2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– The following cablegram appears in this morning’s Argus : -
The annual Queensland dinner took place last evening at the Holborn Restaurant. … Sir Horace Tozer, the Queensland Agent-General, presided. … In the course of his remarks the chairman said that a representative of Italy had offered to supply unlimited immigrants for work on the Queensland sugar plantations, provided they were permitted to enter into contracts for a year. When the scheme was established contracts would probably not be necessary. In the face of the policy adopted by the Commonwealth Government, however,, it was impossible to proceed further with the proposal.
I wish to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he is aware of this offer to supply Italian labour to the sugar plantations of Queensland ? If so, has permission . to introduce the labourers under contract for a year or more been asked?. Is there now sufficient labour available to replace the kanakas who may be leaving the plantations?’ Does he know of any warrant for the statement that it is impossible to proceed with the scheme because of the present policy of the Commonwealth? Why is it impossible?
– No official information has been received by (he Department in regard to this matter. So far as I am aware, there is no- scarcity of labour offering in the Queensland sugar industry.
– That is so.
– I am given to understand that the. rebates paid for white-grown sugar are being taken advantage of very largely, and that there is no information to hand of any shortage of labour. As no offer has been made to the Government, we, of course, have riot been able to give the matter the consideration which a concrete proposal would merit. Our policy is identical in this particular with that of the two Governments which have preceded us, arid I know qf- no reason why the arrangement should be impossible if - but only if - there is a scarcity ;of labour of the kind required offering in the sugar industry.
– Sir Horace” Tozer embellishes these little things.
– Is the Minister aware that on a former occasion the Government of Queensland imported 1,000 Italians to work in the sugar industry there, and that three or six months afterwards they had all left the plantations, and were working in the mining industry ?
– I arn not aware of the occurrence j but if it took place, it seems to indicate that Italians are not preeminently suited to the industry, or that the terms given to them were not calculated to induce them to remain in it.
– Is the Minister aware that the Italians who entered the State of Louisiana under contract, formed Mafia associations, arid shot Hennessy, the Chief, of Police, and many others?
– Will the Minister make inquiries as to the success or otherwise of the importation of Italians into Queensland in the early nineties, ostensibly for the purpose of sugar-growing, before entering into negotiations for the further importation of that class . of labour ?
– I shall certainly consider the whole matter, including the experiment referred to by .the honorable member and the honorable member for Kennedy, before determining upon the advisableness pf entering into any negotiations. Such negotiations seem to be utterly uncalled for under the circumstances so far as we know them.
– Has the attention of the Minister been drawn to the following statement in to-day’s Argus in regard to the treatment of the lascars who belonged to the wrecked P. and O. mail steamer Australia?
The provisions of the Alien Restriction Act are being rigidly enforced, and the men, who have committed the crime of being shipwrecked on the Australian coast, will be confined to this’ shelter until Monday. . . . None of them, on any pretext, are allowed to leave their quarters.. There they will do their cooking, eat, live, and sleep, until the hour of departure arrives. To ensure their safe custody, policemen have been placed on guard, and patrol the entrances to the wharf and to the shed itself.
Will he inform the House as to the facts?
– I have noticed the statement to which the honorable and learned . member has referred, and I desire to say in. reply that, if these men are being guarded by police, they are not being kept under control at the instance of my Department, which has had nothing to do with the matter. So far as my Department is concerned, the Lascars are as free to come here or to go anywhere else as any other, citizen of the Commonwealth who may be similarly circumstanced. If they are guarded by ‘ police, it must be at the instigation of the Company, who are re.sponsible for their egress from the Commonwealth as they are legally, if not morally, responsible for their ingress. The Department has entered into an arrangement with the P. and O. Company, which has been found perfectly convenient to the Company, and every .facility has been given to the men and to the Company to act as may seem best for both. The Department has placed no restriction whatsoever on the men.
– Will the Minister furnish the House with a statement showing the names of the .sub-contractors in the fifty-one cases referred to by me yesterday afternoon, the localities in which the contracts are being carried out, the price which the Government is paying the contractor in each case, and the price, including any other consideration, which the contractor, Mr. Vines, is paying the sub-contractor*? Will he obtain the latter -information from the sub-contractors?
– I atn not sure that I have the right to call upon either Mr. Vines or the sub-contractors to disclose the payments which the former is making, but application will be made to them, and an effort put forward to obtain the information asked for.
– I think that the subcontractors will give the information to the Minister.
– - If they are willing to do so, I shall present it to the House.
Mr. . BATCHELOR laid upon the table the following papers: -
Classification of the Public Service. .
Ordered to be printed.
Reports of the Divisional Returning Officers on the Melbourne election of 30th’ March, and the Riverina election of 18th May, 1904.
First Annual Report of the Public Service Commissioner.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
With reference to increases of salary to deserving officers in the Postal Department, New South Wales-
Why were the names of a number of officers (who were recommended by the Acting Deputy Postmaster-General, New South Wales, as deserving of promotion) struck out of the list by the Public Service Commissioner?
What prospects have the officers referred to of receiving the promotion recommended?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Mr. R. EDWARDS (for Sir John
Forrest) asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether the existing order, that all cablegrams not specially marked “vid Eastern” are to be sent by the Pacific Cable, affects adversely the revenues of South Australia, Western Australia, and Tasmania, and benefits the revenues of New South Wales, Victoria, and Queensland?
If so, to what extent in each case from date of order to 30th April last?
Whether the South Australian revenue loses on every message sent by Pacific Cable an amount ranging from 1 1/3 d. to 3 1/3 d. per word?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
months, suffered to the extent of ^3 is. 4d., while New South Wales and Queensland gained each £1 10s. 8d.
Public Servants’ Increments: Alien Restriction Administration : Land Settlement : Post and. Telegraph Administration.
Question - That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair, and that the House resolve itself into Committee of Supply - proposed.
– I desire to direct attention to the question of the increments to which certain officers in the Post Office and Telegraph Department are entitled under the Civil Service Act of South Australia of 1874, and which are continued under the Constitution. I directed attention to this matter as far back as last November, an.d the reply of the Treasurer in the following month was to the effect that the officers whose salaries were less than £160 would forthwith receive their increments, but that officers in receipt of higher salaries would have to await the result of further inquiry as- to the liability of the Commonwealth to pay these statutory increases. Thinking that there might be a mistake as to the legal position of the officers, I went fully into the matter, and in a letter which I addressed to the Treasurer, I asked that the justice of their claims as legally .presented by me, might be inquired into by the Crown Law Department. After several months had elapsed, I was informed that the position which I had taken up was correct, and that the officers were entitled to the statutory increases provided for under the South Australian Civil Service Act of 1874. The increases provided for, at the rate of ^10 per annum, have been suspended, in the case of some officers, from March, 1903, and, in the case of others, from July, 1903. Provision was made for these increments upon the Estimates of 1903, but they have not yet been .paid. About a fortnight ago
I was informed that the amounts thus provided for would be paid, but when in Adelaide a week ago I was told, and I have since received a written communication to the same effect, that, instead of the ,£1.0, some officers have received only ^5. whilst others, chiefly in the Postal Department, have had no intimation with regard to the matter. Perhaps the Minister of Home Affairs would inform the Committee why, after the Crown Law Department has advised that these stautuory increments must be paid under the Constitution, the full amount prescribed under’ the South Australian Act of 1874, and provided for on the Estimates of 1903, has not been paid ; also, what is the meaning of the notification sent to some officers that half the amount is to be forwarded, whilst others have received no intimation whatever ?
– The reply of the Minister of External. Affairs with regard to the statement by Sir Horace Tozer appears to be sufficient, so far as it goes. The Government have heard of no such proposal as that referred, to, and, therefore, have not been in a position to deal with it. I gather, however, from the comments of some of the representatives, of Queensland, that they do not view with favour the introduction of Italian settlers to that State, and conclude, further, from the remarks of the honorable member for Darwin, that apparently some special disability attaches to the people of that nation.
– Especially in the southern States of America.
– I do not think that the Italian subjects in the southern States of America have been guilty of acts of a character of which the perpetrators ought to be ashamed more frequently than the people of other nations.
– They have organized all sorts of secret associations.
– Americans have organized the Ku-klux and similar secret societies.
– Italians were responsible for the difficulties which occurred in Colorado.
– I do not think that statement is correct. I venture to say, with Burke, that it is unwise and unjust in the highest degree to libel a whole nation. No nation has been more distinguished in art, arms, and literature than the Italian. There are undesirables in all countries. There are any number of beachcombers in the South Seas, and many other men of our own race elsewhere, of whom we have no reason to be proud. It would be a most unfortunate thing if. any adverse reference were made to a particular people on account of the conduct of some of its members.
– There are some good Italian citizens in New South Wales.
– Quite so. In this State, and in America, some of the best citizens are of Italian birth and descent. T. happento know Italian- agriculturist’s in Victoria, who, so far as the qualities which make for good citizenship are concerned, are the equals of any iti our midst.
– But they do not represent the class of immigrant which comes here under contract.
– It entirely depends upon what they contract for. Only a week ago I received through the late UnderTreasurer of this State, who is at present residing -in London, a letter from General Ricciotti Garibaldi, a son of the famous hero of that name-
– Was he a hero?
– He was one’ of the liberators of Italy, and ranks among the rnosi gallant and chivalrous soldiers of the last century. General Garibaldi, the son, who was resident in Australia many years ago,wrote to the late Under-Treasurer, inquiring the prospects of Italian agriculturists in Australia generally. I understand that in Italy there are those who desire to assist in settling agriculturists of their own country in new lands, amongst them Australia’. For the cultivation of the vine in particular, and of many sub-tropical products which have not yet been grown in Australia, but which, I hope, will be produced ere long in our warmer latitudes, Italians are especially suited ; those coming from the districts in the north ‘of Italy, from their knowledge of irrigation as it has been carried on there for centuries, and their acquaintance with the products suited to climates and conditions such as obtain in Australia, are particularly well qualified in this regard. That there is no immediate demand for labour in connexion vith the sugar plantations is satisfactory so far as it goes. I presume, however, that even those representatives who favour its exclusion will scarcely hazard the” prophecy that if the kanakas now employed on the sugar plantations in Queensland disappear within the prescribed period, sufficientwhile labour will be available to meet all demands in that State.
– That is an open question.
– The next question we have to consider is - “ Is the supply of labour adequate to the full development of the sugar industry in Australia?”
– Until it overtakes our home consumption.
– We have to consider not merely the maintenance of the industry as it exists at present, with 8,000 or 9,000 kanakas to be replaced, but the future growth of that industry. If there are any men who, primafacié, are well qualified to face the climate and discharge the necessary duties in connexion with the cultivation of sugarcane, I presume that Italians are specially fitted. I single them out, however, only because they are singled out in the cablegram which appears in the newspapers today, containing Sir Horace Tozer’s reference. I think it most unfortunate that a representative man should have sufficient evidence in his hands to warrant him in saying that it will be impossible to introduce agricultural labour into Australia. One of our greatest misfortunes is that we should continue to see streams pf people, first of our own blood and race, and next, of other European communities, capable of blending with our race, pouring away to North and South America, and to South Africa, and absolutely ignoring the whole of this great continent.
– I do not know whether we could offer the same inducements to immigrants that are being held out by the steam-ship companies trading between Europe and America.
– I know that the steamship rates between Europe and the United States have been cut to an extraordinary extent; but, with us, the difficulty is not merely that of rates of transit. I regret to learn that the Prime Minister is still without replies from most of the States, to the inquiry as to what encouragement to immigrants they can offer in the way of land. So far replies have been received only from two States. What of the other four? We all know that there are vast stretches of unoccupied country in them which relatively make very small contributions to the wealth of this country. It is a misfortune that such conditions should continue, from whatever cause they arise. I regard this matter as of the first importance, otherwise I should not have detained the House so long, because I do not think it is quite fair to “ spring “ such a discussion upon it. I am anxious that the Government should ascertain from the Queensland Government, in the first place, whether any, and, if so, what proposal has been made ; and, secondly, that they should request the Government of that State to inquire from its Agent-General, the warrant he has for saying that it would be impossible, even if it were desired, to carry out a project for the introduction of that class of white labour into Australia. I say that it is not impossible. There may be questions as to the suitability of any proposed immigrants, or as to the terms for which they shall be brought here, although a year only is mentioned in the cablegram as the term of the intendeed contract.
– It seems improbable that Italians would be brought out for a year only.
– Nevertheless that is the period specified in the cablegram. The contract is proposed for one year. It does seem to me improbable that it should be so short. But this is all the more reason why we should request the various States Governments to convey to their Agents-General the information which will not only enable them to say that such a scheme is not impossible, but that it is very possible and eminently desirable. I can imagine nothing more to the advantage of this country than the extension of its agricultural settlement, and the multiplication of its rural products. Whilst we have not provided for those within our midst - for there are in Australia a number of landless persons who ought to be enabled to make homes for themselves upon the soil under fair conditions - yet merely to make provision for them will not convey a sufficient impetus to the development of this country. Unless we obtain our full proportion of the stream of population that every year goes out from Europe - men equipped to face the task which confronts the pioneers of Australia, and often possessed of some capital - we shall not be able to make our grip upon this country as strong as it ought to be. I am extremely sorry to learn, from statistics, that the exodus of population from Victoria still continues.
– To Queensland.
– There is a steady exodus to Western Australia, to Queensland, and elsewhere. Some of the emigrants, I fear, pass beyond the Commonwealth altogether. I do not regard it as a loss from an Australian point of view when the transfer of citizens is merely from one part of the Commonwealth to another, though I do not think that Victoria at the present time is carrying anything like the population which she can maintain. What I. regard as the foundation of the severest reflection that can be passed upon us all, whether we are Federal or State politicians, is that -we should see capable Australian settlers with capital leaving these shores for South Africa and elsewhere. There are a variety of reasons for this.
– Some are coming back from these countries, and more particularly from Canada.
– That is true. In the last number of the Australian edition of the Review of Reviews, there are one or two very significant statements in reference to this matter. One is made by Dr. Egerton Young, a Canadian clergyman, who happened to be here in connexion with the great Triennial Methodist Conference recently held in Melbourne. I had the pleasure of hearing him, and found him one of the most effective platform speakers to whom I had listened for a long time. He has been described as one of the most effective, although unpaid, agents that the Dominion of Canada has in winning new settlers for that country. In the last number of the Review of Reviews he testifies to the high character of the immigrants received, to their great number, and to the vast provinces that have been acquired by them, as well, as by settlers from the northern and north-western States of the United States of America. This movement into Canada opens up new areas for the plough and introduces new capital and energy into all its enterprises. It makes Canada stronger for every one of her internal tasks, and stronger in her influence abroad. The north-west coasts, and almost the whole of the western coast of Australia are absolutely unpeopled, and a great part of the eastern coast, comprising rich and wellwatered country, is but sparsely settled. If there is to be a White Australia, surely our intention is that it shall be an Australia peopled by white men, and not. as I have often said, white merely because of the blank unoccupied spaces on the map. Surely the worst delusion we could allow is that it is impossible for desirable settlers to enter here - that there is any unwillingness to receive them, or anything but an anxiety on our part to add them to the strength of the country for the development of its resources. I have therefore ventured, on the spur of the moment, to request the Minister of External Affairs to make use of this incident to remove the misapprehension from Sir Horace Tozer’ s mind.
– Did not Sir Edmund Barton, when Prime Minister, find it necessary to remove a misapprehension on the part of Sir Horace Tozer as to the whole effect of the Act? Did he not find it necessary to write to him explaining its effect?
– That was in regard to the contract labour provisions of the Act.
– He misunderstood the whole Act.
– When this apprehension exists in the minds of official representatives of Australia-
– Does the honorable and learned member believe that it does exist?
– It must exist or these words would not have been uttered.
– The honorable and learned member does not know the man as we know him.
– This statement was uttered in the very centre of the Empire, and published in newspapers circulating throughout the length and breadth of the country. No incident is calculated to do us greater damage,, and I therefore trust that the House will not consider that I have unduly trespassed upon its time. I have never before taken part in a debate on this motion, and hope therefore that Ministers will appreciate my action in calling their attention to the matter, and in asking them to regard it as of sufficient importance to demand a correction of the misstatements, and the publication of that correction as widely as possible in the mother country. I shall be very glad if this misadventure leads to a full inquiry into the demand for labour likely to be made within the next few years for the maintenance and expansion of the sugar industry in Queensland. I was expecting to have seen, six months ago, a very .elaborate report on the working of the Sugar Bounties Act, and the employment that it was likely to require, from the State officials in Queensland, but have not yet seen it. The willingness and anxiety of Australia to receive desirable immigrants - our willingness to consider every reasonable proposal for the introduction of any class of white immigrants fitted to deal with those productions for which the Commonwealth presents opportunities - together with the future of the sugar industry, embrace a set of questions that might well engage the attention of Ministers at the present time, and, after the House has had an opportunity to obtain further information, engage the attention of Parliament also. There is no more national issue in Australia to-day than that of how to multiply its white population capable of being productively employed.
– I think that the leader of the Opposition has rather misconstrued the question put by me, as well as the remarks made by the honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable member for Darwin. Honorable members on this side of the House will agree that no compatriot of Garibaldi would be looked upon with disfavour by us. I have met many Italians engaged in mining and other occupations in North Queensland, and know that, when they become accustomed to the conditions of the country, they invariably become unionists - and good unionists - where an opportunity is afforded them to join a union.
– That is what the honorable member for Darwin terms a Mafia society.
– I know of no such society in Queensland. These men have proved themselves admirable citizens ; first class settlers, and thorough workmen. Mr. John Robb, a Victorian contractor, had a number of them engaged in tunnelling on the Cairns-Herberton railway, and no better men could have been secured for the work. They were not prepared to work for less than the ruling wages, and earned those wages to the satisfaction of their employer. I am sure that no objection would be made either by the honorable member for Kennedy, the honorable member for Darwin, or myself, to the introduction of workmen of that class. As to the question put by the honorable member for Darwin, I can only say that these men, on the ‘.eastern coast, have made admirable colonists, although I have not known many of them to settle on the land. I have not a vivid recollection of the incidents relating to their introduction, some fourteen years ago, but believe that they came in principally under engagement to Drysdale Bros., of the Lower Burdekin. I think that I am correct in saying that the Government of Queensland allowed ^13 per head in respect of their emigration to Queensland, ostensibly to engage in the cultivation of sugar ; but that when they arrived it was found that a number of them had no knowledge of agriculture. Many of them were tradesmen, watchmakers, bootmakers, bookbinders, or persons familiar with the building trade.
– Some were miners.
– A number of them were miners. They came out as agricultural labourers, but it was found that they were not capable of conducting agricultural operations. ‘ In these circumstances very little resistance was offered to their breaking their agreements, and they drifted all over the country. I wish to impress upon the Minister of External Affairs that if any negotiations are entered into with these persons by representatives of the sugar industry, for their introduction to cultivate sugar, care should be taken to ascertain whether they are agriculturists or whether they are merely proposing to come out under the aegis of the Commonwealth Government to follow other occupations. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat is under a misapprehension in regard to the kanaka question. He said a few minutes ago that there were 9,000 kanakas engaged in the sugar industry, whose services would shortly be dispensed with, and he questioned whether there were sufficient white men to take their places. Up to the present every opportunity to fill the places vacated by kanakas has been taken, by white men, and it is only because they have not been offered the opportunity that they are not to-day employed on every sugar plantation in Queensland, not only in cutting cane, but in cultivating it and manufacturing sugar. I read in a recent issue of the Argus a paragraph to the effect that forty -three Chinamen, had been put on by the Proserpine Central Mill, which was established on the co-operative principle, and was designed to encourage the employment of white men in the industry. These forty-three Chinamen were engaged at 28s. per week, finding their own food. . I know that white men are available, and have worked in that mill in past seasons at 30s. each per week, finding their own food. What consideration is shown to white men there?
– Is that a private mill? Mr. BAMFORD.- No; it is a central mill.
– But who gives the employment ?
– The manager of the mill. It is not now under the management of the farmers, who, in the case of some mills, appoint the directors and take the whole management into their own hands ; but it is under the management of the State Government. It is a fact that these fortythree Chinamen are engaged there for a paltry saving of 2 s. per week, work ten’ hours a day, and find their own food and everything else which they require. As regards the kanakas, the honorable and learned member must remember that of the number in Queensland a great many are always in hospital, ‘a great many are walking about, and a considerable percentage are in gaol all the time. So that, if we deduct those who are not working from various causes, the net number available is possibly only one-half of that which is said to be available - that is from 4,500 to 5,000 men. Certainly they will have to be replaced ; but if the Government does as I suggested to the honorable and learned member when he was in office - that is, get rid of the men gradually and not all at once, as appears to be intended - they will be slowly replaced, and will drift away and no notice will be taken of their departure. Other men will fill their places, as is being done now whenever the opportunity is given. It is only those persons who are averse to the policy of a White Australia, who are keeping white men out of work - it is not that they are not available. When I was going North at the time of the Federal elections, the late Premier of Queensland, Mr. Philp, told me that before the last crushing so many white men went to the Mackay district for the purpose of obtaining work that the Government were finding from 600 to 700 of them with rations, simply because they had been shut out of the cane-fields by the presence of the coloured men. So far as labour is concerned, there need not be the slightest fear that when the kanakas are gone they will be replaced by white men if the opportunity is offered. I am in entire sympathy with the honorable and learned member in wishing our lands to be peopled. On the north-eastern coast of Queensland there are tens of thousands of acres of, I suppose, the most valuable land in the world - land with a rich scrub soil and good rainfall - and the land being right along the coast there is every facility for getting produce to market or supplies from the city. I should like to see this magnificent land peopled. From private information, I can say that the Federal Government will shortly be approached with an offer from Scandinavia principally on behalf of persons in Denmark. For some time I have been in communication with a gentleman who asked me if I thought that any proposition would be favorably received - he was the Consul for Denmark - and I told him “Yes.” He told me that a number of Scandinavians - not only Danes, but Norwegians and Swedes - are anxious to come to Australia, if they are assured they will be welcomed here, and will be able to get land on which to settle. I assured him that the men would receive a warm welcome. Some of our best colonists are Scandinavians. Wherever they have settled in Australia they have settled to the advantage of the district in which they live I am in entire sympathy, I repeat, with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in desiring our lands to be settled ; but I hope that the bona fides of both sides will be closely investigated prior to any arrangement being made; That is my sincere wish, because, as the honorable and learned member has pointed out, our population is ‘drifting away - he says from various causes. I dare say that no one knows better than he does the causes which are operating in Victoria to drive away people and prevent others from coming in.
– Let us hear them. I should like to know what they are.
– The cause is a gentleman whose name I shall not mention here, but I believe that he is principally instrumental in bringing about this result. He is a gentleman of a corpulent disposition like the right honorable member, and he is standing in the way because neither he nor the party with which he is associated is making an effort to give the lands which are now occupied by sheep and cattle to people who shoul’d be occupying them. That is the reason why people are drifting away, not only from Victoria, . but also from New South Wales. I should like to impress upon the Government that as regards the sugar aspect of the question, they should be most careful before making any arrangements. “Mr. MCWILLIAMS (Franklin).- I sincerely hope that the Prime Minister will give this matter very serious consideration, but my word of warning will come from rather the opposite direction. Those who have read the story of the race problem in the United States of America, know that the Italian is the worst immigrant -who has gone to that country.
– He is the best colonist that we have in Queensland.
– He is the worst colonist who has gone to the United States of America, if we are to be guided by the opinion of all the writers on the race problem.
Mr. Deakin. From the free trade point of view, he ought to be the best colonist, because he is the cheapest. The cheapest labour in Italy is sent to the United States.
– In certain States of America the Italian carries a knife in his hand and a razor in his pocket.
– Wherever there is a distinct Italian settlement in the United States - whether it is in Pittsburg, or Kansas, or Colorado- it is not’ safe for a man to walk, except in broad daylight.
– They have to be edu- cate d first
– We do not want to bring thousands of people here to educate them up to our state of civilization.
– Does the honorable member sav that Italians are not civilized?
– The Italian is not citizenized in the ordinary Australian sense, if we are to judge by those who live in the Italian quarters of the United States.
– Italy is a first-class naval power.
-I am only giving the evidence of those who have studied the race problem of America, and its Congress has had to pass very severe restrictive immigration laws, chiefly to shut out the hordes of Italians who want to enter. I am not one of those who wish to shut the doors of Australia to immigrants. It is not to our credit that we have not a very much larger immigration. It is not at all to the credit of Australia, and certainly it is not to the credit of a fine State like Victoria to find that thousands of her best class of citizens are leaving her shores practically every year. That has been going on for a number of years; but, if we are to have immigration, letus surround it with proper, safeguards in order that we may get the right class of people. We could then say, “Let them all come;” but to allow companies to enter into agreements under which they would be able to flood Australia with thousands and thousands of contract immigrants, of a class over which we should have imperfect control, cannot be in the best interest of Australia. If a company proposes to bring thousands’ of immigrants here under contract, we should see that Australia is protected from the introduction of a class who, in my humble opinion, are very far from being people whom we desire.
– The Prime Minister, when dealing with the request that some capable representatives of shipping and mercantile interests should be added to the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill, referred to an able and exhaustive speech made by Mr. Maitland Paxton at the annual meeting of the General Council of the Chambers of Commerce. On that occasion the Prime Minister, quite inadvertently I am sure, overlooked a portion of Mr. Maitland Paxton’s remarks. The inference from the Prime Minister’s observations was, practically, that Mr. Maitland Paxton had not taken any exception to the restrictions which were embraced in the proposals relating to the coastal trade. I am perfectly certain that it was entirely through an oversight that the Prime Minister made that statement ; but the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, the members of which have seen the report of the remarks of the Prime Minister, greatly regret that his words should have gone. abroad, and they have sent a telegram asking that a correction should be made, inasmuch as the coastal restrictions which the Government propose are totally condemned by that and the other Chambers of Commerce.
– I desire to emphasize the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat -on the question of immigration, a question which I hope the Prime Minister will press on the attention of the various States Premiers. This matter was brought up at the last Conference of States Treasurers by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who then delivered an exceedingly able speech dealing exhaustively with the whole problem ; and it would be well for the House on some future occasion, if not to-day, to give some consideration to the important points then raised. I understand that at the Treasurers’ Conference an assurance was given on behalf of the States that the matter would receive immediate attention; but it now appears that only two States out of the six have really given any consideration to what everybody, or at least most people, regard as one of our most pressing needs. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat has rather sprung this discussion upon us, but he has done well to call attention to the question; and 1 hope his remarks will be a reminder to the States Premiers of the promise made at the Treasurers’ Conference. The Prime Minister has referred to the speech made by Sir Horace Tozer. When the [ Immigration Restriction xvet was passed, Sir Horace Tozer did not appear to quite understand its object, and it was necessary for the then Prime Minister, Sir Edmund
Barton, to write a letter correcting his ideas in regard to the Statute ; but it may be that he has not yet quite grasped the under- » lying principle. Our point of view was that the restrictions under the Act were of such a nature -as to make Australia a still more -desirable place for settlement by the European races. The idea that was put forward erroneously, not only by Sir Horace Tozer, but by certain persons who went from Australia, and representing themselves to be Australian patriots, placed a false view before the people of England, was that the desire was for immigration exclusion, and not for immigration restriction. It is highly undesirable that persons who occupy State positions should, when speaking on behalf of the States, deal with matters which are really- of’ Commonwealth concern. I dare say that Sir Horace Tozer was acting in perfectly good faith, and was relying on some report he had received ; but purporting, as he does in the old country, to speak on behalf of Australia, he is conveying an utterly wrong impression. I am glad the subject has been mentioned, because honorable members on the Ministerial side, who are sometimes accused of a desire to restrict immigration, have, on the floor of this chamber, openly declared their desire that as many people as possible of a suitable class should come to Australia, not only from England, Ireland, and Scotland, but from any European country.. The speech of Sir Horace Tozer has emphasized the need of the Government pressing forward with tha High Commissioner Bill. No matter what’ we may do in Australia locally, until we have some person appointed in England to speak on behalf of the Commonwealth, we shall be liable to a certain degree of misunderstanding. It is highly desirable that we should have in England some one who can speak officially on the matter of immigration. What Ave require is an official in direct connexion with the six States, who can give correct information to the people of the old country as to what our aspirations and aims are in connexion with immigration generally. I know that Queensland is sorely in need of an increase of population. In that State there are vast areas of the finest land, which is practically valueless through the want of occupants. There are miles qf railway all through that vast area.
– And miles of country are monopolized.
– There are miles of unmonopolized country which could ‘be settled if people were available. Our railways are maintained at heavy expense to the State, and are unprofitable because there are no people to till the land, and use them for the conveyance of produce to market. Then, Queensland has an immense coast-line to protect, the highways for shipping having to be properly lighted for a comparatively small traffic. There are telegraph lines, which should be used in sending commercial messages from one important centre to another, but, . unfortunately, those lines traverse miles of the richest, but practically unsettled country. The State has a public debt which presses heavily, and the only satisfactory way of dealing with the burden is to increase the population - not to have further borrowings, but to settle on the land producers who will provide work and advance the prosperity of the community as a whole, and become contributors to the revenue. I hope the Prime Minister will continue to press on the States the absolute necessity for formulating some definite plan of immigration, in order that it may be made known across the seas that we are eager to welcome the best classes of settlers. Reference has; been made to the fact that people are leaving Australia; but I am glad’ to say that, many are returning. I have seen letters written from Canada by Australians, who have been lured thence by magnificent advertisements, and the opinion rs expressed that, after all, there is no better land in the world than can be found in their beloved Australia..
– They get frostbittenin Canada.
– It is not only that they get frost-bitten. They are returning to Australia with the feeling that, no matter how people may describe this country or misrepresent its legislation, we have ai fairly good climate, rich soils, and general conditions favorable to the support of a great population in health and prosperity. While too much stress is laid on our droughts, too little .is made of the fact that, when droughts do occur, they are followed by seasons of unparalleled prosperity. We ought to . be guided by the law of averages ; and, if we are, we shall ‘find that in Australia we have, as I say, every condition favorable to a large and prosperous populationI hope the question of immigration will receive further consideration, with the result that we shall be able to divert a large stream of population to these shores.
– One of the great needs of this Commonwealth is population of the right description. I do not oppose the immigration of Italians, if they are men of the proper kind. But I have a very decided objection to the indenturing of any population to Australia. I do not believe in anything in the form of semi-slavery. If men come here free, possessing some little capital of their own, and with their own powers can develop wealth out of. the soil of this country, it is a good thing to have them. There can be no doubt that our manufacturing industries languish, not because of the silly reasons which are sometimes given, but because there is not a sufficient demand for manufactured goods in Australia. Until we have a large population our manufactures will not succeed as they would otherwise do. When the demand for manufactures increases largely, the silly talk about helping them by other means will no longer be indulged in. A remark has been made bv the ex-Prime Minister about the connexion between free-trade and cheap labour. The answer to that is that cheap labour is always found where there is protection. I do not wish to raise the fiscal issue; but I must introduce it to the extent of making that reply. The Italian labour of a cheap kind that is introduced into America is from a protectionist country, and is taken to a protectionist country at the instance of the coal barons and the iron barons, who are to be found in both of the fiscal parties. I believe in developing the country on lines that will give every man free play for the exercise of his powers. What we require is not a limitation of freedom, but an increase of it. We want free-trade in land. There is room for multitudes upon rich lands in this country which are now held up by a few ; and when more good land is made available for settlement we shall have a population that will give us an increase of wealth and will assist in the development of every industry. But it is of no use to bring population to Australia unless they are afforded a means of employing themselves. Notwithstanding our large cities, there do not seem to be such means at present. Nevertheless, in all directions there are lands out of cultivation, upon which immigrants could set to and make a living for themselves, and produce wealth, which would be the means of finding employment for a large number of others. People have to go into the cities to starve because they cannot earn a living in the country. The crowding of the population into the cities is condemned. People crowd there because they are forced there. If there were in the States areas of good land available for settlement, this crowding of population would cease. That is the direction from which the salvation of the masses must come. It is of no use to impose restrictions. We must give people a wider freedom, but at the same time we must enable them to use the faculties and powers which they possess. I do not wish any one to suppose that I desire to take anybody’s land from him; but I would pass such laws as would compel men to use their land to its fullest value, or let somebody else use it. When such laws are passed, we shall be able to increase the population of this country, and until they are it is user less to flood these shores with immigrants. 1 hope that the Government, if they seek for opportunities to assist in the development of population, will endeavour to bring to this Country the right class of people.
– Some reference has been made to Italian immigrants, and some exception has been taken to what has been said concerning them. With reference to the Italians in Queensland, I may explain that when the Government of that State passed legislation to put an end to the introduction of kanakas to work in the sugar industry, and at about the time fixed for the importation of kanakas to expire, the present Chief Justice of Australia, Sir Samuel Griffith, devised a scheme for introducing a number of Italians. I think that about 1,000 Italians were brought out. But their services were not very valuable to the sugar industry. They did not remain long upon the plantations. I believe that within about six months from the time when they landed there was scarcely one Italian to be found working in the cane fields. Most of them drifted into competition with the miners and wood cutters in and around Charters Towers and other parts of North Queensland. The Charters Towers district got the great bulk of them. I know- from personal experience - having organized a very large number of these Italians into unions - that they are some of the best unionists we have in the North of Queensland. They are steady, industrious men, and their services have been of benefit to the country as miners. But, while recognising that fact, I for one should decidedly object to the sugar planters or any other section of the community indenting large bodies of Italians, or any other kind of labour, to work in the sugar industry, or in any other occupation. I do not merely object to indenting Italians - I object to all forms of cheap indented labour. I do not believe that an experiment in the way of introducing the Italians to work in the sugar industry would be successful, and certainly I should object to their coming out in large bodies. With reference to the position of the sugar industry itself, present reports indicate that we are likely to have one of the best seasons that Queensland has ever known, and the production, judging from the present rate of progress, will increase very largely. Therefore, it is clear that the legislation passed by this Parliament prohibiting the immigration of kanakas to work in the cane fields has neither done the industry any harm, nor has it brought about that ruin which was predicted by a large number of people. With reference to the statement published in a cablegram in this morning’s Argus, respecting the remarks of Sir Horace Tozer, all I can say is that I should not be a bit surprised if, in the long run, it turned out to be “a tozer,” and every one in Queensland knows pretty well what that term means.
– I do not quite understand the concluding period of the honorable member for Kennedy. But I should like to tackle the broader question that has been raised by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. It seems to me that if there is one thing in particular that this country is crying out for, it is an increase of population.
– We cannot feed the people we have got here.
– If that is true, it is due to some extent to the legislation which the honorable member had assisted to pass. We are making the place too hot for them.
– They are going to other places where it is much hotter.
– These Italians are to be brought out to assist in carrying on an industry which is able to endure even the policv advocated by the honorable member. What I rose specially to say is that in dealing with this question of the immigration of Southern European races, there is an object lesson before us in the experiIence of the United States of America. ]
Honorable members are aware that there has been a very large immigration of Italians to that country, and it is very much to be regretted that when we are discussing the advisability of applying the restrictions imposed by the Immigration Restriction Act to them, the experience of the United States in this regard should not be placed before us. I hope that before the debate on this question is brought to a close, some honorable member who has a special knowledge of the question will put before the House the experience of the United States of America in the matter of the -presence in an Anglo-Saxon community of a large number of Italians.
–The question of increased population and immigration has been demanding the attention of most of our public men of late. One fact which appears to be lost sight of to a considerable extent is that we have an enormous- number of people in our midst who are almost continuously unemployed. We have a very great many people among us who are used to our conditions of life and our methods of farming and manufacture, and who are yet unable to get work, in their different callings- In the circumstances, I look upon it as a mere waste of time .for us to be holding out inducements to people of other nations to come here from the old world until we can give them some definite information that they will get employment when they arrive here. In emigrating to the United States and Canada they can be certain of employment when they get to those countries. We have, therefore, first to consider our unemployed problem. As soon as that is solved satisfactorily, the necessity of advertising in the old world the conditions of life in Australia will be done away with to a very great extent. As soon .as we are able to prove that we can keep our own people employed, and that there is a wide field of employment offering to people in the old world who may be induced to come here, we shall have no difficulty in attracting population. Speaking with some little experience of the conditions which’ prevail in Australia, I say there are two factors underlying our trouble to-day. These are involved in (he question of closer settlement upon our land, and the condition of our manufacturing industry. Until the powers that be give up talking about immigration, come down to business, and deal with the land problem in Australia, we shall not have much material development of the staple products of our soil. The comparison is frequently made between the prosperous condition of New Zealand, and the condition of things in Australia, although we are not far removed’ from each other. What is the cause of the marvellous development in New Zealand in recent years? It is due simply to the fact that the people of th:.it Colony have moved on from the pastoral to the agricultural stage of settlement, and that concurrently with that development they have given attention to the manufacturing industries. This Parliament had it in its power to do something for the welfare of the manufacturing industries of the Commonwealth, and of the mechanical and industrial population of Australia. What do we do? Whenever we require anything we borrow money, and send to some other nation to manufacture what we require for us. When our agricultural population require land we allow intending settlers to go to land monopolists, and the conditions under which they can secure, land are such as leave them in a position to .pay nothing but starvation wages. That is the position. I represent a farming district. I have a considerable acquaintance with those engaged in agricultural pursuits, and I know that in the northern districts of Victoria today it is absolutely impossible for men of even moderate means to obtain land. Some honorable members will no doubt tell me that there is .a number of estates being cut up by private owners, but the terms and conditions which those private owners offer are such that it is impossible for those requiring land to take advantage of them. ‘
– Let them go West.
– To do what? Men from my district went West long before the breaking out of. the Western Australian gold-fields, with a view to getting land. What happened to them?
– I do not know.
– They went over a considerable portion of the settled districts of Western Australia, and they came back, with sandy blight strongly developed.
– They were not of the right sort. . _ Mr. KENNEDY. - They were of the right sort. They had sufficient enterprise to go from here to Western Australia in the first place.
– Why go back fifteen years for a case?
– I suppose that Western Australia existed fifteen years ago.
– But the honorable member need not go back fifteen years for a case to tell us about.
– There has been very little alteration in climatic and other conditions in Western Australia in fifteen years. The probabilities, indeed, are that competition for land in Western Australia was not quite so keen fifteen years ago as it is today. Yet, of the number of young men who went to the West ten or fifteen years ago, how many of them have turned their attention to agricultural pursuits?
– Thousands of them.
– If thousands of persons have turned their attention to agricultural pursuits in Western Australia within the last ten or fifteen years, it is extraordinary that the agricultural products of the State have not increased in a much larger proportion than is actually the case.
– They are increasing.
– They are, but there has not been the increase of agricultural production in Western Australia which should have resulted if there had been such a large increase in the number of persons engaged in agriculture as the honorable member for Perth has suggested. It is but a waste of time to be talking about immigration, and . about advertising in the old world the conditions of Australia. Let us do something tangible. Let us give greater opportunities for land settlement, and for the development of manufacturing industries. Let us endeavour to do something that will bring about permanent and stable development. We have an example before us in New Zealand. We have been told that many causes assisted to bring about the results which have been there achieved. But the great factor in the development which has occurred in New Zealand during the last fifteen years is, I venture to say, the land policy which has been adopted in that colony. There has been in New Zealand an enormous increase in staple products. Some people say that the climatic conditions of New Zealand are favorable. Those conditions .applied to that colony to the same extent twenty or thirty years ago; but until the New Zealand people turned their attention to a policy of closer settlement they made none of the progress which they have since made. It is in that direction that we must look in Australia.
– Put on a land tax.
– A land tax will not solve the problem, by any means.
– It will help to do so. It is the key to it.
An Honorable Member. - Try protection.
– If we do we may do something for the agricultural industry. I am not afraid, when the opportunity arises, to advocate a policy of protection ; but it would be a waste of time to refer to that subject now.
– It is time we had a turn of it.
– It is time we had a little common sense. People speak of a land tax as though it were a panacea for all the ills to which the country is heir. I am prepared to admit that in some circumstances a land tax is advisable; but to say that a land tax will solve the whole question of land settlement and agricultural development is to argue without a knowledge of the facts of the case. What has the land tax in New South Wales done towards the cutting-up of large estates ? We have a land tax of a hybrid character in Victoria, and a graduated land tax, coupled with an absentee tax, in South Australia ; but what have those measures done in either State for the settlement of the land ? They have not had the effect in bringing about closer settlement which some people expected they would have. It is our land policy which is responsible for the results which we see to-day.
– The land tax has enabled persons to purchase from the holders of big estates more cheaply than they could otherwise have done.
– It has in some cases enabled men to get land at its proper value ; but the imposition of a land tax has not, per se, increased settlement, and given encouragement to agricultural development. Until we turn our attention to these two basic principles, which so largely govern our social and economic conditions, we cannot deal with the true cause of our trouble. Land legislation is, of course, within the province of the Parliaments of the States. Considerable attention has been directed to the matter in Victoria of recent years, though very little has been done. Fiscal legislation is under the control of this Parliament, but the present is not a time when it would be of advantage to discuss the subject. The welfare of the Common wealth,, however, depends very largely upon the increasing of our population, and the diversifying of our fields of employment.. Until we turn our serious attention to attracting a larger num ber of wage earners here, and to providing opportunities for their profitable employment, we shall make no material advance.
– It has been gratifying to hear the views which have been expressed this afternoon upon the subject brought up by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. It is a pity that it can be dealt with only in a transitory fashion, but I hope that the speeches which we have heard will not be forgotten. This House has for the last four months been dealing with legislation which, although it may appear important to some, is to my mind by no means so important as that affecting the matter referred to by the honorable and learned member, because it is very doubtful whether it will accomplish much good. We seem, however, to be now returning to something like common-sense views, and to be appreciating the real reasons for the Federation of the States. Federation was accomplished in order to push Australia ahead, and I hope that the discussion this afternoon will have some effect in removing the mistaken impression that has been created in the old country and elsewhere, that we do not wish to see our population increase. Our first duty is to our own people, and here are thousands who wish to settle upon the land, but who cannot do so. In this country, however, very little can be done in the way of land settlement, unless water is provided. I hope that the Minister of Home Affairs will give his attention to that matter. If he does, he may earn for himself a name which will endure! to all time. It seems to me that there is no more desirable population than that which comes from the south of Europe. The people living in that part of the world are accustomed to a climate similar to our own, and will bring with them industries which this country needs. Mr. J. M. Sinclair, who was sent by the Government of Victoria to inquire into the condition of agriculture in the United States, informed me that in that country he occasionally came upon very fine settlements, almost every one of whichwere populated by Germans, Scandinavians, Italians, or Frenchmen. If success has attended the efforts of these people in America,. I think that, with proper departmental guidance, and good government, the same results would happen here. The honorable member for Franklin spoke of Italians as undesirable immigrants. Like other people,’ there are both desirables and undesirables among them, and no doubt, many undesirable Italians have gone to the United States, but I trust that we shall be able to keep such men out of Australia. I hope that the debate will not fail to have effect, and will be regarded by the Government as an indication that the House is prepared to back them up in any scheme they may take in hand for the development of Australia and the increase of our productions.
– It is evident that the matter brought under notice by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has given tone to the whole discussion this afternoon. Knowing something about Queensland, and the labour conditions which prevail in the sugar industry there, I should like to say that a statement such as that reported to have been made by Sir Horace Tozer, when speaking at a dinner in London, cannot do good to the Commonwealth, nor to the State which that gentleman represents. The point I wish to make, however, is that the occurrence affords another evidence of the need of a High Commissioner to represent the Commonwealth in London, so that the business of Australia in that part of the world may be correctly and properly conducted. If Sir Horace Tozer did not know that the statement which he is reported to have made is incorrect, he has not properly exercised the abilities which he undoubtedly possesses.
– He was merely Tozer - izing.
– He has in Queensland a reputation to which I need not refer.
– He is the champion liar of Queensland.
– He may make his name more widely known without in any way adding to his reputation. Instances such as this point clearly to the fact that the earliest opportunity should be afforded to the Parliament of the Commonwealth to provide for the establishment of a High Commissionership in London, to prevent such obvious mistakes occurring in the future. It is also stated in the newspaper that the Premier of Queensland sept a sympathetic telegram to- those present at the dinner ; but I am certain that he in no way identifies himself with an immigration policy which would bring Italians to that State, since one of the members of his Government has quite recently notified me that at the present time they hardly know what to do to find employment for their, own people in the sugar districts. In the particular district which I represent, and. which is situated in the southern part of the State, there is more than enough white labour to do all the work that has to be done. The first duty of every Government is to find work for its own unemployed before endeavouring to induce other people to enter the country. In this connexion it is not unfair to point out that Sir Horace Tozer was a member of. a Government which had ample opportunities, to assist the white sugar-growers of Queensland, and did not avail itself of them. The Parliament of the Commonwealth was the first to offer any real assistance to the white sugar-growers, and, by doing so, we have enabled more sugar to be produced by white labour than was formerly obtained in that way. Honorable members will be glad to learn that the production of sugar by white labour is increasing, and it is estimated that the total weight of cane grown by white labour in Queensland will, during the coming season, reach 277,900 tons, as against 105,443 tons produced in 1962, and 220,402 tons harvested in 1903. These returns should be exceedingly gratifying to honorable members, because they show that the production of white sugir has assumed greater proportions ‘ than ever before. It would be wrong to accuse the Federal Parliament of having done anything to injure the sugar-growers of Queensland, and it would be unfortunate if the impression should get abroad that our legislation was likely to prove detrimental to the Commonwealth’. Although the enactments on our statute-book relating to the sugar industry do not cover everything that might be desired, they have, so far as they have gone, greatly assisted growers of sugar by white labour in their struggle against unfair competition.
– I rise principally for the purpose of emphasizing the necessity of immediately passing a Bill to provide for the appointment of a High Commissioner to represent the Commonwealth in the old country. I was under the impression, when we passed the Immigration Restriction Act, that its principal object was to make Australia a desirable place for white men. We know that many exaggerated statements have been made in connexion with that legislation, and many of these have been referred to during this discussion. These all point to the necessity of arranging for the representation of the Commonwealth in London, at the earliest possible moment. We have been tol’d that we need population. The progress of New Zealand, in recent years, has been attributed to her liberal land policy, which has led to the development of the agricultural and other primary industries.
– It has also been due to her fiscal policy.
– The honorable member foi Moira directed attention to the respects in. which our Tariff fell short of requirements, so far as the encouragement of rural industries is concerned. The New Zealand Legislature was particularly careful to exempt from Customs taxation all implements and tools of trade, an’d, in fact, everything required by those who are engaged in agriculture and other allied industries. . They saw that no advantage would be derived by rural industries from Customs duties, and they therefore left them unhampered as much as possible. We were told, when the question of giving bonuses for manufactures was under discussion, that the success of Canada was due to her fiscal policy, but now the honorable and learned member for Ballarat tells us that it has been due to the stream of immigration which has flowed into that country. The honorable and learned member also pointed out that the honorable member for Franklin, as a free-trader, should not entertain any objection to the introduction of Italian labour, because it was the cheapest.
– The honorable and learned member has missed my point. I told the honorable member that the labourers who were imported into America were the sweepings of Europe1, and were introduced because they provided the cheapest 1 about. I further mentioned that, as a free-trader, he had no right to complain of the employers going to the cheapest market for what they required.
– I would point out that this cheap labour comes from protectionist countries, such as Italy and Germany, which, during the Tariff discussion, were held up to us as models. From what has happened under the Commonwealth Tariff, it does not appear that our policy is particularly calculated to attract population. My principal object in rising was to impress upon the Government the necessity of appointing a High Commissioner as soon as possible, so that our interests with regard to immigration and other matters may be properly looked after in London. Time after time, our products have been dealt with in England very much to our own prejudice. In some cases, butter has been sent from Australia and forwarded to Denmark, where it has been packed in fresh boxes. Thence it has been sent back to London, to be placed on the market as firstclass Danish butter. It is necessary that all such matters should receive the closest attention, if the interests of our producers are to be protected. I do not suggest that the High Commissioner should be a mere commercial agent. Probably it will be necessary for the various States to retain commercial agents in London ; but there is no reason why the High Commissioner should not have under him a staff of officers who would be able to see that our products are properly placed upon the market. I trust that the Prime Minister will give every consideration to this important matter.
– I do not agree with the opinion expressed by the Minister of Trade and Customs that it is the duty of the Government to find work for the people. I contend that the function of the Government is to remove the obstacles which are now interposed between the people and profitable employment. .
– Does the honorable member refer to the necessity for free-trade in land?
– In a sense, yes. Land should be made as easy of access as possible to the legitimate land-user in contradistinction to the mere non-using speculator. Freedom of production and freedom of exchange I hold to be absolute essentials to the permanent and prosperous settlement and growth of population. If we are to attract immigrants- and every one, I think, admits that it is not only proper, but necessary to do so - we must make the conditions of life such that people will come here of their own volition, and seek to establish their homes on our soil.
– How are we going to bring about free-trade in land?
– Very easily The honorable and learned member has himself often pointed out the way - by the various States adopting the principle that I have often heard him advocate, namely, that of taxing ground rent, and diverting economic rent into the Treasury, instead of allowing it to pass into the pockets of private individuals. The adoption of this plan would entirely do away with the incentive to hold land out of use, and put an end to a system which denies the people proper facilities for turning itv to good account. Land monopoly, accentuated by mischievous restrictive industrial and trade legislation, is responsible for retarding production,, and inducing the exodus of our population. The conditions of land occupation should be made so easy, and the taxation upon production should be so light that people would regard Australia as a place in which they could live a prosperous and healthy life. The conditions under which our rural industries are carried on do not offer any particular attractions to the class of settlers whom we desire to see here. They are repel ied instead of attracted, and are induced to seek other places, in which they can exercise their activities with more profitable results. The large influx of population into Canada is largely accounted for by the liberal land laws of that country. I do not mean to say that the land legislation of the Dominion is the best that could be devised, but it is, at any rate, more liberal than ours. If honorable members will only take the trouble to study the science of political economy, they will come to this conclusion-
– Does the honorable member assume that we do not study political economy ?
– Some honorable members do so, but, as regards many others, it is impossible that they could have made any effort to acquaint themselves with the principles of political economy, and still give utterance to the! views they express. In order to attract population, we must put our land laws on a proper economic basis, so that value which accrues to land, as distinguished from improvements upon land, and which arises from the presence, growth, activities, and necessities of the people, shall be diverted from the pockets of private individuals into the public Treasury. Concurrently with this scheme for gradually diverting ground rents into the Treasury, there should come into operation a system of Tariff reductions for relieving the products of industry from taxation. At present our farmers, in addition to labouring under the disabilities inflicted by our illiberal land laws, are subjected to taxation of a most burdensome character. All the articles they require are heavily taxed, and, as a matter of fact, they have to bear a great proportion of the taxation imposed through the Customs. Whilst hundreds of square miles of fine agricultural country, in localities close to the centres of population and easy of. access, are lying idle, the farmers have to pass out into areas far removed from markets, and to carry on their operations under the worst possible conditions. In addition to liberalizing our land policy and reducing the taxation upon the products of labour, we should build light lines of railways, in order to furnish our producers with the means of cheap transit. If this were done we should very sooa work a great change in the labour conditions prevailing in our rural industries. If we established a sturdy yeomanry on the soil, their profitable employment would re-act upon the residents of the towns who are dependent for their prosperity upon the success of the primary producers. Take the case of a mining settlement, which springs up in a hitherto barren waste. The pioneers are not the butcher, the baker, the carpenter, the blacksmith, or the doctor, but those who are engaged in the primary industries. When a mining community is established, the secondary industries follow in its train. To supply the needs of such a community, a town springs into existence. The necessities of the pioneer producers demand the skilled labour which follows in their train, the artisans, mechanics, trades, and professions, and also the services of the butcher, the baker, the lawyer, and the Judge, but all these are primarily dependent upon those who first established themselves on the field. Should the mine “ peter out,” what is the result? There is an exodus of population, and a return to the conditions which originally prevailed. For a town or a city cannot live entirely upon itself. Its existence ever, is largely dependent on the outside producing population. I believe that it is necessary to appoint a High Commissioner in London with the least possible delay, for the purpose of looking after Australian interests. That, however, is a matter of minor importance compared with the question to which I have alluded. Another question, perhaps, which might very well be taken into serious consideration in the near future is the desirableness of holding a Commonwealth Exhibition.
– After the experience of St Louis ?
– I think it is a matter which is worthy of consideration from the point of view of advertising alone. All these artificial aids, however, are of little use if we continue to follow the course which we are at present pursuing. What is the position ? We find that our producers are saddled with a burdensome
Tariff, which has been the means of forcing thousands out of employment. Its operation has brought ruin and misery to thousands of families throughout Australia. We are not suffering from any niggardliness on the part of nature, but simply from bad legislation throughout Australia- legislation which hampers the freedom of the individual at every turn, which restricts industry, and which imposes burdens that ought never to have been levied. That legislation is having the effect of driving thousands of persons out of Australia every week. One cannot look at the passenger list of any of the big ocean liners leaving Australia without being appalled at the number of families who are quitting our shores - families whose presence it is most desirable we should retain. It has been remarked, during this debate, that free-trade is synonymous with cheap labour. But, I ask, is it not a fact that in the country which for half a century Las been a shining example of the effects of a free-trade policy - I refer to Great Britain - the wages paid are relatively higher than those paid by any other country on the face of the earth, not even excepting America ?
– That is not a fact.
– It is a fact and is proved by the most eminent statisticians. When honorable members talk about cheap labour I refer them to Germany, to Italy, to Belgium and other highly-protected European countries, and, last of all, to China, which has the most complete protective system that human ingenuity could devise. Will anybody point to China as a paradise of labour or as a shining example of the benefits of a protective policy ?
– Do not forget that the most complete system of land settlement in the world is to be found in China.
– I do not agree with the honorable gentleman, and if time permitted, I could very well -go into the Chinese land question to show that it is not what many people assume it to be, and any beneficial effect of that system of land settlement is counteracted by its complete protective policy. A policy of land values taxation would not secure the greatest benefit to Australia if we did not pull down the Tariff wall. If we are to- have that class of taxation I hold that it must be concurrent with the reduction or removal of taxation from other sources. If honorable . members desire to know where the most degrading conditions to be found in the world obtain, I would refer them to protectionist America - to the sweating clothing factories, for example, which are to be found about the Bowery in New York. There I have seen whole families living in single rooms, with dogs, cats, and poultry. They are unable to leave their rooms from morning till night, and it requires the united efforts of these families, including the little children, who are not old enough to go to school, to provide the means of subsistence. If the operations of a high Tariff will improve industrial conditions, why has it hot done so there ? Is it not a fact that in all those countries where the Tariff burdens are the heaviest there exist the greatest industrial distress ? I do not deny that similar conditions obtain in other countries which have lower Tariffs, but I do say that df misery and destitution prevail, and if low wages are paid in low Tariff countries, those conditions are accentuated in lands where a higher Tariff is in operation. In my opinion, what has saved America from complete ruination is the absolute free-trade policy which exists between the States from one end of that country to the other. I should not have discussed this question had it not been raised by another honorable member. Under the circumstances, I thought it was only fair that I should direct attention to it, in the hope that some honorable members may yet see the error of their ways, and be converted from the pernicious gospel that the operation of a high Tariff is beneficial to any but a few persons in a community, and to direct their attention to the subject from a different point of view. This I have done in the hope that some may be brought to see that only through embracing freedom can we find industrial, commercial, and social salvation.
– I am heartily in sympathy with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat when he expresses a desire to see Australia supporting a much larger population than we have at present. Nevertheless I disagree with his idea that the present is an opportune time to attract to our shores a number of immigrants from foreign countries. I share the opinion which is entertained by the honorable member for Moira, that the honorable and learned member seeks to attack this question from the wrong end. The experience of Western Australia conclusively demonstrates that as soon as conditions are established which will permit our own people to go upon the land so soon will they settle there. Looking over the figures relating to this matter, I find that when responsible government was granted to Western Australia the population of that State was only 50,000, whereas at the present time it is about 240,000. Of that number, it is safe to say that 80,000 are engaged in mining. Surely that fact proves that as soon as the lands of the States are thrown open for selection numbers of citizens throughout Australia will be anxious to settle upon them. The deapth of employment in Australia at. the present time certainly demands that, before offering inducements which are calculated to attract immigration from abroad, we should make some provision for our own people. Until it has been conclusively shown that there are no Australian citizens who are willing to settle upon the land when it is made available for selection, I shall oppose schemes to attract immigration from foreign countries. The experience which Western Australia has had of a large number of Italian immigrants-
– Immigration at the present time would only swell rents.
– Immigration, I hold, would have the effect of swelling the ranks of the unemployed. Western Australia has had experience of a number of foreigners - not of a very desirable class - who were attracted to Kalgoorlie, where they obtained employment in mining and woodgetting, to the disadvantage of our own people. In my judgment, it should be the aim of this Parliament to establish conditions which will, make Australia an attractive place for British subjects rather than for foreigners. Until ample proof is forthcoming that the introduction of foreign immigrants will not disadvantage our own people, I shall oppose their admission.
– A perusal of the cablegram, to which attention has been drawn by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, leads me to the conclusion that he has not made out a substantial cause of complaint. The statement is, in effect, that a representative of Italy was prepared to supply an unlimited number of Italians for work on the Queensland sugar plantations if they could be admitted under contract regardless -of the restriction imposed by the Immigration Restriction Acf. Section 3 of the Act makes it clear that men so engaged would be prohibited immigrants. When they entered into the contract they would probably be unfamiliar with the rate of wages prevailing in the industry in Australia, and might agree to work at a very much lower rate than that prevailing here.
It was because of the belief that large numbers of men in other countries might enter into unreasonable contracts to follow agricultural and other pursuits in Australia that this section of the Act was agreed to. It was the desire of the Parliament that workmen engaged under contract in other lands, in entire ignorance of local conditions, should be protected, and it was, therefore, provided in section 11 of the Act that -
No contract or agreement made with persons without the Commonwealth for such persons to perform manual labour within the Commonwealth whereby such persons become prohibited immigrants within the meaning of paragraph g of section 3 shall be enforceable or have any effect.
Under this provision any such agreement entered into by the persons referred to would be rendered null and void on their arrival in Australia. The complaint made against this provision warrants the assumption that the contract wage would be lower than the Australian rate. When they became acquainted with the local conditions the men most probably would not renew the voided contract. While T do not approve of many of the provisions of the Act, I certainly agree with those contained in section 11. It was because of the terms of this section that I objected to the detention of the six hatters, because the agreement entered into by them became null and void as soon as they landed in the Commonwealth. I have it on the authority of Mr. Anderson that on the arrival of the men in Australia he considered that the agreement made with them was of no avail, and therefore- entered into a new one, under which the terms of engagement were fixed in accordance with the ruling rates of wages. There is no reason why men who have entered into an agreement abroad to labour in Australia, and who have had their passages paid, should not be allowed to land here, because, under section rr of the Immigration Restriction Act, the agreement would be null and void, and they would be able to make new arrangements if they so desired. It seems to me, therefore, that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is making much ado about nothing when he complains of the difficulties with which these employers would have to contend, owing to the operation of an Act that was introduced by a Government of which he was a member. Immigration is very much required in Australia. Just as the fathers of the men who are now on the land - the pioneers of Australia - subdued the forests and made Australia what it is, so would immigrants from England, Scotland, and Ireland, if introduced in the proportions observed in the early days, tend to develop our resources. The great majority of them would not be added to the ranks of the unemployed, as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie has suggested, but would make their way in the world as our pioneers did, become useful citizens, and greatly enhance the commerce of the Commonwealth. It is difficult to imagine that’ there would be any backwash in connexion with a body of selected immigrants ; but if there were any weaklings they would doubtless, find their way into the ranks of the unemployed, just as many men now at work might do. The vast majority, however, would come here to assist in developing the country, and in so doing to better their positions. By encouraging immigrants of this description we should secure a better class than that which Sir Horace Tozer is so anxious to add to our population, and do much for the advancement of the Commonwealth.-
Mi. WATSON (Bland- Treasurer).– 1 shall leave the more important issues raised this afternoon in connexion with the question of immigration to be dealt with by my honorable and learned colleague, the Minister of External Affairs ; but I wish to say a word or two in reference to the remarks made by the honorable member for Kooyong, who has since had to leave the chamber. When I spoke, the other day, of the personnel of the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill, the honorable member for Kooyong and several other honorable members inquired whether it was wise or necessary to proceed with it, in view of the fact that Part VII. of the Bill had been withdrawn, the intention of the Government being to insert some provision of a similar character in the Arbitration Bill. I then stated that, so far from there being nothing left upon which it was necessary to secure the advice, assistance, and inquiry that could be obtained only by means of a Royal Commission, there were many matters that required investigation; and mentioned that Mr. Maitland Paxton, a representative of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce, in a lengthy criticism of the provisions of the Navigation Bill, in which he urged that amendments were necessary, had not referred to the question of its application to oversea ships, ot their trading upon the coast. The honorable member for Koo yong has rightly said that doubtless I would not designedly misrepresent what transpired at the conference of representatives of Chambers of Commerce which recently discussed matters relating to navigation. I desire to explain that prior to making the statement in question I had an opportunity to glance at the proceedings of the conference, and read a speech made by Mr. Paxton, extending over five pages of the report, in which no reference whatever was made to the question of oversea ships. The honorable member for Kooyong has since pointed out that, some five pages further on, the report showed that Mr. Paxton was reminded that he had not dealt with that question, and that, in a speech occupying only a few lines, he said that he had completely overlooked the portion of the Bill referred to. The report of this later speech is as follows : -
Unfortunately, he had completely overlooked the portion of the Bill which Senator Dobson had referred to. It was well known amongst the great body of the people that oversea vessels when they did engage in the carriage of passengers between Australian coastal ports, charged very much higher rates of passage money than did the coastal boats. On the large liners secondclass passage money was quite as high as firstclass of the coastal boats. Therefore, the coastal steamers were well protected. The oversea vessels did not carry cargo between coastal ports.
That statement did not form part of- the able speech which he made in dealing with the whole question, and I might well be excused for having overlooked it.
– Would not he be rather favorable to Part VII. of the Navigation Bill?
Mr. - WATSON. - Judging bv his later remarks, I do not think that he favours the insertion of such a provision in a Navigation Bill. I did not attempt to read the whole report of the proceedings of the Conference issued by the Chambers of Commerce; but, on taking it up, I saw Mr. Paxton’s main speech, and, finding that there was nothing on the same subject within, the next few pages, I concluded that he had made no allusion to this phase of the question. In any case, the fact that he did subsequently refer to the matter does not vitiate the argument then advanced bv. me that there were features of the Bill, independently of Part VII.,, that demanded the attention and investigation of a Royal Commission.
– I do not rise to discuss the principal issue debated this afternoon. It appears to me that there is prac- tically only one opinion in this House as to the introduction of contract labour into Australia, and that, as to the second aspect of the case, the difficulty of keeping those already in Australia in active occupation, there must be a general consensus of opinion that the trouble is undoubtedly associated with the objectionable land policy of the majority of the States. It is deplorable to read in the newspapers of the destitution and lack of work which exists in this thinly populated Commonwealth. I cannot understand why there need . be any hesitation on the part of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and others, in vigorously agitating for the adoption of new conditions by the States, which, in the view of most thoughtful people, would go very fair to remove the unemployed difficulty. It is not long since I read in one of the newspapers a remarkable story of an able-bodied man who had left his ship, and was anxious to obtain employment on shore. A sailor is generally regarded as a very useful man, either on land or water; but this sailor who, according to the newspaper paragraph, had a considerable knowledge of general work, travelled some hundreds of miles through Victoria, and finally returned to Melbourne destitute and feeble - in a state of starvation and misery - and ‘ when ultimately, picked up by the police was in almost the last stages of existence. That incident is a fair indication that there is something radically wrong with our social conditions, and I repeat that the land question is at the root of the trouble. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat mentioned the well-known fact that numbers of persons are leaving Australia in order to take up land in other countries. Let me tell the House generally that it is unnecessary for any one to leave the Commonwealth in order to secure what he requires in that respect. The exodus from Australia consists, for the most part, of persons who are leaving Victoria; but in Western Australia we have some of the very best opportunities to settle people on the land. What is the policy of the people of Victoria, or. rather, of the leading .newspapers of this State that are apparently so anxious to prevent this exodus? On many occasions calumnies, as regards Western Australia, have appeared in the columns of the Melbourne newspapers, and in the majority of cases letters sent in reply have not been published. Any honest attempts which have been made to indi cate to the people of Victoria what we have in the western State for those who are landless here have been met with the active hostility of the Melbourne press. I rose particularly to refer to some of the observation? made by an honorable member, who latterly seems to have developed a monomania in the direction of hostility to the State I have the honour to come from. I refer to the honorable member for Moira, whom I have always regarded with the utmost respect, but who, I am obliged to confess, latterly has adopted an attitude towards Western Australia’ for which I am at a loss ‘to discover an adequate reason. In the speech he made this afternoon he held up to scorn the possibilities of Western Australia, as regards landed settlement, and went back to its early history in order to find a sufficient illustration of the unfitness of the country for settlement. I believe that some of the best country of Australia, recognised as such at the present time, was passed in the early days with scorn and contempt by those who professed themselves to be capable judges of what was good land. I have in niv possession a very interesting record of a trip made, in the early days, by a squatter on the look-out for land in New South Wales, and it is very amusing to read his condemnation of large areas which he traversed, and which have since come to be regarded as some of the best farming and pastoral districts of that State. That has been largely the experience of Western Australia until a few. years ago. It is also unfortunate that a large majority of our visitors have been attracted by the gold-fields rather than by a desire to settle on the land. When they get ashore at Fremantle, and travel up through Perth to the gold-fields, I admit candidly that they see very little that will lead them to imagine that there is very much hope for landed settlement in the State. But they are travelling then through some of the most forbidding portions of the State. There are tremendous areas of agricultural country waiting for those who have the muscle and the intelligence to apply themselves to its development. I have only a few statistics to quote before I conclude, and I think that what I have to say in this respect will be sufficient indication, even to the honorable member for Moira, that he is altogether wrong in assuming that Western Australia has very little to offer to those who wish to settle on the land. In 1900 the total acreage under crop was 201,000 acres, which is not so bad considering the very few years that Western Australia has been offering land. In 1901 the total acreage under crop was 2x7,000 acres, while in 1902 it was 230,000 acres, showing a steady and very considerable increase.
– That was under responsible government.
– I admit that the development of Western Australia has practically taken place since the introduction of responsible government.’ Take a characteristic crop, such .as wheat, as evidence of the general fertility of the country. I find that the acreage under wheat in 1902 was 92,000 acres, producing 970,000 bushels, or an average of 10.60 bushels per acre. I think that very few of the States in Australia can show an average like that.
– In Tasmania we get about 21 bushels per acre.
– No doubt Tasmania enjoys exceptional conditions in that respect; but I am speaking of the States on the mainland. The acreage under wheat in 1903 was 137,000 acres, yielding 1,900,000 bushels, or an average of 14 bushels per acre. During last year there were some 5,000 applications made for land at the Lands Department, and I think I am safe in saying that most of these persons got some land to suit them. According to the latest figures which are available, on the 1st January, 1903, there were some 9,856,000 acres either alienated or in process of alienation. That is, I think, a sufficient reply to any sneer as regards the capabilities of Western Australia.
– How much money is still owing to the Crown? How much land did it give away?
– That I cannot say. I am merely quoting figures to show the extent of landed settlement and the quality of the land which has been taken up.
– Alienation does not always mean settlement.
– No one is likely to go 1o (he trouble of taking up land and settling there unless he thinks that he can do something with it.
– At Northam ten years ago the price of land was £1 an acre.
– Ten years ago land was very cheap in Western Australia, and I may say that, even now, the State offers, practically for nothing to the wouldbe settler, land that would be assessed at a very high value indeed in the eastern States. In this connexion I may say to honorable members, particularly to the honorable member for Moira, that to-day I had the pleasure of welcoming to Victoria a gentleman whose office it will be during the next few months possibly to indicate to the people of that State, especially in the country districts, the facilities offered by Western Australia for settling on the land, and also the quality of that land. He will be able to produce such evidence, visual and otherwise, as I think will convert even the honorable member for Moira, who, I dare say, will have the opportunity of listening io him in his own district before very long. I do not wish to detain the House much longer, but I would urge on those who still have any doubts on this subject to take a trip to Western Australia. I am sure that if they have any particular desire for some excellent land, with absolutely the best climate for agricultural purposes on the mainland, they will not come back here ; they will stop there. We have no droughts there ; the climate is entirely reliable, and the average yield that I quoted as regards grain production has been kept’ up during all the years that wheat has been grown there. I hope that the effect of my remarks will be to interest honorable members in a State which to a large extent has been over- looked on this side qf the continent, and which is offering advantages as regards settlement on the land that cannot be found anywhere else in Australia.
– In his opening remarks the honorable member for Perth said that he would not address himself to the principal issues of the debate. I have been listening to the debate, and looking for the issues, and I do not think that I should be out of order, sir, if I were to ask you to say what question is before the House. I am just reminded that this is grievance day. I am in the position of a well-known character in the Yeoman of the Guard. I have not the slightest grievance to ventilate. The only anxiety I have is to find out where my . leader is. I have looked through various portions of this building, and from the columns of the press I cannot find where my leader is.
– He is coming to-night.
– The sooner he comes the better. I listened to the remarks of the deputy leader, the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who dealt with the question of the Italians, whom he discussed from a very high stand-point. He told us that the Italian is a devotee to the arts and sciences. The average Italian I meet is not a devotee to the arts and sciences. I do not run against Michael Angelos all round the place. And I do not find a Lombroso at every street corner selling vegetables or flowers. I think that Australia has about as many Italians to the square inch as she can stand.
– The honorable member does not say that on a hot day when he needs an iced drink.
– I do not patronize Italians on a hot day.
– Not to the extent of an ice cream ?
– No, I never goto extremes ; and as the Labour Party deal with extremes, I cannot support them. The United States of America, with its rigid Alien Restriction Act, excluded last year no less than 85,000 undesirable immigrants, the bulk of them belonging to the Mediterranean races. That Republic has found by experience that, with few exceptions, those who come from the Mediterranean countries do not make the best class of immigrants for its purposes. In civil life, in industrial life, and in social life, the Americans have proved that the people who come from the shores of the Mediterranean Sea are not a desirable class to populate their country with. In Australia the Italian, however desirable he may be to his wife and- family, occupies many avenues of employment that our own race could well occupy. In our large cities the restaurants have practically been captured by the Italian or the Dago. . The fish shops, as well as the fruit shops, have all been captured by the Italian. . And they ply the fishing avocation to the exclusion of British and Australian fishermen. Even in the gay city of the south, Melbourne, the municipal authorities experience great difficulty in coping with the major portion of the flower and fruit sellers - those of the Dago and Italian class. The shopkeepers of Swanstonstreet complain that while they pay high rates and taxes the Italians out-sell them. In fact, the only devotee to the Muses has, by some municipal law, been excluded from our land. I remember the time when a musical artiste did parade the streets of our large cities and, with that culture which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat appreciates so much, worked his musical instrument on what I can only describe as the mangle principle. He adorned his musical instrument of great power with what is called by scientists the missing link. On many occasions the missing link was to be seen adorning the top story of these instruments, coupled by a chain of circumstances, sir, that I do not care to relate to you now. . That is the Italian as we used to find him here. The practical people of America find it to their advantage to discourage any great inroad of this class of immigrant. No doubt we want population, and one of the great obstacles to that end is the large fares and freights between the old world and Australia. The agricultural labourer of Great Britain does not carry ,£600 in his pocket at a time, nor does he spend ,£20 on a passage to Australia, when he can travel to Canada or the United States for £2 or ^3. No doubt the liberal land laws and the avenues of employment which are promised in Canada and the United States have a powerful effect ; but it is their proximity to Europe and the low fares which form the strongest inducement. The honorable member for Lang, and two or three other honorable members, have introduced the fiscal question, of which we have not heard for some time; and which I am almost glad to meet again. I am told that coalition is “ in the air;” but if the honorable member for Lang and others keep throwing the apple of discord into the fiscal camp, it is “ all up “ with coalition, and I take it that discord amongst the Opposition would not be considered much of a grievance by the Government. It has been said that present industrial conditions are deplorable, and that one cannot pick up a newspaper without encountering stories of distress and destitution throughout Australia. In my opinion, the people are disposed to say, “ A plague on your politics and Parliaments, and various systems of government; the times are out of joint, and what we want is prosperity and comfort.” I have been told that Victoria is the “ paradise” of labour, and that the “paradise” has been created by a panacea called protection. Thirty years have been occupied in the creation of the “ paradise,” but an advertisement by the Royal Agricultural Society of Victoria for a caretaker, about a fortnight ago, had a remarkable result. The society offered the magnificent salary of 30s. per week, with a cottage ; and it might be supposed that, under the circumstances, it would have been difficult to obtain one application. At any rate, that would be the natural conclusion of any one in another country who had heard of
Victoria as the “ paradise “ of labour, and of Australia as “ a land flowing with milk and honey.” But, sad to relate, the number of applicants for this position was 1,466.
– That is since the honorable member assisted to bring the Tariff down.
-But this occurs after thirty years of protection. If the old question of free-trade and protection is to be brought up again, some old stories will have to be re-told ; but we are informed that this is an age of fiscal peace, and I suppose the question is raised merely in the absence of some grievance. It is admirable to have a “grievance day,” but it is awkward when one has no grievance. Personally I have no grievance to air, and, therefore, I refer to that brought forward by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who pictured for us the advance in the arts and sciences which would follow from an invasion of this country by Italian immigrants. I cannot admit that the Italian is particularly noted for scholarly arts and graces ; he is noted, rather, for obtaining the largest profits on the smallest returns, and for working in the cheapest market to the detriment of Australian citizens. If Australia’s future is dependent upon an inroad of what we call the Latin races, then our outlook is very poor. It has been suggested that Australia is being destroyed by drastic restrictions on immigration. In my opinion, there is plenty of room for laws of the kind. In America we do not hear of six immigrants being refused admission ; but of 85,000 people in one year being returned to their homes as undesirable. Even Great Britain is seriously considering the advisability of restricting the invasion of Polish and Russian Jews, not because the race is despised, but because it is considered that their presence lowers the standard Of the people, and is detrimental to the industrial classes. In no land of experiment, or of Socialism, but in a land of good old conservatism, like England, it is being discovered that restrictive measures of the kind are desirable. Every man and every woman in the community, when touched bv such competition, strives to alter the position. I can admire the history of Italy, and the patriotism of her Garibaldi; but we have to deal with the nation as a whole, and not take the best of her people for examples. We do not get the best, but absolutely the worst, Italians as immigrants, and their presence is not generally to the interests of Australia. The only grievance which I can air has relation to the navigation laws; but I know that I should be out of order in anticipating a discussion on the Bill which is to be introduced. However, I throw out the hint that if the people Of Western Australia and the people of Tasmania contend that certain interests in those States require exemption from the navigation Jaws, then I, as a representative cf a portion of Sydney, in the interests of the shipping, commercial, and industrial classes of that city, will also ask for an exemption.
– I must ask the honorable member not to discuss the Navigation Bill.
– I knew I was out of order, and I have to thank you for allowing me to say so much. I should not have mentioned the matter had it not been referred to by the Prime Minister.
– The Prime Minister referred to a Royal Commission, and not to the Navigation Bill.
– Then, to put myself in order, I express the hope that the Royal Commission will take care not to neglect the shipping and commercial interests of Port Jackson. The Ministry are in the very happy position of being too young to have given any chance of grievances against them ; and the only grievance on the part of the Government is that the Opposition are not ready to attack their position. But the attack will come in good time. I trust that my leader will soon be “ on deck “ in charge of affairs, and will point out more grievances that the Government are able to withstand.
– I hope that this House will never hold out inducements to immigrants from Italy, or even from the old land, until plenty of employment has been found for the young men who are already in Australia. It has been contended that there is need of a High Commissioner to explain the wants of Australia, and to induce people to leave the old land and make new homes here. But many people who have come from the old land, and have gone into the country districts, have not been able to make a living on the land available; and in some cases subscription lists have had to be sent round in 01 der to assist them, to return to their former homes. I know of tradesmen who have come to Australia, and who. after wandering about for two or three years looking for employment, have also had to be sent home to Great Britain. It is not right for us, as public men, who know the conditions, to induce people who are making a good living in England to emigrate to Australia, only to be disappointed. The honorable member for Lang made a long speech on political economy, or some such subject; but he must have known that he dealt with many matters over which we have no control. As to the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, at the Conference of Treasurers some time ago, I quite agree that it should be impressed on the various States that their land laws should be made more liberal. We have been told over and over again that there is no land available in Victoria for people who are waiting to enter upon agricultural pursuits ; ‘ and the position is the same in Tasmania. In the latter State there are numbers of people willing to become agriculturists, if they could get land at a reasonable price near means of communication; but, as matters are at present, they have to go into the bush, where there are no roads or railways, and where, perhaps, ten years must elapse before a farm can be made in anything like working order. Under the circumstances, we ought to be very careful in encouraging immigration. The great drawback of Australia is the want of practical legislation with reference to the land. There must be something wrong in Victoria when we find half of the people of that State in Melbourne and suburbs, and when the State Government deem it necessary to send men up country in order to get work. It does not appear to me that, with these facts before us, there is any necessity to -send for other workmen. As to the need for a desirable class of immigrants, the men to whom I refer as having to be sent home again were desirable. Indeed., since I came to Victoria I have known of people being assisted to Canada, or some other country, in order to find employment. I hope, therefore, that no inducements will be held out, such as those suggested by the honorable member for Robertson, because it is not desirable that people who are making a living in the old country should be brought here to face poverty.
– Is Australia used up?
– The country does not seem to be used up, but it is largely monopolized by landed proprietors ; and until those who have control introduce such legislation as will give the people an opportunity of getting small selections-
– There are plenty of opportunities.
– We have heard over and over again from representatives of Victoria that the facts are as I have stated. I went to live in the bush in Tasmania when 1 was four years old, and I know what it is to hew out a home on forest land.
.- The subject to which the honorable and learned, member for Ballarat has called attention is of considerable importance, and I should have been very glad had a member of the Government told us whether the Ministry propose to follow up the action which the previous Prime Minister initiated in order to see if anything can be done to encourage immigration. It is not merely a question as to whether certain Italians are desirable immigrants or not. The important point is, what we propose to do, and whether it is the’ policy of the present Government to encourage people to come to Australia. There can be no doubt that it is desirable that we should encourage immigration, if only in order to diminish the burden of taxation by distributing it over a greater number of people. Therefore, I should like to have some declaration from the Government that they are in favour of a proper system of immigration.
– We have not had a chance to say anything yet.
– I would remind the honorable and learned member that two Ministers have already addressed themselves to the question in answer to the statement of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. The remedy suggested by the Minister of Trade and Customs was that we should appoint a High Commissioner.
– To prevent misrepresentations.
– I take it that the people of this country will want to know what the Government propose that a High Commissioner shall do. A story is told to us to-night in regard to the sending home of butter to Europe. We learn that butter has been re-shipped to Denmark, re-packed and sold in England as Danish butter at a great profit. Will a High Commissioner be able to prevent practices of that kind? I am certain that we are not in a position to maintain a High Commissioner, as well as general agents, Agents-General, and large staffs unless some practical work is to be done. In any case, it does not seem to me that there is any need for desperate haste in regard to the appointment of a High Commissioner to prevent misrepresentations. If that be the object of the Government, they can take steps to see that the statements made bv the Agent-General for Queensland, which, we are told, are misrepresentations, are promptly corrected. But undoubtedly if this country is to’ be saddled with extra expenditure, and no practical work is to be shown for it, the electors will ask awkward questions.
– They always do at election times.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella should not try to make us nervous by interjections of that kind. We are not near a general election yet, I hope. The answer of the Mini-‘ ster of Trade and Customs is not sufficient. We require a more definite pronouncement from the Government. Statements have been made relating to land settlement. This Parliament has nothing to do with land , settlement. Therefore, it is idle for us to debate it. But I may remark that, in my opinion, the land settlement system of this country is a rotten one. The statements that there is no land available for settlement are due to the fact that the best land is locked up. But this is not a Parliament in which that subject can be dealt with effectively. I agree with the honorable member for Dalley that this is not a time for us to introduce the fiscal question. I understood* that we were to have a period of fiscal peace, and that a large majority of the members of this House had been returned on that policy. But I cannot for a moment allow .the statement of the honorable member to go unchallenged, that protection means low wages and a dearth of employment. He told us of a large number of applicants for some position in Victoria. We all know- that Victoria, though a small country, is the most self-contained State in Australia. Why? Because her industries have been built up under protection. The honorable member for Dalley also said that the highest wages were earned by workmen in England. If this is so, how is it ihat so many men leave England to go to America and to other protectionist countries? Do they go for the good pf their health? How is it that some who, owing to family ties and other claims, cannot leave England permanently, cross to Canada - another protectionist country - for a season or two? Do they go for the sake of the trip ? Those are . questions - that require a plain answer. It is a notorious fact that labourers are not found leav ing protectionist countries to go to freetrade countries. Consequently it is moonshine to talk as the honorable member did; and, while I am in favour of fiscal peace, I am not prepared to allow statements so idle to go unchallenged. The honorable member for Perth has picked out an isolated case about some one wandering through Victoria to look for work. Dozens of cases of that kind could be found in any country in the world, and they have nothing to do with any fiscal policy. This is an occasion upon which grievances can be ventilated. Some honorable members are so situated that they have no grievances to bring forward. 1 am afraid that we are rapidly getting into such a position that we will! not grumble because we feel that grumbling in this House does no” good. I have many grievances to ventilate on behalf of my constituents. I do not seem to be able to get them remedied, though I have been trying for a long time. I am afraid that many other honorable members are similarly situated, though they will not complain. This statement may be very amusing to the Minister of External Affairs, but the facts which I shall relate are not very amusing to my constituents. They are in the back-blocks, and are unable to get postal and telephonic conveniences. When they apply for such conveniences, they meet with the old stereotyped replythat it would not pay to provide them. I suppose that I am no exception to the rule, but I know that whenever I make application for the extension of mail communication, ot for extra telephone facilities for a little mining centre, i am informed that after a careful inquiry the Department has arrived at the conclusion that to afford the facilities asked for would not pay from a commercial stand-point. Such official replies enable us to understand why people are reluctant to go Out into the isolated places and to submit to the inevitable inconveniences. They are entirely deprived of the conveniences and the comforts which are so liberally distributed in the centres of population. That is one of my grievances. I do not accuse the present Government particularly. The_ fault of which I complain has .been continuing for a long time - for so long, indeed, that some honorable members, representing
Country electorates, have reached the stage when they think that it is useless to complain about the. administration of the public departments. In my opinion, the system that prevents settlers in the isolated parts of Australia from enjoying some of the conveniences and comforts and pleasures that are provided for those in the larger centres, unless it can be shown that to provide those facilities will pay, is a wretched system. The Postmaster-General has some experience of life in the back country. I appeal to him to make some alteration in this policy. The basis of it is wrong. We should not wait until these modern conveniences are likely to pay. There ought to be some system such as was adopted in Victoria, of putting up cheap telegraph lines fastened to fences and trees. We need not wait until it pays to erect elaborate and substantial lines. Within, a short distance of Melbourne I have seen telegraphic accommodation such as I have described provided for country places, and it answers very well. Many people in country places at the present time feel that they are suffering injustices, and something should certainly be done to remedy them. Then again, I have a grievance with reference to the payment of the men who undertook duties on behalf of the Government at the last Federal election. I have written about three-score of letters with reference to complaints and grievances on this subject. We have been told time after time, both by the late Minister of Home Affairs and by the present Minister - no doubt on information supplied by the officials of the Department - that these claims have been settled. Every week, however, claims are coming in ; and some of the persons concerned are writing to members of Parliament, asking them whether there is any possibility of their accounts being paid. These claims ought to be met. I have taken so much trouble with reference to these complaints, and have got so little satisfaction, that I am at last compelled to say that there must be something wrong. We have had assurances by Ministers - given to them no doubt by officers of the Department - that the claims have been met as far as possible, and that only a few are outstanding. Yet in my own district to-day there are a number of men who cannot get payment for the work done by them. In some cases the applications for payment have been set aside on. the ground that the applicants ask far too much. I contend, however, that where men have carried out work in connexion with State elections for years past, and have worked at the same places in the same positions for the same number of hours on behalf of the Federal Government, they may reasonably expect to be paid the same sums as they are paid by the State - unless, of course, when they were engaged they were told what rate of pay would be provided for their services. I bring this matter forward in the hope that the grievances will be remedied immediately. It would really appear that the officials controlling some of the Departments prefer to follow in the old groove, and will not extend a helping hand to those in out-back districts. We should enter an emphatic protest against that kind of thing, which, as I have said, is particularly) noticeable in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. I have two or three cases in mind which I shall not mention, because I know that the proper course to adopt is to give the Postmaster-General notice of fhe time when I propose to deal with such matters, so that he may come prepared with the necessary papers. I wish to make it clear that I do not lay the blame for the grievances to which I refer at the honorable gentleman’s door. The kind of thing to which I have referred went on for some time before he came into office, but I think there is now a splendid opportunity to ask for some alteration, and I hope that the Postmaster-General will see whether some change in official methods cannot be made. I regret that the time of the Federal Parliament should be taken up with these little local matters. That ought not to be. But when we find that our constituents are not paid what they have earned six months ago,- and that people in outside districts are not given ordinary conveniences, because a policy is laid down that necessary services cannot be supplied until it can be shown that they will pay, the time of the House must be taken up to some extent in dealing with these matters. The matters referred to may appear to be but small, but they affect a very large number of people, and honorable members will recognise that they have a distinct bearing upon the larger questions which have been discussed this afternoon. We have been asked why people flock into the cities and towns, and why they will not go into the outside districts. One reason is that they do not get any encouragement to go into the country districts. They do not get fair play. They are not given ordinary facilities of telegraphic, telephone, and mail communication. They are at a distance from the services of a doctor in cases of accident, and no encouragement is held out to them by the Government endeavouring to counterbalance the natural disadvantages of their situation- I think it is high time that a change took place. Representations upon these matters were made to “the late Minister of Home Affairs, and to the late Postmaster-General ; and, on the assurance of their officers, they made certain statements to this House. In spite of the statements which were made1; there are still a number of persons who were engaged in connexion with the general elections who have not yet been paid for their services. “ We are promised another election by some honorable members, and it is surely high time that those who satisfactorily performed duties in connexion with the last election should be paid for the services they rendered.
– To what case is the honorable member referring?
– I do not desire to refer to special cases.
– I could give some particulars. I sent two or three on myself.
– What I specially complain about is nhat many men, not only in my district, but, I take it, in other districts also, who acted as presiding officers and poll-clerks at State elections, and were given a certain fee for carrying out their duties, were employed by the Commonwealth Government to fill similar positions at the same places, though their duties were more arduous ; and yet when they sent in a claim for the amounts which they had previously been paid by the States, payment was refused them, and in. many cases a .half or one-third of what they claimed was offered them. I am not in a position, nor is the Minister, to say what would be a fair payment; but if there is to be any alteration in the payment for these services, it should be stated when the men are engaged for the work. That is really the trouble. I hope that this difficulty will be remedied in the future. It is all very well for some persons to say that ros. a day is sufficient payment for men in a humble position, but it is forgotten that they worked for twenty-four hours, and longer in some cases. These little tinkering, matters ought not to brought before the Federal Parliament. I go further, and say that even Federal Ministers ought not to be troubled with them, and it is time a change was made which will have the effect of clearing these matters up.
– A change has been made, and a different system already inaugurated.
– I am very glad to hear that; but I know that some of the outstanding accounts have not yet been met.
– I think I know the case to which the honorable member refers.
– I can quite believe that, because I refer to about half-a-dozen cases.
– I should be glad to hear the honorable member mention a case.
– If the Minister desires that I should mention a special case I shall do so. I have only to-day had a letter from a man who acted as presiding officer at Queanbeyan. He tells me that for months and months he has been trying to obtain payment for his services.
– What was the amount claimed ?
– Ten guineas.
– He has been paid his claim.
– He tells me that he had a voucher sent to him at last, and though it was sent back fourteen days ago, he can hear nothing of it. We should have more prompt settlement ; payment of these small accounts, should not be delayed from December to June. There may be in particular cases some good reason for delay, but why were we told that all the claims were paid ?
– Some asked too much.
– I believe that the right honorable gentleman fixed the amount of payment, but not a generous amount in the case of men in my district, who certainly carried out their duties satisfactorily.
– The matters referred to in the debate have been discussed at such length as to ventilate them sufficiently, and it now only remains to declare the attitude of the Government in respect to them. I desire to say; first of all, in reference to the Italian immigration proposal referred to by Sir Horace Tozer in the cablegram which has been quoted, that before entering upon any negotiations, we shall certainly consider whether the exigencies of the Commonwealth and of the industry necessitate the immigration of such persons. If there is sufficient labour on the spot, then there does not appear to be any reason for making any such arrangements as are proposed. Whether these men be Italians, or whomsoever they may be, provided they are Europeans, if they come here with some little capital, or as able-bodied citizens, with some special skill, and particularly if they are agriculturists, I see no reason why the various States of Australia should not welcome them. But there are Italians and Italians, and I am bound to say that from the experience we have had in New South Wales, the Italians who come to Australia, with very few exceptions, are not desirable immigrants. Some Italians’ have settled on the land in fruit-growing districts, and have proved admirable settlers. Such immigrants would be welcome in any country in the world. It is not to be denied, however, that the majority of these people seem to drift into one or two occupations, which demand no special aptitude or skill, in which they displace northern Europeans, and particularly our own countrymen, and where they are certainly not particularly desirable. Honorable members will be aware that there is hardly one fruit shop in Sydney ‘ where the Italian does not reign supreme. He works his countrymen almost as serfs, and his children almost as slaves for hours that are absolutely appalling. I have seen tiny little children in these shops at 12 o’clock at night, when they have been almost unable to stand, and they are to be found going to the market again at 6 o’clock on the following morning. That is a class of immigrant we do not want in this country. As to their employment in the sugar industry, I say that until positive information is laid before the Government that there is a scarcity of labour in that industry, or that the development of the industry is hampered by the refusal or scarcity of white labour to operate it, we should not consider seriously the question of indenting Italians. If Italians choose to come here on their own account, the matter is one. which concerns not this Government at all, but the States Governments. I shall not forget the statements which have been put forward, nor have we forgotten to remind the States Governments that they have taken no notice of the earnest suggestions of the late Prime Minister, that they should make proposals or meet the offers already made by various countries of Europe in the direction of holding out suitable inducements to immigrants. We have reminded the States Governments of their neglect in this matter. That was only a week or two ago. and we have not yet receive’d any additional information from them. Whilst the desirability of attracting suitable immigrants to these shores ought not to be overlooked, I do not hesitate to say that our experience, so far as it goes, is entirely in accord with that of America - that is to say, that the races of Northern Europe assimilate more easily with our own than do the Latins. Therefore, while we should certainly not make any unjust discrimination between races, I do say that the northern races of Europe are, on the whole, to be preferred as immigrants. Germans, Scandinavians, and Danes assimilate with us readily, but Italians do not. I do not here, refer to the true Italian peasant, the agriculturist, the fruit-grower, the viticulturist, and the men who go in for silk-growing. AH these- men are to be distinguished from the class of Italians that we apparently are getting in this country, and that, so far as we see, drift to America, persons who are engaged in organ-grinding, and as itinerant vendors of ice-cream, and . so on. Those men distinctly are no gain, to this community. As to sub-tropical cultivation, referred to by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, we should be very glad indeed to do anything that would call the attention of Queensland and other States containing tropical areas to the disuse of some of the most fruitful land in the world, but it will remain for those States to do what further is necessary. I agree with the honorable member for Moira that we begin at the wrong end in this matter. We should begin by holding out special inducements in the way of land legislation, and then all would become easy.
– And remove restrictions on immigration.
– If the States began aright by carrying proper land legislation, we need have no fear but that the right kind’ of men would, be induced to come to Australia. If the Government of a State informs us that it desires to encourage immigration, and those whom it wishes to attract to its territory are of the right kind, and not under contract, we shall not put any embargo upon their entering the Commonwealth ; but. a scheme such as that mentioned by Sir Horace Tozer, of which we have no information, and of whose detailswe know nothing, must be closely scrutinized. The immigrant we require is one who will settle upon the land. I do not yield in my opinion on this matter even to the fierce enthusiasm of the honorable member for Lang. Settlement upon the land is the basis of everything, though it is not the end of everything. It is on the latter point that we differ. I shall be very glad to hear further details of the scheme for the immigration of Scandinavians, who, we know from experience, make admirable citizens. They are men of ready resource and tireless energy, from whose forefathers we have derived many of the admirable qualities which have made the Anglo-Saxon race what it is to-day. I agree with the honorable member foi Franklin that Italians do hot readily assimilate with our population. I distinguish between two classes of Italians, the good and the bad; but, unhappily, we know most of the undesirable class. ‘ The Department which I control will deal with every case on its merits ; but, in view of the failure of the Governments of the States to give sufficient opportunities to their own citizens to settle upon the land, there does not appear to be any immediate need for immigrants of the class mentioned by Sir Horace Tozer. If immigration is to be resorted to, the Governments of the States should consider the advisableness of endeavouring to attract to this country, first, the people of Great Britain, then those of Northern Europe, and, lastly, those of Southern Europe. The British citizen, no doubt, has many failings, but he is the best we. can get. He possesses qualities which prevent him from knowing defeat, and enable him to surmount the most discouraging obstacles. The Government will put no difficulty in the way of the immigration of suitable persons; but we must pause before agreeing to the importation of Italians under agreement to work in the sugar plantations of Queensland, when we have the positive assurance of those who know at least . as much as Sir Horace Tozer about the matter, that there is abundance of white labour ready, when opportunity offers, to take the places now filled by kanakas. Before considering the project, we must have all the details of the scheme laid before us. In the absence of those details, I have no hesitation in saying that I do not think that the exigencies of the sugar industry in Queensland demand the importation of Italian labourers. As to the other matters which have been brought forward, I shall bring them under the notice of my colleagues, who, no doubt, will see that they are given immediate attention.
– The remark of the Minister of External Affairs that there is in Queensland a number of white men who are anxiously waiting to take the places on the sugar plantations of
Queensland now occupied by kanakas, must be very encouraging to every honorable member. If that be the case, there will shortly be no reason for the continuance of the bounty which the other States now contribute so largely for the purpose of encouraging the growing of sugar-cane solely by white labour.
– There will be 2,000 men thrown out of work at Chillagoe to-morrow.
– I Rave some doubt as te the accuracy of the statement of the Minister, but if it is as accurate as he believes it to be, not only will the existing plantations be supplied with white labour, but employment will be found for white men in the extension of the industry, and that, without the continuance of the bounty. During my political career, I have noticed that whenever conditions are not so well as members of ‘Parliament or others think that they should be, the cry of “Settle the people on the land” is always raised. What I have, heard this af ternoon is no new panacea, but a cry to which I have listened during the last twenty years. That being so, I ask if settlement upon the land is the only remedy for the present position. Any one would think, from some of the statements which have been made to-day, that land which is not under cultivation makes no return to the country. While I should like to see “ every rood of ground maintain its man,” so far as that is possible, I do not indorse the statement that land which ils used for dairying and pastoral purposes is not being properly utilized. Such land, if not yielding the very fullest return, is giving a very good return, and every one cannot engage in the same industry. Besides, a good deal more than the possession of land is necessary for the encouragement of agriculture. It is uphill work to make arable ground of land that is thickly wooded, but the idea held by many seems to be that when men have cleared and ploughed their land, it should be subdivided, and given to others who, it is said, could make better use of it. I have always been an advocate of land purchase in districts where railways are constructed, and that system has been successful in Western Australia. But there are many other ways by which we can encourage agriculture and closer settlement. At the same time no great good can come of a discussion of the subject here, because this Parliament has no control of the lands, the mines, or the railways. Except in the dissemination of information, a de- bate on the subject here can have no practical value. The control of immigration has been vested in the Federal authority, but I do not think Parliament would provide for the importation of a large number of people into the Commonwealth unless it thought that there would be something for them to do when they got there. It would never do for us to induce farmers to immigrate unless we had land to settle them upon on easy terms when they arrived here. The question of land settlement is wholly one for the consideration of the States, and unless we work with the States, we can do nothing in regard to it. One would think that things should be better now in Victoria than they were formerly ; but the honorable members for Ballarat and Moira, who, I think, did not lift their eyes much beyond the horizon of this State, deplored the fact that its population has not largely increased, and sought about fora reason why that should be so. In my opinion the industries of Victoria should be more flourishing now than they were prior to Federation, because the manufacturers of the State have now a larger market for their products than they had then.
– Our industries are not flourishing.
– Because the manufacturers are removing to New South Wales.
– Because of a reduction of the duties on many articles, which has taken from our’ manufacturers the Victorian market.
– But they have gained a much wider market than they had previous to Federation.
—That does not compensate for the loss I speak of.
– I have no sympathy with my honorable friend in his desire for excessive duties. It would be better for him to say straight out that he wishes for prohibition, instead of trying to bolster up industries by asking for prohibitive duties. I am in favour of reasonable duties.
– Surely a duty of 121 per cent, on machinery is not excessive.
– That is not a very high rate; but I think it is quite high enough. When the proposal in the Tariff was being discussed, I was not in favour of a very high duty upon machinery, because I considered a high duty at that time adverse to the interests of the State which I represent, and because I had not been ac customed to higher duties than those ranging from 10 to 15 per cent, ad valorem. In Western Australia a duty of 20 per cent. ad valorem was the highest we ever had. I was in communication with several of the manufacturers of machinery in Victoria on the subject, and I was informed by several of them that they did not wish for high rates of duty. Some of those whom I expected to ask for high duties said that they could do very well without duties, because of the advantage they gained through having l heir market extended. One manufacturer, writing from Ballarat or Bendigo, said that his machinery was at that time sent to all parts of the world.
– I know the manufacturers of Victoria.
– Then the honorable member knows that what I am say-‘ ing is a fact.
– It is absolutely incorrect.
– I can show the honorable member the letters. The honorable member is very fond of contradicting in such a way as to infer that one is not speaking the truth.
– I did not say that the right honorable member was not speaking the truth. I said that that was an incorrect statement of the views of the manufacturers of Victoria.
– I was speaking of the views of the machinery manufacturers, including those of Ballarat and Bendigo.
– Those manufacturers used to send their machinery into free-trade New South Wales.
– But they then had the advantage of a duty ranging as high as 45 per cent.
– We must remember that as a Parliament we have no industries, no mines, and no land over which we can exercise direct control. We are, to a very large extent, a mere legislating machine, and although our enactments are very far reaching, and may seriously affect the industries of the Commonwealth, we can take no part in the immediate control over the land, or the mines in the various States. I have no doubt that the knowledge that we possess no land, mines, or railways a£ the present time, and that all the producing interests are beyond our control, makes many honorable members chafe. They have been accustomed in the States Parliaments to an entirely different state of affairs. Although our powers are great, they have not the same practical application as have those exercised by the States Parliaments. We have, particularly duringthis session, been stretching out as. far as we can into the domain of the States Parliaments. Everything that we do, if it does not constitute an attack upon the States rights, at any rate displays an inclination to extend our authority more and more in the direction of interference with States affairs. We are not content to allow any opportunity to pass when there is a chance of extending our authority. Even those who advocate this line of action frequently admit that there is a question as to whether we are not travelling beyond the limits of the Constitution. Some honorable members have been so accustomed to exercise control through the States Parliaments that they can scarcely realize that our scope in regard to practical matters of development is as limited as it really is. Thus it has come about that we have been trying, and we are trying now, to interfere ‘in the business affairs of the States. I think it is inadvisable that we should continue our efforts in this direction; but I am afraid that the subjects with which we are seeking to de ti are more attractive than those which legitimately belong to us. A great variety of matters could be directly dealt with under the provisions- of section 51 of the Constitution, but they are apparently not regarded as so enticing as are the subjects which have hitherto engaged our attention, and which bring us into such close antagonism with the States Governments. I should like to see honorable members animated by a spirit more in accord with the ideas which prompted the framers of the Constitution, but I have little hope that any advice I may give will be acted upon.
Question resolved in the negative.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 22nd June, vide page 2583) :
Cause 48, as amended -
The Court, by its award, or by order made on the application ‘of any party to the proceedings before it, at any time in the period during which the award is binding, may -
prescribe a minimum rate of wages or remuneration, and in that, case shall on the application of any party to the industrial dispute or of any organization or party bound by the award make provision for enabling some tribunal specified in the award or order to fix, in such manner and subject to such conditions as are specified in the award or order, a lower rate in the case of employees who are unable to earn the minimum wage so prescribed ; and
direct that as between members of organi zations of employers or employees and other persons offering or desiring service or employment at the same time, preference shall be given to .such members, other things being equal ; and
appoint a tribunal to finally decide in what cases an employer or employee to whom any such direction applies may employ or be employed by a person who is not a member of any such organization.
Upon which Mr. Johnson had moved by way of amendment -
That the words “direct that,” line 17, be left out.
– The question now before us is, I venture to sa j of more practical importance than many of those which we have recently been discussing. I wish to direct the attention of honorable members, who seem to be unnecessarily alarmed with regard to the probable .operation of the clause, to a few- facts which will, I think, show them that they have been labouring under a misapprehension. Those persons who have not been brought into close touch with trades unions and their methods make many mistakes as to the motives which actuate them, and the manner in which their operations are conducted. Writers on ‘the subject of trades unions mention numerous acts of trades unions which have been condemned by their opponents, but which have afterwards been proved to be based upon good ‘and sufficient reasons. In this connexion I cannot refrain from quoting a few words of the- Emperor Sigismund, bearing upon the ©Derations of the old craft guilds which were, to some extent, the precursors of the trades unions of to-day. A good deal of discussion took place with regard to their methods of working and their action in limiting the number of apprentices to be employed, and in restricting - the operations of artisans to particular industries. In 1436, the Emperor Sigismund, dealing with the crafts of that day, said : -
Our forefathers have not been fools. The crafts have been devised for this purpose, that everybody bv them should earn his daily bread’, and nobody shall interfere with the craft of another. By this the world gets rid of its misery, and every one may find his livelihood.
The trades union movement is not a new one, but has a most magnificent history of struggle, unselfishness, and heroism. It is well that we should recognise this fact when we are dealing with the subject now under discussion. I need scarcely say that I have had an extended experience of trades unions. I have taken a ‘considerable part in organizing the largest unions in Australia, and I have been intimately associated with the working of many others; I know how seriously these organizations consider every matter in times of trouble, and I hope to be able to show honorable members that it is ridiculous to assume that men are swayed this way and that like so many children, and act upon sudden impulses when they have grievances that require adjustment. The British trades unionists have been spoken of by Lord Rosebery as the aristocracy of labour - not an aristocracy with which the idea of wealth is associated, . but a mental aristocracy, which embraces the best men of the classes to which they belong. Lord Rosebery recognised their manhood and their worth. Those honorable members who think that trades unionists plunge themselves into trouble because one man lifts a little finger have had no experience of the methods adopted by such organizations. Some misapprehension also exists as to the distinction between unionists and non-unionists. The unionists, as a rule, are selected by the employer. If an employer started an industry and employed a number of workmen, he would probably not stop to inquire whether they were members of a trades union or otherwise. He would, in the first place, select the best men available and, as time went on, would weed them out, or redistribute them in such a way as to produce the best and most harmonious results. After a. time the workmen might become dissatisfied with the terms of their engagement, but might not move very readily in the direction of obtaining redress. As a rule grievances are allowed to exist for a considerable time before definite action is taken. Eventually, however, some one might move in the matter of organizing the men. It is supposed by many persons that the organizing comes from without, but, as a matter of fact, it generally comes from within. Practically the employer who acts unjustly towards his employes, and not the paid agitator, who has been spoken of by honorable members who know nothing whatever about the subject, is the organizer. The workmen may bring their grievances before their employer through one of their number, who is selected to act as spokesman. If the employer should prove resentful the man who is thus thrust forward has to take the risk of being ultimately victimized for the prominent part he has played in the dispute. The men may, however, appeal to some one outside, possibly an official of a kindred organization, who can, without any fear of consequences, approach the employer and lay the case before him. Every experienced officer of a union must recognise that the employes whom it is difficult to induce to join its ranks, are those who are working for fair employers. That difficulty, however, does .not arise because they object to unions. As a matter of fact, they believe in them. But when things are working smoothly these men become indifferent to the claims of unions. Nevertheless, they are not non-unionists. The true test of a unionist arises only . when a strike occurs, and when men are required to risk losing their occupations. On such occasions there is always a certain percentage who sacrifice their principles as the result of fear. It is the old unionists who stand firm, and who ‘ can be relied upon, just as in the battles of the Empire veteran regiments are always employed to capture trying positions. That task is never left to raw recruits. The old trades unionists are less likely to rashly enter into an industrial dispute than are their less experienced confreres; but there are always a certain number who secede when a serious trouble arises. The true test of whether a man is a unionist’ is to be found in the answer to the question - “ Is he willing to take the place of a man upon strike?” The individual who is willing to do- so is a nonunionist. I wish to put the position fairly, and to justify the action of the Government in retaining this clause. The non-unionists are those who are prepared to fill the places of men upon strike, when the latter are fighting for the rights of all individuals equally. It is notorious that some of the men who are most eager to rush into an industrial conflict are the first to fill the places of their own comrades. In all well established organizations, the agitator will always be found advising the exercise of caution. Under this provision, the men who are not members of an organization, are not classed as “ non-unionists.” It has been said that out of 6.000 miners, at Broken Hill only 2.000 are unionists. I say that if there are 6,000 miners on the Barrier there are 6,000 unionists, because it is impossible to get non-unionist miners. I organized the miners, and I recollect that, in thirteen cases out of thirty-six the employers posted notices forbidding their employes to join the union. But their efforts were of no avail. Many years ago the mine-owners utterly failed to fill the places of miners upon strike. Of course it is possible to get bipeds to work in the mines, but I claim that it is not possible to get miners. Amongst the whole of those who are engaged in mining, whether it be for coal, copper, silver, or gold, it is impossible to find practical men who are non-unionists. I recollect a case which occurred in Victoria several years ago, before the unionist movement had attained its present proportions, in which seven mining directors scoured the country in search of men to fill the places of miners upon strike. As the result of their efforts they succeeded in obtaining the services of one man.
– - The honorable member is wrong.
– I have not made a single statement which I cannot verify. The question of differentiating between unionists and non-unionists does not arise in connexion with this clause. The opponents of the provision urge that we should consider the interests of those who do not belong to unions. But I hold that they are not adverse to. unions. As excuses for not joining these organizations, they plead that “ things are running smoothly,” or that “ they have sufficient calls upon their resources.” I do not think that these pleas are justified, but nevertheless the men themselves are not antagonistic to unions. They do not need the assistance of the honorable member for North Sydnev. They are quite capable of taking care of themselves. I regard all these men as unionists.
– But the Bill does not include them.
– I wish to deal with one point at a time. I repeat that the question of distinguishing between unionists and non-unionists does not arise under the clause. We are asked to deal only with those individuals who are not members of an organization. Last night it was urged that these men should not be coerced. If the honorable member for Wentworth, who is so desperately alarmed lest coercion should be attempted, would only take a trip during the parliamentary recess, if he would leave his money behind him, sink his identity, don moleskin trousers, and secure a job amongst this class of men, he would receive a splendid education.
– If I had no money, how could I pay my subscription?
– In the shearing industry the squatters and the big financial institutions pay the subscriptions. Certainly the shearers do not pay them. Trades unionism provides a method of insurance which pays exceedingly well. The officers of the Shearers’ Union know the number of sheep to be shorn, and the rate per 100 to be paid. They have the necessary data to enable them to make an accurate estimate. The difference between the lowest rate at which the Pastoralists’ Union attempted to secure shearers, and that which the Workers’ Union was able to uphold, averages to those engaged in taking off the wool £5 10s. annually. As the shearer pays only 10s. a year subscription, he could not get a. better investment than is offered to him by the union. It is true that the men are required to pay a premium, but it should be recollected that indirectly they get back a big dividend. Some years ago Mr. Curley, the secretary of the Miners’ Association at Newcastle, made a similar estimate in regard to that organization. He made allowance for all the strikes in which the men had been engaged, and for every levy made upon them, and the net result showed that they Had made a very substantial gain by being unionists. In another district in which every man was required rn be a member of a union, under an arrangement that existed between employers and employes, after allowing for every call that had been made upon them during a period of more than ten years, it was found that’ the men had benefited as the result of unionism by a considerable sum. We are fully justified in asking that those whobenefited from the operation of unions should contribute towards their funds. I have learned during the adjournment *for dinner that when I quoted certain figures relating to the number of miners at Broken Hill, the honorable member for Kooyong understood me to say, in answer to an . interjection by him. that they were absolutely correct. I wish to clear away any cause of misapprehension by sayingthat I was using those figures only by way of illustration, and did not claim that they were correct. I was in reality quoting a statement that had been made by some one else, and knew that the actual figures were not as had been stated. I believe that the difference is very much greater than is shown by those figures. It is necessary that we should understand what is meant by the employment of certain terms. I have already explained the causes leading to the organization of workers; but I should like to emphasize the point that just as sweating on the part of a limited number of employers may cause fairminded employers, who would not do anything that would press harshly on their employes, to take action, so the existence of grievances which can be remedied only by united action compels employes to form unions. It is well known that the large number of workers organized in Australia and elsewhere is due to the fact that they have been compelled to organize in order to remedy grievances. Those who do not belong to unions are either, to some extent, satisfied with their conditions, or perhaps have not the courage to take any step to remedy the disabilities under which they labour. If men were satisfied, with their conditions of employment they would not appeal to the Court. I am anxious to remove the impression in the minds of some honorable members that men are coerced and forced to become unionists.
– This Bill would force them to become unionists.
– I want honorable members to follow my line of argument, and do not intend to allow myself to be led away to the discussion of any side issue. I am dealing with existing conditions, and I maintain that there is no coercion. Trades unions are voluntary organizations, and could not be .worked successfully unless they were. They vary according to the condition of the industries to which they relate. Sometimes they are forced into a big struggle, and are beaten, and in such circumstances have to accept conditions of which they do not approve, while theyquietly work up their strength once more. That is the history of trades unionism both in England and Australia. It is a sense of injustice that causes men to organize, and only when men felt that they were labouring under an injustice would they ask the Court to take action. Officers of unions have had experience of a deliberate boycott. I do not charge all employers with having resorted to such tactics. I am personally acquainted with scores who prefer that their men should be organized, who always employ unionists, and would engage a unionist in preference to a non-unionist, knowing that it is to their interests that harmonious relations should exist between them and their workmen. They know that unionists
are the best workmen, because they have been specially selected by employers. Employers invariably choose the best workmen, and these men, after they have been .at work for some time, generally organize. I do not say that, unionists are the best workers merely because they are unionists ; but the fact that they belong to an organization shows that they are the most intelligent.
– Not at all.
– The honorable member does not know anything about these matters, so far as they are concerned, he may be said to have been living on another planet. I wish to advance what I consider a very strong argument in favour of the retention of this provision by referring to an organization to which it is intended that this measure shall directly apply. Let me deal with the position of the Australian Workers’ Union, of which I am the president. There can be no question of preference so far as unionist shearers are concerned, for the number of shearers who do not belong to that organization is hardly worth mentioning. The unionist seamen and wharf labourers are in the same position. There can be no question as to their being in a majority. Their organizations are thoroughly representative of their respective industries, so that the question of preference cannot affect them. In the last Parliament I referred to the black-list system adopted by the Pastoralists’ Union, and should not have revived the subject, but that it is necessary to do so in connexion with the consideration of this clause. An official document, which is at present in the hands of the honorable member for Maranoa, absolutely supports the statement that I then made. A system of issuing black-lists has been carried on for several years past by the Pastoralists’ Union, although, so far as I am aware,’ the Victorian pastoralists have had nothing to do with the practice. It has been most freely availed of in Queensland, and has also been carried into New South Wales. The system is this: From the various offices of the union confidential lists are sent to managers of stations, who are required to fill them in by giving the name of every shearer employed by them, and particulars as to his ability, sobriety, and general qualifications. These circulars are numbered, and the references issued to shearers are also numbered, special type being used in printing some portions of them.’ In order to secure employment it is essential that a shearer shall produce a reference from his last employer, setting , forth his qualifications as a workman, his sobriety and general behaviour.
– Surely there can be no objection to that.
– Let me show the honorable member the object which the pastoralists have in view. The confidential reports are returned to head-quarters, and from those reports another confidential document, or black-list, is prepared and supplied to the pastoralists. The result is that a pastoralist on looking at the reference presented by an applicant for work can immediately ascertain by reference to the number whether his name appears on the black-list. A man may present a first-class certificate as to workmanship, sobriety, and general behaviour, and nevertheless be refused employment. When the holder of a first-class certificate is refused work it cannot be said that it is because he lacks ability as a shearer. The refusal is due to the fact that his name appears on the black-list as an undesirable.
– The board as probably full when he applies.
– There is no uncertainty as to this matter. The Pastoralists’ Union have black-listed a number of men and driven them out of Queensland, ‘or made it impossible for them to obtain work as shearers there, except from friendly employers. Financial institutions have unfortunately become possessed of so many stations that the opportunities to evade this system are very limited. Those who doubt my assertion can be shown the documentary proof of its accuracy, which is in the hands of the honorable member for Maranoa. I have seen other documents that have been secretly issued by the Pastoralists’ Union with the deliberate intention of black-balling any man who has acted as the mouth-piece of his fellows. A man may be black-listed because, in the opinion of the employer, he is an agitator. A unionist who refuses to be taken down by the high price of rations or the other means adopted to get at these men, is practically boycotted. The holder of a first-class reference may leave his family, with scarcely a penny in his pocket, to seek employment, only to be driven from place to place in ignorance of the fact that he has been black-listed. Is not this a cruel and oppressive system? Hundreds of men have been hunted out of Queensland by the adoption of it.
– Do not the Labour Party issue black-lists?
– I am astounded that the honorable member should treat this subject so lightly. It is no laughing matter. If the honorable member had to look for work with a black-list against him it would do him good. This system was also adopted in the early days of Broken Hill.
– I never heard of it.
– I am speaking of what I know to be a fact. In Broken Hill a list was issued to mine managers. A copy which was received by a friend of mine bore the names of eight men who went from mine to mine in search of employment, but in every case were told that there was no work for them. The manager did not know why he was asked to refuse work to the men. The same practice has been followed in America, but never so systematically as by the Pastoralists’ Union of Australia, which has always refused to meet the workmen in conference to settle difficulties which have arisen, and which, at the same time, has boycotted every man who was a unionist, driving hundreds of men to Western Australia. Let me describe the cruelty that the honorable member for Corangamite laughed at. ‘ With a first-class reference a man leaves his family, and is told that on its presentation he can get work. But in every case he is refused work, because when the manager goes into his office, and refers to his confidential list, he finds that the man is not to receive employment. He does not tell, the man that fact. We had some difficulty in discovering the reason for these refusals, and at last it was found in their own documents. By accident, not bv design, I received a parcel of confidential circulars, in which instructions were given to pastoralists, and a huge pile of references with instructions as to how thev were to be filled in. For a long while, when men began to find that they could not get work, although they had good references, they thought that a secret mark was put on a reference, but it could not be found.
– Under this clause it is proposed to transfer the power of blacklisting to unionists.
– The honorable member should go to something that he knows - the. land. We know that the Pastoralists’ Union is still carrying out this boycotting system. That ‘is an organization that, we propose to bring before the Court of Arbitration, in order to secure fair treatment for the workers. With this provision in the Act, the Court can put a stop to the boycotting of a man because he is a unionist.
– Could it not be made an offence to have a black-list?
– The commission of many an act may be made an offence, but the great difficulty is to furnish the necessary proof of its committal. Supposing that a shearer with a first-class reference goes to a man and asks for employment. The employer cannot be compelled to give the applicant employment; and need not tell him that he is refused because his name is on a black-list. I am speaking of an organization which meets and plots in secret.
– I cannot see how this clause will meet that condition of things.
– I am anxious to show honorable members the value of the clause. I have had some experience in this regard. As soon as the employers got a chance they boycotted me, and I worked into another occupation, perhaps better than the one I was in, though it was a long while before I did. I have known what ii is to be short of a meal, and I can sympathize with those who suffer that hardship. There is no one so mean as the man who, posing in society as a gentleman, and indulging in a “ haw-haw “ style, joins an organization which deliberately prevents other men from securing a living. Yet some honorable members who represent the Employers’ Federation, with which the Pastoralists’ Union is associated, come here and plead for a man who is not a member of a union, lest he should be thrown out into the cold. The honorable and learned member for Wannon has not expressed a word of sympathy for the men who have been boycotted out of their living.
– Oh ves, I have.
– In ‘this State I know a decent man with a family of nine who, because a newspaper published a word that he did not use at a meeting of the union, was boycotted by the mine-owners in Victoria, and we had to help him to live until he got a job. I am speaking from a full knowledge of the way in which the boycott is worked against unionists. That is our justification for asking for the enactment of this clause. I feel indignant, as any one must do, at the tactics which are adopted against unionists. Let us consider the practical operation of the clause. Supposing that an appeal were made to the I 4x2
Court. In the case of our union, we should certainly ask that preference be given to unionists. The door of our union is open. We have cancelled any rule to which there was any reasonable objection. Any one who joins the union has a voice in the framing of its rules, which, of course, are only intended as a- means to an end. Supposing that we’ secured the concession of a preference to unionists. That would at once checkmate the boycotting of unionists. If that power be not given to the Court, then we might as well not have the measure.
– Supposing that two unionists applied, one of whom was on a blacklist, how would the latter be bettered by a preference to unionists?
– The position is that the pastoralists cannot do their work without the unionists ; but if an odd case did occur, such as the honorable and learned member mentions–
– The number of men or» any black-list would be small.
– That would be so ; but. in any case the pastoralists could not under this provision continue to refuse work .to a unionist because he was on a black-list. Of course, a pastoralist might refuse to err* ploy a man where he had a choice, anc* there would be no objection if he did. An employer must have the selection of hi* men, irrespective of anything.
– Under this Bill he would not.
– The choice is left absolutely to the employer ; but the point I arn making is that the pastoralists could not do all the work, without engaging the unionists, so that no great number of them could, continue the boycotting system. It could not be prevented in the case of a limited number.
– The illustration of the black-list, which the honorable member has given, relates to a trade in which nearly all the men are unionists.
– In this occupation practically all the men are ‘unionists. No great number of the men who are at work are outside the union.
– Then a preference is no protection?
– The grant of a preference in that case would stop the boycott. There are other reasons why it would stop the boycott. The whole conditions would be altered under the Bill, which is a very important point. I wish to impress honorable members with the importance of giving a protection to unionists. It is only a tyrannical employer who. will boycott a man because he belongs to a union, unless, of course, the man is personally objectionable. In some cases, those who are not members of a union are men who have been working for poor employers, and if they happen to get out of work there is no quarrel. But, generally, those who in a full market are out of work are not good workmen. That is a natural condition of things. What we need to do in the Bill is to safeguard the interests of the employer by securing for him every facility for filling his shop, or whatever it may be, with competent workmen. We do not want to limit him, and as a preference to unionists, if granted by the Court, would only operate until the supply of efficient union labour was exhausted, he would then be free to employ anybody else. He would be subjected to no suffering or penalty. The honorable member for North Sydney seemed to imply that if an employer required a number of men he would be limited -in his choice, if he were confined to taking unionists only. But in practical working that difficulty does not arise. It is not an uncommon thing for unionists and non-unionists to work together in the same field. In the case of some occupations, especially trades, all the competent working men are in the organizations. If that is so - and I know it is a fact - :what interference with employers’ interests can there be in enabling the Court to give a preference to unionists ? The employers ‘would get all the best workmen. For, in the case of most industries, membership of a union is a guarantee that a man is a first-class workman. I need hardly remind honorable members of -the fact that the evidence taken before Royal Commissions in the old country, and the evidence furnished here by private employers, was to the effect that unionists are the best workmen. They are the most intelligent pf the men, and, therefore, are kept. In the case of the old trades - engineers and carpenters - the unions insist on competency, requiring that a man shall have learned his trade. Surely that is something to be applauded. I am astonished that with all these good points, which have been recognised by employers for ages - so much recognised that very many employers will employ none but unionists - honorable members should hesitate to pass this clause. I could name very many pastoralists who send to the union office, and ask to be supplied with men. The union always does its best to supply the pastoralists with the best men it can get. Quite a number of individual pastoralists adopt that course. I shall now deal with the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney, who, it seems to me, has not thought it out. I would draw his attention to some difficulties which have occurred to my mind. He proposes that there shall be compulsory unionism ; real State Socialism is nothing compared with what he proposes.
– I did not say compulsory unionism.
– Well, the honorable member proposes that the whole of the men employed in an industry should be enrolled on the payment of a small fee.
– For the purposes of the Act.
– In. the first place, an organization has to be in existence before it can be registered. Does the honorable member, propose that immediately the Act comes into operation, all workers are to be organized under its provisions by the Government ? How are they to become organized? They cannot go to the Court or Registrar, unless they are organized. Evidently the honorable member proposes that they shall be organized by the Government.
– Not by the Government.
– I cannot see how the honorable member can set a start.
– I can easily show the honorable member that.
– The answer may be that ‘ in the Bill we can make it compulsory on the .part of every employer to supply a list of his employes.
– -We shall get the start that this Parliament gets - by enrolling a body of electors.
– If anybody is to be enrolled, somebody has to do the enrolling. If it is to be done by Act of Parliament, it will have to be made compulsory on the part of every employer to supply a list of his workmen to the Registrar.
– With their subscriptions.
– With the subscriptions compulsorily taken from the men. Now, the subscription will have to be fixed by Act of Parliament.
– No, by the Court.
– How can the Court fix the subscription when it is only an organization that can go to it? I am sure that the honorable member has not thought out the effects of his amendment. If the employer is to be compelled to supply a list of his employes and. their subscriptions as members of an organization, then the provision with respect to the necessary funds to meet an award of the Court goes by the board, because there will be no award of the Court until after a case has been heard. The honorable member will admit that there must be a means of management where there is an organization. The employes who are organized must elect a committee, and supposing they decline to do so? There are numbers of workmen engaged in different industries who have no quarrel with their employers.
– Suppose that in a trade where there were no unionists, the employes declined to elect a committee under this Bill, what would happen in that case ?
– The honorable gentleman apparently intends -that the whole of the industries in the Commonwealth shall be organized.
– Will the honorable member answer my question?
– There will be no dispute if there are no members of a union or no organization.
– The honorable member’s amendment cannot operate unless employes are organized in some form or another.
– The Bill provides for organizations other than trades unions ; how are thev to be originated under this Bill?
– No question of that kind arises under the amendment. I desire to analyze it, and to see how it is likely to work. I have not been able to see that it can be worked. The honorable member proposes, first of all, to take the names of all persons employed in Australia. What for? To enable them to become members of organizations under this Bill. In the first place, it is by no means clear how far this Bill will -apply, or how many unions will come under it. I know of very few myself, because the Bill only deals with Inter-State disputes. The honorable member for North Sydney proposes to put all the machinery of government in motion to or ganize all the industries in the Commonwealth ; and yet he has been one of those who have deprecated the creation of disputes and industrial troubles. We have wisely deprecated extravagant expenditure in the Commonwealth, yet the honorable member’s amendment would create one of the largest of public Departments. There would have to be some officials to collect the subscriptions which the honorable member proposes shall be paid by the employes in any industry, unless the Registrar of the Court could do that. Honorable members opposite have been championing the cause of the men who do not desire to be organized, and what have they to say to a proposal which compels all employes to be organized, when they have no trouble, do not desire to go to the Court, to elect committees, or to do anything at all ? If, as we have heard, it is the desire of honorable members opposite that men should be left alone, I cannot understand why they should support an amendment of this kind. I remind the honorable member for North Sydney that it will be found impossible in the shearing industry to secure a list of the employes.
– Why impossible ?
– One can be got for the purpose of making a black-list.
– An employer may send along a list of those who have been, working for him this year, but that would hot cover the employes working in the industry next year when the number of sheep to be shorn may be half as many again as the number shorn this year.
– It would be a complete list in the meantime.
– The honorable member would make it mandatory oft the part of the pastoralist to send along a list of his employes, with subscriptions collected from them. The list of names would be recorded, and what would follow then? I ask the honorable member what possible chance he thinks there is for a new organization springing into existence in the shearing industry, without the consent of the existing organization? Under the honorable member’s proposal the pastoralist would send in a list of the names, and subscriptions, and that would be sufficient to form those men into an organization. Surely the honorable member must be aware that a union cannot be formed in that way. It must be done voluntarily. I am altogether opposed to this coercive method of action.
I am a strong advocate for voluntary action. I am astounded that this State-socialistic scheme, which is bureaucratic in every respect, should be introduced by the honorable member for North Sydney. What is the honorable member going to do under his amendment with existing unions ?
– I am not going to do anything.
– That means that existing unions are to continue their existence as entities. They are registered legal bodies, who have a standing, and who can come before the Arbitration Court.
– Othello’s occupation would be gone.
– They can, under this Bill, appear in the Arbitration Court, not as plaintiffs, but as parties objecting to an award. I should like to see where the honorable member’s new organization of shearers is to come in, when the old organization of shearers can do what they wish with them.’
– Is the present Shearers’ Union not composed of employes in the industry?’
– Yes, it is.
– Very well ; they would all be in the new organization.
– They would not recognise the new organization.
– Would they defy the Court?
– It is not a question of defiance. No One is speaking of anything of the kind. The honorable member for North Sydney admits that the old unions in every industry are to stand.
– I did not say anything about them.
– The honorable member is a practical man generally ; this is the only serious departure on his part that I can call to mind. There are unions in different trades, some of which are very old indeed, such as the Amalgamated ‘ Carpenters. Those unions will continue to exist, and the honorable member for North Sydney knows it. The enrolment of their names and calling them another organization will not make another organization of them.
– The honorable member forgets that the new association proposed is to be formed for the purposes of this Bill only.
– I understand that. The honorable member is proposing that an existing organization comprising two-thirds of the employes in an industry shall submit themselves to another organization comprising but a third of the employes in the industry.
– It must be so under the honorable member’s amendment.
– For the purposes of this Bill; not for the purposes for which the organizations now exist.
– The honorable member proposes by compulsion to make men who are members of an existing organization form another organization. We shall have a union within a union varying in power according fo its numbers and other circumstances. Can honorable members look for peaceful or sensible working under such conditions? Take a case where half the employes in an industry are members of an existing organization, and the other half have remained out of it. They will, under the honorable member’s amendment, be organized together in the new organization’ for the purposes of this Bill, and they must elect officers, who will state their case tothe Court. Is there likely to be any harmony in such an arrangement as that, when men who have been fighting and suffering - for honorable members know that trades unionists have suffered individual loss in fighting for the good of their fellows - are compelled to join with men who have stood aloof from their organizations? The honorable member for North Sydney proposes with the assistance of a majority of the Committee to force by law the members of existing organizations to be subservient to others engaged in the same occupation, who have hitherto been standing aloof from their organizations. Do honorable members think for a moment that working men are going to stand that?
– Take a case where only a tenth of the employes are members of an existing union. Are they to rule the roost ?
– There is no ruling of the roost in it. I am pointing out to the honorable member that his proposal is surrounded by so many difficulties that it must be self-evident to members of the Committee that it is absolutely unworkable. Under it there will require to be penalties for employers who refuse to send in a list of the names of their employes, and other penalties for those who send’ in lists that are inaccurate. If such penalties are not provided for we know that some employers will be very careless in the performance of this work. They are not likely to be as eager as the honorable member for North Sydney appears to be to force men into the Arbitration Court. This proposal is beyond the wildest dreams of the most enthusiastic agitator. The honorable member for North Sydney outHerods Herod in this matter. The worst form of compulsion, and even of State Socialism, is not to be compared with his proposal.
– Has he become more radical than the honorable member?
– Yes, the .honorable member has. We have been urged in this Bill to provide for compulsory preference to unions, but we, who are now apparently the moderate section of the community, fought against extremists in our organizations, for what we considered a fair thing to every one concerned, leaving it to the Court to decide when a case was before it whether a justifiable claim for preference to unionists had been submitted. The operation of the law in New Zealand has been referred to, and we know that the Court there has in many cases given preference to unionists, the guiding principle being that where the majority of employes in an industry belong to . an organization, and have voluntarily joined it, preference should be given to members of that organization.
– Would the honorable member agree to that being included in this Bill?
– I propose to deal with one point at a time. I am not sure that the Bill, if amended as proposed, will be worth anything at all when it is passed. We contend that we should start with existing conditions; we should introduce as little friction and as few changes as possible ; we should try and secure the peaceful working of industry, and declare strikes illegal. The extreme radicals of the Opposition have prevented that being carried out fully, and have allowed a great number of people to strike. People employed in the harvest-field and other places may now strike as the result of action taken by honorable members opposite. We wished to declare all strikes illegal ; to provide means for the settlement of disputes, and, instead of adopting the revolutionary provision of the honorable member for North Sydney, we proposed to follow the evolutionary method of recognising existing institutions, and diverting them to new uses, putting upon them a check that would remove any objections which reasonable men might have to extreme action on the part of any body of unionists. That is the position we have taken up, but it appears that it is not satisfactory to honorable members who have been declared opponents of the measure, and who now wish to provide for compulsory unionism, and the compulsory payment of union subscriptions. What is behind it all? I fail to discover any need for this provision. The honorable member for North Sydney is really proposing to enforce preference for unionists, whilst we propose that it should not be made compulsory, but that it should be left to the discretion of the Court. I have given some reasons out of many why the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney should not be accepted. The best method to protect men from the tyrannical and harsh employer is to adopt this paragraph. Let me appeal ‘to honorable members with regard to the serious side of the case. The history of the trades union movement is known to most thoughtful people of any reading. Let me remind the Committee of what a long existence trades unionism has had, what a great power for good it is in the old world, what a part it has played in the development of Australia, and of the struggles and the suffering men have endured in its defence. In England not so very long ago’ it was attempted to suppress trades unionism by Act of Parliament. Unions were declared to be “illegal combinations.” But men still met. as men of grit will do. The best examples of the qualities which we most admire in the British race, are to be found in the history of the trades union movement. Men met in secret, and they buried their books in the woods. Some were sent to gaol and were transported for their unionism. Honorable members will have read of the case of the Dorchester labourers who were sent to Sydney and sold at £1 a head. They were unionists. Subsequently the law extended some protection to trades unions. They were recognised when the law could no longer avoid recognising them, and after they had succeeded in living down the prejudice that was worked up against them by pulpit, press, and platform. The influences against unionism were great, and the same influences are to a large extent against it still. There is no small combination of such influences in this very Chamber. I would not say that honorable members opposite desire to crush trades unionism, but there seems to be some disposition to that effect. I do not know whether the honorable member for Corangamite and the honorable and learned member for Wannon expect to succeed where all the powers of the law of Great Britain failed?
Mi. Robinson. - That is a small contract for us !
– I should like to remind some of those honorable members who have a great deal to say about trades unionism, of the immense benefits that exist in connexion with many of our organizations - benefits which other friendly societies do not provide for the workers. The unions have their superannuation funds, funds to provide for old age, and funds for men who are out of work. They provide for loss of tools, and in some cases for their members who have to travel in search of work. They also have their sick benefit funds. Our unions are the cheapest and the most honestly managed friendly organizations in the world. That is admitted by all students of trades unionism. Five of the largest English societies have, in twenty years, paid away nearly ^3,000.000 in benefit funds. At one time of serious distress in the old country, over 11,000 families were maintained by trades unions.’ In this country there is no family, the head of which belongs to a trades union, that is allowed to suffer from want of food in a time of depression. We had a great struggle in the year 1890. We were then told by those who posed as friends of the unions that we should not resort to extreme measures by striking, but should attempt to attain our ends by constitutional means. We realized that it was possible to attain some of our ends by constitutional methods. We saw plainly enough that the Parliamentary machine - the law-making machine - controlled affairs to a very large extent. We began to work with a view to take a hand in politics. We have continued that policy ; but we have taken so big a hand in politics that those who used to advise us to adopt constitutional methods now find fault with us because we have become a political power. One of the great sins of which trades unionism has been guilty is, Ave are told, that it takes part in politics. We have been for some years educating our members. We were very wan7;-
– Hear, hear.
– The honorable member says “ Hear, hear “ too soon. We were very wary about accepting compulsory arbitration as a means for settling disputes. It has been admitted, over and over again, that but for the confidence which we have in justice, as administered in Australia, we never should have consented to it. I will go further, and say that but for “ the say “ that the working man is having in politics, and the influence which he possesses under the broad franchise of Australia, we should have refused to accept compulsory arbitration. We have had to persuade trades unionists of long experience - men who have lived a lifetime in unionism, and who are wedded to the older methods - that this new method is going to be a good and a safe thing. We are willing to take the risks, with all the disadvantages attaching to legislation of this description. Of course we do not expect that the Arbitration Court will achieve everything. We are not the sort of people who carry millenniums in our pockets. We have no political panacea. But we say that it is better to secure industrial peace by means of legislation of this description than to strike, because we believe that there are constitutional methods of improving social conditions, and that strikes do not result in benefits which are in any degree permanent. But strikes have been necessary weapons in the hands of trades unionists in the past, and when we surrender those weapons we must make sure that we pass into law a measure which will not do injustice to anybody. But those’ who first of all advised us to adopt constitutional methods are now trying to wipe out the history of the trades union movement, and to deny to the unions any “ say “ in the working of this legislation. They desire to introduce an entire revolution in industrial affairs. Why ? The honorable member for Wentworth is the only one who has had the courage to tell the Committee the reason why. Because the unions meddle with politics. Is there any public organization that is not, to some extent, political? Is there one that does not in some degree meddle in politics? Does the honorable member for Wentworth think that he can prevent the democracy of Australia from meddling in politics? Does he think that hs can deprive the unions of their rights in’ this regard ? Is he going to prevent them by Act of Parliament ? Nobody can dream of such a thing.
– We do not want to do that.
– As a matter of fact, the honorable member endeavours to create separate organizations for the purposes of this Bill. But that would not prevent -the unions interesting themselves in politics. It would simply have the effect of forcing more men into the unions, which would Le stronger than before.
– They would have more freedom .
– The honorable member is not fighting for freedom, but for coercion. The Labour Party’s proper position is becoming understood. We intend that it shall bs understood; and those honorable members who are opposing this Bill will be understood by the country. It is not a fact, however, that all the unions interfere in politics. Every union is not associated with the political movements of the Labour Party. The unions are absolutely free to act as they like in this respect. I have travelled for several years in succession, organizing and lecturing on -behalf of the union with which I am associated, teaching the members of it that they must look to constitutional and political methods for securing social reform, and that the old trades union method of dealing with industrial matters does not secure lasting reform. It merely secures improvements with respect to hours of labour and wages. If I had organized on distinctly labour lines, with the object of fighting the employers, we should have had far greater difficulties than we have had in restraining our men from going on strike sometimes. Some of the older organizations have, however, declined to touch politics. Plenty of them make it a condition of membership that politics shall not be introduced at the union meetings. But trades unions are not the only organizations’ which take an interest in politics- The Federated Employers’ Union, which works the systematic boycott, is a political institution almost entirely; whereas our unions, in any case, are only partly political, and, in some cases, decline to touch politics.
– -Did not the New South Wales Court say the unions should not touch politics at all?
– The Court did not say so.
– Did it not say so in the case of the Australian Workers’ Union?
– No, the Australian Workers’ Union has not been before- the Arbitration Court?
– I think that_ the honorable member for Darling is anticipat ing a discussion that will come on with reference to a subsequent clause.
– I do not wish to do that; but I wish, before sitting down, to appeal earnestly to honorable members with reference to this question. The basic idea which I would urge upon them is that the best principle involved in British institutions is their continuity. We do not want to introduce revolutionary methods. The best method of securing continuity is to recognise existing institutions. This Bill, by recognising institutions, does not propose anything new. It leaves it to the Court to adjust the relationship. A good deal has been made of some cases which have occurred in New South Wales. One might think from what the honorable and learned member for Wannon has said that Mr. Justice Cohen, who presides over the New South Wales Arbitration Court, is about as stupid a man as could be found. That is a new character for him. He has always been understood to be a very able Judge. But, according to the honorable and learned member for Wannon, His Honour’s decisions are all wrong.
– He gave one right decision when the Court cut up the honorable member’s Workers’ Union..
– It has never been before the Court.
– We have the case reported.
– The honorable and learned member should confine his remarks to matters of which he has some knowledge. I do not want to come down to pettifogging matters. My opinion has always been in favour of the open door in trades ‘unions. So far as I can ascertain, only two unions in Australia have_ been guilty of the conduct charged, and that conduct I denounced at the time. It may be seen from Hansard, that in New South Wales I advised that some provision should be made to meet such cases ; and Mr. B. R. Wise gave me credit for suggesting the idea. After all, how is the position affected by the conduct of two unions? It is surprising how commercial men’s view of such conduct is modified when they are. dealing, not with a trades union, but with a company or other business organization. I am not in any way attempting to justify the conduct of these trades unions, but merely endeavouring to put their case, not from information supplied by them, but from my own knowledge. The coal lumpers form perhaps the most close corporation; and, although I do not know the position now, some years ago they had an understanding with the employers. There were enough lumpers to do the work, and they were a sort of little co-operative body which contracted to perform services under fixed rates and conditions, guaranteeing to find competent workmen. It was found that men were willing to pay the entrancefee of £5 in order to get a job; and, outside unions, I have known people pay an equal amount in return for employment. The idea of a large entrance-fee is not the invention of trades unions; but it was adopted by the lumpers, who thought they would be able to limit their number by that means ; and in ordinary commercial life such a proceeding would be regarded as quite proper. If a man has an arrangement to do certain work, why should he admit more shareholders? Such conduct, however, is opposed to the spirit of trades unionism; but though it is wrong, it does not deserve the condemnation which it has received, nor should it be represented as a common practice. In the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, if a non-unionist goes’ to work, he is asked, perhaps by an officer of the union, whether he is willing to join, and if he does not possess the necessary halfcrown, it is paid for him. For that small payment the new member becomes entitled to £too in case of death, benefit allowance in case of accident, and other advantages, and he is called upon for no further subscription until the next pay-day. An unfair representation of the case has been given; and I am endeavouring to lay before the Committee the true facts. I appeal to honorable members to recognise institutions which admittedly have been of vast service, and which are now giving up the power which has been their only safeguard in the past. Trades unions are running the risk of allowing a single Judge to decide the conditions under which their members shall earn their bread and butter; and they are entitled to consideration at our hands. We should leave the Court to decide the question of preference; and there is no doubt that the Judge will refuse the application if he finds that the union does not “comprise the proper proportion of members, or is otherwise not entitled to the privilege. And as to the argument about the minority taxing the majority, does not the minority do all the work in social or public life?” If a public meeting is called in Melbourne, only a minority of the residents attend, but the resolutions arrived at are cabled to England as the voice of Melbourne, and often very correctly so. I am convinced that under the Bill every proper safeguard is given to both employers and employes. There is no chance whatever of the Committee adopting the amendment of the honorable member for North Sydney.
– Is there not? -Air. SPENCE.- The fact that the honorable member for Corangamite is in favour of the amendment is its sufficient condemnation. The amendment, if carried, would do no good,_ but would create friction. It means that the men would have to pay an additional fee; and that is a point which ought to be considered by those who are concerned so much about the taxation of the poor man. If the amendment be carried, we may depend that the matter will not be allowed to rest, because on its being found unworkable there will be serious agitation and unrest until it is altered. It is far better to favorably consider the demands of a reasonable section of the community, who have thought the question out, and realized the risks they are running, but who are willing to undertake those risks for the sake of industrial peace, which is really all that is secured to them. There may be unions of whose conduct occasional complaint may be made, but such conduct will disappear under the supervision of the Court. Unions will keep clear of politics, or just take as much part in politics as hitherto, and everything will be done openly. I strongly urge the Committee to adhere to this provision, which was most carefully considered by the original framer of the Bill. The smile on the face of the honorable member for Wentworth reminds me of the most unfair insinuation, that behind this legislation the Labour Party have a plot or a scheme. Such an insinuation could only come from those who do not know or who cannot appreciate the seriousness with which these matters are regarded by members of trades unions. It is quite probable that the advantages under the Bill may be with the employers; but I trust that no one will insinuate that any personal advantage is to be gained by either side. We ought to deal with this legislation on the broad grounds of public utility and justice, with particular regard to those who are immediately concerned.
– The honorable member for Darling, in advocating preference to unionists-
– I did not advocate anything of the kind.
– The honorable member, who says that he does not advocate preference to unionists, has followed the history of unionism in New South Wales, and. to my mind, has arrived at the conclusion which was arrived at in Great Britain by Mr. Sydney Webb. In his excellent work, Mr. Webb narrates the difficulties under which trades unions have’ suffered” in Great Britain, and the troubles experienced in organizing the working men there into a political organization. Notwithstanding what may be said to the contrary, I am inclined to think, from the summing up of the speech of the honorable member for Darling, that there is some idea behind this legislation, which it is thought will be of assistance to .political organizations in working elections’ in the interests of trades unionism. The honorable member for Darling referred to certain honorable members on this side smiling while he was speaking, but at that moment I saw honorable members on the Ministerial side laughing as though they had up their sleeves a weapon which they would use to some effect if they were able to get this provision passed. With a good deal of what the honorable member for Darling said I thoroughly agree. I quite indorse his remarks in favour of trades unionism, and I think every honorable member will do the same. As to the shearers, no one could possibly approve of men being blackballed or boycotted if they are deserving of employment. Does the honorable member mean to infer that, if a man is unworthy of following the calling of a shearer, he should continue, as many shearers have done in the past, to rip up the backs of the poor dumb sheep, without his incompetence being made known to those engaged in the industry?
– I said that the men I referred to had first-class references.
– It is admitted by the honorable member that there are no shearers outside the unions ; so that all men who can use the shears, and many who cannot use them skilfully, are taken into the service of pastoralists, with the result of the destruction pf property, and brutality to the poor animals. Very few honorable members have had the same opportunities as myself of seeing sheep after they have been mutilated in this way ; and I can say it is most brutal the manner in which some men use the shears.
– These are incompetent shearers.
– That is quite true.
– And nonunionists, too.
– But it is admitted by the honorable member for Darling that all shearers are in the union ; and why should it not be known to the trade that certain menare incompetent ? Do we not approve of unions because in the unions there are the best of skilled workmen? Why, then, should skilled men, who are poor and non-unionists, be deprived of employment ? The handy-man - a sailor - who, according to the honorable member for Perth, came ashore from a ship and walked Victoria until footsore, vainly looking for . work, had to ultimately have his passage paid elsewhere. What opportunity had that competent man to get employment as a ship labourer, or wharf labourer, or at. some occupation which he under stood ? Why should he not have had an opportunity of making a living? Under this Bill, such a man would not be able to get employment, because he had not the means of jpining a union, lt seems to me that the honorable member for Darling, in common with the Prime Minister, has a great dislike to men who are not members of unions.
– My word ! All the time !
– And that idea is supported by the honorable member for Maranoa.
– And very strongly, too.
– The Prime Minister last night said that men were too mean to pay their subscriptions, and that was the reason they remained out of unions. In saying that, I think the Prime Minister maligned a class of honest working men. The true representatives of labour are those who legislate in the interests of all classes of labour. Are not the men who on this side of the Chamber advocate equal opportunity for all men, the true representatives of the people ? Honorable members on the Ministerial side and of the Labour Party are class representatives, who advocate class legislation.
– First-class legislation.
– They do not represent the labouring classes of the community, but only a class of skilled workmen in the unions. Just as the skilled workmen in England found that they were without political power until they had organized the
Unskilled workers, so the Labour Party here will find their power limited until they have the whole body of the working community “ yarded up,” and coerced by such legislation as this. Unless men ‘join unions, the bread will,, be taken out of the mouths of their children, and under such tyranny, they must inevitably yield. But the wills of these independent minds cannot be warped if freedom of action prevails. These men will not be twisted about by political organizations, which have for their object class legislation, which is opposed to the true interests of the community. The large body of working men are non-unionists. They are not banded together in organizations. That has been admitted by the honorable member for Darling. Those who wish to serve the people will allow the clause to be amended as proposed, so that all men may have equal opportunities of earning a livelihood. The honorable member for Darling has said that he ha’d no sympathy with the action of an organization in Sydney which closed its books to prevent men from entering its ranks, having previously fixed the excessive entrance fee at£5. Why was he opposed to that action? Because of its injustice to poor men who wanted work. Yet he supports the proposal in the Bill to force men to join unions, and to pay high entrance fees. From “ him who hath not he would take away even that which he has.” How can the unskilled shearers, to whom he referred, who cannot earn a living at shearing because of their want of skill, obtain employment at, other avocations, if to get work they must join other unions ? Such a man might go to Sydney, and find that before he could get anything to do he must be accepted by a union, and pay a high entrance fee. Perhaps he might be accepted, but after a little time his employment at the particular industry might cease, and he would then fin’d that to get more work he must be accepted by another union, and pay another entrance fee. How is it possible for men of small means to keep doing that? It is time that those who support legislation of this kind were placarded as class legislators.
– Yes, first-class legislators.
– It is time that the public was made aware of the fact that they are class legislators.
– I have heard that said during the last eleven years.
– The honorable gentleman is an’ excellent representative of a South
Australian constituency, and is not so rabid as those who are pushing him; but. in the State from which he comes, the party to which he belongs would not at one time allow any candidate to stand in the interests of labour, unless he followed a manual avocation, and worked at some hard, laborious calling. That shows the narrowmindedness of that party. In Victoria the party has determined that no one can truly represent labour who does not favour protection, while in New South Wales a few men of no standing whatever in the minds of the people as persons desirous of advancing the country are at the back of the labour organization. Most of these men have come to Australia within the last decade. If we read the short character sketches which have been written of the Ministers now in power, we see that they have scarcely thrown off their Australian swaddling clothes.
– I think these remarks are irrelevant to the amendment.
– I am showing that those who oppose the amendment are in favour of class legislation, ihat they are persons who have nothing in common with the great bo’dy of the electors, and have not the interests of the country at heart. They have come into power through the agency of a political organization, and they are now endeavouring to threaten independent men that, unless they join the unions, they will be deprived of their daily bread.
– It seems to me that some of those who sit on the Ministerial side of the Chamber, and have endeavoured to meet the arguments of those of us who have doubts as to the wisdom of passing the clause as it stands, do not really appreciate the fundamental objection which we have to the inclusion of paragraphs b and c.The honorable member for Darling showed that very clearly towards the end of his speech, in which, if I may be permitted to say so, I was very much interested. He pointed out that he had explained to the union which he has done so much to create and maintain that it was of no use to organize merely for industrial purposes; that unless they used constitutional means to obtain their ends, and, therefore, organized for . political, as well as industrial purposes, no permanent amelioration of industrial conditions would follow.
– I was referring to one particular union.
– Yes; but to a union, and perhaps the most notable union which the Bill will affect. It is because that union - and other unions which are not in the same position would easily attain that position if the Bill were passed in its present form - has political as well as industrial objects, that we doubt the wisdom of compelling men to ally themselves, for an ostensible industrial purpose, with organizations which have also political objects. I do not for a moment cast, or think of casting, the slightest reproach at this union for having political objects. Its members were given good advice, and were wise in following that advice.
– They do not, as a union, directly meddle in politics, but they provide funds for assisting.
– The providing of the sinews of war is worthy of a more honorable name than “meddling.” It is more effective than meddling.
– The union has always kept clear of politics.
– I do not think, by the honorable member’s showing, that it can have done so. It may not select candidates, or issue circulars to its members asking them to vote for so-and-so, but it is organized for political purposes.
– Nothing of the sort.
– The honorable member for Darling said so; he is my authority. I have been careful, so far as my memory serves, to quote his own words. It is a union organized with political aims.
– I did not say that.
– The honorable member said that unless the union were organized for political as well as industrial purposes it could not secure lasting benefits.
– I did not say quite that.
– The honorable and learned member does not understand the position-
– If so, it is not for want of deep sympathy with the subject for many more years than I have been a member of Parliament. The clause, as it stands, will force men who have to earn their livelihood to join unions which are committed to more than industrial objects. That is our fear, and I have heard nothing to dissipate it.
– Could not any award be evaded if there were no such provision?
– I shall deal with that point. I. wish,’ first, that those who support the clause as it stands should realize what it is that troubles those of us who are in favour of the amendment. Our fears have not been dissipated by the arguments we have heard. It is not that we object to unions having political objects. We have not the least objection to that. I think it is a most proper thing for men who hold common political aims to join together to strive to attain them by constitutional means, and if they succeed no one can complain.
– The honorable and learned member will see the objects of the Australian Workers’ Union stated in this pamphlet.
– I find from the paper, which the honorable member has handed to me that the objects of the union are these : -
By the provision and distribution of funds and by all other lawful means, whether industrial, political, municipal, or otherwise -
to regulate and protect the conditions of labour, the relations between workmen and employers, and between workmen and workmen:
to impose restrictive conditions on the conduct of the trade, business, or industry of the members ;
to promote the general and material welfare of the members, and to improve the relations between employers and workmen ;
to gradually replace the present competitive system of industry by a co-operative system ;
to provide legal assistance in defence of members’ rights, where deemed necessary ;
to establish and maintain a funeral fund for the benefit of deceased members;
to endeavour, by political action, to secure social justice;
to establish and maintain labour journals;
to assist, by federation or otherwise, kindred organizations in upholding the rights and privileges of workers, and generally toassist in the emancipation of labour.
I ask the Committee has, or has not, that organization political objects ?
– Of course, it has. Who has denied it?
– The honorable member for Gwydir denied it, and another honorable member questioned the accuracy of my statements.
– The honorable member is quite right. The union is political.
– I do not quarrel with those who support those objects, but I am opposed to the proposal in the Bill,’ which compels men to join unions in whose objects they may not believe.
– We do not compel the in-‘ dividual man.
– I do not say that the individual would be coerced, or that he would be driven out of the union because he voted on lines other than those followed by his fellow-unionists, or that any Arbitration Court would allow a union registered under the Bill to boycott or expel one of its members for such a reason ; but there may be men who quite believe in the industrial objects of the union, and who are quite willing to assist in arriving at an arrangement as between employer and employe before the Court, but who may not agree with the political objects of the union, and may not care to put their names to a document which purports to say that they agree with such political objects. If the objects of the unions were purely industrial, the greater part of my objection to this particular provision with regard to preference would be removed. I desire to refer to the black-list, described by the honorable member for Darling. If such a list exists, I have no sympathy with any such method of procedure.
– We have seen it, and can produce it.
– I am not questioning the existence of the list, but I have not seen it. If it be true that such means are resorted to, they represent a form of fighting with which I have no sympathy. If fighting is to be done, I believe in the parties fighting above board. I do not believe in hitting below the belt, either in industrial strife, or in the battles of the prizering, little as I know about the latter. I desire to point out that the clause as it stands would not help men who are placed on a black-list, if, as the honorable member for Darling alleges, practically the whole, or, at any rate, the great majority, of the men who go shearing are members of a union, because there will be a sufficient number of unionists offering their services to enable the employers to comply with the preference conditions under this clause without employing the men who are on the black-list.
– They could not get enough men.
– Every man who shears in Queensland is on the list "”Mr. McCAY. - Then I do not know how the pastoralists get their shearing done. _
– I said that all the men were on a list - not on a black-list.
– I am speaking of the black-list referred to by the honorable member for Darling, and I cannot conceive of that being so extensive as to constitute, more than an expression of hostility to some selected individuals.
– The presence of their names on the black-list prevents the men from obtaining references.
– The only way in which the men can overcome that difficulty is by taking different names at each station.
– That is all they can do now in’ order to get a living.
– However bad the system described may be), this particular clause would not provide a remedy, or prevent a limited number of men from being blacklisted. We have heard - I shall not call them veiled threats, although they sounded very much like threats - broad hints as to the consequences which will be visited upon honorable members who take up a critical attitude with regard to this clause. We were told by the Minister of External Affairs, that this provision would afford the solitary inducement to the unions to put the Bill in operation. I forget the exact words used by the Minister.
– He said it would be their sole compensation for giving up their right to strike.
– The Minister represented that it would be the solitary motive of the unions for putting the Bill into operation. Those were the words which I noted at the time. I cannot credit that the existing unions say - “ We do not want to become organizations under the Bill, and put it in force, unless it contains a provision by which we can obtain preference of employment from the Court.”
– They do say that, so far’ as I am aware.
– All I can say is that, although many of the things which the unions have said and done are very much to their credit, their attitude on this matter is not to be commended.
– They have to look at what they are giving up.
– We were told a dozen times during the debate on the motion for the second reading of the measure, and also at a similar stage of the Bill which was introduced in a previous session, that the general well-being of the community more than justified, in fact, required, that some means should be provided for securing the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes. This was urged, not in the interests only of the employers and employes, but in those of the great masses of the community who were not combatants. That’ is why I have supported the Bill - not that the unions might obtain a preference, but in order that the community might be protected against the disturbing and distressing effects of strikes.
– I do not dissent from that view; I was merely stating the position taken up by the unions.
– Then I think I may fairly say that the Prime Minister does not agree unreservedly, at any rate, with the unionist attitude.
– I say that the clause providing for preference constitutes the sole reason of the unionists for accepting the Bill; but I do not say that it is the only reason why the measure should be passed.
– The Prime Minister says that this provision affords the only reason for the acceptance of the Bill bv unionists. But that is not the’, reason why the Parliament of the Commonwealth should accept it. We are concerned with the reasons why the Bill should be accepted by Parliament, not the reasons why it will be accepted by one side or the other in the industrial world. Therefore, I say that, although the statement made by the Prime Minister, who has been for many years intimately and honorably connected with trades unions, must weigh with us, it is more in the nature of a menace than an inducement to us, and is not likely to resolve the doubts ‘that many of us have felt with regard to the measure.
I have been, and still am, a supporter of the Bill, and whether this provision be passed or not, I shall support the measure, as it stands at present, upon the third reading. At the same time, however. I desire to enter my protest against any endeavour - I do not mean to say an intentionally improper endeavour - to influence the decisions of the Committee by the statement that such and such terms are the only terms - to use the words of the Minister of External Affairs - upon which the existing unions, which are primarily interested, are prepared to accept the Bill and act under it. It is a matter of great regret that unions of either employers or employes should take up such an attitude. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports gave us another broad hint. He said that the majority of those who were opposing this provision were hostile to trades unionism, and would be regarded by the people outside as its enemies.
– The remark is cheered by one honorable member.
– Would the honorable and learned member give the unions no power ?
-I want the unions to have every legitimate power. When speaking of the constitution of the unions, I desire . it to be understood that I am favorable to their having every power that they can lawfully exercise. I deny absolutely the statement that any man who criticises this clause adversely is therefore hostile to trades unionism. What I doubt is the propriety of forcing men into trades unions which’ may be pursuing objects that are perfectly laudable, but which may not be believed in by those who are forced into membership. It does not necessarily imply hostility to trades unions when one says’ that this may result in an inevitable connexion between industrial and political matters which should not be established by the force of the laws of the Commonwealth. I say that the statement of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was a broad hint to honorable members to be careful of what they are doing, and it was not the kind of statement that should be made from either side of the Chamber.
– It was an attempt to stifle free discussion.
– I may say at once that it will not stop my free discussion of this proposal .
– Why should it?
– I have sometimes hadan unpleasant experience with my electors in consequence of having expressed my opinions freely; but I believe that although they differ from me, they are satisfied that I arn honest. If I have the misfortune to differ from them, they will no doubt exercise their lawful power in explaining to me pointedly, but delicately, that they are not at one with me, and I shall have no objection to the application of majority rule to myself any more than to others.
– I hope the honorable and learned member will not apply the common rule.
– I shall not attempt to extend it beyond the limits of one constituency, and therefore the honorable member will not be affected. The Prime Minister said that it would not be fair to eliminate this provision, because otherwise those who have borne the burden and heat of the day would not . receive adequatecompensation. I would refer him to the parable of the labourers in the vineyard, from which the expression he used was taken, as an answer.. The Minister of External Affairs said some- thing to the effect that if we did not provide for preference to unionists, it would be contrary to the principles of the Bill, which was founded on the recognition of organizations. I quite agree that the Bill is founded on that principle, and I have voted with the Government in support of that view.
– Now the honorable and learned member wants to kill the Bill.
– I do not think that thai is a fair interjection.
– It is disgraceful. Mr. McCAY. - I would not say that; but I do not think that it is fair. I have said already that I realize the strength of the arguments that .can be used in favour of paragraph .b. I am not endeavouring to kill the Bill, but 1 have condemned the unions for taking up the position that they will not accept the Bill without this provision.
– The Bill will do no good to any one without the provision.
– Will the Bill do no good to any one if it leads to the settlement of industrial disputes? If the conditions of labour are unfair to some particular industry, and an organization registered under the Bill submits a case to the Court, and has the hours of labour and wages and other conditions put upon an equitable basis; if the Court says, “ Now, every employer must obey these terms, and every man who wants employment must also obey them,” and the Court and the community alike say that these are fair terms, and are better than those previously existing, will justice not be done - even though the Court does not give preference to unionists? The honorable member says that the Bill will do no good without this provision. What does he say of those cases in which the Court refuses to give preference? Will no advantage be obtained in such instances? The honorable member would appear, by his interjection, to be favorable to providing by statute that, instead of leaving it to the discretion of the Court, it shall be compulsory to give preference to unionists.
– That would be better still.
– Even the New Zealand Act has not gone that far.
– What shall it profit a man if he gain a rise in “ screw “ and lose his job? The honorable .and learned member quoted scripture just now.
– I do not recognise the quotation of the Minister of External Affairs as a scriptural one.
– It is a paraphrase of the scripture. .
– It is a revised version.
– I am prepared to admit that there may be a small section on either side who will bear malice, because one side has been instrumental in securing alterations in the conditions of labour to the disadvantage of the other.
– Will the honorable and learned member believe that a black-list has been circulated from one end of a State to the other, by all the employers engaged in a big industry, and that it embraces every man whom they regard as an agitator? We have seen copies of it.
– I am very sorry to hear it.
– It was not confined to an isolated employer or two.
Mr-. McCAY. - I have condemned that evil, and I have pointed out that this provision will not remedy it. Indeed, it will rather tend to perpetuate it, because it will cause more men to join the unions, and thus give the employers, who desire to exclude the men whose names appear upon their black-list, a larger area of choice. If every man is a member of a union, employers cannot help engaging unionists. Consequently, they will be able to ignore the claims of men whose names figure upon their black-list, without being open to the charge that they have refused them employment because they are unionists. Thus more scope will be given them to indulge in petty malice by refusing employment to the selected victims of their dislike. This provision will not cure that evil. It will only prevent employers from making a general “ set “ against unionists.
– They will find it no advantage to employ one unionist as against another, because when (once a man has joined a union, he will stick to it.
– I wish to suggest a compromise. I have an amendment in print which I do not suppose the Government will accept.
– They have accepted some of the honorable and learned member’s amendments.
– The Prime Minister, it is true, has exhibited a very reasonable spirit, though not quite so reasonable a one as I think he might have displayed, because he is predisposed in favour of the views of the party to which he belongs.
– That is more than we can say about the honorable and learned member for Wannon.
– I do not think that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Wannon is relevant to the question which is before the Chair. At the same time. I believe there is great force in the objection which has been urged by him that men in a union who form a minority of those interested should not be able practically to coerce a majority.
– Can the honorable and learned member show a solitary instance in which that has occurred?
– The honorable and learned member for Wannon gave us two or three such cases.
– It is not fair to say that a minority can coerce them, because in every case a man can state an objection and be heard before the, Court.
– I can scarcely imagine that a man would come from the other end of the continent to state his case before the Court in Sydney. The power of isolated individuals to state objections, as compared with that of organizations, is not so very great after all. I do not think that a minority ought to be able to compel a majority to join a union which otherwise they would be unwilling to join. The honorable member for Darling has told the Committee that in nearly all the cases in which a preference was granted to unionists by the Arbitration Court in New Zealand during the early days of its establishment, the Judge made it a condition precedent that the union must represent a majority of those interested. That is a very wholesome rule. If any coercion is to be exercised, it is better that it should be exercised by a majority than by a minority. The minority is quite as likely to do wrong as is the majority. Hence I believe in majority rule. During the last session of the New Zealand Parliament a debate took place on the question of whether the granting of a preference to unionists should not be made statutory, instead of being left to the discretion of the Court. On that occasion some very interesting figures were given by Mr. Lewis, the member for Courtenay, who was opposed to a compulsory preference. In speaking to the question, he said -
I want to show what has been the action of the Court for a considerable period. I have gone through the record of disputes, from the month of January up to the 30th September - that is, from the 1st January this year, practically up to date. I find this : that before the Boards of
Conciliation and the Court of Arbitration, there have been sixty-one cases. There have been agreements registered also, and there have been recommendations of the Boards of Conciliation, and there have been awards of the Court of Arbitration - sixty-one in all. In forty-eight of these, preference has been given to the unionists.
I should like honorable members to think of that. In four-fifths of the cases’ determined, the preference has been made a part of the award. Of course it may be that the granting of a preference was not so frequent in the earlier days, but evidently this wish for preference is an appetite which grows by what it feeds on. Consequently, we may expect that preference awards will grow in. numbers rather than decrease.
– The Court has had experience now.
– With the limitation which the Court of New Zealand laid down for itself, and one other condition, I am prepared to support paragraph b. But I desire the honorable member for Darling to assent to the proposal that those who make the application must represent a majority of those interested before such preference shall be granted. After what he has said, I confidently ‘rely upon his support, and I trust that he will not disappoint me. Mr. Lewis continued -
In nine cases what has been called the “ nodiscrimination “ clause has been inserted.
That is a clause which directs that no discrimination shall be made between unionists and non-unionists. That is the fairest proposal of all. He further proceeds -
In four cases I can find no mention of whether preference was given or not.
In one of the nine instances in which the “no-discrimination” clause was inserted, the preference was given as soon as the union had effected certain alterations in its rules, so as to permit of competent workmen becoming members, and’ in two others no preference was asked for. So that out of fifty-four cases in which a preference was sought- leaving out of consideration the four of which no record exists- it was granted in forty-eight, presumably with the condition mentioned by the honorable member for Darling, that those applying represented a majority of those interested.
– Was that in New Zealand or in New South Wales?
– In New Zealand. I take the case of New Zealand, because legislation of this character has become more settled there than it is in New South Wales.
– But the section in the New Zealand Act is not quite the same as in this provision, and in New South Wales it is.
– The section in the New Zealand Act gives the Court practically the same power as does this provision. In a debate which took place in the New Zealand House of Representatives, on the 15th October of last year, a number of members supported the granting of a compulsory preference to unionists on various grounds. For instance, Mr. Arnold, in moving the motion, said -
Sir, I say that the only rational way of removing that difficulty is to have absolute preference, which would mean that every member in that employment would be a member of the union.
In other words, every man engaged in an industry would be compelled to join a union in order to gain a livelihood. I might cite a number of other quotations to the same effect. I recognise that there is a reasonable apprehension that unionists may suffer by the passing of this Bill. I have no desire to see them suffer, but I do not wish to see them benefited at the expense of others who are equally worthy/ I know a great many unionists, and a great many non-unionists, and I am not prepared to say that in every case the unionist is superior. There are good and bad in both classes.
– The honorable and learned member means non-members of a union, not “ non-unionists.”
– The honorable member for Darling interprets “non-unionist “-to mean an anti-labour man. .There are other less choice terms used to describe the same individual. I hold that there are men who are just as earnest in their advocacy of what they believe will be for the benefit of the community as are unionists, and who do not desire to join ^unions, not because they are too mean to pay their subscriptions, but for many other reasons. I think I can claim that my amendment is germane to this discussion. At a later stage, I intend to move that the fallowing proviso be added to paragraph b : -
Provided that the Court shall not direct preference to be given to members of organizations, except as part of a common rule, and with the consent of such organizations and persons as in the opinion of the Court represent a majority of those engaged in the industry within the area proposed to be brought under the common rule who have interests in common with the party or parties applying for such direction.
That means that a preference shall not be granted except where a common rule is being applied, and that it shall not be granted unless the persons applying for it represent a majority of those who will be brought under the operation of the award. The reason why I suggest, first of all, that it shall not be applied except as part of a common rule, is’ because there are certain safeguards in connexion with the application of a common rule. Notice will have to be given, so that persons who are not parties, but who will be affected bv the award, will receive intimation by advertisement or otherwise, and have an opportunity to come in and show cause why the common rule should not be made, and, in the same way, to show cause why a preference should not be given. In the second place, I think it would, to a large extent, achieve, although in a different way, one of the objects which the honorable member for North Sydney has in view, and that which certain persons in New Zealand desired to achieve. We should have the preference operating only -where the whole area concerned was affected - where the matter was of sufficient importance to apply the award to all concerned. This is a limitation, but not a very material one. The second part of the amendment explains itself. It provides, in effect, that no one shall be able to apply to have a preference granted unless he represents a majority of those who” will be affected by the award. These two propositions are net necessarily bound up with each other, and when the proper times arrives I propose to submit them separately. They are not unreasonable restrictions.
– What does the honorable and learned member call a majority - a majority of whom ?’
– A majority of the persons who will be bound by the award.
– Employers and employes ?
– No; a majority of the persons who have interests in common with the parties applying for the preference. If the employes apply for the preference they must represent, or have the consent of, a majority of the employes who will bebound by the award. My proposal does not mean that there must also be the consent of the majority of the employers concerned.
– Supposing that the others outside the organization do not object.
– The honorable and. learned member knows very well that persons do not hasten into law courts; they do not hasten even into an Arbitration Court-
– Surely the honorable and learned member would not say that if certain persons applied for a preference, and. Other persons having an opportunity to object, did not do so, the application should not be granted ?
– The applicants should not be granted a’ preference unless they represented a majority of the persons on their own side, who would be bound by the award. That should be a condition precedent to their being able to apply.
– Take a case affecting 5,000 persons, 2,000 asking for the award, and 3,000, although being called upon, not putting in an appearance.
– They would not be called upon collectively, but individually, because they would- not be organized. If 2,000 out of 5,000 applied they should be able to induce 501 of the others to agree, and if they could not do so, they should not be entitled to ask for the preference. That is the very lowest limit on which this provision should be granted. Even if the Prime Minister would not go so far as to accept ray proposition in regard to the common rule; if he was prepared to accept the majority provision, and to insert a provision as to notice being given similar to that required in connexion with an application for a common rule. I should realize the force of this provision from his point of view. I should be inclined to admit the existence of the fears which have been mentioned, and that it was possible that they might be realized. I have great doubts about the matter, but I should be prepared to give him, so to speak, the benefit of the doubts which still remain in my mind. I should like to see this measure operative. I should be very sorry to see it inoperative, even although unions refused to come under it, and although I disapproved of their refusal.
– -Would the adoption of the honorable and learned member’s suggestion mean securing the consent of the majority of persons in the Commonwealth to be affected by the award?
– No; because in the form in which I have drafted the amendment it would apply only to the area over which the award was to be extended.
– Then it is dependent on being part of a common rule?
– As the amendment stands, that would be so ; but if- the Prime Minister would agree to insert the provision as to notice, I should be prepared to allow the first part to go by the board, and to alter the second part so that it would read - ‘
With the consent of such organizations and persons as in the opinion of the Court represent a majority of those to be affected by the award and who have interests in common with the party or parties applying for the direction.
That would require a majority of only those to whom the award would apply. If it were to be made a common rule, it would be necessary to obtain the consent of the majority in the area to which the common rule would apply. If it were to be an award applying only to the actual parties to the dispute, it would require a majority of only the individuals who were parties in the same interest to the dispute.
– They would be organizations - -
– I can scarcely imagine a case in which an. award would not affect some non-unionist. If this Bill became law, , we might have unionists and nonunionists working side by side in the same establishment, without the unionists being able to object unless they had an award declaring that non-unionists should not work with unionists ; at all events, we should, have this state of affairs in different establishments. I can scarcely conceive of a case in which there would not be a few non-unionist employers or employes affected, and ‘ therefore an award would always bind a few more than the actual parties to the dispute. In cases in which the award would bind only the actual parties to the dispute. I should be satisfied with a provision that the organization asking for the preference should show that it had the consent of the majority of the individuals represented by it.
– If the parties to the dispute only were affected, no employes who were not in the organization would be concerned.
– If only the parties to the dispute were to be affected, this would not apply to them. They would represent the whole of the persons to be affected by the award. But cases will arise in which all the persons to be affected by the award are by no means parties to the dispute. Honorable members will see that I do not require that a majority of the persons affected shall be parties to the dispute, but that they shall be consenting parties to the application for the preference. There are other limitations to be proposed, to which the Prime Minister has already agreed, and possibly others to which he has not agreed. This proposition seems to me to be a reasonable limitation, and one that is essentially fair. I should prefer the amendment to be passed in this form; but if the Government do not accept my suggestion, I shall be entitled to fall back on the further proposal I have made. I ask them, first of all, to agree to provide for notice in the manner required in connexion with an application for a common rule; and, secondly, to agree that where employes ask for a preference clause in an award’ it shall be necessary for them to show that they represent or have the consent of a majority of the employe’s who will be affected by the award. I do not suppose that employers will very often ask for a preference, although it will be open for them to do so; but if they do they should also be called upon to show that they represent or have the consent of a majority of the employers to be affected by the award. These are reasonable proposals, and must show those who do not agree with me that they have no right to say that I have indicated hostility to trades unionism in the attitude I have taken up with regard to this or any other clause in the Bill. I submit my proposition for the consideration of honorable members. I must frankly confess that if the right to grant a preference were left solely to the discretion of the Court without any guiding lines or limitations, I should fear the result of this provision even more than I should fear the result of rejecting it. I should probably consider it my duty in those circumstances to vote for the elision of the paragraph- I do not wish to do that, because I have no desire to do anything that might affect the subsequent working of this measure. I desire to arrive at some compromise that will give the most, reasonable security, and the security I ask is a very small one. The power to grant a preference should be limited and guarded in some respects. If the Government accept my proposal, I shall resolve the doubts I have in their favour ; if they cannot do so, I shall be free to act in accordance with what my sense of duty suggests.
– Although a considerable time has been occupied in discussing this provision, its importance demands that it should receive the fullest consideration, and time has not been wasted. There are apparently widely divergent views in regard to the issue involved, but I am inclined to believe that the difference of opinion which exists is more in relation to matters of detail than to any important principle. One of the basic principles of this Bill is organization, and the strong reason why those who advocate the retention of paragraph b, as it stands!, should argue for a preference to members of an organization is that which impels me to move in the same direction. It would be absolutely impossible to make the awards of the Court effective unless there was an organization to fall back upon, and, therefore, I feel no doubt as to what attitude I should take up. During the debate many side issues have been introduced. The honorable member for Darling has said that the question of unionism and non-unionism is not involved, while others distinctly assert that trades unionism is clearly at issue. I propose to discuss the question not from that stand-point but from the point of view of industrial organization. The honorable member for Darling has said that he objects to workers being coerced into joining a union. If that is so, how much more force is given to the arguments of honorable members from this side when they brought forward their reasons why workers in an industry should not be coerced into joining a union, which may have for its object some purposes distinct from those of the Act. As regards forcing the men engaged in an industry into an organization, which is to give effect to the provisions of the Act, I am prepared to go the whole way with the Government; but I am not prepared to go the whole way with those who argue that the workers in an industry should become members of the trades union of that industry. I do not think that any honorable member is more fully aware of the injustice that may be done to workers than is the honorable member for Darling. It will be remembered that he said that it was only through the existence of unreasonable employers that a dispute ever arose. Surely, the history of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales affords to the honorable member sufficient disproof of that statement, because he must be aware that a number of disputes have been taken into that Court by industrial organizations, and that their applications have been refused. That is an evidence that a dispute has arisen in an industry, not through any fault1 of an employer, but through a desire on the part of the workers in the industry to get better conditions.
– They must have been ‘dissatisfied with the employer.
– Certainly ; but the Court said that the employers were not unreasonable. That is a proof that it is not always an unreasonable employer who causes a dispute. There may be other causes for its occurrence.
– I said that there were other causes. ‘
– But in the great majority of cases the Court has decided in favour of the workers.
– I was not discussing the conditions under the Arbitration Act, but the conditions under the trades unions.
– I propose to discuss matters as they are, and I have quoted some evidence in disproof of the honorable member’s statement. He also referred to a black-list. If- there is one man in Australia who should know the reason for that black-list it is the honorable member. If he will carry his mind back to the serious strike which existed throughout Australia in the early nineties, he will remember that the union which he organized and so worthily represents gave as hard a slap in the face as it was possible for any industrial organization to give to employers who assisted that union in its early infancy. Without a word of warning, the shearers in the union sheds throughout New South Wales, and practically throughout Australia, were called out. Who were hurt most injuriously by that calling out?
– The union never called them out.
– Certainly it was not done with the consent of the workers in the union.
– Nor of the union, or any authority under the union.-
– The fact, remains that the shearers were called out, and brought ruin, so far as they were able to do, on the employers who were supporting the union. That was the cause of the origination of that black-list.
– It never hurt one of them.
– Will the honorable member contend for a moment that no injury was done to some of the largest sheds in New South Wales, that were only halfway through with their shearing when the whole of the employes were called out on practically twenty-four hours’ notice, the shearing was held in suspense for six weeks, the sheep were turned adrift with their wool, and the grass seeds were just coming to maturity?
– There was only one week’s stoppage.
– But, in the meantime, the shearers had been scattered throughout the length and breadth of Australia. I know sheds in Riverina which, instead of finishing their shearing early in October, practically did not finish until the end of November.
– That was not our fault.- it was their own.
– It was the fault of those who ordered the men to come out, without taking their voice on the question.
– That was not the fault of the Shearers’ Union, so do not put the blame on their shoulders.
Mr. KENNEDY. am not arguing now, nor is it necessary to argue whose fault it was. The fact remains that one of the best organized unions in Australia, as claimed by the honorable member, did the greatest possible injustice to the employers who were supporting it loyally. Sheepowners, who were shearing with “ scab “ or “blackleg” labour as it was termed, had their shearing completed. What was the effect of unionism on employers in that instance ? That was the cause or origin of the black-list which the honorable member decries, and which all fair-minded men must decry. But was it not a just cause for making the black-list? I contend that, unquestionably, it was.
– There was no calling out of the shearers in Queensland, where a black-list has been used.
– Very strange to say, it was the employers who were shearing with “ scab “ or “ blackleg” labour, as it was called, who got their shearing completed satisfactorily that year- Now, as regards the fear in the minds of honorable members, who are opposing this preference to unionists, as it is termed, but which I prefer to term a preference to members of an organization, surely the rules of the association, of which the honorable member for Darling is president, are sufficient warrant for the existence of that fear? Why are there two unions existing in Australia for the same industry? Is it not because of the coercive nature of the rules governing the parent organization?
– The honorable member, who is president of the union, says “No.” But I shall take the liberty of quoting the judgment of the Arbitration Court of New South Wales to which an application was made by the Australian Workers’ Union to have the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union cancelled, and leave honorable members to judge of the facts -
The Australian Workers’ Union and the Machine Shearers’ and Shed Employees’ Union had been registered as industrial unions of employees, the date of registration of the former being prior to that of the latter. The rules of both unions provided for the admission to membership of shearers and their assistants. The rules of the Australian Workers’ Union contained provisions (inter alia) for the establishment of a fund for political purposes, and for affording financial assistance to the political candidate approved of by the union, and for preventing such candidate acting in opposition to the policy of the Labour Party ; for the infliction of a penalty upon members voting or working against such candidate ; for establishing and carrying on a newspaper in connexion with the union ; for pro- hibiting members working for shearing contractors or with machines not belonging to their employers.
– Who financed the Machine Shearers’ Union?
– That is not the question. The point I am dealing with is the existence of two unions for the same industry.
– One bogus and the other not.
– I am not dealing with that issue.
– But the fact is that that union was organized by the employers.
– I am not discussing that issue just now.
– There would not have been two unions had it not been for the employers.
– The plea was not a genuine one.
– I am dealing with, the application of the parent union to the Arbitration Court for the cancellation of the registration of what I should naturally imagine was a bogus union. For I cannot conceive the idea of having two unions for the same industry - more particularly such a one as the shearing industry. I wish to deal fairly with the position, and to put the facts from my point of view. I have already stated that I am impelled to support a proposal for preference to members of an organization, because I fear the efficacy of the measure, unless awards can be brought to bear upon an organization instead of upon units scattered throughout the Commonwealth. It is with a view to obtain a proposal that will meet the position from my point of view, and not to prohibit a preference, that I desire to deal with the situation. I have stated the nature of the application which was submitted to the Court. What was its finding ? -
Held by the President and Mr. Cruickshank (Mr. Smith dissenting) that an application by the Registrar for the cancellation of the registration of the Machine Shearers’ and Shed Employees’ Union should not, under the circumstances, be granted, the majority of the Court being of opinion that certain of the rules of the Australian Workers’ Union were rightly objected to, and should not be forced upon the members of the Machine Shearers’ Union.
That is the point at which I join issue with my. honorable friends on the other side. If they are prepared to accept a proposal in consonance with that which was submitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and in which we are asked to clearly lay down the purposes for which an organization is constituted, and to enact that its funds shall be utilized for those purposes - that is,, for industrial conciliation or arbitration- I am with them wholeheartedly, but if the funds of the organization are to be utilized, as is proposed, then I shall be placed in the position of having to vote against a preference to members of an organization.
– What position is the honorable member alluding to? Putting the funds to what use?
– To political purposes. I shall quote a few of the rules that were objected to, which put my position very fairly.
– And which have been expunged.
– Running a paper, for instance ?
– No. I have no objection to an industrial organization - if it is financially able to do so - running a newspaper for the purposes of its party ; but I distinctly object to a man being forced into a union, and to that union attacking his political principles after he has joined.
– Does the honorable member object to an Employers’ Union touching politics?
– What I wish to do is to leave every man free to follow the trend of his own political opinions.
– The ballot-box insures that.
– I propose to quote a few of the reasons which were given by the Court for its decision in the case I have referred to. I may say I do not agree with the action of the Pastoralists1 Association in formulating a black-list, but it appears that the Australian Workers’ Union, through their newspaper, followed exactly the same course, because on page 30 of the report I find this statement -
There certainly have been “ black-lists,” and some other aggressive features in its columns, of which one cannot approve.
– What is the good of a newspaper if it is not aggressive?
– I do not object to the union establishing the Worker, but when the honorable member refers to a black-list as being objectionable, and then pursues exactly the same line of policy, he is inconsistent.
– He does not ; we have never done so.
– But here is the statement of the Court to the contrary.
– “ Trust the Court!”
– The Worker . came under the review of the President of the Court. This is not mythical, as far as I am concerned.
– The President says -
There certainly have been “black-lists,” and some other aggressive features in its columns, of which one cannot approve, and which may leave the publishers open to actions for libel.
– Yes ; but I am not dealing with that point. I am referring te the fact that this organization, whose representative condemns a black-list, pursued exactly the same line of policy. It is purely a matter of business or policy with them. When it is done by one who differs from them it is an act to be condemned. Surely their condemnation cannot carry the same force when it is known that they pursue exactly the same line of policy ?
– We do not.
– Reasons were given by the President of the Court for not cancelling the registration of the alleged bogus union. It will be found that he says on page 32 of these reports -
Dealing separately wilh rule 57, which is incorporated also in rule 63, I regard it as highly objectionable, and as contrary to public policy, and therefore legally unenforcable (see Taylor v. Taylor, 11, N.S.W. R., 323). It is as follows : - “Any member of the Australian Workers’ Union voting or working against the selected labour candidate approved of by the union, shall be fined the sum of £3-“
Is that a proper thing?
– No, it is not a proper thing.
– That rule was in force for only about a year.
– That is quite enough to prove the case.
– That was given as one reason why the second union was allowed to exist. ‘
– However, that rule is not there now.
– I do not know. There is a further rule to which objection was taken. Honorable members will find, at page 33 of the reports, that the President said - -
A further rule to which objection is taken is 32, which stipulates “ that any person “ (that is non-members as well as members) “ who have scabbed since 1S91, or at any time canvassed for non-unionists, or otherwise taken an active part against this or any other union shall be disqualified from holding any office or representative position of any kind, or from nominating others for the same in connexion with the Australian Workers’ Union.”
– What has that to do with this Bill? Those rules will not be allowed under this Bill.
– I dp not know. This is one of the strongest unions in Australia. Its members went into Court, claiming to be the representatives of the employe’s in. the industry throughout Australia, and that they voiced the opinions of the members of the organization throughout Australia. Yet the Court allowed another organization tobe constituted for exactly the same purpose.
– Allowed it to continue until those rules were altered.
– It proves my contention that it is possible to have a trades union or industrial union incorporating rules and’ provisions in its constitution, which may be highly reprehensible, in the view of a largesection of the workers in a particular industry.
– But-, it is proposed by the Government to insert a clause which will prevent anything like that occurring under this Bill.
– I shall be only toodelighted to give my support to such a. clause.
– There is no opposition to that.
– The honorable member says there is no opposition to it, but it was interjected, when the honorable and learned member for Corinella was speaking, that, unless paragraph b was embodied in the Bill without any modification, the unions existing in Australia would not accept the Bill:
– The honorable member who interjected was referring to the kind of modification suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and not such a modification as we propose.
– I have not had an opportunity to study the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and I am dealing particularly with that submitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– We propose to accept the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat.
– I was not aware of that. I point out to honorable members that another rule of the union to which I refer, was objected to, and the President of the New South Wales Arbitration Court said -
It has been also submitted that rule 146 is one, which the Court should not force upon any person, as the alternative to remaining a nonindustrial unionist. It says, “ No member shall accept shea.ring work under a shearing contractor. The shearers violating this rule shall be refused enrolment or renewal in contract-sheds, but may be admitted to membership on payment of £3 fine.”
That was another reason, and a fourth is given in this way -
One other rule has been referred to, to which objection has been taken, and, although I do not attach so much importance to it as to the last, and do not base my objection upon it, I, yet, cannot appreciate the reason for it. It is rule 147, which prohibits, under a penalty of £3, any member from purchasing his shearing machine.
– He did not have any argument on that.
– This all goes to prove that, when we are dealing with a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and it is proposed to give preference to the members of an organization, we cannot be too careful in restricting the constitution of the organization, and in making the conditions such that nothing which may be regarded as reprehensible by any fair-minded man, or which might have the effect of preventing him from earning his livelihood, shall be incorporated in the rules or the constitution of the organization.
– That is accepted.
– That is all I contend for. After all, there is not a great deal of difference between honorable members opposite and honorable members on this side ; but, judging from many of the arguments urged from the Treasury benches, it would appear as if the Government would accept nothing, but would insist that every person engaged in industrial occupation who desired to come under the purview of this Bill, after an award had been made, must perforce, in order to get work, become a member of a trades organization, no matter for what object, apart from this Bill, it is founded, If an organization is constituted as it should be, solely for the purpose of giving effect to this Bill, no fair minded man could object to it. I am prepared to go the whole way with the Government if they insist that there shall be nothing objectionable allowed in the rules or constitution of an organization. If one section of the workers in any industry has a grievance, with an employer, and, taking it to Court, secures an award which will better the conditions of all employes in the industry, I see no reason why that one section of workers should have to bear the whole of the cost involved in the action taken. There is no doubt in my mind that it ought to be a charge upon the whole of the workers in that industry. I have said that I have not studied the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella ; but, from what I have heard of it, it would appear to be open to objection, inasmuch as it would make it necessary to secure the opinion of the majority of the workers in any particular industry. In the earlier clauses of the Bill we have laid it down that 100 members may constitute an organization having a right to submit a proposal to the Court. If people are compelled to go beyond that to find out the absolute number of workers in any particular industry, that they may be able to prove to the Court that thev have a majority of those employed in the industry behind them, their task would appear to me to be an almost impossible one. If the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is embodied in the Bill, the main objections to it. as far as I am concerned, will be met. I suggest, however, that the Go- vernment should postpone the consideration of this clause until the subsequent clauses are dealt with. We shall know exactly what our position will be then, and I can give honorable members my assurance that, if the rights of the members of organizations are so safeguarded that their funds shall be utilized solely for the purposes of this Bill, the proposal which has been made will have my support.
– I propose to offer a very few words in regard to this clause. I desire to address my observations on the subject, from what, I hope, will be regarded as an impartial stand-point- That is to say, I am not taking up the attitude, on the one hand, of a thick-and-thin trades unionist, or, on the other, of an uncompromising opponent of trades unionism. I desire to speak on the subject only from the stand-point of the public interest. That is the aspect from which I have regarded this Bill from the outset. I think it is of the very highest importance to every interest of the community at large that industrial strife should be ended. But when we are fashioning a great measure of this description, once having admitted the principle we should endeavour to make it as effective as we can, consistently with justice all round. The first consideration we should bear in mind is that the proposal in this clause 48 is not to make it a mandate upon the Court to give preference to unionists. If it were a mandate to operate compulsorily in all cases, irrespective of the merits of the particular dispute, and irrespective of the requirements of the industries, I should oppose it. If it were, within my apprehension, an inevitable result of trie provision, however optionally it were framed, that men would be necessarily driven to join unions in all cases, I should also oppose it. But I do no’t believe that that would be its result. One of the most vigorous opponents of the paragraph b is the honorable member for Lang, but that honorable member proved to me that there was nothing to fear from it. He proved by the extracts ‘ he read that if there was a bane there was also an antidote - that the Court would not permit the evil to exist that he deprecated and feared. When it is indisputably shown by the very instances which the honorable member adduces to the Committee in opposition to the provision, that there is a cure so near at hand, I say we have nothing to fear from it.
– Trust the Court again !
– We trust the Court with a great deal more. As was said the other night, we trust the Court with our lives. That is a truism ; and if we trust the Court with our lives and our liberties- and this is part of the life and liberty of the industrial community-
– We trust the Court with our lives under certain specified directions.
– Not always. One of the necessities of this Bill is elasticity. We are placing at the head of this Court, I think I may go so far as to say, the only person in Australia who, in my judgment, could command undoubted confidence in a matter of so much importance to the people of Australia, namely, a Judge of the High Court.
– It depends on the Judge.
– He must be a good man before he. can get upon the High Court Bench.
– We need not make a selection. We know that the President of the Court is to be a Justice of the High Court.
– The Justices of the High Court need not take this work.
– I think that any Judge of the High Court would willingly help to the best of his power and ability in so great a work as this. Until I heard a Judge say that he would not, I should hesitate to believe it. But if we once arrive at the conclusion that there is nothing compulsory in this paragraph, then we are rid, to my mind, of most of the objections to it. It is purely potential. Then, is it advisable? That is the next question.
Mr- McColl. - Is it necessary ?
– If it is advisable, whether it is absolutely necessary or not, we should adopt it. But I will go so far as to say that it is necessary. I say that it is necessary for a reason which I will give.
– The Minister of External Affairs says that the Court has the power to give a preference, without any specific provision of this kind.
– That opinion is almost absolutely correct, as the Bill stands, irrespective of this provision. But there is something to be said for this paragraph, which I think my honorable friend -will admit, when I point it out - that if there is the power in the Court at all, and under any circumstance, to make this order, the paragraph ought to stand as it is. There is an additional power which I shall point out in a moment. I shall show now, as shortly as I can, why I think the provision is both necessary and advisable^ The Bill,- it is rightly said, is built upon the structure of organization. It is true that an individual employer may apply to the Court if he is a party to an industrial quarrel. But no individual employe can bring his case before the Court. No individual employe” can put his employer to trouble and expense and annoyance by bringing, a case before the Court. No number of employes short of 100 can do it. There must be an organization ; and the Bill says that no employe or combination of employes, not an organization, can bring an industrial quarrel to the notice of the Court. Are honorable members, who oppose this particular paragraph, prepared to say that any individual employe shall be permitted to invoke the assistance of the Court? Are they prepared to cast clown all distinction between individuals and organizations?
– It could be applied to individuals.
– I do not think that my honorable friend would agree to a proposal to that effect for a moment. Is the whole paraphernalia of the Court to be invoked to adjust a dispute between one or two individuals, and to leave the question in dispute undecided, so far as it affects other individuals ? That would be opening a way to a flood of litigation of the most oppressive character that we could contemplate. Therefore, rightly, it is provided that employes, to enter upon a quarrel of this kind, must represent an organization of at least 100 members. Then we have it that in certain cases - the Committee has alreadyagreed to the provision - a common rule may be declared by the Court. The Court may think it necessary to go beyond the actual contestants - beyond the actual organization, and the actual employer concerned in the dispute - and, for the sake of the peace and order of the Commonwealth in relation to that particular dispute, either wholly or in part, unrestricted in area or limited in area as the Court thinks right, and with such conditions or limitations as the Court thinks proper, the common rule may be made to apply. But suppose the Court says - “ We do not think it right or sufficient to make an award that shall bind only the parties to this dispute; and, on the other hand, we do not see our way, without doing some injustice, to make a common rule to applyover a vast area.” What, then, is the Court to do? Is it to leave only the members of the organization bound? The order would bind them, of course, even if they dissolved: But are only the members of that organization to be bound; and are they to leave employers in this position - that if an award is made they may say, “ We will evade it by bringing in employes from some other part, who are not bound by this award “? Are they to be allowed to evade the award by introducing non-unionists, ‘with a view of finding a way actually to avoid compliance with the order of the Court? So that the Court may say - provides this 48th clause - “ We do not want to make an order that will be ineffective, because it extends no further than the actual disputants, and, on the other hand, we do not want to make a common rule in this case which will operate more widely than we desire; but we will in this particular instance say that preference in this industry, or as regards this employment, shall be given to members of this organization.” It is a way out. of the difficulty. It is an intermediate course that the Court may in its wisdom follow, if it thinks that justice may thereby be subserved. Surely we are able to trust the Court in that?
– “Trust the Court” again !
– If we are not going to trust the Court, we had better have no Court at all.
– We do not want a political Court; we have had that before.
– My honorable friend must see that that is not an argument against this provision. It is an argument against the whole Bill. If my honorable friend is going to argue against the whole Bill, he cannot expect me to enter into that controversy now.
– I want to be careful that there .is no political Court.
– Does my honorable friend say that this provision is going . to make the Court political ? If not, let us keep to an argument that is relevant. Therefore, I say that, to my mind, this provision means that the Court may, if it thinks desirable, under any circumstances, where it does not wish or think right to pronounce an order enforcing a common rule - it may as to a particular dispute in a particular locality - say that the circumstances of the case are best met bv making an award which shall declare that preference shall be given to unionists. What is the objection to trades unions ?
– None whatever.
– I am glad to hear that, because, from the arguments which I have heard, there would appear to be a great objection to them. Unions are the absolute outcome of’ necessity. We know that, particularly since the workman has become less arid less the owner of his working instruments, and as day by day invention and discovery advances, and make him still less the owner of the material that he makes up, he is thrown upon his own personal individual resources, and his only safeguard is combination.
– The objection is not to unions, but to compulsory membership.
– I must say that I have listened most carefully to the debate, but I can see no provision in this Bill which means compulsory membership. But I can say this - that if the Court sees any desire on the part of a union to force improperly men or women into its ranks, the Court will say, ‘ ‘ We will not exercise these powers.” Does the honorable member think for a moment that the Court will make an order of this kind solely because it is asked for? Will not the Court look into all the facts that are brought before it?
– We have been told that in four out of five cases in New South Wales the Court has made such an order.
– Does my honorable and learned friend say that events have shown those orders to be wrong?
– I do not think that, under any circumstances, forcing a man to join a political organization can be right.
– That, to my mind, is a most - what shall I say ? - irrelevant reply to make to my question. My honorable and learned friend said that, in four cases out of five, the New South Wales Arbitration Court had made such an order. I asked whether the evidence proved that those orders were wrong. Then my honorable and learned friend makes a’ generalization - a statement which has nothing to do with the question.
–What is the proof that is wanted?
– I say distinctly that if the New South Wales Court - a Court presided over by one of the ablest Judges in New South Wales - a man who cannot be accused of political tendencies - a man against whom not a word has been said - a man who has made the work of the Arbitration Court a matter of confidence, at all events, with the people of New South Wales - if he thinks it necessary, in the interests of justice, to make that order, that is a strong reason for giving the Federal Court power to make such an order in certain cases. My honorable and learned friend the member for Corinella said that in New Zealand, out of sixty-one cases, forty-eight were cases in which a similar order had been made. I look upon that as an additional reason - as a strong proof - that as time goes on and facts accumulate, and trade advances, the tendency is to follow out that rule, which apparently works no injustice. We have heard no outcry from the non-unionists that they are being driven against their will into the. ranks of unionism.
– What did the Chief Justice of New South Wales say ?
– My honorable friend attempts to draw me off the track again. I do riot want to say anything on that point, but, as the question has been put to me, I do say that His Honour’s observations, to mv mind, smack verv considerably of a political statement by a Judge.
– He is an American politician.
– I will not say any more than that; but I hope we shall not have such statements from the Bench at all. But, sticking to the clause we have before us, I do say that I regard this proposal as quite in line with the main provisions of the Bill. I see no danger in it whatever. I regard it as a matter of absolute inconsistency to retain the requirement in the Bill that only organizations of employes can. raise a question before the Court, and at the same time to say that we will not recognise those organizations when we come to deal with preference. If there had been such serious objection to this provision, why have we not had some proof of it from New Zealand, where it has been in operation for some years? Why have we not had some proof from New South Wales? We know there have- been ample opportunity, time, and experience to enable proof to be given by the people of those two States that there was something radically wrong, if wrong existed.
– The honorable and learned member has not been present throughout the debate, or he would have heard some proof.
– I have heard sufficient of the debate, and have read most of what I did not hear. To-night we have had instances mentioned by the honorable member for Moira, who read extracts from rules of which I thoroughly disapprove.
– But these rules were registered under the New South Wales Act.
– In the very case instanced by the honorable member for Moira, the Court disapproved of the rule judicially.
– The honorable and learned member for Corinella read rules which were given to him by the honorable member for Darling, and which included political purposes.
– They were not rules, but objects. I must say that, in. every instance I have heard, whenever the matter has been brought before the Court, the Court has not hesitated to express its disapproval.
– But this organization has been before the Court.
– With what result?
– That those objects are’ not altered.
– Suppose they have not been altered, how does that affect the case? Does the honorable member say that, with an organization like that, the Court has ordered that its members are to have preference ?
– The organization has not been before the Court in that respect.
– If we find an organization with oppressive or improper rules, we may safely trust the Court to refuse to give preference to that organization.
– The onus of objection is cast on individuals outside, who have to bring a case when they very often do .not understand the matter fully.
– I am afraid the honorable member for Wentworth is doing unionists and the Court a great injustice. We will take an instance; there is nothing like a concrete case. Suppose the Australian Workers’ Union applied to the Court, in a certain dispute, for preference to be given to its members. Does the honorable member not see that the first thing the Court would say would be, “ Produce your rules.” And would the Court not say, if the rules were oppressive. “ We -will not force men against their will to enter the union-“ ?
– But the Registrar allowed their appeal in the first instance, and it was afterwards quashed by the Court. That shows that even the Registrar did not understand the matter.
– That is the fault of the Registrar, and not of the rules. The Judge is not a mere Registrar, but is charged with the high and important mission of safeguarding the interests of the whole community. I have no doubt whatever that when cases get before the Judge he will take good care that no union that has improper or oppressive rules, or forces men within its ranks to submit to unreasonable conditions, or makes, or attempts to make, itself a close corporation, has the slightest chance of obtaining an exclusive preference.
– But suppose that the rules are reasonable, and still men have no desire to join?
– Then I should say that the whole of the other circumstances would be taken into consideration by the Court. I ask honorable members to dismiss from their minds any idea that this provision means that unionists of every union shall have preference. It ‘does not. There is nothing more in it than there is in many of the other provisions of the Bill. It gives a power to arm the Court with all the necessary weapons to prevent industrial strife, and to mete out industrial justice; and if the amendment which is to be proposed by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is carried - and there is every promise that it will be carried - I think it will remove every shred of possible objection. Clause 67, in certain cases, gives the Registrar power to bring under the notice of the President the rules of any registered organization. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat proposes to add a subclause providing that if it appear to the Registrar that the rules of a registered organization or their administration do not provide reasonable facilities for the admission of new members or impose unreasonable conditions upon the continuance of their membership or are in any way tyrannical or oppressive, the Registrar may bring under the notice of the President ‘the fact that the rules so offend, and the President is to hear the application for the cancellation of the registration of the organization. If the Judge is of the opinion that the registration should be cancelled - that is the association should be destroyed - he shall so order,
In other words, if an organization abuses the powers of the Bill - if it attempts unfairly to coerce its own members or keep out those who wish to be members, or, if either by its rules or by the administration of its rules, it is tyrannical or oppressive, it may be blotted out of existence. Under such circumstances, a union, so far from having a preference, must cease to exist. No organization would venture upon such a’ penalty ; and the only addition I should like to see made to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - and I hope the Prime Minister will accept my suggestion - is that the President shall himself have power to take notice of such rules, even if the Registrar does not do so. I should like to see the clause enlarged in such a way as not to allow the Registrar to be a stumbling-block in the way of the President taking action, if the latter, from his own inspection or from information howsoever received, comes to the conclusion that an organization, offends in the way I have mentioned.
– I have no objection to that suggestion, because it only carries out the spirit of the amendment which I have already accepted.
– Would the honorable and learned member for Indi be prepared to make it compulsory on the Registrar to examine all rules?
– That is the Registrar’s duty. The Government would, I think, have no objection to insert a provision that it shall be the duty of the Registrar to examine all rules.
– That is implied by the provisions of the Bill at present.
– I do not know that anyhonorable member can raise objection to that course. All we want is the best assurance of industrial peace, consistent with fail play all round. And when we have all those assurances and this power intrusted to the Judge - for, after all, it is only a power, and not a command - I. fail to see any need for the apprehension that has been expressed. That apprehension is founded on the misconception that the clause says that preference shall -be given to unionists. I ask honorable members to dismiss that idea from ‘ their minds. The clause no more says that preference shall be given to unionists than that a decision shall be given in favour of an organization.
– The Minister of External Affairs says that the clause does say preference shall be given, and he justifies it.
– The honorable member for Lang must have misunderstood the Minister; or, if the Minister did say so, I cannot agree with him, and I do not think he would on consideration adhere to such an opinion. I should like to explain why I think paragraph b is not superfluous. In the provision for an award, and in the interpretation of “ industrial matter ‘ ‘ power is undoubtedly given to the Court to make an award of this nature ; but this clause allows the Court to do something more. Suppose an award has been made, and the Court finds that it is being evaded by an employer or an organization of employes, there is power at any time during the pendency of the award, to make the order. That is a very useful power. There is another matter which I should like - to point out to my honorable friends who object to the provision. Although an award may be made giving preference, if it is found to be abused, or to work badly, unjustly, or oppressively, the Court may at any time alter it.
– Courts are not infallible.
– Of course they are not; but that is an argument against all Courts. If we are to have a tribunal, surely we can trust it to do its best, and I have no doubt this Court will do its best. The Court will be a good judge of its own fallibility, when circumstances afterwards arise to show its award to have been wrong.
– According to the honorable and learned member’s own statement, the Chief Justice of New South Wales is not such an excellent Judge.
– - He is a political Judge.
– I shall not say anything more about that matter.
– New South Welshmen who know the Chief Justice, resent the criticism of the honorable and learned member.
– Order ! The honorable member is not in order in discussing a question of that kind.
– If this clause be carried there will, in combination with the other clauses of the measure, be a pretty perfect scheme for securing the result we are all aiming at. I believe that if this clause is carried there will be, on the one hand, no inducement to evade its provisions, and, on the other hand, any attempt at intolerance on either side may be met by the Court. The Court will be able to deal with the intolerance of employers who will be restrained from dismissing employes, because they are members of an organization, but who will not, and cannot be restrained from refusing to employ them. That is a weakness to be guarded against. On the other side, there is the intolerance of organizations, which, if they think they can gain a victory, naturally attempt to do the best they can on their own behalf. There must be checks and balances on these organizations as well as on employers; and if the amendment which has been framed by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is carried, I believe that both sides will have the fullest opportunity to invoke the best assistance of the Court in the administration of the Act with strict justice and strict impartiality.
– Does the Prime Minister propose to report progress now ?
– I do not. There was an understanding last night that we should come to a division to-night.
– Yes, there was. The honorable member said “ Hear, hear,” to my proposal.
– I did not. The Government are burking discussion.
– We have been dealing with this clause for the past three days; that cannot be called burking discussion.
– One of the supporters of the Government to-night occupied more than an hour and a half.
– The Prime Minister did express the desire last night that the debate should terminate to-night, and I, by saying “ Hear, hear,” expressed the same desire. I have that desire now, and am perfectly ready for a division, if honorable members who have not spoken will give way.
– Why should thev?
– I do not say that they should. The Prime Minister must remember that if honorable members on this side are to give way, there must be a corresponding abstention from speaking by his own supporters ; but I find that most of the time to-night has been occupied by Government supporters.
– Only one Government supporter has spoken.
– I have a list of the names of those who have spoken, and of the times which they occupied. The honorable gentleman must not cast upon members on this side of the Chamber the responsibility for occupying time unduly, nor should he, under the circumstances, try to force the debate to a conclusion by sitting beyond the usual hour. In spite of the strong criticism of a proposal which I put forward, I have refrained from speaking to-day, in order that the matter might come to a ‘division if possible. If a division is not taken to-night it will be more largely the fault of the supporters of the Government than of the members of the Opposition.’
– A large number of honorable members wish to speak. I have been waiting for several hours for an opportunity to do so, and I understand that there are others who have been waiting since 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. The honorable member for Kooyong is one of those, who wish to speak. I do not think it would be possible to settle this important question to-night, because a number of amendments, which will have to be considered in detail, have yet to be moved. I wish to explain an amendment which I intend to submit. Nothing will be gained by sitting later to-night.
– I expressed the hope last evening that we should come to a division to-day, and it was acquiesced in on behalf of the Opposition by the members then present.
– We echoed the honorable gentleman’s hope.
– The greater part of three days has now been devoted to the discussion of this clause, and that I think is a reasonable time lo allow, even admitting the importance of the provision. The principle underlying the clause has also been discussed on the second-reading debate, and on other occasions, so that it is not asking too much to ask for a division to-night. However, I am prepared to adjourn now upon the understanding that there will be a division to-morrow.
– We cannot guarantee that.
– In that case we must sit on.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister should ask us to sit on, unless he can make it clear that time is being wasted, and that honorable members wish to speak only to further delay the taking of a division. I do not think there has been the slightest indication of any such desire.
– I do not make that complaint; but I think that a reasonable time for the discussion of this provision will be exceeded if we do not take a division tomorrow.
– It does not matter much to me personally at what hour I speak, though, as I have something to say, I ought to be given a proper opportunity to say it. I do not wish to inconvenience honorable members by speaking now, but I have been waiting nearly three days to be called, and have risen eight or nine times without catching the Chairman’s eye. I wish to put forward certain views which I think, in the interests of my constituents, ought to be enunciated.
– Move the Chairman out of the chair.
– I move-
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
– If honorable members opposite are willing to come to an honorable understanding to take a division tomorrow, I shall consent to report progress.
– We cannot.
– I am addressing myself to thereasonable members of the Committee, to those whom I think will allow reasonable views to prevail. By to-morrow, afternoon we shall have occupied four days in the discussion of this clause.
– Not four- whole days.
– The Bill was not taken into Committee until 6 o’clock tonight.
– Quite so; but I think that by to-morrow afternoon a reasonable opportunity will have been given to fully, discuss the effect of this clause. If honorable members will give me an understanding that they will be ready to take a division to-morrow, I will consent to the reporting of progress.
– We cannot.
– Then I cannot afford to adjourn now.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Syr.dey). - The Prime Minister must know that no such agreement as he has asked for can be made ; but I am sure that the members on this side of the Chamber are willing to endeavour to close the debate tomorrow.
– One or two seem to have a different opinion.
– To close the debate to-morrow, we must have the assistance of the supporters of the Government.
– Only one supporter of the Government has spoken this evening.
– The members supporting the Government have occupied two hours and three minutes, and one of them spoke for 1 hour 28 minutes. Three honorable members who have spoken against the Government proposal or in connexion with the amendment - I am including the honorable member for Moira, who, to some extent, was in favour of the Government - have managed to say all they wished in 94 minutes, whilst one honorable member opposite occupied . 1 hour and 28 minutes It must be remembered, also, that in connexion with the hope that was entertained that the debate would close to-night, it did not occur to me, nor probably. to the Prime Minister, that to-day was grievance day.
– We should have closed the debate yesterday ; but the further we go on the greater number of honorable members wish to speak.
– The Prime Minister knows that there has been no obstruction, and as honorable members have frequently protested against late sittings, I do not think that the business would be facilitated by pursuing the debate any further this evening. All I can say is, that honorable members sitting on this side of the Chamber will endeavour to doall they can to close the debate to-morrow, and I hope that honorable members on the Government side will assist in bringing about that result.
– If I do not secure the assistance of members on this side of the Chamber, I shall not expect the members of the Opposition to adhere to that arrangement.
– There is no arrangement.
– Hear, hear.
– Then we must go on.
– I do not say that there is anv agreement to bring the debate to an end. We cannot agree to stop honorable members from speaking ; but we are willing to do all we can to bring the debate to a close to-morrow. If the Prime Minister is not assisted to that end by his own supporters, he will not blame us.
– Hear. hear.
– I had intended to speak upon this clause, but I refrained from doing so in order to facilitate a division. Although the matter is a very important one, it seems to me that the debate is being spun out. I do not mean to say that there has been any “stone- walling,” because I do not think there has. To-night we have listened to three very interesting speeches from the honorable member for Darling, the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and the honorable and learned member for Indi, respectively ; and, in view of their utterances, perhaps, it would not be wise to suddenly close the debate. At the same time, I think honor- able members might restrain themselves somewhat to-morrow, in order to enable the Committee to arrive at a conclusion. I do not quite understand the hesitation on the part of some honorable members to enter into such an agreement, as may be possible, with regard to concluding the debate tomorrow. I hope that it is not due to the fact that a certain right honorable member is travelling from Sydney to Melbourne by train this evening. I am perfectly prepared to give the honorable member for North Sydney credit for good faith, and I quite agree with him in the remarks he has made as to the necessity of the Prime Minister exercising a little more control over his own supporters. I think that,’ in fairness to the honorable and learned member for Corio, we should report progress at this stage.
– It must be remembered that to-day was grievance day, and that yesterday the adjournment of the House was moved by an honorable member on this side of the Chamber, in order to permit of the discussion of a very important question. I am sure that when the honorable member for North Sydney states that he will assist in bringing the debate to a close to-morrow he will respect his promise.
– No promise has been made.
– If the Prime Minister insists that the debate shall terminate tonight I shall support him, but under the circumstances I think that it would be wise to report progress.
.- I appeal to the Prime Minister to consent to progress being reported. There is no desire on the part of honorable members on this side of the Chamber to unnecessarily prolong the discussion. The provision which has occupied our attention today is one of the most important in the Bill. We are told that without it the measure will be almost useless. While a determination to fairly discuss that provision is evidenced, I say that no attempt should be made to curtail the debate. I wish to proceed to Sydney to-morrow, and the honorable member for Hume desires to take a party to Tumberumba. I believe that that trip will render me a very great service. If the Prime Minister is resolved to force this clause through to-morrow, we had better have the contest to-night. I would further point out that much fresh debatable matter has been introduced into the discussion by the honorable and learned member for Indi. I desire to make some answer to his statements concerning the Chief Justice of New South Wales. As a New .South Welshman, I say that his remarks were most uncalled for.
– That is absolutely incorrect.
– I make that statement as one who disagrees with the utterances of the Chief Justice. But though I disagree with what he said on the occasion referred to, I hold that it is very bad taste for honorable members of the standing of the honorable and learned member for Indi to drag into a discussion upon this Bill the name of the Chief Justice of New South Wales, and to characterize his action as a political one.
– So it was.
– I do not agree with the action of the Chief Justice. Mr. Page. - What else was it but political ?
– Whoever may be appointed President of the proposed Court, I believe, will be thoroughly impartial. Even if our Judges make mistakes, we have yet to learn that they do not endeavour to mete out substantial justice.
– They should not enter into a discussion of political questions.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish to know whether the honorable member is in order in discussing the Bill in reply to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Indi ?
– I trust that the honorable member for Eden-Monaro will be allowed to finish what he has to say, because I desire to reply to him.
– On the point of order raised by the honorable member for Newcastle, 1 would point out that the question before the Chair is that progress be reported. Upon that motion the remarks of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro are in order.
– I repeat that the honorable and learned member for Indi has introduced into the discussion fresh debatable matter. I hope to hear him express regret for the statements which he made. Although we may be opposed to the views entertained by a Judge, we should abstain from criticising him on political grounds, especially in the case of a man like the Chief Justice of New South Wales, who stands high in the estimation of the people, not only of Australia, but of other parts of the Empire.
– The honorable member is making all the fireworks.
– I take exception to that remark. I have had some experience of all-night sittings, and I claim that they are not productive of any good ; they serve only to engender bad temper. Although I feel very strongly on this matter, still, if we can arrive at a decision upon it before train-time to-morrow, I am quite willing to waive my rights. I appeal to the Prime Minister to accept the offer of the honorable member for North Sydney, and consent to an adjournment.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi). - I am very sorry to be obliged to occupy the attention of the Committee twice in one evening, but I wish to say expressly what I think every member of the Committee with the exception of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, will recognise, namely, that I did not introduce the name of the Chief Justice of New South Wales into the debate upon this Bill. It was introduced by an honorable member sitting in close proximity to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. I expressed my regret that the reference had been made, but since the question had been put, I felt bound to reply to it. I did not reflect on the impartiality of the Chief Justice. There is no man I know of who stands higher in the estimation of the Australian people than does Sir Frederick Darley. But we were discussing’ the question of whether the proposed Court should express political opinions.
– Were they political opinions which were expressed by the Chief Justice of New South Wales?
– Decidedly “yes.”
– When the statement was made I said that it was so pertinent to the matter under discussion that though I regretted that any reference had been ‘made to the Chief Justice of New South Wales, I felt bound to say that the observa-^ tions of His Honour did smack of a
political statement by a Judge. I consider that no Judge ought to speak in that way. I have not the slightest doubt, that he made these remarks in the most perfect good, faith, but a judicial tribunal? should adhere to adjudication and a Legislature to legislation. It is no part of our duty to invade the judicial province, and it is no part of the duty of a judicial tribunal to invade the legislative province. I do not say this because the incident happened in New South Wales. If it had occurred in Victoria I should have said the same. It is not with me a matter of respect for persons, and I trust that as long as I occupy a seat in the House I shall never be afraid to say respectfully, but firmly, what I believe to be pertinent to the matter at issue.
– I should like to remind the Prime Minister that this clause did not come up for discussion until Tuesday afternoon, and as other matters have since intervened three days have not been occupied in its consideration.
– I did not say that the whole of three sittings had been devoted to the matter.
– The real reason why there is any hesitation about passing this provision is that honorable members do not know what form the provision relating to organizations will ultimately assume. Theamendments which have been indicated are not really amendments of paragraph b, because I think that substantially the opinionof almost the whole of the Committee is that the paragraph should- be passed, provided that the question of the character of the organizations that are to be created is; satisfactorily dealt with.
– Not at all ; the paragraph should be omitted.
– If the provision in regard to organizations were passed in a - form acceptable to the whole Committee, I am sure that the recommittal of this clause would not be asked for ; but if the Prime Minister would consent to’ recommit it if requested to do so, I think honorable members would agree to pass it tonight, and that would give us an opportunity to proceed without delay, to the consideration of the next great feature of the Bill.
– It is hardly fair to say that the views expressed by the honorable member for Echuca are shared by all honorable members. I am not in a -‘ position to accept his proposition, although I might be prepared to consider it. There have been varied expressions of opinion as to the advisableness of excising two paragraphs of the clause, which, in the opinion of the Prime Minister and others, constitute the crux of the Bill. It is only fair that we should have an opportunity to consider the very able arguments put forward by the honorable and learned member for Indi and others, who have spoken in favour of the Government proposal, and therefore I hope that the Prime Minister will consent to report progress.
– I have hitherto refrained from speaking on this clause, because I desire that a division shall be reached at the earliest moment; but to-night we are accused by the acting leader of the Opposition of having attempted to block the Bill.
– Not intentionally.
– Yesterday honorable members on this side of the House spoke for r hour and 12 minutes on this clause, as against .3 hours and 52 minutes occupied by honorable members opposite.
– Is the honorable member including in his calculation the time occupied yesterday on the motions for the formal adjournment of the House ?
– I am taking the time actually devoted to the consideration of this clause. If we allowed this discussion to continue until Tuesday we should probably find the’ same state of affairs prevailing. I do not object to the speeches that have been made by honorable members opposite, but I certainly object to the accusation that we have been wasting time. Although I should like to reply to some of the points raised during this debate, I am prepared to promise to refrain from speaking to-morrow, if bv so doing the consideration of this clause will be facilitated.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio). - I understand that the Prime Minister has made some arrangement with the honorable member for North Sydney, and I wish to withdraw my motion, more especially as I am led to believe that the honorable member for Hume desires to start on his inspection- of Tumberumba to-morrow, and those who once see that site are sure to vote against it.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I do not intend to object to the request that progress be reported, because the debate to-day has been interesting and profitable; but I must certainly remonstrate against the waste of time which took place last night, when we might well have arrived at a division. Some honorable members were merely talking against time, and now honorable members on this side of the Chamber are accused by the honorable member for North Sydney of wasting time.
– No. I meant to say that honorable members opposite had also occupied some time in discussing this question.
– It is the number of disorderly interjections that leads to the prolongation of the debate.
– I have not complained, nor- do I wish to complain, of the character of the debate up to the present time; nor have I indicated that, in my opinion, time has been wasted. That was not the point of view from which I approached the question. My only anxiety was that reasonable progress should be made with the consideration of this Bill, and I think the suggestion which I made earlier in the debate, to the effect that so far as practicable we should arrive at an understanding to close the discussion on this particular provision to-morrow was a reasonable one. I am now assured by the acting leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for North Sydney, that he will use all his endeavours to that end, and am content with the assurance. I admit that if honorable members on the Government side take up time in discussing this matter, it is unreasonable to expect honorable members of the Opposition to forego their right of speech. On all sides of the Chamber most, if not all, honorable members are honestly desirous of having this Bill passed, and they should co-operate, and endeavour to restrain their anxiety to address themselves to the question. I do not wish to prevent any one from speaking, but I appeal to honorable members to condense their remarks. I move -
That the Chairman do now leave the chair, report progress, and ask leave to sit again.
– I wish to intimate that I intend to discontinue the practice of keeping a list of honorable members who desire to speak, and to observe the ordinary parliamentary procedure of calling on the first honorable member who catches my eye, taking’ care of course to call alternately on honorable members on the Government and Opposition sides of the House.
Motion agreed to ; progress reported.
Public Service Classification. Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the classification of the Public Service, which has been distributed among honorable members to-day, has the force of law, or whether it requires the approval of the House, or whether it has to remain for a certain time on the table, before it acquires the force of law? I am making this inquiry because some important questions may arise out of the classification. Honorable members will, no doubt, desire to know whether it is unduly increasing the expenses of government or not. That will require consideration and inquiry, and, therefore, an opportunity should be given to the House to know exactly how the cost of government will stand under this scheme before it is finally adopted by the Government.
Air. WATKINS (Newcastle).- I think it would be a help to honorable members if the Prime Minister would state the total increase of expenditure which is involved in this scheme.
.Under the Public Service Act the House handed over to the Public Service Commissioner the classification of officers and their salaries. The classification must be presented to the Governor-General. It may be dissented from by the Governor-General, who, of course, is practically the Government of the day, but, in that case, the following procedure is laid down in sub-section 3 of section 8 of the Act -
If the Governor-General does not approve of any proposal, it shall be the duty of the Commissioner to reconsider such proposal, and within a time to be specified by, the Governor-General to submit another proposal. Such fresh proposal shall be considered and dealt with by the Governor-General.
Where the Governor-General does not approve of any proposal, a statement of the reasons for not approving, and for requiring a fresh proposal shall be laid before The Parliament.
The Government has not disapproved of the classification. I think that the honorable member for Echuca is more than justified in asking for any particulars which may be available, and I may explain’ to the House that the Government obtained from the Commissioner an estimate of what this scheme would cost. That seemed to me to be- the only matter of policy involved. As a Government we are not concerned with any de- 4 y 2 tails such as, for instance, whether Officer Brown or Officer Jones is to receive a certain sum. The decision of the question has been left by the deliberate action of Parliament to the judgment of the Commissioner, subject, of course, to the amounts being voted. On the matter of policy, we were informed that the nominal cost of the scheme at the beginning of the year would be, roughly, ^20,000. The Commissioner adopted the policy of classifying the work done by officers primarily, and where it was found that an officer was receiving more than the salary which the office held by him justified in the grading, the Commissioner did not reduce his salary, but he has noted every such officer for removal to an appropriate position at the earliest possible time. As a result of that policy, he estimates that the actual cost for next year will not exceed £1 1,000, and whenever a vacancy occurs in a position higher than that held by an officer who is out of his place, he will immediately transfer the officer to the appropriate position, and replace him with an officer of lower grade, and, therefore, receiving a lower salary. The net effect of the scheme will be that during next year we shall require an additional expenditure of ;£i 1,000 for all the States, and in each succeeding year there will be a diminution in the excess, until within a comparatively short period the Commissioner estimates that the scheme on its new basis will cost for the same number . of officers as are now employed less than the Commonwealth is now paying. That is the outline that we have received from hi’m, and when one recollects that some 12,060 permanent officers scattered throughout the Commonwealth are affected, one can easily imagine that it has been a very difficult task for him to perform, and, further, that the total immediate increase of ^11,000 for the first year is not, in view of all the circumstances, an extraordinary one. That is the way in which it appeals to the Government.’ I thought it was only proper, in answer to the inquiry, to let the House know what is the actual amount involved.
– Will the Government refrain from accepting the scheme until the House has had time to consider it ?
– We cannot, because we have no power.
– What we wish to know ‘ is, not whether it involves an increase now, but how the cost of government under the Commonwealth will contrast with the cost of government under the States previously. A very cursory reading of the scheme leads me to believe that the cost under the Commonwealth will be very much higher than it was under the States.
– There are some Departments in regard to which a comparison is impossible, because they did not exist under the States. It is true that some officers get largely increased salaries compared with what they received from the S tates. Many of those officers were occupying positions quite subordinate in the States services; but when transferred to the Commonwealth, they received salaries commensurate with the importance of the new positions which they were asked to fill. The mere fact that a particular officer is getting much more than he received in a State service does not indicate that he is getting more than he should.
– But taking the aggregate ?
– The aggregate will depend on which Departments one includes. It is almost impossible to get an accurate basis of comparison. But the net amount that T have spoken of as being involved in this scheme is in addition, of course, to those increases - which Parliament has provided for, and which are conveyed by statute, either State or Commonwealth. The 11,000 1,000 is the additional sum which we shall be asked to find. I cannot promise that the Government will not accept this scheme, because, so far as we are concerned, it has been accepted.
– Surely the House should “have some control over it?
– Under the Public Service Act, the House deliberately put this matter in the control of the Commissioner, except in regard to the broad matter of policy involved, and on that the House surrounded the Ministry with a number of conditions which practically put beyond its consideration any question but that of the total sum involved. The Government considered that, and in view of the fact I have just stated that this scheme only involves an additional expenditure for next year of ^11,000-
– Is that as against last year, or as compared with, the expenditure under the States?
– As against last year.
– Then that means ^100,000 more than the expenditure under the States.
– Honorable members must recollect that we must take as our basis the expenditure for last ‘year, to which this House consented, and not the expenditure under the States.
– The House might ask why there should be any increase at all.
– Quite so. I say, that we had tq consider, first, that the proposed scheme involved an additional expenditure of 11,000 for next year - that was a matter of policy - and the additional fact that every succeeding year will mean a diminution of expenditure until later, on there will be a saving as the result of the operation of this classification scheme, as compared with the expenditure of last year. That broad policy the Government considered. We did not see our way to comply with the conditions by which any dissent on the part of the Government is surrounded in the Act, and which would involve our giving reasons, distinct and clear, for every dissent we made.
– And such action would have delayed the adoption of the scheme of classification.
– And of course it would have delayed the adoption of this classification scheme, which, in my view, is very important ; because I think it will have the effect of abrogating section 19 of the Victorian Act, to which reference has so often been made, and similar statutory provisions, imposing obligations carried over from the various States. I do not say that my interpretation of the law is necessarily correct, but that is the view I hold. Once the classification scheme is accepted and approved by the Governor-General, it will dispose of all the hampering statutory obligations of the various States under which we have been working for some time.
– That is the honorable gentleman’s conjecture.
– It is not merely my conjecture, though I admit that it is not necessarily good law. I have very good reasons for believing that it is good law. In the circumstances which I have related, the Government have accepted the responsibility laid upon them by the Act of accepting the policy of the classification scheme.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 11.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 June 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040623_reps_2_20/>.