2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. HUME COOK presented a petition from John Robertson, M.A., of Moonee Ponds.
– Yesterday I asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
What definition is placed by the Government on the words “within the limitsof his class or grade” in section 20 (1) of the Commonwealth Public Service Act, and what is the “ class or grade” referred to?
The reply given to that question and to one which immediately followed it was -
The Government cannot undertake to advise the honorable member on questions of law.
I now ask the Minister whether this is a question of law. It seems to me to be merely one of fact. I desire to know what construction is placed’ upon the phrase by the Public Service Commissioner “ within the limits of his class or grade,” and what is the class orgrade referred to?
– In reply to the right honorable gentleman I may say that I consider, and the Government consider, that the construction to be placed upon the words quoted from the Public Service Act is a question of law.
– Then I understand that the Minister refuses to give the information I desire.
– Surely the AttorneyGeneral, will answer questions of law with regard to which honorable members desire information.
– It has never been done.
– Oh yes it has, frequently.
– On the same occasion I asked -
Is the opinion of the Public Service Cornsooner that” Section 20 is an overriding enactment and is paramount to section 21 (6) and section 25 “ the opinion of the Law officers of the Crown ; and, if not, will the Minister obtain and place such opinion on the table?
That is a simple question that could be answered by merely saying “yes” or “no.” The reply I received was that the Minister could not answer a question of law. I now desire to know whether the Minister will answer the simple question whether the opinion given by the Public Service Commissioner was or was not given after consulting the Law officers?
– My reply is that the right honorable gentleman is not entitled to know the opinion of the Law officers of the Crown upon a question of law.’
– I desire to know whether the opinion indicated was given after consulting the Law officers of the Crown?
– If I answered that question, I should convey to the honorable member the opinion of the Law officers, and I should be giving him information to which he is not entitled.
– Yesterday I asked the Minister of Home Affairs -
Does the Government consider that£36 a year is a living wage for adult persons with several years’ service in charge of post-offices, who have to keep official hours?
The reply was -
No ; where the whole time of an official is occupied during ordinary office hours.
I now desire to know whether, in the event of an officer in charge of a post-office attending regularly and staying there during the whole of the ordinary office hours - even though the work may be insufficient to keep him energetically employed for the whole time - the Minister considers that £36 per annum is a sufficient remuneration?
– If an officer is required to remain in charge of a post-office during the whole period covered by the ordinary office hours, I do not think, nor do the Government think, that£36 per annum is a sufficient salary.
SirJOHN FORREST.- I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he will institute inquiries as to the number of adult persons in charge of post-offices throughout the Commonwealth who attend during the prescribed office hours, and who receive only £36 a year? Seeing that he does not approve of that rate of payment, will he use his influence to secure an alteration of it?
– I shall be glad to make inquiries, and if the inferences which are to be drawn from the question of the right honorable member are borne out by facts, the Government will certainly use what influence they possess to secure to the officers in question the payment of a living wage.
– Without comment as to the rights or wrongs of the matter, I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether the Government have considered that their proposal to create a Council of Defence might be held to be an infringement of the functions of this Parliament?
– All that the Government have so far done is to express the belief that the position of General Officer Commanding should be abolished, and that the position of Inspector-General of the P’orces should be created. We have not yet arrived at a decision as to the precise form that any advisory council or committee should take. A Council of Advice is provided for in the Defence Act, but we have not yet decided whether we shall follow that form exactly or propose some modification in the shape of a body upon the lines of the Army Council now in existence in England. The consideration of that matter will occupy some little time. The more urgent matter to be considered was the attitude of the Government, and tentatively, of course, the attitude of Parliament, to the position of the General Officer Commanding. I think that even an alteration in the position of the General Officer Commanding will involve an amendment of the existing law, and of course nothing of a binding character will be done by the Government until Parliament has been consulted.
– I desire again to ask the Postmaster-General what would have been the additional amount credited to the revenue of South Australia had the messages transmitted by the Pacific Cable between the months of June, 1903, and April, 1904, inclusive of both months, been sent via South Australia?
– In reply to the honorable member I may say that assuming that the whole of the messages, except those of Western Australia which would not have been sent via South Australia, including the new business with America, Canada, &c, caused by the lower rates by the Pacific Cable, would have been sent via South Australia, the additional amount which would have been credited to the re venue of South Australia for the period from 1st June, 1903, to 31st May, 1904, would have been , £7,6521s.11d.
– That is very different from £3 is. 4d.
– The question, is also different from that formerly asked by the honorable member.
– I desire to direct the attention of the Minister of Home Affairs to a paragraph in the report of the proceedings of the South Australian House of Assembly yesterday published in this morning’s Age, which reads as follows : -
In reply to a question whether the Government intended to introduce a Bill to enable the Federal Government to construct the Western Australian railway, the Chief Secretary said the Government did not intend to ask the House to consider the matter until the survey proposed by the Federal Government had been made and a report on the probable cost obtained.
I wish to ask the Minister whether, in view of that statement, the Government are prepared to take steps to supply the South Australian Government with the information they require?
– The Government have already taken preliminary steps in the matter. A message from His Excellency the Governor-General has been transmitted to this House, recommending that an appropriation be made to defray the cost of the proposed survey. As soon as the House agrees to that resolution, the matter will be proceeded with.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral whether any railway stationmasters in New South Wales are performing the duties of postmasters, and whether they are being paid for such services by the Federal Government? If not, will the Minister make inquiries, with a view to arranging that they shall receive adequate remuneration ?
– I am under the impression that some allowance is made to the Railway Commissioners by the Federal Government j I shall endeavour to obtain further particulars for the honorable and learned member, if he will place his question on the notice-paper for to-morrow.
– A statement appears in this morning’s newspapers to the effect that Brigadier-General Finn is to be reappointed at the expiration of his present term of “office, which concludes shortly. I should like to know whether the Government have resolved upon this course in consequence of the opinion expressed by Major-General Hutton in his last annual report, as follows : -
After twelve years’ experience I am strongly of opinion that Australian officers, unaided by assistance from the Imperial Army, whether as Commandants or as members of an Army Council, would find it most difficult, if not impossible, to enforce the requisite discipline in face of local political pressure and personal influence.
– In the first place, there is no authority for the statement with regard to General Finn having been approached. In common with other members of the Government, I entertain the very highest appreciation of that officer’s qualifications; but the question of his reappointment has not yet been considered by the Government. Neither I nor my colleagues agree with the opinion expressed by Majo -General Hutton as to the unsuitability of Australian officers. I believe that if we get the right man, whether he be an Australian or an Imperial officer, he will be able to maintain discipline.
– I desire to withdraw the following questions standing in my name upon the business-paper, which are addressed to the Minister of Trade and Customs : -
Since I gave notice of these questions, the Customs Department has supplied me with some of the information desired, and has promised to furnish me with the remainder as soon as possible.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether he will have inquiry made into the question of Tick Fever, with a view of offering some suitable reward for an effective remedy ?
– The State Premiers will be communicated with, with a view to ascertaining what measures are now being adopted in this connexion.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s questions is as follows : -
A communication was made by the Prime Minister to the press on the 3rd June last, on this subject, which has probably escaped the honorable member’s attention. It was in the following terms : - “ As the result of correspondence which has passed between the British and German Governments with respect to the undertaking understood to have been given by the German Consul - General in Sydney, to the then Commonwealth
Prime Minister for the return of the prohibited immigrant Stelling, we are advised by the Prime Minister that it is now explained that the German Consul-General did not intend to offer his personal guarantee, and it is agreed that all future communications of this character shall be explicit. The matter having now been satisfactorily explained, the future relationship between the Commonwealth Government and the German Consul-General in Sydney will assume the same cordial character which has, so far, marked all negotiations between the Commonwealth Government and foreign Consular Officers resident m Australia.”
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
Why has the work performed in the Victorian Postal Service by some of the women been classified “general,” when in other States, where men do the same work, it still retains its “ clerical “ status ?
– The Public Service Commissioner informs me that he is unaware of. any case where this has been done.
In Committee :
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to provide for the acceptance of British New Guinea as a territory under the control of the Commonwealth, and for the government thereof.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in the Bill.
Bill presented by Mr. Hughes, and read a first time.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 12th July, vide page 3126):
Proposed new clause 79A -
This Part of this Act shall come into opera tion on a day to be fixed by Proclamation, not being less than six months after the commencement of this Act.
– I desire to make a few remarks by way of personal explanation. On 6th July, in speaking upon one of the clauses of this Bill, the honorable member for Riverina said -
Will the honorable member for Wentworth tell me that the shearers, mechanics, and engineers form the only industrial organizations? There are other industrial unions in existence. What about the Pastoralists’ Union; and what about their funds? Do they not use their funds for political purposes, and do they not make special levies for political purposes?
At that stage I interjected “ I never heard of it,” whereupon the honorable member proceeded -
The honorable member has never been a member for Riverina or he would have heard of it. If the honorable member has never heard that there is a fund in connexion with the Pastoralists’ Association which is used for political purposes, I can only wonder where he has been during the last ten years.
I may mention for the information of the honorable member for Riverina and of the Committee generally, that during a large portion of the past ten years I was a member of the council of the Pastoralists’ Association. During the whole of that time I never knew of any of the funds of that organization being used for political purposes, I never knew of any levies being made for such a purpose, and I never even heard the matter discussed. During the past two or three years I have not been a member of the council, though I am still a member of the association. Consequently, before directly contradicting the statement of the honorable member for Riverina, I thought it would be wise for me to fortify myself with the latest information upon the subject. With this object in view. I consulted the acting-secretary of the Pastoralists’ Association of Victoria and Southern Riverina, and asked him to write me a reply to the statements made by the honorable member for Riverina. That reply reads as follows: -
Melbourne, 12th July, 1904.
Dear Sir, - With reference to Mr. Chanter’s statement in Hansard which you showed me, I beg to inform you that the Pastoralists’ Association has no funds for political purposes, that it has never made a special levy for political purposes, and that not a penny of its funds has ever been given for political purposes.
That is the reply of the secretary of an association whose operations extend as far north as the Mumimbidgee. But, in order to make quite sure of the real position of affairs in regard to the whole of New South Wales, I obtained the following information by telegram from the secretary of the Pastoralists’ Association in Sydney : -
Chanter’s statement that the Pastoralists’ Association has a fund for political purposes, and makes special levies for political purposes, is absolutely without foundation so far as Pastoralists’ Union of New South Wales concerned. (Sgd.) John Mair, Secretary.
I think it is necessary for me to make this correction.
– In looking through the Hansard proofs of my speech last night, I find that, whilst I was addressing the Committee, the Prime Minister made an observation - which I did not notice at the time - to the effect that I had expressed a desire to get rid of the Labour Party. I do not wish it to be supposed that I desired to avoid replying to the statement which he then made. I have no recollection of having made the statement in question, but if I did make it, what I meant was, that so long as the Labour Party comes into this House professing to represent one class of the community, and not all the community, I shall do my utmost to get rid of it as a party. When I am satisfied that the Labour Party are advocating a policy of democracy which covers the interests of the people of the whole of Australia, I shall be as willing as is any honorable member to deal with it as I should deal with any other party - as a body with which I may, or may not, differ upon a particular measure. I do not wish the Committee to suppose that I desire to ignore any statement which I may have made, either at election time or at any other period. Nevertheless, I wish honorable members to understand the sense in which I used l.he expression that has been referred to. Last night, in a very thin House, I had an opportunity of urging a number of objections to the clauses which are now before the Committee. I urged those objections upon many grounds, and I do not intend to recapitulate them todayI pointed out that, whether these clauses are regarded from the point of view of the Commonwealth as a whole, or of the States individually, or of their effect upon Empire interests, they are pregnant with danger to every one of ‘ those interests. At this stage I should like to emphasize what I regard as inconsistency on the part of the Government in endeavouring to include these clauses in an Arbitration Bill. We all know that the Navigation BUI, which was framed by the right honorable member for Adelaide/was drafted with a view to dealing with ocean-going steamers. I think I am right in saying that the primary purpose of that measure was to prevent what some people regarded as undue competition between ocean-going steamers and the coasting steamers of Australia. I submit that these clauses embody the essence of that Bill. In declining to proceed with the Navigation Bill, by referring it to a Royal Commission, for the purpose of ascertain ing what a body of specialists think of it, and at the same time embodying the essence or spirit of that Bill in this measure, the Government are pursuing an inconsistent policy. I am very glad to know that the honorable member for Franklin has given notice of a motion for to-morrow in .favour of referring these clauses to the Navigation Bill Commisson, in order that they may be considered side by side with the Bill which was submitted to Parliament by the late Government.
– It was not submitted to the House by the last Government.
– It was prepared by the right honorable member for Adelaide, a member of the late Ministry.
– I cannot ‘ speak positively on the point, but I do not think that it was.
– I think it is generally admitted that that Bill was prepared by the right honorable member for Adelaide, and that it was a bone of contention in the last Cabinet whether some of its clauses should or should not be included in the very measure which we have now before us. Whether that is true or not, my point is an equally sound one - that if the Government is not prepared to deal with the Navigation Bill, which has for its primarypurpose the regulation of the competition between ocean-going, steamers and those of the Australian coasting trade, it should not anticipate the findings of the Commission by asking us .to embody these clauses in a Bill to which they are absolutely foreign. I look upon these clauses as being in the nature of a legislative boomerang. I use that figure of speech because, in my opinion, the effect of these clauses, if embodied in this Bill, would be most disastrous to those who threw them into it. I am perfectly satisfied that if this Committee, by reason of the tendency’ to look merely at the surface of things, and to have regard only to the immediate effects of a measure, were to pass these provisions, the effect upon the producing interests of the whole of the States would be disastrous; the results would come back upon the farming and agricultural and dairying classes of Australia in a way that would cause curses instead of blessings to be showered on those who passed them. It may seem a very vague sort of consideration for honorable members of a practical House of Parliament to have in mind ; but every member of this House, representing the Commonwealth of Australia, should ever be prepared to put on his Imperial spectacles and to see if not first, at least last, how a measure of this kind is going to affect the consolidation of the Empire. Who can doubt for a moment that these clauses would constitute a check upon that consolidation ? We cannot shut our eyes to- the effect which a great deal of the legislation passed by us during the last three years has had upon the feelings of the British people, andi upon the minds of European peoples, as the work of an integral part of the British Empire. We are not satisfied to so exercise our rights as a Legislature over those whose interests come within our boundaries as to’ exercise an influence outside the territorial limits of Australia. We are adopting, as I contended last night, an indirect method of legislation which not only affects these interests while they are within our territory, but which has an injurious bearing upon them when they leave that territory and go out upon the high seas of the globe. Can any one who looks beyond his own country have any doubt as to the effect which this legislation will have upon the spirit and the feeling of brotherhood which we are. supposed to engender between ourselves and the people of Great Britain ? Who can doubt for a moment that the effect of our endeavouring to exercise jurisdiction, with regard to our laws, upon British ships, when they are upon the high seas, will be to cause suggestions to be made for reprisals upon Australian vessels when they reach England?
– Where do the Australian ships exist?
– I can only tell the honorable member that the firm of Archibald Currie & Co., of Melbourne, has a line of steamers which carry horses to India, and frequently go to Great Britain.
– How many vessels are there in that fleet?
– That does not touch my point. I am speaking of the spirit of brotherhood we are supposed to foster. We already have a line of steamers that carry Australian produce, in the shape of horses, to India, and go to England for cargo, and although they may number only three or four, we may surely anticipate that if we are to grow, as we are told we shall, in the same way as have the United States, we shall have, by-and-by,” a large shipping of our own.
– The very object of this Bill is to create an Australian shipping.
– That is so. As was pointed out very ably last night by the right honorable member for Swan, this is an attempt to protect Australian shipping. That being so, I think it is intended to foster and encourage the growth of Australian shipping, so that in the future we may have large fleets of steamers of our own.
– Why not?
– The honorable member will see that the principle is exact.lv the same ; that the tendency of ‘ this Legislature, which is not content to exercise its legislative powers within Australian territory, but seeks to do something that will throw an expenditure and an obligation upon ocean-going steamers, even when they are outside our territory, is calculated to lead to reprisals on the partof the people of Great Britain, and so create a kind of wedge to drive us apart, instead of bringing us together as preferential traders desirous of being united. I pointed out last night, and shall not now dwell upon the matter, the anomalous character of a policy by which, while foreign ships are given general opportunities, and have subsidies to help them to compete with our own ocean-going steamers for Australian trade, we not only abstain from giving equally substantial subsidies to British steamers, but actual^ seek to handicap them in the race, and so make their chances of success Jess than they were before. The Prime Minister last night seemed to recognise nothing more in these provisions than a proposal to legislate for foreign and British shipping alike. Surely the Government know that the moment that it is pointed out that this legislation is calculated to reduce the profits of foreign steamers the owners of those vessels will have no difficulty in inducing their respective Governments to increase their subsidies, and so place them once more at a great advantage over Australian and British steamers? I submit that this proposal is not only not Imperial, but is antiImperial. Instead of being a proposal to give a preference to the motherland by establishing trade between us, it is practically an attempt to hamper the shipping industry of the British Empire in favour of the foreignowned steamers, which many people desire to see coming here much less frequently than they do. I should like to say a word or two with regard to the dependence of Australia and Australian industries upon these steamers. I do not know how many honorable members are familiar with the network of steam-ship communication with other parts of the world which Australia enjoys. I happen to know that, as the right honorable member for Swan pointed out last night, the whole of the western coast of Western Australia, apart from the service which is rendered by the local coasting steamers, depends upon, a fleet of vessels trading between Australia and Singapore, and nown as the Holt Line. The vessels of that line call at a number of ports on the west coast of Western Australia.
– About a dozen.
– I think that the right honorable member will bear out my statement that many of these ports in Western Australia are wholly dependent upon this line of steamers for their means of communication with the outside world.
– Almost wholly dependent.
– I shall say “ almost wholly dependent,” because I believe an occasional transport may call there.
– A subsidized vessel calls now and again at those ports.
– We are apt to neglect to put on our Commonwealth spectacles and our Imperial spectacles, and to forget that here in the south of Australia we are making laws for the people of Port Darwin, for the people on the west coast of Western Australia, and also for those living in the southern part of Tasmania. It is well known that Port Darwin, on the northern side of South Australia, is wholly dependent upon ocean-going lines of steamers. I think the vessels of the British India Company call there, as well as those of the E. and A. Company, trading between Sydney, China, and Japan; the China Navigation Company, the Holt Line, and the Japanese line. It is a port which very few honorable members have seen, and with the circumstances of which very few are familiar. We are legislating for that port, which is one of the most northerly in Australia, and we are proposing to jeopardize the means of communication that it enjoys. We have to consider what is likely to be the effect upon those means of communication, and, therefore, upon its industrial welfare, of any step that we may take in this direction. Turn to Queensland, and what do we find? We find that the people of that State, including residents of Thursday Island, have been entirely dependent for their best form of communication upon the vessels of the companies I have named - ocean-going steamers not owned in Australia. What is the position in New South Wales and Victoria ? We find that the agricultural and dairying industries of Victoria and New South Wales so far depend upon the facilities offered by the best-known lines of steamers coming to these ports - those of the Orient Company and the P. and O. Company - that the Government of Victoria has actually entered into a contract with those companies to secure the lowest possible freights for the conveyance of dairy produce to England. Is it not an anomalous state of things that, whilst a State Government is pinning two companies down to a schedule of. freights under existing conditions, in order to benefit the people of the State, the Federal Parliament is passing a measure to handicap those companies ? We are contradicting one another. The P. and O. and Orient companies might very well say to the people of this State : “ The Government of Victoria have just bound us down to certain rates of freight. You have empowered that Government to enter into a contract with us, so that upon co-operative principles you may secure cheaper and better freights for your produce. But at the same time your Federal Parliament, sitting in Melbourne, is passing a law to put a weight around our necks.” I know as a fact that those companies, because of the regularity and importance to them of the exportation of dairy produce from New South Wales and Victoria, have spent ^250,000 in fitting up their ships with freezing apparatus and refrigerated space for the accommodation of the traffic. Surely neither of those States can look with indifference at the possible effect of the legislation now proposed. With that effect I shall deal in a moment. Turning to Tasmania, what do we find ? Any one who has read today’s Argus will have seen in it an article upon the apple trade, which is published very appositely for this debate. It is a communication from the consignees in London of the fruit produce of Tasmania and other States, and sets forth what is requisite to put the producers of these States on the best footing in the English market. We know that in the view of the Tasmanian orchardists, regularity, reliability, and ex- pedition in the movements of the English steamers are essential to the success of their industry, and no honorable member who takes the slightest interest in the State which he represents can with indifference give his assent to the placing of the proposed clauses in the statute-book, unless he is lacking in a sense of duty to that State. Although the communication to which I have referred relates chiefly to Tasmania, it will give honorable members an idea of the value of the lines of steamers which we are fortunate enough to have coming to our shores in giving us the best results from the exportation of our produce. Lately, in consequence of bad seasons and bad laws, our population has decreased very considerably, and the last Prime Minister, with his colleagues, set himself to discover how it could be increased by encouraging immigration from other parts of the world. The first and only thought of those gentlemen seemed to be that we must put our population upon the land and make it produce something; that it ‘must be employed in agriculture and dairying, or in pastoral pursuits. But in order that men may be successful when on the land, we must supply them with a conduit pipe by which their produce can be carried to the markets of the world. Who are the best authorities upon the requirements of an export trade for the benefit of the people of Australia? Surely those who receive our produce in the world’s centres, and place it before the retailers. The writer of the article to which I have le erred, commenting upon the trade and the .circumstances which regulate ils success or non-success, ‘notes the opinion of one of the largest dealers in London, who contends that if 300,000 cases of the better apples were shipped so as to arrive at regular weekly intervals in boats which would carry the fruit well, excellent prices would be obtained all through the season. I commend that statement to the representatives of Tasmania. The writer of the article continues -
Several times this year we have had three or four apple steamers arriving together, and next week no fewer than five boats, with over 100,000 cases on them, will come in almost simultaneously. This is more than any market can stand, mid in future some steps ought to be taken to ensure the regular arrival of the fruit. If the carriage of apples could be confined to the mail steamers and a few of the boats which have proved their capability as fruit-carriers, it would be well, for some of the outside boats have been very unsatisfactory this season. Apparently the only idea of the Tasmanian shippers has been to export as many cases of apples as could possibly be got rid of, quite regardless of the suitability or the reverse of the steamers employed to carry the fruit. In one instance, it may be remembered, 4,000 cases were sent as ordinary cargo, with disastrous results.
Those statements directly illustrate the needs of Tasmania. But although those needs are well and truly supplied by the two great companies whose steamers go out of their regular track to call at Hobart to collect- the fruit exported from that State, the article states the requirements of British markets for all forms of our produce. It is quite true that such a commodity as wool may arrive in a market at any time; but with regard to the exportation of commodities such as butter, cheese, frozen meat, and fruit, time is the essence of success. Therefore we have it as a premise for the consideration of these clauses that the first need of Australia in order that men may be successful upon our land, and that thus our population may be increased so as to emulate in some way the great success of the United States as a natio , is a good, complete, regular, invariable, and dependable means of communication between Australia and the markets of the world. We have such means of communication to a great extent at the present time. No one who knows anything about the conveniences which are offered to the people of Australia for the shipment of what may be called perishable produce can doubt that the trade under present circumstances stands upon as perfect a footing as any trade in the world. If there is any deficiency at all, it is in the want of method on the part of the producer to adapt himself to the requirements of his markets. So far as the means of communication are concerned, whether for speed, regularity, or reliability, we have in Australia one of the best services in the world.
– Apples cannot be stacked away like wheat. The season has a great deal to do with the quantity exported.
– No doubt ; but I do not propose to discuss meteorological conditions now, since they do not affect the question upon which I am speaking. The effect of the proposed clause will be to jeopardize this means of communication, k great deal is to be gained from history and experience, notwithstanding what some of the original thinkers in our political life may say. We have had some sort of suggestion, in connexion with the late attempts to renew the mail contracts, as to how the two great companies upon which the producers of Australia largely depend would look upon any further aggression on the part of this Parliament. We all know that there was an intention tq compel them to adopt white labour instead of black, not merely within Australian waters, but upon the ocean. It was not thought sufficient to say, “ When your vessels come within three miles of the Australian coast, they must have white firemen in their stoke -holds.” To do that would be to repeat a story told of the directors of the Bank ‘ of England. When moustaches were not considered quite regular in English society, being looked upon as somewhat Bohemian and foreign, the directors of the Bank of England wished to prevent their officers from, indulging in the fashionable departure. They discussed the matter amongst themselves very seriously, but it was pointed out that any regulation affecting their officers’ personal appearance would interfere with their liberty outside banking hours. One ingenious gentleman, however, said, “ I will frame a regulation which will get over the difficulty,” and he framed a regulation to this effect : - “ Officers of the bank are not allowed to wear moustaches during business hours.” That is the sort of rule we are trying to enforce. We have no right to interfere with ships when they are beyond the three-mile limit, but we are trying to impose upon them when within the three-mile limit a rule of conduct which, as in the case of the bank officials, would compel them to adopt the same rule of conduct outside the three-mile limit. Taking the P. and O. Company as an illustration of the position of several lines of steam-ships which run to Australia, it must be recognised that the Australian trade absorbs only part of their energies. With a company having perhaps fifty steamers busily engaged in the eastern and western world, the vessels coming to Australia are only a small proportion of the fleet. But every practical man. who has had anything to do with commerce and industry must be aware that if such a company were compelled to pay higher wages to the sailors employed on their vessels trading to Australia than were paid upon their other vessels, a demand for similar wages would soon be made throughout their fleet, and if it were not complied with, discontent and insubordination, which would to some extent demoralize the whole business of the company, would naturally follow.
Every company upon which Australia is now dependent, whether it be the P. and O. Company, the Orient Company, the Nord Deutscher Lloyd, the Messageries Maritimes, the Nippon Yuson Kaisha, the E. and A. Company, or the China Navigation Company, conducts a great proportion of its business in parts of the world other than Australia. Therefore, in order that these increased wages may be paid within the three-mile limit, because some people desire it - and there are only 1,500 sailors employed in the whole of the coasting trade in Australia-
– More than 20,000 are fi ff Get s d
– I am prepared to adopt the honorable member’s figures; but, at ‘ present, I am speaking of the sailors actually engaged in the Australian coasting trade. It is not proposed to give these 1,500 men higher wages, but to afford them the satisfaction which they may derive from the knowledge that the men engaged on oversea ships are receiving the same wages as themselves.
– And to prevent their wages from being reduced to the standard adopted on the foreign vessels.
– Why have they not been reduced already?
– I think I know something of the shipping trade of Australia.
– Not so much as does the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
– No, I do not, because the honorable member is omniscient. I should like to show the honorable member that, so far from any attempt having been made to reduce the wages of the local seamen to the standard which he says is observed by the ocean companies, during the last twentyfive years the wages paid upon foreigngoing steamers has never been considered as a factor in any arrangement as to wages between the ship-owners and the seamen.
– That is no longer true.
– I am speaking of a time when the Minister was practically in knickerbockers. I ‘ was for many years actively engaged in the shipping business, and I have observed it closely ever since. I say that the consideration referred to has never been a factor in the disputes between the Australian ship-owners and their sailors.-
– It is now.
– Suppose it is. If my premise is right, that these great ocean-going companies are devoting only a small share of their attention to the Australian trade, we are proposing to call upon them to regulate their ramifications in every part of the world, in order to give some satisfaction to 1,500 sailors employed upon our coast, and in order to secure those sailors against a possible reduction of their wages to the standard adopted by these companies. I say that the end is abso’lutely microscopic, compared with the enormous issues involved, and the serious consequences which will be entailed on the people of Australia. Every honorable member who represents an agricultural, pastoral, or dairying district, will approve of these clauses at his own risk. Although he may not be far-seeing enough to recognise the ultimate effect they will have on the people he represents, he will live to receive their curses instead of their blessings. I caution every honorable member not to look at this subject too superficially, but to follow the proposal to its end. If we once’ recognise that by compelling these great companies to increase the wages of their sailors in one part of the world called Australia we shall affect their operations in other parts of the world, we shall be in a position to ask ourselves the question, “ What is likely to be the course adopted by the companies towards Australia?” We must not forget that we are dependent on these companies, which have been long established, and which have been encouraged year by year as our trade has grown to deal more liberally with us, and to afford us a regular means of communication. We must also recognise that the Australian trade represents only a small proportion of that which is transacted by the fleets belonging to the companies. We must not overlook the far-reaching effects of compelling the companies to raise their wages in Austraiian waters, and, necessarily, in all other waters through which they, have to pass in coming to Australia. It is only by bearing these facts in mind that we shall be in a position to consider how far the action which will be forced upon them by our legislation will be likely to affect Australia. We have some light to guide us in this matter. When the P. and O. and Orient companies were required to employ white labour instead of black labour in their stokeholds’ only, they refused to continue to carry the mails upon the old terms. Al though the late Postmaster-General appeared to be quite glad of the opportunity to adopt the poundage system, his want of sincerity was shown by the fact that the present Government are now approaching the mail . companies again in order to see if they cannot obtain better terms from them.
– We are not approaching those particular companies; we are calling for tenders.
– Exactly. The Prime Minister must give me credit for knowing what is meant by calling for tenders. Not only are the former contracting companies invited to tender, but the whole world is asked to do so. The whole world was invited during the last twelve months, with the result that the late PostmasterGeneral did not receive a single tender which he, in the interests of Australia, thought fit to accept. Does the Prime Minister think that, with these clauses now before us, he is likely to obtain tenders that will suit him better than those received by the late Postmaster-General ?
– That has nothing to do with the white labour question.-
– It throws a considerable light on the main question which we are now considering, namely, how the companies are likely to deal with us. I have no hesitation in saying that we run three risks. In the first place, we run the risk that the P. and O. and Orient companies may retire altogether from the Australian trade. I admit that that is the most remote chance of the three. Then there is the second chance, which would be less disastrous, that they may give us ‘a less perfect service ; and we have to face a third risk, which is not remote, but quite the contrary.
– If the ocean-going steamers do not engage in the coastal trade, of what is the honorable and learned member afraid?
– I am endeavouring to indicate the three possibilities to which we must look forward if we dictate to the companies which carry on the trade between Australia and the old country. There are three contingencies. The most disastrous would be that the companies would cut off their service altogether and leave us as a disgraced people. We should then have to build up again in the minds of British capitalists sufficient confidence to indues them to give us a line of steamers to
Australia. In such an event, we should have to rely upon tramp ships to carry away our butter, apples, and other produce. These ships would come here only by chance, and we should inaugurate a state of affairs similar to that described by the London correspondent whom I have quoted as having been brought about in that city by reason of the want of punctuality and regularity in the arrival of the ships carrying produce to the market. Our action may have the effect of angering and disgusting the leaders of these great shipping companies, and of causing them to break off all communication with Australia. We know very well that when an attempt was made to compel the mail companies to carry white labour in the stokeholds of their steamers, a project was mooted by the Orient and P. and O. companies - certainly by the latter - to bring our mails to the furthermost port of Australia - Fremantle - and to do the rest of the work with small steamers capable of competing with the fleets of the Australian coastal companies. Under such an arrangement the companies would have paid the wages prevailing on the coast, and would have entered into the keenest competition with the very ship-owners whom the Government profess to desire to protect by means of these clauses. These smaller steamers would not provide that accommodation for the carriage of produce in cool chambers now furnished by the large 10,000 and 12,000 ton steamers, which carry cargo straight from our ports to London without transhipment. The third contingency would be inevitable. In order to make up for the increased wages which they would be compelled to pay under these provisions, the companies would increase their freights. These extra charges would have to be paid by the dairymen, the farmers, the pastoralists, the apple-growers, and the producers generally of Australia. The representatives in this House of the farmers and producers can take their choice. Any man who knows anything of the intricacies of commerce, and the inevitable law by which ultimately increased freight charges if all upon the consumer or the producer, as the case may be. must realize that this would be the result. My own opinion is that disgust would enter into the minds of great commercial statesmen like Sir John Sutherland, who stands at the head of the P. and O. Company, and that he and the shareholders of that company would show their estimate of the Australian people by altogether cutting off the Australian service.
– The Australian trade does not pay them now.
– Every one knows that the Australian trade does not now pay the P. and O. Company. Those who are acquainted with shipping matters are also aware that the Orient Company, which does a far larger portion of it!s trade with Australia, has not been able to earn anything beyond very low dividends.
– The P. and O. Company paid 9 per cent, on the whole of their trade.
– Yes, on the whole of their trade. They derive the greater part of their profit from the trade between England and the East.
– Last year the P. and 0. Company lost ,£90,000 in the Australian trade.
– The late PostmasterGeneral declares that last year the P. and O. Company lost £90,000 upon the’ Australian trade. In such circumstances I should like to know where is “the reason for the hatred with which these fat companies, which are supposed to be made up of wealthy people/ and which, according to Tom Mann, are eating the vitals out of the workers, are viewed ?
– Was not last year an exceptional year?
– It may have been; but surely the fact that during that period the P. and 0. Company lost ,£90,000 in the Australian trade is sufficient to excite the sympathy of every reasonable man.
– At the same time, that great company was not built up by losses.
– My acquaintance with the Minister of External Affairs has led me to the conclusion that he is a man who is accustomed to look beyond Australian interests. Consequently, Re must know that the Australian trade constitutes a very small part of the business done by the P. and O. Company. That company has fifty steamers in active service, and I do not hesitate to say that six or eight of them would be sufficient to CODe with the whole of the Australian trade. By a practical calculation, therefore, it appears that only about onesixth of the company’s business is done upon the Australian coast. The fact that the company lost ,£90,000 last year in the Australian trade only serves to show what very * large profits lt must make in its Eastern trade, and what a tremendous contrast those profits must present to the Australian losses. Under such circumstances, would it be surprising if we heard that Sir John Sutherland had recommended the shareholders of the P. and O. Company to retire from the Australian trade, and to allow the people of this Continent, who imagine that they are living in the hub of the universe, to find some better service than that which they have been receiving during the past forty years. I repeat that under the proposals of the Government, there first is a danger that the services provided by these companies may be completely alienated ; that secondly, there is a prospect that we shall lose a perfect service, to the detriment of the people of every State ; and that thirdly, the cost and charges which this Bill seeks to impose upon these great shipping companies will come out of the pockets of the applegrowers, the dairymen, and the pastoralists of Australia. For whose benefit are these provisions to be enacted? The right honor-‘ able member for Swan asked that pertinent question last night. I have had some practical acquaintance with the Seamen’s Union of Australia. I have been on good terms with that organization, and on bad terms with it, and I know pretty well how it stands in relation to the ship-owners of Australia. I can remember the time when, in a business relationship, I was discussing the question of wages with the secretary of that union. I can recollect some . of my fellow shipowners making this observation to its officers : “ If you will assist us to get rid of the competition of the ocean steamers, we shall be all the more ready to give you higher wages.” 1 That was a back-scratching proposal, which did not much concern the outside public. But the ship-owners of today do not want to get rid of that competition. If honorable members imagine that the owners of the coastal ships of Australia wish reprisals to be undertaken against the ocean-going steamers, they have merely to make inquiries to ascertain that they are very much mistaken. The covert threat which was made a little time ago in connexion with the White Ocean policy - the threat that if the P. and 0. Company’s vessels were compelled to shorten their journey to Australia, they would, in order that they might call at more ports, have to put on a line of steamers to compete with the coastal steamers of Australia, completely got rid of that element in the case. In discussing this matter, we may, therefore, leave the Australian ship-owner out of consideration. The Australasian seamen number only 1,500, The adoption of the provisions proposed will not increase their wages. They will merely have the satisfaction of knowing that they will’ not be brought into competition with the lowerpaid seamen who are engaged on the oceangoing liners. The ship-owners, I repeat, do not desire this legislation, and the seamen do not wish to jeopardize the very interests which keep them employed in the coastal trade. Every seaman must knowthat the shipping upon which he is engaged depends on the carrying of produce from one port to- another for ultimate shipment to England. Therefore the policy which the Government propose is a suicidal one for the Australian sailor, as well as for the local ship-owner. I claim that the alleged competition is a myth. We have been assured that the ocean-going liners are brought into competition with our coasting steamers in the carriage of cargo and passengers. It is a fact which no one can controvert, that, with one or two slight exceptions in the case of “ tramp “ ships, which have no regular trade, and which drift about from port to port picking up stray cargoes, the ocean-going liners do not carry cargo between port and port along the coast of Australia. They carry pessengers.
– Then how will they be prejudiced ?
– If I have been speaking for an hour and a half without impressing on the Minister how they will be disadvantaged, I confess that my powers of expression have altogether failed.
– It is the honorable and learned member’s arguments which are defective.
– Whether the arguments are worth little or much depends not so much on the speaker as on the audience. No person could make a blockhead understand the simplest truths of natural history or natural philosophy-
– A blockhead talking has just the same irritating effect.
– I admit that, and I am content to leave the Committee to determine whether, in this instance, the blockhead is upon the Opposition side of the table or upon the Ministerial side. I will undertake to say that, during the last hour in which I have been addressing the Committee, I have certainly informed honorable members - even if I have not convinced them-of the fact that there are a great many ways in which all the interests to which I have referred will be very seriously affected by the legislation proposed. If a poll of the Committee were taken as to where the blockhead is located I should be perfectly satisfied with the result. I know something about the passenger competition. Every one must recognise that whatever competition may have taken place between the coastal steamers of Australia, the big oceangoing liners - those of the P. and O. and the Orient companies - have never stooped to that competition. I have known coastal steamers to carry their competition one with another to such a pitch that they were carrying saloon passengers between Sydney and Melbourne for 10s. each. I know of an instance in which the captain of one of these vessels complained to the owners that whilst the charges were so low, some of the passengers were coming to the dining table in their shirt sleeves, and licking their plates after they had finished their meal. I was always an advocate of keeping up the rates, and for establishing a union amongst the ship-owners, with the object of securing for themselves the best price for their commodity. Instead of that being done, however, we have found a “ cut-throat “ spirit exhibited amongst the ship-owners of Australia. I know that wheat and flour have been carried from Adelaide to Sydney for 3s. a ton, whilst it cost fs. 3d., and possibly is. 66., to load and discharge it. Who can entertain any sympathy with “cutthroat “ business of that character? The obvious Question suggested by this condition of affairs is, “ Why do not the ship-owners combine and keep prices up to such a pitch as will pay them foi the work that they perform?” But the P. and 0. and Orient companies have never stooped to competition of that sort. They have continued to give people good accommodation and attendance at the prices which they charge to-day. Under such circumstances, where does the alleged competition come in? Moreover, if a man wishes to proceed from Adelaide or Melbourne to Sydney, he does not consider which is the cheapest vessel by which to travel unless he is poor. The class of persons who travel by the ocean-going steamers would not journey by the coastal vessels if the latter charged only one-fourth of the rates of the former. They prefer the whole surroundings of a mail-boat to those of a coastal steamer, which may leave the wharf five or six hours ‘.after her advertised time for departure, the decks of which may be crowded with cargo, and the attendance upon which does not approach that upon the mail-boats. We shall never induce the class of people who travel by the mail steamers to journey by our coastal boats. Thus, while there is no competition between the ocean-going liners and the coastal steamers in the matter of cargo, there is practically none in the matter of passenger traffic. They serve two classes of people.
– One class includes those who despise everything Australian because it is Australian.
– I should like to know where the blockhead is now. I have no desire to detain the Committee at any further length. I sympathize very much with Western Australia, because - as was pointed out by the right honorable member for Swan/ - it is cut off from communication with the eastern States by rail. At the same time, I am not an advocate of the Western Australian railway. I do not represent a farming constituency. I represent a part of the suburbs of Sydney, which are only indirectly interested in these great industries, and therefore I cannot be accused of inconsistency in urging the views which I have advanced. Neither can it be said that I am advocating the interests of any class. I sympathize with Western Australia, because there are very large portions of that great State - especially those situated to the north of Fremantle - which are served almost wholly by these ocean-going steamers. I see very clearly that if these clauses are adopted the whole connexion which those parts of Western Australia have with the outside world, through the medium of these ocean-going steamers, will be jeopardized. I heard one honorable member twit the right honorable member for Swan with inconsistency, in that he is now opposing these clauses, whereas he was a party to the Navigation Bill which the late Government had intended to introduce. It is a very unjust charge to make against him. I am not his special champion, but I find that the Bill brought down by the last Government contained the following special provisions in regard to Western Australia : -
Until the State of Western Australia is connected by railway with the South Australian railways, the carrying of passengers to and from! -Western Australia arid South Australia by any British ship, ordinarily carrying mails to or from any part of the Commonwealth, shall not be deemed engaging in the coasting trade.
– The present PostmasterGeneral asked that such a provision should be inserted.
– I was not aware of that, but I am glad to hear it. I find that it was also provided in the Bill that -
If the Governor-General is satisfied that any British ship, not registered in Australia, trades or intends to trade between different places in Australia, between Fremantle and Cape York, by way of Port Darwin, and that it is desirable in the interests of those places, or any one of them, for the said ship to trade, he may, by order, exempt the first-mentioned ship from all or any of the provisions of this part of the Act, either unconditionally or subject to such conditions as he thinks fit to impose for any period not exceeding three years.
– I thought I heard ‘ the right honorable member say that he did not desire any special consideration for Western Australia.
– I am reading a provision contained in a Bill introduced not by the honorable gentleman, but by the last Government.
– The right honorable member for Swan was a member of that Government.
– If the honorable gentleman were a little less rash, he would be perhaps a little slower in coming to conclusions. I am merely defending the right honorable gentleman from the charge of inconsistency that was made against him by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, when he said - “ Why ! These clauses were in your own Bill.” I find that far from being inconsistent in advocating the special interests of Western Australia, he is advocating an interest which was specially provided for in the Bill to which as a member of the late Government he was a party. He went further as a member of the late Government, because he actually saw that provision was made for Port Darwin, which is not a port in his own State.
– The right honorable member wished to secure the trade of that port to Western Australia.
– That is an equally irrelevant interjection. To my mind the right honorable member was not guilty of any inconsistency. I do not wish to detain the Committee any longer, but I assert that no member of this House can afford to regard these clauses as other than far-reaching with regard to the permanent interests of the States they represent, and the ultimate welfare and destiny of Australia. It is not sufficient to say that after we have’ once broken the existing means of communication between Europe and Australia some other means might be resorted to in the meantime ; if we break that thread of communication, we shall harass, injure, and practically ruin hundreds of men who have their produce ready for shipment by these regular lines of communication with the markets of the world. No honorable member can look upon these clauses without feeling that he is, so far as his power to vote upon them is concerned, a factor in the destiny of Australia.
– I have lo confess that I have listened to the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Parkes with somewhat more sympathy than usual. The honorable and learned member professed that he still had no particular love for the party to which I belong, and, although he went so far as to assert that he was not going to give the State which I represent any special consideration, I feel bound to say that many of his arguments appealed not only to myself but to others on this side of the House who are of the same mind. I confess that I could criticise these clauses much more freely if I sat on the other side. The statement has been made by the honorable and learned member for Parkes that members of the Labour Party are returned to represent only one class.’ That assertion has been denied again and again, and I hope that what I shall have to say on this question will be another link in the chain of evidence that we are not here to represent any particular class. It is true that we were returned as the result of certain efforts at organization, but our policy was very clearly laid before the electors, and we have always proved our claim that the interests of the whole of the people are as safe in the hands of the Labour Party as they would be in the hands of members of any other section in the House. I am with the Government in their endeavour to extend to Australian seamen the benefits of this measure, but I wish that those benefits could have been extended to them without the raising of other issues, concerning which we find ourselves at variance. If the question of the inclusion of seamen within the provisions of this Bill had been as simple as that of the extension of the measure to the waterside workers there would have’ been little or no opposition to the proposal from Government supporters. But because the Government, in their endeavours to bring the seamen within the purview of the Bill, have found it necessary to anticipate in some degree the provisions of the Navigation Bill, members of the Labour Party find themselves for the time being - I hope it may not be for long - at variance with their fellows. I have as strong a desire as has any honorable member to do all that may be legitimately done to build up a mercantile marine for Australia. I believe that the time will come when the preservation of our ship.ping interests will be a more burning question than it is to-day; but at the same time, in a matter like this, I hold that we should hasten slowly. We should not deprive ourselves of services that have been beneficial until we are quite sure that we can replace them with others that will be equally good, if not better. While the right honorable member for Swan was speaking last evening, he was twitted with having cast aside for the time being his protectionist principles. As a protectionist, and as one who would go as far as I think any honorable member would to secure preferential trade with the mother land, I regret that the present Government, even in the proposals now before us, have not attempted to carry out what I believe to be the general desire of the House that we should discriminate between British and foreign owned ships.
– They have discriminated in favour of foreign-owned vessels.
– No ; it is simply a question between British ships owned in Australia and all others.
– The effect of these provisions will be that which I have stated.
– They may have some such effect, but I regret that the Government have not clearly laid it down that a distinction shall be made between Britishowned vessels, and those owned by foreigners, and subsidized by foreign Governments. Speaking as a protectionist, and as one who desires to be logical, I assert that we only wish to equalize the competition. I am not advocating anything that would prohibit a British-owned vessel from trading on our shores. All that I ask is, that there shall be fair competition, so that Australian steam-ship owners and the Australian seamen shall not be placed at any disadvantage. I agree with the statement that the Australian shipping industry is at present more flourishing than is any other industry in the Commonwealth. Judging by the dividends declared, and announced in the public press, owners of shares in the Steamship Owners’ Federation hold a gilt-edged security. I am satisfied that Australian ship-owners have no desire, as long as present business conditions continue, to suggest anything in the nature of interference with the wages of their seamen. If they had, the answer would be obvious. A few years ago, as the honorable and learned member for Parkes has pointed out, competition between the local steam-ship owners was very keen. Passengers were carried between Melbourne and Sydney for 10s. per head. I was not aware that, as thehonorable and learned member said, saloon passengers were carried at that rate; but I recollect that in 1891, steerage passengers between Melbourne and Sydney were charged only 10s. each. When the great shipping strike occurred, the public was not slow in arriving at the conclusion that the steam-ship owners were themselves to blame for having allowed this cut-throat competition to exist, and to force them into charging such ridiculously low fares that they considered it imperative to reduce the wages of their employes. No one objects to their imposing fair rates, and as long as they are permitted to do so, they cannot reasonably say to their seamen - “ We must ask you to accept a reduction in wages.” So far as I am at present aware, there is no danger of such a proposal being made. The reports of the debates of the previous Parliament show that, when the question of extending the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to seamen was under discussion, it was stated by the right honorable member for Adelaide that there was a danger of an open rupture between Australian ship-owners and their seamen, and that was urged as a reason why seamen should be brought within the purview of tho Bill. I think it was that which led” the right honorable member for ‘Adelaide to resign his portfolio as Minister of Trade and Customs. But I understand that since then the agreement between the Australian ‘ seamen and shipowners has been extended, so that there is now no danger of a rupture between them.
– It has been extended for twelve months.
– Yes. I think, too, that if business continues to be as prosperous as it has been of recent years, the steam-ship owners Will not object to another extension of twelve months.
– It is most cheering to hear such optimistic views expressed.
– I am as desirous of preserving the present rates of wages as is tlie honorable member. The fares charged now are much higher than those charged two years ago, but wages have not been increased to a corresponding degree. Therefore, we may dismiss from our minds any possibility of a reduction of wages being asked for.
– Does the honorable member think that the Arbitration Court would decide in favour of an increase of wages ?
Mi. CARPENTER.- If the proposed clauses were passed as they stand, I think that the Court would decide in favour of a reduction. I shall presently give my reason for that view.
– Honorable members who support the Government seem to think that the Court will never cut down wages.
– The wages of the seamen on the oversea ships which come here could not be cut down verv much.
– ‘Proposed new clause 79e, provides that -
No owner, agent, or master of a ship to which this Fart 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.
Penalty - One hundred pounds.
Schedule C sets forth the terms of the agreement to be made between master and seamen. It would, of course, be easy enough for the Government to insist upon any master who wished to trade on the Australian coast entering into such an agreement, and keeping it while he remained in the trade. Then proposed new clause 79F provides that -
The master of every ship to which this Part of this 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 which extends or applies to the ship or to service or employment on the ship.
Penalty - One hundred pounds.
The Government could, of course, also insist upon compliance with that provision. Indeed sub-clause 2 enacts 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.
Then follows proposed new clause 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 -
Here a difficulty occurs. In the two previous clauses a penalty of .£100 for nonobservance is fixed; but no penalty is attached to this clause, because the Government know that they would not be able to enforce any penalty, since once a ship leaves Australia, they have no further control over those on board it. The clause is a confession of their inability to enforce its provisions; but they have put it into the Bill as a make-believe, to save their faces. I am discussing this question as a trades unionist who wishes to make sure that the seamen are being given a protection which is worth having,- that they are not being fooled. We can require the masters of vessels trading on the Australian coast to pay certain rates of wages while in that trade, but once a vessel leaves Australia her captain can say to his crew, “ I have had to pay you higher rates of wages in Australian waters than I think you should receive, and, therefore, for the rest of the voyage, I shall cut down your wages, so that on the round trip you will receive just about what you would have obtained had your wages not been increased while ;n Australia.”
– How could he do that, since his crew, would have signed articles providing for certain rates of wages?
– The case could be provided for in the articles.
– Yes; the articles would be framed to suit the circumstances.
– Would the English unions stand that?
– They would have to do so. Neither the English seaman who is a unionist, nor the foreign seaman, thinks that he is getting sufficient wages; but he cannot obtain more than he is now being paid, and it would not help him to insist upon his being paid something additional while on the Australian coast. The rates of wages paid anywhere in any industry do not depend very much upon what men may happen to get for a week or two in some other part of the world.
– If the men had signed articles in Germany for £3 10s. a month for the round trip, the captain could do what the honorable member has described.
– If honorable members who are supporting the clauses can show that the effect of this legislation would be to enable the seamen of England or Germany to increase their wages, my opposition would at once cease. I understand that the honorable member for Yarra thinks that I am arguing that the effect of the clauses will .be to decrease the wages of oversea seamen. I have not said anything of the sort. My contention is that they will be paid the same for the round trip as they are now, but that they will not get any more.
– They would receive what they are paid now for other parts of the voyage, and would obtain higher rates while on the Australian coast.
– I wish to know upon what evidence the honorable member bases that opinion. I should like the oversea seamen to obtain higher rates of wages when on the Australian coast, without suffering a reduction elsewhere ; but I. know enough of masters and men to be aware that that is impossible. Therefore, I say that honorable gentlemen wish to pass legislation which will not have the effect which they anticipate. It has been interjected that the wages of Australian seamen may be reduced if the Bill is passed, and that is quite possible. If a dispute between them and their employers was taken before the Court, the owners would say that. they had to meet the competition of certain steamers - tramp vessels - to which, the Bill admittedly does not apply. The AttorneyGeneral himself has confessed that he is doubtful whether we have power to exclude the tramp steamers from our coastal trade. Therefore, the Australian steam-ship owner can urge the competition of tramp steamers as the strongest reason for the reduction of wages. We are, indeed, putting into his mouth an argument which he at present does not possess.
– The Bill compels the masters of tramp steamers to pay Australian rates of wages if the Court thinks fit.
– But I have shown that we cannot compel them to pay more for the round trip than they now pay.
– Tramp steamers do not make round trips.
– I presume that every tramp steamer is registered some.where or other, and that it occasionally goes to its home port. Furthermore, before such vessels start on a voyage, the owners must have some idea as to the wages which they will pay their seamen. If these clauses were passed in their present form, they would furnish the local steam-ship owners with an argument in favour of cutting down the wages of the local seamen. Reference has been made to the peculiar position of Western Australia. The honorable member for Perth stated last evening that he did not wish to claim any special consideration for that State. I join him in taking that attitude. At the same time, I think that we have a right to ask for special consideration, ‘on account of the peculiar position which we occupy. I remember that when it was suggested that New Zealand should join the Federation, representives of the Colony pointed out that, owing to her situation, 1,200 miles away from the Australian coast, that Colony occupied a position of isolation, and that these 1,200 miles afforded 1,200 reasons why New Zealand should not join the proposed Union. Western Australia is 1,200 miles away from the Seat of Government of the Commonwealth, and, for all practical purposes, is as widely separated from the other States as is New Zealand from Australia. In this fact . lies our claim for some special consideration.
– It is a question of State interests with the honorable member.
– No. I am not arguing from the State stand-point, although I think that I should be perfectly justified in doing so. The honorable member for Perth referred to a statement made publicly in South Australia by a gentleman who was seeking election to the Senate, and who is now a member of that Chamber. That honorable senator pointed out that, rightly or wrongly, if certain provisions in the Navigation Bill became law they would have the effect of making Port Adelaide the chief port of the Commonwealth. About the same time, the right honorable member for Adelaide resigned his position in the Ministry because the Government would not include in the Arbitration Bill provisions similar to those how before us. This event, taken in conjunction with the statements made by Senator Guthrie, created a very bad impression in the minds of the people, of Western Australia-
– The honorable member does not imply that there was any collusion between the two gentlemen?
– No. I am simply stating that the coincidence created a very bad impression. We ask that in legislation of this kind no discrimination should be made to the disadvantage of our own or any other ports. It has been admitted that the mail steamers do not compete for the coast cargo trade. The chairman of the Steam-ship Owners Federation has . admitted this, and has stated that he and his fellow-owners appreciate the action -of the oversea companies in abstaining from interference with the cargo traffic, which is by far the most valuable to the local shipowners. The proportion of the passenger traffic that is absorbed by the oversea companies is so small that I do not think the local ship-owners worry themselves about it in the -least. At certain times of the year it is almost impossible to obtain a berth in the Australian-owned steamers, without booking for some weeks ahead. The people of Western Australia, who are 1,200 miles away from the eastern States, do not wish to .be thrown into the hands of a local shipping monopoly. Some honorable members have urged that if a monopoly were created it could be cured by legislation. I think, however, that we shall do better to prevent the creation of any monopoly. The request which has been made that the passenger traffic shall be exempted from the conditions now sought to be laid down is a most reasonable one. In fact, we almost wonder at our own moderation in not asking for more. If it could be shown that such an exemption would injure .the Australian shipping trade, I should be prepared to give way, but the Prime Minister has failed to advance any good reason for declining to accept the amendment. The exemption should be made at least for the present. The time may come when we shall be prepared to give way upon this matter.
– What about the north-west coast trade?
– I propose to consider that. I desire that the Australian coastal trade shall, as far as possible, be carried on by vessels employing white seamen, and so long as the north-west trade is in the hands of ship-owners, whose vessels are manned by black crews, I cannot show any great sympathy with any effort that may be made to protect them.
– The Singapore steamers carry on the trade now.
– I am quite aware of that; but I am not satisfied that other provision cannot be made for that trade. We already have a subsidized service from Fremantle to Geraldton twice a week, and I see no reason why that should not be extended to the whole of the north-west ports, and thus place the trade entirely in the hands of ship-owners employing white seamen. At present I content myself by asking the Government to exempt the passenger trade from the operation of these provisions.
– I should like, in the first instance, to direct the attention of the Committee to the fact that the fears expressed by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, with regard to the effect of this proposal upon the people in Great Britain, appear to be groundless. At the last Colonial Conference, at which the Commonwealth Government was represented, held in London in 1902, the following resolution was adopted : -
That it is desirable that the attention of the Governments of the Colonies and the United Kingdom should be called to the present state of the navigation laws in the Empire, and in other countries, and to the advisability of refusing the privileges of coastwise trade, including trade between, the Mother Country and its Colonies and Possessions, and between one Colony or Possession and another, to countries in which the corresponding trade is confined to ships of their own nationality ; and also to the laws affecting shipping, with a view of seeing whether any other steps should be taken to promote Imperial trade in British vessels.
– There is no interference with British ships there.
– But there is an interference with the coastal trade, and an express desire that the whole matter should be legislated upon. I listened and also read with very great interest the speech of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He appeared to me to approve of the principles contained in the Government proposals, and at the same time to contend that they were out of place in this particular measure. He concluded his speech without indicating how he would vote on the provisions before the Committee. The burden of the very fine address delivered by the honorable and learned member for Parkes, to which we also listened with very great pleasure, was that it was the duty of honorable members to oppose these proposals in the interests of the producers.
– Hear, hear.
– I sympathize with the honorable and learned member who punctuates my remarks with an approving “hear, hear.”
– I represent a producing district.
– I am sure that I should be the last man in the world to do anything that would be detrimental to the producing interests.
– Unquestionably the adoption of these clauses will injure those interests.
– I shall prove from the experience of New Zealand, where a more drastic law of a similar character is in operation, that the producing interests have not been injured. On the contrary, the export trade of that State has developed by leaps and bounds.
– Have oversea ships ever come within the operation of the law in New Zealand?
Mi. MAUGER.- I shall read the law which is in force in that country at the present time.
– But it is not acted upon.
– It is acted upon.
– Oversea ships do not come under its operation.
– I sympathize very much with the honorable and learned member foi Wannon, the right honorable member for Swan, and the honorable and learned member for Parkes when they plead that the interests of the producers should be studied. If I thought that the proposals now under consideration would injure the producers, I should not be found supporting them, and I am confident that the Government would not propose them. The Prime “ Minister, I think, represents what may be regarded as a grazing constituency, and I am sure that he is interested in the production of butter, cheese, and meat, just as much as are the right honorable member for Swan and the honorable and learned member for Parkes. It is a singular circumstance that the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who represents a city constituency, should be so solicitous for the welfare of the producer, whilst the Prime Minister, who represents a country district, should be submitting these proposals. Surely the latter would not take any action that would be detrimental to the interests of his own constituents. I propose to show that under a more stringent law, which is faithfully administered in New Zealand, the export of perishable products has increased by leaps and bounds.
– It lias increased notwithstanding that law.
– The fact remains that the law is in existence. The Shipping and Seamen’s Amending Act of 1896 contains the following provision : -
Notwithstanding anything contained in the principal Act, or any amendment thereof, it is hereby declared that whenever the master, owner, or agent of any ship -
Engages seamen in the colony, or
Having engaged them abroad, employs them in the colony., such seamen, whilst so employed, shall be paid and may recover the current rate of wages for the time being ruling in the colony, and in the former case the engagement may be determined in the colony at any time after the ship’s arrival at her final port of discharge in the colony, consequent on the completion of her round voyage, by 24 hours’ previous notice on either side ; provided that this section shall not apply to ships arriving from abroad with passengers or cargo, but not trading in the colony further or otherwise than for the purpose of discharging such original passengers or cargo in the colony, and there shipping fresh passengers or cargo to be carried abroad.
– From what section is the honorable member quoting?
– From section 10 of the Shipping and Seamen’s Amendment Act of 1896.
– Can the honorable member quote a single instance in which an oversea ship has been compelled to comply with those conditions ?
– As evidencing the effect of this legislation upon the producing trade of New Zealand, I would point out that whilst in 1896 - the year in which it was enacted - there were 11,550,075 acres under cultivation, in 1903 there were 13,000,000 acres.
– I am surprised to hear that.
– These figures were compiled By the Registrar-General of New Zealand.
– The word “ cultivation “ there includes land under English grasses.
– I wish to show, that in New Zealand a similar law has not had the effect of diminishing the quantity of frozen meat exported. In 1896 the value of that commodity was ,£1,251,993, whereas last year it aggregated ^3,197.043- There has been no retrogression in that case. I come now to the export of butter and cheese. In regard to these commodities, what is the position? In 1896,. 71,000 cwts. of butter were exported from New Zealand, whereas in 1903, the quantity had increased to 285,000 cwts. I contend that it is unlikely that any break will be made in the present mail service if this legislation be enacted. The direct export trade of Australia is of sufficient value to warrant these vessels in continuing to come here, and, moreover, that trade is bound to expand. The total value of the products of New Zealand in 1896 was only £9,000,000, as against £14,383,192 last year. Irrespective of deductions, it must be admitted that these figures are exceedingly interesting. They conclusively show that the fears which are entertained regarding the effect of these provisions on the producing interests are absolutely groundless.
– They also show what beneficent seasons New Zealand has experienced.
– That country enjoyed beneficent seasons before this legislation was passed. It possessed exactly the same climate, and the same opportunities for expansion that it has now. I repeat that these statistics conclusively demonstrate that despite the operation of a similar law there, New Zealand is progressing by leaps and bounds.
– Does the honorable member say that its progress is the result of similar legislation?
– I do not say so. I claim that similar legislation has achieved the object which it was designed to accomplish, and that it has not detrimentally affected the people of New Zealand.
– The honorable member has not submitted any evidence as to what progress New Zealand would have made in the absence of such legislative restrictions.
– Thehonorable member might just as well ask me how much bigger and brighter he would have been, had he been reared upon a different food. New Zealand is in an eminently prosperous condition. All phases of its industrial life appear to be healthy, and, that being so, why should I be asked how much better would its condition have been had different conditions prevailed ? My honorable friend will agree with me that when his children are healthy he is satisfied, and asks for nothing more with regard to them.
– Coghlan, in his Statistical Account of Australia and New Zealand, shows that in 1902 the area under cultivation in New Zealand was 1,603,602 acres.
– I quote from a pamphlet compiled from official sources by the
Registrar-General of New Zealand. It shows that the “ land (including sown grasses) under cultivation ‘ ‘ in New Zealand comprised 13,504,004 acres. I think that my authority is quite as good as Coghlan.
– The gross returns show that the figures quoted by the honorable member as the area under cultivation are absolutely incorrect.
– I would ask the honorable member to do me the honour of looking at the authority I have quoted.
– A misprint must have occurred.
– I do not think so.
– There is a huge mistake.
– Then I am not responsible for it. The right honorable member for Swan asked the pertinent question, “ How many seamen are affected by the New Zealand legislation in this direction?” and answered it by asserting that, so far as the Commonwealth was concerned, there were only 1,500 seamen interested in these proposals. When the right honorable member, as a member of the late Government, advocated protection for a large number of industries, the cry then raised by the Opposition was that it would be idle to protect a small industry, employing only a few men. The cry was repeated timeafter time, and several of our best industries suffered materially as the result of that line of argument. We have to consider the question on its merits, and quite irrespective of the number of men to whom these provisions would apply. If there be a possibility of an injustice being done to 1,500 seamen-
– What possibility is there of such a thing ?
– I shall show the honorable member. The very fact that the possibility exists should be sufficient to induce us to endeavour to avert it by legislative means.
– The honorable member has not shown that there is a possibility.
– The heading of the table from which the honorable member quoted just now in regard to the area under cultivation in New Zealand clearly explains the matter. The figures relate to land under cultivation for stock and other purposes.
– I said that the figures also related to land sown with grass. I think the authority is indisputable. The right honorable member for Swan said that the 1,500 men employed on Australian coasting vessels received higher wages than were paid to seamen in any other part of the world, and he urged that it would be much better to pension them off than to pass these clauses. When the Tariff Bill was before us the right honorable member heard the same remark made in regard to employes in many industries, and strongly resisted such a line of argument. What are the handsome wages which these seamen receive? An admirable series of articles dealing with this question appeared in the Age a little time ago.
– I suppose the quotation will be about as correct as was the last.
– The article shows that the figures quoted were given on the authority of the ship-owners. It sets forth that the union rate of wages paid to able seamen is £6 ros. per month. That is not an extravagant wage. It does not offer much scope for reduction if a man is to maintain his family and keep himself respectable. The coal trimmers receive £6 10s. a month, and firemen j£& 10s. a month. These, according to the right honorable member for Swan, are the highest wages that are paid in any part’ of the world.
– I said I was informed that they- were.
– If they are, I can only say that I am sorry for seamen in other parts.
– The wages paid to New Zealand and American seamen are higher.
– The American wages are higher, and I believe that the wages which prevail in New Zealand also exceed these rates. If this Bill be made to apply only to coasting steamers, and the owners of those steamers take proceedings before the Court, is it not possible that the wages of their seamen, coal trimmers, and firemen may be considerably reduced and brought somewhat into line with those paid to seamen on the oversea vessels?
– The owners of those vessels would have to prove that they could not afford to pay these wages - an impossible proposition.
– I do not think that they would. Let me compare the wages paid to workers on the P. and 0. Company’s steam-ship Himalaya with those paid on an ordinary coasting steamer.
– -The honorable member is not starting on an equal basis. Comparisons do not prove anything.
– When they are fair they surely do.
– The honorable member should give the earning power of the various companies.
– Does my honorable friend seriously contend that the wages of seamen, miners, or other workers should be regulated by the dividends paid by the companies employing them ? That is a new doctrine for an advocate of the rights of labour to advance. I have always been told that the first consideration should be the fixing of a living wage - a wage on which a family may be maintained - and that, after that, charges should be so regulated that reasonable dividends may be paid.
– Yet the honorable member says Ave should first consider the dividends paid by these companies.
– I am looking at the facts, and I assert that owners of Australian vessels, engaged in the coasting trade, can better afford to pay the higher wages than can the owners of oversea steamers to pay the lower rates.
– But the honorable member said that before considering the wages paid I should have regard to the dividends declared by these companies.
– Not before them, but in relation to them.
– I do not think that is so. A seaman employed on one of the coasting steamers receives £6 10s. per month, while those employed on the Himalaya are paid £4. 5s. a month. Firemen on coasting steamers receive j£8 10s. a month ; on the Himalaya they receive only £1 4s. per month. That is not a living wage.
– They have coloured firemen on the Himalaya.
– Quite so, and those are the men to. whom consideration will have to be given when these matters are being dealt with by the Court.
– I agree with the honorable member that that is so.
– J am sure that the honorable . member does. A coal trimmer on a .coasting steamer is paid £fi 10s. a month, but on the Himalaya he receives only 16s. 8d. a month. Modern, economists agree that the rates of wages are largely fixed by the standard of living. If wages are largely regulated by the standard of living, and our workers have to come into competition with the lowest standard of labour, what must be the consequences?
Mi. Fowler. - Will the honorable member prove the competition?
– I am showing that these differing rates of wages exist in connexion with the same trade and the same customers.
– But where do they impinge on one another?
– Does the honorable member imagine for one moment that two traders can continue for any length of time to cater for the same customers when one, pays only 16s. 8d. per month, to a class of its employes, while the other pays £6 10s. per month ? Can that state of affairs exist for any length of time?
– I do not think so. The fact that these differing rates of wages prevail in relation1 to the same trade shows the danger to which Australian seamen are exposed.
– Does the honorable member suggest that in each case the service is the same?
– The ship-owners who engage these coloured workers are satisfied with their services. Their representatives told me quite recently that the coloured men were more sober, reliable, and cleanly and better in every possible way than the white men. If we allowed oversea vessels to continue in the coasting trade, and to employ coloured labour, it would not be long before the same class of labour was employed on the local vessels. That is the universal experience.
– It has been a long time in coming round.
– I know that the articles in the Age to which I have referred were written as much at the instigation of the ship-owners as in the interests of the seamen. No less an authority than the late honorable member for Melbourne, Sir Malcolm McEacharn, informed me that the position was most serious. He said that, but for the fact that he was directly interested, he should like to discuss it in this House, and he took up a different attitude from” that of the honorable and learned member for Parkes.
– I do not think so.
– I take it that the right honorable member will accept my assurance that Sir Malcolm McEacharn told me that there was no mere visionary menace to the Australian coastal trade. I did not intend to speak as long as I have done, but’ there is one other matter to which I desire to refer before I resume my seat. The tonnage of the coastal shipping of the United States has become, under laws such as we are now proposing to pass, the largest in the world, and no evil effects have resulted from such legislation. Under the local laws, undoubted progress has also been made by the shipping of New Zealand. The principle involved is admitted by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. He does not even say that he will vote against these clauses, but he urges that there is a constitutional question as to whether we have the right to embody them in this Bill. He also asserts that they scarcely go far enough, and that further provision should be made to insure that vessels known as “tramps ‘ ‘ and foreign oversea steamers should be brought under the Act.
– In listening to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and in contemplating the notes which I made with extreme care whilst he was speaking, I discovered why, in the course of the tariff debate, a large number of honorable members of the Opposition were, under the impression that there was really no necessity for the death of Ananias some hundreds of years ago. I find, from my notes, that the honorable member has had considerable experience in farming on St. Kilda beach, and also in the vicinity of the Port Melbourne pier. It would appear from his statements that, since legislation of this class has come into force in New Zealand, a great increase has taken place in the local output of milk and butter. Under the influence of this class of legislation, milking cows have gone up to the four-six test, and have given 24 gallons of milk a day. If honorable members believed that such would be the result of the passing of legislation Of this description, I am sure they all would advocate it. I understand that, in New Zealand, lambing, according to the honorable member’s statistics, has also increased 300 per cent., and that the lambs, as the result of the passing of legislation of this description, now walk straight into the freezing chambers. Another magnificent result of legislation ! We shall not need to work in future. A little more legislation such as we are getting from the present Government, supported by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, will enable us to cease from toiling and perspiring in this vale of tears. Before Arbitration and Conciliation was provided for by the New Zealand Parliament, the hens of that Colony used to cackle, but did not lay. Since that legislation was passed, however, according to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, vast “numbers of eggs are produced, and the triumphant song of the fowl is heard all’ over the land. Another result of this class of legislation. Then I understand that he thinks that Coghlan is wrong in saying that the area under cultivation in New Zealand is somewhat over 1,000,000 acres, and that he himself puts it at 10,000,000 acres.
– At 13,000,000 acres.
– A few million acres is immaterial to the honorable member. On one occasion, when Mark Twain was present, some one said that he had seen a shark 100 -feet long. Mark Twain replied, “ There are ten of us in the room, and we can each believe ten feet of it.” There are about twenty-five of us now in the Chamber, and no doubt if we each believe about one twenty-fifth part of the statements of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, we shall do very well. The honorable member for Echuca informs me that the area of land under cultivation in New Zealand, according to Coghlan, is about 1,603,000 acres. In view of those figures there is no necessity to make any further serious reference to the statements of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, to whom, perhaps, I have devoted a little more time than was expedient. Before passing on to the speeches of those consistent and enthusiastic democrats who have regaled us with various reasons for the abandonment of their principles, I wish to draw attention to the attitude of the Prime Minister on this matter. He has based his justification of the clauses upon the fact that other countries reserve their coastal trade for their own vessels. If he introduced a Bill specifically prohibiting the trading of oversea vessels in Australian waters he would have no hope of carrying it, and therefore I ask him whether he is endeavouring to do by a side wind what he’ knows he could not do openly. To quote from the report of a select committee of the British House of Commons upon the effect of subsidies upon British trade -
The United States extend the doctrine, so as to declare a voyage from New York, round Cape Horn to San Francisco, or from San Francisco to Honolulu, to be a “ coasting voyage,” and, as such, they restrict it to vessels carrying the United States flag. Similarly, France refuses to allow any but French vessels to trade between
French ports and Algeria; and Russia, in reserving its coasting trade to its own flag, includes in this restriction the navigation between Russian ports in the Baltic and the Black Sea, and between all Russian ports and Vladivostock in the far east of Siberia.
France, Spain, and Portugal have adopted similar measures. I should like to know if the Government have that end in view in proposing these clauses. I shall not deal with the maunderings of Senator Guthrie in regard to the matter ; but the Government should make it clear whether it is their desire to exclude from the coast of Australia the shipping of all other parts of the civilized world, British vessels included. I make no assertion in regard to their intentions, but it would be worth while for the Government to explain them to the Committee. The second point made by the Prime Minister was that there should be uniformity of conditions, and fair treatment for all engaged in the coastal trade. But we must remember that we can do very little to control the vessels which come to Australia from other countries. One main. factor in the competition between the various lines of steam-ships which trade upon our coasts is the subsidies which are paid to them. The steam-ships of the North German Lloyd Company receive a subsidy for their East Asian and Australian service, which has been calculated at 5”o5 marks, or about 5s. a mile; but for their Australian service alone they are paid 6s. 8d. per mile. The steamers of the Messageries Maritimes receive a subsidy of 8s. 4d. a mile, while the vessels of the P. and O. Company receive £85,000 per annum for their Australian service, or 2s. 7d. a mile.
– Where does the honorable member get those figures ?
– From a report of a Select Committee of the House of Commons.
– I think there is later information available.
– There may be some later figures, but those I have quoted serve to show the serious disability under which British shipping labours in competing with foreign shipping. Although honorable members may differ upon questions of fiscal policy, labour legislation, and other matters more or less immaterial to the present discussion, every one of us has sufficient intelligence to know that the only hope of Australia’s future is as part of the British Empire. Without the protection of Great Britain we should be swallowed by the yellow man in a gulp. It is pointed out in the report from which I have quoted that the P. and 0. subsidy of £330,000 a year works out at 5s, S’92d. a mile for the Indian, China, and Australian services, so that the Indian and China services must be subsidized at a much higher rate than the Australian service to bring out the average. It is also stated that the Japanese pay £53,000 a year to subsidize the vessels of the Nippon Yusen Kaisha engaged in the Australian trade. I mention these matters to show honorable members the complexity and difficulty of the situation, and the magnitude of the interests involved. Every one of us listens with care and attention to the speeches of the honorable member for Perth. His behaviour and demeanour, and the reasonable manner in which he approaches every question with which he deals, would make it almost an act of brutality to treat him other than generously. No one could charge him with intentionally doing anything wrong, or with being impelled by any sinister motive. As a Scotchman, I respect his mental powers. Otherwise, I might not. But his remarks last night show him to be suffering from hallucination. He has displayed what I might call a gap in his intellect, though I hope it is only temporary. He was brought up in an atmosphere of dogma, and his only hope of immortality lies in his acceptance of the doctrine of predestination. When his intellect began to unfold what was the dominating factor in its development? The shorter catechism. Notwithstanding the severity and wisdom of this intellectual upbringing, however, his mind now appears to be temporarily deranged. In his speech last night he dug into the tomes of the past, and quoted from the Rigveda and the writings of Zoroaster - to prove what? That the more wages men get the more work they have to do, and the more they perspire. Both he and the honorable member for Fremantle are controlled by their environment in their democracy and their sense of principle. They are affected by the interests of the country from which they come, and they have, therefore, endeavoured to cover up their abandonment of principle. The honorable member for Perth buried himself beneath a snow-storm of figures, and imagined that it would not be possible for us to discern his object. When Federation was being urged in New South Wales, the people of that State were told that the citizens of other States would look upon it as a sort of milch cow, and would 5 s each of them draw away what they could. We, who supported the Draft Bill, contended that the Constitution was based on absolute uniformity of treatment to all the States, and that fairness was the ‘basis of the union. But in dealing with such a question as that of the common rule, we see the difficulty of even appreciating the variation of conditions in the different parts of Australia. One man may be baking in a torrid climate, while another may be shivering in a snow-storm. The honorable member for Perth swallowed the common rule provision, but now that there is some suggestion that the application of the principle would involve inconvenience to himself and his constituents, he ‘ objects to it.
– We believe in the common rule, but not in applying it to people who should not be brought within its operation.
– Does the honorable member know what principle is? Principle, like a flag., should be nailed to the mast. It should not be played with as if it were a shuttlecock. Principle lives for ever ; it is eternal, and it cannot be lightly thrown aside.
– As when the honorable member crossed the floor of the-House, for instance.
– Honorable members crossed to this side of the Chamber because they believed that their principles were in danger. A strict adherence to principle engenders lofty ideals. For the sake of principle many of our ancestors went to the stake, and many a patriot to the scaffold. Principle induces statesmen to withdraw their support from a Government the moment that they conceive that a wrong is being done. Principle prompts honorable members under all circumstances - however much they may value their seats, and however great their regard for the prestige and emoluments attached to their positions in Parliament - to honestly place their views before their constituents. We do not expect honorable members opposite to exhibit want of principle. They are not troubled by considerations connected with the retention of their positions in Parliament, and the right to draw the salary. They have only one end in view, namely, the amelioration of the condition of the masses, and the greater happiness of the people. They move upon a higher political plane than do the free-trader or the protectionist, and, therefore, we expect from them a higher standard of political morality. We certainly look for a strict adherence to principle by the members of the Government, who desire to retain office only in order that they may place upon our statute-book measures which are in accord with their high ideals. They have exhibited a strong adherence to principle when they have had a majority behind them, but they have discarded it as of no importance when a majority has been wanting. We are entitled to expect those honorable members who believe in the application of the common rule to display some consistency in their attitude towards a provision of this kind. I maintain that the honorable member for Perth and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie have absolutely ignored the principle of the common rule. When the fiscal policy was under consideration, similar departures from principle were observed. We heard many honorable members vehemently and continuously urging the advantages of free-trade, but immediately the question of the salt duty came under consideration, the South Australian freetrade party was broken up. The honorable and learned member for Angas was the only representative of South Australia who stood firm. All the others bowed down and worshipped Lot’s wife. Much the same thing happened when the banana duty was under consideration. Then we found some free-traders worshipping in the banana groves, whilst others were offering up sacrifices in the cane-fields. So it was with hops, and so with timber, and various other products. Honorable members imagined that they were actuated by principles, but the moment that the application of those principles appeared to involve inconvenience to themselves and their constituents they abandoned them. Now that the apple has been introduced, it has, as in the case of our first ancestors, brought about a fall. The democrat and the labour man, who profess to be actuated by a desire to lift up the masses, will not now vote in accordance with their professions. Why ? Because the Tasmanian apple is in the way. I would not attribute to the honorable member for Perth views such as those said to have been expressed by Senator Guthrie. I do not suppose that any honorable member in this Chamber would endeavour to mould our legislation in such a way as to confer special benefit upon a particular port, such as Adelaide. I ask honorable members to consider why we are here.
We are here to discuss a clause of the Bill - a clause which is presumed to be democratic, but which has been abandoned by professed democrats, because it did not exactly suit them to submit to a little inconvenience. They are willing enough to divide the property of other people, but they are not disposed to divide their own. They are willing to apply a “ common rule “ to the workers of Australia, but they refuse to apply such a rule to themselves when it will inconvenience them a little in reaching their own homes. This magnificent exhibition of democracy, of self-sacrifice, is a spectacle for the gods, though it is somewhat unwise so far as the reputation of honorable members is concerned. As honorable members are aware we are not here to consider only our own electorates, and ‘ any honorable member whose position in this Parliament is dominated solely by his responsibility to his own constituency has no right to be here. The right honorable member for S.wan has spoken of Geraldton and Broome and other places of which we have rarely heard, also of Thursday Island and of Launceston. We owe to the whole of these places as much responsibility as we do to our own electorates. The people of Australia look to us to act fairly to those resident in the outlying districts. What are their difficulties ? When they get out of their bunks in the morning they do not tread upon asphalt, but upon the soil of torrid Australia. We are bound to do a fair thing by these men, and to refuse to sacrifice them for town organizations: They do not live in a beautiful, salubrious climate. They are face to face with the tropical life of Australia, which is enervating in character, and destructive to man’s health. To all pioneers - the pioneers in the timber, sugar, and butter industries, Ave owe a special responsibility. What do some honorable members desire to do? They wish to drive away from our coast the boats which cany the produce which makes Australia wealthy
– We wish to give the seamen the same protection which the honorable member has extended to the farmer.
– The crews employed upon oversea vessels are not Australian seamen, and anything that Ave may do will not ameliorate their condition. Apparently some honorable members desire to banish these, ships from our shores. Surely we ought to remember that they do not come here for pastime. They come to take away the produce of our pastoral and agricultural industries. Those honorable members who support the proposals of the Government wish to drive away from the various outlying ports of our coast the only means of communication - facilities which make life there a little more tolerable than it otherwise would be. I have always been a protectionist, and until my second childhood shall remain one.
– To a certain extent.
– I am a protectionist when I can accomplish good.
– When it .suits the honorable member.
– I have no principles except those which carry me in the direction of ameliorating the condition of the great masses of the people. After all, principles are of no value unless an end is kept in view. A principle is not a thing to frizzle in a frying pan. It must take practical form. I am not a protectionist who believes in isolation. I hold that every boat which enters the Fremantle harbor - that triumph of modern engineering - is a civilizer to Western Australia, and badly that State needs it. Every vessel which comes through the Melbourne Rip is a civilizer, and of benefit to the people of Melbourne. Upon their need for that civilizing influence, I will make no comment. Similarly, every boat which passes through the sandstone heads of Port Jackson, and enters the most beautiful harbor in the world, exercises a civilizing influence. We are not the only people in the universe. There are some others who reside outside of the Australian continent. These magnificent oversea vessels bring the world into closer touch with us, and thus confer a benefit upon all. If honorable members believe that it is a right thing to drive the whole of these vessels from our coast, they will have to achieve their purpose without my vote or assistance. To my mind, the essence of this matter lies in a principle, and a principle is an eternal truth. When honorable members are faced with the “alternative of abandoning a principle, or of submitting to a ‘little inconvenience, they should adhere to the principle. That is the mortar which holds a party together. Honorable members opposite have not adhered to it. The idea has been expressed that Australia is a great country. Australia, it is true, has a great future, 5.s 2 if her people have wisdom, but she will have no future if we drive English and foreign vessels from our coast, and, practically, isolate ourselves from the rest of the world. If we do that, Australia will wake up - not, may be, in our time, but in that of our children - to face the greatest horror that has ever beset a white population. Let us realize once and for all that the white men of this continent are not sufficiently numerous to stand against the peril which confronts them. Consequently, we ought to cultivate the most friendly relations with all parts of the world. Under these circumstances I am prepared to welcome oceangoing vessels to our shores.
– If there is one characteristic more , than another which has distinguished the Labour Party since its advent to office it is its predilection for the establishment of monopolies. Strange as it may seem, honorable members have only to trace the legislation which the present Labour Ministry have submitted since their accession to the Treasury benches to find that the whole idea underlying it has been in the direction of establishing monopolies either for employers or employes. This fact was especially emphasized in connexion with the clause relating to preference to unionists. Yet in face of these repeated attempts to legislate in the narrowest possible way, we find honorable members opposite declaring that they come here, not as the representatives of one class, but of all classes in the community. That assertion, however, must be largely discounted by their attempted legislative action in the special interests of one class only - and that class a small minority of the community. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has affirmed that 1,500 seamen are labouring under an injustice in the absence of legislation of the character proposed, and that we are justified in legislating to prevent its continuance. . I go further than the honorable member, and say that if only one person in the community is suffering an injustice it is our duty if possible to remove it. But no evidence has been adduced in support of his contention that anybody is suffering injustice. On the contrary, it is admitted on all sides that these 1,500 seamen are getting the highest wages paid to seamen in any part of the world ; and the local steam-ship companies are enjoying the greatest profits, and are building new steamers out of those profits. If we admit, just for the sake of argument, that 1,500 seamen are labouring under an injustice, what is the nature of the remedy which the honorable member suggests should be applied? He practically says that we should cure the evil of which he complains by imposing a greater injustice upon thousands of producers in all parts of Australia. We are to confer an advantage upon certain individuals to the disadvantage of many other members of the community. I shall always resist legislation of that nature. What will be the effect of adopting the proposals of the Government? Obviously it must be to create a monopoly so far as our Inter-State shipping is concerned for the Australianowned vessels. As. a matter of fact these steamers already practically enjoy a monopoly. For a long time competition between the various coastal steam-ship companies has been a thing of the past. If they have not actually amalgamated they have arrived at an understanding by means of which freights and passenger fares are maintained at a certain level. It has already been abundantly shown that there is practically no competition, except in regard to the carriage of passengers, between oversea vessels and the Australian steamers engaged in our coasting trade. As a matter of fact, there is really no competition in the passenger trade, because the oversea mail steamers do not adopt cutting rates. Their rates are considerably higher than are those of the Inter-State’ vessels, and that is an indication that they do not desire to compete with our coasting steamers in the carriage of passengers. I can therefore quite understand the arguments of honorable members opposite, who contend that legislation of this kind is really unnecessary. If it be unnecessary, and I hold that it is, why should we be asked to pass it ? Surely every intelligent person will agree that it would be time enough to introduce legislation of this description when the necessity for it had arisen. When it is admitted that there is no need for such legislation, it is merely a waste of time for the Committee to consider these clauses. What would be their effect ? It has already been shown by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that there is a doubt even in the minds of the most eminent legal authorities as to whether these provisions could be enforced against foreign vessels, and surely it is right that we should have regard to that aspect of the matter. If it would be impossible to enforce these provisions against foreign vessels, then obviously their effect would be to penalize British ships to the advantage of foreign vessels. I do not imagine, for one moment, that that was the intention of the Ministry in introducing these proposals ; but they should have been very careful to ascertain the exact extent of our power to make them operative against foreign shipping. Surely the Government have no desire to subsidize foreign ships at the expense of British vessels. We should ask ourselves whether the large ocean-going mail steamers which visit our shores do any injury to Australia. To my mind they have done a vast amount of good. Australian commerce has been largely built up through their instrumentality, and yet we are asked to pile up disability after disability against the operations of these vessels. They have unquestionably enhanced the progress and prosperity of the Commonwealth. I for one would rather see every legitimate encouragement offered to them to increase and multiply, so that they may bring more and more trade to our shores, and take away more and more of our produce in exchange for the good things they bring to us. Their visits to these shores are not calculated to inflict any injury upon the Commonwealth, but, on the contrary, are an immense advantage in every respect, and I therefore think that we should use all legitimate means to encourage the trade developed through their agency. The passenger trade is the only one in which they engage on the Australian coast. I find that the total number of passengers carried annually between the different ports of the Commonwealth is a little over 215,000. Of that number 29,000 are carried by British ships, and 7,000 by foreign vessels, or a total of 36,000 as against 179,000 ‘ carried in purely Australian steamers. The public have a perfect right to determine for themselves by what lines they shall travel. If one line of steamers offers better accommodation than does another, there should be no interference with the liberty of travellers .to select that which is best suited to their requirements. The ocean-going steamers charge very much higher rates than do the Australian coasting vessels, and only the wealthier classes of passengers are likely to travel by them. Another point which we have to consider is what has been the effect of this competition on Inter-State passenger traffic. We all remember that a few years ago the Inter-State steamers were small and inferior. Vessels of the type of the Ly-e-Moon and the Barrabool were regarded as first-class passenger steamers in the Inter-State trade, but today they would be looked upon as fit only for use as coal hulks. It was largely owing to the example set by the oceangoing mail steamers that improvements were effected in our Inter-State steam-ship services, and now very largely as the result of this competition we have such magnificent vessels engaged in the coastal passenger traffic of Australia as the Kyarra and the Grantala, which compare very favorably with the oversea mail steamers. If we destroy this competition - and these clauses would tend in that direction - we shall create a monopoly that will prevent further progress in a direction that has been immensely beneficial to the travelling and shipping public. What would be the effect of the monopoly which it is now desired to create ? The right honorable member for Swan has verv pertinently pointed out that the producers should remember that any restriction on navigation must mean the establishment of a monopoly, and an increase in the cost of the transit of their produce. That is a self-evident proposition. The Droducers of staple products for export would suffer more than any other class of individuals from the imposition of any further restrictions on the operations of oversea steam-ships. Let me deal now with the question of who would have to pay. We know perfectly well that whenever restrictions, involving greater outlay in production and distribution are imposed, the increased cost is always passed on to the people. In the long run the people always have to pay. It must be borne in mind that the large mail steamers and other ocean liners have to contend against many heavy disabilities. They have, amongst other harassing impositions and regulations, to fight against the disability of heavy port dues, and other charges, as the result of their temerity in visiting us. I cannot understand the motive of the Government in proposing to include these navigation clauses in this Bill. These provisions relate, not to a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, but to a Bill which is at the present time the subject of inquiry by a Royal Commission. The Ministry acted very unwisely and injudiciously - I might almost say improperly - in taking what I consider to be the very heart out of the Navigation Bill, and proposing to make it a kind of addendum to this measure. These clauses should have been part and parcel of the subject-matter of the inquiry by the Royal Commission appointed to consider what would be the probable effects of the passing of the Navigation Bill. Moreover, a very serious difficulty will arise if this part of the Bill is carried. An alteration in its title will be imperative for one thing. And then there will be the possible ultimate loss of the whole measure should these clauses be found, as I believe they will, to be ultra vires. Feeling as strongly as I do that these clauses should form no part of this Bill, I am not tempted to any great degree to support even the amendment proposed by the right honorable member for Swan. It seems to me that the proposed amendment is a most unsatisfactory compromise.
– The whole hog or none.
– I agree with the honorable member. If we are going to depart from the principles of freedom of action - if we are going to impose these restrictions on the right of the people to conduct their business as they think fit - we have a right to go still further. We should not compromise with principles. This legislation would not really affect the wages of Australian seamen. The seamen employed in over-sea ships are not Australians. They are engaged at home or abroad for the round trip, and sign articles of agreement drawn up outside Australia. I seriously doubt whether the form of agreement provided for in the proposed new schedule would not contravene the provisions of the Merchant Shipping Act so far as British’ vessels are concerned. The form is as follows : -
It is agreed between (name), the Master of the Ship and the persons whose names are subscribed hereto, and who are members of the crew of the ship, that from the day of 19 , to the day of 19 , or until the ship ceases to engage in the Australian coasting trade, whichever is longer, every award, existingor 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 ship’s articles of agreement with the crew notwithstanding.
I wish to direct particular attention to the last twelve words. What national complications may we not invite by requiring an agreement of that kind from the master of a foreign, or even of a British ship? We are attempting to pass a law which will override the British Shipping Act and the shipping laws of foreign countries. It may be that we have the power to pass such legislation - I shall leave the question to the legal authorities in the Committee to argue amongst themselves’ - but it appears to me, as a layman, that we are arrogating to ourselves authority which we do not possess and cannot enforce. As I am of opinion that the proposed new clauses, if they have been brought forward seriously, should be considered, if at all, in connexion with the Navigation Bill, and not as part of the measure under discussion, I give notice of my intention to move, after further discussion has taken place, the omission of all the words after the words “ This part of the Act shall come into operation,” with a view to test the feeling of the Committee on the question.
– I feel that the clauses which we are now discussing contain some of the most important provisions which have been put before us in connexion with this measure. So far as the interests of country producers, whom I largely represent, are concerned, I am of opinion that their adoption would be a graver evil than the bringing of those concerned in agriculture and kindred industries within the general scope of the Bill, an evil which was averted by the carrying of an amendment moved by me in an earlier clause. Therefore, I intend to offer as strenuous a resistance as I can to the adoption of the proposed new clauses. I feel that they menace the interests of those whom I represent, and of the great mass of the producers of Australia. In my electorate large monetary interests are invested in the three staple industries of the Commonwealth - wool growing, wheat growing, and dairying - while other producing industries are also represented. Feeling, as I do, that the effect of the adoption of these provisions would be to injure those interests, it behoves me to oppose them with as’ much force as I possess. I agree with the right honorable member for Swan that the proposed new clauses aim at the protection of Australian shipping by the absolute prohibition of the competition of oversea vessels. That is certainly the desire of those who are responsible for the pamphlet from which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports so largely quoted, a pamphlet which was circulated some time ago, when this matter was first discussed, but which has not been circulated during the present discussion. I understand that it was prepared at the instance of the local shipping ring, to show how cruel and wicked is the competition to which they are subjected by English and foreign steam-ship companies. It was prepared at considerable cost, and distributed, I believe, amongst the members of the last Parliament. It contains a number of inaccurate and misleading statements, but it has not been circulated on this occasion, because some of the local ship-owners are beginning to find out that these clauses are loaded, or, to use the metaphor of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, are a kind of boomerang, which may injure those whom they are designed to protect. I have been informed upon excellent authority that at a recent meeting of the ‘ local ring an attempt was made to carry a resolution in favour of their adoption ; but while that motion was defeated, no motion could be carried protesting against their adoption, the two parties among the local shipowners being so evenly divided that- they had finally to decide to make no public representation on the subject. That is why honorable members have not been worried with pamphlets and button-holed by interviewers, but have been allowed to discuss the question in peace. This change of front on the part of those who are interested in shipping is significant. It shows that they find that the benefits to be derived from legislation of this kind are not so great as they once imagined, and that they are beginning to see that it is wiser not to attempt to interfere with the great ocean-going steam-ship lines, which have done so much for the advancement of Australia in the past, and may continue to do a great deal for her future progress. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports stated that legislation similar to that now proposed is in force in New Zealand, but he should be aware, as are most honorable members, that that legislation is a dead letter. The passing of it was a demonstration on the part of Mr. Seddon, merely to make a noise, because he must have known that it could have no effect.
– It was so much bluff.
– Yes. There are not five or six ports in New Zealand between which big ocean-going vessels trade. Such vessels generally call only at one or two New Zealand ports, and do not carry passengers and cargo from port to port in -the Colony. Moreover, besides receiving subsidies from the New Zealand Government, they have made arrangements with them whereby they are safeguarded from the injurious effect of such legislation. The New Zealand precedent is, therefore, highly misleading, and for, the honorable member for Melbourne Ports to say that there is more land under cultivation in that Colony now than there was before this legislation was passed was to push the post hoc ergo propter hoc fallacy as far as it can be pushed. The Prime Minister stated yesterday that the object of these provisions was to protect the local ship-owner from unfair competition. Whilst his attitude on this question is thoroughly consistent, because he voted with the Protectionist Party throughout the consideration of the Tariff, I must confess that I feel some suiprise to find free-trade members of the Government supporting this class of legislation. If there was one man in this Chamber who should oppose these proposals it is the Minister of External Affairs. I have had an opportunity of glancing at the reports of the debates which took place in connexion with the Tariff. By reference to the speech index I find that the Minister, who was then a private member, spoke at great length on nearly every subject. He started well by making some reference to the duty on animals, and went through the list down to tea and type. He then took up a strong flee-trade attitude, and J aid down various propositions, one of which I find is recorded at page 325 of Hansard. He said that any proposal to give to any individual a special privilege by . means of protective legislation was vicious and injurious. I find, further, that, at page 327, he is reported as having expressed the utmost horror of any attempt to cripple the shipping industry, or to prevent ships from coming to Australia. At page 6106 he went into details, and showed that the wharf labourers and others, for whose interests he was- much concerned, would be very severely injured if any attempt were made to prevent ships from coming to our shores. He said -
What general prosperity can they share in ? If we cut off the shipping, if we stop a vessel from coming here - and surely it is not alleged that we encourage shipping by such a Tariff - how will they share in the general prosperity?
I find, therefore, that the Minister took up an attitude of strong opposition to protective legislation, such as we now have before us, and that he has now shed another of his principles. These proposals can afford no protection to the local ship-owner, unless they have the effect of shutting out from competition all ocean-going steamers. If that result were brought about, we should afford the local ship-owners an opportunity to maintain their present freights at times when they would otherwise fall, or to increase freights when they should remain normal. Not only Inter-State, but also oversea freights, would be increased. The farmers of Victoria export large quantities of produce to Queensland, Western Australia, and other States, and the export of manufactured goods is also extensive. Therefore, any proposal which would tend to increase freights,- or prevent them from falling, must operate injuriously to the interests of the producers and manufacturers of Victoria. The object of these provisions is undoubtedly to enable the local shipowner to maintain freights, or increase them, because no advantage whatever can bs derived unless that result is brought about. Coghlan says that the Inter-State trade of Australia, in the year 1902, represented a value of about £54,000,000. Therefore, very large interests are involved, and our country producers and city manufacturers would be largely affected if freights were increased. Inter-State free-trade has led to an increase in the exchange of products between the States, and Victoria has benefited very largely from this expansion. Therefore, it would be suicidal on the part of the representatives of that State if they were to support any legislation that would have the effect of penalizing Victorian manufacturers and producers by increasing the freights they would have to pay. So far, I have dealt with Inter-State freights. I now wish to speak of oversea freights. The great majority of our country producers depend for their markets on parts beyond the seas, and an increase in oversea freight would very seriously affect them. They want low freights - the lower the better. Every increase in freight has to come out of the producers’ pocket. This is not a case in which the consumer would have to pay the freight, but one in which the producers would have to meet any extra charge. If the cost of sending wheat from the Wimmera to the London market were increased by legislation of this kind, from is. to is. id. or is. 2d. per bushel, the extra freight must come out of the farmer’s pocket.
– Would these provisions have the effect of increasing wheat freights ?
– If they have the effect of protecting the local ship-owner they will probably have the effect of increasing the freight on all our products which are exported to parts beyond the seas. If the freight upon butter, for instance, were increased by is. per cwt., the extra cost would come out of the producers’ pocket.
– Wheat is mostly carried in sailing vessels.
– I am quite aware of that, but our butter and other perishable products are carried by the mail steamers, and every increase in the freight would reduce the net return to the producer. Hence I say that the representatives of the country districts of Victoria are vitally interested in these provisions, which are of greater importance than any previously discussed in connexion with this measure. I would remind honorable members of the cry which was raised recently against the increase in the railway freight on wheat. When the railways added to the freight charge upon wheat, it was at once recognised that the increased charge would have to come out of the pockets of the grower, and of the grower alone. It must be remembered that we have many serious competitors in the markets of Great Britain. Our butter comes into competition with the produce of France, Siberia, Denmark, and Holland, all of which countries are nearer to the home market than we are. .Any extra freight, therefore, would still further handicap our producers. I find, by reference to Coghlan, that the largest quantity of butter ever exported from Australia to the British market only represented 10 per cent, of the British importations. Instead of reducing the number of ships coming to Australia, we should strive to increase them, because the more tonnage we have here the lower freights are likely to be, and the higher the net results to our farmers, and the greater the. circulation of money in both the city and the country. We are a debtor nation, and we have to pay interest on a public debt amounting to ^235, 000,000, and on a private debt amounting to ;£i 80,000,000. These payments have to be made in the form of exports of produce, and the more cheaply we can get our pro duce away the more easy will it be for us to pay the interest on our national debt. Hence, not only from the producers’ point of view, but from that of the public, this matter is one of vital concern. I ask why should the country producers be penalized for the benefit of the local ship-owner? For many years past the profits of the country producers have been exceedingly small, although, fortunately, an excellent season was experienced last year.
– Only the wheat-growers secured a good return, last vear.
– That ‘is so. I trust that they will continue to be favoured with good returns, seeing that for several years past practically the whole of their labour has been thrown away. I wish to point out to the Committee that our local ship-owners have not been impoverished by the alleged competition on the part of ocean-going steamers. This afternoon the honorable -member for Melbourne Ports made the astonishing statement that the Australian ship-owners regarded that com- ‘ petition as a very serious menace. All I can say is that, if the honorable member is not a ship-owner, he possesses an imagination which others might envy.
– The Australian ship-owners make larger profits than any other shipowners in the world.
– I believe that upon the capital invested their profits are larger than those received by any other companies in the world. I hold in my hand an extract from the Age newspaper bearing upon this question. It reads thus : -
As compared with the Victorian manufacturer in competing for the trade of other States, the American manufacturer has an advantage in freight; for, strange as it may seem, he can ship his goods from New York to Sydney at less than it costs to ship from Melbourne to Sydney.
If, for carrying goods from Melbourne to Sydney - a distance of a few hundred miles - the local ship-owner charges more than is charged by the ocean-going liners for carrying goods several thousands of miles, it does not appear as if the former is likely to be impoverished. The profits which are derived by the Australian shipping companies positively make one’s mouth water.
– And we do not see all of them.
– I have a cutting here from a Western Australian correspondent of a leading newspaper, which reads -
Messrs. Mcllwraith, McEacharn, and Co. were recently called upon in one of the Courts, before a Judge, to furnish an account of the profits made in Western Australia during the years 1899, 1900, and 1901.
I may state, for the information of the Committee, that in Western Australia there is a dividend tax in operation, and the Government of that State desired to ascertain what profits this company had been earning, so that it might be taxed upon them. The company relied upon some legal quibble to escape its obligation. The extract in question continues -
The accounts from nth July, 1889, to 31st March, 1902, showed that the receipts were ^’135,323 12s. gd. in ‘excess of the expenditure -
That represents about £45,000 a year - and that during that period £132,150 was remitted from Fremantle to the office of the company in Melbourne.
These are the impoverished companies, for which some members of the Labour Party are fighting to-day. The company, I find, also conducts a coal business, the profit from which in Fremantle alone, during the same period, was £5,653 12s. 9d. -
In addition to that, there were coal sales amounting to £52,408 ns. 5d., the profit upon which was not disclosed. Further, there were other coal transactions, under contract, amounting to £24,667 19s. 7d., the coal being delivered in Fremantle, and paid for in Melbourne.
Here we have the case of a company which, in Western Australia alone, makes a profit of £45,000 per annum. Yet this is one of the companies that we are asked to assist at the expense of our producers. I make bold to say that during one of the bad years which they have recently experienced, the whole of the farmers of Victoria did not net that sum.
– Can the honorable member inform the Committee of the amount of capital that is invested in that company ?
– Unfortunately, I cannot. I claim that this legislation will have the direct effect of taxing the struggling farmers for the Benefit of these wealthy corporations. Moreover, it is being done by a Government which calls itself a Labour Government. I wish now to refer to the Melbourne Steamship Company, which lias adopted a very patriotic stand upon this question. At the last meeting of that company, the chairman of directors stated definitely that the shareholders did not desire this class of legislation. He declared that they were prepared to face competition from all quarters. That company, I would point out, has paid reasonable dividends, ranging from 12 J per cent, to 8 per cent. It has a reserve fund of £113,000, and, altogether, conducts its business in a very satisfactory manner. It makes a very substantial profit, though not an enormous one. The largest amount which it has made in any one year was £16,000, and the lowest £7,800. This company does not come to Parliament, cap in hand, and ask it to fill the pockets of its shareholders at the expense of the rural producers. But Mcllwraith, McEacharn, and Co., who make £45,000 annually out of the business which it conducts in one State, wish their balancesheets to be inflated still further, as the result of the legislation proposed. A few moments ago I was asked what was the capital of this particular company. I find that its authorized capital is £500,000, that its subscribed capital is £225,000, and- that there are also 5 per cent, debentures for £300,000. I think, therefore, that the company does remarkably well out of its Western Australian business. I now come to the Howard Smith Company, which pays 5 per cent, upon its preference shares, and 10 per cent, upon its ordinary shares. Its profits are substantial, but it is only fair to acknowledge that one of its directors, Mr. Edmund Smith, in a newspaper article which was recently published, declares that he does not believe in this class of legislation. These companies are not . impoverished - they are making enormous profits. The institutions which clamour most for State assistance, which require further legislative authority to fill their pockets at the expense of the producers, are those which are making the largest profits on the Australian coast. Is it fair that the producers shall be taxed by means of increased freights to still further build up these profitable concerns? I maintain that- they require no protection whatever. It cannot be urged for one moment that Australian shipping has been imperilled by the competition of oversea vessels. I hold in my hand a Blue Book which was prepared at the instance of the Right Hon. Joseph Chamberlain, and which contains figures relating to British and foreign trade and industrial conditions. By its. aid I shall show ‘ the progress which Australian shipping has made, despite the cruel competition over which some -members of .the Labour Party weep. I find that in 1850 the total tonnage of Australian-owned ships was 53,000, whereas in 1902 it aggregated 348,000. In other words, it has multiplied sevenfold during that period. In the face of these facts, how can it be contended that the local shipping companies have been in the slightest degree injured? On the contrary, they bear every appearance of prosperity and well-being. The Prime Minister has stated that, in submitting these proposals, the Government were following in the footsteps of other nations. That is a statement which is easily made, but which it is difficult to prove. It is not a fact that the great bulk of foreign nations exclude British shipping from their coasting trade. The Blue Book to which I have referred proves to demonstration that that statement is utterly without foundation ; and the London Times, in a series of articles which were written specially for the purpose of bolstering up Mr. Chamberlain’s case, declares that any foreign country could retaliate upon British shipping for any action which might be taken in the direction of excluding foreign shipping from trade with her distant possessions. Upon page 185 I find the following:-
Germany, Holland, and Denmark do not reserve the trade with these possessions, or give any preference to national vessels engaged in such trade.
That means that Great Britain and every other country has the same opportunities of entering into that trade as have the vessels belonging to the nations in question. The Blue Book continues -
France reserves the Trade between her Atlantic and Mediterranean seaboards, and also (by agreement with this country) the trade between France and Algeria. Subject to this exception, the carrying trade between France and her oversea colonies is open to foreign vessels on equal terms with French vessels.
– Is that true of New Caledonia?
The general principle adopted by Portugal is to reserve the trade with its oversea possessions and between those possessions, except where such trade is specially opened by law or decree. But the effect of the various laws and decrees has been practically to throw open the greater part of this trade.
The two countries which exclude Great Britain from their coastal trade are Russia and the United States. If I were to refer to the speech of the Minister of External Affairs I could show that that policy has had a disastrous effect upon American shipping. Upon page 186 of the same Bluebook I find the following : -
The effect of the facts stated is that, of the seven principal foreign countries with oversea possessions, four throw open the carrying trade between the mother country and those possessions, namely, Germany,: Holland, Denmark, and Portugal. The same is true of France, with the important exception of the Algerian trade.
The Blue Book then goes on to deal with the practice of foreign countries in regard to the reservation of their coastal shipping trade. It says -
The coasting trade of Germany, Italy, Sweden and Norway, Denmark, AustriaHungary, Belgium, and Greece is open either unconditionally or on condition of reciprocity.
Great Britain is therefore not injured by any of these important countries. I do not wish to weary the Committee by quoting too many figures, but I would point out that this Blue Book deals with the extent to which foreign countries whose vessels share in the trade between Great Britain and her Colonies give reciprocity. It states that -
If “reciprocity” were a test for the admission of foreign vessels to our colonial trade about 5 per cent, of the foreign tonnage now engaged in that trade would be excluded.
If Great Britain were ‘ to exclude from participation in our coasting trade, or that between Great Britain and the Colonies, the vessels of countries which did not give her the rights that she gives them, she would have only an additional 5 per cent, of this trade.
– That is a very important fact, which is not generally known.
– A perusal of this Blue Book shows that the alleged injury to British shipping is of the most trifling character. The Times, which, as honorable members know, is in sympathy with Mr. Chamberlain’s policy, has pointed out that British shipping offers an ample target for retaliation.
– It said that it was a noble target for retaliation.
– It is the best target for retaliation that foreign nations could have, and we should therefore be very careful to see that foreign nations are not led by any action of ours to retaliate on the Motherland. An attack has been made on the foreign vessels which visit our coasts, and although those who speak in favour of them may be denounced as foreign traders,I intend to raise my voice in their defence. By their competition they have increased the calibre of the ocean-going vessels from Great Britain - they have improved the conditions of Inter-State passenger traffic, and havebeen of very great advantage to our producers. The best of these steamers come from Germany.
– And they have not crushed our own shipping companies.
– No; they have been of benefit to the community generally. Let me refer very briefly to the German steamships which have been so vigorously denounced. The German . Empire takes £6,000,000 worth of Australian produce every year, and of that amount £5,000,000 represents the produce of the soil. We, in return, take £2,000,000 worth of German produce ; so that, if there is anything in the theory as to the balance of trade, we are getting the best of the deal. Germany is one of the best customers that our producers have, and the Germans have as much right to look for fair treatment at our hands as we have to expect it from them. They allow all British boats to enter into their coasting trade, as well as the trade between the Fatherland and its Colonies. Why, therefore, should we seek to penalize their vessels ? We have many German settlers in the Commonwealth. I remember reading a letter, written by the honorable member for Barker, in defence of the industrious, sober, and law-abiding characteristics of the German settlers in South Australia, and the honorable member for Grampians knows that there are very many German settlers in Victoria who are amongst the most law-abiding and industrious citizens of the Commonwealth. T shall not be a party to any attempt to arouse feelings of enmity between our British-born citizens and those of German descent. We ought not to stir up feelings of hostility between Germany and the mother country, or between Germany and the Commonwealth. If we attempted to do so, we should merely injure a good customer, and so prejudice our own position. This Blue Book shows to what a small extent British shipping has been injured by foreign vessels. The growth of British shipping since 1864, when the Navigation Act was repealed, has been remarkable. Great Britain now owns 50 per cent, of the steam tonnage of the world ; while the American trade, which has been referred to in eulogistic terms by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports, has been a gradually diminishing quantity. The Washington Census Bureau, in its last report on United States ship-building, sets forth that-
The addition to the American tonnage in foreign trade by new construction was insufficient to make up for the loss of such tonnage from natural and common causes, and the decline in American ship-building for foreign trade, which has been so marked for half a century, has not been arrested.
That decline has not been arrested; therefore, in making any comparison between the United States and Great Britain, we should remember that Great Britain has taken all the risks by allowing the people of every country to compete for her international and coastwise trade. And yet she has a mercantile marine as large as that of the rest of the world. It has been suggested that tramp ships should especially be penalized. Some honorable members appear to look upon them as a class of mercantile vagrants, and to believe that they should be penalized, either by these or by some other provisions. If we did so, we should inflict an injury on the Commonwealth. Mr. Walter Runciman, a member of the British House of Commons, and an eminent authority on shipping, points out that of the 8,200 steam-ships which fly the British flag, about 6,900 are tramps. Seventy-five per cent, of the British ships are tramps, and they form the backbone of British mercantile supremacy. The safety of Australia is maintained by means of that supremacy, and we should do nothing to impair or injure it in any way. Any injury that we might inflict on the maritime supremacy of Great Britain would react upon the Commonwealth. It would injure the naval strength of Great Britain, and, therefore, reduce her capacity to afford us adequate protection. Tramp steamers are of the greatest possible benefit to England. Thev earn large profits Tor English investors, and give employment to a large number of workmen. The people of Australia are materially benefited by the fact that the tramp vessels are always ready to come here if freights are not kept within reasonable bounds. If ocean freights increased, a large number of tramp steamers would’ at once come to Australia, and there would be a consequent reduction in charges. It is, therefore, of vital importance that we should refrain from passing legislation against British shipping, or any law that would have the effect of preventing tramp vessels from coming to our shores. The naval strength of Great Britain is indissolubly bound up with this proposal, and, as I am one of those who believe that it should be maintained, and that it is upheld by the maritime supremacy of Great Britain, I intend to offer the fullest resistance to these clauses. I trust that the Committee will reject them. They are not in the interests of the producers or the manufacturers of the Commonwealth ; thev are solely in the interests of a few capitalists, some of whom are making enormous profits, while all are,’ without exception, securing some return from their investments. We should not, by legislative enactment, grease the fat pig - increase the profits of the rich man - at the expense of thousands of the producers of the Commonwealth, many of whom have been for many years barely able to keep body and soul together.
– The honorable and learned member, who has just resumed his seat, has made out a very good case for Great Britain, but his arguments have very little to do with the question of the protection of Australian shipping. We have not a mercantile marine to compare with that of Great Britain, or of the United States, but it is time that we started to build up one. The proposals of the Government are likely to go some distance in that direction. We should be satisfied from the experience of other countries that it is high time that we protected the local trade of our ship-owners.
– Did a similar policy do any good for the United States?
– I believe that it did. The right honorable member for Swan stated that he objected to any restriction whatever on the means of transit, and yet, when we turn to his amendment, we find that he proposes to impose a very serious restriction. He does not care how much we restrict foreign vessels, as long as we allow British oversea steam-ships to continue, as at present, to carry passengers between the different ports of the Commonwealth. I have been returned to this House to represent, not one particular part of Australia, but the Commonwealth as a whole, and I do not think any distinction should be made between the States other than that which might be made in an award of the Court. I am quite satisfied that the Court, when called upon to make an award, would take into consideration the conditions which prevailed in all parts of Australia. If it considered it necessary to refuse to extend a common rule to Western Australia it would certainly do so. We were asked by the right honorable member for Swan why it was proposed to insert these clauses in the Bill. Various reasons have been suggested and referred to in terms of deprecation, but the strongest reason is that it is necessary to protect not only Australian ship-owners, but the seamen of Australia. .I cannot see that any Court could possibly give awards allowing the present rates of wages on Australian coasting steamers to continue, if we allowed foreign and British vessels, carrying Lascar crews, to engage in our trade and pay any wage they pleased.
– Those vessels do not engage in the Australian trade.
– The right honorable member for Swan has produced figures which show that they do.
– To only a very small extent.
– When we find that out of 102,871 Inter-State passengers carried in one year in the coasting trade, these vessels carried 16,000, we must recognise that they engage in the trade to a very serious extent. If those 16,000 passengers had been carried by Australian-owned vessels, manned by Australian seamen, the mercantile trade of the Commonwealth would have been still further benefited. Great Britain, with her great mercantile marine, would have no cause for complaint if that proportion had also been carried by Australian vessels. The oversea shipowners pay wages as low as 16s. 8d. per month for coal -trimmers, and. how can we expect Australian ship-owners to continue to pay£6 10s. per month to men who perform the same class of work? It is proposed to compel Australian ship-owners to do something from which we are to allow foreign ship-owners to escape, but I am not going to be a party to any such invidious distinction. If there is to be any distinction whatever, it should be, as the right honorable member for Swan has said, in favour, first of all, of Australian shipowners, and, secondly, of British shipowners. The honorable member for New England asked whether a similar policy had benefited the United States. If legislation of this description, which has been passed there, had not been beneficial, it would have been repealed. The fact that it has not been repealed shows that it cannot have been detrimental to the interests of the United States.
– Ninety per cent. of the commerce of the United States was once carried in American bottoms, but now only about twenty per cent, is so carried.
– If we do not commence to protect our shipping, none of our produce will be carried in Australian bottoms. The honorable and learned member who last spoke quoted a passage which appeared in the Melbourne Age; but I should like to read a few words froman extract referring to a series of articles which was published in that newspaper. This is from its issue of the 6th August, 1902 : -
Some time ago a series of articles appeared in the Age, pointing out the great necessity which existed for protecting the mercantile marine of Australia from the unfair competition of oversea and foreign registered vessels. It will be readily recognised by any one conversant with the details of the shipping business that it is impossible for the Australian owners to profitably compete with foreign ships, when the former has to pay higher wages ; second, carries larger crews; and third, effects all its repairs here. Foreigners evidently recognise this clearly, as also the oversea British ships, which frequently compete in the coastal trade with their smaller and lower paid crews and cheaper repairs.
If that was the position in 1902, it is precisely the same to-day. The right honorable member for Swan has taken credit for having passed an arbitration measure in Western Australia. He was also willing to retain his portfolio as Minister in two Governments which ‘introduced Federal Arbitration Bills. But since he joined the ranks of those who are opposing the present Ministry his views have changed. The Barton Government were of opinion that seamen should be under the provisions of an arbitration measure, though not in the manner now proposed, while the members of the Deakin Ministry held a similar opinion. The right honorable gentleman reminds me of a man who, having done one good action, is content to live for the rest of his life on the reputation for well-doing thus obtained. Although a great deal has been said about the injury which the adoption of the proposed clauses would inflict upon the producers of Australia, by increasing rates of freight to England and elsewhere, the right honorable member is chiefly concerned about the possibility of the passenger rates between Western Australia and the ports of the Eastern States being increased. I regret that the honorable members for Perth and Fremantle have made an attack upon a member of the party to which they belong - I refer to Senator Guthrie. The remarks of the honorable senator, to which exception has been taken, were part of a lecture which he delivered before the Australian Natives’ Association in Adelaide some years ago, and had nothing to do with the Arbitration Bill. He has always been anxious for the establishment of a mercantile marine in Australia, and he rightly said, on the occasion referred to, that he believes in preserving the trade of Australia to the citizens of the Common wealth. He further stated that Port Adelaide, because of its geographical position, would in that event become one of the leading ports of the continent.
– He referred to the provisions now under discussion.
– No, he did not. He did not mention the Arbitration Bill further than to say that if there were to be such a Bill he would like its provisions to preserve the coastal trade of the Commonwealth to the citizens of Australia. He was speaking entirely in support of the building up of the ‘ mercantile marine of Australia, and honorable members were very unfair in the way in which they dealt with his remarks. The honorable member for Fremantle was particularly unfair, because he tried to connect with the address of Senator Guthrie the resignation from the Barton Ministry of the right honorable member for Adelaide. The honorable member for Perth has stated that the proposed new clauses would not have been introduced but for the activity of Senator Guthrie. But as a matter of fact, they have been demanded from a very large number of sources. If honorable members will refer to the index of the Votes and’ Proceedings for the last session of this Parliament, they will find that petitions praying that the Bill be amended, so as to make it apply equally to all vessels engaged in the Australian coastal trade, whether Australian, oversea, or foreign, were presented from the Executive Officers of the Federated Seamen’s Union of Australasia, the President and Members of the Executive of the Australasian Institute, Marine Engineers, the President and Executive Officers of the Federated Stewards’ and Cooks’ Union of Australasia, the President and Executive Officers of the South Australian, Victorian, and New South Wales Branches of the Federated Seamen’s Union of Australasia, the President and . Executive Officers of the Port Adelaide District Trade and Labour Council, the President and others of the Amalgamated Society of Ironworkers of Victoria, the President and others of the Masters’ and Engineers’ Association of New South Wales, the President and others of the Sydney Labour Council of Sydney, New South Wales, the President and others of the Mercantile Marine Officers’ Association of Victoria, the President and Executive Officers of the United Trades and Labour Coun
I cil of South Australia, the President and
Executive Officers of the Sydney Wharf Labourers’ Union of New South Wales, the President and Executive Officers of the Coast Trade Masters’ and Officers’ Association of New South Wales, the President and Executive Officers of the Queensland Branch of the Federated Seamen’s Union of Australasia, the Chairman, Executive Officers, and Trustees of the Port Adelaide Working-men’s Association, the President, Executive Officers.1, and Committee of the Melbourne Wharf Labourers’ Union, the President and Executive Officers of the Political Labour Council of Victoria, the President and Executive Officers of the Trades Hall Council, the President and others of the Lithgow District Smelters’ and Workers’ Industrial Union of Employes, the President and Executive Officers of the Coal Miners’ Mutual Protective Association of the Western District, New South Wales, the President and members of the Eskbank Ironworkers’ Association of Mill and Forge Workers, the President and Executive Officers of the Brisbane Labour Council, and from George Dawson and others of the Coal and Shale Miners’ Mutual Protection Association of Airly, Industrial Union of Employes. That is sufficient evidence of a very general demand for the proposed legislation.
– Were any of the petitioners producers?
– Will the honorable member say that any one of them is not a producer? In the same volume, honorable members will find a .petition from the Executive Officers of the Federated Seamen’s Union of Australasia, which contains the following statements : -
Those are the statements of the men who are most competent to judge of the position of affairs to-day. I shall not read the whole petition, but its concluding statements are these -
That is, without the provisions relating to seamen - the result may be that in any arbitration, as the Court will have no power to raise the rate of wages paid by foreign or oversea vessels, although these wages are entirely inadequate for the Australian coastal trade, the wages of Australian seamen may be reduced, as the only mode of preserving any part of the trade to Australia.
I entirely agree with those statements. No arguments have been adduced which prove that . this legislation is not urgent. When the right honorable member for Adelaide spoke on the subject there was an expectation of serious trouble, similar to that which occurred during the maritime strike of a few years ago. I admit that that difficulty has been got over, though I think only temporarily. Honorable members who say that this legislation is required, but that the proper place for it is in the Navigation Bill, should remember that there is -no likelihood of such a measure being passed during the next two years, within which time the present agreement between the seamen and the ship-owners will have expired, and we do not know what may not happen then. The right honorable member for Adelaide has made this subject a special study during the whole of his political life, and he is better fitted than are most honorable members to judge as to the proper place for the provisions now under discussion. The right honorable member for Swan told us that only 1,500 persons- would be affected by the proposed new clauses, and that statement was repeated by the honorable and learned member for Parkes ; but more than that number of persons would be affected in New South Wales alone. If we take into account the masters, mates, engineers, firemen, trimmers, cooks, stewards, and other ship employes, who would be affected, the number would not be over-stated at 20,000 persons. The honorable and learned member for Parkes, appears to be of the opinion that the Australian trade is not paying, and that if the oversea mail steamers are too severely handicapped, their owners may refuse to allow them to come here. Whether the trade is now a profitable one or not, I am- sure honorable members will agree that it is a growing one. Indeed, it is likely to increase in the near future by leaps and bounds.
– So much the better for the local shipping companies.
– So much the better for competition. I am quite sure that, no matter how trade may increase, our local ship-owners will be prepared to perform their part, so long as they are able to compete with outsiders on even terms. A number of statements have been made with regard to the profits derived by the P. and O. and Orient companies. It is quite true that the Orient Company has not derived very large profits from the Australian trade. It is pointed out in Fair Play of February 25th, 1904, that the Orient Company was able to pay a dividend of only 5s. per share for the last financial year, and that the shares of the company were quoted at a little less than their original value. The Orient Company is practically a family concern, in which the whole of the partners are acting as managers, and drawing magnificent salaries. Therefore, it does not matter much to them whether they draw their profits in the shape of salaries or dividends. I find that the £100 deferred stock of the P. and O. Company was quoted in the last reports at £209 10s.
– But the company paid a dividend of only 7 per cent.
– They did not derive that profit from the Australian trade.
– I agree that the Australian trade may not be so profitable as some other branches of the company’s business.
– The P. and 0.. Company lost 50,000 golden sovereigns upon the Australian trade last year.
– I accept the right honorable gentleman’s statement. I am quite satisfied that the company can see its way clear to make up all that loss, and to derive a considerable profit in addition, from the largely increased trade of the near future. The honorable member for Fremantle stated that the provisions now submitted could not be enforced, because we should have no control over ship-owners in foreign ports. I would point out, however, that the seamen’s unions are very strong in many ports of the Continent, as well as in Great Britain, and that they have been able to enforce the payment of a minimum wage. I am quite satisfied that they will be able to insure that their members are paid at reasonable rates. The proposed clause 79F provides -
The master of every ship to which this Part of this 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 which extends or applies to the ship or to service or employment on the ship.
Penalty : One hundred pounds.
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.
Therefore, the master of a ship will have to enter into an agreement, enforceable in any part of the world, to pay the rates of wages ruling in the Commonwealth before he can obtain a clearance, and I am quite satisfied that the seamen themselves will see that they are fairly dealt with.
– Does the honorable member call that proving his case?
– Undoubtedly I do. The honorable member has brought no evidence to bear upon the matter, and it is ridiculous for him to assume that the seamen who belong to unions in the old country, or elsewhere, will not be able to enforce their own rights, if necessary, even in the Courts. I think the Government are to be commended for introducing these provisions, and I trust that they will be adhered to. I am becoming sick and tired of accepting amendments proposed by honorable members opposite. Not one of those amendments has been moved with the object of improving the Bill, but rather with the intention of making it inoperative.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs was intended to improve the position of the Government.
– That amendment was projected long before the right honorable gentleman had been able to exert any pressure.
– The Prime Minister accepted it, because he knew what was involved.
– Too many of the amendments proposed by honorable members opposite have been accepted, and I am very sorry that I was not here to raise my voice in protest against the proposal to permit of the appearance of counsel before the Arbitration Court. I hope that the Government will stick to the new clauses as they stand, unless it can be shown that they can be improved.
– From the view I take of this matter, I do not feel called upon to raise the fiscal question. Matters have assumed such a shape, that honorable members can arrive at a proper decision without entering upon that controversial matter in any way whatever, and I intend to move an amendment which will test the feeling of the Committee. Whatever may be our views as to the wisdom or unwisdom of this proposal, I think we shall all agree that it raises questions of very serious magnitude. I suppose that no one who reflects upon the peculiar position of Australia with reference to other parts of the world, will fail to see that, if questions relating to shipping and the shipping industry are of importance in other parts of the world, they are of infinitely greater importance when we are dealing with a country situated so remotely from the great centres of trade. One of the greatest problems with which all those engaged in our producing industries have to deal - a problem of increasing tension every year - is the difficulty of facing the enormous length of water carriage to the great markets of the Mother Land, particularly when we are in competition with countries equally great, equally, if not more, productive, and far nearer to the markets than is Australia. If ever a question affected the producing interests of a country, matters concerning the shipping trade must have an important bearing upon the producing interests of Australia. Can any one, whatever his views may be with regard to the principles upon which nations should be built up, fail to view with concern and anxiety the hard lot of those engaged in the great producing industries of Australia to-day? Thev have natural difficulties to contend with - evils of climate, vicissitudes of drought, and sometimes of flood - which are serious enough in themselves. But after all these difficulties have been surmounted with infinite courage and determination, the producers have to face a multitude of problems as to how ‘they are to derive even the margin of a decent living from the fruits of their industry. All these matters arise in connexion with our shipping trade, as much as in connexion with our railways. Consider how public spirited the policy of the Australian States has been in connexion with the extension of railways. Why has there been such a great desire - a desire which has often overleaped the limits of prudence - why has there been such intense anxiety to push railways into the remotest parts of the interior? Because it has been’ regarded as a matter of life and death to the growth and prosperity of the country, that the utmost facilities should be provided for the despatch of the productions of the soil to markets, not only in Australia, but in other parts of the world. Now that the whole of the States have been brought together under the Commonwealth, and all provincial boundaries have been destroyed, the question of shipping as it affects the States and the producing interests of Australia, .has become one of the greatest possible importance. Whatever our future may be. it is perfectly clear that a very large if not the larger proportion of the productions of Australia will be consumed within our borders - will be interchanged between the different parts of Australia, separated, as they are, by enormous distances. Therefore, this very union of ours makes the coastal shipping trade, as well as the oversea trade, a matter of infinite concern to the people. It is a matter of great astonishment to me that the Government, which I thought took a wise course in appointing a Royal Commission before proceeding with the Navigation Bill - a course which showed a perfectly intelligent appreciation of the considerations involved in these matters - should intrude into a Bill of this kind, which is sufficiently controversial and complex, a number of the questions which will be perhaps the most difficult to unravel in connexion with the Navigation Bill, and which ought, in all fairness to have their root in that measure. This is the method of endeavouring to expand the powers of the Constitution beyond strict territorial limits, which was followed in connexion with the Customs Act. In that case, it proved successful, but only by means of a device, which was anything but straightforward, in connexion with the duties imposed on ships’ stores. The device that had to be used in order to get jurisdiction was a transparent one. However, we are now asked to indulge in what seems to me a much more serious experiment in the way of indirectly endeavouring to assume jurisdiction beyond our territorial limits. We are invited to interfere with contracts which exist “between employer and sailor - with contracts which have only incidentally to do with a visit to Australian ports. If we take the currency of an all-round voyage, even by steamer, between London and Australia, it will be found that it represents at least four months. Of course, I am not alluding to the voyages of mail steamers, but to those of ordinary steamers.
– To tramps.
– Surely we do not call the White Star liners tramps? They are magnificent vessels, which have proved a great boon to Australia. If it is a grand thing to have a steam-engine puffing through Australia it is an equally grand thing to have these magnificent steamers traversing the ocean to our shores. There is one aspect of this matter upon which we are absolutely united. We may entertain all sorts of views in reference to the regulation of our import trade, in order to carry out certain national objects, but there is one aspect of the shipping industry upon which protectionists and free-traders stand loyally side by side. I refer to the promotion of the export trade in our natural products. There is no line of cleavage between us there. We may all be wrong in our methods of encouraging colonial industries, but in the maddest, wildest heat of fiscal controversy, we have never yet known a protectionist and a free-trader to part company on the vital point of endeavouring to develop those industries by swelling the volume of our trade with other countries. Viewing this question from that stand-point alone, it is one which brings all men - irrespective of their fiscal views - into line. . If there is anything which seems likely to injure the development of our internal resources we can all claim an equal interest in desiring to avoid it - apart altogether from our fiscal views. I do not wish to occupy the time of the Committee with a number of legal theories or speculations, but there is one plain fact which every one must recognise, namely, that if these clauses are inserted in the Bill, it will be inevitably “ hung up “ and reserved for the Royal assent bv the GovernorGeneral. There is nothing more certain than that. There is no class of measure which is more jealously guarded against the Royal assent than one affecting the shipping trade of the Empire. It is one of the matters upon which Governors are specially instructed. The passing of a tariff is a matter of local concern; but when we talk of introducing into an Arbitration Bill designed to settle disputes between subjects of the Commonwealth, a power to interfere with the shipping trade of the Empire, which has its base thousands of miles from Australia, we endeavour to exercise a power which will result in the hanging up of the measure for, perhaps, one or two years. [ am sure that the Government honestly regard the Bill as one of pressing importance.
– That was the experience of New South Wales in regard to a similar measure.
– The Bill must be reserved under Statute.
– That is so. I was putting the position apart from any statutory obligation. Here it is proposed to obtrude into this Bill, which is already difficult enough, an element which will suspend its operation for one or two years at the very least, and which may possibly cause it to be disallowed. I do not wish to take that extreme view.’ I am merely stating the more moderate view. If the Bill contains these clauses, there is bound to be an immense amount of consideration given to it at home before it is assented to. The policy underlying the measure is not in the direction of openly encouraging an Australian shipping industry, because how that can be brought about is a matter of controversy. But even if our measures were not subject to review by the .Imperial Government - if we possessed absolute power over all these matters, who can say that the building up of the shipping industry has any relevance to the settlement of disputes between industrial persons - between employers and employes ? The position of the seamen employed on British and foreign ships has no possible connexion with our internal government. They are subject to our laws when they enter our ports, but so far as the contracts affecting their employment are concerned, those contracts are made elsewhere, and operate during nearly the whole of their currency outside of our jurisdiction. When we propose to alter the terms of employment of these people, and to provide that they shall not be prejudiced, we at once create a number of difficulties in the way of carrying out our own wishes, which must be obvious to everybody. For instance, let us suppose that an agreement is entered into in London between a master and a sailor, for the latter to serve during a round voyage. Both the master and the seaman sign it. Upon its expiry,, will not the master pay only the amount which the original contract stipulated? Let us suppose that that agreement was set up in justification of his action - what would happen? I think that an agreement which is not founded upon a consideration as between the parties is not worth much. I do not wish to express an opinion at this stage upon the serious legal points involved; but any honorable member must see that a number of difficult points would arise in this connexion, and that so far as our jurisdiction is concerned, we should be absolutely impotent to carry out our intentions. That will be a matter for consideration when the proper time arrives. But the point which I wish to impress upon the Committee, is that the Government themselves admit that more information is required before they can effectively deal with the shipping industry of Australia. I have no desire to press any amendment to these proposals. If Ministers will accept my personal assurance, I have no desire whatever to enter into any controversy upon this matter. If they will . promise to consider whether it is not better - especially in view of the point which I have emphasized in reference to the possibility of delay in securing the Royal assent - I will not move any amendment. I do not wish to enter into a long consideration of the very important matters which are involved in these proposals. My view is that this is the wrong time to urge them. We shall all be in a better position to deal with them when the Navigation Commission has completed its labours. If the shipping trade of Australia were in a state of crisis, there might be some excuse for obtruding these provisions
– We can never tell when the trade, in common with other callings, will be in that state.
– If, as a matter of fact, it were in that state, the Government might have some basis to work upon. They might, with more show of reason, say - “ Well, perhaps these provisions are out of place, but at the present time there is a great crisis in our shipping industry, and we wish to settle it at once.” Even ‘then I should urge that it should be settled by means of a separate Bill.
– I do not think that the reservation pf the Bill would extend over a long period.
– The Prime Minister knows what official delays mean when Bills are reserved for the Royal assent. I know how long they are “hung up.” Surely the Ministry do not desire this Bill to be “ hung up “ for ten months.
– Bills are never hung up for the length of time the right honorable gentleman mentioned.
– Suppose the period is not more than ten or twelve months. Surely the Government do not propose that an urgent measure of this kind should be “hung up” for that time.
– How long was the Immigration Restriction Bill which the right honorable member submitted to the New South Wales Parliament hung up?
– So long that I never heard any more of it.
– It was considered when the right honorable member was in England.
– But it was never assented to. Of course, the provisions of the Immigration Restriction Bill which was passed by this Parliament were well known, and that measure was assented to. As far as I can ascertain, the shipping companies of Australia ate absolutely the most disgustingly prosperous bodies in the whole world. I happen to possess a certain amount of private information regarding them on account of a near relationship with the managing director of one of the largest companies here, and I am very proud to know that he is the gentleman to whom reference was made by the honorable and learned member for Wannon. He is not only the managing director, but the largest shareholder of one of our local shipping .companies, and he has definitely declared that he does not need any of this assistance. He says, “ I am making enough money without asking any one to add to my profits.” If I may be permitted to make a suggestion to the Government, and to the Navigation Commission, it is that they should go behind the balance-sheets of these companies, and ascertain the profits which they have really made. The result of such inquiries might prove useful, not only to the Government, but to some other worthy persons whose interests are even nearer to the hearts of my honorable friends than are those of the shipping proprietors.
– So far as I know, the shipping companies say that they will be unable to pay the present rates to the seamen unless some such legislation is enacted.
– It is always the .rich person who makes the biggest mouth about these things. We never hear the poor fellow who is in receipt of £2 or £3 per week, and who has’ to support a big family, talking like that. But those individuals who make £10,000, or £20,000, or even -£30,000 per annum never think they will be able to pay-
– What about the P. and O. and Orient companies?
– They are losing money in the Australian trade, and they ask for no assistance of this kind.
– They are paying 10 per cent.
– If they had to wait until they could declare a dividend upon their investments out of the Australian trade they would never declare one. Surely we cannot complain that they are making money out of other people? These enormous shipping companies, which are of immense benefit to us, are losing from £10,000 to £12,000 a year in the Australian trade. They ask for no assistance, but our own . ship-owners, who are building magnificent fleets out of their profits, seek special consideration to enable them to pay their seamen. That is too thin. I thought that my honorable friends would have been the last in the world to listen to clamour of that sort from such a source. I do not wish to introduce anyparty element, or to reproach the Government. All I say is that the views of some of the members of the Labour Party ought to command a certain degree’ of respect from, the Government, although, perhaps, they may not show any for the opinions I express. Some attention should be given to the views of Government supporters, who know a great deal about these proposals, and of what is likely to be their effect on a part of the Commonwealth which is very severely handicapped. No one can help feeling the greatest sympathy with a State in the position of Western Australia, possessing no railway communication with the other States - shut off as she is from other parts of the Commonwealth. In view ot the fact that some of the members of the Labour Party hold somewhat strong opinions with regard to these proposals, I would urge the Government to take advantage of the Royal Commission which they have appointed, to obtain the best information, and then allow us to thresh out this matter. I do not think this is the right Bill in which to insert such clauses. If the Government succeeded in carrying them, the result would probably be to hang up the Bill. These provisions would be altogether out of place in a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I shall not move any amendment until it is necessary to do so, but I’ commend my suggestion to the Government.
– What amendment does the right honorable member propose to move ?
– Only a formal one to test, not the principle involved, but the propriety of inserting these clauses in the Bill at the present time. I wish to test that question without committing any honorable member to any expression of opinion on the clauses themselves. My proposal is to move to omit the words “This part of the Act shall come into operation,” as a formal way of testing the question, but I shall refrain from moving the amendment at present, as I wish the Government to have an opportunity to consider it. I hope that they will adopt the course I have suggested.
– Following up the point taken’ by the right honorable member for East Sydney, I should like to remind the Government that they might not only cause the Bill to be hung up for nine or twelve months through its reservation for the consideration of the Imperial Executive, but that it is exceedingly likely that if these provisions were passed, its operation might be suspended for two or three years, on the ground of its being opposed to Imperial policy. I have already referred to what took place when the Federal delegates were discussing with Mr. Chamberlain, then Secretary of State for the Colonies, the appeal clauses of the Constitution Bill”; but I would remind the Government that Mr. Chamberlain then pointed out that he was particularly anxious to preserve the right of appeal to the Privy Council, because questions as to the constitutionality of the shipping legislation of Australia might have to be raised. ‘ This was one of the questions that he anticipated might be challenged .on the ground of our legislation being ultra vires. An article on the subject appeared in the Times, and in conjunction with the Imperial discussion of the Constitution Bill a memorandum was published, setting forth the objections of the Imperial Government to the appeal clauses as they stood when the Bill went home for enactment by tha Imperial Legislature. Mr. Chamberlain referred to section 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, which prescribes the conditions under which we may legislate in regard to the “coasting trade.” There is no definition of “coasting trade. “ It is an exceedingly ambiguous term, and at present we cannot absolutely say that under these clauses as drafted it would be within our powers to legislate in relation to the coasting trade. It has been decided that a vessel leaving Calcutta, going to London, discharging portion of her cargo there, and then going on to some other port in the British Isles, as the port of final destination, is not a vessel engaged in the coasting trade. That decision was given in relation to the provisions of the Act as to compulsory pilotage. There have been decisions on other prescriptions of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, to the effect that ocean vessels sailing from one port in the British Dominions, and touching, in the course of their voyage to the final port of destination, another British port, are not vessels coming within the coasting trade provisions.
– The Crown .can give its assent.
– It could not override its own legislation. It could veto this Bill if it considered it unconstitutional, although it might be wrong in doing so. It ought, perhaps, to leave these matters to the Judiciary.
– Does the honorable . and learned member mean to say that we could not make any municipal laws we liked, provided they were within the Constitution, and the Crown assented ?
– I do not say anything of the kind. The honorable and learned gentleman is assuming the premises as well as the conclusion. If it were within the Constitution, we could, of course, pass such a law. The point is whether this proposal is within the Constitution.
– We think that it is.
– I merely mention that the term “coasting trade” is one of great ambiguity. I need not do more than refer to what I consider the erroneous definition of the term given by the Federal delegates in their memorandum to the Imperial Government. As reference has been made to the matter, I think it well to read the definition signed by Sir Edmund Barton, the right honorable member for Adelaide, and, also, I think, by the right honorable member for Ballarat.
– Only by way of reply li> their arguments.
– I assume that the honorable and learned member would not sign any statement unless he believed it to be correct.
– It was quite correct for the purposes for which it was given.
– They might have strained the definition in order to show that the Constitution Bill would not go very far. But they would not have thought of stating any definition in the memorandum in question unle’ss they considered that the term had some chance of bearing the construction they placed upon it.
– What does the honorable and learned member think is the meaning of the term “ coasting trade “ ?
– My view of the meaning of the term is immaterial. We have to consider what the memorandum presented by the first expositors of the Australian Constitution said it did not mean. In this well considered memorandum it was stated -
It will be observed that this provision is very much more restricted than that made by section 20 of the Federal Council Act of 1885. Under the present measure the provision is made to apply only to cases in which a British ship begins and concludes her voyage within the limits of the Commonwealth.
In other words, they defined the term “ coasting trade,” under which we are now legislating, as a trade which commenced and ended in Australia - as a trade carried on in a vessel whose first port of clearance and final port of destination were in Australia. If that be so, these clauses are ultra vires. They went on to say -
The expression, “ coasting trade,” is not defined in any of the Acts cited : it may be taken to include the trade of vessels plying merely between the ports of a Possession within territorial limits.
If the second definition, taken in conjunction with the first, is a correct description of what the coasting trade is,- then, under section 5 of the covering sections of the Constitution, the definition in the clauses under consideration is ultra vires. If that be so, we shall find that Mr. Chamberlain’s successor will probably carry out what that gentleman said he would in all likelihood do - that he will challenge these provisions on the ground of their unconstitutionality. It will therefore be seen that if these clauses were inserted the Bill would not only Be reserved under section 736 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894, but that it is exceedingly likely that the reservation would result in its being hung up, on the ground that it was opposed to Imperial interests, and outside the letter of our own powers.
– The views of “bur own delegates might be quoted in support of that contention.
– Quite so.
– They were eminent men.
– Yes; they comprised Sir Edmund Barton, the right honorable member for Adelaide, the late Mr. J. R. Dickson, and the honorable member for Denison. This was the principal memorandum presented in support of the appeal provisions of the Constitution Bill, and was the result of a great deal of deliberation. I speak with some knowledge of the facts, because I followed very closely the proceedings at home. Mr. Chamberlain stated in his memorandum in reply that -
The words, “ first port of clearance,” and “ port of destination,” in the clause in question are not free from ambiguity, and embarrassing questions might be raised as to the law applicable to a ship clearing from one Australian port for another, after coming to Australia from a port in some other part of Her Majesty’s dominions.
That is exactly the case in point. He said that it was an ambiguous definition, although, the delegates did not think that there was any ambiguity, and gave a definition of the term that would really restrict our powers. Are not. those who favour the Bill adopting a most fatuous course in supporting the Government proposal? Is it not absurd to support provisions that would, if passed, result in the Bill being reserved for nine or twelve months? It might be further hung up on the question of whether we had not exceeded our rights. My view in this respect, however, is subject to the qualification that I think enlightened statesmen ought not to suspend the operation of a Bill of this kind ; they should not usurp the power of the Judiciary to determine the matter. They might, however, be influenced by the fact that it is only with a great deal of hesitancy that we have given the right to appeal to the Judiciary, as regards the provisions of this Bill. We could not, of course, .prevent the determination of the question whether the Bill was ultra vires, but the Bill, as introduced, contained provisions to prevent any points being taken from the Court of Arbitration itself to the Judiciary for determination. The way in which we wish to exclude reference’ to the Judiciary would be one of the points taken into consideration bv the Imperial Government in determining whether the Bill should be hung up. The Attorney-General has inquired what, in my opinion, is the meaning of the term “coasting trade.” Personally, I believe that the term should include trade carried on by ocean-going vessels that take in cargo, say, at Fremantle, for discharge at Sydney; but in view of several decisions that I have examined, I am not quite sure that it does. My doubt upon the point has certainly been strengthened by the memorandum to which I’ have just made reference. I have dealt with the law, and should like now to say a few words as to the question of policy, although, in doing so, I may to some extent repeat a little of what I previously mentioned, when the definition clause was being considered, and trespass on ground that has already been well trodden by other honorable members. I would ask the Committee whether, from the point of view of the policy underlying this Bill, which is to protect not the capitalists but the workers, it would be worth while to insert these provisions?
– The Bill is supposed to protect both.
– Do the Government assume that we shall protect the workers by protecting the companies? What is the object of the Bil! ? To compel capital-
– If the Prime Minister expects to obtain fair wages as a voluntary recognition of the just claims of the workers, why is he trying to pass a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to compel employers to pay such wages? I do not say that in passing this measure we are impugning the honesty of employers. We are merely proceeding on the well-known rule, which has been drawn from a broad survey of human operations, that men cannot be trusted where their self-interest is concerned. We are ali similarly constituted in that respect. Selfinterest is usually the most potent motive, justice itself often taking second place. The Bill is a measure to coerce capitalists into paying fair remuneration to the wage earners. That being admitted, how
I can it be argued that if we increase the dividends of the local steam-ship companies we shall cause them to pay higher wages to the men whom they employ ? The idea of those who support the proposed new clauses appears to be that it is necessary to protect the local shipping companies from the competition of the oversea shipping companies in order to increase their dividends, and thus to obtain a larger wage fund. They assume that if the local steam-ship owners obtain better dividends they will pay better wages ; but, as I have just, shown, the passing of the Bill negatives that presumption. According to figures given by Sir Malcolm McEacharn, when he represented Melbourne in this Parliament, about 1,760 seamen are engaged on the local steam-ships trading on the Australian coast. Those men, no doubt, come under the provisions of the Bill ; but the particular clauses now under consideration apply only to those connected with the oversea shipping. These clauses will not benefit the 1,760 men employed on local vessels ; they can affect only the seamen who have shipped from ports outside our territorial limits. But, even .if the 1,760 seamen engaged on the local ships were affected by the proposed new clauses, they are only a very small part of the total number of employes connected with the local shipping trade, inasmuch as, taking officers and wharf labourers into account, 16,000 persons are connected with that trade. The wharf labourers, of course, come under the general provisions of the Bill, and are not affected by the clauses under consideration. If great injury may be done to our primary producers by hampering the operations of oversea vessels in the manner proposed, is. it worth while to do that injury for the sake of the exceedingly small advantage which may accrue to the comparatively few seamen who are engaged in the local shipping trade? I indorse what has been said -by several honorable members as to the need for being particularly careful not to run the risk of increasing oversea freights. I know that many cargoes of wheat may be taken away from Australia by vessels which will not be affected by the awards of the Arbitration Court, inasmuch as they will sail directly from their port of clearance to their port of delivery, without touching elsewhere in the Commonwealth. But I remember that in a discussion held by the Adelaide Chamber of Commerce, an Australian shipper - I think Mr. Darling, but I am not sure that he was the gentleman who made the statement - pointed out that a very small difference in freight had, in these days of severe international competition, a very considerable effect upon the success of -our wheat exportation to the home market. Not only may our wheat exportation be considerably affected by a slight increase in freight, but the produce which is carried by the ordinary liners must be still more affected if we considerably hamper the operations of the oversea vessels which come to Australia. Let honorable members consider the position of our producers. They are situated at a distance of 14,000 or 15,000 miles from the markets of “Europe, and have to face the competition of Canada, of the wheat producing areas of America, and of the Argentine Republic. All of those places are nearer to England than we are, and, what is almost of more importance, the volume of freight traffic between them and the continent of Europe, and probably even between Great Britain and Russia, is greater than the volume of freight traffic between Australia and the home market. Then, again, what is our position in regard to exportation? About 75 per cent, of our exports go to the home country. These, as has been stated by the honorable and learned, member for Wannon, aTe the products of our primary industries. If we interfere with the shipping which carries them, and thus increase freights, we may find that the sale in the home markets of our wool, wheat, and other produce is seriously handicapped. Surely we should not, to. obtain an illusory benefit of the working classes, enact legislation which might have that result ! Honorable members talk about the subsidies which are given to foreign vessels as though they injure Australian producers, whereas every subsidy paid to German, French, or other foreign vessels coming here, is a. subsidv in aid of Australian production. Honorable members seem unable to get rid of the stultifying operation of the foolish instinct of former days, when men hated the foreigner unreasonably, and thought that everything that came from abroad must necessarily be bad. Germany subsidizes’ very large vessels which come to Australia, and, in consequence, we- obtain lower freights for the wool and other produce which we export- to that country. The result is that our export trade to Germany has very largely increased since the subsidized German vessels began to come here. In 1898 the exports from Australia, excluding New Zealand, to Germany, were valued at ,£4,283,000, and at £6.000.000 in 1902. I will deal with ex- ports only, because, as was pointed out by the right honorable member for East Sydney, free-traders and protectionists alike wish to encourage our export trade; but if it is any consolation to our protectionist friends, I will mention that our exports to Germany are nearly three times as much as our imports. We must also consider the Empire in this matter. We get the protection of the British Navy for a very small consideration. The support of that Navy means a drain upon the taxpayers of the United Kingdom which, apart from the construction fund, last year reached about £36,000,000, whereas, apart from our local defences, we subscribe only about £200,000 per annum. The British Navy protects our interests in our mutual commerce, and it also protects our share of our commerce with British possessions which never touches the shores of Great Britain, and in which that country; is. therefore not directly concerned. That commerce is worth about £300,000,000. Surely, it is a paltry manifestation of our so-called local patriotism to try to impose pettifogging restrictions on oversea trade, which must hamper Great Britain in her competition for the shipping freight of the world ! As to foreign vessels and the possibility of reprisals, we must remember that the export trade of England to foreign countries is valued at £240,000,000, and about 43 per cent.’ of the exports of the United Kingdom go” to foreign countries, while about 38 per cent, of her imports come from foreign countries. Fifty-three per cent, of the exports of India go to foreign countries, and about 24 per cent, of the imports of that country come from foreign countries. In the decade ending 1901, while the export trade of Australia to Great Britain increased only 5 per cent., our export trade to foreign countries increased 74 per cent. That was partly due to the fact of the existence of much cheaper freights. I do not wish to labour this point.- I have given these figures to illustrate my statement that we shall act foolishly if we endeavour to cripple the shipping which gives us cheap freights. It was stated in an excellent’ article published last month by Senator Pulsford in one of the Sydney morning newspapers that the freights between Brisbane or Sydney and Great Britain are actually as low as the freights between Brisbane or Sydney and Fremantle. I wish now to say a few words in regard to the extent of the trade affected by foreign competition. The Blue Book to which the honorable and learned member for Wannon referred to-night, shows that the foreigners do only 5 per cent, of our coastal trade. Sixty-one per cent, of the trade between the United Kingdom and foreign countries is carried in British vessels, and we should therefore be careful not to injure the freight earnings of the Mother Country. Let us take again her trade which is open to reprisals. Vessels of British registration, representing 106,000,000 tons, were entered and cleared at foreign ports in 1902, while only 48,600,000 tons of foreign registration were entered and cleared at British ports. What is the significance of those figures? The Times, in a series of articles written to aid Mr. Chamberlain’s policy of reprisals against foreigners and preferential duties, had to admit, after a very careful consideration of the whole question from the point of view of the shipping trade, that that trade afforded a noble target for reprisals by foreign countries, and that even if subsidies were granted, as was suggested, to British shipping about 47 per cent, of the ships of British registration would be prejudicially affected. Now, to come back to the subject of the local trade, Sir Malcolm McEacharn stated that the annual total earnings of vessels engaged in the Inter-State trade by the carriage of passengers and cargo was £2,250,000, and that the amount earned by the ocean-going companies in connexion with the conveyance of passengers and cargo between Inter-State ports was £125,000. It may be said that if the percentage of the earnings of the oceangoing vessels is so small, the competition of oversea ships will not operate as a check upon the ring of Inter-State ship-owners. The point, however, is that although the earnings of the ocean-going . steamers amount to only £’125,000 as compared with £2,250,000 earned by local shipowners, their competition is ‘chiefly operative in connexion with the Western Australian trade. Sir Malcolm McEacharn stated that the value of the Western Australian trade was about £’200,000 per annum, and that about half of that trade was carried on by ocean-going vessels. Honorable members will thus see what an effective check is really imposed by the ocean-going steamers in regard to that particular branch of the Inter-State trade.’ The amount earned by the foreign-going companies in the shape of freight upon cargo does not amount to more than perhaps £25,000 per annum. But even that amount when compared with the total value of the trade, £200,000, would act as a considerable deterrent to excessive abuse of the quasi monopoly which the InterState ship-owners enjoy. I have been told by a South Australian manufacturer that, owing to the heavy freights charged by the local ship-owners, it is almost impossible to ship machinery to Western Australia. I have a letter, which was written to me about a month ago, by the secretary of the South Australian Fruit-growers’ Association, who complain of the freights charged by the local steam-ship owners, which are said to operate against the exportation of fruits from South Australia to Western Australia. They complain, not only of the freights, but of the very severe nature of the provisions embodied in some of the bills of lading. Honorable members may remember acase which was decided recently in the Western Australian Supreme Court, and in which a question was raised as to the liability of ship-owners for goods stolen or destroyed on board ship by their own employes. The local ship-owners have practically a monopoly of the trade, and intending shippers have either to keep their goods at home or pay the freights demanded of them. In the case to which I have referred, section 3 of the exceptions in the bill of lading expressly exempted the company in regard to all liability with respect to robbers and thieves, either aboard or ashore, or whether servants of the company or not. In that case goods were stolen, and the Supreme Court of Western Australia decided that, although it was repugnant to the instincts of justice that such provisions should be included in a bill of lading, they were enforceable at law.
– According to that, the ship-owner could providore his ship from the cargo.
– Similar provisions are included in most bills of lading.
– I think not. It was pointed out by the Court that this was an exceptional case. Such a provision is not consistent with the law relating to carriers on land, because they cannot make exceptions of that kind in their own favour.
– I made mv statement on the authority of an honorable member opposite.
– I know that such a provision is contrary to the general law relat ing to the responsibilties of carriers. Mr. Justice McMillan, who delivered judgment in the case to which I have referred, said that- he would have no hesitation in saying that the contract in question was neither a just nor a reasonable one. Under it, freight was payable in advance, and if, during the voyage, the company suffered their servants to steal the goods, the company could hand over to the unfortunate shipper, who had paid the freight, the empty cases.
We should not encourage the abuse of a monopoly, such as is now enjoyed by the Australian steam-ship owners.
– May not that case be met by means of other legislation ?
– I hope so. I trust that when the Navigation Bill comes before us, we shall find that we have power to guard against such provisions being inserted in bills of lading.
– We shall then have the help of the honorable and learned member.
– I shall be only too happy to render any assistance I can in that direction. I would remind honorable members that the competition of the oversea steamers in the passenger trade is not such that it can very well be complained of by the Inter-State ship-owners, because the fares by the ocean-going steamers are generally 50 per cent, higher than those charged on the Inter-State vessels. I have, on my application, been furnished with certain figures by the shipping companies, and I propose to quote one or two examples. From Sydney to Fremantle, the return fares by the mail steamers are - first saloon £21, second saloon £16 10s. The firs’t-class fare by coasting steamers is £13 10s., or less by £3 than the second-class fare upon the ocean steamers. From Melbourne to Fremantle, the first-class fare on the mail steamers is £13 10s., and the second-class £10 1 os. j whereas the first-class fare bycoasting vessels is only £8 8s. From Sydney to Melbourne, the first-class fare by the mail steamers is £6 10s., and the secondclass £4 1 os., whilst the first-class, fare by the coasting steamers is £3. Therefore; the local ship-owners have nothing to complain of in the way of unfair competition, so far as passenger rates are concerned, because the mail companies charge from 30 to 50 per cent, more than they do. I trust that the Committee will pause before adopting these provisions, because the benefit they will confer upon the working classes is purely illusory.
– Why illusory ?
– Because the seamen who will be protected by these provisions are. those who come from abroad. The provisions will not result in putting an additional penny into, the pockets of the local seamen.
– They will, however, deprive the local steamship-owners of an excuse for reducing the pay of the local seamen.
– The Attorney-General is too old and too experienced to trust to the plausible excuses offered by capitalists. Judging from the gross figures, the local ship-owners are deriving dividends ranging from 30 to 40 per cent, upon their paid-up capital, and I am sure that, if they were so disposed, they could well afford to pay their men fair rates. The only men who will be affected by these provisions are- the seamen who ship in other parts of the world in vessels which afterwards trade upon our coast. I do not think that even their interests can be adequately protected by means of the contracts contemplated. We cannot provide that the sum total of wages earned by them for a whole voyage shall exceed the amount previously received. There are grave doubts as to the constitutionality of the provisions which are intended to empower the Collector of .Customs to refuse to grant a clearance until he is satisfied that the requirements of the law have been complied with. I believe that if an attempt be made to enforce these provisions, their constitutionality will be challenged as being beyond the scope of the powers delegated to us by the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894. On the ground that, in the first place, very little benefit, if any, can be conferred upon local seamen, arid that, in the second place, these provisions may result in an increase of freights, I trust that the Committee will pause before adopting them.
– I cannot altogether follow the reasoning of the honorable and learned member for Angas. First of all, he has accused the Government of introducing legislation with the object of raising the wages of the local workers, and now he is objecting to a provision which is intended to do some measure of justice to a section of the employers. I desire to point out that the object of this legislation is to as far as possible do away with all industrial turmoil. The workers, after having striven for many years to attain their ends by means of strikes and other equally undesirable methods, were recommended to adopt constitutional means, and now that they are doing so, they are being accused of endeavouring to coerce and penalize the other side. We have provided for a Court wherein all disputes between employers and their employes may be settled. The tribunal will be an impartial one, and all those engaged in industry ought to be glad to have an opportunity to avail themselves of it, should necessity arise. Referring to the proposals immediately before us, I could have understood the objections which are being raised, if we were proposing to impose upon foreign steamers trading upon our shores conditions other than those with which local shipowners have to comply. As a matter of fact, we are endeavouring to place all ship-owners upon the same footing. We desire to treat all alike; but some honorable members unreasonably assume that we shall drive the oversea vessels away from our coast. The suggestion has been made by the right honorable member for East Sydney that these clauses should be withdrawn and subsequently inserted in the Navigation Bill. But I would point out that if that course be adopted the only remedy open to us will be to prohibit oversea vessels from engaging in our coastal trade at all. Whether we are in a position to take up that stand - as has been done in America - is very questionable. . I ask honorable members if there is anything unfair in demanding that ocean-going steamers shall comply with the same conditions as are imposed upon our own local ship-owners? Personally, I fail to see it. I would also remind the Committee that when the Customs Bill was under consideration, a similar principle to that which we are now asked to indorse was clearly laid down. In that case we compelled all ships trading with Australia to pay duty upon the stores which they consumed in Australian waters. It seems to me that the same argument which induced Parliament to come to that conclusion applies in the present instance with even greater force. It has been said that if the Government insists upon these proposals the Royal Assent to the Bill will be withheld. Personally, I fail to see anything within the four corners of our Constitution which will prevent us from obtaining the Royal Assent to this measure-.
– The argument which was advanced was that the inclusion of these provisions will result in the Royal Assent to the Bill being delayed.
– A similar argument wai used on a previous occasion, but the prediction was not justified by events. I could quite understand the Royal Assent being withheld, if we imposed upon British ships disabilities to which we did not subject our own . ship-owners, but not otherwise. I can also conceive that these provisions are open to attack by the old Opposition from the free-trade stand-point, but I cannot understand the attitude which is taken up by some honorable members who, prior to the advent of the present Ministry to office, voted for. the protection of every Australian industry and are now voting against the introduction of these clauses.
– Some of the members of the Labour Party intend to do the same thing.
– I cannot understand, I say, why any honorable member who sat upon this side of the House during the last Parliament, and supported proposals to extend protection to other forms of industry should now refuse to give fair play to our own ship-owners. To my mind the position is an absolutely inconsistent one to adopt. In his speech in this debate the right honorable member for Swan practically repudiated the whole of his career in Federal, politics. When he occupied a seat upon this side of the Chamber he loudly declared in favour of the development of Australian industry. Yet during the course of this debate he delivered a most admirable free-trade speech from every stand-point, simply because he desires Western Australia to be specially exempted from the legislation proposed I fail to see in the proposals of the Government any evidence of a desire to specially penalize ocean-going vessels as against locally-owned steamers, and accordingly I shall support them.
– To my mind “the honorable and learned member for Wannon supplied the Committee with incontestible evidence that the position taken up by members of the Opposition upon this question is absolutely justified. I rise principally for the purpose of expressing my surprise and regret that, after having appointed the Navigation Commission - of which body I have the honour to be a member - the Government have seen fit to curtail the scope of its inquiry by withdrawing from its consideration essential parts of the original Bill. My protest has been indorsed by all the mercantile and commercial bodies throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth. As the Government are aware, the Chamber of Commerce in each of the States has entered an emphatic protest of a similar character. I do not presume to discuss the legal aspect of the question which has been raised by the right honorable member for East’ Sydney. . It seems to me, however, that his offer is a most generous one, and should be accepted by the Government. He has stated his readiness to take no further action so long as the Ministry promise to reconsider their position. He does not wish to embarrass the Government, nor do I think that any honorable member desires to do so. It is our wish that this Bill shall be made as effective as possible.
– It would be worse than useless if all the amendments proposed by the Opposition were carried.
– That has yet to be shown.
– They were proposed from a desire to make the Bill of no avail.
– -It is incorrect to say that any amendment has been moved with a view to defeat the humane provisions of this Bill. I have a personal knowledge of these matters.
– I would not accuse the honorable member of any such intention.
– I believe that it is the desire of honorable members generally that the Bill shall be made a workable measure for the settlement of industrial disputes. I have from the first held that the Bill really overreaches itself ; that it provides for conditions altogether outside the scope of a Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and I have never departed from that position. It is because of this belief that I have consistently supported amendments to moderate its effects, and I feel assured that every amendment that has been carried was put forward with a view to making the Bill more successful in its operation. As the result of these amendments, it has undoubtedly been improved. If the provisions as to the giving of a preference to unionists, and the application of the common rule, in what I consider would be an unjust way, were removed, I should have no objection to the Bill.
– There would be nothing left.
– I disagree with the honorable member. If the measure were so amended, it would still carry out the humane objects which its framers had in view. I have already pointed out that these new clauses have received the strong condemnation of the mercantile and commercial representatives of Australia, and I repeat that the Government seem to have flouted public opinion in that direction. I would remind Ministers of the fact that deputations of producers have waited on the Prime Minister in this building, and urged that the existing contracts for the carriage of oversea mails should be continued. It has been shown by evidence from England that the markets of the old world are disturbed by irregular deliveries, and that unless our products are delivered regularly and in good condition there can be no hope for our producers. Is it suggested by honorable members opposite that the tramp steamers which call jat Australian ports would be likely to afford the facilities in the way of cool storage and regular delivery that are so necessary to the success of our producing interests? Such a suggestion is ridiculous. Only by the retention of the services of the large oversea steamships that at present trade between Great Britain and Australia can we secure all the conditions that are essential to the success of our producers.
– Would the honorable member place foreign steamers on a better footing ?
– I am a Britisher first ; I would support a Britisher against all corners.
– I speak of foreign vessels.
– The vessels of the German, French, and American lines?
– Why should we decline to give a preference to our own steamers, and to the British capital invested in those lines of steam-ships ? The Government proposal is not to give them a preference, but to place British steam-ships, which come here, on a par with those of foreign countries. I do not wish to take any step that would be to the disadvantage of even the foreign steamships, to which reference has just been made, for they have rendered good’ service to our producing interests. It is suggested that if these provisions be not inserted in the Bill the seamen” employed on Australian coasting steamers will be seriously interfered with. I see no reason why the InterState steamers should not continue to make the profits which, according to the returns submitted this evening to the Committee, they have been earning for some time, if they can legitimately do so. But if these provisions were carried we should place in the hands of any designing company a greater power for combination against the seamen employed in its vessels than it had ever before possessed. We should give it an opportunity to form one of the greatest monopolies that had ever existed in Australia. That would be most objectionable. I hold that we should endeavour to retain the advantages of the competition which oversea vessels give, and which has a countervailing influence against the creation of such a monopoly. Honorable members opposite, and more particularly the Minister of External Affairs, who have been so strongly supporting this proposal, are, in my opinion, anxious to create a weapon that mav really be used to the detriment of the seamen. One of the remarkable features of this debate has been the diversity of opinion which it has shown to exist amongst the members of a party which has, in the past, been distinguished for its solidarity. Whether we are to regard this as the first step towards the breaking up of the omnipotent caucus, I shall not presume to say
– The honorable member should remember that the position we take up in opposition to the Government proposal is that which we took up when we sat in the Opposition corner.
– The honorable member never did better service to the community than when he sat in the Opposition corner, and made many able speeches in advocacy of freedom of action. He is now, as he rightly asserts, pleading for that freedom of action which, in a young country like this, is most desirable. A point that has been overlooked is that a considerable portion of British capital is invested in Australian steam-ship companies. Another aspect of the situation that ought to be considered is that the Union Steam-ship Company of New Zealand would be very seriously affected by the passing of these provisions. That company is registered in New Zealand, and has, its head-quarters there, so that its vessels, which constitute one of the most important means of communication between the mainland and New Zealand, and various Inter-State ports, would be regarded as those of a foreign company, and be subjected to the disabilities of these, clauses.
– The other day the representatives of Tasmania were complaining bitterly of the freights charged by the Union Shipping Company of New Zealand.
– That is a matter which must be dealt with in the ordinary course of commercial business between those who desire the space for freight and those who have that space to supply. I am not prepared to debate it here, because I think it is outside our province. If it is part of the Government proposal to regulate freights as well as wages, without regard to the commercial interests concerned, that is only another of the constant developments which we have had ever since the discussion of this measure began, and which make it difficult to understand precisely what the position of the Government is. There can, however, be little doubt in the minds of honorable members opposite that the Government cannot carry the proposed new clauses. Why cannot they, therefore, if they honestly desire to have the Bill passed into law as speedily as possible, as I believe they do, acknowledge the fact? The numbers are up.
– The numbers were up the other night, and yet honorable members were defeated.
– In this case the result will be very different.
– ‘ The result cannot be known until the division is taken.
– I rose, not to repeat information which had been given by other honorable members, but to contribute what I could to the discussion, and to protest, on behalf of large mercantile and commercial bodies, against unnecessary and undesirable interference with our shipping industry. It was refreshing the other day to hear the addresses which were delivered upon the motion to establish a Federal Department of Agriculture, because we were then engaged in the . consideration of a practical proposition for the advancement of the interests of the community, whereas for week after week, and month after month, we had been discussing almost wholly theoretical matters, which might have been settled by five or six men in a very short time. I wish to see practical business done. One feels humiliated by these attempts of the Government to press upon the community legislation which is opposed to the public interests. Some of the proposals which have been put before us are, to my mind, arrant nonsense. I hope, therefore, that to-morrow the Prime
Minister will see the wisdom of accepting the generous suggestion of the right honorable member for East Sydney, and will withdraw the objectionable proposals now before the Committee.
– The proposal of the honorable member for Kooyong, that the business of Parliament should be conducted by those on the Opposition benches, and that half-a-dozen honorable members should retire and fix matters up between them, is as cool a one as I have heard uttered in this Chamber. To some of us the measure now under discussion is of very serious importance. The Government have recognised the interests involved by suggesting a general discussion upon the clauses which have been pro- ‘ posed. I have listened to a considerable part of the debate which has taken place, and it has appeared to me that some Honorable members have worked themselves into a state of needless alarm as to the effect of the proposed new clauses. They seem to think that immediately they are passed, British ships will cease to come here, and that the Tasmanian apples will never reach London, because there will be no vessels to carry them there.
– The producers of Tasmania will have to pay higher freights.
– Among the surprises of the debate was the statement of the honorable and learned member for Angas, that the subsidies given to foreign vessels advantage our producers. He seems to be unaware that the North-German Lloyd Company’s vessels, which are subsidized to the extent of £115,000 per annum, are prohibited by the terms of their agreement with Germany from taking from Australia, on their return voyage, either frozen meat, dairy produce, or cereals. The Campagnie des Messageries Maritimes also receives a subsidy of 8s. 4d. a mile, and the Japanese subsidize their vessels which come here to the amount of £50,000 a year. But if the honorable and learned member thinks that these nations subsidize their vessels in the interests of the Australian producer, he is more simple than I have hitherto taken him to be.
– We send £-10,000,000 worth of wool to the Continent, and wool ‘ comprises five-sixths of our exportation to Germany.
– We all agree with a great deal of what has been said about the desirability of keeping up our communication with the old world. What has been said in that regard is a statement of facts which have nothing to do with the question before us, unless it can be shown that the proposed new clauses will prevent oversea vessels from coming to Australia.
– They will increase the freights which will have to be paid by those who export produce from Australia.
– There is no proposal to raise freights, nor has it been shown that the effect of the proposed new clauses will be to impose greater burdens upon our producers. The Bill is a measure to provide for the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration, and it is admitted that the seamen of Australia, for whom no State legislation can provide, are those for whom a Commonwealth measure is most needed. But if a dispute occurred between the employes of Australian shipowners and their employers, the latter would probably urge that they could not increase wages because of the severe competition of British and foreign vessels to which they were subjected. That argument could not be left out of consideration by the Court. Therefore, to make the awards of the Court of any value, they must, when necessary, be applicable to British and foreign vessels trading on the Australian coast. If it were shown that the oversea companies charged higher passenger fares than were charged bv the local companies, and did not carry freight between Australian ports, the Court would probably hold that there was nothing approaching unfair competition. But, while we are desirous of allowing the Court to deal with the whole matter, honorable members opposite wish to prevent the Court from having that power. It will be generally admitted that it would be better not to pass a law than to leave a loophole for escape from its provisions which might render it abortive. The honorable and learned member for Angas will see at once that if we exempt British-owned vessels from the operation of the Bill, Australian ship-owners, who desire to remove themselves from the scope of the measure, will be easily able to do so by registering their vessels in Great Britain. This could be done under the provision of the Merchant Shipping Act, which makes it clear that any British subject owning a ship may register it in Great Britain.
– The honorable member forgets that the ship-owner would not only have to register his ships, but would have to start the voyages of such ships from England.
– No; a ship-owner could register his ships in England, start them from a British port, and never come back again. The seamen who desire that means should be provided for referring disputes in which they engage with the ship-owners to an Arbitration Court, wish to see their employers placed upon a fair footing with their competitors from abroad. They seek to protect them against unfair competition, and that for which they ask no reasonable minded man could very well refuse. They say that their employers should not be compelled by an order of the Arbitration Court to pay wages higher than those which are enforced in regard to other ships engaged in the same trade. The point referred to by some honorable members that foreign steamers which are not competing with locally-owned vessels may still have to comply with the requirements of these provisions, has no great force, because if there is no competition the terms of the award of the Court will not be enforced. If, as has been stated, the Australian shipowners are making enormous profits,, they will probably not complain of competition on the part of foreign rivals. In such an event no harm would be done. I fail to see any reason for the alarm which has been felt by some honorable members that British ships will not call here to take away our produce. Is it reasonable to suppose that any such state of affairs will be brought about by legislation which is intended merely to insure that fair conditions shall be observed by all those who engage in our local shipping trade?
– If the honorable member allows this matter to go before the Royal Commission on the Navigation Bill, I shall undertake to show that there is no competition, and that, apart from the mail steamers, the producers of Tasmania are not provided with means of direct communication with South Australia and Western Australia.
– It is not proposed to necessarily interfere with the mail steamers. A great deal has been said with regard to the magnitude of the British mercantile marine. I find by examination of the most recent figures that British steam-ships represent 53 per cent, of the total steam tonnage of the world. Germany comes second a long way behind with 10 per cent., America next with 6 per cent., and France with 4 per cent. Therefore, if sailing ships were included, British-owned vessels could carry nearly the whole of the commerce of the world. Some of the figures relating to the Australian shipping trade are very interesting. I find that in 1902, according to Coghlan, the total number of Inter-State and oversea vessels’ entered at ports of the Commonwealth was 17,878, representing a tonnage of 26,791,360. Of this total the Inter-State vessels numbered 6,188, with a total tonnage of 7,526,165. The vessels entered and cleared for the United Kingdom numbered 1,402, with a tonnage of 4,200,300. The! vessels cleared for British Possessions numbered 2,445, with a tonnage of 3,779,299. The number of vessels which cleared for foreign ports was 1,755, with a tonnage of 3,602,502. A number of interesting figures have’ .been quoted in connexion with the growth of the Australian shipping trade, and some of the statistics are quite startling if they are quoted in a certain way. It will be found that whilst the British shipping in Australian ports has increased by only 44 per cent, during the last eleven years, the German shipping has increased to the extent of 191 per cent., and that of the United States by 43 per cent. Taking the British-owned vessels, we find that they have 847 per cent, of the trade; the German vessels have only 77 per cent. ; the French vessels, 2’6 per cent. ; and the United States vessels, 1*3 per cent. ; Scandinavian vessels do about 1 per cent, of the trade. Curiously enough, the United States does about 12 per cent, of the New Zealand trade. These figures show that the alarm about foreign shipping is not well founded, when we consider the actual percentage of the trade. That emphasizes the point which I made previously about leaving no loop-hole by means of which ship-owners can register their ships in Great Britain. I do not claim that this is a subject which I have specially studied. But I have listened to the arguments with an open mind, and it appears -to me that no case has been made out against the clauses, and that there is no need for alarm with regard to interference with British shipping companies which trade with Australia. The interests of the consumers need to be considered. We should not consider the producers only. We must see that justice is done all round. We are here to represent all classes. I trust that before long even the honorable member for Parkes will see that the present Government and the party which supports it consider the interests of all sections of the community, and treat them on an equality. That is being done in this connexion. We may safely leave to the Court the determination of the matters that arise under these clauses. With regard to the seamen themselves, there is not much in the argument that we cannot effectively safeguard their interests under the clauses. The Seamen’s Union is a worldwide organization that has had a very large influence in regulating matters affecting British shipping. Seamen hold fairly tenaciously to any increased advantage which they secure. If, by the operation of any Australian law an advantage is secured to them, they will cling to it tenaciously, and keep the ship-owners to the terms of the agreement at the end of the voyage. But suppose that they do not. Still, we shall have done all we can do. I wish to make it clear that we cannot eliminate the seamen from the provisions of an Arbitration Bill. It is impossible to exempt them. It will be quite safe to leave it to the Court to deal with questions of exemptions, and to vary the rates for different kinds of shipping to meet the varying conditions. If it be true that the Australian shipping companies have no desire to bring foreign ships under the operation of this Bill, and they take no action, of course, no cases will arise under the clauses. My principal object is to deprecate the needless alarm as to inference. We can safely trust the Court. But unless the seamen are included the whole Bill might as well be thrown aside.
– The law compels foreign ship-owners to register.
– But, except for these clauses, they could register as ship-owners in Great Britain, and so dodge the law. We do not wish to allow that loop-hole. Our law should embrace every ship that comes to our ports, leaving it to the Court to adjust the conditions, which certainly differ in regard to different ships that trade with Australia. The Court will have all the evidence before it in specific cases, and will, if necessary, vary the conditions in regard to every ship. It will be found in practice that the awards of the Court will not .interfere in any way with Australian interests.
– The petition which was presented this afternoon bv the honorable member for Bourke is, I find on investigation, not fully in order. It contains no prayer. It cannot, therefore, be received.
House adjourned at 10.47 P-m-
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 13 July 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19040713_reps_2_20/>.