2nd Parliament · 1st Session
The Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m.., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister if he can furnish any information with regard to Major-General Hutton’s report, respecting which I asked a question yesterday?
– I have had inquiries made, and find that the statement is correct that the report was sent to the Defence Department, and that before being received by the Minister some df its contents were published in the newspapers. Inquiries are being made as to how the information was obtained by the Press ; but it may be stated that the account that appeared in the Press is not altogether accurate. The report will be laid on the table of the House in the course of a day or two.
– I desire to ask the AttorneyGeneral a question with regard to the charges made by Commissioners for taking affidavits for the High Court. When’ an’ appeal is made to the High Court it is necessary -to prepare affidavits, to which exhibits are sometimes attached. In addition to the charge made for taking the affidavits, a fee of is. per page has to be paid in respect to the exhibits, which may be very voluminous. That charge has been made by an officer of the Court, who, I am told, receives a salary of about ^1,200 per annum. I wish to know whether these circumstances are within the cognisance of the Attorney-General, and whether they are in keeping with the promise made when the High Court Bill was before us, that the procedure under the High Court rules would be easy and cheap.
– The regulations as to the fees to be paid to any Commissioners appointed by the High Court for taking affidavits are made, not by the GovernorGeneral in Council but by Their Honours the Justices of the High Court. I have been in correspondence with His Honour the Chief Justice with regard to the fees which are payable to officers of the Federal Departments, and he has intimated his intention to so alter the rules as not to permit of officers of the Federal Departments receiving fees . iri addition to their ordinary salaries.
– Will that apply to the State Registrars who are acting as DeputyRegistrars of the High Court? >
– That will depend to some extent upon the arrangements’ made with the States. Another question is involved in the matter, to which attention has been directed by the honorable member for Laanecoorie,’, namely, the extent of the charge for exhibits - rs. per page.
-I think that the charge is is. per exhibit.
– No; the charge indicated by. me has actually been made.
– If the honorable member will be so; good as to put before me the facts of the :case referred to, I shall be’ very happy to bring them before their Honours the Justices of the High Court*
– I should like to ask the Attorney-General whether the difficulty which, appeared to exist with reference to his non-inclusion in the labour caucus his been overcome. If not, does it proceed- from disinclination on the part of the Government to receive him, or disinclination on his own part to join the caucus ?
– I was not aware that’ this House was acquainted officially with any caucus. Personally, I have felt not the slightest, difficulty or embarrassment.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister if the right honorable member for East Sydney was admitted to the labour caucus in New South Wales when he was supported by the Labour Party in that State.?
– I have no knowledge of the proceedings of the Fight honorable gentleman.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral, recommending that an appropriation be made from the Consolidated Revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
Whether it is. a fact, as published in the press, that the Public Service Commissioner has decided to restrict long leave to Federal servants in South Australia to three months after ten years’ service, and six months after twenty years’ service, although terms of four months and eight months respectively are provided for by State legislation? “
-The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
It having been the practice, however, in the various States to grant meritorious officers of less than twenty years’ service leave on full pay upon their retirement, the Commissioner considered it would be only fair to continue such practice, and he therefore recommended that extended leave under the circumstances mentioned should be granted on retirement on the following scale : - For service of twenty years and over, six months on full pay.
For service of fifteen years and under twenty years, four months on full pay. For service under ten years, one month on , . full pay.
All the officers of the Commonwealth service are now treated alike in the matter of this 1-eave, and there would’ seem to be no justification for dealing with the officers transferred from South Australia in a manner different to that adopted in regard to the rest of the Commonwealth.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs; upon notice -
What was the total value of cargo carried coastwise in the Commonwealth for 1903 (exclusive of cargo carried from abroad and landed at ports of the Commonwealth, or cargo shipped from ports of the Commonwealth for abroad) ?
– The answers to- the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
The various State collectors have been communicated1 with, but necessarily some time must elapse before replies are received from the more distant States. It should be remembered, however, that in regard to questions 1 and 2 the Department is largely dependent upon outside sources for its information, and such can only be obtained as a matter of courtesy. The information required by questions 3 and 4 has to be obtained from the State returns. Immediately .replies are received from the State collectors the information will be laid on the table of the House.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, as under the new classification of the Public Service many persons may lose their appointments owing to the work in some offices being reduced, he will take care that in all such cases such officers shall be transferred to other positions, where their services can be utilized ; and that retrenchment shall not be resorted to except in cases where no suitable transfer can be arranged ?
– The answer to the right honorable member’s question is as follows : -
In cases where it has been found that there are more officers than are necessary for the efficient working of the Department, it is the intention of the Commissioner to transfer such officers to other positions as soon as possible, and in the meantime to utilize their services to relieve branches where the work is congested, and to allow of annual leave being granted to officers.
There is no intention to retrench- officers.
_ Mr. CHAPMAN asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has the Colonial Defence Committee of London recommended the Defence Department to abolish the Volunteer Forces of the Commonwealth, and that the composition of the Australian forces in future shall consist of the permanent and partially-paid members only.
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether, in .view of the impression made upon those members who recently inspected a suggested site for the Federal Capital on the Upper Murray, he will cause an inspection and report to be made by Mr. Chesterman, who inspected and reported upon other sites.
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
A report by Mr. Chesterman will be obtained.
I may add that Mr. Chesterman has been over the ground recently, and there is, therefore, no necessity for a further inspection. I should also add that there will be no delay in consequence of asking for anysuch report in the introduction of the Bill as soon as the business of the House permits.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 28th June, vide page 2748) :
Clause 62 -
Any of the following associations may, on compliance with the prescribed conditions, be registered in the manner prescribed as an organization : -
Any association of employers in or in connexion with any industry, who have in the aggregate, throughout the six months next preceding the application for registration, employed on an average taken per month not less than 100 employees in that industry ; and
Any association of not less than 100 employees in or in connexion with any industry.
The conditions to bc complied with by associations so applying for registration shall, until otherwise prescribed, be as set out in Schedule B.
Upon registration, the association shall become and be an organization.
Upon which Mr. .Glynn had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “ industry,” line 14, the following words be inserted, “Provided that no association shall be registered : -
Unless it has been formed, and exists solely for the purposes of this Act, or.”
– I had to speak last night or not speak at all, but I shall not keep -the Committee much longer in expressing my views upon this question. We find that there are only three arguments advanced against the acceptance of this amendment. The first is that the unions on registering with the Court give up their power to strike, which is a very great and a live power, and should, in consequence, get a preference under this Bill. If the unions give up their power to strike, it must not he forgotten that they are now, in return, securing the protection of an omniscient being who is to have complete guardianship and control of all industrial affairs. The Prime Minister has time and again told us that we are to trust the Court. If the honorable gentleman bases his whole objection against the amendment on the first- argument that the unions have to give up their power to strike, and should, therefore, get a preference, I ask him, to be consistent, to trust the Court even in this regard, and accept the amendment. The next, argument against the amendment is that the unions - I am speaking entirely of the unions with which our honorable friends opposite are con cerned, and not of the industrial organizations to be brought into being under this measure - take the risk of actions in this Court, and should consequently reap the reward. Trades unions certainly take the risk of actions under existing conditions, but under the new scheme the whole organization will take the risk of action, and will deserve to reap the reward. That argument, therefore, does not count for much. The third argument is that these unions have cohesion. This amendment is. mainly directed against political unions, militant trades unions. If we accept the word of the honorable member for Darling, which I am perfectly ready to do, that the Australian Workers’ Union is the best instance of a militant union, then I say that a militant political union does notmake for cohesion. Its numbers have decreased so obviously in the last few years that it is clear that it cannot even keep together its own members, to say nothing of those who may be compelled to join it. I hope I have made clear my reasons for believing that the arguments urged against the amendment carry no weight. What are the arguments for the amendment? The most important is that the Court is to supersede the unions in all’ their functions, with the exception of the voluntary function usually connected with a benefit society. The’ power to make collective bargains is to be given up, and the Court now will have ‘to do between the two parties what our friends opposite always refer to as a “ fair thing.” These two parties are to trust themselves absolutely to the Court’s discretion. I hold that, if that discretion is to be in any way useful, it must be absolutely untrammelled. What is the position at present? Is the discretion of the Court untrammelled ? We find that in the experience of New South Wales it has been so in nearly every case, except where our political friends of the Australian Workers’ Union came into conflict with it. What is the history of that case, which is the strongest case we can put against political unionism under this Bill ? In that case the Machine Shearers’ Union came to an understanding and agreement with the employers, and they sought to register that agreement, and asked the Australian Workers’ Union to come in. The agreement was registered on the basis of the wages pertaining previous to the inauguration of the New South Wales Arbitration Court.
– What union is the honorable member speaking about now ?
– The Australian Workers” Union were then asking for an increase of 5s. a 100 in the shearing rate. They .saw. that an agreement had been registered between the Machine Shearers’ Union and the Pastoralists’ Union-
– That is the bogus union.
– At 20s. per 100. They saw that that necessarily meant that they could not hope to get the rate which they wanted adopted as a common rule, and rather than go to the Court themselves to have their claim investigated, this fine body of men refused to go to work. They refused to obey the Arbitration Court. We are told by their president that they did not go on strike. But- they refused to go to work, thinking that as they numbered so great a proportion of the shearing community, the Pastoralists’ Union would be compelled, in spite of the Court, to concede their terms. Strike camps were formed by members of the union in just the same way as though an actual strike were in existence - despite the Court ! When they found that they were beaten, they then appealed to the Court to cancel the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union, on the score that it was a bogus association.
– So it is.
– The Registrar at first acceded to their demand, and recommended that the registration should be cancelled. The Machine Shearers’ Union appealed to the Court, on the ground that, if their registration were cancelled, there was no union in existence to which their members might conveniently belong, and they instanced amongst other things the difficulty of the political rules of the Australian Workers’ Union. The Court upheld their appeal, and dismissed the claim of the Australian Workers’ Union. The Austalian Workers’ Union then came, back to the Registrar and said that their rules had been altered. The Registrar examined them, and found that the statements of the officials were characteristically specious, and that the rules had not been altered. The officials then went away, and subsequently waited upon the Registrar with the altered rules.
– That is a rather specious way of putting the matter.
– I am stating what is absolutely a matter of fact.
– It is one of those half facts that do not convey the truth.
– I do not think that the Prime Minister is justified in saying that.
– I know the circumstances quite as well as does the honorable member, and I say that his statements do not convey all the truth. ‘
Mk. KELLY.- I shall quote the; remarks of the Chief Justice of New South Wales and two other Judges in support of my contention. These Justices are not subject to influence, whereas the Prime Minister is largely dependent’ for support upon the votes cast for the Labour Party by the members of the Australian Workers’ Union. I repeat that the officials of that organization interviewed the Registrar a third time, and declared that its rules had been altered. The Registrar then said: - “The rules mayhave been altered, but the misconduct of the officials of the Australian Workers’ Union is so notorious that I cannot compel any man to join that organization.” What did the Union do then ? Through its secretary, who is a member of the New South Wales Legislature, it secured the’ appointment of a Select Committee to inquire into the bogus character of the Machine Shearers’ Union, which was not in any sense the question at issue. Presumably that Select Committee ought to have been of an impartial character. But whom do we find made its chairman? None other than the secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union ! To my mind that was absolute political indecency.. The Committee sat and discovered that they did not possess the power to compel the production of certain books which they wished to examine. The indefatigable secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union thereupon applied for the appointment of a Royal Commission. The Commission was appointed, and, strange to say, its chairman was the secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union ! Fancy the secretary of a claimant union examining the bona fides of his opponent - a most indecent state of affairs ! Public feeling was so outraged by this action that the personnel of the Commission had to be altered. Subsequently, a District Court Judge was appointed to take the place of the secretary of the Australian Workers’ Union. I mention that case to show the means which can be adopted by any union with political rules to override, through its influence in this Legislature, the judgment of the Court. I do not think it is our duty to increase compulsorily by statute such a power, now in the hands of some unions. Why should we compel men, at the peril of their livelihood, to join organizations, whose officials may seek to override in Parliament the judgments of the Court which it is proposed to establish. Since the Prime Minister has doubted the accuracy of my statements in connexion with this case, I may mention that those who Were mulcted in damages by the Royal Commission for refusing to give, evidence afterwards appealed .to the Supreme Court, admittedly an impartial tribunal.
– One of its Judges does not seem to be too impartial.
– Because a Court gives a decision against the party with which the Prime Minister is associated, it is not impartial. What is to happen to the fine theory that we should “ trust the Court,” if the moment the Bench has the audacity to declare against my honorable friends, its impartiality is to be impugned? What were the words used by the Judge upon the occasion to which I refer? He said -
Here we have a thrice defeated litigant, first obtaining a Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly of which Committee he is chairman, to inquire into the subject matter of the litigation, followed by the appointment of a Royal Commission, of which at first he is made President, and the members he had selected for the Select Committee of the House made members. Common decency at last prevailed -
That is very strong language, coming from the Chief Justice of New South Wales.
– It is very strong language.
– He proceeds- and led to the alteration of this, and after having been made a member of the Royal Commission, he is finally excluded, his nominees, however, remaining as members, and a District Court Judge being nominated as President. Do not these facts demonstrate that no matter of public interest was involved, but merely an inquiry into private litigation between parties, a matter with which the Arbitration Court, if properly invoked, had full power to adjudicate upon, and do complete justice to, as between the parties?
The officers of the union sought to go behind the decision of the Court when they found that their demands would not be acceded to. I do not think that is what honorable members upon this side of the House intend when they sanction industrial legislation such as is proposed in this Bill.
– Most of the honorable members opposite, including the honorable member, are opposed to the Bill.
– The Prime Minister very often seeks to discredit certain members of the Opposition who have declared theirs selves opposed to the principle which is contained in this Bill. He frequently attempts to discredit their motives in urging amendments, of this character. But I would ask whether his own bona fides are not equally impugnable? Upon page 2568 of Hansard he is reported as saying -
I have already admitted in this Chamber on several occasions that for some years I was not in favour of compulsory arbitration. I did not favour it until I saw that is was possible to use the unions as influencing bodies, with a view to enforce the awards of the Court.
I am opposed to the principle of arbitration as it is laid down in this Bill, because I hold that the measure makes for the political aggrandisement of honorable members opposite, and not for industrial peace. The Prime Minister has declared that he does not desire industrial peace unless the trades unions are to be. intrusted with the control of it.
– That is a peculiar interpretation to place upon my remarks.
– The Prime Minister admits that he did not favour compulsory arbitration .until he saw it was possible to use the unions to enforce the awards of the Court. One of these political unions has sought to evade the awards of the Court.
– That is a misstatement.
– I refer the Prime Minister to the remarks of the Chief Justice of New South Wales upon the question.
– The Chief Justice is not a deity
– Then where shall we obtain the services of the omniscient individual who will be required to preside over the proposed Court?
– We are told that we must “ trust the Court.”
– The honorable member’s idea is to “ bust” the Court.
– It is unfair to urge that we seek to destroy the Bill because we support amendments which are aimed at the very root of its secret political- object. If I were in the position of the Prime Minister, and wished to gain an enormous power at the hands of the people, I should ask for it straightforwardly and openly. I should not seek under the guise of securing industrial peace to force men to join unions, and, by contributing to the funds of those unions, to support the party, lt shows extreme foresight on the part of honorable members opposite - a kind of foresight that I should be very loth to imitate !
– The percentage of unionists in my electorate, as compared with others, is hardly worth mentioning.
– The Prime Minister has qualifications of a nature that naturally commend him to all classes, but some honorable members opposite stand entirely on the “ ticket “ in the same way that some honorable members on this side of the House stand in a hidebound way on the fiscal question. The Prime Minister may have but few unionists in his electorate.
– What did the honorable member get in on?
– I certainly got into this House on a ticket - the straight-out question of free-trade.
– But for the fact that he stood on a “ ticket” the honorable member would not have gained a seat in this House.
– I stood as a free-trader. I signed no pledge. I was simply asked, “Are you a free-trader?” I showed that I was, showed that I could win the seat, was selected, and secured a victory. I am not bound hand and foot to any party platform as are some honorable members, opposite. Members of certain unions are bound hand and foot, individually and collectively, to support members of the Labour Party, and the Government proposal in regard to unionists would compel men seeking employment to join such unions and to vote individually and collectively for members of the Labour Party.
– That is perfectly untrue, and the honorable member knows that it is.
– I would ask Mr. Chairman that the Minister of External Affairs be called upon to withdraw that statement.
– The Minister mustwithdraw the remark. He is not in order in saying that the statement made by the honorable member for Wentworth is perfectly untrue, and that he knows it is.
– I withdraw the statement “ that the honorable member knows that it is,” although he has been told verymany times that the statement is incorrect. The assertion he has made is to my knowledge perfectly untrue. It may not be so to the honorable member’s knowledge, but although he has been told half-a-dozen times that it is he persists in repeating it.
In deference to parliamentary usage I withdraw the statement.
– I am never unparliamentary in my attitude to the honorable and learned member when he makes assertions of which I do not approve. He asserts that I have been told on authority which I must accept - of his party, in fact - that the statement I made just now is untrue, and that I am nevertheless repeating it. To the best of my knowledge the statement is true. I believe it to be correct, and am, therefore, arguing on an absolutely fair basis. If honorable members opposite do not like it, that fact only gives point to my argument. There must be considerable force in it when it causes honorable members opposite to become so excited. I have quoted words used by the Prime Minister, showing that he too would not support compulsory arbitration unless unions were granted the power of being influencing bodies.
– The honorable .member should add the context,- “ with a view to secure enforcement.”
– They have not in the past secured enforcement of awards.
– In many cases they have.
– The biggest union of all has not done so.
– There was no award in the case of the Australian Workers’ Union ; it was only -a question of registration.
– It is still a question for the Court.
– The Court did not decide the matter; it relied on the Registrar.
– The Court dismissed the appeal on the ground that the rules of the Australian Workers’ Union would perhaps be obnoxious to people seeking to join its ranks. “On one occasion, at all events, an appeal was made to the Court; and the Court refused to accede to the claim of the union. The Prime Minister will tell the Committee that if this amendment were carried it would emasculate one of the chief objects of the measure.
– Very severe strictures were passed on the rules of the Australian Workers’ Union by the New South Wales Arbitration Court.
– I think that the Committee is aware of that. I do not know why the Prime Minister does not accept all amendments relating to political rules, because he says he is quite willing to trust the Court, and wishes to bring about industrial peace. It has been shown that the one union in New South Wales which, according to the president, the honorable member for Darling, is a political body, has not made for industrial peace, but has sought to harry the Court on all sides. I confess that if one did not take into consideration the secret motive behind this Bill, he would be rather staggered at the attitude taken up by the Prime Minister in opposing amendments of this description. The honorable gentleman tells us that this amendment would, if carried, emasculate the Bill. In my opinion, however, it would make for the more easy working of this measure towards industrial peace.
– It would allow a nonunionist to live.
– It would also give men greater scope for joining a union. They could have no objection to joining if this amendment were carried. Why, then, do the Government say that it would emasculate the Bill? Is it because this measure has, as its secondary, or, shall I say, as its primary object, the gaining of an immense power by honorable members opposite, for which th’ey would not openly ask the people, at all events, under such a subterfuge as this? They say that unionists are prepared to give up the power to strike, and that they refuse to give up that power until they see that under this Bill unions will be made the influencing bodies. The Government fully realize that within a very short time the Bill would create a. great political machine ; that in a very short time this political machine would give them, in place of the power to strike, the power to confiscate. Is that what thev are after ?
– - They are the machinists.
– The honorable member for Darling is one of the “ machinists.” If that is what they are after - and I oppose the Bill for the reason, among others, that I think that it is - then the Committee should vote solidly for the amendment. We should say that no man shall be compelled to join a union, especially if his compulsion means building up a machine such as that I have just outlined, a machine designed’ not to secure industrial peace, but to give our honorable friends opposite a power which I do not think they are worthy to possess, and which they certainly would not exercise in the best interests of the community as a whole.
– If the amendment were carried it would practically render the best part of the Bill of no avail. I take it that the Bill has been framed practically to endeavour to induce men to join organizations, because it is only by means of organizations that awards can be enforced. The amendment, however, would destroy organizations, and in that way destroy the principal object of the Bill. The honorable member for Wentworth, in about the fiftieth second-reading speech that he has delivered on this measure, has talked of many matters of which he knows absolutely nothing. He speaks of the Machine Shearers’ Union as a respectable body of men ; but every one knows that they are nothing more than the paid satellites of interested parties. Does he mean to tell me that they could have fought the law cases which they have fought upon a subscription of half-a-crown per member?
– They have received funds from the squatters.
– They have obtained money from the squatters and pastoralists, who are interested parties, and who before to-day have not been behind -hand in bribing men to give evidence to get others into gaol.
– That is a serious charge.
– It is; but I can prove it. If I could not prove it, I would not make it.
– If the charge is true, those to whom it applies are guilty of conspiracy at common law.
– I know of a man who, in the first instance, refused to give evidence on a certain occasion ; but, in a balance-sheet which I have in my possession, there is shown an item of ,£200 granted to him. Why was that money paid to him?
– Why has the membership of the Machine Shearers’ Union increased by 500 per cent, during the last two years?
– I will explain why that bogus union was started. Some years ago the trades unions were told that their members had no right to strike; that a strike was practically an act of civil war, which brought disaster upon the whole community. Our proper course, it was said, was to endeavour to redress our grievances by constitutional methods, by sending men into Parliament to represent our views. But directly the trades unions became political organizations, they encountered the en - mit-v of the capitalists and their satellites, who did all they could to break down their growing power.
– That the Australian Workers’ Union is not a growing power is proved by the fact that its membership has decreased in two years from 20,000 to about 11,000.
– If the honorable member will look at this morning’s newspaper, and read the result of the elections in Western Australia, he will see that the Labour Party is a growing power there.
– The result of the recent Victorian elections proved it to be a growing power here.
– Yes, and the result of the last Federal elections proved it to be a growing power throughout the Commonwealth. A short time ago, it would have been deemed impossible that a Labour Ministry should be intrusted with the conduct of Australian affairs of State, but that is the position to-day.
– The Labour Party had not then declared, by supporting an Arbitration Bill such as we are now considering, that non-unionists were not to be permitted to live; because if they are not permitted to work they cannot live.
– The honorable and learned member, the honorable members for Wentworth and New England, and one or two more, are wreckers. They have told usthat they will vote for any amendment which will wreck the Bill.
– I have not said so.
– Then, the honorable member is a little wiser than the others, though that is the line of actnn which he has taken. It has repeatedly been said that if the Bill is passed, nonunionists will be unable to live. But what happened after the great maritime strike, and the great shearers’ strike? The very people on whose behalf honorable members opposite are advocating the claims of nonunionists discharged their non-unionist employes as soon as the strike was over, to take on unionist employes. The employers have repeatedly declared that the best men are generally to be found in trades unions or other labour organizations. It is idle to say that if the Bill is passed non-unionists will be unable to live. They have every opportunity to join unions. For a union to close its books is childish. When we have been defeated in a strike, it has generally been by those to whom admission has been refused. I have always held that it is not the duty of those who control unions to ascertain the fitness of the workmen who wish to join them; that is the business of the employers. The object of those who control unions should be to get as many men as possible to join, so as to organize the industry. Honorable gentlemen opposite appear to fear that those who are now nonunionists will be driven into labour organi-‘ zations, and used for political purposes. Since 1890, when the new unionism came into existence, it has been a political movement.
– We were told to go to Parliament for ‘reform.
– Yes. Unionism is now a political as well as an industrial movement. I do not see how the two can be separated.
– They can be separated.
– The old unionism could do nothing to effect reforms. So long as the capitalists sat tight, they could defeat the unionists in every case. But when the unions obtained political power, the capitalists found it necessary to rise in arms against them. Now they hold that everything that is bad is connected with trades unionism.
– Is the condition of the worker to-day better than it was ten years ago?
– The capitalist is as able to ‘fleece the worker to-day as he was ten or twenty years ago ; but ‘ one of the great obstacles to reform has been removed by the granting of an equal franchise. The right to. vote will be wielded by the unionists in such a way that in the future capitalists will not be able to fleece the workers as they have done in the past. To-day the worker labours four days of the week for his employer and two days for himself. The honorable member for Wentworth and others would like to maintain that state c-f things.
– The worker may not be employed at a profit during part of the time in which he is working for his employer.
– That may be so in isolated cases, which I have not time to take into consideration now; Iam dealing with the subject ‘at large. We know that wealth is increasing day by day, but it is not going into the pockets of the’ workers.
– What, then, has become of the£50,000,000 borrowed by the States, and spent upon unproductive works ?
– That has nothing to do with my subject. The object of the amendment is to practically wreck the Bill, or to make it as useless as possible.
– That is not true.
– The honorable member cannot say that he honestly believes in conciliation and arbitration.
– Yes, I do.
– Then he must have very crude notions on the subject.
– My ideas are just as practical as are those of the honorable member.
– I hope that, at all events, the standard adopted by the Committee with regard to the means necessary to secure industrial peace will be higher than those of the honorable member. If he believes in the amendment, which would practically preclude the’ whole of the existing trades unions from becoming recognised under the Bill, and necessitate the formation of new organizations, I cannot come to any other conclusion than that his desire is to wreck the Bill. If our object is to secure industrial peace, let us deal with the Bill in a fair and honest way. and not follow the dishonest and fraudulent methods adopted by the honorable member for Wentworth and other honorable members who entertain the same views.
– I rise to a point of order. I have been accused by the honorable member for Kennedy of dishonesty .and fraud. I would ask that that statement should be withdrawn.
– If the honorable member takes my statement personally, I must withdraw it.
– I could- not help taking it personally, because the honorable member mentioned my name.
– I say that the action of the honorable member in connexion with the Bill does not permit me to form any other conclusion .than that which I have indicated.
– I ask that the honorable member should be requested to withdraw his statement.
– The honorable member must know that I am only speaking politically!. I trust that the amendment will not be carried, because it will make the Bill useless. It is ridiculous to suppose that the whole of the trades unions in Australia will alter their constitutions merely for the purpose of coming under the Bill, which would probably apply to only two or three of them. I think they would be very foolish indeed to adopt any such course, and I should certainly so advise the very large bodies with which I am connected.
– Surely they will have to come under the Bill, whether they like it or not. If not, the measure will be useless.
– If by any possibility the existing unions can avoid coming under the operation of the Bill, I shall certainly do everything in my power to dissuade them from rendering themselves subject to its provisions. I consider that if they did so it would be detrimental to them, and also inimical to industrial peace. One of the employers’ organizations has already spent thousands of pounds in establishing a bogus organization for the express purpose of defeating the objects of the New South Wales Arbitration Act. The political Chief Justice of New South Wales, who recently gave a decision relating to that bogus union, must have known that it was a fraud.
– What does the honorable member mean by a political- Chief Justice ?
– I refer to the Chief Justice of New South Wales, who, by his action, has declared himself to be a political Judge. If the New South Wales Government have any grit they will at once suspend him.
– The honorable member seems to forget that two other Judges concurred with Chief Justice Darley ; are they also political Judges?
– The other two Judges referred to did not take up the same position as the Chief Justice. Their remarks dealt with the question of law that was submitted for their decision; but the Chief Justice went beyond that, and, so far as an ordinary man can observe, took the part of a strong political advocate.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, I would draw -attention to the fact that the honorable member is discussing a matter that does not seem to come within the scope of the clause.
– I may point out that the honorable member for Wentworth is responsible for the introduction of this subject into the debate.
– I simply quoted a judgment of the Court, whereas the honorable member has gone beyond that, and “has applied hard names to the Chief Justice of New South Wales,
– The honorable member dragged in the subject to suit his own party ends, and thereby adopted a most despicable method’ of argument.
– I would point out that, although the Chief Justice of New South Wales is not an officer of the Commonwealth, it would perhaps be in better taste if honorable members were to refrain from discussing his conduct. If he were a Commonwealth officer, honorable members would be precluded by the Standing Orders from referring to his conduct, except in connexion with a substantive motion. I think it would be better if the action of the Judges of the States were not made the subject of further discussion here.
– I quite agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that perhaps it is not good taste to make such references as you. have mentioned, but I cannot help the bad taste displayed by the honorable member for Wentworth, who introduced the subject. He introduced the matter in order to serve purely party purposes.
– I do not accuse the honorable member of having initiated the discussion; I simply ask him not to continue it.
– I think that I am justified, under the circumstances, in referring to the statements made by the honorable member for Wentworth. I do not, however, intend to pursue the matter any further. I trust that the amendment will not be carried.
– It is a somewhat singular circumstance, but it is one with which men of any experience in public life are quite familiar, that, as a rule, those public men who themselves claim the right to express their honest opinions in the coarsest possible language are most sensitive when some other person seems to have fallen into a similar mistake. I think that, from time to time, in every country, there must arise occasions when individual members of the community may entertain opinions with reference to the utterances even of the best Judges that ever sat on a Bench. But there has been this distinguishing feature of our people - perhaps it distinguishes other people too, but I know more of our own people - that in spite sometimes of mistakes on the part of persons exercising high judicial func tions their conduct has always been treated in a generous and respectful way, partly because of the position they occupy, and partly because of the fact that they cannot reply to attack. Those are two verv weighty reasons why, even if some high judicial functionary seems to go a little beyond the strict line, we should view a lapse of that sort as not at all calling upon us to brand a Judge as a “ Political Judge.” It is a gross abuse of the right of free discussion to brand one of the noblest men who ever, lived as a citizen or a colonist in Australia, by such an infamous name, because, perhaps, he may have lapsed into the use of an expression or two from which a greater degree of prudence might have saved him. The whole of the circumstances were extraordinary. I only wish that every other man in New South Wales, who has high responsible duties to perform, would perform them with the same singularly efficient honour and rectitude as that distinguished man has shown throughout his long career in that State. The honorable member talks of wreckers of this Bill, but he has himself shown that unless he and his friends get their own way, they are prepared to wreck the Bill. They are prepared not only to wreck the Bill, but to wreck it in the worst possible way, and that is after it has become an Act of Parliament. Why should the honorable member be so bitter about other honorable members who differ from him as to the propriety of attempting legislation of this kind, when he says that if he does not get his way about this amendment he will use all the great influence he has with the labour organizations of Australia to shipwreck this measure by preventing them from tak- ing full advantage of it. The honorable member for Darling is a man for whom we always have a thorough respect as one who fearlessly expresses his honest conviction, and. I will say that, after all, a man who has that merit, which he certainly has, ought .to be a little tolerant of other men who claim the same right, although, perhaps, occasionally their language may be considered in excess of. what is necessary, or their arguments may be entirely wrong. I quite agree with the honorable member for Kennedy when he says that the trades unions were thorough political movements. But they were political movements in the most honorable sense. At the time the pioneers of trades unionism met together a system prevailed which was offensive to every honest man’s idea of common justice. Whilst men who had large resources of wealth, and occupied commanding influence in the industrial world, needed no sort of combination, because of their enormous strength, the weak workers of the old country had only one resource in their endeavour to get anything like honest conditions of equality, and that was to band themselves together in these trades unions. Their movement was a poTlitical one in the noblest possible sense - the sense of fighting for right and justice for themselves and their class. That aspect of the trades union and the trades unionist is one with which, I think, no man who has even a glimmering of liberal ideas can fail to be heartily in sympathy. I am expressing but my own opinion, and I candidly admit that I have had the greatest admiration for those men. I do not care whether they be trades unionists or the men who formed political leagues, because the principle is the same - there was a great wrong to be redressed. It is, of course, a nobler movement still when the wrong for which redress is sought is one which does not affect the individual interests of those who make the endeavour to redress it. The state of things existing when the trades union laws were passed was such that, even putting it upon selfish grounds, it was the selfishness which demanded merely fair play and proper recognition of undoubted rights. I have been looking at some of these Trades Union Acts, and one cannot have a greater proof of the unfair view which was taken by the laws of the old country, and even of Australia, than is to be found in looking at these Acts. The last Trades Union Act of New South Wales was passed in 1881, in a democratic community possessing manhood suffrage, yet if any one will look at that Act, he will find that it does not give trades unions the power to recover by law the subscriptions of their own members clue under their own rules. It actually does not give them ‘ any power with reference to agreements for benefits amongst themselves. It is couched, even in New South Wales, in the old Tory jealous spirit, which resisted giving men the ordinary rights of political free men. We are all at one, I hope, on points of that sort, and when the honorable member for Darling speaks of wrecking the Bill, he ought to remember -that his own party wrecked the Bill to begin with. The
Bill was proceeding in charge of a Govern-‘ ment which, in alliance with the Labour Party, dominated this Chamber against all comers, and would have continued to do so if honorable members opposite had remained in that alliance. But, on one point - I do not say it was an unimportant point, but in view of the importance of the measure it was not one of very great importance - honorable members opposite broke this overwhelming alliance which gave them infinitely more power than they will ever have again. When I say “ ever “ I mean within my lifetime. I do not wish to prophesy for remote years, but, speaking for the next eight or ten years, so far as I. am concerned - and it is only a matter of opinion, on which I may be entirely wrong - my opinion as a. man who has had some experience in politics is that the position which the party that is now in office occupied whilst the late Government was in office was one of a great degree of strength and power to carry out their own views. That position has been fractured and wrecked by their own act.
– Not by our act.
– We do not worry about it.
– The honorable member doesnot, and I hope that honorable members opposite generally will have no further cause to do so. What I wish to point out is that these epithets about wrecking the Bill can be exchanged.
– They can be, and they have been by some honorable members opposite.
– I am aware of that, but I am putting another view of it. I quite agree that my honorable friend is justified in using the expression as applied to some one who has acknowledged that that is what he desired to do.
– =The right honorable gentleman is in favour of the principle of the Bill ?
– When any honorable member stands up and says that he desires to wreck the Bill, another honorable member, as a friend to the measure, is entitled to reproach him with it, and to watch everything that he does. So far as I am concerned, I remind honorable members that I look upon this Bill, not as the property of the late Government or the property of the Labour Party - the present Government - but as equally the property of the Opposition. I cannot control individual opinions of my party. Some of the members of that party may wish to see this Bill under the table, but I do not make my assurances to the public in a spirit of that sort. I say that, so far as the Bill is concerned, there is no party in this House that shall be allowed to wreck it while I have any power in connexion with it.
– That “is rather rough on some of the right honorable gentleman’s own supporters.
– That may be so, but that is a matter between them and me, and the honorable member might leave us to adjust our differences. Honorable members will recollect that during the elections some of my friends, in the most open and honorable way, stated that they. were opposed to this Bill, and no one can complain if an honorable member who, when before the electors, said he was opposed to the Bill, should, on coming here, deliberately try to wreck it. He has electoral warrant for his action. If he adopted any other course he would be untrue to his constituents. Honorable’ members must make fair allowances, one for another, because of the different pledges that have been given by men holding opposite views. What I wish the Committee to remember is that whilst of necessity trades unionism was at the outset absolutely an attempt to redress grievances - a political movement - when we pass a measure of this sort the grievances of the workers are, to a very large extent, redressed, because, it not only enables the workers to combine, but also enables combinations of workers to enter the purest, the most impartial, and the most just tribunal which our Constitution is capable of erecting. In order that these matters may be investigated, that the authority of the whole Commonwealth shall be available for the” suppression of wrong and of injustice, we propose to set up not only the highest and purest, but also a final tribunal. When once -we have established a tribunal of that character there will not be much room left for the employment of heated phrases about “capitalists and their satellites,” or “ their greed,” or -for references to a man having to work four days for somebody else, and only two out of six days for himself. I admire the candour of my honorable friend. He does not dissemble the tigerish nature of his party. He speaks out like a man. There is no “ Ministerial “ utterance from him. In the midst of these dazzling political changes, it is a grand thing’ for the public that these men who are exactly the same individuals as they were three months ago in their utterances-
– They are not “YesNo “ men.
– May I suggest that the men to whom that epithet can be applied may be distinguished from those who apply it by a very simple test. Those who apply it act- like animals in a bush team. They go where they are driven, and where they can find something in the manger to , eat. But the man to whom it is applied has an honest power of seeing both sides of a great and difficult question. It is a mere mechanical operation to bray “ Yes “ to a triumphant majority, and I think that the Australian people in the light of their experience, since the accomplishment of Federation, have begun to respect my candour in putting both sides of this great compact before them.
– But the right honorable member did not find us acting with a triumphant majority. We acted with the minority.
– 1 was merely replying to a little taunt, and I wish to say that there never was a man in the world who could see both sides of any question who did not seem to men of limited intellect, Or rather limited interests, to be entitled to the epithet used by the honorable member for Barrier. The honorable member may rest assured that that epithet will never be applied to him where his interests are concerned. I wish now to come back to the position which I was stating when I was interrupted, namely, that trades unions must of necessity be political bodies. I do not object to those organizations remaining political bodies for all time. That is not the point which I raised. I wish to see the trades unions occupy as free and independent a position in regard to the reforms for which they agitate, and the methods which they employ, as does every other individual and every other body. As I would limit none of them, that means a great deal. But whilst the trades unionists - the free-traders and protectionists in their different bodies - have a perfect right to take an active part in politics, to exercise collectively their power in order to advance the views which they conceive to be for the benefit of the country, we ought to draw sharp Lines between the warring interests of individuals and societies ‘ and the temple of justice. Let us fight in politics as fiercely and freely as we will, but when we erect a temple of justice, which is to be unswayed by interest, passion, or politics, we ought to draw the clearest possible line between the fighting political organization and the party to an industrial dispute which is under the control of a Judge of the land. I confess that at first I did not see the full significance of the great issue which is now at stake. I admit that one is tempted to drift with the current of these great changes, and not to exercise the scrutiny that he should upon matters pf this sort. But I fully realize now that there is a great principle at stake in the amendment under consideration, and that it is one upon which the honorable and learned member for Angas is quite entitled to take the opinion of the Committee. I entertain that view for several reasons. A man may hold aloof from a political organization if he does not agree with its aims, and yet occupy precisely the same position, as regards his daily bread, irrespective of whether he is a member of a Protectionist League or of a Free-trade League. There is no industrial boycott upon him. The difference that is involved is this: That unless some such principle be affirmed in connexion with the working of this Court, this latest achievement of democracy will become a greater grinder of the poor than has existed within the British Empire for the last joo years. Before the adoption of the ballot in England it could not be said, even there, that a man had the freedom of his political convictions. If the ‘poor tenant, the poor farmer, or the poor farm labourer in England exercised an honest vote, which happened to be in conflict with the views of his employer, he was practically ruined. But thanks to the ballot-box, both in England and Australia, such a state of affairs has been abolished. In Australia, however, we have now a new sort of crime. Democracy, having .redressed the political crimes of the past, has invented a new crime of its own. We could not have a more odious invention than that which condemns a man, if he exercises his own free, independent judgment, to penalties in the performance of his honest labour. What could be worse? If we interfered with a man’s religion, but allowed him to work, he could still obtain bread for himself and his wife and children; if we interfered with his political convictions he might still be able to work and earn bread for his wife and family. But now if a man objects to join a union he has to consider whether he will have the privilege of working for those who are dependent upon him. . If these proposals are to triumph there will be two avenues to courts of justice for vital matters affecting a man’s work. This will touch a man seriously. If he is to live, he must eat. When a man cannot obtain work he becomes a canker - a pauper in spite of himself. Is there a worse injury which a workman of the right type could sustain than that of such enforced idleness as to make him the seeker -of charity? Is there anything which could more completely undermine, not only the man, but the community, than the feeling that the very men who talk of equal opportunities, who pull down the most venerable institutions in order to give what they call equal political opportunities, are the very first -to try to make opportunities for honest work unequal - unequal, not against the capitalist, not against the man who can take care of himself, for a man who has money can usually do so - but against their own fellow workmen? Take the terrorism embodied in the expression used in this House the other day by the honorable member for Kennedy. Is there an epithet from which a decent workman more naturally shrinks than that of “ scab “ or “blackleg”” ? It is a name which does not designate a legal offence or lead to a gaol, but makes the man to whom it is applied an outcast in his class; an object of scorn to his fellow workmen throughout Australia. What is the new class to which this epithet is to apply? Is it a class consisting of but one or two stragglers? No. It is a brand to be applied to practically all the workers of Australia.
– That is not quite correct.
– It is to be applied to practically all the workers of Australia, except trades unionists.
– We never speak of a man, who is simply a non-unionist, as a “ scab.”
– In this matter I know of no “we.”
– I repeat that unionists do not do so.
– I am not addressing the honorable gentleman; but I say that the honorable member for Kennedy practically and substantially-
– Use the words that I uttered. 5 d 2
– The honorable member for Kenned)’, when the difference between unionists and non-unionists was being pointed out the other day, referred to men who did not belong to unions in the terms [ have mentioned.
– I do not agree with that, and there are many others of the Labour Party who do not.
– I rise to a point ot order. I should not object to the right honorable member quoting the words that 1 used’ on the occasion in question, but although I have requested him to do so, he declines to mention exactly what I did say. He is incorrect in attributing to me the statement to which he has referred. Unless he quotes the whole statement, the meaning of the remarks made by me is not faithfully conveyed to the Committee. 1 take exception to the statement made by the right honorable member, and ask whether he is in order in repeating what I say is untrue ?
– The honorable member must know that no one has a right to interrupt an honorable member because he feels that something attributed to him is in conflict with something that he said, and is therefore untrue.
– I say that what the honorable member has said of me just now is untrue.
– That statement adds another offence to the honorable member’s list.
– If the right honorable member will’ not withdraw the statement complained of, I must say that it is untrue.
Mr.- REID. - That does not prove anything. I simply claim the right to speak without being interrupted in this way. The honorable member is not in order in interrupting me, in order to state that I have said something which varies with a statement made by him. Mr. Speaker laid it down the other day, when a member of the Labour Party closed my mouth, that an honorable member has no right to make an explanation until the honorable member, who has made the statement complained of, has concluded his address.
– It spoils the right honorable member’s little game.
– I claim the right to proceed with my speech.
– The honorable member for Kennedy has not really, raised a point of order. If he feels that a statement has been erroneously attributed to him he will have an opportunity to explain when the right honorable member has concluded his speech.
– Let the right honorable member quote the statement made by me.
– Order ! The honorable member will be able to correct any misstatement when the right honorable member for East Sydney has concluded his speech.
– I suppose I am entitled to the same indulgence that is accorded to every other honorable member. When an honorable member is referring to remarks made by others he does not carry a volume of Hansard under his arm in order to be able at once to show the correctness of his statement; but my honest recollection is that the statement I have made in regard to the honorable member for Kennedy is correct. A perusal of Hansard will enable me to show that it is.
– I will tell the right honorable member in two or three words what I did say.
– I am anxious to refrain from doing any injustice to the honorable member, and if I have erroneously attributed a statement to him, shall, if possible, make a correction before I conclude my speech. I have just obtained the Hansard report of the incident in question. It begins with a word which the honorable member for Kennedy is always applying to the utterances of others, but never to his own - “ rubbish.” When the honorable member for Franklin was speaking, the honorable member for Kennedy interjected “ Rubbish !” The honorable member for Franklin said -
The very man whom the unionists of the west coast sent to represent them in the State Parliamen could, by this Bill, .be black-listed, as the honorable “member for Maranoa has described.
– If men do not belong to a union they are “ black-legs “ and “ scabs,” and nothing else.
This’ is the Hansard report of the incident. I thought the honorable member, in accordance with his usual manliness, would have stood by what he said.
– I do stand by it.
– The report continues -
– It does not come well from a prominent labour member to say that the men who have done more for labour than he himself has done, are “ black-legs.”
– Rubbish ! That is all that 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 “black-legs” and “scabs.”
– Hear, hear. That is what I wished to get. Now I am satisfied’.
– I hope that the honorable member enjoys’ it now that he has got it. I ask the Committee, as I ask the people of Australia, whether I did not give a fair definition of what the honorable member said. There are two classes of workers in Australia, using the term in the ordinary current sense - unionists and non-unionists. Mr. Spence. - No.
– And lawyers.
– The lawyers are unionists.
– There .are also the agitators.
– I am absolutely justified by the words I have read. I do not say that all my honorable friends opposite have made the same statement.
– Do we hold the right honorable member responsible for all that is said by the honorable member for Werriwa?
– No. I wish to be absolutely frank in this matter.
– Then the right honorable member should get on. to me, not on to the Prime Minister.
– Have I not been getting on to the honorable member? If he wishes for more, I am willing to give it to him; but I think I have said enough to satisfy a person with ordinary instincts. I am much obliged to whoever handed me the report which I have read. When an honorable member uses such an expression as “untrue,” one is naturally accustomed to attach some weight to the statement; but I cannot attach any weight to the particular statement of the honorable member for Kennedy, unless Hansard lies.
– At any rate, there is nothing of the “Yes-No” attitude about it.
– There is a great deal of the “ Yes-No “ attitude about the honorable member. Last Friday he said, “Yes; I mean it,” but now, on Wednesday, he says, “No; it is untrue that I said it.” That is the biggest instance of the “ Yes-No “ attitude that I have ever heard of. “ I said it on Friday, but on Wednesday I solemnly declare it to be untrue that I did say it.” I never reached that height. But the serious point at issue is much greater than any personal matter affecting the honorable member. The Prime Minister very fairly asks, “ Are we to hold you responsible for everything said by every supporter of yours?” That is a perfectly fair remark to make. I wish it to be distinctly understood that I referred only to what was said by the honorable member for Kennedy, and I think I made that pretty clear. I described him as the honorable member for Kennedy. There could be no misapprehension. *
– The same statements are frequently made outside.
– I think that I am not unfair in saying that they express the feeling of thousands of men in the unions. That may be natural or unnatural ; but it points the contention which we are making. We have been fighting to secure political equality for every man and woman in Australia, and our friends opposite have lent magnificent service, many of them having been honorable pioneers of the movement ; but the moment we have got it we are asked to establish the most odious form of inequality, a form which penalizes a man who does not join a political union by taking from him the opportunity to earn his daily bread. Honorable members who honestly and fairly say that the trades unions are political will allow me to say that the most odious form of tyranny is for an unjust majority to use its enormous power in creating distinctions between the mass of workers who are struggling for honest employment. You touch a man there right at the heart of his humanity. You touch the very basis of human life. If men are to be driven into the gutters as paupers because they do not believe in a trades union, your democracy will stink in the nostrils of humanity.
– Does the’ right honorable member apply those remarks to his own profession ?
– If it acted in that way I should.
– No one is compelled to join that union.
– No. What is more, every man in Australia who has the industry and the intelligence to pass an examination may join it.
– If he is also willing and able to pay the high fees demanded.
– If the honorable member for Grey has at heart the offence or wrong in connexion with the legal profession, if his heart is so tender that it revolts at the inhumanity of keeping a few odd legal waifs and strays outside a close corporation which, at the most, in all Australia can number only about I,000 souls, how should it be shocked at the prospect of keeping hundreds of thousands of the workers of Australia out of these other close corporations !
– I hold that what is good for the goose is good for the gander.
– If ever there was a duty cast upon men who, unlike my honorable friends, have not taken the jump and the pledge, and joined the Labour Party, who meet somewhere in the vaults of this building, it is to remember that they are representing a Commonwealth in which trades unions are small and insignificant in point of numbers, if not in point of intelligence and weight. They are sitting in a House in which the Government are members of trades unions, while every member of the party behind them is a trade unionist.
– That is not so.
– Except one or two.
– Except a good many.
– We have trades unionists o.i the Ministerial benches. We have trades unionists in office, trying to carry into law the provisions of this measure. It devolves upon every man who is not a member of a trade union to have some regard for the claims of the hundreds of thousands of men who are not in the unions.
– -We have such regard.
– Of course. The tender regard of honorable gentlemen for those who would never come under their wing is very touching. May I suggest to my honorable friends that, whilst there is some honest merit in persuading a rational being to join a union, whilst that is a praiseworthy act. there is no merit, but a great deal of infamy, in using political power to drive free men into unions which they do not wish to join. My honorable friends are in this position. Either admission to their trades unions has been honestly open to their fellow working men, or it has not been so. If it has not been so, they have been doing a great wrong. They have” been establishing one of those corrupt organizations which were the scandal of industrial affairs in England eighty years ago, and are a scandal in many other countries to-day, and which have the effect of repeating in a more dangerous and mischievous form the iniquities which used to be inflicted upon the workers of the world by means of capital. As I say, the scene is changed. This power, which is now dominant, instead of showing just regard, in its hour of triumph, for the interests of the great masses of the people who are not within the ranks of the unions is trying under cover of this Federal Act, to boycott them. If this proposal were put in plain English in an Act of Parliament, it would be received with universal execration. If, in plain English, we embodied in one little Bill the proposition that if, by a certain date, the workers in a given industry did not join a certain trades union, they would be debarred from employment, would it not be regarded as reviving the most odious tyrannies of the dark ages? Such a measure would indeed be a good Trades Union Act !
– That is not provided for in the Bill, and the right honorable gentleman knows it.
– That is becoming a fashionable phrase.
– Why does not the right honorable gentleman tell the truth, and treat the Bill fairly?
– The honorable member need not be offensive.
– I am not offensive.
– The honorable member is offensive when he uses such an expression as “why don’t you tell the truth.” If I am erring through ignorance, I should be corrected. It should not be assumed that I am saying that which I know to be incorrect. The honorable member may not have heard my previous remarks, and, therefore, his observation may have been a natural one. My point is that it is admitted that trades unions are political organizations. The honorable member for Kennedy, who knows as much about trades unions as does any man in Australia, and who is a genuine trades unionist -
– The honorable member for Kennedy knows all about the Queensland unions.
– Oh, I see. I am in the hands of my honorable friends, because they do know all about it, and I do not. Therefore, I am not going to question anything that they say with regard to matters of fact. -
– The honorable member for Kennedy has lived the best past of his life in Queensland.
– I know that, but I did think that he was not one of those insular. trades unionists who do not know anything about the trades unions of Australia outside of their own State. I rather think that the honorable member for Kennedy has figured as a representative at trades union conferences, and, therefore, my honorable friend must not throw him over in that way. Ministers are becoming dexterous in shifting the onus. But we are all only, human when we find ourselves in a position of difficulty. For the present, I accept the honorable member for Kennedy as a well-informed authority upon Australian trades unions. It may turn out that he knows nothing about them, and that may be because he is not a Minister. I know nothing of these things; but I accept him for the present as a well-informed authority. He has said that the trades unions are political bodies, and I have said that they were justly so, because they had grave grievances to redress. I have actually applauded the trades unions for acting in the way they have done to redress their grievances. The Labour Party may keep their trades unions and make them as political as they like. They are just as much entitled to exist as are” the Free-trade League or the Protectionist Association. I give them the same latitude that I claim for myself.
– But the associations to which the right honorable gentleman refers are given up - they are dead.
– But they are not dead in the sense that the honorable member seems to imply. Have honorable members noticed the beautiful regard for fiscal truth which is evinced in the composition of the present Ministry? We have four Ministers on one side and four on the other. They talk about our sinking the fiscal question, but the Labour Party took substantial guarantees in the composition of the Ministry that that issue should be sunk, because there are four Ministers pulling one way and four pulling the other.
– There is no pulling at all.
– That is quite right.
– We are like the right honorable gentleman. If he were here he would not pull on the fiscal question in the slightest degree.
– I am not complaining. Whilst I thoroughly admit that every body in the world has a perfect right to do what it likes under the law, I contend that any person who may be outside of one of these bodies has also a perfect right to do what he likes. If, in the exercise of his freedom, he stays outside a union, he should not be subject to a boycott. The trades union boycott is serious enough ; but since the boycott of the trades unions and the abuse involved in the application of epithets, such as “ scab “ and “ blackleg,” do not guide fearless working men into the unions in order to escape the stigma of such abuse, we are asked to apply other pressure - since all these means of influencing and of terrorizing men, exerted by the trades unions of Australia, have absolutely failed, this trades union Ministry comes along and asks, not a trades union House of Parliament - we have not reached that stage yet - but the Commonwealth Legislature to do some-, thing very much worse. They ask us to do something infinitely worse. There was never a boycott in the reign of those infamous Irish crimes - they may have had some sort of excuse, owing to the centuries of iniquitous wrongs inflicted on the Irish people, which might well have poisoned their blood in the early days - there was never, in the dark pages of outrage and crime in that unhappy country, anything half so cruel as this attempt to create a Court of Justice in which there shall be two entrances. The glory of all our other Courts is that there is only one entrance for litigants - the entrance of perfect equality so far as the law can make equal a people some of whom are poor and some rich. This is a proposal that there should be two doors in a Court of Justice. The main door is to be open to trades unionists, and if employment can be found only for trades unionists, the side door is never to be opened to non-unionists. What does preference to unionists mean, all other conditions being equal? That until every unionist in a district has secured work, all the non-unionists in that district must starve, or find some other work, or be kept by the State. ‘ The Minister of External Affairs referred the other day to one of the largest and most powerful unions in Sydney. I think I am correct in calling it the Wharf Labourers’ Union. He depicted a sad state of affairs in that union - considering the importance of Sydney as a port.. I was told that the Minister stated that for a long time, owing to some cause or other, the members of that union had not been able to obtain full employment, and that they had earned on the average only some 15s. per week.
– I said that during the last five months a great number of the members of the union had not averaged more than that.
– My honorable friend, who knows all about the union, corroborates what I say. I ask honorable members to regard that as an illustration. Can we wonder at these unfortunate men in the union trying to keep out other men, when they are not able to earn even a living wage for the support of themselves and their families? We have not yet, I hope, come down to such a miserable state of affairs that 15s. per week is considered a full wage for men engaged in working on the wharfs.
– They have to live on it.
– They are under the miserable necessity of living on it somehow ; but we know what that means. It means running into debt to the landlord and to the people who supply their daily wants.
– Nevertheless, they must live on it.
– We accept the facts as presented by my honorable friend. If the state of affairs described exists in the Wharf Labourers’ Union in the great shipping port of Sydney, I think I am taking a fair example.
– The Arbitration Act in New South Wales has not done them much good.
– I am not going to inquire into the causes of the unfortunate state of affairs. The thing itself is a miserable fact which must excite the humane feelings of any man. I have not time, in view of facts of that kind, to enter upon a critical disquisition as to whether they were brought about by the operation of the Tariff or of the Arbitration Act, or by the action of employers, or by the withdrawal of English capital. That is a proper inquiry in its proper place. I am only taking the facts as they are presented to us, and I ask. can we wonder that these unfortunate wharf labourers, who are themselves earning only a starvation wage, should throw obstacles in the way of other men coming in to the union and increasing their destitution? It is wrong, of course, and they had to be coerced by the Court, which must administer the Act as fairly as it can. But we can appreciate the human nature of it. and the terrible strain on the men. I am taking that as a picture of misery now under our very eyes, in connexion with one of the best unions in the port of Sydney. I ask honor able members to consider the universal wretchedness which must prevail in these bad times. There was a time when we could do anything, and it would be all right. We have left that time behind us, and have reached a stage when the problem of mere existence is striking at the very heart of the proudest trades unions in the richest centres of industry on this Continent. If that be the condition of affairs in the large centres, we know how hard the lot must be in many places more remote from the public eye. This is a bad state of affairs. But, in the midst of such conditions, are we in the name of the laws of the Commonwealth, going to pick out, in the struggle for existence, the men who belong to the unions, ‘and make them the wards of this Australian chancery, and make the other men of labour in Australia the outcasts of a Court of law? Well, do it if you like; but let it not be said when honorable members vote, that the consequences cannot be foreseen. Let it not be said that it is done by accident or owing to want of knowledge of the full consequences of such an iniquitous proposal. Fortunately, our Courts of Justice have kept in touch in some marvellous way with the humanity and progress of mankind, and they still continue to do so, so far as our Empire is concerned. In the midst of the surging, tumultuous powers which rage outside the precincts of the Court, in spite of the terrific convulsions, the awful struggles between capitalists and large bodies of workmen, we have had in our British Courts of justice this noble history, that even in the House of Lords, even in* that historic House of privilege, the rights of the poorest union in England are safe. The House of Lord* has been known to lay down the laws in favour of the unions in a way that the Courts below never had done. It would be something worth having for men of all classes - that somewhere in the Commonwealth the poorest man would be safe. I say that- in these Commonwealth Courts of Justice we want, if we can, to preserve these grand traditions. Was there ever a time when we should be more anxious to preserve them, than when we are establishing a Court which is not to be a Court as all these other Courts are, in which A and B, citizens, banks, finance companies, can bring their civil actions, but a tribunal of an entirely different character? This is to be a Court in which the great captains of industry - whether they represent employers or workmen - are to meet and struggle and fight. We bring humanity into this Court. We make the bread of the most friendless child in the most remote parts of Australia depend upon the dictum of a Justice of the High Court. That is the tremendous power, the awful obligation which we are going to impose upon a Justice of the High Court. He will be beset, on one side, by great industrial unions, and, on the other, by great employers’ unions, and in the battle between these mighty forces, where will the masses of the workers of Australia come in ? We may be told that the common rule will be applicable to them. But I claim that the common rule w.hich may be observed in some large factories in a great city may deprive thousands of men throughout Australia of their employment. I do not care for these big cities and great unions so much as I do for the isolated workmen who are scattered over the villages and bush throughout Australia. They have no unions, no counsel, no wealth, and no power. If we must establish an industrial Court, if we must have a temple of Justice devoted to the settlement of the most difficult problems of human existence, all men should at least start fair, and the individual who is not a party to a suit should not be deprived of his work because somebody has won his case before the Court. The honorable and learned member for Angas has asserted a great principle, We hear much about granting a preference to unionists. That is a perfectly legitimate aim for a trades union to keep in view - a perfectly legitimate thing for a free-trade league, so far as the -battles of politics are concerned. But, should we not despise a free-trader or a protectionist, who, when a man applied to “him for employment, inquired, not, “ Are vou a good workman ?” or “ Have you a good record?” but “Do you belong to a protectionist league or to a free-trade league ?”
– Thev ask that in Victoria.
– If I had my way I should hound out of the country any man who did that.
– They ask more pertinent questions than that in Sydney.
– Any man who does that - I do not care who or what he is - is an enemy to society.
– We are all agreed upon that point.
– I am sure that the practice is not adopted by employers generally.
– Within the past few weeks men have been dismissed in Victoria because of their political opinions.
– Our attitude towards any such outrage would be absolutely the same. The point I wish to emphasize is, that whilst in this democracy we fight as free men, we do not place a ban upon any individual on account of his political opinions. That is the act of some eccentric, illiberal individual. To-day we are asked to do that which we all denounce as infamous, and we are asked to do it by Act of Parliament, not to one man, but to hundreds of thousands of men. My honorable friends opposite can do these things, and go back to their trades unions crowned with laurels. It will be a great achievement for them. The Minister of External Affairs can go back to the wharf labourers of Sydney - I think that he has been honorary secretary of their organization for many years-
– I have not. I am secretary of the Wharf Labourers’ Union, but not “ honorary “ secretary.
– I was unconsciously putting the matter in a more favorable light.
– I do not think so.
– At any rate I stated it in a way that was not offensive.
– What does the right honorable member mean?
– If a man is engaged in political life he can afford to hold honorary positions in connexion with unions of his fellows.
– I have never received a fractional part of a penny for services rendered to any union with which I have been associated.
– It was for that reason that I designated the Minister “ honorary secretary “ of the Wharf Labourers’ Union.
– I wished to correct the right honorable member because in the case of that union a technical meaning attaches to the term “ honorary.”
– I do not wish to introduce into this debate any but the most fair considerations. I repeat that my honorable friend, who has been secretary of that great union for many years, will be able to go back to the wharf labourers of West Sydney crowned with a laurel wreath.. He will be able to emphasize the advantages conferred by trades unionism. He will be enabled to say, “ We comprise only onesixth or one-seventh or even one-eighth of the workers of Australia, but see what we have been able to accomplish. We have made the Commonwealth Arbitration Court a little branch of the trades unions of Australia. The laws of Victoria and New South Wales do not allow a union to collect subscriptions in a Court, but we have passed an Act which enables us to penalize non-unionists up to their eyes, and which permits us to use this Court to recover our dues - even subscriptions and penalties. In short we have subordinated the Commonwealth to our individual purposes.” I never knew of a great cause being dragged to a lower level. According to the honorable member for Kennedy, we now find that under the glorious banner of industrial peace the militant trades unions are to be led over the prostrate bodies of the non-unionist workers of Australia. If they_ had gained that advantage in fair fight, I should have nothing to say, but when they wish to make use of this Parliament to further the interests of the unions it is time for some one to attempt to call a halt. I wish now to deal with an argument which has been used during this debate, and which must be considered. The members of trades unions are- possessed of only limited means. Anything which will impose additional burdens upon them is a very proper subject for consideration, because - as has been said - they are not in a position to throw their money away. I have considered that statement, and I have come to the conclusion that the expense of registering a special organization under the Court would be of the most nominal character. Better still, since the expense will have to be incurred by the trades unions in any case, the amendment will not add to their expenditure. Its effect will be simply to alter the account from which the money is paid. The expenditure will have to be borne in any case. The question involved is merely one ot whether it shall be paid out of one pocket or out of another. What appeals to me in this matter is that we should forget that we are in a State, and remember that we are in a Commonwealth. We should recollect that the power of a trades union or of a “ part of a union “ to institute proceedings in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court, which may alter the conditions of labour throughout Australia, is in itself a monstrosity. Let us. just consider what we are asked to do. Not even a trades union is required to move in the matter. Any single branch of a union in Bourke, Newcastle, Maitland, or Woollongong, can register as an organization, can bring about an industrial convulsion, and confer upon one individual sitting in Melbourne or Sydney the jurisdiction to dictate the conditions of subsistence and existence over the entire Continent. These are very serious matters. If these unions are at one - as I believe they are - in their desire to have some such measure passed, is there anything in the world that would prevent all the trades unions of Australia from affiliating for the purposes of registering under this Bill ? Take the case of the wharf labourers. Would any difficulty be experienced by the unions of wharf labourers throughout Australia in registering as one body under, this measure ?
– I think that the amendment does not propose that.
– The amendment would prevent that from being done.
– The same men could register as an organization.
– That is what I understand.’ The point I wish to make is this : Let us leave the trades unions absolutely free to achieve everything they can. The central idea of all this class of legislation - whether it be of a State or a Commonwealth character - is that there shall not be two unions fighting in the same industry. The radical aim - as the honorable member for Darling knows well - and I look upon him as the oldest trades unionist in the House - is to secure in any industry in a State one central body. A great deal has been said this afternoon in reference to the Australian Workers’ Union and a bogus union. I happened to be professionally employed in that case.
– Do not give the show away.
– I was employed by the Australian Workers’ Union, but I do not know that I ought to be debarred from making any public utterance on the subject on account of that circumstance. I wish to say that I absolutely sympathized with the Australian Workers’ Union in every shape and form. The case in question constituted a sheer conspiracy on the part of some pastoralists and some working men of a type in which I do not believe. It was a positive conspiracy to create a bogus union, and their action was not fought with the aid of working men’s subscriptions, but with money which came from quite another source. I look with as great detestation as any man can upon the action of men - whether they be employers or workmen - who can be bought over to thwart the honest desire of their fellows to do a very proper, and beneficent thing. I wish to point out, however, that the basis of this sort of legislation must be one union of employes and one union of employers in respect of every industry, in order that the measure may be properly administered. If two workers’ unions in the same industry began to light with each other, what chance would they have? If this unity is essential in relation to a State Arbitration Court, how much more vital is it that unions shall be consolidated under a Commonwealth Court? It would, of course, be impracticable to consolidate them so far as all their internal benefits are concerned. The relief of distressed members and like mat- .ters are best dealt with by the local unions familiar with local requirements ; but matters affecting an industry carried on all over Australia would be better under the control of a federated union. A federation of the unions of Australia in each line or industry would make them infinitely stronger bodies under this measure than they would be if they remained separate.
– That is what we want.
– That is what the honorable and learned member for Angas seeks to secure bv the amendment.
– I may be under a misapprehension, but I understand that the purpose of the amendment is that, while trades unions shall preserve their own identity, as they stand, in every possible way, they shall, for the purposes of this legislation, form an industrial organization.
– That is it.
– A federated industrial organization ?
– What does the honorable and learned member for Angas say to that ?
– I think that the amendment would allow of either a federated or partially federated organization.
– Hear, .hear.
– It seems to me that it would break up the whole system.
– I think not. Let us take the case of a number of unions, relating to the same industry, in New South Wales.
The effect of the amendment would be that, even without amalgamating with like bodies in other States”, these unions would be able, for the purposes of this measure, to form an industrial organization and be registered.
– Hear, hear.
– They would have to form a new organization.
– Of course they would ; but might I suggest to my honorable friend that, since we are proposing to create a new Court of Justice for the benefit of the workers generally, trades unionists might well take the little trouble that would be necessary to enable them to march, pace to pace, with us. The existing unions would be able to retain their existing constitutions, so far as their own internal working, which is very often of a local character, was concerned. There would be no trouble, so far as I can see, except the possibility of some o’f the unions refusing to come in.
– But that would be outside the scope of the amendment.
– I have put the question to the honorable and learned member for Angas, and he says that it is not.
– The same persons would constitute the organization.
– If it could be shown that the amendment would have the effect submitted by the right honorable member, I do not know that I should oppose it.
– I am very glad to have that statement from the honorable and learned member. Perhaps he would like to explain his position.
– At the present time a trades union, or any other like body, in New South Wales has to conform to the provisions of the New South Wales Conciliation and Arbitration Act in reference to industrial organization. For instance, the Wharf Labourers’ “Union is known as the Wharf Labourers’ Industrial Union of Employes, and other bodies are called industrial unions. The point made by the honorable and learned member forAngas is that an organization under this Bill would have no connexion with a union, that it would have to be a separate body.
– The same men could pass a resolution declaring; themselves an “organization.”
– Yes, they could; and, on doing so, would no longer be bound by the rules.
– The amendment sets forth that no association shall be registered -
The reading which my honorable and learned friend gives to the amendment is such that it would not alter or have any effect on the clause as it stands.
– Yes, it would separate the finances.
– I am not arguing the general point. I am simply referring to what is done in New South Wales.
Mr. REID (East Sydney). - We can settle this controversy afterwards ; but I can assure the Minister of External Affairs that if he is in sympathy with the idea that I have expressed I shall be prepared to give him every assistance in carrying it out. I am simply taking the amendment as it stands. My view of the position of an honorable member who votes for the second reading of a Bill is that, in doing so, he commits himself to an attempt to pass that Bill into law subject to amendments which he may think necessary. If I had felt that I was strongly opposed to such an attempt being made in the present case, I should not have voted for the motion for the second reading of the Bill. I wish the Government to understand that whenever we reach a proposal in regard to which they are able to meet my objections, instead of persisting in, or aggravating them, I shall do my best to assist in passing it in a form in which it would be most desirable. If the Ministry could suggest anything else that would better meet the object I have in view, I should be only too happy to vote for it. I must say that paragraph c of the amendment gives me some anxiety. I think it requires some explanation.
– It is not essential to the first two paragraphs.
– I do not quite follow the proposal contained in paragraph c.
– It is for the purpose of a subsequent amendment of which I have given notice.
– There is some ambiguity about it. It seems to me at present that it would restrict the generality which I am advocating. I believe that it would be in the interests of trades unionists to give effect to the proposal I have in view, just as the principle of trades unionism is. in itself, a good one - a combination giving single trades unionists the fulcrum of the powers which they have since exercised - so by the association of trades unions would their fulcrum become an infinitely stronger one. The very principle of trades unionism is to make a trades union as comprehensive and as strong as possible. I suppose that my honorable friends opposite will agree with me that the ideal of all trades unions is reached when no worker in the industry, with which it is associated, and carrying on operations in the locality to which it applies, remains outside it, unless he happens to be some undesirable person. The ideal of a trades union is that every competent worker in the industry, to which it belongs, shall be a member of it, and this proposal would, in that respect, have a tremendous effect in helping trades unionism. It would not sacrifice its individual power. These organizations might introduce a large number of persons not in trades unions; but the unions would have absolutely no power over the organizations. We should have in each case an organization limited to one matter, and even if the union were swamped bv the organization, its rules and duties could not be altered by it.
– Under a subsequent clause it is provided that the GovernorGeneral may by proclamation declare any union to be an organization within the meaning of the Act. That might enable these persons to swamp a union, and do what they pleased with it.
– That provision could not stand if the amendment were carried.
– The amendment would permit that to be done.
– The provision would have to be altered.
– The amendment goes so far that it is only fair that some explanation should be given as to what other proposition is subsequently to be made.
– I should absolutely oppose any proposal which, under cover of doing a union no harm, would seriously interfere with it. It would be absolute treachery on the part of any honorable member to try, under cover of some. generality, to injure some principle which he declared would really be benefited by it. I am speaking now not of the Bill but of the amendment. If the amendment or some other proposal that would embody in the Bill what I have in mind were carried, I should join with the Government in seeing that proper amendments’ were ‘made to avoid the defeat of the object in view by some side wind. My point is that no trades union could be expected to give up one shred of its individuality, its membership, or its rules, or its funds, in coming under one of these organizations. I cannot talk so confidently upon these subjects as can some other honorable members. It is a most serious matter for those who know nothing about trades unions to suggest something that would alter their internal composition. We are not competent to do anything of the kind; but the reason why I press this matter so strongly is that the organization I have in mind is in the direction of an ideal trades unionism. Just as it is well for all trades unions relating to the same industry in New South Wales to be united, so for the purposes of a Commonwealth Court it should be equally good for all unions relating to the same industry in Australia to be one. Why should it be a good thing for Commonwealth purposes that all the waterside workers of New South Wales should belong to one central union, with local branches, while the waterside workers of Victoria belong to a separate union ? This measure will apply only to Inter-State disputes, and if we had a chain of unionism extending all round the Commonwealth, instead of five different chains stopping at the borders of each State, the unions would stand before the Court on a much stronger footing. The Court will be very jealous about one matter. It will be very jealous about two unions which are not connected getting up a dispute in order to take advantage of the law. No Court will allow itself to be humbugged in that way. Whereas if the unions were all one, a dispute affecting unionists in Fremantle would touch all the members of the union, and become an Inter-State dispute.
– The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas does not regard a union as an organization under the Bill.
– I think that that provision is framed in the interests of the unions, and my reason for thinking so is this : A Commonwealth Court ought, if possible, to control Commonwealth unions, or, at any rate, unions extending over more. than one State.
– There are a number of such unions now in existence.
– That is a good thing for the purposes of trades unionism. The more the trades unions have of a Commonwealth basis, the more sure will be their position in the Commonwealth Court.
– But the amendment does not regard unions as organizations under the Bill. The only organizations for which it provides are organizations created and formed solely for the purposes of the Bill.
– Yes; and that is a convenience to- the unions. I am assuming a case in which the unions of an industry in different States are not united, in which there is no federation extending all round the Continent. The work of a union qua its district is local, and there would be no sense in having a central Australian administration to deal with the cases of William Smith or John Jones, who were applying for sick pay. The cost of such an administration would be ruinous. For all the main purposes of unionism, whether militant or benevolent, you must preserve your internal organization, because you may have local as well as Commonwealth battles to fight. For the very purposes of trades unions you must keep their integrity free from any complication of any kind. Your unions lose nothing by becoming organizations under the Bill, because in that way they keep out of the Commonwealth Court altogether. A Court cannot touch them qua trades unions. But if they are allowed to register under the Bill as organizations, they will be subject to the Court.
– I thought that what was aimed at was the obtaining of stability and responsibility.
– I have no such idea in this particular matter. I wish to fight fair in this matter.
– I do not see that any organization short of a trades union is likely to be a responsible body for the purposes of this Bill ; that is, a body which can enforce the Court’s decisions.
– I will give an illustration of what I mean, which may remove the honorable gentleman’s difficulty to some extent. We have now in all the States ‘ a peculiar provision of law which enables an individual to sue the Government. He does not sue the Government in that title; he sues what, is called a nominal defendant. Various Acts provide that the Governments of the States or of the Commonwealth may name a person to be the nominal defendant in any action. The late Principal UnderSecretary in New South Wales was Mr. Critchett Walker, and he was named as nominal defendant in many actions. In this case the trades unions will be in the position of a Government which is being sued. They will preserve their integrity, and all their executive and other powers, and will come into Court only as organizations specially registered under the Bill. The same men would be affected., but they would come into Court merely as an industrial organization, without bringing the union with them. The unions would be free from the Court altogether. The Court’s decisions would affect only the organizations, and then only so far as they were concerned in any dispute. If there was no trouble, the organizations would not come within the Court at all. There would be no need for them to do so. It is only when trouble begins that there will be need for the members Of the present unions to come before the Court. Then, under the amendment,, they would register as industrial organizations. Not a single rule or regulation of the present unions could be altered by the Court. The unions would keep out of the Court, and that would not be a bad thing for them. They would keep themselves free from the legal meshes altogether, and make the registered organizations their fighting force for mere technical Court purposes. The organizations would represent nominal defendants or plaintiffs.
– And men could join them without joining political bodies.
– I intend to come to that point. The position to which I refer would be a grand thing for those whom my honorable friends opposite represent. What I have said to-night will, I think, carry some’ weight; but every objection which I have enunciated with the desire to be thoroughly impressive would’ be answered if what I suggest were done. The trades unions would preserve their militant force and their internal organization, and the grievance of those who are not in the unions would be removed. In all fights the best men come to the top, whether unionists or any other classes of men are concerned. The trades unionists know their leaders. There are half-a-dozen leaders who could carry all the unions in Australia with them. Why? Because the members of those unions know them, and would follow them. So would it be with the organizations. The non-unionists who come into the organizations will be deprived of a grievance, and they will not be able to affect the trades unions concerned. Their grievance would be absolutely gone, while the trades unions would remain as strong to fight as ever. What I suggest would, I think, be a grand thing for trades unionism. It would lessen the gap between the unionists and the non-unionists. If I were the most rabid unionist in Australia, my supreme object would be to build a golden bridge, to enable all the men who are not in the unions to associate with me in fighting my battle against the employers. In the battle against the employers the interests of all the workers are common. Why, therefore, should they be separated on some internal point of politics, when they can be joined in an organization under the Bill, the trades unions still preserving their identity, and remaining as strong to fight their battles as they are now ? The trades unionists will, under this arrangement, obtain a grand new ally in their battle against the capitalists. They will gain the support of the non-unionists, and by getting them into the industrial organizations, will have made the first step towards getting them into the unions.
– The amendment does not suggest that the unions are to escape responsibility under the Bill.
– I am sure that that is what is meant.
– Under the Bill they must escape responsibility.
– Will the right honorable member say that they would escape responsibility ?
– I should like to point out where I think my honorable friend is wrong in thinking that they would not escape responsibility. In the -first place, an organization cannot be registered unless it has been formed and exists solely for the purposes of the Bill. Therefore, the measure cannot interfere with trades unions, which have’ not been formed for those purposes. At the worst, the Commonwealth Court could not touch the unions.
– If a union has a beneficial interest in any fund, it will be liable under the Bill, just as a legal interest would be liable.
– An organization registered under the Bill will have nothing to do with any trades union ; but if there is any doubt on the point it can be set at rest. We will all co-operate with the Government in setting it at rest.
– I distinctly stated that, if the amendment were carried, other provisions of the Bill would have to be amended.
– We. must have no doubt upon the matter.
– I will co-operate with the Ministry in protecting the trades unions of Australia from the Court. I always objected to the provision in the New South Wales Act, and warned the trades unions in that State against it.
– What is the attitude of the right honorable gentleman in regard to clause 69?
– I will come to that. The Minister of External Affairs seems inclined to consider this matter, if the Bill can be so amended as to make the position of the unionists perfectly fair.
– I do not know that I am willing to consider it; but I wish to know exactly how far the amendment goes. If it goes as far as I think it does, it takes away with one hand, but gives nothing with the “other.
– I and a number of other honorable members intend to vote for the amendment ; but we do not wish to say that it will not injure the unions, and then allow the Bill to pass in such a form that it may do so. Therefore, we shall be with the Government, instead of opposing them, in trying to secure that what is my view of the effect of the amendment shall be the correct view. My opinion is that the trades unions should be left absolutely independent of the Court, as they are now. That would remove a serious difficulty, and a great grievance, from the minds of non-unionists. Without imperilling their property, or the integrity of a single rule of their trades unions, those who are now members of the unions could form industrial organizations, and thus remove the grievances of nonunionists. The industrial organizations registered under the Bill will, of course, begin with members of the unions, but they will be open to every man in the industry which they affect, and the men who are not unionists, and who join these organizations, will have no power in regard to the unions. They will be merely members of the organizations, which must be formed solely for the purposes of the Bill.
– I do not see how it is possible for the Government to accept that proposal.
– If there is a chance of the acceptance of any reasonable proposal, I shall be happy to help the Ministry in the matter, instead of being antagonistic to them. I think it is worth considering.
– I do not see that the SUEgestion of the right honorable member differs from the proposition contained in the first paragraph of the amendment.
– It does not. But the Minister of External Affairs seems to think that if the Bill were so drawn that the integrity of the unions, in regard to the management of their funds, and in other respects, was preserved, and they were kept outside the Court altogether, the Government might consider the amendment.
– If the right honorable member’s suggestion differed from that of the honorable and learned member for Angas, we might consider it ; but I do not think it takes us a bit further than does the amendment.
– The first paragraph of the amendment raises the question with which I am dealing. The words “unless it has been formed, and exists solely for the purposes of this Act,” involve what I have said about the independence of the unions in respect to the Court.
– That is the amendment which we are now debating. The Chairman is. putting the paragraphs of the proviso separately.
– My view is that if industrial organizations are formed under the Bill, the trades unions are bound to be the back-bone of them, because of the metal they carry, and the men they have, and because they are organized. They will be the predominating factor at the start. But the unions will not be imperilled even if they are at fault. In any case, they are in the hands of the Court, which would do justice, no matter who the members of an. organization might be. Therefore, I earnestly suggest to the Government that this proposal should be considered. I do not mind giving them the benefit of my opinon, that if the Bill is passed as it stands, their opponents will have a tremendous weapon to use against them. I would rather see matters put right than be given any such political advantage.
– Does the right honorable member think that if a union passed a resolution declaring it to be an organization for the purposes of the Bill it would comply with the amendment?
– I do not think that that would be legally efficient.
– Of course, it would not.
– I do not see how it could be. But this is the point. If a trades union met and carried such a resolution, the secretary could send a cheap circular to every member of the union conveying to him a copy of the resolution arrived it, and stating that it was the intention to register the members as members of an organization for the purposes of the Commonwealth Arbitration Act, and asking them to intimate whether or not they were in favour of being registered. By this means all members favorable to registration could be registered as members of that organization, and all the unionists not favorable to it would not be registered. The identity and integrity of the union would be preserved. It would not be split up, but the liberty of the members of the union to join the organization, or not, as they pleased, would be preserved. Those in favour of registration would join the organization, and the grievances of the people outside of the union would be removed. If such an industrial organization were formed the unionists would be brought into touch, from time to time, with all the men who worked in a particular industry. If all the men were gathered together in an organization, and were interested in fighting a common opponent in the Arbitration Court, they would gradually come into the trades union - far more rapidly than under any other circumstances. I do not know much about unions, but I think that the best way of persuading men to join is by fraternizing with them. No men could stand aloof from the unionists if, as members of the organization formed for the purposes of the Bill, they had to make common cause with them. They would have no excuse for doing so. I think that the more this amendment is looked at - whatever may be its intention - the clearer it must be that it would work better for the unions than would the clause as it stands.
– I wish to point out to the honorable and learned member for Angas a few practical difficulties. Take the case of the Australian Workers’ Union. If the amendment were carried we should have to form another union solely for the purposes of the Bill. We should have to call a meeting of the executive and agree to recommend the . formation of a new organization. We should have to enrol members and issue to them certificates of membership in the- new body; also to adopt rules, which would have to be approved of by the members. These operations would occupy fully twelve months. We could enrol members only at meetings, and we could hold meetings only during the shearing season.- We should have no other means of issuing the necessary certificates. Although we should require only 100 members in order to enable us to register as an organization under the Bill, . we should not be able to go to the Court and ask them to adjudicate with regard to any grievance we might have. We could not, with such a small membership, ask them to apply a common rule which would cover the whole of the shearing operations in three of the States. What would take place in the meantime? In the meantime a bogus union might be registered. I know that practically the promoters- of such a union are waiting in Melbourne now. If they succeed in obtaining registration they will shut out the union which has worked in the interests of the shearers for years past, and the Australian Workers’ Union would probably have to apply for the cancellation of their registration. Whilst we were proving our bona fides by means of our large membership, and taking all the other steps necessary to form an organization for the purposes of the Bill, the other union could step in and forestall us. The honorable and learned member for Angas misleads the Committee when he says there are no practical difficulties. We know that there are very grave obstacles. We do not object so much to the proposal that an organization shall be formed for the purposes of the Bill, as to the necessity which would arise under the amendment for forming an absolutely new union. That operation could not be carried out so easily as has been represented. Certain unions are now waiting an opportunity to bring disputes before the Court. Take the case of the Seamen’s Union, for instance. That union would be situated similarly to the Australian Workers’ Union. We should have to wait for the shearing season before we could consult our members by means of a referendum. Otherwise we should have to ignore the vast majority and act without proper authority. As a matter of fact, probably two years would elapse before we should be in a position to bring a case before the Court. If we were not properly constituted as an organization for the purposes of the Bill, we should probably find ourselves upset in the Court. We should be opposed there by the most powerful employers’ organization in the Commonwealth which would be advised by the ablest of lawyers, and which would probably do everything it could to defeat our objects. The proposal embodied in the amendment is impracticable and unnecessary, and would operate unfairly towards the existing’ unions. If it be carried we shall probably find an organization which is only a shadow of the employers’ union behind it forestalling the legitimate trades union, which embraces the main body of the workers. A good deal of discussion has turned upon the positions which would be occupied by unionists and non-unionists if the Bill were allowed to pass in its present form. In this connexion I would point to the experience which has been gained in New Zealand, where preference has been given to unionists. We find that there has not been an increase in the number of unionists, and that no complaint has been made by those who do not belong to the unions. Therefore, all the fears expressed that the men outside the union will be condemned to starvation would appear to have no substantial foundation. Some apprehension appears to be felt owing to the political aims of the unionists, and yet those honorable members who oppose the recognition of trades unions as organizations for the purposes of the Bill admit that the unions must go on, and still perform their political work, as previously. The desire, however, is apparently to crush out the unions by gradually sapping their influence. They will be shut out of the Court, and the place which they should occupy will be taken by bogus organizations. I did not hear the remarks made by the honorable member for Wentworth with regard to the Machine Shearers’ Union. I do not desire to refer to that body, except by way of illustration. I can assure the honorable member that there is a great deal more than lie is aware of behind that organization. The Machine Shearers’ Union has been characterized by the right honorable member for East Sydney as the outcome of a conspiracy, and we know that the influences which are at the back of it extend even as far as England. Messrs.
Burgon and Ball, of Sheffield, did a large trade for years in sheep shears. When their employes formed a union, the firm locked them out. The men communicated with me, and I suggested that they should form a cooperative company to manufacture shears. The men took my advice and manufactured shears of such a quality that they captured the whole of the Australian trade, and knocked Messrs. Burgon and Ball out of the market. That firm then took up the manufacture of shearing machines, and they are behind the firm of Messrs. Young and Co., the principle organizersof the Machine Shearers’ Union. I have’ the report of that union, which is registered in Sydney. This shows that they have received a number of anonymous contributions, and it also demonstrates that their books are kept very loosely, because there is no means of tracing several large items of expenditure. The auditor reports that there are no vouchers for many payments. The whole of the circumstances surrounding the union are suspicious, and its membership is, to a very large extent, bogus. A number of men have been compelled to join, because the station-owners make membership of the union a condition of employment. We also know that many men have been enrolled as members without paying any subscription whatever. Even with all these influences at work the membership has not reached more than 1,800.
– I did not discuss the bogus character of the Machine Shearers’ Union, but the conduct, of the Australian Workers’ Union in connexion with it.
– I am pointing out the difficulties with which we should have to contend if the amendment were carried. It would operate to the advantage of the bogus union, which having its rules specially designed to meet the purposes of the Act, could become registered long, before the Australian Workers’ Union could take the steps necessary to form an organization such as is suggested. I do not propose to reply to the long address which was delivered by the right honorable member for East Sydney, because I recognise that it was merely intended to impress persons who are outside of this Parliament. It was a kind of second-reading speech. I intend to deal only with that which I conceive has a bearing upon the amendment under discussion. I claim that if the amendment be carried the Bill might as well be cast into the waste-paper basket. Further, its adoption would necessitate provision being made for additional penalties. The honorable and learned member for Angas would need to make it a penal offence for employers to dismiss men from their employment because of their political opinions. In the present age unionists are chiefly victimized on that account. Some years ago I was associated with a liberal organization which was established in Victoria. When it was formed, its secretary was earning a livelihood by carting goods to various mines. Shortly afterwards, the chairman of the board of directors and the legal manager of some of these mines visited the firms who had previously forwarded their goods by the carrier in question, and induced them to discontinue the practice. The man was made the subject of a straight-out boycott, merely because he was the secretary of that organization. In the district of Maryborough within the past fortnight men have been discharged from their employment because of the action which they took during the recent State elections.
– Is that wrong?
– The honorable member knows that it is wrong. I am sure that he will echo the sentiments of his leader in denouncing such a boycott. Does the honorable and learned member for Angas believe that a political organization would’ be less effective as such merely because its members went through the sham of forming another organization under this Bill ?
Mr.- Batchelor. - Will the employer have no political opinions?
– Exactly. I ask the honorable member for Kooyong, who has voiced the opinions of the Federated Employers’ Union, to consider what is involved in the amendment, because I hold that the principle of fair play should be embodied in this Bill. The honorable and learned member for Angas imagines that he has evolved a scheme which will entirely exclude political considerations from organizations which come before the Court.
– I did not say anything of the sort. I do not want men, by the mere act of joining an organization, to accept the opinions of the trades unions.
– I exposed that fallacy the other night. I think I am correct in saying that in the district which is represented by the Minister of Home Affairs some of his strongest political opponents are .members of his own union. It is not right to urge that the members of these organizations are not free agents. If the industrial organizations are to have no political opinions, we shall require to apply the same condition to the employers.
– Quite right.
– Then, as an employer, the honorable member for Kooyong must cease to hold any political views. The more the amendment is examined the more it will be seen that it is both impracticable and unnecessary. It will accomplish no good, but will create trouble. The only time that an industrial organization will meet will be when it desires to frame an application to the Court. It will deal with that particular business, and - if the amendment be adopted - will immediately afterwards meet as a trades union. How can the two bodies be separated. The unions always deal with their industrial business as industrial unions. What sense is there in a body of men meeting to-day for one purpose and assembling to-morrow for another ‘purpose? The same remark is applicable to the employers. We do not deny them their political rights or privileges. We do not deny them collectively the right to take an active part in politics.. At the same time we shall not change the existing condition of affairs by enacting that the employers, for the purposes of this Bill, must form a separate organization.
– The honorable member is overlooking the cardinal difference that the trades unions exclude members, whilst these industrial organizations will be open to all.
– The trades unions do not exclude any individual. They are only too glad to enrol men. Their ideal is to enrol every bond fide workman. In manyunions they have accomplished that. Every man working in a certain district was a member of the organization of which I was secretary for many years. The unions which will come within the scope of this Bill are so strong that there are practically no men engaged in the same industries outside of their ranks. It can clearly be shown that unionism offers a good investment to employes. I demonstrated the other evening that, for an annual payment of ros., the members of the Australian Workers’ Union received a dividend of more than ^5.
– Then why do not all men join ?
– Simply because they do pot realize the obligation which they are under to the union. The older the unions get the fewer becomes the number of individuals who stand outside their ranks. I repeat that the trades unions have limited their operations to industrial matters, and do not engage in political work. Of course, when we are organizing we always put the political side of the case before intending members. In other words, we show them that it is to their advantage to establish organizations, because, collectively, they can accomplish things which they cannot achieve individually. We emphasize the benefit of standing solidly together, and selecting our own parliamentary candidates. That is the political side of the labour movement, but it is associated wilh the Political Labour League. The point I wish to urge is that trades unions accomplish an industrial work quite apart from that - just as much apart from it as any they would perform if the amendment were carried. That amendment would tend to the serious disadvantage of trades unions. At the present time unions do not exercise any coercion. A worker would be as free under the Government proposal as he would be if the amendment were carried, and, therefore, I should like to know what reason can he urged for the adoption of the amendment. It would revolutionize trades unions and introduce much friction in their ranks. The union of which I have spoken has its rules registered under the Trades Unions Act of New South Wales, and no complaint has been made to the Court that it interferes with the carrying out of the decisions of that tribunal. Our rules are ready for registration as soon as this measure becomes law ; but the amendment would practically render it impossible for the union to come under the operation of this measure for the next two years. The union could not carry out its objects in the slipshod way that has been suggested. If it did not conform to the legal requirementsit would experience a difficulty similar to that which arose in New South Wales. Ip that case we made a change in the rules, in accordance with the practice of the union, and unionists were perfectly satisfied with the constitutionality of the proposal. The Registrar, however, held that the practices of the union were not fully set out in the rules, and therefore gave his decision against it. The same point would be taken if this amendment were carried. The chief object of the Bill would be defeated, and so far as I have been able to learn no practical good would result. It has simply been said that politics should not be associated with unions. I have shown that if this amendment were carried it would make no alteration in that respect; that trades organizations would continue as at present to attend to industrial- matters, leaving political bodies to deal with the political side of their existence. Men would continue to dissociate political questions from their unions. We are attempting to do byAct of Parliament what is now voluntarily accomplished. In the interests of the in;dustrial side of a union a sensible man would refrain from introducing any likely element of discord into its deliberations. It is for that reason that such matters as the fiscal issue and sectarianism are carefully excluded from trades unions. The misconception which arises with regard to the political labour movement is due to the fact that the unions do not technically separate industrial and political matters. This amendment would technically separate such questions, so far as unions are concerned, but would accomplish nothing that had not already been secured. If existing trades unions were registered under the Bill as it stands they would be completely under the control of the Court, and when they did anything calculated to interfere with industrial peace, they would be dealt with by it. The real reason why many unionists objected to legislation of this kind was that they feared that it might restrict their powers to an extent that it was impossible to foretell. They did not know how far the Arbitration Courts might dictate their management. Unionists have always been very sensitive and independent; they have always held that they should be allowed to manage their own business in their own way, and it would be much better for those who think that unionists might go too far to allow them to go to the Court and be guided by its decisions. The application of this amendment to the larger unions would be impracticable. The larger a union the greater is the difficulty associated with its administration. It would be a small matter to form a new union or organization if only small bodies had to be considered, but the operation of this amendment would be very serious so far as the large unions are concerned. There is no call for the proposed amendment, and I hope, therefore, that it will be withdrawn. I think that the honorable and learned member for Angas will see that the objects at which he aims would really be met by the clause as it stands.
– I should like, at. the outset, to refer to one or two observations which fell from the lips of the honorable member for Kennedy, and to strongly dissent from the suggestion made by him, that I supported what was really a’ subterfuge to undermine the existing trades unions. My record in connexion with industrial work in the ‘various States in which I have different interests, will, in itself, afford a complete contradiction of that assertion. A man who would have the audacity to say that he would take steps to interfere by legislation with the existence of trades unions, or to prevent their progress, might well be said not to know what he was talking about. Every honorable member must admit that trades unionism, for the protection of the various industries to which it relates, has not only come to stay, but will progress and expand, and the only hope of those associated with enterprises giving employment to large numbers of men is that the representatives of these industrial unions will not, in their desire to advance their interests, take steps that would be really against the best interests of the community, and against that which must ultimately be to their own best interests’. I wish to make it clear that, in my opposition to one or two clauses of this Bill, I have had no desire, by means of any subterfuge, to give the great principleof trades unionism a back hit ; I resent any such suggestion. My desire is that this measure shall be made effective and workable. Whilst conciliation and arbitration is ostensibly the purpose of this great measure, we are forced to realize that underlying many of the aspirations of those who support it is one dominant object, that through this measure, which has pacific, humane, and high aims in view, they will secure another end - the strengthening of these industrial organizations as a great fighting force for political purposes. I have consistently set my face, and’ will continue to do so, against the attainment of this last object by means of the Bill. I believe that the measure is a necessary addition to existing State Arbitration Acts, and is required to carry into effect the provisions of the Constitution. But my desire is to make it a workable measure, and I shall oppose and resist every effort to secure by it other advantages than those which are legitimately sought for, because, in my opinion, to do so would seriously undermine the great pacific effect which is desired. The honorable member for Darling has had direct association with trades unionism, and is in a position to speak with knowledge and authority as to the practical result of any amendments which may be proposed. Other honorable members are in a similar position. I can speak only from the knowledge which I possess through my association with big companies, employing large bodies of men, or which I have gained through having been unfortunately connected with one or two large industrial struggles. I desire to give to the views expressed by the honorable member for Darling the fullest respect and consideration. It is unwise for any of us to regard as belligerent and hostile suggestions which come from the other side, and are directed to show how an amendment may prove ineffective. But nothing has been said, either by the honorable member for Darling, or any other honorable member, to remove from my mind the feeling that the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Angas is a pacific one. It is true that many of the existing trades unions are not governed by political considerations. The. Minister of Home Affairs told us that the members of one union voted against him during the recent elections.
– I said that some of the branches of my union are opposed to the Labour Party.
– That is a very singular circumstance.
– It is not at all singular.
– I have always regarded it as a most exceptional thing that the members of a union should oppose one associated with’ them and belonging to their own side. But I unhesitatingly accept the assurance of a gentleman for whom I have always had the greatest respect. The point I wish to make is this: The aspirations of honorable members opposite have been unfolded step by step. At the beginning of our consideration of the Bill we were told that it was unlikely that it would give much business to the Court; that probably only three great organizations - the Seamen’s Union, the Shearers’ Union, and the Waterside Workers’ Union - would be affected by it. Since then, however, every detailed provision has been suggested that would be necessary for a State Act. Honorable members opposite have been urging that the provisions of the measure should apply as completely and as fully in limited cases as would the provisions of a State Act. It is a matter of regret that it has been suggested that the Chief Justice of New South Wales was biased in a statement which he recently made. But a similar thing has happened in New Zealand. There the award of the Court was challenged by the Painters’ Union,’ and, subsequently, by the Waihi gold-miners, one of the leaders urging his fellow unionists to resist the award of the Court, on the ground that there were not sufficient gaols in New Zealand to hold them if the Court tried to imprison them for doing so. In Western Australia, too, the timber labourers have shown themselves unwilling to comply with the awards of the State Court. So that, while honorable gentlemen opposite cry with one voice, “Trust the Court” - which we may thoroughly do in a British community - we find some of them accusing a Chief Justice who has a long and honorable record, and is known throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, of bias, while we hear of unionists in New Zealand and in Western Australia opposing the findings of the local Courts. Is it reasonable, therefore, to expect that the awards of the Commonwealth Court will not be disputed when they do not accord with the views of my honorable friends ? To my mind, the purer we can keep the references that are made to the Court - I use the word without the slightest invidious suggestion so far as trades unions are concerned - the better it will be for all. If the organizations of employers and . employes are politically antagonistic, it will be impossible to prevent the engendering of ill-feeling. The instances to which I have just referred should be a guide to us. I, for one, believe that there is great merit in the amendment, and after the protestations which they have made, it is difficult to understand why my honorable friends opposite do not support the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas, to keep the system which we are creating’ pure and free from .political feeling.
– What does the amendment really mean?
– I will give a concrete example, which may be more valuable than an explanation in so many words. The other day I quoted statistics supplied to me by the chief officers of the various mining companies at Broken Hill, which showed, speaking from memory, that about 2,000 of the miners there belong to various unions, while the remaining 3,000 are nonunionists. If a question affecting conditions of contract; wages, hours of labour, or some other matter in which all the miners were interested arose, and was properly referred to the Court, the honorable ‘ and learned member for Angas proposes that the 2.000 men who are in a minority should not be able to say to the other 3,000, “ We intend to apply to the Court for an award which, if you will not join our unions) will give us preference of employment against you as non-unionists.”
– Does the honorable member think that the Court would make such an award merely for the asking?
– The Court has given that preference in a large proportion of cases. It has been shown beyond the possibility of contradiction that an overwhelming majority of the workers of Australia are not members of unions. The. whole of the 5.000 men employed on the Broken Hill mines have a common right to go before the Court and represent their views, irrespective of any trades union. They are entitled to ask the Court to treat them as one body of men, and to lay down reasonable terms and conditions of employment.
– How could they do that if they -were not organized?
– We propose that they shall be organized.
– Are we to understand that the honorable member is burning with a desire to organize the workers?
– The honorable member cannot say that I have ever done anything to oppose the organization of the workers. I have stated more than once that the unions have accomplished immeasurable good for the workers, and I believe that they will confer further benefits upon them. Any one who attempts, by legislative enactment, to stay the advance of the great trades union movement is a fool.
– Is the honorable member anxious to help it along?
– Yes, I am. I am anxious; so far as this Bill is concerned, to act fairly to both sides, and to make such provision that the 3,000 non-unionists to whom I have referred shall be free to go to the Court, without having to submit to the coercion of a trades union. No union has any right to say to men who are outside its pale, “ Before you go to the’ Court you will have to come into our union and comply with all our rules, whether you like it or not.”
MJr. Thomas. - If 3,000 men were to join a union which had only 2,000 members previously, the new members could mould the others to their will.
– I acknowledge that the honorable member has a close acquaintance with trades unions. When there was trouble at Broken Hill, the honorable member took an active, but a moderate and just part, on behalf of the men.
– That was the reason I was boycotted.
– I had nothing to do with that; and I have no personal know-1 ledge of it in any shape or form. I think that the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas would guard against interference with the liberties of individuals, and preclude the unions from exercising coercion.
– How far does the proposed amendment go beyond that adopted at the instance of the honorable and learned member for Corinella?
– The amendment referred to provided that a majority of those engaged in any industry must approve of the reference of a dispute to the Arbitration Court. The amendment now before us goes a long step further. It makes provision against the application of coercion on the part of a union, and leaves a man absolutely free to exercise his discretion as to whether or not he ‘ shall subscribe to the political aims of the union. If he allies himself with the majority of those engaged in any particular industry he can obtain the benefit of the decision of the Court with regard to the conditions under which he shall sell his labour to his employer.
– Under the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, a workman need not become a member of an organization, whereas under the present proposal he would be forced into an organization of some sort.
– When we come to analyze the principles which underlie this Bill, we can see that the measure is not intended for the benefit of individuals, but is designed to deal with men who are gathered together in large organizations.
– On the one side only, because one ‘employer alone can become a party to a dispute.
– If he employs 100 men. That distinction has not been overlooked. One honorable member stated that I was the employer of a large number of men engaged in mining at Broken Hill. I am only a member of a large company, and as an employer I represent on the one side shareholders more numerous than are the employes engaged on the mine at Broken Hill. These shareholders would, of course, appear under the measure in their collective capacity. 1 quite recognise that in some cases a somewhat anomalous position might arise, because one employer might be the party to a dispute in which hundreds of men were engaged on the other side. This matter deserves the serious consideration of the Committee. I wish to remove from the minds of honorable members the idea that I shall allow myself to be led into supporting any amendment which may be proposed, for the sole purpose of defeating the objects of the Bill, or of hampering the trades unions. If any honorable members adopt such an attitude, I say that they are wrong. We should deal with this measure as one which is intended to effect a peaceful settlement of disputes which might otherwise result in much loss and suffering to workmen and their families. Our object should be to devise methods of peacefully adjusting all the differences which may arise between employers and employes on the lines of justice and equity. The honorable member for Kennedy uttered one or two threats, but I trust that the views expressed by him are not shared by any more than an insignificant minority of honorable members opposite. If we desire to make this a good workable measure, we must secure the co-operation of the trades unions. If these great organizations stand aside, it will be useless for us to provide this machinery. The Bill should be so framed as to insure justice to both sides.
– Does not that represent the whole scope of the measure?
– Yes, that is the great purpose underlying it ; but behind that pure and high motive there appears to be a desire, on the part of some honorable members, to enlarge the scope and powers of the trades unions, and to make them stronger, as political fighting forces, than they are at present. I shall do my best to prevent the use of this Bill for that purpose.
– Surely there is no warrant for the honorable member’s statement in the speeches which have been delivered from this side of the Chamber.
– The resistance which has been offered by some honorable members to this and other amendments is sufficient to justify my statement. It is quite clear that they expect to be able to use the measure as an instrument for forcing men to join the trades unions.
– I do not think so.
– I hope that the honorable member is right, but I must confess that that impression is forced upon me.
– I do not think that any honorable member on this side of the House has any such idea in his mind.
– The honorable member and those who share his views desire that a preference shall be granted to unionists in order that they may coerce men to join trades unions.
– Not from political motives.
– Will any one tell me that the Employers’ Union is not a political organization? Of course it is. I believe that honorable members opposite would be acting in .their own interests if they accepted the amendment.
– The proposal which is now under consideration is intended to strike a serious blow at the principle of granting a preference to unionists. It has been said, during the course of this debate, that the members of the Labour Party desire to secure that preference so that they may compel men to join trades unions for political purposes. I say that that is not the reason we ask for it. We are riot asking those organizations to become political machines. Personally, I believe in allowing unions to take an active part in politics, and I shall deal with that aspect of the question presently. But the chief reason why the Labour Party urge that a preference should be extended to unionists is because the latter are compelled to bear the cost of bringing disputes before the Court. Surely they ought not to be penalized or boycotted after gaining an award? Let me state a concrete case. A short time ago the New South Wales Arbitration Court met at Broken Hill, and made an award. On that occasion the unionists who took their case into Court were required to pay about ,£800 in legal and other expenses. Not a single penny of that amount was contributed by men outside of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association. I hold that it is only fair that those who incur the expense involved in getting their disputes determined by the Arbitration .Court should be granted the preference sought.
– How does the honorable member account for the expenses aggregating such a large sum?
– In the first place, we had to obtain the services of a barrister from Sydney. He did not charge an excessive amount; but owing to the legal union which exists, we were unable ‘to secure a barrister from Adelaide. Then there were other expenses involved. I understand that the action cost the Proprietary Company more than £1,000. I venture” to say that the members of the organizations which are required to bear this expenditure should receive some consideration. I further claim that it is possible for employers to boycott men who have taken an active part in bringing any dispute before the Court. I am aware that the Bill provides that employes must not be dismissed because of any action which they may have taken in that respect; but that provision can be easily evaded. For instance, at Broken Hill there is a miner named George Dale, who is an active member of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association. He took a very prominent part in bringing the recent dispute before the Court, and tendered a considerable amount of evidence. Yet, although he was previously engaged in the mines at Broken Hill, he is now unable to gain employment there, and when I saw him last he was acting as a sewing-machine agent. The general manager of the Proprietary Company, who is chiefly responsible for carrying out the terms of the award from the stand-point of the employers, is Mr. Delprat. He is an entirely fair and honorable man. The secretary of the Miners’ Association told me, upon my last visit to Broken Hill, that Mr. Delprat was honorably observing the terms of the award. He further informed me that he had brought the case of the miner Dale before Mr. Delprat, who replied that he had been dismissed, not because of any action of his in bringing the dispute before the Arbitration. Court, but because he had been insubordinate to ‘one of the shift bosses. Assuming that the reason offered is. the true one, the fact remains that the man is unable to obtain employment in the mines of Broken Hill, where he was previously engaged. It is easy to conceive, therefore, that, if the manager of the Proprietary Company were not so willing to observe the terms of the award as is Mr. Delprat, he could penalize men because of .their actions before the Arbitration Court, despite any statutory provision to the contrary that we might choose to make. It is well known that men have been boycotted in Broken Hill. A few years ago a man named Williams had a contract with the Proprietary- Mine. The contract was broken by the company, and Williams successfully applied to the Court for redress. As the result of that action, however, he was dismissed from the mine, and a circular giving the name, approximate age, and a general description of the man, was sent to the manager of every mine along the line of lode, with a request that he should not be employed. One of these documents was lost by a mine manager, and. was picked up by a representative of the workers. It furnishes an example of what has been done and may again occur in connexion with mining operations. We do not ask that men shall be compelled to join unions for political purposes. A union consisting of a few men who have voluntarily joined is for all practical purposes of much greater value than a union consisting of a large number of men who have been forced to join it. That has been our experience on the Barrier. Years ago it was not a question of whether a preference should be given to unionists in the Broken Hill mines. The unionists had a monopoly. Under an agreement made between the miners and the mine-owners no man was allowed to work in the mines unless he was a unionist ; a man refused to work with a non-unionist.
– Why was that practice discontinued ?
– The honorable member for Kooyong said that it was discontinued because unionists abused their power. That is the contention of the employers, but miners do not agree with it. In those days every miner had to join the union, and was, therefore, nominally a unionist ; but we have found that for all practical purposes the union, consisting as it now does of men who have voluntarily joined, is much stronger than it was when every man was really compelled to join. All our unions are to-day more alert and more effective than they were when every man was absolutely compelled to be a unionist if he desired to secure work in the mines. I am strongly in favour of unionists taking part in politics. If trades unions could not take an active part in politics they would not be so strong for all practical purposes as they are. If this Bill declared in effect that trades unions, as such, should have nothing whatever to do with politics, I should prefer to do without it. I would sooner have unions taking part in politics than an Arbitration Act which prevented them from doing so. Some honorable members say that it would be veryunjust to debar a man from earning a living unless he joined a union. The Bill does not provide anything to that effect. It is merely proposed by the Government that the Court shall have power to grant a preference to unionists. It” is not said that, after men have obtained work, they shall continue to be members of unions. The New South Wales Arbitration Court, in an award applying to the miners at the Barrier, gave a preference to unionists, and, from information I have received from the secretaries of the unions there, I am able -to say that the mine managers are honestly observing that part of the award. When workers arrive at Broken Hill they realize that it is better for them to join a union than to go direct to the offices of the mining companies to seek employment. A list of the unemployed unionists has to be sent every week to the mine managers, and strangers therefore find it desirable to become members of these unions. On joining the Amalgamated Miners’ Association they pay a subscription of 4s., and work is found for them. I am sorry to say, however, that at least 50 per cent, of the men cease to remain unionists. If those men cease to be unionists after they have been engaged, they are not dismissed, and the mine managers could not be compelled to dismiss them under the terms of the award. Even if the clause were carried as it stands, unionists who had obtained work would be able to leave the unions. If the union to which a man belonged took any political action of which he disapproved he’ could cease to belong to it without running any risk. If it is decided to give the Court power to grant a preference to unionists, care should be taken to see that any man who desires to join a union shall not be prevented from doing so. I would support any amendment, no matter how drastic it might be, to insure to every man a reasonable opportunity to join, a union. When a man joins the Amalgamated Miners’ Association at Broken Hill, he pays a subscription of 4s., and that money goes into the general fund, out of which the costs, amounting to ,£800, incurred in connexion with the application for the recent award, had to be paid. The award is a most remarkable one, since it pleases the workers, the mine-owners and residents of the town generally. Each party seems to think that it has the best of the deal. If we could always have such an award, it would be a very good thing.
– It would have a most soothing effect on all parties concerned.
– I admit that I do not think all awards would have that effect. In the case of the Broken Hill mines neither the mine-owners nor the men got all they desired, but what is considered a fair compromise was arrived at. If, as a result of this award, the relations between the mineowners arid the men have been improved, while the stability of the town has been increased, it is only fair that those w;ho have been benefited should pay something towards the cost of securing the award.
– No one objects to that.
– Once a man joins a union, the chance of securing his adherence to the principles of unionism is improved. Even if 50 per cent, of those who join a union leave, the result is not unsatisfactory. When 50 per cent, can leave within a day it must be seen that every member of a union could’ leave it, if he desired to do so, with equal facility. If we had to-day in Broken Hill some of the mine managers of the past men would still be boycotted there. If the award made by the Court had not been as satisfactory as it is there might have been a temptation to deal perhaps harshly with the men who had been responsible for the application to the Court. The employers, however, do not entertain any feeling of bitterness towards the men who brought the matter before the Court. They say that under the award they will have peace for the next two years, and that that is worth the expenditure of the ^r.000 which the Court proceedings compelled them to incur. The award is probably worth £000 to the men, and we contend that every man benefited by it should contribute to the cost.
– Does not the honorable member see that, under the proposed new scheme, all persons in an industry would be members of an organization and would contribute to its funds?
– Why not allow the organizations at work at the present time to continue ? The work of carrying on some of these organizations entails a considerable expenditure of time and money. I believe that I am right in saying that the Amalgamated Miners’ Association of Broken Hill pays £j 1 os. or £0 a week by way of secretarial and office expenses.
– I should be prepared to allow the existing unions to do’ this work, provided their rules were framed in accordance with this amendment.
– Why not allow the existing organizations to carry on the work ? The New South Wales Arbitration Court disallowed certain rules in the case of the Australian Workers’ Union, and if the rules of any of the existing unions provide that members shall take part in politics, they can be varied. I should be quite prepared to trust the men when they joined the unions. At the ballot-box every man is free to vote for whomsoever he wishes to see elected.
– The honorable member appears to be with us in spirit.
– The existing unions can do all that is necessary to carry into effect the ‘provisions of the Bill, and something more, and therefore I ask why should fresh organizations be required? Any man wishing to do so can join any of the existing unions; but no man is bound to join them. If the rules by which the unions are now governed are, in the opinion of the Court, objectionable, they can be expunged. That has been done in the case of a New South Wales union by a Judge of the State Court. I feel very strongly . upon the principle of preference to unionists. I would rather have no Arbitration Bill at all than not see effect given to that principle. I was connected with one big strike, and I do not wish to have any more to do with such occurrences. One big strike is quite enough for most people. But, although I favour arbitration, I would rather trust to strikes than to an Arbitration Court, if the Bill is so amended as to seriously interfere with the application of the principle of preference to unionists. We have had many strikes in the past, but the workers have never yet had the Administration on their side. If, during the progress of two or three strikes, those in office were on the side of the strikers, the employers would tell a different story from that which they are telling to-day. If no police had been sent to Broken Hill, and the New South Wales Government had not taken the side of the employers, but had let us fight it out amongst ourselves, the employes would have won fairly easily. Some time ago, the Sydney ferry men threatened to strike for higher wages and shorter hours, because they were being very poorly paid, and were working very long hours. Those in control, however, retorted that they would lock them out. The Honorable E. W. O’sullivan was at that time Minister of Works, and he told the managers of the ferry steamers that if they took extreme steps he would employ Government steamers to compete with them. They, therefore, withdrew their threat of a lock-out, and the men won the contest. If the amendment is carried, and the application of the principle of preference . to unionists is seriously interfered with, I hope that the Ministry will drop the Bill. Personally, I would rather trust to strikes than to an arbitration measure which did not recognise that principle..
– Although I am in favour of the principle of the amendment, I do not like the terms in which the honorable and learned member for Angas has clothed it. It seems to me thats as drafted, it is open to an objection which has been very properly taken by the honorable member for Barrier, namely, that it ignores or destroys existing machinery and organizations. Seeing how difficult it is to get the workers to organize in any direction, it would be very unwise for the Committee to insist that the existing organizations shall go for nothing, and that new organizations must be formed purely to carry out the purposes of the measure. I am in favour of the principle of the amendment, however, because, while I do not think it necessary that the organizations registered under the Bill should have been formed solely to carry out its purposes, I think that they should exist solely for that object. If existing organizations purge themselves of their political and philanthropic characteristics, and become organizations existing solely to carry out the purposes of the Bill, I would have no objection to men being compelled to join them, and my objection to the principle of preference to union ists would at once be removed. That, I think, is the general feeling of the Committee. I suggest, therefore, that some such words as these should be used -
Unless in the opinion of the Court or the Registrar its rules and objects are intended solely to carry out the purposes of this Act.
If an amendment of that sort be carried, I should have no objection to a recommittal of the Bill with a view to rescinding the amendments carried last week by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. Mr. Conroy. - What the honorable and learned member proposes would have the same effect as the amendment now before the Committee, so far as existing trades unions are concerned.
– No. It would only mean that they would have to do what the New South Wales Arbitration Court has insisted upon the Australian Workers’ Union doing. They would have to purify themselves of their political rules.
– Any trades union formed under a State Act must go beyond the purposes of the Bill we are now considering.
– There are organizations in the nature of trades unions under the New South Wales Act which are purely of an industrial character, and have no political or philanthropic characteristics. I think that such organizations should be competent to register under the Bill, and that other existing organizations which are willing to remove objectionable features from their rules should be able to do so too. The honorable member for Darling has courteously handed to me a copy of the rules of the Australian Workers’ Union, to which is attached a certificate of incorporation signed by G. C. Addison, the Registrar of the New South Wales Arbitration Court. I intend to read some of these rules, because they seem to me to be distinctly political in character, and illustrate the reason of my objection to the principle of preference to unionists as effect is given to it in the Bill as originally introduced. The first rule which I will read is headed “ Political Fund,” and is numbered 48. It is as follows’: -
Where any Branch has, by a two-thirds majority on plebiscite, authorized the expenditure of any sum not exceeding one shilling’ per financial member per year for political purposes, the committee thereof shall from time to time, as it shall think lit, set aside from its general funds, and place to the credit of a Parliamentary Fund such amount as it shall deem necessary for the purposes of political organization, and for securing the return of Labour representatives to
Federal or State Parliaments ; provided the amount so set aside shall not exceed the aggregate amount of one shilling per year per financial member from the time of the last appropriation, and provided also that the vote authorizing such expenditure may at any time be revoked by plebiscite of the members of the Branch upon the question being so submitted by general meeting of the Branch. The Parliamentary Fund available at the time of an election shall be equally distributed amongst the various electorates within the Branch boundaries in which there exist duly constituted leagues running candidates who have been duly selected and indorsed by the Political Labour League, and approved by the Union.
Then comes rule 49, which is headed “ Political Labour League Representation “ -
Each branch of the Union shall provide, for the nomination and election of delegates to the Annual Conference of the Political Labour League, and delegates to the Trades and Labour Council at the same time, and in the same manner as for branch officers. For the purpose of this rule the Broken. Hill District of Adelaide Branch, and the Riverina portion of the Victoria-Riverina Branch, shall be considered as separate New South Wales branches of the Union.
Rule 51 is headed “ Maintenance of the Worker.” There is a copy of that newspaper in the library, and 6n reference, to it I have discovered that it roundly abuses any one who dares to say anything against the existing Federal Ministry, and deals severely with any one who ventures to praise the leader of the Free-trade Party in this Chamber.’
– Freedom is not a strong point with honorable members opposite.
– The newspaper is distinctly a political newspaper. In my electorate there are a number of small farmers, who, in their spare time, before harvesting begins, go shearing in Riverina and Western Victoria. If effect be given to the principle of preference to unionists, and they remain non-unionists, they will be unable to continue to get employment as shearers whenever there are unionist shearers unemployed; or, if they wish to become unionists, may have to subscribe to the maintenance of a newspaper such as this, to whose political principles they may be opposed. Rule 51 provides -
Branch secretaries shall each month deduct from the moneys received in respect of members’ contributions during that month an amount of 5s. per contribution, and forward the same to the Worker manager. Cheques for the payment of the same shall be signed by the officers and trustees empowered to operate on the Branch Account, without requiring the authority of the Branch Committee.
– The members of the union pay 5s. a year, and obtain copies of the newspaper free.
– Quite so, but why should a man who detests the politics of the Worker be compelled, by joining this association, to pay 5s. yearly to its maintenance. Rule 52 deals with the distribution of the Worker. Rule 54, which deals with educational literature, is as follows : - :
Pamphlets treating on political and social subjects from the Labour stand-point may be provided by each branch, and distributed amongst the members. The amount each branch may spend for this purpose shall npt exceed one penny per member per annum.
Then comes rule 58, which provides that -
With a view of further consolidating Labour’s forces, branches in very State shall affiliate with and bear their proportionate shares of the expenses of any form of Labour Federation indorsed by Conference.
I think that that is dangerous. At any rate, as a representative of non-unionists as well as unionists, I do not think I should vote for a provision which might compel non-unionists to join an organization having rules similar to those which I have read. Unless an amendment such as the honorable and learned member for Angas has proposed, amended somewhat in the direction I have suggested, is carried, I cannot go back upon the vote which I gave the other day in dealing with clause 49. But if the Bill is amended to provide that only organizations whose, objects and rules are framed solely to carry out the purposes of the Bill may register, I- shall be prepared to vote for the preferential treatment of unionists, I could then readily do it, as, if an association is purely industrial, I believe in preference to unionists. It seems to me that what I have suggested is a compromise to which the Government might very well consent. If the unions turn their attention to industrial matters, apart from any political objects, there will be no desire to prevent unionists from securing preferential treatment. The Government have gone so far as to state that they will accept an amendment to the effect that, unless in the opinion of the Registrar, the rules of the union are intended mainly to carry out the purposes .of the Act, he shall not register the union as an organization for the purposes of the Bill. The difference between “mainly” and “solely” might involve all the distinction between a political and a non-political union.
– What does the honorable and learned member call political?
– I have been endeavouring to show honorable members the political character of the Australian Workers’ Union
– -Would a union have a political object if it supported a newspaper ?
– If it supported a political newspaper it would have a political object. The Worker deals with politics of an almost entirely party character, and is very severe in its comments.
– Is a trade paper a political organization?
– I do not think necessarily so. I should regard as an industrial journal one which dealt entirely with industrial technical matters. A newspaper would partake of a political character if it treated of party politics and dealt out severe treatment to all those who differed from those whom it was professing to support. .
– Who is to -judge what is political and what is not?
– Trust the Court to do that.
– The Attorney-General says that Ave cannot separate industrial from political matters in connexion with the carryins; on of a newspaper. In that case, I should’ stop the issue of any journal supported by an industrial organization from funds subscribed for an organization under this Bill.
– All our politics are industrial.
– The Attorney-General is probably acquainted with the newspaper called The Traveller. It is the organ of the Commercial Travellers’ Association, and, although it is outspoken, and can be read with advantage by those who travel, it strictly avoids taking up a party attitude with regard to free-trade or protection, or other political matters, and therefore is not to be regarded as a political paper. I mention this as an example of a trade nonpolitical paper.
– Free-trade and protection are industrial.
– There is a side to industry which has nothing whatever to do with the fiscal question. The Court would have to decide whether an association was formed solely in order to carry out the pur poses of the Bill. If a trades union newspaper made an attack upon the right honorable member for East Sydney, it could not be said that the union which supported the paper was being conducted solely for the purposes of the Bill, and therefore such a journal should not be associated with any purely, industrial organization. I shall support the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, although I think it is. rather unfortunate that he cannot modify it. I- do not desire to destroy the existing organizations, and if the honorable and learned member can alter his amendment I shall support it with all the greater pleasure. If the Ministry accept the amendment they will really strengthen their position^ because many honorable members will support the .proposal for preference to unionists, in conjunction with a fair and reasonable provision such as is now before us.
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney- Minister of External Affairs). - The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas has given rise to considerable discussion. I think it may be said that it is primarily an academic amendment. My chief objection to it is that it is impracticable, and that it involves a departure from the whole spirit of the measure. If it were adopted ,1 cannot say that it would affect the unions prejudicially ; it might do so, but it certainly would affect the public in that way. That is very much more to the purpose. Until I listened to some of the orations delivered by honorable members this evening and last night, I had the impression that honorable members opposite had constituted themselves the special guardians of those persons who are not members of unions^ - that is to say, of the general body politic. I am now, however, driven to the conclusion that those honorable members who are opposed to the spirit of this measure have permitted themselves to favour the amendment to an extent which has blinded them to its probable disastrous effects upon the body politic outside the unions. The intention of the measure is to prevent industrial disputes. It is now being discussed by virtue of the power conferred upon the Commonwealth by section 51 of the Constitution, which provision was made directly as the consequence of the maritime strike of 1890. That was a struggle between members of trades unions and their employers, and it was in order to prevent struggles between bodies of men massed together in organizations, which are called trades unions, or unions, that this measure was introduced. Now it is proposed to disregard such associations altogether, and to bring into existence some shadowy organization which will have the power neither to prevent a strike nor to mitigate its effects, nor can it be held effectively responsible. However, if that will suit honorable members who are in favour of the amendment, I shall offer no objection on the part of the unions. I do object, however, on behalf of the general public, whom I represent to the same extent as do other honorable members. I would remind honorable members that in spite of what has been said with regard to unionism and our party, that it is possible that the honorable member for South Sydney polled a greater number of union votes than I did. I am quite sure that there are many men in the union to which I belong who would not vote’ for any labour candidate, and that there are thousands outside the union who have always supported me. I feel quite sure that the honorable member for Wentworth received many union votes.
– There are unions and unions ; some of the unions could be recognised as organizations For the purposes of the Bill.
– It is altogether a mistake to assume that “ the unionist vote “ and “ the labour vote “ are synonymous terms. At the beginning of the labour movement in New South Wales the Political Labour League embraced very few unionists, but comprised men who, whilst not opposed to unionism, went far beyond the members of the unions in their political views. In the beginning the unions strove to achieve their objects by non-political means, namely, by representations made to their employers or by striking; and it was only when the pioneers of the new political crusade came forward and showed them other methods that they saw the possibilities before them in the way of political organization. These pioneers, to whom we all owe an- eternal debt of gratitude, were the employers who fought us in 1.890. The labour leagues owe to them all their present power. We can never sufficiently’ express our thankfulness to them, and if ever I have the power to immortalize them, their names shall be inscribed in brass. I have been connected with two or three unions, and not one of them would vote “any money for political purposes. The union with which I am now directly connected has an income of £1,600 per annum, and it pays only some £2 10s. per annum as a subsidy towards the labour movement in New South Wales. It was only after a great struggle that it was induced to contribute even that amount. With this exception, its funds are spent solely for industrial purposes. I know of no unions except the Australian Workers’ Union ‘ and the Barrier Branch of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, which spends any money whatever for ‘political purposes in New South Wales, although some of them contribute towards the expense of sending a delegate to the Political Labour League. They pay, in some cases, £2, and in others as little as 10s. per annum. When a suggestion was made at a recent conference’ that the unions should be asked to contribute so much per head in order that some one might be sent amongst them to spread the glad tidings, they almost as one man refused.
– If so few unions have political rules, it will be all the more easy for them to become recognised as organizations under the Bill.
– Why should a trades union not do what it pleases with its funds ? Why should compulsion be used in regard to it? A great deal has been said about compulsion, and invading the rights of individuals by imposing upon them certain restrictions entirely repugnant to the ideas of” free men, and yet the amendment would compel the members of a union, whether they liked it or not, to abstain from political propaganda work.
– The trades unionists might still have their organizations within those necessary for the purposes of the Bill.
– There are some mysteries which defy the most agile intellects, and the idea of the honorable member is one of them. If honorable members care to adopt the amendment, they can do so. It will not hurt the unions, but it will hurt the measure. It will bring it to ruin at a critical period, but if honorable members are bent on preventing the spread of political views in which they do not believe, and are prepared to wreck the Bill, their blood will be on their own heads, and not on ours.
I think that honorable members sometimes forget the purport of this Bill. They speak of coercing men to join trades unions. I would point out that the only persons whom it would be possible to coerce would be those who joined the unions after an award had been made granting a preference to unionists. Consequently, . what funds could we utilize for political purposes that we have no right to appropriate? Obviously only the funds which were contributed by those who had been induced, or, if you like, compelled to join the unions. But the amendment proposes to prevent the moneys of those who are already members of these organizations from being so utilized. I would further point out that under clause 69 any association can be made an organization within the meaning of the Act.
– I am quite aware of that.
– Yet not a word was uttered by the honorable and learned member in reference to that matter. As his amendment is so far-reaching, he should have indicated that he proposed to move consequential amendments to render it harmonious-
– I am not going to re-draft the Bill until my amendment has been accepted.
– Does the honorable and learned member propose to allow existing unions to remain independent of this Bill?
– Yes, so long as they do not come within the conditions imposed by my amendment .
– If the amendment be carried, does he intend to allow all trades unions either to come under the operation of the Bill or to remain independent of it, just as they please?
– If my proposal is carried, I shall endeavour to modify clause 69, so as to make their admission by the President dependent upon the fulfilment of certain conditions.
– Then we have to contemplate the possibility that a union will will not be brought under its operation. In its present form any association can be brought within its scope, irrespective of whether it registers or not. It is now proposed to compel unionists to join these associations. The amendments suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella and the honorable and learned member for Corio would prohibit the expenditure of money for political purposes, and occupy an altogether different plane. The question which they involve is the interpretation which would be placed upon the word “ political.” That is a very difficult question to decide.
– It will be easier to decide the individual cases as they arise than to frame a general definition.
– If the Court is to be . directed that it must exclude those organizations whose rules permit of the expenditure of money for political purposes, it must be governed by a general rule. Personally, I think that the word “ political “ is wide enough to cover almost any movement in the direction of conducting a newspaper, or supporting a candidate-
– Supporting a candidate as a union would be forbidden.
– Personally, I never knew the secretary of a trades union to ask a member the way in which he intended to vote.
– That is all we seek now. We desire perfect political freedom.
– At the same time, the honorable member desires that unionists shall not be allowed to spend their own money in their own way. The purposes for which any organization . is established will be set forth in its rules. No nonunionist need join it, unless he chooses to do so. If he does join, it is of his own free will. All this talk about compulsion is entirelv beside the question.
– Granting a preference to unionists constitutes compulsion.
– Let. us consider the present position. To-day, if a union is strong enough, it can either compel a man to join it, or deprive him of work.
– But it cannot do so by law.
– Does it afford any satisfaction to the unfortunate man who is deprived of work to know that he is denied employment without the sanction of law? A non-unionist, I repeat, can be prevented from earning a livelihood where the union interested is sufficiently strong to say, “If this man obtains employment the members of our organization will go upon strike.” It is idle to deny that unions have exercised that right times out of number. Under existing conditions we do compel men to join unions. I ask honorable members under which set of circumstances is individual liberty most restricted ?
Undoubtedly a restriction is at present imposed upon individual freedom.
– But not by law.
– Evidently the honorable member is a great believer in law. Here is an account of what men are doing without the sanction of the law. It is extracted from the Argus of 10th June of the present year, and is headed “ The Colorado Strike. Three Hundred and Fifty Men Engaged. Waters Poisoned, and Other Outrages.” It reads -
The strike of miners at Cripple Creek, in Colorado, which has been conducted with great bitterness for over six months, has culminated in shocking exhibitions of lawlessness during the last few days. A force of 200 sheriffs’ deputies, under General Bell, was despatched to disperse 150 miners who had entrenched themselves in the hills, near Victor, and were terrorizing the non-unionists.
The term “ dispersed “ is a euphonious one, which we all understand. We know full well how the men were dispersed. The report continues -
The men declined to leave their position, and what is described as a sanguinary encounter followed. The outcome of the fighting was that five union men were killed, and that fifteen others were captured with a quantity of arms and ammunition in their possession. A still more shocking outrage on the part of the unionists is the poisoning of the waters of Cripple Creek, on which the inhabitants depend mainly for supplies. No fewer than sixty-eight persons are ill from this cause, though, fortunately, no fatalities have been announced. Several mine properties have been blown up by dynamite, while mine-owners and managers have been waylaid, and some of them have been killed.
I suppose that it must be a glorious consolation to the man who is being blown through space by dynamite at the rate of 150,000 feet per minute to reflect that he is not going up with the sanction of the law? As a method for settling a dispute which exists in a country where no arbitration law can intervene I can conceive of nothing worse than the poisoning of waters. That is anything but a desirable state of affairs.
– That is militant unionism.
– I should think it was. Real liberty, after all, is not the liberty enjoyed by the strong man with the club, who will have his way. What sort of a chance should I have under such circumstances? I should not dare even to look at the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. The chamber would be almost deserted before the honorable member said halfadozen words. I find again that, under the heading of “A Dynamite Outrage; At tack on Non-unionists; Sixteen Men Killed,” the following cablegram appeared in the Argus of 8th inst. : -
A terrible dynamite outrage was perpetrated yesterday at the small town of Independence, on the railway line between Cripple Creek and Florence, a few’ miles to the south of Denver, the capital pf Colorado. . . . The explosion killed sixteen of their number, and . fatally injured nine others.
If that is freedom, we want none of it. Happily, in Australia we have never carried things so far, and do not desire to emulate anything in that direction. The public ask that industrial disputes between persons who have liberty to do as they like - the employers to hire police or soldiers, and the workers to resort to physical violence - shall no longer be allowed. The honorable and learned member for Angas fails to recognise that it is the trades unions that we must get under control ; that these shadowy organizations to be created under the Bill would not control the bodies which are really responsible. Unless we could control them both - that is, if the one did not coincide with the other - we should not succeed in carrying out the purposes for which this Bill was introduced. If a unionist compels workers to join a union he is by no means singular. I would remind honorable members who represent South Australia and New South Wales, of two instances which occurred in those States. Some two years ago a strike took place in connexion with the Adelaide Hospital, and the doctors absolutely refused to work with other medical men. The patients could suffer for all they cared, and might have died owing to their action. I am not acquainted with the facts in that case; but I know that recently the doctors at the Balmain Cottage Hospital went on strike. The British Medical Association practically said to them, “ If you continue to remain at the Hospital we shall declare you to be black-legs.”
– They ostracized them.
– Quite so. When the strike occurred there were patients in the hospital, and although their condition was serious, the doctors absolutely refused to have anything to do with the institution.
– But the patients recovered.
– That is a phase of the incident which I greatly appreciate. I believe that we should all keep well if these gentlemen could be persuaded to leave us alone. In this case although the result of their action was good, their intentions were not. Are we to believe that medical men always hold the opinion that when they leave their patients to do the best they can for themselves, they are sure to recover? Are they not taught to believe that their ministrations are productive of much good ?
– Does the Arbitration Act meet cases of that kind?
– I do not think it should. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa has reminded me that in the Balmain case the patients recovered, and we could not improve on that. In Victoria the two branches of the legal profession have been amalgamated. A barrister is also, legally, a solicitor, yet there is a ring drawn, and no man of the profession can step inside or outside of that ring without being overtaken by ‘ an inexorable fate. If he does he loses caste, and is no more the man for Galway. in Victoria. Every trade and profession resorts to this system, if it has a chance to do so. The right honorable member for East Sydney made certain statements as to the number of unionists in Australia. He said that the Labour Party apparently represented them, and no one else. I have taken the trouble to compile a few figures bearing on the subject, and think that they will at least refute such statements. Some honorable member has said during the debate on this Bill, that there are 120,000 unionists throughout Australia. When that statement was made, I pointed out. that a large number of unionists do not vote for the Labour Party. In making the calculation which I am about to put before the Committee, I have assumed, however, that all of them do, and that none of them vote for any one else. As a matter of fact, that is not the case. The unionists, according to my right honorable friend, are about one-fifth or one-sixth of the population of Australia. I wish to show that, at the last general election for the House of Representatives, the Labour Party candidates polled 205,030 votes. Some five honorable members were returned to this House unopposed, amongst them being the honorable member for Canobolas and the Postmaster-General. Three out of five were members of the Labour Party. There may have been more, but I cannot for the moment speak authoritatively on this point. In addition to this, 65,878 votes were polled by successful candidates, who, although not members of the Labour Party, sit behind us, and are supporting. this Bill. I am not taking into account those who were returned unopposed in this particular connexion. It will thus be seen that the Government and their direct supporters polled 270,908 votes, and that we must represent far more than the unionists of Australia. The position in relation to the Senate is still more striking. In New South Wales the successful antilabour candidates polled an average of 187,903 votes, whilst the labour candidate polled an average of 107,083 votes. In Victoria the successful anti-labour candidates polled an average of 95,121 votes, whilst the successful’ labour candidate polled an average of 88,614 ; in Queensland the anti-labour candidates’ average was 45,554, whilst that of the labour candidates was 64,079 votes. In South Australia the average was 20,433 votes for anti-labour candidates, and 27,513 for labour candidates. In Western Australia the anti-labour candidates averaged 8,660 votes, while the labour candidates polled an average of 18,507 votes. In Tasmania the anti-labour candidates secured an average of 15,515 votes, whilst the labour candidates averaged 9,945 votes. The total of the average votes polled in respect of successful antilabour candidates was 373,186, and in the case of the successful labour candidates 315,741. The average of all candidates for the Senate shows still more clearly the position of parties. In NewSouth Wales the average for all the antilabour candidates for the Senate was 74,420. There was only one labour candidate, and he polled 107,083 votes. In Victoria the average for all the anti-labour candidates was 64,817, as against an average secured by the labour candidates of 79,622
Senate in New South Wales was 563,709, in Victoria 182,980, and in Tasmania 46,547, making a grand total of 793,236. In Victoria the aggregate vote secured by the successful labour candidates was 88,614, Queensland 192,239, South Australia 82,541, and Western Australia 55,522, making a grand total of 428,916. It must be borne in mind that there were three successful anti-labour candidates for the Senate in New South Wales, and that only one candidate stood on the labour ticket, and could not be expected to poll as much as did the other three. They averaged 187,903 votes each, while there were 107,083 votes polled for the labour candidate. I had to add up the votes polled by the Opposition candidates in order to ascertain their average, and their position appears to be much more favorable than it really is.
– But the labour candidate would not have polled 107,000 votes had there been other labour candidates. He was selected by the protectionists.
– I understand that; and I also understand that the free-trade candidates were likewise selected by other than free-trade organizations.
– The labour candidate was supported by labour men and protectionists alike, and, therefore, the Government cannot take credit for all the votes polled by him.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that some of the freetrade candidates did not receive labour votes ?
– They received a large proportion of labour votes, but not , of the caucus-bound labour votes.
– I do not deny that; but it was not merely the free-trade vote which returned the honorable member and his party.
– Labour and freetrade votes were responsible for our success. The great bulk of the freetraders are democrats.
– The honorable member has his own opinion. Mr. Griffith, the Labour Party’s candidate, polled very much more than did the protect! )ni st candidate. I think I am correct in saying that he was 30,000 or 40,000 votes ahead of him. We may fairly assume that while in many cases the protectionists voted for Mr. Griffith the Labour Party did not in all cases vote for the protectionist candidate.
We may assume that thev voted for Griffith, Neild, and Pulsford, or Griffith, Gray, and Pulsford, as the case might be.
– How many votes were polled by the Labour Party at the first elections?
– Did we have three straight-out labour ticket candidates for the Senate at the first elections?
– I think that our candidates polled on an average about 37,300 votes. So far from the Labour Party in the Senate representing only about onefifth or one-sixth of the voting strength of Australia, the returns show that over 50 per cent, of the total votes recorded at the Senate elections were polled, by our candidates. Allowing for the enormous aggregate in New South Wales - for the fact that there were three anti-labo.,r candidates, as against one labour candidate, and that we are forced to add up the votes polled by those three candidates in order to strike an average-
– Had there been only four candidates for the four vacancies in the Senate in the representation of Victoria, the result would have been very different.
– There were four antiSocialist candidates, four Government candidates, four labour candidates, and also. Mr. Trenwith.
– And three others as well..
– There were someothers. It cannot be denied that Senator Trenwith polled a very heavy labour vote,, and a very heavy unionist vote.
– Against the Labour Party’s organizations.
– He scored particularly against the Government candidates. The fact remains that, notwithstanding the opposition to the Labour Party, we polled more than 50 per cent, of the total votes cast for senators throughout Australia. To say that we represent only 120.000 unionists is.- on the face of it, absurd, since we polled 400,000 votes in the Senate elections alone. However, I do not wish to take up time further, because I feel that the matter is now susceptible of adjustment, and that it is merely a question of getting parties to recognise the effect of the amendment. I hope that the honorable and learned member will be able to recast it in a form which will make it less objectionable, and quite as effective for good.
– I have no objection to allowing existing organizations twelve months to reform for the purposes of the measure,- with priority of application. That will get over some of the objections which have been expressed.
– I do not regard that suggestion as likely to remove many of the objections to the present amendment. I understood the honorable and learned gentleman to take his stand upon the contention that the industrial organizations registered under the Bill would have nothing to do with the existing organizations.
– After registration they would have nothing to do with existing organizations.
– The Bill has nothing to do with anything but registration, and is drafted with special reference to it. Let the honorable and learned member read sub-clause a of clause 62, which says that -
Any association of employers in or in connexion with any industry, who have in the aggregate, throughout the six months next preceding the application for registration, employed on an average taken per month not less than one hundred employees in that industry.
Does not that contemplate a pre-existing or- ganization of employers? If not, what does it contemplate? The provision shows that the Bill is drafted to take advantage of existing organizations. Then paragraph d, of schedule B, speaks of - The mode in which industrial agreements and 1 other instruments may be made by or on behalf of the association.
The registration of industrial agreements is one of the chief methods by which the Bill hopes to be effective.’ Industrial agreements between whom ? With an industrial organization other than a trades union? Would that benefit an employer?The employers desire industrial agreements with responsible bodies which can give an assurance of industrial peace. If the honorable and learned member’s amendment were adopted, an employer might have an industrial agreement with” an industrial organization registered under this Bill, and be defied by the members of a trades union. The trades union is the body which controls the men, and directly an industrial agreement ceased to suit them it could do as it pleased, and there would be no remedy. Then paragraph i of schedule B deals with the control of the property and the investment of the funds, and the periodical auditing of the accounts of the associa tion. How can that have reference to any . but existing organizations ? The organizations which the honorable and learned member contemplates would have little or no funds. He does not understand the practical difficulties of the situation. I know that he has no desire to wreck the Bill, and that when it is made clear to him that his amendment ‘ will have that tendency, he will withdraw it; or, at any rate, recast it, so as to make it more effective. The Government has no objection to safeguard the political rights of every member of a union so that their political actions may be absolutely unfettered. As for the funds of the unions, it is only the funds subscribed by men who are compelled to join that we should consider. The funds of the unions now in existence can be no concern of ours, because the members of those unions were not compelled to join them.
– I wish, in passing, to refer to a matter which came up in the course of the discussion this afternoon, and to enter my protest against the unfair strictures made by the honorable member for Kennedy upon the Chief Justice of New South Wales, because of the opinions which he has recently expressed from the Bench. So far from the Chief Justice being in any sense a political Judge, he has never, so far as my knowledge of his career goes, occupied any more active political position than that of a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales. I believe that he has never been a member of the popular branch of the Legislature of that State, and it is generally admitted that in the discharge of his duties he has been conspicuous by his fairness and the integrity of his administration. I agree with honorable members opposite that it is undesirable that we should have political Judges, especially for the administration of legislation in the framing of which they have taken a prominent part. I hope that honorable gentlemen who have expressed themselves so strongly on the subject of political Judges will unanimously resolve that no political Judge shall be appointed to administer the provisions of this Bill.
– Hear, hear. The President of the Court will have to abstain from politics, which ever side he may come horn
– Certainly. I could name several legal gentlemen who are eminently qualified for the position in question ; but it should be a clear line of policy with every one who believes in the impartial administration of justice that the interpretation of laws should not be given to men who have had a hand in the making of them, and must necessarily, from that very fact, be consciously or unconsciously biased. Coming down to the matter which we are now discussing, I should like to refer to some of the arguments of honorable members opposite. The Minister of External Affairs asked just now why should not a union -do what it likes with its own money ? There is a species of sophistry underlying that question. I would point out to the honorable gentleman that there is no objection to any union or any organization of any kind doing what it likes with its money, within certain recognised bounds. But we, on this side of the Chamber, hold that those who are compelled to subscribe to the funds of unions should not be coerced in the exercise of their franchise. This is a Bill for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, not a Bill for the settlement of political disputes, or for political purposes. Reasonable members opposite must agree that it is not desirable that, where an organization exceeds the functions for which it was called into existence, and assumes a political as well as an industrial character, it should come within the scope of the Bill, or within the purview of the Court. I have listened with very great attention to the attempts, on the part of the honorable member for Darling, to show that industrial unions really do not take any interest iri politics, and that there is no reason to apprehend that they will use their funds for political purposes. Whenever I listen to the honorable member I cannot help being reminded of that individual whose smile was described as child-like and bland, but whose ways were somewhat peculiar. At the same time, I must admit that the placidity of countenance, which characterizes that honorable gentleman when he beams upon those who are opposing him in this Chamber, might disarm all suspicion, on the part of those who do not know of the Machiavellian artfulness underlying that seemingly artless exterior.
– The honorable member has never known the honorable member for Darling to do anything dishonorable.
– I have never imputed to the honorable member any dishonorable action ; but I say that he knows better than to believe that which he is endeavouring to persuade honorable members to accept as the truth. He knows, as well as I do, that the present idea of a great many of those who are connected with industrial organizations is to blend them into one concrete political entity. Honorable members must know of the efforts which are being made to amalgamate the Trades and Labour Council, and all the associated organizations, with the Political Labour League. No exception can be taken to that scheme, provided that we are not required to legislate specially iri the interests of its promoters. We have to safeguard the interests of the public, apart from the trades unions. Above all, it is our duty to protect the great masses of the people outside of the unions. We have been described as the champions of the non-unionists. I admit that we are, but we are equally the champions of the unionists. We do not advocate that any special privilege should be . accorded to any one section of the community, but we stand up for equal rights for all. We desire to see equal justice done to all, and special privileges given to none. An attempt is being made to legislate, not in the interests of one particular class only, but in the interests of a section within that class - ian inner circle repre- ,sented by honorable members opposite. Therefore, I hold that their position is not that of even representatives of labour generally. The position, developed during this debate, has made it clear that they represent only those sections of workers who are embraced within the ranks of the trades unions. Honorable members on this side of the Chamber, however, represent, not only the workers inside and outside of the unions, but the community generally. Honorable members opposite are very fond of asserting that those who are attempting to improve the Bill desire to destroy it, but I would remind them that the Bill is theproperty of honorable members in all .parts of the Chamber, and does not belong to any one section. Although I have expressed my disbelief in the efficacy of a Bill of this kind as a cure for all the industrial evils by which we are surrounded, I am by no means’ opposed to trying the experiment now proposed. At the same time, I . desire to feel assured that the Bill will operate as fairly as possible to all sections of the community, and that under the guise of a conciliation proposal we shall not bring into operation a measure which will be an instrument of tyranny in the hands of any one section of the community. When 5 e 2
I fight against what I regard as a pernicious clause in the Bill I am honestly endeavouring to carry out my duty in this respect. The amendments which have been adopted up to the present time have, vastly improved the measure, and I trust that when we have finished with it it will prove much more acceptable to the community at large than it would have done if it had been passed in its original form. A great deal of capital has been made of the fact that trades unionists would by accepting the Bill give up their right to strike. That has been the main argument used by many honorable members, particularly in reference to the provision for granting preference to unionists. As a matter of fact, the unionist’s have not given up their right to strike, and therefore the argument upon which some honorable members have relied loses the whole of its force. Even under the Bill trades unions could, after giving the requisite notice, cease work at any time. [ would ask honorable members whether non-unionists have not enjoyed the same rights as the unionists so far as striking is concerned, and whether they would not make an equal surrender under the Bill. They would occupy exactly the same position as that of the unionists, and therefore the special plea put forward by many honorable members on behalf of the unionists cannot be upheld. The honorable member for Darling, the Minister of External Affairs, and others declared that there was no desire on the part of the unions to use their funds for political purposes, but I would point out that that statement was flatly contradicted by the honorable member for Kennedy and the ‘honorable member for Barrier, both direct labour representatives. Both these honorable members declared that the one purpose in view was to enable the funds of the unions to be used for political purposes. I should like to know which of these conflicting statements is to be accepted by us. Obviously, they cannot both be correct. It would be advisable for honorable members belonging to the Labour Party to arrive at some kind of agreement among themselves as to the intentions of those who are responsible for our having this Bill before us. Something should be done by them to prevent, conflicting statements of this kind from being made by honorable members who are in the one fold, and whose conduct is regulated by the same caucus. This question may very well be considered at the next meeting of the caucus.
The crux of the whole question is : Are these organizations which are to come under the operation of the Bill to be industrial or political unions? If, as some honorable members assert, it is not desired that the trades unions should be political organizations, there should be no hesitation on their part in accepting the amendment, because it could do no harm. It would make it perfectly clear that no industrial organization recognised by the Bill could apply its funds to any purpose other than those of an industrial organization. There should be no ambiguity upon that point, but a specific guide should be given to the Court. The general trend of trades unionism. at present, so far as we can gather from recent events, and from the views expressed in the Labour journals, such as the Queensland Worker, and the Sydney Worker, which are largely subsidized by the unions, is towards the concentration of the whole of the affairs of labour under the contra! of one grand organization for political purposes. If the provisions of the Bill are to be so applied that industrial organizations can convert themselves into political organizations, we know perfectly well that a system of coercion - either active or passive coercion, or both - will be introduced, in connexion with the preference to unionists, to induce those who desire employment to join a union of some kind. I object altogether to anything in the nature of coercion, but I believe that every reasonable inducement, not involving any attempt at compulsion, should be held out to all those who are engaged in an industry to join an industrial organization. The act of an individual in joining a union should be purely voluntary. The benefits to be derived from joining the union could be fairly pointed out, and if a man considered that he was belter outside he should be at liberty to remain there. If it could be shown !o any ordinary man that it would be to his advantage to- join an industrial organization, he would avail himself of the opportunity to do so. If the unions are made attractive to the workers generally, the latter will not need much persuasion to induce them to join them. Under the Bill, however, they will be coerced into joining trades unions, and if those organizations are subsequently transformed into political bodies they will be morally bound by their rules. A man may have a particular hobby, which lie desires to see represented in the Legislature.
For example, he may wish to support a temperance candidate or a representative of the Licensed Victuallers’ Association, but when once he is roped in by these industrial organizations, he will come under the operation of their political rules, and will feel morally bound to vote in favour of the candidate selected by them, even though he may entertain diametrically opposite opinions.
– What will coerce him into joining them ?
– The .knowledge that the joining of a union will afford him his only opportunity of gaining a livelihood.
– The honorable member is discussing the preference question?
– I am making an incidental reference to it, because it seems to rae to be almost inextricably interwoven with the other matter.
– The question of whether a preference shall be granted to unionists is quite outside the scope of this amendment.
– I do not think so. One is practically involved in the other. At any rate, as it has been discussed by honorable members, I presume that I am justified in incidentally referring to it. When once a man becomes a member of a trades union, which is also a political body, he is bound to support the labour candidate, otherwise he will be called a “ black-leg “ and a “ scab.”
– We have heard that of the society with which the honorable member is connected.
– But there is this very marked distinction between organizations which are purely political and industrial organizations which subsequently become political bodies. If a man joins a Socialist League he does so because he is a Socialist. Naturally he will support a Socialist candidate. The same remark is applicable to a temperance organization, the Licensed Victuallers’ Society, or a free-trade organization. Individuals join these institutions because their views harmonize with those of a number of other people who have voluntarily associated themselves for the purpose of getting those opinions embodied in the legislation of the country. Their actions are voluntary, as distinguished from the compulsion which will be brought to bear under the operation of this Bill. We know perfectly well that at the present time there is not an absolute unanimity of opinion amongst members of trades unions themselves. Many of these members have assured me that they joined the unions only because they were “forced to do so, in order1 to obtain employment.
– I have heard the same remark made in regard to free-trade.
– The idea of a protectionist being forced to join a free-trade association is altogether untenable. Even if a man were coerced into joining such an institution, he would be at liberty to withdraw from it at any moment. During this debate reference has been . made to the Machine Shearers’ Union. Personally I do not object to trades unions or to any organizations which are conducted upon voluntary lines, though I believe that the Machine Shearers’ Union is purely a bogus workers’ union.
– This amendment, if carried, will play right into the hands of that body.
– Nothing of the kind. It will not in any way prejudice industrial organizations. It is only when they overstep their proper .bounds and become political organizations that they will be affected.
– The amendment will shut out every bond fide unionist.
– I do not think so, because men will still be at liberty to exercise their individual votes, and to join political organizations. The members of trades unions may hold very diverse views upon political questions. All that diversity of opinion can find expression at the ballotbox through the political organizations which are already in existence. That, however, is a very different matter from including all the members of trades unions in political organizations. In my judgment the amendment perfectly safeguards individual liberty. Under its operation a man will be free to join the Employers’ Federation, the Pastoralists’ Union, or a free-trade, or protectionist, or temperance organization. It is purely a matter for his own judgment. I have no desire to see the amendment applied only to unions of employes ; I make no distinction between employers and employés. Such organizations as the Employers’ Federation and the Pastoralists’ Union ought to come under the operation of the amendment.
– Does not the honorable member know that the Employers’ Federation does not favour this class of legislation?
– That does not enter into my consideration at all. It is a matter for themselves to decide.
– It is not necessary for any employers’ organizations to exist.
– I understand that. I do not claim that it is necessary for an employer to join an organization. He may employ a large number o,f men, and may exercise full control over them. Thus, whilst he would be able to take action individually, it would be necessary for his employes to do so collectively. The honorable member for Darling referred to individual employers, and to the effect which the amendment -would have upon them. He maintains that if it is right that industrial organizations shall be prevented from becoming identified with political organizations, individual employers should be equally restrained from voicing their political opinions. To my mind that is a reductio ad absurdum style of argument, because the employer who engages a thousand men can express only one opinion. By giving expression to that opinion he does not coerce any one else into accepting it. Similarly the thousand employes are at liberty to express their individual opinions.
– The same principle should apply to a union of employers.
– Unquestionably it should. If they seek to convert their organizations into political unions they should certainly come under the operation of this amendment. That is only just and. reasonable, and would be giving effect to the principle for which I stand, namely, equal liberty and equal justice to all. In this connexion, perhaps, I may be allowed to refer to some of the statements made by the Minister of External Affairs, in regard to the Wharf Labourers’ Union. He laid, great stress upon the fact that for a long time past the members of that union have not earned more than 15s. per week. I wonder if honorable members opposite have reflected upon what such a revelation discloses? Does it not show at once the utter inadequacy of this kind of legislation as a means of ameliorating the condition of the workers? The Wharf Labourers’ Union is one of the closest labour corporations in existence. It practically enjoys a monopoly of a certain class of labour. Does not the fact alluded to conclusively demonstrate that the trades unions, as such, cannot ameliorate the conditions of the working classes, even when backed up by direct labour legislation? For the past eleven years we have had the State legislation of New South Wales largely dominated by -members of trades unions.
– Was it so dominated during the time that the right honorable member for East Sydney held office as Premier of New South Wales?
– I repeat that the legislation of the State was for a great portion of that time dominated by the representatives of labour. Whilst the right honorable member for East Sydney held office as Premier, he certainly had the support of labour, but the- legislation passed by him was not dominated by it, because he had a majority quite independently of the Labour Party. ‘
– A very small majority. Did he have a majority independently of the Labour Party during the last twelve months of office?
– I shall not say that he had ; but, even then he was not dominated by the Labour Party. As .honorable members have good reason to know, he is not the kind of man to accept the domination of any party. If he were Prime Minister, and found that the majority of the people were not favorable to any legislation proposed by him, I am perfectly certain that he would have no hesitation in immediately resigning his office. We never had a greater period of prosperity - -wages were never higher, or employment more plentiful - than when the right honorable member held office as Premier of New South Wales.
– Wages are now higher in New South Wales than ever they were.
– And yet the honorable and learned gentleman has said that wharf labourers cannot earn more than 15s. per week.
– I say that wages are now higher; surely that is clear enough.
– That may be the case in one or two instances.
– So far as I- know, they are higher than they were two or three years ago.
– And the unemployed more numerous ?
– Exactly. Wages may be higher in some occupations, but employment is more limited, because many persons have been forced out of work by legislation of this class.
– What has that to do with the clause?
– Honorable members opposite have been allowed to introduce matters having only an indirect bearing on the question immediately before the Chair, and surely I should have the right to replyto them ?
– The honorable member has not yet referred to the clause.
– I shall not take my cue from the honorable member. The figures which I propose to quote may not be particularly palatable to him, but I shall put them forward for the information of the Committee. I am informed, on authority which I have no reason to impugn, that whilst the right honorable member for East Sydney was Premier of New South Wales, the various branches of the iron industry, conducted by Vyle and Son, Ritchie and Sons, and the Clyde Engineering Company, employed some 1,200 men, and that these firms now employ only about half-a-dozen men and a few apprentices. There must be something radically wrong when so disastrous a change in an important industry takes place. This change has occurred in spite of direct labour legislation. I have no objection to such legislation, but am strongly opposed to all restrictive legislation which, under the guise of benefiting the people generally, really dislocates industries from one end of the country to the other. If honorable members would allow the scales to fall from their eyes, and look at the matter in a reasonable way, they would recognise that, as the result’ of these well-intentioned efforts to legislate upon restrictive lines, thousands of people have been thrown out of employment. Such legislation has prevented the expenditure of a great deal of money on industrial enterprises which would otherwise have been in full progress, and would be now absorbing a large section of that labour which is at present seeking in vain for employment. I have spoken of the tendency to throttle freedom, and to deny equal justice, which legislation of this kind involves. As reference has already been made to the Colorado strike, I should like to quote a statement made by the President when a deputation of the employe’s of the Government Printing Office waited on him in regard to the “ open shop “ question. The following- is an extract from a letter dated May 23, by the New York correspondent of the Sydney Morning Herald, dealing with the position of the unionists in connexion with the Colorado strike : -
There is not now, and there never has been, embittered controversy about wages or hours’; the real fight is over the right of the union to forbid open shops, and to invoke in some petty squabble in a single small trade by means of a sympathetic strike -
It would be a sympathetic dispute in our case - the aid and the power of all organized labour, on the familiar theory that an injury to one is an injury to all. The open shop matter recently came to a crisis in regard to the management of the Government Printing Office, and the President, in saying no to the demands of the union, reaffirmed established doctrines with great emphasis, saying, among other things : - “ Every man must be guaranteed his liberty and his right to do as he likes with his property or his labour, so long as be does not infringe the rights of others.”
That is the principle for which I am contending, but which is denied by those who object to the amendment.
An Honorable Member. - The honorable member objects to unions spending their money in a way which they consider to be legitimate.
– I object to their spending, not their own funds, but the money contributed by others for a specific purpose, and who are thus coerced into joining an organization of a character that they never intended to join. A man contributes to the funds of a trades union to secure the advantages which it will afford him in carrying on his trade, and not to gain political advantages - or, as they might prove to be, political disadvantages. If money is to be paid into unions for political purposes, that fact should be known to those who are called on to join them. Funds should not be obtained on some system of misrepresentation, which amounts practically to a false pretence. The President, continuing, said -
In the employment and dismissal of men in the Government service, I can no more recognise the fact that a man does or does not belong to a union as being for or against him than I can recognise the fact that he is a Protestant, or a Catholic, a Jew, or a Gentile, as being for or against him.
It is an infamous thing in our American life, and fundamentally treacherous to our institutions, to apply to any man any test save that of his personal worth, or to draw between any two sets of men any distinction save the distinction of conduct, the distinction that marks off those who do well and wisely from those who do ill and foolishly.
These are statements with which I am fully in accord. They seem to me to express the right of individual freedom - a freedom which, I think, it would be well for honorable members to recognise the wisdom of preserving. They should seek to preserve it, not only for the sake of those institutions which they are so anxious to retain, but for the well-being of the whole community. I have already pointed out that it is only when we depart from the principles of freedom and adopt those of restriction and coercion that we become involved in all sorts of political and economic difficulties. It is only by following the principles of freedom that we can hope to secure social and industrial regeneration. It is only by following the ideals of freedom that labour itself will be able to work but its own emancipation. Under the conditions of freedom which we should seek to establish, legislation of this kind would be unnecessary, because it deals only with effects, leaving the primary causes untouched. One might just as well attempt to reduce a bank overdraft with a mustard plaster as try to bring about social and industrial regeneration by legislation of this kind. The amendment does not really meet the case fully. It is wanting in some respects, because it does not go directly to the root of the matter. I gave notice of an amendment some three weeks ago in relation to this clause, but have no desire to complicate the position by attempting to bring it forward at the present juncture. I shall await the result of the deliberations which I understand have been going on in regard to the amendment now before the Committee, and I shall for the present reserve to myself the right, to support the amendment as moved, unless some other understanding is arrived at which will make, the proposal acceptable alike to the Ministry and their supporters, as well as to the Opposition.
– The clause, speaking in general terms, says in effect that any existing association may register under the Bill. Of course, there are a good many limitations in various parts of the measure which apply after registration to existing organizations, or organizations which may hereafter come into existence. The amendment goes to the other extreme. While the clause says that any existing organization may register, the honorable and learned member for Angas practically says that no existing organization may register; because the first paragraph of his proviso enacts that an association shall nol be registered unless it has been formed for the purposes of the Bill. Obviously, no existing organization has been formed for the purposes of a non-existent Act. Therefore, every union, whether of employers or of employe’s, and whether a trades union or any other kind of industrial organization, would be prevented from registering, that is, from coming into legal existence so as to be able to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill. That seems to me to go too far. Such a proposal might afford some ground - I do not say full justification - for the suspicion that the clause as amended deliberately ignores and practically destroys to a large extent the industrial existence of the present unions. I do not think that we should adopt’ this attitude. It is one which I would be loth to take, though I can imagine circumstances which would compel me te adopt it. We should, if possible, regard existing organizations as organizations which may be registered under the Bill. The honorable member for Darling stated certain objections to the amendment which are well worthy of careful consideration from a practical point of view. It is not desirable that a great union, whether of employers or of employe’s, should, feel that it must re-organize in order to register under the Bill. But the clause goes too far in providing that any union may register and become a union under the Bill, and then proceed without any further limitations than are imposed upon organizations formed solely for the purposes of the Bill. I propose to move an amendment of the amendment, which at any rate, expresses my own views. I therefore move -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion, after the words “ Provided that,” line 1, of the following words, “ No such organization shall be entitled to submit any industrial dispute to the Court when, and so long as, its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political nature.”
In spite of much that has been said from the other point of view, I feel strongly that we must keep the Bill one of an industrial character, that we must as far as possible avoid mixing up political and industrial affairs under a measure, purporting to deal with industrial affairs only. I think that that principle is now practically recognised by all sections of the Committee. The adoption of my amendment will produce the following effects: - In the first place, it will allow any existing organization to register. In the second place, no existing organization which registers will have power to submit an industrial dispute to the Court - that is, it cannot become what is ordinarily known as a plaintiff, so long as its funds may be diverted to political purposes, or its members may be compelled to political action. I think that that is a reasonable limitation. Until the union, or association, whatever its nature may be, which has become an organization under the Bill, has divested itself of any political character that it may possess, it should not be permitted to move the Court. We are told that the great bulk of the industrial unions now in existence in Australia have no political leanings, so far as their organization is concerned, whatever the views of their members may be.
– No political objects.
– I would not put it so generally as that. According to the testimony of the Minister of External Affairs, it seems to be the practice of unionists to vote against labour candidates, though, I must confess, I was surprised at the statement, because I had not suspected the facts to be as he represented them. The amendment which I have moved clearly provides that political and industrial purposes must be kept separate where it is sought to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill.
– How could they be kept separate in the case of the employes of a Public Works Department?
– I hold, perhaps rashly and wrongly, a very confident opinion as to what the views of the High Court would be upon the validity of a provision bringing public servants within the scope of the Bill ; but it would be the easiest thing in the world to separate political and industrial purposes, even in the case of a union of State employes. The mere fact that they were State employes would not make their organization political.
– The honorable and learned member’s amendment would prevent -a deputation approaching a Minister.
– No. An association of public servants which approached a Minister to ask for an increase of wages would not have a political purpose, but if it asked for an alteration of the franchise, it would have a political purpose. An industrial purpose would not become a political purpose merely because it was pursued by the employes of a State.
– It would be difficult to determine what was, and what was not, -a political purpose.
– That would be a matter for the Court. If I were asked to define the term “ political,” 1 should find it a difficult task; but if I were asked whether any specific action was political, I should find the question a fairly easy one. It is difficult to define the term “ goodness,” but if one asked whether a certain action was a good action he would probably get a correct answer from most of those to whom he put the question. A special case is always more easily determined than is the enunciation of the general rule. The matter is one for the Court, which we are intrusting with much more important and difficult duties. A provision enabling existing unions to register after expunging political objects from their rules, would, in my mind, not be sufficient. I object to any provision which prevents existing organizations from registering. I wish the members of these organizations to feel that they can be registered under the Bill. They might not unnaturally resent any action on our part which would prevent them from registering. But it is fair to require them, once they have registered, to submit to whatever rules may be necessary to divest them of their political character. It has been suggested that a- union may have benefit objects, and that it would be hard to compel men who already subscribe to benefit societies to join such a union.
– That is my chief objection. I do not pay much attention to the political objection.
– I am not with the honorable and learned member there. He seems to forget that the Court has absolute control over the entrance fees and annual subscriptions, and in New South Wales has in more than one case fixed a maximum rate. That objection could easily be met by an amendment of schedule B, or an amendment of some of the later clauses of the Bill. The clause under discussion relates to the great question, who shall be allowed to register? I say that every union should be allowed to register, with the proviso that having registered, and having thus prevented the bogus registration of an alleged union which those could join who wished, it must divest itself of any political character it may possess, before becoming entitled to set in motion the machinery of the Bill. I feel it difficult to support the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, even with the suggested addition, and it would also be difficult to support the clause as it stands.
My objection is not to political unions, but I object to such unions putting into motion the provisions of the Bill.. My objection is deeper than the principle of preference which was embodied in the clause with which we have already dealt.
– It will be resurrected. Mr. McCAY. - I trust that it will come to life in the form in which it has passed to its temporary rest, because I think it is more beautiful now than it was originally. I regret that the Prime Minister differs from me, because if I could only induce him to agree with me I should attain my object. The proposed amendment of the amendment is sufficiently germane to the object of the clause, and to that of the amendment itself to come well within the rules of the House. I move it in its present form because I do not desire to be placed in the position of baldly voting for the clause or for the amendment, neither of which expresses my views. I wish to have an opportunity to vote for that expression of legislative intention which accords with my views. The reference to binding decisions would cover the case of the majority of the members of a union arriving at certain decisions, and quietly proceeding to conduct all sorts of political operations, for which no provision was made in the rules. I do not think that any trades union would try to circumvent the provisions of the Bill in that way, because I understand that they are like Caesar’s wife, above suspicion. I shall be glad if the Government accept my amendment as a reasonable compromise. I do not suppose that we shall come to a division to-night.
– I think it would be a fair thing to do so.
– I am not suggesting tha* we should not do so, if the debate has been exhausted. The Prime Minister must remember, however, that some honorable members have spoken at considerable length, and that, consequently, those who have been waiting for their turn may not care to address the Committee at this late hour. The question which we have been discussing is one of great importance. Here and there in the Bill we come across matters which cannot fail to impress us as being of the greatest importance, both in principle and operation. The measure contains half-a-dozen principles in addition to the main principle, and it is not unreasonable that it should be discussed at considerable length. I am quite sure that much better work will be done by allowing ample time for discussion than by hurrying into divisions.
– Upon a point of order,’ I desire to say that, although I do not wish to prevent the honorable and learned member for. Corinella from taking a test vote, I object to the test being applied in the way now proposed. The honorable and learned member is raising a question entirely different from that dealt with in my amendment. My proposal deals entirely with the conditions under which unions shall be registered, whereas the amendment of the honorable and learned member introduces the question of the conditions with which unions will have to comply before they will be entitled to submit industrial disputes to the Court. In May’s Parliamentary Practice it is laid down at page 287 that -
It is an imperative rule that every amendment must be relevant to the question on which the amendment is proposed, except in the case of amendments moved to the question for the Speaker’s leaving the chair for the Committees of Supply, or Ways and Means.
Standing order 130 provides -
Every amendment must be relevant to the question to which it is proposed to be made.
Standing order 138 also provides -
Amendments may be proposed to a proposed amendment, as if such proposed amendment were an original question.
I submit that the clause and my amendment deal simply with the conditions of registration. A fair test vote could be taken upon the amendments, of which notice has already been given by the honorable member for Wentworth, and the honorable member for Lang, or by the amendment of clause 27, on its recommittal, if the honorable and learned member for Corinella so desires.
– It appears to me that the question before the Chair relates primarily to the registration of organizations. The honorable and learned member for Angas has moved an amendment, which I feel sure he will maintain is quite relevant to that matter. His amendment is a qualification of the provision at present in the clause. The honorable and learned member for Corinella desires to move an amendment upon that amendment, and I. think I have only to show that his amendment is germane to the clause in general in order to prove also that it is relevant to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas.
Although I must say that I do not think that this is the most convenient or most appropriate place to move such an amendment, yet, regarding it as a qualification, or proviso, I consider it is quite relevant to the” original clause. It is not an absolute negation. If it were the point might be further considered. The result of the adoption of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella would not be to close the door absolutely to members of the existing organizations, but would make it necessary for them to go through a further stage before they could become plaintiffs before the Court. If the amendment were carried it would still be within the competence of the Court to make them defendants. Under these circumstances, I rule that the amendment is relevant.”
– I think that it will be admitted, as the honorable and learned member for Corinella has stated, that we are now considering one of those points in the Bill which stand out from the body of the measure, and require the most careful consideration. Therefore, I do not think that the discussion which has taken place upon it can be in any way regarded as having involved a waste of time. At present I feel a certain degree of doubt as to the wisest course to pursue with regard to the two amendments now before the Committee. The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas is the outcome of a suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney, with which I coincided, although I felt the difficulty of embodying it as a vital principle in the Bill at the present stage. I cannot help feeling that if those honorable members who earnestly desire to see this class of legislation in operation had fully considered the advantage of having comprised in a union all those employed in a certain industry instead of only the members of the existing unions, they would have been induced to adopt it’. If we are going to avoid serious disturbances in our industrial life, we must have unions representing the whole, and not merely a section of the employes engaged in any industry. The further I look into this matter the more difficult it seems to believe that the supporters of the clause could really have meant all they have said in opposing the proposal. Their main idea is to ultimately bring within the limits of the unions all those that are employed in an industry. That is the ideal of unionism. The intention, and the practical outcome, of the suggestion of the honorable member for North Sydney would be, in one operation, to bring every man within the bounds of the organization.
– That could not be done unless we gave preference to unionists.
– What would be the object of preference to unionists, if every man employed in an industry were included in the union. It would be impossible to exclude any one from such a union. The members of the present unions could come over to the more comprehensive organizations in a body, and in nine-tenths of the cases would dominate them. With such organizations as I have indicated, the Bill would prove more effective than under any other circumstances. The whole body of the employes would be ranged on the one side, and the whole body of the employers on the other. If necessary, territorial limits could be defined, and we should thus have a ready, direct, and efficient means of attaining the ends which are aimed at under the Bill. I have been provoked to speak in regard to this clause by the repeated taunts of honorable members opposite that opposition to any portion of the Bill emanates only from those who desire to wreck the measure. I deny that absolutely. No man on the Government side - not even the draftsman of the Bill, or the Prime Minister - is a warmer supporter than I am of the principle of settling industrial strife by peaceful methods. Similar measures to this have been introduced by one or two States Governments, and we have not yet had sufficient experience to guide us in preparing the most perfect measure that can be obtained. But we have had some experience, and it behoves us to act carefully if we desire this legislation to prove effective. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie last night said that the speeches of some of us on this side of the Chamber with regard to this measure were totally different from our speeches on the hustings. So far as 1 am concerned, from start to finish, my speeches in this Chamber, with regard to conciliation and arbitration, have been in accord with every iota of my speeches on the hustings. I have maintained the same attitude all through. But I said when the Bill was introduced, that I had considerable doubts with regard to some portions of it. If my mind with regard to the question was
Sicklied o’er with the pale cast of thought - which some people would describe as a “Yes-No attitude” - it was because the problem is so vast, the interests affected are so great, and the legislation in itself is so new, that all of us who have an honest desire to do something which will be effective and beneficial, must be oppressed with doubts. While I committed myself to attempt to do something that would give us some practical method of putting an end to strikes and bringing about industrial peace, I stated boldly that there were many proposals in this measure which, in Committee, I should have to oppose, and that I did’ not know whether even in the end I should not be found voting against the third reading. I desire to vote for the third reading of the Bill ; and it is for that reason that I am so anxious that the Government should give way. on points where they lose nothing of the efficacy of the measure, but are enabled to bring under its scope the whole of the employes and employers. The amendment is a fair and square attempt to bring an effective measure into operation. It is for these reasons that I ask the Government to consider the unwisdom of rejecting a proposal which many of us firmly believe would add to the efficiency of this legislation. The honorable member for Barrier argued that if we were not to give preference to unionists he would prefer to go back to the old method of strikes, of which the honorable member himself has had as bitter an experience as any one amongst us. He must have come to that conclusion without considering the change which the amendment would make. The honorable member’s ideal as an advocate of unionism is to get the whole of the workmen into the unions. We show him a way by which the whole of the men will not ultimately but straight away be brought into the unions. ‘ The amendment suggested by the honorable member for North Sydney would have that effect, and the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas attempts to go as far as possible in that direction.
– They would merely be unions in name then, I think.
– They would be unions for purposes of this measure; and a union for the purpose of this Bill, including -all employes, is the most perfect attainment of the trades union ideal which honorable members opposite can expect to get. Returning to the honbr’able member for Kalgoorlie, he asked last night why we were proposing to deter from preference those members of unions who had borne “ the heat and burden of the day,” and had worked for years and years with this legislation in view. He contended that the unions had worked for industrial conciliation, and that, consequently, their members ought not to be shut out from the special benefits of such legislation. But as the honorable member for Lang has pointed out, diametrically opposite views have been expressed by honorable members opposite. We were told the other night that the unions all along have been opposed to compulsory arbitration, and that it was with the greatest difficulty that they could be persuaded to consent to such Bills as are now before the Committee.
– Who said so?
– The Prime Minister said, in the course of one of the biggest fights we have had over this Bill, that he knew there was great difficulty in persuading the unionists to consent to this legislation. Similar statements were made by witnesses who gave evidence before the Royal Commission on Strikes in New South Wales in 1890. The honorable member for Darling said so then, and he said so in this Chamber last night. He asserted that it had been only with the greatest difficulty that the union leaders could be induced to accept such legislation. Yet the honorable member for Kalgoorlie tells us that this is the object for which they have been working for years past, and that we are attempting to deprive them of their legitimate rights. When he asks why we should give special preference to thoseunionists who have borne the . “ heat and burden of the day,” I reply that if men are actuated in their aims by high ideals, they will be only too glad when they have achieved them to allow others to come in on the same terms. In the very parable from the Scriptures which was used by the honorable member, the first employe who was engaged in the vineyard received his penny for the work which he did, and the, last ‘employe” who worked upon the vineyard received the same payment. The first man received all that he was entitled to, and the last man got that sum for which he engaged. And so. in regard to this legislation. No true democrat can ever set up a claim for a privilege to any man, no matter how ably and well he may have worked in the cause. I ask those who so manfully worked for Federation if, having achieved it, they thought that they should be the only ones to enjoy the Federal franchise? I worked hard in the neighbouring. State to have adult suffrage made the law of the land, but I did not want to get any special privileges for those who worked for that principle. I was only too glad to see every one come in on the same terms- as myself. It is a wrong principle that causes those who have been doing this pioneer work on behalf of the trades unions, to seek to obtain any special benefit from the ultimate carrying out of the legislation for which they have laboured.
– Do we not advocate the keeping open of our doors, so that others mav enjoy the same privileges?
– I will deal with that position shortly, and will show what will be the position of those who are forced through these so - called “ open doors.” They will be in the miserable position of being outcasts among unionists. I ask the honorable member to recollect what it is that we on this side of the House propose. We want to enrol all the employes, so that we can obtain a consensus of their opinion. There is no more compulsion in enrolling them than there is in enrolling the citizens of the Commonwealth, so that they may vote for members of this Parliament.
– And the employers will pay the fees.
– At the present time many employers pay the fees of some of their workmen who belong to unions. They are not bogus unions at all. , If a man comes to an employer and represents that he wants work, and must become a member of a union, it is frequently the case that the employer pays the entrance-fee. That is done now, and will be done again, and there is nothing degrading to ‘a man in accepting a loan or a gift in order to legally entitle him to enter a union.
– But the amount is stopped out of his first wages.
– And quite right, too, if there has been a loan. We want a workable measure, and that can be got only by amendment. It is wrong to accuse all those who wish to carry some amendments of a desire to .wreck the Bill. The first great amendment proposed was on the question of including railway employes, and I voted for that amendment. I was never accused, then, by honorable members opposite, of attempting to wreck the Bill ; that was an amendment they all wanted, and one which I thought was required. It was my opinion, and is so still, that we have the constitutional power to include those employes; and it was thought that the amendment would improve the Bill. And in my opinion the present amendment will also be a great improvement if. in some form, we can pass it. We are guided in this matter to a great extent by the experiencein New South Wales. I do not think that the most ardent advocate of compulsoryconciliation and arbitration can say that this sort of legislation has been an undoubted success in that State. I have advocated this legislation for many years, but I do not regard the New South Wales Act as a success. That Act has failed to some extent simply because it took over the unions as organizations of the workers. If, under the Act, as this amendment proposes, all those employed in the industries had been taken over, and all political objects of unions eliminated, there would have been a far better chance of success. We must have organization; the idea of this Bill is founded on organizations of employers and employed. If there cannot be an organization of employers by reason of the magnitude of some man’s trade, or by reason of there being only one man in the ‘trade within a certain area, the Bill very properly regards a single employer as tantamount to an organization. While that is so, it seems to me that the only logical course is to get an organization of all that are employed. We could then get a real opinion as to what is required in a certain trade by those who are earning their living in that trade ; we should get any step opposed or consented to by the whole of those who are employed. But honorable members opposite want to see a Bill which will provide for representatives of an association of employers on the one side, and on the other side of a certain section of employes. It would be no hardship to those unions to be told that if they wished to take advantage of the Bill they must, as it were, come out of their present shell, and get into another one. That could be done by the members en bloc, following a simple resolution; and the separate organization could be constituted under conditions necessary for complying with the Bill. God forbid that I should say anything against trades unions. No man knows better than I do the benefit of such organizations. I have suffered the feeling of bitterness, and the sense of injustice, which arises from a man being paid less than he is entitled to. I have seen unions obtain for working men better wages and better conditions, and I have seen men educated by them in industrial matters. These are great benefits, and we cannot disguise for one moment the great and noble work that unions have done in the past in these respects. But our little systems have their day, and cease to be. The moment we have legislation of the character proposed, the ‘ reason for trades unions will pass away at once. Many of the unions have useful functions, such as :benefit funds, the spread of political propaganda, the instruction of members on industrial questions, or the perfecting of them in handicraft; but all, those purposes, while useful, are not required for this legislation. What are the objections which have been raised to unions ? I have told honorable members what I think of the great work which unions have done; but, viewed from the stand-point of this Bill, there are serious objections to the adoption of the unions as they at present exist. In the first place, they mean an unnecessary fax on the worker. It has been pointed out, over and over again, that there are large bodies of casual workers who pass from one calling to another, who may be wharf labourers or bricklayers’ labourers one day, and blacksmiths’ strikers or drivers of drays the next day. Are such men to be called upon to pay an entrance fee into each union ? We do not want anything of that kind ; and under some such amendment as that submitted by the honorable and learned member for North Sydney, we need have no entrance fees. The simple monthly or half-yearly subscription would confer the power to transfer from one trad? to another, so that a man would not be hampered in any direction, but would be able to seek for work where he could best obtain it. One of the greatest objections which have been mentioned to the Committee is that unions are to a large extent political organizations. Some of the unions, I admit, are not political, but the great majority are strongly political, and have a tendency to become more so day by day. It has been said that the unions amalgamate with the Political Labour League and affiliate one with another, and I cannot understand how we can expect to carry out this measure if we are to have a number of industrial organizations which are amalgamated for political purposes. We might have the same units entirely in another organization, just in the same way as I have belonged to a free-trade organization, and also to a union of manu al//-. G. B. Edwards. facturers. There is nothing to stop men from belonging to both bodies, and it has been pointed out ‘forcibly that the subscriptions required for carrying out this measure would be so small as to present no difficulty. We could, I say, do away with entrance fees, and give a man a clearance certificate from one trade, to another, so that he could make as many changes as he liked. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie said that the Government propose an amendment in a subsequent clause to open the doors of the unions. I suppose that means that we are to force the doors of the unions open, because it is thought the unions are inclined to close them. But even the Prime Minister admitted - and he could not do less - that he is determined to have the doors opened. What, however, would be the position of those men who are sent into unions with the Judge’s mandamus in their hands? What sort of industrial life would they have under such terms and conditions? We know very well what would happen. There would be in the union, as it were, a double body. There would be an esoteric and ‘an exoteric union - one, the inner secret circle, where politicians pull the strings and exercise all the influence and patronage for the benefit of the original “ pure merino “ unionists ; and, another, the outside pariahs, not entitled to those great advantages, and only admitted with the Judge’s orders in their hands. That is unthinkable.
– Is it not a fact that there is only one union in Australia which has closed its doors?
– I have sufficient knowledge of human nature to know that if we give trades unions the power to close their doors by granting a preference to their members, those doors will be closed, and the entrance subscription will be made prohibitive. That is a power which none of the so-called democrats in this House would ever dream of conferring upon the employers as a class. I hold that it is a power which ought not to be given to any man - either employer or employed It is a bad feature in the history of the ancient Grecian cities that when Demos obtained certain privileges he speedily began to deny similar privileges to others.
– Does the honorable member form his opinion from his association with honorable members opposite?
– I have formed my opinion as a man of the ,world. I know perfectly well that individuals will act from motives of self-interest. If we confer upon any men special privileges, we shall find them using their power to gain an advantage over their fellows. It is the duty of the Legislature to guard against such an abuse of power or privilege. In some quarters it has been denied that trades unions exercise political power. I hold in my hand the report of the New South Wales Royal Commission upon strikes. In it I have read the evidence of two typical unionists. I refer to the honorable member for Darling and Senator Higgs. From their evidence it is abundantly clear that all these organizations are permeated by political considerations. As the honorable member for Darling admits, ‘ the old trades unions steer clear of politics, but the new unions arc bound to take up political matters, and . must continue to do so more and more, as time goes on. Both witnesses expressed the same view. They affirmed that the ultimate outcome of the new unionism will be an attempt to achieve State Socialism. I do not condemn Socialism. I am one of .the greatest Socialists upon this side of the House. The only difference between honorable members opposite and myself is that I desire to proceed at a slower rate than they do. I do riot wish to usher in the millennium the week after next. From the testimony of the two representative leaders of unionism to whom I have referred, it is evident that trades unions are acutated by political motives. It could not well be otherwise. At the period of which I speak- some twelve years ago - both the honorable member for Darling and Senator Higgs declared that it was useless to attempt to settle industrial quarrels by conciliation and arbitration. They merely aimed at the achievement of State Socialism. Unionists were always opposed to arbitration. They are now in favour of this Bill. On the other hand the employers, who were always in favour of arbitration, are now opposed to this Bill. The reason is to be found in the origin of this measure, which was drafted under the- influence of political labour bodies. I hold that we should endeavour to guard the interests not’ only of unionists and non-unionists, but of the great masses who are not included in either of these categories. We have to guard them against becoming a servile section of the community. As legislators, we are bound to steer a medium course in the interests of the general body of the people. I think that some such amendment as that which has been submitted by the honorable and learned member for Angas is absolutely necessary. Our duty is to do our best to’ secure a ‘workable measure, and that can be accomplished only by excluding political considerations from industrial organizations. For what do trades unions exist? Bo they not aim at securing shorter hours, increased wages, and better conditions for the workers? Are those not the very matters which we expect to settle under ‘this Bill? What further, then, is required from these unions as industrial organizations? To obtain the .best results under this Bill, we must provide for an entirely new organization, although, the members of the present trades unions will be at liberty to become members of it.’ It has been urged by the supporters of the clause that unionists have given up. the only weapon in their power - the power to strike - and that consequently they should be granted a preference. But I would ask, “ Have not the employers given up their power to lock out?” Moreover, in foregoing their power to strike, unionists have abandoned very little, because, a’fter all, it wa» a two-edged sword. Though it was a great power to possess, it was one which had to be kept in reserve as long as possible. On the other hand, the employers have given up their right to freedom of contract. I freely admit that it was a serious evil that disputes could never be amicably settled so long as that right existed. The employers have given up just as much as have the workers. It was absolutely essential that both these powers should be surrendered, if we were to carry ‘out legislation of this kind. The power to strike has done incalculable harm to the workers themselves. Unions have achieved more victories from time to time bv silent moral force than have ever been achieved by means of strikes. I can only say, in conclusion, that. I never addressed myself to any measure with a greater desire to see some tangible result than I entertain in this case. Honorable -members who are in mv political confidence - who are personal friends, of mv own - know that I have committed myself over and over again to support such a measure, and have been doing my best to secure the passing of a workable .Bill. If the party to which I belong were in office, and would not. make some attempt within our constitutional limits to solve the question of how to secure industrial peace - or if it wished to vote, against this measure in its final stage, although it had been made as nearly perfect as possible - I should be prepared to leave it and to vote for the Bill, because I conscientiously believe that some serious attempt should be made in this direction. I have not been influenced by the threat that has been held out that we “ shall suffer for this.” I care not twopence for such threats. I am ready to take whatever gruel may be served out to me. I have not .applied for a certificate from the party opposite, and if I obtained one I should probably be opposed by a labour candidate just the same. .It has often .been said that the bitterest opposition is generally encountered by - men whose aspirations, in the main, most nearly approximate to those of the Labour Party, and, as I am mostly in accord with the party, I may have to encounter some hostility in my next campaign. I do, however, what I consider to. be right, and. am prepared to put up with the consequences.
House adjourned at 10.58 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 June 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040629_reps_2_20/>.