times. We want to see the master considering the man, and the man considering the master. That feeling used to prevail both here and in England in the olden days; but unfortunately strife and discord have been introduced, and now we are floundering in a sea of industrial chaos. In order to show that there is no necessity for this measure at the present time, I should like to point out that we have adequate industrial ‘legislation in Victoria to wisely control- such matters as the wages, the hours, and the sanitary appointments provided for employes.
– The honorable member is against this form of State legislation.
– I am not. I ‘believe that it is very wise for us to have State industrial” legislation of this kind to deal with tyrannical masters who are unfit to occupy that position, and who grind down their employes. I have no sympathy with such persons. We have such an industrial system in Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia, and also to some extent in South Australia. But this Parliament has nothing whatever to do with the legislation of New Zealand, to which such frequent reference has been made in this House. We are aware that a Conciliation and Arbitration Act has been in force for some years in that Colony. It seems to me. however, that it would be better for the Commonwealth to wait for a few years and see what is likely to be the result of this admittedly experimental industrial legislation in the States which have adopted it. The hand of time has been forced, so to speak, by the Government, who have brought forward this measure to placate the party which contains the main body of their supporters in ‘ this House. The Minister for Home Affairs admitted, when speaking on the Address in Reply that the section in the Constitution which enables us to legislate in this direction should not have been passed, and that he had unwittingly assisted in embodying it in the Act.
– I only said that I voted for the provision. I did not place it in the Constitution. .
– The right honorable gentleman supported the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and he has told the House that he would not have done so if he could have foreseen what has since happened.
– Surely we have had quite enough experimental Federal legislation. Is there no sound, practical legislation which the Constitution empowers us to pass, that we may eventually make Federation a success? The honorable member for Dalley, speaking upon the second reading of the Bill introduced last Parliament, said that if it was passed there would be no further use for the paid agitator. I disagree with him. My experience of the industrial conditions of Australia during the past few years, and what I have read of the conditions prevailing in America and England, leads me to believe that there will be an increasing use for the agitator, and that the Trades Hall party will see that he is kept at work in heating the furnace of discontent, until the discord is seven times greater than it has ever been in our history before. The Bill at present exempts from its operation persons engaged in domestic service ; but it is proposed to make it apply to the public servants of the States. This latter proposal I regard as an unconstitutional attempt by the Labour Party to override the powers of the States, and although I am not an adept lawyer, I feel certain it will be inoperative. My own opinion is that it is an evidence of the vindictiveness of those who rule Parliament from Lygon and Sussex streets. They are attempting to control the State Parliaments because they were not able to interfere in the unfortunate railway strike that took place in Victoria last year. The Bill is altogether too wide in its application. I agree with the right honorable member for Adelaide that it might be made to apply to serious maritime disputes, such as that which took place in 1890 or 1891. It might also apply to mining disputes.
– And to shearing disputes.
– Yes. But why should it apply to other disputes which are covered by the industrial legislation of the States? I was sent here to represent particularly the agricultural and dairying industries, and I shall support the honorable member for Gippsland in any amendment to exempt those industries .from the operation of the measure. There is no need to apply such legislation to them, because there has never been any strike or strife among those engaged in such callings.
– It would take a good man to strike successfully against ai cow.
– A measure of this kind’ could apply successfully to the dairying industry only if it were possible to prevent by Act of Parliament cows from giving’ their milk more than once a day during the week and altogether on Sundays. It would not be at all a good thing for the cow if that were tried. Last Parliament an Act. was passed to restrict immigration, but in the Governor- General’s Speech we were promised a measure to encourage desirableimmigrants to come here. Before that, measure is introduced, I would suggest tothe Government that. if this Bill is passed, they should have carefully annotated, copies of it given to the High Commissioner, for distribution through the agricultural counties of England, so that those who intend immigrating here may know to what a desirable country they are coming, and under what magnificent conditions they will have to carry out their work. As a matter of fact, if the measure is pushed’ to extrernes, it will force employers to* emigrate from Australia. I have not much to say in regard to the common rule, exceptthat I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney that it will operate very dangerously, and will create a great deaf of trouble throughout the Commonwealth. We have heard something of the tyranny of the masters, but, under clause 48, which, provides for compulsory unionism, we shall have a new kind of tyranny. The Trades Hall party profess to represent labourAs a matter of fact, they represent only about one-seventh of those who work, yet they propose that the other sixseventhsshall be compelled to join the ranks of unionists. I know men who will have nothing- to do with the militant unionism of to-day. Yet, under the Bill, if it be pushed to extremes - and’ the party which has taken it in hand will push everythingto extremes - they will be forced into the ranks of unionists. They will be compelled to pay their dues, and to give three months’’ notice before leaving a union, and orders of Court may be made against them, sothat if their dues are not paid their furniture can be sold.
– Are there any non-union doctors ?
– I thank the honorable member for the interjection, because it provides me with an opportune occasion to remark that the Prime Minister has proposed nothing to assist the poor unfortunate lodge doctor whose case is now being discussed in the newspapers.
– They will be able to form a. union under the Bill.
– I should like to read a letter which I have received from a New Zealand employer, a Mr. John Henry Cook, of Nelson, who says -
I am full of business here, and it is not all going smoothly. In fact, under great activity generally, and undoubted prosperity among our farming and pastoral community, there is much trouble and profitlessness in many of our industries, and there is no doubt in my mind that the dinning for twelve or fourteen years of the present Government into the artisans’ ears of the fallacy that “ Jack’s as good as his master, or better,” is responsible for a very unruly spirit among our trade workers, coupled with thriftlessness and incessant demands for more money and more leisure. You must bear in mind that all this pother is fomented among, say, 20,000 organized workers out of, say, 150,000 total workers in this colony, mainly because of their value as a block vote at the poll. There is the main underlying trouble. Signs are not wanting of the employers and general workers definitely opposing the 20,000 continuing to get more than-‘their fair slice of the wages cake. It cannot be gainsaid that the Labour Acts in New Zealand have enabled certain bodies of workmen taking advantage of this legislation to force themselves into a better position as to wages, hours, and conditions of labour, but I feel sure it has been at the expense of the other sections of the community, and therefore, if the thing spreads much further, it must of necessity break down, leaving an after-crop of acute labour troubles. The main argument in favour of the Acts is that they are believed to have prevented the wastefulness of strikes, and that is a large point, so long as it holds good. Our Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration are practically a lower and upper Court, there being no appeal from the Arbitration Court on these trade matters. The Conciliation Boards or Courts have so fallen into public contempt from their decisions, few of which are accepted, that there is talk of leaving ‘ only the Arbitration Court in existence, and many disputants apply and remove their case at once to the Arbitration Court (for which there is provision) without wasting time in the Conciliation Court. This riled the labour agitators, many of whom have seats in the lower Court, and frequent guineas per day to be earned when they can get cases on. Moreover, they do not like the contemptuous ignoring of their existence. Our Acts set forth the desirability of encouragng the formation of Trades Unions, and provide for unions of employers, as well <is of employes. Hitherto the main gain through- the Acts has been to the workers’ unions already in existence, and ready to take advantage of the Acts. Slowly the employers are forming up into unions to save their businesses, if possible, by fighting under the same legislation. But, perhaps, what I not long ago heard a leading workers’ agitator say in the Arbitration Court, when the employers scored on a case, sums up the views of many of the workmen : - “ If we can’t get what we want under these Acts, we ain’t agoin’ to register under them.” By which he means that they count on reverting to other means (strikes, &c, as before this legislation). It is, therefore, legislation only availed of to-day by a small proportion of our workers, pandered to by our Government for the poll value of their vote, and the Courts are incessantly at work over “ manufactured “ disputes. It is of the very essence of the position that fresh demands are made by the workers or their agitators at the expiry of almost every award of the Court, not demands warranted by any hardship or dispute, but demands usually running to 20 or 25 per cent, increase of cost to an industry in the hope of snatching or squeezing a portion of their demand through the dangerous . and uncertain judgments of a Court knowing nothing of the trade questions brought before it, but called on to adjudicate all the conditions for two or three years on, say, a one or two clays’ hearing. If it were possible for both employers and employed to apply the Acts to’ settle genuine cases of friction without strikes, then there would be undoubted value in this legislation. There is value in it in relation to hours of labour, and the surrounding conditions, but beyond this it is largely a failure and a burden to the community. I have had several years’ personal experience of this matter in relation to coastal shipping, and I say, unhesitatingly, the Acts are being worked by the men, through their unions, as coercion Acts, not as Conciliation Acts, and for the purposes of forcing more and more out of the employers (and, therefore, out of the public), irrespective of the state of trade, or any actual dispute. If I were dictator, I would, so far as my experience and judgment go, limit labour legislation to defining reasonable hours of labour according to the occupation, and to insisting on good sanitary conditions for the worker. A competent board of medical and other men could well agree to maximum hours (possibly in certain dangerous or unhealthy trades, and ten in others of the more favoured class), and I should leave all the rest to the open conditions of competition. Otherwise you are, when granting this or that improvement of pay, hours, &c, to one section in its isolated case, undoubtedly injuring another section, and, moreover, in this Colony the decisions (affecting largely the cost of our products) are given without any consideration of the main facts that our markets are 14.000 miles away, and not influenced a iot by our increased costs. The Acts, therefore, become at least only a palliative, with very local application.
That is the opinion of a gentleman in New Zealand who has had very considerable experience in business, and who has worked himself up from the very lowest rung of the ladder. I now desire to refer to the position of affairs in New South Wales, by directing the attention of honorable members to the following statement that was published in one of the newspapers some time ago, with reference to the Arbitration Court : -
Of this tribunal it may be said that it is every day growing more unpopular. Officials in unionist and labour ranks are still enamoured of it. They want the Act amended, and Mr. Wise is willing to oblige them, if he gets the opportunity. But a strong current of public feeling is setting in against it, while the repugnance of the employing class is rapidly growing. More damaging to the Act than anything that is being experienced by employers is its own logical operation as affecting the rank and file of .working unionists themselves. Owing to the growing scarcity of employment, many members of trades unions are unable to pay up their fees. The law is being invoked to compel them.
And’ so on, in condemnation of the operation of the Act in New South Wales. No valid reason has been given why this Bill should be introduced at this stage, and therefore I shall oppose it.
– I move -
That this debate be now adjourned.
I understand that several honorable members, who arrived in Melbourne only to-day, desire to speak, and therefore I think that the debate might reasonably be adjourned at this stage.
– It would be a pity to adjourn the debate at this early hour. If honorable members do not wish to speak, they ought to be prepared to’ vote upon the motion for the second reading.
– It is most unusual to ask for an adjournment at this hour. I am perfectly well aware that several honorable members desire to speak, and it is my duty to afford them every reasonable opportunity; but it will of course rest with the House to decide. I am reluctant to agree to an adjournment, but should do so so rather than deprive honorable members of an opportunity to speak to the motion for the second reading. I trust that if the debate is adjourned now, honorable members will close it to-morrow night,
– It is extraordinary that honorable members, who have come back here after three weeks’ vacation, should desire an adjournment of the debate at this hour. The debate should not be adjourned .because some honorable members, who are not present, desire .to speak. Some of us are so much interested in this measure that we are prepared to hold our tongues in order to facilitate its passing. When I asked for an adjournment some time ago, at half-past ten in the evening, objection was raised, and the adjournment was secured only after the intervention of the leader of the Opposition.
– That was because it was represented that other members desired to speak “ Mi. MCDONALD. - Now we find the Prime Minister ready to agree to an adjournment at half-past nine. Honorable members are merely playing with politics when they perform their parliamentary duties in such a perfunctory manner. When they are paid -^400 per annum they should be here to attend to public business.
– I agree with the honorable member for Richmond that the two main questions presented for our consideration are - first, whether legislation of the kind now before us is required; and secondly, whether it is wise for the Federal Parliament to take action in regard to applying the principles of conciliation and arbitration instead of leaving the matter entirely in the hands of the States? There is the further question - whether it would be wise to make, the measure so comprehensive that it may embrace all classes of the community, irrespective of. whether they are in private or State employment? Two or three honorable members have denied that any such measure is necessary, but the experience of modern civilization goes to show that the policy of non-intervention is rapidly being abandoned, and that we have reached a stage of industrial development in which legislative interference has become an absolute necessity, in the interest of those directly concerned, and for the advantage of the community generally.. A considerable evolution has taken place in industrial matters within recent years. Scientific developments and inventions in connexion with mechanical contrivances and trade processes have introduced entirely new conditions-. Whilst the total production of wealth is being gradually increased, the number of those who are actually engaged in its creation is being materially reduced. Moreover, the male portion ‘of the community - the breadwinners of the family - are gradually being displaced by women, who in turn are being superseded by children. Whilst vast mechanical improvements have been effected in the means of production, whilst modern industry has been revolutionized in this particular, the distribution of the wealth thus produced is practically the same as it was in past ages. To my mind that is what underlies the solution of this problem to-day. In support of my con: tention, I desire to quote from no less an authority upon the industrial and social tendencies of the age than Professor Huxley, who, in dealing with this aspect of the matter, says : -
I do not hesitate to express the opinion that if there is no hope of a large improvement in the condition of the great part of the human family- : if it is true that the increase of knowledge, the winning of a greater dominion over -Nature which is the consequence, and the wealth which follows upon that dominion are to make no difference in the extent and intensity of want, with its concomitant physical and moral degradation amongst the masses of the people, I should hail the advent of some Eindly comet which would sweep the whole affair away as a desirable consummation.
What we have to consider to-day is whether, with the great industrial evolution which has marked the past century, and which is now at the flood-tide, we cannot remove human misery and all those influences which, resulting from poverty, tend to demoralize our community. This Parliament is intended to govern not in the interests of a few, but in the interests of the whole community. Whilst it occupies that position it cannot afford to disregard the problems by which it is confronted. It must endeavour to bring about a better position in the industrial world. Though the proposed legislation partakes to some, extent of the nature of an experiment, that is no reason why we should hold our hands and refuse to do anything. As the honorable member for Richmond pointed out, there must be either progress or retrogression. It is far better for us to attempt to bring about better social conditions and fail, than to remain idle and reap the inevitable results of our inactivity. Some honorable members have referred to the ideal conditions which prevailed in the old times, when master and men worked together amicably, before the advent of labour agitators and labour representatives, and when strikes were unknown. That was a condition which may appeal very strongly to some, but which those who are possessed of any sympathy for their brethren could not tolerate with any degree of good feeling. Legislative intervention is necessary to prevent the unprincipled producer from entering into unfair competition with the man who is prepared to conduct his Business upon fair lines. This phas.e of the question’ was put veiy strongly by the Sydney Daily Telegraph in a recent article dealing with the great question of sport, which seems to engage so much of the time of Australians. It appears that some trouble was experienced in connexion with a large cycle meet ing, at which collusion was proved to have taken place between the riders for the purpose of securing the prizes. The article in question states -
As things are, the public, who have been accustomed to patronize bicycle racing under the impression that it was a clean and wholesome recreation, must have their conscience rudely shocked. And to rehabilitate it is no easy matter. The fact that no less than six of the principal performers in one event have been convicted of collusion to make money at the expense of the sport bears graphic testimony to the demoralizing effects that are to be expected when commercialism is allowed to masquerade in the guise of national pastime.
That is just what we have to complain of in the industrial world. We complain of that very commercialism, the ethics of which are altogether opposed to the establishment of ideal conditions of : life. Our Christianity is based upon a -recognition of the principle that we should “ do unto others as we would that they should do unto us,” but this form of low ‘commercialism has sanctioned the principle that we should “ do “ our neighbour to prevent him from “ doing “ us. I do not see that it is possible to deal with the evil other than by legislation. This question has engaged the attention of some of the very ablest thinkers upon economics. Professor J. B. Clarke, writing upon the efficiency of arbitration, says -
Arbitration in itself is an appeal to equity, and a departure from the competitive system.
Another learned writer upon political economy - Professor Adams - says -
Arbitration is not the missing coupling between labour and capital, but it is the thing for which at the present time it is practical that working men should strive. Its establishment is the first step towards the overthrow of the wages system.
Then a very valuable report upon this subject was presented by the Commission which was appointed as the result of the great Pullman strike in America. That report sums up the position thus -
That is practically all that is being sought by those who support this legislation, and, while it is to a certain extent experimental, we have promise of its success. What has been our experience in reference to industrial disputes, not only in Australia, but in all parts of the world ? A dispute arises between an employer and his employes, with the result that a strike takes place. That strike means to some extent a loss on the part of the employer, while in some cases it means a much heavier loss to the employes. The employer, with wealth at his command, is not called upon to endure any suffering. He has simply to face a reduction in his annual returns, due to the cessation of labour; but against that position the worker has to pit, not only his own hungry stomach, but those of his wife and children. We know of the dire straits to which a large number of our fellowcitizens in this bright and prosperous country, as well as in the old land, have been reduced by strikes. In view of the suffering and distress which strikes entail on many people, can it be imagined that they are entered into without consideration, and with no real justification? Do not these facts rather point to the view that those who resort to strikes are driven to take that step by the stress of circumstances in which they are called to labour? They have the two alternatives of lifelong poverty or a short struggle, with the hope of bettering their condition. Let me refer honorable members to the Pullman strike in the United States of America. That was an epochmaking strike, which received universal attention, and was carried on with a bitterness that attaches to few industrial disputes. The Commission, whose report I have read, elicited that the company put forth as a reason for the reduction of wages which led to the strike the commercial depression they were called upon to fight against. They asserted that they were not in a position to finance their undertaking at the high rate of wages which they had been paying up to that time, and which was still demanded by their employes. The inquiry showed first of all that the reduction in the wages of the workers amounted to 22”8-io per cent., while that relating to the wages of the higher-paid branches of the service was 11 J per cent. It also showed that away back in the early sixties the company commenced operations with a capital of about 1,000,000 dollars, and that at the time of the strike, in 1894, it had a capital of 36,000,000 dollars, which had been earned out of its undertaking. The inquiry showed that 2,520,000 dollars were paid by way of dividends in 1893, while 7,223,000 dollars were paid away in wages. As the result of the strike, -in 1894 the company’s balance-sheet showed the payment of 2,880,000 dollars by way of dividends - or an increase of 640,000 dollars as compared with the previous year - and 4,471,000 dollars for wages, or a decrease of 2,752,000 dollars. As the result of the strike they showed an increase of more than half-a-million dollars in dividends, and a decrease of over 2,700,000 on the wages sheet. During that rather sanguinary strike some twelve men were killed, over 500 were arrested, and r.4,000 of the military and police were engaged to maintain law and order. It is admitted by no less an authority than Bradstreets that the strike cost the American people something like 80,000,000 dollars. Other strikes have since occurred that have been of farreaching consequence. We have only to carry our minds back to what has happened within the Commonwealth during the last fifteen years. We know that as a result of the ‘great maritime dispute, the shearing and the mining strikes, large sections of the community were reduced to poverty, that the forces of production were narrowed down, and that losses have been entailed which have never been made good. Our experience here, and. indeed, the experience of the world generally, is that whilst in industrial disputes the employes are prepared in nine cases out of ten to unreservedly submit their claims to arbitration, the employers almost invariably refuse to do so. In support of that statement I propose to quote no less an authority than Professor R. T. Ely, a writer of considerable repute on industrial matters in the United States of America, who will not be considered as expressing a biased opinion. We find that he says, in The Labour Movement in America, page 146 -
The difficulties in the way of arbitration have come chiefly from the side of the employers, for it is a rare thing when labourers refuse to arbitrate their difficulties with their employers. Few cases of such refusal have ever come under my notice.
Our experience is that when, in the opinion of the employes, there has been an arbitrary and unjustifiable reduction of wages the employers have almost invariably replied to their request for a conference - “We have nothing to arbitrate on; these are our conditions, and you may take or leave them.” When they were unwilling to accept those conditions the result was a strike, and then the employers expected the . forces of the law to be brought to their assistance in their endeavour to enforce an unwilling compliance with what were very often unjust demands. When workers were unwilling to submit to conditions sought to be imposed and brought about a cessation of industrial operation, the remedy was not to arbitrate - not to consider the conditions from the stand-point of the workers - but to call on the military to “fire low and lay them out.” I trust that those conditions have for ever disappeared, and that the workers of this community will have a reasonable opportunity to place their case before an impartial and competent tribunal, so that a proper expression of opinion may be obtained. Hitherto the masses of people inclined to act as a jury, and to test the true merits of a dispute, have had the case put before them from the stand-points of both employer and employed, which are generally as far apart as are the poles. In these circumstances the difficulty has been to secure correct data to enable the public to arrive at a correct decision. The Court, however, will have power to investigate the causes of a dispute, and will be able to place the result of that investigation before the public. Even if it had no other power it would be a mighty factor in the bringing about of industrial peace. The opinion of the great bulk of the people is one which is not likely to be disregarded. It is a power which, when properly focussed, produces results. It is only reasonable that the great body of the public not directly affected by a strike should have an opportunity to learn the true position of affairs. A dispute of any considerable extent acts on outside industries as well as on the country generally. All persons are therefore interested in it to a greater or less degree, and there should be some tribunal of the kind proposed in this Bill to investigate disputes, and to inform the community, if it does nothing more, of the underlying principles.
– Will the unions in all cases go to the Court ?
– I do not know that they will ; but if a Court is provided for them, and they unreasonably refuse to take advantage of it, they will have the weight of public opinion against them. They cannot afford to ignore that sentiment. I should view with considerable apprehension the operation of laws upon these industrial questions if the controlling power behind those laws was similar to that which administered the law in the past. Leading unionists in America and in England have been quoted here as favouring voluntary arbitration, and as opposed to compulsory arbitration. I think that they had in the circumstances very good reason for opposing compulsory arbitration. The history of government and of the control of these matters in the past justifies the opinion they formed. In support of that statement I have only to quote from another authority what I think will be generally admitted to be a correct statement of the condition of affairs that actually obtained. I quote from Thorold Rogers. At page 398 of his admirable and great work, Six Centuries of Work and Wages, he says -
I contend that from 1563 to 1824 a conspiracy, concocted by law and carried out by parties interested in its success, was entered into to cheat the English workman of his wages, to tie him to the soil, to deprive him of hope, and to degrade him into irremediable poverty. For more than two centuries and a half the English law, and those who administered the law, were engaged in grinding the English workman down to the lowest pittance, in stamping out every expression or act which indicated any organized discontent, and in multiplying penalties upon him when he thought of his actual rights.
That was the condition which obtained under law and order in England for two and a half centuries up to the beginning of the nineteenth century.
– Thorold Rogers wasnot a socialist,, either.
– He was no socialist, but he described social conditions as he found them. Were that form of government to obtain in the future, as in the past, I for one should not be prepared to place labour under the heel of such dominance.
– Does the honorable member think those conditions obtain in Australia to-day?
– In reply to the honorable member, I have to say that if some of the gentlemen who strongly oppose this legislation had their way, those are the exact conditions which would obtain in Australia.
– What proof has the honorable member of that?
– Plenty of proof might be adduced in support of that contention. I desire to say to my brother workmen that if legislation is called to their aid in this particular direction, as I hope it will be, it will impose upon them a great and a grave obligation to take a real live interest in the government of their country. It is not enough to give every man and woman in Australia the right to vote if they are to be so little interested in the politics of their country that they will not record their votes.
– Has this measure then got a political significance?
– Undoubtedly it has. That is where the difficulty conies in for some people.
– Politics should be kept out of’ industrial unions.
– If it had not a political significance I could quite understand a great number of those who are in direct opposition to legislation of this character, and whose petitions against it come pouring in here, not bothering at all about it. It is because it . has political significance that we find them so alert at the present time. Thorold Rogers plainly describes the conditions which obtained in old England for two and a half centuries, and judging by the way in which some honorable members have spoken of “ the good old times,” as compared with what they consider the degeneracy of the present, their desire is that similar conditions should obtain at the present time. To arm the kind of administration which carried out the class legislation of the past with such powers as are provided for in the legislation now proposed, would be but to impose degradation upon the working classes, as it did in those days. I say that the working people of this community, having obtained the franchise, have the matter entirely in their own hands. They have been enabled to work out their industrial salvation through their political salvation, and that is the only way in which it can be done. I repeat that the matter is now entirely in their own hands.
– Does the honorable member think that an industrial union should have the right to levy a fine for political purposes ?
– If the industrial unions did such a thing, they would only be following the example of the employers.
– Employers have no industrial unions. I am not taking a brief for the employer, but for the man who is forced to join a union, and forced to subscribe to its funds, though he may have no sympathy with it..
– He can form a union of his own, in which he can apply his own conditions. The objection is brought against labour unions that they take part in politics j but in doing so, they are following only the example of the employers.
– A trades union can legitimately take part in politics, but when a trades union compels a man to-
– Order ! The honorable member has already spoken. ‘
– The honorable member reminds me of another quotation. Professor Ely, in his invaluable work upon The Labour Movement in America, says that the employ^ without a union works under very great disadvantages in endeavouring to secure fair consideration from the employer.
– Unorganized labour is the worst paid labour in the world.
– He says, further, that, so far as employers are concerned, the control of great industries is gradually being concentrated in the hands of a few. Hence we have our Pierpont Morgans, Vanderbilts, and all those great American multimillionaires, controlling the industries of that great country, and practically compelling all the smaller industries to fall into line with conditions under which they are satisfied to work. “We have these millionaires going beyond the control of production, and by rings and trusts and corners, endeavouring to control consumption. They secure production at the minimum of cost, and then, by forming rings and combines, they secure the maximum of return for the results of that production. Their operations have ceased to be confined within the boundaries of the great American union. Only recently we learn that distress and misery have been introduced into the cotton mills of England as the result of the operation of these combines. The mater is now becoming not one concerning a little community, a state, or a nation, but one of world-wide effect. Professor Ely points out that industrialism, to get fair consideration, must combine.
– No one objects to combination.
– I thought that was the honorable member’s objection all through. Professor Ely points out that combination has already taken place amongst the controllers of capital, and he says that they will not listen to fair and reasonable proposals from employes so long as they are broken up into sections. It is only when they are combined, and speak not with a thousand or a million separate voices, but when they speak with one voice, and powerfully enough, that the employers will listen to the employes in connexion with any of these matters. He says : -
Arbitration is impossible without labour organization. Capital is combined, and is managed by a few persons even in the largest establishments.
Then he goes on further, after indicating some instances bearing out this contention, to say that -
Capital is one of the factors of production ; labour is another, and it also must be massed together to stand on an equal footing.
That is what this great American professor lays down as the principle of successful arbitration. With respect to the prospect of conciliation and arbitration, I may point out that New Zealand has led the way in this matter, as she has done in many other directions. We read at the inception of this policy accounts of what would be the probable effect of such legislation. It was said that it would drive capital out of New Zealand, and that the people would be reduced to a condition of poverty. New Zealand has had about ten years of it, and instead of capital being driven out, and poverty stalking through the land, it is the one place in our vicinity to which those, who have not had the benefit of such legislation, but who have been brought under the influence of such laws as are favoured by conservatives, are flocking to find a profitable field for their labour.- In New South Wales we have in operation an Act making provision for arbitration. The passing of. that Act was not accomplished without considerable difficulty, and the measure is by no means an ideal one, such as the labour organizations would like to have placed upon the statute-book. It was brought about by a compromise of opposing forces. To a certain extent it was breaking new ground, and its provisions in their full effect could not be measured at the time it was passed. But nevertheless it is giving a fair amount of satisfaction. I am aware that there is some dissatisfaction as to its provisions, and a strong desire to have it amended in a few directions, but at the same time the opposition to it is largely due, not to the failings and faults which have been discovered in its administration, but to the extreme misrepresentation and misstatements with regard to it. Only last week Mr. Justice Cohen had occasion to make reference to these persistent and malignant misrepresentations to which sr, much currency is given by the opponents of the Act. He is reported in the Daily Telegraph of the 9th inst. to have said -
I find that more than one misstatement has been deliberately made regarding the Court. I have seen those statements corrected, but I have never yet seen a disavowal of the original statement. Criticisms passed were frequently founded on misconceptions of what the Court had done. I have often been amused at those, but at the same time I think it is a very great pity that those persons who make those criticisms, do not take the trouble to make themselves accurately familiar with their subject. I see wrong superstructures based on absolute misconceptions. The result is that the public mind gets inflamed by these warm criticisms. If the public mind were properly informed, it would not accept these views.
Later on he says -
There are thousands of people who have not the opportunity to acquaint themselves with the real facts of the case, whose minds are influenced by these criticisms. If proper facts were placed before it,’ public opinion would not be what it is.
That is not a statement by a trades unionist, a labour agitator, or a labour member of Parliament, but the. deliberate opinion of Mr. Justice Cohen, who has the administration of the Act. He declares that public feeling is being inflamed against the operation of the law by misstatements, and that, if the public had an opportunity of knowing the real facts of the case, possibly there would not be that warmth of feeling and that opposition which at present obtain. I believe in a fair fight, .and if there is anything in a measure of this kind that calls for just and fair criticism, that criticism is warranted. But when it comes to misstatements made in order to damage this legislation, and to criticisms which call, for remarks such as were made by the learned and impartial Judge who has charge of the administration of the Act in New South Wales, it only shows to what degree the opposition to such measures will sink in order that its enemies may accomplish their purpose. Since they cannot gain their ends by fair means, they seek to gain them in some other way. With respect to the question whether this Bill shall be limited in its scope, I would point out that it is limited by the Constitution itself. It can only apply to disputes that extend beyond the limits of any one State, and which cannot be controlled by the legislation of that State, no matter to what extent the State may be desirous of legis- lating. It can deal only with disputes of a wide-spreading character. Therefore, I do not suppose that the Bill will be as largely availed of as will the legislation of the States of a similar character. The States legislation can deal with disputes occurring in industries that are largely local ; but there are disputes of an Inter-State character such as, for instance, might affect the shipping industry, the great pastoral industry, and possibly a few others. It is absolutely necessary to have legislation that will deal with such disputes, not only from the State stand-point, but from the Commonwealth stand-point also. The framers of the Federal Constitution recognised that it was necessary to arm the Commonwealth Parliament with power to legislate in this particular direction. Therefore the Government are only exercising the powers conferred upon them for the purpose in introducing “this Bill. The difference that arises between the Government and the Labour Party is this : The Labour Party do not wish to limit its application. We consider that the Bill should be sufficiently wide to meet every need that may arise; that to have to ask for increased legislation when necessity arose would be a misfortune. The question whether the Constitution allows us to deal with the public servants of the States is one not for Parliament, but for the custodians of the Constitution, for the High Court of Australia. If the Labour Party or any other party insert in our legislation provisions contrary to the Constitution, those who are affected must appeal, not to Parliament, but to the High Court, for the maintenance of their rights. But we also say that it is not expedient or politic that the servants of the States should be specifically excluded from the operation of the Bill, because what is” good for them must be good for employes generally. If interference with the State as employer is not warranted, interference with private employers is not warranted. Fortunately, the Governments of the States have shown private employers the advisableness and utility of paying decent living wages to those whom they employ. They have shown that if good work is to be obtained from employes they must not be sweated ; that it is better to pay a reasonable wage, and to give reasonable hours, if the contentment and satisfaction of the employe is sought, and the best results for the employer are to be obtained. The employes of the States are as well off, and in many instances better off, than those in private employment, and I hope that that state of things will continue. There is therefore not much likelihood of an appeal being made to the Arbitration Court by. the employes of the States. Furthermore, such an appeal could not be made unless the dispute extended beyond the limits of a State. Therefore, there is some ground for the contention that not much importance would attach to the proposal to apply the provisions of the Bill to the public servants of the States if it had not been for the recent action of the Victorian Government in respect to the 1 ail way men of this State. The unfortunate condition of things which then arose was largely brought about by the want of tact and proper management on thepart of the gentleman in charge of the Department, who, as a good many private employers are disposed to do, seemed to consider himself entitled to receive, not only the labour of those whom he controlled, but the surrender of their manhood and intelligence. He found that a large number of the railway men were, as citizens, opposed to the proposals of his Government, and he therefore adopted coercive measures, which had unfortunate results. I do not think that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, if it had been in existence, could have interfered in that matter ; but if there had been a way of appeal from the harsh conditions which applied, and the pin-pricks which were so hard to endure, an unfortunate occurrence might have been obviated. There is, however, no reason for excluding a large section of the community from the operation of this measure. Need the Governments of the States fear to appeal to a Court constituted as the Commonwealth Arbitration Court will be constituted? If the Prime Minister had proposed to select a Judge from some lunatic asylum, and to appoint as assessors a couple of idiots, there would have been some justification for the criticism which this proposal has received. As a matter of fact, we have the assurance that the Court will be constituted of some of the leading judicial intellects of Australia. Is it likely that they will impose upon the Commonwealth or the States unfair and impossible conditions? There is no fear of anything of the kind. But if the authorities of the States have nothing to fear, surely private employers have no ground for apprehension. I shall heartily support theBill. I think it is a step in the right direction. I do not say that it will solve all labour troubles. They are to be solved, not by revolution, but by evolution, and the Bill is in the direction of evolution. It may not give a complete or correct solution, but it opens up the way for such a solution. We are faced to-day with grave industrial problems, and our future stability, success, and progress depend upon their solution. We must either solve them upon correct lines, or go back to the conditions of barbarism from which we have come. I believe it is a measure in that particular direction, and I fail to see why it should be curtailed in its operation. Whilst I do not think it advisable to say that this class or that class of the community should be specially provided for, I am not going to put in any provision to say that its operation shall be kept within a limitation less than that prescribed in the Constitution, and which must be determined by the Judges.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Mauger) adjourned.
Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Deakin) read a first time.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been drawn to a cablegram from Great Britain with reference to a publication concerning slavery amongst the aborigines of Western Australia, and if so, whether any action has been taken to deny the statement, or whether he is in a position to deny it.
– I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister of Defence, a matter in connexion with the Defence regulations. It seems to me that they are framed in contradistinction to the Defence Act, which provides that rankers should have an opportunity of qualifying themselves for the highest positions in the service. Provision has been made in the regulations by which a man holding a yachting certificate may be made to qualify ; that to my mind very seriously handicaps the sons of working men. Provision has also been made in the regulations for a certain amount of service outside the navy ; that is another handicap to men who may have all the qualifications, and who may be prepared to pass the necessary examination. I have no wish to submit a definite motion on the subject, but I hope that the Minister will give the matter his immediate attention, and remove these handicaps to bur men.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he has noticed in to-day’s newspaper that the Chief Justice, in voiding the Riverina election, allowed the costs against Mr. Blackwood, who had no responsibility at all as regards the mistakes of the Commonwealth officials, and if so, whether it is fair and just.
– The matter which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has mentioned will be considered. He is wrong in saying that the regulations are so framed that rankers will not have consideration. The men in the ranks will receive every consideration. All these regulations are so framed that those who are inside the service will have the first call for promotion, but it is necessary, especially in naval matters, that, before men can obtain a position they should have a certain amount of sea experience. As regards the yachting certificate, if a man has had experience in navigating a yacht he is entitled to present himself to be examined, and if sucessful to obtain a commission, other things being equal.
– Other men who may have all those qualifications, and a great deal more experience, are to be shut out.
– The honorable member is mistaken. I shall look into the regulations, and if I find any provision which will prevent a man who is in the ranks, and who can pass the examination, from obtaining a commission, it will certainly be removed.
– Will the Minister give us an opportunity to discuss the matter at another time?
– I shall be very glad to give the honorable member an opportunity to discuss the question. I would point out that all these regulations, military and naval, are merely provisional. I am glad to receive suggestions from any honorable member, and if they are reasonable and in the best interests of either the navy or the military then alterations will be made so that the permanent regulations will be in accord with what we desire, and that is that merit, and not influence, shall count, and that those in the ranks shall have every opportunity of working their way up.
Mr. SYDNEY SMITH (Macquarie).The matter which has been brought under the notice of the House by the honorable member for Darwin is an important one. Already two elections which cost considerable sums to the candidates and the Government have had to be voided owing to the way in which they were conducted by the electoral officials. In view of the important decisions which have been given by the Court of Disputed Returns, and the irregularities which have been disclosed, it seems to me that the Government ought to institute a searching inquiry into the conduct of the recent elections, with the object of seeing whether they cannot so arrange matters as to prevent the possibility of those mistakes occurring in the future. I feel quite sure that if another general election were to take place it would be found that not two petitions, but a large number of petitions, would be lodged against the returns. I believe that very few honorable members would be able -to go through the ordeal of an inquiry such as has recently been held.
– At the last Melbourne election there was a very great improvement.
– That case has not been inquired into. My honorable friend must remember that it is much more easy to conduct an election in the city than in the country districts. Already very important irregularities have been discovered, and it may be taken for granted that other irregularities have taken place. In the interests of Parliament itself an inquiry should be instituted into the conduct of the recent elections. The Government should take into their favorable consideration the proposal made by the honorable member for Darwin, because there is no doubt that the mistakes occurred through no fault of the candidates. I think that both the Melbourne and Riverina cases should be inquired into and dealt with. When similar mistakes have occurred in New South Wales it has been decided - I think on three or four occasions - that the amount of the expenses should be refunded to the candidates.
– In the event of another general’ election we might have practically seventy-five petitions, speculative or otherwise, lodged against the returns, and according to the decisions of the Court of Disputed Returns, which I do not think could be fairly questioned, in two cases the election has been voided, not through any ‘fault or dereliction of duty on the part of the candidates, but through some informality on the part of the electoral officials, which has practically disfranchised electors. It was not a question as to what constituted a majority of votes. The elections were declared void simply because some electors were disfranchised. Consequently it is absolutely unfair that the whole of the expense should be borne by the candidates. If an inquiry were made some defect or informality would be found in connexion with the postal votes cast in every electoral division, and therefore, no matter how great the majorities secured by the successful candidates, all the elections would, according to the decision of the High Court, be declared null and void. I hope that, in view of the fact that the elections were to a very large extent experimental, so far as the administration of the electoral law was concerned, the Government will take into consideration the question of. defraying the cost incurred by the candidates in those cases where the elections have been voided.
– I have not had the advantage of reading the judgment assigning the reasons of the High Court for voiding the Riverina election. Honorable members are probably aware that the officers engaged in electoral administration have already met in conference, and that criticism has been directed to the improvement of the methods lately employed. A large number of recommendations are now before my honorable colleague, the Minister for Home Affairs, who is making them the basis of an amending Electoral Bill, which will be so framed as to remedy the various defects which have been discovered, and remove the misunderstandings which have arisen. Honorable members must remember that the Electoral. Act was applied for the first time by thousands of officers, to tens of thousands of voters unfamiliar with its details, but familiar with other systems, for which they appeared to have a rooted regard.
– Will the papers in connexion with the’ conference of electoral officers be laid upon the table?
– They will be submitted to the House in connexion with the amending Bill. I would point out to the honorable member for South Sydney that the charges to which he has referred relate to something which occurred prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth, and that they affect one State, when is represented in London. The AgentGeneral of that State has already replied to the charges, which have also been answered by its Ministers. The question is strictly one’ for the State, and we are not called upon to interpose. In any case, as we have no representative in London, it would be difficult for us to intervene.
– It should be a subject for inquiry.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
The House adjourned at 10.54 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 April 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040413_reps_2_18/>.