House of Representatives
9 June 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



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

DISMISSALS OF CUSTOMS OFFICIALS.

Mr. WILLIS. - I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has any objection to placing on the table of the House copies of the correspondence which has passed between the Government and Messrs. N. J. Hendrick and W. F. Hemming, who have been dismissed from the Customs Department, and lo whom large sums of money have been paid ?

Mr. WATSON. - The papers relating to these and similar cases are rather voluminous. If the honorable member desires to have the papers relating only to the cases of the officers named, I do not think there will be much objection to placing them upon the Library table. I understand that Mr. Speaker has made an arrangement by which original papers may be placed on the Library table for the inspection of honorable members, instead of being laid upon the table of the House, and practically impounded bv inclusion among our official records. My honorable colleague, the

Minister of Trade and Customs, informs me that any honorable member can see the papers at his office, in Spring-street, and if it would satisfy the honorable member for Robertson to inspect the papers there it would suit the convenience of the Minister.

Mr. WILLIS - It would be more in keeping with my convenience if the papers were open for inspection here.

Mr. WATSON. - We do not care to leave original papers on the Library table unless we are assured that they aire in safe keeping.

Mr. McColl. - They are generally placed in the custody pf the Librarian, who looks after them.

Mr. WATSON.- -Assuming that the safe custody of such papers has been arranged for, I am quite willing to lay the correspondence relating to the cases mentioned on the table of the Library.

Mr. SPEAKER. - I may point out that it would be very difficult for the Library authorities to accept any responsibility in such a case. They will do all that can reasonably be expected, but they could not exercise such supervision as would enable them to guarantee the. safety of any particular document.

Mr. WATSON. - In that case I should hardly feel justified in laying original docu- ments on the Library table.

Mr. Willis. - Why not lay them on the tabic of the House?

Mr. WATSON.- If I did so, they would be impounded. I would suggest the Minister might bring the papers to the Minis- terial room attached to the Chamber, and that the honorable member for Robertson or any other honorable member might inspect them there.

Mr. Deakin. - If the papers were laid on the Library table, a document might be removed or tampered with.

Mr.’ WATSON. - There has been some suggestion of tampering with documents in another case, and I do not desire that that experience should be repeated.

Mr. Fisher. - Every facility will be afforded to honorable members to see the papers referred to.

page 2184

QUESTION

DEDUCTIONS FROM PUBLIC SERVANTS’ SALARIES

Mr POYNTON:
GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

asked the AttorneyGeneral, upon, notice -

  1. .Has the Public Service Commissioner power to withhold from art officer who is performing his duties satisfactorily, and against whom no charge of misconduct exists, any portion of .the salary or increment of salary voted to such officer by Parliament?

    1. If such power exists, will he quote the Act and section which confers it?
Mr HIGGINS:

– This question relates to the Department of’ my honorable colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs. After consulting with him I am “able to say that he does not know of any such power as that referred to. If the honorable member has any specific action to complain of, my honorable colleague will be very glad to receive information regarding it.

page 2184

QUESTION

ADDITIONS TO ELECTORAL ROLLS

Mr PHILLIPS:
WIMMERA, VICTORIA

asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -

Whether he will take the necessary steps to immediately have placed on the rolls the names of all electors not now on such rolls and entitled to be placed thereon, especially in the recently drought-stricken areas of Victoria, to which a large number of electors have returned, but find they are not enfranchised in their districts?

Mr BATCHELOR:
Minister for Home Affairs · BOOTHBY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · ALP

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

The Premier of Victoria was asked on the 27th May, 1904, under what condition the services of the police would be available for the purpose of effecting a revision of the Commonwealth Electoral Roll of Victoria. Only an acknowledgment has been received, and a further letter was forwarded yesterday.

But every person qualified for enrolment may be enrolled by making a claim, or, if enrolled, may obtain a transfer by making an application to the Registrar or the Divisional Returning Officer.

page 2184

DECIMAL COINAGE

Mr WATSON:
Prime Minister · BLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– A day or two ago I was asked by the honorable member for South Sydney whether I was prepared to lay on the table the non-confidential portions of the correspondence which has passed between the British Government and the Commonwealth Government in relation to decimal coinage.

Mr Thomson:

– And also in regard to minting silver.

Mr WATSON:

– The correspondence relates principally to the minting of silver. I am sorry to say that there is practically nothing in the correspondence as to the decimal system. We have had no indication so far of the intentions of the British Government in that regard. I have had extracted from the papers the non-confiden- tial portion of the correspondence; and will lay it upon the Library table this afternoon:

page 2185

OLD AGE PENSIONS

Mr O’MALLEY:
Darwin

– I desire that Notice of Motion, No. 1, standing in my name, be postponed.

Mr Deakin:

– I understand that some honorable members are prepared to debate the motion. Is tlie question of the postponement now before the Chair ?

Mr SPEAKER:

– I would point out that if the motion had been moved it could only be withdrawn or set down for another date with the permission of the House ; but, seeing that it has not been moved, it is quite competent for the honorable member to intimate his desire to have it set down for another day.

page 2185

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed from’ 7 th June, vide page 2080) :

Clause 4 - “ Industry “ means business . . . employment on land or water in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage, or reward, excepting only persons engaged in domestic service. “Lock-out” includes the closing of a place of employment, or the suspension of work by an employer, with a view to compel his employees, or to aid another employer in compelling his employes, to accept an)’ term or conditions of employment. “Strike” includes the cessation of work by employees, acting in combination, as a means of enforcing compliance with demands made by them or other employees on employers.

Upon which Mr. McDonald had moved, by way of amendment -

That in lines 3 and 4, the words “excepting only persons engaged in domestic service “ be left out.

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

– I am rather at a loss to understand why the Ministry, after having decided to retain the provision regarding domestic servants, as contained in the Bill of their predecessors: should now have deserted that decision and have determined to support that which, judging from their previous actions, they intended to oppose. This is a rather curious attitude to adopt, in view of the fact that they had critically examined the

Bill, and proposed a large number of amendments. Their action is also peculiar, because, from their support- of the proposal to include domestic servants within the scope of the Bill, we may presume that they anticipate that such persons can be included within the scope of the measure. I do not think that tha Prime Minister seriously believes that under the terms of the Constitution persons engaged in domestic service can be included.

Mr Watson:

– I do not say that it is likely, but at the same time I do not see anything to prevent it.

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

– In my opinion, it is very unlikely. If the calling of domestic servants is to be regarded as an industrial occupation, there is no occupation whatever that will not be included within the scope of the Bill, in spite of the supposed limitation of our powers by the word “ industrial “ in the Constitution. If we can include persons engaged in domestic service,, the proposal of the honorable member for Kennedy will go much further than he apparently supposes, and include members of families - the wives, daughters, and sons of a household. When I interjected, while the honorable member was moving his amendment, “What about wives?” he said that the suggestion was absurd. I venture to say that there is no absurdity about it. Many honorable members, including the honorable member for Kennedy, do not seem to be aware of the far-reaching effects of the measure they are supporting. In New South Wales we have had ample experience of the effects of similar legislation, and we know that it extends, not merely to employes, who are not members of families, but that so far as it operates with regard to industries or occupations, it brings within its scope every member of the family - ‘daughters, sons, or what not. The New South Wales Arbitration Court has decided that in occupations where sons or daughters are employed, they shall come under the operation of the Bill to the same extent as do employes, who are not members of the family.

Mr Thomas:

– Hear, hear; why not?

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

– I am not saying whether they’ should or should not. I am only replying to the remark of the honorable member for Kennedy that my suggestion was an absurd one. Having regard to the decisions of the New South

Wales Arbitration Court, the result of the omission of these words would be that persons engaged in domestic service in their own homes would come under the operation of the Bill. Is that the intention of the Committee? If it is, we should accept the amendment ; but if it is not, we should certainly exclude domestic servants. Do not let us deal with the matter in the belief that, by omitting - this provision, we shall include domestic servants, and at the same time exclude members of families who have to discharge domestic duties in their own homes. Every decision given by the New South Wales Arbitration Court goes to show that the omission of these words would have the contrary effect. The Arbitration Court in New South Wales has decided that persons employed by their fathers or mothers must receive the wages, and observe the hours and conditions fixed by the Court in respect of the occupation they follow. It has been decided in some cases that only a certain number of apprentices shall be allowed. This decision extends . to youths employed by their fathers in any trade to which it applies, with the result that if the number of apprentices is in excess of that allowed they have to seek employment elsewhere.

Mr Bamford:

– Has any case come before the New South Wales Court in regard to persons employed as domestic- servants in their own or their parents’ households?

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

– No; because the New South Wales Act excludes those engaged in domestic service.

Mr Watson:

– The Court has given a decision in relation to persons engaged as servants in businesses carried on for profit.

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

– The honorable gentleman is referring to quite another matter.

Mr Watson:

– It is true that the Court has not given any decision in regard to the position of persons employed as domestic servants in their parents’ household.

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

– It has decided that the exclusion of persons engaged in domestic service from the provisions of the State Act does not apply to servants engaged in industries or business carried on for profit. I think that we ought not to exclude persons engaged in businesses of that . kind. The provision that the honorable member for Kennedy wishes to omit from the clause does not exclude such persons from the scope of the Bill.

Mr Watson:

– There has been no decision with respect to the position of wivesand daughters engaged in tha discharge of domestic duties.

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

– No ; because the Court cannot deal with them under the Act.

Mr Watson:

– It might do so when they are discharging such duties in businesses carried on for profit.

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

– I cannot say that, there has been any decision as to the position of wives discharging such duties, but the New South Wales Court has decided that persons employed by their parents, in occupations which come under the Act, are subject to the conditions laid down by it. Whilst .the provision to which the honorable member for Kennedy objects would not exclude from the operation of ths measure those engaged in hotels, restaurants, boarding establishments and like businesses carried on for profit, it certainly would exclude daughters and wives discharging domestic duties in private houses. When we are dealing with a measure of this kind, it is well that we should provide for those engaged in businesses carried on for profit - in connexion with which the greatest danger of overworking exists - but it is highly undesirable to apply this principle to private households. If the amendment be carried, it will give rise to much uncertainty as to the position occupied by those discharging domestic duties in their own homes; although, having regard to the decisions of the New South Wales Court, I feel sure- that, without this exclusion, the Bill would apply to all persons engaged in domestic service in private houses, and that even members of families so employed in their own homes would be brought before the Court, and their duties, responsibilities, privileges, awards, and hours of labour determined, whether they desired it or not ; because persons employed by their fathers in certain occupations have been made subject to the awards of the Court as the result of action taken by others. This being the position, I think it should be clearly put before the Committee. It is unwise to do more than provide that all engaged in occupations carried on for profit shall be included. It would be almost” impossible to apply a measure of this description to private households, and it certainly would be unwise to do so.

Mr MALONEY:
Melbourne

– I wish to know what right we have to differentiate- between citizen and citizen. Domestics have as much right to be considered as have those engaged in mining, manufacturing, commercial, or other pursuits. It may interest honorable members to learn the ratio which domestic servants in the United Kingdom bear to those engaged in other occupations. Booth’s Digest of the census returns of Great Britain from 1841 to 1881 shows that in the United Kingdom in 1881 there were 4,535,000 persons engaged in manufacturing pursuits, 2,561,000 engaged in agricultural pursuits, and 2,448,000 employed as domestics.’ Domestics are third on the list.

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

– According to the census returns, the proportion in Australia is lower. We have 28,000 domestics in New South Wales.

Mr MALONEY:

– I do not question the census returns referred to by the honorable member, but I think he will admit that there is a greater number of persons in Australia who can employ domestic servants, or, as the Americans more fitly describe them, “helps.” Booth’s Digest shows that in the United Kingdom the number of persons employed as domestics is almost twice as large as is that of persons engaged in commercial pursuits ; over three times as large as the number employed in the building trade, and about four times as large as the number of persons working in mines.

Mr McCay:

– Would not those . figures include persons employed as domestics in hotels ?

Mr MALONEY:

– I take it that any one employed in domestic service, whether in a private or public house, would come within this category, and I believe that there are far more domestic servants employed in Australia in proportion to the population than there are in the United Kingdom. In these circumstances I should like to know by what right it is proposed to differentiate between citizen and citizen. A woman working in an hotel or private house has as much right to the benefits of the law as has the highest lady in the land.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Then” why differentiate between the employe’s of the Postal Department and the Department of Trade and Customs?

Mr MALONEY:

– I make no distinction so far as any human being is concerned.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– The honorable member voted against a proposal thai there should be no distinction in the Public Service.

Mr Watson:

– Not necessarily.

Mr MALONEY:

– I think that the honorable member for Franklin is in error. If I voted as he suggests I did so in error, but I feel confident that he is making a mistake. The State should regard the people as the head of a family would regard the members .of his household. If I had a daughter, a sister, or a wife engaged in domestic service, I should like her to be justly tried by the same law as would apply to the highest lady in the land. I shall vote according to that principle, and I trust that the Committee will determine that no distinction shall be made between different classes of citizens. We have extended the franchise to women - a privilege which no woman is considered fit to possess in Great Britain - and by the right which they enjoy to vote for men to make laws for the Commonwealth, these “ helps “ demand that this just and equitable measure shall apply to them.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Hume

-! think that some misapprehension exists in the minds of certain honorable membersas to the difference between a Federal Arbitration Bill and a State Arbitration Bill. If this amendment related to a State Arbitration Bill I should give it my heartiest support; but its application to a Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Bill makes the position wholly different. There are four very distinct sets of persons who would probably be brought under a Commonwealth measure. These comprise miners, seamen, shearers, and railway servants. In my judgment, when we attempt to make the Bill applicable to other classes, we are, to a large extent, encroaching upon the domain of State legislation. I rose for the purpose of explaining my position in regard to this matter, because I intend to oppose the amendment. I hold in my hand a list of the hours that are worked by domestics in some of the leading hotels of Melbourne.

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

– In New South Wales they are already covered by the State Arbitration Act.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– I know that they come within the scope of the New South Wales Statute, but I do not think that in “Victoria any similar legislation applies to domestic servants as a class. The conditions which at present surround their employment ought not to be permitted to continue, but should be dealt with by State legislation. I know that in this city, domestics are frequently compelled to work for ninety hours a week at a wage of £2 18s. 6d. per month. That represents 14s. 7 Jd. per week, or under 2d. an hour. Such a state of things should not be tolerated in Australia.

Mr Kennedy:

– Upon what authority does the honorable member base his statements ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– I am speaking from personal knowledge of specific cases. When domestic servants are compelled to toil for such long hours in return for the paltry pittance I have mentioned, it is high time that the State Legislature intervened. An honorable member says there is provision in a Victorian Statute to deal with cases of this kind ; if so, I marvel that they are permitted to continue.

Mr Crouch:

– There is no such legislation in Victoria. The Factories Act does not apply to them.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– If that be so, the sooner legislation is enacted by the State Parliament, to deal with the evil, the better. I venture to think that the people of Victoria would not permit this condition of affairs to remain unchecked if they were aware of its existence.

Mr Frazer:

– Thev know all about it.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– There is a vast difference, however, between a Federal and a State Act. I do not think that the Commonwealth Parliament should legislate in regard to matters which properly come within the province of the States Parliaments. If, after a question such as this has been thoroughly ventilated, the States Parliaments make no effort to remedy the trouble, it will then be time to consider whether this Parliament should not intervene, although we must not in any way violate the spirit of the Constitution. Under that charter of government we are empowered to deal only with those cases which extend beyond the limits of any one State. I was privileged to be a member of the Federal Convention, and consequently know the intention of the framers of our Constitution. Sub-section xxxv. of section 5:1 was introduced chiefly with a view to dealing with maritime and pastoral disputes. It behoves us, therefore, to be exceedingly careful not to contravene the law in this connexion. In New South Wales the evil to which I have already alluded was responsible for the passing of two very important Statutes, namely, the Arbitration Act and the Early Closing Act.

Mr Kennedy:

– Does the Arbitration Act in New South Wales apply to domestic servants ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– It does not cover domestic servants who are employed in private houses; but it extends to those who are engaged in hotels.

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

– The New South Wales Act contains the same provision that is now before us.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– Whether that be so or not, the fact remains that we must have regard to things as they are. The Statutes to which I have referred would never have become law had it not been for the assistance of the Labour Party in that State. The point which I wish to emphasize, however, is that legislation of the character proposed was not contemplated when power to legislate was given. The more that publicity is given to the undeniable evils which exist, the more likelihood will there be that the States Parliaments- will take action.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I notice that the Government, whilst presenting a front of adamant towards amendments which may be proposed by honorable members upon, the Opposition side of the Chamber, are not entirely free from the amiable weakness of most Ministries, who are prone to look upon amendments submitted by their own supporters with a more favorable eye. In the present instance, however, that practice is being given effect to in a somewhat novel way. The Government do not propose to accept the amendment.

Mr Watson:

– I said that we would accept it.

Mr McCAY:

– I beg the honorable gentleman’s pardon. I did not understand that.

Mr Watson:

– I said that we accepted the amendment. I do not see any objection to it.

Mr McCAY:

– I am very curious to hear from the honorable gentleman, and from the advocates of that proposal, what benefit they expect to accrue from it. The Prime Minister himself admits that it is extremely unlikely that any dispute which might arise amongst domestic servants can extend beyond the limits of any one State, thereby coming within the purview- of Federal legislation. It seems to me that provisions of this nature, entirely illusory as they appear to be, are not suited to the legislation of this Parliament. They recall more the travesties upon legislative methods which are sometimes presented in the works of those immortal authors, Gilbert and Sullivan. Here we have a proposal which admittedly is most unlikely to be called into operation. If it produces any result whatever, it will consist only in the creation of certain hopes which can never be realized. We must recollect that our powers are limited by the words of the Constitution, to which reference has so frequently been made. Even if the amendment be accepted, domestic servants, so far as service in private houses is concerned, will not come within the purview of “ industrial disputes,” as the term is used in the Constitution. It is almost beyond doubt that the relation between husband and wife, or parent and child, is one of status, and not of contract, and, therefore, does not come within the legislative powers conferred upon us. I think that if Gilbert and Sullivan and their literary confreres are to be trusted, husband and wife had better settle their disputes without invoking the aid of an Arbitration Court. Such a tribunal would be likely to find itself in the position generally occupied by the peacemaker who intervenes in similar circumstances.

Mr Watson:

– It is much worse than being an umpire at a football match.

Mr Frazer:

– It is preferable that husband and wife should settle their differences in an Arbitration Court than in the Divorce Court.

Mr McCAY:

– But we do not propose to arbitrate in respect to the causes which bring persons into the Divorce Court.

Mr Spence:

– Very often the question that is involved in divorce actions is one of bread and butter.

Mr McCAY:

– But it is not every bread-and-butter question that constitutes an “ industrial dispute.” I object to the amendment, but not from any lack of sympathy with the class concerned, because I know that, as a rule, those engaged in domestic service lead quite as hard a life as do the members of any other class in the community. Although there are many advantages connected with that sort of service, there are corresponding disadvantages, and undoubtedly long hours is one of these. I do not believe, however, in- the wisdom of embodying in Acts of Parliament placards which will never become anything more than placards. During the sittings of the Federal Convention, I recollect that two or three phrases were incorporated in the Constitution which were intended to be placards or finger-posts, to enable the public to realize the intention of its framers. But this is a placard which leads nowhere. “ This is the road to nowhere “ is what the acceptance of the amendment will sign , whilst it may induce those who are noi fully seized of the constitutional difficulties of the position to believe that the road leads somewhere. In the interests of all concerned, the Committee will be acting wisely if it rejects the amendment. It has been said that the States Legislatures can deal with these matters. Undoubtedly they can, so far as domestic relations are concerned. Indeed, the States Parliaments can deal with all sorts of questions which we cannot touch. The States can intervene in a way that the Federation cannot. In this instance, however, we are legislating for a specific purpose. The Government, it seems to me, have accepted this amendment not because they believe it will be of any service either to employer or employ^ in this particular branch of industry, but because they think it will give a symmetry and artistic completeness to the Bill which otherwise it would not possess. It seems to me that their acceptance of the amendment is a good example of following art for art’s sake, and for no other purpose. However admirable artistic symmetry in legislation may be, we are not here as artists of that particular kind. We are here for more practical purposes. I have consequently been very much disappointed to learn that the Government have accepted the amendment. It will be a pity if it is carried, and if the Bill in this respect is not allowed to remain as it is. In the New South Wales Act of 1901, which was introduced originally, I believe, by the honorable member for Hume, the words used are almost the same as those in this Bill, the definition of industry finishing with .the words - but does not include employment in domestic service.

As has been pointed out, the Courts in New South Wales have held that that refers to domestic service which is unconnected with profit-making occupations, and that, therefore, the inclusion of the words in the New South Wales Act merely excludes servants employed in private houses. If these words are left out in the Bill before us, and if any weight is to be attached to the New South Wales decisions, and any notice is to be taken of them by our Arbitration Court, or by the High Court - without reference to the Constitution for the moment - it may be contended that by the omission of these words from this Bill the intention was to include those employed in private houses. It appears to me that in this amendment we come directly into conflict with the Constitution. It is intended to cover a class of disputes that even the late Government, when they introduced the Bill, had not in mind. Indeed that is shown by the fact that they included these words. The present Government did not contemplate them either, because, in all the elaborate amendments they have proposed upon the Bill, some of which deal with matters of great importance and substance, they did not propose the omission of these words. I venture to say that it was because they realized that it was proper that the words should be allowed to remain in the Bill. It is only the fear of appearing to be hpstile, and, perhaps, the knowledge that its support might prove of considerable service at other times and elsewhere than here, that induces them to accept the amendment. It is our duty to consider what is really the scope and aim of the Constitution in this respect, and what really are proper objects of our attention in the exercise of our constitutional power. I believe that this amendment is even a more remarkable application of supposed constitutional power than was its application to the public servants of the States. I said once before that the attitude of those who supported the Prime Minister and his party in their inclusion of the States servants was one of pleased surprise at the discovery of a power which they never expected they would have. I believe that this amendment is an even more noticeable example of the same mental attitude. It is perhaps of no use to ask the Government to reconsider their position in this matter, but it is to be greatly regretted that so much irrelevant argument should be used. All that has been said about the hardships of domestic service is irrelevant to the question at issue. It is not our province or our duty to attend to matters of this kind. It does not, I believe, come within our competence to do it ; and, further, as I have already said, I think it is practically impossible for circumstances to arise which will make any such dispute as the amendment is intended to cover extend beyond the limits of any one State. If there is any kind of occupation, the conditions of which are determined by purely local circumstances, it is that of the domestic servant. It would at best be a most obviously artificial arrangement that would bring these dis- putes even apparently within the purview of the Federal authority. For these reasons I feel it my duty to abide by the Bill as introduced by the late Government, and as approved by the present Government after full consideration. It is said that second thoughts are best, and, if so, the action of the Government in this instance must be considered as the exception which proverbially proves the rule. Indeed, members of the Government admit that, but they say that the amendment looks pretty, and that it would make the Bill more symmetrical and complete. They do not for a moment suggest that it is likely to be of any practical use, or of any real value at al] to those to whom it holds out false hopes. It is not from a Federal Arbitration Act that those concerned can derive any hope of alleviation Of the conditions of domestic service, if they require alleviation, but from the powers existing for that specific purpose amongst others. I do not think that this trend of our legislation to assume the attitude of a beneficent providence towards Australia in general, whether what is proposed is within the powers conferred upon us or not, is desirable. I think we should confine ourselves to the real business which it is within our power to perform, and that we should not be engaged on what is, after all, merely an expression of sentiment and of our sympathy with people over whom and whose relations we have practically no legislative control.

Mr WEBSTER:
Gwydir

– In connexion with this matter I make bold to assert that I have as keen a sympathy with the class of workers concerned as has any honorable member of the Committee; but, before I give a vote to include a certain provision in a Federal law, I have to ask myself whether that provision is practicable or otherwise. To assist in placing some measure on the statute-book merely because it may command the approval of those who do not comprehend its meaning and application is not a course which a legislator should take, or which is likely to redound to his credit. When the New South Wales Legislature was engaged upon the Arbitration Bill introduced in that State, these matters were debated at length, as they are being debated here ; but no argument was adduced to convince honorable members of the State Parliament that such a provision as is involved in the amendment could have practical results even under a State law. I feel that arbitration rests first of all upon organization, and organization is dependent upon the persons who are to be organized. If there is no organization in the States amongst the persons who would be affected by the amendment, it will be of no use to agree to it. The provisions of the State arbitration laws are not extended to persons engaged in domestic service, and there is, therefore, no encouragement to them to organize.

An Honorable Member. - They could apply in the same way as any other body of people.

Mr WEBSTER:

– They could not, because they are not organized.

An Honorable Member. - Then the honorable member could organize them.

Mr WEBSTER:

– I have pointed out that they are not included in the State Act of New’ South Wales, and there is, therefore, no encouragement to them to organize. I cannot see how this amendment can. be expected to have any practical application. There may be one, two, or three servants in a house, and I would ask honorable members to consider how many inspectors would be required to investigate whether the law in this respect was being evaded. The proposal would break down by its own weight, and by the cost of administration. The object and intention of an arbitration law is to concentrate the benefits of such a measure for the protection of a body of people, male or female, who may be capable of organization and supervision. They must be organized if they are to enjoy the benefits of such a law. I cannot support this amendment. I opposed it when it was proposed in the New South Wales Parliament, because no member of that Parliament could prove that it would be practicable. I am unable to see that it would be practicable in this measure, and I cannot, therefore, see the wisdom of agreeing to it. Further than that, I do not believe that it is within our powers under the Constitution. How are disputes amongst these workers to be brought within the description of an “ industrial “ dispute? For the reasons that I have submitted, though I might gain a little kudos among certain electors by supporting the amendment, I am prepared to oppose the omission of the words.

Mr SKENE:
Grampians

– The acceptance of this amendment by the Government rather accentuates the position, and we realize that there are two voices speaking in this Bill. Some matters which it contains are put forward as proposals of the present Government, and last night we heard an apology because some were put forward by the last Government. This amendment has been accepted by the present Government with an amount of deliberation which would lead one to think that they have given full consideration to the question. I think it would be a great mistake to accept the amendment. The honorable member for Melbourne asked how we were to differentiate between citizen and citizen. In a case of this. kind, I think we should differentiate in this way : We should consider whether the proposal made is likely to be to the advantage or disadvantage of the citizen. I think that this proposal would be to the distinct disadvantage of the citizen. In my opinion, domestic servants require artificial aid of this kind less than any other class in the community. There is a natural law greater than any law we can pass here affecting employer and employed If two employers are seeking the services of one employed the employe has the advantage. I do not Enow what the conditions in other States may be, but I believe -that in Melbourne, at all events, there is no class which has such an advantage in this respect as have domestic servants.

Mr Thomas:

– Then it seems that the employer needs protection. Why not protect the employer in that case ?

Mr SKENE:

– I do not see how we could protect the employer, because there does not appear to be a sufficient number of domestic servants in Victoria to do the work required.

Mr Spence:

– There are plenty of them, but, because of the way in which they are treated, they will not take this work if they can get anything else to do.

Mr SKENE:

– I do not agree with the honorable member. I think that it is possible that they can get work more congenial to them in other occupations ; but I know that a few months ago a lady friend of mine went to a registry office, and was one of five others waiting for the services of the first servant who came in. That is the condition of affairs here, and no artificial law will improve it. If domestic servants are brought within the scope of the Bill, it may operate to their disadvantage, because, it will have a disturbing effect upon household arrangements. People are beginning to give up their houses, and live in hotels,flats, or boarding-houses, rather than put up with the. disabilities under which they suffer owing to the lack of domestic servants.

Mr Spence:

– No wonder.

Mr SKENE:

– The honorable member seems to know a great deal about the subject. It is all very well to say that domestic servants are badly treated, but I think that too much is being made of that cry. As a rule, they receive good wages, and very fair treatment. Any good domestic servant who lives in one house for any length of time not only earns the regard of her employers during the time she is in service, but’ enjoys their respect for the rest of her life.

Mr Frazer:

– What wages do domestics receive ?

Mr SKENE:

– They can command pretty well what wages they like.

Mr Frazer:

– What wages does the honorable member suppose are generally paid?

Mr SKENE:

– About 15s. per week.

Mr Thomas:

– The rates of pay range between 6s. and 10s.

Mr SKENE:

– Speaking from my own personal experience, I have not known of any less rate than 12s. being paid.

Mr Spence:

– That is almost the highest wage paid to domestic servants.

Mr SKENE:

– So far as my personal knowledge goes, good domestic servants are paid 15s. per week, and are well found.

Mr Willis:

– I can answer for 16s. per week having been paid.

Mr SKENE:

– Yes, and more than that. Good trained servants can command almost any wage. The domestic servants whoreceive 12s. per week are in many cases untrained girls, who have to be taught everything by their mistresses. I have had some little experience in this matter. I am the father of a family, and have had a good deal to do with household arrangements. If this legislation has any effect at all, it will probably be detrimental rather than advantageous to domestic servants. Instead of bringing the indifferent servants up to the level of the better servants, it will probably have quite the reverse effect. In any case, it will greatly disturb domestic arrangements. I agree with the honorable member for Gwydir that it is well to confine a measure of this kind to cases in which there is the possibility of organizing labour under reasonable conditions, and where disputes are likely to extend beyond any one State. This is one of the cases, however, in which the Bill would have, a bad effect. It would be far more easy to organize farm servants, and to make their conditions of hours and labour subject to the determination of the Court, than to .bring domestic servants within the practical operation of this measure. Any one who is acquainted with the conditions which prevail in Victoria must know that the dearth of domestic servants enables girls to command good wages. I presume that the Government must have acted with deliberation, but I would suggest that they had better leave well alone. By pushing matters to extremes, and adopting proposals of doubtful efficiency, they will create a great deal of prejudice against those provisions in the Bill which most of us regard as useful.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– The honorable member for Gwydir seems to have dug up the strange idea that inspectors will be necessary. I have never heard of such a suggestion in connexion with a measure of this kind. The people concerned in any particular industry or occupation are th? best inspectors we can have, and domestic servants may be trusted to see that the decisions of the Court are carried out. They have more courage than such men as we were recently discussing, namely, the labourers employed by dairy farmers and others. We can confer the benefits of the Bill upon domestic servants as readily as we can confer them upon any other class of employers. We could, for example, fix reasonable working hours, and determine other conditions. We have been agitating for a number of years for the adoption of a standard number of working hours in all industries, and there is no reason why we should not include domestic servants within such an- arrangement. I recognise that the point raised by the honorable ‘and learned member for Corinella is an important one. No doubt the late Government had it in> view when they refrained from including the proposal now before us in the list of their amendments. They probably doubted whether, in view of the limitation of our powers under the Constitution by the word “industrial,” domestic servants could be brought within the scope of the Bill. No doubt that is a moot point, but the principle upon which I have acted in dealing with this Bill has been to give the benefit of the doubt to those who need protection, and leave the High Court to decide whether we have exceeded our constitutional powers. It is proposed to make a Justice of the High Court the President of “the Arbitration Court, and we may feel assured that he will not overstep constitu tiona] bounds. I feel strongly that we should not make any distinction between different classes of the community - that we should not punish one class of persons for an act which other persons would be perfectly free to commit without incurring any penalty. We should declare all strikes to be illegal, and, therefore, I am in favour of including all classes of employes within the scope of the Bill.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– The honorable member did not vote in favour of bringing ali public servants within the scope of the. Bill.

Mr SPENCE:

– I voted in favour of including everybody.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– The honorable member voted against my amendment, which was intended to bring all public servants within the scope of the Bill.

Mr SPENCE:

– What surprises me is that honorable ‘ members opposite have not argued that early rising is a very good thing for domestic servants, who have to get up in the morning to make coffee for their masters and mistresses. We have had represented to us the benefits of early rising in connexion with the dairying industry, and I am surprised that we have not alsobeen told that the fact of a girl having to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to make coffee for her master will have the effect of developing her character, and improving her health.

An Honorable Member. - Do domestics have to bring coffee to their masters early in the morning?

Mr SPENCE:

– Yes; many of them have to get up at 6 o’clock, whereas their masters and mistresses lie in their bed till 9 o’clock. I am not speaking without knowledge of the subject. I have had something to do with the organization of domestic servants into unions, and I have addressed large meetings in Melbourne, where the female domestics had a very good organization. The union of which I was the head, employed a very able woman in Sydney, at a salary of £3 per week, to organize domestic servants. She disguised herself, and went through all the registry offices in Sydney, and inquired thoroughly into their systems of working, and also ascertained how domestic servants were treated. She also came to Melbourne and made a similar investigation. Therefore, I can say that I have taken some trouble to ascertain the position of affairs from the employes side. If honorable members desire to know how domestic servants are treated, they should not go to the drawingrooms to obtain information. I know of certain people, distinguished in society, with whom no domestic will live - whose names are notorious in the circle of domestic servants. No doubt servants could explain why some of the friends of the honorable member for Grampians have found it so difficult to obtain domestic help. There are some people who, when in the drawing-room, are as agreeable and charming as possible, but who do not know how to treat their domestics properly. I am speaking from the experience of friends of mine. Some people will not give their servants sufficient to eat. They lock up the food supplies, and they even begrudge the fire in the kitchen to keep the girls warm on cold winter nights.

Mr Skene:

– The honorable member, surely, does not call such people his friends.

Mr SPENCE:

– No; the girls who have had experience of such people are my friends. I was amused to hear the honorable member for Grampians speak of the way in which his friends treated their servants. He gave us the drawing-room side of the question. Some of the employers think they treat their servants well ; but the servants have a different story to tell. Many domestics, when applying for a situation, ask questions as to the character of the food supply. Their experience has taught them that that is necessary, even in the case of the wealthiest people. The difficulty experienced in securing good servants is largely due to the treatment accorded them by their mistresses, who do not regard them as worthy of recognition as human beings. There are no doubt other reasons ; but the domestic servants as a class certainly require all the protection we can give them. They refuse to accept many situations, because they know the nature of the work which they will be called upon to perform, and object to it. No one assumes for a moment that every mistress treats her domestic unfairly ; but there is always what is known as a scramble for a vacancy in a household in which it is known that servants are well treated. The so-called shortage of domestic servants is really due to the fact that many mistresses deal, most unreasonably with their domestics. Some of the girls are almost starved, and many “ places,” as they are called, are so notorious in this respect that no girl would think of going to them. In New South Wales an organization with which I was associated appointed a clever intelligent woman to investigate the system adopted by registry-office proprietors, and much interesting information was obtained. We learned, for example, that many registryoffice owners send girls to situations, although they know that their services would not be retained for a week. They know that they are unsuitable, but send them out for the sake of securing the fees.

Mr Webster:

– Is that union now in existence ?

Mr SPENCE:

– That is not the question ; but I would mention that the Government of New South Wales have established a registry-office which is doing excellent work. Let me deal now with the question of wages. General servants, in exceptional cases, receive 14s. and 15s. per week.

Mr Wilson:

– Cooks and laundresses as much as £1 and 25s. per week.

Mr SPENCE:

– No; as much as 17s. and 18s. per week is paid to cooks and laundresses; but the wages generally received by housemaids are 12s. per week.

Mr Wilson:

– Housemaids in Victoria receive 15s. per week.

Mr SPENCE:

– I am not referring to individual cases. We investigated the whole matter in New South Wales, and obtained authoritative information in regard to it.

Mr Wilson:

– Is the honorable member speaking of New South Wales ?

Mr SPENCE:

– Yes; in some cases higher wages are paid in Victoria. The better class of mistresses in Victoria pay slightly higher wages than are given in New South Wales; but it is not correct for the honorable member to say that housemaids in this State receive 15s. per week. The wages I have mentioned are paid in households in which two or three domestics are employed ; but the general class of servants, who are employed in houses in which only one girl is engaged, receive from 5s. to 1 os. per week in Victoria.

Mr Skene:

– What? As general servants ?

Mr SPENCE:

– Yes.

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

– Surely the honorable member must be mistaken. .

Mr SPENCE:

– No; 8s. and 9s. per week is a very common wage.

Mr Wilson:

– Can the honorable member say where girls are to be obtained at that rate of wage?

Mr SPENCE:

– I know of many who are willing to work for such a wage. The services of a woman of experience, who can be trusted in the best households, may be obtained for 12s. per week. As a rule, that is the wage paid in Sydney, although in exceptional cases persons who have many valuables in their homes, are prepared to pay more. The lady-helps, who wish to be aristocratic, occupy the worst position.

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

– The honorable member is understating the wages paid in New South Wales.

Mr SPENCE:

– That is not so. I have taken the trouble to ascertain the prevailing rate of wages, and I speak from personal knowledge. The lady who was appointed to investigate this matter by the union of which I have spoken, made an exhaustive inquiry, and we found that it was- not impossible to organize domestic servants. I believe that organizations of domestic servants have been formed in Western ‘ Australia, and are doing good work. It may appear to be difficult to band them together, but no greater difficulty would be experienced than was met with in organizing temporary employes on stations. We do not know what interpretation will be placed upon the provision in the Constitution on which this Bill is based, but I am prepared to take all risks, and to vote for the inclusion of every one who can be brought within the Bill, leaving it to the Court to determine the constitutionality of our action.

Mr Wilson:

– How would it be possible to have an Inter-State dispute amongst domestic servants?

Mr SPENCE:

– We could soon work one up.

Mr Wilson:

– That is the point. Is this Bill designed to prevent disputes, or to encourage them ?

Mr SPENCE:

– There is no more difficulty in dealing with domestic servants than there is in dealing with any other section of the community. My experience is that they exhibit for the most part an independence of character which is in the highest degree praiseworthy. They are ready to stand up for their rights just as were the men of the backblocks stations. I have found some of the finest women to be met with engaged in domestic service. For the most part, they are intelligent; they realize exactly what their grievances are, and they are prepared, if necessary to take action to remedy those grievances. The most difficult question associated with this proposal is that of whether domestic servants are engaged in an “ industrial occupation.” I believe that they are, but the legal definition of the term may not agree with mine. I have, however, every faith in the High Court. I believe that the members of the Court will do their best to see that justice is meted out to all, and that they would not strain a point to exclude this sec lion of employes from the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. I am, therefore, in favour of extending the operation of the Bill as far as possible, leaving it to the Court to determine whether any persons have been improperly included. The scarcity of domestic servants is largely due to the fact that many girls prefer to work in factories and shops rather than to suffer the disadvantages attaching to domestic service. We know, of course, that there are many homes in which servants ‘are well treated, but even in these places they do not have the opportunities for outdoor pleasure which those in shops enjoy. I know of women who have a preference for domestic duties, but hesitate to accept employment as servants because of the drudgery associated with such work. The hours are long, and this is often due solely to the thoughtlessness of mistresses. I wish it fo be understood that I am not attacking any class. I recognise that a percentage of employers in all classes will act fairly to their fellows,, but we all know that there is a large percentage of persons who will not do so. Another drawback to domestic service is the fact that architects, when designing even large houses, give no consideration to the accommodation to be provided for servants. As a rule these girls are put in the worst rooms in the house. I have known of houses, erected at a cost of several thousands of pounds, in which the servants’ rooms were immediately above the kitchen range or oven. Often no provision is made for the ventilation of the rooms occupied by domestics ; and in many cases even persons who are excellent masters and mistresses fail to provide anything like reasonable accommodation. We have found it necessary to compel owners of factories to make proper provision for their employes, and it would not be difficult for employers of domestic servants to provide suitable accommodation for them without incurring increased cost. But for the facts disclosed by the investigation to which I have referred, I should never have believed that even, persons enjoying large incomes would limit the supply of food to their employes. But inquiries showed that in numerous cases mistresses caused the food supplies to be put under lock and key, so that the domestic servants could not have access to them. If honorable members refer to those who have had any experience qf these matters in New South Wales, they will find that I have every justification for these statements.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– In the course of these inquiries, was any attempt made to ascertain how the wages paid to girls employed in factories and shops compared with those received by domestic servants, taking their board and lodging into consideration ?

Mr SPENCE:

– I have not made any comparison, but I know that many girls prefer to secure employment in shops because there their working hours are limited. In many cases servant girls are allowed a weekly half -holiday, and that, in the opinion of some mistresses, means from 2.30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Mr Skene:

– Does not the honorable member think that they should be in by 10 p.m. ?

Mr SPENCE:

– No. I have so much faith in them that I would. impose no such restriction. If a girl has to travel any dis:tance in order to pay a visit to her friends, it is barely possible for her to return by 10 p.m. The fact is that servants are not allowed sufficient liberty. It often happens that even their closest friends are not permitted to call on them; and they are treated practically as prisoners.

Mr Wilson:

– That is not so.

Mr SPENCE:

– I could, if necessary, mention an aristocratic household in Sydney in which this state of affairs exists. My remark applies also to Melbourne. I trust that the Committee will carry the amendment, even if it is only on the ground that, as suggested by the honorable member for Hume, we should do something to encourage the States Parliaments to take action. If we provide for the inclusion of domestic servants, we shall show them that we consider it desirable that these persons should be brought . under’ the control of an Arbitration Court, and that no distinction should be made. The passing of this amendment would have an excellent moral effect.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).Those who believe in the principle of compulsory conciliation and arbitration are fully justified in endeavouring, to make the

Bill as far-reaching as possible. If people can be made happy by Act of Parliament, let us all be made happy. If it can be demonstrated that this Bill will improve conditions all round, I shall vote for it most heartily. I have no doubt whatever that there are homes in which domestic servants are not treated as well as they might be. On the other hand, there are establishments in which they are treated well. Human nature will always remain the same. There is just as much tyranny exercised by employes as there is by employers.

Mr Mahon:

– The employ^ does not get a chance to exercise tyranny.

Mr LONSDALE:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES

– It will generally be found that where men serve their employers well they receive good treatment. That is my experience. If, instead of creating two hostile camps by means of this class of legislation, we could provide for some method of conciliation between employer and employ^, it would be very much better. I was very pleased with that portion of the speech of the honorable member for Darling in which he admitted what E have consistently contended in this Chamber. He declared that the Bill was intended to create -.strikes.

Mr Spence:

– I said that it was designed to prevent strikes.

Mr LONSDALE:

– The honorable member admitted that the object of the Bill was to bring about strikes. He said that under its operation the domestic servants in the States could be organised so as to bring about an industrial dispute. I have never known a strike to occur amongst domestic servants. Where, then, is the necessity for including them in the -Bill ?

Mr Spence:

– A “dispute” is not a strike

Mr LONSDALE:

– In New South Wales the bulk of the disputes which have congested the business of the Arbitration Court have been created by the operation of the State Arbitration Act. Under this amendment, all that the honorable member for Darling would require to do, in order to bring about an “ industrial dispute,” would be to induce the domestic servants at Wodonga and Albury to enter into an industrial agreement with their employers.

Mr Spence:

– It is impossible to enter into an industrial agreement without the consent of the employers.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Quite so; but the employers, if they know their way about, will not object to an Arbitration Act. I am beginning to fight this class of legislation in the interests of the great masses of the community, who stand between the employers and the employes, and who will be crushed between the upper and nether millstones.

Mr Batchelor:

– But there are not many individuals outside the ranks of emplovers and employes.

Mr LONSDALE:

– The bulk of the community cannot possibly be brought within the scope of this Bill. I am of opinion that the amendment proposed goes altogether too far. If by its adoption any one would be benefited, I should not object to it. But I hold that it is impossible to assist anybody unless we increase the productiveness of the Commonwealth. Instead of helping the bulk of the people, my own impression is that legislation of this character will injure them.

Mr Hughes:

– Does the honorable member oppose unionism?

Mr LONSDALE:

– No ; I believe in cooperation. At the time of the great maritime strike I preached that doctrine.

Mr Fowler:

– How can there possibly be co-operation without a common understanding?

Mr LONSDALE:

– But it must be a mutual understanding which cannot be secured by law. The Government should not have accepted the. amendment, which does not come within the scope of the powers conferred upon us by the Constitution. They would have acted a more dignified part had they said “ No ; this proposal exceeds the powers which are vested in the Commonwealth Parliament, and, therefore, we shall resist it.” I shall vote against the amendment.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– If there is one section of the community which deserves our sympathy, and which may be regarded as being specially entitled to any benefits which legislative enactments ‘ can confer by way of improving the conditions under which its members live, it is that section which is engaged in domestic service. Under such circumstances, it seems to me remarkable that those who profess to advocate the claims of the workers should object to extending to them the provisions of this Bill. Domestic servants have to perform most arduous work, frequently under the worst possible conditions, and for the lowest rates of remuneration. They are denied privileges which are enjoyed by those engaged in other avenues of employment.

In view of this aspect of the question, the hostile attitude of some of those who come into this House as the direct representatives and professed champions of wageearners seems to me most peculiar. I confess my own inability to see how those who are engaged in domestic service can come under the heading of industrial workers - under the generally accepted definition of the term “ industrial.” At the same time I cannot understand the opposition which is being offered to their inclusion in this Bill by direct labour representatives. The elimination of that portion of the clause which relates to persons engaged in domestic service does not necessarily mean that they will be so included. It simply leaves the matter in a state of -doubt. Indeed, ambiguity is one of the chief characteristics of this measure. It contains no specific definition of its scope or terms, and it appears to me that there is a desire on the part of many honorable members to brand those who wish to make the interpretation clause clearer as enemies of the Bill. The honorable member for North Sydney touched upon a very important point this afternoon. I refer to the case in which the New South Wales Arbitration Court decided that the members of a family were bound by the decisions of that tribunal equally with other persons engaged in certain callings. I do not think that the Committee desire to make this Bill applicable to families, although I have noted one or two declarations on the part of honorable members opposite in favour of extending its provisions even that far. Personally, I believe in preserving the privacy of the “home, and I can conceive of nothing which would more closely approximate to an invasion of that privacy than the adoption of such a proposal as this. To guard against that, I intend to move a further amendment. I desire to insert after the word “ reward “ the following words - “ other than members of the employer’s family.”

The CHAIRMAN:

– I would point out to the honorable member that it is not competent for him to move an amendment on a portion of the clause which precedes that with which the Committee are now dealing. We cannot go back, and the amendment which the honorable member desires to move would intervene between that which we are now discussing and a previous portion of the clause.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Then I shall submit the amendment at a later stage.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member would be quite in order in moving it then.

Mr A McLEAN:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA · PROT

– I cannot claim to have had the varied experience which the honorable member for Darling acquired whilst masquerading in the somewhat novel position of leader of a servant girls’ union. It would bs interesting to know what were the qualifications of membership in that union. ‘ However, that may be, I can say that the cases of domestic oppression which he depicted so graphically have never come under my observation, and I am surprised to hear that they have any existence in the Commonwealth. In my opinion the honorable member gave his whole case away when he informed the Committee that if we extend the provisions of this Bill to domestic servants, he would soon work up a dispute amongst them. I do not propose to support the Bill from any such motive. When I voted for its second reading I did so in perfect good faith, believing that it was intended for the settlement of industrial disputes, such as would naturally arise in the ordinary course of industrial enterprise. I never dreamed that any section of its supporters intended that it should be used as an engine for the creation of disputes. I am anxious that the Bill shall be extended to all industries to which past experience shows that its application is necessary for the settlement of disputes. These, as we know, will unfortunately arise without the aid of an agitator. From time to time many such cases occur in our midst. If we pass a Bill to create disputes, which otherwise would not arise, we prostitute the powers that have been vested in us by the Constitution. I am not prepared to say that cases similar to those referred to by the honorable member for Darling do not exist. But I do not believe he is helping his case by including this provision in the Bill, when most of us are agreed that it can never become operative. No honorable member supposes for a moment that such a dispute will arise in domestic circles as will extend beyond the limits of the State, and thus come under this Bill. In my opinion, the effect of including domestic servants in the Bill when we know that the provision will never be operative, will be to prevent those people securing the enactment of a provision in a State Act, where it really might be of some benefit to them.

If we agree to the amendment, and a State Minister is asked to introduce a measure for such a purpose in a State Parliament, he will naturally say that the matter is already provided for under the Commonwealth law, and that it would, therefore, be superfluous to provide for it by a State law. If we omit such a provision from this Bill, trie matter is much more likely to be dealt with by the State authorities. Our interference in such a case can only work mischief instead of being of any advantage to those whom the honorable member for Kennedy desires to benefit. I have taken up the same attitude all through in regard to this Bill. I am willing to support its application to all cases in connexion with which our past experience has shown that some such measure is necessary for the settlement of industrial strife. But I am not prepared to burden the statute-book with provisions that will never come into operation, and which will only delude those whom ‘ they are intended to benefit.

Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs

– I intend to vote against the amendment. It is a great mistake for us to attempt to insert a provision in this Bill which obviously cannot accomplish the purpose for which it has been proposed. I have shown by the votes’ I have given in support of this measure, in the last Parliament and in this Parliament, that I am thoroughly in sympathy with its principles, but I consider it a mistake to hold out delusive hopes to certain people that we are giving them a means of redressing their grievances, when we know that in reality we do not give any such thing. I was unable to speak upon the amendment proposing the exclusion of persons engaged in rural industries, and I had, owing to illness, to leave before the division on the amendment took place; but I secured that my vote should be registered against their inclusion. I favoured their exclusion, on very much the same grounds as those upon which I oppose the present amendment. In the case of these two classes of workers, there is a domestic relation between employer and employ^ which, in my opinion, cannot be modified in any way by the decisions of an Arbitration Court. It is very difficult to believe that domestic servants are engaged in what may properly be called an “industry,” and we know that they are subject to various conditions of employment in various grades of society. After all, in most cases, the relation between employer and employe in this class of work is purely a personal one. As regards the conditions of this employment they are also essentially. personal, and I do not believe that any arbitration award could be given which would alter the human feeling that should exist between those concerned in this personal relationship. It is, perhaps, unfortunate that some of the women candidates were not elected to this Parliament, that they might speak upon this question. We could have gained from them first-hand information in dealing with the subject that we cannot expect from the male candidates who were returned. In domestic service, the personal element predominates. It is of no use generalizing from individual cases, to conclude that because one mistress treats her servant’s improperly, all do the same thing, or, on the other hand, that because one or two mistresses treat their servants exceptionally well, they are well treated in every instance. Honorable members need not suppose that, by agreeing to the amendment, we shall be holding out some ideal which all mistresses will act up to. I believe that it is quite possible for the States Parliaments, in their domestic legislation, to accomplish good work in this direction. For instance, in a State Building Act, it would be useful to provide that quarters allotted for the accommodation of domestic servants shall be healthy, and fit for their occupation. I may point out that, in Queensland, it is the duty of inspectors, in visiting children who have been sent out to domestic service from the orphanages, to see how they fare, and that proper accommodation is provided for them. It is in such directions as these that the States Parliaments might do much good by legislation. There is one aspect of the question which) to my mind, concludes the matter as affecting this amendment. I fail to see how a dispute arising between domestic servants and their employers can be considered an “ industrial “ dispute in any sense of the term. In dealing with this question, we are limited by the Constitution to “ industrial “ disputes, and I fail to see how such a dispute can possibly arise between persons whose relations are purely domestic: We are not here dealing with an occupation in which two persons are engaged for the purpose qf manufacturing something for sale, or are combining to perform some service for the public. The occupation of domestic servants in private families can in no sense be termed an industrial occupation. The relation between employer and employe in this case is a purely domestic re- lation, as the very words of the clause suggest. Further, even though a dispute in such circumstances were considered an industrial dispute, before it can come under the operation of this Bill it must have extended beyond the boundaries of one State. It is possible that by artificial means such a dispute might be made to extend beyond the boundiaries of one State, but it would obviously be an artificial dispute, and one manufactured for the purpose of bringing it under the Bill. It was never the intention that the Bill should deal with such matters. We must consider that the intention was to deal with questions that are essentially national. As a National Parliament we are asked to solve national problems. The function of the Federal Parliament in this connexion is to legislate for disputes in which large bodies of men are concerned ; such, for instance, as the seamen’s strike, extending throughout the Commonwealth, and blocking trade and commerce ; a dispute connected with our railways, which would also block trade and commerce, and disputes arising between employers and large bodies of men, such as shearers, whose occupation takes them from State to State throughout Australia. It is quite possible that in time we shall have large organizations of those engaged in manufacturing industries. It may become essential for them to combine in all the States. It is very probable that we shall have in Australia trusts and combines, whose operation will extend throughout the States, and the men engaged in the industries controlled by these trusts and combines may, in self protection, be compelled to form organizations to resist oppressive conditions. I am satisfied that honorable members generally believe that such disputes as those to which I have referred should be dealt with by Arbitration and Conciliation Courts; but the essence of those disputes is that they are national concerns. We are essentially a Parliament constituted to deal with national matters, and yet, by the amendment, we are invited to include a provision to deal with the persons engaged in an occupation in connexion with which there has not been a suggestion that there is a State dispute, let alone a national dispute. We have in the Bill before us a comprehensive measure capable of doing great work in promoting the peace and welfare of the community, and, in my opinion, it would be most unwise to try to extend its provisions unduly. I therefore hope that the honorable mem ber for Kennedy will see his way to withdraw the amendment, and will allow us to proceed with the Bill in its integrity- We have been here for three or four months for the purpose of dealing with legislation. After the little incidents which have transpired we have now an opportunity to deal with practical legislation, and I therefore suggest that we should confine our amendments to practicable proposals, which will make the Bill a workable measure, and thus try to get some business accomplished to the credit of the Federal Parliament.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– As I do not propose to follow the Government in connexion with this amendment, I think it is necessary that I should give some explanation of the course I intend to pursue. I am very sorry that the Prime Minister should have announced that the Government have no objection to this amendment. I have, perhaps, given employment to as many domestic servants as has any other member of the Committee, and I fail to see how we are to extend to domestic servants the benefits which the amendment is intended to confer upon them. Servant girls are often required to stay in during the evening to look after the children of a household, and, as I understand the amendment, what is proposed is that in such cases they may be given the right to leave, or to go to bed and let the mother look after the children. I have no wish to oppose the Government, but I intend to vote against the amendment. I shall not speak at length upon it, but I consider it unnecessary and impracticable.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– When we are called upon to consider the advisability of supporting an amendment of this nature, it is right that we should look to our power to enact such a provision. If we accept the amendment, is it at all likely that it will be found effective? We find that, under the Constitution, our powers are limited to the prevention and settlement of disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, I do not see how trouble amongst the domestics in one house can be held to be likely to extend from Sydney to Melbourne, for instance. I think it would require a walking delegate of the benevolent inclinations possessed by the honorable member for Darling, to foment such a domestic difficulty into a Federal dispute, extending beyond the boundaries of one State. The suggestion is obviously absurd.

Mr McLean:

– Such a dispute might arise in a house built on the border line, with rooms in each of two States.

Mr KELLY:

– If a house were built on the border-line between two States, with the servants’ quarters in one State and the rest of the house in the other, a Federal dispute might arise.

An Honorable Member. - Or on a punt on the Murray.

Mr KELLY:

– One might occur on a punt on the Murray. Curiously enough, the New South Wales Arbitration Act specifically excludes domestic servants, so that a dispute of this kind arising in New South Wales would have to come before a Federal Court before it could be heard by a local Court. What does the amendment mean ? It means that any domestic servant having a dispute with her mistress would communicate the fact to her union secretary, who might be the honorable member for Darling. The union secretary would write to a similar organization in Victoria, and that organization would foster a dispute of an exactly similar nature in some house in Melbourne. Then both disputes could be ventilated at the same time, and the Federal Arbitration Court could be brought into action.

Mr McCay:

– And a common rule applied.

Mr KELLY:

– The Federal Arbitration Court would .be brought into action, and might decide whether or not “ Bridget,” the cook, should be compelled, in the words of the chestnut, “ to serve up the salad undressed.” I do not think that such trivial matters are proper matters for the jurisdiction of the Federal authorities. That is the first aspect of the question. It is obvious that, in order to have her case heard by the Federal authorities, the domestic servant must, in some way that is not bona fide, convert her dispute into a Federal dispute, extending beyond the boundaries of one State. The. honorable and learned member for Corinella interjected that the Court might apply a common rule. But how is any Arbitration Court to apply a common rule to an occupation, the conditions of which are entirely different in every separate household. Iri some houses there may be twelve domestic servants, whilst in the great majority there is only one. We should have a Judge of the Arbitration Court deciding that a cook should cook, and should do nothing else, and then finding out that in smaller estab lishments she who cooks is expected to do much else besides. I do not see how a common rule could be applied to suein cases.

Mr DAVID THOMSON:
CAPRICORNIA, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– The whole sugguestion is ridiculous.

Mr KELLY:

– I am very glad to hear my honorable friend say so. In the State of Victoria, there are something less than 45,000 domestic servants, whereas there are 230,000 houses. Therefore, there is only one domestic for every five houses. If the duties of hired domestics are onerous, those which fall to domestics who are not hired, but perform the work of the household because they are wives or daughters, must be equally onerous j and, in common fairness we should apply the arbitration principle to the relations between a man and wife and a man and his daughters. If not, why not? If we carried this proposal to its logical conclusion, all sorts of momentous questions would probably have to be dealt with by the Arbitration Court. I think I have said quite enough to show that this measure could not in any way benefit domestics. It is not so designed. Why are our friends opposite, then, with one or two notable exceptions, thoroughly in accord in supporting this, amendment? Because, like the honorable member for Darling, they hope to be able to organize domestic servants in the same way that they proposed to deal with farm, labourers - not for the benefit of the workers, but for the advantage of the gentlemen whowould control the unions, and gain their support in moments of trial, such as exist at the time of Parliamentary elections. I think that the proposal to include all and every one under the provisions of a Bill of this nature - which can only become workable when its operation is restricted to a few welldefined trades - is not conceived in the. interests of the principle of arbitration, but solely for the benefit of those who live by political agitation. I shall leave this question to which I havereferred for discussion at a later stage, when? we are dealing with the amendment of which I have given notice, relating to the political rules of organizations registered under the Bill. In the meantime, I shall oppose thisamendment.

Mr STORRER:
Bass

– I do not, for one moment, contend that all masters andmistresses are good to their servants, or that all servants are as attentive to their duties as they might be. There are good and bad on both sides. I was sorry tt> hear the honorable and learned member for

Wannon state that those who advocated legislation of this kind were indulging in a lot of clap-trap. I do not think that anything is to be gained by the use of language of that kind. The honorable member for Echuca said that the amendment was a sham, and that was an inexcusable expression. Many years ago I .advocated the establishment of friendly societies for females. The proposal was looked upon by some persons as impracticable, and described as farcical. I urged, however, that if men, who professed to be the lords of creation and altogether superior beings, required to unite for their own protection, it was only right that they should assist their sisters to unite for their own welfare. In the same way, we should, if we possibly can, extend to female workers the fulL benefits of this measure. I do not anticipate that the amendment will have any practical effect, but, as I have before stated, I . am entirely opposed to anything in the« nature of class legislation. We are urged to exclude domestic servants from the operation of the Bill upon very much the same grounds that were advanced by the opponents of the women’s franchise. We were told that women did not want the franchise, and would not vote, and yet at the very first election, after women had been granted the right to vote, we found them exercising their privilege almost as fully as did the men. I shall strongly support the amendment, because we are legislating not for tomorrow only, but for many years to come. If the domestics form themselves into unions, and engage in disputes extending beyond any one State, they should have a perfect right to appeal to the Arbitration Court. I was very sorry to hear some honorable members speak of the indifferent accommodation provided for domestic servants. Reverting to the question of farm labourers, I think that many honorable members were misled by the extreme statements made regarding the prevailing rates of wages. Yesterday I met a man who. had been working for 3s. a week and his rations, and he said that he was very sorry to lose his job. I do not say that all farm labourers work for 3s. per week, but I mention this case as indicating the extremes to which some people will go, and to show that all farm labourers do not receive ^2 per week, as some honorable members would have had us believe.

Mr WILLIS:
Robertson

– The honorable member for Darling told a very sorry tale regarding the hardships to which 4 f domestic servants are subjected. He told the House that many of them werepoorly paid, and that many others were only fairly well paid. I believe every word the honorable member said with regard ‘ to the low wages which some domestic servants receive, and also with reference to the bad treatment meted out to them. At the same time, I do not think that this legislation will improve their conditions. Good domestic servants can always find good homes, in which they are well fed and well paid. Such servants have no desire to be organized, or to have the conditions of their employment brought under inspection ; nor do they desire to be singled out and labelled “ domestics.” A very large number of wives and mothers in the community have seen service as domestics, and I know of no more honorable calling. Until domestic servants show that they require some special protection, -we may very well allow them to go their own way. They have shown no inclination to submit to interference, and I hope that we shall not provide any facilities for organizing them for political purposes at election times. That appears to me to be the principal object of the amendment. I do not ‘ think that domestics as a class have any sympathy whatever with those democrats who call themselves labour representatives, or with any of their political nostrums. The Bill would not have the effect which seems to be aimed at, namely, that of increasing the rate of wages.

Mr McDonald:

– There are other considerations besides wages.

Mr WILLIS:

– No doubt that is the principal object of the measure. One of its effects would probably be- to cause many employers to give up their servants altogether, and this would lead to diminished employment for domestics. We have had some experience in Victoria and New South Wales of the difficulty which domestic servants experience in finding employment during periods of commercial depression, and we may judge of the results which would ensue if a large proportion of householders found it impossible to comply with hard-and-fast conditions regarding their employment. If it could be proved that legislation of this kind would remedy the evils referred to by some honorable members, I should support it; but no arguments have been advanced to showthat such a measure is required, and it will therefore be my duty to oppose the amendment. I regret that the Governmenthave decided to depart from the resolve first made by them to take the Bill as it stood. They would have played a more creditable part had thev refused to accept this amendment. I believe that the Government are honestly anxious .to do their best in the interests of the Commonwealth. It is because I hold this view, and hoped that they desired to suppress the demagogues - who persuade one section of the people that the classes are opposed to the masses - that I have learned with surprise of their intention to support this amendment.

Question - That the words “ excepting only persons engaged in domestic service,’’ proposed to be omitted, stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 0

NOES: 0

AYES

NOES

The CHAIRMAN:

– Before . the tellers conclude their labours, I direct that the name of the honorable member for Wannon be included in the list of those voting

for the “ noes.” I take this action in accordance with standing order 295.

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Mr Robinson:

– I crave the leave of the Committee to make a personal explanation. When the question was put I called “ The -noes have it,” because I was under the impression that the question was, as usual that certain words be- added. I was not aware that the question was “ that the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the clause,” and consequently I erroneously called with the “ Noes,” instead of with the “Ayes.” I might mention that I was paired with the honorable member for Grey, and that, in no circumstances, would I be guilty of breaking a pair. I think that I am entitled to make this explanation, especially as I was drawn into the division as the result «f an error. I presume that there is no excuse, and that I must submit to the result of my mistake.

The CHAIRMAN:

– There is no alternative. The standing order is imperative on the point.

Sir John Forrest:

– I should like to know, Mr. Chairman, whether ‘ there is no way of rectifying the error?

Mr McDonald:

– The honorable member can give, notice of motion when the House resumes.

Sir John Forrest:

– Is there no means of rectif ying a mistake of this character ?

Mr McDonald:

– I rise to a point of order.

Sir John Forrest:

– Oh, it is always the gag-

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order !

Mr McDonald:

– I ask your ruling, Mr. Chairman, whether the right honorable member for Swan is in order in discussing, at this stage, something that took place in connexion with a recent division.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I understand that the right honorable member is putting a question to the Chair. Any honorable member has a right to seek information in this way.

Sir John Forrest:

– I only wish to know, Mr. Chairman, whether you can afford us any information on the point?

The CHAIRMAN:

– So far as I am aware, there is absolutely no remedy.

Mr Ewing:

– Will you look into the question, Mr. Chairman? I think there must be a way out of the difficulty.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I move-

That after the word “ service,” line 4, the words “ and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits,” be inserted.

These words were inserted in the paragraph relating to the definition of “ industrial matters,” and I think it is desirable that this consequential amendment should be made, so that the industries in question will be excluded from the definition of “ industry “ as well as of “ industrial matters.” I do not know that it is absolutely necessary ; but I think that, for greater safety, it is advisable that the exception should be made . in both cases. The honorable member for Gippsland has given notice of an amendment that is practically the same; but my object in bringing this proposal forward is merely to carry out the decision which the Committee arrived at on Tuesday -last.

Mr McLEAN:
Gippsland

– I think this is purely a consequential amendment, and that it may well take the place of that of which I have given notice.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– The honorable and learned member for Angas has given notice of an amendment that the words “ closing of a place of employment or the suspension of work,” in the definition of “lock-out” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “cessation of work caused.” The words have the advantage of great brevity, because a man cannot close a place without ceasing work, and he cannot suspend work without ceasing work. It would not be fair to ask the Prime Minister to accept this amendment without consideration, but he may make a note of the suggestion. I was not aware that the honorable and learned member for Angas would not be here to submit the amendment, which appears to me to simplify and in no way to diminish the force of the phrase.

Mr Watson:

– Does the honorable and learned member for Ballarat think that the amendment provides for a partial cessation of work?

Mr DEAKIN:

-It appears to me to provide for any cessation of work.

Mr Watson:

– But who ceases work? It is not the employer.

Mr DEAKIN:

– But the employer causes the work to cease. This is not a definition, but merely says that “lock-out” includes the cessation of work caused by an employer.

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– I have not attempted to fully consider the interpretation of the suggested words, but at first sight they do not seem to provide for a partial cessation of work, which the Government have in view in their amendment. It might be argued that a cessation of work meant the closing of the whole of the premises, or locking out the whole of the employes. I want it to be made as clear as possible that something less than a total cessation of work mav be held to be a lock-out.

Mr McCay:

– Use the words “ any cessation of work.”

Mr Deakin:

– Or the words “total or partial.”

Mr WATSON:

– I want itmade clear, at any rate, that the- meaning is total or partial cessation of work.

Mr Deakin:

– I am only asking the Prime Minister to consider the point.

Mr WATSON:

– I rather like the suggested phraseology as being simpler . than that in the Bill;’ but, as I have said, it must be made clear that a partial lock-out gives the Court jurisdiction. An employer might keep one branch of a large establishment going while he locked out the workmen in all the other branches. A case of the kind occurred in Western Australia, where the Court found that, under a technical reading of the law, it was unable to interfere, because a complete lock-out had not been insisted on by the employer. We want to prevent any cases of that kind arising.

Mr Groom:

– The present definition leaves the matter in doubt.

Mr WATSON:

– I think it does. So long as the point is made clear I do not care what phraseology is used.

Mr McCay:

– The suggested amendment has the advantage of harmonizing the phraseology with that used in the definition of “ strike.”

Mr WATSON:

– I think there is much to be said for the suggested phraseology, and I shall consult the Attorney-General on the point.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– The president of the Employers’ Federation in Geelong has made a suggestion to me on the point to which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has referred, and, although this Geelong gentleman is a political opponent of myself, I think his opinions ought to receive our consideration. The’ suggestion made by the president of the Employers’ Federation is similar to that of the honorable and learned member for Angas, but while the phraseology may be shorter, “I do not think that the meaning is altered. I have considered the matter myself, and I think that the use of the words “cessation or suspension of work “ would carry out the object which the Prime Minister has in view.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– I gave notice of an amendment in this particular clause, and I think that this is now the time to submit it. In my opinion, the words “and members of an employer’s family” ought to be inserted. I desire to make it clear that there can be no application of this definition to any member of an employer’s family. The honorable member for North Sydney, a little while ago, referred to a recent decision of the New South Wales Arbitration Court, which bound the members of an employer’s family to the terms of award. My object is to exclude the members of the family from the provisions of the Bill.

Mr Watson:

– The word “ family “ sometimes has a very extensive range, as was found in New Zealand in the case of the Early Closing Act. Sisters, cousins, and aunts came from all over the country to work for employers.

Mr JOHNSON:

– Even admitting that contingency, surely the members of a man’s family may choose to help in any enterprise in which he engages, whether for profit or otherwise. That is a sort of mutual arrangement of a character very different from that made with any outside person to work for hire, reward, or advantage. What a man may do in the circle of his home by arrangement with the members of his family is no; a matter which should come within the purview of a Court.

Mr Hughes:

– No proposal of the kind is needed, because the High Court of New South Wales has already ruled that a clause of the kind applies only to persons in the relationship of employer and emploved. According to the High Court of New South Wales an employer under the circumstances is exempted, and it may be taken that a relation of an employer is also exempted.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I am referring to the case mentioned by the honorable member for North Sydney, in which it was held by the Court that the provisions did apply to the domestic circle. That I imagine is, or should “be. beyond the intention of the Com mittee. I want to preserve the sanctity of a man’s home from tha intrusion of inspec tors or other officials, and from any interference by a Court in family life.

Mr WATSON:

– With regard to the suggestion of the honorable and learned mem ber for Ballarat, as to the phraseology in which this definition of “lock-out” should be cast, I think I shall accept it, though it is one which we might more fully consider at a later stage. I am rather inclined to favour the phraseology suggested, but would like to have an opportunity of consulting my colleague, the Attorney-General, who is temporarily absent. In the meantime, I ask the Committee to amend the clause in a way which I shall propose, and the Bill may, if necessary, be recommitted later on.

Mr McCay:

– The Prime Minister had better consider the definition of “ strike ‘ with that of “lock-out,” in order to make them harmonize.

Mr WATSON:

– I shall make a note of the suggestion. I move -

That after the word “ place,” line 5, the words “or part of a place” be inserted.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to-

That before the word “suspension,” line 6, the words “ total or partial “ be inserted.

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I mentioned previously that some recommendation had been sent to me, by the President of the Employers’ Federation in Geelong, and I desire to submit an amendment which ought to receive serious consideration. I intend to move -

That after the word “work,” line 11, the words “ or the refusal to accept work on terms and conditions previously ruling “ be inserted.

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

– Before that amendment is dealt with, I should like to ask a question in regard to the definition of “ State industrial authority.” That phrase is held to mean any -

Board or Court of Conciliation or Arbitration, or tribunal, body or person having authority under any ‘State Act to exercise any power of conciliation or arbitration with reference to industrial disputes within the limits of the State.

I should like to know from the Prime Minister whether that definition will include the Wages Boards of Victoria?

Mr WATSON:

– At first sight I am inclined to think that the Wages Boards will, not be included. It is true that a Wages Board is a tribunal having authority ; but the question is whether that authority extends to conciliation and arbitration. The jurisdiction of a Wages Board is certainly in the nature of arbitration.

Mr McCay:

– A Wages Board can act in the absence of any dispute, whereas a Conciliation Board or Arbitration Court does not.

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

– The difficulty might be met by using the words “ having sole authority.” The difference is, that while an Arbitration Court has sole authority within its jurisdiction all over a State, the authority of a Wages Board is limited to a particular trade.

Mr Deakin:

– And to that particular trade in certain parts of the State?

Mr HUGHES:

– That, of course, is an additional limitation. And, therefore, I make my suggestion in order that it shall be perfect! v clear an Arbitration Court is referred to, and not a Wages Board, which differs fundamentally in some particulars. The intention of the Committee ought to be more clearly expressed.

Mr WATSON:

– I think that, on the whole, it would be well to allow the clause to pass, on the understanding that it shall be recommitted if necessary. I shall take time to look into the matter.

Mr Deakin:

– Does the Prime Minister agree .that the Wages Boards ought to be included ?

Mr WATSON:

– That is the very point. The Act so far contemplates the delegation of powers to similar bodies under the States or Federal authorities. A Wages Board is not a similar body. There is a very marked distinction between the two.

Mr Groom:

– Can an “ industrial dispute “ be brought before a Wages Board ?

Mr WATSON:

– I am disposed to think that it can. When once a Wages Board has been established it proceeds at stated periods to determine the. wages which shall be paid in the particular trade over which it exercises authority. It is a regulative body, and therefore it differs from a Court which is created for the express purpose of dealing with industrial disputes as they arise. However, it would not be wise on my part to express a definite opinion upon the matter at the present time. If I am asked to do so, I shall be quite prepared at a later stage to recommit the clause, to allow of the re-opening of this particular question.

Mr McCay:

– And of any other discrepancies ?

Mr WATSON:

– Yes. In any case, I am willing to consider the suggestion which has been put forward by the honorable member for North Sydney.

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

– I am perfectly willing to agree to the adoption of the course which the Prime Minister suggests. I do not know that it may not be desirable to make use of such bodies as Wages Boards. I would further point out that a State industrial authority might request the Arbitration Court to deal with an industrial dispute. It might therefore be wise to invest those Boards with power to refer disputes. .

Mr Hughes:

– In effect, industrial disputes never come before a Wages Board.

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

– I do not know that such disputes cannot come before Wages Boards.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– This debate has disclosed ‘that, however carefully the interpretation clause may have been drawn, it requires further consideration. I think, therefore, that the Prime Minister ought to be liberal enough to agree to recommit any portion of this provision, concerning which a reasonable case can be made out, in addition to the particular matters to which reference has been made.

Mr Watson:

– We do not wish to have another general debate.

Mr McCAY:

– I do not think that the Committee will assist any honorable member in raising important questions which have already been decided.

Mr Watson:

– I have no objection to rectifying errors of draftsmanship.

Mr McCAY:

– I understand that the Prime Minister will recommit the definitions to which honorable members have referred.

Mr Watson:

– Yes.

Mr McCAY:

– Then I am perfectly satisfied.

Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat).- The relations which are to exist between State industrial authorities and the Federal Arbitration Court are of a dual character. The Federal Court may refer certain matters to them, or they may refer particular disputes to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. In both cases Wages Boards might prove very useful. If, for example, an appeal were made to the Federal Arbitration Court, relating to a dispute in New South Wales, it might happen that a Wages Board in Victoria had just dealt with that very question, so far as this. State was concerned.

Mr Watson:

– Do the boards regulate hours ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– Within some limits I think.

Mr Tudor:

– - There is no limit whatever.

Mr DEAKIN:

– In any case, it is very desirable to confer upon the central Court the power of disembarrassing itself of local matters. In the same way these State industrial authorities might remit disputes to the Federal Arbitration Court.

Mr Hughes:

– Does the honorable and learned member think that the High Court would hold that the Arbitration Court will have authority to refer disputes to Wages Boards ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– I think that many disputes ought certainly to be referred. The work performed by Wages Boards, strictly speaking, is more in the nature of arriving at a determination than of arbitration, and, I think, therefore, that they should be named.

Mr WATSON:

– Under the circumstances, I am quite prepared to recommit this particular portion of the clause, and any other part, regarding which there is a difference of opinion as to draftsmanship. In order to meet the suggestions of honorable members, regarding the definition of a strike, I move -

That before the word “cessation,” line n, the words “total or partial” be inserted.

That will make that portion of the clause harmonize with the alteration which has been effected in the definition of “ lockout.”

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I desire to submit an amendment which should have the sympathy of the Prime Minister, because I believe that he desires to act fairly alike to employers and employes. I therefore thought of moving -

That after the word “work,” the words “or the refusal to accept work on the terms and conditions previously ruling “ be inserted.

In support of my proposal, I would point out that an employer may employ twelve men. As the result of one of these. discontinuing work, the business of the whole establishment may be disorganized, and astrike ensue through the refusal of outside labour to take his place. Again, through causes other than a strike, a shop might be disorganized. Some employes might absent themselves from work, or die. It could not be said that there had been a cessation of work. Nevertheless, if new hands refused to accept employ ment, the conditions of a strike would practically be created. Take, as an example, the case of the Outtrim coal miners, who went upon strike. Let us suppose that just about that time their employers discovered that the coal seam upon which they had been working was exhausted, and that it was necessary to open a new one elsewhere. If the men refused to accept employment on the new seam, the conditions of a strike would be brought about. My proposal does not prejudice the rights of honest employes.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not see how it is possible to accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member, because -it seeks to prejudice the right of persons who have never been employed.

Mr Crouch:

– The words “ acting in combination “ govern the whole of the amendment.

Mr WATSON:

– That is provided for under the ordinary law. If the amendment be adopted, this position will be raised : a number of individuals may approach an employer and inquire the terms which he is prepared to offer them. He may say that he is willing to pay 5s. per day. If the men refuse to accept those terms, the honorable member wishes their action to constitute a strike. That is a ridiculous proposal to submit. There is no necessity to import new conditions in that regard into the Bill.

Mr Groom:

– In some States Acts there is a penalty for inducing a person to break the law.

Mr WATSON:

– In that connexion, that may be a very proper provision ; but the introduction of a provision of this sort into a measure which is designed to regulate the relations between employers and employes is out of the question. I cannot, therefore, assent to the amendment.

Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney- Minister of External Affairs). - There does not seem to be any power known to the law by which persons can be compelled to accept terms under the conditions suggested in the amendment. Supposing that A’s employes say to him, “ You must pay 6s., or 5s. a day, or is. an hour,” and he replies, “ No, I shall either leave the State or give up business.” Could we prevent him doing so? To be logical, the honorable and learned member must alter the definition of lock-out, in order to provide for the employer being compelled to pay that rate under any circumstances, and to have no option of refusal. I do not think that that is contemplated’ at all. I have heard the Judge in the Arbitration Court say to an employer dozens of times, as of course is very obvious, “ These are the terms on which you must carry on your industry,” but there is nothing to prevent trie employer from saying, “ I cannot, and I shall shut up my business.” If he does shut it up, with a view to compelling the men to accept certain terms, he commits an offence against the Act. But if he simply says, “ The Court has made its award, but it pays me better to put my money in the bank, or to invest it on mortgage,” then under these circumstances he cannot be compelled to carry on his business. This is not a Bill designed for the purpose of catching hold of a man, and saying to an employer, “ Here is an employe. If you do not employ him you will commit an offence against the Act, and we shall make you employ him ;” or, of saying to an employe, “ If you do not work on that job on the terms which the Court says you have to accept, you will commit an offence against the Act, and we shall make you work for the employer.” My honorable and learned friend knows that there is no pover to attain that end. An injunction is the most that could be got, and I should like to see the kind of injunction which would be of effect here under such conditions. Therefore, I submit that the amendment is absurd on the very face of it. Take the objection offered by the Prime Minister as to its interference with persons who are not in the relationship of employer and employe. Supposing that A, an employer, has a dispute with B, an employ^, and that C comes along and says, “Well, is there any chance of a job here for me ?” Is C within the scope of the Act? I do not know whether he is or not. The question is, does this deal with only the relationship of employer and employe, already constituted as such, or does it interfere with employer and employ^ who are only contemplating such relationship. I know that yesterday, in New South Wales, the Judge certainly expressed an opinion that you could not so interfere. Take the question of giving preference to unionists. A question arose as to whether a person who sought employment came within the Act at all. My honorable and learned friend on ‘the other side held that until he was employed he did not come within the Act. That, in my opinion, is not good law ; but, nevertheless, it was seriously contended

Mr Deakin:

– What was held by the Court?

Mr HUGHES:

– That delicate point was not dealt with.

Mr McCay:

– What is the Minister’s view ?

Mr HUGHES:

– My; views are fully expressed in cold type here.

Mr McCay:

– I wish to know the Minister’s view as to whether this Bill Can apply in that case.

Mr HUGHES:

– the question whether the Bill contemplates interfering with persons who are seeking employment rather than with persons who are already employed is a matter for argument. This is a measure to deal with disputes between employer and employe, and the question arises : Is a person, when he is merely seeking employment, an employ^ ?

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

– What does this Bill intend?

Mr HUGHES:

– I am just putting’ this idea forward, and in this quagmire I refer the honorable member to the AttorneyGeneral, whose opinion on this point will, I have no doubt, be valued by the Committee. I put it to the honorable and learned member for Corinella whether this is not a point which requires some discussion, although it may be clear enough in my own mind. Under certain circumstances, the matter seems perfectly clear, but under others it is not. But when the honorable and learned member for Corio says that a person seeking employment for the first time will be met with this statement - “ You cannot be employed at all, unless you work for a certain sum; and if you refuse to do so. you will commit an offence against the Act,” my reply is that I do not think that we have any jurisdiction in such a case. If there is not a contract of employment, how is that man an employe ? And if he is not an employe how does the Act apply?

Mr McCay:

– Would the Minister apply that view to the rule of giving preference to unionists, for example?

Mr HUGHES:

– I am now dealing with the amendment. It may be a bad point, or it may be a good one, but there it is.. I question very much whether the Court would have jurisdiction, but if it had, I contend that it would manifestly be beyond the power of any Act to compel such persons to work, and if it could do so it could also compel an employer to employ a man at a rate which, obviously, according to his intimate acquaintance with his affairs, he could not afford to pay. Supposing that a firm of ship-owners is told - “ You must employ a person at ^10 a month,” and they say - “ We cannot,” what is the alternative? Is there anything in the Bill by which we can compel the firm to sail their ships at the scheduled time, and pay the scheduled rates?

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

– The alternative is to go out of business.

Mr HUGHES:

– Precisely.

Mr McCay:

– And the man’s alternative is to go out of his business.

Mr HUGHES:

– That is the point. If a man is employed in an industry, and the Court says to the employer - “ You must pay six shillings a day in that industry,” it does, not say - “ You must keep on that industry, whether you like it or not,” but it says - “ If you keep on the industry, youmust pay six shillings a day.” Or, suppose that there are five employers in any one industry in a State; the Court says to them - “ If you carry on business, each one of you five men, and as many more as may come within the common rule, must pay five shillings a day to your men.” It does notsay to every one of the five men - “You must keep on your business.” Any one of them may shut down, and provided that he does not shut down for the purpose of compelling his employes to accept any other terms of employment, he does not commit an offence against the Act.

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

– The alternative is that the employer has to go out of business.

Mr HUGHES:

– Yes.

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

– Does the honorable gentleman propose that men shall not be allowed to engage in that business ?

Mr HUGHES:

– Undoubtedly, the men are subjected to precisely the same penalty ; that is to say, they go out of that business. Surely the honorable member does not propose to compel ‘the men to work, but not to compel the employer to employ them?

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

– No; I onlywished to get an interpretation, and the Minister has given that.

Mr HUGHES:

– In my opinion, this is simply a Bill to endeavour to settle industrial disputes. No sort of means, short of physical force, has yet been devised by which a man can be compelled either to employ men or to work for others.

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

– That is the most destructive criticism of the Bill.

Mr HUGHES:

– I have not the slightest doubt that if the Court said to a man - “ If you do not do so-and-so, we shall put you in gaol until you do,” even that would not in all cases compel him to comply. For we know that there are litigants so determined that they will not obey an order of the Court even though they may be sent to gaol - although that course is generally effective.

Mr McCay:

– Passive resistance.

Mr HUGHES:

– Yes, like the Nonconformists at home. I do not think that the amendment is capable of being given effect to. I question very much whether a man who is seeking employment for the first time would be held to be making a contract of employment, and, if not, I do not think that they would come within the scope of the Bill, and, therefore, in any case, the clause would not apply.-

Mr. McCAY (Corinella). - I agree with the interjection of the honorable member for North Sydney, that if the views of the Minister of External Affairs are correct, there is a great deal in this Bill which will suffer very considerably from that criticism. Take the case of wharf labourers, who, as I understand, are not in any one’s permanent employment. The view of the honorable and learned member for Corio is that if this measure is applied to a case of that kind, it is all on one side. Suppose that one job is finished, and that when the next job comes along, the employer says to the men - “ I want you for this job,” and they say - “ Oh, ;we are not going to take on this work at the rate which has been ruling up to the present time.” That is, to all intents and purposes, equivalent to a strike.

Mr Hughes:

– That is an entirely different thing.

Mr McCAY:

– That is exactly one of the cases which would arise, and very probably it was the case which was in the mind of those who made this suggestion.

Mr Watson:

– In New South Wales they have been brought under the Act without the phraseology of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corio.

Mr Hughes:

– Will the honorable and learned gentleman allow me to interpose a few remarks?

Mr McCAY:

– Certainly.

Mr.. HUGHES (West Sydney- Minister of External Affairs). - What I understand the honorable and learned member to ask is, whether the wharf labourer casually employed, and not necessarily by the same man, should finish the job he is working on, and whether, having finished that job, he should refuse to work for another man.

Mr McCay:

– Oh, no ; on a fresh job.

Mr HUGHES:

– There is no power in the Bill to compel any person to commence a fresh job. The reason which he or any member of the union gives for declining to work must not be that the conditions or terms are unsuitable. If he is a member of a union he must work under those terms or conditions, or give it up. If the award were for 1 jd. an hour, or under those conditions, and other stated conditions, and one of those wharf labourers said to the stevedore, “T , shall not work for 15c!. an hour,” and if the employer is thereby put to any loss, damage, or inconvenience, he can proceed against the union to which the wharf labourer belongs. In any case, the man is liable to a penalty. There is no sort of doubt about that in my mind. As a matter of fact, in one particular case where men did so refuse to work an application was made to their union, and the union authorities had immediately to send other men down to do the work. The responsibility lies upon the union in such cases, preference being given to unionists, to carry out’ the work on the terms laid down.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- That is after an awardMr. Hughes. - Precisely.

Mr McCAY:

– We are dealing at present with the definition of “ strikes,” and this Bill is intended to prevent strikes.

Mr Hughes:

– The honorable and learned member was speaking of the conditions existing before an award ?

Mr McCAY:

– Yes. The Bill says that a man must not stop work, having taken it up under certain conditions stated. It is suggested by the Minister of External Affairs that the conditions which bring people ‘within the scope, of the measure do not arise until the relation of employer and employe has arisen.

Mr Hughes:

– I did not suggest that. The matter was suggested yesterday in Court, and I say it is a question, on which there mav be a difference of opinion.

Mr McCAY:

– I may have misunderstood the honorable and learned gentleman. But I thought he inclined to the view that there must be the relation of employer and employe’ existing before the law would apply.

Mr Hughes:

– I did not intend to convey <that.

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable and learned gentleman said that sometimes it would and sometimes it would not.

Mr Hughes:

– I say that, in some circumstances, there appears to be no doubt that the relationship does arise.

Mr McCAY:

– The difficulty is that we ought to know whether this Bill is intended to apply in any case prior to the relationship of employer and employe arising.

Mr Hughes:

– Would such a provision be ultra vires, no matter what we put in the Bill?

Mr Watson:

– There is no intention on the part of the Government to bring within the scope of the Bill, and the ordinary forms of arbitration, persons who are not employes or employers.

Mr McCAY:

– Then the intention is that the Bill will only apply after the relationship between employer and employe has arisen. I think we shall find some difficulty in sustaining some of the clauses of the Bill, such as the possibility* of giving preference to any particular class.

Mr Hughes:

– The question is, when is a contract of employment completed?

Mr McCAY:

– I mention that in passing. The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corio, as I understand it, is intended to meet a case in which the advantage would otherwise be all on the side of the employ6, because the employer would be requiring the services of the men all along. In the case suggested of the stevedore and the wharf labourers, the men would be employed at a particular job, and when that was finished, they would be required 10 take up another of the same kind. They might say that they would not start on the next job, and it would be a question whether it was a continuous employment, as it practically would be.

Mr Watson:

– It practically is. and I understood that it had been held to be so by the Court in New South Wales.

Mr Hughes:

– No; the very reverse has been held.

Mr McCAY:

– I am still referring to what may take place prior to an award. I am still dealing with the question of a “ strike,” and not with a question of noncompliance with an award. The honorable and learned member for Corio desires to meet that case.

Mr Watson:

– In that case the employer will be no worse off under the Bill than he is to day without the Bill.

Mr McCAY:

-I .remember that we discussed this question last session to some extent, when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat introduced the Bill. I think that it is partially true to say that the employ^ would get fuller advantage from the Bill under those circumstances than the employer would get. I see that there is a difficulty ; but, nevertheless, I cannot support the amendment. In the endeavour to cope with one difficulty, the amendment would create a set of relations which would be impossible under any Arbitration Bill that could be conceived, except by the most ardent supporter of such a Bill in its most unfettered form; anS under such a Bill everybody would be fettered* Desiring, as I do, that the Bill shall be fair to both sides, I cannot support an amendment which, in the endeavour to meet one difficulty, would tend to create’ many more. However, I commend the matter raised by the amendment to the consideration of the Government. I desire to say that the Minister of External Affairs misunderstood me a few minutes ago. I had mot followed what the honorable and learned gentleman was saying, and I therefore, desired that he should repeat it. The honorable and learned gentleman evidently thought I was trying to heckle him. On some occasions I shall, no doubt, heckle the honorable and learned gentleman, but on that particular occasion I was not doing so.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– I point out to the honorable and learned member for Corio that the difficulty which he seeks to meet by his amendment is already met by clauses 6 and 7.

Mr Crouch:

– They only refer to agreements.

Mr SPENCE:

– They cover the whole position. The Bill is framed on the recognition of the two parties concerned, and on the recognition of organizations, and organizations are held responsible for action taken by their bodies as combinations. If the honorable and learned member will look at the clauses to which I have referred, he will see that there can be no combination of men to refuse work.

Mr McCay:

– That is only where an agreement has been made.

Mr SPENCE:

– It applies after an award has been made. I have not the least doubt that the honorable and learned member for Corio would be no party to the introduction of such a law as existed in the time of Edward III., when a land-owner had the right to tap on the shoulder a man who owned no land, and compel him to work for him. That system would make men abso lute slaves. Men should not be compelled to work for others whether they desire to do so or not. The Employers’ Union has complained that the Bill contains too many restrictions, and yet they are here endeavouring to introduce a further restriction. It is clear that no man should be compelled to work for another upon any terms he chooses ; but there can be no objection to the way in which unions are. bound under the Bill. The unions are held responsible under the Bill if there is any attempt made by combination to prevent work going on before it is started, or to interfere with work which has been begun.

Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs

– I am “ afraid that the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corio is utterly impracticable. The honorable member proposes to read into the meaning of the word “ strike,” that it shall include the refusal by the members of an organization to accept work on the terms and conditions previously ruling. Let us take a specific instance for the purpose of illustration : There are woollen mills established at Geelong. No award has been given in connexion with the work of persons engaged in woollen mills. Three persons in those mills are members of an association ; they give notice of the termination of their contract ; the contract is terminated, and they ‘walk out. According to the amendment it would appear that if they are asked to work on the terms and conditions previously ruling, and they refuse, they are guilty of a strike?

Mr Crouch:

– No.

Mr GROOM:

– Here are three persons, members of an organization, refusing to accept work on terms and conditions previously ruling, when they have been offered such work by their former employers.

Mr Crouch:

– The honorable and learned member is making this mistake : He has not read the amendment with the other words of the clause governing the whole thing, “ acting in combination, as a means of enforcing compliance with demands made by them or other employes.” The amendment must be read with its context.

Mr GROOM:

– The amendment means that no man ought to be allowed to notify the termination of his agreement, in accordance with his contract of employment. The Prime Minister will probably be aware that Mr. B. R. Wise dealt with this very question. He said that it- was never intended by any Arbitration and Conciliation

Act to compel men to work, any more than it was intended to compel any other person to employ them. The object was that, if disputes arose between employers and em ployes, during the continuance of that relation, instead of having strikes there should be a proper settlement of those disputes. But our rules of common law still remain, and any man may give notice in accordance with the terms of his contract, to cease employment ; whilst in just the same way an employer has the right, by giving notice of dismissal within the terms of his contract, to get rid of any man working for him. I understand that the honorable and learneJ member for Corio does not press the amendment strenuously, but has felt that he was bound to submit it.

Mr Crouch:

-It grows upon me that it is a verv just amendment.

Mr GROOM:

– It would make too great an alteration in the common law governing the relations between employe’r and employé to meet with my approval. Perhaps the doctrine of compulsory working might be usefully applied in certain portions of Australia to certain persons in the community, who exhibit no inclination to work ; but the amendment appears to me to be beyond the scope of an Arbitration and Conciliation Act, which should deal with men only in respect of their relations as employers and employes. If an employe proposes to terminate his contract of employment by proper notice, he should be allowed to do so.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– I am inclined to agree with the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, that this amendment goes rather too far, but I think that the discussion which has taken place has proved useful in indicating the comparative advantages which either side may obtain from the measure. It is necessary that we should understand what we are doing, because the Bill will be a source of great danger if one side obtains too much advantage over the other. I would ask the Prime Minister whether he has taken into consideration the case of an employer who has, say, ten hands employed at 10s. per day. If a workman came along and offered to work for 8s. a day, could the employer dismiss one of his old hands and take on the workman at the lower rate?

Mr Watson:

– If there was no award of the Court he could do so.

Mr KELLY:

– But he could not dismiss one man and take on the other?

Mr Watson:

– He could, do so before a dispute came within the jurisdiction of the Court. The existing state of affairs is not to be interfered with between the time that a dispute comes within the cognisance of the Court and the announcement of the award.

Mr KELLY:

– I understand that if the wage were. fixed by the Court, the employer could not dismiss one man and take on another at a lower rate of wage; but, that, on the other hand, an employe would be free, upon the completion of his term of service, to accept more lucrative work.

Mr Deakin:

– That would be employment at another class of work.

Mr KELLY:

– Yes; it would have to be, if the common rule were rigidly applied.

Mr Watson:

– The employe would have to give the notice prescribed under the award ; it might be a fortnight or three weeks, according to the custom of the trade.

Mr KELLY:

– What I desire to point out is that the employé is in a position different from that occupied by the employer.

Mr Watson:

– I do not think so, in principle. Each has the right to refuse to continue the existing arrangement beyond the period of notice fixed bv the award.

Mr Spence:

– The employer could give up his factory.

Mr KELLY:

– I think that that is a most frivolous point to take. If an employer gave up his factory he would also probably have to give up the accumulated savings of a life time.

Mr McDonald:

– But, suppose that he could see a better investment ?

Mr KELLY:

– An employer can very rarely see a better investment for the capital which he has embarked in his business.

Mr Watson:

– I know of one manufacturer in Sydney who closed down his boot factory and went into the jam making business: He attributed the closing of- his factory to the Arbitration Act, whilst other boot factories were springing up in all directions.

Mr KELLY:

– I think it is the duty of all honorable members, irrespective of party, to assist in making the measure thoroughly workable, and it is solely with- this object that I am seeking to ascertain how the Bill would apply to cases such as I have mentioned.

Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I first mentioned the amendment as a suggestion which I thought worthy of consideration, and the discussion which has taken place has shown that unless some such provision is made a very strong weapon will be placed in the hands of the employes. What would be the position of a shipowner whose vessel arrived at a pier -at Geelong or Melbourne or Sydney, and who desired to have his vessel unloaded, if the wharf labourers, without first entering into the relationship of employes, declined to discharge his ship ? There seems to be no provision in the Bill to meet such a case, and the suggested amendment is intended to make good the deficiency. Unless the relations df employer and employes are established between the parties, the refusal of the workers to accept employment would not come within the definition of the word “ strike “ in the clause as now drafted. What is sauce for the employe is also sauce for the employer. Suppose that an employer Had a woollen factory and the spinners went out, whilst the weavers remained at work. If the employer found that the weavers, who were satisfied with their wages and met all his requirements, were passing some of their pay on to the strikers, would he have the right to not only to insist upon the weavers being dismissed, but to refuse to employ fresh weavers? Would not his refusal to employ these necessary new hands be regarded’ as a lock-out ? And why should not similar action by the employes be equally condemned ? This is a matter which should be considered, because the Bill should not embrace any lop-sided provisions distinguishing between employer and employe. On the other hand, the employes will be able to please themselves as to whether or not they accept work, and the employer may be entirely at their mercy. We should recognise that the Bill does not meet all the conditions that may arise, and that it is to that extent faulty. Neither the Prime Minister nor the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs have read the amendment as if it were a part of the clause. The amendment is only intended to come into operation upon the refusal to work- by men acting in combination, as a means to enforce compliance with demands made upon the employers. If men acting in combination deliberately refuse work, in order to assist strikers, they should be treated upon exactly the same footing as those who have actually struck, because they are endeavouring to secure by their abstention better terms of employment for the strikers. The pro- posal to limit the application of the amendment to members of organizations is a proper one. If this restriction were not made, it would become the duty of some persons, perhaps an officer of the Court, or of the employer who was bringing his employes before the Court, to go all over the place as.king people, “Are you a possible, or probable, employe?” By limiting the application of the amendment to the members of organizations, I have met the objection raised by some honorable members. This will meet the case of those who endeavour to enforce their demands by inducing members of similar organizations to refuse to accept work. If the suggested amendment were adopted, the paragraph would read as follows : - “ Strike “ includes the cessation of work by employes, or the refusal by members of organizations to accept work on terms and conditions previously ruling, acting in combination as a means of enforcing compliance with demands made by them or other employes on employers.

I think that if we are to accord equal treatment to employers and employes this amendment should be inserted.

Mr WATSON:

– I contend that there is really no necessity for the suggested amendment; because under the Bill employers would be in no worse position at the period to which the honorable member’s amendment would refer, than they are at the present time.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– In addition to that, any employer knows that men who are forced to work are not worth having.

Mr WATSON:

– Exactly. It would probably be far worse for the employer if he had to pay men 8s. a day for standing about, and pretending to work. Apart from that, .however, in such a case as that alluded to by the honorable member - that of a ship-owner desiring to obtain labour and unable to secure it - the employer would to-day be in the same position that he would occupy under the Bill. He now has to run the same risk of the men declining to engage that he would incur under the Bill. If, during employment, there were a strike, the employer could appeal to the Court and obtain an award, and immediately that award was given, the union would be bound, after having obtained preference for its members, to find the employer a sufficient number of men to carry on the work. Any refusal to go to work upon a temporary job would become a breach of the award. That is the position under the New South Wales Act, the pro- visions of which are equivalent to those in the Bill, so far as this matter is concerned. Once an award is given, the conditions indicated by the honorable and learned member for Corio are provided for. The union would be responsible under a penalty for any breaches of the award.

Mr Crouch:

– But the union is responsible only for its own members.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so; and all that the honorable member proposes to do is to deal with the members of the union. After an award had been given, the union would be bound to supply labour to the full extent of its membership, if necessary, and under the Bill the employer would be in no worse position than at present. Until a dispute had arisen the Court would not interfere. It would be an unheard-of thing to seek to compel men to enter into employment - not to continue in employment - where they have no desire to do so. I am sure that the honorable member has not quite appreciated the position that the Bill seeks to create in trying to settle disputes between employer and employe.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– I sympathize with the intention of the honorable and learned member for Corio, that, if possible, both barrels should be loaded, and each side treated alike.

Mr Kelly:

– So that both may be shot ?

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– In some instances that would be the effect of this proposal. Speaking as one who has employed a good deal of labour, I must say that I recognise that it is utterly futile for a man to attempt, not merely to force a person into his employment, but to keep him in that employment when he is not satisfied. My experience relates more particularly to the newspaper printing trade. If a practical man in that business finds that an apprentice is not satisfied with his position, he is very foolish if> notwithstanding that indentures have been entered into, he attempts to retain him against his will. I always felt that, if any of my employes were not satisfied with the conditions of their service, the quicker we parted company the better it would be for both of us.

Mr Johnson:

– Employment under such conditions would not give the best results.

Mr MCWILLIAMS:

– Certainly not. I most strenuously- object to any attempt to force men into a position that they do not desire to occupy. I am afraid that, in another part of the Bill, we are going too far in the other direction ; but that is a matter with which we shall be able to deal when it comes before us. As one who has had to make his way through life, who has had to seek employment, and to sell his labour in what he considered to be the best market, I protest against any attempt to force men to accept employment when they know that they can secure better terms and conditions, in another market/ If there is one object above all others, which Parliament should, if possible, seek to achieve, it is that of creating conditions in which a man would be as free as the air to better his position,, and to secure the best results from his labour. However estimable may be the object which the honorable and learned member has in view, I must vote against any attempt to force men into employment which they do not desire to accept.

Mr ISAACS:
Indi

– I think that the best way to test the suggested amendment’ is to apply it to a concrete case. Let us take the example cited by the honorable andlearned member for Corio - the case of wharf labourers who refuse to accept work. If they, “ acting in combination,” to use the words employed in this paragraph, “ as a means of enforcing compliance” with some demands made by them, took up a certain stand, what would be their position? We will assume that they have met together, and have declared that they require an additional sixpence or one shilling a day’ in future, but that the employers wish to’ engage them according to the previously, ruling rates. The men say - “We have combined, We think that we have not been receiving a sufficient wage, and we demand more.” Immediately they refuse, in combination, to take what they consider to be insufficient, and to enter into this service, they will, if this suggested amendment be adopted, become liable to be punished.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– It would make slaves of them.

Mr ISAACS:

– Quite so. It is a proposal which goes beyond the principles of the Bill, or any that we could imagine. I can see no justice in it, especially as there is no correlative provision with regard to a lock-out. Where is there a provision in the Bill which would, as has been suggested, act as a second barrel, by declaring that if employers refused to give men work when they were requested to do so, they should be adjudged guilty of bringing about a lockout? It is impossible to even imagine the working of a provision such as that proposed by the honorable and learned member in relation to a number of men who were not in any employment - so that there could be no suggestion of their throwing down their tools and causing disorganization - but who merely said, “We require some condition that we have not vet obtained.” The point at issue might not relate to wages. It might relate to the question of hours of labour, or Other conditions ; but if they agreed on reasonable grounds not to accept any future employment fr’om certain persons, thev would be held to be strikers. I think that my honorable and learned friend will forgive me for expressing the opinion that his proposal is altogether foreign to the principle of the Bill, and should find no place in it.

Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 5-

When any person is convicted of an offence against any provision of this Act for which a pecuniary penalty is provided, the Court before which he is convicted may direct that the defendant shall not continue or repeat the offence under pain of imprisonment, and thereafter the defendant shall not continue or repeat the offence.

Penalty : Three months’ imprisonment.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne-

Attorney-General). - I move -

That the words “ thereafter the defendant shall not continue or repeat the .offence. Penalty : Three months’ imprisonment,” be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ if thereafter the defendant continues or repeats the offence, he shall be liable, in addition to the pecuniary penalty for the offence, to imprisonment for any period not exceeding three months.”

This is purely a drafting amendment, and is designed to prevent any ambiguity. No new principle is involved.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - This clause, which renders a person liable to imprisonment for repetition of an offence, seems to me to be ‘ rather severe. I do not know whether the AttorneyGeneral has considered the desirableness of providing that the fine shall be doubled, in the case of a second offence, rather than declaring that imprisonment may follow the repetition of an offence. It may be necessary to provide for imprisonment in certain cases, but I do not care for such a provision in a measure of this kind. I should not be pleased to see two or three thousand men imprisoned. Such a thing would be practically impossible. No one would think of pushing this clause to that extreme. I do not propose to move any amendment, but the Minister might well consider whether it would not be better, instead of providing for imprisonment for the first repetition of an offence, to de clare that in such a -case the fine shall be increased. If imprisonment is to be resorted to at all, it should not be ordered until that stage has been passed. One of my objections to this clause is that the imprisonment of a great number of workmen, apart altogether from the imprisonment of employers, would be so obnoxious to public sentiment that it would not be resorted to. If the provision is not to be carried out, there are others means of dealing with the repetition of an offence that would probably be far more’ effective.

Mr HIGGINS:
Protectionist

– I agree with the honorable member that it is important that, except in extreme cases, persons should not be made criminals. We should not provide for imprisonment unless there is strong reason for doing so. If the honorable member looks at the clause, he will see that the punishment of imprisonment is to be inflicted only when the Court makes a special order warning a man that if the offence be continued he will be liable to imprisonment. It is only in the event of a very special order being made by the Court - and we must ‘trust the Court in these matters - that the punishment of imprisonment is to be inflicted. It will be necessary for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration to say in effect, “ If this offence be repeated you will be liable to imprisonment.” A man will be warned before this penalty is . resorted to, and I do not think that the Court will lightly use it. I quite agree with the main principle, that a simple repetition of an offence ought not to involve imprisonment. It is only in a case in which the Court finds that it is utterly impossible to deal with the matter, by inflicting a fine, that it will say to the offender, “ We shall provide in our order that if you offend again you shall be liable to imprisonment.”

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

– For intentional resistance.

Mr HIGGINS:

– After the offender has been specially warned.

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

– There is a possibility of a man being imprisoned before that stage is reached.

Mr HIGGINS:

– We must largely trust the Court. There are really two Courts ‘to be considered, so far as this matter is concerned. The Arbitration Court must, first of all, specially warn an offender that he will be liable to be imprisoned if he repeat an offence ; and, secondly, the Court of Petty Sessions must see fit, in the circumstances, to order imprisonment. I think, therefore, that the honorable member will see that the course proposed is not extreme. I shall, however, act on his suggestion, and look into the matter. I shall ascertain < whether there is any similar provision in the New Zealand or New South Wales Acts.

Clause, as amended!, agreed to.

Clause 6 agreed to.

Clause 7 -

Where persons . . . have entered into an agreement with respect to employment in that industry, any of such purposes . . . shall be deemed to be guilty of a lock-out or strike, as the case may be.

Mr HIGGINS:
Northern MelbourneAttorneyGeneral · Protectionist

– I move -

That after the word “an,” line i, the word “ industrial “ be inserted.

The object of this amendment will be apparent to honorable members. It- is desired that this clause shall not apply to every agreement that may be made between an employer and an employe, but to an industrial agreement, which will mean a formal agreement made between organizations or between an employer and an organization. It is obvious that it is not for the Court to interfere, and to punish a man for a mere breach .of a private agreement between employer and employe.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause further verbally amended and agreed to.

Clause 8-

Any organization of employers or employees which, for the purpose of enforcing compliance with the demands of any employers or employees, orders its members to refuse to offer or accept employment, shall be deemed to be guilty of a lock-out or strike, as the case may be.

Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs

– Will the Attorney-General explain how this clause will work out in practice? If a meeting were held and resolutions passed, do only the persons present at that meeting so bring themselves within the clause as to be deemed guilty of an offence, or will the whole organization be held responsible?

Mr Higgins:

– The whole organization; the levy will be against the organization.

Mr Spence:

– Against the organization funds.

Mr GROOM:

– Supposing the matter be left in the hands of a strike executive of five men, will there be any method of punishing these men, other than by getting at the funds of the organization? Will there be any penalty such as imprisonment ?

Mr Spence:

– The union itself is punished.

Mr HIGGINS:
Protectionist

– The matter will all depend on whether the five men are or are not authorized by the union. If the five men are authorized, the organization is liable ; but if they are not authorized, then we have to find such remedy as we can against them.

Mr LONSDALE:
New England

– It appears to me that if the executive of an organization order a strike, the organization ought to be bound ; otherwise the position would be most extraordinary. I take it, however, from what the Attorney-General has said, that there must be some special ‘ authority given before the organization is bound. But in my opinion the very fact that the executive hold their positions binds the organization. An executive cannot act as individuals in ordering a strike. If the secretary or president of an employers’ organization ordered a lock-out, I take it that the organization would be bound, even in the absence of any special resolution.

Mr Higgins:

– There is no distinction drawn between an employers’ organization and an employes’ organization.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I am making no distinction. I take it that if the president and secretary of an industrial union ordered a strike, the very fact of their being officers would bind the organization, and that the same argument holds good in the case of an employers’ union. It appears, as I said before, that, in the opinion of the AttorneyGeneral, there has to be some resolution of the organization to bind it.

Mr Higgins:

– No.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I only desire that the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs should understand the position, and at present I do not think that the answer he received was quite the answer he expected. Then, again, an individual employer might say, “ I cannot carry on my business under the conditions laid down, and, therefore, I shall close mv establishment.” Surely it cannot be called a lockout if an individual, apart from any organization, and from any preconcerted action, decides to close his works.

Mr Higgins:

– What is the object?

Mr LONSDALE:

– If I were in business in any industry, and the conditions laid down by the Court were such that in my opinion I could not carry on at a profit, surely no law in. the world could compel me to go on at a loss?

Mr Higgins:

– Such a person, is perfectly free to give up his business.

Mr LONSDALE:

– And close it completely ?

Mr Higgins:

– Yes.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Then I want it made clear that no penalty attaches under such circumstances. And in the case of the men. if the conditions laid down are against them, why punish them for saying that thev cannot accept the position?

Mr Spence:

– The definition of “ lockout,” which we have already passed, meets the case.

The CHAIRMAN:

– That matter is not dealt with in the clause before us.

Mr LONSDALE:

– But it certainly has to do with the question before us. The clause provides -

Any organization of employers or employees which, for the purpose of enforcing compliance with the demands df any employers or employees, orders its members to refuse to offer or accept employment, shall be deemed to be guilty of a lock-out or strike, as the case may be.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member is discussing the question of an individual employer who takes independent action. ‘

Mr LONSDALE:

– I want it made clear that if the president and secretary, or other officers, advise a lock-out, the organization which accepts the advice shall be held to be guilty.

Mr Groom:

– According to the AttorneyGeneral the officers must receive authority from the organization, and I am satisfied with the answer.

Mr LONSDALE:

– What is the authority? If officers of an employers’ association order .a lock-out, and the order is accepted by the employers, surely that is a breach of the law for which the organization is responsible; otherwise there can be no breach of this provision.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I think the honorable member for New England has asked a very fair question. He desires to know whether, if an order be given by, say, the president of an association, the organization is bound and liable. I think I can best answer by putting a similar case. If a director of a company goes to a bank and borrows money for the company, which he has no power to borrow under the articles, the company is not liable. It has to be shown against the company that the director had the authority to borrow; and the same holds good in the case we are discussing. If an official of an association does a thing, or purports to do a thing which he has no authority to do, the organization is not liable. It has to be proved in every case that the organization does the act, and if the act be done by the organization’s authorized agent, of course the organization is liable.

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– Perhaps the best answer to the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs is to be found in schedule B, which requires that the affairs of an association must be regulated by rules providing for the following matters : -

  1. The appointment and continuance of a committee of management, a chairman or president, and A secretary ;
  2. The powers, duties, and removal of the committee, and of the chairman or president and the secretary.
  3. The control of the committee by general or special meetings.
Mr Groom:

– But if an association delegated the power to order locks-out, would that not be contrary to the Bill?

Mr DEAKIN:

– The rules will determine the powers of the committee of management, and if they are authorized to act for the organization as a whole, then, following the AttorneyGeneral, I think the organization is bound. If authority is not given to act for the organization as a whole - though probably it would be given by general or special meeting in such critical matters - then another course would have to be followed. We should have to look at the rules in each case to discover whether the body purporting to issue the order is, by the organization’s rules, authorized to issue it.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– Honorable members who have any acquaintance with trades union matters in the past, know that the most restrictive rules are applied in order to safeguard any action calculated to produce a strike. In the large organizations of the old world, a vote of the whole of the members is taken, so that in a body like that of the Amalgamated Engineers, there cannot be a strike in one town without the whole body of members throughout the country expressing approval. These safeguards are created simply because the organizations are opposed to strikes, which they regard as a last resort. I may frankly admit, and I think I shall be borne out by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat,, that it was the action of the Shearers’ Union, with which I am as- sociated, as president, that gave rise to this particular clause. In such an industry, the work is intermittent, only lasting for about three months in each year, and it would be possible for the union, as a body, by asking the members to stay at home, to prevent any work unless the terms they desired were conceded. Under the New South Wales Act, that was held not to be a strike, though my own opinion is that, under that Act, there was power to interfere. I am not objecting, nor does my organization object, to this provision ; and it was my suggestion that the word “ industrial “ should be inserted, seeing that, in the case of ordinary agreements, the common law made full provision. In the Shearers’ Union it would be utterly impossible to have a meeting of the members as a whole; but a vote is taken, and, as far as possible, the members are consulted before any extreme step is taken. Before the executive, which is a small body, can ‘ take any action which is effective, they must be supported by a consensus of opinion amongst the members, or otherwise the members would not observe the order issued. If the executive take any action which does not please the majority of the members, that body, who are elected on a plebiscite, may be quickly turned out. I can assure honorable members that large unions will always see that proper safeguards are provided; a union ought to be held responsible- under the clause for any act ordered by its officers.

Mr Deakin:

– An” organization cannot be registered unless that provision is made.

Mr SPENCE:

– I do not care if even only one officer were concerned, the union should be held responsible, and should take it upon itself to punish the officer if he be at fault. That is simply a form of the responsible government of which we hear so much.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England). - I am quite willing to accept what has been said bv the honorable member for Darling. My desire is to make a union responsible for the action of its officers.

Mr Spence:

– This clause meets the case.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I am not saying whether the clause does or does not meet the case ; my observations were based on the answer of the Attorney-General, that there must be some authorization by the organization. If the commands of the executive of a union are acted upon, I claim that the organization concerned should at once -become responsible. The Attorney-General, in replying to the honorable member for Darling Downs, led me to believe that that would not be so.

Mr Higgins:

– The honorable member must have misunderstood me.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Perhaps I did. I merely wish to make my position perfectly clear.

Mr. GROOM (Darling Downs). - I . am perfectly satisfied with the explanations which have been offered by the AttorneyGeneral and the late Prime Minister. It seemed to me that we were considering a new proposal, and, therefore, I thought it desirable to ascertain exactly where we stood. I am firmly convinced that the value of Conciliation and Arbitration Acts depends entirely upon the loyalty with which employers arid employes generally submit to decisions and awards. I wanted to be assured that provision was made in the Bill, whereby, if the executive of any union took action, the responsibility for such action might be sheeted home to it. Clause 8 did not appear to meet the case. The late Prime Minister, however, has pointed out that the powers, duties, and functions of all trades’ organizations must be defined in their rules, and that if those rules contain an instruction which’ is not in accord with this clause, it will be contrary to the provisions of the Bill, and, as such, cannot be registered. It seems to me that if we render the whole industrial organization liable, and clearly define the functions of the unions by regulation, the Bill will be thoroughly safeguarded.

Mr WILSON:
Corangamite

– I desire to point out that this Bill deals, not only with strikes and lock-outs, but with disputes which may eventually develop into strikes or lock-outs. I should like to know if any provision has been made in the Bill for dealing with leaders of unions, organizers, or propagandists who deliberately work up disputes, so that certain employes may be brought within the scope of this Bill? Only this afternoon we had an admission from the honorable member for Darling, that he was prepared to visit the different States for the purpose of organizing the domestic servants. His declaration practically gives away the whole position. No provision is contained in the Bill for dealing with persons who designedly create industrial strife. That is a very serious matter, and one which the opponents of the Bill have always feared. They suspected the intentions of members of the labour organizations. In view of the statement of the honorable member for Darling, it would be well if the Government withdrew the measure, which, instead of being intended to promote industrial peace, is apparently designed to create industrial discord.

Clause agreed to.

Clause g -

  1. No employer shall dismiss any employee from his employment by reason merely of the fact that the employee is an officer. or member of an organization, or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award.

Penalty : Twenty pounds.

  1. No proceeding for any contravention of this section shall be instituted without the leave of the President or the Registrar.
  2. In any proceeding for any contravention of this section, it shall lie upon the employer to show that any employe, proved to have been dismissed whilst an officer or member of an organization or entitled as aforesaid, was dismissed for some reason other than those mentioned in this section.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- I still think the proposal that an employer must not dismiss an employe because the latter belongs to a trades union, is a very drastic one- In my judgment, it requires safeguarding in some way. Where men make themselves offensive by endeavouring to foment disturbances, they have been dis missed, and justifiably so. If an employe is continually interfering with the business of his employer, thus bringing about the subversion of all discipline, I think that the Arbitration Court ought to uphold the employer in getting rid of him. It is all very we.ll f’“-r us to think that our class is superior to any other.

Mr Higgins:

– The honorable member should speak for himself.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I feel that we should endeavour to make this Bill fair to everybody. I protest against the proposal to place an employer at the mercy of the members of any union. In New South Wales a similar provision has been used to protect men who were dismissed for very good reasons.

Mr CARPENTER:
Fremantle

– The honorable member for New England has previously informed the Committee that his acquaintance with the operation of arbitration laws’ has been entirely gleaned from the newspapers. I am not one of those who claim to be possessed of all knowledge upon the subject, but if the honorable member had any practical acquaintance with the relations that frequently exist between workmen and their employers, instead of wishing to delete this clause, he would desire to make it more drastic. He affirms that he does not think employers would discharge men simply because they were members of a union.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I said that there were cases of that sort.

Mr CARPENTER:

– That affords the strongest reason why the clause should be retained. It frequently happens that a man is quietly dismissed, simply because he is an officer of a union. But the reason which is assigned for his dismissal is always a fictitious one. I regard this provision as perfectly useless. I have been discharged from employment merely because I held office in a union. Every other member of that union working in the same establishment was similarly treated. It was a deliberate attempt to burst up our organization. When the employer was asked the reason for our dismissal, he merely replied - “ I do not require your services any longer.” Though this clause aims at protecting alike the employer and employe, it confers upon the latter no protection whatever. I hold that we should compel the employer, in circumstances such as I have outlined, to satisfy the President of the Arbitration Court as to the real reason underlying his action.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- I desire to be perfectly fair in this matter. An employer should not be permitted to discharge an employ6 simply because he is an officer of a union. I admit that that has been done. I would point out, however, that there are cases in which officers of unions make themselves exceedingly unpleasant to their employers. In such circumstances, the employer ought to be able to go into Court and say, “I have dismissed this man on account of his continued interference between myself and my employes, and because he has created trouble which otherwise would not have arisen.” I claim that we should make the Bill a fair one.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– It seems to me that we might well alter both clauses 9 and 10, so as to throw the onus of proof on to the person aggrieved. It is an ordinary principle of British justice that a person shall be held innocent of an offence until he is proved guilty. But these clauses seem to be an exact reversal of that principle.

Mr Watson:

– It has been departed from in several important instances.

Mr Robinson:

– In. all labour legislation it is.

Mr KELLY:

– I think that the Prime Minister will agree with me that the more seldom it is departed from the better. The Bill has been drawn up by the Ministry with a due regard for the equal rights of both employers and employes, and if we alter these clauses by dropping the third sub-clause both parties will be similarly treated. The only difference will be that the onus of proof will be not with the party accused, but with the party aggrieved. That will be bringing the’ Bill, I think, into line with the ordinary British practice. The honorable member for Fremantle told us that very often a man is dismissed because he is a unionist or a union leader. That, I regret to say, is very possibly true in some cases, and I do not think it is a proper action for an employer to take. But at the same time I am convinced that a number of men are dismissed, not upon any definite charge - it would be hard to bring a definite charge against them - but for general slackness which cannot be sheeted home. Such a case might very well happen, and then the onus of proof would lie, as the Bill stands, not with the party aggrieved, but with the employer, and vice versa, under clause 10. For this reason I hope that the Prime Minister can see his way to drop sub-clause 3 from clauses 9 and 10.

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

– In my opinion the statement of the honorable member for Fremantle is borne out by our experience in New South Wales. Section 35 of the State Act is, almost word for word, the same as clause 9 of this Bill. Only one conviction has taken place under that section. A tanner at St. Mary’s dismissed a man, and on being asked if, he had dismissed the man because he was a unionist, he said plainly, “ I did so.” He asked the man, “ Are you a member of a union?” and when he said “Yes,” the employer said “I do not want you any more; clear out,” or words to that effect. With that one exception, although a number of cases has been brought up, no conviction has taken place, and practically none can take, place. So far as my experience goes, clauses 9 and 10 are absolutely inoperative and powerless to do anything beyond meeting such a case as I have quoted.

Mr Kelly:

– In that case, the Minister will not object to having them altered?

Mr HUGHES:

– The honorable member admitted that, if a man did dismiss an employ^ because he was a member of a union, it was improper ; and so did the honorable member for New England.

Mr Kelly:

– It is improper ; but we wish to alter th2 onus of proof.

Mr HUGHES:

– Am I not explaining that, with the onus of proof as it is, it has been found impossible to secure a conviction in New South Wales, except in a case where the defendant admitted that he did dismiss the men for the reason mentioned? Any honorable member who has had any experience of the operation of that Act, knows that if an employer dismisses a man, not because, among other facts, he is in a union, but merely because of that fact, it is practically impossible to secure a conviction. Therefore, if a man annoys an employer, or gives him impudence, or is a little slow at his work, or comes late in the morning, and that fact is added to the fact that he .is a unionist, the section will not apply. It has been contended in the Arbitration Court of New South Wales that if a man’s face does not suit an employer he has a perfect right to dismiss him or refuse to employ him. I do not deny that a man’s face can be very annoying, and give sufficient provocation for doing anything. Therefore, this word “ merely “ takes all the sting out of the clause. The honorable members who oppose the provision can rest quite sure that it can never be operative except in a case when, as the honorable members for New England and Wentworth admit, it ought to be.

Mr. WILSON (Corangamite). - Notwithstanding the able pleading of the Minister of External Affairs, I am still disposed to agree with the honorable member for Wentworth. I think that the Minister’s argument is altogether in favour of the suggestion that sub-clause 3 in clauses 9 and 10 should be deleted. It is quite possible that one can feel considerable sympathy with a tanner who dismissed an employe because he was a member of a union. I have no particular objection to men who are members or officers of unions, or to anything of that sort. But it has been a very annoying practice for members and organizers of unions to come on to a shearing board when every one was very busy and interfere with the work. That is a reason why a man might with good cause dismiss a man because he was a member or an officer of a union. Under these circumstances I should be delighted to see this clause omitted. I shall certainly vote with the honorable member for Wentworth to remove sub-clause 3 in clauses 9 and 10, so that as regards both parties the onus of proof shall lie in the usual way.

Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- The Minister of External Affairs said, in his reply to my proposal, that in New South Wales there had been only one case where an employer had been found guilty of contravening a similar provision. I wish to ask him if he does not think that in very numerous cases it is quite possible that employers may have been very chary of dismissing employes whom they wished to dismiss for general negligence, or for some not too well denned clause, because of the onus of proof lying on themselves.

Mr Hughes:

– I believe that very many employers are too honorable to think of such a thing.

Mr KELLY:

– - There is no dishonour attached in the way I mean. I put the case of an employer ‘who finds that he is not getting satisfaction from a man who may be, for all he cares, a non-unionist.

Mr Hughes:

– Let the employer discharge the man. This clause does not apply.

Mr KELLY:

– Yes, but then he has to prove the reasons for his dissatisfaction.

Mr Hughes:

– He proves them by saying, “ the man was not giving me satisfaction.” The Court has held that that is conclusive, and then the onus is shifted on to the plaintiff to show that he was giving satisfaction.

Mr KELLY:

– If the Prime Minister will assure me that that will be the course adopted, and that that is what is meant in the Bill, I shall be perfectly satisfied.

Mr Lonsdale:

– There have, been four or five cases, I think, in New South Wales.

Mr FRAZER:
Kalgoorlie

– To my mind the clause does not go far enough. Since I entered the Chamber this evening, I have been trying to find some words whereby we could get more protection for the employes after an award has been given. In Western Australia it is notorious, that soon after the Arbitration Court has given a decision which had a tendency against the . employers, in many cases they found that a number of their employes were unable to fill positions which they had held for years, and dismissed them. For instance, I was engaged in a case for the hotel and restaurant employes in Kalgoorlie. We got an increase of wages, and two clays after the decision was given, the services of waiters who had been in the employ of the Palace Hotel for a number of years, and who were officers of the union, and had given evidence against the conditions which existed there, were no longer required, and the excuse which was given for their dismissal was that women could do the work for a little less than they were getting. Why were they not honorable enough to admit that the men were dismissed from their positions because they were connected with a union ? I think it will have a tendency to “ cruel “ the principle of arbitration if we allow any persons to be victimized on account of the action which they have taken in a Court of Justice in endeavouring to get livable conditions to work under. It is very necessary for the Committee to endeavour to place on the statute-book a provision which wil l enable those persons who have taken part in the conduct of a case before the Arbitration Court or a Conciliation Board to get justice from their employers after a decision has been given. The men to whom I referred were prominent unionists, who had sacrificed a considerable amount of their time in bringing unions into existence, whereby labour troubles might be settled in a peaceful manner, instead of by means of a strike, and yet the only reward which they have got for their trouble has been, that when a useful award has been given, they have been dismissed. My only difficulty, I repeat, is that I am unable to discover any language by which the position could be made more secure.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has just shown how this thing fails. Mav I inform the honorable member how the New South Wales Act has affected employes in Armidale? When the award was given in the bootmakers’ case, men in’ Armidale were dismissed by their employer, although he wished to keep them on.

Mr Hutchison:

– Can they not stand justice in Armidale ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– The difficulty is that it is not justice, and honorable members, in trying to help certain persons, injure others. The men to whom I refer had been working for years for their employer. Their relations were friendly, and he desired to keep them on; but the award of the Arbitration Court raising their wages to a rate which the employer could not afford to pay them for the work they did, he had to dismiss them. I have no desire to debate the question further, but I should like the Bill to be made a workable measure. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has pointed out, in the case to which he has referred, that the wages of waiters having been raised to a rate which the employer did not consider their services were worth, they were dismissed, and women were engaged at a lower rate of wages. That is exactly what this kind of legislation leads to, and it should be borne in mind.

Mr Frazer:

– In the case to which I have referred we secured higher wages for the women, and the proprietor of the hotel then took the men back.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– The honorable member for New England, in replying to the remarks of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, has shown exactly what is the effect of this kind of legislation. The experience in Victoria has been just the same. We have had these awards, which it was claimed would do justice and bring about the millennium, and the result always has been that a number of men whose services are not worth the wages fixed by the Wages Boards have had to go. It is the weakest who go to the wall first. What the honorable member for Kalgoorlie suggests is about the coolest thing I have ever heard. He proposes that men shall be continued in their employment at the rate fixed by the Arbitration Court whether they are worth it or not. I never heard of a more impudent suggestion. The honorable member has shown that the desire is, to use the words of the Chief Justice of New South Wales, “ to take the control of the employer’s business out of the employer’s hands.” The honorable member has shown clearly what is aimed at. The desire is to increase wages and shorten hours, and to force employers to extend the improved conditions to men whose work is not remunerative at the price.

Mr Watson:

– That is not conveyed by this clause.

Mr ROBINSON:

– It is legitimate comment upon the remarks of the honorable and enthusiastic Government supporter from Kalgoorlie. The honorable member desires that there shall be even more protection for the worker than is provided by this clause. He desires that once the Arbitration Court has fixed a scale of wages no individual worker shall be liable to dismissal in any case whatever.

Mr KENNEDY:
Moira

– I see no reason to object to the clause as it stands. It is a sound principle that no employe should be dismissed for the sole reason that he is a member of the union. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie and many enthusiastic supporters of the Bill expect too much from it. They appear to forget that the basic principle of this Bill does not in any way widen the field of employment, or create more wealth. Under the balance is held very evenly indeed between employers and employes, legislation of this kind will react in every instance on the employes. The instance referred to by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has proved that.

Mr Frazer:

– It did nothing of the kind.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I could give similar instances within my own knowledge. As soon as an award is made, fixing either wages or hours of employment, which work out to exactly the same thing, at a level above that which an industry can pay. the decision will react on the employe. I am one of those who are prepared to go as far as any member of the Committee in attempting ‘to ameliorate the condition of the workers. I have been working amongst them all mv life, and, although I am now employing labour, I know, from the practical results of every day experience, that the better the conditions the employer can give to his employe the better will be the results to the employer. Speaking from practical experience, I have never known cheap labour profitable to the employer. But even as an employ^ myself, in New South Wales, I never lost sight of the basic principle that as soon as you attempt to force from an employer more than the industry in which he is engaged can pay, the reaction will be injurious to yourself.

Mr Spence:

– The success of an industry depends upon many things other than wages.

Mr KENNEDY:

– Undoubtedly, but as soon as there is a demand for a greater return than the labourer is entitled to, the industry -in which he is engaged will be crushed out. I am prepared to agree with the honorable member for Darling, that, in many instances, labour does not get all that it is entitled to. We are engaged upon legislation intended to remedy that, and that is why I am an advocate of it.

Mr Spence:

– It will stop sweating.

Mr KENNEDY:

– Certainly. We are only in the experimental stage in connexion with this legislation in the Commonwealth at the present time, though in this respect we are much in advance of the older nations of the world. We have attempted, by legislative enactments, to meet that difficulty here, as it affects our industrial popula- tion; but when we are experimenting, it is not advisable to do something which we have reason to believe will injuriously affect our industrial classes. I cannot see that any ill effect whatever is likely to accrue to either employe or employer if the clauses now under consideration are passed as they stand. It should not be permissible for an employer to dismiss an employe simply because he is a member of a union, or may have taken an active part in forming a union. It must, however, not be forgotten that human nature is just the same the world over. There is always a little “ cussedness “ in it, and there may be exceptional instances where a prominent union leader may make himself obnoxious to an employer. In such a case the employer, even though this clause should remain in the Bill, will be quite within his rights in dismissing such a man.

Mr Watson:

– If he is dissatisfied with his general conduct.

Mr KENNEDY:

– He will be quite within his rights, and will be subject to no penalty under this Bill.

Mr Wilson:

– The honorable member has suggested the danger of the clause.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I see no danger in the clause. The Minister of External Affairs has referred to what has occurred in New South Wales under ,the operation of a similar provision. I think the honorable and learned gentleman mentioned five cases of improper dismissals of employes which were brought before the Court, and a conviction was obtained only in one case, where the employer admitted that he had dismissed his employe simply because he was a member of a labour union.

Mr Watson:

– Quite a number of such cases were tried in New South Wales, and that was the only one in which there was a conviction.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I do not see why, under this clause, any employer could not. without any risk whatever, dismiss an employ^ who is a representative of a labour union, but who will not do a fair proportion of work, or who is impertinent or careless.

Mr Wilson:

– The onus of proof is laid upon the accused.

Mr KENNEDY:

-That applies both ways. I see no reason for any alteration of this clause in the interests either of employer or employe.

Mr EWING:
Richmond

– I agree with the last speaker that this is not a Bill to nationalize industry, but a measure intended to hold as evenly as possible the scales of justice between employer and employed It does not propose, to go further than that. I should imagine that it was never apprehended, even by enthusiasts in support of conciliation and arbitration, that this measure should take out of a man’s control the management of his own business. On the question now under discussion, honorable members must be aware that if an employer dismisses a man because he is a unionist he will not give that reason for his action. All through life we form our opinions first, and find our reasons for them afterwards. Our opinions are influenced by personal bias, national bias, or local bias, and we can always find reasons in support of them.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I have often rejected opinions, when I have had good reasons for doing so.

Mr EWING:

– That only proves what I have always thought about, the honorable member’s opinions. Honorable members must be aware that any man dismissing another from his employ will be adroit enough to take action in a legal way. If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie had himself been in charge of the caravansary, or whatever it was, to which he referred, and felt that his workmen had ranged themselves in antagonism against him, he would not have liked them any better for it. If you do not like a person you will not have him about you, and you will find a reason which will have nothing to do with the law, or with unions, for getting rid of him. But this is all beside the question. This clause is as fair as any that could well be drafted. We are all agreed that no employer should dismiss a man from his employment merely because he is a unionist. Why, therefore, should we not put that in the Bill ? As every man ought to be able to give a good reason for dismissing an employed there can be no objection to the latter part of the clause. Having accepted the principle of arbitration, and believing that no man should be penalized for being a unionist, I can see no objection to the clause.

Mr. FRAZER (Kalgoorlie).- The honorable member for New England, and the honorable and learned member for Wannon have availed themselves of the opportunity afforded by mv remarks to argue strongly against the Bill as a whole. What I said, was that, as soon as the decision of the Western Australian Arbitration Court was made known, it suddenly dawned upon a prominent hotel-keeper that certain men in his employment were not fit to fill their positions.

Mr Wilson:

– But the wages were raised.

Mr FRAZER:

– Certainly they were; but the award was not given in regard to that, particular hotel. It affected all similar establishments, numbering some hundreds, within a twelve-mile radius. The proprietors of the other hotels and restaurants did not think it necessary to dismiss their employes immediately after the decision was announced.

Mr Kelly:

– Perhaps they could afford to carry on.

Mr FRAZER:

– Perhaps the honorable member for Wentworth knows more than the Judge of the Arbitration Court, as to tlie rate of wages which should be paid in Kalgoorlie. I am sure that that official will give considerable attention to the opinion expressed by certain honorable members that he is not competent to carry out his duties, and perhaps he will ask one of them to take his place. I explained that, in a case in which prominent unionists were concerned, the employer thought fit to dismiss his servants immediately after the decision of the Court was announced, and there is no doubt that his action was taken because of the position which his employes occupied in regard to the union.

Mr HUTCHISON:
Hindmarsh

– I protest against the misrepresentations of the honorable and learned member for Wannon with regard, not- only to the Factories legislation in Victoria, but to the Bill now under consideration. In the first place, the Factories Act of Victoria does not compel an employer to pay the standard rate fixed by the Wages Board, unless a workman is competent to earn it. Any incompetent workman can appeal to the Board, and obtain permission to work for what he is worth ; and such permission is being given at the present time. Similar latitude will be allowed under this Bill. We have heard from the honorable member for Kalgoorlie of a case in which men have been replaced by women, and this shows that we are not going far enough. It was decided by this House, in connexion with the Public Service Bill, that women, if doing similar work, should be paid the same wages as men, and I hope that before long we shall be able to establish a general practice on these lines.

Mr Wilson:

– The millennium will ar*rive when this Bill is passed.

Mr HUTCHISON:

– The millennium will never arrive whilst the honorable member is alive. It is stated that only one case has been proved in which unionists have been dismissed because of the action which they have taken in regard to industrial disputes. We have, however, had scores of cases of a similar character in South Australia, and also in other States. Any one who has had experience as an employer and an employe - and I have had experience in both capacities for many years - can testify to this fact.

Mr Wilson:

– Were the cases of which the honorable member speaks proved in Court ?

Mr HUTCHISON:

– No. It is impossible to prove anything against an employer when he wants to dismiss a workman. I was concerned in a strike which was brought about by the dismissal of a first-class workman. We took a stand against the action of our employers, and asked them to give us a reason. They declined to do so, but we knew what their real reason was, and we went out on strike, and remained out for about twelve months. The employers refused to re-instate the man, and his shopmates declined to work until such time as he was re-instated, or a reason was given for his dismissal. An employer will never give a reason if he can help it. We knew that the man was victimised on account of his being an active unionist. Honorable members may rest assured that the workmen would not have sacrificed positions in which they had been earning from £4 to £fi per week, unless they had been convinced that their fellow-workman was being hardly dealt with. It is only fair that we should protect unionists against unjust treatment at the hands of the employers. Unionists believe in organization on the part of the employers, and do not ask for anything beyond what they are prepared to grant’ to others. The provision in the Bill does not go far enough. It is about as mild as it possibly can be, and, unfortunately, will not afford” the full degree of protection that the men deserve.

Mr JOHNSON:
Lang

– The intention of this clause is, perhaps, a good one, but it is open to the objection which I entertain regarding- nearly every provision in the Bill, the loose construction of which renders many of its clauses capable of such divergent interpretations that it is almost impossible to arrive. at’ their actual meaning. If the Bill is ever brought into operation, it promises to prove prolific of fat fees for lawyers. I have not very much faith in legislation of this character, because I do not believe that it will achieve the main object in view, which can be better accomplished by adopting other methods. However, as it has been decided to accept the principle of Conciliation and Arbitration, it is necessary to ensure that the provisions of the Bill shall be properly applied, and to provide safeguards against evasions. The first part of the clause reads as follows : -

No employer shall dismiss any employe from his employment by reason merely of the fact that the employe is an officer or member of an organization or is entitled to the benefit of an industrial agreement or award.

Of course, we understand that there are many ways in which an employer might escape the necessity of giving any of these reasons as the actual ground of dismissal. But assuming, for the sake of example, that the Court made an award, which it was impossible for an employer to accept and still profitably carry on his business, and that he decided to close down his business altogether, and dismiss the whole of his employe’s, would he be subject to the penalty?

Mr Watson:

– No. He would be supposed to comply with the usual conditions in just the same way as the men.

Mr JOHNSON:

– I see no objection to that.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 10 agreed to.

Clause n -

There shall be a Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration, which shall be a Court of Record, and shall consist of a President and two other members, all of whom shall be appointed by the Governor-General.

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– I move -

That all the words after “ President “ be left out.

The object of the amendment is to eliminate the provision for the appointment of two permanent members of the Court, other than the President. The Bill contemplated the appointment of, first, a President, .who should be a Justice of the High Court, and two other members, one representing the employers, and the other the employes. I admit that that form of constitution has been adopted in all the Arbitration Acts in the States and in New Zealand. They .each provide for permanent members of the Court, in addition to the President. I acknowledge that there is a great deal to be said in favour of that form of tribunal. No doubt the members of the Court are able to make themselves acquainted with the forms to be followed, and to appreciate the value of evidence, in the same way as the Judges of our ordinary Civil Courts. From that point of view, there is something to be said in favour of the course adopted in the States. But, on the other hand, there are grave objections. In New South Wales our experience has not been altogether satisfactory under this head. I do not suppose that -we could have obtained the services’ of a man who knows more from the employes’ side, or is acquainted with a greater variety of industries, than one member of the Court - Mr. Samuel Smith. If we had to rely on one man, we could not, in my opinion, improve upon Mr. Samuel Smith. He is a level-headed, painstaking, knowledgeable, and conscientious man. Although Mr. Smith is the best man that could have been selected from the workmen’s organizations of New South Wales, on many occasions grave objections have been raised to the constitution of the Court. It would be impossible for Mr. Smith, or any other man, to possess the detailed knowledge of the various disputes, involving the understanding of all the ramifications of very intricate and technical trades and callings, that would be necessary to enable an arbitrator to arrive at a just decision. It would be impossible to find any man possessing the requisite knowledge and the understanding of the details of all the disputes that come before the Court for determination. In the Newcastle district, . particularly, a great deal of dissatisfaction has been expressed, not with Mr. Smith individually, but with the constitution of the Court as a whole. The contention on the part of the miners is that any dispute affecting their calling should be adjudicated upon by the President of the Court and two assessors, one representing the miners, and the other the employers. They are fully convinced that had technical knowledge been possessed by the members of the Court, the decisions, so far as their industry is concerned, would have been very much more satisfactory. Then, on the employers’ side, we have Mr. Cruickshank, who is a veryestimable man. I do not know him personally, but I am to some extent acquainted with his record, which is certainly such as to impress every one with his fairness and fitness for his present position - that is, so far as any one man could be expected to discharge the duties pertaining to it. But there, again, the objection which has been advanced against the member of the Court who represents the workers applies. Mr. Cruickshank represents the employers, and the difficulties which arise, so far as these members of an Arbitration Court are concerned, have been found in many cases to be almost insuperable. The whole object of having members of ‘the Court, other than the President, is that they shall be selected by the two great opposing parties. Disguise it as we may, the organized employers and organized employes are, in this relation, the opposing parties.

Mr Johnson:

– And their representatives are really advocates.

Mr WATSON:

– I was just about to say that. Bearing that fact in mind, the position unquestionably resolves itself into that of having two assessors - one representing each side - able to advise the Judge and explain to him matters which, perhaps, through lack of technical knowledge, he may not have been able to appreciate at their full value when presented before him in evidence. The method of selection - the mere fact that these members of the Court are representatives of the two respective sides - shows practically that they are assessors and not Judges. If we once admit that they occupy the position of assessors, we must surely recognise that it is desirable to obtain men to act in that capacity who are cognizant of the practical details of the particular trade or. calling into which the Court is called upon, for the time being, to inquire. The permanent members of the Court in New South Wales were appointed for a period of five years, and it is quite possible that, after the lapse of perhaps a year or two, those who recommended the appointment of the two assessors may become dissatisfied with them. They may not consider that they are still representatives, and when that feeling arises a most unfortunate state of affairs prevails. I am informed that in one place something of the kind has occurred. I do not propose to make any definite statement in regard to the matter, but I understand that in one place there is grave dissatisfaction with a member of the Court, the opinion being that he is not now representative of those who, in the first instance, selected him. That, to my mind, is another objection to the proposal that these members of the Court should be permanently appointed. That objection would be of no value if these gentlemen were to be regarded as Judge?.

A man who is appointed as a Judge is not expected to represent the opinions of these responsible for his selection. He is supposed to administer the law fearlessly and without favour, and, consequently, it should be immaterial whether his conduct generally gives satisfaction to those responsible for his appointment. But, in my opinion, the position occupied by assessors is entirely different. So far as they are concerned, we must take care that there is a frequent re-selection made by those whom they are supposed to represent, so that, apart from ail other considerations, they may be kept in touch with the general feeling and condition of those whose case they are expected to put in the fairest light before the presiding Judge.

Mr Johnson:

– A Judge should rot be a partisan.

Mr WATSON:

– No; but the principle underlying the appointment of an assessor is that he is to be a representative. He is expected to exercise that wide discretion which, after all, will secure the best results for his own side. He is not to be indiscreet in his manner of stating his case, but it is expected that by being reasonable he will secure more attention than he otherwise would from the permanent head of the Court. There is another feature which I will admit is of somewhat minor importance. If the hope of those who favour this legislation is realized - the hope that it will act more as a preventive than as a cure-

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

– We all hope that.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so; but I claim that that feeling relates more particularly to those who are pushing this measure forward. We believe that it will have the effect of preventing many strikes that would otherwise occur.

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

– We do not quite agree with that.

Mr WATSON:

– If our hopes are realized, it is possible that for a considerable time after this measure becomes law there will be no cases to engage the attention of the Court.

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

– A decision by the High Court might also limit its powers.

Mr WATSON:

– Certainly. A decision given by the High Court might seriously limit the powers of this tribunal. The extent of our powers is extremely doubtful. It is difficult to say how far we can go in this direction, or what is the class of case with which this Court, when created, will be able to deal ; and for the reasons I have just enumerated it seems to me that it would be tentatively unwise to bring into existence a permanently expensive piece of machinery. Of course, if disputes arose that were likely to assume large proportions, we should be justified in incurring an expenditure’ of even many thousands of pounds in order to secure their settlement on a peaceable basis. I am not assailed by any doubts as to the propriety of expending the taxpayers’ money, once there is evidence of the evil assuming large proportions. I should not hesitate to expend the public money to prevent so dire a calamity. It is not because of any desire to adopt a cheeseparing policy that I think it would be unwise to expend, perhaps, ,£1,500 or £2,000 a year by way of salaries to permanent assessors.

Mr Deakin:

– £1,400.

Mr WATSON:

– It would be unwise to expend even £1,400 a year on two assessors, and the expenditure would not provide for all the officers who would be necessary. If we appointed permanent assessors, the Court would probably have to be clothed with all the usual appendages.

Mr Deakin:

– It would not be necessary in the case of this Court.

Mr WATSON:

– Perhaps not.

Mr Johnson:

– There is a proposal to limit the term of its existence.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so. Even assuming that the appointment of two permanent assessors would involve a cost of only £1,400 a year, I still think that we could better provide against possible contingencies in the shape of no business or of a limitation of the powers of the Court - a limitation that might seriously reduce the volume of work that the Court would be called upon to do - by providing for the appointment of special assessors for each case, in the event of either party desiring it. T believe that, in many cases the parties to a dispute will be content to accept the award of a Judge sitting by himself. In many other cas?s, involving technical details, it is only reasonable to suppose that each party will desire the right to be represented bv an assessor.

Mr Johnson:

– The Judge will always have, when necessary, the advantage of expert assistance.

Mr WATSON:

– That is what we propose. Our proposal is that assessors shall be appointed when” either, or both, parties desire it. We provide, too, that the Commonwealth shall pay the fees of the;e assessors, so that the parties shall not be subjected to any expense in that connexion. But the main feature of the proposal I am putting forward, does not relate to the question of economy, which, I admit, is, after all. a small matter. Our chief object is to secure some degree of satisfaction to those who are likely to bring disputes before the Court - to ensure that the assessors representing them .will be men who have not only a knowledge of the industry in regard to which the dispute has arisen, but a local and a recent knowledge of the dispute. In the case of a coal-mining dispute, for example, it would not be enough that the assessor in his early years had laboured in a coal-mine. He might not have been employed in a coal-mine for twenty or thirty years. In that event he would have probably forgotten the experience of his early days, or the conditions of labour might have so changed as to render utterly valueless any ideas that he had formed on the subject. In view of all these facts, I trust that the Committee will recognise the wisdom of agreeing to the proposition we are putting forward to eliminate from the Bill the proposal that there shall be permanent members of the Court other than the President.

Mr Ewing:

– I should like the honorable gentleman to make it clear whether the President of the Court, who will be a member of the High Court, will -have a fixed salary and period of service, just as is the case with the other Judges of the High Court.

Mr WATSON:

– The President will certainly be a member of the High Court, and his independence will be protected just as is that of every other member of the High Court.

Mr Ewing:

– He will be appointed for the same period and enjoy the same salary ?

Mr WATSON:

– I do not anticipate that, in appointing a particular Judge to be President of the Arbitration Court, we should’ necessarily withdraw him from service in the High Court until it had been shown that the pressure of work was too great to permit of his continuing to discharge the special duties in connexion with the last-named tribunal.

Mr Ewing:

– Any member of the High Court mav be President of the Arbitration Court ?

Mr WATSON:

– One member of the High Court is to be specially appointed as

President. The appointment will be made from time to time.

Mr Johnson:

– When occasion arises?

Mr WATSON:

– Yes. A Judge of the High Court will be appointed as President but, in the event of his desiring to resign, any other Judge of the High Court will be eligible for appointment.

Mr Ewing:

– At present there are three members of the High Court, and one of these Judges will become President of the Arbitration Court. What I wish to know is, who is to decide who shall be the President to deal with each case?

Mr WATSON:

– We contemplate appointing a Judge of the High Court permanently, or practically permanently, as Judge of the Arbitration- Court.

Mr Ewing:

– The President will be one of the three members of the High Court, as at present constituted, or perhaps a fourth Judge will be appointed?

Mr WATSON:

– We say that a Judge of the High Court shall be President of the Arbitration Court, but we do not say that we shall specially appoint a Judge for that purpose. If it is demonstrated later on that, owing to the pressure of this and other work, the appointment of a fourth Judge of the High Court is necessary, it will be the duty of the Government of the day to take steps to secure parliamentary sanction for such an appointment. I do not think it likely that there will be any necessity for another appointment to the High Court Bench, unless there is a large volume of business to be dealt with under this head. The question of adding to the strength of the High Court Bench does not affect this matter

Mr Ewing:

– The President of the Court will be virtually a Judge of the High Court ?

Mr WATSON:

– He will be actually a Judge of the High Court, and will enjoy all the privileges that the Parliament considered necessary to confer upon the mem’ bers of the High Court as a guarantee of their independence and integrity.

Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat).- This Government have given notice of a number of amendments on the Bill as it left the hands of the late Government. Many of these amendments are more verbal and explanatory than material, but the one before us is material, and, in my judgment, unjustifiable, and it would be an absolute mistake to accept it. If I had not already fully laid my views before honorable members, I should feel called on, so strongly do I feel in the matter, to deal with it at great length. But/I have expressed, as clearly and as emphatically as I can, some, if not all, of the reasons which led me to prefer a strong and relatively permanent Court to a Court consisting of only one permanent official, assisted in each particular case by two experts, appointed for the special purpose. If my object were to endeavour to confute my friend the Prime Minister, I might be quite content to answer him out of his own mouth, by placing parts of his speech of to-night in juxtaposition with other parts. Practically, when we come to exercise the proposal, we find that there is only one argument to be urged on its behalf, and it is an argument to which the Prime Minister has not ventured to attach much importance. The gain is said to be in economy ; but, in my opinion, it is an economy which is unwise, and eventually will prove costly. It is an economy which, at the utmost, will amount to .£1,400 a year; but if the House of Representatives in launching a measure of this kind, with its enormous scope and complexities, to which I have often alluded, consider that it is worth while to “ spoil the ship “ for that amount of “ tar,” I do not envy the estimation which honorable members have of it.

Mr Watson:

– I do not emphasize that point.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I have already said so; but the Prime Minister’s remarks appear to me to answer one another. When the Prime Minister says that the argument of economy is one of the least, he overlooks the fact that, on consideration, it will be found to be the only argument he has addressed to the Committee. When the Prime Minister urged that what was asked for in other States, was that the men who sat with the Judge should be fresh from the particular industries concerned - men appointed with the most recent information - he urged what none will deny, and what is provided for in one of the very ‘clauses which he proposes to strike out. The late Government proposed that in every case where either the Court or the parties thought it necessary, there should, in addition to the Justice of the High Court and his two practically qualified Associates, be two or more additional members chosen as experts) one from the employers and one from the employes. In my view, whenever a dispute of any magnitude comes! before the Court, experts will be necessary. Their permanent appointment would not involve extra expense as compared with the proposal of the Prime Minister, who himself desires that there shall be experts. The Prime Minister intends that these experts shall sit with the Court, and the late Government made a similar proposal ; and the only extra cost involved by our scheme is the £1,400 per annum for permanent members. The Prime Minister’s remarks, therefore, appeared to me to be beside the question, when he dwelt - and this is an argument in which I. think we must all coincide - on the necessity of having expert assessors associated with the Judge of the High Court. This Court has cast t>n it functions, not only new, but extremely difficult. Many of these duties, as Presidents of the Arbitration Courts in the States have already pointed out, are singularly foreign to the ordinary judicial tasks which fall to Judges day by day. They call for the exercise of a different attitude of mind. We want the chief of this Court to be one of the ablest men we can find. We want one who is intimately possessed of the principles of law, and who decides in accordance with those principles. For that reason a Judge of the High Court is made President. But we do not require him to obey the letter of those principles of law with which, as a Judge recently remarked, he has to deal every day, and apply in a certain fixed and definite manner, in accordance with abundant- precedent, following in the footsteps of his predecessors at every turn. When President of this Court a Judge is to be governed by equity and good conscience, wholly and solely. He has to put aside the legal principles of interpretation whenever they seem to him to obstruct his clear view of the case. A Judge of an Arbitration Court has to transform himself for the time from the lawyer and the Judge into an arbitrator, who will be called upon, although he possesses a knowledge of law, to be guided chiefly by expert opinion and business methods. The arguments of the Prime Minister would lead the Committee to infer that an appointment of experts is a substitute for the permanent members of the Court, but it is no such thing. The late Government always proposed the addition of expert members, but made two of them permanent, because we wished to give the Court a strength and standing which otherwise it could not obtain. I do not think it can possibly be denied by any one who compares the present project with the proposal which I submitted a few months ago, that the latter must result in a distinctly weaker Court. The late Government proposed that the President should be a Justice of the High Court, and a similar proposal is now made. The late Government proposed to have experts in connexion with particular disputes - men specially informed in the matters before them concerning industries or business ; and such experts are provided for in the Bill. The late Government proposed in addition, two men not chosen from the legal profession, but one selected by the employers, and another selected by the employes, should be permanently appointed, as practical, fair-minded, men. Such permanent experts, whether chosen in this way or selected as Judges are, in the course of their duties as assistants to the President, acquire an intimate knowledge of the, perhaps, rather rough-and-ready methods which will be adopted, so far as the reception of evidence, and similar questions concerned. In a very short time they would become familiar, as no casual experts could, with the methods of the Court. Experts brought into particular cases for the first time, without any knowledge of the procedure to be pursued, and without any experience of the value of evidence - men brought there really more as witnesses than as assistant Judges, simply to interpret technical difficulties - could afford the Judge no judicial assistance, but. on the contrary, would be very likely to embarrass him. They would fail to appreciate or understand without explanation, the course pursued by the Judge, or to see the purport of some of his criticism, and he would have to explain his reasons again and again. The Judge would be continually associated with fresh men. who would enter the Court, without the least qualifications for discharging judicial functions. What we want is three judicial minds, one legal and two practical.

Mr Watson:

– But when special assessors were brought in, there would have to be two explanations.

Mr DEAKIN:

– Special assessors are more for the purpose of giving evidence as to particular industries ; they take no part in adjudicating.

Mr Watson:

– I do not think that is so.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The late Government assumed that the assessors would be ordinary assessors, their attention concentrated on one or two questions as to which they have special knowledge, but, otherwise, not interfering. A Court merely enjoys the advantage of the special knowledge of the assessors when that knowledge is needed ; but but, according to the Bill, the assessors will be associated with the President as part of the Court. They are not, and cannot become, judicial. ‘ If the assessors are to perform the ordinary functions of assessors only, then there is cast on the President a burden which is more than fair. By making the President a Judge of the High Court, we shall get a man of the highest- standing and ability, and if it is thought that economy is effected by rendering such an official the only permanent member of the Court,, we shall necessarily make a much larger demand on his time than if he were assisted by two men continually taking part with him in judging matters of the kind. Consequently, instead of the President’s services being available for the ordinary work of the High Court, he would be withdrawn from that work to an extent, equal, probably, to the £1,400 a year which would suffice to pay for the two permanent assistants. In fact, so far as I can form an opinion at present, without that interpretation of our powers under the Constitution which we have yet to receive from the High Court, but, taking a moderate view of the scope of this measure as it will be finally interpreted for us, I venture to say that, if the Government follow the course proposed, it will necessitate the early appointment of a fourth Judge.

Mr Hughes:

– That is so.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I do not look on that as a matter to be regretted ; in fact, I do not say there would not be the same result if two permanent assessors were appointed. But I say that the demand on the time and ability of the Judge will be much greater if he has no permanent assistants. Indeed, the necessity for the appointment of a fourth Judge is very probable in any case.

Mr Hughes:

– I think that the appointment of a fourth Judge is very probable, even if this proposal were not before us at the present time. The business of the Court seems to be increasing at a great rate.

Mr DEAKIN:

– The Prime Minister has perhaps forgotten to call attention to the extraordinary administrative duties of the Court. It even possesses the power to move itself without being moved from outside. This Court has a general jurisdiction over the whole of the industrial disputes of the Commonwealth, and all matters relating thereto. It is to be assisted by a Registrar, who will, no doubt, be a man of considerable experience and high standing, but still the power of an executive cast on the Court is much in excess of the executive power cast on any of the existing Supreme Courts. No Chief Justice of the largest State in the Union has anything approaching executive responsibility, which will be possessed by the President of this Court,- with his jurisdiction over the whole of Australia. Consequently, I say that, in simple justice to the President, and in order to give the Court the strength, standing, and stabilityit deserves the sum of £1,400 per annum, necessary in order to obtain the permanent services of two practical men, is not worth considering. As I have already said, there cannot be a saving of ,£1,400 per annum, because by appointing assistant Judges, we diminish the demands on the Justice of the High Court and do not take up so much of his time. Very likely, we would then save £1,400 worth of his time j and in that case, there can be no real economy in not appointing permanent assessors. Unless assistance of the kind is provided we shall take up the time of our most expensive officer, and cast on him special burdens. We shall remove him from his duties as a Justice of the High Court, and compel him to plunge much more deeply than he otherwise would into practical industrial affairs. We shall, in some respects, render him a less useful member of the Bench, and divert his abilities in a way in which they will not give us their best value. We get the best value of a Judge when we utilize the whole of his preceding training, by the application of his knowledge of legal principles to the business of the Court. Now that the Government have made this proposal, I believe that the majority of honorable members are against me, and under the circumstances I shall not occupy any further time, preferring that the Bill should progress rapidly. Although I acquit the members of the Government of the least intention to bring about such a result, I believe that the measure is being severely wounded in the house of its friends by this proposal. The economy spoken of is apparent and not real, and will render the Court a great deal weaker. For my part, I would, if I could, have the strongest Court that could be brought together, especially in the earlier years of the administration of this Bill. I believe fully in the importance of this legislation, and realize the power and scope of the Court. If we weaken the tribunal at the outset we injure the whole machinery of the measure, not only on its judicial but also on its administrative side. And for what? For a consideration of less, than £1,400 a year. If arbitration and conciliation throughout the whole of Australia is not worth half that sum which is the maximum extra cost, it is worth nothing at all. I say that, with the best intentions, the Court is being seriously impaired, both judicially and in regard to matters in which the initiative is cast upon it. The result will be that we shall secure a less efficient and less satisfactory working of the Act,- and that, in the first days of its operation, when the Court will be surrounded by the greatest difficulties.

Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney- Minister of External Affairs).- Upon the matter under discussion it is true that there has been - as was stated by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - a departure from the provision which was previously embodied in this Bill. I do not think it can be urged that the Government have acted without clue consideration. The honorable and learned member has advanced the argument that the Ministerial scheme, if adopted, must weaken the Arbitration Court which it is proposed to establish. I wish to examine that argument. In the first place, I invite honorable members to consider the functions of that Court, its scope, and the duties which it will probably be asked to perform at the outset of its career. I am not at all sure whether it will have much or little to do, and I defy anybody else to offer other than a vague general opinion on that question. It may be that the Court will almost usurp the functions of the Arbitration Courts of the States. If it does, I do not know that it will be a very bad thing. I think that probably it will prove a very good thing, but undoubtedly it would call for continuous effort on the part of the Court itself. If, on the other hand, its duties are confined to those which arise out of a strict interpretation of the words of sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution, it may, perhaps, be asked to concern itself with the prevention of only three or four industrial disputes in as many years. Let us suppose that it will deal only with the prevention of such great industrial disturbances is the maritime strike of a few years ago. Here is a tribunal charged with the duty of preserving industrial peace, and of settling disputes already in existence underthe circumstances I have indicated. The question which we are called upon to consider is - “ How can it best accomplish that end ?” Speaking for myself, I entirely fail to see how the High Court will be able to perform its work without the appointment of an additional Justice. If the Arbitration Court is to be of any service under the Bill, it must be a tribunal which is immediately accessible to industrial disputants. Are parties to be compelled to wait until the High Court has dealt with its own business - which, by tha way, is becoming more formidable each day - before their disputes can be determined ? Are they to be told that they must wait until the High Court has worked off its arrears, or is the High Court itself to be paralysed by the withdrawal of one of its Justicesperhaps a man whose judicial eminence renders his presence particularly necessary in the hearing of an appeal case, even if it be not technically necessary, by virtue of the provisions of the High Court Procedure Act? I agree with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that, should the operation of this measure result in the settlement of one great industrial dispute each year, it will constitute a cheap insurance against industrial strife, and there is not a man, either in this chamber or outside of it, who will not say so. Therefore the question for us to consider is, “What Court will perform this work best?” Obviously, that Court which is most fitted for its task, and that tribunal is most fitted for the work which is armed with the practical and technical knowledge which the hearing and settlement of such disputes demand. In my opinion, the Federal Arbitration Court itself, both in its character and in the duties which it will be called upon to perform, will differ from State Arbitration Courts. In many cases the latter are called upon to deal with disputes of a cognate character. There are certain trades which run, so to speak, into one another. For instance, there is the ‘tanner’s trade, the bootmaker’s trade, and the bootseller’s trade. Certain avocations overlap each other in such a way as to form concentric circles, which, in their turn, are embraced within the industrial circles of the different States. Gradually, therefore, these tribunals grow to appreciate the inter-dependence of one trade upon another. I do not think that will be so with the Federal Arbitration Court. Directly it is created it will be called upon to deal with a dispute which is pending between the seamen and their employers. The chief reason why sub-section xxxv. of section 51 was embodied in our Constitution was to prevent a recurrence of a maritime strike. I invite honorable members to look at the provisions of the Bill. How is it proposed to secure a Court which understands the details of such a dispute? They will then see whether the contention of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that the adoption of the Government proposal will result in the establishment of a less efficient Court, will bear analysis. Under the Bill it is proposed to elect assessors where necessary, and submit their names to the Governor-General, who will appoint them. How are they to be elected ?

Mr Deakin:

– The Governor-General makes a choice.

Mir. HUGHES. - In New South Wales only one man is nominated.

Mr Deakin:

– We cannot limit the employers or employes of Australia to one man each.

Mr Watson:

– Oh, easily - by organization.

Mr HUGHES:

– The men are to be elected by the unions of employers and employes. These organizations are to exercise votes in proportion to their strength. For instance, the seamen,’ whose dispute will probably be the first to occupy the attention of the Arbitration Court, number about 2,500, the shearers about 25,000, the wharf labourers 11,000. In New South Wales the other trades number 66,000 members, more or less, which would mean abou!) 250,000 for the Commonwealth. Consequently the share in the election of assessors which the seamen would exercise would be in the proportion of 2.500 to 250,000. In such circumstances are they likely to secure the services upon the Bench of a competent man ? Certainly not ! To what union is the individual who will be elected likely to belong? Obviously to the shearers or some other large organization, if its members vote solidly, and it is natural that each trade will endeavour to secure the return of its own representative. As a result the seamen, if the provisions inserted by the late Government were adopted, would probably be called upon to plead their cause before a representative of the shearers, who, though he might be acquainted with the fore and aft of a sheep, would not be familiar with the fore and aft of a ship. Then the judicial expert will turn to the practical man, and say, “ What do you think of this?” What can he think of it? He knows nothing whatever about the circumstances. How, then, are the services of the sheep expert to benefit the Court? He is a man who is not trained to appreciate the refinements of evidence. He is an expert pure and simple. He is elected because he enjoys the confidence of his union, and because he can give practical information concerning the particular trade which he represents. An assessor is in other respects simply a supernumerary. Personally I am of opinion that his services will, outside his practical knowledge, be of no value whatever. It is notorious that in all the States in which Arbitration Courts have been established the judgments of those tribunals are majority decisions.

Mr Deakin:

– Quite a number of unanimous decisions have been given in New South Wales.

Mr HUGHES:

– Those decisions relate to penalty cases only.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I do not think one unanimous judgment has been given in determining an award.

Mr HUGHES:

– The honorable member is quite right. If any person commits a breach of an award the Court is often unanimous. When, however, it is called upon to make an award, its decisions are always those of a majority. So it must invariably be. I confess that I cannot see how under these circumstances the Court will be weakened by the absence of persons who can bring no technical knowledge to bear upon the case at issue, and who have no special ability to appreciate evidence. In some cases it may be that no assessors will be required. If they are their services can be requisitioned. Concerning the disputes which are likely to come before the Federal Arbitration Court, I would ask whether the honorable and learned member for Ballarat can point to a single one in which the Court is likely to be weakened by the .adoption of the Ministerial proposal ? Assuming that the seamen are before the Court, thev nominate a man whom they have confidence in, and who can give the Court such expert evidence as is required. Supposing that he is to have no vote, what does that matter? If he has a vote, I put it to the Committee that, except in penalty cases, he will always vote in favour of his own side. I see nothing .wrong in that. The very nature of his election is partisan. We do not believe in electing magistrates here. An elected magistrate is, so to speak, an anomaly; a magistrate ought to be an impartial person. In this very Bill, what do we do ? We make the Judge independent of everybody. He is to have the same status as the other members of the High Court Bench. He is to be removable by no party whim or fancy, but only by a resolution of both Houses for bad behaviour. Naturally, permanent assessors elected by parties being partisans give a partisan verdict. How can that strengthen the Court? I cannot see how it can. I put on one side the expenditure of £1,400 a year. If it is necessary to spend that sum in order to get a betterCourt, let it be spent. But it is of no real use to spend it merely for the sake of doing so. If we can get as good a Court without spending the money as we could by doing so, we ought not to spend it. Let it be remembered that the additional temporary assessors mentioned by. the honorable and learned member for Ballarat will have to be paid by somebody. Who is going to pay them ? Is each side to pay its own assessor ? That might fail hard on some small and more or less impoverished union. Our proposal is that the assessors shall be appointed by the union and paid by the Commonwealth. Their duty will be to advise the Court. The Judge will hear the evidence, and deliver the verdict on. that evidence, and the assessors will take no part in that duty. If the Court is constituted of the Judge and two assessors, who are to be appointed in each particular case, I am sure that the verdict will be exactly the same - as if there were permanent members of the Court - one assessor voting on either side. I cannot see any reason why there should be permanent assessors. Experience has demonstrated that permanent men cannot possibly be seized of all the details of the trades on which they are asked to adjudicate. One of the advantages - and its solitary advantage, I venture to think - of the Wages Board system of Victoria is that, in each case, the matter comes before experts in the particular trades. Honorable members will recognise that that is a very great advantage. I ask my honorable friends who are against the inclusion of rural trades, whether, if a rural trade were included in the Bill, it would not be infinitely preferable that a farmer and a farm labourer should be on the Court as assessors when a dispute affecting it was being heard, rather than, say, a seaman on one side and a ship-owner on the other? Obviously it would. The presence of a ship-owner and a seaman, as well as that of a farmer and a farm labourer, called in temporarily, would not assist the Court at all, but would be a cause of confusion. What would a ship-owner and a seaman know of the ramification1! of a rural industry ? As it is with that industry, so it is with all others. We may put on one side the idea of having two permanent members of the Court, and candidly admit that what is required is a trained expert to deal impartially with evidence. That trained expert will be a Judge, who cannot be removed except for bad behaviour. He will be unaffected by party clamour ; he will not be dependent upon any section for nomination; he will not have to give a verdict from time to time with a view to secure his re-election. Nor will -a non-permanent assessor be placed in that position. I think that a permanent member of the Court, being human, is sometimes compelled to think of what the effect of a verdict may be to him personally. I do not suggest that he is improperly influenced ; but I think he must remember that it may affect his re-election. A non-permanent assessor will not be so influenced. He will simply tell the Judge that “ this is so-and-so,” ask questions, and supply the Court with the information which is required. That will, I think, be a decided improvement ; and, whilst I should not go so far as to say that arguments could not be advanced in favour of having permanent members of the Court for a State, although I am by no means sure of it, for .this particular purpose it will be to the advantage of the tribunal that it should consist of one Judge only, and that assessors with technical knowledge of the particular trade in question should be called in to assist the Judge in each case.

Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- I cannot agree with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in his contention with regard to this proposal, which I favour, of eliminating two permanent men to be nominated by a union of employers and a union of employes respectively. Every argument which he used to show that the Court would not be a strong one, really went in the direction of appointing two other Judges, and not in the direction of appointing two nominated persons, as the Bill proposes ; and, consequently, even if I agreed with him in that regard, I should still support the proposal of the Ministry. I believe that even in a State Court it is very much better to have assessors nominated for each case than permanent assessors, as in New South Wales. It is well’ known, I think, to most persons in that State, that Mr. Cruickshank, the employers’ nominee, was asked to meet them after a number of awards had been given,, because they were not satisfied with his conduct on the Bench.

Mr Groom:

– Did they wish to influence him?

Mr LONSDALE:

– The employers asked Mr. Cruickshank to meet them, arid he did. What they wished him to do was to take information from them about the various cases,’ and he would not, because he was there as a Judge. That may be’ right ; but to give them the power to nominate a man from their own class, as a Judge, seems to me to be simply absurd. If there is anything at all in his position, he might act as a Judge if he liked; but, still, he ought to have, from the employers’ point of view; all the information which he could get about a case.

Mr Groom:

– Whether in Court or not?

Mr LONSDALE:

– Yes. What is the use of allowing the employers to nominate a person as an assessor, if he is likely to get out of touch with trades and businesses, and not to understand the technicalities of a case ? ‘When an engineering case came before the Court, Mr. Cruickshank, being an engineer, could use his technical knowledge ; but when a case relating to the boot trade came before the Court, what could he know about . it? Nothing. Consequently he was . utterly useless as an expert. If we are to have three Judges in the Court, let -us have them appointed in a- way which will make them absolutely free of either employers or em ployes. Look at the decisions, which have been given in New’ South Wales. Every decision fixing, an award has been decided by the Judge and one assessor. If it has been . an award in favour of the men, the majority of the Court has consisted of the Judge and Mr. Smith. On the other hand, if it has been an award in favour of the employers, the majority of the Court has consisted of. the Judge and Mr. Cruickshank. I ‘ do not believe that there has been one award given except in that way. That is utterly absurd, in my opinion. I take it, that if New South Wales had had a Court,” consisting of three legal men, who could analyze evidence, and who had been appointed quite free from nomination, on some occasion or other, they would have given a unanimous verdict, whether for the men or for the master. I . could not . conceive of one Judge always going with the men, and another Judge always going with the employer.

Even if the verdict were not unanimous, the majority would not always consist of the same persons. So I am against the contention about strengthening the Court. If we do need to have Judges, let them be appointed in the usual way, and then, if special technical knowledge is required,- let assessors be called in. I think it is likely that a large number of disputes will be settled without an assessor being called in at all, while, of course, some cases will need the presence of an assessor. Although I am against this kind of legislation, still I must favour this Bill.

Mr Deakin:

– Weakening the Court.

Mr LONSDALE:

– No. If the honorable and learned member desires to have a strong Court, I am quite with him- in that regard. But I contend that this proposal does not tend to weaken the Court. I do not go so far as to say that we do not need to have three Judges. I hold that if we had to spend £4,000 or . £5,000 a year in order to secure a strong, efficient Court that would settle disputes, it would be economical to incur the expenditure. Even if I believed that three Judges were necessary, I would vote for having two of them entirely separate from nomination by the participants in the dispute.

Mr. EWING (Richmond).- I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs, as the Prime Minister is absent, whether, under the Bill, it is intended that the assessors, as in New South Wales, shall form part of the Court, and decide what the verdict shall be?

Mr Hughes:

– I do not think so. I am only expressing my personal opinion. I do not see it indicated in the Bill, except that the Court shall consist of a Judge.

Mr Deakin:

– It says that the powers . and duties of the assessors shall be prescribed.

Mr Hughes:

– Quite so. I . do not know what their duties will be; but I assume from the very nature of the thing that they will be experts; pure and simple, to elicit and to interpret evidence, and that’ the Judge will be there, to weigh the evidence. For that reason I am inclined to think that it would be inadvisable and un-. necessary to clothe them with the functions and powers of Judges.

Mr EWING:

– Before considering this question at all, it appeared tome to be necessary to get . a statement of that kind. I do not desire to follow the honorable and learned member for Ballarat of the Prime Minister into the question of the importance of the matter, as it is granted by all,, or into the question of whether an expenditure of a few hundreds or few thousands would be involved. If that would bring about the result desired, it would be simply not worth considering. The real question we have to determine is, how we can get the best Court possible? Shall we have a Court formed by one Judge, to be selected .because of his ability ? If the assessors are to have the same rights as in New South Wales, there will in each case be put on either side of the Judge a partisan who will come fresh from his work, with a full knowledge of the technicalities of the trade concerned, and of its existing conditions. That is quite right, if what we desire is a partisan. But it must not be forgotten that he will go upon the Bench armed with more than experience, more than knowledge, and more than acquaintance with the existing conditions of a trade. He will go there with a bitter hostility to the other side. If that be so, it is perfectly clear that to give to partisan assessors any right in declaring the judgment of the Court would be little more than farcical.

Mr Hughes:

– I am inclined to agree with the honorable member. I say that the Judge should be the person to deliver the verdict, and in effect he will be under this provision.

Mr EWING:

– The suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is that there should be a Judge chosen for the reason for which Judges are usually chosen, and, on either side of him, a partisan, perhaps, but one who, matured by experience, and having increased knowledge, would be prepared to take a more comprehensive view of questions coming before him than would a person fresh from the scene of conflict.

Mr Hughes:

– I admit that, as a Judge, he would be matured by experience. But he would lose in his character as an expert, as he might know nothing of the conditions of a trade in connexion with which he was called upon to give a verdict.

Mr EWING:

– I grant that. But I contend that a nian without special knowledge of a technical matter may do what is right. I am inclined to think that any intelligent man can understand the conditions governing, any trade, provided he is given time. If, for instance, the technical conditions covering engineering works were placed before, laymen in this Committee by an expert, I believe that honorable members would be able to give a correct verdict on any ques tion raised in connexion therewith. I think that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is looking for a little cheap jus,tice also in proposing two men at £700 a year each. But if we are to have assessors they should be permanent men, and not partisans fresh from the field of battle. The assessors should be men having the experience and mature judgment which the permanency of their position would give them, whilst if they are to be merely counsel for the belligerents the whole status of. the Court will be altered.

Mr. ROBINSON (Wannon).- I find myself on this clause forced to vote with the Government. After listening to the debate, and guided by what I have gathered with respect to the working of the Arbitration Court in New South Wales, I have come to the conclusion that the position taken up by the Government in this matter is sound. It appears to me that the original proposal to constitute the Court with a Justice of the High Court and two other persons receiving £700 a year each, is very much like having a Court composed of a first-class Judge with two honorary Justices of the Peace to assist him. I do not think that such a Court would be of very much use in elucidating questions submitted to arbitration.

Mr Bamford:

– In this case the Justices of the Peace would not be honorary.

Mr ROBINSON:

– No, they would be paid something, and the question of expense should be considered. I believe that for the £1,400 a year, which it was originally proposed we should pay these individuals, we should get. little or no service. If my reading of the Constitution is correct, there will be comparatively few disputes arising that can come within the purview of the Federal Arbitration Court, and it seems to me that it would be the height of folly to give two men an appointment for seven years at £700 a year each when they might only have to . work a month or two in each year. I do not think that the appointment of these individuals would strengthen the Court in any way, and their non-appointment would result in some savins’ to the community. From -what I can gather, in New South Wales the employers representative looks after the interests of the employers,’ and the workers’ representative looks after their interests, while the Judge holds the balance between the two partisans. I do not think that the com- munity should be called upon to pay two partisans a permanent salary. In my opinion, the Government proposal, in addition to being the more economical, is the one likely. to give the best results, and I, therefore, -find myself in the peculiar position of having to vote with honorable members op;posite.

Mr. JOHNSON (Lang). - I think that the Government have taken up a perfectly sound position in connexion with this clause. Even if we had not the experience of existing Arbitration Courts to guide us, we are aware that men are naturally affected by bias either for one side or the other. We may assume that they would always be inclined to be perfectly fair, but they would always be influenced by an unconscious bias’ in favour of the particular side which they represented, and, to a greater or less extent, that must affect the soundness of their judgment. It has come to be looked upon as a legitimate function of the lay Judges elected as members of an Arbitration Court to represent either one side or other in a dispute, that they shall maintain the attitude of advocates of the opposing parties in the dispute, and endeavour to influence the President of the Court in favour of their particular side. It necessarily follows that the judgment of the Court is a biased judgment. The proposal of the Government that only one Judge should be appointed is a sound one, provided he is allowed the benefit of expert assistance in dealing with technical matters. I believe it is fair, also, that the charge for this expert assistance should be borne, not by the parties to a dispute, but by the Commonwealth Government. When I read the clause as originally proposed, I intended to submit an amendment similar in effect to that which is now before the Committee. I am glad that my idea has been anticipated. The Government have acted wisely in this matter, and I am prepared to support them in the amendment of this clause.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 12 -

The .President shall be a Justice of the High Court.

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– Honorable members will observe that the omission of certain clauses, which is proposed by the. Government, is consequent upon the amendment just carried.

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– I wish to ask the Prime Minister the reason for the amendments proposed in this part of the Bill? The original proposal was that “ the President shall be a Justice of the High Court.” The Government now propose that “ the President shall be appointed by- the Governor-General from among the Justices of the High Court.” I find lower down a provision specially made for the travelling expenses of the President, and that- regardless of, the fact that the Judiciary Act makes provision for the expenses of the Justices of the High Court.

Mr Watson:

– We can consider that matter when we come to it.

Mr KELLY:

– I wished only to know the reason for the proposed alteration in this respect.

Clause negatived.

Clauses 13 to 15, inclusive, negatived. Clause 16 - (1.) Each, member of the Court, except members appointed for the purposes of particular industrial disputes, shall be entitled to hold office during good behaviour for seven years, and shall be eligible for re-appointment, and shall not be liable to removal except on addresses to the GovernorGeneral from both Houses of the Parliament during one session thereof, praying for his removal, on the ground of proved misbehaviour or incapacity. (2.) In the event of the period of office of any member of the Court expiring…..

Mr WATSON:

– I move-

That the following words be inserted at the beginning of the clause : - “The President shall be appointed by the Governor-General from among the Justices of the High Court, and

If that amendment be carried, I propose, later on, to move the omission of the words -

Each member of the Court, except members appointed for the purposes of particular industrial disputes.

The clause will then read -

The President shall be appointed by the GovernorGeneral from among the Justices of the High Court, and shall be entitled to hold office, and so on, in the words of the clause as it stands.

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– The AttorneyGeneral would do well to give this clause his very serious consideration. I do not know, first of all, whether we possess the power to appoint a Judge of the High Court as President, though we may possess the power to appoint the Court. The position of the Justices of the High Court is secured under the Constitution, and that is reinforced by the Judiciary Act. In any case, unless the consent of the Justice be obtained, I can foresee difficulties. There may be questions as to whether we can get or go beyond the Court. I could understand a point being raised as to whether we could impose these new duties, many of which are not judicial, but are administrative and executive, upon Judges of the High Court. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs will remember the American cases, in which when it was attempted by express Statute to impose duties upon the Judges of the High Court, which in their opinion were not strictly judicial, they declined to discharge them, and, although the attempt has been repeated, they have always maintained that position.

Mr Hughes:

– I understand the honor- . able and learned member to say that if the ‘ Judges consented the difficulty would be removed ?

Mr DEAKIN:

– No ; not necessarily. ; The first question is . whether the High . Court, as such, could be appointed to act as . an Arbitration Court. I think it is very possible that it could be called upon to discharge those duties, but the matter is not free from doubt. Then the ques- i tion arises whether a Justice of the High Court could be appointed to act in the man- ‘, ner proposed without his consent, or even . with his consent. These are all nice ques- ‘ tions, and will require careful considera-; tion. If a Justice of the High Court were appointed the President of the Arbi:tration Court, his appointment appears to’, be for seven years only, and he is liable; to removal. I am not quite clear, however, . that we could m’ake an appointment conditional in those respects. That could not be done in regard to his ordinary judicial duties, and so far as his duties . as President of the Arbitration Court would,, be judicial, I doubt if any conditions could be imposed. So far as the duties of the President might be administrative and executive, I question whether a Judge could be forced to discharge them. The provision in ‘ the Bill appears to take it for granted that 1 the whole matter is very simple, whereasit is very complex. The Prime Minister may say that the late Government did .int. avoid these difficulties. That is quite true ; ‘ but this is one of the questions which 1 was . considering with a view to at all events re-‘ drafting the clause. I received it in its; present form from the right honorable mem-j ber for Adelaide, but was never satisfied1 with it. As there is not likely to be any argument, except of a strictly legal character, over this clause, I suggest that it might be either postponed or recommitted.

Mr Watson:

– I, should prefer to recommit it.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I wish to object to the appointment of a Justice of the High Court, or of any Judge, to act as President of the Arbitration Court. I have a variety of reasons to advance, none of which touch on the points mentioned by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I am strongly averse to the appointment of a judicial officer to act in matters which are largely political. Such appoint? ments have done much to undermine the public confidence . in the Judiciary of the United States, and I think that the same result would be brought about here.

Mr Watson:

– Apart from the Arbitration Courts, nearly every arbitration case is best dealt with by Judges.

Mr ROBINSON:

– If it be desired to postpone the clause, I should prefer to defer any remarks I may have to make until a later stage. I should not be content to have the clause recommitted unless I was satisfied that an opportunity would be given to discuss a question which appears to me to be of the greatest importance, although possibly my opinion may not be shared by many other honorable members.

Mr Watson:

– I shall be quite willing to recommit the clause, and give. the honorable and learned member an opportunity to express his objections.’

Mr WEBSTER:
Gwydir

– It has occurred to me that if we appoint a. Judge of the High Court to act as President of the Arbitration Court we may interfere with the discharge of the functions of the High Court as an appellate tribunal.

Mr Watson:

– One Judge of the High Court can sit as a Court of original jurisdiction, and then sit as a member of the Appellate Court.

Mr Deakin:

– We provided in the Judiciary Bill as first introduced, for five Judges, and made it a . condition that no Judge should sit on the Bench when ah appeal was being made against his own .judgment. The number of Judges was afterwards reduced to three, and that arrangement could not be carried out.

Mr WEBSTER:

– The point which I have raised should engage the attention of the Prime Minister.

Mr POYNTON:
Grey

– I think that this matter is worthy of careful considera- tion. Experience gained in connexion with other Arbitration Courts shows that the duties performed by the Presidents unfit them for the- discharge of judicial functions in the ordinary Courts.- -The Judge who acts as President of the Arbitration Court in Western Australia has most emphaticallystated that, as the whole of the cases coming before him have to be settled solely on principles of equity and justice, he has had to discard a great deal of the knowledge acquired by .him in the course of his purely legal training and experience, and that he is rapidly becoming unfitted to discharge ordinary judicial functions. If that be so, we should not appoint a High Court Judge to the Arbitration Court, and expect him to also act -in his ordinary capacity. I hope that the Prime Minister will- consider the question.

Mr WATSON:

– I quite appreciate the value of the suggestion put forward by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat as to the possibility of there being a doubt regarding our power to appoint a High Court Judge’ as President of the Arbitration Court. I have been looking at the provisions of the Constitution relating ‘’ to the Judicature, and I admit that, glanc-1 ing at them casually, it appears that it was contemplated that the duties of Judges of the High Court should be of a strictly judicial character. I do not know how far that might bind us with regard to the appointment of a High Court Judge to per-; form other duties in a different direction, i I think that the suggestion made by the hon,orable member that we should consider this I proposal is a very good one. I should ceritainly like to consult the Attorney-General j in regard to it. If the clause is tentatively) passed in the form proposed by the Govern-‘ ment, I promise to recommit it later on, on, the application of any honorable member. ; As to the suggestion that it is undesirable; that a member of the High Court should be! appointed President of the ArbitrationCourt, it seems to me- that there is no likelihood of our obtaining the services of any , other person more Iikely to give satisfaction, to’ the - .general public. After all, we seek to propitiate the public in regard to’ the settlement of these disputes. They! know that a member of the High Court is specially fitted by his high training and experience to separate individuals from; causes, and that the assured position that ‘ he occupies so safeguards his independence that there is no temptation for him to take; other than a judicial -view of any matter! submitted t’o his determination. ‘ Another question that has been raised rs whether it is wise that the President of the Arbitration Court should be a Judge who, as a member of the High Court, might have to take part in the hearing of an appeal from his decision. I admit that it would be well if we could overcome’ that difficulty ; but the House deliberately determined - and I was a party to the decision - that we should be satisfied for the time being with the appointment of three members of the High Court. Judging by appearances, it is provable that the present members of the Court will have as much work in their present jurisdiction as it is possible for them to do. Should that prove to be the case - should it be demonstrated that it is necessary to appoint a fourth Judge - it will not in any way affect the .propriety, .of the position taken up by the House, when dealing with > the Judiciary Bill, that the necessity ‘for appointing more than three members of the Court should, be tested.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– We have only three Judges of the Supreme Court in Tasmania, and one of them has often to sit with the others to hear an appeal from his judgment.

Mr Isaacs:

– There would be- no appeal from the decision of the President on a question of fact.

Mr WATSON:

– When the honorable member for Grey was speaking, I interjected that there would be no appeal from the decision of the Court on the merits of any case - that the determination of any matter brought before the Arbitration Court from the point of view of equity, would rest solely with that tribunal. The only question that could go to the High Court on appeal would be one as to the jurisdiction of the Court - a question whether the President had rightly interpreted this measure, and its relation to’ the Constitution. That Would be purely a question of law, and in taking part in the hearing of an appeal from his decision on a question of that kind, the President of the Arbitration Court would occupy a position in no wise different from that of any other member of the High Court.

Mr Isaacs:

– He would be in a better position.

Mr Poynton:

– My chief point was that the work which he would be called upon to perform as President of the Arbitration Court would practically unfit him for the work of the High Court, which is conducted on wholly different lines.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not think that any Judge could suddenly divest himself of the knowledge, experience, and capacity to which he owed his original appointment to the High Court. I think he would retain all the qualifications necessary for membership of the High Court, notwithstanding that he became President of this tribunal. I would suggest, however, that the clause be passed, as proposed to be amended by the Government, on the understanding that the question at issue may be debated again on the recommittal of the clause.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendments (by Mr. Watson) agreed to-

That the words “ Each member of the Court except members appointed for the purposes of particular industrial disputes” be left out.

That the words “any member of the Court,” lines ii and 12, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “the President.”

Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 17 negatived. Clause 18 -

  1. There shall be paid to each member of the

Court, except members appointed for the purposes of particular industrial disputes, a salary of Seven hundred pounds per year, and such travelling expenses as are prescribed, but the President shall be paid no other salary in respect of his services under this Act than his salary as Justice of the High Court.

  1. Such salaries shall be charged on and paid out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, which is hereby appropriated for that purpose accordingly.

Amendment (bv Mr. Watson) agreed to-

That the words “ There shall be paid to each member of the Court, except members appointed for the purposes of particular industrial disputes, a salary of Seven hundred pounds per year and such travelling expenses, as are prescribed, but,” be left out.

Mr WATSON:

– I move-

That after the word “ Court,” line 8, the words, “ and shall be paid such travelling expenses as are prescribed,” be inserted.

In reply to the honorable member for Wentworth, I would point out that unless this amendment be made, some doubt may arise as ‘to whether we have a right to apply the scale of travelling expenses, permitted under the Judiciary Bill, to the Judge acting as President of the proposed Court. . Inorder to put this matter beyond doubt, we propose this amendment.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to-

That sub-clause 2 be left out. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause 19 negatived.

Clause 20 -

The President may, by instrument under his hand, appoint any justice of the High Court or Judge of the Supreme Court of a State, to be his deputy. . . .

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– I notice that the Government have circulated amendments to omit the word “Judge” in several places. Might I say that this is an alteration that will be found to be inconvenient, and, I think, unwise. It must have been overlooked that throughout the Judiciary Act, and the High Court Procedure Act, the word “ Justices “ is reserved for members of the High Court, in order to distinguish them from the Judges of the Supreme Courts of the States.

Mr Watson:

– In some of the States the Supreme Court Judges are termed “ Justices.”

Mr DEAKIN:

– It is perfectly true that in some of the States the Judges are entitled to be called Justices; but, for drafting purposes, it makes for brevity and clearness to separate the Federal Justices from State Judges. I suggest we take the clause as it stands.

Mr Watson:

– I am agreeable.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 21 -

Every member of the Court shall, before proceeding to discharge the duties of his office, take before a Justice of .the High Court or a Judge of the Supreme Court of a State an oath or affirmation in the form in Schedule A.

Amendment (by Mr’. Watson) agreed to-

That the words “ Every member of the Court,” be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof The President or Deputy-President.”

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 22 and 23 negatived.

Clause 24 (Duty of President) -

Mr KELLY:
Wentworth

– This clause provides that the President shall endeavour to reconcile parties and prevent and settle disputes, “ whether or not the Court has cognizance of them.” As the President is the Court, I do not see how he could settle a matter without haying cognizance of it.

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– The terms “Court” and “ President” are interchangeable, and the clause as drawn simply saves repetition, the words being used in a technical and official sense.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 25 and 26 agreed to-

Mr WATSON:

– I move-

That progress be reported.

In view of the fact that we have made such progress, for which I have to thank honorable members, I think it only reasonable not to ask the House to meet to-morrow. I intend, however, to ask honorable members to advance a measure one stage this evening.

Question resolved in the affirmative. Progress reported.

page 2239

SEAT OF GOVERNMENT BILL

Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Batchelor) read a first time.

page 2239

QUESTION

KALGOORLIE AND PORT AUGUSTA RAILWAY

In Committee (consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message) :

Mr BATCHELOR:
Minister of Home Affairs · Boothby · ALP

– When this matter was before the Committee on a previous occasion, my predecessor moved that an appropriation should be made for the purposes of a survey, but the motion was not proceeded with. I do not propose to ask the Committee to debate the question to-night, but simply to advance the matter one stage. The Bill will not be introduced now, but I move -

That it is expedient that an appropriation of moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to authorize the survey of a route for a railway to connect Kalgoorlie, in the State of Western Australia, with Port Augusta, in the State of South Australia.

Mr KENNEDY:
Moira

– I am not one who at any time raises captious objections to formal proposals. But, notwithstanding the fact that the Committee have been advised by the Minister of Home Affairs that this is only a formal matter, I propose to take the opportunity of stating my objections to the proposal.

Mr Fowler:

– I rise to a point of order. Is the honorable member for Moira in order in discussing the Bill at this stage? >

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member for Moira may discuss the motion. ‘

Mr KENNEDY:

– I am glad that some interest is being aroused by my announced intention to state my objections.

Mr Fowler:

– It is a very discourteous action.

Mr KENNEDY:

– That is purely a matter of opinion, which I do not intend to discuss. As a matter of principle, when I come in contact with proposals from which

I dissent, I voice my objections at the first opportunity.

Mr Fowler:

– It is not usual to raise objections at a formal stage.

Mr KENNEDY:

– People do unusual things under unusual conditions. To my mind, the introduction of the proposal at this stage is rather unusual, and I may be excused if I take an unusual step.

Mr Carpenter:

– This is a mere formality.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I cannot see that it is a mere formality to assent to the expenditure of £20,000.

Mr Poynton:

– The honorable member for Moira would not complain if it were a proposed expenditure on a water scheme.

Mr KENNEDY:

– When expenditure of that kind is proposed, I shall be quite prep pared to be judged by my actions. I am afraid that, when I reach my subjectmatter, I shall occupy at least two hours. The question is a very important one.

Mr Fowler:

– We shall welcome criticism at the proper time.

Mr KENNEDY:

– But what constitutes the proper time is a matter of opinion. Personally, I think that I am quite within my rights in opposing this proposal tonight.

Mr Page:

– Does the honorable member intend to occupy two hours ?

Mr KENNEDY:

– Yes ; that is not an unreasonable time, considering that I have listened to eight speeches from one honorable member this evening. I wish to point out that before the Commonwealth Government can embark upon railway construction, it is necessary for it to secure the consent of the State or States which the proposed line will traverse. Although some correspondence has taken place between the Commonwealth Government and the Governments of South Australia and Western Australia in regard to the building of a Transcontinental Railway, up to the present time South Australia has absolutely withheld her consent to allow the proposed line to pass through her territory.

Mr Fowler:

– This is merely a proposal to .ascertain whether the Commonwealth would be justified in constructing the line.

Mr KENNEDY:

– The engineers who made a flying survey of the country which would be traversed by the railway, declare that a proper survey of the suggested route would cost £20,000. So far as I am aware, the South Australian Government have not yet assented to the line passing through its territory.

Mr Fowler:

– Yes; they have.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I shall be delighted if’ the honorable member for Perth can show me an authoritative statement upon the matter. I repeat that sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution empowers this Parliament to legislate in respect of -

Railway construction and extension in any State, with the consent of that State.

I hold, therefore, that we have no warrant for incurring the expenditure proposed.

Mr Batchelor:

– The South Australian Government make the granting of their consent conditional upon the results of the proposed survey.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– It is rather too much to see the game.

Mr KENNEDY:

– We are not engaged in the game of bluff at the present time. The financial position of the Commonwealth will not permit of our doing so. At the last elections, I told my constituents that whenever a proposal for expenditure was submitted I would voice my opinion upon it at the first opportunity.

Mr Poynton:

– Irrespective of whether it was good, bad, or indifferent.

Mr KENNEDY:

– This matter has not been sprung upon us. We know very well the view that is entertained in Western Australia in regard to the construction of this line. Reasons have been advanced why it should be proceeded, with. The fact is that the vested interests of Perth and Fremantle have been too strong to permit of justice being meted out to the residents of the gold-fields.

Mr Carpenter:

– Another milestone.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I draw your attention, sir, to the fact that the honorable, member for Fremantle has accused me of adopting “ stone- walling “ tactics.

The CHAIRMAN:

– If the expression used by the honorable member for Fremantle is distasteful to the honorable member I trust that it will be withdrawn.

Mr Carpenter:

– I will withdraw it, sir, if you rule that it is unparliamentary.

The CHAIRMAN:

– It is customary for an honorable member to withdraw any statement which is considered by another honorable member to Be personally offensive.

Mr Carpenter:

– I . withdraw the expression, and substitute for it the statement that the’ honorable member is wasting the time of the Committee.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I am attempting to save £20,000 to the Commonwealth. I do not know whether that can be characterized as a waste of time. The claim that the

Commonwealth should provide the money necessary to construct this line of railway across a wilderness had its origin in the fact that Western Australia refused to do justice to a large section of her people. The vested interests of Perth and Fremantle governed that State to the detriment of the mining districts. Instead of the Western Australian Government constructing a line of railway for a distance of 200 or 300 miles - an undertaking which would prove very remunerative - they wish the taxpayers of the Commonwealth to build a railway across a desert to their State, a distance of 1,000 miles.

Mr Frazer:

– Does the honorable member wish to imply that the people on the gold-fields do not desire the construction of this line? 1 “

Mr KENNEDY:

– I am not implying anything, but telling the honorable member what I think ; and he can draw his own inference.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– They desire to get the line, but wish somebody else to pay for its construction.

Mr KENNEDY:

– Yes, I believe that the residents at Coolgardie, Kalgoorlie, and all the other mining centres in Western Australia are very anxious to have a direct line to Adelaide, a direct line to Sydney, and al direct line to Brisbane, so long as they have not to pay for their construction, and the annual loss which would be involved. In Victoria, we have had considerable experience of this kind. We, in this State, even in the most remote hamlet, where there were only half-a-dozen residents, were most anxious to have a railway line made to our doors, provided that we could get another section of the community to share the expense.

Mr Poynton:

– And you managed to get such lines.

Mr KENNEDY:

– Unfortunately for the general tax-payers, we did get too many lines of that kind, and I have had the bitter experience of having tq pay for the folly of somebody else. When a proposal of this kind is submitted to Parliament, we who have had to pay for our experience should take some little heed of the lessons which were taught to us by wild-cat proposals. We know that States which embarked on such ventures, have been brought up very suddenly; their “uncle” in the old -world has set up his back. What has been the cause of all the trouble in Victoria and New South Wales during the last few years?

Mr Frazer:

– Too much Kyabram !

Mr KENNEDY:

– Unfortunately Kyabram was forced upon the people of this State. The policy of “ borrow-and-bust “ could not be continued, and, notwithstanding its wonderful resources, if Western Australia continues the policy which it adopted in its earlier years, it may come to the same end as the eastern States.

Mr Frazer:

– Western Australia has been keeping, not only her own people, but very many of the people of Victoria.

Mr KENNEDY:

– A great many Victorians, who went over to Western Australia to better their condition, forget the source of their origin, and look down on the State which laugh) them so many useful lessons. They seem to think that, because they are citizens of Western Australia now, they are the “ be all “ and “ end all” of the existence of the Commonwealth. The proposal before the Committee is practically on a par with what was known here as the railway fever in the latter end of the eighties, and which culminated in financial disaster. No doubt the people in the most remote portions of the goldfields of Western Australia are desirous of having railway communication with the eastern States. Supposing that it were constructed, what return would it yield? It would carry a few first-class passengers, a large proportion being dead-heads, so far as revenue was. concerned. What road-side traffic would there be between the terminal points?

Mr Frazer:

– Does the honorable member know that there are 50,000 persons travelling between the west and the east annu-‘ ally ?

Mr KENNEDY:

– How much of the country is settled, even for pastoral purposes? Let us compare the earning power of the proposed line with that of the line connecting Melbourne with Brisbane. I propose to read a few . extracts from the report of the States Engineers-in-Chief, and also from the report of Mr. C. Y. O’Connor, late Engineer-in-Chief for Railways in Western Australia.

Mr Frazer:

– A good man, too. ‘

Mr KENNEDY:

- Mr. O’Connor was a very capable man: and, strange to say, he was trained in Victoria. Perhaps, before I’ read the extracts, it will be wellto illustrate the possibilities of the proposed line, and to compare it with the existing InterState lines. In one instance we have a line connecting two of the largest commercial centres in the Commonwealth, each having a population of about 500,000; traversing a country densely settled from end to end ; with an enormous roadside traffic, both of passengers and freight; and a large revenue from the carriage of mails. With these advantages, it is reasonable to assume that in the matter of earning capacity the highest possible point has been reached by that line. Yet we know, as a matter of fact, that, it is barely earning interest on the cost of its construction. With that experience before’ us, we may consider the conditions of the other proposed line. It would connect two places not nearly so advantageously circumstanced with regard to population, or with regard to the possibilities of trade and commerce; with an intervening distance which is practically unsettled, and without any possibility of settlement on a large scale at any time! unless there should be some mining development which is not at present foreseen. We have the cool proposal submitted to us that we should embark -upon railway construction that will involve the Commonwealth in an expenditure of £500,000.

Mr Webster:

– This is but a proposal for a survey of the line.

Mr KENNEDY:

– I do not desire to take the risk of having the lives of men lost from the attacks of sandflies and mosquitoes in the survey of such a line. Surely we can find better employment for qualified surveyors ? I see no justification for the proposed Bill. I have no wish to inconvenience honorable members, unless it is the intention of the Government to press this matter.

Mr Poynton:

– Why does not the honorable member fight the matter fairly ?

Mr KENNEDY:

– No honorable member can reasonably accuse me of fighting the matter unfairly. When I was asked what I proposed to do this afternoon, 1 gave a clear and definite intimation that I would on the first opportunity, and on every opportunity when this proposal was submitted, fight it to a finish. In the circumstances no honorable member is justified in saying that I am fighting it unfairly.

Mr BATCHELOR:

– It was understood when we proposed to go on with this Bill that there would be no opposition to this formal stage. As there is opposition we do not think it would be fair to ask honorable members to remain later to discuss the matter. It will not make any very great difference to postpone the matter now, except that the stage which we should have taken to-night will have to be taken later on. In the circumstances, I move -

That the Chairman do now leave the Chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.

Mr CARPENTER:
Fremantle

– I regret that the Government should be forced by the action of one member of the Committee to take the course now proposed. I am aware that it is within the rights of any one member of the Committee to block business, if he so desires; but I enter my protest against the forms of the House being used, as I consider, unfairly, to prevent a formal step being taken when no good purpose can be served by such obstruction, and when all that requires to be said upon this proposal may be said when the Bill is introduced. I- emphatically protest against the action of the honorable member for Moira.

Mr POYNTON:
Grey

– I also regret that the Government in this matter have not shown more spine than to permit one honorable member to dictate what the Committee shall’ do. I consider that they have exhibited very great weakness, indeed, in giving way to the honorable > member for Moira.i No other member of the Committee would take up a position such as that assumed by the honorable member. His action is most unreasonable and unfair. He would have had every opportunity to give expression to his views On later stages of the Bill, when we might have had from the honorable member some criticism of the merits of the proposal, instead of the Kyabram clap-trap we have heard from him to-night. On the previous occasion, when this matter was submitted, there was some reason in the objection taken, because there was a no-confidence motion before us. To-night, there is nothing of the kind, and I cannot understand the tactics of the honorable member for Moira, unless it is that he is seeking a cheap advertisement. His action will, no doubt, be very popular in his own district-, where he has a railway to his own door, and railways all round him.

Mr Storrer:

– He has not asked the Commonwealth to pav for them.

Mr POYNTON:

– The Government of Western Australia has agreed to do more than other Governments would have done in such a case. They are prepared to give a guarantee, and they have shown a very liberal spirit, indeed, in connexion with this matter. Such tactics as have been adopted by the honorable member for Moira to pre vent the passing of what has been, in all my political experience, with but a single exception, regarded as a purely formal motion, are not likely to cement good feeling between the States. I am sorry that the Government have taken the course now suggested. We might very well have devoted another hour or two to the subject. It must not be forgotten that this stage will be fought again in the same way. If the proposal is really a part of the policy of the Government, they should not back down because one honorable member says that they should not go on with the business.

Mr Kennedy:

– I did not say that.

Mr POYNTON:

– The honorable member does not desire the Government to go on with the business, and he will not even allow the matter to come before honorable members on its merits. The honorable member has not used a single argument against the proposal. He has merely wasted time.

Mr Kennedy:

– I had not got fairly started.

Mr WATSON:
Treasurer · Bland · ALP

– In reply to the remarks which have fallen from the honorable member for Grey, I should like to say that, when I agreed to endeavour to advance this proposal through one of the formal stages, it was understood that there would be no opposition. The primary business that we have in hand now is the passing of the Arbitration Bill. I was asked by some honorable members representing Western Australia to take this stage towards allowing the Bill for the survey of the Transcontinental Rail- way line to be placed before the House, and I was assured that there would be practically no opposition. We should not be able to keep a quorum if the debate were continued now at any length, and it was only on the understanding that there would be no opposition that I consented to proceed with the motion. With regard to the proposal itself, I can assure the honorable member for Grey that there is no intention on the part of the Government to allow any single member to dominate its policy with regard to the measure. As soon as other matters which we consider of more immediate importance are disposed of, the proposal now before us will be dealt with and carried through as soon as possible.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– If there had been the slightest intention to rush the proposal through the House or to prevent criticism, I could have understood the action taken by the honorable member for Moira.-

I can assure him that the representatives cif Western Australia will welcome discussion and criticism, and will be only too glad to meet it at the proper time. I must confess that I am thoroughly, disgusted with the attitude assumed by the honorable- member for Moira. He has established a reputation which, although it may cause him to stand higher in the estimation of the kind of electors who sent him here, will not confer any benefit upon him, so far as this House is concerned. I can only characterize his action as dirty and contemptible.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order ! The honorable member must withdraw that remark.

Mr FOWLER:

– I withdraw the remark, but I must confess that the treatment accorded to this measure by one honorable member is such as I did not expect, and I am very glad that the attitude adopted by him has not been indorsed by anv other representative in this Chamber.

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

– I would point out that, although the honorable member for Moira may have taken a course which is distasteful to many other honorable members, he has only exercised the right to which he is entitled under the rules of the House. I took objection to this measure at a similar’ stage on a previous occasion, but for the sole reason that I considered that, owing to the important business - practically a vote of censurethen before Parliament, it was not proper to interpose the motion. Tonight, when I was questioned as to my attitude, I stated that I would make no objection to the motion being passed as formal, and I understood that the Prime Minister was willing that it should be brought forward, so long as there was no debate. One honorable member has chosen to debate the matter, and although the irritation of the representatives of Western Australia may be very natural. I do not think that the reflections which have been cast upon the honorable member for Moira can be justified. The Standing Orders provide an opportunity for any- honorable member, who may feel strongly, to express his feelings regarding it, and to display his opposition at any stage.

Mr Fowler:

– The honorable member knows that the Standing Orders are very rarelv taken advantage of in that wav.

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

– Perhaps they are not often availed of ; but I have known of many such instances in the Parliament of New South Wales. Provision is made in the Standing Orders to protect the rights of honorable members who feel strongly, and I do not think any one should be spoken of in the disrespectful terms which have been used in regard to the honorable member for Moira, simply because he may feel strongly, and because he may choose to take advantage of the opportunity which the Standing Orders provide. I should have been very glad if the motion had been, treated as formal ; but I have no sympathy with the strong criticism which has been directed against the honorable member for Moira.

Mr. KENNEDY (Moira). - I wish to say that the indignation expressed, and the hard words used, in regard to myself do not affect my attitude in the slightest degree. I may remind the honorable member for Perth that he was aware, two or three hours before the motion was introduced, of the exact attitude which I should take up. He came to me - not in confidence, but in the same manner that he approached other members - and asked if I was prepared to assent to the motion being taken as formal? I clearly and distinctly told him then that I would oppose the motion whenever it was submitted, and that I would fight the Bill to the fullest extent within my power. Another honorable member, also a representative of Western Australia, came to me, and I repeated that statement to him. My action to-night was in keeping with the pledges that I have given to my constituents. Although it might not suit the convenience of all honorable members. I was acting quite within my privileges ; and surely no one is justified in applying to me epithets which are unparliamentary, or in expressing personal antagonism towards me. I have no feeling in the matter. I was perfectly straightforward and honest with the honorable member for Perth, and when the Prime Minister asked me if I proposed to speak. I told him that I did, and that I would do so at considerable length.

Mr Watson:

– I only ascertained that at a late stage.

Mr KENNEDY:

– That is quite true.

Motion agreed to; progress reported..

page 2243

SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT

Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed -

That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next.

Mr STORRER:
Bass

– I desire to oppose the motion. I know that my protest will be useless, because all these matters are arranged beforehand, without consulting the convenience of those honorable members who leave their businesses in the distant States to attend to public affairs in Melbourne, and who cannot return home during the two or three days’ adjournment at the end of the week. The Government should arrange for intervals between our sitting days sufficiently long to suit the convenience of honorable members who come from distant States. I sat here last night until after 12 o’clock, and I should be prepared to do so every night in the week, in order to push on with the business of the country. I do not care about having to walk about Victoria for two or three days every week, and I strongly protest against the readiness with which the Government accede to adjournments of the kind now proposed.

Mr WATKINS:
Newcastle

– I take the same view as the honorable member for Bass. I think that when adjournments are arranged, the convenience of honorable members who reside in other States should be consulted. If we are to give up our Friday sittings every time we make a little progress on Thursdays, the sooner we are made aware of the intentions of the Government the better. As matters stand, several honorable members from other States will be in Melbourne to-morrow, and they would be better employed in attending the House and transacting public business than in walking about the streets. I strongly urge that we should meet on the prescribed sitting days, unless all sections of the House are given to understand, before the Inter-State trains leave on any Thursday evening, that if is not proposed to meet on the following day.

Mr WATSON:
Treasurer · Bland · ALP

.- I fully appreciate the position taken up by the honorable member for Bass, and the honorable member for Newcastle. If it were simply a matter of pushing on with the work of the House, I should not think of submitting such a motion as this ; but the position is that Ave have done an extraordinary good day’s work.

Mr Watkins:

– That is all the more reason why we should do more.

Mr WATSON:

– We have been able to do so much to-day, because of a proposal that was made that we should adjourn over to-morrow.

Mr Watkins:

– Then, it is a matter of making conditions with the Opposition?

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member has been long enough in Parliament to know that the progress made is very often, to some extent, a matter of conditions. We have to-day gone from clause 4 to clause 26 of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and have dealt with several very . important provisions. The whole constitution of the proposed Court has been changed as the result of to-day’s deliberations, and a vast number of matters has received, not merely consideration, but reasonably detailed attention.

Mr WATKINS:
NEWCASTLE, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; FLP from 1931

– The honorable gentleman’s experience is that when a Government cannot make good progress, it generally determines upon a late sitting.

Mr WATSON:

– Late sittings are generally an indication that the House is not doing a reasonable amount of work.

Mr Watkins:

– That was not the case when we sat under the honorable gentleman’s leadership in another Legislature.

Mr WATSON:

– My experience is that it very frequently happens that if a Government agree that, on a certain point being reached, they will consent to an adjournment for one day, or to a short sitting, that point is reached sooner than would otherwise have been the case.

Mr Hutchison:

– That is to say that time is wasted.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not make any insinuations.

Mr Watkins:

– The honorable gentleman is suggesting that the Opposition acts unfairly.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member knows that when a particular task is set it often happens that much better progress is made than when no stipulation is made as to the work to be transacted before the Government will consent to an adjournment. I am satisfied that we have done as much as it was reasonable to expect in the circumstances, and that we have, in fact, done more than might have been anticipated. We are therefore justified’ in proposing that the House, at its rising, shall adjourn till Tuesday next. .

Question resolved in affirmative.

page 2244

ADJOURNMENT

Public Service Commissioner : Ventilation of the Chamber: Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill. Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to the reply given to-day by the Attorney-General to a question put by the honorable member for Grey. The Herald this evening states that -

In answer to Mr. Poynton (S.A.), Mr. Higgins said he was not aware of any power on the part of the Public Service Commissioner to withhold from an officer who was performing his duties satisfactorily, and against whom no charge of misconduct existed, any portion of the salary or increment voted to him. Mr. Higgins added that he would be glad if the honorable member could furnish kim with any specific instances bearing out the complaint hinted at in his question.

I desire to give the Minister of Home Affairs a concrete case. In the Estimates for 1902-3 a sum of £150 was provided in respect of the salary of a lady supervisor in the Brisbane Telephone Exchange. The salary received by this lady for the year 1901-2 was £130; but, although we have voted her an increase of £20 per annum, the Public Service Commissioner absolutely refuses to grant it to her. I believe that when the Estimates for 1903-4 were before the House, the honorable member for Oxley drew, the attention of the then Minister of Home Affairs - the right honorable member for Swan - to the attitude taken up by the Public Service Commissioner, and received the reply that that officer had the power to withhold the increase, and that the lady supervisor would not receive it. In the Estimates for 1903-4, provision was again made for a salary of “,£150 per annum; but, although attention has been drawn to the fact, the Public Service Commissioner persists in his refusal to acknowledge the determination of Parliament that this lady supervisor shall receive the increased salary voted for her on two separate occasions. In these circumstances, I think that action should be taken to see that this lady receives the money owing to her. It appears to me, from this and other complaints that I have heard mentioned in the House, that the Minister of Home Affairs - whoever he may be - is merely a registration clerk for the Public Service Commissioner. If any anomaly is brought before a member of the Government, the reply is at once given that Ministers are powerless. The question is whether the Public Service Commissioner is going to run Parliament or whether Parliament is going to run him. I regret many votes that I gave on the Public Service Bill. Had I had the experience of Public Service Boards and Committees that many other members of the first Parliament possessed, I should not have voted to give the Commissioner half the power that he at present exercises. I have no wish to use political influence; but I would point out that social influence, which is ten thousand times worse, is used in the Public Service. We can carpet any honorable member who endeavours to use political influence; but we cannot get at those who bring social influence to bear. I ask that this lady shall receive that fair and square treatment to which every member of the Public Service is entitled.

Mr CARPENTER:

– (Fremantle).– I desire to mention a matter that I had intended to bring before the House to-morrow. I refer to the proposed appointment of a Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill. I ask the Government to take into consideration the matter of extending the scope of the Royal Commission, so as to include the protection of the Australian ship-building industry. If we are justified in protecting the Australian ship-owner against unfair competition from outside, we are equally justified in protecting the Australian ship-builder. Considering the importance of the ship-building trade in other parts of the world, it behoves us to look after the Australian industry, and do what we can to place it on a sound footing. The appointment of the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill affords an opportunity to obtain information as to why, up to the present, the ship-building industry of Australia has been a minus quantity. There are facilities for building ships in most of the States, and there are also people prepared to undertake the work; but up to the present it has been the custom of Australian owners to get all their ship-building done outside Australia. We talk of protecting the owners of ships built at foreign ports, and I ask the Government to consider the advisability of allowing the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill to inquire into the matter of protecting ship-builders.

Mr WILSON:
Corangamite

Mr. Speaker, I should like to draw your attention to the state of the atmosphere in this chamber. The whole of this evening the air has been decidedly poisonous to all whose duties compel them to remain within these walls. Such a state of affairs is decidedly reprehensible, and I trust that arrangements will be made for better ventilation, so that our span of life may be extended as far as possible.

Mr WEBSTER:
Gwydir

– It has perplexed me to observe that in the construction of this building there seems to have been no regard paid to ventilation or proper sanitation. The chamber in which we meet is, in my opinion, a monument, of incapacity, exhibiting, as it does, an entire lack of appreciation on the part of the architect of the purposes for which it was intended. The same difficulty is met with in the Parliament House of New South Wales, but in that case there is some excuse, considering that the building was not erected for its present purposes, but simply consists of old Government offices adapted to new uses. In the Sydney House ventilation has been sought by the provision of what is practically a new roof, .so constructed as to allow the. exit of all bad air. I have never seen a Parliament House which exhibits so much extravagance on the part of the designer as the House in which we now meet. Whether we regard the building from the point of view of this chamber, or as a whole, we see that public money has been lavished on useless ornamentation and on corridors, the latter of which are calculated to lay the foundation of* disease amongst all whose duties take them there.

Mr Page:

– Remember, we are only lodgers.

Mr WEBSTER:

– One might be pardoned for expecting that in a city of the character of Melbourne some provision would have been made for connecting the Parliament House, with the sanitation system which has been devised and is being carried into effect. But the building, as we know, it to-day, is simply a condemnation of its designer. The honorable member for Corangamite is entitled to the thanks of honorable members and of the public generally for having called attention to the present state of affairs. I hope that in the construction of the Federal Parliament Houses at the Seat of Government, we shall not seek the advice of an. architect of the same calibre as he who devised this building, which both inside and out affords ample evidence of absolute extravagance, which meets no utilitarian end. I hope that you. Mr. Speaker, may be able to do something in the matter of the ventilation.

Mr MCDONALD:
Kennedy

– In case the Government should seriously regard the’ suggestion of the honorable member for Fremantle, as to raising the fiscal issue in the ship-building trade, I desire to enter my protest, in order that some diversity of opinion may be evident. If we desire a Commission to inquire into the navigation laws’, let us by all means have one in order that the necessary information may be forthcoming on which to compile a Federal Bill. But if a Royal Commission on the fiscal issue be proposed, with a view to encourage the ship-building industry, then I may say that I know several little industries in Queensland which would be the better for similar attention. I imagine that if such an inquiry as the honorable member for Fremantle suggests, were approved, we should, in a very little time, find every honorable member engaged on a Royal Commission, with a view to the protection of other industries.

Mr SPEAKER:

– With reference to the remarks as to the defective ventilation of this chamber, I” may inform honorable members, who are new to the House, that the House Committee of the last Parliament had this matter under their consideration for some considerable time. Before Melbourne became the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, the Victorian Parliament expended a large sum in seeking to provide adequate ventilation within this building with indifferent success; and the conclusion that was arrived at by the House Committee of the Federal Parliament was that, under the circumstances of our occupation, it was not possible to remedy the evils existing except, at prohibitive cost. If, however, at any time when the ventilation seems unusually defective, honorable members will kindly mention the matter to the Clerk, arrangements can al-‘ ways be made for pumping in an additional quantity of fresh air, by which means the vitiated air will be driven out and the atmosphere improved. Further, if honorable members desire, I shall be very pleased to arrange for an early meeting of the House Committee, when the whole, matter can be discussed, and probably some means devised for assisting to meet the wishes of honorable members in what is a very important matter.

Mr BATCHELOR:
Boothby, Minister of Home Affairs · ALP

– The honorable member for Fremantle has requested that the scope of the inquiry by the Commission which it is proposed to appoint upon the Navigation Bill, shall be extended to ship building in. the States. The Government have no objection to considering that matter, but their present feeling harmonizes with the view which was expressed by the honorable member for Kennedy. They think that to give effect to the suggestion of the honorable member for Fremantle would unnecessarily extend the scope of the inquiry. Moreover, we should be unlikely to obtain a report upon the matter within a reasonable time, and the necessity for securing uniform navigation laws- is somewhat urgent. Concerning the .case to which reference was made by the honorable member for Maranoa, I desire to say that during the day I have had brought under my notice a specific instance of an increase which was voted upon the Estimates, but which was not paid, owing, I understand, to the refusal of the Public Service Commissioner to recommend it. I am inquiring into the matter, and I shall also obtain a report upon the case alluded to by the honorable member. At present I can express no opinion upon it, but, in justice to the Public Service Commissioner, I may say that I do not believe he is influenced by social or official considerations, but only by a desire to do absolute justice to the public servants. He may make mistakes, out he is extremely anxious to mete out justice to all. I shall institute an inquiry as to whether he has exceeded his powers in the case in question, and shall lay the results before honorable members at an early date.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at iz.42 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 June 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040609_reps_2_19/>.