2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. On Thursday last the Melbourne Argus, in its report of the proceedings of this House on the preceding day, published a statement which is untrue, and a slander upon a respectable body of unionists, and which, at the same time, is made to appear as if I myself had given utterance to it. The words I complain of in the report are, “inspired by the British Medical Association,” as they occur in the following connexion : -
Very little has been heard from Mr. Culpin, who is … . the Labour member for Brisbane.
That is true. I do not rise to speak unless I have something to say. The paragraph continues -
It appears that before the last election a Brisbane paper published a statement inspired by the British Medical Association, that Mr. Culpin had once advised the Association to insist on a payment of 25s. per member from the friendly societies or refuse to take lodge practice.
The proposal to boycott there attributed to me was made before I arrived in the State, by certain medical men who were members of the Association. There is no reason to believe that the libellous paragraph which appeared in the Brisbane Telegraph was inspired by the British Medical Association. The final apology of that newspaper contained a passage which was a misrepresentation of a motion which was attached by it to my name, but which was really indorsed by the British Medical Association three years ago. I trust that the Argus will give the publicity to this explanation which it has already given to the false statement.
Mi. HENRY WILLIS. - I wish to know why my Christian name is not used, as in the reports of the debates of the first Parliament, when my name is published in Hansard. Great inconvenience arises from the present practice, inasmuch as I am often confused with a member of the State Parliament of the same name, whose letters sometimes reach me. If the former practice were renewed, I would not receive his correspondence, and he would, I feel sure, be very much better pleased.
– The course now followed was adopted to secure uniformity, so that all honorable members might be treated in precisely the same way. If it is the desire of the House that the honorable member for Robertson should have his Christian name printed as well as his surname, I shall, of course, comply, but I. shall have to extend the same privilege to every other member who may ask for it.
– I wish to ask, on behalf of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, when the Seat of Government Bill will be dealt with by this House ?
– I haveb een thinking over “the matter for some days past, and I have come to the conclusion that the best course will be to proceed with the discussion of that measure when the first stage of the consideration of the Arbitration Bill in Committee is completed. The Government will then need a few days in which to look into the requirements of the Bill in the way of amendments on recommittal, and I intimate now that if by next week we conclude the first stage of its consideration, that is, if we have dealt with the new clauses to be proposed and the schedules, we shall, if proper notice can be given to honorable members, proceed with the Seat of Government Bill. A few days ago I received a communication from the Premier of New South Wales, asking that the consideration of the Bill may be deferred until the electors of that State have had an opportunity to pronounce on the question shortly to be submitted to them by the Government there as to whether the State Parliament should express an opinion as to which, from its stand-point, is the most desirable site to adopt. We have considered the letter, and while we are most anxious to meet the desires of the Government of New” South Wales in every way, we cannot see a sufficient reason for longer deferring the settlement of the question. Sir Edmund Barton, when Prime Minister, in 1901, asked them to express a preference for some particular site, but no reply has yet been received to that letter, and as threeyears have now elapsed, and a good deal of Commonwealth money has been spent in obtaining evidence on which to come to a conclusion as to the best site available, it does not, in our view, seem desirable to further postpone the settlement of the question
– The Prime Minister has not made it clear whether the Seat of Government Bill will be dealt with next week or the following week. There are, I believe, a number of members who wish to see the Tooma site, on the Upper Murray, and to do so they must, if the consideration of the Bill is fixed for next week, visit the place this week. Personally I think it would be better for them to go next week; but if they desire to go this week, I shall be ready to make such arrangements as are necessary. As the site is one which should be seen by as many honorable members as possible, I ask the Prime Minister to say definitely, if he can, when the Bill will be brought on for discussion.
– I wish to ask a question hinging upon that just asked.
– Perhaps the Prime Minister had better reply to one question at a time.
– Contingent upon the first stage of the consideration in Committee of the Arbitration Bill being concluded next week, the Seat of Government Bill will -then be discussed; but I cannot pretend to say how long the Committee will take to deal with the proposed new clauses and the schedules, whose consideration follows that of the ordinary clauses.
– The proposed new clauses and schedules of the Arbitration Bill will be dealt with before the Seat of Government Bill is discussed?
– There are a great number of new clauses to be proposed.
– Yes, and some of them are important ; but I anticipate that we may get them out of the road next week, in which case the way will Minister whether for the discussion of the Seat of Government Bill then. No official intimation has been made to the effect that a number of honorable members are anxious to visit the site mentioned by fhe honorable member, but, as in previous cases, facilities will be offered to honorable members who desire to make such an inspection before the question comes before the House.
– Of course, at this stage I can only ask a question, and I must confine myself to that. I would ask the Prime
Minister, in view of the statement he has made, to take into his earnest consideration the necessity for” passing the Arbitration Bill on to the Senate as soon as possible. I understand that that House has adjourned from time to time because it has no work to do.
– No, no.
– I have heard of some adjournments of that Chamber, and I presume that these have resulted, not from considerations of pleasure, but from lack of work. I would therefore earnestly impress on the Prime Minister the necessity of concluding the consideration of the Arbitration Bill before taking up the other measure. I am, of course, very much interested in the Seat of Government Bill, but I regard it as very important that we should dispose of the Arbitration Bill as soon as possible, in order that the Senate may give it consideration.
– The Government have considered the aspect of the matter referred to by the right honorable gentleman, and are just as anxious as he is to have the Arbitration Bill disposed of by this House. Quite a number of considerations have, however, been put forward in Committee, to a very large extent by honorable mem-, bers opposite, which involve questions of law and other matters, and which call for careful attention on the part of the Government before the recommittal stage is reached. If’ we . recommit the Bill immediately after the conclusion of the ordinary stage, the -consideration given to the points referred to cannot be so full as it should be. I do not anticipate that the interposition of the Seat of Government Bill will delay the passing of the Arbitration Bill for more than three or four days, because I do not suppose that honorable members will, desire to discuss the measure at such length as on a former occasion.
– I desire to’ ask the Prime Minister whether, in the event of facilities being granted to honorable mem- bers to visit Tooma, in the electorate of the honorable member for Hume, similar opportunities will be extended to a number of honorable members who have expressed a wish’ to visit Twofold Bay.
– Where is Tooma?
– Every facility will be afforded to honorable members who apply to my honorable colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs. There is no desire to limit the opportunities of honorable mem- bers to inspect the proposed sites, so long as their attention is confined to those areas which were held to be within the running when the matter was under consideration a few months ago. At the same time, no such facilities will be given as will involve any delay in the presentation of the matter to the House.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to certain statements which have appeared in the Age andArgus. The Argus of 6th July contains the following report : -
The Minister of Home Affairs has received the final reports of Messrs. Chesterman and Scrivener, the surveyors appointed to inspect the Tumut and Bombala areas. These reports, together with contour maps, will be laid upon the table of the House of Representatives to-day. Mr. Scrivener has, it is said, chosen Dalgety as the best of the Bombala sites. It is situated on a tableland 2,400 feet high, and it is contended that it is “protected” from the, chill west winds “which blow from the Mount Kosciusko district by a range of mountains from 3,000 to 3,500 feet high. But the fact that the map showing the results of the contour survey was sketched in a tent surrounded by 3 feet of snow may still cause a shiver to run down the backs of Federal members, and make them pause before choosing Dalgety
The Age of the same date contains the following statement : -
The final reports of the two surveyors (Messrs. Chesterman and Scrivener), whose services were lent by the New South Wales Government to the Department of Home Affairs in order to carry out surveys of the best available sites for a Federal Capital in the Bombala and Tumut districts, will be laid on the table of the House of Representatives to-day. Attached to the reports will be a map and a rough contour survey of the Dalgefy site, and one in the Tumut district, which are considered to offer the best facilities for a Federal Capital. The advocates of Tumut will be glad to know that when the report of the Dalgety site was drawn up there was 3 feet of snow round the surveyor’s tent.
I should like to know whether this information was derived from official sources, and, also, whether the Minister is aware that during the last twelve months there has been no snow at Dalgety. Mr. Scrivener, writing in reference to the paragraph which appeared in the Argus, says : -
The plans to which you refer were drawn in my camp some twenty miles from Dalgety at the foot of snow-covered mountains some 5,000 feet high - spurs from the main range culminating at Mount Kosciusko.
In fairness to Dalgety I trust you will make this correction.
I desire to know whether, in view of the mis-statements made, evidently on the strength of information derived from official sources, the Minister will take steps to secure a public contradiction?
– There was 2 ft. of snow at Dalgety last week.
– I am not aware ‘ of the temperatures recorded at the places mentioned during the last twelve months, but I shall cause inquiries to be made. As to the question whether the statements made were based upon official information, I desire to say that neither the Age nor the Argus is the official organ of the Government.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home. Affairs whether he has yet received a report from Mr. Surveyor Chesterman in regard to the Upper Murray Valley, and if so, whether he will lay it upon the table of the House?
– The report in question has not yet been received. It is expected to-morrow, and, when received, will be laid upon the table.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in view of the fact that the statements which’ I have read have been given officially, he will take steps to have them contradicted?
– The honorable member asserts that the statements are official. I should be very much surprised to learn that they are, and if they are not official, I shall certainly take no steps to contradict them.
– I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he has any objection to lay upon the table the correspondence between his Department and the German Consul concerning the deportation of Hans Stelling, and, further, whether he is aware that already diplomatic communications have passed between the German Government and the British Government with regard to certain expressions contained in the Ministerial contributions to that correspondence, which are held to ‘ reflect upon the German Consul.
– I am not aware that Hans Stelling was deported by the Government.
– I did not say so. I asked the Minister whether he would lay upon the table the correspondence relating to Stelling’s deportation.
– Provided that the German Consul, or in his absence the German Consulate, consents, I shall have no objection to laying the correspondence on the table. I am not officially aware that any diplomatic communications have passed between the British Government and the German Government in regard to the matter referred to by the honorable and learned member. I shall, however, make inquiries, and if the honorable and learned member will give notice of his question for tomorrow, I shall be able to furnish him with a reply.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, without notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he has yet received any reply from State Premiers in reference to the establishment of the Iron Industry ; and, if so, will he state the nature of those replies?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
On the 4th July, 1902, the State Premiers were furnished with a copy of section 3 of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, as amended by the House of Representatives, and were asked whether, in the event of the measure becoming law in its then form, there was any probability of their respective Governments taking advantage of its provisions?
The State Premiers replied that there was no probability of advantage being taken of the provisions. of the Bill.. The Premier of New South’ Wales added that his Government favoured the encouragement of private enterprise by ‘ both duty and bonus, and would be pleased to support any action taken by the Commonwealth Government in that direction.
On 15th June, 1904, the Premiers of the States were asked whether the replies to the Prime Minister’s letter of the 4th July, 1902, embodied the present views of their several Governments?
Replies have now been received from the Premiers of Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, intimating that they retain the views expressed in their previous communications.
Replies have not yet been received from New South Wales and West Australia, but the Pre’miers of those States have been asked to expedite the matter.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows : -
The matters referred to are all within the control of the Public Service Commissioner, who is obtaining information to enable replies to be furnished.
It is therefore desired that the questions may be postponed.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The Public Service Commissioner reports -
asked the Minis ter of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The Government cannot undertake to advise the honorable member on questions of law.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 7th July, vide page 3064) :
Clause 89 -
Nothing in this Act shall require any Judge of the Supreme Court of a State to accept any appointment under this Act, and no such appointment shall be made without the previous approval of the Governor of the State.
– On a previous occasion I called attention to questions which may hereafter be raised of a similar nature to those which are provided for in this clause. I do not wish to press for an answer at the present moment, but I think that the Prime Minister promised to inquire into this provision. I merely wish to know whether the attention of the AttorneyGeneral has been called to the matter?
– To what matter does the honorable and learned member refer?
– It arises in connexion with clause 16. It is questionable whether we have power to peremptorily impose new functions upon a Justice of the High Court, and also whether we can appoint a Justice of that tribunal to the position of President of the Arbitration Court without his consent.
– This provision refers only to the Supreme Courts of the States.
– Of course; I merely wish to ascertain whether the attention of the Attorney-General has been called to the other matter.
– I understand the honorable and learned member to ask whether it is competent for this Parliament to impose upon a Justice of the High Court functions which the Constitution does not explicitly empower him to exercise?
– I shall look into the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses90 and 91 agreed to.
Clause 92 -
No evidence relating to any trade secret of any witness or party shall be disclosed or published without the consent of the person entitled to the trade secret or nondisclosure.
Penalty : Five hundred pounds.
– I move-
That after the word’ disclosed,” line 3, the words “ except to the Court,” be inserted.
The amendment is to insure that the Court shall not bedebarred by this provision from obtaining information in regard to trade secrets.
Amendment agreed to.
– The penalty for a breach of this provision might reasonably be imprisonment or fine. It is almost impossible to say what a trade secret is worth. Although a penalty of£500 would cover the great majority of them, instances might reasonably arise where it would pay a man to receive a bribe to disclose a trade secret of immense value, and afterwards pay this fine. Can the Prime Minister see his’ way clear to provide for an alternative penalty of three months’ imprisonment? My only object is to safeguard the measure.
– I do not see any objection to the honorable member’s proposal. We are all at one in the desire to safeguard the interests of firms that may have to come before the Court in matters of this description, and if the honorable member will move the amendment I shall not object to it.
Amendment (by Mr. Kelly) agreed to -
That the following words be added : - “ or three months’ imprisonment.”
– I move-
That the following words be added : - “ In this section at the request of a party, to a dispute the hearing shall be in camera.”
– It appears to me that the proposal of the honorable and learned member for Corio goes rather too far. The general theory behind the work of our Courts of law is that they shall be conducted in the open light of day, and that the public shall have a means of exercising a control over the work of the Judiciary by criticising any action of the Judges or the officials of the Court.
– No star chamber proceeding.
– Quite so.. We should always consent with the greatest reluctance to permit, cases to be heard in camera, and’ should always surround the permission, when given, by the greatest safeguards.
– Then why this clause at all?
– It is a very proper thing that the disclosure or publication of trade secrets or profits, or any information of that description, should be prohibited,in the interests of the parties. We have already made persons guilty of making prohibited disclosures liable to a monetary penalty or to imprisonment.
– A trade rival might go and listen for himself ; the Bill permitsthat.
– I admit that that is a difficulty that it might be well to get over. Perhaps the Judge might be given power in extreme cases to order that certain evidence should be heard in camera. I am reminded by the Attorney-General that paragraph I of clause 46 is already strong enough in that respect. The Court has power - to conduct its proceedings, or any part thereof, in private.
I do not feel inclined to go beyond that; because, speaking generally, it is highly desirable that the evidence should be heard in public, so that persons present may be able to form an opinion as to whether the Court had arrived at. a proper decision or. not..
– The Government cannot think that clause 46 (Z) meets the difficulty, or they would not have inserted clause 92.
– This clause does not relate to the same circumstances as are covered by clause 46 (I).’
– ;Nor does my proposal.
– To meet the majority of such cases as the honorable and learned member refers to, I think that the power given to the Court under clause 46 (Z) would be sufficient. No Judge who had any appreciation of his position would permit the publication of anything that would lead to the disclosure of trade secrets.
– I think .that the Prime Minister, in accordance with what he has already said,* might go a little further. That is to say, I think that when the Bill is being recommitted, the clause under consideration might be looked at again so as to insure that evidence relating to trade secrets of profits would not be heard in public. I think that all that the honorable and learned member for Corio desires might be met by the intro duction of a word or two, providing that this evidence might be heard in camera if the Judge approved. Clause 46 (Z) contains a general power, and may be used for a great variety of purposes. But the clause under consideration relates to . a specific power ; and while we are providing that certain’ evidence may not be disclosed, we might go further and say that certain evidence may be heard in camera. That would not be contrary to clause 46 (Z), but it would be an indication to the Judge that Parliament foresaw the wisdom of giving the Court power to hear this evidence in camera. For my own part, I think that the excellent principle of the publicity of our Courts is often carried too far. There are many matters, more particularly the abominations of the Divorce Court, which never ought to find their way into the public press.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- Although I quite sympathize with the remarks of the “ honorable and learned member for Ballarat, I do not think, that he has quite grasped my point. I do not desire that power should be left to the Court to order that certain evidence shall not be published. I wish the clause to be so amended that evidence shall not be disclosed- or published without the consent of the parties,- and that there shall be a right of the person affected to object to other persons who are not interested in the case, except, perhaps, as trade rivals, coming to the Court, listening to the evidence, and possibly being enabled thereby to get a man’s business away from him. I desire that the man whose trade secrets are concerned shall be able to say, “ I object to my secrets being disclosed.”-
– Suppose an employer were sweating his employ ls. That fact might be an essential feature in inducing the Court to arrive at a certain decision. Should not that fact be published?
– My proposal would not prevent that.
– The employer might give an ostensible reason for desiring that the evidence should be heard in camera - though his real reason might be to hide the fact that he had been sweating his employes.
– A case of that kind would be limited by clause 92,
– We will reconsider the point and amend the clause, if necessary.
– I shall most certainly look into the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Corio, in order to see if we can make the precaution more stringent. At the same time, I am bound to say, for my own part, that I “would rather trust’ the Court. That has become an old expression during these debates, but the point is that it is always competent for a party to a case, when a delicate matter affecting his business or finances is reached, to say to the Court - “ At this stage, and before we go into this matter, I wish to have the proceedings conducted in private, under clause 46 (l).” On the one hand it is important to provide that rivals and strangers shall not be given access to the inner workings of a man’s business, and, on the other hand, one of the fundamental principles of British jurisprudence and procedure is to give publicity, with only such exceptions as are absolutely necessary. At present I do not see that it would be wise for us to leave the question of publicity or privacy absolutely at the will of any particular party.
– All modern legislation is. in the direction of limiting publicity.
– I “admit that in the Courts there have been limitations. However, I assure the honorable and learned member that I shall look into the question, and endeavour to see whether we cannot in some way make the provision even more of a safeguard than it is at present. In the meantime, I am bound to say that I feel as much impressed by the danger of want of publicity as by the danger of wrong disclosure.
– It appears that the honorable and learned member for Corio desires only to provide in this clause what is provided in the next clause in reference to books, papers, and other documents. If a provision of the kind is right in one case, it certainly ought to be right in the other. Clause 93 provides that - books, papers, and documents relating to any trade secret, or to the profits or financial position, of any witness or party, shall not without his consent be inspected by any party.
The ‘desire of the honorable and learned member for Corio is that evidence should be treated in a similar way. It ought to be open to a party, _ when asked to give evi- ‘ dence which, in his opinion, will disclose his trade secrets -and methods to his rivals, and thus give the latter an advantage, to askthat the evidence should be heard in private. To permit such a request seems to me to be absolutely fair. The British idea of having everything “ open and above board” is all right in. most cases; but there are a large number of cases in which it is better to depart from the principle. It is not wise to push these ideas to extremes ; and the allusions which have been made to a-“ Star Chamber” have nothing to do with British courts of justice as they are conducted to-day. Some complaint about unnecessary publicity of this kind has been made in New South Wales, where employers are compelled to give evidence which, to some extent, takes away their control of their own business. I have been informed that witnesses have been compelled to give, or have given, evidence which has the effect of revealing to rivals their methods of conducting business. These methods, which in the past have been of advantage to the parties who devised them’, become public property when disclosed in the Court, and lose much of their value.
– I hope the Government will accept the amendment. The Attorney-General appears to take the view that all cases of law should be heard in public ; but an Arbitration Court is in a different position’ from that of an ordinary Court of law. In the case of an Arbitration Court, evidence is given as to the private business of manufacturers and producers, and their relations with their employe’s, and, as far as possible, those disclosures should be made in private. If an employer has been sweating his employes the decision of the Court may be published to the world, as has been the case in the past, without allowing private business matters to be disclosed.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 93 (Contents of books not to be disclosed).
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth).- I think that this ‘ clause ought to be amended in the same way as we amended clause 92.
– That is so.
Amendment (by Mr. Kelly) agreed to -
That the following words be added - “ or three months’ imprisonment.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 94 to 97 agreed to.
Clause 98 -
– If I recollect rightly, the Acts Interpretation Act, which was passed this session/ gives power to disallow regulations in precisely the same terms as those of the clause.
– I have looked at the Acts Interpretation Act, and find that the section referred to is section 10, which provides -
Where an Act confers power to make regulations all regulations made accordingly shall. . .
Sub-clause 2, therefore, is not necessary, but we must retain sub-clause 1.
– That is so.
– I move-
That sub-clause 2 be left out.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 28 (Disputes of which the Court has cognisance).
– This clause provides that all industrial disputes which are certified bv the Registrar as proper to be dealt with “in the public interest,” shall be dealt with by the Court. It ought to be made, clear that the clause refers only to Federal disputes - disputes extending beyond the ‘limits of any one State.
– It must be such a dispute.
– Yes ; but some of the amendments already made have been in » the direction -of trying to make the Bill as much as possible applicable to State matters.
– “ Industrial dispute “ means a dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State.
– So long as the matter is perfectly clear, I am satisfied.
Postponed clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “35A. On the hearing or determination of any industrial dispute, an organization may be represented by a member or officer of any organization, and any party, not being an organization, may be represented by an employee of that party ; but no party shall (except by consent of all the parties) be represented by counsel or solicitor.” There is a good deal of difference of opinion, I dare say, amongst honorable members as to whether it is desirable to prohibit the presence of counsel at the hearing of cases, without the consent of the parties. But under the New Zealand Act, as most honorable members are aware, counsel are not allowed to appear in the Arbitration Court without the permission of all the parties concerned. In New South Wales it is true that up to the present counsel have been allowed to appear, but so far as my experience has gone, the New Zealand example is better for us tcfollow. In New South Wales, the appearance of counsel has often caused expense out of all proportion to the importance of the case. In many instances, both unions . and employers have feed high-priced barristers, with the result that the .cases have been spun out inordinately, and disputes which should have been settled without regard to the forms of law, and purely with regard to the equities between party and party, have cost immense sums, whereas they might have been dealt with inexpensively. It is true that Judge Cohen on one occasion observed that he rather favours the appearance of barristers, because cases are presented more completely by lawyers than they are when counsel do not appear. But it must be remembered that he has had practically no experience as presiding Judge of cases presented by laymen, inasmuch as in nearly every dispute brought before the New South Wales Court either barristers or solicitors have been employed. The unionists of that State have objected time and again to the expense of the present system. They contend that in the presentation of their cases they could well do without the assistance of legal gentlemen. But when able lawyers are retained by their opponents they feel that they would be at a disadvantage if they did not follow the example set them.
– The unionists would have an advantage if lawyers could not be employed, because they are all experts.
– The employers also have experts in their organizations. The right honorable gentleman must recollect that they, as well as the employes, have organizations, and employ experts as secretaries, and in other positions.; and it is more than probable that one of the results of the measure will be to increase the number of organizations of employers. When I was in New Zealand, eighteen months ago, I found wherever I went the utmost unwillingness to alter the system which obtains there. Both unionists and others with whom I spoke on the subject expressed themselves highly pleased with the provision which prevents legal gentlemen appearing before the Arbitration Court ‘ and Boards. Judge Backhouse, in his report to the Government .of New South Wales upon .the working of the New Zealand Arbitration Act, writes -
As I have pointed out, unless all consent, the parties cannot so appear before the Boards or Court. Rarely is the consent given, and it may be said that they are not allowed. As far as I saw, their interests did not suffer. The cases which I beard were ably conducted by representatives of both sides. All the points were clearly brought out, and sufficient material provided for the Court tq come to an equitable decision. In speaking to one of the Judges, I asked whether it would be an improvement, in his opinion, to allow counsel to appear. His answer was significant : “ It depends upon the counsel.”
The effect of Judge Backhouse’s inquiry was that not only are the parties to disputes satisfied to do without lawyers, but also, so far as he could glean, the work of the Court is conducted efficiently and speedily. What we should aim at is the creation of a tribunal which will not rely upon legal forms and technicalities. But if we allow counsel to appear before the Court, it must insensibly drift into reliance upon such technicalities, instead of considering only the broad equity of the contentions brought before it. I believe the experiment I propose to be well worth a trial. In New Zealand many cases are dealt with for as little as £,2 or £3, while the cost seldom exceeds £10, even when a trial extends over a considerable period. In New South Wales, on the other hand, unions having a comparatively small membership are sometimes put to the expense of hundreds of pounds to get their cases properly argued before the Court. Of course, either party can, if it likes, do without counsel ; but no litigant cares to run the risk if his opponent is represented bv an able lawyer. Consequently, if one side relies upon the assistance of a barrister, the other side is virtually compelled to do likewise. I hope that the Committee will agree to the proposed new clause.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat).- I do not intend to debate this question at any length, because it will naturally be said that members of the legal profession have an interest in combating the proposal of the Government. But, as a public man, I am bound to say that the new clause just moved places a restriction upon the liberty of the subject and upon the operations of a Court of Justice which experience does not justify.. I do not say that it will be necessary to engage legal practitioners in every case coming before the Court, . but it is unwise to allow a single individual or a small body of persons who are made parties to a dis pute, but who- are not the parties chiefly interested, to prevent the latter, who may have great interests at stake, from employing members of the legal profession to assist them , in the presentation of thencases. Whatever may be said for the imposition of a restriction upon the employment of professional men, the proposal of the Prime Minister is quite unsuitable. May I point out, too, that he has drawn all the arguments he used in support of it from the experience of the New Zealand and New South Wales Courts? The first consideration I suggest to the Committee is that the administration of State Arbitration Acts is a much simpler thing than that of the Federal Act will be, and we cannot judge the probable operation of this measure from the experience of the States. It is natural that a great number of trifling cases, such as those to which the Prime Minister referred as having been settled for £2 or each, should be brought before the States Courts; but can we imagine that such disputes will be brought before the Federal Court? Disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State must have larger issues, and, because of the limitations of the Constitution, legal questions will be raised before the Federal Court, at all events during the first years of its existence, which will be fundamental, and will require to be properly settled before the Court can discharge its duties. I merely mention these arguments, leaving _ them without the development which, under other circumstances, I would undertake. The proposed Court is to consist of a single Judge, with two experts chosen to act in the particular case on which they are engaged, and consequently the whole burden of decision will be thrown upon the President, who will, therefore, be called upon to deal with many questions in regard to which he would welcome the assistance of professional men. The Federal Court will be different from the States Courts, and. the cases brought before it will be very different from those brought before the States Courts. It cannot be guided by the precedents of the States Courts, but will have to strike out a path of its own. The difficulties in the way of doing so will be mainly legal difficulties. Consequently, although the New Zealand system may be the best for that colony, that fact does not prove that it would be the best for the Commonwealth. Having regard to the magnitude and complexity of the questions which will come before the Federal Court, it seems unwise to impose any restriction in regard to the appearance of lawyers, but, above all, unwise to impose a restriction which may place it in the power of a person whose interest in a. case may be trifling to prevent the real parties, who may represent hundreds or thousands of employes, or have hundreds of thousands of pounds at stake, from obtaining legal advice and assistance. My main point is that no restriction should be imposed, and my second point that, if any restriction, certainly not this.
– I feel myself in accord with the honorable and learned member for Ballarat in the statement that members of the legal profession are liable to be misunderstood when they speak on a question of this kind; but I do not think that, that consideration should deter us from saying what we think is right in the public interest. I feel that I should not be doing my duty if I did not support the views which he has expressed. Should the proposal of the Government be carried, I believe that the warnings now given by members of the legal profession will be thoroughly borne out.. As the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has said, the measure under consideration is quite different from a State Arbitration Act.- No question of constitutional power can readily be involved in the administration of a State Act. Such a thing as the questioning of the legality of an Act under which proceedings have been taken is almost unknown in State jurisprudence. All that a State Parliament has to do is to frame its legislation in as workmanlike terms as possible, and leave its interpretation to the Courts. For these reasons it would be unwise to adopt the New Zealand’ practice. The New South Wales system is much better. Costs can be regulated by rules and regulations, and made the lowest possible under the circumstances. Such rules could be made thoroughly consistent with the employment of legal assistance. I do not wish to complain of the wording of the provision, which is probably as good as it could be under the circumstances, but I would point out that it displays unfairness to the employers. It is proposed that any organization may utilize a member or officer for the purpose of representing its case before the Court. Of course that would apply to an employers’ as well as to an employes’ organization ; but the member of an employers’ organization would not stand in as good a posi tion for the purposes of advocating a case before the Court as would a member of an employes’ organization. We could hardly expect an employer - in the case of a limited company it would be impossible - to devote himself to threshing out the various questions of fact involved to the same extent as would be possible to the member of an employes’ organization. If, as is possible - and very probable, in certain cases - a single employer were the party to a dispute the provision would absolutely prohibit his representaton before the Court except by himself or by an employe. If an employe were chosen, he would probably have sympathies with the other side.
– Oh, no. The employer would most likely have a manager or other trusted servant who would have no interests in common with the .employes generally.
– But the employer might not have a manager.
– He would be certain to have a manager or some other reliable servant.
– It strikes me that the provision is a little unfair to the employer. Practically, he is told, “ You shall have’ no assistance except what you can get from one of your own employes.” Some employers, at all events, will be placed in an unfair position. I think that if the Prime Minister has not already considered this question, he ought to do so, and that some less restrictive provision should be made. It is proposed that no party shall, except with the consent of all parties, be represented by counsel or solicitor. That practically leaves it to the one side to say whether legal assistance shall be obtained by the other in a case, perhaps involving the decision of very difficult questions. I should like to point to another practical obstacle. I understand that the Prime Minister has agreed that clause 39 shall be amended. At present it provides that, subject to the Constitution, all the awards of the .Court shall be unchallengeable. It is conceivable that the Arbitration Court might be called upon, without legal assistance, to conduct a very lengthy arbitration case, and that afterwards its decision might, by means of legal assistance, be upset by the High Court on the ground that it was opposed to the Constitution. Having regard to’ that contingency, would it not be better to permit the employment of legal assistance in some form before the Arbitration Court ? We could restrict the cost by providing that neither party should be called upon to bear the expense of any special legal assistance employed without their consent. The Court should certainly have the benefit of legal assistance in deciding not only the merits of the cases brought before it, but the question whether certain matters come within the scope of its constitutional powers. This is not a plea for the legal profession, but is intended, whether or not honorable members may so regard it, as an argument in the direction of making the measure work more smoothly in the public interest. I trust, therefore, that the Prime Minister will see his way to moderate the restriction sought to be imposed.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Indi that honorable members who belong to the legal profession should not hesitate to express their opinions upon a question of this kind merely because it happens to be the practice to attribute to them a desire to make business for themselves. That is on a par with another objection which is often heard in Parliament, namely, that it is to the interest of members of the legal profession to make every Act of Parliament as complicated as possible in order that it may create business for their class. I think, however, that nowadays the majority of honorable members are too rational to suppose that that motive actuates honorable and learned members in this or any other House. Any honorable and learned member who would hesitate to express his opinion because of the suspicion I have indicated, would be wanting in his duty to the public. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Indi that the chief objection to be urged against this provision is that it would be against the best interests of the public, and certainly against the interests of the employers. As has been pointed out, there are in connexion with the trades unions a number of men who have displayed a considerable faculty for Court advocacy. Such men are selected on account of their special abilities, and become the regular counsel for the unions. On the other hand, many employers have no managers or other persons in their employment qualified to advocate their cases before the Court. Such employers would have to appear in Court against experienced advocates, who, although uncertificated because thev have not read for the Bar, or studied 1 in order to become a solicitor, are nevertheless highly capable and accomplished men.
– But the employers’ unions have their secretaries.
– My opinion is that this is a deliberate attempt on the part of some one to create an entirely new occupation.
– Surely the honorable and learned member has seen the New Zealand Act?
– I do not say that the Prime Minister is actuated by any such desire. I have come to the conclusion that this is a most unfair proposal.
– The employers’ unions have their secretaries, and the honorable and learned member knows it.
– I listened to the Prime Minister with very great care, and I venture to say that he made out a very lame case. The Minister does not seem to know that at present every care is taken in the ordinary Courts to protect suitors against being called upon to bear any heavy expense that may be incurred by the other side in employing experienced counsel. In the minor Courts, such as the District Court, or the Petty Debts Court, no suitor can obtain costs from the other side above a certain scale. Therefore, if one party chooses to employ very expensive counsel the cost cannot fall on the other side. The very fact that the Prime Minister thinks that the other side will be at a disadvantage, if the employers have the right to engage counsel, is’ an admission on his part that very great advantage attaches to the side which has the assistance of an experienced advocate. The Prime Minister seems to think that the experience gained in the State Arbitration Courts would apply to the Court to be created under the Bill. As has been pointed out, however, by the honorable and learned members for Ballarat and Indi, the Federal tribunal will be called upon to deal with constitutional questions of a very complex character. I would remind honorable members of the well-known Clancy case, in which the Judge of the New South Wales Arbitration Court held that he had jurisdiction, and was supported in that view by the Full Court. It was only when the matter came before the High Court that it was held that the Judge had travelled quite beyond his powers. The whole of such troubles might be averted if suitors had more eminent representatives before the
Arbitration Court. I should like the Committee to consider for a moment one of the anomalies which would arise under such a provision as this. We have in the Minister of External Affairs a member of the Bar. Up to about a year ago he was not so qualified, but he was at liberty to appear from time to time, and did appear, and does now appear, for his particular union, and for a number of other unions, in the Arbitration Court of- New South Wales.
– But he is quite an exception.
– According to the argument of the Prime Minister, the moment that the Minister of External Affairs, experienced as he was before the Courts, was admitted to the Bar, and thus became qualified to appear before the Supreme Court of New South Wales, he should have been disqualified from appearing before the Arbitration Court.
– The Minister of External Affairs advocates this provision as the result of his wide experience in the Arbitration Court.
– Would not the Minister be still qualified to’ appear for his own union if he were one of its officers?
– If he would-be so qualified, the clause has been drawn in a very subtle and misleading way.
An Honorable Member. - Could not a solicitor be appointed as an officer of a union ?
– I think that the provision aims at excluding professional men, whether solicitors or barristers, from appearing in the Arbitration Court as the representatives of either party.
– But would it not be possible for the Minister of External Affairs to appear if he were the officer of a union ?
– I do not think that is the intention.
– It would be possible under the provision as it stands.
– The provision might be safeguarded in that respect ; but I contend that it should be absolutely negatived. The burden of proof regarding the necessity for the provision lies upon those who wish to place this embargo upon the liberty of a citizen. If I, as an employer, wish to have the assistance of qualified men who have studied, not merely the law, but the art of reasoning and public speaking, and the art of condensing that which has to be said within the smallest possible space, I should be free to obtain it. An employer might be single-handed. He might be in a small way of business, and not possess the faculty of clearly and effectively addressing- a tribunal such as the Arbitration Court, and yet he might be called upon to face the skilled representative of a large union. It is proposed to say to an employer thus placed. “.You must go into Court and represent your own case.”
– The very fact that he would be called upon to contest a case against a large union would imply that he would be only one of a number of employers engaged in the same industry.
– It does not follow. There might be only one man following a particular branch of manufacture and employing a large number of men. This provision would have the effect of obliging such a man to go into the Court and argue his own case. I should like to put this matter upon common-sense ground. Who is the best judge of whether or not the Arbitration Court is assisted by counsel in dealing with the matters which come before it? Surely the Judge. What has been the experience of Judge Cohen, the president of the New South Wales Arbitration Court? He says plainly that he has derived great assistance from the presence of counsel in his Court. Still, in the very teeth of the experience of the Judge of the New South Wales Arbitration Court, the Prime Minister has asked the Committee to assent to a clause which would deliberately deprive certain citizens of the right to be represented by counsel. I can quite imagine the appreciation with which the Prime Minister would have quoted the opinion of Judge Cohen, if it had happened to fall in with the views he is now advocating. I submit that the experience of that Judge affords the most impressive evidence as to the objectionable character of the proposed new clause. The Prime Minister has urged that if experienced counsel were engaged by the employers, the other side would run a great risk of being beaten. Does not that amount to an admission that counsel would assist in thoroughly threshing out any matters which might come before the Court? He is now advocating that the very class of men who are qualified by their long training to conduct cases of this kind should be practically shut out of the Court, and should not be permitted to represent the interests of certain parties who are incapable of acting efficiently for themselves. I do not hesitate to express my opinion upon this matter, despite the feeling which I am assured exists in this Committee against the employment of legal assistance. When it’ is attempted, in the face of the experience of a man like Judge Cohen, to prohibit lawyers from appearing before the Court, I think it should be obligatory on the Prime Minister, who is advocating th t course, to thoroughly satisfy honorable members that the clause which he . wishes to insert in this most difficult Bill is desirable in the public interests. There is one more anomaly of which the Committee should take note. Under this Bill it is admitted that many constitutional questions may arise. If this proposal be adopted, the public will be at liberty to obtain the advice of the most eminent solicitor, or member of the Bar, upon the many difficult points which may arise in connexion with this measure, but the moment their cases are brought into the Court, to be argued before the President and two assessors, their legal adviser will be told, “ You cannot pass within the portals of that tribunal, because you are a trained man, and are possessed of great experience.” Will honorable members allow such a principle to” be embodied in the legislation which we place upon our statute-book? Will it not be sufficient if we provide that in all cases a reasonable scale of fees shall be charged, and that, no matter how much one party to a dispute may choose to pay to its counsel, it shall not be able to recover from the other party more than the* amount laid down in that scale ? That, I think, would be a much more rational course to adopt, and it would be more consistent with the experience of Courts of Law for hundreds of years past. Thus if one side chose to engage the services of counsel to whom it paid a hundred guineas, it would not follow that the other side, assuming that it lost its case, would have to pay that amount. The costs would subsequently come before a taxing officer, who is empowered to say to the successful litigant, “ You had no right to pay this fee; it is too large. You can recover only ;£io from the other side.” In connexion with the District Courts of New South Wales a very low scale of fees obtains. Under it the fees of counsel are fixed at one. guinea, two guineas, three guineas, five guineas, or seven guineas, according to the amount involved in the suit. Thus, although one of the litigants may mark fifty guineas on the brief of counsel, because some important principle may be involved in a particular case, he is only allowed - if he succeeds - to recover from the other side only, perhaps, two guineas or three guineas. I trust that the Committee will give serious consideration to this matter, and that they will not countenance an innovation which, I say, is unheard of.
– Unheard of ! What about the legislation of New Zealand and Western Australia?
– No such provision operated in Western Australia during the period that I was engaged in State politics.
– Yes; the right honorable member has forgotten.
– It is a provision which is unheard of in connexion with any Court in Great Britain or Australia.
– What about Western Australia?
– The right honorable member for Swan says that no such provision is operative there.
– It was not contained in the Bill which I introduced; but a new Act has since been passed.
-The new statute has not been operative long enough to enable us to form an accurate opinion as to its effect. I trust that the Committee will not be carried away by the craze that lawyers usually wish to prolong legal proceedings, in the face of the experience of the President of the New South Wales Arbitration Court.
– The honorable and learned member foi Parkes has complained that it is unfair to prevent members of the legal profession from practising before the proposed Court.
– No. I was speaking on behalf of the general public.
– The honorable and learned member claims that lawyers should be permitted to appear before the Court. He knows that members of the legal profession cannot appear before any tribunal unless somebody engages them to do soThis Bill does not debar them from appearing before the Court; it merely provides that the consent of both parties to any dispute shall first be necessary. The question which we have to consider is whether the proposal of the Bill is best calculated to insure justice being meted out to all parties concerned.. Certain remarks have been made concerning the limitation of’ costs, but I would point out that, irrespec- tive of whether those costs be limited 01 not, they must be paid , by the parties concerned. Would it not be manifestly unfair to permit of the costs of eitherparty being imposed upon the other side, seeing that both have entered the Court for the purpose of having their differences settled? Further, it will very often happen that awards of the Court will partake of the nature of compromises between the parties. Under such circumstances would it not be manifestly unfair to charge the costs of the investigation to either one side or the other? I think- honorable members will recognise that the proposed Court cannot be placed upon the same footing as that occupied by ordinary Courts of Law. If lawyers are to be permitted to appear before it, I maintain that each side should be called upon to pay its own costs. One of the arguments in favour of prohibiting lawyers from practising before this tribunal is that their employment would operate in favour of the richer litigant. Those possessed of the most money would be able to employ the most brainy professional man, and thus a severe handicap would be imposed upon the poorer side. In a discussion of this kind, it is something novel to hear that under the Bill the employers will be handicapped. I have always been told that the employers, as a class, possess a very high standard of intelligence. It is unfair, therefore, to assume that they have not sufficient intelligence to enable them to state their case before the Arbitration Court, which will be called upon to decide it, not from a technical stand-point, but from that of equity and good conscience. I do not think that is a fair argument to employ.
– The honorable and learned member for Parkes said that the employers would be too busy to go before the Court.
– They will not be too busy to look after their own interests. The Court will consist of a Justice of the High Court, who will act as umpire, and two arbitrators, who will represent each of the parties to any dispute.
– Not arbitrators, but assessors.
– No, they are practically arbitrators. Surely, they will elicit all the facts which are material to” the issue. Nobody can be expected to possess a wider knowledge than they will have. Consequently, there is no need for the employment of lawyers. The facts relating to disputes will be adduced very much better in the absence of counsel, and certainly there will be Iess probability of either side securing an advantage of the other by reason of specious arguments. Too frequently, we find that unsound decisions are arrived at as the result of the specious reasoning of some hired advocate. I hold that in many cases the awards of the Court will probably partake of the nature of a compromise. The only argument which, to my mind, is worthy of consideration is that relating to the ability of the parties to a dispute to deal with a question of jurisdiction in the absence of professional assistance. It is said thai constitutional questions will undoubtedly arise, and that lawyers will be required to deal with them. On every constitutional question that has been raised in this House a difference of opinion on the part of the legal members has occurred. T cannot recall any instance in which they have been unanimous in relation to such matters, although in dealing with them here they ex- press their views, not as mere advocates, but according to the opinions at which they have arrived, as the result of “a study of the whole history of the Constitution. The only constitutional question likely to arise in the Arbitration Court is that relating to its jurisdiction. Such a question would doubtless be promptly raised whenever there was an opportunity ; but I contend that it could be adequately dealt with by the representatives of the organizations concerned, who would have the advice of their respective solicitors. The question having been raised, it would be for the Judge to deal with it, and possibly an appeal would follow to the High Court, which would finally determine the matter. Whether the parties are allowed’ to be represented by counsel or not, we shall not escape appeals to the High Court. Wherever there is any strong difference of opinion, or any material advantage to be gained, an appeal to the High Court will, in all probability, occur. I recognise, of course, that a Judge often receives assistance from counsel, and that his decision is based upon their arguments and his own knowledge of the law. It is said that in cases in which counsel are permitted to appear, the Judge has a better opportunity to arrive at a correct decision than when counsel are not permitted to take part in the proceedings.
– If a point that had not occurred to the President were raised, the I party might not have to go to an expensive and lengthy investigation oi facts that might subsequently be upset.
– I have already pointed out that cases might occur in which counsel would be of material assistance to the Court, but that if either party were dissatisfied with the decision it would appeal to the High Court. It does not, therefore, seem to me that an appeal to the High Court on a question of jurisdiction would be escaped if in the early stages of the proceedings the parties were allowed the right to be represented by counsel. The objections to the permissive provisions of the clause have not, in my opinion, been supported.
– Why does the honorable member object to the parties being represented by counsel?
– Because I think that counsel often confuse the issues by the introduction of legal technicalities. Reference has been made to the statement made by Judge Cohen, that counsel had been of assistance to him in the New South Wales Arbitration Court. Could we have reasonably expected anything else ? Solicitors are expected to assist the Court in sifting evidence. I have read of cases in which “Judge Cohen has also thanked witnesses for the very great assistance they have given him, so that it would appear that the learned Judge has been aided in the discharge of his duties by laymen as well as lawyers. A solicitor might be able, in some cases, to raise questions and bring out points that would not occur to a layman > but to my mind a dispute could be dealt with just as well in the absence of counsel as with their assistance. Something has been said as to the unfairness of this proposal in its application to employers. We seem frequently to forget that the only cases with which the Court will be able to deal will relate to Inter-State disputes, and that such disputes can occur only between organizations of employers and of employes. These organizations have among their ranks men well qualified to state . their case before the Court, and therefore it is scarcely fair’ to say that a person employing only a few workmen, and not having the ability or training necessary to enable him to adequately state his case, would be placed at a disadvantage by the Government proposal.
– In dealing with another phase of the question honorable members who now raise that objection have said that no small employers are likely to come before the Court.
– That is so. Organizations will be interested in the disputes brought before the Court, and those organizations have in their ranks men who are just as well qualified to put evidence before’ the Court as is any member of the legal profession. I recognise, of course, that a lawyer is specially trained for the work. I have the. greatest respect for the course of study which men have to undertake in order to qualify themselves for admission to the profession.; but my contention is that there are many laymen who would be able to deal far more thoroughly with the practical details of a dispute brought before the Court than any professional man would be. We have always been told that it is the poor man who suffers in law proceedings, but doubtless as the result of the advance of the labour movement we are now asked to consider the employer. I hope that we shall do so. I do not wish to see an injustice done to any one. My desire is that the Court shall be so constituted that it will deal impartially with every case. The experience of trades unions in New South Wales is adverse to the appearance of lawyers in the Arbitration Court. Under the . existing State system, which allows parties to any dispute to be represented by counsel, many of the unions have been put to enormous expense, and, in some cases, nearly the whole of their funds has been swallowed up by law costs. If we imposed no limitation on the representation of parties by counsel it would be a god-s,end to many lawyers. I do not, of course, advance that as an argument in favour of the Government proposal, but I think that the proposed new clause would work well. The probability is that in most industrial disputes of a serious nature both sides would agree to the appearance of counsel, and it is possible that in other cases one side or the other would give way and allow counsel to be retained. In my opinion, it would be’ well to leave the presentation of disputes before the Court to the representatives of the organizations directly _concerned. and to allow the President to determine, without the assistance of counsel - unless the parties agreed to be represented by them - the merits of the case, as well as the questions of law arising.
– I suppose it is characteristic of some of the original provisions of measures of this sort that we should be asked to accept the proposition put before us by the Prime Minister. It has had one good effect ; it has consolidated the Opposition. I am happy to saythat we are united on this point.
– The legal members of the Opposition are.
– I trust that this matter will be fought out to the bitter end, without any ingenious amendment being interposed. I, like those honorable and learned members who have preceded me, am anxious in dealing with this question to absolutely forget that I belong to the trades union which is affected. In considering it from that stand-point, it seems to me to be extraordinary that we should think it proper to construct a Court for the purpose of determining these matters, and then provide that the persons who are specially qualified to deal with them shall be specially disqualified from appearing before it. It is one of the humors of this particular proposal. The Ministry have surely not reached this point : that, there being a union in existence which deals with legal business, they are going to give a preference to non-unionists and place a ban on unionists. That is Avhat this proposition really means. There has been from time immemorial a trades union relating to matters legal, and that . union has no non-unionists in opposition to it. It has the happy privilege of containing in its ranks every legal person in this part of His Majesty’s dominions.
– But not every would-be legal person. That would be a most improper thing.
– The course to be followed in order to enable a man to become a member of the union requires only a moderate degree of perseverance and intelligence to insure success, as the Minister of External Affairs will tell the Committee.
– That is not very flattering to me.
– I place myself in the same position. I had to face the same difficulties that the Minister of External Affairs encountered. We have in New South Wales some members of the Bar who, in spite of comparatively limited mean’s, have bv their industry and application put themselves on a level with men who had many more advantages.
– And yet they are not allowed to earn their bread by practising in other States.
– That is a phase of the matter to which my attention is not at present directed. What does strike me as remarkable, is that the Ministry in the new path, they have chosen should have determined, as far as they can, to destroy one of the most venerable trades unions in existence - a union which embraces every member of the profession to which it relates. The condition they impose is that the “man who enters the Court shall not be a unionist.
– He must be a nonunionist.
– Quite so ; that is to say, he must not belong to the union of the legal profession, but to one which has nothing to do with it.
– Would they allow us to open their door?
– So far as I am concerned, I think this is a proposal to push matters to an extreme. I quite believe in the latitude which is allowed, and ought to be allowed, to any member of a union to represent his organization, because he is practically a party. Although, in form, it is an association which is the plaintiff or defendant in , a case before . the Court, in fact, every member of the union concerned is a party to the dispute, and has just as much right to appear at the table to represent his union, as has any defendant or plaintiff to conduct his own case. I should like to point out also that there is a seiious unfairness in this respect. Take a union of employes. That union may comprise a large number of individuals. An employer who has a very small number of employes may be dragged before the Court quite against his own will. He may not belong to an organization of employers. He is absolutely debarred from choosing to represent him, from amongst talented men, some agent or person who knows his business. He must appear himself. He may be a very successful business man, but, as many, business men are, he may be absolutely unfit to appear as a disputant in any Court.
– He can be represented by an agent outside his own organization.
– I am not speaking of an employer who is in an organization. As I read this proposal- any party not being an organization - that is, being a single employer who is brought before the Court- may be represented by an employee of that party.
He cannot be represented by an agent according to those words. I do not know whether there is any other clause of the Bill which allows agents to appear. If this is the only clause dealing with the matter my honorable and learned friend will see that I am perfectly right. An employer’s business may be only a small one, but to him it may be everything. He may ;employ only six or ten employes. He may have had nothing to do with disputes or with arguments. He may have excellent workmen, not one of whom, however, is competent to appear before a Court, having been chosen for very different purposes. The union which brings such an employer into Court may consist of hundreds or thousands of members. It can choose one of its own officers or members, whilst the employer may be absolutely debarred from obtaining competent assistance to fight his case in Court. I think that is an unnecessary invasion of the rights which people at present have. Any person who hitherto has been brought into a Court of justice has never been debarred from exercising his own discretion as to how he should be represented. Of course, there are considerations which limit a man’s choice - his means. But as this clause stands, it is not a fair provision at all. I entirely drop the personal aspect of the matter; but if I may make a personal observation, I should like to say that there are some members of our profession now who have entered it from the ordinary walks of life, distinct from the usual legal training, and who would probably make far better advocates in a case of this sort than perhaps the ordinary lawyer, trained- in the Courts, and knowing nothing of the working of trade. I do not wish to mention names, but take the case of the Minister of External Affairs. He has had a vast industria’l experience. But he would be debarred just as I or any other’ member of the legal profession would be from giving his services, perhaps gratuitously, to some unions with whose affairs he was perfectly conversant.
– But what if the Minister were a’ member of the union concerned ?
– I am not supposing a case where the Minister was in that position. He is a member of our ‘ ‘ union “ now. I desire to hear what his views are about this proposal. He is in a difficult position, as we all are ; because it may seem to the general public as though some consideration of self interest were affecting our views. But as far as the members of the legal pro fession who have spoken are concerned, I suppose that it is a matter of the utmost indifference to them whether or not this Court exists, or whether or not they ever enter it. But it does seem, putting aside professional ideas, as if we were unduly limiting the rights of every person who is brought before the Court by a provision of this kind.’
– It is not often that I find it necessary to explain a vote, but on the present occasion I do feel that I ought to say a word or two with reference to the vote I intend to give. Up to the present time, every vote that I have given on this Bill has been in strict accordance with the views which I expressed when speaking on the second reading. But on this matter I have changed my opinion. When I spoke on the second reading, I had in my mind organizations of employers and employes, and I felt that there would be some member of the organization on either side who would be quite competent to express the views of the parties in a clear and intelligent manner before the Court. But on looking into the matter more fully, and finding that it is quite- possible for a single individual to be a party to a suit on the one side, and that it is quite possible that that individual would not be capable of placing his case clearly and intelligently before the Court, I have come to the conclusion that in such a case the Court might not have the whole of the facts before it, - and that a miscarriage of justice might result. A miscarriage of justice in a case of this kind might affect a great many more than the individual directly concerned, because the common rule might, perhaps, apply to every similar trade throughout the Commonwealth.
– The employers’ organization would be represented in all such cases ; the honorable member can make sure of that.
– In a particular case there may be only a single employer concerned.
– That is hardly likely, I think.
– It is quite possible, under this Bill ; and, although I shared the views bf , the Prime Minister at the second reading stage, still, on going into the matter more fully, I realize that there might be a serious miscarriage of justice through one of the parties to the suit, where there is only a single individual employer concerned, being unable to place. his case in a clear and intelligent manner before the Court. We must remember that some of the cases brought before the Court will be of a very complex character. It may be necessary to sift the question of how much wages a particular industry can afford to pay. The evidence in a case of that kind would be very complex, and a trained mind would be required to place it clearly before the Court. Therefore, I feel, after giving the matter a great deal of consideration - because I. do not like when I have once expressed a view to change it- that I made a mistake when I spoke on the second reading, so far as this question is concerned. Consequently, I shall have to vote against the restriction, and in favour of permitting the appearance of counsel in the Arbitration Court.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).Many of us are in favour of restricting the employment of lawyers as much as possible. On one occasion, when a proposal was made in the New South Wales Parliament to restrict the appearance of lawyers before the Elections and Qualifications Committee, I said to the honorable member who .moved the amendment, “ If you will amend your proposal so as to give the persons interested a larger choice I will vote with you.” I say the same to-day. It will not be in the interests of the public to restrict the choice of the parties as to the agents who shall represent them before the Arbitration Court.’ If there were a possibility of extending the choice I would vote for it. If the object be to remove lawyers from the Court that is a better way to do it. I had intended to make one point which has been made by the honorable member who has just sat down. Under the common rule provision the Court is directed to give notice that all the parties interested in all parts of these States are to appear. How are employers in all parts of the States to be represented except by counsel? The employers certainly could not be expected to attend the Court personally.
– They could be represented by an agent.
– But who is the agent to be? Some one who knows nothing about the case? The parties should be represented by skilled agents. A skilled agent for this purpose would, I take it, be a man trained in the law. I have no particular sympathy with lawyers, but I am speaking in the interests of the general public. The parties should be represented by men who understand their business. The probability is that as soon as the Court sits, points .as to jurisdiction will be raised. They will not be raised by the employes, but .will be raised by employers. Is it wise for us to prevent the best talent being employed to argue these points before the Judge, so that he may give a right r.decision? The honorable member for Darling says that we have heard contrary opinions on constitutional points from the lawyers in this Chamber. But surely that is an additional reason why such points should be thoroughly thrashed out before the Court. I have no doubt that the honorable member for Darling would be the best agent for his union, but I have yet to learn that he would be a good advocate on the subject of constitutional law. If I were to choose a man to argue industrial questions from a union point of view, I would’ as soon choose the honorable member for Darling as any barrister. But on a constitutional point he would not be a goodman to choose. Judge Cohen has been referred to, and the honorable and learned member for Parkes alluded to his decision in the Clancy case. ‘ There was another case in which some persons were brought before Judge- Cohen for committing an offence against the award of the Court. They pleaded guilty, and the Judge delivered them a lecture on the enormity of their offence and fined them. In the very next case, the parties ‘ concerned employed a lawyer. They did hot plead guilty, but the lawyer made Judge Cohen see that he made a mistake, and that no offence had been committed by the men who had pleaded guilty. The Judge had to call up these two men and confess that he had made a mistake in saying they had violated the law and remit the fines.
– And that was after the lecture?
– Yes, that was after the lecture ; and that, I think, was a case where the lawyer was of some use to the poor man.
– The honorable member does not quote very many cases where a lawyer would not be of any use. ‘
– Or where a lawyer would be of great expense.
– The lawyer may not be of use in some cases, but in most cases he is of use; and, as to expense, the ser- vices of trained men cannot be obtained for nothing.
– Will agents not charge ?
– Of course; laymen will not work for nothing.
– But the unions will pay their own men.
– The unions will employ their secretary or some official, and thus place employers at a disadvantage.
– Not at all ; very often the secretary of a union does not give his., whole time to the duties of his office, but works at his own trade every day.
– To a great extent, secretaries are engaged in the work of the organization only.
– But he does other work as well.
– That may be so. in some cases ; but a great many secretaries of unions devote the whole of their time to the duties of their office ; and in the case of the organizations under the Bill, that will frequently be the case.
– Not in 20 per cent, of the organizations.
– We are now speaking of large affairs ; there is no comparison between a State Arbitration Court and a Federal Arbitration Court. A State Court deals with matters within the State itself, whereas the Federal- Court will have to decide disputes extending all over the States. The Shearers’ Union, for instance, is under the control of very few men. There may be some sort of plebiscite taken in connexion with that union ; but, no matter how many thousands of members there may be, the control is in the hands of the few; and the secretary is constantly in touch with the operations of the industry, and .obtains a knowledge much better, perhaps, than that possessed by an employer. Only the other day a poor man told me that he had been advised bv a lawyer to go into Court without obtaining legal assistance, the other side not having engaged a legal practitioner. That man, however, when he acted on that advice, found that he was not able to conduct his case properly, and that it would have been very much better to engage legal assistance.
– That such advice should be given by a lawyer is a strong argument against the employment of lawyers.
– But it “is an argument in favour of employing a lawyer, if one is compelled to go into Court ; and the case affords proof of the old saying that “ a = man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client.” My advice always, is to keep * clear of lawyers - to lose one’s money rather than employ them. But when men are compelled to go into Court, I refuse tq be a party to limiting the choice of persons as to who shall defend and plead their cause. We may widen the choice as much’ as we like; I am prepared to vote for the employment of agents or any one else. I refuse to limit the choice in the way proposed in the clause. °
– I ‘ move -
That after the word “ parties,” line 8, the words “or by leave of the President” be inserted.
I have some diffidence in speaking on this subject, but I hold that, in the public interest, it is not right that counsel should be altogether excluded from appearing before the Arbitration Court. The clause as it stands means that one party out of fifteen interested in the case may block counsel from appearing, seeing that the consent of all the parties must ,be obtained. This Court will be called upon to decide very important constitutional questions ; but I do not wish to dwell on a point which has already been argued at length. The Judges themselves are the first to admit that on very important questions of law they are frequently indebted to counsel. Judges, as a rule, are very busy men, who have to deal with a number of cases one after the other, and have not time to make elaborate investigation and research. Had they to do so, it means that they would have to reserve judgment at very great cost, and time would thus be taken up which should be devoted to the hearing of evidence and arriving at decisions. After all, the decision, under such circumstances, is only a one-man opinion at the best. On the other hand, in the case of important constitutional questions, where counsel, who have made research and investigation, are allowed to appear and argue exhaustively, the Court is placed in a position to give a decision which, as the honorable and learned member for Indi has pointed out, may result in a great saving of expense. It is admitted, I think, that lawyers, as a rule, are accustomed to consider and decide what is and what is not relevant to an issue ;. and by their advice they have frequently saved the Courts a great deal of time, which would otherwise have been spent in the consideration of absolutely irrelevant matters. But I can quite conceive that in this Arbitration Court there may arise some questions of fact in the pre- sentation of which counsel may not be required ; and in such cases, by the consent of the parties, counsel need not appear. My amendment, if carried, would mean that in an important matter, in which one of the parties thought the assistance of counsel was necessary, they could apply on summons to the Court, and the President, if the case in his opinion was a proper one, could certify for the employment of counsel. My amendment is very similar to a section recently inserted in the Victorian Factories and Shops Act of 1896, and assented to on the 30th October, 1903. That Act provides -
Except as hereinafter provided, no barrister and solicitor or agent shall be allowed to appear before or be heard by the Court. By the direction of the Court, or with the consent of both parties to the appeal or reference, either party may, at its own cost, be represented by a barrister and solicitor or agent. In appeals by a minority of employers or employes, as provided under sub-section i of this section, the Court may give such directions for the representation of parties as may in the circumstances appear to be proper.’
The Court referred to in that section is one for hearing industrial appeals, and, consisting as it does of a Judge of the Supreme Court, is in much the same position as the tribunal under the Bill The Judge has power under the Victorian Act to direct, in cases which he deems proper, that counsel shall appear; and I ask the Prime Minister to accept what I believe is a fair and reasonable amendment. I do not ask that counsel shall appear in every case, no matter how small the cause may be. The honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the honorable and learned member for Parkes take the view that only in cases where important questions arise counsel shall appear ; they do not ask that legal assistance of that kind shall be employed where small matters of fact are being investigated. In the important questions which are bound to arise in this Court, and in which the Judge may feel that he needs the aid of counsel, it would be wrong to deprive him of the assistance to which he is entitled. Even in important cases before the Full Court, where there are the combined forces of the Judiciary, we find Judges expressing their gratitude to counsel for the aid they have rendered. And in cases on circuit, in country districts, it is not unusual for Judges to admit that owing to authorities not being brought under their notice their decisions have not been altogether correct. Our desire is to make an absolutely efficient, although not a costly Court. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Indi that we should regulate the matter of costs in as fair a way as we think fit ; but that, whatever we do, we ought not exclude the assistance to which the Court is justly entitled. We know that by the co-operation which takes place naturally in the formation of society, various occupations are taken up by different persons ; the growth of lawyers and their class is the outcome of the society in which we live; it is really an expression of the wants of the community. As our community grows, and becomes more and more complex, the lawyer is in more extensive demand ; every new discovery creates a new branch of law. Electricity has brought into existence a whole set of statutes and decisions, regulating the control and management of industries carried on by means of this power ; and every branch of commerce - bills of lading, bills of exchange, insurance, contracts’ - calls for legal assitance. As society becomes more complex, the more we need men specialized in questions of law. It is idle for people to think that we can do away with the lawyers. We must do away with complex civilization if we would do away with men whose special work it is to investigate the duties and rights of society. My desire is to have an amendment which will give to the Court the power and assistance to which it is entitled.
– I am afraid ‘that it is only too true, as the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs has said, that we cannot get rid of the lawyer. I speak only from the point of view of one who has had experience of paying lawyers’ bills. But, in the present case, I think the position taken up by some of the legal members is fair and just. I should like to know, from the Prime Minister, in the first place, whether he, as has been stated by several honorable members - and, I think, by himself - really does propose to exclude lawyers from the Court by this clause?
– Except with the consent of the parties, I think so.
– Even though the lawyers be members of an organization appealing to the Court? Mr. Watson. - I think so.
– Then, the whole clause is absolutely useless for his purpose, because any member of an organization may appear for that organization.
– I am going to “tighten that up,” if necessary.
– But I am dealing with the clause as it appears now.
-An organization means an organization, as defined in the Bill.’
– Under the Bill any member of any organization may appear for an organization.
– That, as I say, means an organization under the Bill.
– It may be a legal question as to whether the clause does actually exclude a lawyer or counsel who is a member of an organization ; it is hard to say.
– I should say that the clause does not exclude such lawyers.
– If we have regard to the last line or two of the clause, I should say that such legal practitioners are excluded.
– But the previous clause provides that an organization may be represented by any member or officer of that .organization. ‘
– Which provision governs the other?
– I should say that it is the right of any member of an organization to appear. A member of an organization can be made to suffer by the decision of the Court, or may be subject to fine by the Court if he disobey an -award.
It is not only the organization which is a party before the Court ; each member must submit to the enforcement of an award, and may be fined for a breach; and I consider that each member would be entitled to appear before the Court. I do not know whether that agrees with the views of legal members ; but taking the ordinary layman’s acceptation of the provisions of the Bill and of the wording of the clause, I should say that that is the case.
– I should say it was a very difficult interpretation of an organization that a member is disqualified because he happens to be a solicitor.
– That is the view which I take. There is no special disqualification of lawyers as members of organizations, and J think there should be, if any legal member of an organization has not the right to appear. What I say is that lawyers are not excluded if they are members of an organization.
– Lawyers are excluded as lawyers.
– They are excluded as lawyers, but not as members of an organization? If so, where is the restriction? There is practically none.
– It is intended that lawyers should be excluded.
– Is not the honorable and learned member for West Sydney a member of an organization?
– But that honorable and learned gentleman is not employed in the .vocation followed by the members of that organization.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is the paid secretary.
– No ; he is an honorary secretary.
– At any rate, he is not employed in the work in which the members of the organization are engaged. He is employed simply as secretary to the organization. I do not wish, however, to speak of one individual only ; I am taking the case of any secretary or officer of an organization. Whether he does or does not receive a salary for the duty he performs is a matter which rests with him and the organization. As an officer and member of the organization, he is not, if a lawyer, prevented under the proposed new clause from appearing in the. Court. To bring that about his specific exclusion is necessary. Therefore, what does the clausemean ? Its effect will be that the organizations, both of employers and employes, will engage as secretaries, or in some other official positions, men who are lawyers, and who will be able to appear in Court for them.
– It was not intended that the proposed new clause should have the interpretation which the honorable member has put on it, and, therefore, I can easily get over the difficulty which he has raised.
– The objection which I have just mentioned is not my only one. The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs proposes that the President of the Court shall have power to allow representation by counsel.
– Or solicitor.
– The honorable and learned member for Darling Downs says that the President should, when he feels that he needs it, have the assistance of counsel. But it is not always the President who will need such assistance. The parties to a suit, and especially single employers, will often require such assistance. Employers may be quite able to present their cases before the Courts, and no doubt many of them could conduct those cases, at all events so far as the technicalities of their industry were concerned, leaving out questions of law, as well as any solicitor or counsel. But it must be remembered that these men have their businesses to manage. They have to keep them going not only in their own interests, but in the interests of those whom they employ. If an employer is frequently forced into the Court, and kept there for clays, how can he efficiently manage his business?
– How many individual employers are likely to have disputes with their employes extending beyond the limits of one State?
– The provisions of the Bill are very far-reaching, and if they are carried into effect, any number of single employers and single employes, too, will have to appear before the Court.
– They will nearly all become members of organizations.
– Any number of individual employers and employes as well as organizations may be brought before the Court if the Bill becomes operative to the full extent of its present provisions. Take the case of a working employer who pays a dozen men, with whom he works, and of whom he is practically foreman. He may be concerned in a dispute, but if he is compelled to appear personally before the Court, he will have to temporarily abandon his work, and discharge his workmen. The clause provides that such an employer may not engage a barrister or solicitor, so that he must himself go into Court. Surely that is undesirable. He should be allowed to continue his business, and, if he finds it necessary, obtain a lawyer to appear for him, instead of having to cease work, and dismiss his men. The only objection I can see to the appearance of counsel before the Court is that it may unduly increase costs, but that may be met by providing that costs shall not be allowed.
– That is already provided in the Bill.
– I believe that it is. That is the only safeguard that is necessary.’ I am not going to repeat the arguments which have been urged by other honorable members against the proposed new clause. .It strikes me, in the first place, that the clause, as drafted, does not exclude counsel and solicitors who are members or officers of organizations. Consequently, if it is not amended, it will make an invidious distinction. But my chief objection to the provision is that parties should not be prevented from being represented by counsel or solicitor before a Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court, whose decisions may affect persons in all parts of Australia, who would have to travel great distances, and to go to great expense, to appear in person. I see no reason for such a provision, in view of that now in the Bill disallowing costs.
– The legal members of the Committee object to the proposed new clause in, they say, the interests of the great mass of the people, but x I shall support it for the self-same reason. I would remind honorable members that in the creation of the Court we are establishing a new set of conditions. If the majority of the disputes coming before it involved legal questions, it would be advisable and necessary to have trained men to present the matters at issue. The proposed Court, however, . will consist of a President, who must be a lawyer, and two lay members, and it is the latter who will really decide most cases; ‘ the President giving his judgment only in the event of the lay members being unable to agree. In my view, those who will be best able to place the matters clearly before the lay members of the Court will be, not trained. lawyers, but laymen having a knowledge of the peculiarities of the case atissue. Clause 34 provides that -
In the hearing and determination of every industrial dispute the Court shall act according to equity, good conscience, and the substantial merits of the case, without regard to technicalities or legal forms, and shall not be bound by any rules of evidence, but may inform its mind on any matter in such manner as it thinks just.
– There is a similar provision in the Electoral ‘ Act, but counsel are not excluded by that measure.
– They do not act on it.
– In Western Australia, where an Arbitration Act has been working well for several years now, a similar provision is in force, and is’ put into effect. Cases presented by laymen are dealt with on their merits, and I believe that in only one instance, and in that instance purely on a question of law, have barristers had to be called in to advise as to the proper course to be taken. The provision of the Western Australian Act was disputed by the honorable and learned member for
Parkes, and I should therefore like to read him section 73 of the Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1902, which is as follows : - ‘
Any party to the proceedings before the Court may appear personally or by agent, or, with the consent of all the parties, by counsel or solicitor.
– Will the honorable member accept the amendment?
– I do not like the amendment. .The provision in the Western Australian Act works well, and we have the assurance of the Prime Minister that a similar provision works well in New Zealand. There are only three Arbitration Courts in existence, those of New Zealand, Western Australia, and New South Wales ; and while the two former, before which lawyers are not allowed to appear, have given complete satisfaction, matters have not gone so smoothly in New- South Wales. If questions of constitutional law had to be dealt with, the parties interested in a dispute. would have sufficient good sense to allow members of the legal profession to be called in, but cases are less likely to be dealt with on their merits, and in accordance with the weight of evidence submitted, if lawyers are allowed to appear, than if both parties have to do without their assistance, while the expense will not be anything like so heavy.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The object of the Bill is, I presume, to do justice all round ; but it is necessary, in order that all the facts of the case maybe properly presented to the Court, that suitors shall have the tight’’ to employ legal representatives. Otherwise many persons will be unable to place their cases fully before the Court. There are men who in private life could make out an excellent case for themselves, who before a Court would be so nervous as to be incapable of doing their case justice. To my Own knowledge there are many persons who in private ‘are keen in debate, quick in eliciting information, and able to make an excellent statement of facts, who would shrink from the task of speaking in public. No doubt honorable gentlemen know scores of such persons. Those persons would be placed at a great disadvantage if the proposal of the Government were carried into effect. Moreover, the parties to disputes coming before the Commonwealth Court may have to travel very long distances, and be put to great expense if they are forced to appear in person. The very first impulse of such a person would be to’ employ counsel. The clause appears to me to aim at offering a premium to ignorance, and I fancy that I can see in it the hand of the right honorable member for Adelaide.
– The clause was not in the Bill as drafted by the right honorable and learned member, but was adopted from the New Zealand Act.
– I should be very sorry to do the right honorable and learned member any injustice. I knew, however, that he was favorable to a somewhat similar provision. He was an advocate some years ago. of the admission to the bar of persons who were able to pass . a very ‘ ordinary examination, and he seemed to regard a thorough knowledge of the law as a secondary consideration. It seemed to me that a similar idea was embodied in the proposal now before us. If the Prime Minister will accept the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, I shall support the provision in its amended form.
– In view of the important questions with which the Court will have to deal, I shall have no objection to do so.
– I share the view taken by some other honorable members, that if an officer of an organization were also a member of the legal profession, he would be fully entitled to appear before the Court on ‘behalf of the organization with which he was connected, and therefore I consider that the amendment is necessary in order to enable the Judge to permit both sides to be fairly represented. It might be impossible in some cases to obtain the consent of all the parties to the employment of legal assistance. -Under the proposed new clause, one crotchety individual would be able to thwart the wishes of all the others concerned. Under the amendment, however, the Judge would be able to see that justice was done. The clause, in its amended form, would certainly not carry out the original idea of the Prime Minister, because it would restore us to the position in which we stood before. Therefore, I think it might very well be abandoned. It is desirable that every case should be fully and intelligently placed before the Court, and the parties concerned should be the best judges as to how that could be most effectively done.
– As one who has been designated the hired watchdog of the legal profession-
– I withdraw the term hired.
– I knew that the phrase was used only in a jocular spirit. I desire to emphasize the observations of the honorable member for Gippsland, with reference to proceedings in connexion with the application of the common rule. It is highly desirable that counsel should be permitted to appear in such cases. Some of the parties affected might be very far removed from the Court, and it might be impossible for them to be represented in person. Therefore, some modification ought to be made, and the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for ‘ Darling Downs ought to satisfy all parties.
– I think there may be something in the contention put forward, that the circumstances under which the Bill would operate are quite, distinct from those likely to arise under State arbitration laws, and that questions of jurisdiction may need to be argued more frequently before the Federal tribunal than before the States Arbitration Courts. Recognising this, I am prepared to accept the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, I do not think it is likely that the President of the Court will capriciously exercise the authority to permit of the parties being represented before him by barrister or solicitor, and I think we might very well, in this instance, as in others, trust the Court. As for the general argument, however, I do not think there is anything to be feared with regard to. the position occupied by private employers. Their interests will be largely bound up with those of other employers associated in organizations. The Bill contemplates, and, I think, rightly, that the great majority of the employers, who are likely to be affected by the Bill, will join organizations’. They /will not be called upon for any very large contributions towards the support of such organizations, or towards the maintenance of permanent secretaries. Many of them already so contribute at present. The honorable and learned member for Parkes spoke as if only the workers’ unions had permanent secretaries ; but we know, as a matter of fact, that quite a number of employers’ unions have such officials. Mr. Walpole is the secretary of the Victorian Employers’ Association, and the Steamship Owners’ Association also employs a permanent secretary.
In a number of other industries, in New South Wales, the employers engage as secretaries, gentlemen who are either permannently or semi-permanently employed, and who, in any case, have quite as complete a grasp of the circumstances connected with the trade or calling with which they are associated, as have the secretaries of trades unions. The right honorable member for Swan stated, by way of interjection, ‘ that the Western Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Act did not contain a provision similar to that now before the Committee.
– I said, in my time.
– That is perfectly correct. Since, however, the right honorable gentleman has severed his connexion with the State Legislature, a Bill has been passed which embodies in the local legislation a provision similar to that found in the New Zealand Act, which bars counsel or solicitors from appearing before the Arbitration Court, except with the consent of all parties. Be it remembered; also, that this provision has been made after two or three years’ experience of the working of the original Act, which permitted counsel to appear. I think the interests of individual employers will be sufficiently safeguarded, because they will probably be represented by the organizations of employers. The questions which will come before the Court will, for the most part, apply to large sections of employers, and the interests of the individual will be bound up with those of the great body” of employers engaged in the same industry. I am quite willing to accept the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and I trust that the new clause will be carried in the amended form now suggested. I believe that it will still have the effect of preventing the indiscriminate employment of counsel in cases in which there is no real necessity for their appearance.
– No honorable member desires that counsel should be employed in cases involving simple issues, but. it must be manifest to all of us that the majority of causes which will be pleaded before the Court will be of high importance and involve interests .of considerable magnitude. Since this measure started upon its career, the ideas of honorable members as to its scope have undergone many changes ; but I think that we can all agree that in the majority of cases the assistance of counsel will be desired by the Court. Although I quite admit that the amendment will greatly modify the original proposal, I am very sorry that honorable members do not feel disposed to entirely do away with the proposed prohibition. In the Broken Hill case, which came before the New South Wales Arbitration Court, the President admitted that much time was saved, owing to the assistance rendered by counsel, who met beforehand and agreed as to the points which should be submitted to the decision of the Court, and dispensed with a number of witnesses whom it was at first proposed to call. I should have much preferred to see the clause amended in such a form that it would have been open to either party to employ counsel ; but after consulting several honorable members I feel that no good purpose would be served by pressing for a division.
Amendment agreed to.
New clause, as amended, agreed to.
– I desire to move the addition to the Bill of a new part, to be temporarily numbered Va. It relates to the application of the measure to oversea ships engaged in the coasting trade. Perhaps it would be well, Mr. Chairman, to allow a general discussion of these provisions to take place upon the first of the proposed new clauses. If that course be adopted, it will probably result in a considerable saving of time.
– That course can be adopted with the consent of the Committee.
– I wish to ask whether the Prime Minister, in making that suggestion to the Committee, wishes it to.be understood that the general discussion should be limited to the first of the proposed new clauses? I think that some honorable members desire to bring forward a matter which can be discussed much better in considering that particular issue that it can be in considering a number of issues, which will necessarily require further discussion when we come to deal with details.
– Under the Standing Orders, only the clause which is immediately before the Committee can be discussed. In introducing a new part to this Bill, however, the Prime Minister has suggested that the whole of the clauses contained in that part should be discussed under the heading of the first provision. If that suggestion be not adopted, honorable members will be confined to the consideration of each clause as it comes before theCommittee.
– As I wish to make a few general remarks, it is my desire that honorable members may be allowed an opportunity to reply to them before Ave come to consider the actual details contained in these proposals.
– Is it the pleasure of the Committee that a general debate should take place upon the whole of Part Va when clause 79a is before us?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– The propriety of making some provision of this character in the Bill under consideration, has been before the House for a very considerable time. As most honorable members are aware, it was owing to a difference of opinion upon this particular subject that the right honorable member for Adelaide severed his connexion with the late Ministry. As I understood the dispute at the time, he held the view that the Bill should specifically bring within its purview all seamen, irrespective of whether they were employed upon Australian vessels or upon vessels which, although registered outside the Commonwealth, were trading on our coast. His colleagues took up quite a different attitude. They considered that the proper place to deal with this matter was in a Navigation Bill. Of course, the present Government are not responsible for the views entertained by our predecessors, but, nevertheless, it seems to us that it is impossible to contend that this measure is complete or harmonious unless it provides that all shipping trading upon the Australian coast - all shipping which directly or indirectly competes with the shipping registered within the Commonwealth - : should be placed upon exactly the same footing as our own shipping.
– The Government think that the kev-note is competition.
– No doubt. Whether that competition exists or not, will be a matter for the Court to determine, when deciding .whether an award shall be extended to more than the original parties to any dispute, or whether any of the original parties shall be exempt from its operation. These proposals seek to impose no duty upon the Court other than that of considering the circumstances of each case, and of making whatever provision it deems to be necessary in giving its award. Most honorable members will admit that when arbitration was first put forward as a proper subject for Federal legislation, the view which found most constant expression was that the very first persons who would come within the purview of any such legislation would be the seamen. It was admitted that it was extremely difficult to deal with a dispute between ship-owners and seamen by any existing State legislation, or by any legislation which a State might pass. Consequently, even in the Convention, whenever any question relating to conciliation and arbitration was discussed, the view was always held that this Bill would be primarily extended to the maritime calling. The opinion of the Government is that if it is proper - and we contend that it is - to insist that the ship-owners registered within Australia, and trading upon our coast, shall observe fair conditions as to employment in relation either to the payment of wages or the hours of labour - that they shall pay a minimum wage to their employes, and observe a maximum number of working hours - it would be most unfair to permit other people, whose vessels happen to be registered in Great Britain or on the Continent of Europe, to participate in our trade at a distinct advantage so far as payment to their seamen or working hours is concerned. I do not suppose that any one in this Chamber will seriously contend that we should allow foreigners to come to our coast, pay what wages they deem fit and work what hours they choose, and that simultaneously we should compel our own ship-owners to observe reasonable conditions of employment generally. That view is not tenable at all. I do not suppose that any honorable member will argue that we are justified in imposing conditions upon our own citizens which we do not seek to ‘ extend to others who are competing with them.
– They are competing only for a certain time.
– If the degree of competition is not appreciable - if it is not sufficient to worry about - that is a matter for the Court to determine when a dispute arises, and when it is asked to extend the provisions of . this Bill . to that particular class of vessel. Regarding the abstract question, I can scarcely conceive of any difference of opinion upon the equity of the case. I can hardly imagine that two opinions exist as to whether we have a right, morally speaking, to impose conditions on our own citizens which we do not impose upon citizens of other communities who desire to participate in our trade. Upon that matter there is no difference between the position taken up by the present Government and that which . was assumed by our predecessors. If that be admitted, the question arises, “ In what way should we seek to make our arbitration laws effective in regard to the two different classes of people who may trade upon our coast?” - The late Government held that this question should be dealt with in the Navigation Bill. But the leader of that Ministry admitted that, if specific clauses were introduced into the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, it would be quite constitutional “to deal with it in this measure. His argument was that it was not possible to bring foreign seamen within the jurisdiction of the Court in the absence ‘of a specific enactment to that effect. He held that the object in view could not be effected by ‘ legislative implication. I think that the case of McLeod v. Regina, in New South Wales, was quoted as showing the impossibility of extending jurisdiction to a Court without’ express or clear terms in the Act under which it was sought to bring the parties. The late Government held that this matter could be more thoroughly dealt with in the Navigation Bill. But we have to face this position : the Government have decided to refer the Navigation Bill - for reasons altogether apart from this question - to a Royal Commission for inquiry and report. We felt that, so many matters were included in that Bill, and so many others which ought to have been included were excluded, that we had not a possibility of adequately considering the phases which its various provisions should assume. Consequently, we felt constrained to refer it to the Commission which has since been appointed. It is evident that the Navigation Bill cannot be submitted until pretty late next session, even if it can be introduced then, no matter what Government, may be in power. To do their work thoroughly, the members of the Royal Commission will require several months to investigate the matters which have been referred to them for inquiry. A month or two longer must elapse before the Ministry can be expected to prepare a Bill so complex in its character and scope generally, and in its effects on the maritime industry. Reasonable time must be given to the Government to consider how far they will be justified in accepting, or in exceeding, the recommendations of the Commission.
– Does not the Prime Minister think that it would be wise to refer these clauses to the Commission?
– No; and. I shall give my reasons for that statement presently.
I repeat that we cannot expect to introduce the Navigation Bill for some time to come. Such a measure must necessarily contain many clauses which will be highly technical in their tenor and effect. These provisions will require the closest scrutiny if we are to guard against unduly interfering with the shipping industry, and at the same time to safeguard the lives of passengers and crews, and the interests of those commercial people who use these vessels. Consequently, considerable time must elapse before my colleague, or his successor, is able to present a Bill of that character, and a longer period still before it can become law. It has been suggested by the honorable member for Franklin that this particular matter might well have been relegated to the Commission for inquiry. I do not agree with him, and I make that statement with all respect to the opinions entertained by other honorable members. The matter at issue is a very plain one. There cannot be room for more than two opinions on the subject of whether it is right or wrong to seek to include within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court vessels that participate in our coasting trade.
– Evidence as to what would be the effect of such a’ proposal would be very important.
Mr.WATSON. - That evidence may be adduced before the Arbitration Court when it is sought to extend these provisions to such vessels. There will be nothing to prevent it being placed before the tribunal charged with the administration of the law. The Court will be the proper place in which to submit it. All that we ask the Com-, mittee to say is that we should not pass a law that would be partial in its effects - that would apply to one set of individuals and not to another. .
– I shall show the Prime Minister by-and-by that he is already proposing to pass such a law.
– With all deference to the honorable member, I do not think that he can prove any such contention. The question of whether foreign or British vessels which seek to . trade on the Australian coast shall be included within the jurisdiction of the Court is purely a matter of policy for the Government primarily, and for the House, in the last resort, to determine. There is no room for inquiry, either by commission, or other delegated authority, into the question.
– The Government desire one controlling principle.
– I desire to see the Bill contain one controlling principle.
– Uniformity is the controlling principle.
– I think it should be. It has been said by some critics of the Government proposal, that it would be unconstitutional to embody provisions of this character in an Arbitration Bill. I cannot follow the reasoning that has so far been adduced in support of that contention. I do not know that such a contention was ever put forward by the late Government. I understood that all that was put forward on their behalf in connexion with the dispute which occurred between them and the right honorable member for Adelaide, was that it was undesirable to deal with a proposal of this kind in this particular Bill ; that it could be more conveniently dealt with in another measure. This Government holds that it would unduly delay the complete initiation of arbitration, especially in relation to seamen, if we waited for the passing of this particular set of clauses until the Navigation Bill became law. Our contention is that, in this Bill they are perfectly within the constitutional power granted to us; that we have the right to determine on what, conditions persons outside our jurisdiction may enter into the coasting trade of Australia. We’ have the right, if we choose to exercise it, to absolutely prohibit, as has been done by some nations, any persons other than our own citizens from participating in the coasting trade. The United States, as honorable members know, do not permit any persons, other than their own citizens, to participate in their coasting trade.
– Would not that be a more dignified way to carry out the object in view ?
– I am not an authority on dignity, and cannot pretend to answer the honorable member’s question. That procedure, however, goes a little further than we propose in this instance. All that we seek to do is to provide that outside persons may engage in the coasting trade, if they pay the wages and observe the conditions laid down by the Arbitration Court. That might not necessarily mean the payment of the wages insisted upon in connexion with local ship-owners.
– Would not that bring about only one port of call, and the disconnexion of the trade of all the other ports ?
– I do not think that any such contingency is likely.
– I think it is.
– The honorable member is entitled to hold his own opinions, and I do not wish to deprive him of the enjoyment that such an opinion probably affords him. I hold a contrary view.
– If that is not the meaning of the Government proposal what does it mean - that the producer will have to pay the increased cost?
– The producer, as we know, pays to-day for everything, including the allowances of honorable members. Whether he would have to incur any additional cost, as the result of the passing of these provisions, is another matter. I do not think it is likely, because it is doubtful whether they would add very materially to the cost of running oversea vessels along the coast. Even if the Court extended the provisions to all oversea vessels that sought to trade, incidentally, on the coast, it would not, in my opinion, increase the cost to such an extent as to necessitate an increase in the present freights.
– That is in relation to boats giving the only direct communication - trading between ports that have no Inter-State service.
– I do not know how many cases of that kind there are ; I am not aware of many.
– The point does arise.
– In any case, ‘ I desire the honorable member to say whether he believes it proper to impose conditions on citizens of the Commonwealth engaged in trading on the Australian coast, and not on foreigners? If, in his opinion, the foreigner should be allowed to trade under any conditions he chooses, surely it would be only reasonable to ask for the same degree of freedom for our own citizens?
– That is what we do ask.
– If the honorable member takes up that position-
– I have always done so.
– If it is the honorable member’s desire that employers throughout the Commonwealth should be free to sweat their employes without the interference of the State, I hope that it will not receive much sympathy from other honorable members. That certainly appears to be . a logical position for those who object to the general tenor of the clauses.
– The cure may be worse than the disease.
– I do not think that there is any likelihood of the cure being in any way detrimental to the interests of the people. The view which the Government take is that we should impose equal conditions - at all events to the extent of giving the Court jurisdiction to deal with all vessels trading on the coast, whether registered in foreign countries or in the Commonwealth.
– We must lay down principles for the guidance of the Court; we cannot leave it at large.
– That is the principle which we are seeking to lay down for the Court - that it has a right, if necessary, to extend its awards or orders to any vessel that seeks to participate in our coastal trade. These clauses do not propose - and there is certainly no such intention in the mind of the Government - that a vessel which simply comes to Australia, and leaves without taking part in the coasting trade, shall be interfered with in the slightest degree. What employes in such a vessel received would be a matter outside our jurisdiction.
– The voyage of a British ship round the British empire will soon become a curious operation.
– Does the right honorable member wish this Bill to apply to the Steamship Owners’ ‘Association of Australia?
– I shall tell the honorable gentleman later on.
– I should like the right honorable member to let us know what his proposal is. Does he seek to give greater facilities to foreign-owned vessels than to those owned by Britishers who are in the Commonwealth ?
– I shall tell the Committee later on what my views are.
– Are these clauses contemplated to be in the interests of the Australian steamship owners?
– Not necessarily. I dare say that the honorable and learned member knows as well as I- do what the clauses really convey. It is not usual to find him in a state of ignorance. My idea is that they seek to put all trading along the coast within the jurisdiction of the Court. How far the Court may take advantage of its jurisdiction will, I assume, depend upon circumstances. If in the opinion of the Court certain vessels arc not entering into competition in the coasting trade, it may exempt them, so far as these clauses and the intentions of the Government are concerned.
– Are the owners of such vessels to be heard by the Court before being bound by its award ?
– Yes; we have already inserted a provision for notification in the Gazette, or as many other publications as the Court deems fit.
– In every case?
– Yes; that provision will apply to applications for a common rule or an award, and was specifically inserted with a view to its applying to these clauses.
– It does not.
– Then we shall have to make an amendment. It was made to apply to applications for a common rule with these clauses specifically in view, the intention being that proper notice should be given to the owners of these vessels before they were made parties to the award of the Court. That is the design of the Government, and I think that the clauses, as to a common rule, will apply to, and govern, any extension of an award to vessels under these clauses. That, however, is a matter of detail, which need not necessarily interfere with the consideration of the general principle involved. It has been said that some oversea vessels do not compete in the coasting trade.
– Not in the carriage of cargo.
– I admit that, in that respect, some do not.
– - Scarcely any do.
– That is not correct. I am prepared to say that, for a considerable time past-
– Take the year 1903.
– For a considerable time Inter-State cargo has been carried, to a very considerable extent, by tramp vessels quite independently of the regular liners, in the coasting trade.
– That is not my information.
– That may be. I assure the right honorable member that my information is that oversea tramp vessels have, for instance, voyaged to Port Pirie with “lumber, and taken a consignment of produce thence to Newcastle, where they have loaded coal, and then gone round the coast.
– The honorable gentleman is not including the regular liners of the French and German services?
– The regular liners do not generally carry cargo along the. coast.
– I do not think that they have ever’ done so. .
– I regard the competition of oversea vessels in carrying cargoes in the coasting trade as being far more important than the comparatively small degree of competition involved in the carrying of passengers between Australian ports. At the same time I contend that all ought in common to be subjected to the jurisdiction of the Court. To the extent that competition can be disproved, the Court should be able to minimize any order it may deem necessary in any particular case. We have the right to say who shall trade on our coasts, and under what conditions the coasting trade shall be carried on. Other nations have exercised that right, and it is rather the exception than the rule to-day to find freedom of trade in relation to the carriage of freights. Most foreign nations specifically exclude persons other than their own citizens from -trading along their coasts.
– Great Britain does not.
– No. It is only recently that she has allowed vessels of any other nation to trade on her coasts. Great Britain, to a large extent, built up her mercantile marine on the principle of the absolute exclusion of foreign trade, and I understand that the Germans have gone so far as to provide in the contract under which the Nord Deutscher line of steamers is subsidized by the German Government, that they shall not carry Australian frozen meat, cereals, butter, or anything of that description, to Germany, although they may convey such produce to England. If, in addition to heavily subsidizing their lines, they also extract a condition that no Australian produce shall be carried to German ports, it is a question how far we are justified in our own interest in allowing that state of things to continue without making some attempt to counteract it - without something in the nature of retaliation. I do not propose to pursue that subject now, but it is a matter requiring consideration at the hands of not only this portion of the Empire, but of the British Empire generally, as to how far we are justified in allowing that sort of thing to go on without reprisals of some sort. The actual proposal embodied in these- clauses is ‘ that if a vessel, other than vessels re- gistered in. Australia - if what may be termed a British or foreign vessel - takes on board at any port or place in Australia passengers or cargo to be carried to or landed or delivered at any other port or place in Australia; or carries passengers or cargo so taken on board, and to be so landed or delivered - she will be taken to have engaged in the coasting trade. In such a case, before the vessel can engage here, she must enter into an agreement with the members of the crew in accordance with schedule C ; and that form practically covers all’ the other clauses. That is, that the master agrees with his crew that - every award, existing or future, of the Commonwealth ““Court of Conciliation and Arbitration which purports, or is construed to extend or apply to the ship or to any service or employment on the ship shall so extend or apply to the same extent as if the ship were trading solely between ports in Australia, and shall be binding on and complied with by the master, owner, agent, and crew of the ship, anything to the contrary in the ships’ articles of agreement with the crew notwithstanding.
The Customs officer, before granting a clearance to that vessel at the last port of call shall, it is proposed, satisfy- himself that the master of the vessel has complied with the agreement into which he has entered - that is, that the crew have been paid, and that the hours have been observed.
– Shipmasters do not pay their crews in a port abroad.
Mr.WATSON. - They can do so. There is nothing to prevent them from paying their crews in a port abroad. As amatter of fact, they do sometimes pay them in a port abroad. I do not say that they do so as a rule, but it is occasionally done; and there is nothing to prevent the people who desire to irade here from making their arrangements to pay the crews before they leave Australian ports.
– The crews do not want it.
– If the crew do not want the money, they can easily retain it until they get to the end of the voyage. The main thing is that the Customs officer must be satisfied that the law has been complied with before the vessel is granted clearance in leaving the last port of the Commonwealth. I do not know that it is necessary for me to say a great deal more upon the subject. The actual proposal does not involve any mechanical extension of the award. I want that point to be seized by honorable members. That is to say, no award is made by these clauses to apply to vessels necessarily. I take it that the Court will have every opportunity to consider the circumstances of every vessel or class of vessel engaged or likely to engage in the coasting trade, before giving its award. The. agents of the various lines that now engage in the coasting trade in Commonwealth waters, in one shape or another, can appear as parties before the Court ; and can raise their objections either at the stage of the award or at the stage when the common rule is asked for. They can state their objections and their reasons before the Court, and the Court in coming to its decision has power to make any exemptions it chooses.
– The object of the legislation is uniformity.
– We desire uniformity of method, but we cannot expect in Commonwealth legislation to get absolute uniformity all over Australia. No one can expect that. Nor can it even be expected on the coasts of Australia amongst the shipping companies. But we can have uniform methods of treatment, and uniform laws under which the owners of vessels and the employe’s, whether on land or sea, may be exempt in some cases, and may be compelled to conform in others. That is the principle on which these classes are based, and they are in harmony with the general provisions of the measure, which seeks to give the Court jurisdiction over all classes that can possibly come within its purview. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 79A. This Part of this Act shall come into operation on a day to be fixed by proclamation, not being less than six months after the commencement of this Act.”
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat).- I do not propose, at this stage, to attempt to deal with the subject exhaustively, although, perhaps, after all, some preliminary discussion on the general question involved may be desirable. The Prime Minister is quite correct in his recollection of the argument which I maintained in July last, when first introducing this Bill. It was then contended that the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court extended outside of the terms of our Constitution, both to British ships and to foreign ships, without any express allusion to either; and that, by a general . declaration that the jurisdiction of the Court was to embrace those who were employed at sea, we could, by a very simple phrase, bring under the Court British ships whose port of call and last port of destination were not within the Common wealth, and foreign ships, over which we have no control, generally speaking, except when in port or within our territorial limits. I strongly held the contrary view, and maintained that the only way in which this question could be dealt with effectively was by the Commonwealth taking the control of the whole of its coasting trade, and by making it a condition of that trade that those vessels who received its benefits should submit themselves to the Arbitration Court and to this law. That, I then maintained, and still maintain, is properly a matter for a Navigation Bill. It was, as my honorable friend said, included by the last Government in the Navigation Bill which the present Government has thought fit to lay aside. By dealing with it in the Navigation Bill, there would have been no doubt that the Arbitration Bill, as we drew it, would have applied to our own seamen. The question whether the Government were justified in laying aside the Navigation Bill is one which I do not propose to deal with at any length.
– The honorable and learned member agreed to the same proposal in a memorandum.
– Exactly ; I say that I do not propose to discuss that question, because it seems to me, with my limited knowledge of the subject, to be impossible for me to discuss it effectively until I learn more about matters with which I am at present unacquainted, for instance, the particulars in which it is alleged the measure fell short. The Prime Minister says that it contained some clauses with which the present Government do not agree, and that other clauses ought to have been included. It all depends on the character of those inclusions and omissions. If they are of an ordinary character, I should say that we have lost time and gained nothing by postponing the Bill; but they may, perhaps, for aught I know, be vital. It all depends, therefore, on what are discovered to be the shortcomings of the Navigation Bill, as to whether the step of laying it aside was justified or not.
– It is a matter of opinion as to what would constitute shortcomings.
– Exactly. I shall approach any discussion of that question with great hesitancy, until I have an opportunity of being better informed than I am now. But I regret the laying aside of the Bill, because, so far as Cabinet discussions made me acquainted with it, and so far as I was able to gather the views of the then Minister of Trade and Customs, it dealt with all that was necessary to be dealt with in that measure, or in any measure, and what was not provided for was omitted, because it was considered to properly belong to a supplementary proposal. More I do not propose to say now, although the Prime Minister alluded to other aspects of the question. There may be other honorable members better acquainted with the requirements of our navigation than I am. Coming to the subject under discussion, the question arises whether clauses which were in a natural position in a Navigation Bill are in their natural position here. On that subject again, I do not propose to detain the Committee. In their setting in the Navigation Bill, the clauses form part of a whole series of provisions into which they fit, and of which they are part. Here they do not. They bear on the face of them evidence that they have been extracted from another measure and placed in this Bill.
– They have been altered.
– There is a greater difference than that.
– Oh, yes, there are serious alterations.
– There is a fundamental difference. It was proposed to deal with foreign ships by license under the Navigation Bill, but it is not so in this Bill.
– The Government propose to deal with them in these clauses by the signing of an agreement. I do not know that that can be described otherwise than as a fundamental difference. Another alteration is that in the Navigation Bill we proposed to deal with the number of seamen and officers employed. Again, the’ Committee cannot be blind to the fact that in these clauses as proposed certain of them - such, for instance, as clause 79c - introduce into this Bill proposals which are not paralleled in any other part of the measure. The Navigation Bill undertook to provide, not for conciliation and arbitration - not to provide machinery by which industrial disputes were to be dealt with - but to provide for the conditions on which, inter alia, the coastal trade was to be carried on in Australia. That part of the Bill was connected with conciliation and arbitration, insomuch as without some such provision we should, as the Prime’ Minister has pointed out, be subjecting our own citizens and ships to the jurisdiction of the Court, with a view to improvement of their conditions, and at the same time allowing their competitors to go free. The Prime Minister repeated that argument several times, and not unreasonably, because, of course, it is the main artery on which the life of this- portion of the Bill depends. But he must see that, in so providing, he is really straining this Bill to its utmost. What he is actually proposing to do by clause 79a and other clauses is to make provision for the regulation of an industry, and for the manner in which it shall be carried on: He is doing that in order that he may remove an obstacle which exists in his mind to the introduction of conciliation and arbitration - he needs must bring the foreigner and British seaman under the same control. No such provisions exist in the Bill in regard to any other industry; and yet, if it is legitimately in its place in regard to the. shipping industry, it would be equally in its place in regard to any other industry throughout the Commonwealth. Consequently, this measure which contains the simple powers and means necessary for conciliation and arbitration might include provisions peculiar to each industry, determining the conditions under which each should be carried on, quite apart from conciliation and arbitration.
– That would appear to be within the scope df such a measure.
– I am not raising, and I do not wish’ to raise, that question ; I am looking at the matter from the practical, and not from the technical side. If I were to take up the argument, it probably would be replied - “ Well, after all, it is legislation to which our Courts would look with favour, because it is our legislation ; that is to say, they would be inclined to obey it, and not to question it.” In fact, I doubt whether the Court could raise the question whether those clauses had found their place in one Bill when they ought to have been in another Bill. That is not a matter which calls for judicial determination ; and it is one with which I shall not further deal. The important consideration is- that, in order to get those clauses inserted, a new departure is being made; and instead of this Bill being strictly a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill as it was, it is now a Bill for the regulation of a particular industry, in order that that industry may be brought within its scope. That is a very large and important departure from the scheme of the original Bill. From a draftsman’s point of view, and from a professional point of view, it is decidedly an unfortunate proposal.
– It is the only resource open to us.
– Assuming this measure to pass and become law, I hope that in the future, when the Navigation Bill is being considered, any clauses of this nature will be re-transferred to their proper place. It would certainly not be to a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill that any one would refer, who desired to learn the terms and conditions of the coasting trade.
– Would any one refer to a Navigation Bill for such information?
– I do not think so.
– People learn here that they must enter into an agreement before they are permitted to enter into our coasting trade, and subject themselves to certain penalties, pay wages before they depart, and so on. A master of a ship, or people engaged in connexion with shipping, might be pardoned if they failed to look for requirements of this kind in a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. That is an important point, because, as I say, it marks a new departure. But a more important point still - and this, I think, Ministers themselves must have realized - is that, in a large measure, these proposals must be nugatory. That is to say, they must be rendered so easily capable of being made nugatory that they will be practically unenforceable. The argument of the Prime Minister is, very properly, “We seek to control the Australian shipping industry as well as any other by the provisions of this Arbitration Bill.” A shipping strike is one of those federal industrial disputes which we have always had in our minds. Then the Prime Minister’s argument proceeds, “In order, to deal with Australian shipping, we must deal with British shipping, with which the Australian shipping comes into competition, and in order to deal with Australian and British shipping fairly, we must deal with foreign shipping which comes into competition with both.” And there the Prime Minister’s case breaks down. But we must feel, even by a casual glance at the clause, that it is practically unenforceable against foreign shipping, the business of which is plied in what are called “ tramps,” and that it is probably unenforceable, or at best, enforceable with great difficulty, against foreign ships which engage readily in our coasting trade. What is the pivot on which the whole of the penal provisions of these clauses turn? It is 79G.
No master, owner, or agent of a ship shall, by reason of any member of the crew of the ship being entitled to the benefit of any award -
Now, take the case of the foreign “ tramp “ which visits Australia, engages in’ the coastal trade, carrying goods and passengers from port to port for a certain time,’ and then departs. The men employed on such a vessel have been engaged under an agreement made in Hamburg, or in New York, for so many years, at a certain rate of wage. During the time that the “tramp” is engaged on our own coast the wages paid are on the Australian scale, and these are handed to the men before the vessel finally leaves. But the master of the ship pays no more wages’ for the voyage home, telling the men, “ I engaged to pay so much, and you have received that amount, and, perhaps, even more.” I do not know whether a captain under the circumstances would go the length of endeavouring to recover any excess over the original agreement ; but that is not necessary for my argument. The captain simply pays no wages at all on the way home.
– The men have their remedy in the Court. ,
– But if the men go into a Court in Hamburg, or in New York, the master produces the agreement made at one of these two places. How can the men hope to obtain a verdict in those ports, on account of a provision in an Australian law, in the teeth of the agreement they have signed ?
– But the men can produce the agreement, or a copy of it, under which the master while in Australia had undertaken to make no deduction. That would be sufficient cover, and the men could recover in a foreign Court.
– But the point is, whether the men could recover more than the original agreement gave them merely by reason of the fact that . this law was in existence in Australia.
– There is a new agreement.
– But does the AttorneyGeneral think that the foreign Court would recognise such an agreement ?
– I admit that it would be a very difficult agreement to apply in the case of a “ tramp.”
– I do not think the agreement could be applied in either case I have mentioned.
– Could the agreement be applied under the provisions which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat inserted in the Navigation Bill?
– I think so.
– Will the honorable and learned member tell us how he proposed to make the provisions of the Navigation Bill effective ?
– That Bill contained careful provision as to the issue of licences to foreign vessels. There was thus power under that Bill which this Bill certainly does not give in the clauses before us.
– Obviously, if the clauses before us break down, the proposals of the honorable and learned member in the Navigation Bill must have broken down.
– I think not, but even if that were so, instead of getting rid of the difficulty, the argument would only show that the difficulty is inherent in the nature of the subject. That argument does not take the Minister of External Affairs any, further.
– I am only showing that the honorable and learned member is arguing against his own proposals.
– No, I am not ; the proposals I advocated were more effectively enforceable than the proposals before us.
– The honorable and learned member could not follow the matter further under the proposals in the Navigation Bill than it can be followed under the proposal before us.
– But speaking from memory, I think the license proposals, coupled with the other securities we had, would have been sufficient. However, I have grave doubt whether these provisions will apply effectively, not only to the foreign “ tramp,” but also to the regular foreign trader.
– They can be applied to the foreign “tramp,” but it would be difficult to enforce them after the vessel had left.
– That is what I am pointing out; I am not denying that under the clauses we can make masters of foreign ships pay wages on the Australian scale until they leave.
– It is only hard to apply the provision afterwards.
– So hard that I am afraid it is impossible ; and if it be impossible to apply the provision to the “ tramp “ or regular foreign trader competing with Australian shipping, the argument for the introduction of these clauses, in order to prevent unfair competition, “goes by the board “ in a most hopeless fashion, and a severe blow is struck at the whole of the clauses. I do not desire to dwell on that point; and certainly do not exult in the fact. I presume the Attorney-General has already exhausted his legal lore and consideration in order to ascertain how far it is possible to go in matters of this kind; and if it had been possible to go further I suppose he would have taken the necessary steps. This is a very important factor in an efficient control of the coasting trade ; and if we are not careful, here is an aperture by means of which there may be a great deal of escape. I presume that the Government have considered the consequence of bringing within the scope of the Bill British ships other than those included in the Constitution, as well as foreign ships, and have foreseen the probability of that leading to certain action in connexion with the measure, which may delay its coming into force. That is one of the risks which could be taken in a Navigation Bill without hesitation, but it has not hitherto been foreseen in connexion with this Bill. I do not maintain that this consideration should have been final. It would be impossible to follow the course which the Government desire to pursue without encountering a number of difficulties, some of which I have pointed out. This last, to which I have alluded in passing, has, no doubt, been present to the minds of Ministers. They must have weighed these grave consequences, and concluded that they are not such as should deter them from inserting the clauses in the Bill. The form in which these provisions appear before us differs very considerably from that adopted in the Navigation Bill. There is no condition here that in regard to officers and seamen the equipment of foreign vessels shall be brought up to the same strength as obtains on ships registered in Australia. There is no provision dealing with subsidized lines or lines receiving a bonus. We may seek by means of the Bill to put all vessels engaged in. the coasting trade of Australia on the same footing, but we are unable to do it, not only for the reasons I have pointed out, but also because some of those vessels are in receipt of subsidies or of bonuses which enable them to compete at great advantage over the rest. That difficulty is not now being brought into existence; it already exists. My point is that under the proposed new clauses it will remain in existence, whereas under our provisions in the Navigation Bill it would have been removed.
– In what way ?
– In the Navigation Bill it is provided that a licence shall not be given to a ship unless no subsidy or bonus is payable, or no agreement or arrangement, under which a bonus or subsidy is payable, has-been entered into in respect to her.
– Does the honorable and learned member intend to propose. the insertion of that provision in the Bill?
– I do not think the Bill before us a proper one in which to insert any of these clauses. I have doubts as to whether the Government have not already gone over the line in respect to the measure. I do not desire to enter into those considerations. Apart from them, I say that I would like to see all the conditions required by Part VII. of the Navigation Bill introduced here. I should like to see conditions imposed which would give equality in competition between foreign ships and British ships. That cannot be done while subsidies and bonuses are permitted to coastal traders.
– Does the honorable and learned member wish to absolutely refuse licences to subsidized lines?
– Does he think that such lines should not receive them under any circumstances ?
– Yes. That is the proposal in the Navigation Bill. The interjection reminds me that the proposed new clauses do not attempt to distinguish between British and foreign shipping. In any measure relating to navigation one is at once brought face to face with a series of problems that are of the utmost importance, and must hereafter be taken into consideration. One of these is as to whether no distinction is to be drawn in regard to the coasting trade of Australia between vessels which carry the British flag, and which come from a country whose coasting trade is open to the vessels of the world, and the ships of other nations which in most cases exclude our own and British shipping, or admit it only subject to severe conditions. That is another of the lost opportunities which cannot be recovered in” this Bill. The omission opens up one of the most serious and important subjects which could engage the attention of the Committee in reference to the industrial development of this country, especially affecting its navigation, which Is one of its most important industries. In this Bill we are leaving British and foreign shipping on the same footing. We ignore the fact that some of the foreign lines of steam-ships are subsidized, and thus have an immense advantage over our own vessels. We make no effort to place the ships of the mother country on a better footing in relation to the Australian trade than that upon which the ships of competing nations which give us no similar concessions standi. I have now fairly, though very briefly, reviewed some of the most- important consequences of the change which the Government propose in the form and character of this legislation. Each of those considerations would deserve, if we were dealing with it now, much greater development. I simply guard myself against the suspicion that I think them worthy of only this casual andi off-hand reference by this registration of my recognition of them, without proceeding to argue them, since to argue them at this stage seems fruitless. Then we come to the other special matter provided for in the Navigation Bill, which seems to me unnecessarily excluded from this measure - the regard due to the peculiar circumstances of parts of Australia. In the Navigation Bill there is the provision that, pending the construction of the railway which would give overland communication between the eastern States and Western Australia, special exemptions shall be accorded to vessels carrying passengers between certain ports. At the present time there are two States which are entirely dependent upon the sea for their communication with other parts of the Commonwealth - Western Australia and Tasmania; while the Northern Territory of South Australia and the northern parts of Queensland are under the same disability. The last Administration thought it fair, under the circumstances, to meet the case by making exemptions, especially in regard to passenger vessels trading between the populous parts of Western Australia and the eastern States ; and, as regards the northern and western coasts of Australia, exemptions were to be allowed to places to which no Australian vessels are .running, so that there shall not be unfair competition. That was a perfectly legitimate qualification, which would in no way impair the efficiency of the . arbitration clauses of the Bill, but which this Government have not thought it necessary to repeat, possibly because they hope to bring foreign ships under the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court. I have already pointed out as the weak spot in this measure the difficulty of dealing with the foreign tramp, and the foreign regular trader. The subject ought to have received, much further attention from the Ministry. I should also have been glad to see the special conditions which obtain in regard to the. traffic between the rapidly expanding and largely purchasing southernmost portion of the State of Western Australia and our other States recognised, and communication between them encouraged to the utmost extent. Freedom of passage to and fro should be allowed until other means of communication are created. That would be no real departure from the principle involved in the measure, having regard to the fact that we ate now one Commonwealth, and that one of the essentials of Federation is that communication between the States should be made as free and as cheap as possible, so as to draw the various parts of Australia as closely together as is feasible. The distance between Tasmania and the mainland is short, so that the - journey lasts only a few hours, but the voyage from Adelaide to Perth occupies days, and a part of the sea has to be traversed which those who are sensitive to wave motion have no desire to linger upon. Under these circumstances it would have been very reasonable if the Government, instead of proposing to enforce rigorous methods, had adopted a modification which would have allowed the free carriage of passengers, at all events to the extent to which it is allowed by the Navigation Bill. They would have been justified if, for a time at least, they had given the passenger traffic even more liberal treatment, permitting it to come a little further east than is done by the Navigation Bill, to avoid some of the inconveniences which may otherwise be created. That would not have been a trespass upon the principles laid down, but a recognition of the interests which bind the various parts of the Commonwealth to each other. Without going into details, I have now pretty well exhausted the general . considerations which I wish to submit to the Committee. I cannot but think it a misfortune that it has been thought necessary to insert the proposed new clauses_in the Bill. In the Navigation Bill they are associated with the provisions to which I have alluded, many of which are of great and immediate utility, while some are of far reaching future importance. Still, it is easy to understand the pressure to which Ministers have been subjected. Federal disputes have arisen in the shipping industry in the past, and although we trust that there will be no repetition of such struggles in the future, it has been admitted from the first that one of the best means of providing against them is by extending the jurisdiction of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. I confess, therefore, that Ministers have . been tempted by the necessities of the case, and only wish that, having gone so far, they had gone further, and had modified the proposal in the directions to which I have alluded. They cannot but see, T fancy, that although they bring the local shipping, certainly, and British shipping, as to a part, certainly, and as to the remainder, with some difficulty, and possibly some cost to ?the Bill, under this measure, there is no guarantee that they will bring under it the severest of all our competitors, namely, the foreign subsidized vessels.
– That last matter is one for separate consideration.
– It was dealt with effectively in the Navigation Bill. Under the present proposal no distinction is made between British and foreign vessels. So far as it goes we affect to place them upon a common platform ; although we cannot ignore the fact that they are really running under very different conditions - conditions which greatly favour the foreign ships. We make no attempt to adjust the balance. That, I think, is a misfortune, because a distinct advantage should have been secured for British vessels over foreign ships. In speaking of foreign tramps, I do not mean necessarily European ships, because a good deal of the tramp traffic in the past ‘has been carried on by vessels from the United States, a country whose shipping is so pro tected that no Australian vessel can trade along its eastern or western coasts, or from its eastern to its western coast, or even from its ports to those of the Philippine Islands, close to our northern seaboard. The whole of the trade of the United States and its possessions is closely preserved for American ships.
– The United States has a magnificent system of internal communication.
– I do not see that the fact helps us. However magnificent may be the internal means of communication of the United States, they neither give us nor deprive us of trade; but the condition of the United States shipping trade to its possessions affects us seriously. As I have said, no attempt has been made to adjust the balance, and our own shipping, and that of the mother country, will continue subject to serious disabilities. At any rate, as I have said, the foreign tramp shipping will pass beyond our jurisdiction. In many cases, the American tramp will be able to defeat all proposals of this kind, and, though not easily, all proposals of the nature that we framed, unless they were strictly administered. I have looked at the Navigation Bill, and find that the provisions in clauses 298 and 315 are very much more stringent than are those here proposed, because we contemplated the exercise of the licensing powers. In the present case, however, the foreign tramp will escape us, unless we are prepared to take the further stride which was foreshadowed in our Navigation Bill. I think that in trie course of my fragmentary remarks, I have summarized in a general way the defects of these clauses, and touched upon the main principles upon which it seems to me thev should be reconsidered.
– I think it will be admitted that the proposals put forward by the Government are of a protective character. I suppose that they feel that the shipping interests of Australia ‘deserve and require protection, as well as do our manufacturing and producing industries. It seems strange that the free-traders in the ranks of the Government supporters should, whilst denying protection to manufacturers and producers, be willing to extend it to our shipping interests. I listened carefully to the remarks of the Prime Minister’ in support of these proposals, and I desire to say that the fact that a certain proposal ‘ appears to be good in the abstract, affords no reason whatever for adopting it in the absence of any necessity for so doing. Especially is this the case, if injury is likely to result from such a course of action. Even though the proposal now placed before us may, as the Prime Minister claims, appear reasonable and fair, if viewed in the abstract, we should not agree to it unless it is made clear to us that our shipping interests are being prejudicially affected by the competition which it is sought to restrict or abolish. The Prime Minister did not make any attempt to demonstrate that any injury was being sustained by local ship-owners and seamen, and I think that I shall be able to show that there is no necessity for the adoption of the Government proposals at present ; that they would not benefit Australian ship-owners, but, on the other hand, would probably work great injury to many parts of the Commonwealth. Now, what is the object of these clauses? It is to so protect local ship-owners and local seamen, as to grant them a monopoly. Our Australian mercantile marine is not very extensive, and, therefore, the voyages made by our ships to countries beyond our limits are not very numerous. Even so, however, they have been sufficient to demonstrate that our shipping is not interfered with in any way whatever in any part of the great Empire. to which we belong, and that what we now propose to do with regard to the -ships of the mother land is not done towards us in any part of the British dominions. Further., I say that the desire in the minds of those honorable members who have for a long time advocated this legislation has been to secure, not protection, but prohibition. The Australian shipowners and seamen will derive no advantage from such legislation, unless oversea ships are prohibited from participating in our local trade. How could it benefit our maritime interests if the P. and 0. and Orient companies, and the great foreign shipping companies, at once said, “ We shall comply with . all your’ conditions, and shall still compete with you.” Would one shilling be put into the pockets of our ship-owners or seamen, unless the protection proved sufficient to prohibit the ships that now trade here from continuing to do so? Honorable members will have noticed that no distinction is proposed to be made between the ships of the mother land and those belonging to foreign countries? One would think that if it were desired to prohibit oversea ships from trading along our coast, we would have commenced with the foreigner, and that we would not have treated the people of our own country - those from whom we have ^sprung - in the same way as those belonging to other nations. We know very well that our existence here as a people is dependent upon the fact that we are a part of the great British Empire, and yet we are not prepared to differentiate in the least degree in favour of our own countrymen. It is all very well to say, “ Trust the Court to interpret these provisions and to exercise discretion in bringing them into force.” Such, provisions are intended to be brought into operation, and not only so, but the object of the cla’uses is to prohibit vessels from the mother country from trading along our coast- in order that our local ship-owners and seamen may enjoy a monopoly. The main questions that we have to ask ourselves are : Firstly, “Are these provisions necessary?” To that I answer distinctly “ No.” Secondly, “ Will they benefit the whole of the people of Australia?”. I say “ No “ to that also. Thirdly, “ Will they especially benefit the producers of this country?” To that I answer distinctly “ No.” Fourthly,’ “ If they will not benefit, will they injure the producers?” To that question I say “ Yes.” It would be dangerous to grant a monopoly of our means of transit to any class of persons, and yet that is what is now proposed, because it is contemplated that we should throw the whole of the Australian coastal shipping into the hands of a small number of local ship-owners. As far as I am able to judge, these clauses are not necessary at the present time. In submitting important proposals of this character - proposals which will interfere with the means of transit all round the coast of Australia - it was the duty of the Government to show us that great necessity existed for them, and that grave injury was being done, because they were not already operative. But the Prime Minister did not utter a single word as to their necessity. He dealt with the abstract question, but- did not give a solitary instance in which injury was being sustained because such provisions had not been put into operation.
– I think he said that the local shipping companies would be placed at a disadvantage if these provisions were not brought into operation.
– He did not say that those companies are labouring under a disadvantage.
– He showed that they are paying a much higher rate of wages to their employes than is being paid by the owners of foreign vessels.
– He did not even show that. If they pay higher wages, they charge higher freights, and then business is consequently more profitable.
– It was very obvious.
– No reason whatever has been urged for the adoption of these proposals. I shall endeavour to show that there is no necessity whatever for this legislation. I make this broad statement, which I believe to be accurate: that, at the present time practically the whole of the coastal cargo traffic is carried by coastal steamers. I challenge any one to prove by statistics that that is not a fact. One would have thought that our ship-owners, who employ1,500 seamen, would have been satisfied to obtain a monopoly of that traffic ; but apparently they are not’ They want more.
– The right honorable member is alluding only to the regular lines. He should remember that the “tramps” carry a lot.
– During 1903 the “ tramps “ carried no cargo to speak of. I shall give the Minister information in regard to Victoria, New South Wales, and Western Australia. I regret that I have not been able to obtain similar information concerning the other States, although I have received the greatest possible courtesy from the officials of the Customs Department. I shall tell honorable members the condition- of affairs which obtained, in Western Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales both in regard to passengers and cargo during the year 1903. New South Wales and Victoria are the largest States of the “Union, from the point of view of population and trade, and consequently should furnish a good index. In New South Wales,- in 1903, I am informed by the Customs Department that the local ships carried nearly all the coastal cargo, which was valued at . £11,363,927, whereas the oversea ships carried scarcely any of it - not more than£20,000 worth. The latter amount was largely made up of frozen meat.
– That would not represent only the coastal trade, would it?
– That is my information. Practically the whole of nearly £1 2,000,000 worth of coastal traffic of New South Wales was carried by local shipping companies. In the coastal passenger trade of New South Wales duringthe same year 70,778 persons were carried. Of that number only 6,671 were carried by oversea ships; viz., 2,352 carried by foreign ships and 4,319 by British ships. What is the cause of all this fuss in regard to New South Wales ? There is absolutely no warrant for it. These figures show how unreal is the agitation which has been worked up.
– Is the right honorable member alluding to the coastal trade of New South Wales only, or to the coastal trade out of New South Wales, round Australia?
– I am referring to the coastal trade of New South Wales along her coast, and to and from other parts of Australia. I come now to the State of Victoria. During 1903, I am informed that practically the whole of the coastal cargo of this State was carried by coastal steamers. The coastal passenger traffic totalled 102,871, of which number 16,189 were carried by oversea steamers - 13,577 by British vessels, and 2,612 by foreign vessels.
– Where did they carry the 16,189 passengers to?
– I think that a good many were from or to Western Australia. They did not go beyond the limits of Australia. There again the figures show how unreal is this agitation. What is the reason for it? Probably some two or three years ago there was more competition of an undesirable character from the ship-owners’ point of view. Now that they find there is no necessity for legislation of this character, those who most strongly advocated it, are either opposed to it or are not eager for it. I do not know what the seamen think of these proposals, but I should’ imagine that they ave fairly well satisfied with the conditions of their employment. At any rate, those conditions are not likely to be improved, unless they can put a stop to the business which is now done by oversea ships. During 1903 the coastal steamers of ‘Western Australia carried all the coastal cargo of that State, which was valued at about £3, 500,000. I have not the figures relating to the North-west trade, which consists principally of stock. These statistics do not deal with traffic from abroad. They relate only to traffic between the eastern States and Western Australia. Out of the 41,402 persons who travelled to and from Western Australia during 1903, 28,258 were carried by coastal steamers, and only 13,144 by oversea vessels. Of the latter number, 11,042 were carried by British, and only 2,102 by foreign vessels. So far as New South Wales, Victoria, and Western Australia are concerned, it will thus be seen that out of 215,051 persons who travelled along their coasts, and to and from other parts of Australia, only 7,066’ were carried by foreign vessels. These figures clearly show that there is no necessity whatever for these provisions.
– What does the right honorable member mean by “ foreign “ steamers ?
– Steamers which are not British.
– Hear, hear. This is the first time that that definition has been given for a considerable period.
– I have taken the trouble to look at the wages which are being paid upon our coastal steamers at the present time. I obtained my figures from a local shipping company, which does a considerable business. Of course, honorable members’ know that, in addition to their wages, the men engaged upon our coastal steamers are provided with food and sleeping accommodation. I am informed that boiler-makers receive £12 per month, and firemen £8 10s: per month.
– Those vessels do not carry boiler-makers. The right honorable member must mean stokers.
– No; my informant gives boiler-makers £12 a month. Carpenters receive 10s. and able seamen -£6 1 os. per month. I am also informed that these wages are better than those paid to seamen in any other part of the world.
– That is not quite correct. I think that the American wages are higher.
– But there the purchasing power is not as great.
– That is my information. My anxiety in regard to this policy is, as honorable members are no doubt aware, very much increased by my belief that it will be exceedingly injurious to Western Australia. I regret to make this statement, but the facts compel me to do so. I wish to say at once that I want nothing but fair play for Western Australia ; that whatever I ask for that State I am willing to give to any other part of the Commonwealth. If I desired any honorable member to vote for anything specially for Western Australia, I should be quite willing to give my vote for the extension of the same privilege to any other State.
– Is that a bargain?
– It is; the conditions being equal. I do not desire- any exceptional treatment. I want only that’ which is fair and reasonable.
– The right honorable member has voted against every provision in the Bill..
– The proposals against which I voted were, in my opinion’, objectionable.
– The right honorable gentleman is not now making any generous offer.
– -There have only been a few divisions on the Bill, and I do not think, therefore, that it is correct to say I have voted against every provision in the Bill. I would remind the honorable member for Yarra that I have done more than he has in the . direction of industrial legislation. I introduced and passed a similar Bill to this in the Western Australian Legislature, and am not likely to go back on what I have done. I cannot but remember that Western Australia is isolated - that she is far removed from the Eastern States, and that her conditions are not well known by many honorable members or by the people of Victoria, in which we are legislating. The people there cannot reach other parts of the Commonwealth except by means of a long sea voyage. I regret to say that there is yet no railway communication between Western Australia and the other States, .and in these circumstances its position is different from that of any other part of the Commonwealth. When such clauses as these are proposed - clauses that are unnecessary and foolish, and must be injurious to the producing interests of Australia - I feel constrained to ask myself, “ Can the State of which I am a representative be a part of the Commonwealth?” When a proposal is submitted that, if carried, would make our isolation still more acute than it is, -the question naturally arises in my mind, “ Do those who are legislating on this vital matter for Western Australia in this House know anything of her conditions?” With, perhaps, one or two exceptions, honorable members know nothing whatever of the conditions of Western Australia’, and of the trade between Fremantle and Wyndham, on the north coast, extending along a coastline- of 3,000 miles. Scarcely any of those who are asked to- night to legislate in this direction are familiar with the conditions of that part of the country, and the means of transit on which the people there ‘ rely; yet they are asked by the Government to agree to legislation which., if carried, would put back that part of the State fully twenty years. The existing conditions, which are bad enough, would be made ten times worse if these clauses were brought into force. We have to remember that we are not passing this Bill merely to be looked at, but in order that it may be a living force.
– Did not the right honorable member make the same proposal in the Navigation Bill submitted by the Government of which he was a member?
– I wish that the honorable and learned* gentleman would. not advance such an argument. There were important exceptions in that Bill, which find no place in the proposals of the present Government; but, in any case, it is well known how difficult was my position in the Deakin Government, owing to these very provisions. I regard these proposals, so far as they affect the State I represent, as unfederal and unfriendly. I would go further, and say that, if carried, they would constitute a gross outrage on the people of Western Australia. They would indeed be injurious to all the States, but it will be for their representatives to specially deal with that phase of the question. The representatives of Western Austra- Iia are small in number, but I shall raise my voice as loudly as possible in opposition to these proposals. I emphatically assert that if they be carried they will be a gross outrage on the people of Western Australia. It may seem strange that I should have to put the question to the Committee : “ What good would be done by preventing the people from availing themselves of every opportunity to travel that presents itself? What good- purpose would be served by imposing restrictions on the few means of transit that already exist between Fremantle and the ports to the north, where so many producers live, and where the sheep and cattle, which largely constitute the food supply of Western Australia, are to a large extent depastured ? “
– What percentage of stock is carried by foreign-going vessels ?
– I shall deal with that point presently. One would think that in this country of long distances, where many people live in isolated districts, our desire would be to increase the facilities of transit rather than to pass unnecessary laws to restrict the slender means they already possess.
– The right honorable member’s amendment will restrict them.
– I do not follow the honorable member. What good would be done by restricting the travelling facilities of those who wished to journey along the north coast of Queensland to Cairns and Thursday Island, and away to Port Darwin ; down to Wyndham, in Cambridge Gulf, to Derby, in King’s Sound, to Broome, Port Hedland, Cossack, Ashburton, Carnarvon, and Geraldton, on to Fremantle? It should be our endeavour to improve their means of transit. What is the Government proposal ? They are seeking to vest in the Court the power to interfere with and injure many of the means of transit that already exist. It is a retrogressive and foolish proposal. Can any honorable members show me that good will result from it?
– Can a good thing come out of Nazareth?
– What, gain would be secured by obstructing the already-restricted travelling facilities of the people ?
– Why did the right honorable member try to impose such restrictions ?
– I did nothing of the kind. That is no argument, and as the Prime Minister knows the facts, it is ungenerous.
– The right honorable member has repented.
– No; my voice was raised in another place more strongly even than it is to-night in urging the exceptions which were inserted in the Bill introduced by the Deakin Government, but which are altogether absent from these proposals of the Government.
– But not here.
– Is it the desire of honorable members to restrict the travelling facilities between Sydney and Hobart ? They are limited at the present time, but if these clauses become law we shall not be able to travel by the steamers of the ?. and O. and Orient lines, which, during the apple season in Tasmania, travel between Sydney and Hobart, and thence to
Melbourne and Adelaide. Is this the way in which we are going to make Australia a great country ?
– It is said that half the vessels leave now without any passengers.
– I would inform the honorable and learned gentleman that the sea is the only road or highway possessed by the people living along the larger part of the coastline of Australia, and in settlements back from the coast. Their travelling facilities are exceedingly meagre, and yet it is proposed to make them far worse.
– Are not we endeavouring to secure the construction of the Transcontinental Railway?
– When that rail; way is constructed, I do not think it will be in the interest of the people of Australia to interfere in any way with other means of transit. One has as much right to travel by sea as he has to pass along a roadway. I would ask honorable members what must be the feeling of the 100,000 persons living within thirty miles of Fremantle when they are told that we are engaged in passing a law that, if carried, would have the effect of preventing them from travelling by the steamers that now call at the harbor made by them at the enormous cost of , £1,500,000 - a work that has been the means of placing them on the high road between the old country and the eastern States of Australia. What will they think of Federal legislation and of Federation? Is this the progress which we were told Federation would bring about ? If there were any real necessity for these proposals - if it could be shown, as the Prime Minister has suggested, that our shipping interests are being ruined, and that disaster is upon us - I should say at once, “ Let us look into the matter.” But the honorable gentleman has not told us anything of the sort. What must be the feelings of those people who have gone to that enormous expense in building a harbor, when they are told that this Federation, which I and others extolled as destined to give them a broader and a wider horizon, and a better political life, will prevent them from enjoying those benefits in the wav of steam-ship communication’ which they have just secured after years of labour and of waiting?
– The right honorable member tells us that five out of six people in Western Australia travel by the Inter-State seats.
– What does the honorable gentleman want to make out of that point? Does he think that the people of Western Australia should be compelled to travel by the Inter-State boats whether they want to do so or not? They can still travel by the Inter- State boats if they please. We are a free people. What we object to is being prevented from travelling by such means as are available, and at times that are most convenient. One would think, from what one sometimes reads in the newspapers of this State, that Western Australia, which will be more injured than any other State in Australia by this legislation, had done some great injury to the eastern States, and deserved no consideration at their hands. Has Western Australia done nothing for this Commonwealth? Has she done nothing for Victoria? Has she done nothing for South Australia? Has she done nothing for the other States? Sir George Turner, my late colleague, if he were in his place - and I am very sorry he is not well enough to be present - would have told the Committee, as he has acknowledged to me many times - and he knew the facts, because he was Treasurer of Victoria at the time of which I am about to speak - that in the dark days of financial disaster Western Australia was the saviour of Victoria.
– That is quite right,
– The dark days for this State were the five years from 1896 to 1900. I find that in those years, the workers of Western Australia who had gone there to seek their fortunes - many of them going away from Victoria in those distressful times - sent through the post , £3,106,284 to their wives and families in the eastern States.
– It was the manhood of Victoria that made the right honorable member’s State.
– I am quite willing to admit that. But that does not alter the ‘ facts. I am saying nothing against the Victorians who went to Western Australia. But if they had not gone to a place where they could make . money, they could not have been able to send any back to Victoria. They were a bold and enterprising people, who deserved ali they got. They sent to Victoria during those years £1,416,970. They sent to New South Wales £621,062 ; and to South Australia £461,863.
– Did not South Australians discover- the Western Australian mines?
– I cannot answer a puerility of that sort. I am surprised at the honorable member making such an interjection. Even Tasmania, in the years I have mentioned, received from Western Australia through the Post Office £130,917. The workers of Western Australia sent other telegraphic orders to the amount of £391,817, making up the grand total which I have previously mentioned. In addition to that, there was, during the same five years, an enormous trade between Western Australia and the eastern States, amounting to £24,521,137. Of this trade Victoria received £15,355,162.
– Western Australia got good value for her money.
– The honorable and learned member’s interjections are not worthy of him. They, show a spirit which I have observed for some time past, in a few persons in this State who ought to know better, and which I regret. I have stated that Victoria did trade with Western Australia from 1896 to 1900 to the amount of £15,355,162, and in the same period South Australia did trade with the western State to the amount of £5,508,180. I mention these figures merely to show that whatever may be said with” regard to Western Australia, we deserve well from Victoria and South Australia. As far as the majority of the people of this State with whom I have personally come in contact are concerned, I say at once that I have never received more consideration than I have received from them. They are, in my opinion, an enterprising and a generous people. I have dealt with five years. I will now give the figures for ten years, bringing them up to the latest date, so that no one can say that I have dealt with the question unfairly by picking out certain dates. I am not arguing the case of any mean State when I ask that we shall not pass legislation which will injure Western Australia. I am advocating the cause of a flourishing country, with a self-reliant people. From 1894 to 1903 the total trade of Western Australia was £109.785,306. Of this trade the eastern States benefited to the extent of £30,744,978. That is to say, a trade of about £4,000,000 per annum went on between Western Australia and the eastern States during those ten years.
– Good luck to her !
– I give this information to show that anything that will interfere with the progress and convenience of the people of Western Australia is not in the interests of Australia.
– Taking the coastal trade, what . percentage of cargo is carried on ocean-going boats ?
– Nearly the whole of it has been carried by the coasting boats up to the present time.
– How, then, will this legislation interfere with the trade of Western Australia?
– The figures show that this legislation is unnecessary.
– At any rate, it will not affect the Western Australian trade.
– It will affect the passengers, and it will affect the trade of the north-western portion of Australia. The trade is certainly, to a large extent, being carried on now by means of Inter-State boats, but I urge that that is no reason why we should interfere with the present state of things, when there is absolutely no necessity for doing so. I may mention, in passing, that Western Australia has produced gold to the value of £50,000,000 since 1886, and that she produced £8,000,000 worth of gold last year. She has paid in dividends to shareholders in gold mining companies no less than £11,000,000 sterling. I have no desire to permit “ tramp” ships to come to our ports with cheap crews, and to carry cargo and passengers without being- subject to Commonwealth law. I quite agree that when they come to participate in. our trade they should be subject to the same laws as are applied to any other ships doing the same work. But there is certainly no necessity whatever why we should interfere in the slightest degree with ocean-going vessels, and particularly with those that belong to British lines.
– Would the right honorable member differentiate between oversea British ships and foreign ships?
– If there is to. be any differentiation, I should certainly. advise that the foreign vessels suffer first. I believe in standing by the old country, towhich we owe so much, which is doing somuch for us, to which we owe our existence as an independent people, and but for whose assistance we could not hold up our heads.
– The North German Lloyd Company has done a good deal for Western Australia.
– I quite agree with the honorable member, and I should be very sorry indeed that any legislation which we passed should interfere in the slightest degree with the vessels of that line. What I say is, however, that if we are compelled to differentiate, we must consider the vessels of the mother country first. The northwest coast of Western Australia - that is, the coast running from Fremantle right round to Wyndham, in Cambridge Gulf, some 3,000 miles - is absolutely dependent, after passing Geraldton, on the coasting trade, for its means of obtaining supplies and sending its produce to market. There are several steamers that trade from Fremantle to Singapore. In my time there used to be three of them. Those steamers call at ports on the north-west coast, take away the wool and other cargo, and leave supplies. They also carry stock from the northern districts to Fremantle.
– Where is their ultimate destination ?
– They travel between Fremantle and Singapore. If this legislation drove them off the coast, it would be impossible to give the same facilities of transit to the people on that long coast line as they now enjoy. The vessels could not carry on without the aid of the Singapore trade, because the amount of traffic between Fremantle and north-west ports would not be sufficient. They are dependent upon the Singapore trade, assisted by the local trade. I believe that there are one or two other steamers engaged in the north-west trade. I know there was one in my time, which was subsidized by the Government to carry mails. It was a vessel belonging to the Adelaide S.S. Co. But if it were not for these steamers the means of transit, the convenience of the travelling public, and the means of getting stock to market, would be reduced to onefourth of what it is, at present. Besides that, a monopoly would be created, and that would mean - increased prices to our producers. Honorable members who represent the producers will see that that is a strong reason why they ought not to assist in any legislation which will interfere with the means by which produce is conveyed to market, and will at the same time create a monopoly that will lead to increased prices, and therefore additional burdens upon the producers.
– Are there any local boats on that line?
– One or two; at any rate, there was one in my time, and it was subsidized by the Western Australian Government.
– The boats are subsidized as far as Geraldton?
– No ; the vessel runs as far as Wyndham, to which there is a service every month or six weeks.
– Do the Singapore boats carry Chinese crews?
– Yes. Under our existing circumstances, with our scattered population, we should be very careful not to interfere in the slightest degree with the means of transit. It would be absolutely cruel to the people who live isolated lives from Geraldton to Cambridge Gulf, on the north-west coast - and I suppose similar conditions prevail on the east coast in spite of larger population, and more comforts of civilization - to take away the transit facilities which they at present possess.
– I do not think that the vessels referred to come under the Bill.
– They are oversea ships.
– But on the local line there is no competition, and, therefore, the Bill will not apply.
– The service is carried on by the Adelaide Steam-ship Company ; and it is the other steamers which carry on the trade . with Singapore.
– I do not think that in either case the vessels will come under the Bill.
– But they are oversea ships, just the same as are those of the P. and O. and Orient Companies.
– But the provision will apply only where there is competition.
– There is competition on the coast, two or three shipping companies carrying on operations.’ No one can possibly show any necessity for this legislation at the present time, though those who look far into the future may see a time when measures of the sort may be called for. What is the object of such legislation ? The other day I was told the number of seamen who are employed on the whole coast of Australia, and the figure, 1,500, appeared to be so small that I began to think I had been misinformed. Then, I suppose, there are a dozen shipowners engaged in the Australian trade.
– I do not think that the number given, to the right honorable gentleman is quite right, ‘that is in regard to the seamen.
– Then let us say that there are 2,000 seamen engaged.
– It is possible that that is the number.
– And all this legislation is proposed for the benefit of that small number of seamen and shipowners. If those engaged in the trade, either as owners or seamen, were not doing well, there might be some reason for extending to them some special consideration ; but I have always thought, during recent years, at any rate, that the term “ Australian ship-owner “ was synonymous with “wealth.”
– -They earn 10 per cent, on the capital invested.
– As to the seamen, they are receiving, if not the highest, almost the highest, wages in’ the world; and considering their small number, say, 2,000, it would pay Australia much better to subsidize them all than to inflict an injury on the whole of the people of Australia.
– The whole of the Commonwealth would be injured; the farmers would be penalized by means of high freights.
– Why sacrifice the interests of the producers throughout the Commonwealth by means of this legislation, when there is no competition worth speaking of in the Australian shipping trade, and when ship-owners are prosperous and the seamen are receiving good wages ?
– The British and foreign boats are the only boats by which Australian produce can be sent to England and the Continent.
– This unnecessary and drastic legislation is only an attempt - and the sooner it is exposed the better - to create a close combine, by means of which freights may be raised to any figure the ship-owners like. Protection would not put a shilling into the pockets of either ship-owners or men, and they realize that the only means by which they can be helped is by prohibition. What can it matter to the ship-owners and seamen of Australia if crews on ships from Japan, China, America, Russia, or Norway are paid as much as is usually paid in this country? Will a single farthing be put i to the pockets of any one in Australia? As I say, the only object is to build up a combine, for which the producers of the country will have to pay. When all competition has been got rid of, we shall probably see the rates of passage increased. A little while ago the Minister of External Affairs asked me how it was that such a small, number of people travelled between Western Australia and the east coast in ocean steamers, by far the greater number . preferring to use the local boats. The reason is that the fares are low on the local steamers as compared with those on the mail Steamers, though it is true the latter are more comfortable and better found in every way. Enterprising people who are seeking new outlets for their energy do not want to pay more than they can help on travelling.
– Do the labour members from Western Australia travel by coasting boats or by the mail steamers?
– I do not know, but I should say they travel on the boats on which they are most comfortable ; at any rate, If they have any sense, they do. We are accustomed to hear kind words said in this House about the farmers, an’d when bad times come and work is scarce, the first proposal we hear, often from persons who know but little about either farmers or farming, is to settle the people on the land ; I have heard that sort of talk for the last thirty years. I represent a farming constituency, and I tell the representatives of the farmers in this House to beware of this legislation, which, in the abstract, may appear fair. It means that the farmers will have to pay more for transit, because the increased cost will come back on thu producers every time. Whenever these new ideas, are promulgated, and such laws, which promise so much, are introduced, the farmers and producers bear the brunt.
– I understand that it is only the passenger trade .which the right honorable member wants to exempt.
– We should not interfere in any way, unless there is necessity. When there is no reason for such .legislation, Ave should leave well alone. This attempt to form a combine on the part of ship-owners and seamen is an attack on the producers of Australia, and the sooner that fact is known the better. I have not said much about British shipping; but, as no one can show any need for this foolish legislation, it is a poor business when, under such circumstances, Australia is placarded throughout the length and breadth of the Empire as taking unfriendly action against the mother country. No one can show that any benefit will result; and yet we are attempting to place a power in the hands of a Court, which will doubtless use it, if it is possible, proving in the most direct manner that we have no real sympathy with the people of the mother country. It will be seen at once in England that with Australia this is a matter of pounds, shillings, and pence; and that, without any solid ground whatever, we are willing to deliberately place on the statute-book laws which, while doing us no good, will, locally, do us great injury in the estimation of those with whom we desire to be on the most affectionate terms. I do not believe there is another country in the world - if there is I hope some one will tell me of it - which has proposed to treat its kith and kin as we are now proposing to treat the people of the mother land. Show me another country where such proposals would be made. I do not know of any instance of the kind in connexion with an American colony, though of course, America has not many dependencies of the kind. At any rate, I do not know of any part of the British Empire which would so legislate in regard to the mother country, on which we depend for defence, and to which we are always saying we are proud to belong. Where is all our affection and devotion to the mother land, in the face of such legislation - legislation which, so far as can be seen, is proposed out of pure wantonness ?
– Where was the right honorable member’s pure patriotism when the Tariff was before the House?
– I did not catch the interjection of the honorable member. I regret that at the present time there should be any such legislation attempted in regard to the mother country. I recognise fully, however, that there should ‘ be a law by which disputes between seamen and shipowners could be settled amicably, instead of by force ; and such a law is all we should attempt to secure at the present time.
– Would the right honorable member include Australian seamen?
– Australian ship-owners and seamen. There should be some means of arriving at an amicable settlement of maritime disputes, but one can never tell where such legislation as that now proposed may lead us. A Court is to be left to decide where and when a common rule should be applied ; and I think that, in the absence of any demonstrated necessity, we shall be acting very rashly in agreeing to these proposals. When this general discussion is finished, I intend to submit an amendment that oversea British ships trading to and from Australia and calling at ports, as the P. and O., Orient, and other steamers do at the present time, shall be exempt from the operation of the Bill.
– Judging from present appearances this discussion is to be one in which Western Australia is to have, if not all the “ say,” at least a considerable portion of it.
– Not at all.
– There seems to be a considerable amount of hesitation on the part of the representatives of other States about entering into it. So far as those who represent the interests of Western Australia are concerned, there is no such hesitation. But while I shall discuss the question as regards some of its points as a Western Australian, I hope to keep before me the fact that I am a citizen of the Commonwealth, and am dealing with a subject which is of vital importance to every person in Australia. I listened very carefully to what the Prime Minister had to say in introducing the proposed new clauses, and I am obliged to confess that, taking the most favorable view I can of them, the Government were: very ill-advised in resolving to propose their insertion in the Bill. I am willing to give the . seamen employed on Australian vessels the utmost benefit of conciliation and arbitration. I am not so illogical as to contend that they should be placed beyond the scope of the measure. The question, however, goes further than the consideration of their interests alone. Other phases of it have to be considered. I shall endeavour to show that Australian seamen can be thoroughly well legislated for under the Bill without dragging in what seems to me to be totally extraneous subject matter. A very fatal admission was made by the Attorney-General while the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was discussing the measure, in. saying that the methods which the Government are adopting to obtain control of “ tramp “ steamers in the matter of wages are likely to be inoperative.
If the weightiest authority upon the question in the ranks of the Government admits that the “tramp” steamers cannot be reached by the proposed clauses, these clauses might as well be dropped altogether, because it is continually being urged that it is the “tramp” steamers which are particularly inimical to the interests of Australian shipowners and seamen. What has been said in regard to them cannot, I think, .hold good in regard to the ‘ oversea mail steamers - it cannot be shown that they enter into unfair competition with Australian steamers, and that their seamen compete in any real sense with Australian seamen. I have listened very carefully to what has been said upon that subject, not only in this particular debate, but when it has been discussed in connexion with other measures ; but I have not yet heard a fact stated which shows that the seamen engaged on the oversea mail steamers ought to be regarded as coming into competition in the slightest degree with those employed on Australian steamers. Before legislation of this kind is introduced the best reasons should be given for applying it to industrial activities which are necessary to the development and welfare of our country, but which have not yet been shown to bear any relation to the particular issue which we are discussing. The object of the Government is said by them to be the protection of Australian shipping generally ; but it is a very significant fact that we have had no, representations from Australian steam-ship owners with regard to the need for the proposed legislation.
– They are in the back-ground. I will tell the Committee something about, that by-and-by.
– They may be. in the back-ground; but I have received the assurance from one of them that they are perfectly satisfied with the existing conditions. I believe that they would be very glad to let well alone. I have information which leads me to think that if the proposed legislation is passed, the directors of the oversea mail steam-ship companies will take steps to enter into the Australian coasting trade. If that happens, the local steam-ship owners will be in a worse position than they are in now, though their present position is by no means one which they need deplore, as I shall presently show.
– It would be a good thing for the public if the oversea steamers did compete for the coastal trade. “Mr. FOWLER. - A very good thing, indeed, though I hope to be able to show that a better course than than might be followed, in the public interests. I am willing to concede to Australian seamen what I believe should be given to all -industrial classes in the . community - the right to state the causes of their disputes to an Australian Court of Arbitration, and to obtain from it’ decisions upon the merits of their contentions. But when it is said that, in order to give effect to their representations, they must have power to drag in the oversea mail steam-ships if they choose to do so, sufficient cause should be shown to justify that proposal. I think that there is ample reason for leaving the oversea mail steamers alone. The seamen of Australia have not suffered, and are not likely to suffer, from their operations on the coast.
– Does the honorable member refer to the trade done by the mail steamers all round the Continent, dr only between Fremantle and Adelaide?
– I am speaking generally. I do not wish to argue the question from a Western Australian stand-point. I believe that I shall be on sounder and better ground if I argue it as an Australian citizen, rather than as a Western Australian representative.
– The same treatment should be given to the vessels trading between the mainland and Tasmania as is given to those trading between Fremantle and Adelaide.
– Exactly. I do not desire special conditions for my own particular State.
– Does the honorable member, refer to British mail Steamers only, excluding foreign steamers?
– I refer to all the large steamers which carry mails between Australia and the outside world. The ‘great question at issue has been made to appear a question of wages. We have been told that the seamen employed on Australian vessels receive higher wages than are paid to those employed on the oversea mail steamers, and that they suffer from the unfair competition of the latter. It is not a question of competition, but of unfair competition, which we should consider. At least, that is the view I take, and I shall indicate why. The platform of the Labour Party includes, amongst minor considera- tions, the protection of Australian shipping against unfair competition. I have, of course, assented to that platform, and, consequently, to the proposal mentioned. As I have already indicated, I am willing to go as far as may be necessary to protect’ Australian shipping from unfair . competition ; but a great deal that we have heard on the subject of unfair competition has amounted to a pure begging of the question, and the unfairness has been assumed rather than proved.
– How can there be unfair competition when the oversea companies charge 50 per cent, higher rates?
– I shall deal with that point presently. The alleged unfair competition in the case of the seamen resolves itself into a question of wages. Our seamen are paid at higher rates than are the sailors employed on the oversea mail steamers, and it is, therefore, inferred that there is some competition between the two rates of pay. I do not wish to discuss this question in a too strictly academic manner ; but I would remind the Committee that it has not yet been shown that wages in any sense compete with wages where there is a difference in the other conditions. We are told that the employer of the poorly paid man is at an advantage compared with the employer of the highly paid men ; but we find that, all over the world the highly paid employe” successfully competes with, and even ousts from the market, the poorly paid workman. This tends to show that the poorly paid man is often more expensive, so far as the product of his labour is concerned, than is the more highly paid workman. I have here a volume entitled, Essays in Political and Moral Philosophy, by Professor Cliffe Leslie. In one essay, he speaks of the question of wages, in reference more particularly to the wages fund, and points out how wages are differentiated in the most remarkable degree sometimes, within very narrow limits. He says, for instance -
In every country in Europe the rates of wages even in the same occupation vary from place to place; in other words, the same amount of labour and sacrifice, of the same kind, is differently remunerated in different localities. The Devonshire, Somersetshire, or Dorsetshire labourer has been earning, for the last fifty years, less than half what the same man might have earned in Northumberland. The pay of Belgian farm labourers is three times higher in the valley of the Meuse than in the Campine, and twice as high as in Flanders; it varies likewise prodigiously in Germany, even in adjoining districts. Whence these diversities? The reason, obviously, is that distinct and dissimilar conditions determine wages in different parts of each country.*
This quotation, from an authority of some weight, goes to show that wages very rarely enter into competition with wages. It can even be shown that, as a matter of fact, the more highly paid workman is of greater value to his employer than is the employe who receives a lower rate.
– In that case, there is no necessity for a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– There is necessity for such a measure where the conditions are similar, but not in cases where they are dissimilar.
– We do not require to have the common rule applied.
– Yes j it is desirable to apply the common rule where the conditions are similar. It may be said that employers surely know their own business best, and that, because the great majority of employers pay low wages, it stands to reason that that is the most profitable course for them to adopt. Professor F. E. Walker, in his work, The Wages Question, at page 58, says-
But I may be here called to meet an objection to my statements under this head, based on the assumed sufficiency of the sense of self-interest in employers. How, it may be asked, do you account for the failure of employers to pay wages which will allow their labourers a more liberal sustenance, if, indeed,” it is for their own advantage to do so? In the first place, I challenge the assumption which underlies the orthodox doctrine of wages, . namely, the sufficiency of the sense of self-interest. Mankind, always less than wise, and too often foolish to the point of stupidity, on the one side, and of fanaticism on the other, whether in Government, in domestic life, in the care of their bodies, or in the care of their souls, do not suddenly become wise in industrial concerns. The argument, for keeping a labourer well, that he may work well, applies with equal force to the maintenance of a slave. Yet we know, by a mass of revolting testimony, that in all countries avarice, the consuming lust of immediate gain, a passion which stands in the way of a true and enlarged view of self-interest, and works unceasing despite to self-interest, has always despoiled the slave of a part of the food and clothing necessary to his highest efficiency as a labourer.
Professor Walker says a good deal more to the same effect, but I have quoted sufficient to prove that low wages do not necessarily compete unfairly with high wages, and that the man who is paid high wages gives a better return than does the employe” who receives only a small rate of pay. Therefore, the fact that the seamen on the oversea mail steamers receive a lower wage than do the men who are employed on the Australian coasters, affords no reason for protecting the more highly-paid men against those who are competing at an apparent disadvantage. I have here a pamphlet which was issued some time ago, entitled A Mercantile Marine for Australia an Urgent Necessity. In this publication comparative wages statements are worked out, indicating the amounts paid in wages on Australian coasting steamers over and above those paid on oversea mail steamers. For the purposes of the comparison it is assumed that the same number of men would be employed in each case, the crews of the Australian coasters being increased in order to bring them up to the level of the oversea vessels.
– Who are the authors of the pamphlet?
– The pamphlet consists of a series of articles which were republished from the Melbourne Age. According to the lists therein given, the amount of wages paid on the steamer Marloo exceeds that paid on the steamer Omrah by .£105 16s. 8d. per month. A number of other comparisons of a similar character are also given, with the object of showing that the Australian steamers are heavily handicapped, owing to the fact that their wages bills are so much higher than are those of the oversea steamers. As I have already stated, however, this fact, of itself, proves nothing. The question is: Are the Australian steam-ship owners able to pay the higher wages, under the conditions? I think I can show that they are better able to pay the higher rates than are the owners of the oversea steamers to pay the low rates which rule on their ships. I have here another publication from which, I think, we can quote with all confidence. It is entitled The Australian Joint Stock Companies’ Year Book, compiled by Mr. R. L. Nash. This publication contains a number of particulars with regard to the various shipping companies engaged in the Australian coastal trade, the oversea mail steamers, and others. With regard to the Adelaide Steamship Company, we are told that it was registered in South Australia on 8th October, 1875, and re-registered, with enlarged powers, on 1.3th December, 1900. The authorized capital amounts to £750,000, and the capital subscribed is £507,175, in 101,435 shares of ,£5 each. The accounts are made up yearly to 31st May. and submitted to the shareholders in July, but interim dividends are paid.” The dividend paid by the old company in 1896-7 was 12 per cent., and in 1897-8, and 1898-9 9 per cent. In 1899-1900 a dividend was paid at the rate of 11 per cent., and was accompanied by a bonus of 10s. per share. The new company paid a dividend of 8 per, cent, upon a greatly enlarged’ capital in July. 1 90 1. The share register of the company is kept at Adelaide. Now, let us turn to the Orient Steam Navigation Company. After giving the ordinary information with regard to. the formation of the company, the situation of its office, and so on, Mr. Nash states that up till 1890,. the dividends of the old company fluctuated between nil and 5 per cent., the dividend declared in 1890 being at the rate of 3 per cent. Then there were some years, during which no dividends were paid, but in 1895, 1896, and 1897 2 per cent, was paid annually. There was no dividend in 1898, and the dividend for 1899 was at the rate of 3 per cent. The report of the operations of the company for the final five months of 1900 shows a profit of .£51,731. Of this amount £20,132 was carried to the reserve, being 4 per cent, of the cost of the steamers, in terms of the articles of association, leaving a balance of ,£27,902. Of this sum the preferred dividend absorbed .£4,239, while 10s. per share was paid on the deferred; balance carried forward, namely, £17,872. These figures show the relative earning capacities of the Adelaide Steam Shipping Company and the Orient Company - two typical companies. They prove that the intercolonial companies are able to pay higher wages to their employes much easier than the owners of the mail steamers are able to pay their employes a lower rate.
– And that is after allowing for a larger “ writing off “ in the case of the intercolonial boats.
– Undoubtedly. “ Here is the comment of the chairman ‘of one of these oversea companies, as quoted in an Australian newspaper. The annual meeting of the company took place in London, and the chairman said -
The fact remains that the company earned /g,572 less than enough for the usual depreciation, without paying any dividends, and present prospects on the Australian route are worse than gloomy.
Yet these are the companies which we are assured are cutting seriously into the interests of Australian shipping. Let me contrast some very interesting figures, which I shall quote on the authority of Mr. James, the Premier of Western Australia. He made them public at a meeting which was held in Perth some time ago, and, as they have never been contradicted, and as Mr. James is usually reliable in these matters of fact, I assume that they are correct. In speaking of the financial position of one of the Australian shipping companies, he said -
In 1890 its £10 shares were worth 40s.
Honorable members will observe that that was just prior to the period when Western Australia began to develop.
In 1896 the shares had risen to 90s. In 1900 each original £o share was divided into five ,£5 shares.
The nominal capital was increased in that way-
– They “watered” the stock?
– Yes ; the company did so, because the dividends were getting so ridiculously high that it wished to make it appear that it was not earning so much. This proceeding also afforded shareholders an opportunity of making something out of their original shares. In 1900 the original £10 shares were divided into five shares of £5 each, so that a man who held one of these shares suddenly found himself in possession of scrip worth £25. The new shares stood at par from the day they were issued. During the past five years this company has paid 10 per cent, on these “ watered “ shares, with occasional bonuses of 3 per cent. When honorable members come to consider . the passenger fares charged by intercolonial vessels, as compared with those levied by oversea steamers, it will again be found that the discrepancy is altogether in favour of the former. For example, the rates charged by the mail steamers between Sydney and Melbourne are as follow: - First-class, £4; second-class, £3 ; third-class, £1 10s. The passenger fares charged by intercolonial vessels between the same ports are : - First-class, £2 ; steerage, -£1. Between Sydney and Adelaide the fares by the mail steamers are : - First-class, £7 10s. ; second-class, £3 ; third-class, £2 5s. Between the same ports the rates levied by the intercolonial vessels are - First- class, £s 15s.; steerage, £1 15s. The fares between Sydney and Fremantle by the mail steamers are - Firstclass £14, second-class £11, third-class j£6, whereas the charges by coastal vessels are first-class £g, steerage £5. The fares between Melbourne and Adelaide by the mail steamers are first-class £4, second-class £3, third-class £1 10s., whereas those demanded by the coastal vessels are first-class £2, steerage £1. From Melbourne to Fremantle the fares by the mail steamers are first-class £12, second-class £9, third- classes, whereas the passage money by the coastal steamers is first-class £7, steerage £4. From Adelaide to Fremantle by the mail steamers the fares are first-class £9, second-class £7, third-class £4. For the same journey the intercolonial vessels charge first-class £5 5s., steerage £3 10s. Under these circumstances I should like to know where the unfair competition comes in. The Australian vessels are earning much higher dividends than are the oversea mail steamers. The latter charge much higher rates than do the former for passenger traffic along the coast. Where then in the name of common-sense does the competition come in? Undoubtedly there is some reason, other than that which has been so frequently urged, why this exclusion of the mail steamers from our coastal trade is being attempted. I say, without hesitation, that the consideration which has been given to this matter by the present Government, and by their predecessors in office, is due to the activity of the Seamen’s Union and particularly to the very energetic and able men at its’ head. I claim that the men who are at the head of that organization have “ other fish to fry “ - to use a homely, but forceful expression - apart from the mere consideration of the interests of the seamen whom they represent. Upon a previous occasion, I quoted a very interesting extract from an address which was delivered by Mr. R. S. Guthrie - now Senator Guthrie - in Adelaide, and which is reported in the South Australian Register of 6th October, 1903. Speaking of the adoption of the common rule, he said -
The policy of the future depended on development. But in the meantime he was prepared to advocate the extension of the provisions of the Arbitration Act in the direction of including all ships trading between- the ports of the Commonwealth. At the same time he would relieve Australian shipping companies of port and light dues, and compel the foreign firms to make up the amount.
That is a pretty cool proposal. The Australian vessels which use these ports are to be allowed to go free, and the deficiency is to be made up by the oversea mail steamers. He proceeds -
The time was not far distant when the mail steamers would have to abandon their coastal trade. He did not know any part of the world where such liners as the P. and O. and the
Orient traded from port to port. The day would come when the goods carried by these boats would be discharged into smaller coastal vessels, and when that day arrived, Port Adelaide, by its geographical position, would become the first Australian port.
I believe that is rather a sanguine forecast. I do not think that Port Adelaide will be selected by these oversea companies as the port at which the distribution of the cargo and passengers carried by the mail steamers shall take place. * If legislation of the character proposed is insisted upon, undoubtedly the tendency of these steamers will be to make one port their port of call and departure, and to arrange that their cargo and passengers shall be carried round the coast of Australia in smaller coastal vessels. I believe that such an arrangement will come in course of time, because the mail steamers will find it more profitable to adopt that plan than to dodge round the coast, as they do at present, wasting valuable time.
– It will not be more profitable to the shippers.
– Nevertheless, that course will probably be adopted by the large steamship companies. At any rate that seems to be the tendency in other parts of the world. But I would ask - “ Is that a sufficient reason why these particular clauses should be adopted by the Government?” It is the only reason that I have yet discovered. As I have already shown, the contention that the mail steamers unfairly compete in the Australian coastal trade is entirely unfounded. I am thoroughly satisfied that if the opinions of the oversea steamship companies, and of the local shipping companies were obtained, it would be found that they freely admit that the conditions under which they at present conduct their business in Australia are reasonable, and that no necessity for altering them exists.
– Why impose duties on their stores?
– I do not believe in those duties. I do not consider that any particular advantage is gained by their imposition, or that the goods consumed on oversea vessels in any way enter into competition with those consumed on Australian vessels or in any part of the Commonwealth.
– Why do not the oversea mail steam-ship companies pay better wages in view of the fact that their fares are so much higher?
– I cannot defend the wages they pay, and do not intend to do so.
– The honorable member should compare their rates of pay with those paid on the coasting steamers.
– I have been laboriously showing that the local steam-ship companies are better able to pay the high wages than are the owners of the oversea steamers able to pay the lower wages which their men receive. In some cases, Australian steamers receive twice as much for carrying a ton of produce from Sydney to. Fremantle as an oversea mail steamer receives for conveying a ton of produce from Sydney to Europe. It is, therefore, mere twaddle to talk of unfair competition in the matter of wages. I wish to refer briefly to the Western Australian position, as I apprehend it, in regard to this matter. A very unfair insinuation has frequently been made in relation to the views of representatives of Western Australia on this subject. We are taunted with endeavouring to conserve certain comforts to ourselves in travelling to and fro between the Seat of Government and Western Australia. It is alleged that it is a mere question of the comfort of the representatives of .that State and the wealthier section of the community that is always anxious to secure the utmost degree of comfort, and is well able to pay for it. That insinuation is entirely unfounded. Representatives of Western Australia are indifferent whether they travel by one of the coasting or one of the oversea mail steamers. They book their passage by whichever vessel happens to be sailing at the time most convenient to them. I do not know but that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, when he visits Western Australia, prefers to travel by a mail steamer, yet I would not accuse him of seeking to secure additional comforts. Under existing conditions travellers ought to have the right to select whatever vessel they choose. One important consideration so far as the representatives of Western Australia in this Parliament are concerned, is the question of time, both as regards the period occupied on the voyage and the advertised hour of departure. We know that the Inter-State boats are not nearly so punctual as are the oversea mail steamers. Sometimes those who have booked passages to Western Australia by a coasting vessel find to their disgust on reaching the wharf that some time will elapse before the departure of the vessel. Occasionally there is a delay, not of hours, but of days. This question, even from the stand-point of Western Australia, can be regarded in a very broad and reasonable light. Any one who takes the trouble, to look at the map - although I do not think it would be necessary for honorable members to do so, in order to verify my statement - will recognise that Fremantle is, in its relation to Europe, the front door of Australia. We have made a port there at very considerable expense, and the shipping of the world is availing itself of it year after year to an increasing extent. What would be the position of Western Australia in the eyes of the world if the vessels that connect the Commonwealth with Europe passed the front door of Australia, and avoided that State altogether? What would a passenger, intending to pay a visit to Australia, think of that unfortunate State which, although so many thousand miles nearer to Europe than the other States of the Union, was ignored by the mail steamers by which he travelled ? If he intended to visit Western Australia, and were compelled to .go on to Adelaide, and then take a coastal steamer back to Fremantle, I am sure he would at once come to the conclusion that Western Australia was, after all, a place of very little importance, and was regarded as a factor of the Commonwealth that could be ignored altogether, so far as direct communication with the outer world was concerned. Would that be a fair position in which to place one of the States of the Commonwealth ? The right honorable member for Swan has shown how effectively Western Australia has assisted some of the other States to tide over their dark days. I do not place that to the credit of Western Australia,, for a quid pro quo is given in most respects. I merely wish to urge that Western Australia, as a part of the Commonwealth, is entitled to much consideration from this Parliament.
– She is receiving a fair degree of consideration.
– She is entitled to much consideration from the Commonwealth Parliament, because her welfare is identical in many respects with the welfare of the other States. She has yet barely commenced her development, and the benefits which, as the right honorable member for Swan has shown, have been conferred by her on the other States are merely a suggestion of what will probably take place in the future. She will undoubtedly be the means of creating much wealth, ,not only for the people there, but for the people of the whole of Australia, and I contend that before we pass legislation that would be very prejudicial to the interests and the status of that State these aspects of the question should be considered. A very strong case should be made out before the Government interfere with the means of communication that Western Australia enjoys, in common with the other States, with the outside world. Let us consider the question as it affects the Commonwealth as a whole. Isolated as we are, in these southern seas, we ought to be anxious to encourage by every means in our power communication with the outside world. I do not and have never believed in a Chinese policy of isolation. We have, to a large extent, to depend on the outside world, and shall have to do so for many years to come, to provide a market for our products, and as the source of a good deal of the material by which we shall develop the country. It would be almost suicidal to adopt a course that would have the effect of restricting, in some degree or another, that communication with the outside world which the people of the Commonwealth only a very few years ago were at so much pains to establish, and which we all are in theory, at least, endeavouring to do our utmost to develop. The whole matter of legislation in regard to shipping might very properly be allowed to remain in abeyance until the results of the investigation by the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill are before us. No great disaster would overtake even the Australian seamen during the short interval that would elapse, and in view of the fact that one of the strongest advocates of the submission of the Navigation Bill to the consideration of a Commission was a representative of the seamen - Senator Guthrie - I think the Government should not suffer any qualms of conscience in allowing the consideration of these matters to stand over until the fullest light has been thrown upon them. The people of the Commonwealth do not fully realize the importance of the Government proposals. The appeal made on behalf of the seamen has, on the face of it, much force. It is argued that the same measure of protection should be meted out to the seamen as we propose to give to workers engaged in industries carried on on shore. I have endeavoured to show that we can give .the seamen that degree of protection without dragging the mail steamers info the question, and shall await with a good deal of interest’ evidence showing that anything like unfair competition is created by the trade which the mail steamers carry on along the coast. I require not assertion, but fact and argument. Hitherto, although I have listened very carefully to the debate, I have had neither, and until I have had something far more definite in that respect than I have yet heard, I shall be obliged to oppose the Government proposals.
Mr. BRUCE SMITH (Parkes). - I should have liked to make some congratulatory and complimentary reference to the speech just delivered by the honorable member for Perth, if it .were not that any such preface to my remarks would be regarded as having some sinister and party motive. I can honestly say that I have agreed with almost every word that has been uttered by the last speaker: It is a long time since we have had two such broad-minded and cosmopolitan speeches as have been delivered to-night by the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable member for Perth.
– They happen to agree with the views of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and therefore they are broad-minded.
– Even the Prime Minister is not proof against the suspicion that an honorable member cannot express an honest and liberal sentiment in this House without having some sinister motive. The views I have uttered from time to time in this House have been, I think, broad-minded, liberal, and cosmopolitan enough to convince every honorable member that I seldom take a narrow view of any large question. The sincerity of my compliment is best proved from the fact that every one must acknowledge that the honorable member who has just sat down has advocated a broader view of Australian affairs, and a continuing encouragement of contact with the outside world, and the avoidance of anything in the shape of what he very properly calls Chinese legislation, all of which is quite consistent with the principles which I have advocated time after time. That is a sufficient evidence of the sincerity of my congratulation. I have no hesitation in saying that this is just on a par .with other Chinese legislation which we have had in this Chamber.
– Never mind China. What about Germany and America?
– It is sufficient to remind honorable members that, at least 3,000 years ago, the Chinese themselves were so satisfied with their racial supremacy, and their national qualities, that they wished, not only to have no commercial or social relationship with the outside world, but even to shut off all communication with it; and I think I have mentioned before in this chamber an interesting fact, which I will commend to honorable members opposite, that the same Chinese Emperor who built a stone wall round China, also burnt the whole of the libraries of China. We did hope that when this Parliament was constituted we should get a broader outlook than we had been accustomed to in the States.
– Free from these wretched labour men !
– Not “ free from these wretched labour men,” because it is a labour man to-night who has expressed the opinions with which I so heartily agree. But we did hope that, by bringing into one body the representatives of six States, extending over such an enormous territory, we should get an admixture of political opinions which would be broad and liberal, and which would recognise that when we made a law in this Chamber, it was adapted to the needs as well of the Gulf of Carpentaria as of the southern coast of Tasmania. Instead of that we have had a course of what the honorable member for Perth has properly and justly called Chinese legislation. We have built a wall of Customs House officers around this country, which is just as high and impregnable as the wall which the Chinese built around their country. And what has been the result? China has become effete, because the Chinese have shut themselves off from communication with the outside world, and it has served to make them one of the most conservative peoples in the world. This legislation is all on a par; and I think the honorable member for Perth supplied the touchstone when he reminded the Committee that we- are considering what is practically a fundamental principle of the Navigation Bill, whilst the Government themselves have referred that Bill to a Royal Commission, thus abandoning it indefinitely. They have, however, taken the spirit out of it.
– Not at all ; there are many other important provisions in the Navigation Bill.
– Of course, I know there are many other things in the Navigation Bill. There are, I believe, upwards of 150 clauses in it.
– There are 430 clauses.
– That does not affect my argument. I say that the spirit of that Bill is attempted to be inserted in this measure to which it is absolutely foreign. This is a Bill which is intended to provide a tribunal for settling industrial disputes occurring in the Commonwealth of Australia, and an attempt is made to drag in a number of people who are really outside the territorial limits allowed to us in the Merchant Shipping Act of England - the three-mile limit. It is an attempt to drag them in by a side wind, and by a means as subtle as that which was adopted by the right honorable member for Adelaide in regard to the seals upon the Customs stores of the ocean steamers. Honorable members know very well, and that right honorable member knew, that we could not legislate for the high seas; and, therefore, in order to get over the difficulty of jurisdiction which the territorial limits provided by the Merchant Shipping Act of England put in his way, he actually reduced his legislation to that farcical form of providing that vessels would be liable if they came info our ports with their seals broken. What is this Bill? I can see the handiwork of the right honorable member for Adelaide in these clauses ;, and I will challenge the Prime Minister to say that they were not prepared by him.
– That is a most unfair challenge, but I say that the statement is absolutely incorrect. It is an unfair thing for the honorable and learned member to insinuate.
Mi. BRUCE SMITH.- I accept the correction, but I am quite sure that the clauses are the work of a man who recognised that ‘ we could not legislate for these ships in a direct and open way, and who therefore seeks to legislate for them in a round-about and indirect way. How? By providing that no ship under these three clauses 79 d, e, and f, shall have certain privileges of trade with Australia unless they first bring themselves within the jurisdiction of the Arbitration Court by signing an agreement in black and white agreeing to its jurisdiction. That is the principle adopted here. This Bill is framed for the purpose of establishing a tribunal which is to settle industrial disputes between people in the Commonwealth. But, not satisfied with that effort, there is an attempt to apply those provisions to people outside the Commonwealth; and, just as it was proposed and afterwards enacted, in promotion of what was called the “ White Ocean “ policy, to deal with Customs matters outside terri torial limits, so this is an attempt by a country which is not satisfied with the threemile limit to legislate for ships outside that limit, by providing that they shall not be entitled to trade with Australian ports unless they first agree to come under the jurisdiction of this Arbitration Court.
– Does not the honorable and learned member think that that is better than prohibiting them altogether?
– I think that we have no business to interfere with these ships at all. If we cannot deal with the shipping companies in a direct and openhanded way it ill becomes us to attempt these underhand and circuitous methods of getting results which we are not entitled to get.
– What is underhand about them?
– What I have explained is underhand. If honorable members will look for a moment at the heading of these proposed amendments they will find that they are intended to deal exclusively with “ oversea ships engaged in the coasting trade.” How is it done? Clause 79D provides that -
Before any ship to which this Part of this Act applies engages in the coasting trade, her master shall enter into an agreement with the members of the crew in accordance with the form in Schedule C.
Then it goes on to provide in clause 79E that-
No owner, agent, or master of a ship to which this Part of this Act applies, shall suffer or permit the ship to engage in the coasting trade, unless there has been made and is subsisting an agreement between the .master and the members of the crew, in accordance with the form set out in Schedule C.
In clause 79F it is provided that -
The master of every ship to which this Part of th’is Act applies, shall, before his ship departs from Australia, satisfy the Collector of Customs at the ship’s final port of departure, that the members of the crew have been paid the wages prescribed by any award.
Then the next sub-clause provides that -
The Collector of Customs may refuse to grant a certificate of clearance to the master of any ship about to depart from Australia, until he has complied with this section.
Under the Merchant Shipping Act of Great Britain, the territorial limits are very clearly laid down for this and other purposes, principally to show the extent of the jurisdiction of British laws; and’ I will ask the Prime Minister to cite any case in British law in which ah attempt has been made by a circuitous and indirect method to impose
British law upon ships outside the threemiles limit.
– The Constitution contains a special provision which, goes’ beyond the Merchant Shipping Act.
– That does not touch my point.
– It does, if there is any point at all.
– The Prime Minister need not be impudent or offensive. I challenge him to cite a single case in which the British Parliament has ever passed a law which was to apply to any body or any property outside the threemiles limit.
– The honorable and learned member knows that British law applies to a British ship wherever she goes.
– The territorial limit is this - “ The territorial waters of Her Majesty’s dominions,” in reference to the sea, means such part of the sea adjacent to the coast of the United Kingdom, or the coasts of some other part of Her Majesty’s dominions, as is deemed by international law to be within the territorial sovereignty of Her Majesty; and for the purpose of any offence declared by this Act to be within the jurisdiction of the Admiral, any part of the open sea within one marine league of the coast measured from low-water mark, shall be deemed to be open sea, .within the territorial waters of Her Majesty’s dominions.
I say that the Act to which I have referred by which the right honorable member for Adelaide applied the Customs law of this country to ships outside the three-miles limit, was not applied in a direct way. It was done in an indirect way, not by punishing them for using dutiable goods without paying duty, but for coming into port with seals made of sealing-wax broken.
– The right honorable member for Adelaide said ‘ that that was good law, and the Privy Council has upheld his view.
– We had no jurisdiction , over such ships unless they came into an Australian port with the seals broken. It was an indirect way of dealing, with people for things that they had done while on the high seas.
– The right honorable member for Adelaide was quite within his rights .
– Was he within the spirit of the British Constitution, which limits the operation of British laws’ to within three miles of British possessions ?
– The right honorable gentleman is not here to defend himself.
– There is no question of defence; I- am talking of the Act as it existed. When we came to the question of the P. and 0. boats on another occasion, we dealt with them in the same way in regard to black labour in the stokeholds.
– Does the honorable and learned member” say that the British Parliament has never passed any law to operate outside the three-miles limit?
– That is so.
– Then what about the Act which was passed three years ago, dealing with trawlers in the North Sea?
– The British Parliament does not legislate for other interests outside the three-miles limit, otherwise it would break in upon international principles. This is another instance in which there has been an attempt to deal with the question indirectly. We have no jurisdiction over shipping outside the three-miles limit.
– But we have jurisdiction when shipping is taking in and discharging cargo in our ports.
– Of course we have; but we are not confining the jurisdiction to these vessels, while they are in our ports. This Bill attempts to govern, wages on ships when outside the usual jurisdiction of our Courts. I submit that the clauses before us have nothing whatever to do with the Bill, which is to establish a tribunal for the settlement of industrial disputes between citizens of the Australian Commonwealth. The clauses are absolutely foreign to this Bill, and should appear in an entirely different measure ; we ought not to attempt to control people outside the Commonwealth, for the reasons given by the Prime Minister this evening.
– Are not locally registered vessels sometimes outside the threemiles limit?
– Of course they are ; but they are our own steamers.
– And, therefore, according to the honorable and learned member, they should not be touched.
– There are two aspects of the measure in regard to which I think I have an advantage over the right honorable member for Swan. No one can’ twit me with having been a party to a Navigation Bill which contained similar
I clauses. I am not a protectionist, and, therefore, I am not inconsistent in declaiming against this measure as a piece of protection or prohibition.
– The honorable and learned member is perfectly consistent, I should say.
– I am perfectly consistent as a free-trader. I have another advantage over the right honorable member for Swan, in not being suspected of any particular attention to Western Australia. I speak from an Australian stand-point, as I have always endeavoured to do in addressing this House. Let us look for the moment at what the effect of this measure will be throughout Australia. Let us look at our previous attempts to deal with these great shipping lines. The late Government, pressed no doubt by the Labour Party, who then sat in the Opposition corner, endeavoured to force certain companies to acquiesce in the desire to man the whole of the stoke-holds with white labour instead of black. In order to attain that object, the indirect method was attempted of denying these shipping companies a continuation of the contract terms under which our mails are carried to England. But I think we have received a pretty dear intimation now of the failure of that policy, and that it ought to have an educational effect.
– The black labour question had nothing to do with that, so far as the Orient Company is concerned.
– Will the honorable member allow me ! I think we have haH a pretty good lesson which ought to have an educational effect on the people of Australia, and show them that the P. and O. and Orient Companies do not exist for this country alone. Rather than “ knuckle down,” so to speak, to the “ White Ocean “ policy of Australia, these companies declined to tender upon the old terms.
– Who says that?
– I say that these companies declined to tender.
– One of them did tender.
– Which one?
– The Orient Company.
– But at a price which, as the honorable the Prime Minister knows, the late Government would not accept.
– The alteration of price had nothing to do with the white labour question. I was told that by the manager of the company in Sydney.
– The Prime Minister has not a monopoly of knowledge of what is going on.
– But, unfortunately, that misrepresentation is frequently made.
– An attempt was made to lay down a sort of code of prices for the carriage of produce, but I think the action of those great shipping companies has taught a great many people that Australia is not the “hub of the universe,” so far as the companies named are concerned. It is not sufficient for us to say that we shall deny the shipping companies the mail contracts until they do just as we chose. The Prime Minister finds himself now in the position of having to go cap in hand practically, to the very same companies to see on what terms they will take up the work.
– Not at all.
– Looking at this question from an Australian point of view, we have to ask ourselves a question. I happen to know that the Orient and P. and O. companies have . spent £250,000 in fitting up vessels for the carriage of butter and other produce exported in a frozen condition from Australia. I should like to know - and this point has been suggested by the right honorable member for Swan, and the honorable member for Perth - what would be the effect upon the dairying industry of Victoria and New South Wales, if the producers suddenly found themselves deprived of this means of getting their produce to the old country. .There would be a howl from one end to the other of those two States. Yet, for reasons wholly insufficient, if not absolutely futile, we have before us legislation, which is a further attempt to alienate the support and assistance of those great companies in carrying on our trade with the old country. Have we not ocular demonstration of the fact that, whilst we are trying our best to handicap the shipping interests of the mother country, Germany, Japan, and France, are sending heavily subsidized steamers to our ports to compete for our trade?
– That is a reason why those subsidized ships should be brought within the Bill.
– That may be an argument against foreign steamers; but it is not intended to limit this measure to them.
– We shall,I hope, deal with foreign steamers separately on some other occasion.
– I want to show the far-reaching effect of this proposal. It includes British ships.
– It includes our own ships.
– We have no ocean-going ships.
– We shall have.
– Occasionally we have a chartered ship going from Australia, when, I suppose, the coal trade happens to be slack, and we have three or four vessels trading to India from our ports. This is a subject I know a little about, so I suppose the Prime Minister will not propose to teach me. But whilst we talk ‘from time to time about affording facilities to our farmers and squatters to get their produce to the markets of the old world, we endeavour to hamper the very companies upon which they depend. At the same time we know that the foreign ships which come here are not only not hampered, but are helped by big subsidies from the Governments of their own countries. What is going to be the effect ? Whilst a great company like the M essageries Maritime s are receiving hundreds of thousands of pounds every year to induce them to come here and compete with British steamers for our trade, we are not content to decline to subsidize British vessels - as we have been inclined to do lately because they do not carry white labour in their stokeholds - but we now propose to further handicap them by subjecting them to disadvantages which otherwise they would not suffer. Instead of showing a broad spirit, which recognises, as the two representatives from Western Australia have pointed out, the importance of our doing our utmost to encourage cheap freights and to better the opportunities to send produce to the old country, we are engaged in an attempt to practically put weights round the necks of British shipping companies, and to give the foreigner an advantage.
– How does this proposal give the foreigner any advantage?
– Because the foreign vessels which come here are heavily subsidized.
– But this Bill does not help him.
– I do not know whether the Prime Minister intends to talk sense, when he says that the foreigner is not helped by subsidies.
– But . this proposal does not help the foreigner.
– But the Bill places British ship-owners at a disadvantage. When two people are racing, and the load on one is lightened, the other is placed at a disadvantage.
– If there is any weight, though I do not believe there is, it is on both.
– The Prime Minister knows that the whole tendency of foreign countries, rightly or wrongly - as I think, wrongly - is to largely subsidize their lines of steamers in order to help them to compete with British ships ; and the more we impede the progress and success of British lines of . steamers the more heavily is their handicap as against foreign vessels. I know what the Prime Minister is aiming at ; what he says is that the law applies to both, and, therefore, no difference is made between them.
– Hear, hear.
– Butwe ought to recognise that British ships are now running at great and almost incalculable disadvantage, as compared with foreign steamers.
– That is what we have said in regard to a great many other industries.
– And the tendency on our part ought to be rather to help the British ships, though I do not say by means of subsidies.
– I will assist “the honorable and learned member to help British ships on another occasion.
– We ought to try to help them, not by means of subsidies, but by clearing away all impediments which interfere with free intercourse between Australia and the old country. What does Australia depend on, if modern expressions of opinion have any value ? Australia depends on her dairying, agricultural, and pastoral industries. Of what use are those industries, unless we obtain for the people of Australia the utmost facilities for getting their produce direct to England. We have the French, German, Japanese, and two other lines of steamers, only two of which go directly to England, while the others go to the Continent ; and the very companies which are of the greatest use to our own people, and which we ought to be helping, we are doing our best to handicap in the competition. I ask the Committee to look at this matter from an Empire stand-point.
Is it not recognised that one of the great links of the Empire is out enormous shipping? Was it not shown lately, in answer to Mr. Chamberlain, that the freights earned by British ships amounted to £80,000,000 per annum.
– The amount is £90,000,000, I think.
– Either figure will suit my purpose. Is it not to the advantage of the Empire that we should trade with one another, though I do not mean by artificial arrangement. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports smiles directly I utter a sentiment capable of .being twisted to his protectionist ideas. If the people of the old world and the mother country are prepared to take our produce, and we are prepared to send it, is that not to our advantage, and does it not help towards the consummation of that consolidation of the British Empire, which we all. profess to be aiming at? Are we going to try to offer inducements for reprisals from the old country, by handicapping British ships.’ because they happen, at the end of a long voyage, to come into competition, though not unfair competition, with our local steamers? Are we contributing to the consolidation of the Empire, or to the good-will of the British people towards Australia, when we thus single out those ships which have to trade in Australian ports, and which, calling at Ceylon, and passing through the Red ‘Sea and the Mediterranean, therefore find it to their advantage to use a different class of crew ?
– Are we not only carrying out the resolution passed by the Imperial Conference of 1902 ?
– I am not prepared to go into that matter now. If the honorable and learned member will speak upon it to-morrow, I shall be glad to listen to his remarks. That resolution has never been carried out.
– The Government are now trying to carry- it. out bv means of the Bill.
– No attempt has been made by the British Parliament to impose any restriction or embargo upon ships coming to England from British dominions or colonies, and if England has not attempted to handicap her colonists who desire to trade with her, it ill-becomes us, who are under such great obligations to her, to do anything of- the kind, merely to increase the glory ‘of the tribunal which the Government are trying to establish.
– The honorable and learned member refers to the action of England of recent years.
– I am speaking of the period within our lifetime.
Progress reported. -
Motion (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I desire to bring under the notice of the Prime Minister what I may call a crisis in connexion with the Naval Brigade of Victoria, in which the people of the State have for a long time past taken great pride. I am sorry to say that the tendency recently has been to effect retrenchment in that branch of the service to a far greater extent than in any other branch. Twelve years ago the members of the brigade received £13 each per annum; but the amount was reduced during the retrenchment period to £9 10s., and subsequently to £8 1 os., this further reduction being, to some extent, compensated for by a decrease in the number df hours. It is now proposed, under the new regulations which have been issued, to make them attend six consecutive days’ drill in the year.
– Seven whole days.
– Six consecutive days, and an extra day. About eighty men are interested, most of whom are married, and have families. I have their assurance that it is not unwillingness on their part to attend drill which has caused them to draw attention to the matter.
– Then they have communicated with the honorable member.
– Yes, as they have a perfect right to do. They have not given up their rights of citizenship, and are perfectly justified in making fair and straightforward representations.
– That is not the way to manage an army.
– These are citizen soldiers, who have the right to make representations.
– There is a proper way to do so.
– They have chosen one of the ways of doing so, and it is a perfectly legitimate one.
– A very irregular one.
– A perfectly straightforward one. It will not encourage our citizen soldiers to attempt to take from them their right to approach their parliamentary representatives. The men I spoke of have served Victoria for many years, and many of them volunteered for service in China. Although it used to be sung in the concert halls that their billets would be kept for them if they went to the war, it is notorious that neither the Government of Victoria, nor some private employers, subsequently redeemed the promise.
– The Victorian Government threw open a number of positions to returned soldiers. They were practically given a lien on the police force appointments.
– If the new regulations are insisted upon, these men will be compelled either to give up their employments, or to refuse. to re-enroll.
– I thought the honorable member said that they lost their employment by going to the war.
– That was some time ago. They have since obtained other positions. They are anxious to continue their naval service, but it is impossible for them to undertake to attend six consecutive days’ drill each, year unless they abandon their employments. Although the new regulations might, perhaps, be well applied to recruits, the men I speak of should receive some consideration for the years of service which they have given to the country. Not only are they asked to attend six consecutive days’ drill, but the number of their afternoon drills has been increased, and alterations have been made in regard to their pay. I feel confident that they would be prepared to submit to these new arrangements if they were not compelled to attend six consecutive days’ drill in the year.
– Do the employers, in patriotic Victoria, refuse to allow their men time to attend these drills?
– Yes. I have had the greatest difficulty in getting employers to consent to their men attending ordinary drill. These men tell me that they cannot expect to retain their positions if they absent themselves for a period of six consecutive days. In view of their services to the country, I suggest that the new regulations, while applying to recruits, should not be made to apply to them. We were promised, when the Naval Agreement was under consideration, that the Cerberus would be maintained. Now we are told that that vessel is to be put out of commission, because it is no longer of any use. That may be perfectly true, but if the Cerberus is to be dispensed with, I would strongly urge that the efficient and honorable arm of the service, to which I have referred, should be retained, and that the men should be met in the manner that I have indicated. “ I hope that the Prime Minister will give the matter his careful consideration.
– I desire to support the honorable member for Melbourne Ports. It appears to me that there is a desire to carry out the ideas expressed at the Imperial Conference, at which the honorable member for Swan was present.
– Is the honorable and learned member sure that I was present?
– The right honorable gentleman presented, to that Conference a memorandum, in the course of which he said-
These local forces, maintained under existing conditions, appear, therefore, to be of small value for naval defence.
Then he went on to recommend -
That the Permanent Naval Defence Forces now existing in Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland, be reduced in strength, and only a staff sufficient for the instruction of the naval militia on shore, be retained.
– That referred to the permanent forces, and not to the men who have been spoken of by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– The right honorable gentleman indicated by interjections, whilst, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was speaking; that he objected to the former members of the Naval Brigade bringing their case under the notice of that honorable member. I would point out, however, that the men no longer belong to the naval forces, because they have refused to re-enlist, and that they are civilians in a stricter sense than is even the right honorable gentleman, because, as I understand, he holds a military rank and title.
– I was not aware of it.
– This is one of the aftermaths of the Naval Agreement. Apparently the Australian Auxiliary Squadron ‘ is regarded as providing sufficiently for the outside defence of the Commonwealth, and it is consequently considered unnecessary to maintain our local naval forces. Some time ago I made reference to the fact that the Colonial Defence Committee recommended the abolition of the volunteer forces of the Commonwealth, and I can now point to the new regulations which, if enforced, would have the effect of stamping out our naval forces. Unless the Prime Minister takes steps to see that the naval men are required to give up only the same time as are our militia forces, namely, four days instead of six days, at Easter time, the whole of our naval brigades will be disbanded.
– I hope not.
– The Minister for Trade and Customs asked the honorable member for Melbourne Ports whether the employers of Victoria were so lacking in patriotism that they would not permit their employes to absent themselves from work for the extra two days required under the regulation. I do not think it would be reasonable to expect employers to keep all their hands idle for six days in order to allow a certain proportion of the men to undergo extra military or naval training. It is only right that the men should be subjected to training, during the customary four days’ holiday at Easter ; but, beyond that, nothing could reasonably be demanded from their private employers.
– I have never heard any objection in my State to ten or fourteen days being granted.
– I. am glad to hear that the employers in Queensland can spare their men for such a long period, and that the men can afford to take such extended leave. My own feeling, however, is that it is unreasonable to ask men to go into camp for more than four days at a time. I hope that ordinary business considerations will operate in the mind of the Minister in dealing with this matter, and that men, who are patriotic enough to serve their country by submitting themselves to naval training, will not be called upon to sacrifice their families and their means of livelihood. There is another question to which I wish to direct attention ; namely, the demands now being made ‘upon the stokers. It is actually proposed that these men, who provide a very necessary and only recently organized reserve in the engine-room, should spend a certain portion of their time, not on board the vessels, but in undergoing marine and battalion drill. These men are not, under any circumstances, supposed to act as a fighting reserve in the same way as the ordinary members of the Naval Bri gade, and I would inform the Prime Minister that’ their kits have been withdrawn for two months, and will not be taken out again unless the regulations are altered.
– Are the men going to rule the service?
– No ; but they do not intend to sacrifice their civil employment and their family life for the sake of serving in the Naval Brigade. They are not men of leisure like the right honorable member for Swan, and they cannot comply with the proposed new conditions. However much they may desire to continue their connexion with the Naval Brigade, they will be compelled to withdraw unless some alteration is made. I am sure that the Government have every ‘desire to encourage our citizen soldiers, and I trust that they will not allow the recommendations of the Imperial Conference to be rolled like a Juggernaut car over everything in connexion with our local defences, and to crush out that spirit which we desire to see evinced in connexion with our Citizen Forces.
.This matter has already engaged the attention of the Minister of Defence, who, in view of a report which has been presented to him by Captain Tickell, has asked Captain Creswell, the Naval Commandant, to report to him generally upon the representations made on behalf of the men. I think that every honorable member must sympathize with the remarks made on behalf of the men with respect to the days available for training, and must agree that we cannot expect militiamen, who receive only a small retaining-fee every year, to Jose their employment for the sake of serving in our forces. Therefore, whatever re-arrangement can be made in order to meet the reasonable demands of the men, should be, and no doubt will be, made by the Minister. .
– The matter should be attended to soon, or we shall lose a number of good men.
– The regulation to which reference has been made was framed on the recommendation of three very competent officers, namely, Captain Creswell, Captain Tickell, and Captain Colquhoun, who, it was thought, would have some knowledge of local conditions. It appears, however, that the conditions hitherto obtaining in Victoria differ from those in the other States.
– It .is the old trouble. Uniformity cannot be secured without making changes to which some people object.
– The object of these naval officers was, I think, a very proper one, namely, to insure that the training of the Naval Brigades should be carried out, as far as possible, at sea, instead of on shore. A sort of horse-marine system has been followed in connexion with some of the Naval Brigades. In New South Wales w,e had nominally a Naval Brigade, but practically a force which learnt nothing from its drill beyond what was imparted to the. ordinary infantry militia-man. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports referred to a promise which was made by the first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton, that he would retain the Cerberus. I am quite willing to see that vessel retained for a sufficient number of days to allow us to secure a better vessel, but for no longer. However, this matter is under the consideration, of the Minister of Defence at the present time. He informed rae to that effect this morning. He has asked Captain Creswell to furnish him with a report upon the matter. I have no doubt that, so far as the distribution of drills and the days of training are concerned, something can be done to meet the reasonable wishes of those interested.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 12 July 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040712_reps_2_20/>.