House of Representatives
5 July 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



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

page 2897

SUPPLY BILL (No. 1)

Assent reported.

page 2897

QUESTION

IMPORTATION OF SH0ES

Mr MAUGER:
MELBOURNE PORTS, VICTORIA

– I. wish to know from the Minister of Trade and Customs if his attention has been directed to a paragraph published ‘in this morning’s Argus, which’ describes a class of infants’ shoes recently imported into Victoria as made practically of blotting paper and glazed calico, with soles of porous hide and scraps of cardboard. Summed up* the goods appear to be an absolute fraud. Will the Minister take steps to prevent similar importations occurring in the future under the Frauds lent Trades Marks Bill?

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

– I have1 seen the reports, which frequently appear in the metropolitan newspapers regarding like occurrences. Ministers hope to be able to cope in some measure under the’ Fraudulent Trades Marks’ Bill with importations of the kind referred to. It is our desire to extend the functions of government in that direction, as far as possible.

page 2897

QUESTION

M AJOR GENERAL HUTTON’S REPORT

Mr JOHNSON:
LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES

– Has. the attention of the Minister, of Defence been drawn to the following significant passages in MajorGeneral Hutton’s report on the Defence Forces -

It may be as well to state at once that a force of the requisite strength, organized, arid capable of taking the field, does not nf present exist, in Australia, and that there are at present no local means of equipping such a force. The organization is incomplete ; the departments necessary for a mobile army have yet to be created ; :and there are neither sufficient guns, arms, equipment, nor ammunition’ available. . . . The most that could be expected from the military situation at present- existing, would be the concentration of a certain number of armed -men, who, without adequate administrative departments, or the required equipment, would be quite incapable of coping with even an inferior number of an invader’s troops, carefully trained, organized, and equipped with the latest modem appliances, as they unquestionably would be.

In view of the alarming character of these disclosures, coming as they do from the head of the Military Forces in Australia, does the Minister intend to formulate any proposal for putting the military defences of Australia on a more satisfactory footing?

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

– The Minister of Defence and the other members of’ the Cabinet have had that phase of our defence preparations under consideration for some time. When making a Ministerial statement some weeks ago, I mentioned that we purposed doing something tangible in that direction, and that the minimum amount for which we intended to ask Parliament to provide warlike- stores and material was £1 25,000. When the Estimates are brought in, I shall ask for a still larger sum, though I do riot anticipate that the actual expenditure during the present financial year will be much more than that mentioned ; but it is- necessary to obtain authority for the expenditure of a larger sum, because many munitions of war and armaments have to be ordered a long time in ad-‘ vance.

Mr Page:

– Why not make our own ?

Mr WATSON:

– That matter has also been under the consideration of the Government; but the sums for which the General Officer Commanding is asking for expenditure upon other objects are so large that I am afraid the House will be prevented from voting the amount necessary to establish an arsenal, since we must pay regard to our financial position. But is seems to the Government, as I think it will seem to honorable members generally, that our first care in regard to defence should be to provide arms and ammunition, and I hope to arrange for an even larger expenditure in that direction than I have already indicated, if. I find it possible to cut down expenses in other directions to a degree which will permit of it being . done. The whole subject is a very important one, and has been under our consideration for some little time, but I hope in a few weeks to make a proposal to the House’ which will to some extent get over the serious difficulty in which we are placed.

page 2898

LEAVE OF ABSENCE

Motion (by Mr. Batchelor) agreed to-

That leaveof absence for one month bc granted to the honorable member for Adelaide.

page 2898

QUESTION

SOUTH AUSTRALIAN POSTAL OFFICIALS

Sir LANGDON BONYTHON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -

  1. ls it intended, while still requiring Postal officials in South Australia to do the work, to deprive them of the emoluments which, as State officers, they received for sale of postage stamps and as Savings Bank agents?
  2. Is not the reduction of emoluments in direct contravention of section 84 of the Constitution?
  3. What in future will be the destination of the money paid by the Savings Bank, as earned by these officers?’
  4. Will care be taken in the case of officers referred to in questions 1 and 2 to preserve their existing salaries, &c, till, by promotion, they can be given salaries equal, without allowances, to the salaries and allowances which they have heretofore received?
  5. Is it the policy of the Public Service Commissioner that there should be, in the salary paid for given duties or in the maximum salary receivable, any differentiation between men and women to the disadvantage of the latter?
Mr MAHON:
Postmaster-General · COOLGARDIE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP

– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - .

This is a matter . which only the Public Service Commissioner could deal with, and the questions should have been addressed to the Minister of Home Affairs. The answers furnished by the Commissioner are as follow : - 1. (a) The Post Office Act of South Australia under which Postal officials were allowed a commission on the. sale of stamps, was repealed by section 2 of the Commonwealth Post and Telegraph Act 1901 ; and the Crown Law officers have advised that, upon such repeal, the South Australian officers cease to have any claim to such commission. It is therefore not intended to allow any further payments on this account. The sale of stamps is part of the officers’ regular duty, and the work has been included, in valuing the worth of each officer’s . position.

  1. The duties discharged by certain Postal officials for and on behalfof the Savings Bank Trustees are performed during ordinary office hours, for which the postmaster receives his salary. Postmasters in other States carry out the same duties as part of their ordinary work, and receive no extra payment for them. As the performance qf such work has been considered as a factor in the valuation of the’ work of each office, the allowance formerly received by officers will in future bc paicl into the Commonwealth revenue.

    1. It is not considered that the policy indicated involves any contravention of section 84 of the Constitution..
    2. The Commonwealth revenue.
    3. The officers will receive full value for . the services they perform for the’ Commonwealth, and uniformity of salaries for services performed will not be attainable throughout the Commonwealth if these allowances are continued. -
    4. No, where the work and. efficiency arc equal.

page 2899

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL

In Committee (Consideration resumed from 29th June, vide page 2856) :

Clause 62 -

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 : -

Upon which amendment Mr. McC’ay had moved -

That the amendment be amended by the insertion after the words “ Provided that,” line 2, 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 character.”

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I had not the privilege of listening to the debate upon this question last week, but I have endeavoured to remedy that defect by carefully studying the speeches delivered upon the amendment. As I understand the amendment, it ‘ is proposed that the organizations which are to be entitled to take advantage of the provisions of this Bill shall be formed solely for purposes of conciliation and arbitration. At present, the objects of the unions are varied, and their funds are applied to benefit society purposes, such as sick pay and funeral expenses, to aiding strikers by means of strike Day, and to furthering political ends. The aim of the amendment is to prevent individuals who join these organizations or unions, in consequence of the passing of this measure - as large numbers necessarily will do - from being levied upon for any purposes other than those of the Bill. Some of the unions are now largely of a political character, and the aim of the Government and of honorable members who support them seems to be to make them more political than ever. “I feel sure that, consciously or unconsciously, this has been their aim for some time past.

Mr McDonald:

– Hear, hear.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I have some information which, I think, will absolutely bear out my statements.

Mr Page:

– We accept the honorable and learned member’s statement without any such proof.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The old unionism was carried on practically for two purposes, namely, to confer benefits on members and to support strikers in times of industrial warfare. For ‘ some time past, however, hostility has been displayed towards the old unionism, and a desire has been manifested to convert the trades unions -into political organizations. I do not wish to see the legislative and judicial powers of this Commonwealth exercised in support of the political aims of any party. Honorable members must recollect that the Court which will be created under the Bill will have to exercise some of the judicial powers of the Commonwealth - perhaps the most important. The exercise of such powers should not be tainted by any political motives or aspirations, and I shall resist any attempt that may be made to use them for the purposes I have indicated. The proposal that preference should be given to unionists arose from a desire to increase the political power of the unions by means of the legislative interference of the Commonwealth. It was recognised that such a piovision would increase the membership of the unions, and thereby augment their legislative powers. If this Bill be intended to secure industrial peace by bringing about a better state of affairs between employers and workmen, it should not be used as a means to bolster up. one political party to the disadvantage of others. Abundant evidence has been afforded that the objects of those honorable members who oppose the amendment, and who support the Bill in its extreme form, are largely political ; that they do not require industrial peaceper se, but aim at increasing the political strength of the unions. I find that an interesting Labour Conference was held in Melbourne on 16th September, 1901, and Mr. McDonald, M.H.R., who, I presume, is identical with the honorable member for Kennedy, is reported in the Melbourne Herald and the Age as having delivered an important speech. I should like honorable members to pay particular attention to his remarks, which have a significant bearing upon the point at issue. He said -

If he were running a capitalistic concern, the Wages Boards were just .what he would approve :is a means of breaking down the organizations of labour. The workers, finding they could get the same benefit from -a Wages Board as from a trades union, were inclined to give up the unions. The effect of a Conciliation and Arbitration Act was different altogether, as it forced’ the trades into unions in order to secure the advantages of the Act, and thus by making the organizations more powerful they were able to insist on fair conditions for the worker. Victoria has not come along with the new school of unionism. The new school takes an active part in politics, and makes an organization so strong that it can . influence every member representing it.

Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I am glad to hear honorable members say “ hear, hear.”

Mr Page:

– That is the tiger. Mr. ROBINSON. - Yes, we have unmasked the tiger, and we have the object of honorable members opposite exposed in all its nakedness. We can see that honorable members are endeavouring to use the judicial and legislative powers of the Commonwealth for a political purpose.

Mr McDonald:

– What has become of the dry dog?

Mr Reid:

– The honorable member is -not in office, and he ought to have some consideration for those who are.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I find a further evidence of the desire to increase the political strength of the unions in the proposal that every member of the unions should contribute to the funds of the Labour Party. A Trades Union Conference was held’ in Sydney, in November, 1902, at which a resolution was proposed - even that Conference had not the* audacity to carry such a resolution, but the , fact that it was proposed is of importance, as showing the way the wind blows - that .every member of an industrial union should contribute to the political funds of the Labour Party. It is also significant to notice that the rules of. the Melbourne Trades Hall Council have been altered to enable the Council to exercise full power in regard to political questions. On 20th February, 1904, the Melbourne Trades Hall Council adopted a rule which gave the Council power at any ordinary or special meeting to make order upon any matter, political, industrial, or otherwise, remitted to it by trade societies or others.

Mr Tudor:

– Was that carried?

Mr ROBINSON:

– Yes.

Mr Tudor:

– Is the honorable and learned member sure?

Mr ROBINSON:

– Yes. Mr. Tom Mann was engaged to organize the trades unions for political purposes, and he has done a great deal of hard work. He has recently been re-engaged, and the terms of his re-engagement are interesting, as throwing a great deal of light upon the present position. Whilst I was incapacitated last week through illness, the proprietors of the Tocsin kindly forwarded me a copy of that journal containing an article upon “ Preference to Unionists.” I trust I am not doing the honorable member for Darling an injustice in saying that I was disposed to think that the article in question emanated from him.

Mr Spence:

– It did not.

Mr ROBINSON:

– Amongst other statements, the newspaper contained the following : -

A meeting of the Trades Hall and the Political Labour Councils, sitting as a combined body, was held in the Trades Hall on Friday night, Mr. Hannah, M.L.A. (President of the Trades Hall Council), presiding.

The meeting was of opinion that Mr. Mann’s services should be retained. The same report also states that £40 per month will be required to continue the present political propaganda work. That amount will be absorbed in salary, travelling expenses, hire of halls, &c. It seems a very reasonable sum indeed. How is this money to be collected? The sum of £22 is to be contributed by members of the Federal and State Parliaments, and the balance is to be subscribed by the various trades unions affiliated with the Trades Hall. This fund is to be devoted towards the maintenance of a political campaign, which is designed to make a certain political party stronger than it now is. In the absence of some such provision as that submitted by the honorable and learned member for Angas, we shall place ourselves in the position of giving to trades unions - which are political bodies - the right to force men ‘to join organizations to which they do not wish to belong, and with the politics of which they may utterly disagree. In my judgment, the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella does not go far enough. My desire is to prevent individuals who join trades unions from being taxed for political purposes, whereas his amendment refers only to the rules of an organization.. In this connexion, I would point out that cases have occurred in which, in defiance of their rules, unions have expended money for political purposes. In speaking in this chamber, on the 24th June last, the honorable and learned member for Corio made a statement which has an important bearing on this issue. He said -

In legal proceedings with which I was recently associated, I had occasion to examine the balance-sheet of one of the large trades unions of Victoria, and found it had -subscribed to labour candidates’ election fund, the Tom Mann fund, and also to the maintenance of the labour newspaper and the Labour Party’s Senate election campaign. I then took steps to ascertain whether the expenditure of money in this direction was not a violation of the rules, and found that the object of the society was to assist aged and distressed members and members out of work. When I asked the auditors why they had allowed the funds to be devoted to these purposes, they replied that the money had been voted at meetings of the union.

From that statement it will be seen that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella does not go far enough, because though the rules of a trades union may forbid the expenditure of money in this direction, there are instances upon record in which those rules have been ignored. If the honorable and learned member for Corinella desires” to make his amendment effective, he must declare that the rules of these organizations shall provide that no expenditure shall be incurred by them for political purposes.

Mr Thomas:

– How shall we distinguish between political and industrial matters?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I take it that a contribution to the Senate election campaign would constitute a political act. I would be very much interested to hear any individual argue to the contrary. Similarly, I hold that contributions to Mr. Mann’s fund, for the purpose of political propaganda, would constitute an indisputable political act.

Mr Higgins:

– It would be an industrial act also.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The industrial phase of it would represent about the proportion which a pinch of salt bears to a bucket of water.

Mr Poynton:

– Would the honorable and learned member apply the same rule to employers ?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I should apply it to every organization which attempts to take advantage of the provisions of this Bill to promote political objects. What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas is preferable to that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, because it contains a straightout declaration of policy. I think that both sides are agreed that it is better for us to know exactly our position than to rely upon a number of provisions the precise meaning of which must necessarily involve much legal interpretation. We all know that strike pay is a matter which enters largely into expenditure by trades unions, and I fail to see why men should be compelled to join organizations and, by so doing, to contribute to strikes which they do not favour. I hold, therefore, “ that we ought to prevent any organization, which claims to participate in the benefits to be derived under this Bill, from levying a tax upon its members for the purpose of interfering with disputes elsewhere, with which disputes they may have no sympathy whatever. The next phase of trades unionism with which I wish to deal has reference to the benefit provisions of trades unions. Upon this matter, I feel that you, Mr. Chairman, with your wide experience Of friendly societies, must perceive that there are very important considerations involved. At the present time, to some extent, trades unions are friendly societies, because they come into competition with institutions which have been established as friendly societies. I object to’ a preference being given to trades unions as against friendly societies. Why should we give a legislative preference to trades unions over organizations which have be’en established purely as friendly societies ? In Victoria there are over 100,000 members of friendly societies as against only about 30,000 unionists. The great majority of the members of these friendly societies are working men, and it cannot be expected that they can afford to contribute to two organizations. The payments to any properly organized friendly society would constitute a reasonable tax upon any working man, and he should not be compelled to contribute to two societies. If the present members of friendly societies are obliged to join trades unions - as they will be if they desire to obtain the full benefits to be derived under this Bill - they may be compelled to sacrifice their interest in existing institutions - an interest which has been built up during the course of many years - and to accept, in lieu thereof, an interest in a friendly society which is financially unsound. I wish to draw special attention to the fact that the friendly society basis of the trades unions of Victoria is absolutely unsound, and would not be approved by any actuary in the Commonwealth. At the present time, all members make a uniform contribution, which represents about 66. per week, in return for which they are promised, certain benefits in the shape of sick-pay and funeral allowance. I hold that no society can be established upon a sound financial basis if a uniform scale of charges be adopted. What should we think of a life assurance society which was founded upon that basis? I repeat that a uniform charge is made for the admission of members, irrespective of their ages,and that is an unsound basis. It is .not certified bv the Government actuary; it is not passed by him as adequate.

Mr Page:

– I rise to order. I desire to know, sir, whether we are discussing the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill or the Australian Natives’ Association scheme for life assurance?

The CHAIRMAN:

– The’ Committee is discussing an amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella.

Mr Page:

– I desire to know, sir, if the honorable and learned member for Wannon is ‘in order in discussing the subject of life assurance on that amendment?

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable and learned member is quite in order in referring to work that is done by organizations which are likely to come within the scope of the amendment.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I am endeavouring to point out to the honorable member for Maranoa that the present trades unions have political, benefit, and strike objects, and to show the Committee that it is unfair to force men into a society which has benefit objects unless the society is on a sound financial footing. The purpose of the Bill is to force men into unions in some shape or another, and that fact has been admitted by a number of honorable members on the other side. I have already quoted authorities to that effect. I contend that we should not force men into benefit societies unless they are of a sound character. Since we would not force a man to insure his life in a rotten assurance company, why should we force a man .to go into a rotten friendly society? That is what we shall do unless we take adequate precautions. We shall force men to go into trades unions which, as friendly societies, are unsound,’ no actuary having drawn up their scale of payments. When a man joins a proper friendly society, he knows that the Government supervise its accounts every year. He also knows that no friendly society can be formed unless the Government actuary certifies that the contributions are adequate to give the promised benefits. A man, therefore, pays his money with a reasonable assurance that it is being put into a solvent concern, and that he will be protected in the hour of need.

Mr Poynton:

– How m!any solvent concerns are there here?

Mr ROBINSON:

– In Victoria we have a great many, but in South Australia, I am sorry to say, they are nearly all rotten. If the honorable member has any doubt on that point, I would ask him to read the report of the South Australian Government actuary for friendly societies, and, if he has not a copy of the document, I shall be pleased to lend one to him. A sick and funeral benefit cannot be provided unless there is a properly graduated scale of contributions according to age, just as a proper asurance fund cannot be provided unless it is created in a similar way.

Mr Poynton:

– The Amalgamated Miners’ Association has done more for miners, than has the Australian Natives’ Association, of which the honorable and learned member is so prominent a member.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I am sure that any representations by the honorable member will receive due weight in every quarter. Trades unions should not get a preference over friendly societies unless their benefit scheme is on a sound basis. If the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella be carried, I intend at a later stage to move an amendment to the effect that no man shall be required to contribute to any benefit union unless it is certified by an actuary, to be approved of by the Governor-General in Council, as adequate to give the benefits which it promises to give. Some such provision is necessary in the interests of the men themselves. .We- should not drive men into a concern which we know to be finan- cially unsound; we should not ask them to contribute a portion of their weekly earnings unless we are assured that the trades union can carry out its promises.

Mr Poynton:

– Can the honorable member mention one case where a friendly society has not carried out its obligations?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I have mentioned a case where a friendly society has not paid the sick pay- I cannot give others from memory. Every man who has been, or is, connected with a friendly society, knows that such a society has to build up its capital. It is not supposed to use current contributions solely for the purpose of meeting current expenses. It is supposed to put the larger portion of those contributions, to capital account; to get interest on that capital, and to use the interest largely for paying current expenses. The Australian Natives’ Association has now about 20.0.00 members with a fund of about £180,000, being equal to £9 a head. The interest on that fund forms a large portion of its revenue, and furnishes a large sum to meet current expenses.

Mr Mauger:

– Tell us about the Rechabites.

Mr ROBINSON:

– That is a very good society, even though it has the honorable member in its ranks.

Mr Fisher:

– The honorable and learned member will admit that the amount of money does not prove solvency.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I make that admission freely. If, however, the ordinary receipts of a society are swallowed up in the ordinary payments, it must be evident to every thinking man that the society is financially unsound. Take the oldest association in Victoria - the Amalgamated Miners’ Association. I ‘find that with nearly 8,000 members its funds at the beginning of 1902 amounted to £1,660, and at the end of that year to ,£1,796. The total fund- did not amount to 5s. a head. No friendly society which has a fund of that kind can be considered as in any degree sound, or as being within cooee of soundness.

Mr Batchelor:

– What society is that?

Mr ROBINSON:

– It is the Amalgamated Miners’ Association of Victoria. In 1902 it comprised 7,276 members, and the total funds did not amount to 5s. per head. The receipts totalled £2,234, while the payments amounted to £2,104, showing that year by year the society is eating into its capital to an enormous extent, and that its friendly society basis is radically unsound. If that were not so, it would not show that striking discrepancy ; it would have a capital far larger than £1,796. When the Australian Natives’ Association had 8,000 members, it had a fund of £50,000 or £60,000, as you, sir, will remember. The Amalgamated Miners’ Association has done a great deal of good work for the miners in many ways, as every honorable member knows full well ; but we should not give such societies which are on unsound lines a preference over societies which are on sound lines. We should not practically force men to pay their weekly dues into societies which are radically unsound. If. the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is carried, I shall move an amendment with the object of safeguarding the interests of those persons who pay their money into these concerns. It seems to me, however, that the honorable and learned member for Angas has proposed the best way out of the difficulty. His amendment makes a clear, distinct line of demarcation. It proposes’ that the organizations which may come under the Act shall exist for the purposes of the Act only. There may be organizations for political or benefit or other purposes. But an organization which seeks to get the benefits of the Act ought to be formed solely for the purposes of the Act, and if it is not so formed it should not be permitted to enjoy those benefits.

Mr Tudor:

– The honorable and learned member would smash up all the existing unions.

Mr ROBINSON:

– No unions would be smashed up by a provision of that kind. The unions could still carry on their political work. They could continue to contribute to the Tom Mann Fund, the Tocsin Fund, and the Senate Election Campaign Fund. They could still have their unsound friendly society financing, which is so dear to the honorable member. But they would not have the privileges which the Act confers on organizations only. They would not have men forced into their ranks to take advantage of provisions against their will.

Mr Spence:

– Does not the honorable and learned member think that they ought to be wiped out ?

Mr ROBINSON:

– No. The honorable member always desires to wipe out something. I am not one of those who wish to wipe out anybody ; I would give him the same chance as any other person. I should not force him to pay his money into a concern in which he did not believe. That, however, is what the honorable member wants to do with others ; he wants to force people to pay money into concerns in which they do not believe, either because they do not approve of the politics advocated, or of their friendly society basis.

Mr Page:

– Does the honorable and learned member think that only unionists vote for us ?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I do not know who votes for the honorable member ; I cannot stop to answer a small question like that. What I say is, that we should not, by this Bill, give an undue preference to one class of friendly society over another - that we should not give a preference to .financially weaker and unsound societies. Many of us, who are connected with societies, know the struggles there have been to get the finances of those societies put on a sound basis. After many years of toil, that end, however, has been accomplished ; and why, at this late hour, should these societies he subjected to the competition of unsound friendly societies? Why should the Government step in and divert a number of members out of the ranks of sound societies, into societies which are financially unsound ?

Mr Poynton:

– The friendly societies do not object.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I have a fairly prominent position in one friendly society, and I know of friendly societies which do object. I am not yet aware that the honorable member for Grey has any authority to speak for the friendly societies of Victoria. When I have that information - but not until then- r-I shall give it consideration. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas seems the best way out of the difficulty which now confronts the Committee. If that amendment be not accepted, and the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella be carried, I shall hold mysel’f at liberty to submit a proposal which will have the effect of protecting the interests of any individual who joins these organizations.

Mr Batchelor:

– Would that be a change in the attitude of the honorable and learned member ?

Mr ROBINSON:

– I hope not ; I do not believe in changing my attitude more than is necessary. I shall, as I have said, hold myself at liberty to protect, by means of an amendment, the rights of those who join organizations of this kind, so that they shall not be forced to contribute funds to strikes in which they do not believe, or to pay for benefits in a society which, in their opinion, is financially unsound.

Mr PAGE:
Maranoa

– The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, in my opinion, does nothing but kill unionism; that is the effect of the amendment from beginning to end. Why do not honorable members opposite come out fairly and squarely, and fight in the open, instead of shielding themselves behind a thing like this? As to the history of the political movement, I may inform honorable members that in 1891 the great shearers’ strike took place in Queensland. I am now talking only from a Queensland point of view, because I do not know much about trades unionism in the other States. The Australian Workers’ Union in Queensland, on the occasion of the strike of 1891, was beaten because the pastoralists possessed more money than did the union.

Mr Wilks:

– -And now the union has more money than the pastoralists.

Mr PAGE:

– No, but the union has more power in the House than have the pastoralists. When we met the pastoralists after the strike they said, “ Why do you use the weapon of a strike, when you can air your grievances in. the Legislative Assemblies of the Colonies, and get redress in a constitutional way ?” Well, we have taken that advice, and what is the consequence ? The honorable and learned member for East Sydney calls us “ tigers,” because we have acted on the advice of the pastoralists; and he is afraid of us as “ tigers.” But the honorable and learned member was not ‘afraid of the “tigers “ when they were supporting him in New South Wales - he had their claws clipped then. Since he has come into this House, and found that the “ tigers “ are unmanageable,- he wants to subdue them; but has no more hope of . subduing the “ tigers “ under his rule, .than he has of turning the moon into green cheese.

An Honorable Member. - What about the “dry dog”?

Mr PAGE:

– The “dry dog” will not swim, but has gone back to land again. As I say, we took the squatters’ advice, and organized and agitated ; and now the honorable and learned member for Wannon and others desire to take our power away. What I say is that the Arbitration Bill may go tomorrow, so long as we have the police and the soldiers. You may have all the Arbitration Bills you like, and we will fight the pastoralists in a fair and square manner, and beat them every time, if the soldiers and police are kept away.

Mr Reid:

– With the police and soldiers.

Mr PAGE:

– No j we shall not do as the honorable and learned member did - send police and soldiers.

Mr Reid:

– I never sent, a soldier in my life.

Mr PAGE:

– The honorable and learned member helped to do so.

Mr Reid:

– I never did.

Mr PAGE:

– It is of no “use the honorable and learned member trying to draw the “ red herring across the trail,” because I intend to say what I have to say. We took the squatters’’ advice, and organized, and had a little political organization as well. The consequence was that, at the next election in Queensland, we won several seats, and formed the nucleus of the Labour Party in that State. I want to inform honorable members that the Australian Workers’ Union in Queensland is a separate organization from the Workers’ Political Organization ; although they are run in connexion with one another. I have told “honorable members before that there is a Workers’ Political Organization ; and only this morning I was reading a report from an organizer on the Lower Barcoo, who states that he has sold many tickets to unionists, and many more tickets of the Political Organization to men who are not unionists.

Mr Reid:

– Were they not for an art union ?

Mr PAGE:

– Were they? Then I am the prize, and not a bad one. The Political Organization is as distinct as can be any other political organization from a union ; let us say that it is as distinct as the Farmers’ League of Kyneton or elsewhere is from the Australian Workers’ Union of -Queensland, and that is surely distinct enough. We have the President of the Pastoralists’ Union in New South Wales presenting a “ scab “ - or non-unionist, as the members opposite would say - with a medal for shooting a unionist. That scab “ is the sort of man gentlemen opposite want to protect. The honorable and learned member for East Sydney is amongst those honorable members opposite ; and in his desire to protect the non-unionist from the unionist, he is sacrificing the latter for the former. I am sure that the honorable and learned member does not mean to do that ; but that is what he is doing.

Mr Reid:

– I do not mean to do that.

Mr PAGE:

– This is done by honorable members opposite in their desire to kill trades unionism. I do not say that that is the desire of the honorable and learned member for East Sydney, but it is certainly the idea of the gentlemen in the Opposition corner. All they want to do is to kill the Bill ; they have told us times out of numberthat that is their desire - that if they could not kill it on the second reading they intended to try to kill it in Committee.

Mr Tudor:

– They were not “ game “ to take a vote on the second reading.

Mr Reid:

– Let the honorable member for Maranoa propose for us something “ lingering.”

Mr PAGE:

– Why does the honorable and learned member not put us out of our “lingering?” That is the right way; let him see if he can “ swallow the tiger.” The honorable and learned member likened the situation to that of a cat and a mouse ; but the fact is that the protectionist members of the Opposition are the “ mouse,” and he is going to swallow them. It does not matter twopence about the honorable and learned member keeping himself and his party separate and distinct ; he knows a little more than the Honorable Alfred does. It is all right, this swallowing business !’

Sir William Lyne:

– The honorable member may rest assured that the honorable and learned member for East Sydney will not swallow them all. Mr. Reid.- One would poison me if I tried to swallow him.

Mr PAGE:

– If preference is not to be given to unionists, the best thing the Government can do is to drop the Bill.

Mr Wilks:

– Unless preference is given, no unions will register under the Bill.

Mr PAGE:

– How can they? The honorable and learned member for Ballarat in a. very flowery speech, told us the other night, that this would not interfere with unionists at all, because they could have another organization. I have become used to the honorable and> learned member now, and I take what he says with a grain of salt, and with a very big pinch at that. Does the honorable and learned member know what it means to work up another organization? He can know very little about the matter, or he would not talk so glibly about doing so. If that was his intention when, as Attorney-General, he drafted the Bill, he could have very little information on the subject. Rather late in the day some honorable members have objected to the political side of the unions. I perused the whole of the debates, which took place in the New, South Wales Parliament on the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, but I could not find one reference to that aspect of the question. This clause may be so mutilated as to become unworkable, and of what use will the Bill be if unions refuse to register under it? .

Mr Batchelor:

– No union will register under it, if the amendment is carried.

Mr PAGE:

– I can speak for a union that I know something about, and I am as certain as that I am standing here, that if this Bill is passed with the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas, the Australian Workers’ Union will not register under it. We are, therefore, only wasting so much time. I have always been under the impression that if a person consults a solicitor, and states his case to him, he gives him his whole mind on the case, and what he says is considered sacred and secret. I admit that I do not know much about law, and I do not desire to know much about it. I follow the advice of the Chief Justice to keep out of it. It is said that there are only two people who should go to law, those who have too much money and those who have none at all. I believe that is a very good principle on which to act. I repeat that I have always understood that if a person puts his case in. the hands of a solicitor, and lets him know everything in his mind in connexion with it, his conferences with the solicitor are held sacred. For the solicitor in such a case to come to this House and make public all that his client has said to him, and give the whole show away, is one of the most diabolical things I have ever heard of. There should be some means of punishing a man who does that kind of thing. If I were a member of the union concerned in this case, I should tell the offender what I thought of him in a very few words. I have nothing further to say on the question. I am not a member of the Ministry, but if I were- I should consider the amendment moved by the honorable and- learned member for Angas as fatal to the Bill. If it were carried against the Government I should advise them to drop the Bill as speedily as possible.

Mr LONSDALE:
New England

– I desire to put myself right with regard to a statement I made the other evening with respect to the Australian Workers’ Union. I have now in my hand a report of the decision of the Arbitration Court in connexion with the matter to which I referred. I find that the Australian Workers’ Union applied to have the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union cancelled, and the Court refused the application, because of various rules adopted by the Australian Workers’ Union which the Judge considered should not be adopted by an association of the kind. The statement I previously made was that the Australian Workers’ Union could not be registered because of that fact. The Australian Workers’ Union applied to have the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union cancelled on the ground that unless that were done there would be two unions where one would do, and the decision of the Court was practically that the constitution and rules of the Australian Workers’ Union were such that large numbers of men could not join it. The Court refused to cancel the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union oh those grounds. We have heard a great deal about politics in these unions. No one who considers the matter carefully will contend that we should pass a law which will practically compel men to join unions that have in view objects of which they do not approve. We are here to legislate, not for unionists, or nonunionists, but for all. We are here to do what is right and just in the interests of the whole community. Even those most strongly in favour of unions will admit that. One of the. objections urged against the cancellation of the registration of the Machine Shearers Union, was that the Australian Workers’ Union ran what was called a political paper. With respect to that paper the Court said : -

There certainly have been black lists and some other aggressive features in its columns of which one cannot approve, and which may leave the publishers open to actions for libel ; but these exceptional departures from proper limits should not tell vitally against the general character of the paper.

We have heard a great deal here about black lists for unionists. It is contended that a man should not be put in a black list, or boycotted because he is a unionist. That is quite true. I hold that no man should be blacklisted because of his political or religious opinions, or because of any other opinions that he holds, so long.’ as in. expressing them he avoids what may be offensive to others. If a man desires to belong to a union, no employer should on that ground boycott him. I hold just as strongly that a man should not be black-listed because, for some reason of his own, he feels compelled to refrain from joining a union. If it is wrong ‘for the employers to have a black list, it is wrong for the unionists to have one. There should be absolute freedom on both sides.

Mr Page:

– A black list is bad in any case; but would the honorable member kill the unionists for the sake of the nonunionists ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– I have no wish to kill the unionists; I have already said, by way of interjection, that I would let men belong to 500 unions if they wished to join them. ‘ Men should be perfectly free to join any union or association so long as it is not of a treasonable nature ; but, on the other hand, no nian should be blacklisted because he does not belong to a union- So much has been spoken of the employers’ blacklists that it ought to be remembered that the unions have blacklisted non-unionists; and have refused to work with them. Mr. Justice Cohen, speaking of the rule of the Australian Workers’ Union to which I have already referred, says: -

I regard it as highly objectionable, and as contrary to public policy, and, therefore, legally unenforceable. It is .is follows : - “ Any member of the Australian Workers’ Union voting or working against the selected labour candidate approved of by the union shall be fined the sum of £3-“

That was a rule passed by a union in a land of freedom. It has been said that the rule has been disallowed by the Judge, but it must be remembered that it was one of the rules accepted by the Registrar of the New South Wales Court, and registered under the Act.

Mr Watson:

– What harm did the rule do, before the Court disallowed it, to those who were not members of the union ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– The members of the union would not work with non-unionists, who were called “scabs” and “blacklegs,” and were therefore compelled to join the union in order to get employment, without which they must have starved. Mr. Justice Cohen continued -

The franchise is not alone a personal privilege, but its exercise may be regarded as a public duty, and in the national interest, electors should be protected in its free and independent use; Unquestionably, no action of this Court should place a member of the public in the compulsory position of either remaining a nonindustrial unionist or becoming one with -such a disability as is contained in this rule 57.

That was one of the grounds upon which he decided that the registration of the Machine Shearers’ Union should not be cancelled. How men of intelligence, who support the Bill as it stands, can say that they are asking only for fair play for unionists and non-unionists alike I cannot understand. We, who support the amendment, are fighting against a provision which might compel men to join unions of whose rules they did not approve. I prefer the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas to the amendment of it moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella ; but , whichever is carried, I shall seek in every way to prevent men from being, coerced into doing that which they do not wish to do. As Mr. Justice Cohen says -

If a person voluntarily joins an association with a rule of this kind, which, by depriving him of important privileges, in a sense punishes him for doing that which he was quite free and entitled to do, that is his own business.

Of course, if a man chooses to fetter his action by joining a union which makes him the slave of its officials, it is his own concern ; but we should not compel men to join such unions.

Mr Watson:

– How does the clause compel men to join such unions?

Mr LONSDALE:

– If the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas be carried, only associations formed for the purposes of the measure can be registered, and men will not be compelled to join organizations whose objects are political.

Mr Watson:

– The honorable member is dealing with an aspect of the question which should be dealt with in the discussion of the clause giving preference to unionists.

Mr LONSDALE:

– If the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas is accepted by the Prime Minister, I shall be ready to give preference to unionists, because the organizations registered under the Bill will be open to every -one to join, and will have no political or other objects foreign to the scope of the measure. So long as the members of organizations under the Bill are free from improper disabilities, I shall be prepared to give compulsory preference to them.

Mr Carpenter:

– The honorable member is against the Bill altogether. He has said so.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I have said that the Bill will do very little good to the workers. Those who are fighting for it are throwing dust in the eyes of the workers, and they know it.

Mr Watson:

– Is that in order?

The CHAIRMAN:

– The statement is not in order.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I will withdraw them if the Prime Minister objects to them.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The honorable member must also confine his remarks to the amendment of the amendment moved by the honorable and Teamed member for Corinella.

Mr LONSDALE:

– My remarks have all borne upon the amendment. I have quoted the opinion of Mr. Justice Cohen upon the rule of the Australian Workers’ Union to which I have referred, and I will quote now the statement of Mr. Cruickshank, a member of the Court, who has been described by the Minister of External Affairs as a unionist, and as one who believes in unionism. He said -

The rules of the Australian Workers’ Union, including its “ Policy for 1902,” were submitted to. the Court in the usual way, and, putting a common-sense construction on the words, a number of them are exceptionally drastic, arbitrary, and of an unbending, cast-iron character, added to which the political element has been introduced in a manner which is particularly objectionable; in fact, the disabilities, penalties (financial and otherwise) practically amount to prohibition ; consequently, to me it is clear there was ample justification for the action taken by the junior union, and, further, that no man or body of men could possibly join the Australian Workers’ Union without sinking their individuality, and sacrificing their personal and political freedom.

Those are strong remarks to come from one who has been spoken of in the highest terms by the Minister of External Affairs. Mr. Cruickshank continued : -

It should, and, ho doubt, will, in the near future be vested in some recognised central authority, such as the “ Political Labour League,” or the “ Trades and Labour Council,” one or both of which may be safely trusted to look after all things political as far as labour is concerned. Then our Arbitration Act would, as originally intended, be administered on purely industrial lines. Such a policy would enable the Court and all concerned to deal with labour troubles without having to consider a fact which, if present, would be productive of friction, irritation, and bad feeling. … In conclusion, I submit that the disabilities and penalties to which all members of the Australian Workers’ Union are subjected - notably expulsion for doing anything that would affect the solidarity of the Labour Party, heavy fine for working or voting against the selected labour candidate, the severe conditions relating to disqualification from office, the introduction of strike rules, the debarring of contracts - even at union rates - also against working for weekly wage, or with no-unionists at union rates, &c. - are all such as can only be regarded as regrettable speci- mens of trades union tyranny, and to me are suggestive as the best method of doing the greatest possible amount of harm to the cause of labour.

Mr Watson:

Mr. Cruickshank is the representative of the employers.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Yes; but he has been referred to as a unionist, and as one who believes in unionism. The honorable members for Barrier and Maranoa say that they do not wish for the Bill, unless, it provides for preference to unionists.

The CHAIRMAN:

– The Committee have already dealt with that question.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Those honorable members have also said that if the amendments now before the Chair are agreed to they will not accept the Bill. They are prepared to continue the present system of settling disputes unless undue advantage is conferred upon them by this measure. The law should not confer any benefit upon a unionist because he is a member of a trades -organization. It has been said that the unionists will sacrifice a great deal if this Bill be passed without the preference clause, and that we shall destroy the unions. We are not endeavouring to destroy the unions ; but we contend that, under the law as it stands at present, they do not possess any special rights. They can strike if they like, but the law does not compel them to do so. They adopt that form of protest against their conditions of employment because they think it will. serve their own interests. They are not called upon to sacrifice any rights. Any man may, at present, leave his employer and get work elsewhere, and there will be nothing in the Bill to deprive him of that liberty. I object to conferring the right upon any man, or body of men, to terrorize others and compel them to do that which is distasteful to them. The honorable member for Barrier referred to the case of a miner named Dale, who took an active part in bringing before the Arbitration Court of New South Wales the dispute between the miners and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company. He stated that because of Dale’s action in that matter the manager of the mine refused to employ him. The honorable member also told us that the management and the miners were well satisfied with the award, - and that the employers looked upon the £1,000, which they had expended in connexion with the hearing of the case, as a good investment, because they could now feel assured of industrial peace for a period of at least two years. The two statements of the honorable member do not harmonize.

If the mine management had been well satisfied with the award they ought to have given Dale a better job, instead of dismissing him from his employment. The manager stated that Dale was’ not dismissed on account of his activity in union matters, but because of insolence to one of the shift bosses. That sounds very much more probable. The honorable member also told us that men would not be compelled to remain members of the industrial organizations under the Bill unless they liked. He told us that all they would have to do would be to join, and obtain work, and then walk out of the union again. The honorable member, however, forgot to tell us that, if a man left the union, he would become a non-unionist, and that the members of the organization would, if possible, have him dismissed.

Mr Mcwilliams:

– He would be called a “ scab “ or a “ blackleg.”

Mr Poynton:

– That is what they call the non-union doctors in South Australia.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Yes ; some very strange things take place in that State. Some honorable members have stated that if the military and police were prevented from interfering in industrial disputes they would not require this measure. The Minister of External Affairs told us of some of the outrages that had been perpetrated in connexion with the Cripple Creek strike in Colorado. I do not think that these reflected much honour upon the unionists, although honorable members opposite may consider otherwise.

Mr Watson:

– No one attempts to justify them.

Mr LONSDALE:

– But the outrages were mentioned in order to influence our votes.

Mr Watson:

– In order to show what might occur without . such a law as that now proposed.

Mr LONSDALE:

– The Minister of External Affairs recently made certain state- ments in Sydney, which I brought under the attention of the Committee. The Minister denied that his remarks were capable of the construction placed upon them; but the fact that he made these statements to the Committee showed what was in his mind.

Mr Watson:

– They showed the necessity of passing some such law as that now under consideration.

Mr LONSDALE:

– The Bil! is intended to compel men to join unions whether they like it or not.

Mr Spence:

– Where are all these men of whom the honorable member speaks?

Mr LONSDALE:

– There are many thousands of them. Those persons who travel through the country know that there are thousands of men outside the unions. We have been told that the police and the military have been used to assist the employers. and that their interposition should not be permitted. I contend, however, that if men are to be terrorized into joining trades unions, which may have political or other objects in which they do not concur, the law must be invoked to protect them in the free exercise of their rights. The unionists have exercised terrorism in the past, and this should be no longer permitted. We have heard the non-unionists described as contemptible ; but there are bad men on both sides, and unionists have figured under circumstances which have disgraced our civilization. I am not charging unionists generally with having taken part in outrages, but many members of unions have been guilty of the most reprehensible conduct. Honorable members opposite will, no doubt, be ready to admit that.

Mr Page:

– Thev do not admit it.

Mr LONSDALE:

– Then they ought to do so. I believe in men combining together for the purpose of improving their conditions of employment, so long as they do not seek to compel others to adopt a course to which they are not inclined. I object to this clause, because it seems to me that under it men would be coerced into joining unions, having objects of which they could not approve. If the unions had properly conducted their affairs in the past, there would not have been any necessity to force men into their organizations.

Mr Page:

– To what unions does the honorable member refer ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– I refer to unions generally. We know that one of the most comprehensive of all unions is the Australian Workers’ Union.. That organization, which desires that preference shall be given to unionists, forces men to join it at present. Storekeepers and hotelkeepers are forced to become members and to contribute to that union, because they know, that if they stand out they will be’ boycotted.

Mr Bamford:

– The proprietors of the leading newspapers in Sydney recently boycotted the news agents.

Mr LONSDALE:

– That was wrong. Boycotting is wrong on either side. The leaders of the labour unions have com- plained of boycotting on the part of the employers, and I am how pointing out that the Australian Workers’ Union has been a grave sinner in that respect.

Mr Page:

– Will the honorable member take a ticket in the Australian Workers’ Union ?

Mr LONSDALE:

– Yes, if I am permitted to attend some of the meetings of the union, and bring with me a friend or two.

Mr Page:

– We are not afraid of the honorable member.

Mr LONSDALE:

– I do not think that this measure will confer any great benefit on the workers of Australia ; but if it is to be passed, it should be framed on such lines that no man . shall be subjected to terrorism by the members of the existing unions, or to any control so far as political or other matters are concerned. If a trades organization has a benefit fund connected with it, the man who joins should be perfectly free to contribute to it or otherwise, as he thinks fit. The expense connected with membership of industrial organizations registered under the Bill should be reduced to the very lowest possible figure, because, if preference be given to unionists, one man may have to join six or seven unions within twelve months. If a man is working in a mine, and the mine closes down, he may have to seek work as a driver. He will then have to join a Carters’ Union. If he loses that employment, and wishes to become a builders’ labourer, he will have to join a Labourers’ Union. If he subsequently desires to go shearing, he will have to become a member of a Shearers’ Union, and so on. Therefore, unless we are very careful, we shall impose grave disabilities upon any man who may be in search of employment. If the operation of the measure were restricted to two or three large organizations, I should not anticipate much difficulty, but I am afraid that if its scope is very extensive it will have a seriously hampering effect. I shall vote for the amendment, or the amendment of the amendment, because I desire that every man shall have absolute freedom to apply his labour to the best advantage.

Mr POYNTON:
Grey

– I rise chiefly in order to raise a protest against the unfair attitude assumed by the honorable and learned member for Wannon in the comparison which he has endeavoured to institute between the Amalgamated Miners’ Association and the Australian Natives’ Association. I am a member of both organiza tions, and I am in a position to say that the honorable and learned member has either exhibited the grossest ignorance of the rules of the former body, or deliberately misrepresented the position. The honorable and learned member should have known that the Australian Natives’ Association provides for sick pay and for funeral allowances for members of the family under sixteen years, and that the Amalgamated Miners’ Association makes no provision for sick pay. He should also be aware of the fact that the 26s. per year which he quotes as the contribution required for each member of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, is0 paid into a fund used solely for the purposes of providing benefits in cases of accident, and that, apart from this, a special levy has to be made upon every member of the association to provide for funeral expenses. I think it is a pity that an irresponsible person should be in a position to traduce an association that has done more to assist its members in time of trouble than the Australian Natives’ Association has ever done. The Amalgamated Miners’ Association has paid away hundreds of thousands of pounds to assist miners who have met with accidents, and also a very large sum in the form of funeral allowances. They have assisted thousands of distressed men whom the Australian Natives’ Associa- tion would not accept as members. The latter association requires all its members to pass a medical examination, but no such stipulation is made by the Amalgamated Miners’ Association. The honorable and learned member should not try to advertise the Australian Natives’ Association at the expense of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, or endeavour to create want of confidence in the latter institution. If the honorable and learned member had known as much as I do about the benefits which have been derived from membership of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association - to which business people can abundantly testify - he probably would not have spoken disparagingly of it.

Mr Robinson:

– All I say is that the Amalgamated Miners’ Association is not upon a sound actuarial basis.

Mr POYNTON:

– I contend that it is upon as sound an actuarial basis as is the Australian Natives’ Association.

Mr Robinson:

– Can the honorable member tell me what actuary certifies to that fact ?

Mr POYNTON:

– Does not the honorable and learned member see that there is a vast difference between the conditions of the two associations? The organization to which the honorable and learned member belongs provides for benefits in cases of sickness, whereas the Amalgamated Miners’ Association makes provision only- for cases of accident.

Mr Robinson:

– Surely the basis upon which that provision should be made is a question for an actuary to determine. .

Mr POYNTON:

– The fact cannot .be denied that these organizations have met all demands that have been made upon them. They have disbursed hundreds of thousands of pounds in funeral allowances. This money has been provided by means of levies upon their members - a fact which the honorable and learned member studiously ignored.

Mr Watson:

– He was not aware of it. Mr. POYNTON.- The omission resulted either from gross ignorance or from a desire to deliberately misrepresent the real position. I am absolutely astounded at the extraordinary interest which is being manifested in the welfare of non-unionists. Unfortunately the rules of Parliament prevent me from describing that individual as I should like to do. As a matter of fact, the average non-unionist is a parasite, who lives upon trades organizations. He is ever ready to participate in any reform which may be achieved by them. Twentyseven years’ experience of trades organizations induces me to say that in every instance in which the conditions of labour have been improved, these (Organizations take the initiative. On the other hand, what has been accomplished bv the nonunionist? Nothing. Every great reform which has been effected in Australia has been the result of trades unionism.

Mr Robinson:

– On the voluntary principle.

Mr POYNTON:

– Honorable members opposite, however, appear to have discovered some phenomenal good in the nonunionist. Speaking of the average individual of that class, I say that he is ever ready to accept an increase of wage or an improvement in the conditions of labour, but he is not prepared to fight for them. If a unionist sacrifices his position, he is always ready to jump into it. That is the sort of creature whose cause honorable members opposite are championing. I have seen the gaols of some of our great cities practically emptied of the criminal class for the purpose of crushing trades unionism. What has trades unionism done to justify the violent attack which is being made upon it ? Is not the real reason underlying the opposition to this Bill to be found in the fact that a Labour Ministry is in power ? How is it that honorable members opposite are prepared to repudiate the provisions of the very measure which was introduced by the late Government, and supported by them? I do not think that in Australian politics another instance can be found of exMinister after ex-Minister voting against their own Bill. So far as some members of the late Government are concerned, it is upon record that they have not once voted in favour of the provisions of this measure, although had they remained in power., they would have made it appear that they believed in them. Why do they not come out from behind their kopjes and fight fairly? Let them attack the Government in a straightforward manner, and accept thi responsibility for their actions. Why do they continue a guerilla method of warfare ? 1 have no special desire to sit upon this side of the Chamber - I would just as soon occupy a seat upon the Opposition benches. The moment that the occupants of those benches can demonstrate that they number a majority of this Committee, members of the Labour Party are prepared to change places with them. I confess that it makes my blood boil to hear so gross an attack made upon trades unionism. It has accomplished infinitely more for the advancement of political and other reforms than has ever been accomplished by- non-unionists. Under the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas a trades union would be prevented from establishing even an accident fund or a funeral allowance. Some honorable members ask - “ Why cannot the members of trades unions form themselves into a separate organization?” Do they realize what is involved in such a proposal It practically means organizing the workers afresh over the entire continent. Hitherto, when necessity drove the workers to strike, we have been asked, “ Why do they not exercise lawful means to secure a redress of their grievances?” But now that we are endeavouring to secure industrial peace by means of arbitration, an attempt is made to hedge the Bill round with restrictions which are intended only to render its provisions nugatory. We have had just about enough of this sort of thing.

If honorable members do not intend that we shall secure a workable measure, let them accept the responsibility of piloting an Arbitration Bill through this House. Undoubtedly, a measure of that character must be passed. No Ministry which assumes office can live without undertaking that task. I shall vote against every proposal which is designed to whittle away the good that is intended to be bestowed by this Bill. I can understand the attitude of the honorable member for Lang, who is opposed to the measure, lock, stock, and barrel.

Mr Johnson:

– Nothing of the kind.

Mr POYNTON:

– The honorable member told us that upon the floor of this chamber.

Mr Johnson:

– I object to that statement, Mr. Chairman. I said nothing of the kind

Mr POYNTON:

– The honorable member voted to displace the Deakin Ministry avowedly for the purpose of killing this Bill.

Mr Johnson:

– Again, I deny that statement.

Mr POYNTON:

– His position is a perfectly consistent one. But I ask, “ What about the attitude of those who profess to be in sympathy with the proposals of the late Government?” I could name a number of honorable members who have never yet voted with the Ministry upon this Bill.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I ‘ would remind the honorable member that the question before the Chair is the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.

Mr POYNTON:

– I shall1 vote against every proposal which is designed to rob this Bill of its usefulness. We must secure a workable measure, and not one the good effect of which will be stultified by amendment. If the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella were carried, who would be the judge of what action partook of a political character? I remember being asked upon the eve of an election whether I objected to answering a question which had no political bearing, because under the law of the State the mouths of candidates were closed from the clay of nomination until the closing of the poll. I replied to my inquirer, “ Personally I. have no objection; but are you quite sure that your ‘question has no political bearing?” Upon being reassured upon this point, I consented to answer the inquiry. I was then asked, “ To what church do you belong?” to which I replied, “ I trust that I belong to the Church of God.” My interrogator was thus left in total ignorance as to my religious creed. Similarly, I believe that it will be very difficult to determine what constitutes a political act. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is certaintly preferable to that of the honorable and learned member for Angas, because the proposal of the latter would practically wipe out every existing union. For instance, if a member of one of these organizations were to speak at a political meeting a cry would at once be raised, “ Oh, this is a political organization.” Rather than that such a provision should be inserted in the Bill, I am prepared to sacrifice it, and to allow those who are responsible for its mutilation to undertake the task of piloting a measure dealing with arbitration through this House.

Mr Johnson:

– I desire to say a few words by way of personal explanation. In the course of his remarks, the honorable member for Grey stated that upon several occasions I had declared that I was opposed to this Bill, “ lock, stock, and barrel.” So far from having made that statement, I have frequently said that, whilst I had no particular faith in the efficacy of this measure as a means of improving the industrial condition of the workers generally, I was perfectly prepared to give it a fair trial. I affirmed that I was not opposed to the Bill itself, but to the pernicious clauses which it contained, the effect of which would be detrimental to the interests of the whole community.

Mr McLEAN:
Gippsland

– The honorable member for Grey has twitted honorable members upon this side of the Chamber with having altered their attitude upon this Bill since it passed to the sponsorship of the present Government.

Mr Poynton:

– That is a fact, too. Mr. McLEAN. - It would be better, when an accusation of that kind is made, if specific cases were mentioned.

Mr Poynton:

– 1 mentioned the cases of three ex-Ministers who have not vet voted for it.

Mr McLEAN:

– The honorable member does not know how those honorable gentlemen would have voted.

Mr Watson:

– Against their own Bill !

Mr McLEAN:

– In this debate I have heard the taunt repeatedly applied to other members besides. ex-Ministers. In my second-reading speech, I clearly defined my position in regard to this Bill when it wau introduced by a former Government. I said that I would support the Bill as. earnestly as I could, so far as it was intended to secure industrial peace, but I pointed out that it contained several provisions which, in my opinion, went a great deal further than was necessary for that purpose, and I indicated my intention of opposing those provisions in Committee, with a view to either their elimination or their modification.

Mr Poynton:

– What about the exMinisters ? They ‘ did not make any such statement.

Mr McLEAN:

– I do not know how the ex-Ministers would have voted. I know that when a question on which I have felt strongly has been made a Cabinet question, I have claimed the’ right to give an independent vote. I have exercised that right against my colleagues.

Mr Higgins:

– But the honorable member would not introduce a Bill, praise its clauses, and then vote against them?

Mr McLEAN:

– The Bill was introduced by one member of the late Ministry, and I question very much if any Minister except the one who drafted the Bill - and who I regret very much is too unwell to be amongst us to-day - fully understood the effect of many of its provisions. In my second-reading speech I said that I would endeavour to eliminate those industries in regard to which disputes had never arisen, and the rural industries have since been omitted. I also said that I would do all I could to modify the provision for the application of the common rule ; and that has been modified by the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I then laid particular stress on the provision with which we are now dealing - the question of giving a preference to unionists. I pointed out that it went a great deal too far.

Mr Poynton:

– That is not the provision with which we are dealing.

Mr McLEAN:

– Practically that” is the provision.

Mr Isaacs:

– The amendment has nothing to do with that provision.

Mr McLEAN:

– The amendment is designed to place every section of the community on ‘ the Same footing as unionists, and that, if I understand it aright, has a great deal to do with the provision for giving a preference to unionists.

Mr Isaacs:

– The amendment I am now discussing has nothing to do with giving a preference to unionists.

Mr McLEAN:

– The honorable member for Grey has said that honorable members who are supporting the amendment are making an attack on unionists, and are necessarily opposed to unionism.

Mr Poynton:

– So they are ; they are trying to break up unionism.

Mr McLEAN:

– I deny that most emphatically.

Mr Poynton:

– That is the effect of it.

Mr McLEAN:

– The honorable member comes here as a member of an organization, and he has not the slightest delicacy about speaking and voting on matters in which he is personally interested. I do not blame him for doing that; but I hold that honorable members who wish to- put every section of workmen on the same footing are not necessarily opposed to unionism. I have never been opposed to unionism. I have repeatedly said that I admired the work which had been done by unionists. I believe that they do5 excellent work, and have done a great deal for the workers of Australia. At the same time, I am not prepared to place any body of men on a’ distinct footing from their fellow-colonists before the laws of the country. I have always contended that every man should be equal before the law, that it should make no distinction and show no favouritism to individuals, and also that every section of the community should have an equal’ voice in making the law. . This proposal is the most serious attempt at class domination that has ever come under my observation during a tolerably long parliamentary career.

Mr Wilks:

– What about the special bank legislation which was passed only about ten years ago?

Mr McLEAN:

– I do not. know what legislation the honorable member refers to?

Mr Wilks:

– I refer to the legislation which was passed at the time of the bank panic.

Mr.McLEAN. - I remember that, in Victoria some years ago, an attempt was made to secure additional political power for property owners.

Mr Spence:

– They have always had it in the Legislative Council.

Mr McLEAN:

– I was one of those who joined with labour members in bitterly opposing that claim. I considered then, as I do now, that no section of the community is entitled to special privileges before the law, which should always apply impartially to every section of the community. I was in thorough sympathy with the labour members who opposed any such claim on the part of the property owners; but I little thought that they would be the next persons to set up a much more preposterous claim in favour of the unions with which they are connected. Because, certainly, theclaim that is now made on behalf of unionism goes a long way beyond any claim which was made by the property owners. What the latter asked for was an additional vote in virtue of what they called thrift, that is, in virtue of having acquired a permanent stake in the country. I never knew them to attempt to use it for personal gain, either for themselves or for any one connected with them. But, on the present occasion, the attempt is to give to unionists advantages which are denied to every other section of workers, and that is a provision to which I object. The longer the debate has been continued the more convinced have I become, after listening to all the speeches in support of the clause as it stands, that the Bill is not supported chiefly for the purpose for which it was professed to be introduced, that is, for securing industrial peace. It appears to me that the real object underlying the support that is accorded to the Bill, from my honorable friends opposite, is to strengthen the unions for political purposes, and not for industrial purposes. Take the honorable members on the other side of the House who have spoken on the provision. First of all the Prime Minister told us that the organization contemplated by the amendment would be a sort of ephemeral, colourless one, that would lack the vitality which was necessary. He said that it was only through the existing unions that this provision could be made effective. He added that the influence which the unions exercised in other directions was necessary to secure that cohesion which was desirable in order to give strength and stability to the measure. He did not tell us that the organization con-‘ templated by the amendment was sufficient for the purpose of bringing the provisions of the Act into operation, and of securing industrial peace with fair conditions as .to rates of wages and hours of labour’ for the workers. We know perfectly well that an organization framed for that express purpose would be sufficient for securing all those objects. The reason why it is desired to hand the workers over practicallly to the unions is to strengthen their hands for political purposes. The intention is, instead of securing industrial peace, to strengthen the unions for political war- fare. That was made manifest by various speakers who followed the Prime Minister. The Minister of External Affairs told us that the Bill was not necessary to secure a preference for unionists. He said that at the present time the unions practically possess and exercise the power of depriving nonunionists of their right to labour, that they have the power to secure a preference. He told us, moreover, that if the amendment were carried it would not injure the unions, but would injure the general community ; but he omitted to tell us how that would come about. He went on to say that if we attempted to interfere with the political power of the unions, our political blood would be on our own heads, whatever he may have meant by that remark. He is very keen in debate: he is argumentative and logical when his case admits of argument. When he has to resort to bluster and bluster alone, we know that in his own estimation his case must be very weak indeed. I listened very carefully to the speech of the honorable member for Barrier. ‘ Generally speaking, he is logical and very moderate in his utterances. If he made anything plain he made it plain that his heart was not in the object which he was defending.- He made it very plain that he was ashamed of the position which he felt compelled to take up.

Mr Thomas:

– That is unfair.

Mr McLEAN:

– The honorable member told us, in a sort of apologetic vein, that the clause was not intended to give a monopoly to unionism.

Mr Thomas:

– I did not do that.

Mr McLEAN:

– The honorable member said that all the unions wanted was a preference. In other words, that they only wanted to be permitted to pick the cream of the employment, and after all their members had been supplied with suitable billets . then the honorable member would not object to- the non-unionists getting the skim milk and the whey. Like a modern Lazarus the non-unionist? might be permitted to pick up the crumbs that fell from the unionist’s table. I suppose that the non-unionists should be thankful for even these small mercies. But my friend seemed to feel that even that little comfort was scarcely sufficient to induce a non-unionist, or, indeed, any impartial person, to’ accept the proposal, and he went on to point out how the provisions of the Bill could be evaded.

Mr Thomas:

– Such provisions are be ing evaded in New South Wales to-day.

Mr McLEAN:

– The honorable member said that, in order to evade the provisions of the Bill, all that was necessary was to join a union and pay the subscription. A person so joining, having secured employment by jostling out, probably, a more conscientious non-unionist, could salve his con science by a second act of apostasy.

Mr Thomas:

– That is being done.

Mr McLEAN:

– Such . a person could salve his conscience by withdrawing from the union which he had entered for the special purpose of jostling some other person out of a billet

Mr Thomas:

– That is what is being done every day at Broken Hill.

Mr McLEAN:

– These were the comforts that the honorable member pointed out - the inducements he offered to us to support his view. I need hardly remind the honorable member that that temptation is scarcely strong enough to induce any impartial man to vote for the Bill as it stands.

Mr Thomas:

– I simply said that that was being clone.

Mr McLEAN:

– Our friends opposite are the very last men in Australia who should take up their present attitude. Who have been declaiming, in season and out of season against monopolies, but our friends, the Labour representatives? I believe that one of the pricipal planks of their platform is the nationalization, or, in other words, the confiscation of monopolies. But it appears to me now that they object to monopolies only when they are enjoyed by persons outside their charmed circle - by persons outside the unions.

Mr McDonald:

– A very wise course.

Mr McLEAN:

– When enjoyed by unionists these monopolies become a sacred right - that is worthy of being enshrined in the tabernacles of the just. I point out, however, that there are monopolies and monopolies. The monopolies against which the Labour Party has always declaimed so strongly are, in most cases, the legitimate reward of industry, and do not interfere with the rights and privileges of other persons. But the right they are seeking to secure for unionists is, in my opinion, the last on God’s earth that should be made the subject of monopolythat is the right to earn one’s bread by honest toil. To deprive any man of his right to earn a living by honest labour is little less of a crime than to attempt to deprive him of his share of the atmosphere he breathes ; both are equally essential to the life of a person who has to live by his labour. And yet our friends opposite are endeavouring to make a monopoly for what is practically a comparatively small section of the workers of the Commonwealth. Those outside are to be deprived of the means of living, unless they join a union or leave the country. I would ask honorable members on the Ministerial side why should any person be required to join a union if he objects-

Mr Thomas:

– Let the honorable member put that question to lawyers or doctors.

Mr McLEAN:

– Why should any person be required to join a union if the funds of that union are applied to any purpose of which he disapproves - to purposes other than those of the Bill? No doubt some of those other purposes are very laudable, such as those of sick pay and similar benefits.

Mr McDonald:

– Anything so long as politics are not touched !

Mr McLEAN:

– I object to making it compulsory for a person to contribute funds for any purpose outside this Bill. I believe in putting every one on the same footing in regard to the benefits of this measure. If a man is prepared to voluntarily seek any of those other objects, well and good ; I might be the first to encourage a man to do so. But we should not attempt, as this clause does, to compel him to contribute to those other objects. My friends opposite say that to carry the amendment will be to kill unionism.

Mr McDonald:

– That is what the desire is.

Mr McLEAN:

– Surely honorable members opposite will not admit that unionism is so fragile and feeble a thing that if can be killed by treatment that is fair and just ?

Mr Thomas:

– The amendment will not kill unionism, but it will kill the Bill.

Mr McLEAN:

– Then if the amendment kills the Bill, it is because the honorable member for Barrier, and those who think with him, do not want the Bill for industrial purposes. It will kill the Bill because the honorable member does not wish to secure industrial peace, but to make Parliament a recruiting agency for unionism, and to use the measure as an engine to force people into the ranks of unionism.

Mr Poynton:

– What clause in the Bill gives power to force people into unions?

Mr McLEAN:

– It is absolutely necessary for a man to join some organization in order to avail himself of the advantages that this Bill holds out; and the question we are discussing is as to the nature of such organizations. The amendment proposes to put every section of the community on the same footing, and leaves it open to unionists, if they like, to join the organization in a body.

Mr Page:

– The honorable and learned member for Ballarat said the other night that a man need not be a unionist to be in one of the organizations.

Mr McLEAN:

– Nor need he.

Mr Page:

– Then why attack unionism?

Mr McLEAN:

– There is no attack on unionism; I would be the last to attack unionism. My impetuous friend, the honorable member for Maranoa, seems to think it logical to assume that there is anattack if a proposal affects unionism in any way whatever. It is no attack to ask that members of unions shall be placed on the same footing as other members of the community.

Mr McDonald:

– Why did the honorable member not vote to include farm labourers ?

Mr McLEAN:

– Because farm labourers have never had any industrial strife. Would the honorable member punish the innocent as well as the guilty?

Mr McDonald:

– Does the honorable member mean to say that all employers who come under this Bill are guilty?

Mr McLEAN:

– I mean to say that this Bill is intended to apply to the various trades in which disputes have occurred in the past; and I think disputes have occurred in nearly all other industries except that of farming. If there were any industry in which a dispute had never occurred, I should be content to at once exclude that industry from the operations of the measure. I believe in going only as far as is necessary, in order to cure an existing and known -evil. I would go as far as any honorable member to secure industrial peace, but I would not use this Bill for political or any other purposes outside the scope and objects of the measure itself.

Mr Thomas:

– Then, the only means bv which dairymen can come under the Bill is for them to have two or three big strikes.

Mr McLEAN:

– If dairymen or farmers had shown in the past that legislation of this kind was necessary - if there had been any serious dispute - I should be one of the first to include the farming “industry within the Bill.

Mr McDonald:

– There is a big dispute now.

Mr McLEAN:

– But when it is shown that employers and employed have managed to agree, and get on peacefully, it would be monstrous to treat them as if they had been guilty, and bring them within the scope of legislation of this kind. However, that is apart from the present amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, which, in my opinion, is a vast improvement on the Bill as it stands. The proposal goes ‘a long way towards the object I wish to see attained, but I do not think it goes far enough. The amendment excludes only political* purposes ; it prohibits the application of any portion of the funds for political purposes.’ I do not think that we should compel a man, by joining a union, to contribute to any purposes outside the objects of the Bill itself; and in that respect I prefer the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas. What I- should like better would be a modification of the two proposals. I wish the honorable and learned member for Corinella and the honorable and learned member for Angas could so amalgamate their amendments as to produce a proposal which would be more acceptable to unionists, but which, at the same time,’ would obviate the necessity to force men to contribute towards any other object than the object of the Bill. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas certainly secures that object, .though I should not object to some modification of the language, if he were prepared to make that modification ; at any rate, the amendment, as it is, appears to me to be absolutely fair. It only seeks the attainment of what we were informed was the object of the Bill when first introduced - industrial peace. We were not then told that the ‘intention was to strengthen any political organization, or that there was any ulterior object ; and it appears to me, therefore, that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas would secure the object for which the Bill was brought before Parliament. Whilst not absolutely wedded to the amendment as it stands, it appears to me to be the best proposal before the Committee, and unless it is modified in some way of which I do not approve, I intend to vote for it.

Mr GROOM:
Darling Downs

– It is my intention to vote against the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and also to vote against the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas. We hare to look at the amendments from the point of view of the evil which this Bill is intended to remedy. When the Federal Constitution gave us power to deal with industrial disputes, what was the existent evil which necessitated such a section in the Constitution? It was the existence of unions of large numbers of persons, who, by striking in the case of industrial disputes, inflicted serious loss and trouble upon the community. The object of the Bill was to promote industrial peace - fo take away from the unions their power to throw the country into industrial confusion by strikes, and to compel unions on both sides to submit their disputes for peaceful solution to a properly constituted tribunal. What was the evil we had to contend with when this Bill was introduced last year? It was the fact that we had still in existence these important unions, and the Bill was framed with the express intention to provide machinery to take away from them their power to strike, and to compel them to submit their disputes to a peaceful solution. This Bill has been twice before the House of Representatives on a second reading, and it is only now, when it is before us at the Committee stage, that we are told that the existing unions should not be allowed to come before the Court to seek a peaceful solution of disputes, because they are political organizations. We are asked to exclude them from the advantages of the Bill, on the ground that they are political organizations. ‘ I ask honorable members whether it is only recently that many of these unions have been connected with politics? Have they not been connected in one way or another with politics ever since they have been formed? Has not their desire been to promote the well-being of their individual members, and in furtherance of that object to secure in Parliament representation that will assist them to have industrial legislation of a certain description agreed to? The active part which unions have taken in politics, is not a matter of yesterday. We know that for a very long time past those concerned in the organization of unions have taken part in politics, and have demanded legislation to remedy what they considered evils. The object of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas is that all existing unions must stand out of this Bill altogether. Thev must not be allowed to come under this Bill and register unless they are re-formed into separate organizations.

Mr Wilks:

– If this clause is struck out, not a single union will register under the Bill.

Mr GROOM:

– I believe that is so. My desire is to grapple with the evil that exists at the present time, and that is the presence in the community of large unions, who, by strikes, bring confusion and loss, I believe, in many instances, upon their own members, as well as upon the public. I look on this Bill, not from the point of view of either unionists or non-unionists, employers or employes, but from the point of view of the general public, whose trade, business, and commerce may be thrown into confusion because unions on either side will engage in industrial warfare. The -Bill, as first framed, was exceedingly elastic, and was intended to be so. It was intended to include all existing unions; it was intended that under it federations of existing unions might be registered, and that fresh organizations might be brought under it from time to time, as occasion might require. We were told that its provisions would enable existing grievances to be peacefully remedied by being brought before the Court. The honorable and learned member for Corinella, in his amendment, desires to go a step further, though he does not propose to go quite so far as does the honorable and learned member for Angas. Under the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, existing unions might be registered under the Bill. The honorable and learned member does not propose to destroy existing organizations; but his idea is that if they are to come under the Bill they must not be political bodies in any sense at all. It is just on that point that I find myself at variance with the honorable and learned member. I cannot, for the life of me, see why persons, simply because they hold certain political opinions, or any political opinions, should not be allowed to have their disputes heard before a court of justice.

Mr McCay:

– That is not the issue. That is an evasion of the issue.

Mr GROOM:

– I have no desire to evade the issue. I can assure honorable members that my -desire is to have a reasonable and workable measure that will enable existing unions to register, that will deal with industrial troubles arising from disputes, and that will not give undue preference tq any individual in the community. The desire of the honorable and- learned member for Corinella is that if unions have political objects in view, they shall not come before the Court to submit a dispute for decision until their rules with respect to political matters have been altered. I think that a fair statement of the proposal.

Mr McCay:

– Yes, that is fair.

Mr GROOM:

– Their rules must be so altered as to strike out references to political objects before they can come before the Court.

Mr McCay:

– If there are any such rules. We are told that there is only one union that has any such rules.

Mr GROOM:

– Under the honorable and learned member’s amendment, if a union has any such rules it is not to be allowed to come to the Court for the settlement of any dispute. For my part, I should prefer that unions should not have political rules. At- the same time, I say that if there is a large organization, composing nearly all the employes engaged in a specific trade, and if they have political objects in view, I do not believe that when they come before the Court for a decision in an industrial dispute, the Court will be actuated in any way by a consideration of the politics of the union.

Mr Wilks:

– Take the Employers’ Federation, for instance.

Mr Lonsdale:

– It is a question of forcing non-unionists into unions.

Mr GROOM:

– I shall deal with that point presently. We must gauge the evil which is supposed to exist by the nature of the award. Suppose, for instance, that any political association, such as the Employers’ Federation, a shipping federation, . or a seamen’s union, submit a dispute to the Court for decision, what does it matter to the Court that on one side the shippers’ federation happens to be composed of men who hold very strong political views, in favour of fighting socialism, or that, on the other hand, the members of the seamen’s organization are all socialists ?

Mr McCay:

– My amendment does not stop that.

Mr Lonsdale:

– It is to give all men freedom.

Mr GROOM:

– If there is a bond fide. industrial dispute between such bodies as those to which I have referred, all that the Court can take cognisance of in the settle-, ment of the dispute are the matters com prised under the powers conferred upon it under this Bill. There can be nothing that will facilitate the political objects of the parties on either side in the dispute. What will be . before the Court is merely the industrial dispute submitted to it for settlement. The honorable member for Gippsland does not think it is right that men should be compelled to join a union when they do not desire to join it. I thoroughly agree, that men should not be compelled to join a union if that union has political objects of which they do not approve, and to the furtherance of which they do not feel disposed to contribute funds. I entirely agree with the honorable member for Gippsland in that respect. But I would ask honorable members to recollect the only matter in connexion with which any such compulsion could arise. The only way in which, under this Bill, a person can be compelled to join a union is by the Court giving preference to a union. In other .cases, where preference is not given, it does not matter whether the persons concerned belong to political organizations or otherwise. For instance, a seaman’s union comes before the Court on a question of wages, and asks for a decision upon that matter. The Court gives a decision. By the powers vested in it under this Bill, the Court can extend its award in that case to all persons engaged in the same employment, whether they be unionists or nonunionists. In such a case no one would be compelled to join the seamen’s union in order to secure the benefits of the award. Persons are only compelled to join unions when the Court gives preference to unionists.

Mr McLean:

– That is the whole question.

Mr GROOM:

– I agree with the honorable member, but I again point out that the difficulty can arise only in connexion with the giving of a preference to unionists. I should like to ask the Minister of External Affairs, who is at present in charge of the Bill, if he will consider the advisability of dealing with this difficulty. Could we not provide that, where unions are political bodies, no preferences shall be given them until the objectionable political features are removed from their rules?

Mr Robinson:

– How are. we to deal with cases where a union applies money for political purposes despite the rules? Cases have been cited by the score where that is done.

Mr Batchelor:

– That cannot be followed up in any way, do what we will.

Mr GROOM:

– I think that even that might be dealt with. The honorable and learned member for Indi and I have given this matter considerable consideration. We have tried to see whether we could not meet what is the substantial objection against the clause. Some honorable members are opposed to the Bill root and branch. There are members of the Committee who do not disguise the fact that they are opposed to the principle of the Bill, and from their- point of view they are no doubt justified in doing all they can to whittle away its provisions. I do not find fault with them on that account. If they conceive it to be their duty to oppose the principle of the Bill, they are justified in doing what they can to destroy it. But there are many honorable members who believe that this Bill is the expression of an honest desire to remedy great evils existing in the community. There are honorable members who have been honestly striving, by the amendments they have suggested, to assist the Government in securing a workable measure. My honorable and learned friend can speak for himself ; but I make this public acknowledgment of the assistance which he has given me in endeavouring to arrive at a workable amendment. As regards this particular proposal, I feel that the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is really - I will not say out of order, since it has been ruled in order - but is not proposed in its appropriate place. That, of course, is only a question of detail. When we come again to deal with the question of preference to unionists, what I desire to see carried is an amendment which will provide that no preference of any description whatever shall be given to a union if by rule its funds may be appropriated in whole or in part for political objects.

Mr Lonsdale:

– They could be political up to the last moment, and then be dropped.

Mr GROOM:

– So long as. they do not ask for preference as a political organization, no harm will be done. We do not compel any one to join a union until the Court gives unionists preference. If preference is not given to unionists, then a man need not join the union.

Mr Lonsdale:

– The union might be run on political lines up to the last moment, and the political ‘objects would be dropped when they went for an award.

Mr GROOM:

– I should also like to emphasize the fact that it does not follow that because there is no express provision in the Bill, or even a suggestion to that effect, that the Court will not pay attention to union rules, which may be supposed to be objectionable. If we can make such a provision I think it is wiser ‘ to do so ; but the experience of New South Wales clearly indicates that wherever the Court has found that any union by its rules is doing anything oppressive or unfair to people outside its ranks, it very properly refuses to allow the rule to continue in existence.

Mr Wilks:

– There was a case of the kind only last week, in connexion with the Wharf Labourers’ Union.

Mr GROOM:

– That was a case in which a union refused to admit certain persons to its ranks. I believe that in that case the union came before the Court and said it was prepared to amend its rules to get over the difficulty. Wherever a union takes up the attitude of refusing to allow persons to join it on fair terms, its conduct is reprehensible in the extreme, and, judging by the calibre of the men who constitute our judiciary, I have no doubt such a case would be’ dealt with promptly. An undue amount of prominence has been given to the suggestion that if political unions are allowed to be registered, even though they- may not be given preference, in some extraordinary way they will be able to extend the political influence of one party or the other in the country. I do not believe that any such effect will follow. The hours of labour. and the conditions under which men work, and a hundred and one other such questions, no. doubt may become political. The whole question may be regarded as political, because at the present moment we are dealing with- it as a political matter. It is very difficult to define what is a political matter. But the matters upon which the Court will exercise jurisdiction, the matters of which it will take cognisance in giving its decision in any dispute submitted to it, will not be political matters. I feel that honorable members are apt to loose sight of the fact that the Bill was framed to deal with the evil resulting from strikes by existing unions, to bring about the settlement of industrial disputes. The object of the Bill is to remedy that evil. I think that the right honorable member for East Sydney, although he supported the Bill when it was introduced, expressed a certain amount of surprise in connexion with the attitude of unionists towards it. He pointed out that, although he supported the Bill, he was to a certain extent surprised that the unionists were prepared to come under it.

Mr Reid:

– I was referring to the debates in the New South Wales Parliament when the first State Bill was introduced.

Mr GROOM:

– Yes. The right honorable member delivered a speech in this House on the second reading of the Bill in which he supported the principles of the measure generally, and drew attention to the large powers which unionists were surrendering in coming under the provisions of the measure. The unions are surrendering their power to enforce their claims by strikes, a power by which they have gained so much of their present position. That is the point which I wish to enforce. Under this Bill the unions will give up a power which it must be admitted they have used to their own benefit, but the use of which is nevertheless detrimental to the community, and, therefore, so long as other persons are not compelled to join them whether they wish to do so or not, they should be allowed to register freely.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I would agree to that if unionists were to get no preference of any kind.

Mr GROOM:

– Unions whose rules are political should not have a preference.

Mr Lonsdale:

– If no preference is given, the unions may adopt what rules thev please, political or otherwise.

Mr GROOM:

– What I suggest would have the effect which the honorable member for New England wishes to bring about.

Mr Lonsdale:

– I think not.

Mr GROOM:

– The honorable member has contended that it is not right that men should be compelled to contribute to the funds of unions whose objects may be political. I agree with him there, and I ask the Government to accept an amendment providing that no such union should have a preference.

Mr Lonsdale:

– Such unions should not be registered under the Bill.

Mr GROOM:

– When a union comes before the Court and asks for an award, if it does not seek some special privilege, it is asking only for a benefit which may be conferred upon unionists and nonunionists alike. It is not necessary for a person to join a union to obtain the benefits of an award of the Court.

Mr Robinson:

– The honorable and learned member says that the unions will not ask for anything unjust if they obtain the privilege of doing something unjust. A preference to unionists in any shape or form would be unjust.

Mr GROOM:

– I disagree with the honorable and learned member. Under certain circumstances a preference to unionists may be necessary. I do not now wish to go into that argument. I have this further objection to the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas. It practically means that a very small number of persons - 100 is sufficient for the pur- ‘ poses of the measure - could put in motion the elaborate machinery of the Court, but, having no adequate funds, could not have an award enforced against them. On the other hand, in the existing unions, with their accumulated funds, we have responsible, substantial bodies, against whom awards may be enforced. For this and other reasons .1 shall vote against both the amendment and the amendment moved upon it.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– I do not wish to repeat what was said by the honorable member for Grey, but as I was secretary and organizer of the Amalgamated Miners’ Association for something like sixteen years, I indorse every word which he has said in reply to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, who, I think, ought to make some effort to arrive at the facts before making statements in this Committee which have the effect of misleading honorable members. Miners as a class consist cheifly of married men. There is, perhaps, a greater ratio of married men to single men amongst them than exists in any other class. As a rule, too, they are members of friendly societies. Generally speaking, where a unionist is in a settled occupation he is also a member of a friendly society. But it must be remembered that friendly societies accept only candidates who pass the doctor’s examination, whereas there are men working in the mines who have lost their health, and therefore cannot do so.

Mr Robinson:

– Are the funds of the association certified to by a Government actuary ?

Mr SPENCE:

– Tlie honorable and learned member did not know what he was speaking about. Trades unions do not aim at accumulating and investing funds. No actuary in Australia could say whether the Amalgamated Miners’ Association is or is not actuarially sound. The New South Wales Parliament, when framing the Miners’ Accident Relief Bill, discovered that no actuary could furnish any proper basis for payments. The only data available was really that supplied by myself from information which I had collected during a period of many years. But since 1874 the association has never failed to meet its obligations, and if the honorable and learned member for Wannon read its rules he would be aware that benefits are provided for by levy, whereas friendly societies provide benefits out of their ordinary contributions. The honorable and learned member is the representative of the Federated Employers’ Union. He spoke on their behalf the other day, and his attitude is exactly the same as theirs. He is their mouthpiece.

Mr Robinson:

– That is absolutely incorrect, and the honorable member knows it.

Mr SPENCE:

– I do not object to the honorable and learned member opposing the measure, but I am astounded that he has found fault with the Amalgamated Miners’ Association, because it has done such an immense amount of good. Many of the mine-owners are very pleased at what it has done, because its efforts have largely saved their pockets. But where a member of the association, when ill or unable to work, would in the ordinary way receive only £1 a week, if he is also a member of a friendly society he may receive ^2 a week. No doubt some of the employers think that this is very wrong, because men require higher wages to pay subscriptions to two societies than would be needed to subscribe to one only. The employers, on the other hand, believe in cutting down wages to the lowest point, in order to increase their profits. There is no question of competition with friendly societies, however. We might as well complain of the Australian Natives’ Association competing with the Amalgamated Miners’ Association. Surely no honorable member objects to miners making provision for the maintenance of their families when they become ill, or unable to work ! The objection of the honorable and learned member is, to my mind, utterly unsound. It is time that honorable gentlemen came to a definite understanding with regard to the amendments before the Committee. Those who have been associated with trades unions for many years can claim to speak with au thority on the subject of trades unionism. The trades unions are practically the only bodies which ask for this legislation, and they ask for it in’ the interests of industrial peace. The Bill is framed upon a recognition of the existing unions, and the . collective bargaining which that renders possible, and this talk about the individual unit who mas’ or may not be affected is quite beside the mark. 1’here t has always been opposition to trades unionism. It has come always from the same class, and the opposition in this Chamber to arbitration can be readily understood. I do not complain of that. But I complain of the action of those who, on the public platform, and in this Chamber, have spoken in favour of trades unionism, and have recognised the good work which it has achieved, and yet are ready to vote for any amendment which will make the Bill valueless. When we, who have been associated with trades unions, honestly make statements of absolute facts which have come within our knowledge, they should be given consideration. The objection to the existing unions has been narrowed down to an objection to the political purposes of some of them. But those who profess that they wish to prevent organizations governed by political rules coming into the Court, say that they have no objection to the persons comprising those organizations continuing to be members of existing political organizations. If the existing organizations remain, what will be done by the amendment? Honorable members are chasing a myth when they speak of men being coerced into joining the unions. This kind of legislation is not new. Arbitration Acts of a similar character have been in operation in New Zealand, New South Wales, and Western Australia for some time past, and each of these measures’ is based upon the recognition of the organizations which existed prior to its coming into force. In New Zealand and New South Wales, the trades unions previously in existence were registered, and no alteration of their rules was necessary. Why should, we, therefore, endeavour to change a system which has resulted from the developments of a century. We shall utterly fail if -we make any such attempt. The amendment pro: posed by the honorable and learned member for Angas is a straight-out proposition, but the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella would only lead to further complication. It is not easy for any one to define what would be political’. No industrial organization could fail to have political aims. Certain questions might arise in connexion with an award of the Court which might render it necessary to make an appeal to Parliament. That would be construed as a political act.

Mr Wilks:

– The unions do not engage in machine politics.

Mr SPENCE:

– They do not introduce politics into’ their ordinary operations as trades unions. Their political aims are achieved by separate organizations, and they have avoided party politics. They have dealt, first of all, with those matters which have directly concerned labour, and, because they have restricted their aims in this way, the honorable and learned member for’ East Sydney has gone up and down the countryraging against them on the ground that they seek to bring into operation only class legislation. It was natural that the unions should first of all direct their attention to those matters which immediately concern the working classes. I have previously pointed out the manner in which the union with which I happen to be associated would be affected if either amendment .were carried. As an organization, we find it necessary to conduct a newspaper in order to economize in advertising. The newspaper is owned by the association, which has acquired a thoroughly up-to-date plant, at a cost of about £4,000. The journal has a wide circulation, ‘and pays well. If our advertising in three States were done by the ordinary means, the cost would be almost ruinous, and would render it necessary to levy increased and oppressive contributions from members. . Our newspaper supports the programme of the Labour Party, co-operation, and many other principles which most .people regard as good. If either of the amendments were carried, the union would, have to give up their newspaper, and would have to be so reorganized that it is very questionable whether it would not be wiser to abstain from registration for the purposes of the Bill. If the Bill is to be rendered practically useless, it may be wiser for us to ask the Government to throw it under the table, and put the responsibility for the result upon those honorable members who have refused to support the measure introduced by the Government which the)’ formerly supported. The unions could then spend the few thou-: sand pounds they have in political organization in New South Wales and Victoria, the only States in which the majority of the representatives, in this chamber are not favorable to the Labour cause. By spending about £1,000 per seat we could so increase our majority that we should have a chance to place upon the statute-book a good and beneficial measure, instead of one that is becoming nothing more than a sham- No doubt it would please some honorable members if this measure were rendered so useless that it would become a dead-letter. They could then go to the country, and say, “ This is the measure that your Labour Government gave you.” . It is all very fine for honorable members to go on the platform and say that they are in favour of the principle of conciliation and arbitration, and then to so hack about any measure that may be introduced that it will not achieve the object in view. The Bill is being so altered that it is no longer in keeping with the principle upon which it was based, namely, the recognition of existing unions under existing conditions. A great deal ‘of correspondence is now appearing in the Sydney newspapers with regard to the operation pf the New South Wales Arbitration Act. The Secretary of the Federated Employers’ Union has been challenged to cite one case in which any evil has resulted to employers from an award of the Arbitration Court, or any case in which evil consequences have attended the preference given to unionists. He has failed to make any adequate response. There has been much misrepresentation, upon the question of preference. In the first place, there will be no compulsion on the Arbitration Court to give preference, and, in the second place, even if the Court should give preference, non-unionists will not be coerced into joining the unions. It is true that unionists will have the preference of work, but others may be taken on when the supply of unionists is exhausted. It is only fair to suppose that the ordinary working man will find it to his advantage to join a union. Why should he not? The Bill is based upon the recognition of unionism, and that fact should encourage those who are outside the union ranks to do the right thing. The sounder the unions are the better the chance of the awards being carried out. As the honorable member for Barrier has pointed out, if either of the amendments is to be carried, there will be nothing to prevent men from joining a union simply for the purpose of securing the benefits to be derived under the award of the Court, and then ceasing their contributions. I have before stated that if either of the amendments now pro- posed were carried, it would involve the re-organization of the Australian Workers’ Union - that is, if the union decided to take advantage of the provisions of the Bill. I feel sure that the union would decide not to register under the Bill. More than a year would be occupied in bringing about the necessary alterations in the rules of the union. In the meantime a bogus union could be registered.

Mr McCay:

– My amendment does not-

Mr SPENCE:

– The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member would provide work for the lawyers. I am only a bush lawyer, but I could argue all round the proposal.

Mr McCay:

– That is because the honorable member is only a bush lawyer.

Mr SPENCE:

– The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas is a straight-out proposition, but that proposed bv the honorable and learned member for Corinella would introduce an element of uncertainty.

Mr McCay:

– At any rate, it recognises existing unions.

Mr SPENCE:

– It would involve the reorganization of the existing unions. The Registrar of the Arbitration Court in New South Wales holds that the Australian Workers’ Union cannot alter its rules except at the annual conference of its members. Therefore, whilst we were engaged in the process of re-organization, the other union, to which some honorable members appear to be favorably inclined, could become registered, and thereby forestall us.

Mr McCay:

– Under my amendment the Australian Workers’ Union could register straight away

Mr SPENCE:

– The honorable and learned member must allow me to know what my union could do. If the amendment were carried, we could not register immediately.

Mr McCay:

– I assure the honorable member that the union could be registered, as I have stated.

Mr SPENCE:

– I am not prepared to accept the honorable and learned member’s assurance. We have made inquiries of the verv highest legal authorities, who state that our rules would have to be altered, because they admittedly make provision for contributions to a political fund. The Registrar of the New South Wales Arbitration Court holds that we can alter our rules only at the annual conference of our members, and probably the Registrar of the Federal tribunal would take the same view. Another union might then come in. The Machine Shearers’ Union is adopting a line of action similar to that which has been regarded as a subject of reproach in the case of other unions. First of all, a friendly conference is held between the employers and the members of that union, and an agreement for the shearing season is registered. In some cases the conference is so hastily called that a man is called in off the street and paid £1 to sit as a delegate of the workmen’s organization. I have a copy of the ballot-paper used at such a conference, and’ I find that only affirmative votes can be recorded by the representatives of the men. I have also a communication from the secretary of the Machine Shearers’ Union, dated 17th June, 1904. It is addressed to Mr. John Maurer, and reads as follows : -

The manager of the Federal Sheep Shearing Co. tells me that you have applied to him for sheds, and that he has referred your application on to me. Providing you send references, deposit of £1, and shearer’s subscription of 7s. 6d., I will place your name on the list for a run of sheds run by that company, starting ist August, 1904. I can also place any of your mates who require pens, providing they send references, deposits, and shearers’ subscriptions.

  1. have also a letter addressed to a shearer, by the manager of Toorale Station, which is one of the largest in New South Wales, in which he says -

It will be necessary for, you to make your application to the secretary of the Machine Shearers’ Union, Queen’s-place, Sydney, as I purpose instructing the secretary at an early date to engage all the shearers for this shed.

He then goes on to say that he obtained the .men for shearing at Toorale in the previous year, through the same agency. Another letter, which is addressed to Mr. F. Aitken, of Wagga Wagga, was written by the secretary of the Machine Shearers’ Union, and is dated 17th February, 1904. It reads as follows: -

Yours of 16th instant to hand, and application noted. In reply, I would inform you that this union has secured the filling of Toorale, Dunlop, and a considerable number of other sheds with shearers, &c, for the coming shearing, and that in all cases pens will be allotted to members only. Therefore, should you wish to place your name upon the list for Toorale, it will be necessary for you to join the union, and also forward me your reference and £1 deposit. The subscription for shearers is 7s. 6d. per year.

A further letter, addressed to the same man, byl the manager of Dunlop Station, was to much the same effect, and referred the applicant to the secretary of the Machine

Shearers’ Union. I have a number of other letters of a similar character. I desire to direct the special attention of the honorable member for Wentworth to these communications, because I understand that it has been suggested that, owing to the interest which he has displayed in their affairs, he should be made President of the Union. A’ good deal has been made of the interference by the unions with men seeking employment, and of the fact that .men have been forced to join the unions before they could earn- their bread and butter. The Machine Shearers’ Union is actually coercing men to join its ranks. It not only makes it necessary for them to join before they can obtain work, but it also insists that they shall pay their subscriptions and lodge with it a deposit of These men are supported by the employers who engage unionists only. I wish to lay particular emphasis upon, the fact that in connexion with this organization a unionist must be a financial member. I have been secretary of a union of which every man working in the district was a member, because it was the rule of the district. In no case, however, did we debar a man from obtaining employment because he was not a financial member. As a matter of fact, we often paid his entrance-fee so that he might be entitled to participate in the benefits conferred in case of accident. Under the amendment proposed, the Machine Shearers’ Union could register immediately, whereas the bond fide organization - the Australian Workers’ Union - could not. The right honorable member for East Sydney has made certain statements in connexion with the Machine Shearers’ Union which are absolutely correct, and I give him credit for his courage, because it should be the aim of every person to prevent fraud and injustice. Yet the right honorable member is in favour of an amendment which, if carried, will allow the Machine Shearers’ Union to become the representative leading body of the shearing industry, and will exclude the bond fide shearers’ organization. That is my object in quoting from these communications, which are original documents. The pastoralists desire to coerce men to join the Machine Shearers’ Union. No such desire operates in the case of bond fide unions. Under an award of the Court a man will not be compelled to pay his money down, and to become a financial member of a union. If he found it to his advantage, he would join one of these organizations ; if he did not, he would act otherwise. The basis of these institutions is a voluntary one, whereas in the case of the Machine Shearers’ Union it is not. Honorable members, who intend to support the amendment, should reflect what they are doing. If they carry it they will enable the Machine Shearers’ Union to coerce men into joining its ranks before they can obtain a shearing job in Australia. From the circular and .ballot-paper, which I hold in my hand, 1 find that not only was a reduction of wages agreed upon, but a rule was adopted which prohibits a member of that organization from becoming an officer until he has been ^associated with it for two years. The effect of this provision is to secure permanence of office for Mr. Leahy. The ballot-paper is so framed that the members of this organization must vote in the affirmative. Those who advocate the claims of unionists cannot be charged with self-interest. They speak from a knowledge of existing conditions’ and desire to fight this matter upon principle. I hold that we should support a recognition of existing organizations, and allow the question of their political aspect to go by the board. In that connexion I would point out that no difficulty has arisen in New South Wales. The only case in which the question cropped up was that of the Australian Workers’ Union, which had adopted a rule to which no special significance attached. I repeat that in none of the work performed by the Court has any difficulty been experienced in New South Wales. Those honorable members who desire to make the Bill a workable one, will vote for the retention of the clause in its present form, whereas those who desire to destroy its usefulness will support the amendments. As a practical man, I say advisedly that the effect of carrying the amendments will be to defeat the real object of the measure, and to render it unworkable. In such circumstances it would be very much better to throw the Bill aside and await the advent of a straight-out Labour Parliament. Why is it that the Labour Party is so strong in the various State Legislatures? It is because experience has shown that measures which professed to accomplish certain ends were so imperfectly framed that they never effected the real object in view, and that, as a result, it was continually necessary to enact amending laws. I desire to make this measure as perfect as possible. In this connexion we have the legislation of various States to go upon. In New South Wales very little amendment of the law has been found to be necessary. The Bill submitted to this House by the late Government was framed upon the’ best models of kindred legislation in Western Australia, New South Wales, and New Zealand, and we are safe in accepting the principles underlying that legislation as our guide. If we attempt to remodel the Bill we shall destroy its efficacy. If we adopt the amendment which is now under consideration, it will become a dead letter. Should that proposal be carried. I strongly urge upon “the Government the wisdom of throwing the onus upon those who emasculate the measure. In the daily press I frequently see statements to the effect that some honorable members opposite are harassing the Government. If that statement be true, I say that it is an unfair position to take up, in view of the importance of the issues which are involved in this Bill. Nonparty feeling should .influence us in dealing with a measure which is designed for the public good. Honorable members talk about the rights of individuals under the law being equal. In a general sense it is true that there should be equality under the law. But are not measures being daily introduced, the operation of which affects only sections of the people? Do not contract laws, and factory laws, not to mention numerous other statutes, affect only classes of the community ? In this Bill we propose to deal with the relationship between employers and employes collectively. The relationship between individual units does not enter into consideration at all. When the second reading of the Bill was approved, I thought honorable members recognised that collective bargaining was to be the basis of it. Why should an attempt now be made to depart from that basis? I would again point out that a non-member of a union is not necessarily the “ non-unionist “ to whom the honorable member for Grey referred, although no man ever joined a union without becoming the better for it. The man who is called a “scab” and a “blackleg” is not necessarily the individual who comes within the category of a “ non-member “ of a trades union. There are many such men who do not think it is necessary to join a union.

Mr Kelly:

– Oh !

Mr SPENCE:

– The honorable member for Wentworth has had no experience of these matters. These men have no objection to unionism. I challenge honorable members opposite .to produce a dozen bond fide workmen who entertain any real objection to trades unions. All the arguments advanced by opponents of the clause are intended either to damage the Bill, or, I fear, to harass the Government. I question whether any honorable member in this Chamber - if he had seen them as I have - would say one’ word in favour of non-unionists. They are almost invariably of the criminal type - men who are hired to take the places of their fellows. They are outcasts, who, in normal periods, cannot obtain a job. In the absence of a strike their occupation is gone. But the term “ nonunionist “ is a wrong term to apply to all men who are not members of trades unions. It does not follow that a non-member is a non-unionist. Probably he is a man who is willing to join a union when it will be to his advantage to do so. And when an award is made a number of these men will be found quite ready to join a union, because they will not suffer the same risk as they do in the absence of a law to regulate the relationship of the two classes. I have known some fairly competent men to be non-unionists; but, taken as a whole, nonunionists comprise the most miserable, narrowminded, selfish beings whom one could get hold of, and who would not be trusted anywhere. I should be sorry to have them as neighbours. In my sixteen years’ experience I have not known one case where any men objected to join a union. On the other hand, when they were told by the employer that that was the rule of the district, they readily enough agreed to join, because they found that it would be to their advantage to be unionists. It is not correct to say that there is any coercion in the matter. That cry is raised by outsiders who cannot get work except when some trouble arises, and men of the criminal type have to be raked together in the cities. All that kind of thing would disappear under a regulating measure. There is no coercion practised on the non-members; nor is there any objection to the political side of the business. It is not possible to produce a dozen men who would agree with the view that any coercion is practised. In America, when an agreement has been arrived at between the employer and the union, one condition has been that unionists shall have a preference. It is quite a common thing in that country for an agreement to provide that no one but unionists shall be employed. In Australia, too, there are many employers who follow the same rule, because experience has taught them that the unionist is the best .workman, and that by having only unionists in their employ the work is carried on in a harmonious manner. The proper way to test the question as to whether a Labour Government should be in power or not, is to submit a straightout issue, and the sooner that is” done the better. I hope that there is no truth in the insinuation in the press, that this amendment is moved to harass the Government. That- is not fair fighting. Let us have a straight-out fight. The right honorable member for East Sydney has. been persuading the farmers that it is his great duty to come across the path of the Labour Party, although he admits that its aims are very noble, and . that trades unionism is a splendid ‘ movement. That is an extraordinary statement for .the right honorable and learned member to make, seeing that, this Bil] was framed, not by the Labour Government, but by their predecessors. If there is to be a coming across the path of the Labour Party, let it be done in a straightforward way. Let us have this measure, which is so important, and means so much to the workers, passed in a practical, workable shape, or not at all. If the Bill is lost, I shall throw the onus on those who support the amendment. It is not creditable to th3 members of the late Government and their followers that they should be working with the Opposition. The measure was allowed to pass its second reading without a division ; . it was taken up’ by the Labour Government, with some alterations, involving no question of principle, and it is now supported by only one member of the late Cabinet. With that exception, all the exMinisters, including the late Prime Minister, have voted against the very measure which we thought they were in “favour of. That is misleading the House and the country. The sooner that we get a straight-out decision on party lines, the better it will be. If the Bill is to be allowed to proceed, it should be made as perfect as possible, to deal with the difficulties with which it is designed to deal, and that must be by a recognition of existing organizations whatever faults they may possess. We must trust to the Court to deal with any difficulties which may arise. I am willing to allow the Court to say in an award whether the rules of the organization are right or wrong, and, if’ it should think fit, to grant a preference to unionists. No Judge would grant a preference if he found that an objectionable rule was in existence. That is the safest and best way in which to frame the measure to meet the ends which those who profess to be its friends say that they have in view.

Mr WILLIS:
Roberston

– I do not think that the honorable member for Darling could possibly make out a case against the amendment. He is in favour of making the Bill as perfect as possible. The two proposed amendments, as far as I understand them, simply prescribe the persons who shall be in the organizations. The honorable and learned member for Angas, in his amendment, simply says -

Provided that no association shall be registered - (1.) Unless it has be,en formed and exists solely for the purposes of this Act, or -

The purposes of this Act are conciliation and arbitration, and, therefore, the honorable member- for Darling cannot possibly have any objection to that proposal. (11.) Whose funds may be applied to purposes other than the purposes of this Act, or -

The honorable member for Darling does not wish to see an organization formed for other purposes than those of promoting conciliation and arbitration as proposed in the Bill. (in.) Except in respect of the district within which the place of employment is situate.

The funds of the organization may be used for legitimate purposes within the district in which it is established. Does the honorable member for Darling desire that the. funds may be used by the organization outside the district where it is performing its various functions ?

Mr Spence:

– I believe in men being allowed to manage their own business in their own way. I believe in freedom.

Mr WILLIS:

– It would appear from the argument of the honorable member that the funds may be used for political purposes, and that he would prevent persons from obtaining work who are not in unions.

Mr Spence:

– No.

Mr WILLIS:

– The honorable member would compel those who joined a union in order to find work to subscribe for other purposes with which they have no sympathy.

Mr Spence:

– They never do.

Mr WILLIS:

– The honorable member proposes that the funds shall be used foi any purpose that the organization may desire. A person is forced to join the organ- ization in order to obtain work, and his sub scriptions may be used for promoting move ments contrary to his moral convictions.

Mr Spence:

– He is not.

Mr WILLIS:

– But the honorable member wishes the Court to give a preference to persons in a union, and a person must join a union to get the benefits of the Act.

Mr Spence:

– Not at all.

Mr WILLIS:

– The Bill permits of preference being given to unionists.

Mr Watson:

– It permits the Court to do so in certain circumstances.

Mr WILLIS:

– Has it not been stated by the Minister of External Affairs that in New Zealand the Court, acting under a provision similar to that in this Bill, has decided that preference shall be given to unionists ?

Mr Watson:

– Not at all. What he said was that the Court had power to do it without a specific provision to that effect.

Mr WILLIS:

– This Bill is drafted on the model of the New Zealand Act. When it becomes law it may operate in a similar way, and a preference will be given to unionists.

Mr Watson:

– May be given.

Mr WILLIS:

– A preference may be given ; but in New Zealand the Court has said that a preference shall be given in all .cases.

Mr Watson:

– Not in all cases.

Mr WILLIS:

– This legislation is introduced for the purpose of promoting conciliation and arbitration, preventing industrial disputes, and providing that there shall be a preference given to unionists.

Mr Spence:

– In New Zealand there has been a very slight increase in the number of unionists.

Mr WILLIS:

– If the honorable member holds the view that persons should not be forced into a union, and that it should not operate against the wishes of the members: why does he not accept one of the two amendments proposed? Because it seems to me that they are identical in every particular.

Mr Fisher:

– They have the same object in view - to defeat the Bill.

Mr WILLIS:

-^During the last quarter of an hour I have been trying to get at the difference between the two proposals, but to my mind they appear to be drafted for one specific purpose, and that is to provide that no man shall be forced into a union, and to subscribe to a fund that is used for purposes with which he has no sympathy, and to insure that the funds of an organization shall not be used outside it’s sphere of operation. If the Government are in favour of making the measure operate fairly and justly towards all men alike, and the honorable member for Darling thinks that men should not be forced into a union, and that the Court should not give preference to unionists

Mr Spence:

– I did not say so.

Mr WILLIS:

– Why, then, should the honorable member oppose the amendments proposed from this side by honorable members who are favorable to trades unionism, and support the main principle of the Bill - conciliation and arbitration? Let those honorable members who earnestly desire to carry this measure into law vote in favour of the proposed amendments, so that all working men alike may have the opportunity of earning an honest livelihood. It seems to me, however, that the Government are bent upon promoting the desires of the unions which are formed for purposes other than the purposes of the Act. There is no reason why these unions should not exist for the purposes for which they now exist. But they need not be registered under clause 62. They could continue as at present. An organization would simply need to go to the Registrar and produce the rules as specified in schedule B, to be approved of by him, and any dispute would then be brought before the Court to be decided, but no preference would be given to persons who were unionists other than the members qf those organizations. If the unions, as they now exist, were engaged in political matters, and there were a fund foi parliamentary elections, their members might continue to subscribe to that fund. The Bill, however, is not designed for promoting industrial warfare, but for securing conciliation and arbitration. Let there be an organization which all men may join without being required to subscribe to political funds. I cannot possibly understand how the honorable member for Darling can oppose either of the proposed amendments, each haying for its object the finding of work for all the unionists whom he has organized in the past. All employers and employed who desire to come under the provisions of the Bill should have a fair chance, so that the ob- jects of the measure may be fully realized. I certainly indorse the idea contained in the amendments, but, for the life of me, I cannot understand the action of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, when all he seeks to attain is ‘ embodied in the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas. The latter has studied the Bil] from beginning to end, and the amendment he has now suggested is consistent with other amendments which he has placed before the Committee. I shall have much pleasure, therefore, in supporting an amendment which provides that organizations shall be established under the cognisance and control of the Court. No man should be forced into a union, except for the purpose of earning an honest living. I feel certain that we are all desirous of doing justice to the working people of the community. I have no objection ‘ to men subscribing to political organizations if they think fit to do so, but it should not be indispensable that, in order to earn an honest living, a man should have to contribute to funds, the purpose of which is political.

Mr BAMFORD:
Herbert

– It is with some diffidence that I take part in this dis- cussion, because I did hope that we should have got on with business at a much faster rate. We have been in session over four months ; we have done nothing but talk; and a great deal of the talk has been absolute rubbish. I cannot help feeling that the dissatisfaction and impatience which is exhibited by people outside at the waste of time in this Parliament is perfectly justified. I should like, in the first place, to remark on the wonderful inconsistency which has been exhibited, by honorable members on the other side of the chamber. Those “curled darlings” of society know nothing whatever about unionism, yet they pose as authorities on the subject. The honorable member for Darling, the honorable member for Grey, and others, have pointed out what unionism really means. The honorable member for Kooyong declared the’ other night that unions made for progress, and that he had a great admiration for them ; but, if unions are so good, and so beneficial, why on earth should that honorable member, or anybody else, object to men being thrust, as it were, into such organizations? The right honorable member for East Sydney is equally inconsistent. He said the other day that the operation of this measure, as introduced by the late Government, would be to drive men into unions willy-nilly, and yet he told us in the same breath that the workers who are outside unions are at least seven to one as compared with unionists. The right honorable mem: ber further said that it was inimical to the interests of the people of the country, and of those workers outside unions, to be driven into those organizations ; but he forgets that if the proportion be as seven to one, the outsiders, if made unionists, could alter the policy of the unions as they pleased. The funds, of which so much has been said, and which are supposed to be utilized for other purposes than those of promoting industrial peace, could by the majority be devoted to any other purpose they chose.

Mr Spence:

– The funds could be devoted to the Reform League.

Mr BAMFORD:

– The funds could be devoted to a Kyabram movement, or anything of. that sort. The right honorable member for East Sydney must realize that he was very inconsistent in taking up that attitude. I admit that the right honorable member has great powers in other respects, and I was rather amused to see the other day. that his remarkable speech at Kyneton had had the effect of awakening a young woman who had been in a trance for over seventeen days. When a speech made a mile or two away from the hospital where the unfortunate creature was lying had such an effect, we can fully realize that ‘it must have been a very powerful oration.

Mr Reid:

– After all the time that has been wasted, we have no time for this sort of thing.

Mr BAMFORD:

– I am not one who is in the habit of wasting time, and I shall not detain honorable members, at any length on this occasion. As the honorable member for Darling has pointed out, the amendments introduced from the other side are simply for the purpose of harassing the Government. The amendments are a flank attack instead of a frontal attack, which everybody would admire, and which we should know how to meet. The policy adopted by the right honorable member for East Sydney has, throughout, been one of fume, fury, fizzle, and funk. The right honorable member reminds me of pugilists who wage great battles in the newspapers, but whom nothing will induce to go inside the ropes.

Mr Reid:

– There is a proper time for that.

Mr BAMFORD:

– I suppose the right honorable member is getting into condition.

Mr Reid:

– Slowly - very slowly !

Mr BAMFORD:

– And I suppose that later on we shall have a pugilistic encounter worthy of his great reputation.

Mr Reid:

– If the honorable member chooses a time for me, it will be a bad time.

Mr BAMFORD:

– The time I should choose would be the present.

Mr Reid:

– I know that.

Mr BAMFORD:

– Now is the appointed hour, so far as I am concerned. There’ is one feature of unionism which has not been touched upon during this discussion, though to me it is a very important feature. We saw the other day a statement made by the secretary of a union that in Melbourne there are about 100 white cabinetmakers, as against 600 or 700 Chinese cabinetmakers. Would any honorable member advocate for a moment that those 100 white artisans should be subordinated to the 700 Chinamen, who are in the trade, but are certainly outside the union ?

Mr Spence:

– The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella would have that effect.

Mr BAMFORD:

– As would also the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas.

Mr Spence:

– The amendments would place white men and Chinamen in one union.

Mr BAMFORD:

– That is so; and that would be a most pitiable result. The honorable and learned member for Corinella seems to be very bitterly opposed to the Bill as a rule, though he professes that he is in favour of its principle.

Mr Kelly:

– The honorable and learned member for Corinella -has said that he is in favour of the Bill.

Mr BAMFORD:

– I know that the honorable and learned member says that; and the honorable member for Wentworth is not adverse to the measure.

Mr Kelly:

– The honorable’ member is wrong there; I spoke against the Bill on the second reading.

Mr BAMFORD:

– If that is so, I have no more to say as regards the honorable member. But so far as the honorable and learned member for Corinella is concerned, he has spoken in favour of the .Bill, and yet he, by side-winds as it were, is trying his level best to wreck the measure on inhospitable shores. I am sure, however, that not even the honorable and learned member for Corinella would desire to see the 100 white cabinet-makers placed

5 1

at the mercy of 600 or 700 Chinamen. The honorable member for Gippsland this afternoon made some reference to Wages Board* in Victoria. “It has been contended, all’ through this debate, that no objection canbe taken to a unionist simply because he is a unionist ; and yet the honorable member for Gippsland, who rather prides himself on having given effect to the Wages Boards system in Victoria - : -

Mr Mauger:

– The honorable member for Gippsland, when a Minister in the State Parliament of Victoria, instituted a larger number of Wages Boards than did any other two State Ministers together.

Mr BAMFORD:

– And the honorable member for Gippsland takes credit to himself for having done so; and yet he knows, or ought to know, that men are penalized or boycotted - and, as to boycotting, we have heard some strong remarks from the other side - for having appealed to Wages Boards.

Mr Mauger:

– There are cases of employes having been discharged for resorting to Wages Boards.

Mr BAMFORD:

– Men have been discharged for bringing cases before Wages Boards, and the same thing is happening to-day, not only in Victoria, but elsewhere. I quite agree with the honorable member for Robertson, that one amendment is quite as inimical to the Bill as is the other, and if either be carried, the result will be very serious. If I were in the place of the Prime Minister, and either amendment were carried, I should place the Bill in the wastepaper basket, because it would then not have the slightest effect in ameliorating the condition of the workers, or in bringing about, industrial peace. It is asked why men donot join trades unions. A great many donot join, because the advantages are not so great as they would wish, or because it pays some of them to remain outside. But, if this preference clause is carried in its entirety, and men are forced into unions, it will be to their benefit, as has been explained by the honorable member foi Kooyong and others. The honorable and learned member for Wannon made some reference to the case of the Sydney wharf labourers, and the honorable member for Darling has pointed out how the union of the shearers would be affected by having to reorganize. We know that the shearers have an annual conference, or parliament, at which any desired alteration of the union rules must be made ; and the result would be that possibly a year, or even a longer time, would elapse before registration could be effected. The wharf labourers are in an almost identical position. Their union spreads over the Commonwealth to even a greater extent than that of the shearers, with which the honorable member for Darling is connected. The Wharf Labourers’ Unions are now federated, and their organization extends all round the coast of Australia, and even as far as Tasmania; it embraces practically the whole of the waterside workers in the Commonwealth. Let us suppose, for a moment, that the members of the Melbourne Steam-ship Owners’ Federation desire to register men who have been described here as “ blacklegs,” and to form them into a union of, say, 100 members. Under the Bill, as it stands, these men could be immediately registered, to the, exclusion of the whole of the 8,000 or 9,000 men who are already registered in the various unions of water-side workers, extending throughout the Commonwealth. That would be a very serious position indeed, and one to which the Committee might very well devote its attention. To place 8,000 > or 9,000 men virtually at the mercy of an organization of 100 or 200, that might easily be formed, would be a very serious matter to contemplate, and would lead to a position of affairs that I should very much regret to see brought about. Some honorable members have found a great deal of fault with the boycott, as practised by unions, but they have said nothing of the boycott as practised by others. Not very long ago, in Sydney, a Mr. Clarence Bridge, who was connected with the wool industry, was boycotted by his association. Some wool which had been stored in a warehouse belonging to another wool-broking concern was removed from that warehouse to the one held by Mr. Clarence Bridge, and because that gentleman sold it, or tried to sell it, he was boycotted by his association, and, I believe, was fined something like £50. We hear nothing of those cases at all. Honorable. members apparently can find fault only with what emanates from the workers, or from this side of the Committee. Persons on the other side may do practically as they like. Reference has been made here on many occasions to the close preserve of the lawyers’ union. Any man who attempts to interfere with the sacred prerogative of the members pf that union is boycotted in the severest possible way. No mercy- is shown to him by the Lawyers’ Association, and so far as they are concerned his living may be taken. from him, and his wife and family may be left to starve. The boycotting by members of labour unions is but a circumstance to the boycotting which has very often been put into force against men in other walks of life. I do not think we have much to regret in that connexion. The boycotting by labour unions, where it has occurred at all, has been of a very mild form, and has been conducted in such a way as not to do anyone a serious injury. At Korumburra, in this. State, there was a boycott of a very serious and lengthened character. It was called a strike; but really it was not so much a strike as that men were thrust out of their employment owing to the fact that conditions were attempted to be imposed upon them that they could not bring themselves to agree to. In the circumstances, I think the men were perfectly justified in leaving their employment. The conditions which the owners sought to impose upon the men were of so very drastic a character that if they had submitted to them they could not possibly have made a living for, themselves and their families. It suited the occasion to refer to this as a strike, but it was not so much a strike as a boycott by the mine-owners. When I was at the place some twelve months ago there were 600 or 700 men out of employment, and with their wives and families they suffered very seriously indeed. A Bill of this character, if allowed to pass without the emasculations which are continually being attempted, would settle such difficulties in the most amicable way possible. I trust that honorable members opposite will consider the advisability of fighting the Bill fairly and squarely. I do ask the right honorable member for East Sydney-

Mr Watson:

– To kill’ “ the tiger.”

Mr BAMFORD:

– To take off the gloves, and to disrobe himself to a greater extent if necessary, and fight us fairly, that we may have the thing over and done with.

Mr Reid:

– Let me name the time. Honorable members must not have it all their own way.

Mr Watson:

– The person challenged usually names the time.

Mr Reid:

– The Prime Minister said in his letter to Mr. Deakin - “ Preferably after the Arbitration Bill has been disposed of.”

Mr BAMFORD:

– That might be so, if there were not so many threats in the atmosphere.

Mr Watson:

– Until the railway servants were dealt with, but that is over now.

Mr BAMFORD:

– The Prime Minister reminds me that there was a particular reference at the time to the question of the inclusion of State railway servants.

Mr Reid:

– No. The honorable gentleman said “ after the Arbitration Bill had been disposed of.”

Mr BAMFORD:

– I need hardly assure honorable members that I intend to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I shall also regard it as a sacred duty imposed upon me, a conscientious obligation, to vote against the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Angas. I feel confident that both will be defeated. I think the numbers are pretty well up, and that the sooner we go to a division on the question the better. I repeat that a great deal of time has been wasted on this discussion, which has been more in the nature of sparring for wind than anything else. Every honorable member now appears to have got his second wind, and it would be a fair thing to go. tq a division, and let the Government; after the division is taken, consider its position, if that should appear to be necessarv.

Mr REID:
East Sydney

– I desire to say a word or two with regard to the amendment which has been moved since I last addressed the Committee. As honorable members will know, I referred to the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Angas at some length, and I do not propose on the present occasion to occupy any great space of time. There is no doubt that the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Corinella is regarded by honorable members opposite in a very serious light. Of course, all those who are not intimate with the inner life of trades unions are in the same difficulty, and we are all very anxious, as far as we can, to follow, the lead of those who have a larger degree of knowledge upon such matters. If I could see that these amendments would destroy the Bill, or that they would be unfair and inequitable to the trades unions, I assure my honorable friends opposite that I should weigh their arguments most carefully. In order, however, to be thoroughly understood in this matter, I have to revert to the consideration of the real object of the Bill before us. If the present Government, or the late Government, had brought the Bill forward as a trades union measure, as a Bill conceived in the interests of the trades unions of Australia,

I could have understood a number of the speeches which have been made. Some honorable members opposite have really spoken upon these important proposals as if this Bill were a trades union measure, and as if, in considering it, we ought always to keep our eyes upon the trades unions of Australia. With every respect to the trades unions, I begin on a platform which is absolutely distinct from that. I look to the main object of the Bill, which was not to promote the interests of the trades unions, as apart from those of other workers of Australia, but was defined to be a national one - that of conferring upon not only the unionists, but all the workers and all the employers of Australia the benefits of a measure which would enable them to go into the Court, which we propose to create, for the peaceful settlement of their industrial difficulties.

Mr Spence:

– But industrial difficulties exist only between organized labour and the employers.

Mr REID:

– If there had been no proposal’ to enact national laws upon this question, and industrial troubles had existed only between trades unionists and their employers, the answer of my honorable friend would have been perfectly conclusive.

Mr Watson:

– Do not trade disputes oc- ‘ cur . mainly between trades unionists and their employers?

Mr REID:

– Probably so. But I wish to point out that, if the trades unions had not come to us and asked us to pass a national law - if they had asked us to pass a trades union Act - I should have laid particular stress upon the interests of the trades unionists. I should have said - “We are passing a trades union law, and we should constantly keep in mind the interests of the body for whom we were legislating.” I think, however, that now my honorable friends opposite are really departing from the broad basis upon which all national laws must rest. We cannot pass a national law which practically looks to the interests of only one class of the community, or of only one section of a class. We could pass a private Bill for such a pur: pose. Such measures have been quite familiar to us in the different Houses of Parliament which have, from time to time, been called upon to consider Bills dealiog specially with the interests of a particular class. But such proposals have not in any way infringed upon the liberty of the people generally or in any sense affected the individual rights of any one but those for

Mr Hughes:

– Have they no right to ask to be assisted by the law ?

Mr REID:

– They have no right to ask to be specially assisted by the law at the expense of other persons’ If the members of the trades unions had told us that this Bill was intended to help, not the workers in a particular industry, but the trades unionists in a particular industry, the honorable and learned member might still hold his opinion and speak with ‘great weight. But I think that in the minds of honorable members generally such a measure would stand absolutely condemned.

Mr REID:

– What relevance has that statement to the particular situation in Australia, in view of the fact that the trades unionists are confessedly behind this measure? On a former occasion, I referred to the matter mentioned by my honorable friend. When I asked honorable members in another place to look to the trades unionists of England and America, who refused to indulge in these experiments - for they are only experiments yet - my remarks referred not so much to England as to America. The reason why the American unions would not come under compulsory arbitration laws was that they could not trust the Courts of the United States.

Mr Watson:

– The same fear is expressed in England. I do not ‘say that it is justified.

Mr REID:

– I will add England; although I should not think such a fear could be entertained there, in view of the liberal decisions which have been given by the’ Courts.

Mr Watson:

– The Taff Vale decision* was not regarded as a very liberal one.

Mr REID:

– I know that some of the other decisions were considered by the employers to involve a great straining of the authorities. It is now stated that, even in England, where the Bench is certainly more independent than in America-

Mr O’Malley:

– The right honorable gentleman refers to the States Judges of America.

Mr REID:

– I admit that the Federal Judges stand in a far higher position than do the States Judges. I believe that the greatest lawyers in England and Australia speak of the Supreme Court of the United States with just the same reverence that they display towards the finest British Courts. Therefore, even in’ speaking of the United States Courts, we have to differentiate. Only the inferior tribunals of the United States are open to the observations I have indicated.

Mr Isaacs:

– Not even all the States Supreme Courts are open to such criticism.

Mr REID:

– I do not profess to have that inner knowledge of the subject that would enable me to discriminate between one State Court and another. It is highly probable that, amongst the States Courts, there are tribunals which deserve the same praise that is accorded to the Federal tribunal ; but I have not the requisite knowledge to make any other than a general statement. I am not making even this observation as my own, but as embodying an objection that has been advanced by others. Is it not singular that already in Australia, where these laws are coming into operation, we have remarks made about the industrial tribunals which, if persisted in for many years longer, will give our Courts the same bad reputation that now attaches to the American Courts? In Western Australia, attacks have been made upon the Judge of the Arbitration Court. His honesty, that is’ to say, his imparitality. has been impugned.

Mr Hughes:

– I think the criticism was directed mainly against the workers’ representative.

Mr REID:

– No. A direct attack has been made upon the impartiality of Judge Parker.

Mr Lonsdale:

– The same thing has occurred in the case of Judge Cooper in New Zealand.

Mr Hughes:

– We admit that that is bad.

Mr REID:

– We all admit that it is bad, and the general community would be very doubtful regarding the wisdom of passing legislation of this kind if it were likely to bring our Courts into disrepute. I do not for a moment think that the Judges of the Arbitration Courts have de. parted from the high standard set by our Supreme Court Benches. It would be singular if our Judges, after enjoying the perfect confidence of the community in one Court, .were, upon entering another Court, suddenly to become unworthy of public esteem. Therefore, I do not think the complaints are well founded. Whilst we cannot ignore the objection raised by -unionists in England and in the United States against this kind of legislation. I do not attach much weight to it. I have always admired the attitude of the trades unionists of Australia in risking a great deal in the interests of industrial peace, but I begin to see that, as in other cases, there is a great deal more business and a great deal less disinterestedness than appeared at first sight. This discussion has been prolonged ; but no one can say that it has been beneath the rank of a Commonwealth parliamentary debate. On the contrary, the speeches on both sides, taken generally, have been worthy of the best parliamentary traditions. They have thrown a great deal of light upon a number of difficult questions, and the question at issue has been well threshed out. But to-day we heard it stated by honorable gentlemen whom we all respect as good trades unionists and men of authority that if the amendment is carried the Bill must be thrown under the table, because it will be no good, and trades unionists would rather have no Bill at all than such a measure. I know the authority of those who make that statement, and I respect it ; but the statement itself, in my mind, deprives the trades unions of a great deal of the credit which I gave them for the disinterested surrender of a terrible weapon. No doubt they have a terrible weapon in their hands ; but apparently they will surrender it only to obtain under the sanction of law a still more terrible weapon. They have found that, in spite of the high character of the leaders of trades unionism, in spite of the high stamp of man who has always been associated with trades unions, in spite of a leadership which, so far as I know, has been most honorable, however zealous, the workers themselves, who must be permitted to know better than we do what their real interests, their real difficulties, and their real opinions are, have not, for some reason or other, “ caught on “ to this great movement which we all admire. The honorable and learned member for Wannon told us this afternoon that in Victoria there are only 30,000 unionists, speaking in round numbers. Suppose we add 20,000, and say that the number of trades unionists is 50,000 ; is it not an astounding fact that, ‘ notwithstanding the tremendous labour and success of trades unions in all the walks of life, and especially perhaps in public life, of 400.000 workers in Victoria, or, deducting the members of the other sex, who have never entered the field of unionism, of about 200,000 male workers, only from 30,000 to 50,000 are unionists? Is not that fact entitled to very great consideration? If the trades unionists of Australia numbered 60 or 70 per cent, of the workers of Australia we might say that we could take them as representing, nominally, the actual majority, and the great majority in point of fact ; but it is only trades unionists who can shut their eyes to the great fact that they are a small fraction of the workers as a whole. Why should the interests of trades unionism be the vital point of a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, when the trades unionists number only one-sixth of the workers of Australia? Take the 30,000 trades unionists and the 170,000 nonunionists of Victoria, the 60,000 or 80,000 trades unionists, and the 320,000 non-unionists of New South Wales, and put them in separate masses, side by side. Would it not be. a monstrous thing, in enacting Commonwealth legislation affecting the daily lives and interests of every man, woman, and child in Australia, to pass a Bill to advance the interests of trades unions only ? Honorable members opposite reply to me, fairly, at first sight, “Yes, but the interests of the -trades unionists are practically identical with the interests of the nonunionists.” Our honorable friends, however, have called those who are not unionists by foul names. There is no pretence ot equality, of friendship, or of any informal alliance of sympathy. The vilest epithets in the English language have been branded by them upon the backs and breasts of hundreds of thousands of Australian workers.

Mr Hughes:

– There must be a certain kind of sympathy.

Mr REID:

– I am dealing only with epithets which have been used by wellknown supporters of the Government.-

Mr Hughes:

– One swallow does not make a summer.

Mr REID:

– The honorable member for Kennedy is neither a swallow nor a summer. He is an earnest-minded, fearless man, commanding the respect of every one whether he believes in his views or not.

Mr Wilson:

– The honorable member for Grey told us this afternoon what he thought of non-unionists.

Mr REID:

– I am going to leave my somewhat combustible friend, the honorable member for Kennedy, to deal with my grave and reverend friend the honorable member for Darling. I do not know a man who is a more temperate speaker than he. I believe that when there is a strike he is a sort of winged fiend; but in- the ordinary walks of life, and especially in the halls of legislature, no man puts forward his views in a more temperate and sensible way.

Mr Hughes:

– I do not know that the honorable member’s life has been other than it appears to be here.

Mr REID:

– I know him only as a member.

Mr Hughes:

– The right honorable member is casting a reflection upon him.

Mr REID:

– I hope not. I have been trying to do the opposite. I have been speaking of him as I know him, and- 1 give the highest opinion I may be allowed to offer of the moderation and good sense with which he expresses, perhaps, the most absurd observations - that is, from my point of view. There is no doubt, at any rate, about the moderate style in which he speaks. We can all give him credit for that. My honorable friend who weighs his words spoke of persons who are not members of unions as “ outcasts,” and then - though it is only fair to say that the stronger words which I am about to quote he did not to my mind apply generally, but only to the class which always turns up when a strike is on, to take the bread out of the mouths of their fellow working men. I have no particular admiration for that class of men myself.

Mr Webster:

– The right honorable member applied somewhat similar terms to the original members of the Machine Shearers’ Union.

Mr REID:

– Well, it only shows what a good unionist I would have made.

Mr Webster:

– The .right honorable member is defending the same class still.

Mr REID:

– No; I am doing the opposite. If the honorable member was as anxious to give me fair play as he is to prejudge, he would have waited until I had finished my sentence. The honorable member for Darling used the expression, singling out the class to which I refer, “ men of a criminal type.” In justice to him I say that I do not think he referred £0 non-unionists generally. I wish to guard myself from seeming to say that. I have no sympathy with men who in any sort of warfare - military, civil, or industrial - try to take advantage of the fighting of others to steal from them their billets. My sympathies are rather with those who are fighting. I do not wish to do the honorable member for Darling the injustice of putting him before the public as applying such expressions as “ men of a criminal type “ to non-unionists generally.. He applied it to men of a- particular class, and we can all forgive unionists for using pretty strong language in regard to such men. But, so far as I could judge, he applied the term “ outcasts “ generally, and it was practically in line with other observations which have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite, and show that they are the last men to be trusted with the interests of non-unionists. When men are in friendly alliance, you may trust what one ally says of the other, but when, as in this case, they are engaged in a bitter fight, and cherish feelings of strong dislike, we cease to trust my honorable friends as the representatives of the workers of Australia, and accept them as representatives of the trades unionists only. It is all very well to criticise honorable members for changing their views, but I am not ashamed to say that the debates upon this Bill have taught me a great deal in connexion with the subject of which I had before no idea. They must have been instructive to almost every one of us. -I did not, the other night, see the great gravity of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas.

Mr Watson:

– Nor, I suppose, its possibilities !

Mr REID:

– The honorable gentleman may take the remark in any way he chooses. It is only natural for a man when he gets into office to look upon everything as a grave matter affecting his position. If it is a matter of gravity, it will be of far greater gravity to the honorable gentleman than to me, as he will’ find before this business is right through. But let that be as it. may, it is the fortune of war. One side wins today, and the other side to-morrow ; but, directly a side wins, it begins to believe in the law of settled government. My fiery friends opposite are all now marching with funereal step under the holy banner of law and order ; though I admit that there is occasionally a break-away from the ranks. But we may eliminate these very important matters from their political consequences, which every man, even labour members or a Labour Ministry, must accept. There is no royal law for them. We are all alike. Every Ministry must take its knocks. I know that, if ever I get into power, I shall receive my share, and if honorable gentlemen in office take their knocks as I will take mine there will be no blood-vessels broken. We cannot accept either Ministers or their supporters as the accredited representatives of the non-unionists of Australia. It is asking us to judge from the mouth of the enemy of the opinions of the other side. We are not going to do that.

Mr Watkins:

– I suppose the right honorable member would rather have the non-unionists- protected by Gatling guns, as they were in New South Wales.

Mr REID:

– Here is another recruit breaking loose. If my honorable friend was in office, and had to preserve the community from anarchy and bloodshed, he might have to bring out the Gatling guns. I am happy to say that I never did so. I never had to do it, because I had the Labour Party on my side. There is no greater calamity for one in authority than to have to do anything of that sort. Only the most grave necessity could justify it. If it is done without such necessity, it is one of the most serious offences and blunders which a public man can commit. But as I always took the advice of my honorable friends, the Labour Party, in these civil wars, I was always on the right side. The position before us now is this : The Government and their supporters are at enmity with the non-unionists of Australia.

Mr Webster:

– Nonsense. They are not.

Mr REID:

– When it comes to calling them “scabs” and “blacklegs,’”’ the relationship is, at any rate, not complimentary.

Mr Wilson:

– And “ parasites “’ and “ outcasts “ as well !

Mr REID:

– Now, we have another word - “ parasites.” I think that is a beautiful word compared with some others. They are parasites !

Mr Webster:

– There are a lot of parasites in this world, besides them.

Mr REID:

– I think the honorable member is a proof of it. The honorable member once came out for election in a community which knew him well - a large constituency - and he got precisely twelve votes. What sort of a man is it who cannot get more than twelve votes in a large city constituency ?

Mr Webster:

– On one occasion when I came out the right honorable member stabbed me in the back when I was not present.

Mr REID:

– Oh, did I ? I was not even aware of the honorable member’s illustrious existence until he was projected into the prominence which he adorns !

Mr Watson:

– On the occasion the right honorable member refers to, the honorable member for Gwydir had retired at the time of the election.

Mr REID:

– That only shows his good sense !

Mr Watson:

– He was following his ordinary avocation on election day.

Mr REID:

– Then I absolutely withdraw my observation. I was not aware of that.

Mr Webster:

– The right honorable member used it before.

Mr REID:

– I am sorry I was the means of using the case. I at once express my regret for having done so. Fortunately the antidote will go very close to the bane, which does not get a day’s start this time. I strongly put to my friends, the trades unionists, this view: If they preserve their identity, their rights, and their privileges, what is to prevent them from accepting the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas? They preserve their identity and their solidarity as trades unions upon becoming registered as industrial organizations. It leaves them free from the entanglements of the Court qua trades unions, and it only brings them into the Court for the purpose of settling industrial disputes with employers, which is the object of this Bill. I think, therefore, that my honorable friends opposite might have seen their way to accept a proposal under which they would preserve their identity and power. They would find themselves side by side in these organizations, for one purpose, with all the workers in so many industries. I believe that when the trades unionists were in the right their association in this one body, for this one purpose, with the non-unionists, would prove the best possible missionary step ; because it would bring them into touch with the mass of the workers, who are at present separated from them so widely. It would not imperil their position as unionists by one hair’s breadth outside the Arbitration Court. It would give them infinitely greater power in the Court, because then the representative of an industrial organization would speak with a sense of authority. He would have not the mere technical right, but the moral right, the national right, to speak on behalf of all his fellows engaged in a similar industry, and no man could cross his path and say, “ I will not join any industrial organization- for the purposes of this Court, because I do not approve of trades unionism, or of this or of that.” The answer to such a statement would be, “ You are not asked to do that ; you are asked to stand side by side with your fellow-workers in a matter affecting your occupation, for only one purpose, that of having your case fought out against your common antagonist.” Surely there would then be an identity of interest in this sense - that it would lead them to join in one organization for that one purpose. We may speak of bogus unions, but we cannot imagine an honest, straightforward working man playing false to his fellow-workers in a matter of this sort, after joining them in an industrial organization. What I strongly appreciate in the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is this - that it is a useful thing for the public that some oppor- tunity should be given them of seeing how far each of us wishes to push his views in this matter. I can understand people differing conscientiously, but I cannot understand a man whose position is a conscientious one . shrinking from facts which elucidate the situation. I give my honorable and learned friend the member for Corinella the credit of testing by his amendment one aspect of this matter. We must take the Bill as a preference to unionists Bill.

Mr Isaacs:

– Oh, no.

Mr REID:

– We must, because the principle of preference to unionists is in it. I admit that my honorable friends opposite have taken a view which may lead them to endeavour to alter the Bill again, but that will only make my argument all the sounder, because if the amendment which has been made is taken out of the Bill, the Prime Minister himself will admit that there is a preference to unionists iri it.

Mr Watson:

– If the Court sees fit to award it.

Mr REID:

– If the Prime Minister gets his way he must admit that it will be a preference to unionists Bill.

Mr Watson:

– A permissive preference to unionists Bill ; the right honorable member has made that mistake once or twice.

Mr REID:

– It is wonderful what phrases we get in this discussion. A permissive preference to unionists ! Is it not tlie object of the Bill to give an actual preference? Is the object of it simply to make preference a mere thing to be used at the option of a particular Judge in a particular case ? It is astonishing how we can minimize these things when we choose ! So far as I can see, preference is an actual living principle of great gravity, which is put in the Bill to be generally applied. Could my honorable friend stand before a mass meeting of trades unionists, and tell them that these words were put in simply to give the Judge a chance if he likes-

Mr Watson:

– Hear, hear.

Mr REID:

– I do not think it would be receive’d with ringing enthusiasm. It is the substance that is wanted ; it is the thing that is wanted by them - not a delightful play amongst words. We now begin to understand from Ministers themselves that this provision about preference to unionists is put in as a thing that is not to be used except as the Judge himself chooses to apply it or not to apply it. Well, that is a new rendering to the public. My honorable friends opposite, no doubt, held that view all along ; but it is a new rendering to the public of what this Bill means. Surely the amendment of my honorable and learned friend the member for Corinella, at any rate, strikes a principle. If it does not, 1 do not think there is much principle in. anything. It strikes one of the principles which is in the very heart of every man in this country, and that is that a man’s politics and his political opinions shall not be things to be regarded in the light of his own personal interests as a worker in the country. There are broad grounds upon which workers can unite to bring about the redress of a wrong. That is not a novel thing. But there is all the difference in the world between redressing a wrong and fastening a chain - inflicting a wrong. I charge these trades unionists, in connexion with this measure, with trying to inflict a wrong upon their own fellowworkers who do not belong to their unions. I charge ‘them with attempting to make - under the force of law, and by means of the every-day work of a court of justice - submission to the opinions of trades unionists a test of whether they shall get bread for their children. That is the plain English of it. Where is a man to get food for his children from except from his wages - from his work? It strikes me that if ever a principle was brought out, this is that principle. It is .contained in the more general amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, but it is also contained in the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. It brings out one great issue for honorable members to vote upon. The proposition is this : There is a trades union force in Australia, which is composed of a mere section of the workers. This is a trades union Government. Honorable members opposite are a trades union party - not every man of them, but substantially all of them. So that we see before us now a trades union Government and a trades union party, trying to- mould Commonwealth laws so as to make a man’s public . convictions, as to working out the destinies of Australia, a question which is entangled with another question - whether he shall get work on the same terms as his fellow-men. Well. I say that is a serious issue; and I say that unless some such amendment as that of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, or a general amendment such as the honorable and learned member for Angas has suggested, is carried, this is the way the thing will work out : The Judge will find these words in the Act, without even a finger indicating to him upon what principle Parliament intended that it should be applied. We are told that the provision is merely intended to be permissive. What does that mean?

Mr Watson:

– Not only intended, but so expressed.

Mr REID:

– I will put it as strongly as the honorable gentleman likes. It is not only intended, but so expressed, that it is to be permissive. I am going to show the terrible position in which the Court is put under this provision. Judges can in some way or other, perhaps, carry out the intention of Parliament if some guide is given to them as to the principles on which the law is to be administered. If ever there was a point on which a Judge had a right to ask- Parliament to give him a principle so that he might apply it, it is this. Surely the Judge of the Arbitration Court would have a right to say to us : “ You provide in this Act something about a preference being given to one man over another. Do you mean that I am to be the Judge of all that, or do you indicate a principle to which, all things being equal, I am to give effect?” He will indeed be whirled about in a series of currents, if he sees a phrase about preference to unionists in a. Commonwealth Act, and is told that it is a mere expression which does not indicate to him any line of principle, but leaves him to do precisely what he- likes ! It merely says to him, “ You can give a preference in one industry ; you can give a preference in another.” I believe that probably no Judge who ever sat on the Bench would give a preference to unionists, unless the law compelled him to do it.

Mr Mauger:

– Judges have ;done so.

Mr REID:

– The law in New South Wales is much stronger than this, if I recollect aright.

Mr Spence:

– No.

Mr REID:

– All I can say is that if this is the same as the New South Wales law,- 1 absolutely repudiate the interpretation put upon it by my honorable friends opposite.

Mr Hughes:

– What does the right honorable member think that the law is?

Mr REID:

– At the present moment I have no opportunity of referring to the New South Wales Act. Of course, I always knew that it was within the power of the Court to grant a preference to unionists. There is no absolute compulsion for it to do so, but the language employed is such that a preference to unionists is to be one of the maxims of the Act.

Mr Spence:

– No.

Mr Hughes:

– ‘That is not so.

Mr REID:

– As a matter of fact, do we not know that the Judges have given a preference to unionists?

Mr Hughes:

– Of course they have. Is the right honorable member reflecting upon the Court by questioning its impartiality ?

Mr REID:

– Will the Minister of External Affairs be good enough to allow me to finish my sentence before inquiring whether I am reflecting upon the Court? If a preference to unionists were given by a Judge without any indication on the part of Parliament that=- other .conditions being equal - he was to act upon that principle, all I can say is that I should riot call him ugly names, but I should . entertain very serious doubts about his policy in administering the Act.

Mr Watson:

– The section in the New South Wales Act is exactly the same as this provision.. I have just looked it up.

Mr REID:

– We come, therefore, to a very serious state of affairs. Without Parliament decreeing it, a preference is to be granted to unionists. Surely we ought to remember that a citizen who sits upon the judicial Bench, is not clothed with lawmaking powers. Our Judges do not make our laws for us yet. It is true that sometimes they do so by; accident, but never by design. According to the theory advanced by the Government, this principle of granting a preference really means that a Judge shall be given power to extend a preference to unionists, ‘without any indication on the part of the law that it is a proper thing to do. That would place a Judge in a very_ painful position. Personally I do not think that that is a proper construction to put either upon the New South Wales Act or upon this Bill.’

Mr Watson:

– The clause says “ may.”

Mr REID:

– But the word “ may,” as it is used in this instance, is not like that word as applied to an executive authority. The distinction between “ may “ and “ shall,” in re- *gard to matters which are carried out under executive authority is well known. But where a Judge is concerned, the use of the word “may” is practically . an indication of the will of Parliament and of the policy of the Act. It is practically a direction to him to adopt a certain course-

Mr Isaacs:

– I think that that statement requires serious qualification.

Mr REID:

– I repeat that it is practically a direction to the Judge, unless there is some obvious difficulty in connexion with an individual case.

Mr Isaacs:

– Even that statement needs serious qualification.

Mr REID:

– I become serious the moment my honorable and learned friend talks upon matters of this sort. But I think he will admit that the use of such words in an Act might be taken as an indication of the wish of Parliament.

Mr Isaacs:

– I should not think so, in such a case as that.

Mr REID:

– Even my honorable and learned friend will admit that it is a matter of doubt.

Mr Isaacs:

– I do not feel any doubt in regard to that part of the Bill.

Mir. REID. - Since this matter is involved! in such an atmosphere of doubt, it is more incumbent upon us than ever to let the Judge know, before he exercises his own sweet will upon the subject, that there shall be no element of choice as between politics and bread.

Mr Isaacs:

– Does my honorable and learned friend limit his remarks to the question of preference?

Mr REID:

– I do.

Mr Isaacs:

– Then I agree with him.

Mr REID:

– I am glad to know that the honorable and learned member agrees with me, because then I am sure that I must be right, seeing that we so seldom agree. As regards the use of the word “may,” I wish strongly to impress my original view upon the Committee. Why should an Act of Parliament provide all these methods for giving a preference to unionists, unless they are intended as an indication to the Court that it is the Wl / of Parliament that such a preference shall be granted?

Mr Isaacs:

– If the right honorable member looks at paragraph c, he will see that it reads “ The Court may appoint a tribunal,” &c. Does he think that the word “ may “ in that case means “ must “ ?

Mr REID:

– I presume that the honorable and learned member is referring to the Bill which is now under consideration. I was informed by the Prime Minister that the provisions in this Bill and in the New South Wales Act were identical. I was handed a copy of the latter, and I based my argument upon it, believing that it would serve my purpose. I now find, however, that there is another provision in this Bill which is not contained in the New South Wales Act. The more we lean to the view expressed by the Government that this power should be left entirely in the hands of the Court, the more necessary it is that Parliament should tell the Court that it does, not wish men to- be driven into a union, to sacrifice their political differences and their political prejudices in order to be the first to obtain a piece of work. I shall strongly support the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, upon the .new ground I have mentioned. If a Judge’ is to look upon these words merely as giving him a power which he may not use, then I think that it is just as well to insert this little postscript for his guidance.

Mr WATSON:
Treasurer · Bland · ALP

.The right honorable member for East Sydney prefaced his remarks by the statement that if he thought the two amendments under consideration would have the effect of seriously injuring the Bill he would oppose them. In assuming that they will not injure the measure, it seems to me that he has lost sight of the whole basis upon which legislation of this character has been attempted elsewhere. In the first place, when the right honorable member for Adelaide framed the original measure, providing for compulsory arbitration - a measure which was subsequently elaborated and adopted in New Zealand, at the instance of the Honorable Mr. Reeves - it was urged that collective bargaining, which is the whole basis of the Bill, was absolutely impossible, unless we could depend not on intangible, ephemeral organizations, which appeared to-day and disappeared to-morrow, as does snow before the sunshine, but upon organizations which were permanent, which were clothed with a certain amount of responsibility by their members, and which were able to insist upon some degree of obedience from them. Mr. Wise, who framed the New South Wales Act, took exactly the same view when he submitted that measure to Parliament. The head of the late Government shared that opinion, whatever view he may be pleased to take now. The only way in which compulsory arbitration can be made workable is bv making the execution of the behests of the Court depend upon .trades unions. The right honorable member for East Sydney is exceedingly clever in endeavouring to turn the issue which we are now disputing. He seeks to create a quarrel between unionists and non-unionists. He desires to make that the point upon which the whole of this legislation shall turn. I say distinctly, that so far as the evils which it is hoped that this Bill will remedy, are concerned, there is no quarrel whatever between unionists and non-unionists as such.

Mr Reid:

– Then they can join industrial organizations?

Mr WATSON:

– I shall come to that point presently. In the meantime, I beg to say that, so far as the great body of nonunionists are concerned, they have no quarrel with the unionists. In many cases the former have been content, from indifference, to march in the rear, and in many others - as I indicated a week ago - they do not join unions because of the fear of the untoward consequences that may follow to themselves if they seek to insist upon what is right and just, as regards their own treatment by employers.

Mr Knox:

– No.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member for Kooyong dissents from that view; but he knows perfectly well that after the Broken Hill strike, the honorable member for Barrier, good miner as he is - a descendant of generations of miners - was a “ marked “ man.

Mr Knox:

– That is not correct.

Mr Thomas:

– It is correct.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member for Barrier, who is not only thoroughly reliable and steady, but a good workman, was boycotted there.. We, who are familiar with conditions as they exist, have no quarrel in the main with nonunionists. I differentiate very clearly between a non-member of a union and an individual who attempts to take the place of a man upon strike. The non-members of trades unions have shown their sympathy with the Labour Party. They do not ‘ regard it purely as a trades union party.

Mr Reid:

– The Prime Minister would not “apply the epithets of “scabs” and “blacklegs” to them?

Mr WATSON:

– Certainly not to nonmembers of unions as such’.’ There are, however, some despicable individuals who have attempted to take advantage of the benefits conferred by trades unions, and who have acted a most dastardly part from the stand-point of social justice. Nevertheless. I do not class amongst them those who from a variety of causes are not members of- a trades union. I repeat that these individuals have shown their sympathy with the Labour Party try the support which they have given to its parliamentary candidates.

As a matter of fact, the bulk of our support is derived from them. The same remark is applicable to the Labour Parties in the States Parliaments. It is the non-unionists who return labour representatives to’ Parliament, because the unionists, as such, are not nearly strong enough to insure the election of a large number of labour members.

Mr Reid:

– Then the Government ought to treat them better.

Mr WATSON:

– The Government are not treating them badly, and it is only the special pleading of the right honorable member which might create in their minds a suspicion that this Bill is designed to inflict injury upon them. No such result is likely to follow the passing of this measure in the form in which it was introduced by the late Government - presumably after consultation in Cabinet - although some of its members have since opposed its provisions upon every conceivable opportunity.

Mr Wilks:

– Thev disown their own child.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so.

Mr Reid:

– And the honorable gentleman says he is going to throw the poor infant under the table.

Mr WATSON:

– We do not want an. infant which is beaten out of recognition to be fastened upon us. We have before us an amendment by the honorable and learned member for Angas, and another by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. If either of the amendments be carried. I doubt whether the Bill can be made effective. I am convinced that the unions would refuse to register at the cost which would be involved to themselves.

Mr Wilks:

– Would the honorable gentleman blame them if they did ?

Mr WATSON:

– I. should not advise them to register. The right” honorable member for East Sydney asks why should they not register as an organization for the purposes of the measure as outlined by the honorable and learned member for Angas ?

Mr Wilks:

– He wants them to handcuff themselves.

Mr WATSON:

– The right honorable member desires them to handcuff themselves and be at the mercy of the non-unionists, who may or may not be with them, who, at any rate, are not actively with them at the present time; and they may find their organization disappearing under the new order of things, and have no remedy for themselves. They have asked for this measure, because, in any dispute between themselves and the employers, they desire to have a means of settlement which, even if it is not wholly satisfactory, is certain to be an improvement on the methods which are now open to them. Under the Bill they are asked to give up the right to strike, and under the amendments they are practically asked to dissolve their organizations.

Mr Wilson:

– Not at all.

Mr WATSON:

– I know quite well what is in the minds of some honorable members. They do not care for trades unions, or their effect on the body politic, either socially or politically, and’ see in this insidious amendment a splendid opportunity to diminish the influence, the numbers, and effectiveness of bodies which have done so much for labour in the past. Surely every trades unionist knows that, if we were to start a skeleton organization parallel with the one which exists, and involving little or no payment in the way of fees - it has been estimated here at a penny per week - it would inevitably attract all the nonenthusiastic careless men, and, of course, the trades unions would languish, and would be ineffective, first for trades purposes and’ secondly for the policing of this measure. I ask those who wish to depend on this kind of organization whether they expect a law of this character, which involves in its ramifications all the details of industry possibly throughout Australia to be observed, or an award to be kept, without some system of policing? I ask them, too, whether they think that the country would agree to the payment of the number of inspectors who would be necessary to give effect to an award in the absence of trades unions as a method of securing its enforcement ? What kind of enthusiasm could we reply upon ‘ getting from an organization such as the honorable and learned member for Angas and others have put forward ?

Mr Glynn:

– It would comprise every man that was affected.

Mr WATSON:

– No. Does not the honorable and learned member know that, if we could rely on every man in that” kind of organization, we could rely on each individual to stand up for a reasonable thing now? Why does he not do it? In manyinstances, because he is in fear and trembling at the possibility of losing the paltry crust that he is’ getting. If the honorable and learned member has ever had the slightest experience in such matters, he ought to know that the mere fact that men acquiesce in the conditions under which they work is no guarantee that they are satisfied with them. When the strain gets too severe they rebel, and small blame to them. The main possibility of securing an effective carrying out of an award lies in the existence of an organization, not only numerous, but strong, and effective, animated all the time by a desire to see the award carried out in the spirit in which it was passed. That is impossible of attainment by means of the organizations which the two honorable and learned members on the other side have so far indicated.

Mr Glynn:

– What is to prevent a nonpolitical organization comprising every member in the employment?

Mr WATSON:

– That, in itself, is not sufficient.

Mr Glynn:

– Or even in the industry?

Mr WATSON:

– I took the honorable and learned member to use the word “ employment” in the sense of covering the whole industry. The mere fact of a man having an interest in the carrying out of an award will not suffice for its proper enforcement. That is exemplified around us every day of the year. Every citizen in Sydney, for instance, has an interest in the management and paying properties of the tramways, and, although ordinary citizens frequently see persons travelling without paying, they do not go to the Department and inform on them. They know that as citizens they are losing something by the fares not being paid, but they do not inform on the offenders.

Mr Wilks:

– The conductors are so busy that they cannot get round to collect all the fares.

Mr WATSON:

– I am glad to hear that Sydney is in that condition. The mere fact of a man having an interest in the success of a project is not always sufficient to guarantee that he will insist upon the proper details being carried out. We can only secure, for the purposes of this measure, that degree of responsibility and. effectiveness which is necessary by relying _ upon those bodies whom we have trusted in the past to do that kind of work, who have always shown themselves ready for action, and who have some degree of control over their individual members.

Mr Glynn:

– There is nothing to prevent a non-political organization from growing to the same importance.

Mr WATSON:

– No. The_ mere fact of a body being non-political will not prevent its being as effective as an ordinary trade union, but all trades unions are not at present political. A very large proportion - in New South Wales 90 per cent., I think - are not political.

Mr McCay:

– My amendment will not touch one of them.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so ; I am referring to the other 10 per cent. In New South Wales the 90 per cent., or some of them, may at any time desire to go in for politics, and if they should I do not see that there would be the slightest objection from the stand-point of the community, or of the non-unionists.

Mr Deakin:

– That is giving a political complexion to w’hat was intended to be an industrial measure. "”Mr. WATSON.- Apparently the honorable and learned member has only lately discovered all these possibilities. I hardly gave him credit for so much ignorance in regard to a circumstance which is, or should be, well known to every person in the community. The fact that a number of the trades unions have gone in for politics for some time past is well known, but the honorable and learned gentleman seems to have suddenly discovered that his own measure is insufficient in that respect. Mr. Skene. - The Trades Hall Council denied it was a political body when the railway strike was on.

Mr WATSON:

– The Trades Hall Council, as such, I understand, does not touch politics. I am not quite familiar with its rules - but there is a separate political body which meets in the Trades Hall, to which some of the unions are affiliated. The powers of the Trades Hall Council were, to a certain extent, quoted by the honorable and learned member for Wannon this afternoon. What he quoted, was rule 19, which reads as follows: -

The Council may at any ordinary or special meeting thereof consider and make order upon any matter (political, industrial, or otherwise), remitted to it by Trade Societies or others -

What followed was not quoted, I understand, by the honorable and learned member - except all matters pertaining to political organization, drafting of platform, and the selection or indorsement of candidates for Parliament.

Mr Kelly:

– Whom is that left to?

Mr WATSON:

– That is left to the Political Labour League, which is quite another body. I am just now adverting to the fact that the material part of the rule was not quoted. That was a most unfair proceeding.

Mr Kelly:

– It is a case of tweedledum and tweedledee.

Mr WATSON:

– It may appear in that way to the honorable member’s degree of intelligence, but to most persons it may’ seem to be a very important matter that, according to its own rules the Trades Hall Council cannot deal with - matters pertaining to political organization, drafting of platform, and the selection or indorsement of candidates for Parliament.

That seems to me to be very material, and not to be the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee.

Mr Poynton:

– So material that the honorable and learned member for Wannon did not read it.

Mr WATSON:

– It is extremely material.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Is it not a fact that’ the Trades Hall Council voted sums of money to the Tom Mann Committee? .

Mr Tudor:

– As treasurer of the committee I can say that that is not true.

Mr WATSON:

– That is another instance of the difference between tweedledum and tweedledee. Of course I am not as familiar as some honorable members on this side, with the procedure of the Political Labour League. But I understand that it is an organization comprising delegates of unions formed in the different electorates, and delegates of the trades unions that may agree to be represented there. It is a body quite distinct from the Trades- Hall Council.

Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT

– Have not the unions voted money for that purpose?

Mr WATSON:

– I believe that some of them have. Mr. Mann was, I believe, organizer for trade union as well as political purposes. I have known the combination to be made in other places, and I do not see why it should not be made in this instance.

Mr Wilks:

Mr. Walpole, secretary of the Employers’ Federation, is in a similar position.

Mr WATSON:

Mr. Walpole is another man who organizes for two bodies.

Mr Kelly:

– This amendment will keep him out.

Mr WATSON:

– There is very little in that, because the employers, owing to the smallness of their number, could secure effective action without an organization, if they so desired.

Mr Kelly:

– - It has not been effective so far.

Mr WATSON:

– Of course, this dual organization is common all round. We have the Kyneton farmers projecting political and other reforms connected with their own particular business, and they are careful to ask for all the socialistic assistance that can possibly be imagined. They ask the Government to extend the socialistic sphere of operations as much as possible for the benefit of farmers.

Mr Wilks:

– Who asks that? Mr. WATSON.- The farmers of Kyneton ask that j but almost in the same breath they project a new political organization, one of the leading planks of which is that they must oppose invariably all socialistic candidates.

Mr Wilson:

– As represented by the Trades Hall.

Mr WATSON:

– They did not say so; but spoke of all socialistic candidates. In other words, they pledged themselves to vote against candidates who are in favour of their! own platform.

Mr Wilson:

– Candidates who are not in favour of the Trades Hall.

Mr WATSON:

– The right honorable member for East Sydney referred to the traducing of judicial tribunals as being an unfortunate effect of this kind of legislation in some places. I say at once that there is no one who has a greater appreciation of the necessity for safeguarding the independence of our Judiciary than I have. I have always taken, both in the State Parliament of New South Wales and in this Parliament, whatever steps I possibly could in order to put the Judges beyond any possibility of influence by Parliament, or by any section of the community. I speak, therefore, without any feeling, so far as the Judiciary is concerned. On the whole, we have reason to be proud of the men who have been, and are, on the Bench in Australia, and in the neighbouring Colony of New Zealand. But, on the other hand, we have complaints and criticisms of Judges, quite apart from Arbitration Acts, in the different States. We have had criticism of the action of Judges in regard to a variety of matters which have come within their purview. Newspapers and, in many cases, politicians, have, quite apart from arbitration matters, thought it necessary - I am glad to say, infrequently, but still occasionally - to criticise the action of Judges.

Mr Thomas:

– Judge Windeyer, in the Dean case, for example.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so ; Judge Windeyer, in New South Wales, was criticised very harshly, and, as it turned out, wrongly in the Dean case in particular. In many Older cases criticism has been levelled at the Judges sometimes most unjustifiably, though in other instances, I am fain to admit, with a reasonable show of justice.

Mr Wilks:

– Take the case, of Judge Docker.

Mr WATSON:

– Just so; though I do not wish to ‘specially mention any cases.

Mr Thomas:

– Was there not a Royal j Commission appointed by the Reid Govern- [ ment in New South Wales on the Dean case ?

Mr WATSON:

– I think it was the right honorable member for East Sydney, who, as Premier of New South Wales, appointed that Royal Commission, and the mere fact of its appointment was a reflection, to some extent, on the Judge who heard the case.

Mr Thomas:

– And I believe the honorable member for Macquarie was a member of that Ministry.

Mr WATSON:

– If one bears in mind that the criticism was levelled at the Judge for his conduct of that case, the appointment of a Royal Commission would appear to have been a reflection on him. However, I do not strain that point.

Mr Glynn:

– Was the Commission not appointed on new evidence being forthcoming ?

Mr WATSON:

– I do not think so. The final denouement was on. new evidence, but the Royal Commission was appointed to review evidence previously before the Court.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– New evidence was submitted to the Cabinet.”

Mr WATSON:

– The new evidence did not come before the Royal Commission until it was discovered accidentally.

Mr THOMAS:

– The Royal Commission was granted on a motion by Mr. Crick for the adjournment of the House.

Mr WATSON:

– Whether Judges suffer criticism or not, very largely depends on their own action. With regard ito the New Zealand case, which has been adverted to, it was not a serious criticism levelled at the Judge. On inquiry into the facts of the case, while in New Zealand some time ago, I found there was great reason for dissatisfaction at the ac tion of the Judge, not so much in regard to the decision he gave, as in regard to the method by which he arrived at that de cision The painters’ case is the only in stance I know of where criticism has been levelled at the Judge in New Zealand, and in that case His Honour was asked to interpret an award he himself had previously given. The Judge,’ without sending notice to the second party, varied the’ award - he did not interpret it as he was asked to do - on the application of the employers. His own rule, which he had passed, stated that he must, before varying an award, give notice to both parties. No one can uphold action of that description .-‘ If the rules say that notice must be given of an intention to vary an award, the Judge should be bound by those rules just like any other person. So far as I have been able to ascertain, that was the cause of the complaint against the New Zealand Judge. In the case of Western Australia, I do not know sufficient of the facts to be able to say definitely what was the cause of the complaint. I wish to say that, notwithstanding the allegations of the right honorable member for East Sydney, that trades unionists, or people bound together in organizations for the purposes of Arbitration Acts in other States, have complained against the Judges, their dissatisfaction has not gone so far that it has in any way vitiated the belief they have in the efficacy^ of this kind of legislation. The complaints or dissatisfaction have not undermined to any serious degree the confidence of the working classes generally in legislation of this character; that, after all, is the best test of whether there is any serious dissatisfaction with the Judges of the Court. What has been alluded to as occurring in New South Wales the other day did not arise from the action of unionists alone, and did not in any case affect the Judge who was presiding over the Arbitration Court. There is no complaint against Judge Cohen as to the decisions he has given - so far as our side is concerned,_ anyhow. The Judge has not invariably given awards in favour of the men. In the case of the Barrier miners, the Teralba case, and others, his award was against the employes; and in the case of the Newcastle miners recently, he gave an award that meant a big reduction of wages. But Judge Cohen has demonstrated himself to be. on the whole, a fair-minded and impartial Judge; and the community as a whole. I think, has every confidence in him. The Labour Party have every confidence in this kind of legislation so long as the Court, 1 knowing all the circumstances, is not hedged round with too many, conditions, as sought by some honorable members opposite. These gentlemen propose to tie the hands df the Court to such a degree that - in our opinion, anyhow - we cannot have an effective working of a measure of this description.

Mr Wilks:

– Those honorable members wish to strangle the Bill.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so, and practically before it is born. I now come to the question of whether the Bill is likely to inflict any injury upon non-‘ unionists. Let us examine the position. In the first place, I have to complain that the right honorable member for East Sydney has not. before now, made himself acquainted with the provisions and bearing of this measure. The right honorable gentleman stated at Kyneton the other day that by this Bill we were striving to establish a Court which would compel people to join unions.

Mr Kelly:

– That is practically true, as has been proved in New South Wales.

Mr WATSON:

– I beg to submit that the statement of the right honorable member for East Sydney is neither practically nor literally true. What is under discussion is permissive preference to unionists ; otherwise this proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, except as it impinges on the question of preference to unionists, would never have been brought forward; at any rate it would have had, nothing to commend it, even to honorable members opposite. The preference to unionists proposed’ in the Bill is absolutely permissive, and it has been so interpreted by the Court in New South Wales.

Mr Mauger:

– And in New Zealand.

Mr WATSON:

– Exactly.

Mr Ewing:

– What is the provision there for?

Mr WATSON:

– To allow the Court an opportunity to give effect’ to it, if the circumstances justify.

Mr Ewing:

– Is it a suggestion to the Judge ?

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so; it is there as one of the things which the Court may do.

Mr Ewing:

– Is it a suggestion to the Judge ?

Mr WATSON:

– The Court may, if it likes - or may not, if it does not like - prescribe a minimum wage; it may make certain limitations as to hours, compel limitations as to apprentices, ‘ and give preference to unionists - all if it likes, and only if it likes. ‘

Mr Isaacs:

– The Court may reduce wages, as has -been done in New South Wales.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so; the Court may fix wages, and reduce them, as kas been done in New South Wales in several instances. The Court may do all these things ; but there is nothing compulsory in the Bill. Those of us who advocate’ the measure have a right to complain of our critics who go before large bodies of the public and assert that there is in this measure a compulsion which it does not contain.

Mr Mauger:

– It is gross misrepresentation.

Mr WATSON:

– It is misrepresentation, though I do not say that it is deliberate. I prefer to believe that the right honorable member for East Sydney was not aware of the phraseology of the measure, and was carried away by a desire to impress those gentlemen who were so responsive to every idea that made against the Labour Party, the trades unions, or any organizations of that description.

Mr Mauger:

– Judging by the speech of the right honorable member for East Sydney to-night, I should say it was want of knowledge.

Mr WATSON:

– Just so; and I repeat that I do not think the right honorable gentleman deliberately misrepresented the case. Where, then, does the injury to the non-unionist come in? In the first place, the preference is wholly permissive, and as to registration, with which this clause practically deals, does it injure non-unionists to allow a union> which, so far as* the public can ascertain, represents the workmen employed in a particular industry, to register? Does that registration inflict any injury on a nonunionist who may be employed in that industry? I contend that it does not. I am dealing with this matter in stages, because, unfortunately, there is more than even the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella to be considered.

Mr McCay:

– I know.

Mr WATSON:

– And on that account I am taking* up more time than I otherwise should. The stage at which application for registration is made can inflict no injury on the non-unionist, because he still has’ the right to apply to the Court to have the rules of the union altered, if he desires, by the Judge ; and so far as the great body of non-unionists are concerned, they are in full sympathy with the workers within the unions in their desire to better their conditions, whether as to hours or wages.

Mr Wilks:

– And they avail themselves of the opportunity every time.

Mr WATSON:

– And very properly. These men, I say, are in full sympathy with any process on which the union may decide for the purpose of improving the conditions of work generally ; and no injury is inflicted on the non-unionist pure and simple. As regards the man who is more than a nonunionist - who is an active opponent of unionism, and will take the place of a unionist during a strike - we can safely leave his interests to be looked after by the employers’ organizations. These organizations will take every opportunity to see that individual’s interests are carefully watched when the Court is adjudicating. We now arrive at another stage, and this is where the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella comes in. The honorable and learned member says that unions must not submit a dispute if they have political objects amongst their rules, or if their rules compel any expression of opinion upon politics from their members. I ask, in what way can the submission of a dispute. by a union to a Court that is bound to consider all the equities of a case, all the evidence submitted to it, and all the circumstances of the industry concerned, injuriously affect the interests of a non-unionist? Is it argued that the Court, because a union presents a case, will, therefore, give an award which will distinguish between the amount to be paid to unionists, as compared with that to be paid to non-unionists? Will the Court insist that longer hours shall be worked by a non-unionist’ than by a unionist? I submit that the Court will attempt no such absurdity. In every instance the award of the Court will be held to apply to unionists and non-unionists equally, unless in respect of the grant of preference, but that is another matter. So far as this stage of asking ‘ for an award is concerned, or so ‘far as the question of registration is concerned, I contend that the interests of the non-unionists are not detrimentally affected, but may, on the other hand, be beneficially affected bv the presentation of a dispute to the Court by’ a union. Of course we have the sentimental objection put forward bv some honorable members, and amongst them I think the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, that we have no right , to give the slightest legal recognition to a body that includes politics in its purview.

Mr O’Malley:

– What is the matter with politics?

Mr WATSON:

– They might be healthier, so far as this House is concerned. I contend that the objection put forward by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is a purely, sentimental and not a practical objection. Of what consequence would it be to the community if the Australian Workers’ Union, for instance, were to profess or pretend to believe in Confucianism, or in the habitability of Mars, or in any other idea, so long as the compulsion was applied only to its own members, who have their own salvation to work out. If the rule does not in any way impinge upon the liberty of any man who was outside the union, in what way would it be objectionable, practically speaking, from the public stand-point? I contend that there can be no possible objection from the stand-point of the community to the Australian Workers’ Union, or any other union, expressing their belief in all the most fantastic ideas under the sun, so long as the community gets the clear value which the organization offers under this particular measure.

Mr Spence:

– So long as its members shear sheep well.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so, so long as they do their work well ; and that for the purposes of this measure the union is made an instrument and an, agent of peace as opposed to war. It matters not to us what ideas tha unions may embody in their rules. The main thing we have to look to is the fact that they form responsible industrial organizations that will help under this measure to prevent the disastrous strikes that have occurred in the past, and which we hope will be unknown in the future. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs put forward an idea in regard to preference for unionists. In my opinion these two matters are largely bound up, as was rightly indicated by the right honorable member for East Sydney, and I think I am therefore justified in saying a word or two in regard to them. As I understand it, the view put forward by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs was that we should make some attempt to safeguard the non-unionist from preference to unionists being granted to his detriment, and that would obviate the necessity for the amendments which are now before the Committee. I must say that I should have preferred to follow the safe example laid down in the legislation of New South Wales, Western Australia, and New Zealand, of having no limitation on the Court as to the conditions on which it would grant any award, any common rule, or any preference. I should much prefer to have had the Court free to act in any direction it thought justified by any particular set of circumstances. At the same time I recognise that we must pay some regard to the views of those who are honestly anxious to push -the Bill through.

Mr Bamford:

– Where are thev ?

Mr WATSON:

– A large number of the members of the Committee desire to see ths. Bill passed.

Mr Wilks:

– Some desire to push it out.

Mr WATSON:

– There are undoubtedly some who desire to work in that way also.

Mr McColl:

– Put it under the table.

Mr WATSON:

– Some honorable members are anxious as the honorable member for Echuca says, to put the Bill under the table.

Mr McColl:

– That is what the honorable gentleman said to-night.

Mr Poynton:

– The honorable member for Echuca has never given a vote’ for it yet.

Mr WATSON:

– I am certainly not going to accept a measure altered out of recognition, and which would in my opinion be only offering a stone to those who are crying for bread. I refuse to be saddled with the responsibility of carrying a measure that will not be effective in regard to the set of conditions which it was proposed to remedy.

Mr Wilson:

– With the amendment the Bill will be bread with butter on it, and not a stone.

Mr WATSON:

– I feel that I should not be justified in accepting the dictum of the honorable member for Corangamite on that point. What I was going to say in regard to the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for -Darling Downs was that I am quite prepared to concede that there is much to be said for the view that the Court should not award preference to the members of a union that has anything in its rules that would constitute a solid objection on the part of non-unionists who desired to join it.

Mr McColl:

– What would the honorable gentleman call a solid objection?

Mr WATSON:

– We shall come to. details later. I am speaking now of the proposal generally.

Mr Wilks:

– The honorable gentleman intimated that three weeks ago.

Mr WATSON:

– I was about to say that. I thought we bad sufficiently provided for this contingency when we took steps to ensure that a union ‘ should not be made a close corporation ; when we gave an indication to the Court in the words of the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, that if it saw the slightest evidence that the rules of a union were tyrannical in themselves, or were being exercised in a tyrannical fashion, it could step in at once and withdraw from that union all the privileges which it might otherwise have given to it under an award. I thought we had sufficiently provided by that amendment against any possibility of injury being inflicted upon non-unionists. But as there still seems to be a doubt on the matter, I am quite prepared to meet the position by agreeing to an amendment that will secure that no’ preference shall be granted to a union, while there is anything in its rules to which reasonable- objection can be taken.

Mr Isaacs:

– Not only in the rules, but in the conduct of the union.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so. I am not proposing now to indicate the exact phraseology that I think should be adopted.

Mr McCay:

– It is rather important that we should know it. .

Mr WATSON:

– I do not wish to take any advantage of the honorable and learned member, or of the Committee.

Mr Groom:

– Nor d’o we desire to take any advantage of the honorable gentleman’s offer.

Mr WATSON:

– I am prepared to consent to an amendment which will have the effect of preventing preference being given to unions that have in their rules anything in relation to politics which is likely to affect, detrimentally, any persons who may desire to join them. The form ‘ in- which expression shall be given to that idea is a matter for later consideration ; but I say definitely now, that I am prepared to go that far. I, however, again point out that, at this particular stage, I could not think of accepting such amendments as those which have been moved by the honorable and learned members for Corinella and Angas. As I have said, I believe that either of them, and, perhaps, the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Angas to a greater extent than the other, would, if adopted, practically render this Bill inoperative. The proposal is to prevent the members of a union taking a dispute to the Court, unless they eliminate from their- rules everything savouring of politics, or which, in the opinion of the Court, may savour of politics, because the phraseology used is very wide.

Mr McCay:

– My amendment says nothing of the kind.

Mr WATSON:

– That is very nearly what it says, I think.

Mr McColl:

– I am afraid the honorable gentleman is giving his whole position away by announcing that he is prepared to accept the amendment suggested by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. ,

Mr WATSON:

– I indicated a few minutes ago that’ I could see no possible injury that, was likely to result to a nonunionist at the stage of registration, the stage referred to by the honorable and learned member for Angas, or at the stage of the submission of a dispute, the stage referred to by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. In regard to either of those stages I say that I can see no injury that could possibly result to a nonunionist by the action of the Court; but in regard to the other stage - the granting of a preference - I admit that there is room for a difference of opinion. If the honorable member for Echuca thinks that that is giving my case away I am afraid I cannot help it.’

Mr Poynton:

– The honorable member’s troubles about the Prime Minister giving his case away.

Mr McColl:

– I have never said anything upon the Bill yet.

Mr Poynton:

– The honorable member has never given us a vote. _ Mr. WATSON.- I do not think we need discuss that aspect of the matter. What the honorable member does with his vote and his responsibility to his constituents is within his own discretion. The honorable and learned member for Corinella proposes by his amendment that -

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 character.

That is substantially what I said. In my opinion, no union is likely to register under the Bill if such a limitation is placed upon its liberty.

Mr McCay:

– Although nine-tenths of the unions would not be affected.

Mr WATSON:

– I referred only to the New South Wales unions when I said that so far as I knew nine-tenths of the unions had nothing in their rules, and exacted no pledge from their members, in regard to politics.

Mr Mauger:

– I am told that the Engineers’ Society would not think of registering under such a condition as that imposed by the amendment.

Mr WATSON:

– I should not think they would. The journals published by trades unions must refer to politics in some way, and if the amendment were carried their publication would have to be stopped, although they are now valuable aids to organization.

Mr Wilson:

– Such journals might be published with profit outside of the organizations.

Mr WATSON:

– No doubt; but it is more convenient to pay for the publication out of the funds of the union, and distribute the copies of the journal freely amongst members.

Mr Wilson:

– Our association does not do that.

Mr WATSON:
BLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP

– Then the honorable member should see that his union makes a change. I think that I have shown a willingness to take a reasonable view of amendments. I have always argued matters out as closely and as free from prejudice as possible,’ and I do not think that honorable members can complain that I have been stiff-necked. There must, however, be some point at which the alteration of the measure should stop - -a stage at which amendments will render the Bill of little value from the stand-point of those who have been pushing it forward in the past. I say that such a stage has now been reached.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella

– If we resolve the speech just made by the Prime Minister into its simple elements, it consists of two threats; first, the threat that if either the amendment of the honorable and learned member. for Angas, or that proposed by myself, be carried, the Bill’ will be dropped; and, secondly, the threat that even if that step be not taken, and the Bill be passed embodying the amendments, or either of them, the great unions of Australia will deliberately stand aloof from registration under the Bill. Further than that, the Prime Minister says that, so far as he is concerned, he would advise the unions to refrain from registration.

Mr Watson:

– Hear, hear.

Mr McCAY:

– Such a statement coming from the mouth of the leader of the Government and the leader of the party which has for years professed to abhor strikes and industrial warfare, and to desire some means of settling disputes by the process of reason, instead of by resorting to force, must cause the most intense surprise, not only to honorable members, but to the people of the Commonwealth, whom we represent. It was a strange statement to come from a leading representative of the great unions which profess to desire peace.

Mr Watson:

– Not peace at any price.

Mr McCAY:

– I shall come to that. The Prime Minister has suggested that some honorable members on this side of the House are animated by a covert hostility to the measure.

Mr Mauger:

– There is no doubt about it; they confess it themselves.

Mr McCAY:

– The Prime Minister stated also that he considered that he had shown a reasonable frame of mind towards the amendments proposed. I make a similar claim. In every speech I have made upon the Bill, and in every vote that I have given in connexion with amendments, I have sought to arrive at the minimum of modification or limitation that seemed to be necessary in the interests of the community. I have voted with the present Government-

Mr Higgins:

– Has the honorable and learned member done so?

Mr McCAY:

– The Attorney-General is here so seldom that he does not know how any one votes. I have voted with the Government as often as against them, upon matters of as grave importance as that now before us. I voted against them on the question of bringing States public servants within the scope of the measure, because upon that point I took up a definite attitude from the beginning. In connexion with the matter now before us, I announced previously that I disagreed with the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, because it seemed to me to hold out a declaration to the existing unions that the Bill would come into operation without paying any regard to them.

Mr Poynton:

– Does the honorable and learned member know that his amendment would break up every union?

Mr McCAY:

– My amendment would do nothing of the kind. We were told by the honorable member for Darling that, practically all the great unions in New South Wales would not be affected, because their rules contain no reference to politics. All that my amendment proposes to do is to divorce the. corporate political from the corporate in dustrial objects that the unions under this Bill are supposed to have. J have no other object in view, and I venture to say that my amendment would achieve no other purpose.

Mr Poynton:

– What is the meaning of the last few words of the amendment ?

Mr McCAY:

– They mean exactly what they say - that the rules of a union shall not require the members. to do anything of a political character.

Mr Spence:

– How could any one tell what was of a political character?

Mr McCAY:

– That might very well be left to the Court. There are some matters that will have to be left to the Court.

Mr Spence:

– The unions could not register under the ‘ amendment of. the honorable and learned member.

Mr McCAY:

– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. Any of the existing unions could register. My amendment recognises the existing unions, and all of them could register if they chose. They would not be compelled to do so.

Mr Hughes:

– Would there not be a - great danger in allowing a union with political objects to register under the Bill?

Mr McCAY:

– I have said all along that we should, as far as possible, recognise the existing unions which it was contemplated should be brought under the Bill. It was for that reason that I thought of my amendment, because under the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Angas existing unions would not be recognised in any way. Under my amendment any union could be registered. But, having registered, and having thereby declared itself an industrial union under an industrial measure, and having achieved its political purposes of the past - if the union were of a political character - it should become a purely industrial union in effecf, as it would be ostensibly, for the purposes of the Bill. It must in fairness be clearly understood that organizations under the Bill . are formed for industrial purposes only.” They are not to have other purposes to which they may devote their funds, including, perhaps, even the money derived from penalties paid by the other side for breaches of the awards of the Court. We must require these organizations to show to the industrial world of Australia that they are what they profess to be, namely, industrial unions.

Mr Poynton:

– Have not the trades unions worked very well as organizations under the Arbitration Act of New Zealand?

Mr McCAY:

– I venture to say that the trouble that has arisen occasionally in New Zealand may be traceable in no small measure to the intermingling of industrial and political matters in some of the unions.

Mr Poynton:

– I challenge the honorable and learned member to quote one case of the kind.

Mr McCAY:

– I cannot within the limits of such a short speech as this enter into matters of detail.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable and learned member cannot quote one case.

Mr McCAY:

– 1 desire to refer to one matter mentioned by the honorable member for Darling. He stated that, at the time of the great strike some years ago, the employes were urged to use constitutional means, to attain their objects. In other words, they were advised to endeavour to effect them by parliamentary action, as being more peaceful and less likely 10 interfere with the well-being of the community, rather than by resorting to strikes. He stated that the unions then entered upon the second stage of their development. From being’ organizations which merely endeavoured to effect by force what they believed to be right, they sought to secure their aims by adopting political means.

Mr Fisher:

– By law.

Mr McCAY:

– That is exactly the point Now, when the unions have, by their political efforts secured an enactment for- the peaceful settlement of industrial disputes, the reason for their existence as political bodies will cease. Just as the unions entered upon the political phase of their existence because of the necessity of insuring the peaceful settlement of disputes, so, having accomplished their political ends, they should cease to be political organizations.

Mr Spence:

– Surely we are not to stop at one reform.

Mr McCAY:

– For the purposes of this measure they should cease to be political organizations. The Bill offers everything that any employer or employe could ask for.

Mr Fisher:

– Is no further progress to be made ?

Mr McCAY:

– The honorable member suggests that further progress can be made by means of political organizations. I quite agree with him; but such progress should not be achieved by means of industrial .organizations under this Bill. The remark of the Minister indicates the conscious or unconscious confusion which exists in the minds of honorable members opposite be tween the proper and the improper objects of organizations registered under the Bill.

Mr Carpenter:

– The honorable and learned member has not yet drawn the line between “ industrial “ and “ political “ objects.

Mr McCAY:

– I cannot possibly give general definitions.

Mr Spence:

– That is the trouble.

Mr McCAY:

– If a particular set of circumstances were placed before me, I could give a fairly accurate decision as to whether or not the political element was embraced. That question would be left to the Arbitration Court. We are not endeavouring under any amendment to determine beforehand whether any particular set of circumstances is political or industrial ; we are merely laying down the broad principle that unions, either of employers ‘or employes, shall say that, so far as the Bill is concerned, they have now completed their political purposes, and entered upon the achievement of their industrial ends. That is why I have proposed the amendment. I have moved only what seems to be the minimum necessary in this connexion.

Mr Carpenter:

– The honorable and learned member proposes too much.

Mr McCAY:

– Even the Prime Minister is prepared to go some distance along the road, so that the difference between him and me is now not a question of principle, but a question of degree. I venture to say that my amendment draws the line at the natural place, the place at which a priori reasoning would draw it.

Mr Hughes:

– The place for the opponents of the measure. ‘

Mr McCAY:

– That is a taunt which is losing its force because of the frequency of its repetition.

Mr Mauger:

– It is not losing its force.

Mr McCAY:

– That depends to a large extent on the point of view. If the Government say that they will abandon the Bill if my amendment be carried, they are taking up an attitude which shows that they are not so earnest in the cause of industrial peace and arbitration as in the cause of forwarding the other objects of unionism, which, however laudable, are not laudable in connexion with the Bill. Further than that, if the unions will not come under the Bill if this condition be imposed, they are taking up an attitude which, though they may believe it to be for their own interests, is not one which we are called upon to indorse. We have been told over and over again that nine-tenths of the unions have nothing in their rules which the amendment would reach.

Mr Spence:

– That shows that it is not needed.

Mr McCAY:

– No; it shows that it is right ; that the unions themselves have, without legislative instruction, recognised the propriety of that course of action.

Mr Hughes:

– Ninety-nine out of every 100 non-unionists would have no objection to the clause standing as it is ; but while the honorable and learned member objects to coerce the one-hundredth man, he would coerce every tenth unionist.

Mr McCAY:

– That is an assertion incapable of either proof or disproof.

Mr Hughes:

– It is like the statements of the honorable and learned member.

Mr McCAY:

– I have made no assertion of fact of that kind, nor any approaching in definiteness such an assertion. Reference has been made to the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, to make the non-political test apply only when unions ask for a preference. If it be laudable, as the Minister of Trade and Customs said, for unions to endeavour, by political means, . to achieve further objects, and to secure further progressive legislation, why should a limitation be placed upon them even then? The Prime Minister says frankly that he would prefer to leave them unlimited, so far as legislation is concerned. I do not agree with him as to the respective duties of Parliament and the Court. If Parliament can see any clear line of delimitation, any clear guiding principles which, in its opinion, should be followed by the Court, it is its dutv to state them, even though we may believe that the Court will follow ‘them if they are not laid down. It is our duty to tell the Court what we think should be done. If we pass the preference clause in the Bill, it will mean . that we intend that preference shall be given on some occasions, at any rate. The Court will say that that clause was passed for the purpose of being acted upon in suitable cases. We are saying to the Court, “ Give preference in suitable cases.” But we should say further, “ There are certain cases which we think are not suitable. We leave you free outside those limits, to give preference when you choose.” The tendency in New Zealand, at, any rate - I cannot speak so definitely in regard to New South Wales - has been to grant ‘preference rather than” not to’ grant it.

Mr Mauger:

– That has been the tendency in New- South Wales rather than in New Zealand.

Mr McCAY:

– In New Zealand in nine months forty-eight preferences were given in sixty awards or agreements, that is, preference was given in 80 per cent, of the total number of cases.

Mr Hughes:

– Has it produced any evil effect ?

Mr McCAY:

– I have not said so; that is not the issue. The issue is whether we should declare by our legislation that in our opinion the divorcing of politics and industrial matters should begin with the entry of the unions under the Bill. The proposal to apply it only when a union asks for preference is, it seems to me, an admission of the principle, and an endeavour to compromise which, if I may venture to say so, has the- vices of either end of the argument and the virtues of neither.

Mr Isaacs:

– The amendment of the honorable and learned member does not say that there shall be a divorcing of the political and industrial interests on registering under the Bill.

Mr McCAY:

– It says practically that. I have not quoted its exact words, because every honorable member has a copy of it. It provides that any existing union may register ; but if there are certain things in its rules it must expunge them before moving the Court in connexion with an industrial dispute.

Mr Carpenter:

– The honorable and learned member goes further than that. He speaks of “binding decisions.”

Mr McCAY:

– That is to meet the case where the rules say . that a decision of the majority at a special or general meeting shall bind the union. There may be no reference to politics in the rules of a union, but at a special or general meeting all sorts of resolutions concerning politics, and binding the union, may be passed. The amendment endeavours to cover every method in which a union may give expression to its will. Once it is conceded that this limitation shall be put in anywhere, the principle is conceded, and the question is only as to how far it shall be applied. The Government, by its threats on its own behalf, and apparently on behalf of the unions, who are, doubtless, deeply interested in the measure, has practically endeavoured to do by force, or by the fear of force, what it ‘ thinks it may not be able to achieve by argument. It says, “We will go far along the road, but ifyou wish to go any further you must look out for all sorts of unfortunate occurrences.” I still find it difficult to believe that, once the principle is admitted, its application to the extent which I ask, as compared with the extent to which the Government are willing to apply it, would produce upon the unions such results as have been mentioned, especially as ninetenths of them would not, we are told, be affected by it. Under these circumstances, in spite of all that has been said by the Prime Minister, it seems to be my duty-, feeling as I do that what I have proposed is the least that should be agreed to in order to place proper limitations upon the provision in the Bill, to follow the rule I have hitherto followed, and while endeavouring to alter the Bill as little as possible, and to leave the operation of its principles as free as possible, to adhere to the position which I have already taken up.

Mr ISAACS:
Indi

– We have had some very - representative speeches to-night, and the question has been presented from various points of view. We have had some weighty observations from the’ right honorable member for East Sydney, and’ a spirited reply from the Prime Minister, and a defence of his position from the mover of one amendment. It seems to me that the matter is one of such gravity and wide import that it should be regarded as quietly and calmly as possible. The proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corinella is certainly, so far as Australian legislation is concerned, a novelty. I know no precedent for it. It strikes me as an innovation of such a kind as to require the utmost jealousy in regarding it. It does this, if it does nothing else : It says to men - “ You shall not come into a recognised established Court to have your claims adjudicated upon in a purely industrial matter, if you choose by organization to endeavour to preserve )Tour rights and your privileges by constitutional means.”

Mr Lonsdale:

– “ If you wish to compel non-unionists to join you.”

Mr ISAACS:

– .That remark is quite irrelevant to the subject, as I shall endeavour to show, if I am permitted, in my own way. If, when I . have finished, my honorable friend still dissents from me, he will have an opportunity to say so. I think that there is a great danger of the real question being overladen with irrelevant considerations, and being smothered with matters which do not properly appertain to it. In my view it is impossible to judge fairly and im partially of this matter, unless we keep in mind’ both the objects of the Bill and the scheme or plan which forms the fundamental groundwork upon which the whole structure has been! raised. The Bill has been well described over and over again as one for the establishment of industrial peace. It is a measure for which three ‘ Governments must take responsibility. It was introduced by the Barton Government, and it is said that the hand which framed it was that of the right honorable member for Adelaide. It is to the last degree regrettable from all stand-points that he is not here to take part in the discussion. I think that he would throw a great deal of light , upon the subject, and would, undoubtedly, be able to advance in the strongest manner arguments in support of its principles. All of us remember the able manner in which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, who was then Attorney-General, undertook the elucidation of its provisions when the unfortunate severance of the right honorable member for Adelaide from the Ministry took place. Then occurred a considerable lapse of time, and a general election, under the leadership of the honorable and learned member who, as the head of a Government, brought the Bill forward again. Now,- the present Government has taken it up. More than that, in the recently published notifications . of the proposed coalition, it was made one of the planks of the agreement that the Arbitration Bill should be proceeded with. This, therefore, is no party measure. It was taken up and adopted without the slightest intimation of any such crucial alteration as this, not only by the Government which originally introduced it, but by succeeding Governments, and by a proposed Government. Consequently we must not allow the statement that this Bill is a party measure, or that its main provisions have been framed upon party lines, to pass without contradiction. I should like to ask those honorable members who are objecting to it whether they would hare gained the support of the electors, had it been announced at the last general election that they were opposed to. it, or that in their attitude towards it they intended to denounce trades unions, or that they proposed to submit this amendment ? I think not. We must act fairly towards this Bill, and consider it in as cold, calm, and reasonable a light as we can, in order that we may see how it will operate. I do not wish this question to be decided in a way which any of us may regret hereafter. I desire to see it dealt with from the stand-point from which I have ever sought to approach it, namely, that of the whole public welfare I do not advocate this Bill in the interests of trades unions, or even of employes as opposed to employers, nor do I defend any part of it on behalf of employers as against employes. I take my stand - as I always did - upon this one pedestal, namely, that in Australia we find industrial controversies of such a nature, of such a magnitude, and of such possible magnitude and importance, that it is in the highest degree desirable in the whole public interest- - in the interests of the consumer as well as of the producer - that there should be a cessation of these conflicts - these civil wars. It is of the greatest importance, not merely to the owner of a coal mine and to the men working below that there should be’ no intermittence in the output, but it is equally important to the consumers of coal - to the manufacturers who use it, and to every household which burns it. Therefore, we do not wish the means of production to be obstructed or energy to be neutralized. We desire the whole country to progress.

Mr. -Higgins. - And we wish for no Colorado work here.

Mr ISAACS:

– We certainly want nothing of that kind. I look upon this question not through the glasses of trades unionists, or of non-unionists, or of employers. But, approaching it from the stand-point I have just indicated, I can find no justification whatever for supporting either of the amendments under consideration. We must look not merely at the objects of the Bill, but at its plan. We desire to stay discord, to prevent disunion and trouble, and we must ask ourselves the question, “ Who are the contestants ?” My reply is “ the employers on the one side and either single employes or unions of employe’s, upon the other.” The honorable, and learned member for Angas in effect says, “Let us entirely forget that one of the contestants is a trades union. Do not let us recognise that union.” But I would point out that such a union may exist by reason of State law. In four or five of the States, Acts are in operation which invite employes to register as trades unions. Yet the honorable and learned member exclaims, “ Forget all that.”

Mr Glynn:

– I say let them federate upon a new basis just as the Commonwealth did as distinct from the States.

Mr ISAACS:

– The honorable and learned member really supports my statement. He practically says - “ We must ignore existing trades unions as such. We must not recognise them as they have existed in the past. We care not how they have laboured to form their organizations, what property they hold, or what ties bind them together. For the future, they shall have no existence, so far as this Bill is concerned. Their members, however, if they choose, may form themselves into another organization, and other persons, who are not members of these trades unions, may come into that organization, which we will recognise, provided that it exists merely for the purposes of this Bill.” Is that not ignoring the present existence, and the past, of trades unions? Are the same men, as a trades union, to- exist under State law for one purpose, to pay their contributions, to obey the awards of a State Court, and then, under Federal law, as another organization, are they to obey another order of the Commonwealth Court?

Mr Glynn:

– They would do that as matters stand.

Mr ISAACS:

– It is to be the same organization under the Bill.

Mr Glynn:

– The rules of the organization formed under the Bill may be distinct and contradictory.

Mr ISAACS:

– The honorable and learned member knows that no sane body of men would have contradictory rules. Mr. Glynn. - The Acts may prescribe different rules. There is nothing to prevent a State Act being different from a Federal Act.

Mr ISAACS:

– Of course, anything is possible if my honorable and learned friend imagines that men will abandon their common sense. I can find no justification for ignoring bodies of men throughout Australia who have done such magnificent work, not merely for themselves and their fellowworkers, but for the whole continent. Why should they be ignored under this Bill ? Why should they be outlawed for the future? I have heard no valid reason advanced in support of that position. They are told that whether they be unionists or non-unionists under State law, they must register, and comply with certain conditions under this Bill. When they have done that, why should we say to them, “ All the State laws are wrong, and trades unions, the members of which are the very persons who it is presumed will be participants in industrial quarrels, shall not have their quarrels settled by this Court ? “ We are, forsooth, to recognise employers, but not trades unions. The amendment seems to me absolutely foreign to the purposes of the Bill. The Government ask us to say to the quarrelling parties, “ The State will not allow you to quarrel. It is detrimental to the public interest that you should do so, and in future instead of quarrelling to your own disadvantage, but still more to the disadvantage of the public, the State will step in and heal your quarrel by deciding it.” But the honorable and learned member, for Angas, for some reason which I cannot understand, says, “ We will ignore one of the contestants.” How then is he going to settle their quarrel ? He says to the trades unions, “ We will not recognise you. “ How is their quarrel to be decided? Let us suppose that two men have a dispute, whether it be upon a question of contract, or tort, or anything else. They are not allowed to fight out their quarrel between themselves. They are compelled to go before a properly established tribunal, which decides it for them. Because an organization is constituted under the law of one place, did any one ever hear it suggested that it should not be recognised as a contestant under the law of another?

Mr Glynn:

– The employes are not recognised as such.

Mr ISAACS:

– Quite so.

Mr Glynn:

– Then where is the argument of the honorable and learned ‘ member?

Mr ISAACS:

– The honorable and learned member has touched upon a very important matter with which I shall deal at a later stage. But, under this amendment, for the benefit of employers, no number of employes, however organized under State law, will be able to bring their quarrel before the Arbitration Court. If the proposal be carried, I shall submit an amendment which will then be necessary, and will give honorable members who declare that they are fighting the battle of the non-unionists an opportunity of demonstrating how strongly they support that class. The amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas practically provides that trades unions shall not be recognised. Let me point out a few of the results which will flow from its adoption. When I have done so, I believe that he will withdraw his proposal.

Mr Glynn:

– That is not likely

Mr ISAACS:

– Under this Bill’ an industrial dispute is a dispute between an em ployer or an. organization of employers upon the one side, and an organization of employe’s on the other. The honorable and learned member says that the latter organization must not be an existing trades union, but an organization which is formed and exists only for the purposes of this Bill. Let us suppose that a dispute arises between an employer and a trades union, which under a State law is a different body from an industrial organization under this Bill. In such circumstances, the honorable and learned member must recognise that - a strike or lock-out would not- be prohibited, that the employer might discharge any one or more of his employes simply because they were members of a trades union, and because there was no penalty attaching to their dismissal. How, then, would this Bill make for industrial peace ? All the difficulties that we are endeavouring to overcome would be left untouched.

Mr Glynn:

– I do not agree with the conclusions of the honorable and learned member.

Mr ISAACS:

– Surely the honorable and learned member for Angas must see that. The term “ industrial dispute “ is defined, and under the amendment’ of the honorable and learned member no quarrel between a State trades union and an employer could possibly give rise to “ an industrial dispute,” within the meaning of this Bill. Consequently, any” employer would be in a position to say to a workman, “ You are a member of a State trades union, and I refuse to employ you.”

Mr Glynn:

– What is to prevent them from registering under the Act?

Mr ISAACS:

– It is not the same trades union. The honorable and learned member proposes that the only organizations which shall be recognised by this measure shall be those which are formed solely for the purposes of the Act.

Mr Glynn:

– They will have to become Inter-State in character in order to come under the Bill..

Mr ISAACS:

– The honorable and learned member does not wish them to be recognised. Consequently, under his proposal trades unions would remain outside its purview.

Mr Glynn:

– What is to prevent them from amalgamating into a federal union in the same way as the Commonwealth did in relation to the States?

Mr ISAACS:

– The honorable and learned member wishes to dissolve the existing unions.

Mr Glynn:

– The States, as such, were not dissolved when we established the Commonwealth.

Mr ISAACS:

– But they are still recognised. The more the honorable and learned member thinks of it the more he will see that his proposal will not meet the case. More than that. When wre come to the position of industrial agreements, we see that they are between organizations and employers ; and there is not one of the trades unions which “will be able under this Bill to make an industrial agreement, because it is not an industrial organization under the measure. The whole Bill will fail.

Mr O’Malley:

– The amendment is an amendment to create strikes.

Mr ISAACS:

– It is an amendment to nullify the whole Bill. I will take the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. I have explained that I disagreed from the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas, but it has at least one great merit. It is consistent. It says - “We will have nothing to do with your trades unions.” The honorable and learned member for Corinella, however, moves an amendment that has not even the merit of consistency, and I will show why. It says that State trades unions shall be recognised. They_ may be registered. If they are, and if they only dare to permit either in their rules or in their practice any tinge of political action, they can be subjected, and they shall be subjected, to all the penalties of the measure, and to none of its benefits. Under the conditions that I have mentioned, a trades union is forbidden to strike, because it is an organization; but if an employer locks out the employes there is no ground of complaint. The employer may discharge every man, because they are members of an organization ; but the trade union has no cause of complaint. If they strike they are criminals. If the employer discharges them it is quite legal and they must bear it. That, I say, is a most lopsided amendment. Not only is it unjust from the stand-point which I have indicated, but it is even worse ; because what is a firm or a mining company ? Take a very large mining company that is employing, say, 500 or 1,000 men. That company is to all intents and purposes an organization. It is not technically an organization under this Bill, but it is an organization to all practical purposes. It is one employer in law ; it is one employer in fact. It is a number of shareholders organized, for the purposes of carrying on a business. That employer can vote as much money as it pleases for political purposes. It can sustain a candidate. It can pay his expenses. ‘ It can urge the adoption of political views. The amendment permits all that as being perfectly lawful. But let the men have one simple rule for political purposes, and they are to be punished. They can be locked out, or they may be dismissed because they are members of an organization, but they are forbidden to strike. Is that fair and just? Not only companies, but firms may do the same thing. Any individual employer, any number of employers in association in a company or firm, may do it. Yet under this amendment the employes are laid hold of by the heels, but the employer goes scot free. That is not evenhanded justice. That is not looking at the matter from the public stand-point. I cannot see how that position can be upheld for a single instant . by any fairminded man looking at it fairly and squarely.

Mr Glynn:

– An employer is not allowed to submit a dispute under this Bill.

Mr ISAACS:

– My honorable and learned friend must not overlook the definition of “ industrial dispute “ in clause 4. An industrial dispute under paragraph a of that .clause means a dispute - in relation to industrial matters arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employees on the other part.

Mr Glynn:

– I know that; it is not the dispute I am talking of, but the initiation of a case.

Mr ISAACS:

– That definition governs the whole matter of industrial disputes, and the employer is put in the same position as a hundred employes in an organization. There is no question about that. I must say that, when I look at the matter from an impartial stand-point, as I hope I do, this position strikes me as being unsatisfactory. I have no personal interest in” trades unions. I have no personal interest in any employers. I have no personal interest in non-unionists, except the interest that I have in them all as citizens, of this Commonwealth. And, looking at it from an impartial stand-point, I cannot understand how this position can be maintained for a moment. What do these trades unions come into’ Court for? Because they are told - “ You shall not in future use the weapon that you have been allowed to use hitherto- a strike.” They say- “What are you giving us in return ?” My honorable and learned friend the member for Angas says - “ Nothing ; we will not recognise you.” The honorable and learned member for Corinella says - “ Oh, we will give you permission to come before the Court, provided you drop what every citizen of this Commonwealth can claim the peaceful right to look after your interests by constitutional means.” What concession is that? As far as any disputant is concerned, the Bill gives no concession. It provides a remedy. It is a remedial, measure, but that is all. It is a mere machine for settling disputes. We know that in olden times men used to resort to violence, both in civil quarrels with their neighbours, and also by means of trades unions against employers. That was at a time when the most severe legislation existed aimed directly arid specially at labour. Down to comparatively recent times - to a long way in the nineteenth century - that was the case. Deeds of violence were committed by labourers that were unjustifiable arid were properly punished. They were the outcome of the times. When we are told that there shall be no political action on the part of these trades unions, it is forgotten how political action was forced upon the unions.

Mr Groom:

– How they got even the right to exist in law.

Mr ISAACS:

– Quite so. No, one who has ever read that inimitable book, The History of Trades Unions, by Mr. and Mrs. Sidney Webb, or the graphic account of trades unions in such a book as Justin McCarthy’s History of Our Own Times, can fail to understand and appreciate the necessity under which trades unions were compelled to adopt political action. As Mr. and Mrs. Webb say, the original idea and the long-continued idea of trades unions was abstention from political action. Instances are given where the rules of the unions forbade political action - or political wrangling, as it was put in one case. But when they found that the Legislature was governed principally by the influence of those who were antagonistic to them, what were they to do? At first they were driven to deeds of violence that could not be tolerated in any civilized community, and were properly suppressed. Then they resorted to strikes ; and, at first, and for a long time, strikes were treated as criminal. Down, to 187 1 men were not allowed with impunity to strike. So late as that trades unions - I am giving in very brief form the ‘ results of such works as I have mentioned - struggling for recognition of even their own existence, and struggling to help the Liberals in the enlargement of the franchise in 1867, suddenly, and to the surprise of a large number of people, took a very prominent part in politics. In 187 1 they were still without representation in Parliament - I mean without special representation. An Act was passed which .did not at all meet the situation, and under which certain de- cisions were given. It was the first recognition of their right to strike, but only in a limited form ; and if they did anything, however trivial we may think it, to make their strike effectual, the criminal law was down upon them. Seven women were sent to gaol in South Wales for saying “ baa “ to a certain “blackleg.” Almost any action on the part of trades unionists, in the direction of persuading men to assist them, was punished by imprisonment. Employers, on the other hand, were quite at liberty to use “black lists,” and what were called “ character notes.” The criminal law did not apply to employers, but it applied to employes. The matter became intolerable. Strikes were . rendered almost impossible or ineffectual^ Ultimately the trades unions were driven to use their political influence to obtain redress in Parliament for their wrongs; and that is how this political action was forced upon them. In 1875, for the first time in the history of the House of Commons, two labour men, Mr. Macdonald and Mr. Burt, were elected.. In 1875, the first real ameliorating Act was passed ; and from that time the real emancipation of the workers began. Factory Acts, Shipping Acts, Sanitation Acts, Dwelling Acts, the proper regulation of Woman and Child labour, the Mines Regulation Act - all these measures have come in a legitimate and proper course, and as a direct result of political vigilance on the part of the trades unions. Not for their own benefit only ; they were merely representative of. millions of their fellows. It may be admitted, even by those who would have opposed them at that time, that they have done what was humane and proper. That is how political action was ‘forced upon the trades unions. But when once you have won a right you have to guard it. The honorable and learned member for

Corinella said, “ When the Bill is passed, all reason for political action will be gone.” Is that true ?

Mr Mauger:

– No.

Mr ISAACS:

– Have they not still to guard their rights ? Is it not possible, if they are once disarmed, that next year, or after the next election, some measure may be introduced into this Parliament which will cut down their rights, or even threaten their existence ? How are they to watch the administration of Acts? Parliament alone can do that with any effect, and I cannot see how it. can be condemned that men should do nothing more than unite for the purpose of exercising the highest attribute of citizenship. We must look facts clearly in the face. Capital has no more and no less a claim to our consideration than labour. But capital possesses attributes that labour does not. It is always organized ; it is always acting in the same interest: it is always ready. But what force and what effect can single atoms of labour have?

Mr McColl:

– That is not proposed under the Bill.

Mr ISAACS:

– My honorable friend will forgive me for saying that it is most material here. The only effectual way of defending rights and securing redress from wrongs is by uniting, and parliamentary influence is one of those means. Does my honorable friend say that because an organization has a plank that it shall ‘strictly and vigilantly guard its political rights, it shall be denied its ordinary industrial rights? If he suggests that, next we shall have it proclaimed that any society, Friendly or other, which is a religious one - it may be a Jewish 01 Catholic or Protestant society, its members are to bet denied access to the Court for their contractual or proprietary rights because thev have a bond of religion’. What has religious creed to do with industrial rights ? What, has political faith to do with industrial rights? Nothing whatever. So long as these industrial organizations come into the Court and say, “ We want nothing more than any other person. We do not claim any advantage over any other worker in Australia,” I see no reason for denying them access to the Court, no matter what their political faith may be. But the moment they ask for an advantage or a preference ; the moment they say, “ We want something more than a non-unionist can get,” then coercion commences, if .they get it. If the Court gives it to them it says to other workers, “ You shall not get equal rights unless you join an organization.” If that organization has a compulsory political platform it is not giving political freedom to the Outsider, and we should prohibit preference under any circumstances, so long as that political platform exists. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has been good enough to associate himself with me m trying to frame an amendment which I intend to propose, and which I understand the Prime Minister is willing to accept.

Mr Watson:

– I have not seen the phraseology of the amendment, but I am willing to accept it in spirit.

Mr ISAACS:

– I do noi commit myself to the phraseology. I wish, as far as I can, to carry out the views I have -just enunciated. The spirit of the proposal is as follows : -

No preference shall be declared to any organization under this Act if its rules, decisions, ‘or practices, or any of them provide for or permit either the application or appropriation of its funds, or any part thereof, tpi any political purpose whatever, or any political action on the part of the organization.

Whenever an industrial organization says, “ We- want to gain an advantage over our fellow workers, then they should add, “We drop our political platform.”

Mr Glynn:

– -That proposal does not differ in principle from the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. It is only a question of degree.

Mr ISAACS:

– My honorable and learned friend has quite missed the whole point. Does he see no difference in principle between sharing rights equally with the public and gaining an advantage over the rest” of the public? Does he not see, to apply the simile I used before, that if there were, for instance, a Jewish society of workers, and only persons of that particular faith were allowed to join, and they went into Court and stated, “ We want ordinary rights, such as fair wages, or hours, like every one else,” they should not be denied them? On the other hand, if they stated, “ We want some special distinctive rights,” would not that be a difference in principle ? Would not the Court say, “As long as you make profession of a particular faith part of your deed of membership, you certainly shall not have a preference.”

Mr Glynn:

– According to the honorable and learned member’s argument, there is no reason why they should not profess politics in their rules.

Mr ISAACS:

– Mv honorable and learned friend seems to pass by the very distinction which stares him plainly in the face. If he cannot see a distinction between sharing in equality ordinary citizenship, and gaining an advantage oyer other citizens, then, of course, I cannot explain the matter further.

Mr Spence:

– How would that amendment affect the ownership of a newspaper?

Mr ISAACS:

– If it had a political purpose that would be a matter for the Court to deal with ; it would come under the Act.

Mr Watson:

– When they asked for a preference.

Mr ISAACS:

– Yes.

Mr Watson:

– Not before.

Mr ISAACS:

– My proposed amendment only refers to preference. The Court, apart from preference, has nothing to do with the political creed or religious faith or tendency of any person before it. Tt is an unwarranted interference with the right of other persons to say that they shall cease to hold any political faith. How can it be defended? If large companies of employers can, under the Bill, as they may, not only pr, .e,9 a political faith, but expend any proportion they please of their wealth to advance that political faith, how can they justly complain if their less fortunate brethren, the employes, do the same thing in a minor degree ?

Mr Glynn:

– Does not the honorable and learned member believe in preference under the Bill ?

Mr ISAACS:

– I should much like to see no preference, if it could possibly be avoided. I think that preferences ought, in any case, to be. most sparingly dealt out. That is a matter which we can safely intrust to the Court, as long as there is no appearance of forcing political faith on to any person. But a case might arise when the granting of a preference might be strongly to the advantage of an employer, because the only alternative might be tha passing the common rule. He might infinitely prefer that the Court should decree preference to a union, because when the union was exhausted the common rule would not apply. That explains why I cannot support the amendment. In Western Australia a registered trade union may be registered under the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1902, and every branch may be registered, and sub-section 3 - of section 7 says- -

For the purposes of the Act, the rules for the time being of the trade union with such addition or modification as may be necessary to give effect, to this Act shall, when registered, be deemed to be the rules of the industrial union.

That is about the latest exposition of the whole matter. In Western Australia they recognised trades unions as they stood with their rules for the purposes of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Why should we depart from that plan? Why should we in this Federal Parliament decline to recognise the unions in Victoria, .New South Wales, Western Australia, or Queensland, although established under Acts of Parliament, or even the unions in South Australia and Tasmania, which exist voluntarily, but which undoubtedly are recognised practically ? Why should they all be ignored ? What is the necessity for it? If we go to the length which has been suggested by these two amendments I see very great force in the Prime Minister’s statement that the Bill will be seriously imperilled. I believe that to carry the amendments would amount to almost an evisceration of the measure. - I can- quite understand the anxiety of the Prime Minister in this matter. I entirely agree with him this is not a Bill for the advancement of trades unions. If I thought it was a Bill to advance trades unions -at the expense of other workers I would vote against it from the very beginning to the very end. I do not think it is even a Bill for the advancement of labour as against capital, or I would vote against it.

Mr Watson:

– The Court will not be presided over by a Labour Judge.

Mr ISAACS:

– I believe’ that the Bill, in its inherent meaning, is one that shows no favour to either side. I do not wish it to show favour, but I do desire to see. a fair balance established and maintained between the two contending parties. I think that we must recognise the contending parties as they stand before us to-day ; and recognising them and their quarrel, we sayto them. “ You shall not have private strife, you shall have a public settlement of your dispute.” That at once gets rid of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Angas. It at once shows, too, how unfair the operation of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella would be. When the right honorable, member for East Sydnev was asked by me whether he limited his remarks to preference, he replied “ Yes,” and I said that I agreed with him. With all the observations we have heard with regard to preference and forcing men into unions, I thoroughly, agree. I intend to support every ‘ proposition which can prevent that from taking place. But I cannot agree with some of the animadversions which were passed on the Prime Minister to-night, when it was said that they did not agree with his anxiety about the Bill. The prevention of preference, when a union is a political as well as an industrial union, is a legitimate thing, but the denial of ordinary rights is another thing. ‘

Mr Watson:

– - Even to submit a dispute under the amendment.

Mr ISAACS:

– Even to submit a dis.pute. How can any man defend an amendment which says, “ We will admit that association or trades union to recognition under the Act, but only’ for the purpose of punishing it if it offends against the Act, and not for the purpose of giving it its rights?” That is the meaning of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. It says to the organization, “You shall be a target to be shot at, but you shall have no rights and you shall have no weapon to strike in return.” I do not want any of them to have weapons. I wish all weapons to be laid aside. I desire to see the State dp justice between the two. To put my. argument in another way-, I appreciate the Prime Minister’s statement with regard to the measure, and the answer that I think ought to have been given . to the. honorable and learned member for Corinella, when he said that he was surprised that that honorable gentleman, had talked of dropping the Bill. Mind, I do not counsel the dropping of the- Bill, but merely say there is ground for anxiety. The honorable and learned member .for. Corinella asked, “Why should he drop, the Bill - why should such a want pf sincerity be shown as would be shown by the abandonment of the measure?” Is it not sufficient answer to say that unions have recognised rights at present which they Have never abused, and to ask why these unions should be called on to lose the rights they Have? I do not mean merely the right to strike, but the right to complain in place of striking. Unions would be placed in the position that either they would not register at all - in which case no possible dispute could be decided, and the whole Bill would be ineffective as regards them - or, if they did register, they would have to submit to the humiliation and material loss of abandoning what is every Britisher’s right - the right to appeal to Parliament for redress of wrongs, or maintenance of rights. The wording of the amendment is distinct - “ That no such organization shall be entitled to submit any industrial dispute to the Court,” and so ()n. Why should an organization not be allowed to submit an industrial dispute?

Mr Watson:

– Who would be injured ?

Mr ISAACS:

– The Court is not called on to be a political partisan, but is concerned only with industrial disputes; and, provided that no preference is permitted to the Court, I cannot see that we are justified in adopting either of the amendments before the Chair.

Mr McColl:

– I suggest that progress be reported.

Mr WATSON:

– I have no objection to progress being reported now, but I trust that honorable members will assist the Government to arrive at a. decision to-morrow night.

Mr Glynn:

– Some honorable members were anxious to have a division to-day.

Mr WATSON:

– I think it would be reasonable to report progress now, but I shall expect the’ assistance of honorable members in coming to a division to-morrow.

Progress reported.

Rouse adjourned at 10.33 P-m-

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 July 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040705_reps_2_20/>.