House of Representatives
1 June 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 1784

QUESTION

PUBLIC SERVICE INCREMENTS

Mr HARPER:
MERNDA, VICTORIA

asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

  1. Whether the increments which were due to the members of the Commonwealth Service on 1st January last, and for which the necessary amount has been voted by Parliament (the payment of which has been held back pending the publication of the re-classification report by the Public Service Commissioner) are to be paid before the 30th June?
  2. If not, whether provision will be made in the Estimates for 1904-5 for the re-voting of the money for the payment of such increments?
Mr WATSON:
Prime Minister · BLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– In reply to the honorable member, I desire to state that -

The necessary information is now being obtained by the Public Service Commissioner, and it is intended to pay, before the 30th June, all such increments to which the officers will be entitled under the classification scheme.

page 1784

QUESTION

NEW HEBRIDES TREATY

Mr CROUCH:
CORIO, VICTORIA

asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -

  1. Has he yet received a copy of the. Treaty entered into between the British Foreign Office and the French Republic, dated the 8th April, 1904, relating to the New Hebrides?
  2. Was the Australian Government consulted as to the terms of such Treaty before it was agreed to?
  3. Is he aware that the Treaty arranges for the nomination of n Commission to settle land and other disputes between the settlers onthe islands ?
  4. Has the Government been consulted as to the personnel of such Commission, and will the Prime Minister urge that Australia be represented thereon?
  5. Will he make representations to the British Government against its arranging any matters affecting Australian interests in Australian waters without consulting the Australian Government, not only in this case, but in future cases?
Mr WATSON:
ALP

– I have been furnished by my honorable colleague, the Minister of External Affairs, with the following information -

A copy of the treaty entered into between Great Britain and France, dated Sth April, 1904, has been received. Certain communications from the British Government in regard to the Commission which it is proposed to appoint have been received, and are now under the considera- t ion of this Government. I have no reason to anticipate that the British Government will arrange any matters affecting Australian interests in Australian waters, without first consulting the Government of the Commonwealth.

page 1785

QUESTION

DEPORTATION OF KANAKAS

Mr BAMFORD:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND

asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -

  1. . Whether he has entered into negotiations with the Government of Queensland in reference to the return to their islands of time-expired kanakas?
  2. If not, is it the intention of the Government to make any arrangements whereby kanakas whose agreements have expired, and others who desire. to return to their homes, may have such facilities afforded as will enable them to return to their islands without unnecessary delay ?
Mr HUGHES:
Minister for External Affairs · WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– The reply to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -

Subsequent to a question which was asked bMr. Wilkinson in this House on the 20th April last a communication was forwarded to the Premier of Queensland, inquiring as to the facilities for the return of time-expired kanakas to their homes. Mr. Morgan promised to make inquiries into the matter, and forward as soon as possible the result thereof. As soon as this further communication is received, the Government will decide as to wha future arrangements are necessary.

page 1785

QUESTION

BURNIE MAIL SERVICE

Mr O’MALLEY:
DARWIN, TASMANIA

asked the Postmaster-

General, upon notice -

Whether, in view of the fact that it takes six hours for the mail train to cover the journey of 110 miles between Launceston and Burnie, and consequently that the Stanley coach cannot leave till 4 p.m., he will urge the Tasmanian Government to shorten the time on the journey to four hours, and thus enable the coach to leave Burnie at 2 p.m., and arrive at Stanley at 7.30 p.m.?

Mr MAHON:
Postmaster-General · COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The reply to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -

The Postmaster-General will obtain a report respecting the matter, and i f it is found to be desirable, he will ask the Tasmanian Government to reduce the time now occupied between Launceston and Burnie.

page 1785

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed from 31st May. vide page 1735):

Clause 4 -

In this Act, except where otherwise clearly intended - “ Industrial dispute “ means a dispute in relation to industrial matters -

arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employees on the other part, or

certified by the Registrar as proper in the public interest to be dealt with bv the Court, and extending beyond the limits of any one State, but does not include a dispute relating to employment in the public service of the Commonwealth, or of a State, or to employment. by any public authority constituted under; the Commonwealth or a State. . . .

Which had been amended, on motion by Mr. Fisher, by the omission of the following words : - “But does not include,” lines12 and 13;

And upon which Mr. Watson had moved, by way of amendment -

That the words “ including disputes in relation to employment upon State railways “ be inserted after the word ‘’ State,” line 12.

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

– I urged the Government last night to consent to the adjournment of the debate because the hour was late, and one or two matters had cropped up during the discussion to which I wished to address myself. The adjournment was all the more desirable because it was only yesterday that honorable members began to deal in detail with the very voluminous amendments which the Government have put before us. I regret that they have not introduced a reprinted Bill, embodying these amendments in their proper places, so that we might judge of their exact effect. At the present time it is a work of great labour to take each amendment separately, and see how one affects another or is affected by the provisions of the Bill. For instance, before coming to a final conclusion upon the amendment now before the Chair, one would wish to know how it is likely to be affected by the other amendments of which notice has been given. The effect of one provision in the original Bill upon another is very easily seen by merely reading the clauses; but it is a very difficult matter to know exactly what the effect of the proposed amendments would be without going to the trouble of annotating a copy of the measure as originally introduced. No doubt the Government felt compelled to propose these amendments in order to get the measure into a shape which would harmonize with their policy. I regret that the Bill, and particularly the clause with which we are now dealing, has been to a large extent the sport of party strife. Under these circumstances, we are much less likely to obtain a perfect Bill than if we had had a strong Government in charge of it - a Government capable of seeing that the principles upon which they were agreed were carried through Committee. Under present conditions, we are likely to obtain a measure which will not be consistent with itself, and may not operate in the direction which all the advocates of the great reform which we are endeavouring to achieve desire. The clause before us is largely the crux of the whole position. But, notwithstanding my wish to see a strong and capable Government, having behind it a considerable majority, administering ‘ Federal affairs, I cannot recede from my original position that, in any measure providing for compulsory conciliation and arbitration, the railway employes of Australia must be included. It seems to me that such a measure is not called for at all if it is not to be applied to railway ‘ employes, because disputes extending beyond the boundaries of any one State are likely to arise chiefly in connexion with railway management. It is only quite recently that we had in Victoria a strike of railway employes, which many persons engaged in commerce and industry feared would extend to New South Wales.

Mr Higgins:

– It verv nearly did so.

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

– Yes. It nearly extended, ion two reasons. The proof is very difficult to. give, but the facts are not so difficult to point out. In one direction the men on strike were appealing for the active sympathy of their fellowworkmen in a neighbouring State; and on the other hand some politicians in this State, who sympathized with the strikers, were appealing to kindred politicians in the neighbouring State to take some action that would show a practical sympathy. If that strike, which was so prejudicial and so dangerous to the interests of Victoria, had extended to the neighbouring State of New South Wales - and probably also to a State on the other side of Victoria - we should have had a condition of circumstances with which no mere State legislation or action could have coped successfully. What has happened before might happen again; and such’ an occurrence is more likely to extend and occupy the theatre of Commonwealth activities in the future than in the past. The railway operatives have now a Federal organization. Consequently, it is much more likely than has been the case in the past that a difficulty originating in any one State will be carried to another.

I cannot see, for the life of me, if we wish to have legislation dealing with disputes which extend beyond one State into another, why we should not include, at any rate, the railway operatives. If we do not there is very little demand for such legislation at all, because outside employes of the States Governments we have to anticipate strikes extending beyond the limits of a State only amongst the pastoralists’ workmen and shearers, and perhaps amongst seamen. There is already on the notice-paper an amendment to exclude agricultural and pastoral labourers from the scope of the measure.

Mr Wilson:

– Not pastoral labourers.

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

– There are also some politicians who think that the seamen should be dealt with exclusively in the Navigation Bill. Remove these three classes of labour - the greatest number of operatives or workmen to which we can apply such legislation - away from the operation of the measure, and we have scarcely any left except those engaged in ordinary private industries, to which I think this measure will very seldom require to be applied. I think that there is even a greater danger of an invasion of States rights, in attempting to produce an overflowing of disputes in mere private industries from one State to another than by the inclusion of railway operatives. Those honorable members who oppose the inclusion’ of railway operatives on the ground that to do so would be an invasion of States rights, must, on their own reasoning, go further, and admit that the whole Bill is an invasion of States rights. While we should be very careful - and I do not think any one is more careful than I am - about invading States rights, and should act cautiously in making this Federation what, I regret to say, it has not been up to the present, a success approved of by the voters throughout Australia, yet it seems to me that there is great force in the argument used by the AttorneyGeneral - which argument I myself used previously - that we should not sleep upon the constitutional rights which we possess. The sub-section of the Constitution which gives us the power to deal with industrial disputes was inserted for some purpose. That purpose, it seems to me, is plainly expressed ; and, if it has any limitations, as I have before argued, those limitations should be imposed on us by the High Court of Australia. I rather approve of the wording. of the amendment which Ministers have brought down and which leaves it entirely open to any parties who are sought to be brought under the operation of this measure, and about whom it is doubtful whether it is constitutional that they should be so brought, to move the High Court and have the matter decided. I certainly think it would have been a mistake to endeavour to bring all State employes under the operation of such a measure. As has been pointed out, many of the State employes are technical and highly skilled engineers, accountants, draftsmen, and so forth, to whom such a measure should never apply in any respect whatever. But the amendment of the Government restricts it to such industrial enterprises as State Governments choose to indulge in. One of these certainly is the railway enterprise, in which, in some States Governments are competing with private employers who conduct similar enterprises. If the Government of a State chooses to take up - as some of the Governments may possibly do some day - the running of steam-ships for freight and passenger traffic, they would similarly be in competition with private enterprise. Therefore, and to the extent that Governments indulge, in these industrial enterprises, those Governments and their employes should come under the operation of a measure like this. I say again that we have no right to assume that the application of the measure to such enterprises may be unconstitutional. We have the right to see, as far as we can, that, in our enactments, our Constitution is fully carried out, and that we yield no atom of power which we possess under it. We should claim all we think we have the right to claim, and leave it to the High Court to say whether in any of our enactments we have exceeded the powers which the Constitution gives us. The honorable member for Wentworth and some other honorable members have referred to a circular issued by Mr. Robert Hollis, the secretary of the railway employes in the State of New South Wales, in which Mr. Hollis sought, by those means which political wire-pullers usually adopt, to pin certain candidates down by exacting from them a promise to support some such legislation, as this, including some principles and details, which would go much further than I think the Committee contemplate going. I did not sign the pledge which Mr. Hollis sent. In fact, I did not open his communication until after the election. But I think that the honorable member for Wentworth is in error - and I know a good deal about the matter, as I have in .my constituency a very large number of railway operatives - in thinking that the view of Mr. Robert Hollis, that these railway employes should be brought under the operation of such legislation as we are now considering, is not the opinion of the great body of railway employe’s throughout Australia^

Mr Kelly:

– I do not think I said that.

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

– The force of the honorable member’s argument was that this view was not adopted by the railway operatives themselves.

Mr Kelly:

– What I said was that these men would hardly want to be brought under an Arbitration Court, and, at the same time, have some other arrangement made whereby their wages could not be lowered.

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

– I quite believe that. I believe that the railway operatives are not inclined to go so far as their political leaders ate endeavouring to drag them. But at the same time I am fully assured that the majority of the railway employes are in favour of being brought under such a measure as this, whether their wages are raised or reduced by its operation. I may further point out that, since the elections, we’ have received a circular from a gentleman, whose name I cannot just now remember, in which we were asked - in a different style from that adopted by Mr. Robert Hollis - whether, we were prepared to vote for this measure. The men whom the author of the circular represented desired to know the opinion of the House on the point, and there was none of that exaction of election pledges which was evident from Mr. Robert Hollis’ communication. They simply desired to know whether we were personally in favour of bringing the railway employes under the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I had not the slightest hesitation in replying to these gentlemen that I was pledged from the time of my first election onwards to support the inclusion of railway servants in any arbitration legislation which might be devised. It seemed to me, for reasons already given, that to leave out the railway employes would be, as’ I have said before, like producing the play of Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark. If we are ‘not to deal with railway employes the measure will be practically useless, and consequently if the majority of the Committee are opposed to the Government proposal I shall be quite prepared to vote against the third reading of the Bill.

Sir John Forrest:

– What about the seamen ?

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

– The seamen may hope to be protected by the provisions of the Navigation Bill, and I am not so certain that I should like to place seamen and railway ‘servants upon the same footing, because there is a vast difference between the two classes of employes. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in the course of his remarks yesterday, referred to the great mining dispute in Colorado, which we are told affects no less than 300,000 employes, and has already involved a loss of ^10,000,000. The honorable and learned member was asked whether he did not think that serious strife such as has occurred in that case was very nearly brought about by the Victorian railway strike. His reply was that he was then dealing with the Colorado strike. I would point out, however, that we cannot view such a great strike as that in Colorado without having it borne in upon our minds that we shall be liable to have a similar state of affairs brought about here in connexion with our railways, sooner or later, unless we adopt some means for settling disputes. The railway servants are willing that their disputes shall be settled by some such tribunal as we are now about to create, and I contend that in order to protect the States, the capital of the States, and the well-being of the community, we must make some provision for including our great railway systems in our scheme for conciliation and arbitration, so that we may be able to depend upon the wheels continuing to go round. For this reason, I shall support the Government in their present proposal, and I hope that we shall make an honest attempt to settle any great disputes which may extend from one State into another.

Mr WILSON:
Corangamite

– I cannot accept the arguments of the honorable member for South Sydney. The question for us to consider is as to whether there is any likelihood of railway, strikes extending beyond any one State. I understand that the railway servants of New South Wales are brought within the scope of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of that State, and there is nothing to prevent other States from adopting some form of conciliation and arbitration which will apply to all the public servants, as well as to those who are in private employment. If this were brought about, it would be absolutely impossible for a railway strike to extend beyond the borders of any one State. We may fairly assume that the conciliation and arbitration legislation of any one State would serve to prevent a strike from taking place among its railway servants, and if so, no such strike could occur as would come within the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court.

Mr Higgins:

– There might be a dispute, although not a strike.

Mr WILSON:

– In the same way, a dispute which occurred in any one of the States, could be referred to the State Court of Arbitration, and if it were settled by that tribunal - as it ought to be, if this kind of legislation is to be effective - it could not extend beyond the borders of that State. If, however, by any chance, it should extend to another State, it could be immediately dealt with by the Court of that State.

Mr Poynton:

– The honorable member is assuming that all the States would legislate for conciliation and arbitration.

Mr WILSON:

– There is no assumption about it. I am simply saying that each State has the power to legislate in that direction if it so wishes, and doubtless as the years roll on, each State will provide machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes. If not, it is no business of ours, as we have no right to dictate to sovereign States. I consider that the question of bringing railway servants within the scope of this measure, is one of the most important that has been dealt with by this Parliament, because if the Government proposal is carried it will be so far-reaching in its effects upon the stability of the Federation. Last evening I referred to the differences of opinion that existed amongst honorable members of the legal profession with regard to the constitutional aspect of this question. These differences are so grave that we ought to consider whether it is wise for us to proceed any further, until the question now in dispute has been settled. I should like to ask, further, if it is expedient for us, during the first few years of our Federal life, to embark upon legislation which so directly and distinctly throws down the gage of battle to the States Parliaments. Every honorable member can. and should, speak for his own State, and I say unhesitatingly that the vast majority of the people of Victoria are opposed to this attempt on the part of the Federal Parliament to over-ride States’ rights, and take away from the States Parliaments the power which they now possess to deal with their own servants in their own way. This right has been acknowledged ever since those Parliaments were first constituted, and we should not lightly take such a step as that now proposed. Perhaps, it would be’ appropriate at this stage to refer to a matter which, although somewhat painful,’ cannot be allowed to rest. We have lately been discussing some legislation passed in New South Wales, and I feel impelled to say a few words with regard to recent legislation and events in Victoria. I think that we are entitled to search for the origin of the desire to include railway servants within the scope of this measure. The idea had its birth some twelve months ago, when the unfortunate strike took place amongst the railway employes of Victoria. That strike was very much to be regretted, and I feel quite certain that almost all the men who were directly concerned in it have been sorry they ever had anything to do with it. I cannot say the same for those outside who were urging the men on to strike.

Mr Watson:

– Who were they ?

Mr WILSON:

– If the Prime Minister will wait, I think I shall be able to show him that the railway men, although not, perhaps, directly urged on by word of mouth, were induced to strike by the dissension which was sown amongst them by men who ought to have known better.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable member has a good imagination.

Mr WILSON:

– I am not relying on my imagination, but I am speaking of facts, as the Prime Minister will see, if he refers to the files of the daily newspapers of twelve or eighteen months ago.

Mr Spence:

– They are a very unreliable source of information.

Mr WILSON:

– I am bound to admit that they are, when I find in them - as I sometimes do - two articles treating questions of the day in two different ways. At the same time, all must recognise that there are certain matters which are fairly reported by those journals, and the truth of which cannot be denied. The Victorian railway strike. I assert, had its origin in the retrenchment which was rendered necessary in the Public Service of this State some twelve months previously. The Labour Party saw their opportunity an. seized it, without hesitation. They sowed the seeds of dissension broadcast throughout Victoria, particularly amongst the railway servants. Delegates were brought from New South Wales to assist in that work.

They came here, not with the intention of pouring oil upon the troubled waters, but for the express purpose of widening me breach. Labour members of Parliament took part in both public and private discussions of the matter at issue, until it looked as if. the whole of the Victorian railway system was to be handed over to the professional agitators of Lygon-street. Then came a final ultimatum from the Railway Commissioner. The directors of the railways - that is, the Government - who were chosen by and represented the people of this State, demanded that all unions of their employes should withdraw from affiliation with the Trades Hall. Labour members and agitators resented this keenly, and by their speeches, and actions added fuel to the flame, and added the combustibles so rapidly that at last an explosion occurred in the form of a strike. Then, like childrein playing with gunpowder, they declared - whether they believed their statement or not is quite another matter - that they did not think it would go off. They thought, I presume, that the Government would back down, and professed astonishment at the effect of their own bombs. Then, for a time, they lay very low. Why ?

Mr Batchelor:

– They wanted more oil, I suppose.

Mr WILSON:

– Not necessarily. Thev may have been rendered thirsty by the great heat which was generated by the “strike, and by the fearful conflagration which occurred as the result- of the explosion. But they lay low for another reason, viz., that their masters - the working men and the people of Victoria generally - were entirely opposed to the railway employes and to the strike. Consequently, it was deemed discreet to conceal the fact that they had been instrumental in fomenting the trouble, and in keeping it alive so long as they thought that they had any chance of success. In this connexion, I ask honorable members to note the position which was taken up by the Labour Party, as indicated by its leader in the State Parliament. That gentlemen was a member of the deputation which met the leaders of the railway strike, and which counselled them to abandon it. At the time it was generally thought, and is still urged by those leaders, that he agreed with the other members of the deputation in tendering that counsel, although he as stoutly denies the truth of that statement. Are we then to believe that the Trades Hall Party, backed up by the New South Wales representatives, were not favorably disposed towards the strike? To my mind, to think otherwise would be utterly ridiculous. The whole trouble constituted a direct attack upon the right of the people to control their own servants through their own representatives in Parliament in. their own way. It was a brazen attempt on the part of all who were connected with it to interfere with the Appropriation Bill in the State Legislature. For some time previously the railways of Victoria had involved the State in an immense loss annually. Its finances were in a very depressed condition, and it was necessary to impose further burdens on the people. Accordingly that was done. The capitalists, who are so much despised by honorable members opposite, manfully bore their share of the increased taxation. The position was put clearly before the civil servants, and a majority of them cheerfully agreed to shoulder their share of responsibility. Similarly, the railway employes would Lave been prepared to contribute their quota had it not been for outside interference.

Mr Poynton:

– From whom is the honorable member quoting ?

Mr WILSON:

– From Wilson, on the railway strike. I maintain that outside interference was exercised from Lygon-street and Sussex street.

Mr Poynton:

– Where is Sussex-street?

Mr WILSON:

– If the honorable member will ask the ‘Prime Minister, he will probably be informed.

Mr Watson:

– I know where Sussexstreet is ; but I am not aware of any reason why it should be debited with anything that occurred in connexion with the Victorian railway strike.

Mr WILSON:

– I should like to point out that history has a very curious way of repeating itself. It is just possible that in the future some other State may find itself in the same financial position as did Victoria last year, and be compelled to resort to the same methods in order to square its accounts. Under such circumstances, is there any sane individual who would urge that this Parliament would have a right to prevent the State Legislature from arranging its Appropriation Bill as it thought1 best? For my part, I think that we should be doing a very grievous wrong if we took up such a position. I beg honorable members to pause-

Mr Watson:

– We have been pausing too much.

Mr WILSON:

– No; this measure was practically re-introduced by the Prime

Minister only yesterday. It has been reintroduced in such a form that honorable members have not yet had time to grasp the different proposals which are embodied in the mass of amendments that are to be submitted. It is quite impossible for them to be fully seized of what is intended by the Bill.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The question before the Chair is a specific amendment, and not the Bill generally. I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to that question.

Mr WILSON:

– This is a very im:portant matter. I like to hear both sides of a question discussed at all times, and I am sorry that no arguments have been advanced in favour of this proposal by honorable members opposite. Why is there this conspiracy of silence?

Mr Hughes:

– Ask me not in mournful numbers. If the honorable member will sit down, I shall be only too happy to reply.

Mr WILSON:

– When the Minister of External Affairs was addressing the Chamber, I did not ask him to sit down. I allowed him to finish what he had to say. I did not remonstrate with him for interjecting when other honorable members were addressing the Chair, and he used that privilege very freely; but when he himself rose to speak he resented the exercise of this right on the part of other honorable members.

Mr Watson:

– That is natural.

Mr WILSON:

– It may be; but at the same time it is not what I regard as sportsmanlike. Every honorable member,” no matter on what side of the House he may sit, should have a fair opportunity to express his opinion. I hope that honorable members will clearly give utterance to their views ; that they will not be gagged, but will fully discuss the question at issue, although even a month be occupied in the consideration of it. The amendment is one of grave importance, both to the Federation and ;to the States. If we allow it to be carried we shall inflict a very grievous wrong upon the people of the individual States, as well as upon the States themselves, and certainly add nothing whatever to the prestige of the Federal Parliament.

Mr CARPENTER:
Fremantle

– It is not often that we have the pleasure of listening to the honorable member for Corangamite, but when he does speak he always convinces us that however mistaken he may be, he has pronounced opinions. I listened this afternoon to his somewhat mixed metaphor, and>, when he spoke of pouring oil on the troubled waters and widening the breach, found it difficult to realize the connexion between the two. But however mixed his metaphor may be, I am afraid that his geographical knowledge is even more astray. He spoke of a connexion between Lygonstreet and Sussex-street; and although we all know the instituti.n to which the honorable member referred when he spoke of the first-named thoroughfare, it seemed to me that when he referred to Sussex-street he was thinking of the bubonic plague.

Mr Wilson:

– That is where the plague Originated.

Mr CARPENTER:

– Perhaps the honorable member, as a member of the medical profession, had that fact in his mind ; but I would advise him not to associate the Sydney Trades Hall with the bubonic plague.

Mr Watson:

– Nor with Sussex-street.

Mr CARPENTER:

– There is no connexion whatever between the two.

Mr Watson:

– The Trades Hall is not in Sussex-street.

Mr CARPENTER:

– I briefly addressed myself last night to the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corio, and, although that proposition has been defeated, I wish to make him an offer. If the honorable and learned member thinks that there is any class of public servants that will not be covered by the amendment now before us,. I shall be prepared to support any further proposition that he may make to remove any doubt as to’ the intention of the Government proposal to provide for every one who can , be dealt with in this measure. As I remarked last night, there has been a good deal of by-play on the part of honorable members opposite, with reference to the assertion that there has been a change of front on the part of the Government. I deny that there has been any change. ‘ The amendment before us covers everything which the Labour Party ever asked for or desired ; but if any honorable member wishes to amplify it, so that all doubts shall be removed, I shall- support a proposal in that direction, if reasonable grounds for it can be given. My desire is that no one who can be properly and lawfully included within the provisions of this Bill shall be shut out. We” have been told that, in seeking to provide for public servants in this measure, we are attempting to deprive the States of the management of their own affairs. That is only a repetition of the old Tory cry that has been raised in every State Parliament in which an Arbitration Bill has been under consideration. As soon as a Government has proposed that industrial disputes should be referred to Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration, the Opposition cry has always been - and more particularly in regard to Arbitration Courts - that an attempt is being made to take the management of business affairs out of the hands of those directly concerned. Doleful pictures have been drawn in the States Parliaments of what would be the result of State interference with large industries within their borders, and we have to-day a repetition of that cry in this Parliament. It is one which may be raised against an Arbitration Bill of any kind ; but I contend that not one of the State Conciliation and Arbitration Acts has taken the management of business undertakings out of the hands of those directly concerned, and that it is not sought by this measure to deprive the States of the management of their railways or any industry in which they may be engaged. So much has been said with reference to Federal and States powers, and the possibility of a conflict between the two as the result of the passing of this Bill, that it is unnecessary for me to refer at length to that aspect of the question. I have only to say that whilst I am with those who advocate the exercise of caution, more particularly in the early years of the Federation, by this Parliament, I at the same time advocate courage in facing any question in reference to which we think there might be a conflict between Federal and States powers, or that the Federal power might have to wrongly give way to that of the States. There is a number of gentlemen prominent in State politics who make no secret of their antagonism to this Parliament, and who would go to almost any length in their desire to decry our powers and make this Parliament unpopular. The Parliament is being held up to the people as one that is going to almost ruin Australia by extravagant proposals to establish’ institutions that will have the . effect of increasing the cost of government. In all the States men are to be found who do not hesitate to misrepresent the Federal power, and they are ‘the men with whom we have to deal when considering any question of antagonism between Federal and States powers. As the Attorney-General said yesterday, we are here not to conserve States rights, but to advocate Federal rights. While it is also our duty to guard against any invasion of States rights, we must not hesitate - and I for one shall not do so - to exercise every power that is granted to us by the Constitution. If we should overstep the limits set upon our legislative power by the Constitution, the States need have no fear, because there is in existence a judicial tribunal whose special duty it is to interpret Federal legislation, and to declare invalid any provision that may be unconstitutional.

Mr Crouch:

– Why did not the honorable member vote differently yesterday ?

Mr CARPENTER:

– I then voted according to my conviction, and I hope that the honorable and learned member ‘did the same. The less we say about the action of some honorable members yesterday the better. Fortunately for them, it came to naught.

Mr Lonsdale:

– The honorable member ought to explain his complete turn-over.

Mr CARPENTER:

– We expected that the honorable member for New England would turn over, after the declaration which he made upon a certain momentous occasion a few weeks back.

Mr Lonsdale:

– The honorable member is quite right there.

Mr CARPENTER:

– We should, if possible, avoid disputes between the Federal and the States authorities; but the occurrence of such disputes was anticipated by the framers ofthe Constitution. There could not be a Federation without the danger of conflict arising between the Federal and the States powers. The chief source of such conflict will probably be found in the legislation passed by this Parliament ; but is it necessary to display ill-feeling merely because of a difference of opinion on “ some important question of public policy ? Already two or three questions in which the Federal and States authorities have been in conflict have been brought before the High Court. Take the Sydney rating case as an illustration. Was there necessarily ill-feeling between the municipality of Sydney and the Federal Government in connexion with that case ? The question was one which had to be settled, and it was referred to the High Court in a friendly spirit, so that an authoritative opinion might be pronounced which would have effect for all time. So with the differ ence of opinion in regard to the taxation by the States of the salaries of Federal officials and others. Will any one contend that, because the Federal authority has disputed the right of the States to tax the salaries of Federal Ministers, members of Parliament, and public servants, there must necessarily be ill-feeling between them? Although efforts may occasionally be made by members of States Parliaments to misrepresent Federal action, while on the other hand attempts may be made by members of the” Federal Parliament to misrepresent States action, we need not, therefore, be prevented on this occasion from doing what we know to be right. Let us courageously exercise the powers intrusted to us, and if the States dispute the validity of our action, let them take the issue before the body which has been appointed to settle these constitutional questions.

Mr Lonsdale:

– Then why does the honorable member object to the inclusion of public servants in the Bill?

Mr CARPENTER:

– The public servants will be included in the Bill, if the Government have their way. The honorable arid learned member for Ballarat yesterday quoted a judgment in a recent case, in which the words “ extrinsic control over State matters” were used. Is it true that we are seeking to exercise control over the administration of the States railways, for instance? If we set up an Arbitration Court to which disputes extending beyond any one State may be referred, are we thereby, in the ordinary sense of the word, exercising control over the administration of the railwavs by the States ? I do not think so. It is to strain the meaning of the words to affirm the contrary. We do not deprive the States of their control.

Mr Wilson:

– Does not the honorable member think that an interference in matters of finance means the exercise of control ?

Mr CARPENTER:

– We do not take charge of the finances of the States. An award of the Arbitration Court might have the effect of saving money to the States.

Mr Wilson:

– And it might have the effect of causing them to expend more money upon wages.

Mr CARPENTER:

– We have a right to establish this Court in the interests of the citizens who sent us here ; but we are not, in the ordinary sense of the word, interfering with the States control of their railways. We are merely doing in regard to States concerns what the Parliaments of some of the States have done in connexion with those concerns within their own borders. The Parliaments of some of the States have said to their own Governments, as -well as

I to private persons engaged in business, “We do not wish to interfere with you, but you must conduct your operations within certain lines and under certain conditions.” That is what we are seeking to enact. We do not wish to deprive the States of control, but we think it necessary to provide certain limitations within which their employes are to be dealt with. It is a straining of the words to say that we are seeking to exercise anything like extrinsic control over the States.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– The case of a single individual might be referred to the Court. Is not that control in detail ?

Mr CARPENTER:

– That statement does not affect my argument. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat yesterday frankly admitted, in reply to an interjection made by me, that, where the exercise of the Federal power was of doubtful validity, he would not hesitate to test the question.

Mr Wilson:

– This measure will only make more work for the lawyers.

Mr Spence:

– No. We are going .to prevent the lawyers from appearing before the Court.

Mr CARPENTER:

– I do not think that that is the reason why the honorable and learned member for Ballarat introduced the Bill. I believe that he honestly holds, as I do, that we should not hesitate about exercising the powers undoubtedly conferred upon us by the Constitution. His argument yesterday, however, so far as I followed it, seemed mainly bent towards satisfying himself that the legal objection which he had raised in the first instance was a solid one. If honorable members will recollect, when he moved the second reading of the Bill, he did not speak in so pronounced a fashion upon the legal objections to the proposals of the party to which I belong, but dwelt rather upon the inexpediency of adopting them. Yesterday, however, he devoted nearly all his remarks to justifying his legal objection. By so doing he seemed to me to expose the weakness of his position. If, as he has said, he is willing to test any cass in which there is a doubt as to the constitutionality of a provision, why should he be afraid’ of the amendment now proposed? I should have been very glad to see some means devised by which all the strife and turmoil that has been caused by this Bill could have been avoided. I should have been glad to see the States servants included on the express understanding that there was a doubt as to the legality of including them, and should have preferred to see that doubt referred to the body whose dutv it is to adjudicate on such matters - the High Court. I think that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat would have been quite justified if, having a doubt - for he admits that he had nothing more than a doubt he had not a conviction at that time - he had agreed to the amendment, and had allowed the High Court to decide between the Commonwealth and the States if the States raised the question against us. Yesterday the honorable and learned member spoke of the inexpediency of inserting this provision just now, even if it were lawful. This, to me, is nothing more than the old Tory cry of the “ inopportune time.” How often we have heard it before ! Whenever any measure of progress has been proposed, it has been urged that the present is “ not an opportune time.” If the present time is not opportune, when shall we have an opportune time ? The honorable member who last spoke referred to the railway strike in Victoria, and reminded us of the bitterness engendered during that struggle. I trust that that strike will be lost sight of as far as possible during the discussion on this Bill. It would be a very bad thing, indeed, if the judgment of the Committee were warped by recollections of the strife of twelve months ago.

Mr Wilson:

– It is distinctly germane to the Bill.

Mr CARPENTER:

– There could not be . a more opportune time than when there is no talk of such a struggle to discuss this matter calmly. Those honorable members who hold with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that there is fear of strife between the States, should remember that there will be no strife unless the States themselves raise it. If they do, there is a tribunal to which, without any ill-will, the question can be referred, and we can have an honorable settlement of such differences as may arise. I hope - in fact, I believe - that the Committee will’ include the provision in the Bill, because it puts in the best form possible the whole question, leaving any doubt to be settled by the body whose work it is lo determine such issues.

Mr McCOLL:
Echuca

– The honorable member for Fremantle made one remark that struck me very forcibly. He said, “ We are not here to conserve States rights.”

Mr Carpenter:

– Not specially,

Mr McCOLL:

– It seems to me that the Constitution, which is a bargain between the States and the Commonwealth, defines the powers that each of those bodies conserves to itself. It is a sacred trust, and it lies with us to see that justice is done to both sides. Any one who says that we are not here to conserve’ States rights, has a very unfair and untrue idea of what his duties are as a member of the Federal Parliament. We are here just as much to conserve the rights which the States have retained as to exercise the rights that we believe to have been transferred to us.

Mr Carpenter:

– I meant that we are not here to conserve States rights as against Federal rights.

Mr McCOLL:

– The honorable member also said that, “ By passing this Bill, and bringing the employes of the States Governments under the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court, we shall not be depriving the States of any control over their servants.” I cannot understand how the honorable member comes to -that conclusion. In the introductory portion of the Bill, we are told that one of the objects of the measure is -

To enable States to refer industrial disputes to the Court, and to permit the working of the Court and of State industrial authorities in aid of each other.

Then, in clause 4, we are told that - “ Industrial matters “ includes all matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, rights, or duties of employers or employes, or the mode, terms, and conditions of employment or 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, 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.

How any honorable member can say that we do not interfere with the control by the States of their railways employes, in the face of provisions of that kind, passes my comprehension. We interfere with them in every direction, as the Bill actually says. I join with two of the previous speakers in regretting that the Government have not seen their way to issue the amendments which they propose to make in the Bill in the convenient form in which I have always seen such propositions put before Parliament in a case of this kind. The custom usually is to insert in the old Bill the changes made, representing the words proposed to be omitted by printing them with a line drawn through them, and printing words proposed to be inserted in raised type ; so that anyone taking up the Bill can see at once the changes which it is proposed to make, and how they will affect the drafting of the measure. Even at this late hour I would ask the Government to have the Bill printed in that style.

Mr Batchelor:

– The honorable member should know that the last Government discontinued that practice.

Mr McCOLL:

– Then they discontinued a very good practice.

Mr Mahon:

– If is a very expensive practice.

Mr McCOLL:

– I venture to say that what I recommended will save honorable members in trouble fifty times the expense of printing copies of the Bill in that manner. I do not propose to speak at length, but I do not desire that the clause should pass without voicing my objection to it. I regret that so much valuable time has been lost upon this subject, which I conceive to be of very small importance. It practically broke up the work of the last session, and it has occupied the greater part of the last three months. . It has caused changes, which are only beginning, and of which one cannot see the end - and all over a matter, the ultimate legality and utility of which are very much in doubt ! Any stranger coming here, studying our work closely, and seeing the enormous amount of time we have devoted to . this proposal, would have a very poor idea of our wisdom, and of the care we exercise in regard to the affairs of this great Commonwealth. He would think that we are doing our work in a careless and wasteful fashion. This appears to be a matter of playing at politics, because the provision which it is now sought to make may never come into force. It is intended to ward off a danger which has never threatened us in the past, which does not at present menace us, and which members themselves admit will probably never overtake us. The waste of time that is now involved in the discussion of a matter of no immediate importance is really intolerable. I am strongly opposed to any intermeddling with the States. They ought to be left to manage their own affairs in their own way, and we have no right to encroach upon them in the manner proposed. If it had been desired to extend to the railway employes of Victoria benefits similar to those now enjoyed by the railway employe’s in New South Wales under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of that State, how is it that that wish has never been expressed during the whole of the electoral campaign which is being brought to a close to-day Honorable members who are supporting this Bill iri the main, but opposing this provision, are not opposed to legislation by the State in the direction of conciliation and arbitration. They say that that is a State business, and that the State should manage its own affairs. I have not seen any demand made that a Bill should be introduced into the Victorian Parliament to provide conciliation and arbitration for the benefit of the employes of the State,, yet this Parliament is being asked now to pass with that object a measure which may not become operative for years and years. The position is anomalous, and the desire of those who are seeking to push ‘ this measure through is not based upon solid ground. If they had desired to do justice to the State employes of Victoria, and give them the benefit of provisions such as those in force in New South Wales, they would have brought pressure to bear upon the State Parliament. I cannot believe in the sincerity of honorable members who are endeavouring to push the authority of the Commonwealth to an extreme in this matter. The real object of the Bill appears to be the glorification of trades unions. We have had one or two indications recently that the trades unions are becoming a menace to the State. I have always been a trades unionist, and I have always supported the unionists in their endeavours to secure proper conditions from their employers. But when the unions attempt to take command of the politics of the State when they dictate to the permanent heads pf the States Departments, and bring influence to bear upon Ministers, and when Ministers tamely succumb to that influence, and visit reproach and disgrace upon good servants of the State, I can no longer support them. I am opposed to that development of trades unionism, because such influence is exerted in the interests “ of only a few people, the great mass of the taxpayers, who have to find bread and butter for such persons, and who have to contribute the funds which keep them in employment, being entirely ignored. The Government proposal is in the nature of merely sentimental legislation, and to my mind it borders very closely upon the ridiculous. When we remember the high hopes that were entertained with regard to

Federation at the outset, and when, as the honorable member for South Sydney has stated, we see that those hopes have not been fulfilled, we are entitled to ask why ? The answer is to be found in the fact that we are wasting our time in the consideration of wretched subjects, such as that now before us, instead of attending to the more pressing requirements of this great country. No regard is paid in the labour platforms to the interests of the community as a whole. The Prime Minister told us that tha employes of the States could obtain no redress from the States Parliaments. My experience, however, which extends over a good many years, is that, in no place do the grievances of, public servants obtain such a ready hearing as in the States Parliaments. I have known honorable members to fill the business-paper, day. after day, and week after week, with questions and motions relating to the petty grievances of some post-office officials or other Government servants. These honorable members seemed to live for nothing else, and they allowed the interests of the country to suffer whilst their attention was absorbed by trivialities. The Attorney-General said that the Ministry did not wish to rob the States Governments or the RailwayCommissioners, of the benefits that would be conferred by the Bill. I do not, however, think that the States Governments or the Railway Commissioners desire to be brought under its provisions. All the Parliaments of Australia have taken special care, by means of special Acts, to place the Commissioners and their employes beyond the reach of an arbitrary demand by Parliament, at the instance of a chance majority, and have safeguarded the interests of the railway and other Government servants in every possible way against the operation of injustice and unfairness. Why, then, should we devote valuable time to the discussion of a measure which is so little needed at the present time ? Honorable members opposite have said that there has been no change of front on the part- of the Government, but I think there has been a decided change. The Prime Minister, when he announced the formation of his Government, stated that he had never deemed it necessary that the clerical branches of the Public Services of the States should be brought within the scope of the Bill ; but other honorable members said that the Prime Minister himself did not know how much the word “ industrial “ would cover. They said - “Wait until the High Court deals with the subject, and then you will see what is meant by ‘industrial.’” Is that the way to legislate? My feeling is that we should say what we mean. If we are to bring the whole of the States public servants within the scope of this Bill, let us say so in so many words. The present method of legislation - by which we imply something but do not say what we mean - is nothing more nor less than political thimblerigging. When we ask what thimble the pea is under, no one can tell us ; but we are enjoined to wait until the High Court decides the question. I am glad to say that the chances are that before this Bill is passed there will be many surprises. My experience of Government Departments is that, fifteen years ago, before agitators came to the front, the public servants were much better off than they are to-day. They had better pay, shorter hours, and fairer conditions in every way. Legislation of this kind does not provide a royal way’ of improving the position of the public servants. The States, by their own enactment, can render our legislation nugatory. The only way in which .we can improve the conditions for the public servants is by lifting up the country - by developing our resources, and making more work for the railways and ‘for all classes of the community. If we wander away amongst legislative mazes, where no light can be thrown upon our proceedings, we shall only proceed from one folly to another, and disaster will ultimately overtake us. The great industries of the country require to be developed before we can bring about that general prosperity which we all desire, and in which the public servants will participate in common with the rest of the community .

Sir JOHN FORREST:
Swan

– I do not propose to detain the Committee at any length. I merely wish to offer a few Observations upon certain matters in order to clearly define my attitude upon this question. The late Government proposed, under clause 4, that this Bill should not be applicable to a dispute relating to “ employment in the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of a State, or to employment by any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.” The present Minister of Trade and Customs thereupon moved that the words “ does not include “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ and includes.” At that time, therefore, the desire of honorable members opposite was that the measure should apply to disputes relating to employment in the Public Service cif the Commonwealth or of a State, or to employment by any public authority constituted under either of them. The late Government thoroughly understood what would be the result of the adoption of that amendment. It was exactly the reverse of what we ourselves desired. Now, however, what do we find ? Instead of a straightforward alternative, we are asked to affirm that the Bill shall be applicable only to disputes in which employes upon the States railways are involved, and to disputes in industries which are carried On by the Commonwealth or by a State, or by any authority constituted under them. In such circumstances, a question naturally arises as to the precise meaning of the term “industry.” That will have to be decided by the High Court. Apart from the railway employes, we are left in a state of doubt as to the persons to whom the Government intend the Bill to be applicable. Should the High Court decide that the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of a State is an “ industry,” the public servants will come within the scope of the Bill, but not otherwise. The Ministry have only courage enough to say that the States railways constitute an industry.

Mr Spence:

– But there is a definition of “ industry “ contained in the Bill.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I do not think that that fact lessens the force of the argument which I am advancing. In speaking upon this measure upon the 19th April last, the Minister of Trade and Customs said -

We should endeavour to place the public servants upon such a footing that they will have no cause to fear vindictive or unfair treatment. Their rates of pay and conditions of labour should be determined not by Parliaments, which may be called upon to act in a time of political panic, but by a judicial body.

He also said at a later stage -

I appeal- to honorable members to say whether it would not be more dignified from a parliamentary point of view, and better for the Commonwealth and the States, if- the public servants were brought within the scope of this Bill.

Of course it is open to honorable members opposite to urge that some, if not all, public servants will be covered by the interpretation which will be placed upon the word “ industry.” Nevertheless, the fact remains that they have departed from that definiteness which characterized their utterances prior to their accession to office.

Mr Carpenter:

– The definition of the term “ industry “ is very comprehensive.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I must congratulate the Prime Minister upon having such loyal colleagues. They seem to be very willing to eat their own words.

Mr Watson:

– So far, they have not threatened to burst up “the Constitution.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Circumstances may arise which may even justify the adoption of ‘that course. Persons who threaten to burst up Constitutions are usually suffering from some very great injustice.

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable member will feel very much better in a week or two.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The Minister of External Affairs seems to be very fond of making gross insinuations.

Mr Hughes:

– I made a plain, blunt statement.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– But it is not an accurate one, nor is it justified by anything that I have said. I am dealing with this question without the slightest personal feeling. I do not think that the Minister of External Affairs has been accustomed to generous critics. I have no desire to be ungenerous ; I merely wish to be fair.

Mr Hughes:

– Very well, then ; I withdraw anything that the right honorable member mav regard as offensive.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– Again, on the 20th April, the honorable member for Fremantle, in addressing the House upon this Bill, said -

It would be a calamity if it were established here and now that the Federal Arbitration Court could not esercise jurisdiction over the many thousands of Stale public servants.

He did not then limit his remarks to “ employment in industries carried on by a State or the Commonwealth.” ,

Mr Carpenter:

– The definition of “ industry “ will cover public servants.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member says so; -but why depart from the plain language previously proposed and advocated. He also said -

We are told that even if we had the power, it would not be expedient to bring States servants within the scope of this measure

The honorable” member was at that time apparently of opinion that all public servants should be brought within the scope of the measure, and that it should be left to the High Court to decide what sections of public servants should be excluded. He now desires that the position shall be absolutely reversed.

Mr Carpenter:

– There is no difference whatever.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I come now to the attitude taken up by the honorable member for Maranoa. I find that he said on a former occasion -

From our point of view it does not matter whether the railway employes and the States public servants wish to be included under this Bill or not. We as a party consider that they, and every one who works for his living, should be included. F.very member of our party has been returned on that principle.

Again, later on, he said -

Let me inform him - he was referring to the honorable member for Wannon - that at the elections, the people whom I represent, said to me, “ Do not have the Bill at all unless all the workers are included under it.” Every brain worker and every manual worker should be included in the Bill.

If I entertained these strong viewsI should take care to see that the Bill clearly provided for those I intended to be covered by it, and would leave it to the High Court to say whether or not they had been wrongly included. I should not pledge my faith in general terms. If I had declared that in my opinion all public servants . should be included I would have brought forward a proposal to give effect to that opinion, leaving it to the High Court to say whether any section of the Public Service had been wrongly included.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– The honorable member has made no statement to the contrary.

S’ir JOHN FORREST.- I am wholly opposed to the inclusion of States servants, and I am simply showing that honorable members opposite are guilty of inconsistency.

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable member for Maranoa did not vote on the division taken last night. He was absent.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I presume that he has not changed his opinion.

Mr Tudor:

– No.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have heard some interjections which indicate that he has not, and I wish to show that there has been a lightning change on the part of the honorable member and others.

Mr Page:

– In what respect?

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– I have already said that the honorable member plainly stated on a former occasion that he favoured the inclusion of all public servants - all or none, and pledged the Labour Party to that view.

Mr Page:

– Hear, hear.

Sir JOHN FORREST:

– The honorable member is now supporting a proposal which does not clearly set forth what sections of the public servants of the States shall be included, but leaves it to the High Court to determine the extent of its application. My only object in speaking at this stage is to show that, at all events, from my point of view, honorable members opposite have acted inconsistently, and not in accordance with their previous speeches and pledges at the general election, or more recently in this House.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– I have followed, with some interest, the discussion that has again taken place on the position in regard to States railway servants and public servants generally, and it appears to me that time has brought about some slight change in the views of honorable members opposite. At one stage they made out what was apparently a very strong case in support of the .contention that a proposal to include all public servants within the provisions of this Bill was unconstitutional, but their arguments in that respect appear to have considerably weakened. Listening to the debate, as a juror might listen to evidence, it seems to me that the arguments in support of the position taken up bv the Government are very much stronger than are those put forward by the opponents of our proposal. The question of States rights is altogether beside the issue. The Constitution clearly sets forth that the Federation shall not take any action that would restrict the rights of the States, and, therefore, it is absurd for any one to suggest that we propose to invade States rights. No one will be able to say where the line is to be drawn between the powers of the Commonwealth and those reserved to the States until a case arises that will enable the matter to be clearly dealt with by the High Court. That tribunal was established as a necessary part of the Constitution. In regard to the powers of the Commonwealth and of the States, it occupies the position of an Arbitration Court, and all questions relating to such matters must inevitably be referred to it. We may rest assured that the Court will take care that there is no invasion of States rights. It will be careful to draw a clear line of demarcation between the powers of the Commonwealth and of the States, and, therefore, all the discussion that has taken place in regard to an assumed invasion of States rights has really been to no purpose. If we look at the objection raised by those who ask what would happen if the Conciliation and Arbitration Court were called upon to deal with the railway employes of a State, what do we find? We learn, that they, view the question from the most miserable of all stand-points. They consider it from a purely commercial point of view. Is there any honorable member who would consider a mere question of money in relation to the elements of justice? ‘ If has been the aim of all Governments to mete out justice to every individual member of the community ; but we find the honorable member for Echuca, the honorable member for Corangamite, and the honorable member for Wannon, dealing with this question solely from a monetary point of view. It is said by them that if the Court were called upon to deal with the railway employes of a State, it might give a decision that would lead to an increase in State taxation, and that such a position would be outrageous. But surely they would not barter away justice for money ? I am surprised to find the honorable member for Corangamite supporting the action taken by the Victorian Government in regard to retrenchment, and regret that whilst he was reading some newspaper extracts bearing on the question, he did not set before us the true position. When he spoke of professional agitators who provoked the railway strike, I understood him to be referring to the present Premier of Victoria. Mr. Bent was the professional agitator who brought about that trouble.

Mr Wilson:

– The honorable member’s surmise is not correct.

Mr SPENCE:

– The honorable member’s constituents are producers, and if the wages of railway employes were cut down the income of his constituents would be reduced.

Mr Wilson:

– No.

Mr SPENCE:

– If the purchasing power of the consumers be reduced, the demand for the goods of the producers must likewise be reduced.

Mr WILSON:

-The product of the farmers in my district is sent to England.

Mr SPENCE:

– If a man suffered a reduction of even a shilling a week in his wages, he would probably cut down his supply of butter, with the result that his dairyman would suffer. ‘ But, notwithstanding this fact, the honorable member would seek to protect the interests of his constituents by reducing the wages of railway employes.

He would resort to the old-fashioned method of dealing with an unpayable enterprise by reducing the wages of the employes. It is well known that an unprofitable business may be made to pay by securing good management and increasing the wages of the employes ; and surely it is not suggested that we should barter away justice for the sake of mere profit. If the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court is called upon to deal with a dispute among railway employes, he will give a just award. The honorable member would object to that, if there were an interference in the direction of raising wages. We propose to interfere with the administration of the railways by the States, by preventing the imposition and continuance of preferential rates, and compelling the States authorities to make fair charges for the freights which they carry, thus increasing their revenue, i wish honorable members to think rather of doing justice to all men than of the technical constitutional question which has been raised. The argument used by some honorable gentlemen, and especially by the honorable member for Echuca, is that we can safely trust the Parliaments of the States to deal with all these matters. He told us that the question paper of the Victorian Assembly was covered with notices affecting the grievances of public servants. I am not surprised at that. What did the Commonwealth discover when it took over the administration of the Postal Departments of the States? We found that, in the Postal Departments of the States of New South Wales and Victoria, there were 1,146 persons employed, whose length of service in every case exceeded three years, and in many cases was as much as twentythree years, who were receiving less than ;£no a year, which we have decided shall be the minimum for any official employed by the Commonwealth. We also found that over 400 officials in the Postal Departments of the States I have mentioned were, after in some cases sixteen, eighteen, and twentythree years’ service, receiving less than £90 a year. Does the honorable member for Corangamite think that £90 a year is a sufficient salary to enable its recipient to live decently, and to bring up a family, whose members will be creditable to the State? This Parliament, fortunately, is determined that justice shall be dona to all employes or the Commonwealth. I shall not go into the history of the unfortunate strike which recently occurred in Victoria, but the pre sent position of the Victorian railway employes also refutes the argument that we can trust the Parliaments of the States. In th-5 State there are engine-drivers whs; are at present working fifteen and a half hours a day, or seventy-six hours a week. Men leave their engines at 3 o’clock in the morning, and commence work again at 11 o’clock. Perhaps the honorable member for Corangamite believes in low wages?

Mr Wilson:

– No. I believe in democracy, and I think that the people of Victoria should be left to manage their own affairs.

Mr SPENCE:

– We are here to see that every person within Our purview has justice meted out to him. That, if I understand it aright, is the first principle of government. I have within the last fortnight seen a time-table which shows the hours worked by the Victorian engine-drivers and firemen. Their hours have been increased by the Victorian Government, which some honorable members represent as an ideal one. It is physically impossible for the railway officials of Victoria to satisfactorily perform the work which is imposed upon them. If a loss of life caused by a collision or some other accident occurs, no doubt the people of the State will awake to the fact that something has been wrong in their railway management. But at the present time they are content to allow the Government to save money by working the. engine-drivers for longer periods than they should work. No country, however, can be prosperous whose workers are oppressed and are given low wages. I have no patience with this talk about States rights. If any conflict arises as to the limitation of powers, a calm and peaceable method of settling it is at hand. It appears to me that an attempt is being made to separate the people into groups rather than to bring them together as a whole. We here represent the people who are contained within the six States.

Mr Wilson:

– Does the honorable member believe in unification ?

Mr SPENCE:

– I am not now advocating unification. Prior to Federation it was no uncommon thing to see displayed upon banners the device, “ One people, one destiny.” We seem to have forgotten that we have become one people with a common destiny.

Mr Reid:

– The destiny is all right now.

Mr SPENCE:

– It is now in the hands of true federalists, and if the right honor- able member will allow it to stay there, he will see some good work done. Some honorable members speak as though the people of the various States were separate communities. The division of the population of Australia into collective groups, such as those comprised in the States Governments, in the shire councils, in the municipalities, and so on, is merely to obtain a limitation of powers to secure their convenient exercise. But we should keep before the people the idea that they are one nation. If in administering the laws of the Commonwealth “it is necessary, in order to secure equality and justice, that the people of one group or State shall be called upon to pay a little more than the people of another group, there is no unfairness in that. It is said that we should not interfere with those who wish to do things in their own way. If that argument were applied universally, there would be no Commonwealth Parliament, because every action of ours is an interference with the functions of the States. The line of definition betwen the two authorities will often be difficult to distinguish, and, therefore, we have appointed a High Court to determine it whenever a difficulty may arise. What the public is really concerned about is that the Railways and other Departments of Government shall work smoothly. At the time of the Victorian railway strike the feeling of the public was largely against the strikers, because of the interference with personal comfort and inconvenience which the stoppage of the trains entailed. Directly one interferes with another’s comfort, he is considered a very undesirable person. The tendency of mankind is .undoubtedly to settle down into grooves in which they find that they can move comfortably, and persons so settled naturally object to disturbances. It is a good old-fashioned conservative idea that things should not be disturbed. But in order that the departments of Government should work smoothly, it is necessary to provide for the calm and peaceful settlement of disputes by a paramount authority. Some of the States Parliaments have already provided for this within the boundaries of the States, and we wish now to provide for the settlement of disputes extending from one State to another. The honorable member for Corangamite, however, has threatened us with a strike of the Victorian Parliament and people against Federation if we bring the railway employes of the States under the Bill. There has been a great deal of talk about the friction created by Federation, but, to my mind, it is marvellous - and very satisfactory - that everything has worked so smoothly. I have never heard of a Federation in connexion with which there has been so little friction, or so much satisfaction with the work of its first Parliament. There have been trifling instances of dissatisfaction, of which the newspapers have made a great deal, but they cannot be said to count. Some time ago we heard a small voice in the far north crying aloud for secession, but what did the people of the State do with its possessor? He has since been relegated to political oblivion, never to appear again. We do not hear now of any proposals for secession. So far as I have heard the opinion of Victorians, I think that if a referendum were taken to-morrow, most of them would vote for the abolition of the State Government, and allow everything to be managed by the Commonwealth Government. That is my personal opinion, and I have moved about among the people of this State a good deal. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat appears to me to have been fighting a shadow. The States rights objection is a kind of ghost, of which we can easily dispose, because the High Court can safely be trusted to fairly determine all constitutional issues which may arise. We are safe in its hands. I hope, therefore, that honorable members will accept the amendment, which is a great improvement upon the original proposal. The objection to it is largely on the ground that it is an improvement, because many honorable members do not wish to see any provision of the kind adopted.

Mr REID:
East Sydney

– If it is the duty of an Opposition to find fault with the: actions of a Government, I may be allowed1 to say that in my long parliamentary experience I have not known a Government which within a limited space of time has given more opportunities for criticism thai* have been afforded by the present Administration.

Mr Fisher:

– That is our generosity.

Mr REID:

– The honorable gentleman’s generosity is proverbial, and his desire to remain where lie is as long as he can is. worthy of the grand old country from which he comes. I shall begin my remarks by criticising an observation made by the honorable member who represents the NeverNever Country - that the amendment is an improvement upon the original proposal. If it is, the fact shows the marvellous enlightenment which comes from high officialstation, because the same intellects, sitting in their mysterious tabernacle, and incubating for months the egg which was to produce the chicken, drew up quite a different proposal for dealing with this great national question. The matter was then put in a thoroughly straightforward and comprehensive way, as the result of the careful consultation of the members of the party.

Mr Watson:

– It was nob that.

Mr REID:

– A meeting of the party is a sort of Star Chamber institution at the best, and therefore we can only conjecture what happens there. This is the provision to which I refer, as it is recorded in Hansard -

A dispute relating to employment in the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of a State, or to employment by any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.

There is some sort of principle in that. When the Ministry had nothing but principle to live on, they lived on principle as hard as they could ; but now they have something better to live on, their principle begins to decay. When some members of the Ministry assume the sort of virtue which has suddenly displayed itself, the effect is to show that all their professions of devotion to principle were the professions of a kind of political vagrant who had no means of showing that he was earning an honest living. Now that these gentlemen have to bear the heavy responsibilities of office, and the still heavier responsibility of trying to stay where they are, we find them exhibiting a degree of dexterous diplomacy, to say nothing of an absolute abandonment of principle, which stands without a parallel in the history of parliamentary government. These gentlemen have been talking for years of their absolute incorruptibility, of the fact that they have carved out some great national policy which is without flaw, and- which, above everything is a matter of principle, and yet the moment they are put under the test of responsibility, and have something to lose, they display a flexibility of political conscience which would put an old politician to utter shame.

Mr Watson:

– We must be bad.

Mr REID:

– The wise and sensible leader may resort to . navigation - and it is perfectly proper so long as it makes for the port of a defined principle and defined policy - navigation which leads the navigator in the quickest way to the realization of his principles, and of his policy, is a thing of which no man need be ashamed. But it is quite another matter when a party practically stake the whole of the political affairs of Australia upon one principle, which, after a very long period of complacency under another Ministry was regarded as of so sacred a character that they must even bring the parliamentary temple down in order to assert it, and then abandon it. Honorable gentlemen bring the temple down ; they escape from the ruins, and they find themselves in that position of ease and comfort, the possession of which must enable my honorable and learned friend, the Minister of External Affairs, to realize the full meaning of the expression - “ beyond even the dreams of avarice.”

Mr Watson:

– I do not know that he has betrayed more anxiety than others to get there.

Mr REID:

– I have not said that he has or has not. I only say what I have said.

Mr Watson:

– That is rather a new phase for the right honorable member.

Mr REID:

– I suppose that I may be allowed to say just a word or two. I want to point out that in regard to this great principle, upon which the Ministry have staked the fortunes of the whole Commonwealth - taking up the parable at the very point at which they left off - we suddenly find that instead of “one people, one destiny,” the destiny is considerably altered, and a situation has arisen which, if it could only have been contemplated bv the author of the phrase, would have afforded him good reason for diminishing the ardour of his Federal aspirations. But the point with which the public have to do is this : Here are gentlemen who have been living on their principle - who have had nothing else to live upon, during the . course of their public career.’ I am not talking of personal matters. I am probably” poorer even than the Minister of External Affairs, and I am speaking in a political sense. These gentlemen, who have been living on their principles all their lives, having had limited opportunities of doing anything else, now come into a position in which there are absolutely two things to be considered - principle and interest. These gentlemen, who have cast such an interested eye on the principles of other people, now cast their eyes only on their own interest. The amendment now before us, now that Ministers are in the same critical position that the late Government occupied on . this very point, affords proof of the abandonment of a great principle. The late Government - I do not say all of them ; do not let me violate the truth to that ex- tent - the head of the late Government, and a number of members of that Government, had the same interest as have my honorable friends now on the Treasury benches, but they had a different principle, and they acted in a different way on that principle. They acted, not to save their own interests, but in defiance of them. I want now to shatter for ever the fond delusion of the labour unions of Australia, that if they could only get their own men into office, they would inaugurate a grand new era in which the men who were in the high places would show an almost suicidal disregard for their own interests in carrying out those noble principles which were to lead to the universal happiness of mankind. But, the universal happiness of mankind has been converted into a phrase with another meaning, namely, the immediate wellbeing of the seven or eight gentlemen who used to live on their principles. Now, I say that if ever there was a point upon which a Government ought to have stuck to its principles, it is that upon which the present Ministry achieved their present high- and elevated position. The Prime Minister laughs. I remember when he sat on this side for three years with that serious, enthusiastic face we came to know so well. He never used to laugh then. He laughs now only because he has at last achieved his present position. I am not saying one word by way of personal offence, because I am applying to my honorable friends only such criticism as I should direct against any Ministry in the world that did what this Ministry has done.

Mr Fisher:

– Hear, hear ; we are glad to hear the right honorable gentleman.

Mr REID:

– t am sure’ that my honorable friend’s do not entertain any animosity towards me.

Mr Page:

– The right honorable gentleman .means that they are not playing the game according to the book, like LieutenantColonel Neild and Captain Wilks. .

Mr REID:

– If my honorable friend will allow me to say so, the Prime Minister had one opportunity of putting a real military hero into a prominent position, and he missed it. I cannot understand under what sort of malign influence the Prime Minister acted when he missed that glorious chance. I need not quote the Minister of Trade and Customs in this matter, because it is well known that when he moved the amendment to which I have referred, he spoke, as he always does, in a perfectly clear and manlyfashion, and made no attempt to disguise the position which he took up. He mentioned no constitutional difficulties, but said - ‘ ‘ We believe that what we are doing is right ; if it is contrary to the Constitution we can be set right by an authority in another place.” That position was quite intelligible. But now that the Ministry are in office they begin to play the part of the High Court themselves. They bring their own principles into a little High Court of their own, and they suddenly discover that this proposal, which they incubated ‘so laboriously, is not only rotten to the core, but is unconstitutional. The voice of authority - the voice of the learned Attorney-General, and the voice of the honorable and more learned Minister of External Affairs - speaks now. These two voices speak now ; they have their due weight with the Cabinet ; and we now find that the party which looked upon mankind as one family, regards “ industry “ as a term which divides humanity. There are some human beings whose occupations come under the head of “ industrial,”’ and others whose callings cannot be so described. This is in accordance with the aristocratic proclivities of my honorable and unlearned friend the Prime Minister, who is anxious to bring farmers within the scope of this Bill, but who looks askance at the farm labourer’s. This aristocratic thread is running right through this millennial policy.

Mr Watson:

– What does the right honorable gentleman mean ? I have no objection to farm labourers.

Mr REID:

– I know. Not so long as they come out as vagrants - without a definite calling in front of them.

Mr Watson:

– Does the right honorable gentleman call that vagrancy ?

Mr REID:

– No. I was wrong in using the term “vagrant.” What I meant was, men who have no definite prospects of subsistence. I have been suddenly called back to Sydney, and I do not wish to leave before expressing my views upon this very important matter. I desire to point out that, in my opinion, the distinction that is drawn between one man and another in the Public Services of the States and the Commonwealth - one man being regarded as engaged in an industry and another as not being engaged in an industry - is one of the most ineffably .snobbish things I ever heard of as being conceived by a real Labour Ministry. If that is the position that is to be assumed by the genuine article, we can begin to understand how it- was that men of privilege in the older days of the world played such an unenviable part in regard to the welfare of the people. I ask honorable members to remember that this very question was dealt with by the Prime Minister. He went into these differences, and admitted that the construction to be placed upon the word “ industry “ might be the subject of some disputation. He faced all these difficulties when the Bill introduced by the late Government was before- the House, and, having looked at them, said in a straightforward way, that, in his opinion, we had it within our powers to include public servants within the scope of the Bill; and that if we were wrong we could be set right by the High Court. That was the position taken up by the Prime Minister, and it was a perfectly logical one. Irrespective of whether we agree with it or not, we could at least understand it. The Labour Party, having taken up that position, and having brought about universal confusion through their absolute adherence to it, surely the principle which was strong enough to impel them to shipwreck their political friends who had been doing their- work for them for three years should also have been strong enough to induce them to stake ‘the life of the Ministry upon it.

Mr Watson:

– The proposal which is now put forward would have shipwrecked the Deakin Government in precisely the same way. The right honorable member knows that.

Mr REID:

– I know nothing of the sort.

Mr Watson:

– Then the right honorable member must have become suddenly ignorant, because every one else knows it.

Mr REID:

– I have before me the proposal of the Government, and also the Bill, in its original form, so that I am in a position to compare the two. The amendment proposes to limit the application of the Bill to disputes in industries which are carried on either by the Commonwealth or a State, or which are under the control of either the Commonwealth or a State. The Government declare that they cannot include within’ the provisions of the Bill public servants of the Commonwealth’ or of a State who are not engaged in some industry. I hold that a distinction of that sort - a distinction which is drawn between different forms of work, which recognises some men as being possessed of human interests and others as being pariahs who require to be kept outside the pale of this humane legislation, is one that no labour member can justify before the people. When honorable members opposite talk of the High Court and the Constitution, the people will tell them what they themselves told the Deakin Government. They will say - “ We believe that it is capable of being done ; and, therefore, we insist upon it.”” 1 suppose that the Labour Party did not bring about the shipwreck of the late Government”, upon an amendment to which they knew effect could not be given in this Bill. Surely they will not place themselves in that extraordinary position? By their action, I hold that, when they had nothing to lose, honorable members opposite exhibited a belief that this broad principle ought to be embodied in the Bill. Now, however, that they have something to lose, and the same principle 10 stand by, they wish to alter it, and instead of proposing’ to include all the public servants of the Commonwealth and of the States, and all the servants of a State or Commonwealth authority, the legal members of the Government are beginning to see that, after all, there are legal difficulties in the way, and that, they must do the thing which one would suppose would be most odious to them - draw a line of ‘ distinction between one set of men who earn their living in a certain employment, and another set who earn their living in the same employment. These are matters upon which the Government must expect to be criticised. I must express my strong condemnation of their action in shifting their ground and proposing to limit the scope of the Bill in the way that they do.

Mr Carpenter:

– Will the right honorable member say what class of public servants the Government proposal will not cover ?

Mr REID:

– No honorable member cai. alter his own words, without assigning some reason for his action. Two months ago honorable members opposite declared that they wished the Bill to be applicable to any dispute in any employment in the Public Service. Will any one say that a clerk is not employed in the Public Service ?

Mr Carpenter:

– What class of public servants are excluded by the proposed amendment ?

Mr REID:

– Is the honorable member ignorant of the statement of the Prime Minister, that there is a difference between clerical employment and industrial employment? My friend, the Prime Minister, does not raise these refined subtleties. Whatever may be his faults and mistakes,

3 Q 2

we never have to dig about for his meaning. He declared straightforwardly the other evening that the Government were doubtful of their power to include the clerical branches of the Public Service. He says that it is doubtful whether disputes in these branches will come under the heading of “industrial disputes” in the sense in which that term is used in the Constitution.

Mr Hutchison:

– The right honorable member said the other -day that they constituted an industry.

Mr REID:

– The honorable member need not mind what I said. I am too old a hand to shift the venue in that way. When I occupy a seat upon the Treasury benches he may tell me what I said, but whilst I am in Opposition, I intend to tell the Government what they said.

Mr Hughes:

– As a critic the right honorable member is superb.

Mr REID:

– I do not think that this proposal, even so far as it relates to the inclusion of the railway servants, conies within the powers which are conferred upon us by the Constitution. I look upon the words “ an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State “ as having no sort of application to a body of men who are a complete entity within a definite geographical area. Between the railway servants of Victoria and New South Wales there is no link or industrial connexion whatever. Each is in a different State, under a separate Act of Parliament, and under the control of a separate Government.. Any attempt to bring the public servants of the Stales under the control of the Commonwealth must be in the direction of unification, and not in the direction of preserving States’ rights. The moment we place the employes of a State under some outside tribunal and make the relations between themselves, the people, the Parliament, and the Government of that State, the subject for determination by an industrial Arbitration Court of the Commonwealth, we violate the first principle of the integrity of State rights. What is i lie use of talking of State rights if there be no State existence? What is the use of having a body of men under a State Act of Parliament if practically they are not under the control of that Parliament at all. or under that State? Of course 1 admit that shearers and sailors are in an absolutely different category. Their employment takes them into more than one State. For example, a sailor navigates the whole waters of the Commonwealth. His employment extends from one State to another, and a dispute affecting the class to which he belongs will reach the whole of the Commonwealth ports. But, in the case of the civil servants and railway employes their avocations limit them strictly to one State. In its industrial working, the railway service of Victoria is as foreign to the railway service of New South Wales as if the two were 10,000 miles apart. I think that reason is quite sufficient to justify mE in opposing this amendment. So far as the railway servants themselves are concerned, I take it that there is no dispute regarding their position. They are amongst the best public servants in the whole world. I have travelled over the railways for many years, and that is the impression which I entertain of every man. who is connected with the service. They are a splendid body of men - there is no better in the world. Nevertheless, I do not think that our Constitution permits us to include in this Bill either the public servants of the Commonwealth, or of a State, and therefore we cannot, in my opinion,include the railway employes. Those who believe that the Constitution is wide enough to justify the inclusion of railway employes within the scope of the measure ought to stand by their principles, and extend the same boon to every other public servant throughout the Commonwealth and the States.

Mr HUGHES:
Minister of External Affairs · West Sydney · ALP

– Trie right honorable member for East Sydney has occupied his time very profitably, and now has to leave the chamber in order to catch his train. I do not desire to speak at length upon the present occasion, because everything that he said was coloured by the obvious bias that is very natural to gentlemen occupying his position. I desire, however, to say a few words in reply to the accusation which has been levelled against the Government by all and sundry, that we have abandoned the position which we lately took up. The honorable and learned member for Wannon, the honorable member for North Sydney, and others, with one accord - like the cherubim and seraphim - continually do cry that we have given up that to which we formerly held fast. The question is - “ Is the accusation based upon fact “ ? What was the position which the Government formerly took up? We said that we were in favour of all the public servants of the Commonwealth and of the States participating in the benefits which will be conferred by the operation of anis Bill. To-day it is alleged that we claim something short of that, though how far short our critics are not quite agreed. Some urge that we have fallen very farshort, and others a little short, but all are agreed that we have fallen something short. I propose to show that we have not fallen short at all. The right honorable member -for East Sydney had a good deal to say about our abandonment of principle. Unfortunately he is not present now, and, therefore, the reply which naturally springs to one’s lips must remain unspoken. When, however, the time comes for him to fire - not these little crackers, but his big gun - we shall be ready enough to give (him a fitting reply. Just now I propose to deal with his arguments, because all that he had to say in reference to our abandonment of principle, and. our assumption of a virtue that is rather annoying to persons who occupy a less elevated position, is entirely beside the question. This “Bill is introduced by virtue of sub-section xxxv. of section 51: of the Constitution, -which empowers the Commonwealth Parliament to legislate upon matters affecting -

Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.

It is under powers which are derived from that sub-section that we are enabled to submit this measure. . So far, so good. This Bill is introduced in accordance with that power, and its title recites that it is “ A Bill for an Act relating to Conciliation and Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of Industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” That is to say, it repeats the identical words of the subsection in question. I now come to paragraph b of clause 4, and to the amendment which is proposed by the Government. We desire to insert after the word “ State “ the words, “ including disputes in relation to employment upon State railways, or to employment in industries carried on bv or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.” Let us deal with the matter fairlv. Under the Constitution it cannot be denied that we are expressly and severely limited by the terms of sub-section xxxv. of section 51. Secondly, under the Bill we are limited to the order of leave. It is not our Bill, but that of a previous Government. The order of leave goes as far as sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution will allow, because it repeat’s word for word the terms of that pro vision. It will thus be seen that the order of leave and our powers under the Constitution coincide. The question is - Do we stop short only at the obvious restrictions imposed by the Constitution, or do we not set up further barriers? Do we exclude even one individual, who under any interpretation of the sub-section could’ be brought under the Bill? If we do, we have fallen far short of that which we urged should be done ; if we do not, then all this criticism, and the accusations which have been made against us, fall to the ground. But what do we say ? We set forth that the Bill shall apply to Commonwealth and States servants employed in any industry. Apart from his personal criticism, which may be passed by for the time being, the right honorable member was not singular in his remarks. I shall be ready enough to reply to them when the time comes, and I think that no one would accuse me of hesitancy in that respect. But the right honorable member said what other honorable members had urged. Let us see if we have excluded one human being from this Bill. If we have not, I should like to know what all this pother is about. We propose to confine this provision to persons engaged in an “ industry,” and what is the meaning of industry as defined in the . Bill? It means any -

Business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment, on land or water, in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage, or reward, excepting only persons engaged in domestic service.

So far as I am aware, only one honorable member has ventured to suggest that we have forgotten that exceedingly deserving section of the community - the domestic servants.

Mr O’malley:

– We must provide for them in the Bill.

Mr HUGHES:

– I freely admit that we have forgotten them ; but we never proposed either on the 19th April last, or any day prior to that date, to include them in this measure. Therefore, while we have fallen short of the ideal, we have not fallen short of our pledges. Can. any honorable member point to any individual in the Public Services of the States or the Commonwealth, or in the railway services of the States, who does not come within this definition? If no such case can be brought forward, all this pother falls to the ground. Is a clerk outside the definition.? My right honorable friend, the member for East Sydney, who spoke of the ineffable snobbishness - “ineffable” is a favorite word of his - of making distinctions between one kind of civil servant and another, will perhaps answer this question. Failing the right honorable gentleman, the honorable member for Wentworth may do so for him. . Let us hear the opinion of the honorable member upon whom has fallen the mantle of Elijah. I am not certain, for the moment, whether it was Elijah or Elisha from whom the mantle fell ; but I think that it must have been the mantle of Elijah which fell upon the honorable member, because he went up in a chariot of fire. I appeal to the honorable member to name one of these individuals who are said to be outside the scope of the measure. A clerk obviously comes within it. A man who is employed as a clerk is engaged in a calling, service, or employment, and any one of these is an “ industry “ within the meaning of the Bill. This shaking of would -he venerable heads on the part of honorable members’ opposite is idle. The honorable member for Wannon assumes a wisdom which his years will not permit him rightly to affect. He affects an air of indignation which a man of his amiable and cheerful disposition; is incapable of even pretending to assume ; but I would ask. again, what men are excluded from the Bill? I question very much whether even the Commissioners are excluded.

Mr Kelly:

– Is not the honorable and learned -gentleman dealing rather prematurely with a clause that has not yet been brought under our consideration ?

Mr HUGHES:

– This is the unkindest cut of all. We have been listening for two days - it seems two years - to the onslaught made upon us by honorable members opposite, on the ground that we have departed from the line which Providence had hewn out for us, and now we are told that we are prematurely replying to their attack. After listening to his onslaught, which was limited only by your ruling, sir, we are told by the honorable member, that we are premature in our reply. He accuses us of being false to our pledges. The honorable member for Wannon and others have made the same charge, and now this latest recruit asserts that our reply is premature. I do not think that it is. Those who are familiar with the facts will say that in view of the patience with which this Government, consisting, as it does, of honorable members for the most part new to Ministerial work, have listened to this torrent of abandoned criticism - abandoned in its freedom, not from the restraint that a sense of decency should impose, but from that which a sense of what is applicable to a new Government should impose - honorable members opposite should have dealt tenderly with us. They should have carefully examined the position. They should have asked themselves, “Are. these Ministerial babes making the error which on the surface they appear to make?” and if, after diligent examination, they considered that we were, they might have said, “ Let us give them the benefit of the doubt.” Had we stood many times in the pillory of public opinion instead of on this occasion only, they could not have accused us more harshly than they have done. The honorable member for Wentworth last night commenced an harangue which was happily frustrated - I will not say by your ingenuity, Mr. Chairman, but by your very convenient decision that the honorable member could not proceed on the lines adopted. For that I am sure we were all very thankful ; but the honorable member for Wannon started with a tremendous philippic. Then the honorable member for Franklin said, in effect, that the position taken up by us was terrible, while other honorable members attacked us in a remarkable way. I repeat, once more : “ Let us hear of the men who will be omitted from the Bill under the terms of this amendment. Let us hear of a public servant who can. say, ‘ You have omitted me from the Bill.’ “ What is his name? Is he a postman or a man in the clerical or general branch of the service? Is he employed in the service of one of the States? Is he a draftsman? What is he that he does not come within the terms of the definition to which I have referred ? If no such man can be pointed out, why should honorable members waste an enormous degree of energy in attacking us because we have altered the phraseology of the amendment in order to keep it in harmony with the whole scope of this measure? In every place in which it may be conveniently done, the terms of the sub-section of the Constitution under which we gain the right to proceed, are followed in the Bill.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– If it covers every individual, why do the Government particularise railway servants ?

Mr HUGHES:

– I am endeavouring to point out that if the provision covers everyone, it is unnecessary for the honorable member and others to waste so much energy in bewailing the alleged fact that others have been left untouched.

Mr Kelly:

– Why specify any particular class ?

Mr HUGHES:

– Because every Government has a right to frame its amendments in any form it thinks fit. We have selected a course which seems to annoy the honorable member by reason of the fact that it covers all that we desire to do, or ever set out to do, and still leaves no loophole for honorable members opposite. It cannot be said that it is ultra vires, because so far as this particular point is concerned it is obviouslv within the scope of the Bill.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– That is not the reason that was given bv the AttornevGeneral.

Mr HUGHES:

– All that I can say is that the amendment as proposed by us in effect gives to every man who is engaged in an industry - and an “ industry “ means any

Business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment on land or water - the right to come under this Bill.

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

– Even the common hangman.

Mr HUGHES:

-Ido not know whether it does; but it includes every person who can come within the scope of the Bill. If honorable members opposite take exception to the wording of the amendment, let . them do so ; but to take exception to the scope of the measure is more than they are able to do. I repeat most emphatically that I am not prepared to exclude even one human being from the operation of this Bill ; that I am prepared now, as I always was, to include every one.

Mr Lonsdale:

– Then why exclude domestic servants?

Mr HUGHES:

– Any one would imagine that honorable members who have just been interjecting in chorus have been advancing opinions of which they are ashamed, and to which they do not desire to make converts. If it be a fact that we have slightly gone over to their side there should be rejoicing among them. Instead of that, they are plunged in a great grief, and almost into confusion, by reason of the fact that they believe, or say,’ that we have gone a little towards their way. of thinking. What did the right honorable member for Swan say? He said that he was very sorry to see that we had abandoned our principles ; that, for his part, he was. opposed to the inclusion of either Commonwealth or State servants, but that he was sorry that we proposed to exclude some of these officials for the benefit of the measure itself. Many honorable members have expressed the same opinion, while others agree that the public servants of the Commonwealth and of the States should be included, but disagree with the form of the amendment. I can deal with the latter section, but I cannot deal with those who say that we do not agree that the public servants of the States should be included, and then accuse us of excluding a few of them. The honorable member for Wannon stands up as the champion of State rights - he is a self -constituted champion, but nevertheless remains firm in his support of that principle. He asserts that he does not believe in the inclusion of even one public servant, and the honorable member for Corangamite, who holds the same opinion, was nevertheless most pathetic in his references to our alleged abandonment of principle.

Mr Wilson:

– I was- not pathetic; I expected it.

Mr HUGHES:

– If I have done the honorable member an injustice by including him among those who think that no public servant should be dealt with in this way, I shall withdraw the remark, and say that he stands on a pinnacle so fine that there is room upon it for no other man. So far as I can see, we have simply followed the terms of the sub-section, which have been observed wherever possible in this Bill. In the order of leave the terms are repeated word for word. Wherever -possible it ought to be done, and has been done, and we have merely done it in this particular connexion. Further, as to what constitutes an industry there can be no doubt. We do not propose to amend the definition of “ industry “ in the interpretation clause, in so far as it concerns business, trade, undertaking, calling, service, or employment. It will be wide enough to include everybody. Therefore, I ask honorable members to be a little more careful before they again accuse the Government of having abandoned our principles. Let them be candid enough to admit that they are unable to put their finger upon one person in the Public Service of the Commonwealth or a State who is excluded under the amendment now before the Committee, but who would have been included under the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I have listened with the greatest patience during the past twenty minutes to the speech of the Minister of External Affairs, in the hope of hearing him justify the great change of front which has been made by the Government, but he has not succeeded in doing so. On the contrary, he ‘has made more patent than ever the fact that the members of the Government have abandoned the position which they took up in this Chamber on the 19th April last. I ask honorable members to again refer to the amendment then moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay. He moved the omission of the words - “But does not include,” and inserted the words “and includes” ; and he stated that his intention was to apply the Bill to all public servants of the Commonwealth and the States.

Mr Spence:

– The Government are not responsible for that.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay was supported by every member of the Ministry.

Mr Spence:

– But it does not bind the Government.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The statement of the honorable member for Darling is equivalent to an admission of the abandonment Of position with which I charge the Government. Most sophistical arguments were used by the Minister of External Affairs to throw dust into the eyes of the non-legal members of the House. He says that the definition of “industry” in the interpretation clause is wide enough to cover every public servant ; but, although he has been a member of the Bar for only six or twelve months, he knows as well as any one else that, even, if. there were no definition of “ industry “ in the Bill, the position would be governed by the provision in the Constitution. We have no power to extend the meaning of the word “ industrial “ by giving a wide definition to the term “ industry.” All we can do is to limit it. The High Court alone can define what is an “industrial dispute.” The Minister was well aware of this; but, knowing that most honorable members have not had legal training, he tried to throw dust into their eyes. I desire to point out that a very large section of the Commonwealth public servants will be excluded if the amendment is carried. The proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay was to bring all public servants of the Commonwealth and of the States within the scope of the Bill ; but under the amendment of the Government, Commonwealth public servants who> are not engaged in some industry will be excluded. Those employed purely in clerical work will not be affected by the Bill. Possibly the postal officials may come within its scope, and if the Commonwealth were to take over the tobacco industry, or to adopt some of the other grand schemes of the Labour Party,the men there employed would be included. But it is well known to . the Minister that most of the public servants of the Commonwealt h will be excluded.

Mr O’Malley:

– Will the honorable and learned member vote to include them ?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I shall vote on this question as I have always voted, in defence of States rights. The charge I make is that the Government have shown, to use the words of the right honorable member for East Sydney, a flexibility of political principle which the most hardened politician could hardly hope to emulate. Within the short space of six weeks, they have completely swallowed their pledges, so that but for the damning evidence of Hansard no trace of them would remain. They have gone completely back upon their original position. It is idle for them to say that they have only altered the phrasing of their amendment. If that were all, why did they not adopt the plain, simple, direct language used by the honorable member for Wide Bav ? His amendment included every public servant in Australia. It was as wide as a church door, and as deep as a well. The Government, however, have shiftedtheir ground and given a narrower construction to the provision, because they know that they are unable to justify their former position. “When they were before the people they threatened to wreck any Government which would not bring all public servants under the Bill.

Mr Lonsdale:

– But they did not threaten to wreck themselves.

Mr ROBINSON:

– If they carried out their election pledges they know that the provision would be nugatorv.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– The Minister of External Affairs made a very sarcastic speech a few minutes ago, mainly in refutation of the hideous calumny hurled at hisparty by the right- honorable member for East Sydney. Before getting to the crux’ of what I have to say, I should like - toagain point out whal has been already demonstrated, that the amendment now before the Committee differs greatly from that moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay. Every honorable member opposite apgears to be a leader, and apparently all have changed their convictions in this matter, to the discredit of the whole body. The Minister of External Affairs dealt at great length with the meaning of the word “ industry.” I am not a lawyer, as is the honorable and learned member for Wannon, but it seems to me that we can obtain the meaning of the word better from an ordinary dictionary than from an Act of Parliament.

Mr O’malley:

– What does Webster say ?

Mr KELLY:

– I am about to tell honorable members. Webster’s definition will be as unwelcome to the Ministry as most other American precedents have been. Webster’s definition of “ industrial “ is this -

Consisting in industry ; pertaining to industry, or the acts or products of industry ; concerning those employed in labour, especially in manual labour-their wages, duties, and rights.

Labour “ is defined as “ physical toil, or “bodilv exertion,” as “ intellectual exertion, mental effort.” “Industry” is-

Any department or branch of art, occupation, or business; especially one which employs much labour and capital.

According to that authority, the term “ industry “ can be applied to any department or branch of . art, occupation, or business. Surely that is wide enough to include all the public servants of the States. I do not think that the Minister of External Affairs acted fairly in asking us to accept a definition contained in a clause with which we have not dealt, and which he may subsequently move to amend. It. seems to me rather dangerous to pass one clause on the assumption that another clause will remain unaltered.

Mr Batchelor:

– The Bill must be considered as a whole.

Mr KELLY:

– Yes ; but the Government ask us to accept their assurance that the amendment has been framed to include all public servants, and in support of that statement they refer to the definition of industry “ in another and later clause. Furthermore, the Minister of External Affairs seems to be at variance with his colleagues. The Prime Minister, in defining the policy of the Government, stated that-

Guided by the opinion of our learned AttorneyGeneral, we take the view that this Parliament is empowered by the Constitution to include within the scope of the Bill all industrial servants of the Commonwealth or of a State.

Beyond that we feel, according to our reading of the Constitution, that we are not entitled to go-

Mr Fisher:

– What does the honorable and learned member contend that that qualification means?

Mr KELLY:

– I will read further-

We propose to bring within the scope of the Bill, first the railway servants of the States and, secondly, all other servants of the Commonwealth, or of the States, who are engaged in industrial enterprises carried on by those Governments.

A distinction is drawn between clerical and so-called industrial -employes. ‘

Mr Batchelor:

– The distinction is drawn in the Constitution.

Mr KELLY:

– The Constitution empowers us to legislate for the “ prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” I have quoted Webster to show that the word “ industrial “ practically covers all employment, so that the Government cannot shelter themselves behind the provision in the Constitution. I think that they should admit that they feel that they could not get the Committee to pass their original proposal, and do not wish to be placed in ahumiliating position.

Mr Watkins:

– The Committee would again pass the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay.

Mr KELLY:

– It might not. At any rate the Government fear that a few honorable members, in addition to their own followers, may have discovered an equal aptitude for changing their position. The Minister of External Affairs said that he first proposed to include railway servants within the scope of the Bill. He said that railway servants were especially mentioned, but that the same measure would apply to all the public servants of the States. If so, why should any distinction be made between two classes of servants ? Why should one class receive special mention? Why should a blue ticket be given to the railway servants, and a white ticket to other public servants? Surely this differentiation was not. necessary. If the amendment must be passed - I disagree with it, and hope that it will not find a place in our statute-book - I trust that the Government will be consistent, and introduce a provision in the same form as that which was put forward by them prior to their accession to office. We can then ascertain the exact feeling of the Committee with regard to the Government proposal. It seems to me that the amendment, in its present shape, is intended by the Govern- menr.40 afford them a means of escape from a very awkward position. They swallowed their principles in order to obtain office, and now they find them very indigestible. We cannot expect them to stand or fall by the amendment, because, apparently, they are determined to retain office, no matter how many votes may be given against them. I hope that the Committee will be afforded an opportunity of definitely expressing its opinion.

Mr LIDDELL:
Hunter

– I have been altogether upset by the words which have recently fallen from the Minister of External Affairs. I had made up my mind as to how I should vote, and I had what I conceived to be the best of reasons for giving my support to the Government. I have always been in favour of the principle of the Bill, and I conscientiously voted in support of the Labour Party upon the division which resulted in the ejection of the Deakin Ministry from office. I should like to be able to vote in the same direction to- » night, but after the catherine-wheel-like ebullition of the Minister of External Affairs, I am entirely at a loss to know what to do. I should like to have the matter clearly defined. I am not a member of the Labour Party, but I consider that I represent the labouring men of Australia. In this case the questions to be considered are - Firstly, whether it is good for employes of the States to be brought within the scope of the Arbitration- Bill ; secondly, whether it is good for. the States; and thirdly, whether the action contemplated by us is constitutional? I do not propose to express any opinion upon the constitutional aspect, because I think that those, who made the Constitution have to take the responsibility. If the laws which we pass prove to be ultra vires we shall soon be placed in our proper position by the High Court. It has been stated that we should take care to conserve the interests of the States, but I believe that it is our duty to protect the weak against the strong - the citizen against the State. Therefore, if it is to the advantage of the worker to be brought within the scope of this measure, I shall give the Government proposal my support. But, after having listened to the Minister of External Affairs, I confess that I do not quite know what to do. I think we are gradually reducing this debate to a farce, and I regret that the discussion of a vital matter of this kind has not been carried on in a more orderly fashion The Government have shown themselves very wary; they are able to say one thing to-day and another thing tomorrow, and although I am anxious to give them every support I possibly can, in the interests of the constituents who sent me here, I recognise that I must be verv careful in following them. Ministers talk of themselves as babes and sucklings, and as inexperienced, so far as the discharge of Ministerial duties are concerned, but I think that they have old heads on their young shoulders, and that I must be very careful how I proceed. I do not think that they really represent the working man. In the first place they represent themselves, and in the second place they represent certain associations outside of this House. There are brilliant, clever, able, shrewd, and honest men at the head of the party, but they have a very dangerous socialistic wing.

Mr Batchelor:

– I am afraid that the honorable member is allowing his prejudices to run away with him.

Mr LIDDELL:

– No; I am simply giving the results of my own observations. The Government and their supporters representonly a small minority, and the Treasury bench is not the proper place for the present Ministry. I feel that I must .act -honestly towards those whom I represent, and I shall vote with the Government if I consider the»are right, no matter what I may think of Ministers themselves. I must confess, however, that from , the want of a definite interpretation of the amendment now before us, I do not know exactly where I stand.

Mr GLYNN:
Angas

– I am rather surprised that the Government have introduced the amendment now before us. Thev accepted office on a test question, and now they are seeking to make an apparent alteration in substance, which is really nothing more than a verbal - alteration. What is the object ?

Mr Batchelor:

– The object is certainly not to whittle down the provision.

Mr GLYNN:

– What is the object of making a purely verbal amendment? Is there such a conflict of authorities in the Cabinet that the Ministry really do not know the meaning of the amendment as drafted? Are they going to insert these words for what they are worth, because they cannot explain what they mean ? The position’ is simply ridiculous. The Ministry took office upon the strength of an amendment which must be assumed1 to be one of substance, and now they come down and attempt to qualify it. If the alteration now made is one of substance, it must be granted that the principle upon which they took office was one upon which the late Government ought not to have resigned, and also one upon which the present Ministry should not have replaced them, because the only reason for their taking the control of the administration was that the amendment which they carried was a good one, and that without their paternal care it would probably not be carried into effect. Why is it considered necessary to qualify the provision of the Bill by stating that it shall include within its scope the railway servants of the States? Surely the Constitution provides in effect that the Bill cannot apply unless the employes are engaged in some form of industryI do not see what object is to be served by the amendment, unless some futile attempt is being’ made by the Ministry to back down. It is a crtse of divided counsels, and bacl advice, and for the sake of appearances of standing by an amendment which is futile. If the object of the Ministry is as I assume, their position is rather humiliating than one of which they can be proud. , Dealing with the substance of the matter now before us, I am disappointed to find men of experience like Ministers attempting to imperil the Bill by overloading it with provisions of this kind. Surely this is not a time for us to interfere with the autonomy of the States, especially whilst there is a doubt as to our constitutional position. I do rrot wish to quote authorities, or to enter into an elaborate argument upon this aspect of the question ; but I would simply remark that, according to my view, the balance of authority leans against the constitutionality of our exercising authority over the States as States. According to the views of all the leading American authorities, the object of the Constitution is not to give the Federal authority jurisdiction over the States as units, but only over the individuals in those States. The States, as units, are not represented in the Federation, and it follows that, as they cannot control the policy of the Federation, they should not be controlled by it. except as provided in express words in the Constitution. In this particular case there are no express words in the Constitution which would enable us to exercise control over the States. The reason for taking this view is that the subjection of the States to control by the Federal authorities should be accompanied by representation of the

States, . so that the control could be checked in its operation. . In the interests of the Federation, and upon the broader ground of expediency, I would ask honorable members to reject the amendment. Surely it is not contemplated that the provisions of the States Railway Acts shall be modified at the whim of an Arbitration Court, not constituted, as originally intended, of a Judge and two permanent members, but of a Judge and two other members selected to arbitrate in regard to each particular dispute. How should we proceed to select experts to constitute a Court to deal with matters affecting the internal management of the railways of any one State or of alf the States ? If the members of the Arbitration Court sat regularly for six or seven years they might, by special study of the accumulated reports; and of the evidence which would be open to them, arrive at some understanding of the railway systems.

An Honorable Member. - How could penalties be recovered from the ‘States servants ?

Mr GLYNN:

– That is another point. The principle upon which it is proposed to constitute the Arbitration Court is a bad one. Whom could we select to adjudicate in regard to a dispute as to the rates of wages to be paid to the railway servants of a State? If that question were referred to the members of the Inter-State Commission - if such a body is ever created - we might secure the services of an expert tribunal, or one that would become thoroughly familiar with the charges made upon the railways and other circumstances. But, under the provisions of the Bill as proposed by the Government, these disputes are to be referred to a Supreme Court Judge - not necessarily the same Judge on all occasions, and not necessarily an expert in relation to this matter - and to two other persons who are . to be selected for the occasion. By whom would these two other arbitrators be chosen? If one were chosen by the Railway Commissioners, he would probably be one of the Commissioners, who would thus be sitting as an expert to adjudicate upon, a dispute to which he was a party. If this were not done we should have to call in outsiders, who would probably not know anything whatever about the conditions under which the railways have to be managed. We have railway experts, who are paid annually salaries which, in the aggregate, represent a very large sum. The late Mr. Eddy, for example, was paid , £7,000 a year, and the salaries of other Commissioners range from about ,£2,000 to £5,000. The services of these gentlemen, who possess the highest . qualifications, would readily command several thousands of pounds a year in England. Yet, after they have been appointed to their present positions, and after they have acquired all the information which is available to them concerning the properties which they control, it is proposed to set aside their judgments in favour of those of the tribunal the creation of which this Bill contemplates.

Mr Wilks:

– Their opinions are set aside in New South Wales. At the present time a case in which railway employes are interested is engaging the attention of the Arbitration Court there.

Mr GLYNN:

– I know that there is a distinction between the provisions of the New South Wales Arbitration Act and those of this Bill, which purports to give- absolute jurisdiction to the extent to which the Constitution justifies it. I was under the impression that under the legislation of that State the powers of the Court were limited.

Mr Wilks:

– There is absolutely no limitation.

Mr GLYNN:

– I accept the honorable member’s assurance, but I thought that the Act contained a qualification similar to that which operates in New Zealand. But I would point out that if a State chose to enforce a certain principle in relation to its own public servants, and a mistake occurred, it would have power to rectify that error by Act of Parliament. On the- other hand, if we embodied that principle in Commonwealth legislation as affecting State public servants, the States Legislatures would have no power to alter it. Therefore, a Federal Statute passed by a body over which the States themselves can have no control might land them in the position that a huge mistake might be made which could not be remedied. On grounds of expediency, I say that the constitution of this tribunal is not one which justifies us in departing from the discretion of the Railway Commissioners to that of the Arbitration Court. But I would further ask - How are we to enforce Commonwealth awards against a State? We really have no power to do so. I know that the question has been asked - “ Do not the States pay up when judgments are given against them?”’ My reply is that they do pav as a matter of morality, but that they cannot be compelled to do so as a matter of law. In point of fact, both Queensland and Western Australia absolutely refused to satisfy judgments, because,- they disagreed with the principles of the decisions which were given against them. It was only then that the: provision was introduced into the Queensland Act declaring that when a judgment was given against the State the necessary funds to satisfy it must be provided by the: Executive of the day. No provision of that sort, however, can be embodied in a Commonwealth Act, because it would hot be: operative in the case of the States. It therefore remains for the latter to say whether an Act which interferes with their internal administration shall have their co-operation. If a dispute occurred between, say, Messrs. Hill and Co. and their carriers as to the rate of wages which should’ be paid to drivers .employed upon contracts between New South Wales and Queensland, and if an award were given in favour of the men, and the common rule of that award were applied to the railways of Australia, should we be likely to receive the; aid of a State Act of Parliament to enableus to enforce that award? The idea is repugnant to common-sense, and as a matter of expediency is unsound. I ask the Government whether it would not be better toagree to the tremendous concession which is1, involved in the acceptance of the Bill itself, and to abstain from over-loading it with these provisions? I opposed the: second reading of the measure, but it was carried. It has > now reached the Committee stage. Surely, fromthe stand-point of those who support the Bill, we ought not so to interfere with the internal economy of the States as tobreak down their administration ? We should also remember that if at the beginning of its existence we bring discredit upon the tribunal which we establish we shall probably jeopardize the efficacy of other provisions in the measure. The probability is that the first decision will be inconnexion with a State industrial dispute. We know ‘the source of all the. anxiety that is exhibited to push this Bill through. Does, it not arise out of the recent Victorian railway strike? I hold that to precipitatea further dispute in Victoria, and to make it extend beyond the limits of this State .would produce a far greater industrial shock than did -the strike to which I have referred. Let us not bring the tribunal which it is . proposed to establish into disrepute by making a futile attempt to bind the States as units. On the grounds of common expediency as applied by the advocates of the Bill, I ask that the limitation proposed shall not be made a part of this clause. After the amendment which’ emanated from the Labour Party had been recognised as a vital one, as was manifested first by the resignation of the Deakin Government, and, secondly, by its corollary, the acceptance of office by those who tabled it, I say that the present proposal is humiliating inasmuch as it is an attempt to modify that amendment by words which have been introduced for that specific purpose. Evidently these have not Been inserted as verb’a’l quibbles ; but, because they offer a way out of the difficulty. In other words, the Government wish to cut down the principle which they affirmed by accepting office. It may be urged that the proposed words were futile. That, however, was not in the minds of the Government when they assumed Ministerial responsibility Such conflicting opinions have been given expression to by the Government that I am justified in assuming that they started with the idea that this clause meant something, and’ now find that it means nothing. As the whole provision has yet to be put, if the amendment is incorporated in it, I ask the Committee to reject it if for no other reason than to make the Bill an effective one. The reference to industrial disputes is not necessary. The Constitution contemplates only such disputes as are industrial, and therefore the inclusion of those words would only harass the High Court in its interpretation of this provision. As the clause was originally drafted, it was much clearer. It covered everything that was desired unless it is to be limited to. some particular body. But we are now invited to insert words which will have the effect of forestalling the judgment of the High Court. We are asked to prevent that tribunal from holding, contrary to the provisions of the Constitution, that this Bill applies not only to industries, but to State and Commonwealth employment, which are not industries. We were told previously that we ought to trust the High Court in this matter. Why, then, shouldwe be asked to place a limitation upon its wisdom ? We were formerly told that we should allow the provision to pass - irrespective of whether it was good or ill - and let the High Court impose any limitation upon its operation that might be required by the Constitution. Now the Government declare that they do not wish the High Court to interpret the provision, and therefore they specifically affirm that the employment referred to is industrial employment. That implies a withdrawal of that trust in the wisdom of the High Court which was formerly expressed by the advocates of this proposal. When superfluous words are embodied in a provision, the Court always seeks to discover the reason for their inclusion, and, in doing so, very frequently big mistakes are made, even by the most influential tribunals. On the grounds of policy, expediency, and clear draftsmanship, I ask honorable members to reject the amendment, and not to cumber the measure with unnecessary provisions.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).Whilst the honorable member for Darling was addressing the Committee, I interjected - “What is justice?” It appears to me that very frequently the justice of which we hear so much, means giving everything to one man, and nothing to another. I am opposed to the inclusion of railway servants in this Bill as I am opposed to the measure in its entirety.

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable member voted for the inclusion of railway servants on a. previous occasion.

Mr LONSDALE:

– That is so. But nobody can possibly misunderstand my position. I am always prepared to vote for amendments which will make the Labour Party “ toe the mark.” I should like to see its members compelled to do so upon every possible occasion, in order that we might ascertain whether, when they are in office, they are prepared to carry out what they advocate when they are out of office. I wish to force men to stand by their principles.

Mr Hughes:

– What are the honorable member’s principles in this connexion ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– I am opposed to the Bill, and to the Government. A union rr railway servants in my district wrote to me some time ago asking me to support this proposal. I replied that, in their interests, I did not think it wise for them to be brought under the provisions of the measure, and that, in the interests of the country, I could not support such a proposal. I put my answer in writing, so that they can use it against me at election time if they choose. This amendment has been supported by the honorable member for Fremantle, and I understand that the railway servants of the State from which he comes receive higher rates of pay than are given in any of the other States. In these circumstances, I inquired, whilst he was speaking, whether he wished the railway servants of Western

Australia to suffer a reduction of pay. If the Conciliation and Arbitration Court is given power to deal with railway servants, thew ages of those who are receiving the higher rates of pay will be reduced, while the remuneration of those receiving lower wages will be correspondingly raised.

Mr Batchelor:

– That is mere speculation.

Mr LONSDALE:

– That is the system generally followed in New South Wales. There the Arbitration Court usually determines a dispute by splitting the difference.

Mr Hughes:

– How does the honorable member arrive at that conclusion ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– By the evidence.

Mr Hughes:

– Has the honorable member read the evidence given in any one case ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– So far as this particular point is concerned, I cannot say that I have ; but I know that when a certain rate of pay has been sought by the workers, whilst the masters have offered to give a lower rate, the Court has usually fixed an amount between the two.

Mr Hughes:

– Is the honorable member able, to definitely make that statement?’

Mr LONSDALE:

– Yes. I shall be able to refer the honorable and learned gentleman to decisions given by the Court.

Mr Hughes:

– The statement is not in accordance with facts.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I repeat that it is. Cases have occurred in which men have been awarded less than the rate for which they applied.

Mr Hughes:

– Perhaps they did not deserve anv increase.

Mr LONSDALE:

– That may be. But will the honorable an’d learned gentleman tell the railway servants of the States that they must accept this measure with the distinct understanding that as a result of the creation of the Court their wages will probably be reduced? Do not those who support this class of legislation frequently tell men that the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court will improve their conditions ?

Mr Hughes:

– They do not.

Mr LONSDALE:

– The honorable and learned gentleman, in the ‘ course of a speech delivered at the Protestant Hall. Svdney. spoke of there being a likelihood of “ bloodshed and chaos “ if this Bill; or some Other measure, were not passed. ‘ At that meeting a railway employe complained that men who had worked as engine-drivers until their sight failed were given employment in a lower grade of the service, and that their wages were lowered. He urged that it was unfair to reduce their wages, but no one corrected his apparent belief that this state of affairs would be remedied by a Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court.

Mr Hughes:

– What has that matter to do with the question now before us?

Mr LONSDALE:

– It has much to do with it. At this meeting the Minister talked about bloodshed and chaos, but did not believe that anything of the kind would occur.

Mr Hughes:

– I did not say that.

Mr LONSDALE:

– The Minister simply desired to rouse some feeling on the part of those who were present ; he did not believe one word that he said.

Mr Hughes:

– That assertion is distinctly out of order. An honorable member definitely asked me whether I had made such a statement as that to which the honorable member for New England has referred, and I told him that I had not. I repeat now that I never made the statement in that connexion. To sav that I made a statement in which I did not believe, is to say something contrary to parliamentary usuage.

Mr Bamford:

– Hear, hear ; I was present, at the meeting, and heard what the Minister said.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Does the honorable member for New England withdraw the statement of which the honorable and learned gentleman complains.

Mr LONSDALE:

– If the Minister says that he did not make the statement that I attributed to him, I must certainly withdraw the remark. I can only say that he was reported in the press to have given utterance to those words, and that I saw no contradiction of that report.

Mr Hughes:

– If the honorable member consults another honorable member opposite he will obtain the true version, as I gave it to him. I am sure that he will accept my denial.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I do. I should not have referred to the matter, but for the interjections. The Minister has asked what bearing the complaint made by the railway man at the meeting in question has upon the issue now before us. I contend that it has a very important bearing upon it. The object of this Bill is to fix the conditions of’ labour.

Mr Hughes:

– And stop strikes.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Strikes cannot be prevented unless the conditions of labour are fixed. If this Bill is not designed to allow conditions of labour to be fixed by the Court, what is its object ?

Mr Hughes:

– That is its object.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Then do not let us have any quibbling. I have disabused the minds of many railway men of the belief that this measure will, if passed, improve their conditions. I have told the men in my own district that if they accept the Bill, they will have to take certain risks. In some cases it may possibly improve the conditions under which they are employed; but in others it will make them worse. In view of the satisfactory returns obtained from the Western Austraiian railways-

Mr Frazer:

– We had two strikes in two years in Western Australia.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– And there is a Conciliation and Arbitration Act in operation in that State?

Mr Frazer:

– Yes.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Good returns have been obtained from the Western Australian railways, and the wages given to those employed on them are high. If the conditions of the railway employes of all the States came before the Conciliation and” Arbitration Court, the question of whether the railways of any State are paying will be one of the matters that 1 will govern the decision. Evidence will be given as to paying or non-paying railway services, and the position of the men employed, and the Court will then arrive at its decision. In my opinion, it is improbable that the wages of the whole of the railway servants will be raised to the Western Australian standard. It is much more likely that that standard will be reduced. The complaint made by the worker at the meeting to which I have referred was that enginedrivers who, because of some physical failure, were unable to follow their ordinary occupation had been put to other work by the Commissioners, who desired to do the best they could for them, and that their pay, instead of being retained at its former level, had been reduced. The Commissioners said, in effect, to them - “ You were receiving 15s. a day as engine-drivers; but yow cannot expect to receive the same rate of pay for the’ less important work allotted to you. If you will not take the lower rate, you must leave the service.” I contend that »o Arbitration Court would say that a man employed, for example, as a luggage porter, should receive 15s ; and those who consider that the state “of affairs of which this individual complained will be remedied by the passage of this Bill, must be disappointed.

When steam was replaced by electricity, as the motive power for the tramway system of New South Wales, many of the enginedrivers were no longer required ; but the Commissioners, wishing- to appoint them to the best posts available, engaged them at reduced wages to drive the electric cars. There was a great outcry against, the reduction ; but would any Conciliation and Arbitration Court say that, in such circumstances, engine-drivers should continue to receive. the old rates of pay? No change would be made in this respect by any Arbitration Court. My complaint is that the men are not told of what will be the probable effect of the creation of this Court. If they were, many of them would not be t.0 anxious as they are to secure the passing of this measure.

Mr Spence:

– They are not children, who require to be taught.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I do not say that they are ; but, in matters of this kind, many men do not like to take up a position of antagonism to others. If a man begins to oppose certain proposals made by the union, of which he is a member, he is called a blackleg.

Mr Frazer:

– No.

Mr Watson:

– Is the honorable member for New England speaking from . experiene ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– No.

Mr Watson:

– I have had personal experience of the working of a union, and can say that the honorable member’s suggestion is not correct.

Mr Spence:

– And after thirty years’ experience, I can also deny the statement made by the honorable member.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I am afraid that if I were to join a union, I should in ten minutes be shown the door.

Mr Watson:

– No; I think that the unions would tolerate even the honorable member.

Mr Wilks:

– The Prime Minister was for years in a minority, so far as many fights in his union were concerned ; but no exception was taken to his actions..

Mr Watson:

– Hear, hear.

Mr LONSDALE:

– If the Government really desire that all classes of public servants should be included, they should have adopted the amendment first proposed by the present Minister of Trade and Customs. Whether we agree with honorable members opposite ornot, we must admire them for their consistent adherence to the principles they profess. But since coming into office their desire to find another way out of this difficulty has. induced them to water down their proposal. Instead of boldly standing out for that which led to their occupancy of the Treasury benches, they have thrown it overboard. When this matter was before us prior to the defeat of the late Government, I spoke in terms similar to those to which I have just given utterance, and honorable members of tha Labour Party severely criticised my statement, that, notwithstanding that I held these opinions, I intended to vote against the Government. The honorable member for Gwydir, who represents a constituency which adjoins my own, was especially severe in his criticism, and whilst he was speaking, I interjected - Is this amendment a sham? Do you not want it carried ? Why do you object to my voting with you?” We have now proof that it was a sham- that the Labour Party did not want it to be carried. It was their desire to pose as a party anxious to do something for these men, but they wished the House to defeat the amendment, and would have accepted their defeat.

Mr Watson:

– We fear the Greeks when they bring gifts.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I am against this proposal, and I have informed a number of railway men in my electorate that I oppose the Bill because I do not think it would improve their conditions. It is because of’ this belief that I am going to vote against the amendment. The honorable member for Darling has said that some honorable members favour low wages. I do not think that there is any occasion for me to reply to that statement, save to say that I pay as high wages to men in my employ as does any member of the Labour Party. I have always paid high wages, and believe in the principle. I admit that if men who are worthy of them are paid high wages they will do better work, and prove more profitable to their employers, than if they were paid low wages. I am not in favour of paying low wages. The taunt is always hurled against men like myself that we favour the paying of starvation wages. I have always believed in high wages, and I shall do what I can to keep up rates of payment. If I believed that the provision now before the Committee would do no injury to the community, and. especially to the working classes, I should vote for it, and do all I could to secure its adoption ; but, as I hold that it would have the contrary effect,- I should be recreant to the trust imposed upon me if I supported it.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– I rise with considerable reluctance, because I desire to see this question settled ; but some of the remarks of the honorable member for Hunter have shown me that a prolongation of the debate may be serviceable. If one thing has been made clearer than another, it is the conviction held by all who desire to look things straight in the face that the Government have, for some reason known only to themselves, changed their attitude in regard to the question at issue. The wording of the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay seems to me clear, incisive, and unmistakable, while that of the amendment now before us indicates, as previous speakers have remarked, that the Government are arrogating, not only the power to coerce the States, but also the power to interpret the Constitution. I have a very high esteem for the members of the Labour Party personally, and I believe that many of their efforts are directed, and tend, towards the improvement of the condition of the workers of Australia, by increasing their share in the profits of their labours. I shall be found supporting those efforts, and I have declared myself in favour of them, both in this Chamber and outside. But what is the present position? The Labour Party has hitherto displayed one commendable characteristic - that of consistency and devotion to principle. But it has been shown during the debate that they have departed from that characteristic in regard to other matters besides that now under discussion. They would have occupied a much stronger position in the minds of honorable members generally, and of the public, if they had maintained the position of absolute independence which they held in the past. It is true that they may now be influenced to some extent by the fact that certain of their members are holding office. I am of opinion that the high and honorable positions which Ministers fill were not sought by them, but forced upon them, and that they are justified in retaining them until the existence of a solid majority opposed to their programme- is demonstrated. I have already indicated my fundamental objections to the Bill, based upon the belief that it is too comprehensive and far-reaching for the interests involved. In my opinion, there are only three classes of employments in regard to which interference is at ail necessary - that of the waterside workers, the shearers, and the seamen. Surely it would have been better not to have caused the friction, turmoil, and waste of time which the introduction of this large measure has brought about, together with the further undesirability of lowering the public estimation of our capacity for legislation. The measure has indeed been tragic in its results. It brought about, in the first instance, at the end of last session, the death of the prospects of the Labour Party, and it only recently caused the death of the Deakin Administration. Before it is passed I hope still more tragic consequences will follow from it. with a correspondingly beneficial result to the community. I hold that it is undesirable that this Bill should “be forced upon the public. I feel, as I have frequently said, that the line of division between parties in this Chamber must show itself more clearly every day, and separate those who wish to respect the rights of the States from those who favour unification. No honorable member can have any doubt as to my individual position. I trust that a majority of honorable members will always be found ready to respect-the rights of the States. Quite apart from the constitutional aspect of the question at issue, I think that the trend of the legislation which has been introduced, and of the amendments of which notice has been given, will be to solidify the party which is composed of those who desire to maintain States rights, and to oppose them to those who are ready to ignore the rights of the States. I hope that day by day, and month by month, as each piece of legislation is brought before us, those who support the integrity of the States will become more and more clearly distinguishable from those who are in favour of unification. The Labour Party, as a whole, have clearly indicated that they favour unification, and they are endeavouring to use the Constitution to secure advantages which they have “been unable to obtain under the Constitutions of the States. One of my strong objections to the Bill is that it is an attempt to use the Federal Parliament as an instrument for the easier accomplishment of their ends. I base my objection to the inclusion of the railway employes on the ground that we have no right to interfere with the administration of the States in regard to a matter of such serious consequence. If the Bill, as it is proposed to amend it, became law, there would, undoubtedly, be great.and continuous friction and irritation in the relations of the Commonwealth and the States. In the first session of last Parliament, the present Attorney-General moved the following motion, which will Be found in Hansard -

That in the opinion of this House it is expedient for the Parliament of the Commonwealth to acquire, if the State Parliaments see fit to grant it, under section 51, sub-section xxxvii, of the Constitution Act, full power to make laws for Australia as to wages, hours, and conditions of labour.

The Prime Minister of that day, the present Mr. Justice Barton, was inclined to agree to that motion, but he suggested the substitution of the expression “ accept “ for the word “acquire,” because he was anxious that there should be no friction between the Commonwealth and the States. He said -

This will make it clear to the States, that we are simply declaring our willingness to accept this power, if they grant it - not that we set about acquiring it in any sense that we wish to wrest the power away from them. It is absolutely necessary in our early dealings - and, in fact in all our dealings with the States of the Union - that, whatever treatment we may experience ourselves, we shall behave in the most conciliatory way to the States.

In agreeing to the amendment suggested by the then Prime Minister, the present AttorneyGeneral said -

I am quite sure that the Prime Minister knows’ exactly how the matter stands, and that it needs tact and care and cautious approaches, but our efforts would be perfectly useless if we approached the State Legislatures with a whip in our hands.

The resolution was transmitted to the various States Governments, and the replies sent by the Premiers show that their feeling was opposed to any interference with the control exercised by the States over their own interests. The Tasmanian Premier said -

It is undesirable for the Parliament in this State to surrender its rights to make its own laws upon the important subjects named in the resolution.

Sir John See wrote

In my judgment this is a question that should be left to each State to determine.

Mr. Jenkins, the Premier of South Australia, wrote -

That his Government did not consider it expedient to take action in the matter.

The Premier of Victoria appears to have merely acknowledged the receipt of the Prime Minister’s communication. The late Mr. Leake, who was then Premier of Western Australia, said that -

While not favorable to the transfer from the Slates of powers to deal with industrial legislation, he would not oppose the transfer, if the other States agree.

If the Government had desired to approach this matter in a conciliatory spirit, they might have endeavoured to secure the concurrence of the States Governments, or, at at any rate, an expression of their views with regard to the proposal. I know that in many of the States the interference with States rights, which is contemplated by the amendment, will probably give rise to very serious friction. I do not wish to express any opinion upon the constitutional aspect of this question ; but, so far as I can, as a layman, judge of its merits, it appears to me that the law is clearly and distinctly against any interference on our part with the control exercised by the Stales Governments over their servants. It is not, however, upon that ground, but because it is desirable to preserve intact -the rights of the States, that I have decided to vote’ against the amendment

Mr LEE:
Cowper

– I had not intended to take any part in this debate until I heard the remarks which fell from the honorable member for Kooyong. He considered that if we brought the railway servants of the States within the scope of this measure, we should infringe States rights, and that was his sole reason for opposing the amendment. -As I understand the position, we shall not in any way invade the sphere of the States by bringing railway servants under the control of the proposed Arbitration Court, because it is only when disputes extend beyond the control of the States that any authority can be exercised under the Bill. I think it is highly desirable that some tribunal should be created to deal with disputes affecting the great railway services of the Commonwealth. If a horse gets beyond the control of its owner, and runs away, and some one else comes forward to stop it, the owner cannot justly say to the person who comes to his assistance - “ You are interfering with my properly.” The intervention in that case is with the object of preventing injury or loss of life, and in the same way we should interfere in disputes extending beyond any one State for the purpose of averting national disaster. No honorable member wishes to interfere with Statesrights. Personally I have no desire in that direction: and, moreover, I feel sure that the States will take good care that we do not trespass upon their domain. The States railways are the great highways of commerce, and if a, strike were to occur’ in. connexion with them, the whole of our trade operations would be utterly disorganized.

I believe. that the application of this measure to the railway servants will prove its one redeeming feature. I am opposed to the Bill upon general grounds, because I do. not believe in handing over the industrial affairs of the Commonwealth to the control of a Court consisting of a Judge and two assessors. At the same time, in view of the probability that the Bill will be passed into law, I consider it my duty to do my best to make it a workable and beneficial measure. I shall therefore support the Government proposal to bring railway servants within its scope. I do not see that we shall in any way interfere with the States, because the tribunal which we propose to create will not step in until the States Governments are no longer able to exercise control. Although I hold that the present Government have, owing to their change of attitude, absolved all those who previously supported them from any further obligation to vote in .their support, I shall cast my vote in favour of the amendment.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I desire to say only ‘a few -words, and I should not have risen but for the appeal made to me by the Minister of External Affairs in connexion with some remarks of his which were referred to by an honorable member on this side of the chamber. The honorable and learned member was reported as having, at a meeting in Sydney, made certain -remarks which, from my knowledge of him, I scarcely thought he would utter. I intimated to him that if these remarks were accurately reported, I should take action in this Chamber with regard to them. I am glad to say, however, that the honorable and learned gentleman (old me1 that, although he had made use of some of the expressions attributed to him, the press report did not accurately convey his meaning. He stated that so far from anticipating or desiring bloodshed or anything of that sort, he expressed the fear that in the future such a powerful control would be exercised by the masses of the people that those who considered themselves injured by such control might have no recourse but revolution and bloodshed, and that he desired to avert any such consequences by erecting a tribunal which would arbitrate between the parties concerned. I accepted that explanation as being quite in keeping with the honorable and learned gentleman’s good sense, and because I could see how a wrong impression had been conveyed by the omission, from the newspaper report, of certain connecting remarks. The Minister having appealed to me, I feel bound to express my opinion that an entirely wrong impression was conveyed by the report.

Mr Watson:

– I was present at the meeting in question, and I can testify to the correctness of what the honorable member has just stated.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– I have only one or two additional words to say. A number of entirely different opinions have been placed before us by Ministers. The Prime Minister stated -

Personally, I have never asserted that we are bound to include the clerical employes of the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States other than those who may be incidentally connected with industrial concerns carried on by those Governments.

He expressed his opinion that they could not be included, owing to our limited power under the Constitution. The AttorneyGeneral supported that view, but the Minister of Trade and Customs differed from it to the extent of stating that, in his view, most of the employes of the States Governments would be brought under the provisions of the Bill as proposed by the Government. Then the Minister of External Affairs deified any one to name any employe of the States who would not be brought within the scope of the measure. We are entitled to expect corporate opinions in the same way as we look for corporate decisions from the Ministry, and it is rather unfortunate that several Ministers should have presented to us different interpretations of their own measure.

Mr Watson:

– The difference of opinion related only to a law point.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– But Ministers have expressed varying desires. The Prime Minister himself said -

I have never asserted that we are bound to include the clerical employes of the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States.

Mr Watson:

– But I stated that we should bring within the scope of the Bill all the employes we could, consistently with our powers under the Constitution.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON:
NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906

– Yes, but the Minister at the same time expressed the opinion that, under the restricted power given by the Constitution, we could not include public servants, except such as were engaged in industrial undertakings. Ministers must not complain if, owing to the varying expressions of opinion given by Ministers, honorable members should express doubt as to the meaning of the amendment which they propose.

Mr. SPENCE (Darling).- I do not wish to make a second speech, but I desire to add a few remarks to those which I was induced to shorten in order to allow the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney to speak prior to his departure by this afternoon’s express for Sydney. I have been very much struck by the divergent views expressed by honorable members belonging to what may be termed the third party.

Mr Watson:

– Would they not be more correctly described as the fourth party?

Mr. SPENCE . They may belong to the fourth party, but they fill the seats formerly occupied by the members of the Government and their supporters, and I think they may be appropriately referred to as the third party. Some honorable members have complained that the Government, in their proposal, have not included the whole of the public servants of the Commonwealth and of the States. They affirm that State employes who are engaged in a purely clerical capacity will be exempt from the operation of the Bill. Others, again, complain that the amendment will include all public servants. In this connexion the honorable member for Wentworth gave some interesting definitions from Webster’s Dictionary - definitions which appear to be wide enough to cover every person who is engaged in the performance of any kind of manual or intellectual work. It has been said that the Government have abandoned the views which they previously held upon this matter, as if its memberswere an entity prior to assuming office. That sort of criticism is unfair because the Ministry is a new one.

Mr Kelly:

– But they all held the same view prior to the defeat of the late Government.

Mr SPENCE:

– Nothing of the sort. The honorable and learned member for Wannon declared that the members of the Labour Party at the last election advocated the inclusion of all public servants. That, however, is not a fact. I would further point out that the position of an individual member of the Committee, and that of a member of the Ministry, is widely different. When a private member submits an amendment, as the present Minister of Trade and Customs did upon this clause, he drafts it in the way that suggests itself to him at the time as being the most applicable to the Bill of which the Government have charge, and in the framing of which he has had no hand. But when a new

Government takes charge of the measure, they naturally make alterations in it. That is only to be expected. To my mind, the Ministry, instead of being blamed for having drafted an amendment which gives effect to the same idea, should be commended for so doing.

Mr Kelly:

– Is it the same idea ?

Mr SPENCE:

– Most certainly it is. The Government have adhered to ‘the wording of the Constitution. I hold that where our Constitution is vague, the wisest course to follow is to adhere to its wording, and allow that Constitution to be interpreted by the tribunal which has been created for that purpose. Do we not know that honorable members of this House who were delegates to the Federal Convention are unable to explain what was intended to be conveyed by some of the provisions of our Constitution? Have we not heard the right honorable member for Swan asserting that had he known that sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution couldi have- been applied in this way he would have opposed it? Personally I think that the amendment proposed is an excellent one, and probably that is the ground for much of the objection which has been urged against it. I had intended to dwell at some length upon the remarks which were recently made by the Chief Justice of New South Wales upon the working of the Arbitration Act in that State, because a great deal is being made of them outside of this House. I have read those comments, and I hold that when they are analyzed specifically they will apply to any Act of Parliament. In the first place he declares that that statute interferes with the liberty of the subject. That, I claim, is the object of every law which is passed.

Mr Kelly:

– The effect - not the object.

Mr SPENCE:

– The real object of every law is to prevent some person or persons from committing unjust acts. The Chief Justice then affirms that the operation of the statute creates new crimes. But I would point out that a breach of any law is a crime. Indeed, the greatest lawbreakers at the present time are to be found amongst those individuals who a few years ago clamoured for la’w and order, all the time desiring in reality that license should be extended to them. Then the Chief Justice says that the Court fixes the terms and conditions of employment. Butthe State acts in a similar wav in regard to everything. The object of our factory laws is to determine the limits to which employers and employes may proceed. So it is in regard to the Mines Regulation and Inspection Act. This judicial authority also declares that the Arbitration Act deprives employers of the conduct of their own businesses, except upon the terms laid down by the Court. Is not that the main object of” all Statutes of the kind? Is not the idea, underlying such legislation that some impartial person, after hearing the evidenceupon both sides, shall give a fair award between the parties ? The Act, he declares, is productive of litigation and ill-will. With, regard to that, I admit that the New South. Wales Statute is faulty, in that it permits of lawyers appearing in Court on behalf of the parties concerned. The Chief Justicealso urges that it divides people into two> camps, altogether forgetting that such a division existed prior to the passing of theAct. I venture to say that the experience of New South Wales shows that many thousands of persons have been benefited by theoperation of the Act, and are working peacefully and without friction. Indeed, I donot know of any case in which the wagesnow being paid to employes have been increased beyond the level of those previously paid bv fair employers. Further, a great many cases have been settled without any appeal whatever to the Court. Any onewho will take the trouble to peruse theactual records will see that the Act hasbeen productive of peace, and that it hasconduced to a better understanding between masters and men. I think that no Judge- has a right to use the Bench to deliver socialistic addresses. He should leave that task to politicians. His duty is to administer the law. I hope that the Committee will support the amendment proposed, becauseof the great Rood which it will confer in theevent of anv industrial trouble arising.

Mr WILKS:
Dalley

– The discussion that has surrounded this amendment covers the whole gamut of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. This afternoon we heard the still small voice of those honorable members who are entirely opposed to arbitration, and later on a louder ‘ voice was raised against the invasion of State fights, . lt is worthy of notice that the opposition to the amendment comes from those who are opposed to the Bill as a whole. A small voice has been raised in opposition to the principle of conciliation and arbitration, and while I can understand the opposition of a man who calls himself an individualist, I feel that it is absurd for any one to expect that those who believe in the principles of this Bill will be drawn away from their purpose by the contention that the amendment does not go as far as they desire. I said last night that I was astounded at the failure of the Government to vote for the inclusion of public servants of the Commonwealth. A great army of public servants is employed in the Post and Telegraph and Customs Departments, which are under our control, and it appeared to me that if the Government could not consent to the extension of the Bill to these Commonwealth servants, they were placed in a very invidious position. I subsequently had an opportunity to express my regret at the failure of the Government to propose the inclusion of all public servants, but . this evening I find the Minister of External Affairs sheltering himself behind the definition clause, which, he points out, includes persons engaged in all classes of employment. In opposition to the opinion expressed by the Minister, the honorable and learned member for Wentworth has presented the Committee wilh the definition of the word “ industry “ given in a well-known dictionary, and in these circumstances I desire to know from those who are versed in the procedure of the Courts, whether the High Court will give to the word “ industry “ the meaning ordinarily applied to it, or whether some particular definition is to be given as regards its application to the wage-earning classes. The honorable and learned member for Angas asserts that if we carry this measure - and it must be borne in mind tHat he is opposed to it - the Conciliation and Arbitration Court will not be able to enforce an award against a State. But that is exactly the position in which the High Court stands. The honorable and learned member supported the creation of that Court, believing that it would provide for the mercantile, commercial, and capitalistic classes of Australia a means of fighting out their differences ; but we cannot lose sight of the fact that it has no power to enforce its decisions against a State. It has no power of execution. It can simply present its certificate to the Treasurer of the State against which the decision has been given. That is my view of the position,and I have never heard anything to the contrary in this Chamber. When the High Court Procedure Bill was before the House, many honorable members who belonged to the legal profession pointed out that there, was no provision for execution, and the honorable and learned member for Angas now points to what he regards as a similar weakness in relation to the Court proposed to be created under this Bill. If an honorable member fails to say that he believes in States’ rights it is at once asserted that he is a unificationist. The average elector will imagine that there must be something radically wrong with the representative to whom that term is applicable. You, Mr. Chairman, would not like to be described as a unificationist before a mixed audience that did not fully understand the meaning of the word. Many persons would imagine that to be a unificationist approached being a rebel ; but young as I am, I shall not be prevented by any such bogy from doing my duty. The Minister of External Affairs has informed the Committee that, under the definition clause, men engaged in occupations of all kinds throughout the Commonwealth will be covered by the word “industry.” That being so, I wish to know what object the Prime Minister has in view in submitting this amendment Why should the Government propose that the clause shall specifically refer to railwayemployes? I am in favour of the inclusionof railway servants, but I fail to understand why the Prime Minister should desire to> insert the amendment if the clause itself isgoverned by the definition of the word “industry.” The definition is a very wide one and to the lay mind, appears to cover evenoccupation. That being so, why is this: amendment necessary ?

Mr Watson:

– There is some little difference of opinion as to what the word does mean.

Mr WILKS:

– If the Prime Minister simply submits the amendment in order to overcome some little difficulty, so far as this Chamber is concerned, as to the definition, I can understand the position that he takes up.

Mr Watson:

– I appreciate it as being more than that.

Mr WILKS:

– Then I cannot reconcile the two Ministerial statements. The PrimeMinister, for some reason or other, believes that the amendment must be inserted, whilst’ the Minister of External Affairs has said in effect that there is really no necessity to particularize railway servants, inasmuch as they are covered by the definition of theword “ industry.” With the exception of myself and one or two others, the Government have no supporters of their proposal on this side of the House. For the most part those with whom I am associated have taunted the Prime Minister with a desire to– escape from the position taken up by him prior to his taking office.

Mr Page:

– But are not such attacks only part of the game ?

Mr WILKS:

– If they are, that fact should be known.. But I cannot believe that those with whom I have been so long associated’ would be guilty of resorting to, such tactics. I cannot believe that for mere party purposes they would level such charges at a new Ministry. I hear no denial of the suggestion. Am I to understand that those who are opposed to the principle of conciliation and arbitration are merely attacking the Ministry as “ part of the game”? If that be so. the public will readily recognise such tactics. The honorable member for New England, in referring to the position of the railway employes of Western Australia, mentioned that they are receiving higher wages than are paid to operatives doing similar work in other States, and urged that their remuneration would be reduced by the Court. In other words, he held that a dead low level would be fixed. There are fewer railway men in my electorate than there are in any of the suburban divisions of Sydney ; but mv knowledge of them convinces me that thev would not support a proposal that was calculated to make their position worse than it is. The honorable member asserts that many trades unionists have not -the moral courage to withstand any agitation in their ranks, although they may really be opposed to it. As one who, while not a trades unionist, has been intimately acquainted with members of trades unions from his boyhood. I have no hesitation in flaying that this is not the case, and that the majority- never attempt to tyrannize over the minority The Prime Minister, as the representative of the Typographical Society, was a memher of the’ Sydney Trades Hall Council. He was for years one of a very marked minority in the organization, and is a living proof of the fact that trades unionists d:> r.ot allow their individual opinions to be submerged by a tyrannical majority. A fallacy which is very generally accepted is that, in the trades unions, at all events, of New South Wales, those who are in a minority give way to numerical strength - that, because of morn! cowardice, they do not stand by the views they hold. That is not the case.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable member is quite right.

Mr WILKS:

– Then it is said that the railway employes are supporting a proposal which, if carried, would lead to a reduction in wages. Can it be imagined, even for one moment, that all the employes in Australia will rush the Conciliation and Arbitration Court : as soon as it is created. I think not; and, although I approve of the establishment of the Court, I hold that the fewer the cases in which it is resorted to the better it will be. The position which it will occupy will be very much like that of the police who patrol our : streets. If the residents of Melbourne were seized with a sudden desire to become disorderly, the police who patrol the streets of the city could not control them. It is not the police who keep order ; it is the moral force of the community. We may expect this moral force to continue to work in respect to the ordinary affairs of trade and commerce, and that both employers and employes will continue to obey the law. But are we to assume that the Arbitration Court will be biased in favour of or.e side or the other? Business men and other members of the community are not afraid to trust the decision of their disputes to the ordinary Courts. If’ they fail before one Court, they will sometimes appeal to another - especially if they think their opponents are without money - until they get to the Privy Council. But it is not generally held that the decisions of the Courts are unfair or prejudiced. Are we to believe that the Arbitration Court will act differently from the other Courts, that its judgments will be opposed to justice and wisdom, and that it will favour either the employers or the employes? Then it is not to be forgotten that there must be always two parties to a dispute. If a dispute arose between the Railways Commissioners of any State, or States, and their employes, which would ultimately bring both parties before the Court, the employes would have to show that their claim was a good one. and the employers that they had good reason for resisting it. The object of the Bill is to prevent resort to the rough and rude methods of settling disputes which have hitherto obtained. Before employers will take the risk of being brought before the Court, they will satisfy themselves that they have good reasons for opposing the demands of their employes, while, on the other hand, the employes will know that they will be called upon to show good reasons for the demands which they make. Both sides will be bound bv the decisions of the Court, which will be supported by the moral force of -lie community at large. I have heard it said that the proposal is an invasion of States rights. Although it is not held to be an invasion of States rights to bring private employers and employes within the scope of the Bill, it is said that to make it apply to public servants of the States, such as railway officials, is to invade States rights. I would like to hear a State right defined, so that I might know one when I met it: At the present time I should not know one from a barber’s polev I am constantly being told - “ Don’t you touch that. If you do, you invade a State right.” In the pre-federal days, you, Mr. Chairman, are said to have stated that the only State right you knew was the Peacock laugh in Victoria. Apparently, if we legislate in respect to the employes of a State Government, we are invading a State right, but if we legislate only in respect to the private citizens of a State, w.e are not invading a State right. Surely the public servants, including the railway employes, of a State, are as much citizens of the Commonwealth as are the private employes living within that State, and, similarly, the Railways Commissioners of a State are as much citizens of the Commonwealth as are the private employers within it. Therefore, the contention seems to me anomalous. Furthermore, I am told that if I support the application of the provisions of the measure to the public servants of the States, I am a unificationist. Apparently, according to the logic of some honorable members, if I were admiring the Melbourne Post Office, which is a Commonwealth building, and saying to myself, “’ I, as a citizen of the Commonwealth, have an interest in that building. One brick of it, perhaps, belongs to me “ - another man could come along and say, “ You have no right to admire that building. It is a Victorian building, and only the citizens of Victoria have an interest in ‘it.” The people of the States are not distinct nationalities. The legal argument is that the provisions of the Bill must not be applied to the public servants of a State, not because it would be inexpedient, unjust, or dangerous to so apply them, but because it- would be unconstitutional. Many legal members, however, tell us that it would not be unconstitutional. I desire to bring everv individual in the Commonwealth under the Bill. I believe in arbitration, and I would neither particularize nr.r exempt any class of the community in regard to its’ application. It is only when a dispute extends beyond the limits of a State that the measure will operate. Some people seem to fear that we are providing machinery which will be an addition’ to the machinery already in operation in some of the States. In New South Wales, for instance, they have an Arbitration Court. That Court has power to deal with all disputes occuning within New South Wales. The Commonwealth Arbitration Court will nut interfere in the settlement of those disputes. But the New South Wales Court cannot deal with disputes extending beyond the limits . f the State, and, to supply that’ want of power, the Commonwealth Court will be given jurisdiction. I cannot understand, however, why the Ministry propose to limit the scope of the Bill practically to railway employes. Do they propose to make a distinction between the wage-earner and the man who is paid a salary? Surely that, as the leader of the Opposition put it. would be the height of snobbishness. The reply of the Minister of External Affairs, which, I take it, was indorsed by the Prime Minister, was that the Ministry do not wish to exempt salaried employe’s.

Mr Fisher:

– The amendment covers the whole ground, so far as we think it can he covered. It admits of the exercise of all our powers under the Constitution.

Mr WILKS:

– I have risen to support the application of the Bill to railway servants, though I am sorry that the Government have moved the particular amendment: now before the Committee.

Mr Watson:

– We wished to- “ make assurance doubly sure.”

Mr WILKS:

– The action of the Government on the present occasion surprises me., in view of their support of the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bav. Was that amendment carried contrary to their expectations? How it was carried is no concern of mine. I voted for it, believing in the principle it embodied. Apparently, however, the members of the Labour Party expected to come into office on the carrying of an amendment including only railway servants. At any rate, they are not prepared now to “make assurance doubly sure,” so far as the position of other Commonwealth and States public servants is concerned. I cannot refuse to vote for the present amendment, but I should like to have seen- both Commonwealth and States officials brought within the scope of the Bill. I cannot respect the Ministry for including the railway officials and excluding others. The Deakin Administration stood condemned because they believed it unconstitutional to apply the provisions of the measure to Commonwealth and States officials, including railway officials. They baulked at three hurdles, whereas the present Ministry baulk at two, because they deem it unconstitutional to apply the provisions of the measure to the public servants of the Commonwealth or of the States, other than railway employes. Personally, however, I am, in the vernacular, a “whole hogger.” That is an inelegant but expressive term to define my position as that of one who wishes to include all classes of public servants. I should like to see this Labour Ministry “whole hoggers.” I suggest to them, not as a Greek bringing presents, but as one who wishes them well, and desires to assist them, that it is not too late to change their attitude on this matter. I have been with them in many of their proposals for years past, although not officially associated with them. If the interpretation clause, with its definition of an industrial dispute, covers the whole ground, well and good, but if it does not we shall have what mav be termed an emasculated measure. I am afraid that unless the Government stand to their guns in connexion with their original proposal to bring the public servants of the States within the scope of this measure they will not command the same respect as they have hitherto enjoyed. 1 hope that they will not attempt to run around the hurdle which the Deakin Ministry refused to jump, and that they will not expose their friends to any reproaches on their account. I believe that the Minister of External Affairs is perfectly honest in his opinion that the amendment will embrace all public servants of the States, and, although I should like to have some further assurance upon that point, I shall vote for the amendment under the impression that it will confer the benefits of the measure upon all classes of employes.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- I desire to say a few words in reply to the honorable member for Dalley The honorable member said that I had asserted that the effect of the Arbitration Act would probably be to reduce the wages of the railway employes. I pointed out that the railway men of Western Australia were being paid at higher rates than those which ruled elsewhere in the Commonwealth, because the railways of that State were paying much better than others. I mentioned that this fact must be taken into consideration by any tribunal which might be called upon to fix the rates of wages, and that, whereas it would be impossible to make the Western Australian scale general, the effect of any arbitration proceedings would probably be to reduce the wages in Western Australia, and possibly to raise those in other States, in order to bring about uniformity. I argued, therefore, that whilst some of the railway employes would probably gain, others would sustain an injury. I do not for a moment contend that the Bill would operate to reduce wages, but that it would probably average them by reducing them in one State and raising them in another.

Mr Bamford:

– There is nothing to compel the Court to make the wages identical in all the States.

Mr LONSDALE:

– No ; but they could do so, and we know that that has been done in connexion with other arbitration proceedings. In New Zealand, the unions are now agitating to have the decisions given by the Arbitration Courts in one part of New Zealand applied all over the Colony, and the chances are that if a dispute arose upon the railways and extended beyond any one State, the Arbitration Court would place the wages in the States concerned upon the same level. The honorable member for Dalley said that the railway men would be foolish to submit to an authority unless they had some expectation that their wages would be raised, and he thus gave away the whole case. He apparently believes that the effect of this legislation will be to raise the wages of the men, but Ministers tell us that the men will have to accept a reduction if the Court so decides. One of the railway men, speaking at a meeting recently held in Sydney, complained that the Railway Commissioners adopted the practice of giving comparatively unimportant work, and a correspondingly smaller rate of salary, to men who had become incapacitated for employment in the higher branches of the service, and I submit’ that no Arbitration Court could be expected to award a man who is employed looking after luggage the same rate of wages as is paid to engine-drivers. The honorable member for Dalley endeavoured to make us believe that the railway employes would submit to the adjudication of the Arbitration Court only in the hope of their wages being raised, but if they are brought within the scope of this measure thev will have to’ take their chance of a reduction of wages. I want the case to be fairly placed before the men. so that they may know what arc the risks on the one side, and the advantages on the other. The honorable member challenged my statement that, in many cases unionists had not the moral courage to take an independent course. I am in a position to prove the absolute correctness of my statement. I was informed that the last big strike at Mort’s-Dock would not have occurred if the married men had had the power to prevent it. The single men brought about that strike, and the married men could not resist them. We all know that that strike was a fiasco from beginning to “end, and .was brought about by only a section of the employes. The same remarks would apply to many of the strikes which have occurred at Newcastle from time to time. Then, again, when the Australian Workers’ Union demanded 25s. per 100 for shearing, a number of shearers would not go out on strike. I was told by some of the unionists, who live in my own constituency, that the demand should never have been made. I asked them why they did not oppose it, and they said it would be utterly ‘useless for them to attempt to do so. I then asked - “ Why do you not go to work for the squatters?” and they replied, “ We are not going to shear at all ; we do not believe in this demand, but we cannot blackleg.”’ I think that these instances are sufficient to abundantly prove my assertion. The honorable member for Dalley also told us that in his view every Court was a Court of Justice, but my experience is that although there may be plenty of law in our Courts there is extremely little justice. I have always advised others to adopt the same course that I follow, and on no account to go to law, or have anything *to do with lawyers. The honorable member did not apparently understand what constituted a State right. I would point out to him that the railway services belong to the States and not to private individuals, and, therefore, that the right to control the railways is a State right. Even though a railway strike might extend from one State into another, it could not be said to have passed beyond the control of the States authorities, because it could be dealt with by the authorities in those States over which the dispute extended. I do not believe that even in such a case the Commonwealth should interfere. If it had been clearly provided -that the Commonwealth should exercise control by means of a Conciliation and Arbitration Court over the railway services of the

States, none of the States would have accepted the Constitution, and it would beabsolutely wrong for us to seek by a sidewind to exercise power- which was never in-, tended to be granted to us.

Mr FULLER:
Illawarra

– As one of those who on a former occasion supported, the proposal to bring railway servants within the scope of the Bill, I desire to say that I intend to vote for the amendment. When I voted previously, there was no crisis, and! no question as to whether the Ministryshould remain in office, or be rejected from: it. I voted for what I believed to be an’ important principle, and I shall act similarly this evening.- It was rather amusing to listen to the wordy conflict between the honorable member for New England and’ the honorable member for Dalley. The former honorable member has laid it down that lawyers are persons to be avoided, and’ he evidently regards them as robbers. I do not greatly care whether the proposal of the Government is constitutional or otherwise, notwithstanding that, upon numerous occasions we have heard the leading members of this House discussing that question. The chief reason why I voted in favour of the early establishment of the High Court, was that it might be able to decide questions affecting the interpretation of the Constitution. That was one of the principal reasons advanced for the creation of that tribunal: I have every confidence in the ability of theJustices of the High Court to decide whether this proposal is constitutional or otherwise. We have been told by some honorable members that it involves an interference with States rights. To my mind, however, a dispute affecting the railway employes of the States is one of the most important that could occupy the attention of any Arbitration Court. Honorable members should recollect that the States railways carry our mails as well as our produce. Some opposition has been urged to the Bill, upon the. ground that it will interfere with the producers of the country. But I ask, “ Could anything worse happen to the producing classes than the sudden stoppage of our railway system ? “ Why, such an occurrence would be nothing short of a national’ disaster. I take it that the chief object of this measure is to prevent strikes. If, by including the railway servants of the States within the scope of this measure, we can prevent the possibility of a great railwaystrike, we are making a wise provision against a calamity which may, at any time, befall our producers and people generally.

Doubtless, we all remember the great maritime strike, which was productive of so much injury to our big producing industries several years ago. Let honorable members reflect for one moment upon the interests that would be imperilled by the stoppage of our railway system in any of the States. Why, if the railway service of New South Wales were suddenly stopped say, for example, between Sydney and Camden, or between Sydney and Nowra, what would be the result ? Not only would the producers be injured, but. also the thousands in the city, who depend upon them for their supplies of milk and other dairy produce. For that reason I . strongly favour making this Bill applicable to railway employes. At the same time, I recognise the great difficulty which is involved in enforcing an award made by the Commonwealth Arbitration Court against a State. In the case of individuals, of course, an award can be enforced, because, as a last resort, the person refusing to comply with it can be sent to gaol. In the case of the States, however, no award can be enforced, except in a way that none of us desire. Personally, I regard the inclusion of the railway servants in this Bill, not only as a matter of expediency, but as one of principle. One remark made by the honorable member for Maranoa to-night was unfortunate. Whilst the honorable member for Dalley was supporting the very just accusation that the Government had effected a change of front upon this matter, he remarked that it was “part of the game.’ If there was one party in Australia which, up to the present time: could claim credit for consistency, it was the party which now occupies the Ministerial benches. But when in connexion with this particular clause, we find that they have turned a complete somersault, and when the honorable member for Maranoa, who is one of their strongest supporters, -acknowledges that they are simply playing “ the same old game “ which has characterized politics in the past, those who advocate the inclusion of State railway servants have a right to assume that the Government are now acting the part which was played by their predecessors during the first three years of the Commonwealth’s existence. I hold that the Government of the Commonwealth was degraded by the actions of the Deakin Administration, and I trust that during their term of office the present Ministry, or anysucceeding Ministry, will not emulate their bad example.

Mr KENNEDY:
Moira

– In a jocular way the honorable member for Dalley remarked that he would be unable to distinguish between a State right and a barber’s pole if he met. one in the street. It is to be hoped that his ideas in this respect will undergo- an improvement, and that he will not come into serious conflict with an officer of the law outside, as grave results might follow. I hold that there is grave doubt as to the constitutionality of the proposal to include in this Bill either the public servants of the States or the railway employes. I am indeed surprised at the changed attitude which is now taken up by the Government. Upon previous occasions we have heard the Prime Minister repeatedly urging that, irrespective of whether the same proposal was constitutional or not, it should be incorporated in the Bill, .and that the High Court should be allowed to determine its validity. Both the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the right honorable member for East Sydney have declared that it is unconstitutional, and even the present AttorneyGeneral declines to affirm that it is constitutional. Those who assert that they can see no distinction between a State employe” and a private employe” miss the whole point of the situation. What private employe” is protected by special Act of Parliament? Where is the private employer who is not brought into competition with other employers ? But in what avocation is the State brought into competition with private individuals? In every instance, through our Public Service Acts or our Railway Acts, special provision is made for State employes. Personally, I cannot conceive how a dispute between the public servants and the Government of a State can extend beyond the limits of that State. Take the railway servants of Victoria as an example. ‘ Could a dispute between them and the Railway Commissioners extend beyond the limits of this State, unless the members of some affiliated union also went upon strike as a matter of sympathy ?

Mr Watson:

– That is nearly always the way in which these disputes extend.

Mr KENNEDY:

– It has been clearly laid down by the legal authorities in this House that sympathetic strikes would not come within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court.

Mr Watson:

– I think so.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I venture to say that the Attorney-General will confirm my opinion. A strike which is purely of a sympathetic character would not be within the jurisdiction of the proposed Arbitration Court. The present attitude of the Government forcibly recalls to my mind that human beings, irrespective of their station in life, are to a great extent governed by their environment. The present action of the Prime Minister and his colleagues is governed by the circumstances which confront them. The Deakin Ministry frankly asked the House to exclude from the operation of this Bill the public servants of the States and of the Commonwealth. The present Prime Minister and his supporters most strenuously objected to the adoption of that course. The result was the defeat of the late Government. Yet the present Ministry now turn a complete political somersault. I presume that the Prime Minister had some hand in drafting this amendment, which proposes to include only States railway servants, or those employed in industries which are carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth, or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State. It leaves in doubt the class of person intended to be brought within the operation of the Bill. In the amendment originally formulated by the present Minister of Trade and Customs, the language employed was- beyond question. A perusal of it showed at once that the intention was that every member of the Public Services of the Commonwealth and of the States should be brought within the provisions of the Bill. But without any explanation, the Government have departed from the phraseology employed in that amendment. I did not have the privilege of hearing the explanation made this evening by the Minister of External Affairs, but it seems to me that the members of the Government are themselves in doubt as to the extent of our constitutional power in this direction. Before they took office, however, they entertained no doubt whatever in regard to the matter. It is for the High Court to determine whether the Constitution enables all the public servants of the States to be brought within the scope of this measure, and there should be no room to say that the language employed in the Statute does not show the clear intention of the Parliament. It may be that the Ministry now realize the responsibility of their attitude, but it is well that the Committee and the country generally should know what is the true position. It is unnecessary for me to explain my attitude. I put my views clearly and distinctly before my constituents at the last elec tions, and was returned as one wholly opposed to the inclusion either of public servants or railway employes. As a member of the State Parliament of Victoria I supported the application of compulsory arbitration to the larger concerns of industrial life, in which there is competition among private employers, and as one familiar with the results of a resort to a strike I have from the first advocated that application. It has always been open to parties to resort to voluntary arbitration, but as the voluntary principle has never been successful I favour compulsory arbitration. I am emphatically opposed, however, to the proposal to bring the public servants or railway employes of the States within the scope of this Bill, for, in my opinion, it would be an infringement of States rights to do so. I may not have any definite opinion of what really constitutes States rights. I know that prior to the Federation the States had sovereign powers, and that under the Constitution of the Commonwealth they transferred certain of their powers to this Parliament ; but I am convinced that the States have never transferred to the Federal Parliament -power to deal with the public servants of the States.’ It is for this reason that I have pledged myself to oppose the extension of the Bill to States employes, and it appears to me that those who profess to see no distinction between the position of a State employe and the employé of a private individual are really burking the issues with which we are at present confronted.

Question - That after the word “ State,” line12.the words “including disputes in relation to employment upon State railways,” be inserted - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 36

NOES: 24

Majority … … 12

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– I move-

That after the word “ railways,” the words “ or to employment in industries carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a Slate,” be inserted.

I do not intend to revive the discussion. It has been argued that if the subsequent words cover all that has been claimed for them by the Minister of External Affairs, there was really no necessity to insert the words which we have just agreed to add to the clause; but, while I do not presume to offer my opinion so far as the question of construction is concerned against that of my honorable and learned colleague, I think that in order to make assurance doubly sure from the point of view of those who are anxious that the Bill shall cover all that we believe the Court is likely to allow us to include within its scope, it is essential thatwe should insert these additional words.

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– I do not propose to renew my argument on the principle upon which this amendment is based ; but desire to point out, by way of “ caution, that honorable members opposite in submitting this proposal have, as the Prime Minister admitted, adopted a form ofwords that will bring under the Arbitration Court every individualwho can possibly be brought within it, presuming their reading of the law to be correct. At the same time, they have not regarded in the slightest degree the questions of practical convenience and inconveniencewhich must necessarily arise. So far as I have gathered from the opinion expressed by the Attorney-General, he holds thatwherever Ave find an industrial occupation, whether it be that of one individual or of more, there at once the jurisdiction of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court will extend.

Mr Higgins:

– One individual ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes.

Mr Higgins:

– Limited by-

Mr DEAKIN:

– Butwe cannot make any limitation. The illustrationwhich the honorable and learned gentleman gavewas that of the Post Office.

Mr Watson:

– Limited by the definition of theword “ organization.”

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes, but only indirectly.

Mr Higgins:

– Directly.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I understand that the Attorney-General considers that the officers of the Postal Department, as well as the railway employes of the States, must be taken to be engaged in industrial employment. I do not know whether that applies only to certain officers, such as letter carriers, bag makers, stampers-

Mr Watson:

– The whole Department is to be taken as carrying on an industrial employment.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Would the Deputy PostmasterGeneral and his staff be considered as engaged in carrying on an industry ?

Mr Watson:

– I think so. -In my view, they are engaged in carrying on an industrial concern.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I think the AttorneyGeneral should give us the benefit of his opinion on the point.

Mr Higgins:

– If the honorable and learned member asks me for my own view, I do not think the Bill applies to those en gaged in clerical pursuits. What Ave are determined to do is to make the provisions of the Bill apply to all to whom the Constitution alloAvs us to apply them.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I understand that; but am pointing out that all questions of practical expediency and convenience have been set aside. For my own part, I indorse the view of the Attorney-General. It seems to me that merely clerical work cannot be considered industrial employment. I take it that the officers of an administrative branch would not come under the Bill. That being so. there will be in the Department of the Post Office an uncertain line b’etAveen employes engaged in industrial employment and thosewho are not,which can be made definite only by a series of decisions in the Arbitration Court.

Mr Higgins:

– I understood the honorable and learned member to askwhether, in -my view, the Bill would apply to the ordinary clerical employes of such a Department as the Treasury.

Mr DEAKIN:

– No ; of the Post Office.

Mr Higgins:

– That is a different marter. There you have the business of carrying mails, and those incidentally employed in connexion with it may, for all I know, Le taken to be engaged in an industry.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The Attorney-General is dubious on the point. The Post Office carries on the business of distributing letters, and incidentally does many other kinds of work.

Mr Higgins:

– Every one mustbe dubious as to the effect: of the Constitution in this respect. We are bound by the words of the Constitution.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes; though I do not know that the same dubiety should obtain in regard to purely clerical employment, whether associated or not with employment which is not clerical. I am unable to understand how industrial employment can include those not engaged in an industry, but associated with others who are. Such a contention is surprisingly like that of the gentleman who claimed to be musical, not because he himself could play the fiddle, but because he shared his room with some one who did.

Mr Higgins:

– Take the position of a clerk in a foundry.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I should say that such a man is not engaged in an industrial employment. In my opinion; industrial employment means employment in an industry mainly productive, but, perhaps, covering the transmission of products as in the carrying business. I do not think it goes far beyond actual manualwork or occupation directly connected with manual labour.

Mr Batchelor:

– What is the position of an overseer?

Mr DEAKIN:

– A man who, having industrial knowledge, is employed to overlook -others engaged’ in the industry in which he is an expert, must be taken to be engaged in an industrial employment.

Mr Batchelor:

– Suppose he also did clerical work?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not think that that would take him out of the category of industrial employes. But it seems to me that public servants who sit at their desks casting accounts, making entries, or conducting correspondence, cannot be considered industrial employes. Now that all “branches of the Commonwealth service have been brought under the purview of the Bill, we shall have in some Departments men engaged in what may be termed industrial employment, or cleaners, ‘ whose position will be doubtful ; and others whose occupation is purely clerical. To some of these the provisions of the Bill will apply, while to others they will not. Therefore, the adoption of this general drag-net amendment, which sweeps in every officer belonging to an organization engaged in industrial employment, however small the number of such individuals in a Department may be, will involve the consideration by the Court of a great number of petty particulars as to those departments, causing altogether disproportionate expense and delay.

Mr Watson:

– That would be a matter for consideration when an organization applied to be registered.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not think that it is the intention to allow the registration of organizations to be refused on the ground that it might not be convenient for the Government of the day to permit it. I do not” dispute that something is to be said for this provision. It was adopted because of a laudable ambition to confer the benefits of the measure upon all who could be brought within its scope; but sufficient consideration has not been given to the way in which it will work.

Mr Higgins:

– The honorable and learned member should really find fault with the Constitution.

Mr DEAKIN:

– If I thought that necessary, I should do so; but not at the present time.

Mr Higgins:

– It -would not suit the honorable and learned * member to do so now.

Mr DEAKIN:

– It would be useless and fruitless. I am rightly finding fault with the Bill, however, because we can amend it, while we cannot amend the Constitution. Even if the Constitution be defective in this respect, it is our duty to pass a measure which will not “maintain its defects, and whose administration will not be difficult.

Mr Watson:

– Will not the difficulty to which the honorable and learned member alludes arise also when the Court comes to define the private employes who are entitled to take advantage of the provisions of the measure?

Mr DEAKIN:

-Not to the same extent,if ray view of the law is correct ; though if the Prime Minister’s view is correct, and industrial employment also includes those associated with men directly employed in an industry, it may. If my, view be sound, the amendment should be reconsidered, so as to require that a substantial number of persons in a department shall be concerned before the provisions of the measure shall be held to apply.

Mr Watson:

– The matter can be dealt with in connexion with the definition of an organization.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Having been in charge of Bills in Committee, I should be the last to expect the honorable gentleman to offer a solution of this difficulty off-hand. I do not ask him to do so. I am not fighting the amendment, because it is not big enough, but have felt it my duty to call attention to it, in order to offer a suggestion, of which Ministers may or may not take advantage, as they see fit. If the Prime Minister marks it on his copy of the Bill as a matter to receive further consideration, he will probably find that this is the place in which to deal with it, possibly not by amending the amendment, but by further amending the clause. I think that upon reflection he will see that it would be dangerous to commence to lay down, unless it were done with great precision, the conditions under which organizations may be refused registration, because frequent refusals would not be desirable, especially from the point of view of those who wish the measure to be freely taken advantage of. I do not wish to labour the point, nor shall I endeavour te apply my honorable friend’s interpretation of industrial employment as covering all those connected with workmen engaged in an industry, though it offers a fertile field for suggestive inferences. For example, if a man working in a cellar were to be taken as engaged in an industrial employment, would all the clerks on all the floors above hint be taken to be similarly engaged ? Would they catch it as a sort of infection?

Mr McCay:

– As they would catch influenza ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Yes. I have endeavoured to impress upon the Prime Minister a sense of the difficulty which I think will arise if the amendment is carried as he proposes.

Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs

– On a previous occasion I opposed the amendment of the honorable member for Wide Bay, because of its wideness.

Mr Deakin:

– That fact escaped my memory, or I should have mentioned it.

Mr GROOM:

– My opinion in regard to it was expressed in these terms -

I shall vote against the amendment in the form in which it has been presented by the honorable member for Wide Bay. It purports to embrace the whole of the public servants of the States, and of the Commonwealth. I fail to see how it is possible for us, under the terms of the Constitution, to pass a Bill of this kind which would embrace the public servants connected with, say, the Audit Department of the State of Queensland, or the Treasury Department of New South Wales. I attach great im.portance to the definition of the word “ industrial.’^ We are bound by the wording of the Constitution, according to which we can. legislate only with regard to “industrial” disputes; and I cannot see how Departments such as those I have mentioned could be deemed to be “ industrial.”

Mr Deakin:

– Would it include persons engaged in the Post Office ? ‘

Mr GROOM:

– I am not prepared to say that it would not. It is possible that to determine what persons are engaged in an industry, the Court would have to look at the substantial work of the whole Department. Possibly those engaged in clerical work connected with an industry might be taken as engaged in industrial employment. The term “industrial,” however, is one which will come up for definition by the High Court, and . our individual opinions will not affect the Judges. When this matter was first brought before us, in September last, I opposed .the sweeping proposal of the honorable member for Wide Bay. I then stated that I could not accept that amendment, because it was too far-reaching. > I felt that the High Court could only construe the provision subject to the limits of the Constitution, ani that the amendment would be misleading, because it would embrace persons who could not be regarded as coming under our control. I could only vote in favour of bringing the railway servants of the States within the “scope of the measure, because of the two proposals then before us that was the only one which I regarded as coming within the terms of the Constitution. I am pleased that the Government have now adopted an interpretation of the Constitution which follows the lines of the opinion I previously expressed. I could not support the first amendment submitted by the honorable member for Wide Bay, but the one now proposed is in accord with the opinions I have invariably expressed, namely, that the scope of our powers is limited by the term “industrial.” I have thought this matter out very carefully, and I have come to the conclusion that in order to be consistent I shall have to suport this amendment. I recognise that questions of expediency are involved, and that perhaps on the whole it would have been wiser if we had not endeavoured to go so far as is proposed by this amendment. However, our constitutional power will have to be decided by the High Court in any case, and it is just as well to get a final decision as to the actual extent of our powers.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– I move -

That the amendment be amended by the omission of the following words - “ in industries carried on by or “

My object is to bring the whole of the public servants of the States within the scope of the measure.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable member voted against that proposal.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I am opposed to any States servants being included in the Bill, but I contend that, if we include any of the States servants, we should not discriminate between those who work with their hands, and who bunch their votes, and those who work with their pen, and do not exercise such great political power. With all deference to those honorable and learned members who have given us their opinions upon the constitutional aspect of this question, I hold the view that the Commonweal tii Has no power to enforce an award against any State which declines to carry out its wishes. In reading an interesting history of America, I came across a paragraph which, I think, is particularly applicable to the present case. It reads as follows: -

When an individual defies the law you can lock him up in gaol, or levy an execution upon his property. The immense force of the community is arrayed against him, and he is helpless as a straw on the billows of the ocean. He cannot raise a militia to protect himself. But whenthe law is defied by a State, it is quite otherwise. You cannot put the State into gaol, nor seize its goods; you can only make war on it, and if you try that expedient you will find that the State is not quite helpless. Its local pride and prejudices are aroused against you, and its militia will turn out in full force to uphold the infringement of the law.

I ‘would ask honorable members what would be the position of the Commonwealth if a State refused to comply with an award of the Arbitration Court? We all know that the railway trouble which recently occurred in Victoria, and which has not been entirely disposed of. is at the bottom of the provi sion which it is now sought to insert in the Bill.

Mr Watson:

– What would happen if a State Government refused to comply with the judgment of any Federal Court ? ‘

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I am not in the witness box : but I think that the Prime Minister will recognise that the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States was carried because the Federal Government found itself powerless to enforce its decisions against the States.

Mr Watson:

– Except by the last resort.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Would the Prime Minister be prepared to adopt that last resort ?

Mr Watson:

– I should, if the occasion arose.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– It is well that we should know where we stand. We have a railway trouble right upon us. . and there is no use blinking the fact. Three different rates of wages are paid in the States of Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales respectively. The wages paid in New South Wales are higher - considerably higher - than those ruling in the other States referred to. Suppose that a question, arose with regard to wages, and the Arbitration Court decided, as they probably would do, that the same wages should be paid in New South Wales and Victoria, where the conditions are somewhat similar. Would the Court have the power to compel the New South Wales railway authorities to reduce their wages to the rates paid in Victoria?

Mr Watson:

– No one would be compelled to reduce wages under any award ; thev could give as much more as thev liked.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Then would the High Court be bound to accept the highest standard prevailing in any one of these States, and level up the rates in all the States ?

Mr Watson:

– No, but any State could pay as much as it liked beyond the amounts fixed by the Court. I know of employers in New South Wales who. are paying to some of their hands wages onethird higher than the rates fixed by the award of the Arbitration Court.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Suppose then that the Arbitration Court decided that the wages paid to the Victorian employes should be increased, and the State authorities refused to comply with their award. Do I understand the Prime Minister to say that he would adopt the last resort and call out the military ?

Mr Lonsdale:

– He would have a lively time if he did.

Mr Watson:

– We do not contemplate anything of that kind.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– The Prime Minister may safely assume that the States will not be prepared to surrender the control of their servants without a very considerable struggle. It is proposed to take from them the power to frame their own Estimates, and no State will surrender that right . without a severe struggle. I would point out, further, that if the operation of this Bill is to be confined, so far as emplovés of the States are concerned, to those who are engaged on the railways, a gross injustice will be done to those States servants who are placed beyond the operation of the measure. In Tasmania the rates of pay are necessarily lower than those prevailing in the larger States.- If the Arbitration Court decided that the wages of the Railway and Post Office employes in that State should be considerably raised, that change would be brought about at the expense of those public servants to whom the benefits of the Act were denied. The increase of salaries in Tasmania in the Post Office and Customs Departments, which has resulted from the transfer of those Departments to the Commonwealth control, has caused the other public servants in Tasmania to be deprived of their annual increments, and has created a Public Service aristocracy. There is already an outcry in some of the States that the cost of the Public Service is too heavy. It is becoming recognised that the community is divided into two classes, namely, the tax-payers and the tax-eaters, and that the tax-eaters are getting too large a slice of the public revenue.

Mr Watson:

– The proper course to adopt is to get rid of the unnecessary men, and not to reduce the wages.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I do not think we have many unnecessary men in the Tasmanian service, because the injurious political influences which have operated in the other States have not been exerted there. I think that there are very few bees in the . Tasmanian hive that are not making honey, and in some cases the salaries paid to public servants are too low.

Mr Watkins:

– Then the honorable member ought to vote for the amendment, which will bring public servants within the scope of the Bill.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I am endeavouring to enlarge the scope of the amendment in order to embrace all classes of public servants, and I am going to put to the test those honorable members who have expressed the desire that all classes of the community shall share in the benefits of this measure.

Mr Hughes:

– Who are excluded under our amendment ?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– If the Ministerhad been in the House and heard the explanation of the Attorney-General he would know what class of officers would be excluded under the amendment proposed by the Prime Minister. If the honorable and learned member will, not attend, it is not right for him to ask. me to repeat the opinions of his colleague. I intend to press the proposal that there shall be no distinction, so far as this House is concerned, between public servants. If the High Court likes to differentiate, let it do so. But it is not for us here, as representing the whole of the people,, and not any one class of the people, to take such a step. I represent the public servant as much as I do the taxpayer generally, but I represent the Public Service as a whole, and not any chosen body. So far as my vote is concerned, I shall not allow, without protest,, one class of public servants to be brought under the Bill by our special choice and’ decision - for that is the point - and’ another class to be excluded.

Mr WATSON:

– With regard to thesuggestion put forward by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I do not see any greater difficulty for the Court in defining those who are to come under thisparticular provision, if carried, than would in any case arise in attempting to definewhich amongst the employes of any largefirm should come under the definition of “ industrial.” In large iron works, for example, such as Mort’s Dock, in Sydney, and’ similar concerns in Melbourne, a great number of people are employed in different departments and branches, including a great number of clerical hands, or men not engaged directly in industrial employment. Yet it seems to me that, generally speaking, these latter men are engaged indirectly in the industry ; they assist the machinery to goround, and consequently may, I think-, be held to be engaged in an “ industrial “ concern. Such men are just as necessary at oner end of the business as is the manual labourer, mechanic, or artisan at the otherConsequently, it would be just as difficult for the Court to define which of the employes of a private firm shall, if there is to be a distinction drawn, come within the definition in this Bill; as to make the distinction mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in connexion with my immediate amendment. I do not see that we are imposing any greater task on the Court in this relation than we are in any other part of the Bill. The Court has cast on it the duty of first registering an organization ; and I may point out that the definition of “ organization “ in the Bill is that, in the case of employes, it shall consist of not less than 100 members. Therefore, the Court would not have before it any case of Government employes unless at least 100 persons were concerned. I understand the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to be fearful that one or two men might be able to move the Court.

Mr Deakin:

– I mean one or two men here, and one or two men there.

Mr WATSON:

– Scattered men?

Mr Deakin:

– Yes.

Mr WATSON:

– And the honorable and learned . member thinks that if these men aggregated 100 they might be able to move the Court?

Mr Deakin:

– Yes.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not think we run any greater risk in that connexion amongst the public servants than we do amongst the employes of any private individual. I admit the fair spirit in which the suggestion has-been made, and for that reason will give it every consideration.

Mr Deakin:

– That is all I ask.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not at present see that the suggestion really affects the amendment as I have proposed it; but I may be able later to recognise the difficulty in the mind of my honorable and learned friend. As to the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin, I may sav that all through this sitting - although I have not previously referred to the matter - I have been somewhat touched . by the anxiety exhibited by all our opponents to load us up with gifts in this connexion. Those who are determined that by no vote, so far as they are concerned, shall the Bill provide for Government employes, are anxious to load the measure with provisions, which, if adopted, will make it unworkable.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– It is the Prime Minister’s own proposal.

Mr WATSON:

– Coming from ourselves, the proposal might have been accepted with some degree of confidence, because, to begin with, we are admittedly in favour of the measure, and of extending its benefits to as many public servants as is practicable under the Constitution. But coming from the other side, who are admittedly out of sympathy with the proposal - who are bitterly opposed to including any ‘of the public servants within the provisions of the Bill - the suggestion has to be regarded with some degree of suspicion. So far as I am concerned, I plead guilty to no alteration o± policy or attitude on this point. Right through I have expressed a doubt as to whether we have the power to include all public servants within the scope of the measure.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Did the Prime Minister not advocate including all public servant’s, and allowing the High Court to decide the constitutional question?

Mr WATSON:

– I said I was quite prepared to vote for such a proposal, because I did not want, at that stage, any misconception to arise as to what my own desires were. But now we, who are in favour of the measure, have the advantage of a definition of the constitutional position by the learned Attorney-General, who is, as we know, in sympathy with our desires ; and I am willing to defer to him as to the actual language the clause should contain. After all, it is- very difficult to say how far the term “industrial “ carries us. The right honorable member for East Sydney speaking just after my statement of the Government policy a fortnight ago, said that in his opinion - I suppose he put the opinion forward hurriedly - there was no limit to the number of persons who might be covered by the term “industrial,” so long as they were in employment.

Mr Robinson:

– That is the view put forward by the Minister of External Affairs this afternoon.

Mr WATSON:

– And it was put forward only a fortnight ago by the right honorable and learned member for East Sydney. This shows how difficult it is to define clearly and distinctly what the meaning of the Constitution is. We are assured, at any rate, by the Attorney-Gensral that the provision follows as nearly as practicable the language of the Constitution; and it does not seem to me that we can carry the matter any further. If the provision follows the terms of the Constitution, it goes as far as the Constitution allows, and that ; s all

I have contended for right along. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat will remember that when he, as Prime Minister, first introduced the Bill six. or seven months ago, I asked that the language of the Constitution should be employed in regard to the provisions affecting shipping. The honorable and learned member had included in the first Bill a provision which excluded all foreign shipping from the operation of the measure, and I then asked that the terms of the Constitution should be inserted in lieu of that provision, so that, at any rate, we would be taken at least so far as the Constitution itself takes us. That is the contention I have followed out in other regards also - for instance, in regard to the actual terms of sub-section xxxv. There, again, I think that we should rely on the words of the Constitution themselves, so that we may not even inadvertently do less than the Constitution will permit us to do. That is the consistent ground which I have taken up right through, and as my present amendment is practically a paraphrase of the Constitution, I think we are going quite as far as we can go, and that our action is consistent with the attitude we assumed some time ago.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- The Prime Minister has tried to explain how it is that he and his party have changed their front on this matter. But so far as I can see there has been no real explanation. They themselves, on a former occasion, forced this matter to an issue. The exPrime Minister refused to accept the amendment which honorable members opposite desired that he should make in the Bill.

Mr Watson:

– It was known that the exPrime Minister would accept no proposal to include any State Government employé.

Mr LONSDALE:

– There was no such statement.

Mr Watson:

– He made the statement several times.

Mr LONSDALE:

– There was only one amendment before us, and that was the amendment of the present Minister of Trade and Customs, which included the public servants of the States without any reference to industrial pursuits.

Mr Watson:

– It was stated by the then Prime Minister that his Government would not accept the inclusion of any public servants.

Mr LONSDALE:

– It does not matter what they said they would accept; my point is what they did. In forcing that amendment honorable members opposite defeated the late Government. I fully take my share of the responsibility for what occurred. If honorable members opposite do not know where they are, I know where I am. They got into power by defeating the late Government upon that point.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable member helped us.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I admit that, but I am not going to help the honorable gentleman and his Government now. I have made it perfectly clear that I am against their proposal. If they desire to show their devotion to principle they should stick to the amendment on which they won their present position. They were determined to include every public servant. Now, however, they want to include only a very few ; because they fear that any Court would decide that very few industrial occupations are being carried on by the States.

Mr Fisher:

– The honorable member’s leader thinks otherwise.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I think for myself. I do not allow any one else to think for me. I have some admiration for honorable members opposite, but I should have a larger admiration for them if they stood to their principles. The Prime Minister regards the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin as coming from an enemy, and, therefore, he says he intends to oppose it. The amendment puts the Government to the test once more. The honorable member for Franklin urges that if one State public servant is included all should be included. The Prime Minister gives the whole case away when he says that if some friend of the Ministry had proposed the amendment he would have accepted it. Because it is proposed from this side of the Chamber he will not do so. Apparently, it is a good thing to accept an amendment from a friend, but a bad thing to accept the same” amendment from an ‘opponent. I am against including any State public servant, but once more, to show my devotion to principle, I am prepared to call for a division, on the amendment of the honorable member for Franklin. I wish to make it clear that I do not believe in seeking to take from the States their right to control their servants. Further, if we insert such a provision, we cannot compel the States to carry out what ‘ the Court may decide. If a State says that it is prepared to accept what the Commonwealth Court lays down, everything will go smoothly ; but if a State refuses to do so, there is no power to compel it to obey the order of the- Court. If the effect of the order of the Court is to raise salaries and wages, there is no method of compelling a State Parliament to increase its estimates to that extent - unless, of course, the military are called out. The Prime Minister said something about being willing to go to the last resort, but afterwards he backed down.

Mr Watson:

– Not a bit ; I do not back down.

Mr Watkins:

– We will put the honorable member in the first rank.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I shall not allow myself to be ‘in the first rank in a dispute of that kind, unless it is on the side of the State concerned. I believe in being on the side of right, but I do not believe in throwing dust in the eyes of the people. That is what the Government are doing. I repeat that if nobody else assists the honorable member for Franklin in calling for a division I shall do so, because I like to see every one toe the scratch.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– I am glad that another opportunity is afforded to the Government to return to the position which they formerly took up, and in which other honorable members supported them on the 2 1 st April last. I feel that the Government are not acting fairly in this matter. I look upon it in this way : I voted for certain principles: The Government said they were in favour of those principles. But it appears that they were not

Mr Page:

– Did any Government ever act fairly from the point of view of an Opposition ?

Mr CROUCH:

– I expect a Government which made certain pledges to the country - which are recorded in Hansard - in which they said that they believed in all State servants being included in an Arbitration Bill, limited only by decision of the High Court, to keep to their pledges.

Mr Page:

– They will have to answer to their constituents for their votes.

Mr CROUCH:

– They will have to answer to me. Before I can give the Government any more support I must- request that they will show that some attempt is being made to carry out the pledges that they made to this House and to the country when they spoke on the21st April, before the division was taken. It will be remembered that the Minister of Trade and Customs proposed an amendment. He said that he’ thought that every public servant should be included within the limits of this measure. He also had the support of the Minister of External Affairs. The Prime Minister and every other Minister, supported us.

Mr Kelly:

– The Prime Minister did not agree with the amendment, though.

Mr CROUCH:

– He voted for it, and spoke in favour of it. On that occa-. sion, also, we had the valuable opinion of the honorable member for Hume. In view of the vote which he gave ‘ this evening, I should like to read to the Committee the opinion he then expressed upon a similar proposal. He said -

Despite the arguments used by our leading lawyers, who have been about equally divided in this matter,I, as a layman, still feel that it is unconstitutional to bring railway servants or States public servants under the control of the Federal Government in the way proposed.

Mr Lonsdale:

– Did he -say that?

Mr CROUCH:

– He did.

Mr Lonsdale:

– He voted the other way just now.

Mr CROUCH:

– What else could the honorable member expect? The honorable member continued -

I feel that I am justified in voting against the amendment for two reasons : one, because it is unconstitutional - and I have not the least doubt on that point-and the other because I believe that the effect of carrying the amendment will be to destroy a measure in which I, at any rate, take a very great interest.

I am sorry that the honorable member thought it necessary a few minutes ago to reverse the vote which he recorded upon a previous occasion, thereby assisting to destroy a measure in which, apparently, he takes less interest how than he did formerly.

Mr Mahon:

– Is there to be no mental progression ?

Mr CROUCH:

– If the honorable member for Hume’ has mentally progressed, it is abundantly clear that every member of the Ministry ‘has mentally retrogressed.I trust that honorable members will’ exhibit their strong disapproval of the inconsistent attitude of the Government by refusing to sit behind them when they decline to carry out the pledges upon which they succeeded to office. I ask the honorable member for Franklin to press this matter to a division. We shall then be able to see if the twenty-three members of the Labour Party, who held out promises of succour to the poor public servants- of the Commonwealth, are prepared to vote in accordance with their declaration of. five weeks ago, before they had attained the Treasury benches.

Question - That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the proposed amendment - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 53

NOES: 3

Majority …. … 50

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment of the amendment negatived.

Question - That after the word “railways,” the words “or to employment in industries carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth, or a State, or any public authority constituted -under the Commonwealth or a State, “ be inserted - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 33

NOES: 21

Majority … … 12

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to -

That the following words, lines 13 to17, be omitted, “ a’ dispute relating to employment in the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of a. State, or to employment by any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.”

Progress reported. .

House adjourned at 10.24 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 June 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040601_reps_2_19/>.