House of Representatives
30 November 1904

2nd Parliament · 1st Session



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

page 7617

PETITION

Mr. SPENCE presented a petition from the. executive officers of eighty-five trades organizations in New South Wales, representing 60,000 members, praying the House to pass the provision in the Trade Marks Bill for the registration of trade union labels as trade marks under the Bill.

Petition received and read.

page 7617

ORDER OF BUSINESS

Mr REID:
Minister for External Affairs · EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · Free Trade

– I desire to give notice that to-morrow I shall move -

That Government business take precedence of motions and Orders of the Day (general business).

My object is to enable the consideration nf the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill to be continued to-morrow^ Of course, I shall not move the motion if there is any general objection to it. I quite recognise the right of private members, if they insist, to occupy the time usually allotted to private business ; but,’ in view of the importance of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I propose to ask them to proceed with it tomorrow afternoon.

Mr McDonald:

– Will the Prime Minister grant another day for the consideration of private members’ business?

Mr REID:

– I am merely giving ihe ordinary notice at present. I shall be glad to consult the convenience of members generally.

page 7617

PAPERS/

Mr. McCAY laid upon the table the following paper : -

Amendment pf financial and allowance regulations, Naval Militia, Statutory Rules 1904, No. 72.

The Clerk laid upon the table the following papers : -

Returns to orders of the House, :ama 18th October, as to cases dealt with by the High Court, and number of sittings, appeals, expenditure, &c., during its first year of existence.

page 7618

DEFENCE BILL: PROPOSED MILITARY BOARD

Mr SALMON:
LAANECOORIE, VICTORIA

– I wish to ask the Minister of Defence whether he has considered the advisability of having the Army Medical Corps represented on the proposed Military Board ?

Mr McCAY:
Minister for Defence · CORINELLA, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– I am not in a position at present to make any definite statement. The whole matter is under very serious consideration, and I hope to be able to make some final announcement before very long. The matter has not escaped my notice.

page 7618

QUESTION

PICTORIAL POSTCARDS

Mr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA

– I desire to ask the Postmaster-General whether, in the interests of the revenue of his Department, he can see his way clear to allow Melbourne pictorial1 postcards, with .writing on the front, to pass through the- post without extra charge. I understand that in Europe persons sending similar cards are allowed to write a few words upon the front in order that the picture on the back may not be defaced, whereas the practice here has been to charge extra postage in all such cases.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– This matter has already been brought under my notice by the honorable member. T quite agree with the view expressed by him, and I have already directed that a regulation shall be framed to permit of pictorial postcards being sent through the post under the same conditions that apply in the United Kingdom. A number of persons have had to pay extra postage upon pictorial postcards because of the writing upon the front of them. I propose to allow a few words to be written in front so that there will be no necessity to deface the picture on the back.

page 7618

QUESTION

FORTNIGHTLY PAYMENT OF PUBLIC SERVANTS’ SALARIES

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

– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, in the absence of the Treasurer, whether it will be possible to make arrangements to pay the public servants <ot the Commonwealth fortnightly, instead of monthly? If the Minister is not prepared to deal with the matter at once, will he take into consideration during the recess the reasonableness pf making fortnightly payments to, at any rate, the rank and file of the Service?

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– I am a,ware that this matter has been under the consideration of the Treasurer for a long time. According to my recollection, the answer given bv the Treasurer was that it was found not to be expedient to grant the concession, because it would entail extra cost that would be out of proportion to any advantage that might be conferred upon individuals. In the absence of the Treasurer, I do not care to give any answer beyond saying that the matter is one which can be much better attended to during the recess.

page 7618

QUESTION

EXTRA SITTINGS

Mr BAMFORD:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND

– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the fact that Christmas is approaching, and honorable members generally are anxious to get into recess, he has taken into consideration the advisability of. the House sitting on Saturday and Monday next.

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– It is with very great reluctance that the Government contemplate parting with honorable members. I believe, however, that there is a general feeling that we should conclude our business as soon as possible, and we are now considering whether we shall not propose, for a week, a series of day sittings. I should’ be very reluctant to interfere with the convenience of ‘honorable members upon Saturday. Some honorable members who have to travel long distances to their homes, require to leave here on Friday afternoon, and I think we should be very much more considerate to them if we decided to sit in the mornings next week. If morning sittings were held, I should certainly not expect honorable members to stay very late at night, unless the business done were so small as not to warrant an. early adjournment.

page 7618

MAIL STEAMERS AT ADELAIDE

Sir LANGDON BONYTHON:
BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– In view of the reply given by the PostmasterGeneral to the honorable member for Swan, with respect to the steamers of the Orient Steam-ship Company calling at Adelaide, I should like to ask the Minister whether he has received any official information from the company to the effect that they do not intend to permit their vessels to call at Largs Bay.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– In view of the importance of the trade of South Aus- tralia, I should be very much surprised if the company intended anything of the kind.

Mr HUTCHISON:
HINDMARSH, SOUTH AUSTRALIA

– Can the Minister tell us whether the honorable member for Swan had any justification for the statement that the Orient steamers would discontinue calling at Adelaide.

Sir John Forrest:

– I did not say that they would do so.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT

– It is impossible for me to say what information was in the possession of the right honorable member for Swan. I have had no official intimation to the effect indicated.

page 7619

QUESTION

MAP OF AUSTRALIA

Mr McDONALD:

– In view of the difficulty at present experienced in procuring an up-to-date map of Australia, will the Prime Minister take into consideration the desirability at the earliest possible date of supplying the deficiency ?

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– I shall have great pleasure in bringing the matter under consideration. It does seem that there is a strange want of a useful map of Australia, and an uptodate publication would doubtless prove of very great service to honorable members during the recess.

page 7619

IMMIGRATION RESTRICTION ACT

Mr McDONALD:

– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the alteration of the regulations under the Immigration Restriction Act, in order to permit certain prohibited immigrants to come here and travel as students and tourists, he will have prepared a record of such persons and lay it upon the table.

Mr REID:
Free Trade

– I have no doubt that there will be some trace of the gentlemen and ladies who visit Australia under the provision referred to. If such a record can be compiled, I shall lay it on the table.

Mr McDonald:

– In the event of there being no such record, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to insure that the omission shall be. rectified ?

Mr REID:

– I shall certainly do anything to satisfy a reasonable desire for information, consistent with refraining from in flicting personal indignity upon the persons visiting us under such a regulation.

page 7619

QUESTION

TARIFF COMMISSION

Mr ISAACS:
INDI, VICTORIA

– As the Prime Minister has already practically answered the question of which I had given notice regarding the appointment of the Tariff Commission, there is no need for me to formally ask it.

page 7619

QUESTION

PUBLIC SERVICE CLASSIFICATION

Mr FRAZER:
for Mr. Ronald

asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -

With reference to the Classification Scheme and the personnel of the Appeal Board - Is it a fact that the gentleman who drew up the classification scheme is a member of the Appeal Board ; and, if so, does the Minister consider that the Court of Appeal is a fair one when one man (Mr. Betheras) of three who compose the board is an interested party sitting in judgment on his own scheme ?

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

– In reply to the honorable member’s question I have to state -

The person who drew up the classification scheme for the Commonwealth Public Service is not a member of the Board of Appeal. The constitution of the board isfixed by the Commonwealth Public Service Act, section 50.

page 7619

QUESTION

MOUNTED INFANTRY REGIMENTS

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

asked the Minister of Defence, upon notice -

  1. How many infantry regiments in Australia are carrying out the order to mount one company ? 2.Will he state which regiments and which particular companies are doing so, with their location ?
Mr McCAY:
Protectionist

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

  1. No orders have been issued for infantry regiments to mount one company. Orders were, however, issued on the 22nd March last that one company each of the twelve infantry regiments comprising the Field Force, should be trained as mounted infantry.
  2. The following gives the regiments which commenced this training, the company selected, and the location of the company in each case : -

New South Wales - 1st Australian Infantry Regiment - “A” Company, Sydney. 2nd Australian Infantry Regiment - “ C “ Company, Sydney. 3rd Australian Infantry Regiment - “ A “ Company, Windsor.

Victoria - 5th Australian Infantry Regiment - “A” and “E” Companies, Melbourne. 6th Australian Infantry Regiment - “A” and “ F “ Companies, Melbourne.

Tasmania - 12th Australian Infantry Regiment - “ F “ Company, Evandale.

page 7620

CONCILIATION AND ARBITRATION BILL

In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments resumed from 29th November, vide page 7536):

Clause 4 - “Industrial dispute” means a dispute in relation to industrial matters -

arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employees on the other part, or

certified by the Registrar as proper in the public interest to be dealt with by the Court - and extending beyond the limits of any one State, including disputes in relation to employment upon State railways, or to employment in industries carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State ; but it does not incluude a dispute relating to employment in any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit;

Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “but it does not include a dispute relating to employment in any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit.”

Mr REID:
Minister of External Affairs · East Sydney · Free Trade

– Before we proceed to discuss the amendments made in this Bill by the Senate, I wish to justify a statement which I made yesterday, the accuracy of which was denied by the leader of the Opposition. As honorable members will recollect, I represented the honorable member as having laid great stress upon the difficulty - under the amendment submitted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella - of ascertaining whether a majority of those interested in any industry approved of the granting of a preference to unionists. I stated that his objection to the proposal was mainly based upon that ground. Without making any further remarks. I wish to quote from page 4045 of Hansard. If honorable members will turn to that publication, they will see the speech which was delivered by the leader of the Opposition upon the amendment of the present Minister of Defence in opposition to the proposal of the then Government, to recommit the preference clause of the Bill. The honorable member for Bland followed the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and in the course of his speech made these remarks -

It is therefore quite possible that the interests of all children employed in an industry might be affected by an award, and the Court would have to be satisfied, under the honorable and learned member’s amendment, that the application for a preference was approved by a majority of the children as well as of the adults concerned. I take it “that “satisfied” means that the Court shall be satisfied in the clearest and most unmistakable way that the majority of those affected have approved of the demand for preference.

Mr McWilliams:

– The honorable member does not object to the provision for a majority ?

Mr WATSON:
BLAND, NEW SOUTH WALES

– No; the practice in nearly every case, in all the Arbitration Courts, has been to grant a preference only when the majority, reasonably ascertained, is in favour of such a preference. I am not so foolish as to anticipate that the practice laid down by the Arbitration Courts of New Zealand and New South Wales will be departed from by the Judge appointed to the Federal tribunal. Any one who imagines that the Judge in the Federal Court would lay down a new line of procedure - that he would grant preferences to unions which manifestly represented only a minority of those employed in the industry or in the district in respect of which the preference was asked - cannot have paid any attention to the general procedure under legislation of this kind. I contend that the objection to the honorable and learned member for Corinella’s amendment, as a detail of preference - not as affecting preference as a principle - is that it would be absolutely impossible in a great number of cases to prove that the majority of the industry concerned approved of the application.

I make that quotation in justification of my statement yesterday.

Mr. WATSON (Bland).- To my mind the quotation which has just been made by the Prime Minister does not controvert my statement of yesterday. What I said then was that, so far as the principle of preference was concerned, I did not give way to any limitation of the right of the President of the Arbitration Court to declare whether or not a preference should be granted. I replied to an interjection by the honorable member for Franklin to the effect that I did not object to providing that the consent of a majority of those interested in any industry should be necessary, but I fear that the use of the word “ no “ in the report of my remarks is inconsistent with what I said immediately afterwards. What I was attempting to convey was that I did not object to the principle that the Judge should insist upon obtaining the approval of a majority before granting a preference.I evidenced that both before and after the interjection of the honorable member for Franklin. I stated that I preferred to trust the Court unfettered, but I quite expected to get from it in practice an insistence that a majority of those engaged in any particular industry, or something approaching one, should be insured before a preference was granted.

Mr Glynn:

– The honorable member accepts the principle of the amendment, but objects to it being expressed in the Bill ?

Mr WATSON:

– I accept the principle which was alleged to underlie the amendment, but what was aimed at in that amendment was the prevention of any preference at all being granted.

Mr McCay:

– That is not correct.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not care whether that was the motive which animated the honorable and learned gentleman or not, but I hold that that was the effect of his proposal .

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member used the words “ what was aimed at,” and thev imply motive.

Mr WATSON:

– The proposal of the Minister had no effect other than that which I have stated, and it was. largely supported by those who had no intention that any preference should be granted to unionists.

Mr McCay:

– That is quite another matter.

Mr WATSON:

– Coming back to the general position-

The CHAIRMAN:

– I think that the honorable member is rather anticipating discussion.

Mr REID:

– May I be permitted to point out that I made a series of general observations upon these amendments.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I thought that the Prime Minister to-day made a personal explanation.

Mr REID:

– Yesterday 1 made a general statement concerning all the amendments made in the Bill by the Senate, and the honorable member for Kennedy asked whether other honorable members would be afforded an opportunity of adopting the same course. I replied in the affirmative, because” I thought it would be very unfair if honorable members were not allowed to do so. In my judgment it would meet the convenience of the Committee if honorable members were allowed similar latitude to that which was extended to me. Then when the general discussion has been exhausted, we shall be in a position to deal with particular amendments.

Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I think the course suggested by the Prime Minister will facilitate business, because it will assist us to arrive at some conception of the trend of matters before we address ourselves to the Senate’s amendments. It seems to me that if there be any real anxiety on the part of a majority of honorable members to carry out their pledges to the electors to give effect to the principle of compulsory arbitration, we ought to welcome any proposal which will expedite the passage of the measure. I trust that the Committee will see the wisdom of allowing the general debate to continue until honorable members have been afforded a reasonable opportunity to express their views. As il indicated yesterday, I exceedingly regret that the Government have not seen fit to go further towards meeting the views of the Senate in connexion with this Bill. The Prime Minister has attempted to set up the position that there is no obligation upon his part or upon the .part of this Committee to go any appreciable distance in the direction of meeting the Senate, because the views which it has expressed in the amendments before us are not those of an ordinary second Chamber, but are rather the opinions of another branch of .the party which happens to be in Opposition. That is one cif the most astounding statements which I have ever heard from a gentleman occupying the responsible position of Prime Minister. He suggests that in casting up the respective positions of the two Houses we should enter into the detailed beliefs and political ideas of every member of the other Chamber. I have never heard that view expressed before. So far from these amendments representing merely the opinion of the Labour Party in the Senate, they reflect in addition the views of a fair proportion of senators who are not members of that party, and owe no allegiance to it. But even if the statement of the Prime Minister were justified, and we had a right to consider that aspect of the matter, the fact would still remain that the amendments made by the Senate are approved’ by some of those who, upon matters of general politics, support the right honorable gentleman. One or two members of the other branch of the Legislature who vote with his party are jointly responsible with the Labour Party for some of these amendments. But if the Government entertain any real anxiety to pass this Bill into law, should they stand upon considerations of that character? What does it matter to us to which party a majority of members of the Senate belong when it comes to a question of enacting legislation which the people have demanded at two elections in the most emphatic manner possible? Recently, a memorial was circulated amongst the members of both branches of this Parliament bv the Employers’ Union, in which they asked the Ministry to drop this Bill, urging against its constitutionality and general expediency a number of considerations I which apply particularly to their view of the question. Although the Ministry have not ostensibly agreed to the opinions expressed by the Employers’ Union, it seems to me that they approach dangerously close to doing so when they adopt the attitude of declaring that they intend to pass over with contumely all the amendments proposed by the Senate. In effect, they say, “ Take this or leave it.” I do not know whether or not the hope is present that the Bill will be dropped, but the position wears that sinister complexion, when we recollect that the attitude of the Ministry is coincident with the view which has been expressed by the Employers’ Union.

Mr GLYNN:
ANGAS, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– What measure of compromise does the honorable member expect from the Ministry?

Mr WATSON:

– I shall allude to that at a later stage. In the- meantime I draw attention to the fact that there is no measure of compromise. Of course, I can understand the anxiety of the honorable and learned member in regard to this matter, seeing that the memorial to which I have referred consists for the most part of a laudation of himself.

Mr Glynn:

– I have not seen that memorial.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not suggest that the honorable and learned member has done so. At the same time, I may inform him that it credits him with having almost successfully placed immovable barriers in the way of the Bill. Although it does not bear upon the amendments which are immediately under consideration, it asserts that they afford a good opportunity to throw the Bill overboard, and revert to the position which was previously taken up by the honorable and learned member. It states that whilst the employes’ side of the question is represented in this Chamber, the employers are without any representation. It seems to me that that is an indication of grave ingratitude on the part of the Employers’ Federation. They have had the help of quite a number of honorable members of this House. The honorable and learned member for Wannon has given them every possible assistance, and I think the Federation show that they are guilty of gross ingratitude, when they are not even prepared to recognise the Herculean services rendered in their behalf by the honorable member for Kooyong. While many honorable members opposite do not adopt in set terms the designation of employers’ representatives, they make it their business on all occasions to so attempt to safeguard their interests that there is no reason for them to complain of non-representation in this Chamber. With a view to prevent the passing of this measure, another statement has been made by this organization to the effect that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of New South Wales, upon which this Bill was originally largely framed, has retarded investment, and harassed employers in that State. The latest statistics available are those for the year ending 31st December, 1903, and it is curious to find, on referring to Coghlan, that during that period - notwithstanding the effects of a drought of the greatest severity that the State has ever experienced, and which has had a paralyzing influence upon a large number of industries - there was an increase of nearly£250,000 in the capital invested in manufactories. This increase took place, despite the fact that the drought compelled a number of employers to close their factories pending a general revival in trade, and that the Conciliation and Arbitration Act was also in operation.

Mr Mauger:

– The increase was due to the new protection.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not wish at this stage to discuss other issues. The Em plioyers’ Federation also assert that the operation of the State Act has led to a lessening of employment in New South Wales. We find, however, on turning to the statistics for the year 1903, that, notwithstanding the effects of the drought, there was an actual increase of employment in industries which were subject to awards given by the Court. In that year the following reductions in the number of employes in different industries took place in New South Wales : - Flour mills, 61 ; breweries, 64; sugar refineries, 116; brick works, 52 ; boiling down, tanneries, woolwashing, &c. - and the reduction in this case would certainly be due to the drought - 400; engineering, 900; meat preserving, 240 ; docks and slips, 350 ; a total reduction in these industries of over 2,200. In many other branches of industry there was an increase in the number of hands employed ; but to none of those which I have just quoted - and they are the only industries in which any substantial reduction has occurred - has an award of the Conciliation and Arbitration Courtbeen applied. On the contrary, according to Mr. Coghlan, there has been an increase in the number of persons employed in every industry in respect of which an award of the Court has been made.

Mr Kennedy:

– What does that prove?

Mr WATSON:

– It shows that the statement made in the memorial addressed to honorable members by the Employers’ Federation is absolutely without foundation ; it proves that therehas been no lessening of employment as a result of the State Conciliation and Arbitration Act, and their assertion as to the restriction of the investment of capital is not borne out.

Mr Higgins:

– Do they quote a single case in which such a thing has occurred?

Mr WATSON:

– They do not refer to any specific case.

Mr Kennedy:

– Do these figures prove increased production in the industries in question ?

Mr WATSON:

– No. Nearly every industry to which I have referred - and the list comprises all those in which reductions of any importance have occurred - has felt the effects of the drought; but not one of them has been affected by an award of the Court. As a matter of fact, no award applying to them has been made. That is all I wish to prove. The falling off in the number of persons employed has not been due to the operation of the State Act.

Mr Isaacs:

– The honorable member is simply controverting an argument of the other side.

Mr WATSON:

– Yes ; I do , not say that these facts show that a Conciliation and Arbitration Court is a good thing in itself, but they disprove the statements made in the memorial to which I have referred. Coming to the amendments made by another place, the Prime Minister stated yesterday that the fact that the provisions in the New Zealand and New South Wales Acts, allowing the Court to interfere in disputes affecting agricultural labourers, had not been availed of, was a reason why no provision should be made in this Bill for the settlement of any disputes that may occur amongst those engaged in such an occupation. I admit that for eight or nine years past the Conciliation and Arbitration Court of New Zealand has had the power to deal with disputes amongst agricultural labourers, and that during, that period no such dispute has been submitted to the Court. But there is a variety of reasons for that. In the first place, in New Zealand, agricultural labourers are in. a much better position than they are in Australia.

Mr Ewing:

– The statistics do not prove that.

Mr WATSON:

– I happen to know what wages were paid two years ago, when I visited New Zealand, and I am also aware of the wages paid to those engaged in similar employment in some parts of New South Wales. So far as I am aware, the conditions both in regard to wages and hours of labour of agricultural employes in New Zealand are much better than are those prevailing in Australia.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The honorable member saw the statement made a few days ago by the Premier of New Zealand that the cost of living had increased by thirty per cent. ? That lowers the purchasing value of the wages.

Mr WATSON:

– The cost of living does not relate wholly to goods which an agricultural labourer must buy. The cost of living, to the community as a whole, includes rent, and we all know that rent’s have gone up. I deny that the cost of food, so far as agricultural labourers are concerned, has materially increased. The cost prices are not materially higher now than they have been for some years. But owing to the increase in general prosperity, rents have gone up. Every one knows that as soon as prosperity is evident in any country, rents are raised. That fact simply proves that, however prosperous a country may be, the major portion of the benefit is secured by the owner of land.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

Mr. Seddon spoke, not of rents, but of the cost of living.

Mr WATSON:

– I am aware of that : but does not the honorable and learned member recognize that he was speaking of the population generally, while I am referring to agricultural labourers, who, as a rule, live in their employers’ houses, and pay no rent?

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– But they eat and wear the same things as do other members of the community.

Mr WATSON:

– Of course they do. If the honorable and learned member had paid particular attention to the report to which he refers, he would know that special reference was made to the increase in rents. Mr. Tregear drew attention to the advanced cost of living, and said that this was due chiefly to the fact that rents had gone up. He advocated that some effort should be made to restrict the power of landlords to collect toll from the rest of the community in the manner in which they were doing. I do not wish to argue this point at length ; but, generally speaking, the condition of the farm labourer in New Zealand is better than that obtaining in Australia. Even if that were not so, I admit that it is difficult to secure anything like organization among farm labourers, because to a very large extent they do not remain long in the same employ. But the fact that no organization has existed hitherto is no guarantee that–

Mr Maloney:

– In New Zealand a good many of the agricultural labourers have been organized.

Mr WATSON:

– Not largely as agricultural labourers.

Mr Maloney:

– In two or three cases they have organized.

Mr WATSON:

– Generally speaking, I think I am fairly correct in asserting that there is no organization of agricultural labourers as such in New Zealand, although some of them are included in organizations of ordinary labourers. That, however, is a matter of no value, so far as my present argument is concerned. The point I wish to make is that the fact that there is no organization amongst farm labourers in Australia is not a guarantee that there is no need for organization among farm labourers, or that there is no cause of complaint. The men are scattered, and it is difficult to secure united action. In my own district, however, I have known a temporary organization to be set up where men met in the harvest field for the first time, agreed to stand out for a certain wage, and succeeded. That brings me to another phase of the argument in relation to the position of agricultural labourers to which I think sufficient attention has not been directed. A number of honorable members, led by the honorable and learned member for Wannon, assume to be the farmer’s champions, in these and other matters, simply because they are attempting to exclude him from the operation of this Bill. They tell us in doleful tones of the trouble which will accrue to the farmers if the provisions of this Bill are extended to them. We are told that the farming industry will not permit of a working day of eight hours, or of the payment of a daily wage of eight shillings. The natural assumption on the part of those who listen to such statements, and have not studied the working of Conciliation and Arbitration Acts elsewhere, is that if agricultural labourers be brought within the purview of the Court farmers will be compelled to pay them a wage of eight shillings per day, and to observe the eight-hours system. That is simply ridiculous. It is a statement which may be good enough to put before those who take no interest in the matter, or who are so blinded by prejudice that they refuse to investigate the matter for themselves; But, as a matter of fact, it is well known that in New South Wales the Court has, on quite a number of occasions, given as an award the direction that many more than forty-eight hours a week shall be worked.

Mr Hughes:

– That has been done in the majority of cases.

Mr WATSON:

– I accept the correction of the honorable and learned member, who is more closely acquainted with the working of the Court than I am. I know that in respect to the trollymen and draymen the hours allowed by the Court are sixty a week. Hotel employes also work about sixty hours a week.

Mr Hughes:

– Never less than sixty.

Mr WATSON:

– The hairdressers work fifty-nine hours, and the bread-carters sixty hours a week. In one of these cases an agreement as to the number of hours to be worked was come to and assented to by the Court, but in the other cases the question has been adjudicated upon by the Court. Therefore, it does not follow that if the agricultural industry were subject to the control of the Court, any but the most reasonable view would be taken of a dispute. The Court is not likely to shed its common sense merely because a dispute affectingfarmers comesbefore it. It would naturally be guided by the evidence and the conditions of the industry.

Mr Kennedy:

– The chief difficulty lies in the want of uniformity and in the inequality of conditions which prevail in the farming industry.

Mr WATSON:

– I will deal with that objection presently. With regard to wages, I find that the New South Wales Court has fixed the rate for hairdressers at 45s. a week, and for bread-carters at the same amount, without board or lodgings in each case.

Mr Hughes:

– The wages of the trolly and draymen have been fixed at 40s. a week.

Mr WATSON:

– Yes. Those instances show that the Court will be guided by the circumstances of the industry, and would not be likely to impose outrageous conditions upon the farmers. But it is urged that it is impossible, because of the variety of soil, climate, and other conditions throughout Australia, to impose anything like uniform rules on the farming community. That objection was raised by the Prime Minister, and has just been repeated in the interjection of the honorable member for Moira. Every one must admit that the conditions of Australia are most diversified, though they are not more diversified in regard to agriculture than in regard to many other industries.

Mr Kennedy:

– In what branch of manufacture are conditions so much diversified ?

Mr WATSON:

– Will the honorable member say that the conditions of manufacture at Coolgardie do not differ materially from those obtaining in Melbourne, or that the conditions prevailing in Normanton or Croydon, Queensland, are not altogether different from those prevailing in Tasmania?

Mr Kennedy:

– The processes are the same in any given manufacture; the difference is only one of climatic conditions.

Mr WATSON:

– The climatic conditions of Australia vary so much that allowance will have to be made by the Court for the variation. It would be no more difficult, however, to make such allowance in an’ award in respect to agriculture than in an award affecting any other industry.

Mr Kennedy:

– The honorable member ought to try farming for a year.

Mr WATSON:

– I worked on a farm once for more than twelve months, and I know enough of farming to be aware that there is a great difference of conditions between farming in one district and farming in another. The Court is empowered to draw any distinction that it likes. It may fix wages and conditions at certain rates and hours in one district, and in another district award quite different conditions. There is no compulsion on the Court to make its decision absolutely uniform throughout the area affected.It would be eminently foolish to attempt anything of the kind. As we have not made that necessary, I cannot understand the suggestion of the Prime Minister that it is impossible to include farmers because of the variation of, conditions.

Mr Ewing:

– What becomes of the common rule, if decisions are not made to apply uniformly?

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member misunderstands the term if he assumes that under a common rule every award must apply equally over the district for which it has been given.

Mr Ewing:

– Without variation.

Mr WATSON:

– Nothing of the kind is intended. The common rule is an extension of the general principle of an award, but the details for different districts may be altogether distinct. The Court may say that in one place £2 a week shall be paid, and in another 30s. a week, while in one case it may insist upon eight hours a day being worked, and in another case allow eighteen hours a day to be worked. The Court will have full power to vary itsaward as the circumstances seem to justify. I admit that the term “ common rule “ is somewhat of a misnomer.

Mr Deakin:

– I suggested the term “ general rule.”

Mr WATSON:

– Yes, and but for the fact that the term “ common rule “ has been embodied in the New South Wales legislation, and is generally understood by those who have taken an interest in compulsory arbitration, I should have been inclined to. support the honorable and learned member’s suggestion. The words “ common rule “ seem to convey more than the provisions of the Bill justify.

Mr Deakin:

– They are interpreted as meaning a universal rule ; which they need not mean.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so. It would be impossible for a Federal Court to apply an award over a large area without qualification. The power of the Court to vary its awards will apply with full force to agricultural interests, should they be brought within the scope of the Bill. There is one other aspect of this matter which, I think, requires attention, and that is the motives underlying the proposed application of the provisions of the Bill to the agricultural industry. It is not merely desired to improve the condition of the agricultural labourers. The effect of an appeal to the Court may be to reduce wages. The main justification for this legislation is that it will prevent strikes, locks-out, and other disturbances of industrial conditions, and thus save the community great expense, and prevent bad feeling. On those grounds, we have every reason to support the inclusion of the farming industry. The farmer has as much interest as has any other employer in insuring that there will be no stopping of his operations. Indeed, he has a greater interest, because, while the manufacturer goes on unvaryingly turning out his products during the year, one week being of no more importance to him than another, all the farmer’s chances of success are bound up in the results of two or three weeks, or of two or three months at the outside. It is of the utmost importance to him that there shall be no halt in the garnering of his crops, lest he lose the result, notof a week’s or of a month’s labour, but of his efforts for the whole year. Honorable members who profess to be acting in the interests of the farmer may be acting diametrically in opposition to his interests in excluding him and his employes from the operation of this measure, and preventing him from having any redress if a strike occurs. . While the farming industry is without the scope of the Billthe machinery of the Court will be powerless to afford the farmers any assistance should their men be disposed to allow the standing crop to remain ungarnered. Should they refuse to reap, to strip, to winnow, or to thrash, the farmer must bear the whole loss. That is not a fancy picture.

Mr Kennedy:

– It is a long way from being the real picture.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member may have been always associated with those who have not objected to the wages offered to them by farmers, though in another branch of land employment he has occasionally stood up for other terms than those offered by the employers.

Mr Kennedy:

– I have never known trouble to arise in a farming community about wages.

Mr WATSON:

– That has not been my experience. During the last harvest there were several small strikes in my district - that is, several instances in which men refused to accept work on the terms offered to them by farmers.

Mr Kennedy:

– I never heard of such a thing in my district.

Mr WATSON:

– The docility of the people there is not reflected in their representative, then. What I refer to occurred during harvest time. I do not say that there have been similar occurrences at any other period.

Mr Glynn:

– The Bill does not cure that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– It would not drive men to accept work.

Mr WATSON:

– Certainly not.

Mr Robinson:

– The Bill would not prevent such strikes.

Mr WATSON:

– I think that it would. At any rate, it would go a long distance towards preventing them. I do not say that any serious trouble is likely to occur in the farming industry until organizations are formed. The strikes to which I have referred were only spasmodic efforts, not the result of actions of organizations. Conse quently, they had not the seriousness from the stand-point of the community at large which a general strike would have, though they were none the less serious for the individuals concerned. If the agricultural industry came within the scope of the Bill, and an organization of farm labourers existed, they would promulgate their ideas in respect to terms of employment, and if the farmers were not prepared to accept those terms they would probably be summoned before the Court long prior to the beginning of harvest operations. Do honorable members seriously contend that shearing operations are not likely to be affected by this Bill ? So far as principle is concerned, the operation of pastoralists and farmers would be on the same footing if organizations were formed. If organizations exist we must make arrangements to prevent strikes occurring.

Mr Glynn:

– There must be employment before there can be a strike.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable and learned member is wrong there. In New South Wales, in the case of the wharf labourers, steps were taken to provide conditions for labour long before the opportunity for labour occurred. It is rather important that the honorable and learned member for Angas should know that the wharf labourers, whose employment is intermittent, “and who, under the suggestion he has put forward, would be under no obligation to observe the conditions laid down by the Court, are, as a matter of fact,bound under penalty to find labour whenever it is asked for.

Mr Glynn:

– There is nothing in the Bill that would force men to work unless they had been previously employed.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable and learned member is mistaken.

Mr Hughes:

– The advantages conferred by the award of the Court, including the condition of preference, would be lost to the union unless they provided the labour required.

Mr Glynn:

– But men cannot be forced to accept work.

Mr WATSON:

– The same provision that exists in New South Wales is embodied in the Bill before us, and, therefore, what has been found possible in that State could also be accomplished under this measure. I contend that the award of the Court can be made anterior to the actual work being done - that is, the work in the harvest field - and that the union will have a direct interest in seeing that the conditions of the award are observed, and that the labour required is supplied. That has occurred in New South Wales under conditions which would be repeated under this Bill.

Mr McCay:

– Does the honorable member mean that the Arbitration Court would order the Agricultural Labourers’ Union to find men for any farmer in Australia who needed harvesters?

Mr WATSON:

– The Minister has hardly grasped my point. I say that the Wharf Labourers’ Union in New South Wales has a direct interest in supplying all the labour required, and that, the same inducement could be held out to the Farm Labourers’ Union, if one existed under this law. You cannot compel, but, in the absence of some endeavour to supply labour, you can take away a privilege, which in itself would be a loss to the unions, and consequently all their interests lie in the direction of supplying the labour required. That has been done in New South Wales, and the same course could be followed by the Federal Court with equally satisfactory results.

Mr Kennedy:

– Imagine a farmer at Gundaroo allowing a non-unionist to pass his door, and waiting until he could apply to the union officials at Wagga for harvesters.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not suppose that would occur. It has been usual for employers to give notice of their desire to employ men. Even in such cases as that to which the honorable member has referred, farmers have had to send into the towns a few days ahead in order to secure the labour they required.

Mr McCay:

– In the case of the wharf labourers in Sydney, the whole of the work is concentrated upon a few acres.

Mr WATSON:

– Of course, I admit that the area is limited in that case, but after all there would be no greater difficulty, so far as the supply of labour’ wai concerned, in the case of the agricultural industry. At present the farmers are dependent very largely for a supply of labour at crucial moments upon what they can obtain from the various towns. Last year, when we had an abundant harvest in New South Wales, it was often very difficult to obtain labourers at the right moment. In any case, there need be no difficulty in working this provision, so far as it affects employment in the agricultural industry. 12 g 2

If organizations were formed among the farm labourers, and demands were formulated, the condition of .the farmers without the Bill would be infinitely worse than if it were in force and applying to them.

Mr Kennedy:

– The farmer does not say so.

Mr WATSON:

– The farmer in Victoria is apparently a person who is very easily alarmed. He becomes stampeded or panic-stricken upon the strength of a few words uttered by the honorable and learned member for Wannon, or some other gentleman who, for the time being, poses as his friend.

Mr Kennedy:

– He has a much better, idea of his own requirements than have the Labour Party.

Mr WATSON:

– The residents in the country districts of Victoria appear to be changing their opinions, even on that head. I have met a considerable number of farmers who are beginning to lose faith in their gods, and are apparently inclined to think that their Joss deserves to be sacrificed at the first favorable opportunity - as the honorable member will probably find out later on. I should like to say a few words with respect to domestic servants. I do not pretend that this is a very important matter, because in the first place it seems as though it will be a considerable time before any organization that will affect a number of States is formed amongst domestic servants. Further, it would be much more difficult to insist that a dispute between employer and employed, affecting only domestic servants, came within the purview of the Constitution, than would be the case in other classes of employment. At the same time, I feel, as I felt when this matter was under discussion before, that, although it is not of pressing importance, it would be wise not to hamper the Court by imposing restrictions as to the class of persons to whom the Act shall’ apply. My own feeling is that we should leave the Court absolutely free to apply the measure to all those classes of person* contemplated by the Constitution.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– But the honorable member must know that the New South Wales Arbitration Court have already determined that domestic .servants do not come within the meaning of the term “ industry.”

Mr WATSON:

– That is because domestic servants are excluded from the operation of their law.

Mr BRUCE SMITH:
PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– The Court determined that they were not engaged in an industrial occupation.

Mr McCay:

– Does the honorable member think that domestic servants are “industrial “ within the meaning of the Constitution ?

Mr WATSON:

– That is a very difficult question to answer.

Mr Watkins:

– If they are not, why should we exclude them from the operation of the Bill ?

Mr WATSON:

– I am not anxious to exclude them. I think that we should in- clude them within the scope of the Bill. If the Court held that “ industrial “ did not cover the work done by the domestic servants no harm would be done. Honorable members, in supporting the exclusion of domestic servants, seem to lose sight of the main intention and purpose of the measure, which is to provide a remedy at law for a condition of things approaching war. We say that industrial strife inflicts injury upon the community by involving loss to business people and the public as a whole, and we are attempting to remedy that condition of affairs by setting up a tribunal which will bring all such disputes to a termination upon fair and equitable lines. If we keep that object in view, why should we not extend the operation of the measure to all classes of the community to whom it can be held to apply ? If a strike occurs in any walk of life it disorganizes industry.

Mr Glynn:

– Was there ever a strike amongst domestic servants ?

Mr WATSON:

– I believe there was, and upon a scale that, had we been living, would have appealed to us. I believe that upon one occasion the plebeians of Rome refused to do anything for the patricians, and all walked out on strike.

Mr McCay:

– But they were not domestic servants.

Mr WATSON:

– Some of them were.

Mr Glynn:

– Domestic servants are always going to strike, but never strike.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not know whether it is wise, or necessary, to proceed any further, seeing that the Government majority has arrived.

Mr Cameron:

– It is a majority that the honorable member would have been very glad to see on his side, but he is not likely to get it.

Mr WATSON:

– I dare say that some persons are very much relieved to hear that. We should have been glad of the honorable member’s assistance - merely temporarily.

Our views and his are so dissimilar that there was no prospect of his loyalty being exercised upon this side of the House for any great length of time.

Mr Cameron:

– All the same, my assistance would have been acceptable.

Mr WATSON:

– The honorable member’s assistance might have been welcome for the immediate purpose we had in view. I do not pretend seriously that I have known of a large industrial crisis being precipitated by the action of domestic servants, but it is impossible for us to foretell what may happen, and the wiser and safer course to adopt, as a mere matter of insurance, would be to exclude no one from the Bill, but leave it altogether to the Court to determinewhat the Constitution intended. If strike conditions arose, the machinery would be provided which would enable the remedy to be applied at once without involving the community in loss. I do not pretend that this is a very urgent matter, but I think that, as a matter of principle, this class of employes should not be excluded from the Bill.I should now like to say a word or two with respect to the amendment relating to preference to unionists. The Prime Minister yesterday referred to the sacrifices which honorable members on his side of the Chamber were making in permitting the possibility of any preference being granted to unionists by the Court. I have already stated that whatever their intentions may have been, it seems to me that they are offering the shell of preference to those who are asking for it and are retaining the kernel. They must know full well that the provision which was inserted at the instance of the honorable and learned member for Corinella rendered it absolutely impossible - and I make this statement after having thought over the matter again and again, with the utmost anxiety to see the measure passed in a workable form - that the measure could be effective.

Mr McCay:

– That is mere assertion.

Mr WATSON:

– Yes, but we have to recollect that all those who have been concerned in bringing forward arbitration legislation in the past - whether it be Mr. Reeves in New Zealand, the right honorable member for Adelaide, or Mr. Wise in New South Wales - have realized that to enable a measure of compulsory arbitration to be successfully worked, it is absolutely essential that a preference shall be granted to unionists. Whenhonorable members oppo- site” declare that it is easy to comply with the terms of the amendment which was inserted at the instance of the present Minister of Defence, they appear to imagine that all the unionists engaged in any particular industry can be gathered together in a square acre - that they can be consulted without difficulty, and their desires ascertained, and made known to the Court. Yesterday the Prime Minister urged the great diversity of climate and of the conditions of their employment generally throughout Australia as a reason why farm labourers should not be included within the scope of this Bill, but he failed to observe that his argument had rather a boomerang sort of effect upon his own proposals with regard to preference. If the diversified conditions which exist throughout the Commonwealth - the differences of climate and the scattered nature of our population - constitute an objection to including agricultural labourers within the scope of this measure, surely those conditions are ten times more effective as an objection to the restriction upon preference which is involved in the amendment adopted at the instance of the honorable and learned member for Corinella. If it be difficult to make an Act work smoothly in respect of agricultural labourers owing to the different conditions which obtain throughout Australia, how much more difficult is it to insure that the wishes of the majority of those who are likely to be affected by any award of the Arbitration Court shall be ascertained and conveyed to .that tribunal ? In the absence of a provision relating to preference, it seems to me that the whole scheme for compulsory arbitration must fall to the ground. ‘ Unless the unions have some direct interest in upholding the decisions of the Court, they are not likely to concern themselves in insisting upon effect being given to its awards, and especially if those awards involve” a reduction of wages. If a preference had not been granted to unionists at Newcastle, would the Employes Association have insisted upon the Teralba miners resuming work? I contend that it would not. Further, unless the unions are recognised as bodies charged with the responsibility of assisting the Court, there is no possibility of effect being given to its awards. In speaking of .the case of the trolley and draymen in Sydney the. other day, Judge Cohen made some remarks upon the preference question, which, I think, it would be advantageous for me to quote. He adopted the attitude which was previously assumed by Chief Justice Stout in New Zealand, where no specific provision that a preference should be granted to unionists was contained in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Chief Justice of that country and his colleagues unanimously held that the granting of such a preference was an essential condition to the operation of the Act, and that the law did not contemplate the settlement, of disputes between employers and individual workmen, but only of disputes between employers and organizations. The Court held that the whole measure was based upon organizations, and not upon individuals.

Mr Ewing:

– That point is not being contested now.

Mr WATSON:

– I hold that it is. The honorable member is one of those who is prepared to consent to the granting of a socalled preference to unionists, whilst taking every step to insure that no real preference shall be extended to them.

Mr Ewing:

– I believe in majority rule.

Mr WATSON:

– We shall test the honorable member upon that point at a later stage. Judge Cohen, following the dictum of Chief Justice Stout, said -

Finding that collective bargaining by industrial unions is vital to the operation of the Act, I consider that where an industrial union fairly and practically represents an industry -

Those words might be remembered by honorable members with advantage - so far as the employees are concerned, that preference should be granted to unionists.

He also said a great deal more, but I have quoted sufficient for my purposes. He declared that so long as an industrial union “ fairly “ represented an industry, a preference should be granted to unionists. As a matter of practice, it is impossible to give effect to the intention of any legislation of this character, unless such a preference be extended to them.

Sir John Forrest:

– He did not say that, did he ?

Mr Kelly:

– He said “fairly” - not “ substantially.”

Mr WATSON:

– If the honorable member for Wentworth can differentiate between “fairly” and “substantially” he is at liberty to do so.

Mr Kelly:

– “ Fairly “ may mean so far as their qualifications are concerned.

Mr WATSON:

– In either case we must trust to the good sense and judgment of the

President of the Arbitration Court. I hope that the Committee will take some steps to insure that the preference extended to unionists shall be a reality, and not a shadow, and that when the Court finds, after minute examination of all the circumstances of the case, that a union reasonably represents those who are engaged in any industry, it shall not be precluded by mere technical objections from giving effect to what it believes to be right in equity and good conscience.

Sir John Forrest:

– What about those honorable members who do not believe in preference at all?

Mr WATSON:

– Who are they ?

Sir John Forrest:

– I am one of them,

Mr WATSON:

– That remark reminds me of the fact that the right honorable member is one of those who has occasionally attempted to castigate others for voting against their consciences. He has declared that he does not believe in the machine politics of the Labour Party, or in the caucus system. He holds that such methods are evidence of a degeneration in Australian politics. But, although he does not believe in extending a preference to unionists, he was content to occupy a seat upon the Treasury benches and to retain office whilst his colleagues put forward a proposal in favour of it.

Sir John Forrest:

– That is not a fair argument to use.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not suggest that the right honorable member was influenced in his action by the mere emoluments of office, but it seems to nae that the dignity attaching to the position had some effect upon his conclusions. When we enter upon the detailed discussion I hope to submit an amendment which will afford honorable members an opportunity to make preference a matter of fact, and which will give to the Court power to grant that preference whenever it thinks it necessary to do so.

Mr McCay:

– Will that proposal include majority rule?

Mr WATSON:

– I hope so. So far as my own feeling is concerned, I still entertain the view which I have consistently held, that upon this matter we should impose no bar whatever upon the decision of the Court. We should allow it to decide fully and fairly, in the light of all the evidence that is obtainable. I need scarcely point out that we propose to intrust that tribunal with the determination of issues which are almost incalculable.

Why, the whole question of employment within the Commonwealth will be dependent upon the judgment of its members. The President will hold within the palm of his hand all the industrial enterprises of Australia, and conceivably might, under some circumstances - if, for example, he were suddenly to develop insanity - impose conditions which would result in closing them. Of course, we do not anticipate any such result, but it seems to me that some honorable members take up’ a peculiarly illogical position. Whilst they are prepared to vest these plenary powers in the Court, they hesitate to allow it to exercise a. discretion in the matter of granting a preference to unionists. I cannot understand swallowing the camel and straining at the gnat in that way. I admit that there are many honorable members upon the opposite side of the Chamber who, some time ago, were equally anxious with me that we should pass a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill in as nearly perfect a form as possible. I trust that they will seriously consider any amendment which may be submitted, and not determine in anticipation to insist upon effect being given to every jot and tittle of our previous decisions. I now wish to address myself to clause 55 of the measure. Honorable members will recollect that, in that provision, an amendment was moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, the effect of which was to prohibit the submission of plaints to the’ Court by any organization whose rules or binding decisions allowed its funds to be devoted to political purposes, or which required its members to do anything of a political character. Thereupon the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs proposed that under similar conditions no preference should be granted. He affirmed that the unions should be allowed to submit their plaints, but that no preference should be granted-

Mr Glynn:

– That is not the way in which that provision now reads, although I know that it represents the general wish. It does not affirm that unionists may not get a preference upon the application of a person who is bound by the award.

Mr WATSON:

– I do not pretend to be able to interpret language from a legal stand-point as well as can the honorable and learned member, but it seems to me that the use of the words “ shall not be entitled “ practically precludes the Court from) granting a preference under any conditions where such rules are operative.

Mr Glynn:

– Unionists might obtain the benefit of a preference upon the application of somebody else.

Mr WATSON:

– I cannot follow the reasoning of the honorable and learned member. When the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs was submitted I was prepared, on behalf of the then Government, to accept it. I made a reservation in regard to its phraseology, but I eventually accepted it, in view of the necessity of safeguarding the interests of those who might be otherwise constrained to join a union which applied its funds to political purposes with which they had no sympathy.

Mr McCay:

– Has the honorable member read the remarks of Senator Stewart?

Mr WATSON:

– Surely that gentleman is entitled to express his own opinion; we certainly have not reached a stage at which it is necessary to suppress the opinions of any individual. I think that the amendment carried in this Chamber would have’ an effect different from that which a majority of those who voted for it intended. It precludes, for instance, a union devoting any money to any political object, even if all its members be in agreement.

Mr Deakin:

– An organization - not a union.

Mr WATSON:

– I intended to refer to a union as an organization to which preference had been granted, or was proposed to be granted. If the clause were passed as it left this Chamber for another place, it would render it impossible for a union to make a grant towards any object of a political character, however worthy it might be, and even if its members were unanimously in favour of that course. I think that the amendment in question was put forward to prevent anything in the nature of the coercion of a member of an organization in the direction of party politics. It was held to be undesirable that an individual member of a union should be coerced to support, say, a member of the Labour Party, or that its funds should be used for party political purposes. But matters relating to party politics do not cover the whole sphere of a union’s operations in the political world. Every one is aware that long before the Labour Party was thought of as a political entity, unions were compelled by necessity to resort to political action. Almost every day they had to take political action in some shape or other ; agitations had to be conducted in order that the public conscience might- be aroused in regard to existing conditions which prejudicially affected labour. But as the result of the amendment1 which we made. any union desiring to conduct a public agitation in reference to legislation, and without regard to party politics, would have to refrain from doing so, and to continue to suffer the injustice which that might involve, unless it was prepared to forego the preference that might be essential to the proper working of an award of the Court. A Conciliation and Arbitration Court cannot deal with all the conditions that surround a workman. It cannot deal with questions of sanitation, or with the matter of compensation for injuries or death. There are a thousand and one matters that are wholly outside the purview of such a Court, but which materially affect the members of various unions.

Mr McCay:

– That matter is not at issue between the two Houses.

Mr WATSON:

– With all respect, I hold that it is. . The Senate having amended the clause, it is quite within our power to pass anything relevant to the amendment. I imagine that if honorable members are of opinion, after consideration, that an error has been made in this regard - that we have gone farther than we intended - they will not stand on their dignity, and allow an injustice to be perpetuated.

Mr Johnson:

– The real objection was to the conversion of an industrial organization into a political organization.

Mr WATSON:

– Quite so ; but the honorable member knows very well-

Mr McCay:

– We cannot alter what has not been touched by another place.

Mr WATSON:

– We may vary these words ; we may modify them in any way. The honorable and learned member is aware that such action has been taken hundreds of times in relation to Bills passing between the States Houses. I have some warrant for the assertion that it would be quite in order to define or limit the operation of any words which have been inserted by another place, and which are now before us. We have the power to modify any proposal of another place, and to modify, in turn, any of our own proposals, as an alternative offer to them.

Mr McCay:

– I agree with that.

Mr WATSON:

– Then, the honorable and learned member admits that we have power to do what I say. I was about to remark, when interrupted by the Minister, that the honorable member for Lang knows that unions have been engaged almost from time immemorial in political agitations.

Mr Kelly:

– Could not the men individually subscribe to such an agitation ?

Mr WATSON:

– Certainly they could; but I do not know whether the honorable member has experienced the difficulty of inducing thousands of men to subscribe individually to any particular object. In the first place, it is often very difficult to bring them together.

Mr Hutchison:

– Why should we dictate to them as to the way in which they shall subscribe to such objects?

Mr WATSON:

– If they desired to subscribe to an agitation to secure a Workman’s Compensation Act, or better sanitary laws, why should they be prevented from doing so? Every member of a union might be of opinion that such action should be taken, but, as the result of our decision, it would be unable to do so, except at the risk of losing any chance of preference.

Mr Kelly:

– Even if it be granted that the members of a union were unanimously in favour of subscribing to a certain object, men might still be forced to join one in some of the objects of which they did not believe.

Mr WATSON:

– There is a wide distinction between a proposal affecting the living and working conditions of members of the union, and one of a party political character, which might have for its object the return of a member of. a particular party to Parliament. We are discussing this matter in relation to the question of preference, and it seems to me to be altogether a misnomer to talk of giving preference to a union, if those who belong to it are to do none of those things that are open to a union as ordinarily constituted. When we impose such a limitation we depart from the ideal of a real preference, as well as from the true ideal of unionism. I submit these considerations to the Committee, so that it may have some idea of what honorable members of the Opposition desire. I am hopeful that the Committee will exhibit some real anxiety to pass the Bill, and to pass it in an effective shape. I believe that a majority of honorable members have that desire ; and I certainly do not think that the Bill if passed in the form proposed by the Governmentwould be effective. It would not be satisfactory to the people of Australia, or to the members of another place. Seeing that the downfall of a Government is not involved - that so far as the Treasury benches are concerned, it is immaterial what course be taken - I feel that, as these conflicting matters, which intervened when the question was before us on a previous occasion, are out of the way, honorable members will now have an opportunity to consider it without prejudice ; and consequently I appeal earnestly to them to make some effort to improve the Bill, and to render it effective in the eyes of the people.

The CHAIRMAN:

– I would pointout that there is really no question before the Chair, and I therefore suggest that the Minister in charge of the Bill should submit a motion upon which a general discussion might take place.

Mr McCAY:
Corinella · Protectionist

– I move-

That the amendment be disagreed to.

I submit this motion on the understanding that honorable members will be entitled to carry on the discussion initiated by the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition.

Mr ROBINSON:
Wannon

– I am glad that the Government have decided to ask the Committee to disagree with three of the four amendments which have been made. On each of these a very long and exhaustive discussion took place when the Bill was before the House on a previous occasion. The debate on the amendment exempting farmersfrom the operation of the Bill extended over three or four days, and the whole subject of the application of the measure to the farming industry was exhaustively discussed. Honorable members of another place have asked us to reverse our decision in regard to this matter. It was asserted by a leading member of the Labour Party in the Senate that the amendment submitted in this Chamber, exempting farmers from the operation of the Bill, was carried largely because of a desire to deal a blow at the Labour Party. That assertion is utterly without foundation. Almost every honorable member at present sitting on this side, as well as the honorable member for Hume, the honorable and learned member for Indi, the honorable member for Moreton, the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, and two or three other members of the Opposition, voted for the amendment. There must have been some convincing reasons for exempting farmers from the operation of the

Bill, and I think that those reasons have been pointed out to a large extent by the interjections made this afternoon by the honorable member for Moira and one or two other honorable members on this side. The conditions of the farming industry are very different from, those of any manufacturing industry. In the latter there is, in most cases, a large amount of capital invested, and very often a great number of men working under the one roof, but in the great majority of cases farming in Australia is purely a home industry. It is carried orr by the farmer and his children. The conditions relating to it are altogether different from those of the manufacturing trade, and a regulation which might apply to the latter would certainly be totally inapplicable to the former. I do not wish to discuss the fiscal question, but it must not be forgotten that the manufacturers of Australia are, to some extent, shielded from competition, whereas the farmers are not. The products of the latter have to be sold in the markets of the world, and the world’s prices must be accepted. Although our output of wheat and butter - two of our leading products - may appear very large, it represents but a fraction of the quantity consumed in the mother country. As a matter of fact we have never exported more than ro per cent, of the butter and wheat consumed iri Great Britain. It would be highly injurious to our export industry if our producers, who supply 10 per cent, of the requirements of Great Britain, were rendered liable to restrictions which cannot apply to the producers who supply 90 ‘per cent. There is no such legislation as this in the United States, the Argentine, Canada, Russia, or Denmark, and if ‘we adopt it, our producers, who, in addition to having to face the competition of the world, are further removed from the world’s markets than their competitors, will be seriously handicapped.

Mr Poynton:

– But the honorable and learned member does not think that this provision will be effective?

Mr ROBINSON:

– If it is not to be effective, it will be a piece of political hypocrisy to put it into the Bill. It sometimes happens, however, that provisions which are enacted in the belief that they will not be effective, are discovered to be effective. I believe in taking time by the forelock, and preventing the application of this measure to the farming industry. The honorable member for Bland drew a most harrow ing picture of the evils which might result to the farmers if agriculture were not brought within its scope. He tells us that their operations might be suddenly suspended because of a strike of their employes, and that they might be ruined because their crops could not be garnered. The farmers of Australia, as a whole, however, would rather take the chance of that dire calamity than- come under the Bill. That is the attitude of 99 per cent, of them. The honorable member told us that he knew of cases in his own electorate in which farm labourers had refused to commence work because the terms offered to them were not good enough. The Bill will not cure that state of things, because there can be no strike until employment has been accepted. If the members of an association to which preference , has not been granted, or which has not been the subject of any award of the Court, . do not commence work, there1 is nothing in the Bill to compel them to do so. Just after the New South Wales Arbitration Act was passed, the shearers on some stations refused to go to work, and when the pastoralists tried to force them to do so, they were told that if the men . had accepted work, and had then gone out on strike, the Arbitration Act would have reached them, but that, as they had not commenced, it did not. The Supreme Court of the State decided that there could be no strike until employment had commenced1. It is true that if a union is granted preference, the condition is impose3 that there must lbc a. supply of employe’s; but that is a different matter. I do not think that even the Watson Administration would have contended that preference would ever be granted to an association of farm labourers. Therefore, the fancy picture painted by the honorable member for’ Bland should not affect honorable members. If it does, I ask them to recollect that the farmers of Australia are willing to risk these dire disasters rather than have the Bill forced upon them. I suppose there is not a representative of a farming “district here who has not got his pockets full of protests from, farmers against the Bill.

Mr Tudor:

Mr. Walpole has been going round stirring them up.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The honorable member has Mr. Walpole on the brain. It is time that -he got a new target to aim at. The resolutions on this subject which I have received do not come from organizations with which Mr. Walpole is connected. The protests which I have receiver! come from men most of whom are known to me personally,

Mr Poynton:

– The objection of the farmers is to the institution of an eighthours day.

Mr ROBINSON:

– An eight-hours day is impossible on farms. What the farmers object to more than anything else is having a set of rules and regulations to be enforced by the Government stuck up in their barns, which they, their sons, * and daughters, and every one who works for them must observe. They assume that even a Court, presided over by a member of the Labour Party, will see that an eight-hour day is impracticable in the farming industry. They rightly fear, however, that their ordinary methods may be altered, and that they may be bound hand and foot by regulations, for trumpery breaches of which they may be hauled before the Court and fined. They do not wish to be hampered in this way. They are content to work out their own salvation. Conditions in the farming industry have been improving year by year, and if this natural improvement is allowed to continue the complaints which are sometimes heard from honorable members of one party only will cease. There can be no gainsaying the fact that the farmers of Victoria are practically unanimous in their opposition to the proposal to bring the agricultural industry within the scope of the Bill. On the other hand, we have not received any petition from any association of farm labourers asking for the so-called benefits of this legislation. Notwithstanding the energy and enthusiasm of the honorable member for Darling, he has not been able to scrape up such a petition even in ‘his large district.

Mr Brown:

– The New South Vales farmers come under the State Act, and they do not object to it.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The honorable member knows that it has not been attempted to apply that Act to the farming industry, and that the honorable member for Hume, who was its author, asked honorable members here to specially exempt farmers from the Bill.”

Mr Poynton:

– No party asked for the repeal of that portion of the Act at the time of the last State general elections, although the honorable and learned member has said that it is’ ruining the farmers. ‘

Mr ROBINSON:

– I have no.t said that it is ruining the farmers. What I say is that to bring the agricultural industry within the scope of the Bill will handicap our export trade, and injure the producing interests generally. It is hardly worth while to debate the proposal to bring domestic servants within the scope of the Bill. In this Chamber even, some membersof the Labour Party voted1 against that preposterous proposal. I desire, however, to say a word or two in regard .to preference to unionists. The honorable member for Bland has spoken of the decisions of the New South Wales’ Court. .1 think that in the decisions of that Court, it can be seen .that the public opinion created by the debates on this subject has insensibly affected the minds of the members of the Court. When in Committee on the Bill, I showed, by evidence taken solely from the authorized reports of the Court, that it has in several instances granted preference to very small minorities. represent7 ing only ‘ a fraction of the trade affected. It was instances of that kind which gave the honorable and learned member for Corinella justification for the amendment which he carried. He held that the Court should not have power to give a minority of the workers in a .trade a better chance of earning their living than the majority possessed. Up, to quite recently, the New South Wales Court never refused preference to any . union asking for it. I make that statement on the authority of Mr. George S. Beeby, a well-known legal practitioner in NewSouth Wales, who has represented the trade unions in most of the cases which have come before the Arbitration Court, and who was a selected labour candidate at the last State elections.

Mr Higgins:

– I understand that in consequence of the honorable and learned member’s speech, the New South Wales Arbitration Court has changed its tactics.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The honorable arid learned member has a capacity for misunderstanding when he desires to do so, and he is never backward in employing it. Mr. Beeby has stated in the. public prints that, after a perusal of the awards of the Arbitration Court, he has found that no application for preference has ever been refused by it. Exhaustive debates took glace in this Chamber, in which every honorable member expressed his opinion that preference should not be granted to minorities. The members of the Labour Party took up the same attitude that we assume-^- the only question between us being one of verbiage. When the next claim for preference came before the New South Wales Arbitration Court, and it appeared that the claimant union represented only a minority of those engaged in the industry, the Court refused to grant preference. This was the first occasion upon which such an application had been denied. The Court had, in a previous case, granted a preference to unionists who were distinctly in the minority. Then occurred the case referred to by the honorable member for Bland. 1 forget the name of the union, but I think it was the Trollymen a!nd Draymen’s Union to which Judge Cohen granted preference, and laid down certain conditions. It was, in that instance, shown to the satisfaction of the Court that the union represented a large majority of the men engaged - I think it was about 1,200 out of the total of 1,600.

Mr Hughes:

– The honorable and learned member is mistaken. Those are nothing like the facts.

Mr ROBINSON:

– I am merely quoting from memory ; but the figures show that the claimant union represented a majority of those engaged in that calling. Judge Cohen said that the union fairly and substantially represented the industry. He drew a distinction between that case and the former one, in which the union were in a distinct minority. The position taken up by the Minister of Defence is that preference should not be granted unless a majority, reasonably ascertained, of those engaged in the industry are in favour’ of preference. I should like to refresh the memories of honorable members as to trie attitude assumed by the late Prime Minister on this question. At page 4046 he said -

The Government do not desire that preference shall be granted to minorities. We have put proposal of the honorable and learned member forward an amendment as an alternative to the for Corinella, in which we ask that before preference is granted the Court shall be satisfied that the organization substantially represents the industry affected in point of the’ numbers and competence of its members.

When this proposal was discussed in the Senate, two members of the late Government were present, but neither of them had the courage to argue in support of the proposition put forward by their late colleagues as a true and just solution of the difficulty. - Some disparaging remarks have been made with regard to the change of opinion on the part of the right honorable member for Swan, but I think that a more marked instance of alteration of view is afforded by the members of the late Government. Both parties say that they are agreed that preference should not be granted to minorities.’

Mr Hughes:

– That is not our position at all.

Mr ROBINSON:

-I have quoted the statement of the leader of the Opposition, at page 4046, of Hansard, that -

The Government do not desire that preference shall be granted to minorities.

Mr Hughes:

– We say. that when the unions fairly and substantially represent an industry they shall get preference.

Mr ROBINSON:

– Nothing could be more distinct than the statement of the late Prime Minister, which I have just -quoted. That is emphasized by another statement which appears on the previous page,” and which I shall quote. The late Prime Minister said -

The practice in nearly every case in all the Arbitration Courts has been to grant a preference only when the majority reasonably ascertained is in favour of such preference.

That statement was made in good faith, although it was afterwards proved to be inaccurate. He said further -

So far as I have been able to ascertain, the New South Fares Court has never granted preference to a ‘union which did not appear to have a majority within the district to which it was to apply-

That statement was also made in good faith, although it .was proved to be incorrect.

Mr Hughes:

– In no case did the majority object to the granting of preference.

Mr ROBINSON:

– The employers objected to the granting of preference in the case of the saddlers.

Mr Hughes:

– Yes, and to the application of the common rule.

Mr ROBINSON:

– Both sides say that they are in favour of the proposition that preference ‘ shall not be granted to minorities. The position taken up by the Government is that the Court must be satisfied that the claimant union represents a majority of those engaged in the industry affected. The members of the Labour Party propose words which they say are intended to have the same effect - but which are more nebulous than those employed by the Government - namely, that the claimant union must represent the industry in point of numbers and competence.- if- we take it for granted that the members of the

Labour Party do not desire that preference shall be given to minorities, we cannot do better than convey to the Court a very distinct expression of our wishes. The decisions which have been given by some of the Arbitration tribunals have occasioned much surprise, and we cannot too distinctly and definitely make our intentions known - namely, that no preference shall be granted except in cases where a majority of those engaged in an industry is represented by. the applicants. We have displaced one Government over this preference question, because we felt that it was such a vital matter ; and that being so, we should be stultifying ourselves if we adopted any position other than that assumed by us upon a former occasion. The Government are to be congratulated upon the stand they have taken up with regard to the proposed amendment, and I hope that they will adhere to their position to the bitter end. I feel convinced that honorable members will support them in seeing that the Bill is carried into law in the shape, in which they desire it.

Mr SPENCE:
Darling

– I propose to reply to only one or two of the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Wannon. The honorable and learned member has spoken in a manner condemnatory of the free-trade doctrines in which he believes. He has stated that the farmers, having to compete with the rest of the world, are not in a position to be assisted in the same way as those who are engaged in industries which derive advantage from protective duties, and that, therefore, special consideration should be shown to them in regard to labour conditions. If the honorable and learned member’s contention is to be followed out to its logical conclusion, there must be something wrong with the doctrine of free competition. He says that the conditions of the farming industry are entirely different from those which obtain in other cases. The wool-grower is in very much the same position as the farmer, in consequence of his having to compete in the world’s markets. Yet, we hear no suggestion that it is wrong to apply a measure of this kind to the pastoral industry. Objections are raised to every attempt made to improve the position of the working man, upon grounds very similar to those urged by the honorable and learned member for Wannon. The honorable and learned member stated that the farmers did not want the Bill. Those who are treating their employes fairly Would have nothing to fear if they were called upon to submit their case to the judgment of the Court. On the other hand, those who are treating their employes unfairly - as a number of them are1 - would naturally object to any such proceeding; Do honorable members approve of the unfair treatment of employes? Do they believe that there should be no uplifting of the farm servants - that their lot should not be improved ? There is no reason why the individual who works for a farmer should be treated differently from1 one who is employed by any other class.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Is the farm labourer in a bad way ?

Mr SPENCE:

– Undoubtedly. Every man who does not belong to an organization is in a bad position.

Mr Henry Willis:

– - His position is not upon all-fours with that of tlie shearer.

Mr SPENCE:

– The farmer has to face the competition of the world in the matter of the sale of his produce. He occupies exactly the same position as does the woolgrower, and he has no more right to special consideration. If he treats his workmen fairly he need not fear the intervention of the Arbitration Court, and. if he does not, it is our duty to insist that he shall. The whole essence «of the argument advanced by the honorable and learned member for Wannon is that any industry which has to live by paying those who are engaged in it unduly low wages, and by working them extremely long hours, should be permitted to do so. I claim that we should abolish sweating in all its forms. If ari industry does not permit of reasonable wages being paid to those who are connected with it, it should be wiped out of existence. I deny absolutely that the farming industry comes within that category. I believe that farming can be made to pay, and that it does pay a large number of employers, who extend reasonable conditions to their unionist workmen. The honorable and learned member for Wannon is- under a misapprehension in regard to what occurred in connexion with the so-called shearers’ strike. Technically that occurrence was not a “ strike.” It is true that the shearers refused to work, and that they formed themselves into a camp, but it is not correct to say that the Arbitration Court could not have dealt with that dispute. The New South Wales Arbitration Act contains a provision under which the Court could have compelled both parties to that dispute to appear before it. The fact is that although affidavits were lodged by a gentleman in Sydney with the Registrar of the Court, that official did not move in the matter.

Mr Skene:

– How long would he have been occupied in doing so?

Mr SPENCE:

– He need not have been occupied more than a day. It was perfectly competent for him to move in the matter. But the point to which I desire to direct attention is that clauses 7 and 8 of this Bill would prevent a similar state of things from occurring. Those provisions were inserted at the request of the Pastoralists’ Union for the express purpose of covering such cases. Assuming that the statement of the honorable and learned member for Wannon is correct, this Bill differs from the New South Wales Act in that respect.

Mr Robinson:

Mr. Wise said that the refusal of the men to work could not be prevented under the Arbitration Act, and that it was a very good thing that it could not.

Mr SPENCE:

– It could have been prevented, because both parties to the dispute were registered collectively, and the Registrar could have moved to bring them before the Court. The honorable and learned member declared that the farmers did not wish this Bill to be extended to agricultural labourers. That goes without saying. He also said that no petition has been presented from the farm employes asking that they may be brought under the operation of the Bill. But I would ask what value the honorable and learned member would attach to such a petition, even if it were ten miles long?, Those who entertain views similar to his own would not be influenced by evidence of that character. That fact is clearly established by their refusal to pay any heed to the representations of those who are voicing the opinions of organizations which number many thousands of workers. It is the veriest nonsense to urge that no petition has been presented from the farm labourers. If it be right to declare that strikes shall be illegal, and to deprive organized labour of some of the privileges whichit at present possesses, we should at least provide it with some means of settling industrial disputes. No sound argument can be adduced in favour of excluding any set of individuals from the operation of the Bill. The fact that they may not be organized today should not prevent them from appearing before the Court if they subsequently become organized. Some honorable mem bers take up a very illogical position. In effect, they declare that it shall be a crime for workmen engaged in one occupation to go upon strike, but that if those workmen are employed in another avocation they shall be at liberty to do so. As is well known, most of our farm labourers engage in shearing pursuits during the wool season. In that capacity some honorable members suggest that they shall not be allowed to strike, although they may do so when they are in the employ of the farmers. They are to be allowed to cease work in the midst of harvest operations when the grain is, perhaps, falling out of the ears, and when it is imperative that , the crop should be reaped. That is the idea of justice which is entertained by the honorable and learned1 member for Wannon.

Mr Robinson:

– If I had my way, I should exempt everybody from the operation of this Bill.

Mr SPENCE:

– The honorable member might just as reasonably argue that a man should be adjudged guilty of robbery only when he gains entrance to a dwelling by forcing a window. I repeat that in many cases, the same individuals are employed during the year by both farmers and graziers. I have seen the operations of the farmer suspended by reason of the action of a body of men who were not organized. Of course the honorable and learned member for Wannon, and the honorable member for Robertson, believe that they have a perfect right to take advantage of the markets. What astonishes me is that they refuse to apply their declared principles all round. They urge that it is right to take advantage of the farmer, but utterly wrong to adopt a similar course in the case of the grazier.

Mr Henry Willis:

– We do not wish to take advantage of anybody.

Mr Robinson:

– I am in favour of exempting everybody from the operation of this Bill.

Mr SPENCE:

– The honorable member will not vote for its rejection. The Prime Minister has his supporters so much under the whip that they dare not reject it. How many of them will oppose its final stage? Will the honorable and learned member for Wannon do so?

Mr Robinson:

– Will the honorable member himself guarantee to do it ?

Mr SPENCE:

– It is quite possible that I shall oppose it. Certainly I am not satisfied with the measure in its present form. It has 1 been asserted that the farm labourers of Australia are not organized, because they have no grievances. That is another statement which is founded upon lack of experience. The fact is, that it is more difficult to organize a body of men who are scattered over the community than one whose members are grouped together. It is not correct to declare that agricultural labourers have no grievances. In this connexion, I wish” to read a letter from a workman whose attention was recently called to an article which appeared in the Argus. It reads thus -

Dear Sir,

In re the leading article of Argus, 7th of June. The man who wrote it has never worked for a farmer, or cockle, as he is universally called; I have. The Victorian cockie is the greatest menace the working man has at present. He, the former, stays at home, when work is scarce on the stations ; ploughing, &c, and employing none if he can avoid it. When the shearing comes on he secures as many stands in a shed as he can, or goes out with his waggon and horses and takes wool carting from the man who makes or tries to make a living with his team. He secures the carting by taking a lower price per ton. During shearing ‘ the cockies have the most to say about the hours, the price of shearing, wet sheep, and finding fault with the owner of the sheep for wanting his sheep shorn well. I have shorn with them, so I know what I am saying. They profess to belong to the Australian Workers’ Union when working.

Go to work for them, and the whole order of things is reversed - long hours, sixty or seventy hours and over a week for twenty-five shillings, and wet days stopped if they can, unless you work in the rain.

I ask honorable members to note that point -

In this district -

He writes from Inverleigh - this year some of them refused to take the threshers in and feed them on Sunday, and if it were” not for a few honest, kindly men they could starve, and every one knows farmers have to feed the threshers. What about their hours? Sixpence an hour means fourteen Hours a day to make seven shillings. I wonder bow some of the men who have the most to say would like that. Unless the thresher provides his own sleeping accommodation he can sleep out in the wet if it rains, and no consumptive patients have to do that. It is -not compulsory to work such long hours during harvest. Two farmers in Winchelsea district, who cultivate nearly I,000 acres between them, only worked nine hours a day all the harvesting, and they gol their crops off and stacked as quickly as . those who worked from daylight till dark. They also paid better wages than most of their neighbours, so if they can do ‘it others can.

He then goes on to say that farmers who cannot make a living off their land without competing with those following other avocations, should not be allowed to hold it. He points out that the wages paid in the Werribee district are 2OS. per week, and mentions that he is prepared to give the names of the farmers who refused to allow threshing machines to go on their farms on a Sunday, as well as the names of the two who worked their men only nine hours a day. I have known farmers to refuse to take a thresher on, a Saturday afternoon, and have seen the men following the machine compelled to camp on the road-side without tents, and left to obtain their food as best they could until the following Monday morning. I do not “say that this is the general practice, but the cases referred to by the writer illustrate what many of these men have to put up with. When honorable members say that farm labourers receive 20s. per week, they disregard the fact that on wet days they are unable to work, and that the average earnings are thus reduced. The letter that I have read was written by a shearer and farm labourer, on whom I can rely, and he expresses the views of farm labourers-* generally. As President of the Australian Workers’ Union, I am able to say that cockatoo farmers from one district in New South Wales, and from certain parts of Victoria, have been principally responsible for the cut-throat competition which has taken place in certain callings. As the writer says, they take work as wool carters, and in other directions, at very low rates, and then, in the busy season, return to their holdings. When they become employers, they almost invariably prove to be of the very worst kind. I am not satisfied with the Bill as it stands, but I do not think that any lengthy debate is likely to cause honorable members to change their minds.

Mr Crouch:

– What are the wages at Winchelsea ?

Mr SPENCE:

– My correspondent wrote from Inverleigh, where he says the wage paid to farm hands is 25s. a week.

Mr Skene:

– Inverleigh is not a great farming district.

Mr SPENCE:

– That is so; but my correspondent travels for the most part in the western district of Victoria, and is familiar with the conditions of labour prevailing there. I have abundant evidence of the rates of wages paid in these industries, and am convinced that the accommodation allotted to the men is in many cases very bad. Many of those engaged in the farming and dairying industry are harshly treated by their employers, and my contention is that we have no right to exempt any class from the operation of this Bill. If we extend its provisions to those engaged in farming and agricultural pursuits, we shall check the unfair tactics of the worst kind of employers. Such men will recognise that if they resort to extreme measures the workers will . go to the Court for redress, and they will, therefore, be careful not to cut wages down too low. By leaving the door of the Court open to those engaged in these industries, we shall safeguard the interests of the farmers and their employes. If they do’ not take action to bring themselves under the Act no harm will be done. On ethical grounds, we have no right to make any exemptions. I take the same view with regard to those engaged in domestic service.

Mr Higgins:

– We do not desire any class legislation.

Mr SPENCE:

– Certainly* not. The advocates of such legislation are to be found on the other side. The Opposition desire that every employer and employe’ shall be placed on a fair footing.

Mr Johnson:

– Is not preference tn unionists class legislation?

Mr SPENCE:

– The honorable member is prepared to vote for such legislation. He will vote for the Bill, although he does not believe in the restrictions that it imposes. On the broad ground that no class should be excluded, I think we ought to accept the amendments made by another place. I should like to point out that there is one phase of the question relating to domestic servants which has been overlooked. As the result of the adoption of adult suffrage, the work of organizing the women of Australia is being vigorously prosecuted. From time to time we read of honorable members addressing women’s leagues, and only on Saturday last the honorable member for Wentworth was educating the ladies of Waverley as to the way in which to do the right thing, politically. As the result of the organization that is taking place, many women are obtaining a clearer insight into the conditions of life of their less fortunate sisters. They are discovering the existence of evils, of which they previously had no knowledge, and it is only natural that they will be anxious to provide a remedy. When a woman learns that one of her sex is being sweated, she naturally becomes indignant, and urges that action should be taken to remedy such a state of affairs. And what will the women say when they find that the Conciliation and Arbitration Court is closed to domestic servants? The only reason given for the opposition to the proposal to extend the Bill to them is that the employers have not asked for anything of the kind. That is quite sufficient for the honorable and learned member for Wannon, and a few others. If a million employes asked to be brought under the Bill, they would think that the matter was of no consequence, but when a request is made by’ employers to be excluded from the measure, the position is different. It takes a long time to convince some honorable members that justice does not relate solely to those engaged in a particular occupation, but applies to all persons, irrespective of their social conditions. All chivalrous persons recognise that those most in need of .assistance are not the rich and the wealthy, but the poor and the sweated. But honorable members opposite would have such persons organize and fight for themselves. If we have any sympathy for the poor, and the sweated, we ought to do something to better their condition. An unfair attempt has been made to saddle the Watson Government with the responsibility for suggesting a certain compromise in regard to the question of preference. Honorable members know very well that the position taken up by the Watson Government and their supporters was that the question of the terms on which preference should be granted should be left to the Court itself. When amendments were proposed by those who desired to limit the power of the Court it was necessary to arrive at some compromise, but it is certainly untrue that the Watson Government asked that the granting of preference to unionists should be compulsory. They simply urged the Committee to decide that the Court should have unrestricted power to grant or refuse preference. They desired to secure the passing of a measure which, judging from the opinions expressed by honorable members, had the support of a majority of the House, All Governments have given way more or less - sometimes because they have been forced to bend to the will of the majority, and in other cases because the arguments used have shown the concession to be reasonable. I am opposed to having any limit. So far as the second portion of the clause is concerned, I am in favour of the Senate’s amendment. Unless a majority of honorable members is determined to make the Bill unworkable, I think that the amendment of the. Senate in regard to preference will be carried. When the political labour movement started after the maritime struggle, we were told by our opponents that we should give up the barbarous method of striking, and appeal to the ballot boxes. For many years I did as much as l could to educate the people on this matter. For four years in succession, in connexion with the work of an organization, I addressed meetings in nearly every country town in South Australia, Victoria, and New South Wales. My aim was to educate the people to depend less upon the old union methods than upon social and political reform. I tried to teach them to exercise the political power which they possessed under the Constitution, by showing them that, being in a majority, they could control the Parliament if they wished to do so. I stumped every big town in eight electorates iri New South Wales, just prior to the election of 1891, organizing leagues, and preaching these doctrines. The leagues thus organized were quite apart from trade unions. What was the result? When annual conferences were held, with a view to determining upon and setting forth definite political planks, we sometimes found that extremists and faddists came forward as the representatives of leagues. In one instance, three men formed a league, and sent a delegate. In this way the platform was influenced by men who were not chosen by the workers, and who did not represent their views. In England, America, and elsewhere, the solid movement of trade unions is due to what Lord Rosebery has called the “ hardheaded “ trade unionists - to the aristocracy of labour. Mcn who obtain and hold positions in connexion with trade unions must be moderate and level-headed. The trade union movement does not tolerate extremists. It was found, therefore, that if we wished to influence public opinion, we must put forward a propaganda which would secure public support, and. eventually the trade unions became political organizations, sending representatives to a conference. Since that time, the best work, speaking not from the point of view of a particular class, but nf the community at large, has been done by trade unions. The influence of the wilder natures has been repressed. Those who work for their bread and butter are those who are represented in the trade unions. Gradually, the unions began to take a part in politics. They have always confined themselves to questions of public interest and social reform, so that our platform has not’ been challenged, even by our bitterest enemies, and, at last, in each of the Parliaments, a large body has been returned to support its planks. This movement, which began in the old country, is now to be brought to an end, if some honorable members are to have their way. They do not understand its genius, or they have listened to misrepresentations. The trade unions are now being asked1 to give up all that they have been working for. Their right to try to secure reforms by peaceful and constitutional methods is to be taken away, and an endeavour is being made to hamper and coerce them by law. Some of those who declaim most loudly against coercion are, in this instance, wishful to apply it. The labour organizations have to give up more under the Bill than the employers are asked to give up. The employers are practically not asked to give up anything. They are only required to run their industries on lines which, in the opinion of an unbiased Court, are lines of justice. The labour organizations could adopt what methods they liked. Now they cannot do so. They could admit or refuse admission to candidates, and expel members at their own will. Individual workmen had the right to work for any wages they chose to accept. ‘ Now, all that is to cease. The conditions of industry are to be regulated by the Court. The unions are even to be prevented from using their best weapon against repression, bv” being deprived of the right to strike. They are also to be denied the right to take pari; in politics, and to exercise the political liberties which other bodies of men may exercise. Notwithstanding the keen criticism to which the administration of the New South Wales Act has been submitted, no complaint has been heard there of the action of the Court in giving preference to unions having political purposes. In any number of cases preference has been agreed to by employers, and the agreements have been registered by the Court. In America and England many of the unions have succeeded in obtaining preference for unionists, and in enforcing their rule that unionists shall not work with non-unionists, thus compelling men to become unionists in order to obtain a job. The Prime Minister is always praising unions, but although he speaks in favour of unionism, he works to crush it. He has stated that every work- ing man should be a member of a union,, but at the same time he is against provisions which would induce men to become members of unions. When legislation of this kind was first introduced into the New South Wales Parliament, he was directly opposed to it, and “stone- walled” it all night. Since then he has progressed sufficiently to admit that there is some good in it; but while he declares that he wishes to give encouragement to unionism, he has asked the Committee to vote for provisions which will destroy it. The Hon. B. R. Wise, who has given this subject a great deal of study, and whose opinions are worthy of consideration, has shown - as it has been shown by the decisions of the Supreme Court of New Zealand - that the Act is based upon organization, and that preference to unionists is necessary in order to carry out its provisions. He goes so far as to say that when an organization applies for preference, its application should be granted, even if its members are a minority of those engaged in the trade, and he is of opinion that preference to unionists should be made compulsory in the interests of the proper administration of the Act and the peaceful prosecution of industries.’ I think that he is quite right. We, ‘however, do not ask for so much as that. All we ask for is that the Court may be allowed to deal with applications for preference according to the evidence before it. No application for preference has been objected to in the New South Wales Court on the ground that the organization applying has taken political action. Why should not organizations do as they please in this matter? Are we going to determine how the organizations of employers shall spend their money, making it punishable for them to spend it for any other purposes than those declared by our legislation? Do we tell any other body of men what they shall do with their funds? I contend that it is unjust to prohibit the members of the unions from using their money for political purposes if .they so desire. It is practically denying them an opportunity to continue the most useful work they have been able to perform. It is regrettable that .the interests of thousands of unionists should have been ignored, and that an attempt should have been made to use the Bill as a weapon’ to strike a blow at the Labour Party. We have been told that the members of the Labour Party are opposed to any restrictions being placed upon the unions- because they fear that they will lose their political influence, but I would point out that the work performed by the unions is carried on, apart from any interference by Members of Parliament It is not fair to tax the Labour Party with making use of the unions for political purposes. Honorable members are attacking the unions because they believe that, by so doing, .they will be able to retard the labour movement. They are, however, greatly mistaken.

Mr Kennedy:

– The honorable member’s union attempted to bring coercion to bear, in a political sense, upon the men engaged in .the pastoral industry.

Mr SPENCE:

– The. union of which I have been president for many years does not permit Members of Parliament to be associated with the executive, or to be connected with the board of directors of the Worker, the special journal of the organization. A special exception was made in my case, because I was an officer when elected to Parliament, and before the present rule was brought into operation. All the talk indulged’ in with regard to the personal influence of labour members upon the unions has no foundation in fact. The unions are careful to do their own business in their own way, to exercise full control over their own money, and, so far as the selection rests with them, to select the candidates whom they think the best. The political” labour leagues exercise the real political power. It is absolutely unwarrantable to make use of a measure of this kind to strike a blow at the Labour Party. The unions have a perfect right to take part in any political movements relating to matters which concern the trades in which their ‘members are engaged. There are scores of matters affecting the health and conditions of labour of their members regarding which the unions have a perfect right to appeal to Parliament. I shall not be satisfied with the Bill unless the amendments suggested by the Senate are included. I am sorry that the Government are attempting to restore the clause relating to preference, to the shape in which it left this House. The proviso added at the instance of the Minister of Defence was adopted practically without discussion, and at least one honorable member voted under a misapprehension in regard to it. It is true that the subject of preference was discussed, but not the particular form of the proviso adopted. I am surprised at the attitude of the Government upon this subject.

The leader of the Opposition suggested an amendment which would have met the i ideas of honorable members if they had been anxious to render the Bill effective. But apparently their aim is to make it unworkable. The statement recently made in the Argus that there were no labour grievances to be remedied at the present time was entirely unfounded. It is true that, so far as the Australian Workers’ Union is’ concerned, an arrangement has been entered into with the employers in Victoria. The pastoralists of New South Wales, however, absolutely refuse to meet the representatives of the employes, and no settlement of a satisfactory character can be arrived at until the present condition of affairs has been radically changed. At the same time, it would be impossible for the Australian Workers’ Union to prove that, in any application for preference, they had the approval of the majority of those who would be affected by the award. We may fairly assume from the attitude adopted by the Government that they do not desire to pass a workable measure. If they wished it to become effective, they would surely pay some regard to the opinions of the officers of the unions, who have had the widest practical experience, and who are the best judges as to the probable effects of the provisions contained in the Bill. The executive of . the Australian Workers’ Union, which -is constituted not of Members of Parliament, but of clear-headed men of great experience, declares that it would be impossible to comply with the terms of the proviso which the Government desire to restore to the Bill. The Trades and Labour Council in Sydney take up a similar position. I trust that honorable members will at least make an effort to put the Bill into a workable shape. This is the’ only Parliament that has attempted to deal with an Arbitration Bill in the manner now proposed by the Government. The New South Wales and New Zealand Acts have not caused any trouble. The Supreme Court of New Zealand has declared that in some cases preference is essential in order to carry out the purposes of the Act. We might very safely leave the whole question to the Arbitration Court. In regard to the provision which is intended to apply to unions having political rules, I would urge upon honorable members that it would be unjust to upset the whole of the present organizations, and to place the trades unions at a special disadvantage. I have previously replied to the statements of the employers’ organizations to the effect that the working of the Arbitration Acts in New South Wales and elsewhere has proved discouraging to investors. I quoted figures from, the Investors’ Review to show that the position in 1903 was very satisfactory, and that dividends averaging 5 per cent, had been returned upon the investments in the States affected by the working of arbitration legislation. No complaint has been made regarding the operation of the preference provisions either in New South Wales or New Zealand. Where, then, is the justification for the extreme attitude which the Government are adopting, unless it be that they are determined to use this provision as a weapon with which to crush the trade union movement, and to prevent their own party from being defeated whenever there is an appeal to the country? If they desire to make the Bill workable, they will accept the amendments which have been made by the Senate.

Mr SKENE:
Grampians

– The honorable member for Darling has taken credit to himself for being a very capable organizer, and I am quite willing to admit that he is. I would remind him, however that upon one occasion, at least, he overshot the mark. I have a vivid recollection that some years ago he was instrumental in bringing about an arrangement to which a great many of the pastoralists subscribed. What happened? When shearing operations were in full . swing, all the unionists were called -out of the sheds.

Mr Spence:

– Our union had nothing whatever to do with that matter, and I, personally, opposed it.

Mr SKENE:

– The honorable member knows perfectly well that my statement is correct.

Mr Spence:

– But the Shearers’ Union cannot be held responsible for that trouble.

Mr SKENE:

– Then, who was responsible? I understand that the only section of the Shearers’ Union which did not approve of the action taken upon that occasion was the South Australian section.

Mr Spence:

– The Shearers’ Union was never consulted in the matter.

Mr SKENE:

– The honorable member will admit that, after having practically secured a victory, the union turned upon the very men who had agreed to its terms, by calling out the shearers.

Mr Spence:

– That is not a fact. We were never consulted.

Mr SKENE:

– As a matter of fact, the employers of unionist shearers throughout the length and breadth of the land were compelled to suffer, because the latter were called out of the shearing-sheds.

Mr Spence:

– They were called out. it is true.

Mr SKENE:

– As the honorable member is aware, the result of that action was to retard the progress of unionism for several years. I hold that a similar position has been created in connexion with this Bill. We are now afforded an opportunity to settle this question upon fair and reasonable lines, but I fear that the action of those who wish to proceed to extremes will pre vent us from accomplishing that object. The leader of the Opposition is practically in accord with the amendment which was carried, nt the instance of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.

Mr Poynton:

– Then, why did he sacrifice his Government upon that question ?

Mr SKENE:

– As a matter of fact, he sacrificed his Government by committing himself outside of the House further than he need have done. The difference between the. proposal of the present Minister of Defence and that of the honorable member for Bland, is simply as to how far the Bill ought to go in directing the Court with regard to the granting of a preference to unionists. In its present form the measure does not instruct the President of the Court to ascertain whether a majority of those who are engaged in any particular industry, approve of the granting of such a preference. The leader of the Opposition desires that the Court shall be allowed discretion to determine that a substantial number of those who will be affected by its award are in favour of the extension of a preference to unionists. To my mind, the difference between the two positions is a very small one.

Mr Hutchison:

– Those who think with the honorable member affirm that it is possible to establish the fact that a majority are in favour of a preference. We say that it is not.

Mr SKENE:

– I understand that the leader of the Opposition desires that the President of the Court shall be satisfied in his own mind that a majority approve of the granting of a preference.

Mr Higgins:

– Is the honorable member willing to put the burden of proof upon the objectors to a preference?

Mr SKENE:

– I do not understand that any absolute proof is required. My idea is that the Bill merely directs that the Judge shall be satisfied in his own mind that a majority of those engaged in any industry approve of the granting of a preference.

Mr Webster:

– Upon what would his opinion be based?

The CHAIRMAN:

– I think that the discussion is becoming more of a detailed than of a general character.

Mr SKENE:

– I repeat that the difference between the two positions is a very small one indeed.

Mr Higgins:

– If the line be’ so small, why not come over it ?

Mr.- SKENE. - The line is small, inasmuch as the leader of the Opposition admits that before any preference is extended to unionists, a majority should be in favour of it. But when we are asked to lay it down that the Court may grant a preference if it be satisfied that the applicants “ substantially represent “ the trade concerned, the divergence between us becomes greater. We desire to direct the Judge that he shall have satisfied himself by all reasonable means that the probabilities are that a majority desire .preference. Absolute proof is not asked for. The honorable member for Darling has acknowledged that it is within the power of farm labourers at a particular period of the year - when the crops require to be- harvested - to go upon strike, and to cause their employers great loss. All these things exercise a deterrent effect upon the expansion of the farming industry.

Mr Spence:

– Then why not put an end to them?

Mr SKENE:

– Any cessation of work at the harvesting period is necessarily fatal to the crop. The farmer has to look twelve months ahead. Under this Bill he will be compelled to incur the risk of his employes going upon strike, and. of his dispute with them being referred to the Arbitration Court.

Mr Poynton:

– How does the honorable member account for the fact that in New South Wales crops are put in under similar conditions ?

Mr SKENE:

– I know that in Victoria we have had to curtail the area under cultivation, so as to be absolutely assured that we should be able to handle the crops: I maintain that if we make the Bill applicable to farm labourers^ we shall seriously embarrass them,- I would further point out that labour troubles always result in the perfecting of machinery. In my own district every farmer - despite the fact that the farms are fully stocked with implements of the older type, the use of which involves the employment of a greater measure of labour - is now purchasing the latest labour-saving appliances.

Mr Poynton:

– It is all a question of pounds, shillings, and pence.

Mr SKENE:

– In one sense it is, but in another it is not. Take the case of a farm which is well supplied with strippers,. If its owner can secure the services of men to undertake the winnowing of the crop, he is satisfied to continue to use strippers. Only last year I purchased two harvesters, because I could not depend upon the men to do the minor part of the work. The following paragraph, which appears in this morning’s issue of the Argus, is an illustration of what is occurring throughout the wheat-growing districts. It is written from Minyip, a district in my own electorate, and it sets forth that -

A large number of harvest hands have already arrived in this district, but, owing to many farmers using harvesters this year, there will not be much work for them to do.

Mr Poynton:

– Does the honorable member mean to say that that condition of affairs is the result of the proposal to pass a Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?

Mr SKENE:

– I hold that anything that creates a feeling of uneasiness in the minds of employers in industries of this kind is harmful to the labouring classes.

Mr Poynton:

– It must be good for Mr. McKay.

Mr SKENE:

– It is an excellent thing for him. No doubt the use of labour-saving machinery is a great advantage to a country ; but, at the same time, it inflicts hardship on those who, as the result of it, have to pass from one line of employment to another.

Mr Poynton:

– Is it not a fact that the harvester has come into general use chiefly because of the fact that it can be worked in damp weather?

Mr Kennedy:

– Strippers work in damp weather.

Mr SKENE:

– There are damp-weather strippers. Harvesters are being brought into general use because farmers are not prepared to run the risk of having trouble with their employe’s.

Mr Spence:

– Employers in all industries are prepared to avail themselves of labour-saving machinery.

Mr SKENE:

– No doubt. I do not argue against the advantage which a country derives from the use of such machinery. But it is not to the interests of those who have to step from one line of employment to another, because of the introduction of these appliances, to create difficulties that may encourage their manufacture.

Mr Spence:

– That is why we desire to create a Court that will be able to peacefully settle all disputes.

Mr SKENE:

– But if would not be able to promptly settle a dispute relating to the agricultural industry. If a man had a ripe crop, ready for the stripper, he could not afford to wait for the Court to deal with any labour difficulty affecting his harvest hands. ;

Mr Poynton:

– There is no arbitration law in America; and yet in the manufacture of machinery that country is far ahead of any other.

Mr SKENE:

– I do not think that their machinery is as good as is ours. They are actually copying Victorian-made harvesters at the present time.

Mr Spence:

– The farmers would not have to wait for the decision” of the Court until the harvest was over.

Mr SKENE:

– The fear of such a contingency would be just as harmful as an actual strike would be. I am speaking of something of which I know. I have had experience of farm labour, and have no fault to find with those whom I have employed. The honorable member for Darling, as a representative of the Shearers’ Union, has not always been in agreement with me with reference to labour questions, but personally we have had no real difficulty.

Mr Spence:

– The honorable member is one of the fair employers.

Mr SKENE:

– I have only observed what is the practice of a number of farmers and graziers. I wish now to refer to the letter read by the honorable member for Darling, and written by a shearer who has a down on “cockies.” According to the honorable member’s own showing, this man is a professional shearer, and has no land of his own to fall back upon, when the shearing season is over.

Mr Spence:

– I am not sure of that ; he may have some land.

Mr SKENE:

– A good shearer can always obtain employment, whether he is the son of a farmer, or not. There is no man for whom an owner of stock has a greater regard than he has for a thoroughly good shearer. The honorable member for Grey is aware .that- a capable shearer will always be received with open arms by his former employer.

Mr Hutchison:

– In the eastern district of South Australia - one of the wealthiest in the State - the wages have been reduced to a greater extent than anywhere else.

Mr SKENE:

– I am aware of that. I have not the slightest objection to the’ union which has been . instrumental in raising the wages of shearers ; but I decidedly object to the unfair treatment to which pastoralists are sometimes subjected when unionists, whom they have engaged, are called out, and shearing operations have to be suddenly suspended. The honorable member for Darling said that the rate of wages paid to harvesters was 25s. per week, and .that as the men could not work on wet days, the average was reduced. I do not know of any harvesters who are asked to work for such a wage.

Mr Hutchison:

– In some parts of South Australia, they are paying only 15s. per week to farm labourers.

Mr SKENE:

– If the honorable member would send those men to the Wimmera district, they would have no difficulty, if they are good men, in obtaining’ employment as harvesters at 30s. per week. I am surprised to hear that in the Werribee district 20s. per week is considered a fair wage to pay farm labourers at harvest time. On my own property, as well as on other estates, the farm hands who are regularly employed at a wage of £1 per week and found, are granted an increase at harvest time. ‘In common with the additional hands taken on, they receive 30s. per week during that period, and I may say that that is the rule throughout’ the district. Any one who is prepared to work can obtain employment at 30s, per week during the harvesting season.

Mr Spence:

– The unfair employer gives low wages and makes his men work long hours.

Mr SKENE:

– I can only repeat that the man who is prepared to do a fair day’s work can command a fair day’s wage at harvest time. Honorable members opposite ought to be very well satisfied with the success they have achieved, and I hold that they will not do justice to themselves, or to those whom they represent, if they do not assist to pass the Bill in the form proposed by the Government.

Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne).I have listened to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Darling, and, long though it was, I think it deserved the attention of a larger audience.

Mr Mauger:

– We all are tired.

Mr HIGGINS:

– If the honorable member had been present, he would have felt that the enthusiasm evinced by the honor able member, for Darling was backed up by knowledge, and that his zeal was controlled by large experience. I do not think that we are qualified to understand the problems which we have to face in this Bill unless we come in contact with such concrete difficulties as those to which the honorable member has referred. The Prime Minister professes great anxiety for this Bill, and in his solicitude for it refuses to accept all the amendments made by another place, except one which is trifling and useless. I desire some better evidence of his anxiety for the Bill. When I find the Prime Minister determined to waive his prejudices, and to ask his followers to meet the Senate by some fair acceptance of its proposals, I shall feel that he may perhaps be regarded as an enthusiastic supporter of the principle of conciliation and arbitration, although we all know that when he was a member of the Legislature of New South Wales he opposed the passing of a State measure.

Mr Cameron:

– Does the honorable and learned member wish us to stultify ourselves ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– I do not wish the honorable member to do so - it would not be possible for him to do so. It has been said, with regard to the first two amend.ments, that we are seeking to extend the Bill to agricultural labourers and domestic servants. That is a mistake. Honorable members of the Opposition have never attempted to include agricultural labourers or domestic servants. The true position is that we have declined to exclude them. From the outset we have said that we see no sufficient reason for excluding any class or denomination of employers or employes. That is a very material distinction. We are not anxious for class legislation ; we desire to avoid anything of the kind. If a measure of this kind be good for one class, it must be good for another. For. my own part, I think that honorable members opposite, in strenuously fighting against the inclusion of domestic servants, show a singular want of humour. If we could picture all the domestic servants in two ‘ or more States shouldering their brooms and declaring a strike, we might treat1 this proposal as’ being of some importance. But there are some honorable members who apparently are unable to convince the ladies of the fashionable suburbs of the wickedness of the Labour Party, except by seeking to show that they wish to interfere with the conditions of domestic service. I hope that we shall fight squarely, and that we shall not endeavour to frighten the people in this way. I do not believe in class legislation, nor in excepting from Factories Acts, and Arbitration Acts, persons to whom they might possibly apply at some remote period. May I say, with all respect, that .there are some honorable members, like the honorable member for Moira, who are invariably making exceptions iri favour of farmers, by way of class legislation. I believe that if the honorable member had been at the making of the ten commandments, he would have moved, on the fourth commandment, “ Six days shalt thou labour” - the first Factory Act in existence - being reached, for an exception - in favour of farm labourers and farmers, upon the ground that cows have to be milked and fed on Sundays.

Mr Kennedy:

– I am also a believer in the eleventh commandment.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am pleased to hear, that the honorable member has added another commandment to the ten, and I trust that he will obey it, just as he is prepared to observe the others. The Reason that we have opposed the exclusion of these classes is, that there is no such exclusion in the Conciliation and Arbitration Acts of New South Wales, Western Australia, and New Zealand.

Mr McCay:

– Domestic servants are excluded.

Mr HIGGINS:

– I am referring for the moment to farm labourers. They are not excluded from the operation of the States Acts which I have mentioned, and yet no harm has happened. I do not think that it would be possible to bring the domestic servants within the limits of any one. State - to say nothing of those within two or more States - under the operation of such a measure. With regard to these two matters, I think that the objection of honor able members opposite is simply frivolous. It is useless to make an exception. We might as well follow the States Arbitration Acts in this respect, and get on with business.

Sir John Forrest:

– Let it go.

Mr HIGGINS:

– No. When I am asked to vote for class legislation, I reply that I shall not do so. When the Labour Government was in power, we found that the Bill as introduced by the Deakin Government, made a weak concession in the direction of exempting domestic servants; but we did not think it worth while to strike out the exemption, in question. As soon, however, as we were asked to face the principle, and to say, “ Shall there be an exception of any class,” we replied that no exception should be made. Efforts to extend the advantages of the Bill to domestic servants are likely to be futile, and the weakness of the, position arises from the action of the Deakin Government in endeavouring to exempt them. I come now to the important part of the Bill. If there is one thing of Which I have been convinced by looking into this question of arbitration, it is that preference to unionists and the unrestricted application of funds are two matters which are vital to the Bill.

Sir John Forrest:

– Is not preference to unionists class legislation?

Mr HIGGINS:

– No. When every man has full liberty to join a union if he chooses to do so, it cannot be called class legislation. There is no class legislation when you provide that, no matter to what class persons may belong, if they be employers or employes, they may come under the Bill. I regard the two matters which I have mentioned as vital, and if they are not to some extent provided for, I would rather see Parliament adopt the suggestion of the’ foolish circular from the Employers’ Union - I mean foolish in. respect to arguments - and drop the Bill, than pass it as it stands. The amendment which was carried on the motion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella has been admitted by those who supported it to be imperfect, defective, and one which will lead to legal difficulties. Although the honorable and learned member for Ballarat ‘took the responsibility of voting for it, he has admitted that it will lead to difficulty in the interpretation. I had pointed out that it would impose such’ difficulties on the Court, and in dealing with my argument, he said, “ I admit that it does.” The provision is badly drafted, and one which, if taken to pieces by a sensible man, will be seen to be incapable of achieving its object, and likely to do harm both from our point of view and from the point of view of our opponents. Tt is also unworkable. This has been admitted by the honorable member for Moira, whose experience and honesty we value. He has said -

It would appear to be open to objection, inasmuch as it would make it necessary to secure the opinion of the majority of the workers in any particular industry. In the earlier clauses of the Bill we have laid it down that too members may. constitute an organization having a right to submit a proposal to the Court. If people are compelled to go beyond that to find out the absolute number of workers in any particular industry, that they may be able to prove to the Court that they have a majority of those employed in the industry behind them, their task would appear to me to be an almost impossible one.

Would the honorable member have the same objection to the proviso if the burden of proving that there was not a majority were thrown on those who objected to the preference being given? It is one thing to say that those ‘ who apply for preference should have to prove that they represent a majority-

Mr Skene:

– Are they asked to prove it absolutely ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– I take it that they are asked to prove it absolutely to the satisfaction of the Judge. It would be a different thing if those who objected to the giving of a preference had to show that the applicants for it did not represent a majority.

Mr Wilson:

– Surely the burden of proof should be on those asking for the favour ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– From the point of view of the honorable member, yes; but from the point of view of the Court, no. Knowing, as I do, how men who belong to unions are spotted by certain employers, and prevented from getting work, I regard it as essential that they shall not feel that they are marked men, and liable to lose their employment for appealing to thu Court.

Mr Skene:

– Is it not usual to put the onus of proof on the plaintiff?

Mr HIGGINS:

– The union asking for preference is not a plaintiff. There are hosts of cases, moreover, in which the plaintiff has not the burden of proof. If the proviso is persisted in, it will be persisted in by men who admit that it will produce difficulties of interpretation, and will be unworkable from the point of view of the unionists. With regard to clause 55, I think that it would be well if, before accepting the proviso of the Senate, we defined political matters. We ought not to prevent a union from publishing literature to send to Parliament to induce members to vote for legislation in the direction of improved sanitation, better wages, shorter hours of labour, and so on. But as the clause has been sent to us from the Senate, it would be illegal for a union to use a penny of its funds for the distribution of such literature. Honorable members on both sides who have any sympathy with the humanitarian legislation of recent days will help to have that put right. I think that words have been used which are rather wider than were meant. I suggest that from political purposes should be excepted all purposes relating to industrial matters which are defined in clause 4.

Mr Hutchison:

– We should not. interfere with a man’s political’ freedom at all.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Yes, but my desire is that the legislation upon which this and the other House has spent months should not be lost. I fear that those who support the Bill have been going too far in the making of concessions, and no doubt the more we can concede, the more likely it is that our actions will be used as an argument against us hereafter. So far as I can judge of the feeling of the people outside, if the Bill is not passed by this Parliament, a much stiffer and stronger measure will be pressed for at the next elections. If the Bill were passed in some reasonable form, we should have rest from the subject for a time, but if it is rejected, or is passed in its present form, the chief issue at the next elections will be conciliation and arbitration.

Mr Wilson:

– We are willing to take the risk.

Mr HIGGINS:

– It does not affect the honorable member. The time of this and succeeding Parliaments should not be occupied with legislation of this kind. I wish to get it off the board, so that other business may be brought on. The most pressing things which were expected of the Federal Parliament have not yet been dealt with. We have no policy as to defence, as to loans, or as to debts. We have been going on from hand to mouth.

Mr Wilson:

– We have been wasting time with this Bill.

Mr HIGGINS:

– The waste of time in in this opposition to reasonable legislation.

Mr Lonsdale:

– What is reasonable legislation ?

Mr HIGGINS:

– The Prime. Minister has spoken of this as an important measure, and so forth. Would it not be fair to require from him some indication of his zeal for it, and to ask him to request the Senate to accept the amendment with regard to domestic servants and agricultural labourers, yielding to them in regard tothe striking out of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and qualifying the definition .pf political purposes in clause 55?

Mr Mauger:

– If that were done, the session would be closed in ten minutes.

Mr HIGGINS:

– Yes. The Appropriation Bill could be passed forthwith, and we should all be able to spend a happy Christmas.

Mr WEBSTER:
Gwydir

– I should have been much better pleased if the Government had indicated that they were prepared to make a reasonable compromise, with a view to meeting the views of honorable members on this side of the Chamber. They appear to be disinclined to make any concession, and apparently wish to force the Committee to accept the Bill practically in the shape in which it left this Chamber’ in the first instance. The first amendment proposed by the Senate deals with the inclusion of agricultural labourers. I have never felt very strongly upon that subject, but I realize that there (is a bare (possibility that circumstances will render it desirable to permit of an appeal to the Arbitration Court by the men engaged in the agricultural industry.

Mr Wilson:

– In that case wc could easily alter the law.

Mr WEBSTER:

– Experience shows that it is not so easy to alter the law to the extent necessary to meet a special emergency such as I am contemplating. There- fore/ I think that it would be desirable to bring agricultural labourers within the scope of the measure. So far as domestic servants are concerned, I admit that I voted in favour of excluding them from the Bill, not because I did not think they -were entitled to the protection of the law, or because I under-valued the importance of the services which they render to the community, but because I could not conceive it possible for that class of labour to become organized in such a way that advantage could be taken of legislation affecting only disputes extending beyond any one State. I played a humble part in assisting to frame the New South Wales Arbitration Act, and I agreed to the exclusion of domestic servants from the scope of that measure, because I thought it would be scarcely possible to make the law applicable to them. If advantage could not be taken of State legislation in this direction, it is hardly likely that Federal enactments upon similar lines will be- availed of. Domestic servants were excluded from the provisions of the Bill when it was presented to the last Parliament, and I promised my constituents that I would support that measure. I prefer to give my support to practicable measures only, and to ignore proposals which T regard as impracticable and illusory. If the Government desire to place an effective law upon the statute-book, they should be prepared to pay some regard to the representations of those who are most intimately concerned in the proposed legislation. I believe that although the leader of the Opposition has spoken in favour of including agricultural labourers and domestic servants in the Bill, he would be prepared to give way with regard to those classes of labour if the Government indicated their willingness to- omit the proviso relating to preference to unionists. The honorable member for Grampians argued very reasonably in an endeavour to show that there was no difference between the proviso adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence and the alternative amendment suggested by the leader of the Opposition.

Mr Skene:

– I said there was no difference in principle.

Mr WEBSTER:

– There is a great deal of difference in principle. The effect in the case of the amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition would be just and equitable, whereas in the other case the results would be just the reverse. We desire that the Court shall have the fullest possible discretion in dealing with all matters that come before it, and that it shall not be hampered or restricted by special provisions as1 ,to the extent to which proof shall be afforded that the union applying for preference represents the majority of those engaged in the industry. The proviso adopted upon the motion of the Minister of Defence was introduced upon a Friday afternoon, when honorable members were anxious to get away, after a wearying debate, and was carried prac tically without discussion. A general debate took place upon the question of preference, but the amendment in the form in which it was finally adopted had not been printed or placed in the hands of honorable members until just before it was agreed to. All the trouble and friction which have arisen in consequence should serve to show honorable members the undesirability of adopting amendments without the fullest consideration. It is contended that the Court will take a reasonable view of the requirement that the application for preference shall be approved by the majority of those affected by the award, but the members of the legal profession who are to be permitted to appear before the Court will take care that every obstacle is placed in the way of the Court arriving at an opinion favorable to the claimants. Provision was made in the alternative amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition that the Court should be satisfied that the applicants substantially represented in numbers and competency those who were engaged in the industry affected. The importance of the element of competency has been entirely lost sight of by honorable members. It was proposed that when a union asked for preference it should be in a position to show that its numbers are competent to perform the work required of them. We ask that the organizations shall not only guarantee that before a preference is extended to unionists, a majority of those engaged in the particular industry affected shall approve of it, but that they shall also guarantee their competency. The present Minister of Defence pays no regard whatever to the question of their competency. During the course of this debate reference has been made to the views of those who have played a prominent part in the introduction of kindred legislation elsewhere. In this connexion I desire to quote the following remarks from an article by Mr. B. R. Wise, which was published in the Sydney Worker: -

One last word as to the particular amendment movedby Mr. McCay, on which the Watson Government went out of office. That provided that the Court should not grant preference, unless it was satisfied that the demand was made “by a majority of the persons affected.” I have never yet met a lawyer who is able to tell me what these words mean, or how such a fact could be proved. Nor do I know of any one who has had any experience in the practice of the Court who does not admit that the insertion of such an amendment would make the preference clause a dead letter. In fact, the amendment is being supported by Sir John Forrest and all the Tories in

Parliament, who are avowedly opposed to preference, and expressly hope that the Court would have no power to give it. The very fact that Mr. McCay’s amendment is being supported by politicians of this class is sufficiently significant. Mr. Watson attempted to counter the amendment by moving, as an alternative, that the Court should not be allowed to grant preference “unless it was satisfied that the applicants substantially represented the trade concerned in respect both of numbers and competence.” The difference between the two proposals is very great. Mr. Watson’s proposal puts the burden of proof upon the persons who deny that the applicants do substantially represent the trade in both these respects -

Mr McCay:

– Does Mr. Wise say that ?

Mr WEBSTER:

– Yes. while Mr. McCay’s amendment puts the burden of proof upon the persons who ask for preference. This is a difference which will be appreciated at once by any lawyer. Secondly, while under Mr. McCay’s amendment it would be impossible to prove that the applicants were “ in a majority,” there could be no difficulty in showing that they substantially represented the trade”; and, thirdly, and this is the most important difference of all, Mr. McCay’s amendment makes mere numbers the test of whether preference shall be granted ; Mr. Watson considers, not only the numbers, but the competence and standing of the applicants.

Mr McCay:

– What a Tory doctrine it is to he opposed to the numbers?

Mr WEBSTER:

– The Prime Minister has played that card so often, and the honorable and learned member for Corinella has watched him play it so effectively, that he has now come to echo his leader’s sentiments. The Labour Party do not object to majority rule; on the contrary, its members have always advocated it. If the honorable and learned member can show how it is possible to determine whether a majority of those engaged in any industry approve of the granting of a preference to unionists, he will have done something which has not yet been accomplished.. But the fact is, he knows nothing whatever of the working of industrial organizations.

Mr McCay:

– I am a worker myself.

Mr WEBSTER:

– I do not deny that, although the honorable and learned member is not a worker in the sense in which that term is employed in this Bill. He belongs to a profession which enjoys the strongest protection of any union under the sun. I cannot understand why he should refuse to allow the Arbitration Court to decide whether or not a preference shall be extended to unionists upon the ground that they constitute a practical majority of the persons who will be affected by its award, both from the stand-point of numbers and competency.

Mr McCay:

– Does the honorable member wish me to add the word “ competency “ to my amendment?

Mr WEBSTER:

– No; I wish to obtain a workable measure. The Minister knows nothing whatever of industrial conditions, except what he has been told by those from whom he has held a brief. Upon the question of preference, the legal members of this Chamber differ.

Mr McCay:

– They always do.

Mr WEBSTER:

– Who would expect the honorable member for Wentworth, with his marvellous knowledge of the law, to agree with Mr. B. R. Wise upon this matter? In New South Wales litigation, in regard to industrial’ questions, has been fomented by members of the legal profession ; and, as a result, disputes which could have been amicably settled in half-an-hour by the rival parties conferring together, have been allowed to continue for a couple of years. Apparently the lawyers themselves are unable to interpret the provision relating to preference which is contained in this Bill. I am absolutely satisfied that that clause will become a dead letter if put into operation, and consequently I am not prepared to accept the Bill in its present form. I am convinced that Mr. Wise knows more about the legal aspect of this question than does the Minister of Defence.

Mr McCay:

– For once I am in agreement with the honorable member.

Mr WEBSTER:

– I fail to see how the honorable and learned gentleman could disagree with such a proposition. I desire now to place before the Committee the opinion expressed by this gentleman on a concrete case. Mr. B. R. Wise, in referring to the decision of the State Conciliation and Arbitration Court, in the case of the laundry employes, said -

The refusal of the Court to grant preference to the Laundry Employes’ Union raises, indirectly, a question of great importance - namely, whether preference ought to be refused to a union which is numerically weak. It is to be observed that in the case referred to the Court gave several reasons for refusing preference, of which the numerical weakness of the union was only one, and I by no means wish to imply that the decision of the Court upon the facts before it was incorrect. I do, however, desire to add to my previous observations on the Act a few words upon the very important question as to the right of the union to preference.

I thoroughly concur with the judgment of Mr. Samuel Smith that the whole scheme and purport of the Act implies that unionists have a prima facie right to preference in all awards, and this whether they represent a majority of the trade or not. As Mr. Smith puts it, a union should be entitled to preference unless it can be shown that inconvenience will result either to the employers or to the great body of employes by granting preference.

The very specious argument is urged that to grant preference to a union which only represents a minority of the trade is an undemocratic interference with the rights of the majority. The fallacy of this contention lies in the fact that it overlooks the basic principle of the Act - namely, that the Court should only recognise organized labour. For reasons which are well understood, only organized labour can set the Act in motion, and only organized labour “becomes effectively liable to penalties, although no doubt penalties May also be imposed on individuals. It is only through the organization of labour that the employer has any guarantee that the award of the Court will be observed. Thus it is only right that those who bear the burden of the Act, namely, unionists, should also be those who gain advantage from its benefits.

Can the Prime Minister, or the Minister of Defence, reply to such an argument? Mr. Wise’s reading of the law is absolutely correct. He says that without organization the Act could not be brought into operation ; that without organizations, disputes could not be brought before the Court, and that those who are responsible for the formation and maintenance of unions in such a way as to render it possible for an appeal to be made to the Court, are fairly entitled to a preference. Those who support the granting of preference on the terms favoured by the Government, do not realize the fundamental principle of the Bill.- They do not appreciate the fact that those who have been building up unions for years, in order that the united reason of the workers, may be brought to bear upon differences of opinion between employers and employes, have rendered yeoman service to the community. They have done what the Prime Minister grandiloquently describes as an admirable work in the cause of humanity and civilization, yet he would refuse to allow them any preference. Preference is to be denied unionists, although they have had to bear the cost of forming and maintaining the organizations, and may be subjected to penalties under the Bill. How can nonunionists be placed on a footing with unionists, so far as the advantages of this measure are concerned, if they cannot be made responsible for penalties that may be imposed on unions for breaches of an award? If the Government proposal be adopted, it will be impossible to make them responsible for such penalties. I contend that we have no right in equity to give them the advantages which should accrue from the united efforts of more patriotic men in the same industry. This is an aspect of the question which has not been discussed. The amendment which enabled the Government to get into office was never really discussed, and that has been the cause of the whole trouble. Unless preference be granted to unionists on the terms proposed by the Opposition, an injustice will be done to them. We shall shackle them - we shall deprive them of the power to strike, and subject .them to various penalties for breach of an award of the Court, whilst at the same dme the non-unionists upon whom no such disabilities can be imposed, will reap all the benefits of the Bill. I hope that the Government will arrive at a fair decision. If Ministers wish to shorten the debate, to place this Bill on the statutebook, and to speedily reach .the haven of recess, for which they are so anxious, they will be prepared to accept a reasonable and practicable compromise. Those who ask for a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, in order that industrial disputes may be peacefully settled, should be given a just and workable measure. If the Government intimate that they are prepared to accept the amendments made by the Senate with reference to the question of preference, arid to more clearly define the meaning of political purposes, I shall assist them in passing the Bill. At present, they are pleasing neither the employers nor the employes. The employers in whose interests they are supposed to be working, are appealing to honorable members by means of circulars, to put the Bill under the table, but I trust that that course will not “be followed unless it is impossible to arrive at a decision that will enable us to place a workable measure on the statute-book. The Minister of Home Affairs has hitherto enjoyed the reputation of being a very fair-minded man, and if he wishes to retain .that reputation which he has earned in State and Federal politics, and also as a citizen, he will realize the importance of bringing his influence to bear upon the Government to accept a reasonable compromise. He will certainly bring his influence to bear upon the Minister of Defence, who brought the Government into existence, and may possibly be the cause of their going out of office. I hope that the Government will agree to the passing of the Bill in such a form that it will be workable, and acceptable to the people; but, if, on the other hand, they seek to carry it in such a form that it would disgrace our statute-book, and injure those whom it is designed to serve the Opposition will have to consider at a later stage what position they should lake up.

Mr HUGHES:
West Sydney

– I do not know that it is of any use to deplore the attitude of the Government on this matter. If I thought that it were, I should certainly point out that they are not making any serious attempt to give the decisions of the other Chamber that consideration which they deserve. The statement of the Prime Minister that it indicates remarkable unanimity that honorable gentlemen in another place have differed from the majority in this Chamber on only two or three matters is an interesting one, but these matters upon which we differ are of such vital importance that if there were a general election the whole’ of the people of Australia would be divided in regard to them. The two- parties differ as widely as it. is possible for intelligent human beings to differ on such a question. The Government appear to wish to make out that two or three of the amendments are merely amendments of verbiage, but in our opinion a vital principle is involved in each case. The Government wish the Committee to disagree in the first place with the amendment excluding agricultural and other rural labourers. This Chamber decided by a fair majority that they should be excluded, though I could not follow the reasoning by which that decision’ was supported, and I do not now believe that any section of the community should be excluded from the operations of the Bill. I listened with considerable attention to the attempt made by the Prime Minister yesterday to show that this provision is, first of all, not required, and, secondly, unsuitable. So far as we know, in none of the Australian States, nor in New Zealand, have farm labourers come before the Arbitration Court. That, however, is not the point. The same reasoning might be used to support an amendment for the exclusion of lawyers or doctors. Doctors do not seek the intervention of the Court.

Mr McCay:

– They cannot. Their occupations are not industrial.

Mr HUGHES:

– I know that in Sydney the shorthand writers and, typists, and even the assurance agents, made application to be registered, though I forget with what result. There are, however* persons in other walks of life who have not displayed any anxiety to take advantage of the provisions of this legislation, but they are not therefore excluded in set terms. Although agricultural labourers have not formed unions in Australia, they have done so in Great Britain, to their great advantage. For many centuries they blundered on, relying on their own initiative, and signally failing, wages gradually becoming lower, or their purchasing power becoming more restricted. Now that they have a union, however, their wages are materially- increasing, and their conditions materially improving. The Prime Minister and those who support him do not seem to realize that the very lack of uniformity in the conditions of agriculture - which, however, is not very much greater than in any other industry - is one of the reasons why agricultural labourers should come under the Bill. The specialization of industry which marks manufacturing callings will sooner or later spread to agriculture. Whereas a little while ago one man did everything on a farm, we now find agricultural labourers who do nothing but make butter or cream. Why should a man engaged in a butter factory be treated differently from a man who works in a bread or boot factory? Or why should a man who reaps corn be treated differently from a man, who shears sheep? There are now plenty of men engaged in the agricultural industry who do no thing else but follow a harvester or a threshing machine round the country. The leader of the Opposition has pointed out that already there have been strikes in the harvest field, and similar occurrences will take place again. It has been overlooked that the competition of foreign countries makes it increasinglynecessary for our farmers to grow wheat on large holdings, requiring the employment of numbers of persons in one particular avocation at the one time. A strike might occur amongst such persons at harvest time, which would practically spell ruin to the individual employers) and perhaps disaster to the country. There is no calling in which conditions are more onerous, . and the lack of regulation has been followed by more disastrous consequences, than the agricultural industry. I think the leader of the Opposition effectually disposed 01 the objection that to bring that industry under the Bill would involve the creation of an eight hours day, and a wage of 8s. a day. As I indicated by an interjection, the New South Wales Court, when unions whose members were working ten or eleven hours have come before it, asking for an eight Hours day, has in most instances not granted the application. I admit that there is very little likelihood of trouble in the domestic circle coming within the provisions of the Bill, but I opposed the exclusion of domestic servants, because I consider that no section of the community should be excluded. 1 shall not advance any arguments on the subject of preference to unionists, and the application of union funds to political purposes, until we come to the amendments dealing with those subjects. I regret that the Government has treated this matter so lightly, and has made no serious effort to arrive at a’ compromise. I can only suppose that it hopes to browbeat the Senate into a surrender of the principles expressed by a majority, or thinks that that body will abandon its position. I hope, however, that a calmer view of all the circumstances which have happened since this matter was last dealt with, and the fact that they are not now prevented from giving expression to their opinions, will lead some of their supporters to change their votes. The Government are certainly not following the example of the two previous Administrations in making these questions vital. I hope that the Committee will accept the first amendment of the Senate, and that a reasonable agreement will be arrived at between the two Houses in regard to the others.

Mr TUDOR:
Yarra

– I regret that the Government do not see .fit to accept more than the amendment which the Prime Minister has notified his willingness to accept. They appear to recognise that the provisions inserted by the Senate constitute the backbone of the Bill, and oppose them because they wish to make the Bill ineffective. At least fourteen supporters of the Government have at one time or another expressed themselves as opposed to arbitration, and have said that they will not vote for the Bill in any shape or form. The honorable and learned member for Wannon said that, so far as he was concerned, he was willing to exempt practically every one from the operation of the Bill. Unless the measure assumes a more satisfactory shape than when it left this Chamber in the first instance, it is questionable whether it will be worth our while to place it upon the statute-book. I have been closely connected with trade unions for many years, and I know that the members of those bodies do not regard the Bill in its present shape as of any practical use. The amendment in clause 55, which the Government are prepared to accept, does not in any way rob the provision of its objectionable features. The unions have not beer worked as political machines. I have never been connected with a union that has directed its members to vote for one political candidate or another, nor have I ever known any union to do this. Some of the highest officials of the Trades’ Hall Council in Melbourne have voted against labour candidates, and it is well known that on many occasions the representatives of the trade unions, instead of voting for labour candidates, as has been assumed by many persons, have taken the opposite course, and this has been reported in the newspapers many times. The fact that the Government are prepared to adopt the amendment proposed by the Senate in clause 55 is sufficient in itself to demonstrate to me that it will be useless. Only four amendments have been proposed by the Senate, and the Government in effect take up the position that three of them should not be accepted, because they have been adopted by a Chamber in which the majority of those who have made the alterations belong to the party now represented on the Opposition benches. When, however, the Senate suggested certain amendments in the Tariff, the Prime Minister took the opposite view. He did not suggest that they should be ignored, because the majority at that time was on the side of the party to which he belonged. He contended that the Senate was the special guardian of the rights of the States, and that their representations were entitled to the fullest consideration. I submit that we have as much right in this case, as in the other instance, to pay regard to the views of the Senate, as the Prime Minister desired about two years’ ago.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member did not agree with the Prime Minister’s view upon the occasion referred to.

Mr TUDOR:

– I do not agree with his view to-day.

Mr McCay:

– The honorable member ought to be consistent. He differed from the Senate then, but proposes to accept their view to-day.

Mr TUDOR:

– That is simply because there has been a radical alteration in the Senate.

Mr McCay:

– That explains the Prime Minister’s change of attitude.

Mr TUDOR:

– The Prime Minister would probably be able to explain any change in his attitude. I repeat, the trade unions are not political bodies, but the effect of the provision as it now stands in the Bill would be to prevent any union from obtaining preference for its members if it had made a donation to the AntiSweating League, or had sent representatives to take part in a deputation with regard to the amendment of the Factories Act, and had paid them for their loss of time. I believe that the Minister of Defence would be prepared, in such a case, to argue before the Court that the union had taken part in a political movement. The fact that a union had, at some time or other, voted half-a-guinea towards the funds of the Protectionist Association in Victoria, or the Free-Trade Association in New South Wales, would also be held to disentitle it to claim’ preference. I do not think that it is the wish of honorable members generally to place any such restrictions upon the unions, and I think that the clause should be amended in such a way as to leave matters as they stand today. Otherwise, the unions will declare the Bill to be useless. One of the amendments provides for the inclusion of agricultural labourers. A number of honorable members have stated that there is no necessity to bring the agricultural industry within the scope of the Bill, because no dispute has ever taken place in connexion with it. But that appears to me to be a very illogical position to assume. Many honorable members urge that we should make our defences as perfect as possible, although we have never been attacked, in order that we may not be found unprepared in the event of an, attack being made upon us. But when it comes to a question of preventing industrial war, they do not think it necessary to adopt any precautions. With regard to the preference clause, we were told on. a former occasion that there was a great deal of difference between the proviso adopted at the instance of the Minister of Defence, and the amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition. Now we are informed that the difference is merely one of verbiage, and really not worth bothering about; but not long ago it was of sufficient importance to displace the late Government. I trust, however, that the amendment proposed by the Senate will be agreed to, or that, in the event of its being rejected, the Senate will adhere to its present position.

Mr Kelly:

– Is there any doubt about that ?

Mr TUDOR:

– Not the slightest, and if the firmness of the Senate results in a double dissolution,. I shall warmly welcome it. Some reference has been made to majority rule ; but, as I mentioned on a former occasion, it will be absolutely impossible4 under the terms of the proviso to satisfy the Court that the applicants for preference represent a majority of those engaged in any industry. Provision is .made that the applicants shall satisfy the Court that their request has the approval of the majority of the persons affected by the award. Under the Victorian factory la.w the application of which was so largely extended by the Minister of Trade and Customs, provision is made that in the election of representatives to the Wages Boards, only male adults and females over the age of eighteen years shall vote. Under the proviso, however, every child engaged in an industry would be entitled to a voice upon the question of preference.

Mr Mauger:

– Can the provision be construed in that way ?

Mr TUDOR:

– Certainly it could. I need scarcely point out that a large number of juveniles are employed in the jam-making and confectionery industries, every one of whom - under the operation of the amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella - would require to be counted. As I have previously pointed out, the adoption of his proposal would practically result in the handing over of the cabinet-making business to the Chinese. Some honorable members opposite affirm that there is no difference between the preference provision as it left this Chamber and the proposal of the leader of the Opposition. If that be so, why did they refuse to allow that clause to be recommitted?

Mr McCay:

– They have reformed now.

Mr TUDOR:

– Nobody is aware of the pressure which was brought to bear upon some honorable members to induce them to vote as they did upon that occasion; nor can any honorable member foretell how they will vote now. I trust that the Committee will respect the wishes of the Senate in this matter. I believe that the present is the first occasion in the political history of Australia upon which the second

Chamber has proved itself more radical than that which is usually considered to be the popular House, although, of course, the Senate is elected upon .a broad franchise. I believe that if, as the result of disagreement between the two Houses, a double dissolution were to take place, we should find that the electors are not prepared to accept the sham measure which is offered to them by the Government.

Mr FOWLER:
Perth

– Although it is difficult to say anything fresh upon, this subject, it is just as well that honorable members should clearly indicate the position which they take up in regard to the proposals now under consideration. I feel sure that the time which we spend in discussing these proposals upon a broad basis will represent time saved in the long run, inasmuch as it will prevent a good deal of discussion at subsequent stages. I am sorry that the debate seems to be confined to a very large/ extent to members of the Opposition. Those who share the views entertained by the Government are represented by a few skirmishers, who appear to be satisfied that they are performing the work of their party by making an occasional interjection. At any rate, we have failed to draw the fire of the enemy up to the present time. I am quite sure that honorable members opposite are not likely to be moved by any arguments of mine.

Mr McCay:

– Is the honorable member likely to be moved by any arguments of ours?

Mr FOWLER:

– I think that’ the Minister will credit me with exercising a very open mind upon most questions, and with being prepared to listen to any arguments which may be advanced.

Mr McCay:

– /The honorable member is ready to be convinced, but I should like to see the man who can convince him.

Mr FOWLER:

– Upon more than one occasion I have admitted that the Minister has shown me that the view which he entertains was the correct one. I .jam sorry that we are not able to see eye to eye upon this question, but I hope that its discussion will enable us to come more closely together. Regarding the first proposal with which we shall be called upon to deal, it seems to me that a very strong case requires to be stated to justify the positive exclusion of agricultural labourers from the operation of a measure of this character. Those honorable members upon the opposite side of the House who swallowed the proposal to include the railway servants need not be disposed to strain at the small gnat which is represented by the inclusion- within its scope of farm labourers. The two cases are practically upon all-fours. I admit that some very good arguments were adduced as to why the Bill should not be made applicable to the railway employes, but no such arguments have been advanced in support of the exclusion of farm labourers. I am aware that, with a few honorable members who represent agricultural interests, the chief consideration involved is one of expediency. But I take it that there are members upon that side of the Chamber who are sufficiently independent to do what is proper in a matter of this kind without paying regard to any particular section of their electorate. I wish to ask them why they refuse to extend the provisions of this measure to farm labourers, seeing that they are prepared to make them applicable to railway employes?

Mr Austin Chapman:

– We bowed to majority rule.

Mr FOWLER:

– If honorable members are prepared to bow to majority rule, they should recognise that the majority which included railway servants within the scope of the Bill ought - for consistency’s sake - to make it applicable to farm labourers. The same argument applies also to domestic servants. I fail to see why they should be denied the right to obtain justice before the Court which we propose to establish. I” admit that there may be grave difficulties in the way of their appearance before the Court. That, however, is no reason why we should attempt to exclude them from the operation of the Bill. What would be said if, in matters pertaining to the ordinary affairs of life, we debarred a certain section of the community from having access to our courts of law? A very exceptional case, indeed, would require to be made out before the public would tolerate such a condition of affairs. I recognise that at the present time it is almost impossible to extend to domestic servants the benefits which this Bill will confer upon other classes. That, however, is no reason why we should deliberately exclude them from its operation. I say that we should give them the right to appeal to the Court if they wish to do so. If they are so blind to their own interests that they refuse to organize, the fault will rest with themselves. Personally, I think that, with an increasing sense of their responsibility, they will be induced to organize at no distant date. Those who oppose the granting of a preference to unionists wish to impose upon the applicants, as a condition precedent to the extension of any such preference, the obligation of proving that they represent a majority of those who will be affected by any award of the Court. I wish to know why they should be obliged to establish any such affirmation. The question to be considered by the Court, in dealing with an application for preference, is simply whether the applicants have a just claim. If a preference were extended to a very considerable number, some of the non-unionists might very well object that it would seriously interfere with their prospects of employment ; but where the organization making application comprised only a minority of those engaged in the occupation which it represented, I, as a nonunionist, should regard that rather as an advantage than a disadvantage. It should be shown, at all events, in a way that has not yet been attempted, that the granting of preference is bound up in the giving of it to a majority of those engaged in the industry affected. It ought to be shown that the granting of a preference to a minority would be something in the nature of an injustice; but no honorable member opposite has yet attempted to prove anything of the kind. I do not wish to detain the Committee. I have indicated, as clearly as I can, the position I take up in regard to these amendments, and I trust that before many hours have passed, We shall have come to close quarters, arrived at a decision, and thus got a step nearer to the haven of recess which the Government desire to reach, and which I, for one, am not in the least anxious to deny them.

Mr MCDONALD:
Kennedy

– We have been told by the Prime Minister that while the Government are prepared to accept one of the four amendments made bv the Senate, they intend to ask the Committee to disagree with the remaining three. That which the Government are prepared to accept is practically of no value.

Mr Carpenter:

– That is admitted by the Prime Minister.

Mr MCDONALD:

– That is so. Instead of being prepared to make a concession, the Government are adopting an attitude of antagonism to the propositions of the Senate. The Prime Minister, in opening the debate, asserted that these amendments had been made by another place as the result of the efforts of the Labour Party. He certainly took up an extraordinary attitude. When the Constitution was framed providing for the establishment of the Senate on a popular franchise, it was said that that Chamber would be the States’ House. We are now told by the right honorable gentleman that his observations have led him to the conclusion that it is a House in which party interests prevail just as strongly as they do in the House of Representatives.

Mr Poynton:

– He did not raise that argument when the Tariff Bill was before us.

Mr McDONALD:

– He did not. He appeared to be very thankful that there was such a House, and had great hope of the Senate granting, the people some measure of relief in the matter of the Tariff. In this case he is prepared to condemn another place because of the party system, which his own followers introduced into it. It is all very well for the Prime Minister to say that these proposals were carried as the result of the action of the Labour Party in another place, but if his contention be correct we may reasonably expect that the Senate will insist upon its amendments. If the Government are going to flout the will of the Senate, and to scorn its proposals, we may expect that Chamber to take up a similar stand with regard to the Appropriation Bill, or any other measure that may be sent up to it. The result will be a dead-lock between the two Houses. That would be most undesirable in the early history of the Federation. It would certainly lead to a great deal of wrangling, which would not redound to the credit of the Parliament, or to the different political parties in the Commonwealth. The decisions of another place deserve as much respect as do those arrived at by us. It seems to me that the leader of the Government, in dealing with these amendments in so jaunty a fashion as he did, was spoiling for a fight. He will probably get it, and, if he does, I think that, judging by past events, He will be very sorry for the stand he has taken.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Why speak in this way, when Christmas is so near?

Mr McDONALD:

– This is not a joking matter with me. Some honorable members seem to be anxious to draw their allowances and to do as little as possible.

Mr Kennedy:

– The honorable member would prevent others from doing anything.

Mr McDONALD:

– The honorable member cannot do anything, for he is muzzled. The Prime Minister gave him a set back a few evenings ago, and he has scarcely been able to speak since..

Mr Kennedy:

– The honorable member has never been able to set me down.

Mr McDONALD:

– It takes the Prime Minister to do that. The Opposition have no fear of a double dissolution, although that is what the Prime Minister is evidently aiming at. The sooner it comes the better, for it will probably lead to several parties in the House being more clearly defined than they are. We all know the desire of the Prime Minister in regard to this measure. It has been common talk among honorable members - and the matter has been discussed in the press - that he wishes us to reject these amendments, because he is anxious to bring about a double dissolution. If that be his object, the sooner it is accomplished the better. As honest men, we have no right to pretend to be passing legislation when we know that the state of parties in this House is such that the business of the country cannot be effectively carried on. The Minister of Trade and Customs may smile, but it appears to me that he and other members of the Ministry were quite prepared to forego their own opinions in order to gain possession of the. Treasury benches. I would remind the Committee that agricultural labourers were exempted from the provisions of this Bill only by the votes of a number of honorable members, who represent farming constituencies in this House, and who believed that by taking that action they would gain a few votes. When they are prepared to do such a thing we cannot pay much regardto their professions of sympathy with the principle of conciliation and arbitration. At the outset, it was decided that the Bill should be extended to public servants, and an amendment to that effect was carried by the votes of certain honorable members, who saidthat they supported it for the express purpose of wrecking the measure.

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

– The honorable member is in error ; therewas a clear majority of honest believers.

Mr McDONALD:

– I am speaking not of the extension of the provisions of the Bill to railway servants alone, but to public servants generally.

The CHAIRMAN:

– What has thisto do with the amendment ?

Mr McDONALD:

– I understood that a general discussion on the provisions of the Bill would be allowed upon this motion.

The CHAIRMAN:

– No.

Mr McDONALD:

– I do not wish to be gagged.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Order. The honorable member ought to know that for the sake of convenience, it was decided that on the motion before the Chair, there should be a general discussion upon the four amendments made by another place–

Mr Watson:

– With incidental reference to the scope of the Bill.

The CHAIRMAN:

– Certainly ; I am not complaining of that. The honorable member for Kennedy has stated that it was understood there was to be a general discussion on the Bill, and I desire to inform him that the discussion must be limited to the amendments made by another place.

Mr McDONALD:

– The Prime Minister dealt with the whole question of unionism.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– No.

The CHAIRMAN:

– If he did, I am sorry that my attention was not drawn to it. I should have disallowed such a discussion.

Mr McDONALD:

– He did do so, and was followed by the leader of the Opposition. I intended to read a number of quotations from the speech made by the Prime Minister, more particularly in regard to the action of the Labour Party in another place, which really had nothing to do with the question before the Chamber. I think that there is no class in greater need of the protection of this measure than are the agricultural labourers. In Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland they are actually asked to work in some cases for wages ranging from 7s. 6d. to12s. 6d. per week. We must not lose sight of the fact that they are unskilled labourers, and that as invention after invention is brought out, the number of unskilled workers on the labour market is increased. The result is that competition amongst them is becoming keener and keener, and it is very difficult for many of them to gain an honest living. What is theexcuse of the Prime Minister? His whole argument is that, because these men have no organization, they should be excluded from the Bill. I make bold to say, however, that when we do have an organization amongst them, those who are now clamouring for their exclusion will be crawling round them for their votes. We have seen that sort of thing before. There is to-day in ex istence an organization which, although it has not yet extended into the agricultural districts, will so extend, and will become a very large organization. We are going to leave no stone unturned to organize the farm labourers as well as possible, because they require as much protection as do the other classes of the community. The domestic servants also, because of their long hours and poor pay, should be included in the Bill. It is no excuse to say that they are not organized. I hope that the amendment of the Senate, governing this matter, will be accepted. There has been a good deal of discussion on the subject of preference to unionists, and the Government came into power because of an amendment carried against the Watson Administration on this very subject. What, however, is the whole reason of the Bill? Its object is the settlement of disputes between employers and employes, by conciliation and arbitration. The basic principle of the measure is the formation of organizations which can be dealt with by a Court for the prevention of strikes. If we do not give preference to these organizations, we shall be taking away from them privileges and rights which they have enjoyed for years, and giving them worse than no return. The Bill compels them to give up the right to strike - a weapon which they hold at the present time, and which, although a barbarous one, is very effective. They are also asked to forego their political privileges. Nothing can be done for the advancement of labour, whether organized or not, without political action. From the earliest times there has been political action in connexion with unionism. Every concession, every privilege, and every right which the unionists now enjoy has been obtained by political action. The very fact that an organization is in existence makes’ it a political organization, whether it does, or does not, run candidates for Parliament. To ask the trade unions to give up political rights which they have enjoyed for so long is virtually to ask them to disband.

Mr Kennedy:

– They are not deprived of their political rights.

Mr McDONALD:

– If their rules are political, or their funds are used for political purposes, they cannot obtain a preference.

Mr Kennedy:

– An organization desiring a preference must not allow funds collected for industrial purposes to be used for political purposes.

Mr McDONALD:

– An organization could not take any action at all which might be construed as political action. Our organizations, which, I suppose, are the biggest in Australia to-day, will practically refuse to come under the Bill if the provision preventing them from obtaining preference is agreed to, and the measure will consequently become useless, so far as they are concerned. We have been told, however, that 100 men may register as an organization, and register under the Bill. Therefore, it might happen that a bogus organization, possessing no funds’ which the Court could attach for the enforcement of an award, might apply for a preference, and obtain it, while the real organization, with ten times, or a hundred times as many members, might be debarred from applying, on the ground that it was political.

Mr McCay:

– The amendment would prevent that. A union of 100 men could not obtain a preference, because it would not represent a majority of those engaged in the industry.

Mr McDONALD:

– I am glad that the honorable and learned gentleman has made that interjection, because it shows that his amendment is evidently designed to destroy trade unionism. The existing organizations will not be able to obtain preference, on the ground that they are political, while other organizations will be put out of Court because they do not represent a majority of the workers.

Mr JOSEPH COOK:
PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910; NAT from 1917

– Who put that provision into the Bill?

Mr McCay:

– The late Government.

Mr Tudor:

– Instead of something worse.

Mr McDONALD:

– I voted for it as the lesser of two evils. As honorable members know,we could not vote for the original proposal, because an amendment was moved. I have, however, explained my views in regard to this matter. It is quite possible that the Government may have their own way in regard to the amendments of the Senate. I understand that their majority is back from Tasmania, and that he was brought over for the present occasion. If, however, the amendments are defeated, I shall join with those who petitioned the House this afternoon against the Bill being passed. I would rather see it thrown under the table than passed in the form desired by the Government. If it became law in that form, it would give trade unionism in Australia the greatest blow it has ever had. After the maritime and shearers’ strikes, when our men were being tried for conspiracy and other offences, we were told that our proper method of obtaining redress for our grievances was to take political action. We heard the same thing from prominent political leaders. The moment, however, that we attempted to take political action every obstacle was thrown in our way. Even nowhonorable members opposite are endeavouring to break down the organization of the Labour Party. That is the object which is aimed at by the proviso.

Mr Conroy:

– How can the proviso affect the organization of the Labour Party ?

Mr McDONALD:

– It will not affect the organization of the Labour Party, except so far as it may create more trouble for the unions. The opposition that has been directed to our party has helped us, and the action now being taken by honorable members on the Government side will have a similar effect. Our organizations intend to take political action to such an extent that honorable members will be glad to obtain our support. I trust that the Senate’s amendments in clauses 4 and 40 will be agreed to. I regard the amendment in clause55, which the Government are willing to adopt, as practically useless, and I do not care whether it is carried or not. The Prime Minister said yesterday that the Court could not be expected to deal with disputes between individuals, and he indicated that if the Bill were to become effective both the employers and the workmen must be organized. Yet he is not prepared to accept amendments which would encourage organization. I cannot credit the Government with sincerity in this matter, and I trust that the majority of honorable members will not accept their advice.

Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The honorable member for Kennedy has made just such a speech as we might have expected from him, in view of the attitude he previously adopted towards the Arbitration Bill. In connexion with the amendments now before us, we have to consider the position which the Senate occupies in respect of the people of Australia. The Senate is looked upon as the special guardian of the States’ rights, whereas we in this Chamber represent the people of the Commonwealth. I am one of twentysix representatives of New South Wales in this Chamber, whereas that State has, in common with all the other States, small and large, only six representatives in the Senate. Therefore, it cannot Be claimed that the senators represent the people in the same full degree that we do, and I do not think that we are called upon to accept their dictum upon a matter which would seriously affect a number of persons who do not desire to be brought under the operation of the Arbitration measure. If the agricultural labourers had desired to be brought within the scope of the Bill they would have organized with that end in view long before this.

Mr Watkins:

– Why debar them from organizing ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– They are not debarred from doing so. There is ample provision in New South Wales and Western Australia for organization on the part of agricultural labourers if they desire to avail themselves of the arbitration laws of those States.

Mr Poynton:

– Has any injury been done to the farmers of those States?

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– No injury whatever, and they do not anticipate any disadvantages arising from the exclusion of agricultural labourers from the scope of this Bill. The experience gained in the past tends to show that this Bill is not required, so far as the agricultural industry is concerned, and, indeed, I do not think that any great harm would be done if the Bill were thrown under the table. It is a pure experiment. The legislation that has been passed in New South Wales will lapse in 1906. During the experimental stage of that measure, farm labourers in New South Wales have made no effort to take advantage of it.

Mr Hutchison:

– Will the honorable member vote against re-enacting the Arbitration Act in New South Wales?

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– That matter is not within the jurisdiction of this Parliament. I keep just ahead of the people. I give them what they want, and expound to them the provisions of measures proposed, and if they desire an Arbitration Bill, I assume that they think it will be beneficial to them. The working people suffer far more than any others through industrial warfare, and they are entitled to receive the fullest protection. The honorable member for Kennedy has represented the agricultural labourers as poor, benighted and unskilled workmen. I would point out to him, however, that the agricultural labourer who knows his business, is a particularly skilled worker, who requires to possess a good deal of technical knowledge. If he knows his business, he will be thoroughly acquainted with the importance of utilizing the soil enriched by leguminous plants for the purpose of growing other crops, and of taking measures for the inoculation of the soil with fertilizing bacteria. The agricultural labourer knows that his work cannot be regulated in the same manner as can that of the mechanic, who is employed in the large centres of population. The elements play a great part in regulating his labour. He has to sow and reap as the weather may permit, and open up the soil as opportunity may offer. He cannot regulate his work upon the eight hours system, and if any attempt is made in that direction, it will operate to his disadvantage rather than otherwise. How could a dairyman leave his stock at particular hours of the day, when perhaps they might require special attention? In connexion with the amendment of clause 40, the Labour Party totally disregarded the principle of majority rule. The proviso to which they object, embodies that principle which is the only sound one that can be adopted in granting preference to unionists. We have no right to subject those who are outside the unions to special pressure which may be exerted for political purposes. The Senate has proposed one legitimate amendment, which the Prime Minister, has expressed his willingness to accept. Hon- orable members opposite, however, desire to establish minority rule. Representatives of the Labour Party in this House, and in the Senate, combined recently, resolved to carry on a battle against the people of Australia, and they sustained a heavy defeat. The Prime Minister represents the people through a majority of this Committee. Honorable members opposite, who are disposed to decry my statement, know that unless the party whip be cracked, so that they fear their masters in the Trades Hall, the right honorable gentleman can command a majority of from thirteen to twentyfive votes.

Mr King O’Malley:

– Who are the masters of honorable members opposite?

Mr HENRY WILLIS:

– The people of Australia. We should not be here if we did not represent the people, and it is their will that the Bill should be passed in the form desired by the Prime Minister.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:
Darwin

– The honorable member who preceded’, me has indulged in a lot of talk regarding the laws of nature. He reminds me very much of an alderman who had travelled a little, and who thought he had seen the world. Amongst other places which he had visited was Italy, and when it was proposed that the local governing body with which he was associated should buy a dozen gondolas, with a view to placing them upon a lake in the park, he exclaimed. “ No. Let us get a male and female, put them together in the park, and allow nature to take its course.” What is the present position? The Prime Minister is not prepared to agree to the amendments made by the Senate, despite the fact that that Chamber represents the whole of the people of the Commonwealth just as much as does this House. It is elected upon the same franchise.

Mr Henry Willis:

– But the representation is very different.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– Practically we are asked to declare that the Senate is a political nonentity. The Prime Minister does not offer to compromise with it, despite the fact that all laws should be based upon compromise. A day or two ago we heard a wail from the catacombs of the boodlers. In the morning newspapers the statement was published that the employers have no representation in this House, whereas the employes, are well represented, notwithstanding that during the past nine months the honorable and learned member for Wannon and others have been specially pleading the cause of the gentlemen who possess wealth. It is true1 that wealth is accumulated labour, but I find that, whilst the masses perform the work, the classes do all the accumulating. Some time ago the Prime Minister announced that he intends to crush the Labour Party.

Mr Reid:

– I did not say that.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– The right honorable gentleman said that he intended to annihilate that party. Personally. I am prepared to die at any moment. The statement that the employers are not represented in this House is an absolute fabrication. Pierpont Morgan and Jay Gould would never have insulted their representatives by making such a declaration.

Mr Kennedy:

– The employers merely affirm that they have no distinct representation in this House.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– What is the honorable member himself?

Mr Kennedy:

– I am. not the distinct representative of any party.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– The honorable member is labouring under one of the most frightful compound hallucinations that ever struck a man without killing him. The Labour Party represents the toilers, moilers, strugglers, and accumulators.

Mr Kennedy:

– The honorable member could not get a political start without obtaining the nomination of a section of the people.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– The honorable member himself is the absolute embodiment of sectionalism, because he refuses to extend to domestic servants the rights which he claims for himself. If he should ever stand before the heavenly throne, I advise him not to look into a mirror, if any workmen are present. I contend that no class . of the community work so hard, and for such small wages, as do the domestic servants. What did the great Teacher of morality lay down as the cardinal principle of Christianity? Was it not that the strong should bear the burdens of the weak? There will have to be organizations all over the Commonwealth before this law can be put into operation, and I do not suppose that any honorable member will live to see domestic servants so organized.

Mr Kennedy:

– They why all this humbug?

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– We have been humbugged enough over this Bill. Has it not been the cause of the resignation of two Ministries. I told the Labour Party in the caucus not to leave the Treasury benches until they were removed by legitimate effort. Had I been Prime Minister the heavens would not have removed me, unless the removal had been conducted on proper lines ; and I thank the present Prime Minister for the stand he has taken in that connexion. Domestic servants are entitled to every right and privilege enjoyed by other members of the community. If the law ‘ is not applied to domestic servants and agricultural labourers, it will simply be a dead letter ; but, at all events, it will be there if those classes choose to avail themselves of its provisions. I do not like the

11

income tax, but it is there; I do not like policemen too much, nor do I like police courts, although I get into them occasionally ; but, at the same time, those institutions are there to be availed of if we so desire. This law ought to be for the whole of the people of the Commonwealth, and not for a section merely. We find the manacled minions of monopoly trembling at the crack of their master’s whip. Thank God, I am no slave !’ Let us give equal rights and justice to all, and privilege to none.

Mr Conroy:

– Under the Constitution domestic servants could not avail themselves of such a law.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– Constitutions are made to be amended if they do not suit the people. Let us include domestic servants and agricultural labourers, and leave it to the Judges of the High Court to decide the constitutionality of the law. A farm hand is in a sense hopeless; no star in the heavens shines for him. I have worked on a farm, and know something about the conditions. When, as a boy, I ran away from home, I was on a farm, and my Yankee master used to keep me at work all the week, and on Sunday, when he was in chapel, singing “ Jesus, lover of my soul,” he was watching me through a window oiling his harness. Farm hands are human beings, some r,£ them with hearts, and some without; there are just as many hypocrites in the country as -there are in the city. I appeal to the Prime Minister to treat all sections r»f the community alike. If farm hands, as in New South Wales and Western Australia, do not organize, their inclusion in the Bill will make no difference, except that the law will always be there if they choose to organize and appeal to it. In all lines of life the good are half bad, and the bad are half good ; no man has vet been discovered who had not a little of the milk of human kindness, and, on the other hand, no man, however good he may be, is without a little of the Adam. Slavery in its crude form was a rotten system of labour. The- slaves had to be driven to work, and watched because there was no incentive to exertion, and they had to be sheltered, and doctored, and buried by their masters. No modern financier would carry on such a system of business. In the old days slaves were bought by the highest bidder, but the whole economic conditions of the world ‘have changed, and it is now the workers who go into the market and outbid each other for jobs. I want the Prime Minister to be able to look back and say that he carried this measure, not for a section, but for the whole of the people. No question is settled until it is rightly settled. When George Washington liberated his own slaves, he thought he was doing a wonderful thing, and the world praised him. But when he died in 1799, slavery did not die with him. Had George Washington exercised the great power he possessed, and emancipated the few slaves that were then in America, before Whitney invented his gin, and cotton became king, there would not have been four millions of men engaged in a murderous civil war from 1861 to 1865. That war occurred because the slavery question was not rightly settled in the first place. I ask the Prime Minister to settle this arbitration question now for all, ot settle it for none - to give every one the benefit, or give none the benefit. I have no abuse to heap on the farmers or anybody else, but men are all alike when they become wealthy - most of them lose all heart.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Nothing of the kind !

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– During my travels in America and Australia I have met men whose hearts could scarcely be found with a microscope. This question has been discussed from all aspects, and the time has arrived for us to do justice. As to the question of preference, if two or three members of a union sent a petition to this Parliament demanding some hygienic or other reform, they would be deemed guilty of political action, and lose all their rights under this. Bill. Can there, in fact, be any reform which is not political under such a Constitution as ours? There are but two methods of securing reform. One is the ballot of evolution, and the other the bullet of revolution. Do honorable members wish the workers of this country to take up their Winchester rifles and to start out to shoot men in order to get reforms? They must secure reform either through the ballot-box, or by means of their guns. I would let the ballot-box settle everything. Russia refused to accept any kind of reform lately, and is being convinced by means of Japanese Mauser rifles and big guns: Russia is paying dearly for her experience. There is not a solitary action that a man can do on the top of this green earth but that can be construed to be political action.

Mr Kelly:

– Cannot the honorable member trust the Court ?

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– I desire to trust the Court. I remember a speech which the Prime Minister made when he was leader of the Opposition, which had a great effect upon my mind. He said, “ If the workers are prepared to trust the Judges, why should not the wealthy section of this country do the same?” The reason why, in America to-day, the working classes are opposed to compulsory arbitration is because they do not trust some of the Judges. They are afraid that the Judges would not do them justice, but in Australia the workers have’ the greatest confidence in the judicial bench.

Mr Conroy:

– Are not the majority of the workers in England opposed to compulsory arbitration?.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– I do not intend to discuss that phase of the question, because I am not too familiar with English politics. England is a back number on labour questions. I am talking of two progressive countries - Australia and America. At present England is asleep. Some day she will wake up and have progressive laws.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Then, what about Canada ?

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– Canada is discussing compulsory arbitration, though she is behind the times.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Not at all.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– Undoubtedly, she is. I remember when ,the present King of England - then Prince of Wales - was in Canada in 1859, he had to dance with old women, from the wives of the Government officials downwards. But when he came to New York, he never danced with old women at all, but with young girls.

Mr Reid:

– That was not under an Arbitration Act, was it?

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– The Prime Minister should remember that every reform brought about to alleviate the sufferings of the struggling masses, has been secured by means of unions. To-day in Chinese South Africa, the millionaries do not want to have unionism. They wish to have an army of slaves at their command, just as the planters had in the southern States of America before the war. How can honorable members opposite take up their attitude of opposition? One looks at them, and sees that they have intellectual faces, and appear to be sympathetic. They seem to me to have hearts ; but I am afraid that some of them are merely shells, and that they have no hearts. Their opposition affects me deeply, because I have such a great respect for them. The honorable and learned member for Wannon is supposed to be - especially the representative of ,the employers, but I see from a report in the newspapers a statement that the employers have no representation in the Commonwealth Parliament.

Mr Robinson:

– Nor have thev.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– Such a statement is a defamation, of this temple of democracy. We shall never have the workers telling us that they have no representation here.

Mr Henry Willis:

– Some of them say so now.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– The kind of workers whom the honorable member meets may say so, but they are little better than slaves who bow and nod to the honorable member when they meet him. The Australian workers as a whole stand erect like the statues of the ancient Greeks. There is no bowing and scraping about them. I earnestly trust that the Prime Minister will take this question home with him, and sleep on it.

Mr McLean:

– He will flatten it out then.

Mr KING O’MALLEY:

– No ; but hemay hatch out justice before the morning.

Mr POYNTON:
Grey

– I must express my disappointment at the action of the Government on this question. I had hoped that : the atmosphere was clearer!, and that the Government would seriously consider this Bill, with the object of putting upon the statute-book a measure which would give general satisfaction. Instead of that, there appears to be no honest effort to bring about a settlement of the great and difficult question involved in it. I was really astounded when I heard the Prime Minister state, as one reason why the amendments of the Senate should be treated so unceremoniously, that the majority in the Senate represented the same politics as does the Labour Party in this House. It is playing it very low down for the Prime Minister to take up that attitude, and to treat the amendments of the Senate as being different in their nature from the amendments ordinarily made in that Chamber, because the Labour Party is strong there.

Mr Kelly:

– He never said that.

Mr POYNTON:

– The right honorable gentleman gave as a reason why the amendments should not be seriously considered, that the majority in the Senate represented the same views as do the Labour Party in this House.

Mr Kelly:

– That is quite true, is it not?

Mr POYNTON:

– But is that a reason for not giving due weight to the amendments? I remember that the right honorable gentleman, when the Tariff had just been disposed of, expressed his indebtedness to the Senate, and complimented it upon the work which it had done.

Mr Conroy:

– I am sorry to say the Senate made no changes worth speaking of in the Tariff.

Mr POYNTON:

– If the honorable and learned member will look up Hansard he will find that the Senate made great changes in connexion with the duties proposed on machinery. I contend that a most unreasonable argument has been advanced to induce honorable members not to fairly consider the amendments which have been made by the Senate in this Bill.

Mr Conroy:

– Not that they should not be considered, but that we should not be forced to accept them.

Mr POYNTON:

– There is no question of our being forced to acceptthem. The Prime Minister, without any provocation, being the first to speak on the subject, deliberately suggested that the Committee should not consider the amendments made by the Senate, because of the party by whom they were made. That is decidedly a wrong position for the Prime Minister to take up, in dealing with amendments made in another place. I should like to know what the present Prime Minister would have said if the honorable member for Bland had suggested the adoption of a similar course. I have a word or two to say about the inclusion of agricultural labourers. On a previous occasion, I described their inclusion in the Bill as being something which, like chips in porridge, would do very little harm. I complain that honorable members who, from their own experience of the operation of the New South Wales Act must hold the same opinion, should go about the country telling the farmers that the inclusion of agricultural labourers in this

Bill would mean that they must work only eight hours, and must receive eight shillings per day, and that they would have an inspector constantly on their farms. We know that, although a similar provision has been in operation for some years in New South Wales, the hours and wages of farm labourers still remain unregulated.

Mr Henry Willis:

-Because they are not organized and registered under the Act.

Mr POYNTON:

– In view of the experience gained in New South Wales, I would ask honorable members how the inclusion of farm labourers in this Bill is going to bring about all the calamities which have been described? Let honorable members opposite be honest and candid in this matter. I invite them to say whether any political party in New South Wales dared at the last State elections to advocate the repeal of this provision in the New South Wales Act. Honorable members must be aware that they are talking, right down humbug.

Mr Kelly:

– Will not the New South Wales Act lapse after a very few years ?

Mr Henry Willis:

– It will lapse in 1906.

Mr McDonald:

– Will it? There are too many trade unionists in New South Wales for that.

Mr POYNTON:

– I recognise that of all classes of labourers it is most difficult to bring those engaged in the agricultural industry under the operation of this Bill, but from the outset I have taken up the position that we have no right in this legislation to discriminate between one class and another.

Mr Wilson:

– Why have we not the right ?

Mr POYNTON:

– Because it would be unjust to do so. I contend that we have no right to exempt the farming industry if we do not also exempt the pastoral industry, and we have no right to include the pastoral industry if we do not also include the farming industry. If the law we propose is bad, the people will rise in a body, and demand its repeal.

Mr Wilson:

– The farmers as a body have protested against the inclusion of agricultural labourers.

Mr POYNTON:

– The farmers have done nothing of the kind. A similar provision has been a part of the law in New South Wales for several years, and yet there was not one of the three political parties in that State who dared advocate its repeal at the last State elections. Honorable members opposite have said that this provision will bring trouble upon those engaged in the farming and dairying industries, because it will affect the hours of labour, and the wages paid to labourers in those industries. It has been proved that a similar provision in the New South Wales Act has resulted in no injury, and how can it be said that it will result in injury under this Bill ? The same arguments apply with equal force to the inclusion of domestic servants in this Bill. When the honorable and learned member for Wannor visits Horsham, or some such place in his electorate, he will tell the farmers the trouble which will result from the inclusion of farm labourers in this Bill, and will follow up that statement by painting a picture of the dreadful consequences which must be brought about by the inclusion of domestic servants. The honorable and learned member will then wink, and say to himself, “ How I have gulled the whole lot of them.” The honorable member for Robertson, lecturing recently in a country town, said that the Labour Party believed in breaking the marriage tie.

Mr Henry Willis:

– He did not say that. Let the honorable member read my speech. He will find what I said in Hansard.

Mr POYNTON:

– The Prime Minister has said that he has the greatest admiration for trade unions, and believes that every man should be a member of a trade union.

Mr Reid:

– I did not say that. I said that I would be, but I do not dictate to other men what they should do.

Mr Webster:

– The right honorable gentleman laid down a law which others should follow.

Mr Reid:

– No, I should not force any man to think with me.

Mr POYNTON:

– I understood the right honorable gentleman to lay down the principle that every man ought to be a member of a trade union.

Mr Reid:

– I did not say that. I said that I would be a member of a trade union.

Mr POYNTON:

– The. right honorable gentleman admitted that trade unions have done great work in the past.

Mr Reid:

– There can be no doubt of it.

Mr POYNTON:

– The right honorable gentleman acknowledged the work they have done. The Prime Minister has expressed his great admiration of trades unions. He has acknowledged the good work they have done, and has said that he has no wish to do anything to injure them. I am not speaking in a captious spirit.

Mr Reid:

– If the honorable member would not mind continuing his remarks tomorrow, I should like to report progress now.

Mr POYNTON:

– I shall be quite willing to resume my remarks to-morrow.

Progress reported.

page 7664

SEA CARRIAGE OF GOODS BILL

Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Reid) read a first time.

page 7664

TRADE MARKS BILL

Bill received from the Senate, and (on motion by Mr. Reid) read a first time.

page 7664

ADJOURNMENT

Conciliation and Arbitration Bill : State Taxation of Federal Agencies

Mr REID:
Minister of External Affairs · East Sydney · Free Trade

– I beg to move -

That the House do now adjourn.

I hope that we shall be able to come to a conclusion to-morrow on the matter which has been engaging our attention to-night.

Mr DEAKIN:
Ballarat

– I wish to invite the attention of the Ministry publicly, as I have on more than one occasion privately, to the gravity of the situation which is developing in regard to the Income Tax question in various States. I have no wish to take the right honorable gentleman by surprise in any Way. I am well aware that he has given the matter serious and deliberate consideration ; but it appears to me very urgent that some step should be taken before the session closes in order to deal with it. I propose, therefore, to call his attention to it again, with a view to his making a response of a considered character, on the rising of the House, either to-morrow or Friday, as may suit his convenience.

Mr Reid:

– Hear, hear.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

House adjourned at 10.29 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 November 1904, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041130_reps_2_24/>.