House of Representatives
24 June 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.

page 2653

DEATH OF MR. COPELAND

Mr WATSON:
Treasurer · Bland · ALP

.- I have to announce with sincere regret the death of Mr. Copeland, the late AgentGeneral for New South Wales. Although it may appear invidious to single out for notice the death of a gentleman who was an officer of a State, and not of the Commonwealth, it will not seem so when I add that during the last three years he, together with the other Agents-General, in many important matters acted gratuitously on behalf of the Commonwealth. Perhaps he, more than any other of the Agents-General, had thrust upon him a very great deal of Commonwealth work, and he performed it with the whole-souled devotion to duty which always characterized him. I had a long acquaintance with Mr. Copeland as a member of the New South Wales Parliament. He was in the public life of that Colony for very many years prior to Federation, and I am sure that I shall have the sympathy of every member of the House who knew him when I say that, no man in its public life better deserved the appreciation and good-will of the people, or more genuinely earned it, than he did.

Mr Wilks:

– He( was a sterling old chap.

Mr WATSON:

– I have taken steps on behalf of the Government to show our sincere regret at his death, and our sympathy with those whom he has left behind. He had undertaken to add to the many obligations which the Commonwealth Owed him by agreeing to act as our representative on the Pacific Cable Conference. I again express my extreme regret at , the loss which Australia generally has sustained in the death of so able a public man.

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– On behalf of all the members of the Opposition, without distinction, I wish to give to what the Prime Minister has said a most regretful and sincere indorsement. My personal acquaintance with Mr. Copeland was short, but my official experience of him taught me that he was a very ardent friend to the Commonwealth and its interests while he acted as Agent-General for the State of

New South Wales. I knew- enough of him to be aware that no man in the public life of the mother State attracted to himself a greater measure of affection and regard than the late Agent-Genera).

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:
Hume

– It was with great sorrow and grief that I learned from the newspapers this morning of the death of Mr. Copeland, who was for many years a colleague of mine, and in regard to whom I can speak with a great deal of confidence. There was no truer friend, no better man, no man whom I knew, or with whom I came into contact, who had greater natural abilities, or gave those abilities more freely to the service of his State, and afterwards of the Commonwealth. During the many years of public life in which he held high positions in New South Wales, he was respected and admired for his outspokenness, his honesty, his great integrity, and as a man who studied with all his will the interests of the people of Australia. He was not only a representative of the State of New South Wales, but from the earliest time I knew him, a truly representative Australian. I think that we have lost a very great man in losing one of such high qualities as Mr. Copeland possessed.

page 2653

QUESTION

MILITARY PROMOTTON

Mr SALMON:
LAANECOORIE, VICTORIA

– I wish to know from the Prime Minister if he has yet made inquiries in regard to the matter which was brought under his notice respecting promotions in the Defence Force. It was intended to move the adjournment of the House to-day to enable the matter to be discussed, but, in view of the arrangement come to last night, it has now been thought advisable to let such action stand over. From information which has come to me, it would seem that a precedent is being established in the Defence Forces which will result in social distinction rather than actual worth and work governing promotions. Under the circumstances, I ask the Prime Minister if he will have the matter inquired into before Tuesday next, so that he may then be in a portion to make a statement regarding it?

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– I regret that I have not yet had an opportunity to make an inquiry in the direction indicated. Certain representations have been placed before me, but I have had no opportunity to consult the Minister of Defence on the subject. I shall, however, take the earliest occasion to do so.

page 2654

QUESTION

PUBLIC SERVICE CLASSIFICATION

Mr DEAKIN:

– I shall be obliged’ if the Prime Minister will inform the House of the exact significance of the reply he gave to a question asked by the honorable member for Echuca last night, that the Public Service Commissioner’s classification has been accepted by the Government. Does that mean that the Order in Council confirming it has passed ?

Mr Watson:

– Yes.

Mr DEAKIN:

– That being 50, the action of the Government was at least precipitate, because its effect is that the classification is now law. Do I understand that the forthcoming Estimates will be based upon it?

Mr Watson:

– Yes.

Mr Crouch:

– r-The House was informed that the classification would not be in print until Tuesday last.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I confess that Ministers were placed in an embarrassing position because of the late period of the session at which the classification is published ; but, now that it has become law, I wish to know whether the Prime Minister considers it necessary to afford the House an opportunity to discuss it, other than that3 which will be afforded, either generally or in detail, when the Estimates are submitted. No more important executive act ‘ has been done by the Commonwealth Government than the passing of the Order in Council ratifying this classification. It is important, not only because it affects the personal interests of at least 12,000 persons, but because the whole of the taxpayers are deeply concerned in its financial operation. From whichever standpoint it is regarded, the classification is sure to be much criticised in detail. It is based upon a set of principles which the Government by Order in Council have adopted, but which this House has not yet had an opportunity of knowing. We do not know in the least upon what principles the classification is based. I have the greatest confidence in the Public Service Commissioner.

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

– Is the honorable and learned member going to debate the whole question?

Mr DEAKIN:

– If honorable members are so little seized of the importance of the question I am putting-

Mr Willis:

– We shall all want to debate the subject if the .honorable and learned member does so.

Mr SPEAKER:

– The importance of the subject does not alter the fact that the Standing Orders prohibit any debate when asking a question. I, therefore, request the honorable” and learned member for’ Ballarat not to offer an opinion upon the matter.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I am not intentionally trespassing in regard to the rule which governs the asking of questions.

Mr Willis:

– Move the adjournmentof the House.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I never do that. The matter should be discussed when we have, had time to read and consider the Public Service Commissioner’s report. If there had been an opportunity to do that, I might- not hesitate about moving the adjournment. I ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the very exceptional circumstances to which I have referred, he does not feel it necessary to afford honorable members an opportunity, when they shall have examined the report of the Commissioner - not with microscopic scrupulousness, but so as to grasp its broad principles - to discuss it in this Chamber? I do notask the question because of hostility to the scheme, since I do not know what it is, and have great confidence in its author, whom I believe to be one- of the ablest public men in the Commonwealth. Does not the Prime Minister consider, although the classification is now law, and could not be repealed or revoked except in formal fashion, that the House is entitled, as soon as the. state, of its business will permit, to a special opportunity to discuss this most important scheme ?

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– I have no objection to giving time for the discussion of the scheme, but I do not think that the law by which the Government is bound, which was presumably enacted by Parliament with its eyes open, contemplates the submission of the matter to Parliament, unless the Ministry of the day think that there is some question of policy involved, quite apart from the salary which each individual officer is to receive, a matter which, in my view, is o’f no’ concern to Ministers. Section 8 of the Public Service Act, as I read it, very distinctly and clearly protects the Commissioner from outside influence in connexion with this work. It provides that the Commissioner shall receive from his inspectors,when they have inspected each Department,. examined its officers, and inquired into its working, a report for his consideration, and that-

After considering any such report, the Commissioner may propose to the Governor-General any particular disposition of officers and offices, and the division or class subdivision- of class or grade of every officer and re-arrangement or improved method of carrying out any work which appears to the Commissioner necessary or expedient for the more economic, efficient, or convenient working of any Department, and such proposal shall be considered and dealt with by the Governor-General.

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 last paragraph which I have read imposes upon a Ministry which dissents from the proposals of the Commissioner on a question of policy, the duty of stating to Parliament its reasons for not approving, and for requiring, a fresh proposal.

Mr Wilks:

– This is the only way to keep the Public Service Commissioner free from political influence.

Mr DEAKIN:

– In this case it is a question of policy, because principles . are being laid down for the first time. It is not section 8, but section 9 which governs the matter. Section 9 says that “ The Com-, missioner shall recommend.” Section 8 deals with general recommendations. In terms the two sections are much the same, but section 9, which applies now, is mandatory.

Mr WATSON:

– Though the contention of the honorable and learned member may be correct, the proviso is added to subsection 1 of section 9 that -

Where the Governor-General does not approve of any such recommendation a statement of the reasons for not approving and for requiring a fresh recommendation shall be laid before the Parliament.

My view is that the only inference to be drawn from that safeguarding of the Commissioner, and the obligation upon the Ministry to give their reasons in detail to Parliament is that the ‘ Commissioner, except with regard to the general policy involved, is free from the suggestion of the Ministry.

Mr Deakin:

– I quite agree with that; but this is the first recommendation.

Mr WATSON:

– In either case, sections 8 and 9 of the Public Service Act contain similar provisions. On the matter of policy the Ministry have agreed with the Commissioner. The classification scheme, when accepted, will mean an actual disbursement of an additional ,£i 1,000, but it is expected that in each of the four succeeding years there will be a reduction until the scheme will give us the same number of officers as are now in the service at a smaller expenditure than is now being incurred. In any case the Government have taken the responsibility of approving the general policy of the scheme put forward by the Commissioner. As to the details, every officer affected will have an opportunity to appeal, as provided for in the Act, to a special board, and afterwards the Commissioner will have to decide the matter in view of the recommendation of the board.

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

– Those rights are not waived at all.

Mr WATSON:

– No, not at all. . The Government have not interfered with them. I may say, further, that of course in this as in everything else the Appropriation Act must be passed before the money can be made available. The simple matter of policy put before the Government amounted to this : Did we think that the country was justified, in order to arrive at some scientific method of arrangement with regard to the service-

Mr Deakin:

– That is the whole point - what is the scientific method ?

Mr WATSON:

– Apart from the matter of the money involved, I do not pretend to be able to say whether or hot the present arrangement is a scientific one, and I do not think ‘ that Parliament ever expected that the Ministry would pronounce its opinion on that matter.

Mr Deakin:

– But Parliament expects to have an opportunity to pronounce an opinion.

Mr WATSON:

– Parliament may still pronounce its opinion.

Mr Wilks:

– But the Government are expected to take the responsibility of approving of the policy.

Mr WATSON:

– Yes, and we have already done that. As regards the other matter, Parliament has laid down a certain procedure, under which the House has divested itself of the general supervision which it might otherwise exercise, and has handed it over to a non-political Commissioner.

Sir JOHN QUICK:
BENDIGO, VICTORIA

– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Victorian public servants, whose rights have been secured by special Victorian legislation, are in any way affected or modified by this classification scheme - whether any reductions or differentiations have been made in their favour? I have looked through the lists, and I am unable to arrive at a conclusion.

Mr WATSON:

– That question is a very difficult one for a layman, or even for an honorable and learned member to answer. The whole matter depends upon the interpretation placed on that section of the Constitution which states that accruing rights shall continue in respect of all officers in the Departments transferred from the States to tlie Commonwealth. My own view, which, as a layman, I put forward with the utmost diffidence, is that, so soon as the law of this Parliament is passed - and I think we can say that the classification scheme gives effect to the Public Service Act, passed by us - it overrides all previous decisions arrived at by the States, or tentatively approved by the Commonwealth. That opinion may not prove to be sound.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Does the Prime Minister mean to say that the Commonwealth law can reduce salaries which are in effect provided for in the Constitution ?

Mr WATSON:

– One cannot give a definite opinion upon that point ; but my view is that once our own law is passed, it takes the place of the previous State laws which have governed the public servants belonging to the transferred Departments.

Sir William Lyne:

– But the transferred officers carry their rights with them.

Mr WATSON:

– I know that; but the legal officers of the Government, and, perhaps legal authorities outside will probably have to determine exactly how far those rights extend.

Sir William Lyne:

– If the rights referred to are to be continued, the public servants ‘should never have had them.

Mr WATSON:

– But, as a Parliament, we are not responsible for that. The disposition of the Public Service of the Commonwealth, in respect of transferred officers,’ is governed by the Constitution, and Parliament cannot alter that. In reply to the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, I would point out that it is impossible for the Government to say off-hand how far this scheme supplants the arrangement under which the service has been worked up to the present time. I am hopeful that it will assist in giving the Commonwealth the complete control of its own servants.

Mr SPEAKER:

– I must direct the attention of honorable members to the Standing Orders controlling matters of this kind, which I am bound to administer. Standing order No. 93 reads -

In putting any such question, no argument or opinion shall be offered, nor any facts stated, except so far as may be necessary to explain such question.

Standing order No. 94 provides that -

In answering any such question a member shall not debate the matter to which the same refers.

So that neither in asking questions nor in giving replies, must honorable members indulge in debate or argument.

Mr CROUCH:

– In regard to the reclassification scheme, I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he remembers that the first Ministers of the Commonwealth stated that they did not propose, as a matter of policy, to pay the permanent heads of Departments more than ^800 per annum, and whether he is aware that, in spite of that fact, the classification scheme, which has been approved by the ‘ Governor in Council-

Mr Watson:

– We have not approved of the details, although we have indorsed the policy of the Commissioner.

Mr CROUCH:

– What I wish to ask is, whether the Minister is aware that, under the classification scheme, a proposal is made to increase salaries beyond what’ was previously regarded as the maximum.

Mr WATSON:

– In looking through the lists, I find that in some cases the work has been rated by the Commissioner, independently of the salary now received by the officer occupying that position, at a sum higher than the amount mentioned by the honorable member. My memory of the promise made by the Barton Ministry is that it was put forward long prior to the appointment of the Public Service Commissioner.

Mr Deakin:

– I think it was made when the Public Service Bill was before the House.

Mr WATSON:

– I think the debate took place on the first estimates. We were discussing the amounts proposed to be paid to the heads of the Departments, and I remember that an understanding was then arrived at that, although some officers who had been transferred should continue to enjoy their State salaries, steps should be taken, when rating the offices, to keep the expenditure down to amounts lower than those then being paid. I can only say that that was anterior to the appointment of the Public Service Commissioner, and that, of course, the individual items of this proposal are matters for the determination of the House upon the Appropriation Bill.

Mr KNOX:
KOOYONG, VICTORIA

– It is doubtless within the knowledge of the Prime Minister that the postal assistants in the Victorian Service nave not received certain amounts which they regard as due to them under section 19 of the Victorian Public Service Act of 1900.

Mr Watson:

– I have paid them nearly £19,000.

Mr KNOX:

– I think that, upon inquiry, the Minister will find that a large number of the postal assistants have not yet received the amounts due to them. I desire to know whether he is in a position to give us an undertaking that the rights which existed before the publication of the classification lists will be preserved, or can inform us whether they have been considered in the adjustments made by the Commissioner.

Mr WATSON:

– With regard to the payments under clause 19 of the Victorian Act, I may say that I have paid all the sums, which have been so far ascertained, under that head. If there are any other individuals in regard to whom our liability can be determined, I shall take the responsibility of paying them out of the Treasurer’s advance vote. In regard to the second question, I shall certainly give no such undertaking. My contention is that the Commonwealth Parliament, through the Public Service Commissioner, should rate the officers at what they are worth, and pay , them what they are worth, if the Constitution will permit. Beyond that I will .not go.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– I desire to know, whether .the Government adoption of the classification scheme is supposed to absolve them from any further liability under section 19 of the Victorian Act.

Mr WATSON:

– If the honorable member refers to the liability of the Commonwealth Government for the period between >the taking over of the transferred Departments bv the Commonwealth and the end of the present financial year, I say, decidedly, that the liability continues. But, if .he refers to any liability that mav accrue in future under the section of the’ Constitution by which accruing rights are maintained, I must frankly confess that I have not the remotest idea of the legal position. My own view, however - which is not necessarily a legal one - is (hat the determination under law by the Commonwealth to pay certain rates, and to grade the officers in a certain way, must dispose of any previous arrangement. Whether that is a correct view has to be determined. At any rate, we have accepted the scheme devised by a non-political officer.

Mr HUTCHISON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– Is the Prime Minister aware that under the South Australian Public Service Act the payment of annual increments to certain public servants is mandatory, and that the Constitution and the Commonwealth Public Service Acts have preserved the rights of the officers. I would point out, further, that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, when Prime Minister, sought the opinion of his law officers, who expressed the view that these rights were preserved. I would now ask. whether the Public Service Commissioner has power to withhold the whole, or any portion, of these increments?

Mr WATSON:

– Almost the whole of. the questions which have been addressed to me this morning on the subject of the reclassification of the Public Service have involved a series of legal points which it is extremely difficult for a mere layman to answer off-hand.

Mr Batchelor:

– Only a layman could answer them off-hand.

Mr WATSON:

– Probably that is so. I repeat that it is extremely difficult for me to answer such questions without first obtaining the assistance and advice of responsible legal officers. I am not aware that the late Prime Minister was advised that the Commonwealth is responsible for the payment of the increments to which reference has been made. I would suggest to the honorable member for Hindmarsh that he should place his very interesting series of questions upon the business-paper. He will then receive much fuller answers to them than I can be expected to give at the present time.

Mr DEAKIN:

– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the only OrdersinCouncil which the Government have passed are those which authorize a scheme of district allowances, and which give power to charge rent in accordance with that scheme. Of course, I have no interest in personal details. All ‘ my questions have been directed to the principles which underlie this classification scheme, and to the cost which it will involve.

Mr WATSON:

– The only OrdersinCouncil which have been passed are those to which the honorable and learned member has referred. The Government, however, have accepted responsibility for the payment of the sum that is involved in the scheme, itself. A statement is made in the Commissioner’s report as to the amount in which the adoption of the scheme will’ involve the Commonwealth-

Mr Deakin:

– What about the principles underlying the classification?

Mr WATSON:

– Concerning that, I may say that there is a report accompanying the document referred to, which will be laid upon the table of the House.

Mr LONSDALE:
NEW ENGLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, under the reclassification scheme, the apparent reductions which have been made in some instances, will affect the present occupants of the offices in question? Is not a re-arrangement subsequently to be made by means of which officers in receipt of higher salaries than those at which the Commissioner has valued the work performed by them will be removed to positions to which their grades entitle them?

Mr WATSON:

– The plan adopted by the Commissioner has been to grade the work of offices. Where it has been found that an office is filled by an officer in receipt of a salary higher than that which the work justifies, the Commissioner does not propose to reduce the salary of such officer, but intends to await the first opportunity of transferring him to an appropriate position.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Will the Commonwealth pay the cost of his transfer?

Mr WATSON:

– Of course. Within the States it is doing that every day.

page 2658

QUESTION

UNIFORM RAILWAY GAUGE

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

– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he has received from the States Governments or the Railway Commissioners any communication with regard to the Conference which was recently held to consider, among other matters, the break-of -gauge question?

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– I am informed that the question was considered at the conference of Railway Commissioners held in Sydney a few weeks ago; but so far as I have been able to glean, nothing new has resulted. The Commissioners still appear to hold the view, ‘ so far as they are concerned as managers of the railways, that the expense involved in removing the break-of - gauge difficulty would not be justified, and they have therefore remitted the question; as one of policy, to the Governments interested. Beyond that I am not in a position to give any information.

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

– Could we not obtain a Federal report as well?

Mr WATSON:

– I will refer that matter for the consideration of my colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs.

page 2658

QUESTION

RAILWAY RATES

Sir WILLIAM LYNE:

– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he has observed in the daily press statements to the effect that the Victorian Government are paying a considerable sum to the Railway Commissioners for the purpose of enabling coal to be brought from Gippsland at a much cheaper rate than will pay the Railway Department? If so, has he taken any steps to ascertain whether such action is not a contravention of the Constitution?

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– In. reply to the honorable member, I am aware that some such arrangement is in existence.

Sir William Lyne:

– The State Government is paying the Railway Commissioners about£8,000 a year?

Sir John Forrest:

– The arrangement has been in existence for vears.

Mr WATSON:

– It is extremely difficult to say whether ‘ or not the action in question is unconstitutional. The honorable member for Hume will recollect - I have not the exact phraseology of the provision in mymind at the present moment - that the Constitution contains a section under which developmental rates are permitted, and it may fairly be argued that the line to the coal mines in Gippsland is a developmental one, and that the coal which is carried over it does not unfairly enter into competition with coal from elsewhere until it reaches Melbourne. But there are rates other than those referred to , by the honorable member, which I think do come within the prohibition imposed by the Constitution. For instance, in Victoria it has been customary to allow a reduction of freight upon local coal which is carried from Melbourne outwards - toBallarat and other places.

Mr Kennedy:

– I think that practice has been abolished.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not think so. I believe that such a rate comes within the class of charges to which’ the prohibition applies. Similarly in Western Australia, local coal is carried at a lower rate than- is coal from abroad.

Sir John Forrest:

– Perhaps it is not of the same value as is the other coal.

Mr WATSON:

– I am sorry to hear the right honorable member for Swan suggest that anything produced in Western Australia is inferior in quality to commodities produced elsewhere. Under the terms of the resolution which was carried at the recent Conference of Railway Commissioners they are now considering recommendations touching on the whole question of preferential as distinguished from differential rates, for presentation to the various States Governments. Under the circumstances I think it would be well for us to wait the results of the determination arrived at by the Conference which was- held a few : weeks ago. Necessarily a little time must be occupied by the Commissioners in making their recommendations, and by the States Governments in coming to a decision upon :them. I have every hope, however, that such action will be taken by the Railway Commissioners in the different States as will obviate the necessity for proceeding on the lines laid down by the Constitution.

page 2659

QUESTION

NAVIGATION COMMISSION

Mr THOMAS:
BARRIER, NEW SOUTH WALES

– I wish to direct the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs tq a paragraph which appears in the Argus of to-day in reference to the constitution of the Navigation Commission. It states -

Mr. Thomson accepts the position on the understanding that he is to be regarded as an addition to the members already named, and that the constitution of the Commission will not in other respects be altered in consequence of his acceptance.

I desire to ask the Minister whether, in accepting a position on that Commission, the honorable member for North Sydney made any such condition?

Mr FISHER:
Minister for Trade and Customs · WIDE BAY, QUEENSLAND · ALP

– In reply to the honorable member I wish to state that, from the very first, it was almost universally .desired that the honorable member for North Sydney should accept a position on the Commission. It certainly was the wish of the Ministry, and the honorable member was the very first man whom I approached upon the matter. That, I think, sufficiently indictates my own view. From the outset he straightforwardly acknowledged that he desired to serve on the Commission, but that his other duties prevented him from giving a final answer off-hand. At the last moment, however, he reluctantly withdrew, though he did not wholly withdraw his services from that Commission. It was the desire of the Government and of myself that his name should be added to the list of those who had already been appointed members of that Commission. The honorable member made no condition whatever. We are exceedingly glad to be able to add his name to those ‘ of the other members of the Commission, but any insinuations that he imposed conditions is not in keeping with his standing in this House. He trusted himself entirely to the Government. I intimated at the time that there would be no other alteration made in the personnel of the Commission.

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

– Perhaps I may be permitted to say a few words in explanation. The Minister is perfectly right in saying that there was no demand for a preliminary understanding in regard to adding my name to the list of members constituting the Commission referred to. There was no necessity for any arrangement of that sort, because the Minister frankly informed me that he merely, proposed to add my name to the Commission, and not otherwise to alter its constitution. In reply to a question as to whether the personnel of the Commission was to undergo any further alteration, I stated that I understood from the Minister that it was not. That,” however, was no “ preliminary understanding.” There was no necessity for a preliminary understanding, because the Minister intimated that fact to me upon the last occasion that he asked me to serve on the Commission. As he has already remarked, from the outset I was anxious to serve on the Commission, but was prevented from accepting the appointment in the first place by other reasons. Owing to requests from different quarters, I have yielded to what appears to be the general desire, and can only assure the House that I shall do all I can as a member of the Commission to further the objects of the inquiry.

page 2659

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed from 23rd June, vide page 2650) :

Clause 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 in.dustrial 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 organizations 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 tribunalto. 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.

Mr CROUCH:
Corio

– When I was interrupted last evening I was endeavouring to state my objections to the proposal of the Government. My first duty this morning will be to try to sweep away what I regard as two utterly irrelevant issues which have been raised in connexion with this question. In the first place, I wish it to be understood that I heartily approve of trade unionism. I believe that every employe should have the right to combine in his own defence. But I object to the present proposal, not because it safeguards the rights of unionists, but because it really constitutes an attempt to apply the press-gang and the conscription system to the labour market. That is a’ system which the Committee should not for one moment entertain. Another irrelevant issue was introduced by the honorable member for Darling, who, in the course of a long speech, pointed out that black-lists were issued by the Pastoralists’ Union. We were subsequently assured by another honorable member that the same practice was adopted by the Australian Workers’ Union. If I thought that the passing of this provision would abolish that system I should support it, but I find that the black-listing of both employers and employes is carried on almost entirely under unionist conditions. The Australian Workers’ Union, of the internal working of which the honorable member for Darling knows so much, is perhaps the best organized body in Australia.

Mr McDonald:

– What about the shearers’ organization in Queensland?

Mr CROUCH:

– Is not the Queensland organization affiliated with the Australian Workers’ Union ?

Mr McDonald:

– No; but they have an exchange of tickets.

Mr CROUCH:

– One organization is recognised by the other. I shall content myself by saying that shearers are the best organized workers in the community, and yet we find that the black-list system is most prominently associated with them. It cannot, therefore, be said that if we forced all labourers to join organizations, and gave the Court the right to grant a preference to unionists, the practice would be abolished. It has been stated that shearers are placed on black-lists not merely when they object to the rates of wages offered, but when they refuse to pay the high price charged by pastoralists for rations. If we compelled every man to join an organization, a wider field for the employment of the system would be opened up, and the prominent officials of the unions would be placed on- black-lists as before. Feeling, therefore, that the adoption of this provision would not lead to the abolition of the practice, I consider it my duty to oppose it. My chief reason for opposing the clause is that I think that it constitutes an attack upon the rights of free men. ‘ I object to any man being forced to join a union or political association. This clause would, if carried, very seriously affect the rights of those who have no desire to join certain political organizations.

Mr Storrer:

– That is not the correct interpretation of the clause.

Mr CROUCH:

– I recognise the reason why the Government so strongly support this provision. If it were carried it would mean, in effect, a parliamentary subsidy to the Labour Party. . Those who remember the way in which unionist officials who supported persons other than labour candidates at the last elections were treated by their organizations will recognise that if this clause be carried, and men are forced to join unions, an attempt will be made to control their votes and political sympathies. I believe in industrial unionism, but not in forcing men into political trades unions. At the last general election the honorable and learned member for Bendigo was supported by the secretary of the local branch of the Miners’ Association, who, in the undoubted exercise of his rights as a free citizen, urged his election on the ground that he had done more for the mining industry than had any other candidate. The annual meeting of the association took place shortly after the election, and this officer was dismissed from his office, and another man, who had opposed the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, appointed to the vacancy. This is one instance of how unions in Victoria attempt to control the votes of their members.

Mr Fisher:

– Was it the rule to accept fresh nominations for the position every year ?

Mr CROUCH:

– Yes.

Mr Tudor:

– Does not the honorable and learned member think that an organization has a right to elect whoever it pleases as its secretary?

Mr CROUCH:

– Certainly ; but if we passed this provision men would be forced to join apparently what are organizations, and on claiming the free exercise of their political rights might be dismissed from any office they held in them. The honorable member for Yarra will remember that at the last elections a Mr. Davis, secretary of the Brick, Tile, and Pottery Employes’ Union, supported the candidature of the honorable member for Bourke, who fortunately continues to represent that constituency. The honorable member was opposed by a labour candidate, and the Trades Hall. Council sent a communication to the union requesting it to reconsider the selection of Mr. Davis as its representative on that body on the ground that he had not supported the pledged labour candidate. I do not know whether Mr. Davis was dismissed from his office, but in any case a distinct attempt was made by organized unionism to interfere with the man’s political rights. I might also mention another case which occurred in my own electorate. The assistant secretary of a trades union in Geelong was told that if he did not support the pledged labour candidate for Corio at the last elections he would not be re-elected to his office. Other men informed me that if they did not publicly announce their intention to support the candidature of my opponent, who was the secretary of a trades union, it was extremely possible that they would not obtain their customary employment as labourers on the wharves. There was a similar case at Port Melbourne, and in the recent State elections. These practices may be all very well from the point of view of honorable members of the Labour Party, but to adopt this provision would be to force many labourers who do not believe in a bound Labour Party into the ranks of organizations, and to compel them to support labour candidates at the peril of loss, of employment or loss of office.

Mr McDonald:

– Would not the honorable and learned member favour a Bill tadeprive these men of all political rights ?

Mr CROUCH:

– Certainly not. The. interjection made by the honorable member for Kennedy indicates that the clause: would, if carried, have a tendency to operate in the direction I have mentioned. The honorable member thinks that every man should be able to exercise the franchise, but as one who is in the inner circles of trades unionism, and who is one of the minority which bosses the pledged majority, he wishes to control the votes of the workers. He is willing that every man should have a vote, but desires that the votes of the workers shall be controlled by means of the unionist organizations, which the Government are attempting under this measure to establish. As ‘soon as a man became a member of one of these organizations he would be looked upon as one who should be ostracised if he failed to vote for a unionist candidate. The Government, by means of this class of legislation, hope to force men to vote for members of their party. We might as well pass an Act declaring that the Labour Party shall remain in power for twenty years, or until such time as the people, as free citizens, insist upon their right to vote as they please. The rules of these organizations may not provide for the utilization of any portion of their funds for political purposes, but the honorable member for Yarra, who is familiar with the , inner working of trades unionism in Victoria, will be able to confirm my statement that a large number of the unions affiliated with the Trades Hall have contributed ta the Labour Party’s Senate election fund, as well as to the Tom Mann fund. In legal proceedings with which I was recently associated, I had occasion to examine the balance-sheet of one of the large trades unions of Victoria, and found it had subscribed to Labour candidates’ election fund, the Tom Mann fund, and also to the maintenance of the labour newspaper and the Labour Party’s Senate election campaign. I then took steps to ascertain whether the expenditure of money in this direction was not a violation of the rules, and found that the object of the society was to assist aged and distressed members and members out of work. When I asked the auditors why they had allowed the funds to be devoted to these purposes, they replied that the money had been voted at meetings of the union. I informed them that they were liable to be sued at any time for a refund of these moneys, and advised them, for their own protection, to secure an amendment of the rules or confirmation of their action in passing this expenditure. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat thinks that the objections of honorable members might be met by registration of the rules, but the present state of affairs would continue unless there were a continuous audit of the funds of these organizations by the registrar with a view to seeing that contributions made ostensibly to assist aged or distressed members were not applied to the support of the political Labour Party. The men would not have to be consulted as to whether they were to submit their case to the Court or not, Honorable members have to bear in mind that, in addition to men being forced into a union it would not be the members themselves who would decide whether they should go to the Court and incur the penalty and expense of failure to carry out the award. Under paragraph c of clause 31, which unfortunately the Committee has passed - I am glad to say that I voted against it - the consent to the applicant has only to be given in writing under the hands of the majority of the Committee. I suppose that five out of every six workers and artisans in Victoria are non-unionists. Is it likely that these five new unionists who have disliked unionism in the past would interest themselves in the election of the committee of management ? How could a man resident in Geelong or Ballarat attend when the time came for the committee of management to be elected? We shall find that it will not be a question of the majority of the members of a union being satisfied with their present condition. First, we are forcing into a union men who are completely satisfied with the conditions of life that obtain, and it is the committee of management - in whose election they will have had no voice if it is not made for the whole State - who will have the right to submit them to the decision of the Court. Then we -find that under another clause every man who is forced into a union can be fined up to the amount of £10. I do not desire to say anything against trades unions, because I feel that they have done splendid work in the past, and I believe that every one who has spoken from this side of the Chamber has made a similar admission.

The industrial trades union has stood for protection and progress; but when trades unions become political machines, as they have largely, and when, in addition to that, men who do not wish to take a certain course in politics are to be forced by the action of this Committee into joining a political organization with which they have no sympathy, it is about time for us to stay our hand. We ought to consider very carefully whether we ought to force a large number of men into the ranks of the bound political Labour Party. There is another side which should be considered very carefully by the Committee, and that is the case of the men who are engaged in two or more trades. In a small country town it is impossible to have a distinct shop for each trade, and, as a consequence, two or three businesses or trades are carried on in one shop. A country store trades in drapery, boots, groceries, and all sorts of things. If the employes of these different trades congregate in Melbourne - and I have no doubt that a very large number of them do - they will ‘ form different employes’ organizations; and we shall find that, in order to get employment when in a country town, it will be necessary for an employe to be in four or five unions. That is a state of things which I trust that the Committee will not countenance on any account. The more that I consider this clause the more dangerous does it seem to me. When I asked the honorable’ and learned member for Ballarat whether he could see any justice in forcing a man into a union, the answer he made was that it would be in the power of the Court to direct whether or not a preference should be given to unionists. But when we are told, as we were last night, that in forty -nine cases out of sixty-one in New Zealand, the men were forced into unions and the preferential rule applied, then I venture to say that the argument of the honorable and learned member, that the Court will exercise its discretion in not asking men to join a union, in not forcing employment on them, cannot receive weight. It is evident that in New Zealand that state of things has existed in only twelve out of sixty-one cases, not 20 per cent. We have to recollect that this clause, if passed, will really compel men to join unions, and that a state of things will be brought about which will not be fair to the free men of a free country. It is because I regard this provision as an attack on freedom and free men that I oppose it. I feel that if it is passed we shall do more harm to the Bill than it is possible for us at this time to foresee. On two or three occasions the Prime Minister, in trying to get advocates for certain of his proposals, has charged his opponents with attempting to destroy the Bill. I charge the honorable gentleman and his supporters that if they insist on the retention of this provision, interfering with the freedom of men and of employers, they will be doing their best, perhaps unwittingly, to break down this legislation. They will create a state of things which will become simply intolerable. By overloading the Act with an iniquitous, oppressive provision such as this, they. will do their best to see that conciliation and arbitration shall exist in Australia for only a very short time, because the provision will create a constant, if not rankling, wound in the hearts of those who would otherwise be ready to support the legislation. I think that the Prime Minister will admit that I have supported him very thoroughly on this Bill ; because I believe in the Bill as fair to both employer and worker. I shall support the Government in carrying any provision which will put the measure in a just form. But I strongly object to the insertion of a provision which will interfere with the political or industrial freedom of any man, and which will become so oppressive to a large number of the community that they will be only too glad to rid themselves, at the earliest opportunity, of such a restriction.

Sir JOHN ‘ QUICK:
Bendigo

– The honorable and learned member for Corio has objected to this preference clause on the ground that it is an interference with freedom. It seems to me that if that were a sound objection it could be aimed at the whole Bill, because it is unquestionably an interference with freedom. The only justification for the Bill is that, although it interferes with freedom, it does so with the object of securing the greatest good to the greatest number. I speak as a supporter of the principle of arbitration. I am sure that there is a large number of honorable members who believe in the principle. But it cannot be enacted without interfering with freedom. An objection to the clause founded on its interference with freedom is’ hardly sufficient, because that goes to the very root of the Bill. Every law passed in the interests of liberty itself must be given effect to by an interference with the freedom of those who desire to take action to the prejudice of liberty. I supported the second reading of the Bill when it was brought down by the Barton and Deakin Ministries, and I cannot now waver in my allegiance- to it. I cannot take any action in reference to the Bill which would place me in a false position, or render me liable to the aspersion that I desire to kil] it by a side-wind. It is quite possible that in order to give effect to its main . principles and its machinery we must . have invasions of individual liberty- Undoubtedly this clause does amount to an invasion of individual liberty. Its inevitable tendency will be to drive men into statutory organizations. I cannot say that I regard that with indifference or equanimity. But, on the other hand, what is the use of placing a sham on the statute-book? If we want a scheme which will work in a satisfactory manner we must make the necessary provision, even though it may interfere with individual rights and interests. Speaking candidly and frankly, I do not like this clause; I have the utmost repugnance to it; but at the same time it seems to be what may be called a sort of necessary evil. In order to achieve the main object that we have in view- - the accomplishment of some scheme of arbitration and conciliation which will put down industrial warfare, and which will tend to secure industrial peace - we must make sacrifices, and the question is what is the least sacrifice to which we can submit. Whilst I feel constrained to support this principle, because I think that the Bill would be a sham unless we recognised industrial organization, I shall be prepared to support any proposal which will surround this concession with safeguards, in order to prevent as far as possible, its being converted into an instrument of tyranny. I am prepared to consider every reasonable proposal in that direction, and whilst conceding to the Court the power to grant a preference in certain cases, I would impose on it the duty of surrounding that grant with safeguards. I would not leave it to the mere discretion of the Court to grant the concession without imposing certain safeguards and securities to prevent its misuse. There can be no doubt that it is a great and important privilege, and its grant should be accompanied with conditions. I am prepared to surround the grant of the concession with such conditions that it shall be made applicable only to special circumstances. We must have guarantees for its operation with a certain amount of security in the interests of those who do not belong to industrial organizations. In the first place, I regard with approval the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, namely,that the concession shall be granted only in cases where it is found to be in accordance with the views and interests of the majority of those affected. I think that the Court should be equipped with power to inquire into the question whether the request for a preference is asked by a minority or a majority of those interested. Surely there can be no objection to that? Why should an insignificant union, which happened to be organized, be allowed to go into the Court, and demand a preference for its members over the heads it may be of a large majority of workmen who do not wish to be bound by the decision, or to be coerced into joining the organization? If we are in favour of majority rule, surely we ought to allow the Court a judicial discretion to inquire into the question I have just mentioned. Before a concession of this kind is granted the Court ought to be required to give public notice to those persons who object to the granting of a preference to come in and enter their objection. I do not say that the Court is to act without evidence. Those who wish to object should -have an opportunity to show that the great mass, or the majority, of the workers have no desire for the concession or privilege, or that it would have a prejudicial effect. Surely there can be no objection to that view. I do not know that I am prepared to go so far as to say that the concession should apply only where the common rule applies, because that might carry us even further than is desirable. But I certainly contend that before any such concession is granted, the Court should enter on an investigation and ascertain whether the mass of the workmen, unionist or non-unionist - organized or unorganized - desire that they should be bound by the preferential clause. Then, I think the clause ought to require the Court to grant this concession only in special cases ; that is, there ought to be something special in the circumstances of the case to justify or require the Court to exercise its power. In very many instances judicial authority is granted, to be exercised only in special cases. There is nothing in the Bill to say that preference is to be conceded in special cases ; it may be granted in the most trum pery case - in a case where a union consisting of the minimum number of members, apply of their own accord and endeavour to bind, perhaps, hundreds and thousands of other workmen, not parties to the dispute.

Mr Knox:

– That has been the case in Sydney.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– Yes; I think it was in connexion with the Bakers’ Union that an award was snatched behind the back of hundreds of operatives who found themselves bound, although they were not parties to the dispute. I must say that my eyes were opened to some of the evils and inconveniences which might accompany this concession, by the case of the Sydney wharf labourers, reported in the newspapers only this week. I have taken the trouble to turn up the report of the case, which was heard before Mr. Justice Cohen, and I find-

The three men mentioned, last February arranged to be proposed as members of the union by another employé of Captain Ghest, and a unionist, but were informed by an official that the books were closed to the admission of any new members whatever. Subsequently, the men saw the secretary, and received a confirmatory reply, the secretary adding, “ That I don’t know when they (the books) will be opened.” Holmes then said - “Is your union legally justified in closing their books in this manner, to the utter exclusion of all men desirous of becoming members?” E. T. Harrison, the secretary, answered - “That is foi you to find out,” and turned on his heel and left them.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– That sort of thing is not confined to Sydney.

Mr Bamford:

– The secretary would not take their money under false pretences.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– That case is certainly a revelation to me, as to how men may be treated by autocratic trade-union secretaries ; and if the clause is allowed to pass in its present form, the same sort of thing may occur again. It is only fair to say that the Court interfered with its strong arm, and ordered those men to be admitted to the union.

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

– But that was months after the refusal’ to admit the men.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– Those men have now been admitted to the union under coercionunder an order of the Court. What is the position of those men ? They are, so to speak, in the union under pressure of a judicial mandate. Is their position that of independent nien? I think their position is most unenviable. They have the legal right to be in the union, but it may be that they will be very soon cold-shouldered out, or boycotted by their fellow members. They have been forced into the union by a judicial decision, and all I can say is - “ May the Lord help them “ ! If that kind of thing is repeated, it will certainly lead to many cases of individual hardship, injustice, and oppression. What I desire is that the Court shall be specially armed and charged with power to, so to speak, nip such occurrences in the bud, and to protect men who enter unions under pressure of this clause. Such men may become the victims of injustice after they have been forced into unions ; and I shall tell honorable members why. I have seen copies of awards made by the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, and containing clauses- to this effect : “The secretary of the organization shall be required to prepare and keep lists of men who are capable and willing to take employment under the award ; and employers must apply to the secretary for copies of those lists.” Observe the result. Such an award places the patronage in the hands of secretaries of unions ; and it may be that, in preparing those lists, ‘the secretaries will favour their own friends. They will naturally give preference in their recommendations to those who are near them- - to those who are “ in the running,” or in the inner circle of union organization or influence.

Mr Bamford:

– The whole matter lies in the hands of the stevedores, and not in the hands of the secretary.

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– I do not want to stop to answer the interjection.’ I ask the honorable member for Herbert to give me his attention for a few moments, if he is anxious to prevent injustice. A large number of men may not be within the inner circle of the union ; they may not be in the confidence of the officers and’ the secretary, and may. either accidentally or wilfully, be omitted from the lists of workers supplied to the employers from time to time. What remedy have those men if they suffer from injustice ? The secretaries and managers of unions or organizations may exercise their influence to get work for their friends, or for enthusiastic members, whereas men who have been admitted, perhaps, under pressure of this clause, may be left without work. Such men may, moreover, in course of time, be cold-shouldered out of the union. It is said, “ Oh, that may be met by requiring the unions to make laws or regulations for the admission of every capable, competent, and sober man.” Reference has been made to the amendment to be submitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat; but I do not think that amendment goes far enough. It merely gives the Court power to suspend the organization if the rules do not appear, on their face, sufficient or satisfactory. But rules may appear fair and reasonable, and yet their interpretation may be most tyrannical and unfair. It is possible that rules may provide for the admission of every honest and capable man, and yet some who apply may be blackballed without any reason being assigned. There is no remedy for such men, nor is there any remedy for those who are admitted fro forma, merely in compliance with the law, and who are afterwards treated in an unfair and unjust manner.

Mr Carpenter:

– Did the honorable and learned member ever hear of such cases ?

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– Surely honorable members who are in favour of union organization will sympathize with any effort, such as that now suggested, to protect the weakest members, or those who are admitted under compulsion. Before I consent to this clause, I must insist upon provision being made for the protection of the weak - for the protection of those who may be compelled to enter a union. For that purpose I wish to see the Court, armed and charged with special powers - with summary authority to enter on an inquiry wherever wrong is done Iwant it provided that wherever a workman shows reasonable ground for complaint, he may go to the Court and say, “ I -have been unfairly and unjustly treated by the organization, and I demand that the matter shall be -inquired into.” In order to meet the objections with which I have dealt in my argument, I have formulated a clause, circulated this morning, which I shall read for the information of honorable members, and submit at the proper stage. The suggested clause is as follows : -

In any case in which the Court directs that preference shall be given it may subsequently suspend or qualify the direction for such time or subject to such conditions as it thinks fit if it be proved - that is, proved to the Court, that the rules of the organization are burdensome or oppressive, or do not provide reasonable conditions for admission to or continuance in membership, or that the organization has acted unfairly or unjustly to any of its members in the matter of preference.

I do not say that this suggested clause meets the case ; but coupled with the suggestion made by the honorable and learned member for Corinella - or some portion of that suggestion, at any rate - it will be found to mitigate certain forms of injustice that are possible under this clause unassociated with any guarantees or securities.

Mr Carpenter:

– Has the Court not the power to vary an award ?

Sir JOHN QUICK:

– The Court may have an inherent power to interfere and vary the award in any case. But I want it specifically provided in connexion with this clause that the Court shall interfere on complaint. I am not satisfied with the mere inherent authority of the Court; I want the power laid down as plainly as A, B, C, to the workers as well as to the Court. The Court may know it has an inherent authority, but workers who are treated with injustice may not know that they have a remedy- I want workers to know that if they are unfairly treated, they may go to the President, or write a letter to him, so that a meeting of the Court may be convened to deal with the case in a summary manner. As I say, my suggested amendment may not be completely effective, but it will remove some grounds of the apprehension which I have expressed. It may prevent some of the injustice and inconvenience of which I am afraid, and which I only reluctantly agree to tolerate because I feel constrained to support some form of organization recognition. If I am to be regarded as a true friend of the Bill - and I am a friend of the Bill - I do not wish to take . any attitude suggestive of hostility to it - sugges’tive of a desire to strangle or kill the measure. But what I do desire is that when we make such great concessions to organizations, the concessions shall be accompanied by such guarantees and securities as to remove every reasonable ground of apprehension on the part of those men who are practically to be forced into unions. It may be that connected with organizations there are certain conditions which cannot be prevented by law. I do not know that we could prevent unions having a political tinge or tendency, or that we could insert a clause which would prevent unions becoming political organizations. I do not see how unions could be prevented from becoming political organizations. We must recognise the irresistible pressure and tendency of the times in the direction of trades union organizations. That tendency is an irresistible force, and the only course is to regulate that force. in proper and safe channels. To my mind there is one unanswerable argument in’ favour of .the contention that the Court must have some such power, however harsh it may appear. Let us suppose that a strike occurs on the question of union labour or non-union labour ; and we know that is a fruitful cause of strife and struggle, not only here, but in the United States, where there have been most bloodthirsty struggles. What will be the use of the Bill if the Court has not the power to deal with the question of preference to union labour or freedom of contract ? The Court would be paralyzed, and, therefore, must in certain cases have jurisdiction to enter on inquiry. To be effective in the settlement of disputes involving this special issue, the Court must have the power I have indicated, otherwise its existence will be useless. Therefore, as a supporter of the Bill, I see no alternative but to vote for the concession of preference; but I am firmly resolved to surround that concession Avith every possible condition of a reasonable character that may tend to protect the interests of the weak as against the strong.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– I desire to respect the promise which Avas made last evening by the honorable member for North Sydney, that so far as Avas reasonably possible, the debate should be brought to some point of conclusion to-day. Therefore, I do not intend to go into a number of minor details Avith which I should have felt myself to be at liberty to deal, had I secured an opportunity of speaking yesterday. But I do not think that any member of the Committee or of the public can reasonably complain that the debate has been unnecessarily protracted, because in the course of it considerable changes have developed, even in respect to the .policy of the Govern.ment, and in the enlargement of the minds of those who at the outset felt themselves bound willy-nilly to oppose giving any consideration to unionists. In the early stages of the debate, upon this measure, it-Avas very properly pointed out that Ave were considering a proposal which had humane considerations as its basis, and that its object Avas to attain one single purpose - the adjustment of industrial disputes. But

Ave have advanced stage by stage until what is undoubtedly the underlying motive of honorable members opposite has been disclosed. That motive is not only to obtain this desirable object of conciliation andarbitration ; for they have not been able to conceal from the Committee - certainly not from the public - that underlying the whole of their efforts is the object which has been acknowledged in one or two instances - a desire to strengthen their organized unions. I for one was under the belief, in the first instance, that we were endeavouring to attain the pure, humane, high, and I might say, divine, purpose of this Bill - to prevent strife, loss, and suffering to men and their families, and injury to the industries of the Commonwealth. I felt that we could divorce the idea of an attempt being made by either party to attain any ulterior purpose. If some political organization, on what is called the more conservative side, endeavoured to secure undue rights, I should object just as strongly as I object to the labour organizations endeavouring to do so. I have only one clear object in view, and that is to pass such a Bill, that when there is a dispute between labour and capital, or when, as was suggested by the honorable and learned member who has just sat down, there is a dispute within the organizations themselves, its settlement shall not be tarnished in any sense by the thought that other advantages are sought to be gained by means of the machinery established. Let us keep this Bill solely for the great purposes for which it has been introduced - the settlement of industrial disputes. I decline for a moment to accept the suggestion which fell from one of the speakers last night, that those who object to give the proposed preference to unionists are opposed to the Bill, and inferentially to trades unionism. I have already indicated, on other occasions, that I am in favour of the principle of conciliation and arbitration. I recognise that there are circumstances which require that the awards of the Court should be enforced, and that there must be some compulsory element in connexion with the measure. With an intimate knowledge of the working of a great many trades union organizations, I say that trades unions have been of immeasurable benefit to the persons for whom they are particularly organized. In the past I have been brought into close contact with labour combinations, and, as far as the bulk of the members of the unions are concerned, man for man, one can always discover in them a fair and reasonable desire for the making of amicable and just arrangements. We have had to suffer, not from the great bulk of the men themselves, but from a percentage of those who may be regarded as their leaders, who have apparently felt compelled by pressure from outside, time after time, to assert and justify their existence by maintaining a constant state of agitation, inquiry, and interference with labour conditions, for which there was not justification. Last night my honorable friend, the member for Darling - who, I am sure honorable members must unanimously recognise, has become one of the most mild-tempered legislators amongst us, and whose transference to the benches occupied by the moderate party with which I am associated, may be confidently expected in the near future - fell into an error in regard to some figures, which I must recognise he had the kindness and courtesy subsequently to adjust. He said - and I took his words down . at the time - that it is impossible to obtain a competent miner who is outside the unions.

Mr Spence:

– No; I beg pardon. What I said was that there are no non-unionist miners in the sense of their being opposed to unions - that whether they were members of unions or not, they were all unionists in spirit.

Mr KNOX:

– I accept any correction which an honorable member may make; but what I thought I heard the honorable member say was that it is impossible to obtain a competent miner outside the unions. The figures which I shall quote may be accepted by the Committee as authoritative, because I have compiled them from the statistics of the various companies. Take the Mount Lyell Company. Upon that mine there are .employed 1,890 men. Of those, only 790 are members of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, or of any other union. Therefore, the unionists are in a minority by 1,100. With respect to the Broken Hill field, Mr. Delprat, in sworn testimony before the New South Wales Arbitration Court, stated that there were over 5,000 men on the field, of whom only 1,700 belonged to the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, and that there were 300 other men who belonged to other unions, leaving over 2,000 men who were not associated with any union whatever. Further, there are 2,641 men employed upon the Broken Hill Proprietary mine - the previous figures quoted referred to the whole of the Broken Hill field - and of that number, 705 men belong to the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, and 200 belong to other unions. That is to say, 905 men out of 2,641 employed at that one mine are unionists, leaving 1,736 men who do not belong to any union whatever. These great mines cannot afford to employ other than efficient and capable men. Taking the men employed at Broken Hill, as a whole, I venture to say that honorable members could not find connected with any mining enterprise a better-equipped class than those now engaged there. I think that would apply also to the Mount Lyell field. If, .in the recent reference to the Court from the Broken Hill miners, when the whole of the mining companies were cited to appear, the Judge had given his award that none but union men should be employed, it must be manifest to honorable members that a very serious injustice would have been done to a large majority of the men employed on that field. I am prepared to admit that my illustration perhaps supports the suggestion that we may trust the Court. The Court saw that for a period of two years there was no necessity to alter the rate of wages there, and it practically gave a preference to unionists - but what was the qualification? The Court said that so long as there were men disengaged on the field that preference should not apply. The honorable member for Barrier will admit that that is correct.

Mr Thomas:

– I presume that it is.

Mr KNOX:

– The Judge on that occasion recognised that if he- had conceded the preference to unionists, he would have been doing a great injustice to a large number of employes on the Broken Hill field. I have shown that much injustice might be created if the Court were to arbitrarily exercise this power.

Mr Thomas:

– That is not asked in this Bill.

Mr KNOX:

– I am showing how such a power might be exercised, and the Court in the instance to which I have referred might have so exercised it under pressure by unionists, and on representation which might have been made to it.

Mr Mauger:

– The honorable member surely does not mean that the Court would be subject to pressure?

Mr KNOX:

– So far as the Judge in this instance is concerned, he has shown a great grasp of industrial conditions. He has recognised what honorable members generally recognise : that the trades and labour unions have come to stay, and that it is perfectly idle to suppose that any legislation is going to interfere with the progressive course and influence of those great organizations. I have already said that it is clear that preference to unionists was one of the great purposes and objects of this measure. I may be permitted to read, and it is the only quotation with which I shall trouble the Committee, portions of an address on Socialistic changes in Sydney, given by Mr. G. C. Wade, who has since been elected to the Legislative Assembly in New South Wales. I wish to say that special consideration and weight should be attached to the remarks of this gentleman. He is a barrister.

Mr Watson:

– Who is always retained by the employers.

Mr KNOX:

– I admit that he is a barrister who is retained by the employers. But he has given a great deal of thought and consideration to the whole industrial question, and has been brought into direct contact with the operations of the Arbitration Court.

Mr McDonald:

– He is an agitator for the other side.

Mr KNOX:

– He is not an agitator. What I propose to read has been stated publicly, and is open to criticism. It is, no doubt, open to the criticism suggested by the Prime Minister that Mr. Wade has been all along an advocate for the other side in this question, inasmuch as he has always acted on behalf of persons who have been challenged by the unions.

Mr Webster:

– He knows on which side his bread is buttered.

Mr KNOX:

– I do not know that it can be said that he is actuated by that consideration. Any one who knows Mr. Wade will be satisfied that he is a capable and intelligent lawyer, and a man who does his best to get at the bed-rock of the question.

Mr Mauger:

– Who does his best for. those who pay him.

Mr Thomas:

– Does the honorable member know Mr. Wade personally ?

Mr KNOX:

– I do, and I have a very high esteem for him.

Mr Thomas:

– And the honorable member agrees with his views?

Mr KNOX:

– I agree with his views. Mr. Wade, in his address, said -

The chief trouble in connexion with the Arbitration Act was to be traced to the clause giving preference to unionists. From its very inception many union employes, who have no real quarrel with their masters, rushed to the Court, and preferred a claim in regard to wages, being quite content if they obtained the inclusion of the preference principle in the award. The result was that in a very short time the business of the Court became absolutely congested, and now there are fifty odd cases awaiting hearing, which were, presumably, industrial disputes, but which a few years ago would never have been thought of. In addition to the congestion of the lists, the Arbitration Court was being used by the employes as a recruiting agent for the unions, for the recognition of the preference clause enabled them to increase their membership, and, as most of the unions were directly associated with political organizations, we had. a machine in operation which tended to give the Labour Party a solid front in the political world. He had been told of a certain union, whose members had admitted that they would be content if they obtained the preference, even if they lost their claim for the increase of wages. At the last election, through a want of cohesion in the union, a man was returned to Parliament who was opposed to the caucus. But it was now hoped that if the Court granted the union the preference clause they would have a solid body of workers, and the member referred to would be defeated at the forthcoming elections.

The honorable member for Barrier will know who is the member referred to.

Mr Thomas:

– That very man wished to be a member of the caucus.

Mr KNOX:

– The honorable member knows the man who was defeated, and to whom reference is here made. I know him also. I have quoted for honorable members the views of a, gentleman who is in a position to speak with great authority on this question, because day by day during the whole period of references to the Court, he has been watching the development of industrial disputes. With other honorable members on this side, I have consistently held that, underlying the high humane purpose and object of the Bill, in the direction of conciliation and arbitration, there is this greater desire to secure a weapon for the purpose of increasing the power, influence, and membership of the great trades and labour organizations. I feel that if honorable members opposite wishfor the application of the principle of this Bill in its integrity - and I conscientiously believe that a large number of them do-

Mr McDonald:

– Not a large number - all.

Mr KNOX:

– I believe that, just as is the case in trades and labour organizations, there is amongst the party opposite a small minority who, in connexion with legislation, take extreme views and attitudes that the majority would not desire to take. I believe I have been justified in bringing under the notice of the Committee the views of a gentleman who is so well-informed upon one side of this question. The effect of the amendment proposed, if carried, will be to create a blank by the omission of these two sub-clauses. I entirely agree that it is necessary to have some organization to which an award can be applied, and through which an application can be made. For that reason, I believe, the best solution of the difficulty confronting the Committee is that which has been submitted by the honorable member for North Sydney. Let me again revert to the condition of things at Broken Hill. I have referred to the benefits which were sought to be obtained under the award of the Court, in the case of the miners against the Broken Hill mining companies. It was perfectly right, no doubt, that the unionists should in that case say to those who were not members of the unions, “ We are” taking action in which you are hot assisting us. You are not contributing anything towards the cost of the reference.” I think the suggestion that every one who is a party to a reference to the Court, and who will be affected by the settlement of the dispute involved, should contribute proportionately to the expense is a very good one. It should apply to individual employers and to associations of employers and employe’s. The Employers Union is, I think, a political body, but if it felt called upon to adopt an attitude of defence ‘against what its members regarded as the encroachment of the labour unions, and was cited before the Court, all the parties interested in the dispute, and not merely’ that union, should contribute to the expense. I think that that would be a fair and reasonable application of the common rule. But I consider it tyrannical to compel the large numbers of men who, as I have shown by reference to two of our great mining centres, are outside the labour organizations now, to join them.

Mr Thomas:

– They are not compelled to remain in the unions, even if they join them.

Mr KNOX:

– They must remain members of the unions for the purposes of the Bill, and must abide by the awards of the Court.

Mr Thomas:

– Still they are not compelled to remain in the unions.

Mr KNOX:

– Honorable members opposite are continually shifting their position. First of all we had this provision suavely defended on the grounds of humanity. We, on this side, are prepared to go as far as possible on humanitarian grounds.

Mr McDonald:

– So. long as individual interests are not affected.

Mr KNOX:

– Humanity- should be the first consideration. I consider it. very desirable to adopt measures ‘for the prevention of strikes and serious troubles such as we have had in the past. While I shall adhere to my determination not to refer to a number of matters with which I should otherwise deal, I wish it to be distinctly understood that my practical association with some very large labour disputes leads me to feel that we have little to fear from the great body of workers. What we have to fear is the influence and actions of paid agitators who foment strikes and create trouble.

Mr Watson:

– Is the honorable member referring to Mr. Wade?

Mr KNOX:

– He has never created trouble. I do “not know any one who could be justly termed a paid agitator for the employers.

Mr Tudor:

– What about Mr. Walpole?

Mr KNOX:

– If the honorable gentleman looks at the list of cases which have been brought before the New South Wales Arbitration Court, he will see that in not one instance have the employers taken advantage of the Act.

Mr Batchelor:

– That does not affect the question. ‘

Mr KNOX:

– Yes, it does. It shows that all the agitation has been on the side of the employes.

Mr Webster:

– It shows the need for the Act.

Mr KNOX:

– No doubt, in a _ great many cases the employes have justice on their side; but in many other cases strife is created by the action of a small minority of agitators, whose whole existence is devoted to the creation of turmoil and trouble. It is absurd for honorable members to speak of the sacrifices which these’ men have made, as though they had made any personal sacrifices. Attention ha’s been directed to the black-list in Queensland. I believe that such a list did exist.

Mr McDonald:

– It does exist. We have copies of it.

Mr KNOX:

– A good explanation has been given of the need for that black-list. But if any one suggests that such a blacklist ever existed at Broken Hill, or was used in connexion with any enterprise with which I am associated, or that there was any direct attempt on the part of the mineowners of Broken Hill, or those representing them in the management, to unjustly interfere with the men, he is suggesting what is not correct. We have had but one consideration in our dealings with the men - to secure effective and capable service. It is a mistaken notion to think that all the capable men are members of the unions, and to give unlimited preference to unionists, to the exclusion of those outside the unions, would be the harshest injustice.

Mr Thomas:

– Is it an injustice to give preference to unionists ?

Mr KNOX:

– Certainly it is.

Mr Thomas:

– Does the honorable member recollect an occasion when he himself agreed that none but unionists should be permitted to go underground at Broken Hill?

Mr KNOX:

– I do not think that any advantage is to be gained by going into ancient history. A number of those who took part in the troubles at Broken Hill are at present occupying high and responsible positions, and my honorable friend, who is one of them, is now one of our most respected members. We were approached, probably by himself, with others, and asked to recognise the unions, and in those early days we consented to do so, and agreed to take the men who were recommended to us as desirable.

Mr Mauger:

– Then the honorable member has recognised the principle of collective bargaining.

Mr KNOX:

– We recognised the unions; but we found that not the .unions, but the agitators who led them, desired that the men should not do an honest day’s work. That is why the bad condition of things which formerly prevailed does not exist in Broken Hill. The intolerable domination of the union leaders, and the undisguised efforts made by them to encourage the men to do less work than was reasonable, arc facts of which we possess indisputable evidence.

Mr Thomas:

– I know nothing of them; and I was president of the association at the time.

Mr KNOX:

– If all the leaders had been men of the character and common-sense possessed by the honorable member, many of the troubles which occurred would not have arisen.

Mr Thomas:

– The honorable member would not even meet us in conference.

Mr KNOX:

– It was of no use to do so, because the position created had become intolerable, and impossible of continuance-. Throughout this debate the cry has been “Trust the Court.” Now the New South Wales Court the other day told the men that the conditions under which they were working were good conditions, and I defy any disinterested man to prove that the con- .ditions at Broken Hill are not good conditions. They are the conditions which have come about since the insolent and arbitrary control of the unionists was got rid of. I ask honorable members to consider to what serious positions unionists may drive themselves. I ask their consideration to the articles which have appeared in some- of the journals, which show to what outrageous lengths unionism has gone in San Francisco and Cripple Creek.

Mr McDonald:

– And to -what lengths the employers have gone in Pennsylvania.

Mr Tudor:

– They will not have arbitration in the United States.

Mr KNOX:

– There is no greater evidence of the need for just legislation than the cases to which I refer. But what is in human nature in America is in human nature here. The trade and labour councils there have lent themselves to the machinations of the great trusts. Instead of working for the general interests of labour, they have been ready to enrich themselves by accepting phenomenal wages to work with and become the tools of the trusts. What has happened there may happen here. I recognise that there is a difference between the organized unionism of to-day and the unionism with which I and the honorable member for Barrier were acquainted. There is a difference between the unionism of the old days, and that of which we have had recent experience. A different spirit how prompts the movements of the trades organizations ; they recognise that it is best to adopt peaceful methods for the settlement of industrial disputes.

Mr McDonald:

– Does the honorable member approve of present methods as contrasted with the old ones?

Mr KNOX:

– Yes, I do. We are now endeavouring to work harmoniously. A provision such as that now proposed would, however, have a disturbing influence, and would impose serious restrictions upon employers. If the amendment be carried, and a blank be created, we could advantageously adopt a provision such as that indicated by the honorable member for North Sydney. If his suggestion be not adopted, I hope that a stipulation will be made that a majority of the members of any union shall determine whether or not a dispute shall, be submitted to the adjudication of the Court.

Mr WEBSTER:
Gwydir

– I have listened very attentively to the debate, and I desire to say a few words with regard to some of the suggestions made by honorable members. In the first place, I might mention that without a provision for preference to unionists the whole fabric of this measure will’ be practically destroyed. The law cannot be applied with any beneficial result, and there can be no effective administration under it. The recognition of organizations is the ruling principle of the measure, and it can have no effect whatever if the incentive to organization is to be destroyed. What inducement would there be to men to organize with a view to taking advantage of the provisions of the measure if no provision were made for giving preference to unionists? Who should have a preference if not those who have spent years and years in attempting to bring about reforms such as that now under consideration? Are those who have stood apart and have shared in the benefits for which others have fought to be placed upon an equal footing with unionists who have directed all their energies to bringing about better conditions of labour? I do not fully understand the arguments advanced by some honorable members sitting opposite. The honorable member for North Sydney would go to extremes such as were never contemplated by unionists. We do not suggest, as does the honorable member, that men should be forced into joining unions. The honorable; member for New England went still further, because he said that he would not only make every man join an industrial organization, but would authorize his employer to deduct from his wages the amount of his contribution to the union. Honorable members who are prepared to support this measure should certainly go the length of giving us their assistance in securing preference for unionists. The honorable and learned member for Corinella seems to have a penchant for drafting amendments which are likely to provide work for the lawyers. He proposes 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 the majority of those engaged in an industry. I do not see that any advantage is to be gained by making such a proviso. The Court could not direct that preference should be given to unionists beyond the area covered by the common rule. They would never attempt to do any thing soidiotic as to extend it further.

Mr McCay:

– No one suggests that ; as a matter of fact I do not propose to move that portion of the amendment.

Mr WEBSTER:

– I find it very difficult to understand what really is proposed, because so many amendments have been placed before us and afterwards altered. The honorable member for Robertson objected to the general tendency of the Bill, and presented to us as illustrations a number of cases which demonstrated his utter ignorance of the application of the preference provision in the New South Wales Arbitration Act. If a dispute occurred in connexion with the railway services of New South Wales and Victoria, and a common rule were applied not only to those States but to others, do honorable members suppose that the men would be satisfied unless preference were given to unionists? In such an event no inducement would be afforded to the railway men to keep up the contributions to their unions, and to maintain the organizations which had been instrumental in bringing about improved conditions. If honorable members think that the railway servants who are members of unions will be content to be placed upon the same footing as others who are outside their organizations, they will find that they are mistaken.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– Does the honorable member mean to say that the Government should not employ a man unless he joined the union?

Mr WEBSTER:

– I do not say anything of the kind.

Mr SKENE:
Grampians

– Recognising that it is the general wish that we should conclude this debate in time to permit of representatives from the other States catching their trains, I shall omit a great deal of the matter with which I had intended to deal in discussing this clause. I am pleased to note rJhat we have now reached a very calm atmosphere, notwithstanding that hitherto the debate has been as heated as has any which has taken place in this Parliamen t. I can quite understand why that has been so. I realize that we are all in earnest over this question, and also that there are two sides to it, as indeed there are to most questions. To my mind the discussion does not represent a mere scramble to determine which of two parties shall obtain an advantage. On the contrary, I recognise that there is a big economic question involved, and whilst our friends opposite claim that unionism has done a great deal for non-unionists, I contend that non-unionists could make out a very good case indeed from their point of view. In this matter we must recognise that we are dealing practically with a minority of the workers. It is always repugnant to the instincts of our race to exercise compulsion of any kind, but the compulsion of a minority seems to me to be the crowning act of compulsion. In discussing this Bill the other night the Prime Minister - and I think the Minister of External Affairs - used, the word “weapon.” They urged that this clause provided the onlyweapon which could be put into the hands of unionists to give them control of the situation. Why should a weapon be placed in the hands of any section of the community to enable it to dominate any other section? I can understand that it might be necessary to put a weapon into the hands of a man who was engaged in looking after criminals, ‘ but I see no reason why one should be placed in the hands of a section of the community to enable it to lord it over another section.

Mr Frazer:

– That is just the difficulty we experience in connexion with unscrupulous capitalists.

Mr SKENE:

– I did not use the word “unscrupulous.” I am at a disadvantage as compared with the honorable member, in that long ago I realized what is stated in the Biglow Papers, that “ The further I go the harder it gits to be sure that I know.” Probably the honorable member will reach that stage some day. The Prime Minister also used another word, which, I think, was as much out of place as was the word “ weapon.” He used the term “ altruistic “ in referring to the great good which has been conferred by unionists upon nonunionists. I am perfectly prepared to believe that a great deal of altruism exists in the minds of many honorable members opposite. I credit them with the sincere belief that by the enactment of the legislation proposed they will accomplish much good. But they should also remember that there is a considerable amount of selfishness at the bottom of it. The altruist may occupy one high platform, and the utterly selfish individual another. We have to deal with the selfish individual as well as with the altruist. Only the other day it came to my knowledge that one of the Wages Boards in Victoria decided not to limit the. number of apprentices employed in a certain tTade. Thereupon the employes urged that the wages of the apprentices should be raised to a prohibitive standard for boy labour. I am not at liberty to publicly state the name of my informant, but I am quite prepared to furnish it, to any honorable member who desires it, privately. When this view was pressed by a member of the Board, another member exclaimed, “ Oh, if the boys cannot earn these wages let them drown.” What would the mothers of Australia think of that view of the question ?

Mr Bamford:

– Was that Mr. Walpole?

Mr SKENE:

– It was one of the employes on a Wages Board.

Mr Tudor:

– What Board?

Mr SKENE:

– I do not exactly know what Board, but I shall be glad to give the honorable member the name of my informant. That is the other side of this question. We are not called upon to deal exclusively with altruism. Altruism leads us into very high altitudes, but, on the other hand, selfishness is more likely to prevail in matters of this kind. The view which is entertained by many non-unionists is that any interference with the free action _ of labour prevents expansion of industries. Money begets money, labour begets labour, and a free exchange of labour frequently leads to a condition of things that is infinitely better than are any artificial aids which we can employ. I freely confess that if, by their superior skill, unionists can insure peace and harmony to the employer, they are entitled to all the benefits which they can derive from their good work and better methods. We are all familiar with the story of the man who went from America, on behalf of the Westinghouse Company, to hustle the English labourers. On his arrival the unionists in England waited upon him, and placed their views before him. He inquired, “What do you want?” They replied, that they wished to work certain hours, and to be paid iod. an hour. Thereupon he said, “Very well; I will give you nd. an hour if you will do the work as I wish it to be done.” What was the result? Within nine months he had completed what the English architects estimated would occupy three years, and he had accomplished that result with the greatest satisfaction to himself and to the unionist labourers. That fact proves that, if unionists depend entirely on their superior skill, they will secure a material advantage. Last night the honorable member for Darling, and the. honorable member for Moira, referred to the shearers’ strike of 1890. I have a vivid recollection of that struggle, because I was specially interested in it. The year previously I had become so disgusted with some of my own class who undertook to get their shearing done upon certain lines and failed to carry it out that I engaged unionist labourers on their own terms. When the strike occurred, for some’ reason or other my employes remained at work, but a great many others were called out, and the cause of unionism in Victoria was thrown back at least ten years. Since then, I think that the methods employed by unionists have improved, and if the Government are content not to press their proposal in favour of a preference to that class of employes too far - if they are willing to adopt some such method as has been suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney - I shall be amply satisfied with the Bill. There is another matter on which I desire to dwell briefly. It has reference to the limitation of apprentices, and to the payment of a minimum wage To my mind it is very clear that, if the weak man is to receive more than his value, the strong man must accept less, otherwise the industry in which they are employed will be ruined.

Mr Page:

– Why does the honorable member like to have his sheep shorn fast?

Mr SKENE:

– I do not understand the allusion.

Mr Page:

– The honorable member says that the weak man must go down, and yet when he engages shearers he desires to obtain the fastest men.

Mr SKENE:

– If we impose a minimum wage beyond the economic value of the weak, the stronger workman must accept a less wage than he is worth. Anything that we give to a man in excess of his economic value is really not in the nature of wages at all. Practically it is alms - it represents a charitable contribution. As bearing upon this point, I may mention that a case came before the Arbitration Court at Broken Hill only the other day. The men who are employed there in getting out the ore entered into an arrangement two and a half years ago bv which they could’ earn as nearly as possible ns. per shift per man. They applied to the Court to fix a minimum wage, and to allow the better men to earn what they could. The evidence tendered showed that during the past two and a half years these miners had averaged ns. id. per shift per man. Consequently, the Judge declared that he could not call upon the employers to pay a higher rate. “ But,” he added “ your counsel says that you are content to accept ns. per shift per man. As some of your number earn more than that amount, and others less, I would suggest that you should pool your wages and divide.” To my mind, that was an exceedingly sensible suggestion. No industry can carry on which has to pay more than the economic value of the work performed. We know that with the advance of medical science, and with cheaper food supplies, ‘a great many weaker persons are being reared to manhood. As we obtain improved methods of treating the young and rearing them to manhood, this trouble will become more acute. The standard wage must not be set by the weaker men.

Mr Storrer:

– That difficulty is provided for in the Bill.

Mr SKENE:

– I am speaking more of the methods which unionists have adopted in the past. Another point which occurs to me in reference to this matter is that the Government are now proposing to seriously depart from the principle which they have expressed a desire to follow in other directions.. Thev talk of nationalizing industry, and yet they propose to create a monopoly of labour. I contend that, by so doing, they are altogether departing from the lines which they have laid down in regard to other matters. Several amendments are to be submtted, which I hope the Government will accept. Although I began by admitting that I was in favour of voluntary conciliation-

Mr Page:

– Everybody is in favour of that.

Mr SKENE:

– I am not in the slightest degree anxious to go back upon the principle of compulsory arbitration at this stage. My only desire is to get the best Bill possible under the circumstances. I claim, therefore, that the Government should go as far as they can towards accepting the amendments proposed. As the honorable member for Kooyong has said, the position m California has become so acute that one realizes that it would be well, if possible, to do something in this direction. It would seem that in California many employers and employes really conspire together to exploit the consumer. In dealing with difficulties of this kind, however, a State enjoys an advantage over a Federation. Professor Fiske, in discussing similar agitations which took place in California years ago, points out that if the trouble is confined to one State it cures itself. As soon as the money begins to flow from the State the people must go too, and other States take warning. We are legislating, however, for the whole Commonwealth, and must therefore regard these questions from a broader stand-point. As I understand that it is the wish of the Committee to go to a division as soon as possible, I shall content myself with this brief statement of my views.

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– I do not intend to occupy the time of the Committee at any great length ; but am anxious to refer to the system of issuing black-lists which is adopted by the pastoralists. I have a copy of a black-list, and propose to give honorable members some idea of how the system is worked. When a shearer applies for a stand he is asked for his reference, and on receiving it from him the manager at once takes it into his office, and by referring to the number which it bears is able without difficulty to ascertain what remarks appear on the black-list in regard to the holder. A man may have a first-class reference, setting forth that he is a good shearer, and that his behaviour is excellent ; but if on perusal of the black-list the manager finds that he was considered by his former employer to be an undesirable he is at once refused employment. I have no desire to mention names, but I shall read some of the remarks which appear in this black-list. Let me take, first of all, remarks appearing against a man whose name, we will say, is Tom Smith. They set forth that he worked at a certain station from 8th October to 1st November, that his conduct and ability were good, . and that his tally was about seventy at a hand-shearing shed. Then we have the statement that he is a good shearer, but a “ strong unionist.”

Mr Mauger:

– Does that comment actually appear in the list?

Mr PAGE:

– Yes; there are much stronger comments which I intend to read. As soon as a station manager reads remarks of this description against the name of an applicant for work, he says, “ I am very sorry, but my list is full.” “ Put me on, your emergency list,” suggests the man. “ But I have sixty or seventy on the list now,” replies the manager, and the man goes on to the next station, only to meet with the same answer to his request for employment. Every station manager has a copy of these black-lists, and the consequence is that some of the very best shearers in Queensland are hunted down and have to go to some other State, or seek employment in another industry.

Mr Skene:

– Do these remarks also appear in the references given to the men?

Mr Page:

– No ; there are no remarks on the references.

Mr Wilks:

– So that the references are “ Joeys.”

Mr PAGE:

– Of course they are. The name of every man engaged in any branch of the pastoral industry in Queensland appears on the black-list.

Mr Bamford:

– If he is a unionist.

Mr PAGE:

– Whether he is or is not. The black-list which I have here was issued by the Warrego Pastoralists’ Association, and the following statement appears on the title page -

Register of Shearers who Shore for the Members during the vear 1895.

This register has been compiled at the office of this association for the information of members only, and in accordance with counsel’s opinion taken as to its legality.

This register must be kept strictly private and confidential.

J. Westergaard Neilsen,

Secretary.

Let me read a few of the remarks which appear in it. The first entry relates to a man who shore at Mount Margaret, a station in the Warrego district. It sets forth that he was shearing at that station from 23rd August to 24th September, that his conduct was very good, his ability fair, his approximate daily tally ninety-five, but he was a “ red-hot unionist, and chairman of shed.” That man has never got another shed in Queensland. The remark opposite the name of another man is, “Good learner.” Then we have the statement that a man is “ rough, and second cuts.” Next on the list is a statement that a worker is “good, honest workman.” We know what, that means in Queensland. It is, in effect, a statement that the man is a “ scab.”

Mr Skene:

– Would the honorable member have second cuts?

Mr PAGE:

– Not if I could help it; but it is impossible to avoid second cuts, when handling ‘some of the old merino rams.

Mr Skene:

– With skins like concertinas.

Mr PAGE:

– Exactly so. The list refers to another man as “ rather fond of second cuts.” Then we have remarks as follows : - “ Quiet, decent man, strong non-unionist, good shearer ; “ “ Not as good as he was in 1894;” “Can shear and behave himself when he likes ; ‘’ ” Good, clean shearer, inclined to talk;” “Bad shearer; objectionable man.” . We are told that another man is “very objectionable,” that he is a strong unionist, and wants to organize. He is like our boss organizer, the honorable member for Darling. Glancing down the list, I find that a man is described as a shearer of good conduct, but that there are “ bad reports from other sheds ; “ that another is “ no good ; only employed three days.” It is said of one individual that he will “ never make a shearer, but a good hard worker.” “ Would not recommend his employment,” is another entry.

Mr Hughes:

– I suppose he used too much tar.

Mr PAGE:

– Probably he wanted too much. Among other remarks concerning different men are the’ following : - “ Too fond of grumbling ; “ “ Would not recommend ; “ “ Discharged for rough shearing ; “ “Inclined to agitate; strong unionist.” The last-named remark applies to an old fellow who is dead and gone, poor old Sam Green. I mention his name, because black-lists cannot harm him now. It is said of another, “ Discharged for bad work ; assumed name ; correct name Sopp.” Let me explain to the Committee that it is necessary for many of these men to work under assumed names. At one time when a man found that his reference was of no avail, because . of the existence of the black-list, he was able to erase his own name, and to substitute another. The employers, however, have made that practice impossible by using waterlined paper, and, by holding a reference up to the light, or examining it under a microscope - as a man would look at a bank note to determine whether it was a forgery - can quickly tell whether it has been tampered with. When these black-lists first came out unionists had to resort to the practice of paying hard cash for “scab” references in order to secure an opportunity to earn a livelihood. The quotations I have made from this document will give honorable members some idea of the practices against which union shearers in Queensland have to contend. Will honorable members now ask why we seek a preference for unionists? If this provision be omitted, the Bill will be as so much waste paper so far as the shearers of the A.W.U. of Queensland are concerned. There are still one or two other extracts which I should like to make from this document. Opposite the name of one man we have the entry, “ No reference given ; would not have him again on any account.” What hope has a man of obtaining employment when such a statement is recorded against him? This man is described as a very good shearer, with a tally of fifty-seven sheep with the machine. Men of this kind are hounded down. It is said that we need a larger population in Queensland, and yet many pastoralists are driving some of the best workers out of the country. Many men have been compelled to leave Queensland to seek employment elsewhere. Numbers have been hounded out of the shearing industry. They hunted me out of if, but, thank God, it was the very best day’s work they ever did - for me. As’ soon as these men find it necessary to leave Queensland they travel to New South Wales or Victoria, where they settle down, and become firstclass farmers. Some of the best settlers in Victoria are unionists from Queensland. It has been urged that the organizations to which this provision of the Bill would apply, are used for political purposes. Unionists are easily organized into political associations, but I can assure honorable members that not one penny of the funds of the Australian Workers’ Union in- Queensland is devoted to political objects. We have a separate organization known as the Workers’ Political Organization, which deals with political questions, . and any man. may become a member of it by paying an annual fee of 2s. 6d. As soon as a man takes his union ticket he is asked. “ Will you take a ticket in the Workers’ Political Organization ?” If he becomes a member of the organisation he is allowed a voice in the selection of the candidates nominated by the organization; but if he declines to join he hears no more about the matter. There are thousands of non-unionists in Queensland who belong to the Workers’ Political Organization. I do not say that they all vote for labour candidates, although I dare sav that, nine-tenths of them supported my candidature ; but they have certain fixed political principles, and their opinions on the fiscal question are especially pronounced. This is the secret of the success of the Australian Workers’ Union in Queensland. I believe that some proposal was made to use the funds of the union in New South Wales, and that it led to the difficulty in regard to the registration of certain rules; but in Queensland nothing of the kind has occurred.

Mr Spence:

– That was not the difficulty.

Mr PAGE:

– There are many stations in Queensland which a union organizer is not allowed to enter. In nine cases out of ten the land on which the station buildings are erected is freehold, and the owners will not permit an organizer to visit the shed for the purpose of organizing the men. Last year the manager of the Kynuna station summoned an organizer for visiting’ his shed. The man first asked for permission to go there, but was refused. A number of the shearers subsequently invited him to’ the shed, and he accepted the invitation, with the result that he was sued for trespass and was fined some £2 or£3. Surely when members of a union are employed on these sheds, the organization should be allowed, through its representative, to approach them for the purpose of carrying on the work of the society. We have no desire to force any man into our union. A man is simply asked whether he will take a ticket, and if he declines to do so no harm is done. There is no objection on the part of the members of the Australian Workers’ Union in Queensland to work alongside nonunionists. Ever since the strike of 1891, the pastoralists have said to us - “Let bygones be bygones, and let us work on the same old lines as we did before the strike.” But what has happened? A black-list has come into vogue, and any man who dares to say a word to the “ boss “ is blacklisted, and hounded out of the country. I car. tell honorable members that, had it not been for the Australian Workers’ Union, the price of shearing to-day would have been about 12s. per 100, instead of £1. Yet it is desired to give non-union shearers the right to fatten on that which we have won during the last twelve or fourteen years, and which they have accepted with all the good grace imaginable, while we are not to be allowed to organize them. That is the true position so far as nonunionists and unionists are concerned. I could give instances of what happened last year, when I was at Barcaldine. When I was at home there during last recess, a man came down in search of shearers for Oondooroo, in the Witton district. There were available many men, who were good, capable shearers, but they had upon them the brand of the Australian Workers’ Union. This man said, “ No; I cannot take you men, because you do not belong to our association,” which was the Machine Shearers’ Union. Many members of the Australian Workers’ Union, in order to get a shed at Qondooroo, had to pay 5s., and get a ticket. There, again, we see that the Machine Shearers’ Union is the monopoly of the pastoralists. The Court in New South Wales gave the whole show away. The Machine Shearers’ Union is really Young and Co. The men who are living in Queensland cannot get a day’s work. Young and Co. rake up all the non-unionists who cannot get work in New South Wales, bring them up to. Queensland, and do the work by contract shearing. If the clause were thrown out, the measure would be so much waste paper to us in Queensland; but I feel confident that it will not be thrown out. We do not wish to create a monopoly in shearing or mining or shipping, any more than in any other trade. But we say that the men, who have borne the heat and burden of the day, and stood up for their rights for so many years, ought to receive something in exchange for the only weapon which they have in their hands. Honorable members propose to take away from the men their only weapon - the right to strike - and do ‘not wish to give them anything in return. I believe that an amendment is to be moved by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat which will Overcome the scruples of some honorable members. All I ask is that if honorable members opposite cannot give us all that we want, they will go with us as far as they possibly can. Let a trial be made, and if the Act should be found to be inoperative, it can be amended. It is the easiest thing in the world to amend an Act. My experience in political life is that if public opinion is against an Act it will very soon be altered. I wish to reply to some remarks made by the honorable member for Robertson last night. Sneering at labour men, he asked, “What do they know? What business ability have they? What is their capacity for administration?” and he referred to the Ministers as being only in their political swaddling clothes. That remark came with ill grace from the honorable member. What I wish to know is what ability does he possess?

Mr Robinson:

– Ask us something easy.

Mr PAGE:

– Well, I shall leave it at that ; but I can tell the honorable member for Robertson - and he can take my remark to heart - that Australia from one end to the other has had quite enough of the domination of his class. What have we suffered from in the past ? What has caused all this reaction? What caused the reaction in Queensland at the last Federal election, when we beat the “boss” boodle man by 67,000 or 70,000 votes? If that does not represent the voice of the people, I do not know what does. It is going to be felt in all the States. New South Wales i . coming along. The State which will be the most democratic of all is Victoria. That day will come as surely as the summer’s sun will melt an iceberg. I feel that that day is approaching, although it is coming slowly. The writing on the wall was seen at the last State elections, and no matter how the press may try to smother the movement, victory is assured to us. Last night the honorable member for Robertson said that there was only one way to deal with this clause, and that way was to strike it out. We intend to make a big effort to strike him out at the next’ elections. I can assure him of that.

Mr Johnson:

– Another threat?.

Mr PAGE:

– We shall have a cut at the honorable member, too.

Mr Johnson:

– Unquestionably the Labour Party did their best last time.

Mr PAGE:

– We shall do better next time.

Mr Johnson:

– I do not think so. I shall meet them every time.

Mr PAGE:

– Some honorable members sneer at labour men because we do not happen to possess as much “ boodle “ as they do..

Mr Reid:

– The honorable member is one of the richest men in the House.

Mr PAGE:

– That is right, and I mean to stick to my money, which I got by dint of hard labour.

Mr Reid:

– And a considerable thirst.

Mr PAGE:

– A better diet.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I must ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the amendment.

Mr PAGE:

– We have come to stay. No matter whether the Labour Party is called the first, or the second, or the third party ; ever since its inception it has been growing, and it has come to stay.

Mr Reid:

– You have got too big for your boots, now.

Mr PAGE:

– It is only the right honorable member who thinks that we are too big for our boots, simply because he cannot pull them off. I hope that we shall soon get to a vote on this clause. I believe that every honorable member is getting full up of the Bill, so let us deal with it as soon as possible.

Mr McWILLIAMS:
Franklin

– I hope the Prime Minister does not imagine that, because the discussion of this clause has occupied a little time, there has been an attempt on this side of the Chamberto “stone-wall” the measure?

Mr Watson:

– I have not suggested that.

Mr.Mcwilliams.-I regard this clause as the most important inthe Bill, and I would prefer this’ discussion to be carried on even for a few days longer rather than any honorable member who wished to state his views should be deprived of the right to do so. I followed the’ remarks of the honorable member for Maranoa very closely, and I am in thorough accord with him in protesting against Parliament recognising or sympathizing in any way with a black-list, or with the compulsion of shearers to join any particular union in order to get a living. The whole drift ofhis argument was that there is a certain union which’ seeks to compel the shearers of Queensland to join its ranks, and that those who stand out cannot live. But he is supporting a provision which is designed to compel men to join other organizations, otherwise they cannot live. He desires to create exactly the very thing against which he has so ably and vigorously protested. There was not an honorable member, I am sure, in the Chamber who did not realize the force and urgency of his remarks, when he pointed out that some of the best men in Queensland had had to join a particular union, or, as an alternative, to submit to being hounded out of the State. That is exactly what he is trying to do under this Bill. I am not an enemy to trades unions. Some honorable members from the other side sneer across the chamber at honorable members on this side; but let us contrast their record as employers, or as Members of Parliament, or as public men, and see whether they have’ been the oppressors or the opponents of either unionists or workmen generally. I take it’ that, if that inquiry is made, it will be found that on this side there are men whose public records, in the interests of workers generally, are quite as good as those of the honorable members who wish to take out. a patent for a monopoly of sympathy with the workers. I am not opposed, I repeat, to trades unions. When I was an employer of labour my office was a union one, and, with one single exception, we got along exceedingly well. If I were running a newspaper to-morrow, 1 am very strongly of opinion that, unless I were restrained by some wretched legislation, I should prefer a trades union to a non-union office; but I do protest against any legislation or any Arbitration Court saying to a man who has conscientious objections to joining a union that he, with his wife and’ children, must starve, because no employer can be permitted to give him employment.

Mr Wilks:

– This Bill is built on organizations.

Mr Lonsdale:

– It does not matter what it is built on.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– As soon as “ sheoakers “ come on deck, they ask, “ How is she heading ?” and as I have sat here, while the different clauses of the Bill have been discussed, I have asked myself, “How is she heading?” When the Bill was introduced a most eloquent speech was made by the Prime Minister, and an equally eloquent, though perhaps more emphatic one, by the Minister of External Affairs. The whole object of the Bill, they urged, was to abolish strikes, to give us peace instead of war, to secure conciliation throughout the trades of Australia. That is the peg on which they hung their case then. But as soon as we come to this clause they say to us, “ Unless you give the Court the power to say that the non-unionist is not to get employment, the Bill will be of no good. You may as well throw it in the waste-paper basket. ‘ ‘

Mr Hutchison:

– No one has said anything of the kind, as the honorable member knows.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– During the discussion on this clause that has been said by several speakers representing the Government. While the honorable and learned member for Corinella was speaking, the statement was repeatedly made, “ If you mutilate this clause, you will imperil the whole Bill,” and the honorable member protested.

Mr Hutchison:

– Hear, hear.

Mr mcwilliams:

-It was said, “if you strike out or mutilate this clause, the Bill will be worthless, and the trades unions will not accept it.”

Mr Hutchison:

– That is right.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member for Maranoa told us just now that without this clause the Bill would be waste paper.

Mr Page:

– So far as our unions are concerned.

Mr Reid:

– And that is all the honorable member thinks of.

Mr Page:

– Is it?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Let us ask ourselves - Is it the object of the Bill to make an agreement between this Parliament and the trades unions - that if we take from them the power of striking, we shall do so on condition that no one but a trades unionist shall be employed ?

Mr Page:

– That is not in the Bill.

Mr O’Malley:

– The giving of a preference will be at the option of the Judge.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Let me tell honorable members what is the state of affairs at Mount Lyell. The best unionists on the West Coast of Tasmania, the men who have done most for labour, have stepped outside the union, and are outside it to-day. The very man whom the unionists of the West Coast sent to represent them in the State Parliament, could, by this Bill, be “blacklisted “ as the honorable member for Maranoa has described.

Mr McDonald:

– If men do not belong to a union, they are “ blacklegs “ and “ scabs,” and nothing else.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– It does not come well ‘from a prominent labour member to say that men who have done more for labour than he himself has done are “ blacklegs.”

Mr McDonald:

– Rubbish ! That is all the honorable member knows. I say again that men who stand outside, and allow the union to fight their battles, are neither more nor less than “ blacklegs “ and “scabs.”

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Would the honorable member who represents the West Coast in this Parliament, and who knows the men as the honorable member for Kennedy does not know them, apply such epithets?

Mr McDonald:

– I do not care whether he would or would not; these are the epithets that I apply.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I. shall show the reason why these men left the union. Their branch was affiliated with the A.M. A. of Victoria, and for years andyears they paid their contributions and levies in the case of strikes in the latter State. But when the Tasmanian miners thought they had a grievance, and stated it to the A.M. A. of Victoria, the men who had been kept in their positions by the contributions and levies to which I have referred, said, “ No ; we cannot afford to keep you on the strike-list.”

Mr O’Malley:

– The A.M. A. of Victoria did not . think the strike was justified.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– But so long as the Tasmanian miners paid their contributions and levies, the strikes in Victoria were justified. The fact remains that the best men - and as to this I appeal to the honorable member for Darwin - have stepped out of the union, not because, as the honorable member for Kennedy, who knows nothing of the subject, and makes the remarks he has about men quite as good as himself-

Mr McDonald:

– I know more of the A.M. A. than does the honorable member.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– The honorable member for Kennedy does not know much if he calls Mr. Long a “blackleg” and “ a scab “ - if he applies such epithets to one who, because of the attitude he chose to assume was dismissed, and took his dismissal like a man. It comes with very bad grace, indeed, from one of the prominent members of the Labour Party to libel the representative of the miners of the West Coast - the man whom they took out of the tunnel and sent to the State Parliament as their member - as a “ scab “ and a “ blackleg.”

Mr Tudor:

– Long was dismissed because he was a labour man.

Mr Knox:

– That is not true.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– The honorable member for Yarra, who knows something of the circumstances of the case, says that Mr. Long was dismissed because he is a labour man; but the honorable member for Kennedy affirms that Mr. Long is a “ blackleg,” because he refused to stay in a union which he thought was doing an injustice to himself and his colleagues.

Mr Tudor:

– Long was dismissed by the Mount Lyell Company nearly twelve months before the Tasmanian branch left the A.M.A. of Victoria.

Mr McDonald:

– I object to the honorable member for Franklin putting words into my mouth that I did not say.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– A few men did remain in the union at Mount Lvell ; and I ask whether we ought to leave the Court to say that men who stepped out, because they . honestly believed that course to be the right one, should be turned adrift, while preference is given to the unionists. I never joined an employers’ union ; and if there was a proposal that an employer, before he could. come under the Bill, must join a union, I should protest against it to the last. We are making a terrible mistake if we think we can deprive the workers of Australia of their individual liberty. When we look down the avenue of history, what do we see? What are the records of those who have done what honorable members are trying to do to-day? I care not whether it was chief, baron, king, priest, parson, or puritan - all who tried to stifle liberty failed. The people have always had to fight against oppression.

Mr Bamford:

– That is what we are seeking to do bv means of this Bill.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I know that ; but in my opinion, the Government are seeking to go too far - much further than I shall allow, if my vote be of any avail. It is said that this legislation is for the people’s good; but has there ever been a tyrant, who, in sending people to the stake, has not thought and declared that he had a good end in view ? Not one. Now it is proposed that one-sixth or one-seventh of the workers shall form an aristocracy of labour, and that others shall starve - that one-seventh of the workers shall be the chosen few, and the other six-sevenths, as the honorable member for Maranoa has said, be “ black-listed,” not by the managers, whom he condemned, but by the parliamentary representatives of Australia through the Judge of the Arbitration Court. Honorable members who support these proposals have the cool assurance to say that they are the representatives of labour, while those who oppose them, are described as the enemies of labour and of trades unionists. And why is that said ? Because we refuse to allow trades unionists to close their books. An instance which occurred in New South Wales was brought under the notice of the Committee by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo; and I ask honorable members who have any knowledge of the wharf labourers of Australia, whether that is the only case ? Have there been no instances in other States of the chosen few working overtime, and on Sunday, while others, with wives and families depending on their earnings, have been compelled to remain idle? It is that I protest against ; and I hope there is a majority in this Committee who will refuse to adopt the Tammany Hall’ tactics of America, because that is clearly what this means. The creed of the Tammany Hall is, “ We legislate for those who vote for us ; “ and I do not want to see a similar creed adopted in the Parliament of Australia. Let us legislate for all the workers alike. If I were a worker the probability is that I should be a trades unionist.

Mr McDonald:

– No; the honorable member would stop outside.

Mr.Mcwilliams.- No ;I would not stop outside. I tell the honorable member that when there has been work to be done, I have never been one to stand outside. I have always been prepared to take my fair share of it ; and my public record as a legislator on behalf of the people of the State which I have the honour to represent in this Parliament, will, I venture to say, bear favorable comparison with that of the honorable member in his own State. I am prepared to take the opinion of the workers of Tasmania as to whether that is not the case. The . honorable member for Gwydir said that the State railway employes, who have borne the heat and burden of the day, would come under the Bill, and he asked whether it was right that men who refused to assist with contributions should get the full advantages of the measure. What does the honorable member’s argument mean? It means that the Court we are about to create - this mystic Court, which is to possess such omnipotent power - maysay to a State Government, “ You shall’ not employ what men you like ; you must get men who have upon them the hall-mark of trades unionism.

Mr Webster:

– That- is not a correct representation of what I said.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– If the honorable member’s argument does not mean that, it means absolutely nothing.

Mr Webster:

– I was speaking of the unions which exist now.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– We have heard a good deal during the debate of what legislation can do for the people of Australia. I do not say that the Arbitration Act of New South Wales is responsible, either wholly or in part, for the industrial conditions of which we read.

Mr Wilks:

– There are no parliamentary candidates who propose to repeal the Act, and that is one proof of its efficiency.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– According to a telegram from Sydney, published in to-day’s newspapers, a Judge of the Arbitration Court, who cannot be charged with political leanings, has stated that scores of mechanics in Sydney would be glad to accept 6s. a day.

Mr Watson:

– Who says that?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– That was stated during the hearing of a case before the Arbitration Court in Sydney.

Mr Watson:

– As I read that telegram it refers to builders’ labourers.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– No ; the telegram speaks of “ scores of mechanics.”

Mr Watson:

– I do not believe it.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– These are the remarks of Mr. Cruickshank, one of the Judges of the Court.

Mr Watson:

Mr. Cruickshank is an assessor.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

- Mr. Cruickshank is reported to have said -

There was no getting over the fact that there were more unemployed in Sydney at, the present time than had been the case during the last forty-two years. Scores of mechanics would be glad to accept 6s. a day.

Mr Frazer:

– What does that prove?

Mr Hutchison:

– It proves the necessity for an Arbitration Court.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– It proves that the legislation of which we think so much, and which is to be a panacea for all ills, is failing to the extent that it does not create employment.

Mr Hutchison:

– It has not been sufficiently tried yet.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– It is being tried in New South Wales now. Have the Wages Boards in Victoria increased employment for the workers in this State?

Mr Mauger:

– Yes; there is a larger number employed-

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order ! The question before the Chair deals with preference to trades unions.

Mr.Mcwilliams.-I thinkI am quite in order in showing that the effects of this legislation will not give the benefits that are claimed for it. In the State which I represent there are no Wages Boards, and no Arbitration Court; and yet an artisan cannot be obtained under 10s. or11s. a day.

Mr Webster:

– The honorable member for Richmond said that the miners of Tasmania received onlv 36s. per week.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– In. Tasmania there is no Factories Act, except so far as relates to sanitation.

Mr Reid:

– Is there a Labour Party in Tasmania ?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Yes ; but I have been informed, to-day that . its members are “ blacklegs.” In Tasmania, where there is none of this legislation, the artisan is better off than in any other State of the union. That satisfactory state of affairs has not been arrived at by attempting to force men into unions - by attempting to place a millstone around the necks of the people, and telling them that they must do this or. that, before they arc allowed to work. The Government of Tasmania have endeavoured to place the people on the land ; and the encouragement of primary industries has been followed by the establishment of secondary industries. That has been done under a condition of absolute freedom to workers and employers ; and I guarantee that to-day the workers of Tasmania are in as good a position as are the workers in any other State of the union.

Mr Webster:

– And Tasmania has, in proportion to population, a heavier national debt than any other State in the Union.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I cannot ‘understand how it is that some honorable members attainto a position in the Federal Parliament when they do not know the very A B C of the position of. the several States.

Mr McDonald:

– How did the honorable member get here, under those circum- stances ?

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I got here very largely by the good will and the common sense of the people ofthe State from which I come; and I am quite prepared to face the same tribunal again, in defence of the position which I have taken up ever since I became a member of this House. It has been said that the want of some legislation of this kind is driving people out of Victoria. I have had some figures given to me, which show that between March, 1902, and March, 1904, 3,467 people left Victoria. Only 3 per’ cent, of them were farmers and farm labourers. The remainder were chiefly artisans and miners. Another question has been raised by the honorable member for Grampians. It is. with regard to what is done in the United States of America. There the Rockefellers and the Carnegies are in complete sympathy with trades unions. They pay high wages. The unionists have a good time,, the trusts have an infinitely better time ; but they are fleecing the public. Tradesunionism is carried to such an extent ini America that some of the trusts will not. employ a man unless he is a unionist.

Mr McDonald:

– -The honorable member’s party told us not long ago that the trust system in America had been built up in consequence of protection. The leader of the Opposition said so.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– I am always prepared to take the responsibility for what I have said, and if I make a mistake I am man enough to apologize. But I am not prepared to accept responsibility for any statement that may be made by any other person, no matter on which side of the House he may sit. I have spoken longer than I intended, but I desired to put the views of one representative for Tasmania before the Committee. It cannot be said that the Tasmanian members have occupied too much time, because up to the present no other representative o£ that State has spoken. We are all, I hope, in complete sympathy with the honorable member for Maranoa in his most laudable protest against the black-list that has been circulated. I think we are also in the fullest sympathy with him when he protests so vigorously and honestly - as he always does - against the action of Young and Co., who have a union of their own, and will not allow a man to ‘shear unless he joins it under compulsion. If I were a shearer I would fight Young and Co. to the last ditch rather than be compelled to join their union.. I ask honorable members who share that view to join with me in saying that what we condemn in Young and Co. we condemn all round, and that we will not place in the hands of any Judge the power to say that a workman shall not obtain employment unless he joins a union. To my mind no more despicable proposition has ever been put before a Legislature in Australia than that we shall give a Judge power to say to a man, “ You shall not obtain employment, and your wife and children may starve, unless you join a union.” Thank God we are too far civilized to introduce the thumb-screw and the rack again ! We are not doing that, it is true, but some people might prefer even that alternative than be compelled to consent to the proposition which is now made. There are men who would rather face punishment themselves than see it inflicted upon their wives, and their helpless children at home. That is the ordeal to which honorable members opposite, who claim a monopoly as representatives of labour, want to subject the workers of Australia. The Minister of External Affairs said that the Bill would not compel a worker to vote for a labour candidate, but admitted it would compel him to pay a portion of the expenses of a labour candidate. The unions require their members to subscribe to a fighting fund - to be used, perhaps, to fight elections on behalf of men whose principles they absolutely abhor.

Mr Page:

– Who does that?

Mr Kelly:

– The Australian Workers’ Association.

Mr Page:

– It does not; the honorable member is stating what is not true.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I have several times called for order, and honorable members take absolutely no . notice. The very next time I have to make this complaint I shall ask the leader of the House to deal with the offender.

Mr McWILLIAMS:

– Take any district in Victoria, where the feeling of the unionists may be protectionist. Certain labour candidates may be absolutely freetraders and single-taxers in principle. In New South Wales the reverse may be the case. Are we to say to workmen, “ Before you can obtain work you must swallow your political principles to the extent of helping to secure the election of men whom you do not want to represent you?” This Bill goes even further than that. It would deprive men of their political liberty. In my opinion, this is not so much a measure to create a monopoly for the trades union operatives, as it is to create a monopoly for the union representatives in Parliament. I believe that it is the first duty of Parliament to treat all men alike. That is my idea of democracy. I draw no distinction between employers and employes. Both should be treated on exactly similar terms. I draw no distinction between a unionist and a non-unionist. The honorable member for Darling has drawn a broad distinction. He says that every man who is not in a union may, nevertheless, be a unionist. But the Bill makes no such distinction. It simply provides that preference shall be given to unionists. The workman who is not a member of a union, who is not contributing to the upkeep of the union, who is not contributing to the political fighting fund of the union, is under this Bill a non-unionist. -We are asked, deliberately, to take away from men their individual liberty, under the threat of absolute starvation. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella goes farther than I should be inclined to go, but I would ask the Committee to give it serious consideration. Honestly, I am against any preferen’ce being given. I would treat all men equally. But if the Committee is not prepared to go so far, I would ask them to accept the amendment, and to say that a man who objects to join a union shall, at least, have a chance to preserve his individual liberty, and to earn daily bread for his wife and children.

Mr CHANTER:
Riverina

-The discussion has -lasted a considerable time, but I- do not think that any one need complain of its length, because the matter under consideration is a very serious one. It will be my duty to contravert, as shortly as I possibly, can, some of the statements which have been made. It appears to me that, instead of discussing the paragraph before the Committee with a view to improving the Bill, many honorable members have used it for party political purposes, with the object of misrepresenting to people outside what the real objects of the measure are- If I understand it rightly, the objects of -the Bill are to prevent strikes. I venture to say that there is no fair-minded man, no matter what his politics may be, who would not, if he is an honest and humane man, go to the very greatest lengths to secure such legislation as would prevent strikes. Nothing is more ruinous, to worker and employer alike, than strikes. The very basic principle of this Bill, as was very clearly pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Indi last night, in his most admirable remarks, is organization. We want to bring the employers and employ6s into organizations. That is the foundation upon which the Bill is constructed. If the measure be passed, and if subsequently any attempt to create an industrial dispute is made by one party or the other, very heavy penalties may be imposed. Who can honestly and conscientiously say that these provisions will be of a compulsory or mandatory character? There is no mandate to the Court to give preference to an organization of employers or employes. The Bill states’ clearly enough that the Court may, under certain circumstances, direct that certain things shall be done.

Mr Kelly:

– The Court would have that power whether this paragraph remained in the Bill or not.

Mr CHANTER:

– I believe that that is true; but I also believe that Courts have many powers given to them for- use at their discretion, for the . benefit of the people, which are not always used. Let me give an illustrative case. It is within my experience that an attempt of the kind which I shall describe has been made. Suppose a dispute arises between an organization of employes, and an organization of employers, and there is power for the Court to prevent them from doing certain things. What would the employers do? They would absolutely employ non-union labour for no other purpose than to provoke the unionists ; and if the Court were not given power to discriminate, having in view the whole of the circumstances, its hands would be tied. It must not be forgotten that, to a very great extent, this is experimental legislation. Whilst the clause provides that the Court may direct that a certain preference shall be given, it is also empowered to vary any award or order. If the’ Court finds that a mistake has been made, there is power provided in the Bill for remedying the mistake as quickly as possible.I fail to see anything in the clause compelling the Court to give preference to any one. The provision is purely directory, and the exercise of the power is within the jurisdiction of the Court. Some reference has been made to the constitution of the Court. We are aware that the President will be a Justice of the High Court of Australia, and, whoever he may be, we can be assured that he will mete out justice, and will not be influenced by the consideration that an organization is either an employers’ or an employes’ organization.

Mr Johnson:

– That will depend upon his personality.

Mr CHANTER:

– A Judge who understands his position sinks his personality, and becomes the instrument of justice to carry out the will of the people as expressed by the Parliament of the country. In a New South Wales case, which has been cited, the Court was asked to cancel the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union, and if any attempt should be made to constitute improper organizations, the Court, under this Bill, will have the power to cancel their registration, if there should be reason for taking such “action. It is urged against the members of the Government and their supporters that they belong to bodies of unionists who subscribe funds, a portion of which is utilized for political purposes. That may be so; I am not . aware whether it is or not. But if that should be considered a crime, I unhesitatingly say that there is a combination of employers opposed to the Australian Workers’ Union who have committed a far more serious crime, as they have largely used their funds for political purposes. I have had personal experience of that. I have only recently found that the funds of the Pastoralists’ Union of New South Wales may be allocated, not merely for political purposes, but for personal purposes ; and that they may be used, not only to injure the worker where that can be done, but also to keep people off the land. The honorable member for Franklin has said that we should get people on to the land, and yet he is prepared to support a party, some members of which take action to prevent people getting on to the land. I could deal with these matters at some length, and, perhaps, on another occasion I shall refer to them to show that coercion is rampant at the present time. A measure of this kind is the only instrument which can be suggested to secure fair play to employers and employes alike. This clause contains an instruction to the Court which would not be interpreted in the interests of one class any more than another. We must stop the coercion of employers, as well as the coercion of any section of workers, who may be endeavouring to secure undue advantages for themselves. I have heard from the honorable and learned members for Indi, Bendigo, Corinella, and Ballarat, intimations of several amendments. Those who have spoken against this particular provision in the Bill have, in the same breath, indicated their intention to support one or the other of those amendments; but if they agree to the omission of this provision it will be absolutely impossible for us to consider the amendments. I desire to see fair play extended to both worker and employer, and I am prepared to support any amendment which will insure the achievement of that result. In the circumstances, what is there left for me to do but to support the Bill to which I have previously given my support, a Bill which was brought in by the late Government, and which many other honorable members who are now on this side also supported. I am sorry to say that some of them are now prepared to seize upon this director)’ provision to destroy the measure. I again remind honorable members that* there is in this provision no mandate to the Court. It is provided that the Court may direct in certain circumstances, “ other things being equal,” that preference shall be given to members of organizations. I have given the subject very deep consideration. A combination of employers has during the last six or eight months misrepresented my action in connexion with some matters, because, as honorable members are aware, I had not many opportunities of speaking. It is for that reason that I am now determined to let it be known exactly what my views on this question are. I do not believe that this provision will have the effect that some honorable members contend that it will have, and I remind honorable members that the Prime Minister has given a promise to support the amendment suggested bv the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. That amendment will have the effect of toning clown what in some quarters may appear to be a mandatory provision, and I shall give it my support. Every member of the Committee believes in his heart that a measure of this kind is necessary to prevent strikes, and if we are going to recognise industrial organizations it is not unreasonable to give some preference to the members of those organizations ‘as against those who keep outside them. I hope I have made my position clear. It is my desire to support this Bill in its integrity and in its true meaning. The provision to which exception is taken can not be considered as likely to be oppressive, unless it is assumed that the Court constituted under the Bill will be corrupt, and will not dispense justice, or carry out the will of the people. I ask honorable members to assist in making the measure one. which will secure the protection of the worker as well as of the employer, and prevent industrial strife and ruin.

Mr WATSON:
ALP

– I mentioned the other day that I was prepared to accept the suggestion put forward by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat - after consultation with the honorable . and learned member for Indi and myself - as to the advisability of having an additional subclause to clause 67. Since then other suggestions have been made. In the first place, I may say that the Government is prepared to accept the amendment which has been suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella in this form -

Provided always that before any preference to members of organizations is directed as aforesaid, the President shall, by notification published in the Gazette, and in such other publications, if any, as the Court directs, specifying the industry and the industrial matter in relation to which it is proposed to direct such preference, make known, that all persons and organizations interested and desirous of being heard may, on or before a day named, appear or be represented before the Court, and the Court shall in manner prescribed hear such persons and organizations so appearing or represented.

That would apply the same provision to the matter of granting preference as we have in clause 46 applied to the granting of the common rule. The Government are willing to accept that, and they are also willing to accept an amendment which has been given notice of by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, which would follow the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and which is stated in these terms -

In any case in which the Court directs that preference shall be given it may subsequently suspend or qualify the direction for such time or subject to such conditions as it thinks fit if it be proved that the rules of the organization are burdensome or oppressive or do not provide reasonable conditions for admission to or continuance in membership or that the organization has acted unfairly or unjustly to any of its members in the matter of preference.

Beyond these amendments explaining the general purpose, and qualifying to some extent the power of the Court in relation to preference, the Government are not prepared to go. We will agree to these amendments if they are moved by the honorable and learned members to whom I have referred, and if they do not care to move them. I shall be prepared, on behalf of the Government, to do so myself.

Mr Isaacs:

– I understand that the honorable gentleman will also assent to an amendment allowing the President, without action by the Registrar to take notice of the rules of any union.

Mr WATSON:

– I shall be quite prepared to accept such an amendment to clause 67 when we reach it.

Mr REID:
East Sydney

– I have made no secret from the beginning of my intense repugnance to some of the features of these proposals for compulsory arbitration. As I said on the second reading, there is a greater violation done in this Bill to the individual liberties and rights of the citizens of a civilized country than I know of in any other legislation in the British Empire.

Mr Watson:

– This provision is in the New South Wales Act.

Mr REID:

– I know that. I do not think I was in the New South Wales Parliament when that measure was passed, but I was there when it was first introduced, and I expressed my views very strongly. As I have already said, the main object of this Bill is such a humane one, and if realized would have such a tremendous effect for good, that I am prepared to surrender a number of strong objections to some of its provisions in order that there may be a fair experiment. But I sympathize very cordially- with those who object to carrying the provisions of a measure of this sort further in the’ direction of compulsion than is absolutely necessary. What is the object of the Bill? Compulsory arbitration ; the compulsory settlement of differences which may arise between employers and employes. We are prepared to pass a measure in order to endeavour to attain that great object, but we are not all prepared, at this stage at any rate, to pass some of the objectionable provisions which the Bill contains. All legislation on this subject is admittedly experimental. Similar legislation has not been tried in any of the older countries of the world; it has been confined to countries lying within the Australasian seas, and is of only a few years’ duration. No careful man would say, at the present time, that it is more than a most interesting experiment which has an excellent object in view.

Mr Hughes:

– Land value taxation has not been tried elsewhere.

Mr REID:

– No; but even that is in an experimental stage. The fact that a measure has been passed is not conclusive as to its merits. I admit that the remarks which I am making apply to everything new, because every new departure is, from that very circumstance, an experiment. We are all friendly to the object which the Government have in view. No human being who has any appreciation of the sufferings and distress which have been occasioned tq innocent persons by strikes could be otherwise. But the question is whether the provision under discussion does not go too far. I think that it does, and that it is a most objectionable provision. The amendments which the Government are prepared to accept show its hideous impracticability. Itseems to be forgotten that we are legislating for a continent containing 3.000,000 square miles, over which population is scattered at enormous intervals. I hail the amendments which have been referred to by the Prime Minister as a vast improvement upon the clause, and I am glad that the honorable gentleman has accepted them, because, in doing so, he has gone a long way beyond what many of those who sit behind him would favour. I welcome his conciliatory attitude in this matter, because I look upon those amendments as an immense improvement, since they will remove a serious objection to the clause as it stands. But they show the absurdity of the situation. The Arbitration Court will sit in Melbourne or in Sydney, or in some other particular place, and will deal with disputes concerning industries in which persons are engaged in all parts of a continent having a coast line of 8,000 miles. It is proposed that a man shall be at liberty to come from the Gulf of Carpentaria to Melbourne, say, to show cause why the award of the Court, in a particular dispute, should not apply to him. Individuals engaged in any industryare to have the precious right and privilege of coming thousands of miles to beg the Court not to apply some particular rule to their particular case. The whole thing indicates the hollowness and rottenness of the proposals before us. We all admit that it is impossible . to carry into effect a number of good objects without encroaching more or less upon the liberty of the subject ; but we cannot forget the simple fact that, taking New South Wales for example, only about one-sixth of the working population belongs to the unions.

Mr Hughes:

– The Prime Minister explained yesterday that that is not the case.

Mr REID:

– I have satisfied myself by reference to an even higher authority than the Prime Minister.

Mr Hughes:

– I think the right honorable member is not making allowances for certain facts.

Mr REID:

-I may not be making the allowance which the honorable and learned member thinks should be made. I endeavoured to obtain a statement of the facts as they apply to the whole Commonwealth, but I could get information relating to New South Wales only.

Mr Hughes:

– The Prime Minister pointed out that one must deduct from the whole number of adult workers those who could not under any circumstances be enrolled in the existing unions.

Mr REID:

-The correction does not affect the observation I am about to make. I am not going into the reasons why the facts are as stated ; I am simply giving the facts themselves. Speaking from memory - because I have not looked into the matter for a week or two, though I think I am correct - the total number of workers in New South Wales, of the age of twenty and upwards, is 460,000, or 480,000, while the total number of persons belonging to unions, including the large associations, such as the Shearers’ Union, is about 80,000 only.

Mr Lonsdale:

– Something over 60,000.

Mr REID:

– I am prepared to concede 20,000 rather than be called ugly names. I am acting very liberally. New South Wales is the oldest and most settled State in Australia, so far as age contributes to settled conditions. ‘ Yet only one-sixth of the workers of that State are members of unions, while five-sixths remain outside the. unions.

Mr Hughes:

– That is not a fair comparison. The right honorable member might as well include their wives.

Mr REID:

– I am dealing with workers only. I suppose the non-unionist workers are allowed the privilege of having wives.

I am relying upon the figures that have been supplied to me.

Mr Watson:

– They require analysis.

Mr REID:

– They cannot be analyzed away if they are correct. We are told that one of the grandest principles of democracy is equality of opportunity ; that the whole of our system of democratic reform is devoted to the grandest object of all, that of trying not to place obstacles in the way of a man obtaining subsistence and success, and of endeavouring to give every human being a fair start, notwithstanding the disadvantages with which those in some classes of society may be surrounded. That is a noble object ; but this legislation, instead of securing equality of opportunity for the workers of the whole of Australia, requires that they shall submit to new conditions. They can have equality of opportunity if they choose to join a particular union, and agree to a particular set of rules. Is that not refining away the broad principle of democracy ? Of course, we all know that everv man thinks that his democracy is of the right brand, and our friends opposite act and talk as if they had taken out a patent for democracy and labour, and as if ‘no man should be recognised as a worker and a democrat unless he subscribed to the articles of some association with which they are connected. I say that the broad idea of equality of opportunity, which is one of the principles of democracy, is ruthlessly slaughtered by this endeavour under the solemn sanction of an impartial tribunal to shut out men who wish to get work, and thrust them in the gutter, in order that others who belong to particular organizations may have an open door. I think that even in these advanced days a man should have the right to determine whether or not he will join a union. ‘ Is this refusal to allow a man to decide for himself upon that point another refinement of the principle of democracy? A man may refuse to subscribe to a certain article of a religious creed, and still remain within the pale, but the moment a workman comes to the conclusion that it is not right to join a union he becomes an outcast. The honorable member for Kennedy, in the face of Australia, says that all those men who do not join the unions are “scabs” and “blacklegs.” I say that that is an odious insult to hundreds of thousands of the workers of Australia. We begin now to see the sort of sweet moderation which distinguishes men who commence to feel a real sense of power. These gentlemen now feel strong enough to insult every man in Australia who does not belong to their own organizations.

Mr Watson:

– Excuse me, we have not done that.

Mr REID:

– Not my honorable friend. I was not referring to him, but was speaking only of the honorable member for Kennedy. My expression was, perhaps, a loose one. The honorable member for Kennedy was perfectly straightforward. He no doubt honestly thinks what he says. But I want to indicate the position at which we are arriving when we find that the more power they have, the more intolerant- the advanced democrats become, not against the Pagets and the ‘Tudors and the great aristocratic forces.

Mr Tudor:

– We are all right.

Mr REID:

– I do not refer to the imitations in Australia. The indignation of our democratic friends, their ill-will and their hatred, are not directed against the employers, and the privileged classes and monopolists, half as much as against their own fellow working men. This is one of the evil results of pushing legislation too far. What is being done now under the compulsory Arbitration Act in operation in New South Wales? Working men who represent working men talk of their fellows as political “blacklegs” and “ scabs,” because they do not happen to belong to a union ! Are there not hundreds and thousands of workers out in the wild bush who have no chance of belonging to a union? It is all very well for those who live in large cities, and can gather together in large numbers, and who have officers to arrogate to themselves this offensive exclusiveness with reference to labour. They ought to remember the fact that when they speak in the name of labour they represent only a mere fraction of the numbers of men just as honest as they are who cannot belong to a union, even though they may wish to do so. When a man is down, through having lost his employment, and is searching for work, do his fellow workmen inthe unions take him by the hand and say. “ You poor, distressed workingman, without a shilling in your pocket, come into our union and we will do what we can to assist you “ ? No ; on the other hand they say. “ You must be put up for election, and plank down10s. or £1 as your subscription to the union before you can obtain employment.” This is a wonderful method of dealing with distressed workers, who have not a shilling in their pockets - to tell them that they cannot get an honest living, except at the risk of being dubbed political “blacklegs” and “scabs,” unless they have enough money to pay their subscriptions to a union.

Mr Hughes:

– Did not the right honorable gentleman speak of the white stokers in the mail boats as “ the scum of the earth “ ?

Mr REID:

– Is it worthy of the honorable and learned member to endeavour to introduce a matter which is entirely outside the subject under discussion ? I wish to point out, as it is my duty to do, that beneath al! this talk about no strikes and industrial peace, these honorable members and the leagues they represent are setting up a state, not of peace, but pf industrial war, amongst their fellow workers, and that they take up the position, “ You must come into our unions whether you like it or not, or we shall crush you.” Now, these gentlemen actually seek to interfere with the prospects of a man earning his own livelihood, and supporting his family in some struggling bush township. Such a manmay have been working in such a township for twenty years. He may never have belonged to a union, because there may have been no union running after him. Perhaps the two or three workers in the town would not have been worth running after, because there was no political strength behind them. In this little bush township there might be two or three men out of employment when a vacancy occurred. ‘A unionist from Sydney might go up there on the day before the vacancy occurred, and a man who had been working there for years, and who had been down on his luck and out of a billet, might, upon going to his neighbour and asking him to employ him and give him a chance in the hard times, find himself ousted by the man from Sydney, who would say, “ I am a unionist, to whom Mr. Judge Cohen says preference must be given, and you must go back toyour misery.” The proposal is full of the most hideous impracticability when an attempt is made to apply it to a vast continent like Australia. I thoroughly appreciate the advantage offered by the amendment of the honorable member for Corinella, because under it men in the big cities will have a chance, and they will represent, indirectly, the men in the far distant localities. In this way the men in Sydney may champion the case of those who are scattered all over Australia. In that case, there will be some chance of the principle being justly applied. I absolutely admire the idea of trades unionism. If I were in the position of a man employed at a trade, I should feel, as I think every good man in a trade ought to feel, a desire to associate with my fellow-workers in some body connected with the trade. During the whole time that I have been in public life, no man can say that I have ever used a disparaging word in regard to trades unions. I look upon them as representing the cream of the working men in every industry in connexion with which they have been formed. Of course the cream sometimes gets sour, when it goes into politics. It is our duty as public men - more, perhaps, than it is that of some others - to study the interests of all classes of the community. We are not members for the trades unions in the districts that we represent. There is too much of that sort of thing now. My honorable friends opposite must admit that the whole of their political power and existence depend upon the trades unions of the States in which they live. Take away from them the support of the trades unions, and they will disappear for ever from the political horizon. I am happy to say that I do not hold my position upon that basis. It is a narrow basis. The best basis upon which a representative in this House can stand, is that he represents every interest and every man in his constituency equally, and not unequally.

Mr Watson:

– How many unionists are there in my district? I suppose about a thousand.

Mr REID:

– That is quite a new idea. The Prime Minister should recollect that he was once a big city representative. He was a member of one of the best associations of the kind - the Typographical As. sociation - in Sydney for many years, and I believe that he began his most creditable career as a member of that association, and through his connexion with trades union organizations.

Mr Watson:

– There are not many unionists in mv district.

Mr REID:

– I know the Prime Minister too well to believe that he is actuated by selfish motives at any time. It is the grandest thing in the world for the working man to stick to his union, and to be advanced through the support and goodwill of his fellow-unionists. I have no objection to that. What I object to is that the basis of the political power of this Commonwealth is in the hands of a clique which does not represent one-half of the working classes of Australia - in fact, not more than one-sixth of them.

Mr Fisher:

– That is the sore point. ‘

Mr REID:

– Why should my honorable friend say that? Does he think that I am ravenous for office? I think that the Minister of Trade and Customs is probably more ravenous to keep me out of office. I hope that he does not insinuate that I am consumed by some mercenary enterprise at present, because the beginning of my success would not redound to my pecuniary advancement, as every honorable member knows. I ‘am sure that honorable members will give me credit for a better motive than that. I will fight the Government fairly enough. I did not hang back - I let the Government know my intention from the start. It is the duty of honorable members to safeguard the rights and interests of every man in their constituencies, upon grounds of justice, and not as a favour or an act of condescension. There is not a man in our constituencies who has not the right to expect that we will refuse to put our hands to an unfair law which will affect him in earning his livelihood in an honest industry. Holding that view, I shall vote for the omission of these two paragraphs. If the amendment before the Committee be rejected, I shall vote for any amendment which will tend to lessen the wrong and injustice to which I have referred.

Question - That the words “ direct that,” proposed to be left out, stand part of paragraph b - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 33

NOES: 22

Majority……… n

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment negatived.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– I move-

That the following words be added : - “ Provided always that before any preference to members of organizations is directed as aforesaid, the President shall, by notification published in the Gazette, and in such other publications, if any, as the Court directs, specifying the industry and the industrial matter in relation to which it is proposed to direct such preference, make known that all persons and organizations interested and desirous of being heard may, on or before a day named, appear or be represented before the Court , and the Court shall, in manner prescribed, hear all such persons and organizations so appearing or represented.”

The Government have agreed to accept the amendment, and after it has been passed I shall move a further amendment, requiring that the applicants for a preference shall satisfy the Court that theyrepresent a majority of those affected by the award’ who have interests in common with them.

Mr WATSON:

– The Government have no objection to this amendment, but we shall oppose the further amendment indicated by the honorable and learned member.

Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I am thoroughly in favour of the amendment, and am glad that the Government ‘ have accepted it. But I wish to point out that it would practically have the effect of hampering the operation of the whole of the clause. The Court will doits work thoroughly. When a dispute was brought before it affecting an Inter-State industry the Court, knowing that the award would affect every worker in that industry living in all the towns, town ships, and seaports of Australia, would direct a very liberal notification to all parties concerned, by means of advertisements put in different newspapers. It would be very unfair - and hardly democratic - to expect the workers to learn of matters affecting them from the Commonwealth Government Gazette. When a man wishes to bury any notice he usually puts it in the Gazette. The honorable and learned member has very wisely provided, however, that notification shall, if the Court think fit. be given in other publications. That is absolutely necessary. It will involve a harvest for our literary friends that I do not grudge, but the time which the Court would have to allow, in order to permit any one living at the Gulf of Carpentaria, or in the pearl fishery’ settlements, or other remote parts, to come in, would lead to so much delay that when it expired the whole matter would probably have been forgotten. The amendment, however, is an attempt to secure some degree of fairness, and to enable persons to obtain intelligence of the position they are in, before an award is made.

Amendment agreed to.

Mr. McCAY (Corinella).- I move-

That the following words be added : - “ And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given, unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.”

This matter has really been under discussion for some days, so that further debate is unnecessary. The amendment simply means that if a union on either side asks for a preference the Court, must be of opinion that either the union itself, or those who agree to its application to give unions preference, represent a majority on that side. It does not mean that the approval of the majority on each side shall be shown, but a majority on only the one side. I am quite content to submit my proposal to a division without debate. If any debate arises, however, I shall claim my right to reply.

Mr WATSON:

– The Government consider that, on agreeing to the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, they will have gone quite as far as those who favour this clause could be expected to go, and I, therefore, earnestly ask honorable’ members to reject this amendment.

Question - That the words proposed to be added be so added - put. The Committee divided.

AYES: 27

NOES: 22

Majority……… 5

AYES

NOES

Question so resolved in the affirmative.

Amendment agreed to.

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

The Government regard the amendment that has just been carried as of very serious import indeed. . I feel that it cuts right into, the. heart of this . provision, and therefore it is only proper that the Government should, have an opportunity to consider how far it affects the general purpose of the measure, and how far they may ask honorable members to reconsider the decision just given.

Mr. REID (East Sydney).- I think the Prime Minister has taken an absolutely proper course. I consider that his view of the effect of the amendment is perfectly correct, and that he could take no other course.

Motion agreed to’; progress reported.

page 2690

ADJOURNMENT

Public Service Classification

Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed -

That the House do now adjourn.

Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs

– I shall be glad if the Minister of Home Affairs can tell us exactly what position the classification scheme is in - whether a recommendation has been given in favour of the whole of the scheme, or how the matter stands?

Mr BATCHELOR:
Minister of Home Affairs · Boothby · ALP

– The Public Service Commissioner has prepared a scheme of classification, as directed by the Parliament, and sent to the Governor-General a report which has been laid before the House, and will be published in the Gazette for public information. It cannot be operative, of course, until any appeals have been heard, as provided by section 50 of the Act -

Provided that, in the case of reports or recommendation made by the Commissioner to the “Governor-General, all such appeals must be taken before the reports and recommendation are dealt with by the Governor-General under the provisions of this Act.

Certain amended regulations have been agreed to by the Governor-General in Council. ‘They have reference to the power to charge rent, the fixing of’ salaries of certain offices at the maximum of the grades, so that, in the event of any alteration, the officers shall not, in the meantime, have acquired statutory rights, and the determining of the scale of district allowances. Only these amended regulations have been placed before the Governor-General in Council, and they are operative. . The others are merely tentatively operative for a period of some thirty days, in which appeals can be heard according to the regulations. There is another period, of thirty days in which 1 appeals can be considered by the Commissioner, and his decision arrived at. Then comes in the really operative condition, as laid down in section 9 of the Act- -

The Commissioner shall recommend, to the 1 Governor-General foi determination -

When that stage is reached - after the appeals have’ been heard and any proposals are made in this House and discussed, and, if necessary, considered by the Commissioner - the’ Governor-General in Council will adopt or send back the classification to the Commissioner for reconsideration.

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– I am sure honorable members are very gratified tq hear the statement of the Minister of Home Affairs, which removes or clears up the obscurities of the position as I felt them this morning. I thought it was impossible that the; whole of the scheme and its principles could have been accepted by the Government at such short ‘notice, and before there had been opportunity for appeal on the part of public servants, or for consideration and comment on the part of the general public. The statement shows that; the Orders in Council passed have a narrower scope than was stated.

Mr Batchelor:

– There are to be no statutory rights acquired pending a decision; - -

Mr DEAKIN:

-The. Government will have an opportunity to consider the scheme, not as to the salaries which particular persons are to receive, either by way of increase or by way of reduction, but to ascertain the principles on which the services of the six different States have been adjusted, and to satisfy themselves that those principles are, as I believe they will be found to be, perfectly fair to all concerned/ and within the limits of the economy which the country requires us to enforce. I am sure that the statement so clearly made by the Minister, will remove a good deal of apprehension, especially on the part of the public, to whom the scheme represents so much.

Mr Batchelor:

– .Tentatively the Government have adopted the scheme.

Mr DEAKIN:

– For the purpose of further .investigation ?

Mr Batchelor:

– Yes.

Mr KNOX:
Kooyong

– A large number of the public servants are very anxious to see this scheme in detail, and I am perfectly aware that each one cannot be supplied with a copy. May I suggest, on behalf of the public servants, that the scheme should be made available for their perusal as far as possible?

Mr Batchelor:

– The scheme will be published in the Gazette and exhibited at each post-office, and, in addition, copies will be sent to the heads of Departments for distribution.

Mr Groom:

– Will the scheme be distri’.buted immediately, so as to give time for . appeal? Only a month is allowed in which appeals can be made.

Mr Batchelor:

– The time allowed for appeal is thirty days after publication in the Gazette.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Mouse adjourned at 4.25 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 June 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040624_reps_2_20/>.