2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. THOMAS. - I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs whether the Chief Electoral Officer has yet reported the result of the inquiry held at Broken Hill into a matter of electoral administration there? If so, when will he lay the papers upon the table of the House?
Mr. BATCHELOR.- The report has been received, and transmitted to the GovernorGeneral. I shall place it upon the Library table, so that honorable members may peruse it.
LEAVE OF ABSENCE.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat).- With the permission of the House, I desire to move, without notice -
That leave of absence for one month be granted to the right honorable member for Balaclava.
I regret to say that the operation to which my late colleague and friend has been subjected must be supplemented by a further one, not, I trust, of a serious character, but’ sufficiently serious to detain him from this House for’ some time longer.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL.
Mr. HUTCHISON.-I desire to call the attention of the Prime Minister to the following resolution, passed by the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce -
That this Chamber, having on general grounds already protested against the introduction of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, now that a clause including State servants has been inserted, is of opinionthat it is advisable to urge the Government to promptly protest to the Federal Government against the invasion of State lights by the inclusion of State servants in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
Is there any reason for believing that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, if passed into law as now amended, will invade State rights, or is the resolution merely one calculated to create a false alarm?
Mr. WATSON. - The view of the Government is that the States servants whom we have sought to include in the Bill may constitutionally be brought within the jurisdiction of any Court established under subsection xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution, and we, therefore, do not admit that its provisions are an invasion of State rights. State rights, in my opinion, . are those rights which have not been conveyed to the Federal authority under the terms of the Constitution approved by the people. If the High Court determines that our interpretation of the Constitution is not the correct one, there will . still be no invasion of State rights, because that decision will render the provisions of the measure, so far as they apply to public servants, invalid, and there is no proposal to go beyond that decision. We think that we were acting within the powers given us by the Constitution in including such State employes as now come within the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
KALGOORLIE TO PORT AUGUSTA RAILWAY.
Mr. FOWLER. - I wish to call the attention of the Prime Minister to a matter in regard to which I shall afterwards ask a question. In the Melbourne Age of
Mondav, 13th inst., a leader appears, from which 1 shall read the following extract : -
The desert railway scheme is being pushed forward by the Watson Government as zealously as it was advocated by its predecessors. For extravagant log-rolling this proposal undoubtedly establishes an Australasian record, being simply and solely pressed upon the attention of Federal legislators asthe price by which a few Western Australian votes are to be purchased for the Ministry. The present Prime Minister of the Commonwealth has hitherto been regarded as being neither a buyer nor a seller in the venal market of secret politics. Moreover, he has always given it to be understood that national extravagance in any form is one of his pet aversions.But the experiences of a few weeks in office seem to have reconciled Mr. Watson to the old altitude of the political opportunist. He needs all sorts of support to uphold his Cabinet, and he is told by his immediate adherents that he must not be too squeamish about the motives which prompt any offer of a bargain. Hence the appearance of the sum of£20,000 on the list of appropriations with the object of making a “ contractors’ survey “ through the desert from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie. When the motion was talked out by Mr. Kennedy on Thursday night, the action of the member for Moira was referred to by interested parties as “ dirty “ and “ contemptible.” These epithets would be much more appropriate if used to describe the gigantic fraud which is being attempted on the whole people of Australia by the partisan advocates of the scheme.
I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in his opinion, such expressions as I have just read do not constitute a charge of corrupt practices against, not only the individual members of this Parliament, but Ministers as well ? Does he not consider it necessary, in the interests of political probity and parliamentary honour, to take some action to prevent such disgraceful statements appearing in a public print in the future?
Mr. WATSON. - The insinuation that the proposal for a survey of the railway from Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta has been brought before Parliament by the Government with a view to purchasing the votes of Western Australian members is not only a scandalous one, but, in view of the facts, also absolutely ridiculous. In thefirst place, the representatives of Western Australia in this Chamber are, with one exception, supporters of the Government on matters of general policy quite apart from any question of a Transcontinental Railway. As to the exception, I am sorry to find that the Melbourne Age suggests’ that the support of the right honorable member for Swan is to be bought by this or any other Government on the terms described.
Mr. Deakin. - The bargain does nol seem to have been concluded yet.
Mr. WATSON. - Judging from the reports published in. the Age and other newspapers as to the attitude of the right honorable member for Swan in regard to the Government, the bargain would seem not yet signed, sealed, and delivered. There was no thought of any’ bargain in the minds of Ministers when they put the proposal before the House. None of the representatives of Western Australia in this Parliament approached me on the subject before I entered into communication with1 the Premier of Western Australia as to the contribution which that State might be prepared to mata towards the construction of any railway, and there is not the slightest foundation for the suggestion that T have made a bargain in this regard, or am prepared to secure support from any quarter in which it is offered by making such a bargain. Our action carries out to. some extent the promises made by our predecessors, but the chief reason why we included in our programme the proposal for a survey of the route’ was that we feel that there is in Western Australia a large and comparatively unexplored, area of territory which may prove of immense value to the Commonwealth as a whole, and that it is therefore proper to have it surveyed, to test its suitability for railway construction, and to discover its possibilities for settlement. This survey, however, will not commit Parliamentto any future action in the matter.
Mr. McLean. - Cannot the country be examined without, a contractor’s survey ?
Mr. WATSON.- I do not think that anything less than a survey will show what’ the country is like.
Mr. McLean. - I do not see what a contractor’s survey has to do with the exploration of a country.
Mr. WATSON. - My recollection is that the flying survey spoken of by the Age was made by the Western Australian Government, who sent a surveyor or engineer across country which it was thought might be afterwards selected as the line of route, at their own expense, and not, as suggested by the Agc, at the expense of the Commonwealth.
Mr. Chapman. - Did we not submit the matter to some engineers?
Mr. WATSON. - Yes, but they dealt with the facts as ascertained, and they furnished a highly encouraging report. Thev estimated that within ten years the line would pay ; and surely men like Mr. Deane, the Engineer of Railway Construction in New South Wales, and other highlyqualified men, are entitled to express an opinion upon such a set of facts as were presented to them in this case. Their report was of a very encouraging character, and, in view of the fact that they estimated that the line would pay within ten years, it is of some interest to know that the Western Australian Government are willing to pay more than their proportion of any loss that may occur during the first ten years.
Mr. SPEAKER. - Is the Prime Minister now answering a question?
Mr. WATSON.- I admit that I have gone a little beyond the design of the question. As to the second portion of the honorable member’s question concerning the desirability of the Government taking some action, I do not think it is worth while to make too serious a matter of this expression of opinion on the part of the Age. After all, it is the opinion only of the leader-writer of that newspaper.
Mr. Carpenter. - And he has been exercising his imagination.
Mr Fowler. - It is not even an opinion.
Mr. WATSON.- In any case, I do not think it is worth while to advertise the newspaper in connexion with a matter of this kind, and I have contented myself with a bare statement of the facts, in order to disprove the suggestion that there is anything corrupt in the proposal of the Government.
– I desire to make a personal explanation with regard to some remarks which fell from me in connexion with the debate on the Supplementary Estimates. At pages 2131 and 2132 of Hansard, I am reported as having made a statement, which seems to me to clearly express the view I took with regard to the operation of section 19 of the Victorian Public Service Act of 1900. I said -
The Supreme Court settled, and the High Court confirmed, the amount which was to be paid to Bond, but the amount to be paid in each other case will have to be decided apart from the decision given by the Court? Although the principle is the same all through, it requires to be freshly applied to each particular case.
I urged, therefore, that as each case had to be dealt with by itself, it would be absolutely necessary to obtain a complete quittance and an entire discharge on paying over the sum agreed upon, because, otherwise, the Commonwealth might be asked for£1 more, or be told that it had paid 5s. too much, and possibly become involved in legal proceedings. After dealing with that matter, and replying to the Prime Minister by saying that all I meant was a complete discharge of our obligations to date, I went on to say -
Then arises the question of the claim which has been made for increments. . . Before those increments are paid, a claim will require to be contested in the Law Courts and a decision obtained upon it.
I did not at any time think that we should ask for a. discharge in full in regard to increments, because any legal rights the public servants may possess in that regard have not yet been established, and may never be established. Consequently, I had no idea that I was conveying to the* Prime Minister or his colleagues an impression that would lead them to confuse remarks, which referred distinctly only to the sums which had to be calculated in each case, in consequence of the judgment given in the case of Bond v. The Commonwealth, with the possible claims for increment. In my own mind, the two matters were quite distinct, and I never contemplated that we could dispose of all claims for increments in the way suggested.
.In justice to the honorable and learned member, I might explain that at the time that I made the communication to the press I certainly thought that . he had intended to include in his suggestion the question of the payment of increments. I think that perhaps there was some confusion in the minds of each of us as to the exact matter to which we were referring. If the honorable and learned member will refer . to the report of his speech he will find that he said -
If they accept money at all they must accept it as a complete discharge of our obligations to date.
– But I had not then touched upon the question of increments.
– No; but the question of increments is included in our obligations to date. The officers say that they are in any case entitled, as from 31st March, 1901, to the amount calculated as due to them on the basis of the verdict given in the case of Bond v. The Commonwealth, and also to the increments which have accrued since then, and which are now payable to officers in corresponding positions in South Australia. Therefore, the words “ to date “ led me to believe that the honorable and learned member was referring to a quittance for claims in respect to increments.
– I am glad to have that explanation. I may say, further, that the statement in the press is hardly correct in one minor particular, to which I refer only because the honorable and learned member has mentioned my colleagues in the matter. The question has not been before the Cabinet, but I have decided for my own part that I shall not insist upon any quittance being held to cover claims for increments. We can quite agree with the honorable and learned member as to the desirability of obtaining a quittance concerning any other claims officers may have. The form in which that quittance can be phrased in the receipt is another question. 1 merely sought to convey to the press the information that I would not insist upon these officers abandoning their claims to increments, simply because we were willing to pay them whatever amount was ascertained to be due to them under section 19 of the Act in question.
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Whether, in his opinion, the decision of the Federal High Court in the Tasmanian Postoffice stamp case exempts Federal officers from State taxation?
– The point which is involved in the honorable member’s question will shortly come before the High Court for decision. I need hardly say that that decision will be worth far more than my opinion.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Yes, I understand that natives, par ticularly from the Western Division of British New Guinea, are employed as members of the crews of pearling vessels.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Home Affairs, he insisted that the printing of the Queensland Electoral Rolls should be effected by the Government Printing Office for that State.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will lay on the Table of the Library the papers in connexion with retirement of officers, provided for in Item No. 2, Subdivison No. 3, Division No. 33, Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure, 1903-4?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The papers in connexion with the retirement of the officers referred to are in the Minister’s room, and I shall be glad to show them to any honorable member there.
Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
Whether he will inquire into the subsidy paid by the Western Australian Government for a cheap sea service between Fremantle and Geraldton, with a view to finding out whether or not such subsidy is any contravention of sections 00 and 92 of the Constitution?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The matter will be brought under the Prime Minister’s notice, with a view to the inquiry desired being made.
Clause 27 -
Any State Industrial Authority may, in manner prescribed, request the Court to deaf with any industrial dispute.
When in any State there is no State Industrial Authority, the Governor-in-Council of the State mav request the Court to deal with any industrial dispute.
.- I move -
That the words “ industrial dispute,” line 3, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ dispute in relation to industrial matters if it extends or is likely to- extend beyond the limits of that State.”
This proposal involves the interpretation of sub-section xxxv. of section ‘51 of the Constitution, and raises the question of whether disputes which have not yet extended beyond the boundaries of any one State, should come within the cognisance of the Court. Ever since the Constitution was framed I have entertained the opinion that the words “ prevention of “ - if they have any meaning at all - certainly permit of the Court interfering before a dispute has actually assumed an Inter-State character. Otherwise it seems to me that the phraseology of the Constitution is to some extent meaningless. The language used in sub-section xxxv. is “ for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the boundaries of any one State.” It appears, therefore, that if the words ‘’ Prevention of “ are to be construed at all in relation to those which follow, “ prevention “ must include the power of the Court to intervene before a dispute has actually extended to another State, the assumption being that if the trouble be not corrected it will so extend, and may, in that event, inflict much injury upon the Commonwealth. It seems desirable, therefore, that this Parliament should insert in the Bill some machinery which will permit of the Court interposing where it is likely that an industrial dispute will extend beyond the limits of any one State. In other words, the Court should prevent an anticipated extension of an industrial trouble. Except from the purely legal standpoint, there does not seem to be a great deal of room for argument upon this question. I do not think there is any honorable member who does “not believe that, if the Court is to achieve what we desire, it must work rather in the direction of preventing than of remedying disputes. In other words, it will provide’ against industrial troubles developing into strikes, rather than settle disputes after strikes have worked large injury to the community generally.
– Who is to decide when a . dispute is likely to extend beyond the limits of any one State?
– The Court. In my judgment, no other body could decide that question. Under clause’ 30 of this Bill, if the registrar thinks that a prima facie case has been established that a dispute is likely to extend beyond the limits of any one State, the duty is cast upon him of bringing it before the Court, which immediately has cognisance of it. Nevertheless, the Court has power to decide that a dispute is not likely to extend, and to ignore it. I admit that the interpretation of this constitutional provision is a matter for the High Court eventually to determine.
– Is the interpretation which the Prime Minister is placing upon the Constitution to be confined to clause 27?
– No. We do not desire to confine it in that way. We wish to leave the Court free to say what is the exact interpretation of the phraseology of the Constitution.
– But the Prime Minister is placing his interpretation of sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution in one portion of the Bill only. ‘
– If the proposal of the Government be agreed to, we can afterwards reconsider the interpretation clause.
– Look at clause 26.
– Yes. That clause states -
The Court shall have jurisdiction to prevent and settle, pursuant to this Act, all industrial disputes.
– But the Government now propose to go further. They are more specific.
– Certainly we are more specific, but we do not propose to go further. After all, the question involved is, “What is the interpretation of subsection XXXV. of clause 51 of the Constitution ?” We contend that the words “ prevention and settlement “ include more than the settlement of a dispute. If a disptue must have already extended beyond the limits of a State before the Court can step in, then, certainly while there may be settlement there is not prevention. If, on the other ha.id, the Court has power to step in, and if - it must always be remembered - the Court desires to exercise that power before the dispute has already extended, then the intention of the Constitution in regard to prevention is being carried out. No one can, I think, say that we go beyond the simple proposition that in our view the Constitution contemplates the right of ‘the Court to step in, with a view to prevention ; we have no right to minimise or to limit the power of the Court, nor would it be wise to do so even if we had the right. My own view is that the best attitude for th.-i community to take up wherever possible is that of securing the prevention of industrial troubles rather than their settlement after an acute phase has been reached. On these grounds I submit the amendment.
– One has to put the same view again and again in the course of the consideration of this Bill, in order, if possible, to focus the attention of honorable members on what is really important in amendments of this kind. As
I have already often said, the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide, in drafting the measure, went to the utmost extreme it was possible to go with safety; indeed, he went further in certain particulars than I should- have cared to go, and certainly further than I should have gone had the drafting been left altogether to myself. If we wish to obtain the benefits of the Constitution in this regard it is necessary for us, as early as possible, to place on the statute-book a measure of conciliation and arbitration to the full extent that is clearly within our power, in order that we may have, throughout the whole of Australia, the benefit of a Federal Court of distinction and ability - though it will not be so strong a Court as I should like - to operate in great disputes, such as have occurred in the past, and which we desire to prevent and settle in the future. Here we have another illustration of “ stretching the bow,” so to speak, to an extent which threatens breakage, by introducing- what even the Prime Minister, by his method of argument, admits to be a doubtful and difficult proposal. The Prime Minister desires to bring within the Bill, at once, every possible class of persons and every possible set of contingencies it can be made to embrace, even though by so doing he may be stretching our endowment of power under the Constitution.
– I admit I am stretching the language.
– The speech of the Prime Minister shows that he felt a very natural, and, I think, a very proper hesitancy in making up his mind whether the amendment he proposes comes within the Constitution. In my view, the amendment does not come within the Constitution; and that for a twofold reason. I shall read once more the sub-section of the Constitution from which we derive all our authority in this regard -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
Though there is a possible reading which would give “prevention” a somewhat greater scope, the plain meaning is that both as regards prevention and settlement, the section does relate to disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. It very probably! does not go one inch further.
– How can we “prevent” a dispute which does extend?
– That, first of all, is not our business. If it is clear that we are given power to prevent and settle disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State - that is to say, which do extend beyond - we are on safe ground in passing legislation tothat extent. We are satisfied that the Court will give effect to such legislation. But directly we go beyond, we get into the . region of uncertainty and perplexity. As I pointed out the other evening, if once we overstep the plain limits of the clause as introduced, it would’ be impossible for any Court to draw a line at which the power of this Parliament would stop. The smallest dispute in a barber’s shop or a butcher’s back yard, may be* “ likely to extend “ beyond any one State. The- mere fact that a dispute takes place in a border town may indicate that it is “ likely to extend “ beyond the limits of that State. The Federal Court is required to deal with disputes of magnitude extending beyond the limits of any one State - to deal with Federal disputes - but if we once stretch its jurisdiction to disputes “ likely to extend “ beyond the limits of any one State, we really abolish the only limitation of its powers.
– The Court still will have the power to dismiss any matter as trivial.
– I answered that point the other night, but shall have to repeat the argument. I say that, even from the standpoint, of practical expediency, we shall choke, if we do not kill, this Court, by enabling trivial questions to come before it. Although we have conferred a great measure of self -protection on the Court, in order that it may brush such trivialities away, the Court, as now constituted in consequence of the amendments of the Government, will be very much less able to put those cases aside and shake itself free than it was under the Bill as drafted by the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide. There is another point worth looking ‘ at. This clause attempts an endowment of a body which is not under our control -
Any State industrial authority may, in manner prescribed, request the Court to deal with any industrial dispute.
What we are purporting to do here is to authorize a State industrial authority, created by a State Act of Parliament which limits its powers, to request the Federal -Court to deal with an industrial dispute “likely to extend” beyond the limits of any one State. The amendment, from one aspect, leaves the clause relatively harmless. We are authorizing a State body to abandon its own power so as to request the Federal Court to take action. We push tha matter further back. First of all. the State industrial authority may not choose to exercise the power, and if it does choose to exercise it, all that can follow is a request to the Federal Court, to which the latter may not agree. I am, first, going to grant an argument to the Government that in this particular sub-clause the amendment does not mean very much. But,’ having done that, I proceed to say, as I have already argued, that the amendment’ does mark a trespass; and every trespass is not only a legal wrong but a tactical mistake. In this particular matter the endowment is of a State industrial authority, and with new jurisdiction - possibly new jurisdiction - not to decide matters which it is created to decide under a State statute, but to decide whether a particular dispute, with which it may or may not be competent to deal under its own statute, possesses one particular feature - the feature of being “ likely to extend “ beyond the limits of any one State: That is an endowment of power, such as it is.
– The amendment is a variation of terms, and does not mean more than the clause means at present.
-“ Likely to extend “ does not mean more than the amendment?
– There can be no jurisdiction, according- to the Government’s definition, unless the dispute is likely to extend.
– But” the State authority is to be made the judge?
– That is so, without the new words proposed.
– I , think not. The words are “extends, or is likely to extend.”
– It would be as wellto make the matter quite clear, when there is doubt as between such eminent legal authorities.
– I differ altogether from the view taken by the honorable and learned member for Angas. The amendment is quite clear.
– Can a State authority refuse to ‘exercise its ordinary statutory authority, on the ground that the dispute is likely to extend beyond a State?
– I have not yet got that far. The honorable and learned member for Angas may give us his reading of the proposal when he addresses the Committee. The former words are -
Any State industrial authority may, in manner prescribed, request the Court to deal with any industrial dispute.
That means an industrial dispute which has extended beyond the limits of one State. As I have already put to the Committee, the case may be this : There is an extension of a dispute beyond one State, but the extension is practically only nominal. Really, the whole dispute is within one State. Then the State industrial authority may say - “ Although this dispute is in our State, there is some overlapping on the other side of the border, and we request the Federal Arbitration Court to deal with it.” The Federal Court might hand back the case, and say - “ This dispute is really altogether in Victoria. It is true that there is an extension of it in New South Wales, but only to a trifling degree The dispute embraces 100 workshops in Victoria, but only one little unimportant workshop in New South Wales. There is consequently, an insignificant extension, not a real extension.” Or a State industrial authority, if a dispute extends beyond a State, may desire to relieve itself of the case because it is overburdened .with work, or for any other cause. It may ask the Federal Court to undertake what that Court can only undertake if it has the legal power to do so. which this amendment assumes. That much, however, is by the way. I come now to this point: This is, or puiports to be, an endowment of power. If it means anything, “it gives a. State industrial authority a power which it did not previously possess, and that without regard to the Statute under which it is constituted. It gives a. State industrial authority, which may be a Wages Board in Victoria, or a Court of Arbitration in New South Wales, power to refer to the Federal Court disputes which, though they may afterwards extend beyond its borders, may then be in course of being dealt with by the State authority. The State authority deals with a dispute which is only within its own State. While that authority is considering such a dispute, it may extend and thus pass under the Federal jurisdiction. In such a case, the State industrial authority might stay its own procedings, and call upon the Federal body to undertake them, and so relieve itself of the task of completing an inquiry which it had commenced. Then again, we have under this amendment an endowment of the local State authority with power to so request the Federal Court in a case in which the dispute does not extend, but is in the opinion of that body likely to extendi That, although a small trespass, is, nevertheless, a trespass, and might be serious. But then arises the question whether - as the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has interjected - we have power to endow this State industrial body with some power that is not within the scope of the authority already conferred upon it, and mav even be in conflict with State legisIation. Suppose a State thought fit to prohibit its own local authority from dealing with a question simply because it was likely to extend beyond- one State. Does the AttorneyGeneral say that in such a case we could over-ride the State’ law? To do so he must take the most unduly extensive view of the .endowment of sub-section xxxv. It is. I protest, the most mischievous thing possible to insist at this stage upon such an extension. There are veryproblematical, benefits to be gained, and there is a great deal of injury to be done to this intricate piece of legislation, and to a Federal Arbitration Court, already surrounded with grave problems. These imply not only the problems immediately brought before the Court, but questions as to the occasions on which it will be possible to appeal from the Court to the High Court, in order that the full scope of section xxxv. may be determined. It appears to me to be most unfortunate that at this juncture we should attempt to deal with this matter of conciliation and arbitration as if we were dealing with it for the last time ; as if no future Commonwealth Parliament could take the opportunity of amending the Bill which we are passing; as if, supposing we did not take the fullest measure of authority on this occasion, we should forego our. powers altogether, .as if we were condemned under the heaviest “penalties, not only .to do wh*at we reasonably must feel ourselves called upon to do, but to undertake many doubtful and hazardous expedients, seeking to extend the authority conferred bv this Bill, irrespective of the limitations laid down bv the Constitution. It is just possible that the Constitution may hereafter be read so as to embrace the powers now sought to be exercised under it. I very much doubt it ; but, even if that be so, it is the height of un- wisdom in this measure to risk clause after clause, each one of which will possibly require to form the subject of a separate application to the High Court in order to determine whether or not we have the power to act under it. If this measure is to be passed, and these provisions be insisted upon, we shall have clause after clause inviting appeals to the High Court, afterthe parties have already been put to great expense and trouble,, in order to determine whether or not the authority exercised under them by the Arbitration Court is constitutional. But I am only repeating in another form arguments which I have already addressed to the Committee upon this point. I do ask the AttorneyGeneral to say whether he considers it worth while to introduce this further extremely doubtful proposition - at all events, whether the gain is commensurate with the danger of overstepping the plain words of the Constitution,, when we deal with disputes extending beyond any one State. Is it wise to interpret that to mean that we are empowered to give a State authority jurisdiction to request the Federal Court to deal with disputes that are only likely to extend beyond _ a State? This is a fruitless power unless the dispute, which has not extended beyond a State, but which is merely likely to extend, may be dealt with by “ the Federal Court. That is more than doubtful. Here we are proposing to give power to a State authority to send a dispute to the Federal Court. But, unless the Federal Court has the power to deal with a dispute, when it is only “ likely to extend,” but, as a matter of fact, has not extended, beyond a State, the Federal Court will be powerless to deal with it, and can only refer it back. So that really in these words are involved two questions. The first is, whether we can give a State industrial authority power to send on to the Federal Arbitration Court a dispute, simply because it is likely to extend beyond the State in which it has occurred ; and, next, whether the Federal Court, if it gets such a case before it, will have jurisdiction to deal with it. Those are two assumptions which, it appears to me, it is not only unwise to make, but as to which, if we’ can make them, we shall merely be overloading this measure.
– I should like to say a few words with regard to the contingencies arising under this clause, which has. been so widely attacked. But before doing so, I may say that it does not add one iota to the power which the proposed Court will possess. Honorable members may take it that there is not in this clause, nor in the amendment to the clause, any fraction of power added to the Court of Arbitration.
– If the Court has no power, what is the use of it?
– It seems to give an interpretation.
– I wish, first, to have it understood that, if my honorable and learned friend wanted to attack this interpretation oE the Constitution, he ought to have attacked it under clause 26, which has been passed. That is the only clause which gives jurisdiction. These clauses merely state who can bring the case before the Arbitration Court. One of the authorities which can bring the case under the Arbitration Court is an organization ; another is the registrar ; and another is a State industrial authority ; and clause 27 simply says that a State industrial authority shall have the power to bring the case under the attention of tha Arbitration Court.
– That is all that it did say.
– The amendment is a limitation of the clause as it stands, because if a dispute extends it cannot be referred.
– I am afraid that I must have possession of the chair for the time being, and leave my honorable friends to fight it out. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat exceeded fair limits, I think, when he spoke of our allowing trivial disputes to be brought before the Court. What does it mean ? Is it a trivial dispute when a State Court of Arbitration says that a local dispute is too wide-spreading for it to deal with, that the dispute is likelv to go beyond, the limits of the State?
– It may arise in two shops in two border towns, separated by a river.
– Are we not to trust the State industrial authority ; are they fools? We must trust the State industrial authority to be fairly constituted of sensible men, and if they think that a dispute is so grave and so serious as shortly to be passing out of their control, they can sav to the Federal authority. “It is time for you to take it up.”
– Can they decline to exercise jurisdiction on that ground?
– They can exercise a discretion; there is no obligation to send it on.
– They are under an obligation to settle the State dispute.
– I have no doubt that my honorable and learned friend will bear me out in this statement, that there is no obligation on the part of a State industrial authority to send to a Federal Court a dispute that is likely to extend beyond the State.
– Can they refuse, on that ground, to determine a State matter that is before them ?
– That is, I think, confusing two ideas.
– I think that they can say, “ We do not think it is a matter that we should send to the Federal Court.” But admit that they would be bound’ if the matter were brought before them, to consider whether they ought to send it through or not. I have disposed - at all events to my own satisfaction - of the idea that trivial disputes are brought before the Court.
– They, may be trivial.
– I intend to trust the Arbitration Courts.
– They cannot make them great.
– What is the history of this clause? As it originally stood, it provided that -
Any State industrial authority may request the Court to deal with any industrial dispute.
– “An industrial dispute,” as it was then defined.
– That is the way in which the clause stood in the Bill of the ate Government at the time of my second reading speech. I pointed out that there was no good in the provision, if a State industrial authority could refer a dispute only after it had extended beyond the boundary of the State, because the Federal Court would already have jurisdiction. Then it was that the late Prime Minister put it to me with a great deal of force that it was advisable, so far as we could, to get the two sets of industrial authorities into touch by any means in our power. 1 acceded to that. ‘ Our principle in the drafting of amendments has been, as far as we possibly could, to avoid changes in the proposals of the late Government except where, in our opinion, they were absolutely essen- I tial. Therefore, having regard to other and substantial reasons, we determined to keep to this clause as closely as possible. The only way in which I saw that the clause could be made useful was by saying that a State industrial authority should be allowed, if it thought fit, to send to the Federal Court any dispute of which it had cognisance, if it extended, or was likely to extend.
– Those are the words - “or is likely to extend.”
– We wish to make this clause of some use. We will suppose that we have passed a clause giving the Federal Court the- power to prevent, as well as to settle, disputes. Well, supposing that I wish to prevent a plague as well as to settle a plague, or cure it. Surely, in order to prevent a plague, I may take precautions to prevent the plague from coming in before the ship lands her passengers. If we had power only to cure a plague we could deal only with people who were infected. So, on the same principle, we wish to treat an industrial dispute - as if it were a plague. We wish to adopt measures which will prevent industrial disputes which extend beyond the limits of any one State.
– Why do not the Government follow the words of the Constitution ?
– This is not the clause for doing that. We have done that in clause 26.
– That is to prevent disputes.
– Quite so. We have followed the words of the Constitution in clause 26, which the Committee has passed without any demur.
– Why do not the Government follow them here ?
– Because this is not the place for doing so. The honorable and learned member might as well say that we ought to follow them in the clause which enables the Governor-General in Council to make regulations. This is not the place for doing so. Under the head of cognisance of disputes. and ordinary procedure, the clause merely provides machinery by which the Federal Court of Arbitration shall have matters brought under its notice, and; in truth, if one looks at clause 27, it will be seen to be the most petty one in the series. If anywhere, it ought to come in as a subclause to clause 28. The latter says that- the Court is to have cognisance of certain industrial disputes - first, those which are certified by the Registrar; secondly, those which are certified by an organization ; and thirdly, those which are sent on by a State industrial authority. Then there might be a clause, if desired, to the effect that a State industrial authority may request the Court to hear a case. That is the tru E position of the matter, only that it is not worth while to alter the wording. If honorable members will treat clause 27 as though it came in at the end of clause 28, they will see what I mean - that it is merely a piece of machinery to make the Bill fit in with the machinery of a State industrial authority. We give no new jurisdiction here.,
-“ Or is likely to extend “ - that is the whole contention.
– The whole of that power we take in clause 26.
– No; the words there mean “ extending beyond any one State.”
– There is no meaning in the word “ prevent,” unless we are dealing with things before they happen. I do not see how we can get out of that position. What is the use of talking of prevention if we carnot deal with a thing before it happens?
– Then, we have no need to say “ extending beyond any one State.”
– I can prevent a plague from extending beyond Victoria into New South Wales : but I do so by dealing with it before it goes over to New South Wales. It is a mere question of words. It seems to me that the honorable and learned member is striking at the wrong clause. What he ought to have struck at was clause 26.
– I am quite satisfied as to that.
– And the honorable and learned member ought to have struck at the sub-section when it was being put into section 51 of the Constitution.
– That is another thing.
– Yes. Since the word “ prevention “ is in the sub-section we can give effect to it. The honorable and learned member has drawn a harrowing picture of all the consequences of a State industrial authority being allowed to interfere with the Federal industrial authority in this way. He says this clause” means that the opinion of a State industrial authority determines what matters may be dealt with by the Federal authority. I dispute that reading.
– That is not what I said. I made two points. The first is that the Bill casts upon the State authority the new duty of forming an opinion as to whether a dispute is likely to extend, and, if they send it on, gives to the Federal Court power to deal with a dispute within a State, because, in its opinion, it is one likely to extend be- yond the State.
– If the honorable and learned member did not mean that it will be for the State industrial authority to decide finally whether a dispute is or is not likely to extend-
– The State authority decides that before making the request.
– I gathered from the honorable and learned member’s argument that he considered that the State industrial authority will be the final authority to decide whether a dispute is or is not likely to extend.
– No; each body decides that.
– Then I need not refer further to that portion of the honorable and learned member’s argument, beyond assuring honorable members that the State industrial authority does not finally decide the matter. If the Federal Court finds that a dispute does not extend, or is not likely to extend, beyond a State, it can say, “ We will not deal with it; “ and if it did deal with such a dispute, the High Court could interfere by certiorari or injunction to prevent it. All that the State industrial authority, has to do under this clause is to say, “ We think this matter sufficiently important to be brought before the Federal Court, because it is extending, or is likely to extend, beyond the limits of the State.”
– I think the clause a mistake. Clause 28 is the clause which really vests jurisdiction in the Federal Court to hear these disputes. It is not for us to tell the State authority to refer disputes to the Federal tribunal. All we have to do is to declare and define the jurisdiction of the Federal Court. Whether the State authority refers or does not refer a dispute” is a matter for its own consideration’. This is not merely a technical objection ; it is a substantive one. The State authority will, presumably, deal with any dispute arising in the State, and we are now asking it to destroy its jurisdiction by handing over to the Federal authority disputes which it thinks likely to extend beyond the State. We ‘ are asking the State authority to destroy the jurisdiction to exercise which it was created by a State Act. If the State authority made a mistake, and referred a dispute which was purely a State dispute to the Federal authority, it might be impossible to settle that dispute. If the Federal authority had jurisdiction, the dispute would, of course, be settled by it. But if it had not jurisdiction, if the interpretation put upon the Constitution by the Government is wrong, and a “ dispute likely to extend “ is not a dispute within the meaning of the Constitution, the Federal Court will be unable to settle it, and in the meantime’ it will have been left unsettled by the State Court. I think it is a wrong way to proceed to say that the State authority should refer a dispute if, in its opinion, it is likely to extend beyond the limits of the State. All we are concerned about is that the Federal tribunal shall have authority where its jurisdiction exists to decide the matter. For that reason I think that the clause should be struck out.
– The honorable and learned member is against the whole clause?’
– Yes, as a matter of machinery, because it may lead to an unfortunate position if the State authority makes a mistake as to the Federal jurisdiction.
– And that mistake may be founded on a question of fact.
– Yes. Even assuming that the Federal sphere covers disputes which are likely to extend beyond the limits of any one State - an interpretation ‘of the Constitution which is still open to challenge - the State authority may make a mistake of fact. It may decide that a dispute is likely to extend, while the Federal authority may decide that the dispute is n”t likely to extend, and thus we shall have two authorities coming to contrary decisions upon a question of fact.
– While the dispute itself remains unsettled.
– It is not provided that after the Federal tribunal has decided that a dispute is not likely to extend beyond the limits of any one State the procedure iri the State Court shall be resumed at the stage at which it was stopped when the dispute was transferred to the Federal authority. I think that we should keep to the ordinarymethods of draftsmanship, and, in creating the Federal tribunal, merely define its jurisdiction.
– That is done bv clause 26.
– It is also done by clause 28.
– It is necessary to distinguish between jurisdiction and cognisance. Jurisdiction has already been given. Cognisance determines the question who is to bring matters before the Court.
– If we provide in clause 27 that the State authority may bring matters before the Federal authority, why should we pass a provision like paragraph c of clause 28 ?
– That paragraph has nothing to do with jurisdiction.
– I know what the AttorneyGeneral wishes the clause to prescribe, but what it does prescribe is that the Federal tribunal shall have cognisance of any dispute referred to it by a State authority. Why go beyond that? Does not that give it jurisdiction, and vest it with power to entertain the dispute? Why incur the possibility of bringing about an unfortunate position through the mistaken exercise of jurisdiction by a State Court ?
– The honorable and learned member’s objection is to the drafting of the late Government. Clause 27 was drafted by them, and he says that it is not necessary.
– To that extent the drafting of the late Government is faulty. The clause is not only unnecessary, but it is also dangerous. It will be more dangerous if the amendment is carried, because, although the late Government originally started with the idea that the Federal tribunal would have jurisdiction to deal with disputes likely to extend beyond the borders of one State, its members have now abandoned that idea. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat now thinks that a dispute is not capable of coming within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court unless it extends beyond the limits of a State, which i’s very different from the position which he took up when AttorneyGeneral a year ago. There will be less harm in leaving the clause with that interpretation than in giving to the Court the extended jurisdiction now proposed - a jurisdiction over, what is really a -State dispute, though a dispute likely to extend beyond the limits of that State, in which case it is proposed that the State authority shall have jurisdiction to refer the dispute to the Federal tribunal. I do not think that the Constitution confers upon us the right to give jurisdiction with - regard to the mere likelihood of a dispute extending beyond the borders of a State. If die dispute does so extend, it comes clearly within the jurisdiction of the Federal Court j but if it does not extend we have no power to interfere. We might prevent a dispute from extending beyond a State by imposing what I may call an anticipatory penalty.- We might declare that any organization or employer who caused a dispute to extend beyond the limits of a State should be subject to a fine or imprisonment. We might by this means prevent a State dispute from becoming a Federal dispute ; but the Constitution does not contemplate our going beyond that. We could endeavour to prevent a dispute from extending beyond the State; but until it became, a dispute, such as is contemplated by the Constitution, we should have no jurisdiction.
– But if there is a dispute, we can take steps to prevent its extension.
– We cannot apply this machinery to prevent the extension of a dispute.
– I think we can, if it is likely to become a Federal dispute; otherwise the word “prevention” has no mean-, ing.
– The Arbitration Court could not take cognisance of anything excepting a dispute extending beyond a State; but a State dispute could r>e prevented, by means of anticipatory penalties, from becoming a dispute within the meaning of the Constitution.
– How could we do that ? : According to the honorable and learned member’s argument it would not be within’’ our jurisdiction to deal with the dispute until it extended beyond the State.
– We could impose penalties in this case in the same way that the States impose penalties by way of prevention. We do not prescribe, after he has committed a murder, that a man shall be hanged, but we specify beforehand the consequences which shall be visited upon him if he commits that crime
– But we have no tribunal, except the Arbitration Court, to determine what is a dispute.
– Oh, yes ; the High Court could determine it.
– But primarily the Arbitration Court must determine whether a dis pute comes within the purview of that tribunal.
– No doubt ; but the Arbitration Court is subject to the High Court. The High Court could declare that the discretion exercised by the Arbitration Court was bad, and that the dispute never extended in such a way as to bring it within the Federal jurisdiction. Until a dispute extends beyond a State we cannot apply the machinery of the Federal Court. But we can impose a penalty upon those who are responsible for its extension beyond the State, and when it has so extended we can call upon the Court to settle it. All we can do, by way of prevention, is to impose penalties upon those who are responsible for the extension. Before a Federal dispute is precipitated certain proceedings have to be taken, because we have inserted provisions similar to those contained in the States Acts, regarding certain submissions which have to be made by majorities of those employed, and so on.
– -Still we should have to rely on the Arbitration Court to say whether Brown, or Jones, had been guilty of an attempt to extend a dispute.
– No ; that is not necessary, because we could apply to the ordinary Criminal Courts to impose fines upon the organizations or individuals who were concerned.
– Without providing any means for settling the dispute itself?
– When a dispute has extended beyond a State, it comes within the jurisdiction of the. Federal Court, and can be settled by that tribunal. It would be within the province of the States Courts to impose penalties upon those persons who were responsible for the extension of the dispute, and upon such extension the Federal Arbitration Court would have power to effect a settlement.
– All we say is that it is wrongful to foster disputes, when we provide machinery by which they can be adjusted. We cannot say that it is wrong to merely foster a dispute when there is no machinery provided for its adjustment.
– But we are creating machinery for the settlement of disputes. The Attorney-General says that we are also “creating machinery to prevent disputes. I contend that that is not the intention of the Constitution, the object of the sub-section being to enable us to settle disputes when they have arisen. In order to prevent disputes in the States being extended, and coming within the jurisdiction of the Federal Arbitration Court, we can apply a series of penal provisions. The Federal tribunal cannot take cognisance of any dispute that does not extend beyond the limits of any one State, but we can by means of a Federal Act provide for penalties to be imposed upon persons who are responsible for the extension of a dispute. Assuming that a dispute has once been extended, we can do the two things. We can settle it, because, owing to its extension, it “ has been brought within the purview of the Federal Arbitration Court, and we can punish the organization or employer responsible for its becoming a Federal dispute. We could apply to the Criminal Courts to punish those responsible for the extension, and could invoke the power of the tribunal created under the Bill to settle the dispute. That is a reasonable interpretation of the provisions of the Constitution, and it obviates the necessity of extending the operations of the Arbitration Court into the State jurisdiction. What right have we to interfere in the settlement of States disputes ? Under the amendment we should actually have the power to take States disputes entirely out of the hands of the States authorities.
– No, no.
– It is proposed to give power to a State tribunal to decide whether a dispute is likely to extend beyond that State.
– But it is one thing to give power to a Court, and another to take it away. The honorable and learned member states that we propose to take disputes out of the hands of the States authorities.
– We propose to confer all the power that is necessary under clause 26, and clause 28, sub-section 111. Now, it is proposed in an intermediary clause 27 that we, shall actually interfere with the province of the States, because it is contemplated that we shall instruct the States tribunals as to what’ they shall or shall not do. We ask the States authorities to determine on the facts or the law, whether a dispute is of a Federal character’ or not, and if they make a mistake the result may be to leave unsettled a dispute cognisable by those authorities.
– I take exception to the clause as it stands, and I view with still greater disfavour the proposed amendment. From the very incep tion- of the Bill I have noticed this clause as one open to strong objection. The present Government are not responsible for its initiation or its appearance in the Bill, ‘ and, therefore, they may be able to discuss it calmly and impartially. The clause seeks to impose a right or duty upon a State authority, and I do not think that we have any power to do anything of the kind. The State arbitration authority is dependent for its existence as well as its powers upon the State law, and the Federal Parliament has no authority to enlarge its rights or authorities, or to impose duties upon it. Sub-clause 2 contains a most extraordinary proposition. It seeks to give the Governor in Council of a State enormous administrative powers. It contemplates, forsooth, that if there be no State law in existence constituting a State arbitration authority, the Governor in Council of any State may take cognisance of an industrial dispute, and refer it to the Federal authority. I see no justification whatever for the adoption of the amendment. It is a most unconstitutional proposal, and one which, I think, the States Parliaments would justly resent as an encroachment upon their jurisdiction.
– What, in the opinion of the honorable and learned member, is the meaning of the word “ prevention” ?
– I shall come to that point presently. I am merely endeavouring to point out the objections to clause 27 per se apart from the proposed amendment.
– The honorable and learned member must confine- his remarks to the amendment itself.
– I submit that the proposal of the. Government, instead of conducing to the settlement of industrial disputes, will tend only to their multiplication. It will foment trouble and create litigation. Under its operation the State authority, if it be confronted with an industrial dispute which is within its own jurisdiction, and which it anticipates will extend to another State, is practically encouraged . to dispose of it by referring it to the Federal authority. Such a proposal will not tend to the settlement of disputes, but rather to tha enlargement of their area, and the multiplication of the difficulties which are incidental to them. The amendment seems to me to be a very subtle and well designed attempt to interpret the Constitution in a manner that will expand, if it possibly can, the limited meaning of sub-section xxxv. of section 51. We can put nothing in this Bill that can in any way enlarge the Fede.ral jurisdiction. If that be admitted, where is the utility of inserting these words? Undoubtedly, they are intended to give a special signification to the words “prevention of.” It is certainly a very well planned proposal, but I venture to say that it will prove quite abortive, although the purpose in view may be a very laudable one. The insertion of the words proposed cannot add in any way to the powers conferred upon us by the Constitution.
– Their non-insertion may limit those powers, and that is what the honorable and learned member is striving after.
– I wish to adhere to the words of the Constitution itself.
– Some honorable members who are opposed to this Bill wish to limit it in every possible direction.
– I am merely desirous of seeing that no indirect attempt is made to exceed our legitimate powers, or to incorporate in the Bill a placard which will tend to foment disputes rather than to settle them. Clause 26 provides -
The Court shall have jurisdiction to prevent and settle, pursuant to this Act, all industrial disputes.
If the Government proposal is merely intended as a hint to the State industrial authorities that they may refer to the Federal authority disputes which come within the jurisdiction of the latter, I ask why do they nol adhere to the words of that clause? Why not provide that the State industrial authorities may refer to the Federal authority industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State? But the Government do not adhere to the language of clause 26. They propose to insert new words, and thus to effect an enlargement of the powers conferred by the Constitution, rather than a limitation of them. Whilst I do not seek any limitation. I protest against any attempted enlargement of those powers. From time to time the Attorney-General and the Prime Minister have dwelt upon the meaning of the word “prevention,” and it is quite right that they should do so. The whole struggle centres around the meaning of the words “ for the prevention and’ settlement of industrial disputes.” I quite concur in the view which is entertained by the honorable and learned- member for Ballarat, that the words “ prevention and settlement “ should be read together - that they are analogous expres-sions - and that “ prevention,” in its allocation with “ settlement,” means merely the adoption of legislative measures, to stop, or thwart, or settle industrial disputes. It does not mean anticipatory action-
– That is certainly a good lawyer’s definition. It fines the matter down to the disappearing point.
– This is not a lawyer’s question, because, in Webster, of two meanings which are given of the word “ prevention “ one meaning is “ anticipatory action,” and another “ to stop, to thwart or impede action.” In this case, I hold that the word is capable only of the latter signification. Otherwise, where is to be the limitation? Is any Judge or authority, who imagines that there is likely to be a strike in a certain industry, to be vested with power to intervene? I would further point out that the prevention of a “ dispute “ does not necesarily mean the prevention of a “ strike.” A “ dispute “ is a very different matter from a “ strike.” The former may mean merely a controversy. This clause, therefore, proposes to make provision for the stoppage, thwarting, impeding, or settlement of a controversy that may arise between parties, not one which has arisen. I submit that a controversy of some kind - not necessarily a strike - must exist before the Federal authority is vested with any jurisdiction. If no controversy exists, there can be no jurisdiction. Therefore, to incorporate in this provision the words “ likely to occur,” is a most serious enlargement of the Federal powers. It means that the States authorities are to be vested with jurisdiction to refer to the Federal authority any controversies which are likely to occur, because the word “ disputes “ means “controversies.” Surely it is not intended to give the Federal or State authorities, or any legal tribunal, jurisdiction over controversies which are “ likely to occur !” Surely the jurisdiction must be over something in esse - something actually in existence - otherwise it will be found to have a most shadowy foundation. I admit that the Government are not responsible for this clause, and I do not think it is essential to the integrity of the working of the measure that it should be retained. All that is necessary is that provision should be made for the Federal tribunal acquiring jurisdiction either by a summons or by a certificate of some kind. Paragraphs a and b of clause 28 provide two very simple methods by which the Federal Court can acquire jurisdiction. One is by means of a certificate from the Registrar, and the other is by submission. Certainly the best method of acquiring jurisdiction is bv the submission of one of the parties to a dispute. If the parties themselves can give the Court jurisdiction by submitting their dispute to it, what more is required? Why vest in a State authority, which may want to get rid of its own work, the power to refer a dispute to the Federal authority ? If the parties do not appeal to the Federal Court, why should the State Court have the power of sending them on to the Federal Court ? Surely it is quite sufficient to allow the parties themselves, bv the adoption of some procedure, to appeal to the Federal Court. By this clause, for which the Ministry, as I say, are not responsible, an outside body is to refer parties in a matter in which, perhaps, the Federal Court will say it has no jurisdiction, a dispute or controversy not having arisen. My advice to the Government is to strike out clause 27, and leave the mode of inquiry and jurisdiction as defined by sub-clauses a, b, and c of clause 28. That would meet all the requirements of the case, without impairing the integrity, power, or efficiency of the Federal tribunal.
– So far as I can understand the Attorney-General’s defence of the amendment, it is that clause 27, as it stands in the Bill, is useless. If I may be permitted to express my own opinion, I should say that the AttorneyGeneral, having arrived at that view, added, “ and I will make the clause mischievous by an amendment.” The whole of the AttorneyGeneral’s argument in favour of the existence of the power which he says is in the Constitution, and which he is endeavouring to express to a certain extent in this amendment, depends on the word “ preven tion “ in sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution. The Attorney-General says in effect, “ ‘ Prevention ‘ must mean the anticipation of the coming into existence of a dispute, and the only way we can anticipate the coming into existence of a dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State,, is to attack it before it has so extended.” Therefore, according to the AttorneyGeneral, the word “ prevention “ shows - though the honorable gentleman’s argument, I venture to say, goes a little further than he suggestedto the Committee - that the Federal power extends to disputes which are purely State disputes, while they are within the limits of any one State.
– Clearly that is the argument.
– The suggestion that the disputes are to be attacked only when likely to extend beyond the limits of a State, is a suggestion that an existing state of affairs, and the supposed jurisdiction, are to be measured by an opinion of some individual or set of individuals.
– By a responsible Court.
– No matter whether the individuals be responsible or irresponsible; it is left a matter of opinion.
– Quite so.
– The opinion of A, B, or C that a matter is going to be Federal will make it a Federal matter.
– Most jurisdictions are matters of opinion.
– The only existing state of affairs, is a dispute in a State ; and it is skid that the prevention of disputes from extending beyond the limits of any one State - which is not what the Constitution says, by the way, though the question is frequently argued as if that is what the Constitution did provide - can be secured by stopping any dispute as soon as it arises within a State, on the ground that it may ultimately extend beyond the limits of the State. When once we get to limiting jurisdiction by the opinion of the Court as to whether a future set of fact’s is or is not likely to occur, we have entered on the realms of imagination and experiment, and left ourselves utterly unable to stop short of the extreme logical position, viz., that any dispute may in effect ultimately develop into a dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State. Any dispute, although it may be confined to a single State, a single town, or a shop in that town is, according to that view, within Federal jurisdiction. I venture to press verv strongly that that is the irresistible conclusion to which advocates of the extensive interpretation of the word “ prevention “ are driven. They cannot stop short of saying that this section in the Constitution gives power to ‘the
Federal Parliament to legislate for all industrial disputes, whether they do or do not extend beyond the limits of a State.
– Where does “prevention ‘ ‘ stop ?
– The question is, rather, where does ‘ ‘ prevention ‘ ‘ begin ?
– To use the simile of the Attorney-General, we can whittle away or decrease a plague until at last there is only a single patient within the whole of the Commonwealth ; and, if the argument to which I refer is to be applied, we could prevent the spreading of the plague from that single patient through the town, and through the rest of the State, before it reaches the border and threatens to invade the neighbouring State. We can go back to the single patient, and say he may ultimately infect the whole of the Federal area, as well as the whole of the State.
– What is the meaning of “ prevention “ ? The word must have some meaning.
– I say that if the word “ prevention “ has the meaning which the Attorney-General suggests, it has the effect I now allege. That is a conclusion which I venture to say is obviously in contravention of any interpretation the Court is likely to put on the sub-section of the Constitution or any interpretation which the Court would put on it if there was any possible escape ; and it is a strong argument against the validity of the interpretation of the Attorney-General. The word” prevention “ can only have any such meaning if we separate the words “ extending beyond the limits of any one State,” from the word “ disputes.” If the Attorney-General’s contention is correct, we must, when using the word “prevention,” in connexion with industrial disputes, separate the words in the way I describe, in order to read the sub-section to mean the prevention of the extension of disputes beyond the limits of any one State. That is to say, we must be able to separate the extending phrase from the word “ dispute.” Here we are on ground where opinions differ. Instead of attacking the Attorney-General’s opinion. I am pointing to the conclusion which it seems to me that opinion inevitablv leads ; but I express my own opinion when I say that the extending words are an integral portion of the substantive, which is a group of words and not a single word. The words are not “ industrial disputes,” hut “ industrial disputes extending bevond the limits of any one State,” and the words are bound together with links of iron - no other words - neither “ prevention,” “settlement,” nor any other word. - can separate them. Any word applied to them must be applied to them as a group - not to them as divided, one portion being regarded as consisting of “ industrial disputes,” and another as consisting of “ extending beyond the limits of any one State,” bu’i as combined. The words “ extending beyond the limits of any one State “ belong to “ industrial dispute,” first, last, and all the time, both when we use the word “ prevention,” and when we use the word “ settlement.” The counter question that is naturally put to us is - “ How do you explain the word prevention,’ which must have some meaning, and to which the Court will certainly strive to give some meaning ?” The honorable and learned m’ember for Angas makes one suggestion, and the honorable and learned members for Bendigo and Ballarat make another to the effect that “ prevention” is not used in its current or most common meaning.
– Why not?
– The onus is on us of showing that “ prevention “ has some reasonable meaning. It has not to be shown that the word has some perfectly obvious meaning, but, if what I said before as to the Attorney-General’s view is correct, that the word has some reasonable meaning.
– The honorableand learned member has (o show that the word has some other than the ordinary meaning.
– That it has some reasonable meaning.
– Other than the ordinary meaning?
– The usual meaning of “prevention” is “anticipation”; but that is not the only meaning, nor is it the only accepted meaning. I think that “ prevention “ and “settlement,” if linked together, can also be taken to mean that the settlement is to include all such decisions and decrees of the Court as anticipates the possibility of a dispute being continued, and’ to prevent that dispute from re-arising with the same demands on either side, as were made previously.
– The Court is not tosettle each dispute as if it were only one dispute, but is to settle one dispute so as to prevent other disputes of a similar naturearising.
– Quite so. Say that the Court decided that wages in a certain trade- should be 8s. a day. The parties would have to carry on their work on those wages. I think that’ if .the words of the sub-section had been in inverse order - “ settlement and prevention “ - we should have got nearer to the real meaning of the Constitution, which would have been much more obviously expressed. It seems to me that the Attorney-General, in making this extension of power hinge upon that single word “ prevention.” and upon the separation of words which, in my opinion, are inseparably bound together - because his position cannot be maintained without taking up that double attitude - is making a mistake. It seems to me so highly improbable that the word has the effect that is claimed for it, that I think we should not, in passing our first Arbitration Act, assume that that is the meaning. I regard the amendment as a deliberate - I do not use the word in an offensive sense - proposal to interpret the Constitution according to the view that the Attorney-General has to-day expressed. As to the meaning that can be attached to the sub-section, owing to the existence of the word “ prevention,” it certainly does not give more jurisdiction than the Constitution gives. We should not interpret the subsection in this’ way. but should leave the Arbitration Court and the High Court to settle these questions, unaffected by our ex parte - and possibly partisan - views as to what the Constitution may. mean. I do not think that the clause, as it stands, will be one for which the parties to disputes will be grateful.. I first of all propose to vote against the amendment, and then against the clause. I agree with those who say that the clause is not desirable in itself. Indeed, I do not think that it is necessary. It provides that any State authority may request the Federal Court to deal with any industrial dispute; and then the amendment adds: “which extends, or is likely to extend.” Suppose that the parties to a dispute say - “ We do not wish to have it referred to the Federal Arbitration Court,” and the State Court says - “ We intend to refer it.” Then this clause would put us in ‘the position of deliberately conferring, not only a discretion upon the State Court, but of giving the State Court a jurisdiction by means of Federal legislation, which the State law itself had not given. If we have power to give a discretion, we have also power to make it mandatory upon the Court; and, consequently, we challenge the Constitutions of the States. We claim that we have the power to take out of the hands of the States Courts these matters in cases where it is believed that disputes are .likely to extend. It is not merely a discretion that mav or may not be exercised; the States laws say that the States Courts shall determine disputes when they are properly brought before them, but wepropose to empower them to say, “ We are sorry to refer this dispute to the Federal Court, in pursuance of the jurisdiction conferred upon us by Federal legislation.” It is more than saying that this is a convenient reference, which may or may not be exercised as the States Courts think fit. Consequently, it is more than an interpretation. It is a declaration of a. jurisdiction, on our part, to intervene in purely State disputes. The Government, the Attorney-General says, are not much in love with the clause. Nor am I. I am not in love with the amendment either. In that I differ from them. The clause as it stands would be better out of the Bill ; the clause with the amendment would certainly be much better out. I am not one of those to whom the Prime Minister has referred -as being opposed tothe Bill altogether, and desiring to injure it. I have always advocated legislation of . this kind even before I thought that we should be able to advocate it in a Federal Parliament. But I most earnestly indorse the view expressed by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and which I myself have ventured to express upon a previous occasion, when he referred to the fact that this is’ our first Federal Arbitration Bill. These are the early days of the Federation. Where there are matters of grave doubt of this kind - matters the determination of which’, after all, does not depend upon us - we should not assert more than . we clearly have power to assert. We are merely asserting a power; we are not creating it. If we really possess the power, the Bill will enable it to be exercised. But this is not the time for us to be making these assertions. After .all, States Governements and Executives are composed of men, and men do not like to be told, “ We are going to do this, that, and the other thing.” If we have power to do it we can do it in the most unostentatious manner. The amendment contains a proposal which, in the opinion of some honorable members, -is within the powers conferred by the Constitution. In the opinion of the majority, I venture to say, it is beyond the powers conferred by the Constitution. I should not be surprised if the Government were to announce that they were prepared to let the clause go altogether. I, for one, deprecate as unwise the claim laid down by the amendment, which must injure the Bill, if it does not injure the Government.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat).- May I be allowed to simplify the proceedings by moving an amendment upon the amendment. I move -
That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words “or is likely to extend.”
Those are the words which, it seems to me, are unconstitutional.
– The arguments have really fallen into two divisions. Some honorable members oppose the clause in- its entirety, and its underlying principle, while others oppose the amendment which has been moved by the Government. I am in favour of the clause as it stands. I think it was properly introduced into the Bill, and I am glad to see that the Government are standing bv it. What was the object of this part of the Bill ? Here is a Bill which purports to cover the whole of Australia. In each State it is contemplated that there will be a particular Court having its own specific jurisdiction. It is quite obvious that there might come before a State Court a case which was really beyond the scope of its jurisdiction. Therefore, instead of putting the parties to all the expense incidental to the Court stopping the proceedings and. dismissing the suit, and compelling them to go elsewhere and start a fresh action, it is desired by a simple process of reference from one Court to another to bring to the Court which has proper jurisdiction a dispute which is national in its character. There is nothing unconstitutional in the clause in that respect. Where the unconstitutionality arises, to mv mind, is in the amendment. I think it is an unwise amendment. Let us suppose that a dispute has arisen between squatters and shearers in New South Wales, where there is an industrial authority. When a case is properly instituted before that Court it is under a statutory obligation to hear the parties and proceed to a conclusion so long as it involves a matter which is entirely within its jurisdiction. This clause does not apply merely to a shearers’ strike. It may apply to seamen, and various industries over which the Court has jurisdiction. The amendment purports to go a step further.
– Very much further, because the State Legislature is not limited as we are. to what are called industrial disputes. They can deal with any kind of dispute, industrial or not.
– Quite so. As long as the facts bring the case entirely within the jurisdiction of the State, the local Court is under a statutory obligation to hear the parties, and to give an award. What does the amendment propose to do? A matter has arisen which, on the face of it, is only a State dispute, and which the State Court alone has the power to hear and determine. But, it is urged, if somebody suggests that it may extend to some other State, that therefore the State Court shall have power to stay its hand, and send the matter on to the Federal Court, divesting itself of its statutory duty. Then, when the Federal Court considers the matter it is in very much the same position as the State Court : it is hearing a matter which, as an industrial dispute, is not at that stage extending beyond the State, and which is within the jurisdiction of the State Court. It seems to me that we are exceeding our powers in conferring on the State Court that jurisdiction. If we wish to deal with State matters we must first get authority under sub-section xxxvii. of section 51 of the Constitution. Under sub-section xxxv. we can legislate with respect to -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
Obviously, under that sub-section we have no power to deal with Arbitration Courts acting in their own specific areas. If we wish to go beyond that point the matter must first be referred to us under subsection xxxvii., which enables this Parliament to legislate in -
Matters referred to the Parliament of the Commonwealth by the Parliament or Parliaments of any State or States, but so that the law shall extend only to States by whose Parliaments the matter is referred, or which afterwards adopt the law.
If we desire to confer this power on a State Court by a Federal Statute, a State Parliament will need, in the first place, to pass an Act asking us to take action, and then we should have to take action accordingly ; otherwise we cannot legislate. So, if it were desired that the Federal Courts should take the place of the States Courts, dealing with State matters only, the subject would have to be dealt with bv the State Parliament in the same way. We can deal with matters of purely State concern only after a State Parliament has authorized us to legislate. Therefore, I think that the amendment, in so far as it purports to enable a State Court to stay its hand in matters likely to extend beyond the borders of the State, is absolutely unconstitutional. As regards the general definition of the phrase -
Prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
I do not feel myself at this moment competent to give an opinion which is likely to be of any great value. The words are complicated, and will need a great deal of unravelling for the purpose of a correct interpretation. The object of the provision was that we had primarily to deal with industrial disputes. Before any action could be taken it seems to me there must be an industrial dispute; and then the words “ prevention and settlement “ come in, and I think must be taken together. First of all, there must be a dispute extending beyond a State; that is the foundation of jurisdiction. Then when a dispute is extending beyond a State we have the power to make laws, not for the prevention or settlement, but for the prevention and settlement of those industrial disputes. The word “ settlement “ itself suggests the existence of a dispute. There must be in existence something to settle. Obviously, the word refers to a dispute that is extending beyond a State.
– How can we prevent and settle a dispute?
– When a dispute is in existence we can prevent and settle it. We can prevent it extending further; we vin prevent a similar dispute arising in Hie future. But, seeing that we can settle that dispute, there is, in the Bill, I understand, a provision for the purpose of preventing disputes in the future; there is what is known as the common rule.
– But how can we prevent and settle a dispute?
– By settling a dispute w-3 can prevent a dispute of a similar nature arising.
– Is it not possible that the honorable and learned member’s reading is too narrow ? 1
– -It is possible.
– It is safe.
– I certainly do not think that the word “ prevention “ includes the power to prevent any dispute likely to arise.
– Or likely to extend.
– Yes. The words “ likely to extend “ suggest the investigation of a fact. What does the term mean ? Different trade organizations will combine and form themselves into unions throughout Australia. They have their branches. Suppose there is a dispute in Sydney between an employer and employes Belonging to the local branch of a union which is affiliated to a federated union, will the fact of affiliation make the dispute one which is likely to extend beyond the borders of the State?
– It may.
– Would the State authority, in such a case, have to stay its hand, and say, “ We shall not exercise jurisdiction in this matter “ ?
– Not necessarily. It must try each issue on the facts.
– When the matter was referred to the Federal Court it might say, “ We are of opinion that the dispute is not likely to extend beyond the borders of the State, because it is purely a local matter, affecting the local conditions of the industry.”
– I take it that if either of the parties thought that the dispute was one which, the Federal Arbitration Court should entertain, it could apply to the High Court to require the former’ to proceed.
– But we cannot give jurisdiction which the Constitution does not’ empower us to give. We cannot say to the Federal Court, “You can deal with disputes likely to extend beyond the limits of any State “ without interfering with State action. A State Court is empowered to deal with any dispute arising within its jurisdiction, whether it is, or is not, likely to extend beyond the borders of the State. The only thing that could prevent a State Court from dealing with a dispute would be its absolute extension beyond the borders of the State. Exception has been taken to the fact that the Governor in Council of a State may request the Federal Court to deal with a dispute; but I think that that is a very proper provision. As a matter of fact, whether we do, or do not, put the provision into the’ Bill, the States may invite Federal action to settle industrial disputes. While .not in any way attempting to dictate to the authorities of the States as to the action they shall take, we wish to give them a certain statutory right to appeal to the Arbitration Court. We wish to give them power to say, “ Here is a dispute which is paralyzing the trade and industry of our State. . We have sent out the police, and have taken a hundred steps to try to prevent it, but it is now extending into another State, and we feel that we can no longer deal with it. Therefore, we appeal to you to exercise the national power of administration in order to put an end to it.” I cannot see that to provide for such an appeal is to dictate to the Governments of the States. Such a provision would not compel them to take action.
– Is not the honorable and learned member arguing that a dispute cannot extend beyond the borders of any one State ?
Mir. GROOM.- Certainly not. I think that, on the whole, it would be advisable to pass the clause as it stands. I cannot see the dangers which have been suggested, because the clause is purely a permissive one. With regard to the amendment, I think that it would be better if it were withdrawn.
– I have listened to the remarks of the honorable and learned members of the Committee, and I find that, as usual, there is a lamentable difference of opinion- amongst them. They appear not to have the remotest agreement as to the meaning of the Constitution which some of them had a hand in framing. Therefore. I take it that our best plan is to leave the interpretation of that instrument to the High Court. In this connexion I should like to draw attention to a point which has not yet been discussed very much, and that is the policy which mayguide the High Court - whether it is likely to give a narrow or. following the American precedent, a wide interpretation of the Constitution as it affects the powers of the Commonwealth. Throughout this debate there has been a conflict between two opinions, between those who fear to take more power than is clearly given by the Con,stitution so far as its very vague provisions in this respect can be understood, and those who would leave the door as wide open as possible, in the hope that the Court may say that our action is sanctioned by the Constitution. I take it that the view which actuated the right honorable member for Adelaide, who is the father of this Bill-
– He did not put in this provision.
– His intention was to make the measure very comprehensive.
– But he expressly decided that, it was not safe to take the fullest meaning of the word “ prevention
– The rule which has guided me in my votes on the measure has been to take the wide interpretation of the Constitution. I adopted that rule because I think that we must realize that in the very near future there will be somewhat of a demand for the intervention of the Federal Arbitration Court in regard to certain InterState questions which have been hardly referred to yet. Let me give an illustration, to which I ask the attention of the legal members of the Committee, so that they may see how the facts will fit in with their legal arguments. The workmen engaged in the boot trade of Victoria and New South Wales belong to unions which are federated, and the output of the various factories competes practically in the one market. It would, therefore, be manifestly unfair to increase the cost of production in New South Wales, and thus allow the Victorian manufacturers to undersell their New South Wales competitors. Under these circumstances, if a dispute between the bootmakers and boot employes in New South Wales came before the State Court, and during its hearing it was made clear that it would be wise to have an award applying to the trade in Victoria as well as to the trade in New South Wales, I think the Court should be able to say, “ Although the dispute which we have been asked to settle has not extended beyond the borders of the State, we know that when we have given our award it will extend, because the Victorian operatives, if we improve the conditions of their fellows in New South Wales, will at once set themselves to secure similar conditions, while in the interests of the employers it is necessary to have equality of conditions in the two States.” The legal members of the Committee have dealt largely with technical points, but as the Federal Court is to deal with the matters that come before it according to equity and good conscience, and to be guided by the rules of common sense, I do not think there is much need for technical argument. I can understand those who oppose the wide interpretation of the Constitution ; but I take it that neither Federal nor State Court will quibble so much about the meaning of words. Both will be guided by the rules of common sense, and those rules would dictate that in the case to which I have referred awards should apply equally to the two States concerned. There is now a movement, in anticipation of the establishment -of the Federal Court, for welding together in various Inter-State organizations employers on the one hand and employes on the other, and it is our duty to provide for the condition of things which is certain to arise in the near future, rather than to wait until we find an amending Bill necessary. I have heard no argument which has’ commended itself to me as of weight for preventing the State authority from remitting to the Federal Court a question which in its opinion that Court is best able to deal with. I have jocularly interjected on previous occasions that it is easy to make a dispute extend beyond the borders of a State, and I say so again. A strike is not so easy, but a disagreement is the easiest thing in the world to bring about. It is difficult to get people to agree, as we know from our own experience, but it is very easy to get them to disagree. Therefore, there would be no trouble in making a dispute extend from one State to another. I am with those who desire that the measure shall prevent and not provoke disputes, and I think that the amendment goes in the direction qf prevention. If we refuse to allow a State authority to remit a matter to the Federal Court, we shall force the parties concerned to extend the dispute beyond the State, in order that it may be brought before the Federal Court, which is not a very sensible thing to do. As we are declaring that all strikes shall be illegal, and as an extension of Inter-State organizations in the near future is probable, we should provide a means of dealing with them. Some honorable members would say, “ Let the States deal with all disputes by means of their own Arbitration Courts.” But, in the case to which I have referred, even if Victoria, as well as New South Wales, had an Arbitration Court, there would be many questions affecting both States which would be better dealt with by the Federal authority than by the State authorities, unless one State Court recognised the awards of the other, which would be a difficult thing to bring about, unless the same evidence were brought before both. If the Federal Court had to settle a dispute affecting one of our large manufactur- ing industries, its inquiry might be made to cover the whole field over which the common rule would extend. Therefore, it would be best fitted to deal with a large number of cases besides those which honorable members had in their minds as likely to extend beyond any one Stale. I know of a number of large organizations which propose to bring disputes before the Federal Court for settlement, and we should be extremely unwise if we did not offer every facility to those bodies for invoking the aid of that tribunal. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo thought it would be wrong for us to extend the jurisdiction of the local authorities ; but I do not see any reason why we should not confer certain powers upon the States Arbitration Courts in the same way that we have extended the jurisdiction of the ordinary Courts. It is highly necessary that we should afford every opportunity, not only for meting out justice, but also for insuring peaceful conditions in our large industrial undertakings. We shall soon have to seek for an extension of the powers granted to us under the Constitution in order that we may deal upon a Federal basis with factory legislation of all kinds. I do not see how it will be possible for us to secure fair competition unless we have some such authority. We shall be paving the way for action in this direction by providing the fullest facilities for the settlement of disputes which may extend beyond the borders of any one State. It might be very hard to extend a strike, but it would be very easy to extend a dispute, and where a Stale Arbitration Court plainly recognises that the effect of its award must be to extend a dispute beyond the borders of the State, it should have the power to remit the matter to the Federal Court without any delay.
– I really do not see why any objection should be taken to the clause as it stands, because it does not appear to me to invade any State rights. Some of the objections of honorable members, notably those of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, have been directed against the clause as it stands, and I propose first to deal with these. The clause provides -
State may request the Court to deal with any industrial dispute.
How does that invade State rights? Obviously, it may be convenient for a State Court to avail itself of such a power. Or it may be necessary for it to do so. In any case, the important point is that such a power is optional. There is no power to compel a State Court to act in the manner indicated. It may do so because it is convenient, or because it is practically necessary ; but in every case it is optional. One of the essentials of this class of legislation is that the Court must be ready to deal with a dispute whenever it arises. Clause 32 provides -
The Court shall, in such manner as it thinks At, carefully and expeditiously hear, inquire into, and investigate every industrial dispute of which it has cognisance.
One of the essentials - if this measure is to be something more than a mere name, and to have real effect in preventing and settling industrial disputes - is that the Court must always be ready to hear disputes. Now, it is notorious that, until a few days ago - and this is the month of June - the Arbitration Court of New South Wales had not settled one dispute this year. I am speaking about what I know.
– What about the Fresh Food andIce Company’s case?
– I am not speaking about industrial agreements that have been filed in the Court, but of disputes, properly so-called. Up till last Wednesday the Court had not really settled one dispute.
– Did they not settle the bread carters’ case?
– That case arose last year. The Court has not settled one of the disputes which have been brought before it during the last six months, and there are between thirty and forty cases now awaiting settlement.
– And which . have been commenced this vear?
– I refer to cases which are now outstanding, and which have not been settled.
– The Court has. within the last day or two, given its award in the bread carters’ case.
– That is not so. I repeat that the Court has not given an award in any shape or form during the current vear.
– I think that the Minister is mistaken.
– The Court has, of course, registered a number of agreements, which to all intents and purposes have the effect of awards.
– What has it been doing all this time ?
– It has been settling breaches of awards, inflicting penalties, and so on. Incidentally, the Judge has been on circuit, and there have been vacations, and other examples of all those admirable methods known to the profession of passing the smiling hour. At any rate, the fact remains that although the Court has heard a great number of cases this year, it has not yet settled any of them. Now, I ask honorable members to assume that there is a state of industrial conflagration, that Australia is in exactly the same condition as prior to the 1890 strike, that the members of the various unions are in such a frame of mind that they must either go out and do something, or get something done to them by the law, or otherwise, and that they have been told to await the pleasure and convenience of the Arbitration Court. I do not say that the New South Wales Arbitration Court is to blame for the present state of affairs, or that it is to be supposed for one moment that this will always continue. I believe when a large number of the disputes which have been referred to the Court are once settled it will easily be able to keep up with the work. At all events, I assume so. One particular . reason why the Court has been prevented from dealing with the cases submitted to it is that no provision has been made to refer penalty cases to an ordinary Court. If magistrates could hear such cases, the Court would be easily able to deal with half the matters now before it within six months. More than half its time is taken up in settling the terms of awards and dealing with matters incidental thereto. Assuming such a state of affairs as I have indicated, in which we should have the beginnings of an industrial dispute which would come within the definition of subsection xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution, it would be absurd to suppose that the matter could be at the present time conveniently and expeditiously heard by the New South Wales Court. Therefore, I say that if the Federal Court is to settle anything at all - I shall come to the question whether, a dispute can be arrested before it has actually spread beyond any one
State - it is necessary that a State Court should have power to refer a dispute to the Federal Court, if it thinks fit. That is practically what the clause provides for.
– Which industrial authority would refer the matter - the Court itself?
– I presume that in New South Wales the Court itself would be the referring authority. Under this Bill the Registrar has certain powers which ave notconferred upon the corresponding officer in New South Wales, but I suppose that in New South Wales the Court itself would act. I do not know- that the Judge of that Court has any powers other than those which the Court itself possesses in this particular. I believe that the Arbitration Court would refer the matter to the Federal tribunal. Iri such a case, what injustice would be done to New South Wales? How could that be regarded as an invasion of State rights or prerogatives? This matter ought to be looked at impartially. It is easily understood that the proposal is repugnant to those who do not believe in the principles of the Bill, but in view of the fact that the principles of the measure have been accepted, honorable members should bend every effort to make it a good one. This clause proposes to confer an authority which appears to me to be essential to any satisfactory working out of the measure. I confess that I do not see what power the industrial authority in New South Wales would have to remit a dispute to the Federal Court, even if we inserted this clause. It would have to get that power from the State. Supposing, however, that the Court has no power now. it is very obvious that under sub-section xxxvn. of section 51, the State Government could confer upon the Federal authority the right to deal with such matters.
– But how would the Federal Act confer upon the State industrial authority power to remit disputes to the Federal Court?
– The State Government would have power, under sub-section xxxvii. to confer the necessary authorityThere is now no virtue in the New South Wales Court to refer any matters to the Federal tribunal, but the clause takes one of the steps necessary to effect that purpose. If the Parliament of New South Wales decides that it is expedient to take action under sub-section xxxvn., we shall have done our part, and their wishes can be carried into effect. With regard to the amendment, the question as to what “ prevention “ means has been dealt with by the honorable and learned members for Corinella and Darling Downs.I do not propose to attempt to do anything more than say that in my opinion one thing is abundantly clear, and that is that “ prevention “ and “settlement” do not mean the same thing. I think that majr be admitted by the most rabid opponents of this measure. What is a “ settlement ?” It certainly involves something in relation to an existing dispute; something that is in esse. Now, what does “ prevention ‘ ‘ mean ? Does it mean something exactly the same; that is to say, something in existence? If it does, then “ settlement ‘ ‘ and “ prevention ‘ ‘ are synonymous terms, and presumably the use of such terms was not contemplated by the framers of the Constitution. We may then safely assume that “prevention” means something else. I shall not go so far as to say that it means everything that the honorable and learned member for Corinella deduced from the statement of the Attorney-General. But I do say that “ prevention “ and “ settlement “ mean two entirely different and almost opposite things. ‘ The onus is upon those honorable members who urge that ‘ prevention “ in sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution means something other than the ordinary interpretation which is placed upon that term to establish their case. It has been clearly laid down that in the interpretation of Statutes the ordinary meaning attaching to any term is to be accepted, unless its acceptance will render any provision absurd or ungrammatical. Here the generally accepted meaning of the word “ prevention “ does neither of those things.
– If we “ prevent “ a dispute, there is nothing to “ settle.”
– That is so. The word “prevention,” I hold, must be interpreted according to its ordinarv acceptation. To “ prevent “ means to anticipate something. In this case it anticipates the condition of affairs contemplated under the. second portion of sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution, namely the “ settlement of industrial disputes.” We cannot “ prevent “ a dispute and “ settle “ it at the same time. Therefore, the word “ prevention “ must have reference to something which, under ordinary circumstances, would precede a “ settlement.” Obviously we cannot prevent a thing from occurring after it has happened. Those who urge that the words of sub-section xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution were not intended to confer upon the Commonwealth power to prevent disputes from re-arising are, I claim, straining the meaning of. the words of that sub-section. Under this Bill, any person who commits a breach of an award, or of a registered agreement, is. liable to a penalty. Therefore, the mere settlement of a dispute will prevent it from re-arising. The word “ prevention “ must refer to something other than a “ settlement,” because a “ settlement “ in the ordinary sense of the term will prevent a dispute from re-arising. When once an award has been made a dispute cannot legally recur, because it has been settled. What, then, is the meaning ‘of the word prevention “ ? Looking at the matter by and large, was it not the desire of the framers of the Constitution to prevent the recurrence of that terrible industrial struggle - the maritime strike - which was responsible for the insertion of sub-section xxxv. of section 51 ? I take it that there were no subtly drawn distinctions present in the minds of the delegates at the Federal Convention. The thought did not; occur to them, “Oh, we cannot ‘prevent’ industrial disputes from arising; we can only settle’ them.” I hold that we can prevent industrial strife better by intervening in its earlier stages than by deferring action until it has developed into a violent conflagration. I take it, therefore, that subsection xxxv. of section 5:1 of the Constitution was intended to anticipate an industrial dispute, and thus to render a settlement of it unnecessary. A dispute may be in one of its “ earlier stages “ when it is confined to one State. I admit, however, that the question of whether the Government proposal comes strictly within the powers conferred by the Constitution, is open to argument. Nevertheless, it cannot be established that simply to permit of any State referring an industrial dispute to the Federal Arbitration Court infringes the Constitution, other than in the way that was urged by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. If the States Courts have the power to refer disputes to the Federal authority, this clause will give that authority the power to hear them. There are manyreasons why it may be absolutely necessary for a State Court to refer ‘ these matters to the Federal Court. As I have already pointed out, the New South Wales Arbitration Court is not in a position to determine any of the larger issues with which this Bill is intended to deal. If the contention of the* honorable and learned member for Darling ‘ Downs be correct, the) States Parliaments must first invest their own Arbitration Courts with power to refer industrial disputes to the Federal authorities. Therefore, I fail to see. why the proposal of the Government should not be adopted. The honorable and learned member for Corinella whittled down a supposititious case till only one person in one shop in one town of. a State was affected ; but of course anything may be reduced to an absurdity. The honorable member for Darling has shown pretty clearly - and’, indeed, during the last Parliament, Sir William McMillan agreed with him upon this point - that industrial legislation should be uniform throughout the Commonwealth. Certainly, it is most desirable that an award dealing with anyparticular trade should be uniform. During the hearing of the tailoring dispute in New South Wales, evidence was tendered which showed conclusively, that one of the effects of an award bv the Arbitration Court there had been to cause work to be sent from Sydney to Brisbane, where no arbitration law is in operation.
– That does not augur very well for the success of this Bill.
– It does not say much for Queensland, where sweating, which does not obtain in New South Wales and Victoria, is permitted with impunity.
– There men are allowed to obtain work which they cannot get elsewhere.
– In last night’s Herald I saw an extract from an English newspaper, setting forth the lamentable condition -of the women who made clothes in the East End of London. Those employed in making shirts receive as payment 1¾d per dozen. According to the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, that is an admirable state of things, because those women obtain work which they could not secure elsewhere. Whatever may befall New South Wales, T think that State may congratulate itself that it has not yet been reduced .to that level, although I recollect trousers being made there for 4½d each.
– In South Australia people are doing work for New South Wales firms at the present time#.
– That is another haven of refuge. In South Australia also people are not prevented from working at the lowest possible rates. Therefore, I think it desirable that there should be uniform industrial legislation throughout the Commonwealth. While it is not possible to secure such legislation without the assent of the States legislatures, the proposal of the Government will accomplish all that is necessary upon our part, leaving it to the States to perform their part. In Victoria, such legislation may not be necessary, but obviously it is in Queensland and South Australia. The Committee might very well agree to the amendment, which certainly does not aim at accomplishing anything which is constitutionally impossible, and which inflicts no grievous wrong upon the States.
– I very much regretted to hear the declaration of the honorable member for Darling that, in his opinion, this proposal should be incorporated in the Bill because, under its operation, so many new organizatibns will arise that disputes will be perpetually occurring. If the working of this measure will multiply the number of industrial disputes, the less we have to do with it the better.
– -If abuses are remedied is not good accomplished ?
– If the effect of its operation will be to call into existence numerous fresh organizations, and to multiply industrial disputes, I hold that it constitutes one of the most damning indictments that can be urged against it. We all recognise that the honorable member for Darling is fully in sympathy with the chief object of the Bill, which is the promotion of industrial peace. But if, instead of securing industrial peace, it will promote industrial war, the less we- extend the jurisdiction of the proposed Court the better. Personally, I take exception to almost the whole of the clause. To begin with, it provides -
Any State industrial authority may, in manner prescribed, request the Court to deal with any industrial dispute.
No State industrial authority has power to remit any cases; all disputes must be determined by the authority created by the State Parliament. So strict have the State Parliaments been in this respect that no right of appeal is allowed. It appears to me that this clause will be entirely inoperative, and therefore should find no’ place in the Bill. I do not.think it would be wise to omit the words “ industrial dispute,” because in clause 4 we have the definition - “ Industrial dispute “ means a dispute in relation to industrial matters . . . extending beyond the limits of any one State.
There is some qualification, but a very clear meaning is given to “ industrial dispute,” as used in clause 27. In clause 26, too, it is simply provided -
The Court shall have jurisdiction to prevent and settle …. all industrial disputes.
– That is not quite the question. Clause 27 does not deal with jurisdiction, but with the Court in its relation to the States Courts.
– If the Prime Minister views the clause in the same light that I do he must see that it will be a dead-letter.
– I admit that that is so until it is reinforced by States authority.
– The clause will be a dead-letter until the States Parliaments take it upon themselves to enable their industrial authorities to refer matters to the Federal Court.
– There is a good deal to be said for the view that the object of the amendment is sufficiently met by clause 28, and on that ground I am inclined to allow clause 27 to be negatived.
– That would be the best course.
– Speaking purely as a draftsman, and without any reference to my views on this Bill, I also suggest to the Prime Minister the advisability ‘ of striking out the clause.
– I have been considering for some few minutes, past the possibility of doing without clause 27. It does not seem to me that the clause, even in the altered shape proposed, carries us much further than does clause 28, which provides that the Court shall have cognizance of industrial disputes as set forth in the subclauses a, b, and c
– Under sub-clause c the Court can, if necessary, deal with matters referred from a State.
– That is so, and I think on the whole it would be well to agree to the elimination of clause 27. I cannot say that I agree with the arguments which have been advanced against the amendment. After all, it does not seem to me that thehonorable and learned members who have argued on the other side have met the position which the Government take up, namely, that “ prevention “ is evidently intended to be supplementary to “ settlement.” If that be so then, of course, the interpretation proposed by the Government is the correct one. However, our leaving out the clause will not affect the right of the High Court to give any interpretation it likes to any provision of the Bill. On reflection, I think that clause 28 will sufficiently attain our object in regard to the relations with State authorities who may desire to refer any matters to the Federal Arbitration Court. I ask leave to withdraw the amendment.
Amendments, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause 28 -
The Court shall have cognizance of the following industrial disputes : -
All industrial disputes which are certified to the Court by the Registrar as proper to be dealt with by it in the pubfic interest ;
All industrial disputes which are submitted to the Court by an organization, by plaint, in the prescribed, manner ; and
All industrial disputes with which any State Industrial Authority, or the Governor in Council of a State in which there is no State Industrial Authority, requests the Court to deal.
– I intend to move-
That after the word “cognizance,” line 1, the words “ for purposes of prevention and settlement” be inserted.
The amendment practically repeats the language of the Constitution.
– It is a pity to move the insertion of such words, because there is already a definition.
– There is no harm in making clear that we wish to go as far as the Constitution contemplates.
– I suggest that the amendment be not passed. It is a mistake to interfere with what is really scientific drafting. The words of the Constitution give jurisdiction only to the extent’ of the words used, and right through the Bill up to the present we have avoided extending the meaning of particular phrases used in the interpretation clause.
– The words which I suggest are used in clause 26, which gives the Court jurisdiction to “ prevent and settle “ disputes. That is in reference to all matters which come before the Court in the ordinary course, and the Attorney-General thinks it wise to repeat the words in another division of the Bill which has reference to another class of disputes.
– The clause is all right without the amendment, seeing that the meaning of industrial dispute is prescribed by the Constitution. To insert the words “ prevention and settlement “ will not make the clause any better, but may introduce confusion, seeing that in other portions of the Bill the words are not repeated. Inasmuch as the words in the clause are quite comprehensive, anything which may be added is amplification, andi it is a mistake to attempt to amplify them in any way. Indeed the amendment does not really amplify the clause, but merely repeats what is already provided in the interpretation clause.
– I shall put before the Attorney-General - who is ‘temporarily absent - the view suggested by the honorable member for Angas. If the AttorneyGeneral does not see his way clear to recommit the clause, I shall see that it is recommitted, if honorable members desire.
– I quite agree with the view put forward by the honorable and learned member for Angas. To insert the words proposed by the Prime Minister would, perhaps, bring about difficulty in regard to other clauses where similar words are not used, the Court being bound to give effect to every word. I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will, as a matter of drafting, agree to the omission of the words.
– Tt is a mere matter of drafting.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to proceed with his amendment ?
– Yes ; but I have promised’ to recommit the clause if the AttorneyGeneral should not see his way to do so.-
– I am fairly puzzled to know what the Attorney-General’s idea is in suggesting this amendment. It is not an hour since the Attorney-General told us that jurisdiction is given by clause 26, and that the clauses in the division of the Bill now before us refer to the method of exercising that jurisdiction and bringing cases before the Court. Now, it is proposed to nut jurisdictional words - for they are jurisdictional, if anything - in a procedure clause. That seems to me the sublimity of unwise drafting, of which tha Attorney-General’s own argument is the best condemnation that could possibly be quoted. I urge the Prime Minister to allow the clause to stand as it is.
– I have agreed to recommit the Bill if any one so desires.
– A Government is in a position of great advantage, as compared with the Opposition - even numerically a greater Opposition - in matters of this kind. It is obviously undesirable, from the AttorneyGeneral’s own point of view, that this amendment should be passed. I am sorry the AttorneyGeneral is not here to give us the reasons which induced him to do the very thing he condemned this afternoon : I am sure he would admit the force of his own arguments.
– I think honorable members may be satisfied with the promise to recommit the clause on the application of any honorable member. As I said a few minutes ago, I do not feel justified in consenting to the withdrawal of the amendment, which is purely technical, and proposed on the advice of the Attorney-General. I, therefore, suggest that I submit to the AttorneyGeneral the question whether it would not be wise for the Government to propose a recommittal. If the Attorney-General does not take that view, then I shall recommit the Bill on the application of any honorable member.
– The amendment before us may partly depend on the amendment proposed in the previous clause.
– That may be so, and that is one reason why I do not care to withdraw the amendment without consulting the Attornev-General.
– The honorable and learned member for Bendigo drew attention to “sub-clause c of this clause, and I suggest that we discuss that now, so as to allow time for the probable return of the Attorney-General. I understand that the words to which the honorable and learned member for Bendigo drew attention were -
Or the Governor-in-Council of a State in which there is no State industrial authority.
– I agree to the clause being postponed.
Clause 29 -
If it appears to the Court that any State industrial authority is dealing or about to deal with an industrial dispute within the meaning of this Act, the Court may in the prescribed manner direct that Authority not to deal with the dispute; and thereupon the Authority shall cease to proceed in the matter of the dispute, which shall be dealt with by the Court.
– On a previous clauset he attention of the Prime Minister was drawn to the question whether “ State industrial authority “ included Wages Boards ; and this is, I think, an opportunity to arrive at some decision. The clause allows the Court to interfere with the State industrial authorities, and on that ground we ought to know whether a Wages Board could be interfered with.
– That will depend on what is put in the interpretation clause, and the drafting of suggested alterations is now in the hands. of the AttorneyGeneral.
– I suggest that the words “ within the meaning of this Act” be omitted. The words were not introduced by the present Government, but were in the Bill as originally drafted. It is a mistake to insert unnecessary words, because the Court always endeavours to give some meaning to them. Will the Prime Minister consent to my moving the omission of these words?
– One can easily see how the draftsman was led into putting in the words. But it must be recollected that, even if we omit them, the industrial disputes dealt with by the Court must be always “ within the meaning of the Act.” The original draftsman put in the words to distinguish between an industrial dispute with which the Federal Court could not deal, and a dispute with which it could deal. I do not think that the words are necessary, technically, and see no reason for retaining them.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That the words “ within the meaning of this Act,” lines 3 and 4, be left out.
– I oppose the omission of the words referred to, because I think they are highly necessary, not only in regard to this particular clause, but as to other parts of the Bill. The provisions of this measure should not be stretched unduly beyond what is the intention of Parliament. There should be no possible mistake as to the meaning of the Legislature. In clause after clause it is possible to put different interpretations upon the language used, and if we are not careful we shall find that this clause will be made to extend beyond what is intended. We shall have a safeguard if we define that the industrial dispute referred to is a dispute “ within the meaning of this Act.” It will make the clause less ambiguous.
– I think it is highly desirable to secure uniformity of expression in this measure. I have found in many Acts passed, not only by State Legislatures, but by . this Parliament, changes of expression, and a want of uniformity. Wherever there is divergence of expression relating to the same subject-matter it always leads to doubt and difficulty: In this Bill different forms of expression are used with reference to the same subject-matter. In clause 24 it is provided that the President shall have certain powers “ to prevent and settle industrial disputes.” There is no reference to “ within the meaning of this Act “ there. In clause 26 it is provided that the Court shall have jurisdiction “ to prevent and settle, pursuant to this Act, all industrial disputes.”
– The honorable and learned member will see that the State authority has power to deal with a class of disputes outside those cases which may be dealt with by the . Federal Court; and it was with a view of distinguishing between the classes of disputes to be dealt with that the words were introduced.
– There is some justification for their introduction in this clause, but we should endeavour to maintain uniformity of expression whenever we are dealing with the same subject-matter. I do not see any particular objection to the use of the words within the meaning of this Act “ in this particular clause, where it is desired emphatically to discriminate between the jurisdiction of the Federal and of the States tribunals. But what troubles me is the question ‘ whether this clause is necessary at all. I see no necessity for it. If a State Arbitration authority exceeds its jurisdiction it may be enjoined and stopped, not only by an injunction from the Supreme Court of the State, but also by an injunction of the High Court. There is no necessity for conferring fresh power upon this tribunal. There is ample power under existing legal machinery to prevent a State tribunal from exceeding its jurisdiction. I shall support the amendment, and I do not conceive it to be worth while to take up time in discussing the desirability of retaining the words.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 30 -
A certificate by the Registrar that any dispute relating to industrial matters is an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State shall beprimafacie evidence that the fact is as stated.
– This is rather a laige power to give to the Registrar, unless it is toned down by some other provision. In clause 28, which has been postponed, I had intended to move that there should be some check upon the discretion of the Registrar.
– There is an appeal to the President.
– I know that there is an appeal ; but under this clause, if the Registrar gives a certificate, the case goes before the Fedetal Court.
– But that does not insure that it will be decided in a particular direction.
– It gives rise to a multiplicity of chances. However, I do not wish to interfere too much with the machinerv of the Bill.
– The objection raised by the honorable and learned member for Angas is rather a good one. Suppose that the Registrar gives a certificate that a certain dispute has extended beyond the limits of a State. On what evidence is he to decide ? We ought not to give the Registrar the power that should be given only to the High Court. It is true that the Registrar’s certificate is onlyprima facie evidence, but it might entail heavy expense to the patties to get witnesses, and to bring them to rebut the certificate. We ought to limit the power in some way.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 31 -
No industrial dispute shall, without the approval -ofthe President, be submitted to the Court by an organization unless the Registrar certifies -
that he is satisfied that the consent of the organization to the submission has been given in manner prescribed by the rules of the organization ; or
that the consent of the organization to the submission has been given by resolution of a general meeting of members convened in manner prescribed for the consideration of the question, or as the result of a poll of members of the organi- - zation on the. question taken in manner prescribed ; or
that consent to the submission has been given in writing under the hands of a majority of the Committee of Management of the organization.
– I have given notice of an amendment upon this clause. The words which I desire to have inserted will come after the word “ certifies.” But before moving that it will be necessary to strike out the words “ without the approval of the President.” The object of my amendment is to make sure that no dispute is sent before the Court unless a majority of the employes in the industry have consented to refer it. The words which I propose to insert after “ certifies,” are -
That a resolution in favour of such submission has been passed with the concurrence of the majority of the employes in the industry ; not merely a majority of the organization of employes.
– That would prevent an employer bringing the employes before the Court against the will of the employes.
– As a matter of fact, under clause 28, an employer cannot bring the employes before the Court. A single employer, under this Bill, cannot refer a dispute to the Court.
– Yes, he can.
– It must be done by an organization. I see the point of the Prime Minister. That can be got over by putting in the word “employers,” as well as “employes.” But I want to test the principle. To pave the way for my principal amendment, I move - .
That the words “ without the approval of the President,” lines 1 and 2, be left out.
If the clause is not carried in the form that I suggest, the President might step in and exceed the conditions we lay down in paragraphs a, b, and c to this clause; he may agree to the submission of a dispute, notwithstanding non-compliance with the conditions. That power should not be given, because it really neutralizes the precautions contained in paragraphs a, b, and c. Those paragraphs provide that the consent of the organization is to be given. It may be that the organisation includes only a minority of the employes of the industry. We shall thus have given power to the majority of an organization, which may be a minority of the employes of the industry, to decide what disputes are to be brought before the Court. I know that the principle of the Bill is to encourage organization, and to deal, if possible, only with organizations. But as a matter of fact very few workmen, comparatively speaking, join organizations. In New Zealand, where a similar provision has been enacted, figures were quoted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, when, as Attorney-General, he was introducing this Bill, in which he showed that there had been absolutely a decline in the num ber of members of organizations under the Act. In 1900 there were about 26,000 out of 40,000 employes belonging to unions. In 1903 there were 57,000 employes, of whom only 23,000 belonged to organizations under the Act. It is puzzling to me why more men do not join the organizations; but it may, be that they desire to remain free. All I say is that the facts show that there is really’ an increasing number of pei sons who are employes but not members of unions within the meaning of the Act. If we desire, ‘therefore, to bring on a dispute, ‘ we ought to see that the right of decision shall rest with the employes, and not merely with a minority of the total number of employes in an industry, or it may be with a majority of the minority which is a very small one in relation to the total number of employes.
– I think that if the honorable and learned member knew the difficulties associated with the word “ majority,” as evidenced in Victoria in connexion with establishing half-holidays, and so on, he would not move this amendment.
– We have defined “ industry “ as well as “ employment.” We must know by these definitions what is meant. Surely we know what the phrase “ in a place of employment “ means. Is there any difficulty in prescribing that the majority of employes in a place of employment shall consent to a dispute arising ‘ there being referred to the Federal Court?
– The honorable and learned member is asking for the whole industry to be referred.
– The Government do not wish the principle to be put in.
– We desire the Act to be operative, no; inoperative.
– I am quite agreeable to the insertion of the limitation that the concurrence of the majority, which really means an absolute majority, of the employes in any place of employment must be given before a dispute can be sent to the Federal Court. Take the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which employs about 3,000 hands. A dispute was precipitated! by, I think, the members of an organization that did not number more than 100. Of that number, only about twenty were financial, while several were comparative youths ; and others were not sugar-workers, having left their employment. In that case 100 persons, of whom some were open to challenge as really not being directly interested in the industry, precipitated a dispute which affected the affairs of 3,000 employes - that is possible under this Bill.
– Perhaps the dispute was in relation to a particular branch of the works conducted by the company.
– It had relation to two things. At its inception it was a dispute for an increase of wages to all the employes, and subsequently, I believe, a demand was made that the eight hours principle should be introduced. It was found out, in relation to the latter demand, that several men who had been in the employment of the company for thirty-six and thirty years were willing to work for nine hours, or even longer, because, being old men, they were slow workers. They wished to continue under the old conditions; they felt that if thev were bound down to eight hours they might lose their employment, and therefore they solicited the intervention of the Court in respect of themselves. It was a most extraordinary position that 3,000 employes should, be forced to have their wages and hours interfered with at the beck and call of 100 men, simply because they belonged to an organization.
– Under this Bill a Court could refuse to hear a dispute in those circumstances.
– No doubt it could; but I do not wish the principle to be introduced an any form. Under the Bill, of course, the Court need not entertain a dispute which it considers not worthy of its dignity ; but then the machinery has been set in motion. There lias been the dispute, all the acrimony which It occasions, perhaps interference with’ employment, and all the preliminaries to a contest have been prepared. There has been some waste of material and temper up to a point at which the Court, in its discretion, says - “ We shall not exercise jurisdiction here.” What I contend is that this matter ought to be stopped altogether in a case in which a very large majority of the employes do not wish that a dispute should be brought under the cognisance of the Court. It is with that object that I intend to move an amendment, but it will be to a large extent neutralized if we retain the words which give the President the power to say that, notwithstanding the provisions in the paragraphs, he may send on any dispute to the tribunal over which he presides. Besides, it is really a bad principle to have the President determining beforehand minor matters connected with a dis- pute It looks as if he would require to familiarize himself with all the proceedings, and perhaps under those circumstances he might eventually take an ex parte view.
– Is that unknown to the law ?
– It is not customary for the Judges to look up the proceedings before they come into Court. Some Judges do, and it is very unfortunate that they do ; for they often criticise counsel from the very start by reason of the knowledge which they have picked up in examining affidavits, some of which may present an ex part, point of view. It is not, by some, considered a good quality in a Judge. It is a mistake to introduce the President of this Court as an arbiter at that stage of the proceedings. The clause says that, notwithstanding the provisions that are contained in paragraphs a, b, and c as precautions against the precipitation of industrial disputes, the President can look into the whole case and say that a dispute is to come on.
– If we can trust the President to decide disputes affecting millions of pounds’ worth of property surely we can trust him to say whether a dispute shall be entered on?
– Would the honorable gentleman have’ trusted the President of the Court to interfere in the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company?
– Would the honorable gentleman put the President at the very beginning in the difficulty of- considering the whole organization, and ascertaining the number of men employed, and so on?
– It would not take him five minutes to digest that information once it was placed before him.
– Practically it would forestall his riper judgment.
– Necessarily we have to place large powers in the hands of the President.
– He is asked to create a dispute to some extent by forcing the association to come within the Act.
– In the early part of the Bill he is charged with the duty of conciliating, even if he is not asked to intervene.
– Yes ; and even on that point two opinions are held. One of the best experts, perhaps, is Mr. Commissioner Russell, of South Australia. He has been President of a Voluntary Board for ten years, and he is directly against the principle of interference before the case is actually ripe for judgment. He wrote a report, which was presented to the Government of the State, against any attempt to allow him to interfere at the conciliation point. He said that the judgment of the man who finally decided ought to be absolutely unaffected by previous knowledge.
– We have decided that point.
– Whether the clause is or is not amended, it ought not to be left to the mere ipse dixit of the President to neutralize the precautions that we put in the three paragraphs of this clause.
– I cannot follow the tenor of the honorable and learned member’s argument; nor do I see that the omission of these few words have any bearing on the general amendment which he proposes to move at a later stage. There is no necessary connexion between the two amendments other than the fact that they are both in the direction of limiting the number of cases that can get before the Court. Of course, if the honorable and learned member desires to render the Bill valueless, it is a very good idea to cut down the number of cases that can get before the Court.
– I have no desire to do that.
– If the concurrence of a majority of the employes in an industry has to- be secured before a dispute can come under the jurisdiction of a Court, that will, I think, prevent any dispute from reaching it. except in regard to those industries in which the ‘ fewest number of persons are employed. Take, for instance, a large industry like that of seamen. Very frequently it occurs that there is not a majority of the men in an organization. It does not mean, I take it, the concurrence of a majority of the actual seamen, but the concurrence of a majority of all the men engaged on the steam-ships, and, perhaps, it might be extended to include all the men engaged in the industry, and the longshoremen, too, because they also are- employed. Supposing that it was a case of the seamen protesting against a certain rate of wages, and that the award of the Court was made a common rule. It . would extend to only the employment of seamen, and not to the employment of engineers, stewards, and cooks, and other forms of employment on a steamer. The shipping industry also includes wharf labourers and coal lumpers. In many instances it would be absolutely impracticable to get the legal concurrence of the majority of the persons engaged in an industry.
– Would the honorable gentleman have any objection to limiting it to the place of employment ?
– Take the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company’s works. There we have quite a variety of forms of work going on. So many men are engaged in bagging the sugar and sewing up the bags ; so many men are engaged in looking after the vats; and then there are the engineers, the firemen, and so on. There is a great variety of work in connexion with every large industry. The engineers may be members of an engineers’ organization, who have, say a dozen men working in that particular place, but the main body of the men employed in the trade are scattered all over the city and suburbs of Sydney, just as they may be in the city and suburbs of Melbourne. It is a difficult thing to distinguish the place of employment, there. The conduct of the sugar works may be affected. There is a dispute with the company as to the terms on which they will remunerate their engineers in Sydney and Melbourne. These engineers do not- constitute the majority, but are a small minority of the total number employed in the place where the industry is carried on. I only mention this to show how difficult it is to keep in view the recognition of organizations. The prevention of strikes is, I think, the leading feature of the Bill, and the recognition of organizations is its second important feature. I confess that until it was demonstrated that it was possible to make the organizations responsible I did not feel that we were justified in having, compulsory arbitration, and therefore I agree that collective bargaining is the main feature of the Bill. In my view, the honorable and learned member’s proposal gets right away from that idea, and will, I believe, render the Bill practically inoperative. If, as he proposes, we have to rely on getting the legal concurrence of a majority of employe’s in any industry, or even, as under his minor proposal, the legal concurrence of a majority of those employed at the particular place where the dispute occurs, I still hold that it will be absolutely impracticable to work the measure by machinery of that sort. I trust that every honorable member who is desirous of seeing the measure passed in working order, even though he may differ on matters of detail from its provisions, will at least try to prevent its main feature from being departed from. The honorable and learned member proposes to eliminate the provision under which the President has the reserve power to bring a dispute under the cognisance of the Court without being required to fulfil the conditions imposed under paragraphs a, b, and c of this clause. But in a measure of this sort we must intrust extraordinary powers to the President of the Court. It is necessary for the success of any proposal of this character to have a man upon whom we can place the utmost reliance. If we cannot trust him with the settlement of the enormous interests involved, we should not pass the measure, because we cannot expect any good results from it. But, having given so much into the hands of such an individual, surely it is not going too far to propose that, if he sees a dispute the parties to which are not prepared to submit to the Court, and in regard to which the Registrar has taken no steps, he may himself intervene, and say that thematter is one of which the Court shall ‘take cognisance, and thus endeavour to arrive at a settlement. We have already, in clause 24, charged him with the duty of endeavouring at all times to reconcile the parties to disputes, and have thus practically imposed upon him the duty of carrying out the work which the honorable and learned member for Angas now proposes to take from him. I appeal to the Committee to reject the amendment.
– I think that the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, if carried, would mean the destruction of the Bill.
– Why should not all men be considered?
– Those of us who wish for an Arbitration Act desire one which will bc workable.
– The Court could make a common rule affecting all.
– We will deal with the common rule when we come to it. There is a good deal to be said on both sides in regard to that matter. The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas is alien to the whole scheme and system upon which the Bill is founded.
– Are we not to consider non-union men ?
– They are of no account.
– They are of very great account. Every award will be for the benefit of non-union as well as of union men.
– No. In New South Wales some of the awards have been distinctly against the interests of non-unionists.
– The honorable and learned member is referring to the giving of preference’ to unionists, which is another matter, and one to be dealt with quite apart from the amendment. There is nothing to prevent any one belonging to an organization under the Bill. It need not. be a trades union in the ordinary sense of the term. A number of non-unionists might form an organization under the Bill, just as trades unionists could register themselves. The Bill is founded on the only workable scheme- on which such measures can be founded - accepting . organizations, even though they may not be as sufficient as we should like them to be, as representing roughly those concerned.
– Then this is purely class legislation ?
– If the honorable and learned member chooses to think so, he may. . Measures of this kind are, of course, open to criticism, some of which must be well founded,, while some of it is illfounded ; but if we accept the Bill so far as its general principles are concerned, we cannot agree to an amendment such as that of the honorable and learned member for Angas, which runs counter to them. I have referred by interjection to the difficulties which have occasionally occurred in Victoria when, under certain provisions of our Factories and Shops Acts, a majority of those employed in a particular trade or industry has been required to assent to a certain course being taken in regard to hours of closing, or matters of that kind. Great difficulty has been experienced in ascertaining, in the first place, who does and who does not belong to the trade or industry. Even in so small an area as a single suburb it has been found difficult, first, to ascertain who belongs to a trade or industry, and then to get the majority of them to act together. I would like to remind the Committee that the Bill, in my opinion, though efforts may be made to apply it to smaller matters, relates solely to disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
– That is not acknowledged.
– That is my view of what it should deal with, and of what it will be limited to by the High Court if the intervention of that body is necessary, and I must argue its provisions according to my own opinion of the law. When a dispute has attained such dimensions, it will be big enough to justify the intervention of the Arbitration Court, whether the majority of the employes in the industry concerned have or have not formally consented to it. It is my deliberate opinion - because this is not the first occasion when a proposal of this kind has come before us - that if such an amendment as this were carried, no dispute, however gigantic its character, could come under the notice of the Arbitration Court until almost irreparable damage had been done. The stable door would not be shut until the steed was stolen. I see the difficulty with regard to the place of employment. Suppose we take the illustration of the Prime Minister. Does the honorable and learned member for Angas propose that, if a trouble relating to the employment of the engineers only in a sugar refinerv oc-. curred, the consent of the majority of the employes in the establishment must be obtained to a “proposed submission to the Court ?
– Yes, because the whole of them would be affected.
– I was addressing the honorable and learned member for Angas. Needless difficulties and complications may arise if we limit the provision to the place of employment. The Bill deals with disputes extending beyond the limits of anyone State, so that there must be two places, one in one State and one in another, covering a much larger area than the interior of a single room or factory. The object of the Bill is of such a character that even the organization method is not completely satisfactory. I see the difficulties which may occur through those who do not belong to organizations being affected in a way which they may not like; but the scheme adopted is the only workable one. To require the consent of the whole of the employes in an industry would be impracticable, and would make the measure a farce. If the consent of the majority of those employed at the place where the dispute arose were required, it would be difficult, because of the wide-reaching character of the dispute, to determine where it arose. Suppose a dispute contemplated by the Bill occurred between shearers and sheep-owners, how could it be said to exist in any particu lar shed, when thousands of shearers and hundreds of sheep-owners were concerned ? The trouble might have arisen in a certainshed, and then spread through several States, so as to make it impossible to take a poll to ascertain the views of the majority concerned. I have considered the matter very anxiously, because I have felt the difficulties of the present scheme; but I have been forced to the conclusion that it is the only one practicable in a workable Bill, and, holding that view, I cannot support the amendment.
– The remarks of the Prime Minister did not quite answer the first objection of the honorable and learned member for Angas as to the words “ without the approval of the President.” He stated that it is necessary to give the President certain powers in case the clauses of the Bill fail to provide a means for bringing some particular dispute before the Court. But the words objected to go further than that. The Bill provides that where there is an organization, its. consent, in one way or another, shall be given under paragraphs a, b, and c. and yet, in spite of this indication of the will of Parliament, the President is empowered to deal with an industrial dispute which does not conform to those conditions.
– By clause 24 we have already given him authority to attempt toreconcile. This is giving him authority to arbitrate.
– Yes. But his powers should be subject to the provisions of the Bill. Here it is proposed that he shall have a power, not given to the Registrar, of allowing a dispute to be submitted, although it does not conform to the special provisions laid down in the Bill for the submission of disputes by organizations.
– If he sees a fire he isallowed to put it out.
– We have declared that something shall not be a fire until certain things have happened, and then we are asked to give the President power to deal with it as though it were a fire, although those things have not happened.
– He is not to wait for a formal certificate that the fire exists. If he sees it, he may at once commence to try toextinguish it.
– What he sees is not a fire, according to the provisions of the Bill, and should, therefore, not be dealt with by him as a fire unless upon the application of an organization. But, having laid down that condition, it is proposed to make him competent to declare that it is a fire, and to allow him to deal with it as such.
– He cannot go outside the powers-conferred on him bv the Bill.
– It is proposed that he shall be able to act quite contrary to the other provisions of the Bill, because the clause says that these provisions shall regulate the matter unless there be the approval of the President to a submission.
– I do not think so. The words referred to are intended to apply to technical oversights.
– It seems to me perfectly clear, according to the words of the clause.
– I do not think that any Court would hold it to that meaning. What I consider is intended is to give the President power to deal with the matter, although, technically, an organization has not complied with the regulations, and consequently has no status.
– Suppose there is no organization. The time of the President may be taken up dav after dav.
– Leaving that matter, and referring to the larger matter to which the honorable and learned member for Angus has alluded, and on which the Prime Minister has touched, it appears to me that we have learned nothing, if we have forgotten a great deal, from the experience! of the Arbitration Courts which have been in existence for some years. The experience gained in New South Wales and New Zealand shows that a tremendous pressure of work results from the fact that a very limited number of men constituting a union - some of the members of which are often not actually employed in the particular industry concerned - are permitted to submit a dispute. The action taken by the members of these unions does not always meet with the approval of a majority of the employes in an industry.
– Would the honorable member furnish one illustration?
– Many could be given. The honorable and learned member for Angas has just quoted one. I quite admit that the arguments used on this side of the Chamber lose much of their strength, if, as the honorable and learned member for Corinella says, the Bill would apply only to disputes extending beyond any one State; but I would point out that provision is made not merely for dealing with such disputes, but for interfering in individual States disputes.
– Only in cases . where the States ask us to do so.
– Apart from such cases, “provision is made for extending the application of the common rule “ throughout Australia.
– That would be only in regard to cases in which the Court could interfere. The provision as to the common rule is necessary to make the awards complete, and prevent the recurrence ot disputes.
– If the Court applied a common rule, it would take control of an industry, and any subsequent dispute in that industry, even in a single State, would have to be referred to the Court for settlement. The Court would thus be able to deal not merely with disputes extending beyond any one State - large and extensive disputes - in which I admit that there would be difficulty in securing the consent of the majority of those concerned, but also with disputes in very small industries - it might be in a single employment.
– I do not quite follow the honorable member. Suppose a case, in which the Victorian and New South Wales bootmakers were affected, came before the Federal Court. Does the honorable member mean to say that if the Court made an award, any subsequent dispute that might arise in any State, whether or not it extended beyond the boundaries of that State, could be referred to the Court?
– I mean to saythat, according to my reading of the Bill, if a dispyte occurred in connexion with the bootmaking trade in two States, and the Court fixed wages, hours, and conditions of work, including rates for piecework, and a dispute subsequently arose in a single State in regard to any of those matters, it would have to be referred to the Court which had given its decision, and had practically, in regard to these matters, taken over the control of the industry. I admit that if the Federal Court had nor dealt with any particular matter in that industry, a. dispute regarding it might be referred to the Court of the State in which it arose ; but if the Federal Court had dealt with the wages, rights, privileges, hours, rates of piece-work, and the relations generally between employers and employes in the industry, and a dispute arose in connexion with those matters afterwards, it must be referred to the Federal Court. I cannot follow the honorable and learned member for Corinella in his legal arguments as to whether the High Court would indorse some of the provisions of the Bill. I grant that upon that point he is a better authority than I am ; but, even as a layman, I think that I am able to form certain conclusions as to the meaning of the clauses. If the Court is to have the extensive jurisdiction that I have indicated, there is very good reason for adopting the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, that the majority, of those concerned in any dispute shall have the power to decide whether it shall be submitted to the Court. When a body of employers and employes are engaged in a dispute it seems to me reasonable that the course to be adopted should be decided by a majority of either one side or the other.-
– Why one side or the other - why not both?
– I mean one or the other.
– Yes; but why not the majority of both sides in either case? An organization of the employers may comprise only one man.
– Then he would constitute a majority.
– He would be a majority of that organization, but not a majority of those engaged in the industry.
– I refer to a majority of those engaged in a dispute.
– I should like the honorable member to read the amendment. It is proposed that the course of action shall be settled by a majority of those engaged in the industry affected, and that is entirely different from the majority of those concerned in the dispute.
– Personally, I should be in favour of providing that the course to be adopted should be settled by a majority of those engaged in a dispute, or, failing that, by a majority of those belonging to the organization affected by the dispute. At least, a majority of the organization affected should be required. The Prime Minister spoke of the necessity of having substantial organizations, such as trades unions. Such organizations are very good in their way, but they are established for purposes other than those contemplated by the Bill. The Prime Minister seemed to think that there would be some difficulty in dealing with other organizations, because they would not possess sufficient funds, or be of sufficient standing to. enable the Court to look to them as responsible. I believe that the object in view might be more easily accomplished even than by looking to the unions. I admit that it is the policy of the Bill to hold the unions responsible, but experience might have suggested that contributions should be collected by the employers when paying their men- - contributions very much smaller than those now made to the unions - and that the employers should at the same time contribute similarly week by week, and that the whole of the money so collected should be placed under the control of the Court, to be devoted solely to the purposes of the Bill. If that plan had been adopted, it would, have been much more likely to secure the successful working of the measure. It would, amongst other things, have tended to minimize the number of unnecessary disputes. It is admitted by the President of the New South Wales Arbitration Court that a multitude of unnecessary disputes are brought before that tribunal, owing to the fact that there is no stipulation that applications to the Court should be indorsed by a majority of the employes engaged in an industry. ‘ The course I have suggested would also overcome the difficulty arising from a minority of a very small organization submitting a dispute to the Court. I believe that any body of workmen would be sufficiently sensible and alive to their own interests to decide by a majority in favour of adopting a reasonable course - whether they should carry the dispute to the Court, accept some compromise, or remain as they were. However, I recognise that the Bill has been framed on different lines, and I only allude to the subject, because of the difficulty raised by the Prime Minister. I am in favour of providing that the consent of the majority of the members of the organization engaged in a dispute shall be required before application is made to the Court. It seems absurd that half-a-dozen men belonging to an organization should be able to raise disputes, and appeal to the Couit time after time, without the approval of a - majority of those whom they are professing to represent.
– I propose to deal only with the question of the practicability or otherwise of the amendment submitted bv the honorable and learnid member for Angas. I feel thoroughly satisfied that he has not given it mature consideration. The effect of its adoption would be to render it absolutely impossible for the Shearers’ Union to obtain access to the Arbitration Court.
– I am sorry to hear that.
– The honorable a’nd learned member proposes that, before an industrial dispute can be submitted to that Court, it shall be necessary to obtain the concurrence of a majority of the members engaged in the industry. I defy any person to determine how many shearers there are in the Commonwealth today. These men, it must be remembered, are employed only for a portion of the year, usually from July to December, and the number engaged in the industry depends to a large extent upon the weather conditions and the demand for labour. The employers themselves do not engage the same ‘men year after year. If the former were asked to supply tha names of their employes they could not do so. I would further point’ out that many men are engaged in the industry for one season only. As the representative of an organization of eighteen years’ standing, and, as an officer of a trade’s union with a quarter of a century’s experience, I claim that the proposal is absolutely impracticable. Therefore, I ask the honorable and learned member to withdraw it. When Mr. B. R. Wise framed the New South Wales Arbitration Act I had an opportunity of perusing it before it was submitted to Parliament. On my suggestion one of the clauses was amended to bring the Shearers’ and Seamen’s Unions within the scope of the Bill, Mr. Wise recognised that it would be impossible, whenever a dispute arose, to secure a representative meeting of the shearers of Australia, because their addresses are not known. I remember one individual who, upon being asked his address, gave the expressive reply, “ Ask a crow where his tree is.” Shearers are a nomadic class, with no fixed place of abode. It is impossible to secure a vote of the members of the organization itself.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that a majority of the members of the Shearers’ Union are so situated?
– I did not make any such statement. The New South Wales Arbitration Act was amended to enable the Shearers’ Union to take advantage of the peculiar circumstances of that organization being recognised. When I say that it is impossible to secure a majority vote of its members, of course I refer to the greater portion of the year.
– Is a dispute likely to arise when the men are not employed?
– It is impossible to secure the vote of a majority of those engaged in the industry, because no one can tell how many are so employed. Surely the honorable and learned member for Angas must realize that his proposal involves a great deal more than he foresaw. If the proposal be carried, the Bill may as well be thrown into the waste-paper basket. Moreover, the honorable and learned member . will require to define whether those over twenty - one years of age alone shall possess the voting power, because there are a great number of bovs connected with the Shearers’ Union. Who is to superintend the taking of the vote?
– Who is to go to the Court ?
– The honorable and learned member belongs to a school the members of which believe in the policv of non-interference. I appeal to the honorable and learned member for Angas and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa to adhere to their principles, and not to interfere with the internal working of an organization which admittedly knows how to manage its own affairs. The shearers’ organization allows nobody to act for it without its authority. We consult its members as widely as it is possible to do so whilst the shearing season is in progress. But in the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, the question of a majority vote of that organization is involved. It would be impossible to secure a majority vote during the off season, because the addresses of its members are unknown. It is impossible to ascertain the number of persons engaged in the pastoral industry from the very nature of their employment, which is of an intermittent character. For instance, there were 63,000,000 of sheep in New South Wales a few years ago, but owing to the drought the number was reduced to 30,000,000. It necessarily follows that less labour is required to shear 30,000,000 sheep than was needed to shear 63,000,000.
– Does the honorable member believe in the application of the “ common rule”?
– I trust that we shall deal with one matter at a time. I am pointing out the impracticability of this proposal. Its effect will be to render the Court inaccessible to some of the very organizations to which the Bill was specially intended to apply.
– If the honorable member did not wish the trades unions to force their opinions upon others, I could understand his position.
– The number of men employed in the pastoral industry outside the shearers’ organization is not worth counting.
– I am thinking of the nonunionists.
– I am not discussing that question. I am confining my attention to the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, which, if given effect to, will render the Court utterly inaccessible to the Shearers’ Union. Can the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, with his marvellous ability, inform the Committee how many wharf labourers there are in the Commonwealth? Of course, he cannot. The number is regulated by the amount of shipping. Nobody carries round the brand of a wharf labourer or of a shearer upon his back.
– There are plenty of members of the Shearers’ Union who belong to the organization to which I belong.
– Exactly. That is another difficulty which confronts the honorable and learned member for Angas. If his proposal is adopted, it will be necessary to define, by regulation, the society in which these men shall vote. The amendment is entirely unnecessary. The honorable member for North Sydney seemed to think that a minority might decide the matter. Unions have very decided views as to majority rule, and do not do their business bv the action of minorities. This Bill is based on a recognition of existing conditions, and some’ of those conditions, which are regarded by certain persons as dangerous in connexion with unions, have been met by bringing unions under law, and making- them collectively responsible. The honorable and learned member for Corinella put the case very clearly ; and it is recognised that there is no other way of dealing with industrial disputes. No body of men can express their opinions except by resolution at general meetings or by referendum; no other way. has yet been discovered by humanity. Unions are responsible under penalties to the Court, and have to provide for all these matters in their rules, which, according to the schedule of the Bill, must be drawn up in proper form before there can be registration. The amendment places a bar in .the way ; and with a quarter of a century’s experience, particularly in connexion with Inter-State bodies, I say that it would be utterly impracticable to carry on under this amendment. In my opinion, such a provision is unnecessary, seeing that alt safeguards are already provided. I hope the amendment will be withdrawn.
– It seems to me that the honorable member for Darling might very reasonably be expected to take up a somewhat - if I may be permitted to use the word - violent advocacy of the cause of minorities in trades unions.
– There is no recognition of minorities in a union.
– We find that the honorable member is rather an advocate of fomenting trouble, and I think when we listen to arguments for and against any particular clauses of the Bill, and especially clauses of this nature, it is well to look to previous words of honorable members who advance those arguments.
– I know something about the matter, anyhow.
– Apparently the honorable member does know something about the matter, and it is on his knowledge that I wish to trade at the present moment. When we had before us the case of the domestic servants, whose welfare the honorable member has so much at heart, we find that on being asked how it would be possible to have an Inter-State dispute in connexion with them, he replied “ Oh, we could soon work one up.” The honorable member, in safeguarding that right to foment disputes, might reasonably be expected to violently advocate the- privilege of minorities to shape the policy of the unions concerned.
– How many shearers are there in the Commonwealth?
– Nobody knows.
– Perhaps nobody does know ; but a short time ago there were very few in New South Wales. There was a certain number of men - with whom the honorable member for Darling was concerned - who, he tells us, did not strike, but as they did not work, I suppose that for the time being they could not be regarded as actual shearers. All this shows how much the number of shearers in any State may vary. The honorable member says that it would be practically impossible to apply the provision; if ‘ amended as proposed, to the shearers ; and I agree that it would be impossible if the amendment were adopted in its present form. But the honorable and learned member for Angas may consent to alter his amendment so as to make it simply apply to those engaged in “ any place of employment,” or something to that effect. That would be an absolutely fair proposal.
– Shearers have no place of employment
– Every one has a place of employment.
– Every man has not a place of employment.
– I should be very glad if the honorable member for Darling would tell me of any one who has not a place of employment ; if there be such a one, it is an extraordinary state of affairs. I do not say that a place of employment necessarily means a place with a roof, because a man may be employed, for instance, in a paddock; I am not quibbling about terms. But I should like to ask the honorable member’s opinion as to whether it would not be quite practicable to get a referendum of the persons engaged in any particular employment - not employment in an industry, but at a particular place. If there be a strike or a dispute on a particular station, surely a referendum could be taken of the employes on that station to find out whether the strike or dispute was indorsed by all. Would the honorable member be in favour of a proposal of that kind?
– The honorable member does not understand the matter.
– I suppose the honorable member regards the suggestion as perfectly wicked. I, personally, am very much surprised that honorable members opposite do not “ rush “ this proposal. In New South Wales, at any rate, the Labour Party were quite keen on the referendum, until the referendum hit them rather hard on the question of the’ reduction of members in the State Parliament.
– The Labour Party are just as keen now on the referendum.
– The Prime Minister will forgive me, but I think the referendum has gone from the first place to about the fourth or fifth in the programme of the Labour Party.
– It is still on the programme.
– But not in the same place.
– It is just where it was before.
– If I am wrong, I withdraw what I have said about the referendum in New South Wales. But I was informed, on very good authority, that since the referendum proved such an unexpected blessing to the Labour Party, it had been placed about three places lower down in the programme in New South Wales. I am surprised that the Labour Party do not accept my suggestion, because it really means majority rule in the unions - a splendid idea ! The honorable member for Darling asked, “ Why cannot you allow these organizations to manage their own affairs?” That is exactly our desire. Surely there is no more pressing or urgent question than whether men should or should not go out on strike, or, under the new conditions, whether they should or should not risk the funds of the union in applying to the Court. Surely it is not too much to ask that a majority of the men engaged, not in the entire industry, but in a particular place of employment “where the trouble arises-
– But they may not then be engaged.
– Surely it is not too much to ask that, in such a case, a vote should be taken as to whether or not the dispute should be brought before the Court. Why should one or two men have the power, as” they will have under this Bill if it be passed in its present form, to move the Court? Does such a provision promise to facilitate the easy working of the measure?
– One or two men could not move the Court.
– There are two things which might practically destroy . the Bill. One of these would be an application of the amendment in its broader form ; and I am sure the honorable and learned member for Angas does not mean to kill the Bill.
– Does the honorable member not think that the amendment would kill the Bill?
– In its broader form it might; but to have the Bill in its present form, and ‘ allow one or two men to have the power of fomenting trouble, would kill it-
– One or two men would not have that power.
– They would have it under the Bill as it stands. The honorable member for Darling himself said that he has the power to work up trouble.
– I said the opposite.
– The honorable member, than whom I do not ask for a better authority, said he could soon work up a dispute.
– This is not a question of a dispute, but a question of getting to the Court, the dispute being existent at the time.
– The honorable member says that it is simply a question of getting to the Court, but no appeal can be made to the Court until there is a dispute.
– There will be no difficulty about that ; the dispute will, of course, be in existence.
– I confess I cannot follow the honorable member. I honestly cannot see any argument against the proposal to leave out the words “ without the approval of the President.” If the words are retained the Judge will be given power at any time to over-ride the wishes of Parliament on any particular question. Why should that be?
– A Judge does that very often, when an Act is not clearlv drawn.
– But if this House cannot draw a Bill clearly we had better give the Judge unfettered discretion.
– Call him an arbitrator.
– Exactly. If we can frame clauses which will guide the Judge and keep him within the Bill, then we ought to have such clauses; but no provisions are required if they simply enable the Judge to say - “Weil, this is a case which I do not think was meant to come within the Act, and I shall allow it to go by default.” The Prime Minister said that the main feature of the arbitration principle is that of collective bargaining ; and every one will be agreed as to that..
– Collective disputing.
– We will take the Prime Minister’s words. Collective bargaining surely means bargaining between a majority of employers and a majority of employed. It does not mean a minority of one or two fomenting a dispute with an employer, or vice versa, but a majority of employers and a majority of employes settling their differences before the Court. It does not mean the fomenting of trouble with the aid of one or two agitators. I cannot support the amendment in its present form, which is too wide.
– Surely we ought to include every citizen in the community.
– Not so. I opposed the Bill on its second reading; but I do not want to kill it in Committee. I like the principle of the amendment, because any provision which will tend to lessen frivolous disputes, worked up by one or two men, will operate in the direction of making this a workable law. Without some such provision the Court would be overloaded with work, and the Bill would be a failure in every direction except one - the creation of prestige and power amongst a small section governing the unions.
Mr. GLYNN (Angas).- I should like to indicate to the Committee that I shall not press the amendment in its present form. I do that to oblige the honorable member for Darling. My new proposal will involve the very minimum of interference, and will, I think, justify the honorable member in giving me his vote. I now propose to amend sub-clause a by adding after the word “ consent “ the words “ of the majority of the members.” Surely it is not too much to ask that the majority should consent in such a case. To prevent any confusion between the issue raised by this amendment - with the other question which depends- on it, but which can be met on other grounds - and the question of the approval of the President being sufficient without any conditions, I shall not move the amendment in regard to the latter. I have, I think, gone a long way to meet some of the arguments and wishes which have been expressed bv honorable members.
– Before the honorable and learned member for Angas withdraws his amendment, I will ask him to consider whether it is really too wide. We are now dealing with a measure that affects every citizen in the community. The helpless man ought to be more dear to us than the man who can help himself. At anv rate, we should be careful not to thrust any disability upon him. But that is what we are going to do, if this clause is passed as it stands, without great care being taken to prevent the committee of management of an organization going to the Court on a matter on which the majority of the mem- bers of the organizations may be against them. Surely the majority of the members of an organization ought to be allowed to determine what they shall do. Who are the leaders of the organizations, and whenever have they exhibited such sense as should lead us to believe that they will fairly, represent the majority of their unions ? What have they ever done , for the advancement of the men whom they lead ? We know that they have clone much for their misery. Are the majority to rule or not?
– Certainly, they are.
– Then how dare we say that the majority shall not decide a matter like this?
– The Court will decide it.
– How can the Court decide properly unless the reference to the Court has the approval of the majority of the members of the union? As the Bill at present stands, workmen who are outside the unions may not be able to get any employment whatever. They will become outcasts. Say that there are 100,000 men in the trades organizations throughout Australia, The vote of these men is not to be taken. A small minority of leaders for the time being mav decide whether they shall go to the Court or not.
– Is there not a discretionary power given to the Judge to hear a case of that kind ?
– How can he decide ? I quite agree with the honorable .member for Darling that there are difficulties in matters of this kind. But difficulties only exist for honorable members to overcome them ; and if the present difficulty is one which cannot be overcome, and the majority of the members of a trade cannot be ascertained, how dare any committee of management ask Parliament to pass a measure that would allow them to decide for the majority? The Bill provides that a common rule may be made, which will apply to every employe in the industry affected, throughout Australia. So that absolutely a small minority of men can cause the whole of the employes in an organization to be brought under that common rule. What does the honorable and learned member for Corinella think of that? Does he think that the minority of an organization ought to be allowed to take a dispute to the Court, which a majority, not only of that organization, but of the whole of the employes of the industry, might be against ?
– I merely pointed out that the amendment would not work.
– That is a good reason for honorable members to apply their wits to devise some means by which it may be made to work. In ninety-nine industries out of a hundred it can be worked without the slightest difficulty. Is there any difficulty, in the coal-miners’ organization in New South Wales, about consulting the majority of the employes?
– It may be somewhat difficult, but it is done frequently. I remember an instance in which the Minister of External Affairs was engaged. The wharf labourers of Sydney were consulted as to whether their hours of work should be altered. According to “reports, three or four meetings were held, and at every meeting a different resolution was passed. The Employers’ Federation agreed to the first alteration which the wharf labourers desired to make. Then a second meeting was called to confirm the resolution. But, lo and behold ! a different body of men attended, who entirely reversed the decision of the first meeting, and declared for a second alteration. That, again, was taken to the employers, who agreed to it. A third meeting was held, which altered what the second meeting had done; and after an animated discussion, the whole matter was left in the hands of the secretary of the union, who left matters exactly as they were. If this measure had been in operation, on the vote of the first meeting, a dispute might have been referred to the Court, although it by no means expressed the will of ‘the majority of the employes. I mainlain that the opinion of the majority of the employes in any industry should be ascertained. If the decision of the Court is to bind the whole, why should not the majority be consulted? Suppose an honorable member represented 10,000 workmen who did not belong to unions. Would he consider it proper that the will of 100 workmen in the same trade should have the effect of taking a matter to the Court and establishing a common rule that would bind every one of the men? Under clause 48 the Court has power to direct that -
As between members of organizations of employers or employes and other persons offering or desiring service or employment at the same time, preference shall be given to such members, other things being equal.
That means that the men who are not members of organizations will not be consulted in any way. It is a very serious thing for Parliament to take upon itself to determine a matter of that kind, considering thai; probably in all the unions throughout Australia there are not 100,000 men.
– There are 66,000 unionists registered in New South Wales alone.
– Paid members?
– Yes; there are others not registered.
– The number registered in New South Wales is 66,900.
– Those are registered under the Act, but there are many more.
– There are 400,000 other workers.
– Exactly ; so that one man in seven belongs to a union. The proportion of unionists in New South Wales is larger than in any’ other State. Only one man in every seven belongs to these organizations, and the Committee is asked to say that the seventh man shall have the power to go to a Court that shall dictate to the other six men how they shall live. I hope that the other six men will wipe out the seventh man, and that if the seventh man will not allow them to live they will set aside Parliaments, and will not permit them to exist except in the Northern Territory, where all the land will be at their service, and where, if, as they say, labour is the only source of wealth, they will not disturb the rest of the community.
– Fleming talks in that way.
– It appears to me that he is thoroughly justified. If the seventh man tries through Parliament to prevent the other six men from obtaining a living, the latter have a right to turn round and say to him, “ We shall deal with you in exactly the same way.” If the seventh men were only to form themselves into industrial organizations for the purposes of industrial partnership or collective bargaining, they would be acting within their rights, and no’ objection could be raised, but rather hope expressed, that such a state of affairs would continue, because it would bring about a truer system of contract between the two parties than would otherwise be possible. But when one man in every seven, having obtained certain power, coerce a great many other men into thinking that they are the only persons to be considered, it is high time for the six men to get up, and say what they think about the matter. Is it not a dreadful thing that, in what is called a democratic country, we should be putting out of consideration six men out of every seven, and only recognise organizations whose members have had the initiative drilled out of them to a certain extent ? It can be shown that the greatest rise in wages during the last century has not been obtained by trade organizations, but by those industrial classes which have had no organizations. In one case the increase has been perhaps over 200 per cent., while in other cases it has not exceeded 50 per cent. We should take good care that no organization is allowe’d to exist which places a limitation on the number of its members. If a hundred men like to come together and say, “ We will not allow any one to enter our partnership,” they can do so, but the moment they come to Parliament “and say, “We want power to prevent any one else from entering into our partnership,” they ask for more than they should.
– The Government are with the honorable and learned member in that regard. I have announced that we shall take every step necessary to insure that the ranks of the unions shall be open to every person.
– We ought to insist on some amendment of the sort being passed. The honorable member for Darling has shown that there are difficulties in the wav. but if he likes, let him pick out one or two industries, and we can make special exceptions in their favour. But where this opinion can be legitimately obtained, where the consequences may be so serious to other employes inthe industry who have no connexion with the dispute, surely the majority of the men should be consulted. What better instance could be given than the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, where practically 100 members of an organization, not more than twenty of whom were financial, set up a dispute which affected the employment of 3,000 persons? In the case of the tanners’ dispute, I know that many more men were desirous that it should not go before the Court than were desirous that it should. And in the case of the wool-scourers, the men engaged at Penrith earnestly prayed : o be kept out of the dispute. The rents of cottages are much less in the country than in the cities, and there are other advantages which render a lower rate of wages still more profitable. In fact, a rate of £2 5s. in one place is not so good as a rate of £2 in another place. There are instances of that kind to be found all over Australia, as the Minister of External Affairs is well aware.
– The Court has power to vary an award.
– Surely the Minister must see that the Court will not be able to keep on inquiring into these things. There is only one practical way in which to carry out this idea, and that is to do as was done in England once - to divide the country into districts, and legislate for them alone. The place in which the legislation existed would become deserted, while the place in which it did not exist would be resorted to by the people.
– That is not the experience of New Zealand. They are rushing in thousands to the place where this legislation does exist.
– New Zealand would be enjoying a much greater degree of prosperity had no such legislation been passed, and I might mention that the rise in wages there has been infinitely greater in the agricultural industry, which has no union, and is not under the Act, than in any other. I submit that we ought to pass the clause in the form at first proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas. It is perfectly clear that we ought to omit the words “ without the approval of the President.” Otherwise, what is the use of any of these safeguards at all ? Here we have three provisions to the effect that everything is to be certified to by the Registrar, and done as he may determine. If we require these things to be done, they must be done, and we should not allow any President, whoever he may be, to go outside the law. Schedule B of the Bill lays down the conditions to be complied with by an association applying for registration as an organization, and if we do not omit the words “ without the approval of the President,” we shall do away with that schedule; and that, I submit, we ought not to do. Another objection to the retention of the words is that it would allow the President of the Court to decide some matters on an ex’ parte statement.
– He will not give a decision ; he will not award anything.
– It might turn out that -the President would be misled, and that there was no true organization. The majority of the members of an organization might desire to withdraw; but the leaders would be very anxious to prevent them from doing so, and without any reference to the men they might rush on a dispute and secure the approval of the President before he knew what he was doing. During the whole of that time, not one of those men would be allowed to withdraw from the organization, or to discontinue his subscription, and that in the case of a number of poor men is a very important matter.
– The honorable and learned member has a wonderful imagination.
– I am certain that there is a provision of that kind in the Bill. Some cases have been hung up in New South Wales for twelve months, and are likely to be hung up for another year. Under this Bill a man might be compelled to keep on subscribing for a couple of years after he wished to withdraw from the organization, and yet, in the face of that possibility, it is not proposed to take special care that the will of the majority shall be ascertained. I submit that there is no reason why it should not.
– The honorable and learned member for Angas has asked permission to withdraw his amendment, with a view to submitting a similar amendment in a later part of the clause. Is it the pleasure of the Committee that leave be given ?
– I object.
– In that case the amendment cannot be withdrawn.
– Several honorable members object to the withdrawal of the amendment. While the original amendment was somewhat too wide, I fancy that the projected amendment is too narrow.
– The projected amendment cannot be discussed now.
– I wish to point out some reasons why some such amendment as the honorable and learned member for Angas first gave notice of should be carried. The members of these organizations comprise a very small proportion of the industrial employes. If we give to one organization the power of bringing employment in any industry before the Court we give a very small proportion of the employes the possibility of bringing an industry before the Court, and of the Court fixing the wages, hours, and conditions of employment. In the Bill specific power is given to the Court to exclude a large number of men from earning their living. In New South Wales disputes have been brought before the Court by organizations which comprised only a small minority of the employes in an industry. The members of these organizations have got preferential treatment, and by so doing they have been able to take the bread out of the mouths of some of their competitors. Action of that kind is not in accordance with natural justice, and the Committee should be slow to legislate in such a way. The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas is, I think, a little too wide in that respect, but the provision in the Bill is so preposterously narrow that it should call forth the condemnation of all reasonable men. Under the Bill an organization of employes need comprise only one hundred persons, so that the expensive machinery of the Court might be set in motion by fifty-one persons. That is a monstrous proposal. What the honorable member for Darling desires is quite clear. He wishes to build up the employes’ unions as political organizations at the expense of the employers. The fines of the employers are to be paid to the unions of the em ployes, which are political organizations, and thus the Labour Party is to be maintained at the expense of the employers. That is the long and the short of their support of the Bill. Under it they propose to extract money from one class to keep going the political organizations of another class.- Some such proposal as that of the honorable and learned member for Angas is absolutely necessary to prevent a small minority from bringing a case before the Court. There should be a petition signed by 1,000 employes before a case could be brought before the Court. Why should fifty-one persons, who see an opportunity to obtain better terms for themselves than their fellow-workmen can hope to enjoy, be allowed to put the expensive machinery of the Court into operation? In every case under the Bill, as under State legislation, they will ask for preferential treatment - treatment which will secure employment to them while workmen outside the organization will be lacking it. In some of the organizations under the New South Wales Act the members of the unions do not comprise 10 per cent, of the employes in their industry, and yet they have managed to secure for themselves preferential treatment, leaving the other 90 per cent, to battle for their living as well as they can. This is the provision which honorable gentlemen opposite are sup- porting, but it is one which we should not countenance. Therefore, while the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas may be too wide, the Bill is certainly too narrow because it will enable fifty-one employes to set in motion the Court, possibly to the injury of thousands of other emploves.
– The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has dealt with this matter at great length, while the honor-, able and learned member for Wannon has treated it with commendable brevity. I will deal first with the objection urged by the latter. He says that the provision in the Bill is opposed to natural justice. That is a peculiar phrase, so that I am sorry that he did not do the Committee the service of defining it. I do not know what he means by it.
– Cannot the Minister understand natural justice?
– Everything is natural. It is natural to cut off a man’s head, if one goes the right way about it, or to commit suicide, as to eat one’s dinner, or to make an effort to live. It is natural to make shirts for 1¾d a dozen, though not quite so comfortable as to make them for a decent rate of pay. The honorable and learned member’s idea of natural justice is carried to its logical and magnificent Conclusion in the East End of London, and in the Bowery, in New York, where sempstresses work at the rate I have named, and toil all day, putting their soul and body into their labour, to earn 6d. or 9d. In those places he could bathe in the fountain of natural justice, whereas here he can only wet the soles of his feet in it. He says that not 10 per cent: of the members of an industry will, under the Bill, impose their will upon all employes, and that annoys him terribly ; yet it is not very long since 10 per cent, of the people of Australia imposed their will upon all the rest, and if he had been here then, he would no doubt have considered it a very reasonable arrangement. It is not 10 per cent., but 90 per cent, of the people who now rule, and therefore he wants, not majority rule, but an exhaustive ballot. Majority rule is distasteful to him in this instance, because it does not suit his own views . The honorable and learned member for Werriwa spoke about requiring the submission of the matters under discussion to the unions, yet he is a violent opponent to the principle of the referendum, which provides for the submission of proposed measures to the people, instead of to their representatives in . Parliament. He has stated that a requisite in this case is the vote of the whole of the members of a union, but if a scratch majority of the members of the Committee - say twenty to nineteen, the total making barely a majority of the House - could be got to oust the present Government, he would bubble over with delight. He would term that constitutional Government. The referendum is something quite opposed to that, yet he gets up and supports its application in this case. He referred to events which happened 200 or 300 years ago, with which he is, I admit, more intimately acquainted, and upon which he is better able to speak than upon those happening now. He says that at one time England was divided into districts, to some of which industrial legislation was applied, with the result that where it was applied, the people left the district. Well, let them do so here. Such a statement is on all-fours with the blatant, vacuous, foolish, inane expressions of those who say that this legislation is driving capital out of the country. Formerly, according to the honorable and learned member, it did not drive out capital, but it drove out the people, which is an infinitely more serious matter. But, as the Prime Minister has reminded him, it has not driven anybody out of New Zealand.
– The population of New Zealand has not appreciably increased, and the numbers in the unions there have diminished.
– My honorable and learned friend unites in his magnificent self all those powers of observation which the New Zealand Government is compelled to delegate to a number of individuals. He knows more about statistics than does the Government Statistician of New Zealand, more about the political economy of that country than does the professor retained at the University to teach it. He is a political Poo-Bah. He says that, not this legislation, but something else has prevented a decrease of population in New. Zealand. The causes which have increased population in New Zealand - for it has increased - of which he can avail himself are remarkably few. He says that this legislation is not one of them. Neither, in his view, is protection, because to him protection is anathema. What is it ? Is it the climate ?
– Good land legislation.
– This is pathetic! What is this good land legislation? It is Socialism pure and simple. It is the buying up of big estates, and the handing of them to the small person; the offering of inducements to closer settlement; and the doing of other things which he vehemently de. cries. It is those things that have increased the population of New Zealand, he says, and not the legislation now under discussion. Then he wishes for majority rule. I have already pointed out that in Parliament a majority of those present rule. The majotity of honorable members present in the chamber, when the division is taken to-night will determine the question now before us. So in every union it is the majority which rules. When it was sought to provide for a three-fifths majority under the Constitution, was. the honorable and learned member for Werriwa in favour of a majority of those present and voting, or of an absolute majority, whether some were absent or not? He stands convicted there. He was in favour of the application of the provision to those who were present and voting, and not to the whole body of members. He speaks about the tyranny of unionism. But under the New South Wales Act, which we have followed, it is prescribed that the rules of the unions must be submitted to the Registrar for approval, and amongst other things, rules governing the appointment and removal of a committee of management, the chairman, president, or secretary, the powers and duties of such persons, and the control to be exercised by special or general meetings over that committee, are laid down. Further, any one who knows anything at all about any other union than that to which both my honorable friend and myself- belong, knows that all members may attend any meeting, whether general or special. I am connected with an industrial union numbering over 3,000 members, and the room in which we meet, and which we find ample for our accommodation, will hold about 300. Does he suggest that the members of that union, some of whom live twenty miles away, in distant suburbs, and who perhaps are working on the night upon which a meeting is being held, should be required to attend?
– Yes. The honorable and learned member has described a strike as a state of warfare, and therefore it is a sufficiently serious matter to compel the attendance of all members.
– It is because we have declared for peace, and not for war, that we are supporting this legislation. If I had the rules of the Waterside Workers’ Federation with me I could show that a strike can be declared only after a ballot of all the members throughout Australia.
– That is exactly what we wish to provide for in other cases.
– While that is the method by which we approach a state of warfare, a mere handful of men may appeal to the Court to invoke peaceable methods for the settlement of a dispute. If the others like to remain supine, and neglect their own interests, they must, if necessary, suffer. Why should the members of an industrial organization be treated differently from the members of the body politic? What percentage of the electors in the division of Werriwa recorded their votes at the last election ?
– Five out of every seven who voted voted for me. The others did not vote because they were certain that I should be returned.
– The honorable and learned member knows all about trades unionism, but a small matter such as the percentage of voters to elector’s in his division escapes his eagle eye. I believe that those who did not vote were so paralyzed at the audacity of his conduct in seeking re-election that they were unable to drag their palsied limbs to the poll. During the last Parliament he meandered throughout the live-long night and day, and in all things made himself so conspicuous and notorious that he led the electors of Werriwa to believe that he would not offer himself again, but, having done so, he wondered that so few voted for him. I am amazed at the moderation of the people of that district. The fact that there was no riot there affords one of the most signal examples of the lawabiding character of the Anglo-Saxon race. Now the honorable and learned member says that he does not believe in the referendum. Just imagine a referendum being taken as to whether the honorable and learned member is a fit and proper person to be in this Parliament at all. No wonder he is not in favour of the referendum. He also says that one man out of every seven is able to dictate to the other six as to the terms on which they are to live.
– What I say is that one man should not be able to dictate the terms to six others, and that the six should not be able to dictate terms to the remaining one. There should be no interference on either side.
– The moderation of the honorable and learned member is very much like that of Warren Hastings. It is marvellous, and he stands aghast at it. When he used such an illustration as he did he betrayed the poverty of his imagination and his absolute ignorance of the matter under discussion. He betrayed poverty of imagination, because whilst ignoring facts he should have been able to bring forward a very much better illustration. If, on the other hand, he had desired to confine himself to the facts, he ought to have known that the award of the Court would only apply to the parties to the dispute, and not to any one else.
– The honorable and learned member is wrong.
– The application of the common rule is a matter in reg’ard to which the other six men to whom the honorable and learned member has referred, would have a voice before they were affected.
– Not under the Bill. They would have no right to be heard before the Court. I challenge the honorable member on that.
– The question whether or not I shall accept the challenge depends on its character. This Government declares that the only persons subject to the common rule are those who have been cited to appear before the Court?
– How could the Court cite a hundred and one employes to appear before it. They would have to be served with a process. Would the Minister serve every employer in Australia with a process ?
– How would any one be cited to appear? On page 231 of the Industrial Arbitration Reports of New South Wales, volume II., appears the report of a case in which it was sought to apply the common rule to certain persons before giving them any notice. An application was made by the Hairdressers’ Employes Union, and Mr. Justice Cohen said -
We will make an order, but some public notification must be given. An advertisement in two daily papers will be sufficient.
The Government will not rely on the practice of the Court in a matter of this kind, but will insert in the Bill a direct provision that no person, except the parties, to the original application, shall be subject to the conditions of the award until they have been cited, and have had an oportu- nity of protesting, and being heard in their defence.
– That is a very good amendment, and I congratulate the Minister on it.
– That disposes of any question of injustice to the “other six,” of whom the honorable and learned member has spoken. Let us assume that only one man out of every seven is in a union, and that a case is brought before the Court. Before the award would be extended beyond the members of the union those outside of the organization would be cited - due notice being given - to show cause why the award should not be made the common rule. There would be, in effect, a new trial. The men outside the union could urge any objections that would have been relevant in the first case.
– Where is the amendment ?
– Does the honorable and learned member object to it?
– No; but I want to see the promise made bythe Minister carried out.
– Does the honorable and learned member believe in it?
-That is all right.
– The Government have given notice of six pages of amendments, and I want to know why they omitted this particular one?
– It is a peculiarity of these gentlemen-
– I think that the honorable member is travelling beyond the amendment.
– Perhaps so; but the honorable and learned member for Werriwa has been arguing that one man out of every seven will be able to secure an award which will apply to the other six as well as to himself. I am pointing out that that is not the intention of the Government, and that the common rule will apply to persons other than the original parties only after they have been notified, and have had an opportunity of being heard. The honorable and learned member for Wannon wishes to see the amendment in type, and I now inform him that if he will wait he will see it in writing, or perhaps in type, very shortly. We shall be glad if he can do anything to make the amendment really effective, and to secure that no person other than the parties to the original dispute shall be affected by the award of the Court, unless and until they have been served with notice, and have had an opportunity to show cause. I take it that the position which I have stated completely destroys the arguments of my honorable and learned friend.
– Let me have the amendment. I may accept it.
– Is the Government reduced to the necessity of having to write out an amendment, and give it to the honorable and learned member in order that he may accept it. Does he not know that if he accepted it the Committee might consider that fact as affording the best of reasons for not adopting it. We shall submit our amendment to the Committee. I would remind the honorable and learned member that the majority rules in this Committee, and not the honorable and learned member, who has always, except on one or two occasions, been in a minority. I only wish to say that every union with which I am acquainted provides for government by a majority of those present and voting at ordinary or special meetings. Now a “ special meeting “ within the meaning of this Bill, so I understand, is a meeting summoned for the special purpose of referring a dispute to the Court, and no union in New South Wales could refer anything to the Arbitration Court except under these conditions. There must have been a notice inserted in the press, or each member of the union must have been notified through ‘the post of the intention to hold a meeting -on such and such a date - at seven days or more distant from the date of the notice - at which a certain resolution would be moved. The resolution must set forth that it is the intention of the union to refer to the Court a particular matter in dispute, and the dispute has to be set out. If honorable members wish to insert such a provision as that in the Schedule, instead of leaving it to the Court to provide for it by regulation - all such regulations must be laid upon the table of the House for approval or disapproval - I feel quite sure that no objection can be taken to” that course. Every union in New South Wales has to adopt the course I have indicated, and the Arbitration Court has, on several occasions, refused to go on with the hearing of a dispute, because the meeting at which the reference was decided on was not duly and constitutionally summoned. When every member of the union has been notified that a special meeting is to take place, the majority of those present is held to be sufficient to voice the desire of the union.
– The Minister mentioned cases in which only the members of the Committee could be present.
– I will take two cases, that of the Shearers’ Union and that of the Seamen’s Union. At shearing time the members of the Shearers’’ Union are scattered all over Australia, and if a meeting were called at. Bourke or Wagga, who could attend, except the persons to whom it had been found convenient, by the union, at a general meeting, or by means of a ballot taken in that year, to delegate the power to decide such matters? In the case of the Seamen’s Union, which is a very large one, the general meetings are often attended by only half-a-dozen men. The rest of the members are away at sea. I would remind the honorable and learned member that the primary business of a unionist is to earn his living. He does not do that by belonging to the union alone ; that organization simply helps him to obtain better conditions. In other unions, however, such, for instance, as a Tailors’ Union, there might be 150 or 200 members, and a meeting might be attended by 100 or 150 men. In the same way, whilst the Incorporated Law Society might have 300 members, only five would attend a meeting. Still, my honorable and learned friend would not say that these five persons, if they formed a quorum, should not carry on the business. The possibility of holding a large or small meeting depends entirely on the character of the union. The unions conduct their business effectually under the conditions I have indicated. It has always been the practice to allow the unions to conduct their affairs by means of meetings attended, under some circumstances, by only members of Committee, whose powers, however, are severely restricted. The experience gained by the Shearers’ Union affords proof that the Court will not accept anything that a committee may do. The New South Wales Arbitration Court refused to allow the committee of the Shearers’ Union to alter the rules, except in accordance with the decision arrived at by a general meeting, or bymeans of a ballot of the members. Therefore, the whole body of the members of that union had to be consulted before a dispute could be brought before the Court. So it is in the majority of cases. I beg honorable members to believe that no union will be forced, against the will of the majority, to accept ari award, and that no person who is outside the immediate organization making the application, will suffer any injustice, because the award will not apply to such persons until they have been cited to appear and show cause.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - I am sure that honorable members must be satisfied, after having listened to the speech of the Minister of External Affairs, that the Government are in no hurry to push through this measure. Threefourths of the speech delivered by the honorable and learned member was devoted to matters apart from the subject under discussion, whilst as to the rest, he certainly gave us some information, and afforded us a most excellent reason for opposition to the clause. He twitted the honorable and learned member for Werriwa with lacking imagination. He certainly displayed wonderful imagination himself, and he also credited the Committee with a vivid imagination, because he apparently regarded it as capable of discerning the nature of an amendment that has not yet been tabled by the Government. The Government has flooded the Chamber with amendments, and yet we have heard nothing of one of the most important, the very existence of which justifies the honorable and learned member for Angas in his opposition to this clause. At the present moment we are not even aware of ‘ the nature of that proposal.
– That amendment is in the hands of the Attorney-General, and will be circulated as soon as it is printed. I can, however, give the honorable member a general idea of its substance if that will suffice.
– Then we are all in the hands of the AttorneyGeneral, because we are perfectly ignorant of what we are doing, without having that amendment before us. Personally, I think that the clause should be postponed, seeing that an important amendment has been foreshadowed, of the contents of which we are not yet seized. I do not accuse Ministers of any intention to keep the Committee in the dark.
– The honorable member may accept my word that the sole object of the amendment is to prevent any person not being a party to a dispute from being affected by an award of the Court unless, and until, he has been cited in some effective way, and has had an opportunity to show cause why the common rule should not apply.
– The very recital of the object of that amendment by the Minister is sufficient to illustrate its importance. Yet we have proceeded thus far in the consideration of this Bill without having previously heard of it.
– The Prime Minister informed me that he notified the Committee of it one day last week.
– I was not aware of it. I should like to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether the amendment is intended to prevent a decision, of the Court fiom extending to non-unionists who are engaged in an industry, if in the first place unionists only are parties to the reference to the Court? The honorable and learned member for Werriwa stated that as unionists only had a voice in the reference of industrial disputes to the Court, the interests of only one man out of seven would be considered. To that statement the Minister of External Affairs replied that, under the amendment . proposed, the whole seven would have a voice.
– The one man out of the seven would have a voice as to whether the union to which he belonged should go before the Court, and the other six would have a voice as to whether the award of the Court should apply to them.
– If, out of seven men who are employed in an industry, only one is a unionist, will the other six not be bound by the award of the Court until they have been given an opportunity to . show cause why the common rule should not apply to them?
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney - Minister of External Affairs). - I wish to be perfectly frank with the honorable member. Let me take, as an illustration, the case of the employes at Mort’s Dock, Balmain, Sydney. Let us suppose that the Iron Trades Council in that establishment appealed to the Court for an award of some sort. If the Court declared that the wages payable in the iron trade should be so much, I am not going ro say that that award would not apply to every iron-worker in that establishment. It would apply to the non-unionists employed there equally with the unionists, but it would not affect any person engaged in the trade outside until the application of the common rule had been invoked. All outsiders would have an opportunity of being heard as to why that rule should not apply to them. Here is another case which will serve excellently as an illustration, In New South Wales the iron trade employers have applied to the Arbitration Court for an award in favour of a leduction in the wages payable by them. In similar circumstances the question involved under this Bill would be whether that reduction would affect persons outside those establishments which are conducted by the employers who are members of that particular union. Under the Government proposal, I say that it would not, until notice had been given to such persons, and they had been afforded an opportunity of showing cause why the common rule should not apply.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - That is not an answer to the argument advanced by the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. He contended that the whole of this reference might be decided upon by a minority, either of employers or employes. The Minister of External Affairs, thereupon, used what he evidently considered a very strong argument. He asked, “ Is not this House a minority of the people, and does it not make laws for the people “ ?
– I did not say that it represented a minoritv of the people.
– Honorable members of this House constitute a minority of the people, and yet we make laws to govern them. But the difference is that all the people whom we govern can exercise the franchise, whereas under this Bill, it is proposed to deny the franchise to some of those who will be affected by its operation.
– In what way?
– Simply because unionists are recognised under the Bill, whereas employes generally, apart from unionists, are not recognised.
– They have the option of joining the unions.
– What would the Minister say if the political franchise were extended only to members of unions, and if, in answer to his complaint, an honorable member declared, “ Oh, but the public have the option of joining the unions.”
– The franchise is extended to all, whether they want it or not.
– The very principles of the party to which the Minister belongs are opposed to any restriction of the franchise. It is extended to men in consideration of the taxation which they pay, and because of their manhood. But under this Bill it is not proposed to give a vote for manhood or the taxation which individuals contribute. Nothing of the sort. Consequently the whole argument of the Minister falls to the ground. The honorable and learned member for Angas and the honorable and learned member for Werriwa argued in favour of the full franchise, which has always been advocated by members of the Labour Party.
– The honorable and learned member for Angas wishes to withdraw his amendment.
– Because I cannot carry it.
Mr. Hughes. Can the honorable member for North Sydney give me a single case in which an injustice will be done to non-unionists if the Bill is subject to . the restriction of which I have just spoken?
– It is not difficult to do that. Take the case of an employer of a thousand men, only 200 or 300 of whom belong to a union. The union may decide to apply to the Court for an award. A great majority of the thousand men may think it undesirable to adopt that course, lest it should result in a decreased wage. In spite of that, however, a majority of the members of the union may force an appeal to the Court. An award may be given decreasing the wages paid, and the thousand men will be compelled to submit to if.
– Does the honorable member assume that the Court will make an award of that sort?
– Will it never make an award in favour of a reduced wage? The Minister must know that if there are a thousand employ6s engaged by one man, only 300 of whom are members of a union, and if a dispute occurs on the motion of the unionists, the latter will be able to foroe the thousand men into the Court, and compel them to submit to a decision in favour of a reduction of wages. Then, if the Court chooses to make the common rule apply to the whole of the employes in that industry, it will have power to do so. I recognise the difficulties of the position, especially in connexion with a Federal arbitration measure. - That is why I think the honorable and learned member for Angas has done right in endeavouring to limit the application of this provision. In dealing with industrial dsputes, which extend over several States, it would be almost impossible to obtain the voice of the whole of the -employes engaged in them. I quite agree, at the same time, with the honorable and learned member for Wannon that the amendment is almost too restricted in its present form. I repeat that it is idle for any Minister to make a speech, such as that which was delivered by the Minister of External Affairs, reflecting upon members for having moved amendments when the Ministry themselves hold up their sleeve a proposal which has an important bearing on this very provision. Yet we are expected to discuss this clause and this Bill without any knowledge such as that laid before us at this late hour. I trust that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas will be carried. The Minister of External Affairs has already stated that before there is a strike in certain unions there has to be a majority decision.
– I only said that that occurred in the union with which I am connected.
-I know from my observation that there is such a rule in some other unions ; and it is a good rule to recognise.
– Some unions require a twothirds majoritv.
– In any case a simple majority is very reasonable. When a vote of the kind is taken in the case of a strike, why should a vote not be taken in a matter which may lead to a strike ?
– If each person is served with a notice and does not take any interest in the matter he is merely in the position of an elector who does not choose to vote.
– To some extent that may be admitted; but I think that in the case of the- New South Wales Court each employe is not served with a notice.
– In our particular union he must be served with a notice.
– I thought that the Minister in speaking of notices was referring to the Court.
– I was referring to the practice of the union.
– That may or may not be done in unions, but there is no provision in the Bill to that end. There is no provision that a majority of a union, voting even at a meeting, shall decide the question. There is a sub-clause which provides that the consent to submission to the Court must be given in writing under the hands of a majority of the committee of management of an organization. But that committee may not be appointed for the purposes of this Bill.
– If the honorable member looks at schedule B, he will see that he is not correct.
– The committee must beauthorized by the union.
– The schedule referred to only specifies the purposes for which the union is formed, and provides for certain matters.
– It provides for the control of the committee by a general or special meeting.
– That onlymeans that the organization decides how it is to elect the committee, and the control of that committee is by general or by special meeting.
– Will the honorable member read the schedule further?
– I see that the schedule provides that the rules of the association must provide for -
The manner in which consent of the association shall be given to any submission to the Court.
But assent can be given in writing under the hands of a majority of the committee of management, who may have been elected without any reference whatever to the Bill.
– The Registrar would not endorse a rule which would permit that.
– While the Registrar approves of certain rules for the election of the committee, he cannot decide what motives or objects will govern in their election.
– It might be insisted, for instance, that any intention on the part of a committee to refer a matter to the Court should be . sent in writing to each member, or be advertised.
– But that is not insisted on in the Bill.
– Let the honorable member move an amendment to that end on the schedule.
– There is an amendment before us that will meet the case. The Bill as it is provides that a majority of the committee, which may consist of three or four, may give their consent in writing.
– That only means that the committee affix their official signatures to the document.
– According to the Bill, a majority of the committee can refer a dispute without consulting the organization.
– Two men might refer a dispute under the Bill.
– But there will be regulations which will be laid on the table.
– Regulations cannot override the Bill.
– I am quite aware that regulations will be laid on the table of the House; but we are giving approval now, if we carry this clause, to the submission of a case to the Court being decided by a majority of the committee, no matter for what reasons the committee were elected, or however small the committee may be. Something ought to be done to make certain that the desire for a reference is more general than might be represented by two or four men in a committee of three or six.
– Let the honorable member show how that can be done; let him suggest whether it shall be done by notice to each member, or by advertisement.
– The honorable and learned member for Angas has shown one way in his amendment.
– That is an impracticable wav.
– I hope that the Government will recognise that there is a difficulty in the way, and that the amendment is a reasonable one. If not, of course the Government will resist the amendment.
– There is no such provision in New South Wales.
– There has been- a great deal done in New South Wales which makes the State Act more unpopular than it ought to be.
– So far as I know, there has never been any difficulty in New South Wales in this connexion.
– Nor vet in New Zealand.
– I do not know that there has been no difficulty in New South Wales. It is for the Government to propose something to meet the case.
– There was a doubt whether the Bill was’ not already sufficiently explicit on this head. The practice in New South Wales has been to issue citations before applying for a common rule.
– I do not know that that was provided in the Act.
– It was not, but the power was there.
– The amendment proposed goes a little way towards meeting the objections. To me, at any rate, it is objectionable that a small minority - so small that it may consist of only two or three men - should have the power to decide a reference to the Court, and commit every worker in an industry to a decision which he may regret.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).There is no need in this discussion to insinuate wrong motives to honorable members on this side in submitting amendments ; and it would be very much better if the Minister of External Affairs, whom we all admire, would keep himself within the bounds of the Bill. Because some of us have taken a very strong stand against the measure, the Minister wishes to infer that we desire to see the workers sweated at the very lowest wages. That is a sort of argument which should not be used. I care very little myself what the Minister may say of me, personally. It is sufficiently known to the workers that I am just as sympathetic towards them as is any honorable member behind the Government. All my life I have done my best for the working classes, and I am opposed to the Bill only because, in my opinion, it will create an aristocracy of labour, while sending a large number of men out into the world to starve. If we can have a Bill that will help the whole of the workers - which will not injure one portion in order to benefit the other portion - I shall be prepared to give that Bill all the help in my power. I give credit to the Government, and honorable members behind them, for being honest in their conviction that this Bill will attain the end that I have indicated ; and I am honest in my belief that it will not. Our opposition to this and other clauses has been shown to be right, by the intimation of the Minister of External Affairs that he is going to submit an amendment that will meet some of the difficulties and objections to which we have called attention. That intimation is a proof that our opposition has been effective, and that the Ministry have come to the conclusion that our arguments are fair and right. The statement has been made that no common rule has been applied in New South Wales, unless the persons to be affected have been cited.
– I never made such a statement.
– The statement was made by the Prime Minister. The fact is that men have come under an award of the Court, and have gone on working in ignorance under the old conditions until some secretary of the union has popped in and informed them of their violation of the law. In one case men were threatened with punishment, although they did not know they . were breaking the law.
– Or they said they did not know.
– The men I have in my mind did not know anything of the award. I have said before that if the ope-
I ration of the Bill could be confined to the larger cities, there would not be much difficulty in applying a common rule In New South Wales, with the conditions of which I am more familiar, the common rule of the larger cities does not suit the smaller centres of industry, and that causes the trouble and difficulty. The country saddlers of New South Wales applied to be registered as a country union, but the application was refused, and they had to submit to an award obtained through the union in Sydney. The shop employes applied to have a country union registered, but were refused, and, if I remember rightly, they applied to the Supreme Court for an injunction, but were unsuccessful. I do not know how many shop employes there are in the union in Sydney, but they have succeeded in getting before the Court by making an industrial agreement with only one of the employers.
– That application for the common rule has been refused.
– The application has not been settled yet.
– The honorable member is speaking of Lassetter’s employes ?
– It is a registered agreement, with the condition that it shall not come into force until there is a common rule.
– No award has been made, but the case is now before the Court.
– What I mean to say is that the application for a common rule has been refused.
– The case has not reached that stage yet.
– So far as I know the matter has not yet been settled, but is at present before the Court. They get into the Court by simply making an agreement with one employer.
– Their going to Court has not advanced them one iota.
– I am not saying what may be the effect. My point is that it may be possible for a small number of employers, by consenting to a certain thing, to get their case before the Court.
– That is as far as they can go.
– Of course when the dispute comes before the Court, the Court has to settle the terms.
– Then an application must be made for a common rule.
– The Shop Employes Union embraces only a small proportion of the shop employes of Sydney. The country employes have no say in the matter. The common rule, in cases where it has been applied, has practically reduced the wages’ of the men in the country districts. If the employers took advantage of it in a number of cases the wages of the employes in the country districts would be lowered. But these, employers, who are said to be so unfair, and who are always grinding down the poor man. have consented to allow the wages to remain as they are, although they could reduce them by 2 s. a week. I am opposed to conferring any privilege upon any man, capitalist or workman, by means of which he would be able to levy tribute, or to take advantage of his fellow men. I quite admit that this Bill is built up on the principle of organization. But something should be done to give the workmen outside the organized unions some voice in dealing with the matters that affect them. If that can be done to some extent, my objections to the Bill will be removed. The Minister of External Affairs has stated, however, that the Government intend to> move an amendment, which will remove many of the objections to the Bill. I compliment the Minister upon what he has suggested. Of course, he is a splendid artist in bluff. He tried it on to-night, but before he sat down he gave away his whole case by telling us that the Government had this amendment prepared. We shall see to what extent it will improve the Bill.
– The importance of the amendment foreshadowed by the Minister of External Affairs cannot be too much emphasized. The Government have realized the disadvantage of allowing organizations to become close corporations. The public will realize that they have materially altered the idea of Arbitration Acts as hitherto known. It is clear that the experience of New South Wales has been of value to the Government. We are now told that the measure is not to be restricted to the organizations. The Government intend to make the Court free and open to all. Boiled down, the position now is that one common rule will apply to one workshop.
– I put it that one rule would apply to one organization.
– I understand that in a workshop where unionists and non-unionists work together, after an application has been made to the Court for an award, it will apply to that particular workshop and that particular set of employes.
– The organization might embrace three or four workshops.
– But the common rule will in the future apply to one set of employes, and those who do not belong to that set of employes will have a right to appeal against it.
– They will have an opportunity of protesting or objecting.
– That is a wonderful improvement in the Bill ; and if the Government had only intimated in the earlier stages of the discussion that it was their intention to move such an amendment a week’s struggle would have been saved. I do not know whether the Government were not prepared with their amendment last week, or whether they were not sufficiently acquainted with the measure, which of course was introduced by the late Government. Whatever may have been the reason for keeping the amendment in the dark, and springing it upon the Committee at this stage, I must say that T am very pleased that they have foreshadowed a’ proposal of this character, the usefulness of which will be recognised not only amongst the employers, but also the employes throughout Australia. It will be found that the greatest objections which have been raised to the New South Wales Arbitration Act have been absolutely removed. The honorable member for North Sydney has given the illustration of 300 unionists working with 700 non-unionists, and has said that it would be unfair for the 300 to apply to the Court, and to obtain a decision which would affect the 700. But I doubt whether it would be possible to find 300 unionists who were working together in a workshop with 1,000 non-unionists, especially in the iron trade, the members of which in every part of the world form most powerful organizations. But under the proposal of the Government, while the 300 unionists would have the right to apply to the Court for a decision, it would not prevent the 700 non-unionists from appealing against it. I would point out that the argument of the honorable member for North Sydney would apply to all joint stock companies. The shareholders of a bank are not called together every time the directors - who are practically their delegates - make a change in the working of the institution. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has complained because the Government did not introduce their amendment earlier. Apparently they have had it up their sleeve for some time. If so, it would have been well for them to have introduced it so as to save the time of the Committee. Although I support the Bill, I must say that in my opinion, the less employers and employes use .the Court the better it will be for them. As in the case of other Courts of law, the less we use them the better we like them, and the more we are compelled to use them the less we like them. But an Arbitration Act will stand as the guardian of the rights of the people, whether employers or employes, against the exacting employer on the one hand, and the agitating employe on the other. I think that the Prime Minister, from his acquaintance with industrial concerns, will admit that the less the Court is appealed to the better it will be for all parties. But the honorable gentleman seeks to bring into operation certain machinery, so that, in the event of the employers or employes becoming too exacting, the public shall not be disturbed by their disputes. The amendment foreshadowed liberalizes the arbitration law as we have known it in the past, and will show that the Parliaments of Australia, the land of legislative experiments, has learned something from the experience of New Zealand and New South Wales. We are not fighting for close corporations or an aristocracy of labour, but so that every man, no matter whether he belongs to a union or not, will have power to appeal to the Court. I feel certain that the amendment will remove very many of the objections raised to the measure.
– The arguments of the last speaker appertain to some amendment, of which I have as yet no knowledge. I have heard of an amendment being foreshadowed, but I cannot believe that it will apply in the way that honorable members opposite suppose. The whole of this Bill is built upon the idea that there are to be associations of employers and employes. The application of the measure depends on the existence of such organizations. Can we imagine that any amendment will give men, who are not unionists, an equal right to appeal to the Arbitration Court with those who belong to organizations? How are men unitedly to demand their rights, unless they are organized? If they are organized, they become ari organization, and consequently will be able to approach the Court. The honorable and learned member for Wannon says that when they become members of unions, they become political factors. But a measure of this kind is not enacted for the purpose of being used as a political machine, but for the purpose of avoiding strife in the industrial world, and deciding the relations between employers and employes by the methods of organization. ‘ I see no reason for the Minister of External Affairs to suggest an amendment of this kind, nor can I see that the amendment as foreshadowed by him can be practicable or applicable.
– It was suggested a long while ago.
– It cannot be discussed before it is submitted. Ample provision is made for all the purposes for which the Bill is required, and to insure that it will be practical and effective in its operation. The position is safeguarded by the organization. At an ordinary meeting the organization decides that a certain course of conduct shall be followed. A special meeting of the members is then called for the purpose of considering the subject, and all the members are notified. Every member has an opportunity to vote for or against the proposal, and if he neglects to use his opportunity his failure cannot be overcome by an amendment of this character. It must be through the organization that the decision is arrived at.
– Why should it bind men who are not members of the organization ?
– How the honorable and learned member can make the Bill apply to men who are not members of an organization unless they become united in some form or other is simply beyond my comprehension. It is a foolish question to put to me.
– I propose to leave them outside the Bill.
– According to the clause they are left outside the Bill, and the honorable and learned member for Angas has caused this discussion by submitting what, to my mind is an absurd proposition - that a majority of the members shall vote before any application shall be made to the Court.
– The persons in the industry, he said, whether they were in a union or not.
– That is the trouble, and I wish to know how they are going to organize persons who are outside the organization.
– The amendment is outside the scope of the Bill.
– Undoubtedly. In this discussion we have got tangled up to some extent. The honorable member for Dalley has complimented the Government on the effect which some proposed amendment would have on some persons outside those who have hitherto been benefited by this legislation. He has said that the Government were going to broaden the principle of arbitration more than had ever been done in any country. To my mind, that conclusion has no logical basis. I hope that the Government will not be ‘tempted by these honorable members, some of whom declare themselves opposed to arbitration in any form.
– Oh, no; we are in favour of arbitration, but not compulsory arbitration.
– I do not mean to say that they are insincere in their desire to amend the Bill j but I think I have a right to say that supposed improvements which originate in certain quarters should be very carefully considered by those who wish to see the Bill made operative and effective.
– The amendment which I suggested is only that which the Arbitration Court iii New South Wales has adopted and is putting in force.
– I realize that it would be included in the regulations when they are completed, and that then they would be open to consideration by honorable members.
– It is amongst the regulations in New South Wales.
– Some honorable members desire to have the amendments and the regulations placed before them straight away ; otherwise the Bill is not satisfactory to them. Certain honorable members are under a misapprehension as to the injury which is to be done to every six men out of seven. The proportion is absurd.
– The proportion is really eight to one, but I accepted the statement of the honorable member.
– There are thousands of employes in New South Wales, and I dare say in other parts of the Commonwealth, who will not come under the Bill, and whom it is not fair to include in computing the proportion of men whom it will affect and the proportion whom it will not affect, such as, for instance, those whom the honorable and learned member for Wannon -has got great credit - perhaps, deservedly so, from his stand-point - for relieving from its operation. Even though the proportion were three to one. I contend that there would be no obstacles in the way of their taking the full benefit of the legislation by doing what all men will do in such circumstances, and that is by joining an association.
– On an. aspect of the matter which does not seem as though it should be under discussion at the present time - -the common rule - I desire to say that the indication of the Government’s intention as put forward by the Minister of External Affairs does not embody anything new as far as our attitude is concerned. Some weeks ago - just before the reassembling of the House after a notable adjournment - I was interviewed by the press on this matter. It will be remembered that, in his second reading speech, the AttorneyGeneral said that he had some objection to the application of the common rule to parties other than those who had been cited, and that it would be a proper thing to give notice to those whom it was proposed to bring under the Bill. After he became a member of the Ministry he was interviewed in regard to that aspect of the matter, and the press slightly misunderstood what he said. Some of the pressmen got the impression that he was against the common rule altogether. I pointed out at the time that, so far from that being the case, he was in favour of the common rule, with the addition that any one whom it was proposed to make a party should have notice of the proposal; and I added that the Government quite sympathized with him in that regard. The reason why we did not bring down this amendment with the others was that my honorable and learned colleague had not made up his mind as to the best manner in which to provide for notice being given. The common rule is referred to in paragraph / of clause 46, and, as it was only a matter of detail, I did not think it necessary to bring down the amendment with the others, as there was plenty of opportunity for giving notice of our proposal.
– It will come on as a Government amendment to paragraph c of clause 37.
– That is only a drafting amendment, and paragraphf of clause 46 is really the operative provision, as I read the Bill. This is no new proposal, so far as the Government is concerned, for my declaration on the subject is between three and four weeks old.
– There were some clauses promised about seamen, too ; ar.e they ready yet ?
– No. New clauses cannot be considered until the remaining clauses of the Bill have been disposed of, and no attempt will be made to take honorable members unawares.
– As they’ indirectly affect other parts of the Bill, we ought to see them as soon as possible.
– I quite appreciate that. They are roughly drafted, and we anticipate that within a day or two we shall be able to give notice of them. I trust that the Committee will not carry the amendment even in its altered form.
– What does the Prime Minister say about the approval of the President ?
– The honorable and learned member for Angas has abandoned that amendment.
– An honorable member objected to its withdrawal.
– The Government are against the alteration of the clause in any shape.
– Then why have these other rules at all ?
– They are intended to be used in all ordinary cases. It is not desired to put always on the President the onus of determining whether a dispute in its initial stage should come before the Court. Of course, under another clause the Court will have power to disregard a dispute if it is considered to be a trivial one. But, generally speaking, we think it is desirable, in clause 31, that these provisions should be complied with. I assure honorable members, who desire the Bill to be made as perfect as possible, that in regard to nomadic occupations, such as that of shearing, at some seasons of the year the practical difficulties in the way of getting a vote by every member of the organization, in order to insure that there shall be a majority, are such as to render unworkable a clause of- this description if we really do wish to provide for disputes of that character.
– Suppose that there was no legislation at all, how would they decide to have a strike?
– What has happened in the past has usually, been that the men have decided on the policy during the shearing season. These men are always available in the sheds when they take their tickets. The tickets contain voting slips, which the men attach to their ballot-papers, and during the season they usually vote on all matters of large policy which are not committed to the care or decision of the executive.
– They are able to collect a tax of 15s. from each man,’ and yet they are not able to get an expression of opinion on an important matter like this.
– The reference to that payment is a misrepresentation, because it is considered by the men, not as a tax, but as a voluntary effort to do good for themselves and others by subscribing a certain sum. The honorable and learned member is distinctly unsympathetic towards the Bill, and, therefore, we can quite account for his anxiety to misrepresent what has been said. The usual course, I repeat, is to get an expression of opinion on large matters of policy during the shearing season ; but frequently the circumstances of the shearing occupation are changing’. In a slack time, when there is no shearing going on in, say, New South Wales, the employers may announce some alteration of working conditions - whether of rates of pay or of general conditions matters not - which, in the view of the organization and its management, calls for immediate action.
– Such alterations always are announced in the off season.
– It is almost invariably in the off season that any change of policy is arrived at, and then members of the union are scattered to the four winds of heaven. Many of them are men who have to obtain their living at all kinds of casual employment, so that a fortnight after they have finished shearing it is impossible to say where they are. If we wish to prevent strikes amongst shearers, we should provide that disputes, when they arise, may go at once before the Arbitration Court, instead of preventing them from being taken there until the following season, which would precipitate strikes. It would be a most outrageous thing to rob the men of the weapon which they now possess, of being able to strike, and to substitute for it no legal remedy. The Bill makes striking illegal, but it is now proposed to condemn the men to suffer injustice for, perhaps, a whole season, because the majority of the members of the union cannot be consulted. If the amendment were carried it would be impossible to refer the matter to the Court so as to obtain a decision which would affect the conditions under which shearing was then being carried on ; the decision of the Court could have effect only during the subsequent shearing season. That being so, it is advisable to leave the Bill as it stands, allowing authorized individuals, men working under rules of which the Court must approve, to submit disputes for settlement. The Court will not put power into the hands of irresponsible individuals, and committees of management will act under proper regulations. I appeal to the Committee to trust the Court to this extent, and to pass the clause as it stands.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Glynn) proposed -
That after the word “ consent,” line 9, the words “of a majority of the members” be inserted.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I am sorry that the honorable and learned member for Angas did not press his first amendment. I certainly hope that the Prime Minister will consider that now before the Committee. Surely, if a strike is such a serious matter as to bring about what is practically a state of warfare, the members of the organizations concerned should have some voice in its declaration.
– The objection to the. provision in the Bill is one raised by those who wish to make the measure unworkable.
– The honorable member does not understand the arguments which have been used, or he would not say that. If the Ministry were prepared to take from the Court the right to make a common rule, they would lessen some of the objections to the provision now under discussion ; but why should ten or a dozen men at the head of a union consisting of 3,000 be allow’ed 1.0 refer a dispute to the Court without consulting the members of the union?
– They will be responsible for what they do.
– Is the honorable member prepared to bring into existence here a condition of affairs similar to that existing in America, where the leaders have been careful to appropriate this power solely to themselves, and use it to levy blackmail ? I am glad to say that we have nothing of that kind here yet.
– Nor have they in America anything of quite the character that the honorable and learned member represents.
– The honorable member cannot read the newspapers or he would know that he is stating what is incorrect. One man has been convicted of blackmailing. Why should, perhaps, a dozen men in a union, comprising 3,000 members, have the power to commit the union to a dispute into which its members do not desire to enter ? ‘
– Because the union may have delegated, to a dozen members the power to commit it to a decision.
– They may have appointed the committee for quite another purpose. One of the provisions in the Bill would prevent the members of the union, however dissatisfied they might be with their leaders, from withdrawing from the organization whilst a dispute was pending. It seems incredible that a body of men who claim to represent the workers of Australia should dare to legislate on behalf of one man out of every seven, and in such a way that even the individual members of a union cannot dissent from the decision arrived at by their leaders. The members of the union are, in effect, told that, having elected a committee of management, they must abide by their decision, and must not withdraw from the union during the time that a dispute is pending. Honorable members do not understand the purpose for which they are sent to Parliament when they pass paitial laws. If the Government agree that no award of the Court shall be made a common rule unless the men outside of the labour organizations consent,I am willing to concede that the award arrived at will be a matter of no great concern. The labour unions would be perfectly within their rights if they went to the Court and asked for an award that would affect only themselves ; but they would have no right to say “ We are agreeable to do so-and-so, and you outsiders shall do so-and-so.” No one disputes the right of the unionists to declare their willingness to do a certain thing; but I object to Parliament helping them to declare that other men shall do the same. What right have we to take away the liberties of individuals in this way? The Prime Minister admits that the union officials can always discover the members of the unions when they want to get their subscriptions; but when an important question arises as to whether or not a dispute shall be submitted to the Court, they do not consider it worth while to consult these wretched, miserable men. They say, “ What right have they to be consulted, even if they are a majority of members ? Let the committee of management decide for them. Let the worthless dogs go.” Perhaps they would not use this language, but that is the way in which they act, and that is how they think. I should like to know if the Government would accept an amendment to the effect that the President of the Court should at least satisfy himself that an attempt had been made to ascertain the opinion of the members of the union. The Prime Minister told us that the Government would make it illegal to strike; but I would ask him whether there is one word in the Bill that would have the effect of making it a misdemeanour or a felony for any one to incite others to strike. On behalf of the men who do not belong to unions, I protest against this travesty of justice under which it is proposed to permit one man out of seven to force his opinions upon the other six.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … … 10
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr.. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - I move -
That paragraph c be omitted.
I submit this amendment because I hold that in the previous paragraphs all the provision has been made which should justly be made in the direction of securing to a. minority power to refer matters to the Court.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- Surely thePrime Minister is prepared to agree to the amendment submitted. The Committee have already decided that reference can be made to the Court if the Registrar certifies that the consent of the organization interested has been obtained, either in manner prescribed by its rules, or by a general meeting of its members. Under paragraph c I would point out that any trades union, by appointing a committee of management, a majority of whom are favorable to submitting to the Court, the provisions of the two previous sub-clauses can be entirely evaded. Matters of such importance should not be lightly brushed aside, seeing that under the Bill six employes out of seven will be denied consideration. There is too much of a disposition on the part of certain honorable members to regard nonunionists as being no better than dogs. I protest against the provision as it now stands. If this provision be left there is the danger that the officials will not consult the members of the organization; and such dreadful power may lead to outrageous blackmailing on the part of committees of management. That has been the result in America, and human nature is human nature the world over.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Assent to the following Bills reported : -
Supplementary AppropriationBill 1903-4.
Supplementary Appropriation (Works and Buildings) Bill 1903-4.
Acts Interpretation Bill.
Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Will the Prime Minister kindly inform the House when the Seat of Government Bill will be taken, and whether he intends to introduce that measure before we have concluded the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. A few days ago the Prime Minister promised that he would give a week’s notice of the introduction of the Seat of Government Bill, and I had been hoping that that notice would be given to-night.
– Let us deal with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill first.
– I have no wish to urge that the Seat of Government Bill should interrupt the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, because both measures are necessary measures and are very important. But I am going on the assumption that the Arbitration Bill is to a large extent through in this House. The back of the debate is evidently broken. Some warning might well be given as to when the Seat of Government Bill will be dealt with. But there are rumours afloat that it is contemplated to introduce another site besides those which the Senate have considered.
– Not rumours circulated by the Government, at any rate.
– . I want to have an assurance to that effect. We know prettywell what are the sites to be determined upon, and fresh ones should not be brought forward now.
– Why discuss that matter before the Bill comes along?
– Because it is just, as well that we should know whether the Government propose to deal with the sites that have already, been reported upon,- or whether any new sites are to be sprung upon us at the eleventh hour. It is also said that another measure is to be pushed forward before we deal with the Seat of Government Bill. I allude to the High Commissioner Bill’. I take it that it would not be wise to proceed with any other measure, and if that is to be done, we ought to have some intimation of it. If there is nothing in these rumours, it would be well for the Prime Minister to contradict them. I do not say that they are true. I shall be glad to have an assurance twat no other sites are to be discussed.
– Why not?
– If the honorable member is anxious that other sites shall be introduced, and that we shall have the debate all over again, and let the Senate start afresh, we ought to know that ; but I take it that the Government do not propose anything of the kind. The question requires very little debate. But it does require a good attendance of honorable members. We have already discussed it at length, and honorable members have made up their minds. There is a majority in favour of one site or another. I hope that we shall be able to arrive at a final decision that will represent the views of the majority.
– I also trust that the Seat of Government Bill will be proceeded with as soon as possible. In fact, in my opinion, it ought to have been dealt with sooner, because it is a measure which may have to be sent, back to the Senate if there is a disagreement between the two Houses. I presume it will not take this House very long to deal with it. If we know that it is to be proceeded with in a week’s time, all honorable members can be present. I presume that the debate will not occupy quite so long as the previous debate did. On the previous occasion, I believe that the Bill was brought forward in the afternoon, and the debate finished at 11.30 o’clock in the evening. Then we were discussing many sites. On the present occasion we shall have to discuss only one or two. There is no doubt about it, that the fact that this question has not been proceeded with, has caused a considerable amount of heartburning in New South Wales.
– The honorable member cannot blame the present Government.
– I should blame them if they were not prepared to proceed immediately with the measure.
– It was made the first Government Bill in the Senate.
– But was it left with the Senate with no idea of proceeding further with it?
– It is before this House now.
– The question we are discussing is as to when it shall come before this House to be dealt with. If we have an assurance from the Prime Minister that it will be dealt with in a week’s time, that will not be unreasonable. Otherwise it might be brought forward at once. If many honorable members from New South Wales were of my opinion, they would not allow any other business to be brought forward in this House until the Seat of Government Bill had been dealt with. Indeed, I think that it would result in an absolute saving of time to bring it forward at once. I know that a great amount of feeling exists in New South Wales on the subject. In fact, I venture to say that if much mme dissatisfaction is caused in reference to the Federal union, there will not be any Federal union to continue. I will guarantee that if the incoming Premier of New South Wales were to put it to the vote in New South Wales, by an overwhelming majority the people would refuse to stay in the union. I am sorry to have to say that, because I believe in Federation. I regret that the feeling in New South Wales is so strong; and anything we can do to assuage it, and show that this .House is determined to carry out the contract, we ought to do. It will result in very much lessening the present irritation. Personally, I have never believed that the Capital will be of any material advantage to New South Wales, and I confess that I cannot regard the question in the same light as some people do.
– Then why worry about it?
– Because I cannot help recognising the importance that is attached to the matter by the majority of the people of New South Wale’s. It is immaterial what I happen to think on the question while that feeling exists; and so long as the Seat of Government Bill is delayed, a large amount of irritation will exist, which, in my opinion, would otherwise die down. The Bill has now been passed by the Senate, and there is no reason why it should not come before us. The reason why I ask for the Bill to be brought forward immediately is that if this House does not agree to the proposals of the Senate, it may have to go back to that House, and the measure may be dodging between the two Houses for some time. There is, therefore, all the more reason for pushing on with it at once. Honorable members from New South Wales will agree with me ‘that the settlement of the question will do much to allay the feeling that exists in that State.
– They would rather not have the question settled than see the Capital fixed at Bombala.
– The people of New South Wales will realize if we settle the question that that State is not being unfairly treated in this matter.
– I also should like to have an assurance from the Prime Minister before the House adjourns, that the Seat of Government Bill will be brought before the House in a very short time. I agree with the Prime Minister that his Government cannot be held responsible for the delay that has occurred. But there is certainly a great deal of irritation in New South’ Wales. It was a burning question at the last election, and if the people see any sign whatever of delay in now bringing it to a head, I believe that the discontent will become far more bitter. Without indulging in anv extravagant language, I am sure that the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth will deeplv regret that there should be such a feeling existing in New South Wales as there is at present.
– Has the feeling been worse since the Bill was dealt with in the Senate ?
– I do not think that it has been allayed by fixing the large area which is demanded by the Government. But that is not the question. For the time being I would like to get an assurance from the Prime Minister that the Seat of Government Bill will be proceeded with here as soon as possible.
– I desire to get an assurance from the Prime Minister that the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill will be put through the House before the other measure is dealt with. It seems to me that if my honorable friends on the other side are in earnest, they will help us to facilitate the transaction of business, and get a clean sheet, so that we may be in a position to deal with the business which they have so much at heart. I protest against the Conciliation and Arbitration
Bill being put aside for the sake of taking up the Seat of Government Bill.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, after what has been stated by the leader of the Opposition in the State Parliament of New South Wales, and the treacherous statements he has made concerning the dealing with the Seat of Government Bill by this Parliament, he is prepared to drop the Bill until such time as the people of New South Wales can agree as to what they really want?
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports requires an assurance that the Government will not drop the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in favour of the Seat of Government Bill, but let met ell him that this ‘ Parliament has dropped New South Wales for nearly four years over this question of the Federal Capital site. For nearly four years the settlement of the question has been delayed by various Ministries, and a delay of one day will not affect the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, which honorable members are so anxious about. Unquestionably the selection of the Federal Capital site is a burning question in New South Wales, not because of its importance to the State, but because it is a part of the compact which was made with the State. They desire the compact, to be respected, and they- are under the impression that by the delay in one Chamber or the other the Commonwealth has not been playing the game either properly or squarely. I do. not think that the people in the metropolitan area of New South Wales are very much concerned about a particular site, so long as it is suitable for the purpose; but they are certainly concerned about the speedy determination of the question. I hope that the Prime Minister will not delay the settlement of the matter, but will give an assurance that it will be dealt with at the speediest possible moment.
– The utterances of honorable members on the other side of the House remind me of some utterances which we heard in the last Parliament, and in which, for political purposes, thev attempted to blame the then Government for the delay. If any one was to blame for any delay in regard to the selection of the Federal Capital site, it was not the then Government, but those who delivered repeated and lengthy speeches from the opposition benches.
– But the honorable gentleman did not bring forward a proposal until the end of the first Parliament.
– If honorable members will ascertain how long it has taken in other countries to decide an important question of this character, they will recognise that it would have been an unprecedented thing for the Capital site to be chosen during the term of the first- Parliament. In every other country a number of years elapsed before this important question was decided, especially where there was a great diversity of opinion.
– Does the honorable gentleman wish to put off its settlement for three or four Parliaments?
– I shall not permit the honorable member to put words into my mouth. I do not wish to put off the settlement of the question, and the honorable member knows that any accusation of that kind made against me in a previous Parliament was absolutely untrue. It was honorable members opposite who caused the delay, and not the last Ministry. Hacked up by their morning organs in Sydney, they fanned the flame which had been ignited here deliberately. By political speeches, and for political purposes, they created a feeling of irritation in New South Wales in consequence of an imagined delay. I venture to say that New South Wales is not very anxious to have the Capital established in some of the places which are at present proposed. I think that a very large number of its people at the present time would say - “Let the Capital be er ner in Melbourne or in Sydney, rather than in the place which is proposed by the Senate.” I think it is necessary and right for the Government to carry the Seat of Government Bill through the House in a cairn manner, and at the earliest reasonable date. But there is a vast difference between taking that course and putting aside an important, if not the most important, Bill that will be submitted this session. As a Minister, I have always tried to get one Bill out of the way before proceeding with another Bill, and not to mix up the consideration of half-a-dozen Bills at one time.
– The honorable gentleman did not have any weight with his own Cabinet, because they were always mixing up the Bills.
– I feel that there should be no delay. I hope that the High Commissioner Bill is not going to intercept the consideration of that measure
– It would not be wise to do it.
- Mr. Wise might want it.
– - -That is what I wished to elicit.
– I do not think that there is any great hurry for passing the High Commissioner Bill, and I hope that, when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill has been put through the House, the Seat of Government Bill will be proceeded with. As regards any other sites being considered, I am anxious that a portion of a site - not a new site - that was included in the last Bill should be considered.
– I see what it is now.
– Honorable members will recollect that there was a section of land embodied by description in the Bill which was passed through the Chamber last year as part and parcel of one site which has not been seen. I asked the late Minister of Home Affairs to see it when he was in the neighbourhood, but it was not seen by him, nor was it seen by the then Prime Minister. I have been trying to get that particular part of that area seen, and I wish it to be seen by some, if not all, the members of the House. I presume, from what I heard this evening, that that is what is referred to mainly. If any honorable members will be kind enough to accompany me, I shall take them there at my own cost, if the Government will not pay the expense.
– What place is it?
– The Upper Murray. No more legitimate request could be made, but there seems to have been with some honorable members a determined antipathy to visit that part of the site. I am not ‘going to submit to the matter remaining in that condition. If a better site were represented to be in existence than any of those which have been seen, it is a paltry thing to say that, because it has not been considered up to the present time, it must not be looked at. This question once settled will be settled for all time, so that it is too important to allow any particular site to be put aside by a wave of the hand. I do not advocate the inspection of any new site, but I advocate, and I am determined to have, the inspection of a site agreed to in this chamber.
– Would the honorable member support the inspection of the Yass site?
– No; I think that Yass is not in it.
– I do not see why Armidale should not be inspected again if the whole matter is to be reopened. The site lies mid-‘way between Brisbane and Sydney.
– I rise to order. I am aware that upon the motion for the adjournment of the House a very wide discussion is permitted, but are we not now anticipating the discussion of a Bill shortly to be brought before the House?
– The questions which have been discussed are when the Bill referred to should be brought on, whether additional sites should be considered, and other similar questions. I have not heard, and I would not allow, any discussion of the Bill itself, or of any matter arising out of its provisions.
– I do not blame the Ministry for the present position of the matter, nor would I ask them to drop the Arbitration Bill in order to take up the Seat of Government Bill. I think that the Arbitration Bill should first be got out of the way.
– The honorable member would like to see it out of the way altogether.
– Yes j but that, I think, is possible only by getting it through Committee. Then we can deal with the Seat of Government Bill. I think that it would, perhaps, be better to confine our consideration to the sites which have already been so often inspected. That the Capital should be in that State is a compact made with the people of New South Wales, a large number of whom believe that the people of Victoria will do all they can to prevent its fulfilment. I do not say that that opinion is justified, but the sooner the matter is dealt with the sooner it will be got rid of. The late Ministry say that they are not to blame for the delay that has occurred, but if they are not, I do not know who is. I hope that the Prime Minister will see that the Seat of Government Bill is brought in as soon as the Arbitration Bill has been dealt with.
– I hope that the Prime Minister will not interpose the consideration of the Seat of Government Bill until the Arbitration Bill has been dealt with. Although I have not absolutely made up my mind with regard to any particular site, I think that if it is necessary to re-inspect any portion of a site considered by the last Parliament, an opportunity should be given to inspect it. It will be in the interests of a speedy decision of the whole question that objections should not be raised to the inspection of any portion of any of the three sites which were, last session, considered to have a chance.
– I do not blame the Ministry in connexion with this matter, because I think that the Prime Minister, and those associated with him, have shown the sincerity of their desire to settle it by the action which they have already taken. I believe that no one is more earnest in his desire to have it settled than the Prime Minister. But, as a representative of New South Wales, I cannot sit quiet while accusations are thrown at me and my fellowrepresentatives by the honorable member for Hume, who, as Minister of Home Affairs in the Barton Administration, was really responsible for the delay which occurred. For him to say that the representatives of New South Wales who sit on the opposition benches are responsible, is absolutely ridiculous.
– It is perfectly true.
– Time after time we urged the Government then in power to secure the settlement of the question in the interests of Federation, but the honorable member was one who particularly desired that it should not be settled.
– That is not correct. The honorable member has no right to make such a statement. I was as anxious as any one to have it settled. I ask that he shall withdraw what he has said.
– I do not consider the remark one to which I can take exception for its own sake. But, no doubt, if the honorable member for Hume considers it a reflection upon himself, the honorable and learned member for Illawarra will withdraw it.
– I withdraw it if the honorable member for Hume objects to it, though I do not think it can be more objectionable to him than w.ere his accusations to us. We did our best during the whole of last Parliament to urge the late Government to have the matter settled. But although it is three and a half years since the Federation, was inaugurated, it is still unsettled. I may have gone beyond the bounds of courtesy in saying that he was not anxious for a settlement; but it is well known that he was in the awkward position of having to support two sites in his own constituency. He had two horses running, and he got his friends in Albury to back the Albury site, and his friends in Tumut to back the Tumut site, while he himself voted for both. I resent what he has said about the action of the New South Wales representatives sitting in opposition, because his Government was solely responsible for the delay, and he was placed in the awkward position of having to try to please the people of two places in his electorate.
– At any rate, I did not shirk mv responsibility.
– Like others who are very ready to attack, the honorable member for Hume is exceedingly tender when he receives a thrust in return. So far from his statement that members of the Opposition delayed the settlement of the Capital sites question being correct, he should remember that when a similar statement was made last Parliament, it was found by measuring the columns of Hansard that the debates to which reference was made were contributed to as largely by the then Ministerial supporters as by the members of the Opposition. Further than that, his new proposal that another site should be examined is a reflection upon the Ministry of which he was a member, and upon himself as Minister of Home Affairs, because he never brought that site before Parliament.
– It was put in the Bill by Parliament. The honorable member’s statement is not correct, and he knows it.
– I shall not trouble to ask the honorable member to withdraw that remark, because I do not attach the slightest importance to his contradictions. That site was not included among those which were to be inspected, but was introduced by means of an amendment ‘ proposed by a Victorian representative.
– Hear. hear.
– That was after the inspection had taken place.
– No, it was not.
– The honorable member is wrong again. The amendment was moved when the discussion took place in the House, after the first inspection had been made.
– No inspection had taken place up to that time.
– If the honorable member shows me that I am wrong, I shall publicly withdraw ray statement. The fact that the site was not in cluded among those to be inspected in the first instance, was a reflection upon the Government, in which the honorable member for Hume held a portfolio. I do not blame the Government for the delay whichhas taken place, because we could not expect them to bring forward the Seat of Government Bill any sooner. It was the first measure dealt with in the Senate, and we have the Prime .Minister’s assurance that it shall be proceeded with immediately after the Bill now before us has been disposed of. I am not asking that it shall be interposed before the Arbitration Bill has been passed, but as the consideration of that measure will probably be completed by us within a week’s time, and as the Prime Minister has promised to give us a week’s notice before the Seat of Government Bill is dealt with, we should soon hear something about it. Certainly no other Bill should be interposed. I do not wish to say anything that would awaken the susceptibilities of the representatives of other States, but I would impress upon the Government that it is important to New South Wales and to the House that the matter should be settled. Any undue delay will certainly induce irritation, which would be a matter of regret to all honorable members who desire to see the Federal compact fairly and honestly carried out, and the work of the Parliament conducted as it should be.
Mf. WATSON (Bland- Treasurer).- I am glad that some honorable members recognise that no fault is to be found with the Government in respect of their treatment of this question. All the members of the Ministry are anxious that the Capital site question shall be pushed forward, not merely from the stand-point of New South Wales,, but from ‘that of all Australia. We believe that it is a national question ; that we should, in the first place, keep faith with the people of New South Wales with regard to the terms of the Constitution, and, in the second place, remove the Parliament as soon as may be from any centre where Inter-State jealousies may be aroused, to the spot which will be the home of the Federal Parliament for all time. I cannot trace the origin of the report alluded to by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, with respect to another Bill being interposed before the Seat of Government Bill is dealt with. I have heard of no such suggestion, and have given utterance to no sentiment that would lead to such an impression. Whether or not the honorable member has put forward his statement as a feeler I do not know. I am afraid that he is rather prone to that kind of thing. I can say definitely, as I have said before, that the next Bill to be considered after the Arbitration Bill has been dealt with, will be the measure relating to the Capital sites. As to the statement of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa, that only one day was occupied by the last Parliament in discussing the Seat of Government Bill, I can assure him that four days were- thus spent. That would represent the sittings . of the House for at least a week. Therefore, I hardly feel justified in consenting to the suggestion that the measure should be interposed during the discussion of the Arbitration Bill. It must be remembered that the Government came into office in connexion with the Arbitration Bill, and that we announced when putting our programme forward that that measure would first be dealt with by us, whilst the Senate were engaged upon the Seat of Government Bill. Therefore, I think that ve are justified in asking the House to push forward the consideration of the Arbitration Bill, and in pointing out that the surest way to secure the early consideration of the Seat of Government Bill will be to assist the Government to a reasonable degree in disposing of the measure now before us.
– Then we should not have the Government amendments in time.
– In connexion with that, I reserve to the Government the right to go on with the Seat of Government Bill if there is any necessity for a recommittal of the Arbitration Bill. Generally speaking, however, we intend to push on with the Arbitration Bill first, and to take the other measure next in order. That has . been the attitude of the Government right through, and there is no intention to deviate from it in the slightest degree. As it is rather late, I shall take an opportunity to’ reply through the press to some obviously incorrect statements by the leader of the State Opposition in New South Wales with reference to the proposals of the Government regarding the area of the Capital site. I trust that the anxiety exhibited by honorable members of the Opposition this evening to push forward the Seat of Government Bill, will lead them to use all the influence they, possess to prevent the passing of that measure being delayed by the discussion of abstract questions, which, according to the newspapers, are likely to be brought forward during the next week or so. If that anxiety is real, honorable members should assist us to push on with the actual business, and so allow of an early settlement of the Capital sites question.
– Cannot the Prime Minister fix a date for the consideration of the Seat of. Government Bill?
– I cannot fix a date, for the reason that we have not arrived at such a stage with the other measure as would allow of that being done. I see no reason to anticipate that we shall finish the Arbitration Bill during this week. Probably we shall not conclude next week. If we could dispose of it during the current week I should be all the more pleased ; but two or three matters of principle, regarding which there is a legitimate difference of opinion, have still to be discussed, and we cannot expect honorable members to forego their right to debate.
– Will the Prime Minister give us a week’s notice if he possibly can?
– Yes. That would be a proper thing, and I have already promised to do it. It is tha intention of the Government to push on with the Bill at the first opportunity, and that ‘ opportunity will be presented when the Arbitration Bill is out of the way.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at11.20 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 June 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040614_reps_2_19/>.