2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the Prime Minister seen, in the Ministerial organ - the Argus - the names of those who, it is reported, are to be appointed to the Tariff Commission? I should like to know if the list is correct, because seven of the twelve are free-traders. I think that the Prime Minister shouldmake the numbers equal, so that there may be a straightforward investigation.
– In view of my refusal to givethe press any information on the subject, I can understand the difficulties which they have in making up paragraphs. My honorable friend need not, however, be under any anxiety in regard to the matter to which he refers, because there is sure to be absolute equality.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister, in the absence of the Treasurer, whether the arrangement come to with the British Government with respect to the coinage of silver includes the making of provision for the cost of replacing all worn gold coins minted in Australia. More of the gold which is minted in Australia is eventually exported than isused here.
– I had intended to see my right honorable colleague this morning, and that was one of the subjects upon which I wished to obtain information. Unfortunately, owing to the pressure of other business, I was unable to see him. My impression is that the arrangement as to the replacing of worn gold coins does not refer to coinage minted in the past, but to coinage to be minted in the future. Such coinage, I believe, must be renewed after a very long interval - I think twenty years - though I am not in a position to make a precise statement on the subject, because the matter has been left entirely with the Treasurer. If my honorable friend will repeat his question on . Tuesday, I shall be prepared with full information.
– I wish to know from the Prime Minister, in view of the rumour which is in circulation, that Parliament is to be prorogued at the end of next week, if any arrangement has been made with the two favoured individuals who are in charge of those matters for dealing with Preferential Trade, and the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– I hope - and I wish to announce the fact to the House - that tomorrow we shall be able to proceed with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, and I expect to hear the debate on Preferential Trade begun on Tuesday next.
– And taken to a division ?
– That is a matter for the House. The Government do not wish to throw any obstacle in the way of the completion of the discussion. That will depend on the number of members who propose to take part in the debate. My impression is that it would take at least a month to thoroughly discuss the question, and if a majority of honorable members is prepared to remain here another month to do so, the Government are also prepared to remain, hut if honorable members will not stay, neither will the Government.
– Has the Prime Minister yet obtained the opinion of the Attorney-General on the question of the increments payable to public servants under State laws?
– That information has not yet been obtained.
– Is the Minister of
Home Affairs prepared to give the House the information regarding the holding of Revision Courts which he promised the other day?
– Rather than let anything stand in the way of redistribution - and some honorable members seem to think that if the rolls are not printed and revised that will stand in the way - I shall adopt the proposals which have been put forward, though I shall endeavour to cheapen the cost of carrying them out.
– Does the Prime Minister feel free to inform the House as to the subjects which he intends to bring before the Premiers’ Conference at Hobart? By announcing them, he might obtain some useful suggestions, attention to which would save trouble hereafter.
– I am sorry to say that the list is not yet closed, and if any honorable member can favour me with any suggestions to add to an already long collection, I shall be only too glad to consider them. The proposal is that the Commonwealth Government and the States Governments shall prepare lists, and that by consultation we shall mutually agree as to the subjects to be discussed. By the adoption of that process, it is very unlikely that any subject of importance will be overlooked, but if there is any such subject which honorable members fear may be overlooked, I shall be personally indebted to them if they will mention it.
– If we knew how the list stands up to date, we might be able to save the Government trouble by making suggestions.
– If honorable members would do our business altogether, it would save us trouble. That is not possible, however. I should often like to have the assistance of my honorable and learned friend, if I could take it. If there is any subject which any honorable member fears may be overlooked, and he will be good enough to communicate with me in regard to it, I shall see that consideration is given to the question whether it should or should not be placed on the list.
– When is the PostmasterGeneral likely to supply the information for which I asked something like three weeks ago, in reference to the revenue and expenditure of the Post and Telegraph Department of Queensland?
– The trouble is to get reliable particulars in regard to the period before Federation. We have received a return from the Treasury, which has been checked by our Department, and has been sent to Queensland to ascertain if it is correct, because I am anxious that reliable information, which cannot be ques tioned by either the Treasury authorities here or the Queensland Government, shall be laid upon the table.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
The practice of the Patent Office can be gathered from Statutory Rules, 1904, No. 70.
It is intended to issue a weekly Gazette as soon as possible.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That Government business take precedence of general business (Notices of Motion and Orders of the Day).
– The Prime Minister gave contingent notice of the motion yesterday at the proper time, so that he is quite in order in moving it now.
– The procedure seems to be somewhat strange. We have resolved that on certain days we shall transact certain business. I could understand, if the motion were to be dealt with merely as a formal one, letting it go with the consent of the House, but if this procedure is to be followed, then, no matter what business may have been set down on the noticepaper, an honorable member by giving a contingent notice of motion, may move that it be set aside. The sessional order provides that on Thursdays general business shall take precedence.
– The sessional order to which the honorable member refers provides that -
On each Thursday, until half-past six o’clock, unless otherwise ordered, general business shall take precedence of Government business.
If the House passes the motion just moved by the Prime Minister, it will “otherwise order,” and will be able to proceed with Government business before dealing with general business. What has been done is in strict compliance with bur rules.
– I could have understood the action of the Government if they had moved this motion on some other day, but I think that it is irregular to move it on a day on which private members’ business takes precedence. I do not, of course, contest your ruling, Mr. Speaker, though I feel strongly on this matter. If the course now being followed is the correct one, there is nothing to prevent me, bymeans of a contingent notice of motion, from moving on a day set apart for Government business that general business take precedence, thus occupying a couple of hours.
– Has the honorable member never heard of the slaughter of the innocents ?
– Yes.; but that has to be carried out with the consent of the House.
– I am asking for the consent of the House now that Government business shall take precedence only for to-day.
– That is where the unfairness of the proposal lies.
– The Government intend to try to bring the session to a close next week, and, therefore, the Prime Minister is endeavouring to wipe off the notice- paper the business in the hands of private members, which would, in the ordinary course, be discussed to-day.
– And to take private business to-morrow.
– Exactly. According to the statement made by the Prime Minister, it is intended to deprive honorable members of an opportunity to discuss a number of questions of the greatest importance, whilst the matters which are in the hands of two special friends of the Government are to be dealt with to-morrow.
– Surely those are matters of public importance. Cannot the honorable member take a public view of these questions ?
– The right honorable gentleman seems to think that he is the only statesman in the House.
– It is my regret that I am - I cannot help it.
– At the same time, we are entitled to see that fairness is meted out to honorable members generally, and I protest against the favoritism now being shown to supporters of the Government. I do not say that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is not an important measure; but it is not so viewed by the Prime Minister, and evidently he has some ulterior motive in affording time for its consideration. We know the right honorable gentleman’s views, because he delivered a speech in strong opposition to the measure.
– If he had not delivered that speech the honorable member would have been one of the first to howl against him.
– I am not saying one word against the speech delivered by the right honorable gentleman, but I object to the attempt now being made to deprive a number of honorable members of their right to precedence to-day, whilst at the same time arrangements have been made to permit two honorable members on the Government side of the House to proceed with proposals in which the Prime Minister does not believe. He has expressed his willingness to afford time for the discussion of a proposal in which he does not believe.
– A proposal which he says if will take a month to decide.
– Exactly. I do not think it will be fair to permit the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to make a speech on his motion, and to devote sufficient time to discussion to enable merely the Prime Minister, and perhaps the leader of the Opposition to speak. There are other honorable members who have a right to be heard on the subject.
– Hear, hear.
– The views of all honorable members upon that important subject should go forth at the same time, and the discussion should be continued until the question is decided one way or the other. I wish it to be understood that I do not advocate that the House should discuss private members’ business. I have always held that the time so spent is practically wasted. I object, not so much to the wiping out of private members’ business, as to the unfair preference shown to supporters of the Government. It is proposed to devote a certain portion of the time which would otherwise be occupied in the discussion of public business, to debating matters which are in the hands of two private members. I maintain that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill should not be included amongst the Government’s business. The Ministry have renounced all responsibility in connexion with that measure, and have placed it in the hands of a private member, and therefore it should take a position among the ordinary private business. Therefore, it seems to me that the Bill cannot be dealt with in Government time without the consent of the House. I give the Prime Minister credit for having adopted the right course in having handed the Bill over to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, but it was the duty of that honorable member to move that it should be made an order of the day for such and such a day, instead of its being merely included amongst the Government business. I shall not, however, discuss that matter any further, because I shall have an opportunity to deal with it to-morrow. I trust that in fairness to honorable members who have private business on the notice-paper, the Government proposal will be rejected.
– I think the action of the Prime Minister is scarcely warranted at this stage, especially in view of the importance of the business which is on the notice-paper for consideration today. The second notice of motion deals with a matter which I regard as of the utmost importance, namely, the introduction of Chinese into South Africa.
– Did we not thresh that out before?
– I do not think the honorable member ever threshed anything out.
– The mover desires to postpone it.
– It is a very important matter, and I shall be glad to have an opportunity to discuss it.
– I will postpone my motion, in order to give the honorable member for Southern Melbourne an opportunity to move the motion standing in his name. I have already informed honorable members that I intend to do so.
– What about notice of motion, No. 3 ?
– I was about to refer to that. It appears to me that in connexion with that notice of motion we may find a reason for the proposal that is now before us. The question therein dealt with is a very ticklish one for some honorable members. The motion has been postponed two or three times, apparently because the Prime Minister does not care to discuss it. I am not, however, afraid to face it.
– I did not postpone the motion.
– I did not say that the right honorable gentleman did so.
– The Government whip talked it out.
– Honorable members opposite do not want to vote upon the motion.
– I do.
– Then the honorable member is the only one who does, and that is owing to his republican ideas.
– Order. If the honorable member for Dalley does not desire to be named, I trust that he will not be so persistent in his interruptions.
– This will be the last opportunity we shall have to discuss many of the important matters which are included among the notices of motion in the hands of private members, and in view of the fact that on a former occasion the honorable member for Dalley talked out the proposal of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne, it would not be fair to interpose Government business in the manner proposed by the Prime Minister. I regret to say, in reference to the question I asked the Prime Minister as soon as the House met with regard to the action the Government propose to take in reference to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill and Preferential Trade-
– I must rise to a point of order. I do not mind this discussion, except that it takes up time. I would ask whether the motion is not one affecting certain private members’ business on the noticepaper for to-day, and nothing else?
– The motion now under discussion relates to the order of business, and as the business on the noticepaper for to-day includes the motion standing in the name of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, relating to preferential trade, and also the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, the question before the Chair distinctly concerns. the order in which those matters should be discussed.
– I desire to emphasize the point raised by the honorable member for Kennedy to the effect that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill is not a Government measure. It is distinctly a private measure. The Prime Minister desires to postpone private members’ business to-day, and yet to-morrow he proposes to afford the honorable member for EdenMonaro an opportunity of proceeding with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. He has also intimated that Tuesday next will be devoted to a discussion of the question of Preferential Trade, which will be initiated upon a motion by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. I should like to know what chance the Manufactures “Encouragement Bill has of receiving fair consideration if it is to be finally dealt with to-morrow? It has absolutely no chance whatever. We all recognise that even if the debate upon it in Committee is very limited, its consideration must occupy at least two or three days. The leader of the Government himself admits that the discussion of the question, of Preferential Trade - if it is to be pushed to a division - would absorb quite a month. What is the meaning of all these statements ? Obviously, they mean that neither of the subjects to which I have referred will be finally disposed of. The action of the right honorable gentleman is prompted by a desire to delay the consideration of certain business which appears upon the notice-paper. He has no intention whatever of finally dealing before the prorogation of Parliament with either of the two important matters mentioned.
– When the Prime Minister gave notice of this motion last evening I assumed that his intention was to devote to the consideration of Government business, the time which is usually allotted to private members, and in view of the general desire to get into recess, I felt disposed to support him. It now appears, however, that he proposes to’ rob private members generally of the few hours in the remainder of the session, which could be devoted to a consideration of their business, and, at the same time,/to set ‘apart two days to enable two Government supporters to bring forward matters in which they are specially interested. It seems to me that such a proposal cannot be in any way justified. Why should certain honorable members be afforded privileges which are denied to others? Had the Prime Minister proposed to take the time which is ordinarily allotted to private members’ business, and devote it to the transaction of Government! business, I should have raised no objection. What a farce it is to talk about setting tomorrow apart for the consideration of tha Manufactures Encouragement Bill, with a view to finally passing that measure ! The Prime Minister knows very well that there is no prospect whatever of its being finally dealt with to-morrow.
– Why, it has been talked about for three years.
– I venture to say that the Prime Minister is not hopeful that it will be put through all its stages to-morrow. Further, the right Honorable gentleman proposes to devote only one day to the consideration of Preferential Trade, which is an Empire question.
– I never said a word about devoting one day to its consideration. I merely stated that the motion dealing with it would be submitted upon Tuesday next.
– If it is to be finallydisposed of that day-
– I did not say that.
– The right honorable gentleman proposes to take away the time which should be devoted to the consideration of other private members’ business, in order to confer a favour upon the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. I protest against such a course of action. The Prime Minister has previously indicated that the source from which proposals emanate weighs with the Government.
– It is sheer rubbish to make that statement.
– Is it because members of the Labour Party desire that a decision shall be arrived at upon the motion for the nationalization of the tobacco industry that we are prevented from dealing with it? I would suggest to the Prime Minister that he should either reduce the programme with which he intends to deal during the current session, or that we should be afforded an opportunity of completing the consideration of the measures which stand upon the businesspaper.
– The honorable member has lost a great deal of interest in that great labour measure - the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– The right honorable gentleman is not very much worried about either that Bill, or the Manufactures Encouragement Bill ; he does not care what may be the fate of those measures. He merely wishes to throw a sop to certain private members, whom he must placate. I have no objection to morning sittings, if they should be necessary ; but I say that private members should be accorded the same treatment all round. The proposal of the Government is merely indicative of their position. As a matter of fact, they can scarcely ensure the attendance of a quorum.
– Ihave never before heard of Parliamentary detectives who go round endeavouring to ascertain whether or not there is a quorum.
– Not when the right honorable member himself was in Opposition?
– I claim that, in maintaining the privileges of honorable members, we are performing a public duty. There is no reason why every representative in this House should not be placed upon a footing of equality, and hence I oppose the motion.
– All the time that would ordinarily be devoted to private members is being absorbed in this discussion.
– I desire to add some sort of protest to what has already been said against the intention of the Government to curtail the opportunity of discussing the two very important subjects which have been referred to by the honorable member for Hume, namely, Preferential Trade and the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. It is essential to the good government of this country that every honorable member should have a chance of voicing his opinion upon Preferential Trade now, rather than wait until after Parliament re-assembles next year. By that time the Prime Minister will have had an opportunity to ascertain how the cat jumps, and will thus be in a position to come in on the top of the tide.
– Is that the honorable and learned member’s trouble?
– The right honorable gentleman proposes to give the honorable and learned member for Ballarat an opportunity of discussing Preferential Trade, so as to placate him whilst denying a similar privilege to others. He makes a noncommittal sort of reply - we all recognise that he is a past master in that art - and then desires to sink into a glorious recess, at the end of which period Mr. Chamber- lain may have clone something, or possibly the elections may have taken place in Great Britain. At any rate, he would then be in a position, irrespective of what party prevailed at the polls, to give effect to popular demands. What we desire is that there shall be morning sittings next week-
– That is not the question before the Chair.
– That I am out of order is a most regrettable fact. The whole proposal of the Government is a sham, seeing that they intend to give up the whole of to-morrow to the honorable member for Eden-Monaro - avowedly for the purpose of enabling the Manufactures Encouragement Bill to be finally dealt with. There are other important matters upon the business-paper upon which we should arrive at a decision - notably, a motion having reference to the introduction of Chinese labour in South Africa.
– Is that question of equal importance with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill?
– The Prime Minister boasted some time ago that he intended to knock out the Labour Party. Has he his battalions here that he is so anxious to proceed with the Bill to which he refers?
– Why has the honorable and learned member turned sick over it? It was his first missionary plank once.
– I wish to obtain a Bill which will be effective, whereas the right honorable gentleman merely desires one which will be a placard. The statement of the honorable member for Darling is absolutely true. The Government cannot control the House, and merely seek an opportunity of getting into recess.
– I should like toremind the Prime Minister that when he gave notice of this motion yesterday,he said that he would not press it if any objection were offered to the proposal to take away the time allotted to private members’ business this afternoon. In view of that statement, I am sure that he has no desire to persevere with his motion.
– If there be a general objection to my proposal, I shall be the last to press it. I submitted it under the impression that it would meet with general approval.
– The Prime Minister will admit that honorable members who have motions standing in their names on the notice-paper have some claim to consideration.
– If the honorable member will say that, there is a general objection on the part of the Opposition to the taking away of the right of private members to submit motions this afternoon, I shall not press my motion.
– I do makethat assertion.
– As I said yesterday, it would be unfair on my part to endeavour to take away the time allotted to private members’ business, if there were any objection to that course.
– It is usually done at the end of a session.
– It is; but if there is a general objection to the proposal, I shall not use any power I possess to take away the rights of private members in this respect by the mere force of a majority. I gave notice of the motion, under the impression that there was a general feeling on both sides of the House that it was desirable to advance the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I find now that there is no such disposition on the part of honorable members opposite, or that, at all events, they are not prepared to go to the length of giving up. the time usually devoted to private; members’ business.
– That is not a fair statement.
– I do not wish to put the matter unfairly. May I say that there is a general feeling that the right to deal with private members’ business this afternoon should not be taken away? In view of that fact, I ask leave to withdraw the motion.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the right honorable member have leave to withdraw his motion?
– I object. May I be permitted to say in answer to the statements made by members of the Opposition, and particularly by the honorable member for Darling, who takes exception to the proposal of the Prime Minister to devote some time to the passing of certain measures-
– He has not taken exception to that. He said that it was not fair to treat one honorable member differently from another.
– If I have misunderstood the honorable member-
– The honorable member has not misunderstood him.
– I understood him to say that it was somewhat remarkable that the Prime Minister should propose to deprive honorable members having motions on the notice-paperofthe time to which they were fairly entitled this afternoon, and to propose to give up this and further time to the consideration of proposals submitted by honorable members, who happen to be supporting the Government.
– That is whathe said.
– We quite agree with that.
– I am glad to hear that this statementhas the indorsement of the Opposition, because it is just as well that the people should know who are in favour of the passing of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, and who are not. It is just as well, on the eve of a prorogation or a dissolution - whatever it may be-
– Let it be a dissolution.
– That will depend on the earnestness of the members of the Opposition. I have on a previous occasion spoken of the advantage-
– I would point out that as the honorable member has objected to the withdrawal of the motion, the only matter that may now be discussed is the notice of motion ; I must ask him not to discuss any side issue. The question is whether private members business shall be postponed until after the consideration of Government business.
– I am endeavouring to answer statements which you, Mr. Speaker, have allowed honorable mem bers to make regarding the time devoted to private members’ business. Do I understand you to rule that I shall not be in order in answering statements that have been made with your concurrence?
– The honorable mem.bet is entirely mistaken as to my ruling. He will be perfectly in order in discussing the question whether private members’ business shall be taken into consideration before, or after, Government business to-day. In discussing that matter he will also be in order in referring to the various remarks made by previous speakers; but he will not be in order in referring, as I understood that he was about to do, to the relative advantages of a prorogation or a dissolution.
– I have very great pleasure in bowing to your ruling, sir, because any one who has any idea of the temper of the House must know that, notwithstanding the protestations made by some honorable members, there is no room for argument as to whether a dissolution or a prorogation is the better thing. If honorable members desire a dissolution-
– The honorable member must not discuss a matter that is not before the Chair.
– I understood the Prime Minister to say that if honorable members would give up the time that would in ordinary circumstances be devoted this afternoon to private members’ business, he would adopt a certain course. The private members’ business set down for consideration today is not of’ a very important character ; but that, of course, is a matter of opinion. The Prime Minister pointed out that it would be more desirable to proceed with the consideration of business such as the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, which might be productive of some good result, than to discuss mere abstract questions. I admit that that is open to argument, but I regret to find that there are honorable members in this House who disagree with my contention that- it is better that we should attempt to pass measures, from which we can obtain some tangible result, than to devote time to the discussion of abstract questions. At the close of a session., there is, as a rule, a certain degree of consideration extended to a Government. Honorable members usually defer the consideration of mere abstract motions until proposals likely to produce some result have been dealt with. In making the statement as to the time to be given to private members’ business, I do not think that the Prime Minister intended to suggest that he would merely set apart to-morrow for the consideration of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– That is what he said.
– I did not. I said that the consideration of the Bill would be resumed to-morrow, but I certainly did not say that I, would set apart only the one day for its consideration. Those words were put into my mouth.
– I thought the Prime Minister expressed the hope that honorable members would see that as we were apparently approaching the close of the session, it was desirable to forego the consideration of notices of motion set down for to-day, none of which could lead to any very important result. He said that if we adopted that course we should be able to conclude the consideration of the Conciliation and “Arbitration Bill this evening, and that to-morrow we should be able to deal with the question of Preferential Trade or the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. I have no desire to discuss Preferential Trade further than to say that I am a supporter of it ; but there can be no question that we can pass the Manufactures Encouragement Bill this session if - honorable members really desire to see it carried into law.
– Let us discuss that point to-morrow.
– That phase of the question will not be considered to-morrow. Why did not the honorable member interject in this impatient way when others were attacking me?
– I did not hear any one attack the honorable member.
– Then the honorable member must occasionally suffer from deafness. We have been told that it is all very well to allow the Government to go into recess and come in with the rising tide next session. But so far as the people are concerned, it is immaterial who is on the top of the tide. Is not the passing of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill of more consequence than is any question as to the leadership of the House?
– Why did the honorable member take that Bill out of the hands of the honorable member for Hume?
– We have already threshed out that matter.
– Honorable members know very well that I had no desire to take the Bill out of the hands of the honorable member for Hume. I do not know that the honorable member has anyheavenborn right to take charge of such a measure.
– That has nothing whatever to do with the motion before the Chair.
– One is apt to be led away by interjections suggested by others, who would show to better advantage if they were prepared to make them themselves. It is interesting to observe certain honorable members making bullets, and getting others to fire them. Whenever I attempt to answer any statements in regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, half-a-dozen honorable members, from the leader of the Opposition downwards, are always ready to cry out about the unfair treatment of the honorable member for Hume.
– Irrelevant interjecjections do not in any way justify an irrelevant speech. The honorable member must discuss the motion before the Chair.
– If you were in my position, Mr. Speaker, you would find it very difficult to refrain from answering interjections which in themselves are very pertinent. I hope I do not misunderstand the Prime Minister. I take it that he considers we should have reasonable time to discuss the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. We know, of course, that if honorable members are determined to block the passing of that Bill merely because a private member happens to have charge of it, and tha? the right honorable member for East Sydney is the leader of the Government, -they can do so. If that is the spirit which animates them, it is certainly desirable that we should have a dissolution rather than a prorogation. Those who, like me, are earnestly in favour of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, will appeal to the Prime Minister not to withdraw his motion.
– The honorable member does not facilitate the consideration of the business of which he is in charge by blocking another honorable member.
– Who am I blocking?
– The honorable, member is preventing others from proceeding with private business on the notice-paper.
– Those who have private business set down for consideration to-day may proceed with it if they are anxious to do so. I should not have objected to the withdrawal of the motion had I not been attacked by the Opposition. No honorable member may attack me with impunity. I am quite prepared to answer in this House and out of it for any action I have taken. There is no reason why the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill should be delayed. If we postponed private members ‘ business set down for consideration to-day, we should have an opportunity to deal with that measure as -well as the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. Honorable members have publicly pledged themselves to abide by the decision of the House on the subject of bonuses, and therefore, they should take the opinion of the majority as soon as possible, in order that we may know what is to be done, and not continue to gull the people by pretending to do what we do not intend to do.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I understand that the Prime Minister wishes to withdraw his motion.
– That has been objected to.
– I understand that it was proposed to withdraw it, because it prevents the discussion of a motion which has stood on the business-paper in my name for some time past, and which is worthy of the best attention of the House. After the shameful tactics which have been resorted to on two occasions when I have attempted to bring that motion forward, I cannot but protest in the strongest terms which our rules allow against such contemptible and miserable tactics as are now being pursued.
– The honorable member must not say that.
– The Government have shown clearly that they desire to prevent the House from coming to a vote on my motion.
– The ‘ honorable member has not wished to go on with it. He has withdrawn it once or twice.
– Whether it be discussed this session or next session, I intend to proceed with it, and to press it to a division, so that it may be seen where and how each man stands in regard to the question with which it deals. The subject is one on which I feel verv strongly, and affects nearly one-fourth of the population of Australia.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss the motion.
– I have no intention to discuss it.
– When it has stood first cai the business-paper, the honorable member has withdrawn it.
– He has merely given way, to allow Government business to be proceeded with.
– I have not withdrawn It, nor given it second place. I have always tried to keep it to the front, although the time of the House has been wasted in order to prevent it from being dealt with. I protest in the strongest way against the treatment which I have received. I wish to let .the Government know .that we see through their contemptible tricks.
-The honorable member must not use such language.
– And a clergyman is the only man in the House who uses it.
– I am sorry that my limited vocabulary cannot find more apt terms. The tactics of the Government are certainly not dignified. I hope that private members will insist upon exercising their privileges, and will not allow their business to be pushed on one side without Thyme or reason. The Prime Minister has suddenly developed great zeal in regard to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. He is anxious to go on with the measure now, because we have told him that it is not worth having, and that, therefore, we do not care what becomes of it. I assure the House that my motion must be faced sooner or later, and the Government may just as well face it gracefully as make a wry face over it. This unprofitable and unfruitful session should be brought to a termination as soon as possible. Either by prorogation or by dissolution, we should immediately put an end for the timebeing to this expensive and unseemly farce of doing business in which we have no serious interest. What care the Government for the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill ? Their new born zeal for passing it is shown only when the Bill has been emasculated, and is no longer worth the paper on which it is printed.
– It is refreshing to hear honorable members, who of their own free will have postponed notices of motion, vehemently protesting against what ie quite a usual procedure at this period of the session.
– No time was given to private members during the last four months of last session.
– In this case discrimination is being shown.
– It is usual at this period of the session for private members to give up their time, so that public business may be proceeded with. Honorable members who place motions of a controversial character on the notice-paper know that they are not likely to reach finality. In my opinion there is a clear distinction between the ordinary private members’ business on the notice-paper, and the two proposals which have been referred to, and are in charge of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro respectively. Those two matters are legacies from a past session, and the Government - whether wisely or unwisely, it is not for me to say at the present time - have seen fit to give up their own time for their consideration, regarding them as of an important character, and questions in regard to which an attempt should be made to reach finality. For my own part, however, when the Government refused to take up the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, and left it to a private member, I felt that there was no hope of getting “it passed. Those of us who are enthusiastic supporters of the Bill are aware that no private member has a chance to obtain finality in regard to such a measure.
– Why should discrimination be shown ?
-I think there is justification for giving special consideration to these two proposals. So far as the question of preferential trade is concerned, if honorable members choose to discuss it at length, it will be impossible to come to any decision this session. To my mind, the position shows that there is a great amount of make-believe in public as well as in private life. We are gulling the public all the time.
– Honorable members on that side are doing so.
– Honorable members of the Opposition are also doing so. In and out of season, they have been charging the Government with delaying the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– We have not said much about that measure since the honorable member and a few more practically killed it by their amendment.
– It is useless for the honorable member to charge me here with my actions in regard to that or any other Bill. The place to accuse me of my political sins is before my constituents. It is a waste of time to do so here.
– Then why has the honorable member accused the Opposition?
– I am merely stating .my view of the present position. I have had nothing to do with killing the Bill. Honorable gentlemen opposite, however, refuse to give an opportunity for the consideration of the points of difference between the two parties in this House in regard to the measure.
– We say there is plenty of other time.
– The honorable member has no occupation to attend to outside the House, so that time is of no material consideration to him. We are not all in that position.
– Can any other Western Australian representative attend to his business and to the affairs of the country as well ?
Mr.- KENNEDY. - No, and I cannot understand why those who have come from distant States, at great sacrifice of time and money, should, after having been here for ten months, wish to remain two months longer.
– On a starvation wage, too !
– Although I have not come so far as they have, I am forced to give up the whole week, and I feel that ten months make a sufficiently long session.
– The honorable member has his alternative.
– Yes, and when necessary, I shall avail myself of it. It seems extraordinary that a Parliament constituted of over 100 allegedly sane business men, should transact the business of the country in a way which would bring them to insolvency in no time if applied to their private affairs. In ten months, we have done nothing to justify out existence. Now when the Government wish to take for public business four hours which the Standing Orders allot to private members’ business, the statesmen who ornament the Opposition benches object, although the desire is to expedite the passing of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and no material results will follow the discussion of private members’ (business.
– The desire of the Government is to take private members’ time for Government business to-day, in order to be able to give up Government time to private members’ business to-morrow.
– Government time is not to be given to private members’ business to-morrow unless the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill has, in the meantime, been disposed of.
– Why should we not go on with the Trade Marks Bill?
– That is not for me to say. I understand that the promise given in regard to the Manufactures Encouragement Bill was conditional upon the amendments in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill being finally disposed of to-day. The intention is that they shall first be disposed of. I realize that it is of no use to make an appeal to honorable members opposite. They will exercise their own sweet will, and I am here at their mercy.
– We are at the mercy of honorable members opposite.
– I am delighted at the attitude of the Prime Minister, who has thrown the whole of the responsibility for what is now occurring on the Opposition.
– I wish to know whether the Prime Minister intends to allow private business to proceed.
– Surely, after having promised to withdraw the motion, I shall not be a party to negativing what I have said.
– But the honorable member for Eden-Monaro objected to the withdrawal !
– That was necessary to enable him to make a statement.
– Why are honorable members opposite now wasting time?
Mr.- FRAZER.- If the honorable member for Parramatta will shut his mouth, we shall be able to get on with the business alf the sooner.
– Order ! I must ask the honorable member to withdraw his expression.
– I withdraw.
– I must also remind the honorable member for Parramatta that these exchanges across the Chamber, which, deal purely with personal matters, and not with the question before the Chair, are entirely out of order, and I trust that they will not be persisted in.
– I am very sorry that anything I have said should have called forth the reference you, sir, have made to me. I may say that the interjection re- ferred to was about the first I had made to-day, and I extremely regret that you should have seen fit to pounce upon me.
– Order. I regret that the honorable member for Parramatta should have seen fit to make that statement. I quite believe that he makes many more interjections than perhaps he is aware.
– I do not, I assure you, sir.
– Order. I shall have to name the honorable member, if he persists in speaking in that way. The honorable member is not aware of the number of interjections he does make ; furthermore, he is in the habit of making running comments upon speeches, which are very annoying to honorable members, and I hope that he willnotpersistinthatline of conduct.
– I regret that I should have made use of the expression objected to. I should not have done such a thing if the interjection had come from any other than the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the honorable member is in order in making these personal reflections upon me.
– The honorable member has stated that he would not have made rhe remark he did but for the interjection made by the honorable member for Parramatta. I think that he is entitled to make that statement.
– I think the honorable member said that he would not have made the remark if any other honorable member but myself had interjected.
– If the honorable member for Kalgoorlie made any reference to which the honorable member for Parramatta objects, I am sure that he will withdraw it.
– I regard it as deeply offensive.
– I do not know that I have anything to withdraw.
– Order. If any honorable member is offended by any remark which falls from a speaker, he has a perfect right to ask for its withdrawal. I understand that the honorable member for Parramatta objects to the honorable member’s remark to the effect that if any other honorable member had been concerned, he would have taken no notice of the interjection.
– I did say something to that effect, and I withdraw it. If I may mention one more word in connexion with this unsatisfactory business, I would say that the continuous interjections of the honorable member for Parramatta are a source of annoyance, and eventually exhaust one’s patience.
– I rise to a point of order. I want equal treatment.
– Order. What is the honorable member’s point of order ?
– My point of order is that the honorable member has no right to make reflections of that kind concerning a matter that has been closed.
– I do not see anything in the point of order. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie is perfectly entitled to remark upon the frequency of interjections, andthat was all he did.
– In view of the attitude adopted by the Prime Minister, after the expressions of disapproval from this side of the House, I do not desire to occupy any further time in discussing this matter. If there were any need for me to express my opinion with regard to the proposal to set aside private business, I should have a good deal more to say. I desire that private members’ business, and particularly the motion relating to the tobacco monopoly, should be proceeded with.
-I commend the Prime Minister for offering to withdraw the motion. Every one knows that it is usual, long prior to the close of the session, to bring such a motion forward. It has been the invariable rule, both in the States Parliaments and in this House, for honorable members, towards the close of the session, to sacrifice the private business standing in their names, and what was proposed to-day, therefore, was only in accordance with a long line of precedents reaching as far back as our knowledge of Parliamentary procedure. It seems, however, that honorable members opposite are quite determined not to extend ordinary courtesy to the present Government.
– We have treated them very fairly.
– It is very unfortunate that honorable members should have outraged the usual amenities by refusing to accede to a motion such as that now before us. A motion of this kind was adopted two or three months prior to the close of the last session, and in the ordinary course the Government take similar action at least a month or five weeks before the date at which it is anticipated the session will be brought to an end.
– But such a motion exdudes all private business.
– Do I understand that the leader of the Opposition objects because the Government propose to afford time for the discussion of the Preferential Trade question?
– The honorable member knows that I have not objected at all.
– I know that the honorable member is speaking with the utmost approval of what has been done by his supporters.
– I merely indicated that the ground of objection was being misstated by the honorable member.
– I am speaking of the honorable member’s ground of objection.
– I did not raise any objection.
– I understand that the ground of objection on the part of the leader of the Opposition is that the Government are treating honorable members in a partial manner.
– I did not put that forward as an objection, but indicated that others had done so.
– What did the honorable member say when he spoke?
– I pointed out that the Prime Minister had promised that if objection were raised, he would not go on with the motion.
– Then I take it that the honorable member is not in favour of the motion being proceeded with. I understand that because some people objected to the motion going on, he rose to remind the Prime Minister of his promise. I would ask, however, where is the sense of doing that if he does not agree with the objections made by his followers? If honorable members object to Preferential Trade being discussed, simply because we cannot deal with every other matter standing in the name of private members, it is as well that we should know it.
– The honorable member is very much concerned about Preferential Trade and the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– The leader of the Opposition has never ceased to press the urgency of dealing with Preferential Trade.
– Hear, hear.
– And now he is leading an onslaught upon the Government, because they are endeavouring to furnish an opportunity for its discussion.
– That is the usual misrepresentation of the honorable member.
– Honorable members do not like to be squared up, and to be reminded of the logical outcome of their actions. The honorable member has accused me of unfairness, and yet he indicated by interjection a score of times this afternoon, without any interruption from Mr. Speaker, that the whole ground of complaint is that all private members are not being treated upon the same footing. He is complaining that the Government are proposing to make an exception in favour of Preferential Trade.
– And of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
– I do not see any force in the objection. The two matters referred to do not stand in the same category as others on the notice-paper in the names of private members.
– The honorable member has already expressed the opinion that the Manufactures Encouragement Bill ought not to have been placed in the hands of a private member.
– Yes, I believe I did express that1 opinion, when the leader of the Opposition persisted in placing the matter in the hands of a private member.
– That does not excuse the honorable member’s inconsistency.
– All we ask is that there shall be extended to the PrimeMinister the same consideration that has been accorded to the leaders of all previous Governments.
– The honorable member extended a lot of fair play to the last Government.
– I believe that the honorable member will find that I did not make half-a-dozen speeches during the whole of the time the Watson Government were in office. If ever I gave a Government fair play, I extended it to the Watson Min.istry.
– The honorable member certainly gave them less votes than any other.
– Order. Will the honorable member for Grey desist from interjecting.
– I am sorry that the honorable member and I cannot agree. We have not been able to do so since he passed away from our control.
– I was never under the control of the honorable member.
– I was not suggesting that the honorable member was under my control ; that would be a most improper suggestion to make. What I do say is, however, t’hat he has become a very violent partisan since he went over from our party to the opposite camp.
– Order. Will the honorable member for Parramatta kindly discuss the motion.
– Certainly ; I shall be glad to do so, and I beg of you, Mr. Speaker, to stop these interjections. We have been sitting for nearly ten months, and 1 think that the honorable member for Moira rightly complains of the great length of our sessions. Something will have to be done with a strong hand to shorten the duration of our sessions. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie told the honorable member for Moira that ‘he could leave Parliament if he did not care to attend our long sittings. I would suggest that there is another alternative, namely, that honorable members may remain in parliamentary life and still be able to give some time to their private business. I think that one of the most urgent reforms we require is the curtailment of the length of our sessions. If a strong determination were shown in this direction, we should do better work, and more of it. But honorable members opposite are not prepared to do what is customary towards the close of the session. They refuse to give the Government the sole control of the time of the House. So far as I am aware, that courtesy has never previously been refused to any Government by any Parliament in the Commonwealth. I admit that the members of the Opposition subscribe to none of the ordinary customs of parliamentary government. They are establishing precedents of a most objectionable character, and I appeal to them to allow the Government to . devote the time which still remains to us during the current session to the consideration of important public business.
– It is rather amusing to honorable members upon this side of the House to be called upon to listen to gratuitous lectures by the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I would point out that the question before the Chair is not one relating to lectures bv private members. It is a proposal that Government business shall take precedence of private members’ business this afternoon.
– I am aware of that, and I merely desired to make incidental reference to the honorable member for Parramatta. He has taken a strictly partisan view of this question. If the Government honestly desired to devote this afternoon to the consideration of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, I should raise no objection to their action. As a matter of fact, however, the course which they propose to adopt is prompted only by a -wish to placate one or two of their supporters by enabling them to discuss subjects in which they are interested, notwithstanding that those discussions must be barren of results, so far as the present session is concerned. I venture to say that no precedent can be found for handing over to the control of a private member such a measure as the Manufactures Encouragement Bill. The honorable member for Parramatta knows perfectly well that to exhaustively discuss the question of Preferential Trade would occupy a very considerable time. I recognise that the period which is ordinarily allotted to private members on Thursday afternoon has almost passed. That fact may be attributed to the speech delivered by the honorable member for Moira, who is always anxious to dictate to the Opposition. In his remarks this afternoon that honorable member again hinted - just as did the honorable member for Parramatta - that the Prime Minister will have to exhibit more backbone in the conduct of public business. I wish to remind those honorable members of the fact that the members of the Opposition possess some rights. We are expected to discharge the duties which attach to a responsible Opposition. The attitude we have adopted this afternoon is not prompted by a desire to delay the passing of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill, but by a wish to see equality of treatment extended to every honorable member. Even if the Manufactures Encouragement Bill were finally dealt with to-morrow, it could not be put into operation unless the Government were prepared to guarantee that the money necessary for that purpose will be forthcoming. They are not willing to father the measure.
– The honorable member must not discuss that Bill.
– The honorable member is occupying time which might be devoted to a consideration of the motion of the honorable member for Southern Melbourne.
– If I am assured that the honorable member desires to proceed with his motion-
– He does.
– Then I shall content myself with entering my protest against the action of the Government, and with extending my congratulations to the honorable member for Moira upon his release from captivity.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That an humble Address be presented To His Majesty as follows : -
Mav it please Your Majesty :
We, Your Majesty’s dutiful and loyal subjects, the members of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia in Parliament assembled, desire most earnestly in our name and on behalf of the people whom we represent, to express our unswerving loyalty and devotion to Your Majesty’s person and Government.
We have observed, with feelings of profound satisfaction, the evidence afforded by the recent speeches from the Throne, and debates thereon in the House of Lords and Commons of the United Kingdom, and also from Your Most Gracious Majesty’s recent visits to Ireland, of a sincere desire on all sides to usher in a new era of lasting peace -and goodwill in Ireland, and this House congratulates the mother country on the just and equitable legislation recently passed on the land and education questions, and hopes for an early and lasting settlement of the troublesome problem of the government of Ireland, which has taxed the powers of British statesmen for so long.
Enjoying and appreciating, as we do, the blessings of self-government here, we would humbly express the hope that a just measure of Home Rule will be granted to the people of Ireland. We would point out that land purchase was half of the proposed settlement of Ireland’s difficulties in 1881, and that recently Your Majesty’s advisers saw fit to pass a liberal measure of land purchase, thus removing the great hindrance to Home Rule.
We desire to point to our own experience, and to emphasize the blessings which accrue to this Commonwealth from the Federal system of Home Rule, under which our people live, and the benefits in which the people of” Australia, with their fellow citizens and subjects of the Dominion of Canada, rejoice. This extended experience which Your Most Gracious Majesty’s subjects have had of the inestimable benefits resulting from selfgovernment being bestowed on the Australian States and Commonwealth, only intensifies their desire to affirm through their representatives in Parliament the sentiment that nothing could give more solidarity to the Empire over which Your Most Gracious Majesty rules than a liberal measure of Federal Home Rule being granted to the people of Ireland.
It is scarcely fair to expect me to deal with this subject in the brief period at my disposal, and consequently I think that the House might grant me its indulgence by allowing me to continue my remarks upon a future occasion.
– Hear, hear.
– The nominative of this motion - the object of it- is His Most Gracious Majesty the King. I do not wish to approach so exalted a ruler in any way as a matter of form, but rather from genuine and sincere feeling, which will be shared by those who are most interested in this question, namely, the Irish people. That they entertain a profound respect and reverence for His Majesty the King has been demonstrated again and again. Upon the other hand, His Majesty has shown, his high appreciation of the Irish character. I may be told that it is not desirable that we should discuss Imperial politics, because our action may provoke interference by the Imperial authorities with Australian politics.
– The Imperial authorities have already interfered in Australian1 matters.
– That will be the objection raised to a proposal to approach the Imperial Parliament, even through the person of His Majesty. But I would point out that a precedent has already been established in that connexion. Australia wascalled upon to interfere in a matter of Imperial concern in connexion with the recent South African Avar. Upon that occasion we did our best to assist the British Government. I attribute to these who were enthusiastically in favour of that war only the very best intentions. Surely, if a dependency of Great Britain may interfere with Imperial politics, to make war, to spread desolation and carnage in any part of His Majesty’s dominions, it is our inalienable right to interfere, with a view of making peace, and1 spreading good-will and happiness throughout the land. That is the object I have in view in submitting this motion. Australians will certainly throw more enthusiasm into a proposal of this kind than they could be expected to display in supporting any pro-, position to make war. This is a message of peace ; it is a proposal to make a reality of a union which exists only onpaper. It is a proposal to bring about a union of hearts, and that being so, I feel that if we have ever shown any enthusiasm for the welfare of the Empire in relation to a matter of war and destruction, this motion will find a far more ready response in the hearts of the people of Australia. It makes for righteousness, peace, and goodwill in His Majesty’s dominions.
– Many of the people of Ireland hold a contrary opinion.
– There is always a minority prepared to oppose any proposal. Sometimes it is large, and sometimes small.
– In this case, it is a very large one.
– I was about to say that in this case the minority is something like one in twenty-eight. The only province of Ireland in which there is any opposition to Home Rule, is that of Ulster. But, even in Protestant Ulster, something like 80 or 90 per cent, of the people believe in the principle. The fact that the vast majority of members returned by that socalled anti-Irish province are in favour of Home Rule, proves that its population must consist of a very large percentage of persons who are in favour of the principle. In the southern parts of Ireland the people are unanimously in favour of it, so that the minority is a miserable _ one, utterly unworthy of consideration.
– The honorable member may say that it is a miserable one, but he will find that it is fairly active.
– What those who constitute it lack in numbers they generally make up in noise.
– The honorable member will discover that, so far as their activity is concerned, they cannot be spoken of as a miserable minority.
– The honorable member is a very ‘fair representative of the class for which he speaks. This opposition reminds me of one of those little insects that make a noise by the river side, while the big stream flows steadily on. Ever since I have known anything about politics, the people of Ireland have spoken with one voice, and with great fervour, in favour of Home Rule. There can be no mistake as to its being a thoroughly democratic proposal. If the people of Scotland/ had asked for Home Rule with the same unanimity as have the people of Ireland, their prayer would have been granted long ago. Coming more closely to the terms of my motion, I would remind the House that the demand for Home Rule is now being received with a better spirit by the people of England. That better feeling has been largely due to the action of His Majesty the King, who, within the last two years, paid a most successful visit to Ireland. This was the first Royal visit almost since the time of George IV., and it seems to me that it ushered in a new- era, in which a better feeling is likely to arise between the people of Ireland and the rest of the Empire. His Majesty’s visit has demonstrated beyond doubt that the people of Ireland are at heart most loyal and enthusiastic. The suspicion caused by class and party feeling in the old country has alone been responsible for anything in the shape of doubt as to the loyalty of Ireland. Loyalty is often a term applied to a kind of affection for the reigning monarch, but in its truer sense it has to do with devotion to law. In that respect I claim that there is no reproach upon the people of Ireland. A nation has a right to protest against bad laws, and to resort to constitutional means of righting them, and I contend that the loyalty of Ireland is loyalty in the best and highest sense. Loyalty is’ shown to the King as the head and embodiment of the law. But the devotion of the people of Ireland to the law itself, in the abstract, has never been doubted. If we turn to the records of crime, we find that the Irish are perhaps the most law-abiding people in the world. There is no other country where serious crimes are less prevalent, and even in the matter of political crimes, which in many cases have been manufactured, Ireland bears favorable comparison with Australia, which has a very good record. As Mr. Gladstone pointed out in his great Home Rule speech, from 1832 to the passing of the Reform Bill there was no Crimes Act in force, with the result that there was no crime. After that, however, Crimes Acts were continuously in operation. There was special legislation for the suppression of crime, and, in consequence, it increased. We have to face the great historical fact that coercion by special legislation invariably produces crime, whereas ordinary laws either suppress or keep it under control. That has been the history of Ireland. Coercion Bills have bred crime. I belong to a people who are perhaps the most law-abiding in the world. They are reputed to keep the Sabbath Day, and everything else on which they can lay their hands, but as the result of special legislation passed in connexion with the Crofters - legislation’ similar to that applied to Ireland - crime became rampant among the people of the Highlands, who are regarded as a God-fearing class. Coercion and suppression - the suspension of the ordinary law - have been responsible for the charge of disloyalty made against the people of Ireland. Many of the crimes committed there have been the result of bad legislation.
– When we opposed the sending of troops to South Africa to fight for Chinese w.e were told that we were disloyal.
– That is so. But, coming back to the nominative of the proposed address, namely, our respect for the Throne, I would point out that this is a proposal that we should avail ourselves of the privilege of the humblest citizen in the realm to approach so high and exalted a personage as His Majesty the King. We wish to take advantage of that right, as well as of the fact that His Majesty has more than once shown that he can appreciate the loyalty that has been demonstrated by the Irish in fighting, the battles of the Empire. That, according to my honorable friends opposite, is the true test of loyalty. I should not have touched on this matter but for the fact that it has been dragged in with very bad taste, and I feel that I am bound to answer the statement that has been made. A Commission, which sat after the Crimean war, reported that 47 per cent, of the troops which took part in that war were Irish, while 57 per cent, of the officers were also of Irish birth. We all know that the vast majority of British troops which took part in the South African war were Irish, and that the majority of the generals also claimed Ireland as their place of birth. If any section of the people of the Empire have fully demonstrated their loyalty and their readiness to share the burdens of the Empire by fighting its battles the Irish have done so. Unfortunately, they have not served under a very thankful master. All that they have received in return has been prolonged contumely and contempt.
– As the time allowed for the consideration of notices of motion has expired, I desire to know whether the honorable member wishes leave to continue his. speech?
– As I have only reached my prefatory remarks I should certainly like leave to continue.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the honorable member have leave to continue his speech at a later date ?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– Is it too late to suggest, Mr. Speaker, that as the private business which remains to be considered today does not appear to be of any urgency, the honorable member should have leave to> continue his speech this afternoon ?
– If the honorable member for Southern Melbourne wished to continue his speech now, it -would be competent for him to move the postponement of the Orders of the Day until after its conclusion; but as he has asked leave to continue it on -another day, I take it that he has no desire to proceed further’ to-day.
– I am not anxious to continue my speech this afternoon.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Debate resumed from 10th November, (vide page 6848), on motion by Mr. Hutchison -
That, in order that all citizens of the Commonwealth may be placed upon an equal footing with respect to income tax, the Government should introduce a short Bill for the purpose of imposing a Federal Income Tax, to apply to all persons in the Commonwealth, who, by the decision of the High Court, escape payment of State income tax.
– This is a most important question. In my opinion, honorable members have not thoroughly grasped the issues involved in it. The High Court has complained - I think with justice - that its judgment was not reported in the daily press with sufficient fullness.
– - We have not yet seen a copy of the full report.
– No. It is to be deplored that the House is not in possession of the full report, so that honorable members may adequately discuss the question.
– The Attorney-General has promised to distribute a copy of the full report to every member of each House.
– I understand that the Prime Minister is using every endeavour to fulfil that promise as soon as possible. In order to refresh the minds of honorable members in regard to the opinions of the High Court, I propose to read a few extracts from its judgment - not a sufficient number, I hope, to bore them, or to make them impatient, but enough to make the position clear. The judgment was given on an appeal by the honorable member for Hume and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat, in their private capacities.
– As representative of all j others, affected.
– Yes. I hope that my honorable and learned friend did not think that I wished to put a stigma on him for acting in so friendly a manner on behalf of our honorable friends opposite.
– What about the honorable member himself ? Why “ honorable friends opposite “? I paid my income tax.
– The only advantage that we gained was responsibility for costs.
– I am glad to hear that the honorable member for Maranoa has paid his income tax, and I hope that all honorable members will do so.
– We have paid.
– The case was one in which two honorable members, acting on behalf of all the members of this House, took upon themselves the responsibility of appealing against the judgment of the Victorian Court. In stating the decision of the High Court, the Chief Justice of Australia said, amongst other things -
According to the Constitution, the salary of the Governor-General might not be altered, and if the Federal Parliament attempted to impose an income tax of 2s. on it, the effective salary would be reduced by 10 per cent., whether deducted first or collected afterwards.
That is a self-evident fact. If the Constitution is at fault, I do not think either the High Court or this Parliament should be blamed. The fact remains that if income tax is levied upon salaries fixed by the Constitution, they are reduced by the amount of the tax, and consequently there is an invasion of the Constitution whenever such a tax is levied. The Court thought that the tax under consideration - was in substance, if valid, both a tax on the income of the appellants and a diminution of that income. The next question was whether such an imposition or diminution made by the authority of the State would, if valid, fetter, control, or interfere with the free exercise of the legislative or executive power of the Commonwealth.
The Court held that that question seemed to supply its own answer. That answer is very obvious. If the States have the power to tax Federal officers, they have the power to seriously interfere with the agencies and instrumentalities of the Commonwealth. We know that the States would not so interfere intentionally, but their desire is that all Federal officers shall - as in equity we all admit they should - be subject to the same taxation as the rest of the community. The point is, however, that a State might at any time, by levying a special *h on
Federal agencies, resist the Federal authority within its borders. That was one of the reasons of the High Court for upholding the appeal. As the Chief Justice further pointed out -
In the case of the Commonwealth, the argument for the destruction of uniformity of compensation had especial force, when it was remembered that the income taxes in the several States were unequal in their incidence. In order, therefore, to give effect to the provisions of the Federal laws regulating the salaries of officers, it would be necessary to make special provisions for adjusting their incomes when transferred. State taxation of Federal salaries was open to two objections - (1) In effect, it diminished the recompense allotted by the Commonwealth to its officers, and so interfered with its agencies ; and (2) it interfered with the freedom of action of the Commonwealth in the transfer of its officers from State to State, except at the risk of doing them an injustice, only to be remedied by the appropriation of Federal revenue for the purpose.
The second point made by the Court is that, owing to the fact that the income taxation levied by the States is not uniform, the freedom of the Commonwealth to transfer its servants from one State to another is very seriously interfered with. If the Constitution is at fault in” that regard, we can hardly blame the High Court for interpreting it, or ourselves for acting under it.
– What has this to do with the motion?
– It has everything to do with the motion, which affirms the desirability of passing a short Bill to impose a Federal income tax, to apply to all persons in the Commonwealth who, by the decision of the High Court, escape the payment of State income tax.
– The motion does not question the judgment of the High Court.
– I have yet to learn that the honorable member, although competent to speak on so many subjects, is competent to act as the Speaker of this House. If Mr. Speaker holds that I am not Tn order in quoting these passages, I shall be pleased to bow to his ruling and to that of the honorable member. I do not, however, regard these quotations as irrelevant.
– The motion does not question the judgment of the Court.
– Neither do I. I am merely informing honorable members as to the reasons for the decision of the Court, so that thev may be fully seized of the facts before dealing with the question at issue.
– The honorable member has not yet touched the question at issue.
– My honorable friend is very impatient. Why does he not go to the Treasury, and there pay over the taxation at issue?
– I have paid it.
– I am very glad that the honorable member has done so. The Chief Justice pointed out that -
The Constitution did not purport to confer any new powers on the States, and their existing powers included unlimited powers of taxation on all properly within their limits, and persons who came within these limits by their permission. Such a power was an attribute of sovereignty, and extended to all persons to whom the sovereignly still extended quoad hoc. But could it have ever applied to a person who came, not by the State’s permission, but under the direction of a paramount sovereign power, to perform duties assigned by it, such as a British Admiral stationed in State waters for the whole or part of a year? lt was manifest that in the case of a person sent to live in a State, without choice on his part, a law which imposed, as a condition of his residence, the obligation of contributing portion of his official salary to the State revenue, was an interference with the freedom of action of the paramount sovereignty.
– Is it strictly accurate to say that an officer is sent to any State without his consent?
– My honorable friend was just now trying to call me to order for questioning the decision of the High Court, and we now find him endeavouring himself to do something of that nature. I shall not treat his interjections as serious.
– I think that the honorable member is misreading the judgment.
– I have quoted the three points on which the High Court laid great stress, and in regard to which laymen can form an opinion with as much facility as the legal gentleman who framed the judgment. To recapitulate these points very briefly, they are as follow: - First, a tax imposed by a State on a Commonwealth officer might in an extreme case be made to interfere very seriously with an instrumental itv of the Commonwealth, by compelling it to” pay additional salary to the officer so concerned ; secondly, the unevenness of the income taxation of the various States would restrict the Commonwealth power to send its officers into any State that it might desire; thirdly, the State has power of taxation only over persons who come within its borders with its own consent and authority. Federal members come to Victoria, not with the permission and authority of this State, but bv the order and desire of a paramount power, the Commonwealth of Australia. Consequently, unless the States have been given by the Constitution a new power to tax Federal servants, they have no legal right to exact income tax from them. In stating these three points, I am discussing solely the legal aspects of this most important question. I have, so far, dealt with the legal aspect of the question. I now propose to address myself as briefly as the importance of the subject will permit to the equity side - to the great question whether there shall be established in the Commonwealth a privileged class, which, under the protection of the technicalities of the law, shall be able to evade payment of taxation similar to that which their fellow-citizens have to bear. Federal servants, although they may be sent into a State by the authority of the paramount power, yet enjoy all the protection and safeguards which the State offers to its ordinary citizens. Therefore, it is obvious that from the point of view of equity, the Commonwealth servants should contribute towards the cost incurred in affording the security which they enjoy equally with their less happily-situated State confreres. I have indicated .the dangers attached to the States being permitted to tax Federal officers, and although they are not particularly imminent, a Stale might, in an extreme case, seek to harass the Commonwealth authority within the State area. I think honorable members will agree that we should endeavour to avoid any possibility of that happening. We seem to be debarred, not only by the law, but by considerations of ordinary prudence, from running any such risk. At the same time, we must endeavour to exercise our authority in the direction of equalizing conditions, and removing the injustice which will be involved by the continuance of the present state of affairs. The motion proposes that a short Bill shall be introduced for the purpose of imposing a Federal Income Tax, which shall apply to all persons in the Commonwealth Public Service, who, by the decision of the High Court, escape payment of a State Income Tax. The proposal is that we should ourselves tax our own servants. We have already heard the arguments urged in favour of that proposal. I now desire to discuss the objections to it. I think the greatest objection rests upon the fact that the direct taxation of Federal servants may be used in. the future, and inevitably will be used, as the thin end of the wedge of universal direct taxation by the Commonwealth.
– Does the honorable member think that direct taxation is bad?
– I shall show the honorable member why I think that direct taxation by the Commonwealth - not by the States- is bad. . If the Commonwealth were to impose direct taxation it would have to avail itself of one of the means of . raising revenue of which the States have at present the exclusive use. That would involve a duplication of authority in one of the avenues of taxation. We all know that when the Commonwealth came into being the States agreed to give up their principal means of raising revenue, namely, Customs duties. We know also that they have retained, among other things, an unlimited right to levy direct taxation upon their own citizens. If we established a dual system of income taxation, we should depreciate the value to the State of that means of taxation, ‘and thereby seriously interfere) with its opportunities for raising revenue. Honorable members know - even those who believe in the single tax - that there is a limit to the amount that can be extracted from the public by means of a tax. As the matter stands at present, the States have absolute power to impose taxation to the uttermost. If we exercise our authority in the same direction, we shall limit the opportunities of the States, and consequently interfere with the agencies and the powers of the States. As one who has always desired to safeguard and protect the powers of the States, I find myself in an extremely difficult position. How could we answer to the States for the injustice that would be done to them if we imposed a tax which would prove to be the forerunner of an attempt to interfere with their present powers of taxation?
– How would our imposition of an Income Tax upon Federal officers interfere with the powers of the States ?
– I am pointing out that if we passed any such enactment we should be introducing the thin end of the wedge for the imposition of direct taxation by the Commonwealth. From the stand-point of the States, that is the first, and, I think, the most serious objection to the Commonwealth seeking to impose this form of taxation.
– The honorable member evidently fears the imposition of a land tax.
– The honorable member mistakes me. I do not fear anything of the kind. I do not object to Land or Income
Taxes in themselves ; but I wish the Com monwealth to refrain from interfering with the rights of the States to exact from their citizens the utmost amount they can raise by such means.
– I wish to understand how an Income Tax imposed by us upon our officers would interfere- with the rights of the States?
– We should interfere with their rights, because there is a limit to the amount of Income Tax that it is possible to exact from the people.
– But tlie States cannot exact Income Tax from Federal officers.
– Why should we not impose a Federal instead of a State Income Tax ?
– That would be introducing the thick end of the wedge. I am endeavouring to point out that if an Income Tax were imposed by the Commonwealth without any restriction, either by constitutional process or otherwise, the rights of the States would be exposed to great danger. Any risk upon that score, would, however, disappear if we decided that the income tax imposed by us should for all time, be levied only upon Federal officers. If that safeguard were provided1, I should welcome a proposal such as that now before us. The Federal servants are divided into three classes. In the first place, there are the departmental officers, who are resident in their own States; secondly-, the departmental headquarters;’ officers resident in Melbourne; and, thirdly, the members and officers of the Commonwealth Parliament. Speaking purely from the point of view of equity, I do not see why departmental officers residing in their own States should not pay income tax to those States for the security which they enjoy in common with their fellow-citizens. The departmental headquarters’ officers, who are resident in Melbourne, are, in one particular,- in much the same position as the officers of this Parliament. They are here as guests of Victoria, pending the establishment of the Federal Capital. In. the meanwhile these officers should not escape from the payment of their share of taxation, but the question is, “To whom shall they pay it?” The salaries of these officials are not being paid solely by the citizens of Victoria. They are here as guests, and if an attempt were made by Victoria to extract taxation from these officials for State purposes,, and not for those of the Commonwealth at large, she would be taking up very much the same position as a person who invited another to stay with him, and who when the last train had gone, and no other accommodation could be obtained, endeavoured to extract payment for the hospitality he had extended. In conclusion, I should like to say that honorable members can, without passing a Bill, overcome the difficulty by rushing the Treasury with offers of their conscience money. We may all do that, and thereby save a good deal of trouble, and that is the course which I hope most honorable members will follow. I am content to believe that those honorable members who may oppose this motion are prompted to do so solely upon national grounds.- I realize that people outside this House will be apt to’ attribute all sorts of base motives to us when we arrive at an inevitable conclusion upon this motion, whether it be this afternoon or next session. But, irrespective of what view may be taken by the House, even if its decision is Opposed to my own view - and I hope; I have made it quite clear - that I am entirely in favour of the proposal under consideration. If, however, others oppose the motion, I shall credit them also with being actuated only ‘by a desire to act in the very best interests of the Commonwealth.
– From the first, the question which is now before us has been complicated by the action which was taken in this State when an attempt was made to collect income tax from Federal representatives resident in other States, who merely visited Victoria for the purpose of discharging their legislative duties. A number of honorable members felt that any tax of that character which might be payable by them was legitimately due to the State to which they belong. Privately I made strong representations to the Victorian Government - I regret to say without avail - that any levy should be limited to the Federal representatives of Victoria. It was that incident which first provoked the feeling antagonistic to this tax. In the next place the attempt to collect taxation upon the salaries of Victorian representatives in itself raised a constitutional question, and when the attempt extended to salaries payable to the whole of -the representatives of the Commonwealth, it raised a veryserious question, of which, so far, no adequate appreciation has been evidenced in the columns of the press. So far as I am aware, it has not been observed that the very principle at stake in the endeavour to levy income tax upon the salaries payable to Federal officers is identical with that involved in the effort made in this Parliament to control the public servants of the States. It is the same principle inverted. I am aware .hat there are honorable members who maintain that the express language of the Constitution separates the case of the public servants of the States from any general principle. But, putting that technical contention upon one side, every one will admit that the Federal principle, that the spheres of action of the Commonwealth and the States should be preserved distinct - as was laid down by Chief Justice Marshall - the principle which forbade the Commonwealth to tax the servants of the Slates equally forbade the States to tax the servants of the Commonwealth. Consequently, we find thai critics outside, who were violently in favour of that principle when the question of interference with the public servants of ths States was involved, denounce it most severely when it is applied to Federal servants. When the question at issue’ was whether the Federation could impose any burden upon the States, they were strong in their determination to stand by the Constitution, but when the question involved is whether the States can impose burdens upon Commonwealth officers, they adopt an opposite attitude. I maintain that if they accept the one application of the principle they must accept the other. Under the feeling which was generated in consequence of the attempt to tax representatives outside of Victoria, it was thought necessary that two members of this Parliament, on behalf of all the public servants of the- Commonwealth - whether in the Legislature or elsewhere, for we are all public servants - should be selected as defendants in order that test cases might be submitted to the Court. As I was Attorney-General at the time, I could not refuse to allow myself to be nominated as one of the defendants, although, as a matter of fact, I have always, under protest, paid income tax to Victoria. As AttorneyGeneral at the time, I was perfectly willing to become a nominal defendant in these cases, brought in reality against all persons who received salaries from the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Hume, who was a member of the same Administration, also kindly consented to allow his name to be used to represent those public servants who do not live in Victoria, but who transact a part of their business - legislative or otherwise - within its bounds. As I have said, I paid income tax in this State under protest.
– And the Government will not return it.
– The cases werecon sidered by the Victorian Supreme Court, and finally, upon appeal, by the High Court, which gave a most important decision in the matter. Of this we have up to the present time had an opportunity of reading only a fraction, which appeared in the public press. If I may be permitted to say so, that fraction appears to be based upon the soundest principles of Federal law, which it will be absolutely necessary for this Parliament to maintain at any cost. It is the all-sufficient principle that, in just the same way as we refrain from any interference with the States or with their public servants, so as not to impair the efficient discharge of their public duties, we demand that our independence shall be likewise preserved, and that our public servants and agencies shall be equally free from interference by the States.
– We did not refrain from interfering with the public servants of the States, when we included railway employes in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– When that Bill comes before the High Court, I am convinced - in view of its recent judgment - that it will declare that provision unconstitutional. The same principle which has protected the public servants of the Commonwealth from interference by the States, will guard their public servants against interference from us. It has been represented in the press that this is a question full of highly intricate, refined, and hairsplitting distinctions, which only lawyers can discover. Instead of that, it is the plainest common-sense principle, to which any two legislative bodies dealing with the same people must resort. We each have a duty to perform to the electors of Australia. In our Constitution we have distinctly specified the work which we are called upon to perform. Legislation in regard to everything else remains with the States Legislatures, and is thus placed beyond our power. It would be absolutely impossible for the States to carry out the behests of the electors, if we, sitting here and representing those electors, and also a great many more, were to trench upon their functions. So in order that the Federation may do its work we must protect our own Government, and our own public servants against encroachments by the States. Without those mutual abstinences Federal government is impossible, and the Constitution is not worth the paper upon which it is written. Without them, no Federal spirit can be created, and no permanent work can be done. We deal with the fundamental basis of Federation when we say that the agencies of the Commonwealth Government, its Members of Parliament, and its public servants as such, must stand outside the control of the States. If the States have power to impose taxation upon Federal servants, what is there to prevent them from increasing that taxation, until it becomes absolutely destructive of the income which they receive? There would be nothing to prevent them from destroying all the functions of government which we are called upon to exercise. Similarly, we might destroy their authority. Consequently, I hold that, just as the Federation must keep within its own domain - which is large enough, in all conscience - the States must be kept within their own domain. Under these circumstances, it appears to me that the judgment of the High Coutt is absolutely sound. It constitutes a declaration of Federal independence, and of the right of our public officers to act without interference by any State. We have put ourselves and them in a proper position to enable us to discharge our duties to the people of this country.
– Would the same principle apply to taxation of land ?
– So far as I am aware, there is no question regarding the exercise of any Federal powers which would affect the private ownership of land. If there were, in my opinion the taxation would be bad. I cannot conceive that the private ownership of land could be involved in this connexion.
– I was referring to the case of a Federal servant who might own a house.
– He must pay in that case. We have to protect Federal public servants in the discharge of their public duties. Outside of that, they must obey the laws of the States in which they reside, because they are not then acting as public servants. Of course, if a Federal officer were using a house or land for Federal purposes, the case might be altogether different. The line of distinction is drawn between
Federal public servants as such, and Federal public servants as citizens. If this Parliament should ever impose an income tax, it will have no right to levy upon the salaries paid to the public servants of the States, because we shall not be able to impair their ability to discharge their obligations to their employers. But having defended our just rights, we are brought face to face with another question, ‘which is a very plain, simple, and practical one. Having established the fact that the. Commonwealth public officers are legally and necesarily exempt from interference by the States, what are our moral obligations ? I submit that, so far as they are concerned, there can be no question that this Parliament would be doing itself justice and honour if it required that each Commonwealth public officer should recognise the obligation upon him to stand shoulder to shoulder with his fellowcitizens in bearing the taxation imposed by the State in which he resides. If we provide for that by Federal law, as I think we have power to do, we shall have at once removed all cause of complaint. We shall have put ourselves beyond attack, and at the same time have done all that justice demands. I admit that, it is not as easy as it may seem at first sight to devise a legislative scheme by which this can be effected. I have privately called the attention of the Ministry to the matter from time to time, and have made several suggestions, one of which, I think, should suffice to carry out our purpose, at all events during the ten ye.us’ period. We have merely to provide that the Commonwealth Government shall have the right to retain from the sum payable to any member of the Federal Public Service, or member of Parliament, the amount which would be levied under the income tax of the State in which he resides.
– What about the States in which there is no income tax?
– There would be no necessity to make any deduction from the income of an officer or member representing those States.
– Could we retain any of the moneys payable to Ministers under the Constitution ?
– Under the Constitution the allowances to Members of Parliament are payable only ‘’ until the Parliament otherwise provides,” and we can deal with them. I am aware, of course, that a sum of £12,000 per annum is payable to
Ministers under the Constitution, and that we cannot make any deduction from that amount unless the Constitution be amended. I do not think, however, that if the provision I suggest is made, it will be necessary to pass any law requiring Ministers to discharge whatever they feel to be their obligation to their States. If the Federal Government took power to retain from the incomes payable to Members of Parliament and public servants of the Commonwealth, the sum which would be payable in respect of each income tax, the result would be that - while the present system prevails which allows the surplus remaining after the deduction of the Federal expenditure to flow back to the States - the amount so retained would go into the coffers of the State in which it was deducted, without any further action on our part. It might be necessary to pass an Order in Council clearly defining the State Acts recognised, and making the deductions perfectly definite. By an order of the Governor-General in Council, the Government would be able to retain from each member of the Parliament and each Federal public servant living in a State where an income tax was in operation the amount of the tax, and the money so retained would flow back to the State as part of the surplus, without any further act on our part.
– Does not the Constitution provide that there shall be no discrimination?
– But this is not taxation.
– How could the money be distributed in this way if there was no income tax in operation in some of the States ?
– If a Federal public servant lived in a State in which there was no income tax in operation, he would not pay any tax.
– But the amounts so deducted would not be distributed equally.
– The money so retained by the Commonwealth would be distributed among the States entitled to receive it. Under our present system, whatever sum is expended by the Federation in a State is in the first place deducted from the revenue received there; then a deduction is made in respect of the total Federal expenditure, and the balance is returned. 15lr. Groom. - We should grant it out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund upon a different basis to the different States. There would be no equality.
– The distribution would not be made on a more differing basis than that upon which the surplus is at present returned. If we expend more on work and buildings in one State than another, a deduction is made from the amount which would be otherwise returned to the first. I do not put this forward as a scheme which has been perfected. It has not been my duty to look into the matter with professional thoroughness, and I am now merelyspeaking as a lay member of the House might do.
– How would the honorable and learned member get over this difficulty? Supposing that I paid ^30 out of my allowance to the State of Queensland, in respect of income tax; the right honorable member for Swan would pay nothing, because there is no income tax law in operation in his State. That would not be equitable.
– Queensland has an income tax law, but Western Australia has not.
– The right honorable member for Swan does not work any harder than I do.
– I shall not discuss that point with the honorable member; but I may say that in one sense he is right and in another he is wrong. The right honorable member for Swan is just as much entitled to bear any Federal expenditure as is the honorable member for Maranoa. But we have to remember that this, does not relate to Federal expenditure. The honorable member for Maranoa would have to pay something because his State chooses to levy upon him as one of its citizens.
– Let me pay the money; I do not wish it to be deducted from my allowance.
– On the other hand, if there be no income tax in Western Australia, the right honorable member for Swan will be fortunate enough to escape.
– Would not the proposal of the honorable and learned member be an infringement of the decision of the High Court?
– I may be wrong, but I think not. If the course which I propose will not serve the purpose, there are other means of giving effect to our desire. I wish to emphasize the point that the Prime Minister should make an effort to find some way to overcome the difficulty before we go into recess. The sum involved, is trifling to the individual, but the principle at stake is important. The principle is that we, as citizens of the States, should shoulder the responsibilities which our fellowcitizens are called upon to bear ; and as long as the collection which I suggest does not interfere with Federal functions, and is undertaken by Federal authority, we shall not impair the Federal Constitution.
– Members of the Parliament do not receive salaries; they are paid an allowance.
– In this case that is a distinction without a difference. Any sum paid to an honorable member, whether it be called an allowance or not, would come within the income tax provisions. If it would not, he would go free. I do not desire to elaborate my scheme, because, after all, it is merely a suggestion. I am perfectly willing to support any proposal in consonance with Federal law, but it is not easy to draw up such a scheme. I am told, on very fair authority, that for thirty years they have been endeavouring, without success, to pass such a law in Canada. I do not know that they are consumed with any burning desire to succeed. If they are not, that may have something to do with their want of success.
-We do- not wish this session to last for thirty years.
– If the Government lasted with it, perhaps the Minister would . not object. I merely make this suggestion by the way, and lay no special stress upon it. What I wish to impress upon honorable members is that it is desirable in the interests of the Parliament and the Public Service of the Commonwealth that we should deal with this question before the recess. Provided that the Federal authority is preserved - provided that it is a result of our own act as a Federal Parliament, having authority over our public servants - we ought to be perfectly satisfied to shoulder our. responsibilities as citizens of the States. What we fought for in the recent test cases was the great principle of the control of our own services and agencies, and we have been successful. What we are perfectly prepared to allow the States we claim for ourselves. We recognise as the .very foundation-stone of the Federation the declaration of Chief Justice Marshall that the States and the Commonwealth can only hope to operate on the same citizens, and do their work efficiently and practically side by side, if the sphere of each is clearly defined. It must be defined so that, without overlapping, without interference, without either impairing the right of the other, they shall be able to work together for the common weal. Justice demands that we shall do our duty as citizens of the States as well as citizens of the Commonwealth. By the decision of the High Court we have demonstrated our rights as citizens of the Commonwealth, and it now remains for us as citizens of the States to do our duties to the States to which we belong.
– I believe that the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has correctly laid down the constitutional position. I felt from the first that the decision of the High Court was the only possible one; but the solution which the honorable and learned member has suggested is to my mind impracticable. Although we have established a sound constitutional principle, we are face to face with the fact that it has given rise to a feeling of injustice among the citizens of the several States. I shall not occupy the time of the House by dealing with t’his matter, as I might have done earlier in the session ; but I should best express my view of what is the only solution of the difficulty by moving -
That all the words after the word “ Commonwealth,” line 6, be left out.
I think that the only solution of the difficulty is that the Federal Parliament should collect the income tax. My experience is that such a tax is fraught with great evils, more particularly in the smaller States. Taxation of this kind would be far better in the hands of the Commonwealth than in the hands of a State. In the little island State of Tasmania several attempts were made to impose an income tax, but they had to be abandoned, because of the inquisitorial nature of such a tax when applied to a small community. Even in New South Wales, the tax has given rise to trouble, owing to the fact that it leads to the undue disclosure of private business matters.
– I may mention for the information of the House that this question ‘has been considered on several occasions by the Cabinet. We are fully impressed with the desirableness of the public servants of the Commonwealth bearing their fair share of the responsibilities of citizenship ; but I can assure honorable members that it is extremely difficult to determine the best method of giving effect to our wishes. There are constitutional difficulties in the way, and we have also to face difficulties in regard to distribution, as well as the fact that there is no uniform income tax in operation. The Government, however, are determined to devise the best means possible, and as soon as they arrive at what they believe to be a fair solution of the difficulty, they will submit their proposals to Parliament. If we are unable to deal with the matter before the close of the ‘session, that need not necessarily prevent Parliament from making any future legislation retrospective, so .that no one shall be able to escape any portion of a charge that can be legitimately levied upon him.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wilks) adjourned.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s Message resumed from 24th November, vide page 7423):
Motion (by Mr. Frazer) again proposed -
That the Committee concur in the resolution submitted by the Senate.
– It has been alleged during the progress of this debate, and it was alleged in another place, that a certain combination controls the manufacture, importation, and sale of tobacco in Australia, and that therefore the Federal Government should take over the whole industry for the advantage of its citizens. I would point out, in the first place, that a combination such as is alleged to exist in the tobacco industry is not necessarily improper. During the past nine months we have heard in this Chamber an enthusiastic advocacy of combinations of workmen and employes generally, and if such combinations be justifiable, surely combinations of employers and manufacturers are also justifiable. Combination is hurtful only when it uses power and influence for unworthy ends, such as to gain profit by increasing prices and lowering the quality of the article it sells, by reducing wages, or by harassing the public, or interfering with the public health and comfort in other ways. Before we should be asked to take the tobacco industry under Government control, some more substantial reasons must be given than the alleged fact that a combination is now controlling that industry. The fact that certain persons in the tobacco trade have come to an understanding as to the prices at which they shall sell tobacco is not in itself a sufficient reason why the Commonwealth should take over the manufacture, importation, and sale of that article in Australia. I believe in the Government control of railways, waterworks, and other public services in regard to which, from the nature of things, competition cannot exist, and should therefore be under the control of the State. But the production and manufacture of articles of food, clothing, and consumption generally, does not exclude competition, and therefore Government control is unnecessary and undesirable except in the last resort. The manufacture and sale of tobacco is not prima facie a subject for Government enterprise, because tobacco being an article which can be readily produced, imported, and sold, the industry gives scope for competition, and is primarily a subject for private enterprise. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, and another representative of Western Australia, have quoted the example of the Republic of France in support of their contention that the Commonwealth should take control of the tobacco industry, but an investigation of the facts gives very strong reasons why we should not follow that example. French tobacco is notoriously the worst in the world, and English and American travellers on the Continent invariably take their own supplies of tobacco with them, to avoid having to smoke such a filthy and dirty compound. In support of what I have said about the character of French tobacco, let me quote from a book called The Soverane Herb, a history of tobacco, by W. A. Penn, published in 1901, in which, on pages 202 and 203, he says -
Cigarette factories are situated at Paris, Bordeaux, Marseilles, Mortaix, Nancy, Nantes, and Toulon, The tobacco, which has been aptly described as consisting of scorched linen flavoured with assafoetida and glue, is very coarsely cut, more so than for the pipe in England, and is very dark. The resultant cigarette is indescribably horrible. English smokers fail to recognise it as tobacco. Yet of these cigarettes France smokes some 300,000 millions a year ; in any form but that of the cigarette it would be intolerable. An Englishman will face unmoved the armies of France or the howlings of her mobs, but from the cigarette he flies apace. In the Paris Figaro, a year ago, “ Nestor “ recounted his success with this horrible weapon. “There are still too many Englishmen in Monte Carlo. Still, during my trip I had the pleasure of making one old Englishman’s life a misery to him by smoking him out, with my strong
French cigarettes, from the railway compartment in which he sat with me. He ‘left the carriage half asphyxiated at Lyons, and I felt that Fashoda was, at any rate, partially avenged. Childish, no doubt, but one must do what one can.” Childish it was not, most certainly ; France has no more terrible weapon than her cigarette.
I will quote next from a paper called The Traveller, wherein it is stated that -
One of the greatest grievances of a traveller is to be deprived of his favorite brand of cigarette A few years ago Foreign Governments were very unreasonable on this point. Wherever you went you had to be content with the Broductions of the national regio- something b’ack and strong-, which spluttered with saltpetre as you smoked. At last the French Government has admitted Egyptian cigarettes.
Tobacco, a monthly journal published at Liverpool, says on the same subject -
As is well known, the products of the State monopoly of France, with the exception of its higher priced cigarettes and smoking tobaccos, are hopelessly inferior. French cigars of domestic manufacture are the worst in Europe - those of Italy alone excepted. The truth appears to be that tobacco manufacture in France has gotten into a rut, and there is not a man in the Republic who is strong enough to pull it out. For so rich a country as France, its State monopoly in tobacco is but a poor revenue producer.
I would remind honorable members that in Italy, as well as in France, the manufacture of tobacco is a State monopoly. So much for the quality of the article manufactured under State control. Let me now give honorable members the reasons why the manufacture of tobacco was made a State monopoly in France. Louis XIV., about the year 1674, was the first to establish a tobacco monopoly in France, but when the first free Parliament, which the French had had for about 200 years met, it at once abolished that monopoly, it was so seized of its defects. The monopoly was reestablished in 1810 by Napoleon Bonaparte, purely for political reasons. As honorable members know, he was the author of that bureaucratic system of Government which is carried to a further extent in France than anywhere else in the world, and under which as much power as possible is concentrated in the hands of the Ministry of the day. All who vend tobacco in France have to obtain licences from the Minister of the Interior, who has thus placed in his hands a patronage which is used for political purposes, with similar results to those which flow from the “ spoils to the victors “ system of the United States of America - the friends of the Government are those who are most likely to obtain licences, just as in America the friends of the successful political party are those most likely to obtain billets.
– That would not apply in Australia.
– It might apply here. In Victoria we have, time and again, seen a distinct pandering to one section of Government employes. That would be aggravated if another large body of workmen were placed under Government control.
– Would it not apply in regard to the granting of licences of every description? .
– No. If the tobacco industry were made a Commonwealth monopoly, every person engaged in the manufacture of tobacco, and in the wholesale and retail houses which now manage the tobacco, trade, would become a Government employe, which would put an amount of patronage into the hands of the Government of the day which I think would be harmful to the public interest.
– What justification has the honorable member for saying that in France the monopoly was established for political purposes ?
– It was established in France by Napoleon, whose desire was to obtain as firm a grip as possible on every detail of administration, and to centralize, as much power as possible in the Government. Probably, he also desired to obtain revenue. But what weighed more with him than any Other consideration, as a study of his life and character will show, was his desire for unlimited power. I wish now to discuss the proposal of the honorable member from the point of view of the States. We have just had a debate on the effect of the decision of the High Court in regard to the non-liability of Federal officers for income tax taxation, and the injury thereby caused to the States. We are required by the Constitution to return at least threefourths of the Customs and excise revenue collected until 191 1. If the control of the importation and manufacture of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes is taken over by the Commonwealth, the revenue collected upon those articles would not be returnable to the States, butwould be entirely at the disposal of the Commonwealth Government. Thus great injury would be done to the States. In order to enable honorable members to appreciate the great importance of this industry, I would point out that tobacco, next to stimulants, is the most prolific item in the Tariff. From a return furnished at my request by the Collector of Customs in Victoria, I find that in 1903 the revenue collected from the duties upon tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes imported and manufactured in the Commonwealth amounted to £1,370,000. In New South Wales . £595,000 was collected ; in Victoria, £400,000 ; in Queensland, £128,000 ; in South Australia, £80,000; in Western Australia. £130,000; and in Tasmania, £30,000. I have given only the round figures. If three- fourths of this revenue were diverted to the Commonwealth, the States finances would be seriously depleted. Therefore, from this point of view alone the proposal should be very carefully considered.
– Is not the Senate the special guardian of State rights?
– Yes, and it pays about as much attention to them as does the honorable member. The proposed Government control of the tobacco industry would involve an amendment of the Constitution, because we have no power at present which would enable us to enter upon the manufactures of tobacco. I would remind the honorable member for Kalgoorlie of the opinion given by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat when he occupied the position of Attorney-General in the Barton Administration, in connexion with the proposed establishment of ironworks bv the Commonwealth At page 184 of the report of the Royal Commission upon the Bonuses for Manufactures Bill, the following letter appears : -
Commonwealth of Australia.
Melbourne, 18th July, 1903.
Dear Mr. Kingston,
You ask for my opinion, for the information of the Bonus Commission, as to the powers, if any, of the Commonwealth to establish ironworks.
In my opinion no such power is included in the express gift of legislative powers to the Federal Parliament.
The trade and commerce power, vast though it is, does not appear to extend to production and manufacture - which are not commerce. Commerce only begins where production and manufacture end. See Kidd v. Pearson, 128 U.S. 1, 20. Moreover, the fact that the trade and commerce power is limited to external and Interstate trade and commerce indicates that the power which the States undoubtedly possess to undertake Government industries witnin their own limits is not shared by the Commonwealth under this sub-section.
Undersub-sections 1, 2, and 3, taken together (trade and commerce, taxation, and bounties), the authority of the Commonwealth over industrial development is of the largest; but though it allows of control, regulation, and guidance, it in no respect points to direct establishment or management of any industries.
Nor can I find in any other part of the Constitution any express authority for the course suggested.
The implied powers of legislation remain to b~ determined, but include (under sub-section 39 oi section 51) ma’tters “ incidental “ to the exercise of the express powers.
The manufacture of iron may be incidental to the execution of many such powers, e.g., defence or the construction of railways. The Commonwealth might clearly undertake the manufacture of any goods for its own use; aid probably ii it did so, and it were incidentally advantageous to the interests of the economical working of the undertaking that it should also manufacture for other consumers, such manufacture would also come within its implied powers. Except as above, it does not appear that any power to establish and conduct manufactures can be implied from the Constitution.
Yours faithfully, (Sgd.) Alfred Deakin.
If that is a sound opinion, it would apply with all the greater force to the present proposal. Under no conditions could the tobacco industry be regarded as having any relation to our defences, except in the sense that tobacco such as that manufactured in France may be used as a weapon of offence. The view taken by the honorable and learned member for Ballarat is sustained by some of the leading barristers in Melbourne and Sydney. An eminent K.C. in Melbourne, and a gentleman who is second to none in Australia as a constitutional authority, declare that no power is conferred upon us by the Constitution to enter upon the manufacture of tobacco.
– Does not the honorable and learned member for Wannon think that the tobacco combine are interfering with trade and commerce between the States, when they insist that goods supplied in one State shall not be exported to any other State?
– I shall deal with the combine a little later on. In view of the fact that an amendment of the Constitution would be required, and that the Commonwealth control of the tobacco industry would involve a dislocation of the finances of the States, I contend that only the gravest reasons would justify the Federal Government in taking over the industry. Government interference in the industry might be justified upon some grounds, but the grave step of’ taking over the whole and sole control of the manufacture and -importation of tobacco could only be justified in an extreme case.
– It could not be justified on any ground.
– I should not go so far as to say that; but certainly only the gravest reasons would warrant us in taking such a step. It is interesting to note the reasons which have been advanced by Senator Pearce and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. They allege that there is a monopoly in existence, which exercises almost complete control over the manufacture and importation of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes; that the monopoly has resulted in the closing “of factories, the reduction of the number of hands employed, and the lowering of wages; that the combine will not permit retailers to start in business without their .consent, that they dictate the prices at which their manufactured articles shall be bought and sold, that they prevent the retailers from buying from any other firm but Kronheimer and Co., and that alt this tends to increase prices to the consumers. It is also claimed by those honorable members that the Federal Government by taking over the industry could make a profit, in addition to the revenue derived from the existing duties, of ,£673,000, according to Senator Pearce, and £628,000, according to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. That is to say, ‘ that the Commonwealth Government could from this industry extract a revenue of about £2,000,000 annually. Finally, they say that this lovely plum of £2,000,000 per annum could be secured by the expenditure of £1,000,000. No doubt many of us have principles, but if we thought that by expending £1,000,000 we could secure ,£2,000,000 per annum, we should drop most of our principles, and reach out for the £2,000,000. I think I can show, however, that each and every one of the statements I have enumerated is either a gross exaggeration or utterly baseless, that the estimates of the revenue the Government would secure are ludicrous, and that the estimate of the cost of nationalizing the industry is absolutely puerile. In the first place, it is alleged that the tobacco industry is controlled by the combine. I have gone into this matter, in considerable detail, and I shall be in a position to show that the firm of Kronheimer and Co., which, so to speak, is the very head and front of this offending, does not represent all the manufacturers of tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes in Australia.
The following manufacturers are standing out of the arrangement: -
Tobacco manufacturers - Dudgeon and Arnell, Melbourne; Dungey, Ralph, and Co., Adelaide; New York and Brooklyn Tobacco Co., Sydney ; Birt and Co., Brisbane.
Cigar manufacturers - Sniders and Abrahams, Melbourne ; De Beer and Feries, Screen and Moss, T. Barnewall, G. A. Carter.
This Mr. Carter has been giving some most extraordinary statistics to the Select Committee. I am very strongly of opinion that he is at the bottom of all this fuss. He supplied honorable members of the Labour Party with a pamphlet advocating the nationalization of the tobacco industry, and his attitude at the present stage is well worth noting. Years ago, in Victoria, we had what were called £5 licences for the manufacture of cigars. Mr. Carter, with the assistance of some members of the Labour Party., established himself as a manufacturer, and he prospered, waxed fat, and kicked. Then he came to the conclusion that all cigar manufacturers should be charged a licence-fee of £50 - he then being in a position to pay- that amount. Now he goes a length further, and proposes that the Government shall take control of the manufacture and sale of tobacco. The other manufacturers of cigars included in the list from which I was reading are : -
Cigarette manufacturers - Sniders and Abrahams, De Beer and Feries, Louis Coen, and other small makers in Melbourne and elsewhere.
– Will the honorable member tell us the source from which he has derived his information?
– I obtained my information from the fountain-head. I submitted a list of queries, and my information can be verified on oath. The information given by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie was supplied by a gentleman who has listened at back doors and has put forward a number of garbled statements.
– What is the value of the honorable member’s brief?
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to ask if the honorable member for Kennedy is in order in reflecting upon the honour of the honorable and learned member for Wannon, bv inquiring what is the value of the. brief that he holds?
– I withdraw the words.
– Honorable members who kno>w me. realize full well that an interjection of that character must recoil upon the head of its author. When I read the statements which have been made in this Parliament, I put a number of questions to the persons who are alleged to be guilty of these crimes. I went further, and drew up a list of about fifty queries,, in which I sought information upon each point that had been raised, informing the: individuals to whom I refer that I would expect their statements to be verified on oath before a Select Committee or a Royal Commission.
– To whom did the honorable and learned member submit his inquiries ?
– To a personal friend who has been in the tobacco trade all his life.
– Why not give his name?
– 1he information which I have obtained can be placed before the Select Committee which is inquiring into this matter, and can be verified upon oath. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie can - if he chooses - submit my statements, which will be contained in Hansard, to that body, and call evidence to rebut them. As regards the import market, I find that the following brands of tobacco are not controlled in any shape or form by the alleged combine : - -Taddy’s, Copes, Ardath Tobacco Co., Craven, Gallagher, Watson and McGill, Zimmer and Co., also Tuckett and Son, and others. The following cigars are also excepted: - F rossard’s, Ormond and Co!, Tinchant and Co., Dresselhuys, Engelhardt and Biermann, S. Wolf and Co., Compania Generale, Manila, as well as all other Manila factories, excepting one, all Havana cigars, excepting those of the Havana Commercial Company, such as Upmann, Partagas, Larranaga, Flor de Benito Suarez, La Excepcion, Figaro, Romeo and Juliet, and many other brands. In cigarettes, all Egyptian, “Turkish, English, and American makers - excepting one in each of these countries - come outside the operations of the alleged combine. It is not a fact that tobacco, cigars, and cigarettes cannot be sold in Australia without the consent of this firm. It is further alleged that this wicked combine has closed a certain number of factories, and thereby reduced employment. That statement is practically without foundation. There is just a scintilla of truth in it.
– Have they not closed factories in Queensland?
– No. The facts are that some years ago Messrs. Dixson and Co. established a number of branches of their Sydney factory. Prior to Federation they were obliged to pay the border duties upon any tobacco which they forwarded to the other States, but with the establishment of Inter-State free-trade they found that it was more economical to manufacture under one roof. Accordingly, they reduced the number of their factories. It is true that one company in Melbourne - the National Cigarette Company - has closed its factory ; but it cannot be denied that there has been a very large increase in the number of persons who are employed in the tobacco trade. The next allegation to which I would direct attention is that the firm of Kronheimer and Co. and others who are interested in the tobacco trade upon a large scale pay their employes sweating wages, and generally indulge in brutal treatment of them. I have here a copy of a letter which was written by the States Tobacco Company ProprietaryLimited to the President of the Trades Hall, on the 23rd February last. It reads -
The morning papers of the 21st inst. contain reports of a meeting of your Council held on a previous evening, which state that the following resolution was agreed to unanimously, namely - “ That the Trades Hall Council render every legitimate assistance to the Cigar-makers’ Union in its struggle against the introduction of sweated girl labour into Australasia.” Although the name of this company is not specifically mentioned, the reports of the discussion show unmistakably that the resolution has reference to the operations of our Adelaide factory.
Your council appears to have adopted this resolution without any attempt at verification of the facts, and to have taken the allegations as to “ sweated girl labour “ made by Mr. Kirwan - the cigar-makers’ delegate - as its basis.
We request your council to investigate the same, with a view to obtaining proofs, justifying the above resolution, or, failing these, of rescinding the same as far as this company is concerned.
That was a bold attitude for the company to take up. They continued -
To facilitate the investigation, and place its result beyond doubt, we make the following proposals : -
Atribunal of three persons to be appointed, one of whom to be nominated by your council ; the other by us,and the third by these two nomineesa decision of the majority of the members to be conclusive.
The tribunal to specifically determine the following questions : - Whether or not there is any “sweated girl labour” employed in any of our factories.
The decision of the tribunal to be published in the Argus, Age, and Herald newspapers in such , terms and manner as the tribunal may determine.
It is understood that all our wages books, wages sheets, and the like particulars will be placed freely at the disposal of the tribunal.
As your council may not have authority to disburse any moneys in part payment of the cost of this investigation, we are prepared to pay the whole expense, as also the cost of publishingthe tribunal’s verdict, whatever it may be.
As it is important to us that the public suspend its judgment pending this investigation, we trust that you will have no objection to our handing a copy of this letter to the press, and that you will give us a definite reply at your earliest opportunity.
That letter was published in the press. Having been accused of paying sweating wages to the girls in their employ, this company called upon its accusers to substantiate their allegations. They offered to bear the whole cost of the inquiry, and to allow the tribunal appointed for the purpose free access to their books and papers. This challenge was accepted by the Trades Hall Council, and a tribunal was accordingly appointed, consisting of Mr. F. H. Bolton, J. P., chairman of the Victorian Cigarmakers’ Wages Board ; Mr. R. S. Walpole, secretary of the Victorian Employers’ Federation, and Mr. R.H. Solly, president of the Trades Hall Council. These gentlemen met, and their report, which has appeared in both the Argus and Age newspapers, throws a lurid light upon some of the allegations which have been made in another place. It reads thus -
Some weeks ago Mr. Kirwan, representative of the Cigar-makers’ Union on the Trades Hall Council, made certain allegations against the States Tobacco Company Limited, to the effect that sweating was being carried on amongst the girls in the company’s employ in Adelaide. The charges were challenged by the company, and eventually they were remitted to a tribunal, consisting of Messrs. F. H. Bolton, R. H. Solly, and R. S. Walpole. The tribunal met yesterday for final consideration of the dispute. Mr. Solly opened the proceedings by traversing the evidence given by the various witnesses, and quoting from various home authorities as to the meaning of sweating. In his opinion, this was based on the disproportionate wage paid to women in comparison with men employed on similar work. This, he considered, occurred in the work done in the Adelaide factory. After he had spoken for some three-quarters of an hour, Mr. Walpole replied, pointing out that the question before the tribunal was a plain-cut issue “ whether or not there is any sweated girl labour employed in any of the States Tobacco Company’s factories.” Mr. Bolton, in giving judgment, stated that the question resolved itself into one as to whether the cost of covering the machine-made bunches, as fixed by the Wages Board, was too high a minimum, in comparison with the wages paid to cigar-makers for completing a cigar right through without machines. In his opinion, after seeing the wages books of the States Tobacco Company as to what wages an indifferent class of labour had made per week, he thought the price was too high in comparison with the earnings of the workman who made the cigar right through. He did not consider that the girls iri the factory in Adelaide were being sweated, especially when one compared the wages paid for the small experience attained with those of other trades employing women.
Thus we find that the allegation of sweating was absolutely disproved.
– What does the honorable and learned member regard as a sweating wage in the case of women and girls ?
– That entirely depends upon the conditions surrounding the industry.
– Is the honorable and learned member aware that Mr. Jacobs stated that the average wage paid to women and girls in the factories of the company is 15s. 5d. per week?
– I could give the honorable member the wages which are paid in France, where the tobacco industry is a State monopoly. There some of the operatives receive about 2s. per day. The British Australasian Tobacco Company pay the girl employes in their Melbourne factory 15s. 6d. weekly for day work, and 24s. weekly for piece work. In 1904 the average day and piece work wage paid to women employed in the States Tobacco Company’s Melbourne factory was £1 18s. 8d., while the average day and piece work rate for girls was £1 os. 11d.
– From what statement is *he honorable member quoting?
– These figures have been compiled from the books of the several factories. If necessary, those books can be produced.
– How is it that the rates quoted by the honorable and learned member do not agree with the statement made by Mr. Jacobs?
– The honorable member loses sight of the fact that I am referring to the average wages paid to women and girls in the States Tobacco Company’s Melbourne cigar factory in 1904. It has been alleged that the monopoly has discharged hands and reduced employment. The only statement made in support of that assertion is that a certain commercial traveller was dismissed. It does one good to see honorable members of the Labour Party practically shedding tears over the position of commercial travellers. I should like, now, to put before the Committee a comparison of the hands employed in the factories of the British Australasian Tobacco Company in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as the Melbourne cigar factory of the States Tobacco Company during the last three years. In 1902 they employed 825 hands ; in 1903, 848; and in 1904, 1,103. *n fairness to the honorable member who has submitted this motion, I should deduct from the last: named total the number of persons who have lost their employment as the result of the closing of the National Company’s cigar factory in Melbourne. Fifty-eight persons lost their employment in that way, leaving a total of 1,045 hands employed in these factories in 1904, or a.i increase of 197 as compared with the number employed in 1903. These figures show that the statements that have been made as to the combine having reduced employment are as absolutely baseless as is the charge that it has reduced wages. As a matter of fact, the wages paid in the tobacco trade of Australia are higher than those prevailing in Europe or America. It has been alleged that the firm of Kronheimer Limited has boycotted retailers. No evidence has been submitted in support of that assertion, and I am assured that it is without foundation. Although those who make such an assertion have the protection of a Select Committee, they have not seen fit to submit evidence in support of it to that body. When one gives a moment’s consideration to the facts of the case, he recognises that it is highly improbable thatanything of the kind exists. Kronheimer Limited supply retailers to only a limited extent. The bulk of their trade is done with wholesale houses, who are naturallyglad to sell to any one. The more customers they can obtain the better they are pleased. It has also been said that an attempt has been made to fix a minimum price. In dealing with that point, there are one or ‘ two considerations which we must bear in mind. No attempt has been made to prevent those engaged in the retail trade from obtaining as large a profit as they can from the sale of their goods. But honorable members- who reside in the suburbs of Melbourne know that in a number of trades competition has been so keen that tradesmen have been forced, in selfdefence, to agree as to the prices at which they shall sell their goods. In the grocery trade, for instance, prices have been cut so fine that many men have been forced into the Insolvency Court. The Tobacconists’ Association of Victoria have for many years been endeavouring to secure the fixing of a minimum price for a number of articles so as to insure a living wage, and I believe that they have asked the assistance of the wholesale houses in that respect. Whether that course of action be justifiable or not, the combine is in no way responsible for it. I have known grocers and other tradesmen to keep a stiff upper lip in the face of cut-throat competition, and then go under, and in these circircumstances, I feel that there is a good deal to justify the making of an agreement to sell goods at a certain price in order that the retailers may make as much as they can. That course is followed in all the ordinary walks of life. Whether a man belongs to a trade union or any other body, he usually agrees not to sell his labour under a certain price. A further allegation has been made that, as the result of the combine, the price of goods has been increased to the consumer. In reality, there has been no general increase. It is true that there has been a trifling increase in one or two cases, and a trifling decrease in others ; but nothing more. For example, the price of “ Yankee Doodle “ tobacco in Sydney has been slightly increased, but that has been due to peculiarly local conditions. In the vast majority of lines, the price to the consumer remains absolutely untouched. I shall not have time to deal with all my notes ; but I desire tobriefly discuss the alleged profit which, according to the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, would he secured by a State tobacco monopoly. He did not give all the figures; but Senator Pearce, in dealing with the matter in another place, made a complete statement of what he thought to be the facts upon which he based his caluculations.
– Who prepared the honorable and learned member’s brief?
– That is a most improperremark.
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Bland has made a distinct reflection upon the honorable member for Wannon. He asks, “ Who prepared the honorable and learned member’s brief?” as if the honorable and learned member were uttering sentiments in which he did not believe.
– I fail to see that any reflection has been cast on the honorable and learned member ; but I ask him to say whether he thinks that the honorable member has reflected upon him.
– I did not intend to reflect upon the honorable and learned member. I observed that he had a mass of typewritten notes, and that prompted the query.
– I explained when the honorable member was absent that when this question was discussed in the Senate, I asked a friend of long standing, who is engaged in the trade, to supply me with a full statement dealing with the matter. He submitted a statement to me, and I then demanded a full and complete answer to forty or fifty queries which I put to him, telling him at the same time, that I desired to be placed in possession of facts which could not be gainsaid. I am assured that every statement I have made with regard to this question can be verified on oath. The companies are ready at any time to produce their books in support of them.
– As the time allotted to private members’ business has almost expired, perhaps the honorable and learned member would like progress to be reported ?
– I think this would be a convenient stage at which to do so.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments resumed from 30th November, vide page 7664) :
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 relatior 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 include a dispute relating to employment in any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit ;…… “ Industry “ means business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment, on land or water, in which persons are employed for pay, hire, advantage, or reward, excepting only persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits ; . . . .
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “but it does not include a dispute relating to employment in any agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuit,” lines 16 to 18.
Upon which Mr. McCay had moved -
That the amendment be disagreed to.
– When progress was reported last night, I was referring to the fact that the Prime Minister has frequently stated that he fully appreciates the good which has been done by trade unionism, and that if he were an artisan or a workman he would become a member of a trade union. Notwithstanding these declarations, however, he is now asking us to pass into law a measure which, if not materially amended, will, in my opinion, strike one of the most serious blows at trade unionism which it has ever received. Right back from the earliest history, as the workers emerged from slavedom, through serfdom, to their present position, trade unions and organizations have Been forced to secure reforms by political action. It is the trade organizations which have been behind every political reform brought before the public. They have kept reforms to the front until public opinion has been focussed upon them, and legislators have taken them up, and have supported the necessary legislation with all their strength. Long before there was trade unionism in Australia the trade unions played an important part in political reform in England. A few years ago, after the industrial struggles of 189T, the workers of this country were advised by the members of Parliament, the Judges, and other men in high positions in the States, to abandon the old barbarous method of striking, and to seek to obtain by constitutional means the redress of their grievances.
– It is dearly laid down by all the authorities that when an amendment is before the Committee the discussion must be confined to it. I submit that the honorable member, is now making a second’-reading speech.
– The Tight honorable member was not here when it was agreed to allow a general discussion on the Senate’s amendments. o
– That is most unusual.
– It is irregular, but that was the arrangement.
– The action of the right honorable member for Swan shows how little interest he is taking in this matter. Otherwise he would know that the Prime Minister dealt with the amendments in a speech which traversed the whole question, and that other honorable members have followed on the same lines. The effect of the advice given in 1891 is shown by the representation of the Labour Party in, not only this Parliament, but every one of the States Parliaments. Now, however, we are asked to pass a measure which will take away the political rights of the trade unionists, and subject them to boycotting throughout Australia.
– Are men boycotted in Tasmania, South Australia, Western Australia, or Queensland now ?
– The men, as well as the masters, have practised the boycott, as the honorable member knows.
– I do not see the relevancy of the interjections. I know of many cases in which men. have been black-balled and boycotted throughout an entire State, because they have been the mouthpiece of their fellows -in order to secure some reform. If preference is not given to unionists when there are just grounds for asking for it, the industrial organization which is the machinery of the Bill will be a curse to trade unionists.
– I wish it were possible to prevent boycotting by legislation.
– I believe that to give preference to unionists will prevent boycotting. It is also proposed to deprive, trade .unionists of their right to engage in politics. Hitherto they have had the right to support the election of a candidate to Parliament, to hold political meetings, and to take other political action. But if the Bill is passed as it stands-
– The honorable member must not discuss this subject.
– I am discussing the effect of the Bill in depriving trade unions of the right to take political action.
– If the honorable member will refer to the printed amendments, he will see that that question is not before the Committee.
– I understand that a large number of honorable members have during the past two days been trying to arrange an amendment which will’ meet every difficulty, but if we cannot discuss the political aspect of the provisions now in the Bill their efforts will be wasted.
– I cannot give a ruling as to some amendment which may be moved at a later stage, but in none of the four amendments now before the Committee, upon which a general discussion is being allowed, is there anything affecting the political purposes of trade unions.
– I understand that one of the amendments before the Chair is to insert in clause 55 the words -
And further provided that no organization shall be entitled to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference by any organization, so long as its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character.
That being so, I think that my remarks are strictly in order.
– The amendment does not refer to trade unions, it refers to employers’ organizations. The honorable member was dealing with the political purposes of trade unions.
– That seems to me a technical objection. I am not going into a long discussion of the subject, but I wish to show that the Bill, if passed as it stands, will take away rights which trade unionists at present enjoy, by preventing them from applying for preference if they have spent as much as it would cost to print a poster announcing the holding of a political meeting. That will do them considerable injury. There is no doubt that this measure was introduced primarily in the interests of the trade unionists. If, however, it is provided that no trade union shall incur expenditure in the direction I have indicated, even to the smallest extent, the measure, instead of proving a blessing, will be a curse.
– The measure is intended to secure the settlement of industrial disputes.
– Exactly. But it would never have been thought of but for the fact that trade unions have had to resort to strikes, which have inflicted, great loss upon the community. The Bill was intended to provide a peaceful means of settling disputes.
– We have a right to insure that it shall not be converted into a political machine.
– Honorable members have no right to declare that trade unions which have been in existence for many years shall be denied an opportunity to secure preference for their members.
– They have got along very well without preference in South Australia.
– The South Australian Act is faulty, and has never been brought into operation. If once this Bill is passed the whole of the trade unions will become subject to it whether they like it or not, and I am appealing to honorable members to divest the Bill, as far as possible, of its objectionable features, in order that it may be made acceptable to those who are most directly affected by it. I wish to say a word or two with .regard to the statements made by representatives of the employers’ associations and others who are opposed to .the aims and objects of the Labour Party, to the effect that all the financial difficulties under which we are now labouring in Australia are due to the socialistic legislation which has been passed in the States and Commonwealth Parliaments. I can hardly conceive that honorable members believe that there is any truth in such statements. I appeal to the honorable member for Grampians, whether our present condition is not due to the very heavy losses which have been inflicted upon the community by the disastrous droughts of .the last few years. I find that, during the last ten years, the number of sheep in. four States of the Commonwealth has been reduced from 102,000.000 to 61,000,000. If we assess the value of these sheep at the very low rate of 5s. per head per annum, we shall see at once that we have been sustaining a loss of £15,000,000 per annum for some years past. During the same period, our herds of cattle have been reduced from 11,000,000 to 5,000,000; if we estimate the value of these cattle at £2 per headit will be seen that we have sustained a loss of £.12,000,000 in that direction. We have also to consider the losses incurred by those who are engaged in the dairying industry, and in agriculture generally. Many of the wheat-growers in the State which I represent have cropped their land for seven years in succession, and have taken off very little more than enough grain for I seed. I cannot understand how, in the face of- all these facts, honorable members, and others, can say that socialistic legislation is at the bottom of all our troubles. Even if our legislation had proceeded along the lines which honorable members opposite most strongly advocate, we should have been no better off than we are at present. It is contemptible that such utterly unwarranted statements should be made in order to prejudice the minds of the public against a measure which is conceived in the interests not only of unionists, but of employers and the general public. Nothing can be more unsatisfactory to an employer than to know that his hands may knock off work and entirely dislocate his business at any time. The honorable member for Grampians referred to the great losses incurred by pastoralists during the shearers’ strike, and similar disastrous results have followed other industrial disputes. Honorable members should be only too glad to perfect a measure which is designed to prevent the recurrence of the dreadful scenes we have witnessed during labour disturbances, such as those which resulted from the maritime strike, the shearers’ strike, and the Broken Hill strike. I trust that honorable members will do their best to render the Bill acceptable to the trade unionists of Australia, who have been commended for doing that which no other workmen in the world have shown themselves prepared to do, namely, handing over the whole of the questions affecting their means of livelihood to the arbitrament of the proposed Court. I feel very strongly with regard to this matter, and I make an earnest appeal to honorable members to divest themselves of all party feeling and to direct their best energies to placing upon the Statute-book a measure that will do justice to all parties concerned.
– I am quite sure that the honorable member for Grey never heard me say that all the losses to which he has referred were brought about by socialistic legislation.
– No; but others have said it.
– No doubt many idle statements have been made. There is a very general feeling throughout the country that in view of the heavy losses and the hardships that have been incurred, we should avoid doing anything that would tend to destroy public confidence, or to prevent the free investment of capital. If we do anything that will injuriously affect the credit of the country, our recovery will be retarded. It was stated last night that the farmers and pastoralists were not so much exercised in their minds as some people represented with regard to the probable effects of legislation of this kind. I should like to read a telegram which has been addressed: to myself and to the Chairman, and which shows that it is feared that the proposed legislation will operate against the common good. The telegram reads as follows : -
Avoca,1st December, 1904.
Messrs. Skene and Salmon,
House of Representatives, Melbourne.
Am authorized by chairman of meetings held
Avoca, Lexton, Amphitheatre, Mount Lonarch, Rathscar, Natte Yallock, Redbank, Moonambel, of local branches Farmers, Producers, PropertyOwners Association, embracing all classes country workpeople, storekeepers, &c., to petition House of Representatives, through you, not to agree to include in Arbitration and Conciliation Bill farmers, farm labourers, and domestic work people ; letter confirming, please announce House immediately.
– What does that show? We are not legislating for Avoca, but for the whole Commonwealth.
– I think that I am doing my duty in putting forward the views entertained by my constituents. The honorable member is not slow to make known the opinions of the electors in his district.
– I represent a territory as large as New South Wales.
– My district is only a small one ; but good things are often packed in small parcels, and I think that so far as value is concerned, my electorate would hold its own in the balance with that of the honorable member. I felt it to be my duty to place the views of my constituents before honorable members.
– The honorable member had better send a reply stating that a provision similar to that objected to has worked no injury in New South Wales.
– It has never been brought into operation.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for Grey that socialistic legislation has had nothing to do with the hardships and losses which have been inflicted upon the community during the last few years. At the same time, I know that alarm is being felt - perhaps more than is justified by the actual facts, because extreme conditions must exist before the Bill could be brought into operation - and that it is feared that legislation of this kind will prevent that free exercise of enterprise which we all desire to encourage in this country.
– The arguments put forward by honorable members in supporting the attitude adopted by the Senate, have very largely traversed the ground covered during the former debate upon the Bill. No additional reasons have been adduced to justify honorable members in reversing their votes. I desire to call attention to the condition of affairs which has been brought about in San Francisco by the conflict between unionists and nonunionists, and which bears directly upon the question of preference to unionists,
The following is a clipping from one or the Sydney daily newspapers: -
In view of the condition of things in Sydney, the action just taken in San Francisco to meet the oppressive and unfair demands of labour unionists is of great importance. Driven into combination by the attitude of the unionists “ the Citizens’ Alliance of San Francisco “ has been formed.
The objects of the alliance are then set out. I do not propose to read them, but I wish to quote a brief summary of what is meant by the “ Open Shop.” The alliance contends that all citizens should be treated in the same way - that there should be no discrimination between unionists and non-unionists.
– Unionists will never give up their right to strike, unless they are granted a preference.
– I think that remark is an unfair and unjust reflection upon their sense of justice. I am entirely in sympathy with all the legitimate aims of labour. I have had opportunities of talking with a large number of unionists upon this particular clause of the Bill, and they have assured me that they do not want it. They are satisfied that so long as no unreasonable restrictions are placed in the -way of men gaining admission to the unions, the best men will join the unions, and by reason of their superiority as workmen, and their superior skill over their fellows, will naturally get the preference from employers. I object to the preference provision, because it . is undemocratic. It is absolutely opposed to all -the legislative ideals of the Labour Party. The honorable member for Darling laid great stress upon the fact that he did not wish to countenance class legislation. But I would point out that this proposal constitutes not only legislation for a class, but legislation for a section of a class. Although I credit honorable members opposite with a desire to do what is best in the interests of labour, I do not believe that a majority of unionists would insist upon a provision of this kind being inserted in the Bill.
– The honorable member knows that they will not have the Bill without it.
– I think that the honorable member is wrong in making that statement.
– All the unions which have passed resolutions upon the subject, are strongly against the view which is entertained by the honorable member.
– Even if a majority of unionists are in favour of it, that fact will not make their demand a just one.
– I say that every unionist is in favour of it.
– The honorable member is mistaken. I can assure him of that, from my own personal knowledge.
– Honorable members opposite are continually affirming that unionists are entirely opposed to arbitration.
– I do not make that statement. I think that any fair Bill which will bring about better relations between employers and employes is worthy of support. I have said more than once that provisions of this character cannot be productive of any permanent good. They do not strike at the root of things. I am compelled to oppose those portions of this Bill which differentiate between one class of citizen and another class, and to re-affirm the principle^ of equal opportunities for all, and special privileges for none, no matter to what class they belong. This is the fundamental basic principle of true democracy, and is now sought to be set aside by the Labour Party. Reverting to the question of the “Open Shop,” I should like to read a short summary which shows what it really means -
First : It means that the right of non-union and union men to employment is equal, else the equality of right and of opportunity is destroyed.
That is the point which I have been emphasizing. In all legislation of this character, equality of opportunity - which should be preserved - is absolutely lost sight of, and a minority are deprived of the right to accept work, save upon certain terms. That is a denial of the very fundamental principle of democratic legislation.
– That is not the position, and the honorable member knows it.
– In spite of all that has been said by honorable members opposite, I fail to see that that position has been successfully assailed. The report continues -
Second : It means that union men have no right to coerce employers to discharge non-union men by boycotting or other measures taken to injure the business of the employer. The principle involved is necessary to the preservation of the civil liberty guaranteed by the Constitution and laws.
That applies to our own position equally with that of any part of the United States. Whatever regulations may be made toy employers, the Legislature should not differ- entiate between one class or workmen and another. The summary proceeds -
Grant the power of union men to prevent nonunion men from labouring, and the most offensive tyranny that ever existed will be established. It is now an every day occurrence that men who wish to work are refused admission into unions, and are denied the right to work because they are not union men.
– What newspaper says that?
– I am quoting an excerpt by the Sydney Daily Telegraph from the San Francisco files. It continues -
If a labour union is permitted to do this, members of one religious creed may -demand the discharge of workmen of another creed, and deny them the right to work at all.
– Order ! Does the honorable member think there is any connexion between his remarks and the amendments proposed by the Senate?
– I think that the extract which I have read bears directly upon them. It also confirms the statements which I made when addressing myself to the Bill itself.
– We have heard all this before. Let us come to a vote.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member is quoting the summary of an article which refers to what labour unions are doing in the United States. As there is no law relating to compulsory arbitration in existence there, the extract which he is reading cannot have the slightest bearing upon what unions would do under the operation of a Compulsory Conciliation and Arbitration Bill here. If the scope of the debate is to extend to the United States, we shall not finish this discussion by Christmas.
– I have already drawn the honorable member’s attention to the fact that I do not see any connexion between the extract which he is reading and any of the amendments made by the Senate in this Bill. I shall be glad if he will show me in what way they are connected.
– I am dealing particularly with clause 40, in which it is proposed to omit certain words.
– I wish to ask whether the honorable member is in order in quoting conditions which may or may not exist in the United States, but are clearly not included within the scope of the measure under consideration. No proposal has been made the adoption of which would enable trade unions to restrict the numbers of their members.
– That is quite correct. I understand, however, that the honorable member for Lang desires ‘ to give reasons why the preference clause should not be amended ‘ in the form desired by the Senate. I shall be glad if the honorable member will strictly confine himself to .that aspect of the question.
– If there be any objection to such arguments, exception should have been taken to those aspects of this question when they were referred to by honorable members opposite. As long as it suited their purpose to refer to them, no objection was taken.
– We have not argued that the unions should be restricted in number.
– I shall not conclude the quotation, since there seems to be .1 doubt as to whether or not it is in order. I do not desire to strain the Standing Orders, nor to strain the patience of honorable members. I am suffering from a severe cold, and am therefore speaking under great difficulties. I can only say that many of the arguments which have been urged’ in support of the acceptance of the amendments made by another place seem to me to be only a recapitulation of the speeches which were made when these questions were previously under our consideration.
– I do not propose to enter upon a general discussion of the several amendments made by another place, but I wish to say a few words with respect to the amendment, bringing agricultural and horticultural labourers within the provisions of the Bill. I am more than ever convinced that we have started on wrong lines. When the Bill was first introduced. I said that if we desired to pass an effective measure, we should restrict it to half-a-dozen or more industries of a purely Inter-State character. Instead of doing so, we have sought to apply the provisions of the Bill to the whole industrial life of Australia. The attempt to extend it to agricultural labourers demonstrates the absurdity of the position. We have been told by the honorable member for Bland, the honorable member for Grey, and others, that the Conciliation and Arbitration Acts of New Zealand and New South Wales apply to this class of labourers. But it is strange that, notwithstanding that the New
Zealand Act has been in operation for something like eight years, no attempt has been made to obtain an award of the Court in respect of them.
– It is equally strange that there has been no attempt to repeal the provision in question.
– It would be time enough to take such a step when an effort was made to bring this class of labourers under the control of the Court. The same remark applies to the Conciliation and Arbitration Act of NewSouth Wales. It would be absolutely impossible to apply such a provision asthis except at the instance of some agitator, and one reason why the farmers object to the proposal is that they fear the interference of such men.
– Every reformer has been called an agitator.
– There are agitators and agitators. I wish to impress upon honorable members the impossibility of applying such a measure as this to . agricultural labourers. It is strange, but true, that the farming community entertain the opinion that they can manage their farms more effectively on their own lines than they could by acting upon the theories of the Labour Party. I am inclined to agree with them.It is singular that those who are prepared to theorize in this Parliament about the possibility of securing uniformity in the matter of the conditions of farm labourers, are not prepared to go on the land themselves. They could not be drawn on to a farm by a traction engine, yet they are prepared to indulge in beautiful theories as to the right course for farmers to pursue.
– I am a grazier and farmer.
– There are many persons who farm the farmers instead of the farms.
– Like some of those whose tactics have been disclosed by the Butter Commission.
– That is another matter. I venture to say that it would be impossible to secure uniformity in the conditions of labour on half-a-dozen farms, not to speak of the farming districts of the whole Commonwealth. Would it be possible to apply the same conditions to milkmen in the northern and southern districts of Victoria? Certainly not.
– In the district in which I reside dairying is carried on to a considerable extent, and those engaged in the industry employ a number of milkmen. The ability of these men to milk is only a secondary consideration ; but in the southern districts of Victoria it is of the very first importance. The same remark will apply to the position of harvesters in different districts. Thehonorable member for Bland has told us of a strike which occurred last year in his own district, but I have yet to learn of a case in which agricultural labourers as a body have had occasion to strike because of the conditions under which they were called upon to work.
– They have never existed as a body.
– I have yet to learn of any other industry in which so many men have risen from the ranks of labour, and become employers. No other industry in the Commonwealth can show so many who have risen in this way. Why is that?
– Because it is so easy.
– If that be the case, why should the honorable member bewail the conditions under which farm labourers are called upon to work? It would be well for him, and other honorable members of the Opposition, to know something of the general condition of employes in agricultural pursuits before they speak in this way. We have been told that in some parts of Victoria agricultural labourers are working for 7s. 6d. a week. I am sorry for their unfortunate employers.
– The honorable member is not sorry for the workmen?
– I am not sorryfor the farm hand who is prepared to work for 7s. 6d. a week, because I think he ought to devote his attention to something else. Any one worthy of being called an agricultural labourer can obtain a much higher wage.
– I cannot say generally, but in the Goulburn and Murray Valley districts, withwhich I am familiar, a man worth keeping on a farm all the year round receives £1 per week and his board, exclusive of the harvestseason.
– That islittle enough.
– I have nothing to say on that point. These farm hands, who receive£1 per week, have their wages raised to 36s. or 35s. per week during the harvesting season, which lasts from six to ten weeks. What mechanic in the city cansave as much ina year as oneof these men can do? These are pointsto which I invite the special consideration of the Committee. I would impress upon honorable members that it would be impossible to secure uniformity and equality in the conditions under which farm labourers are employed, so as to enable the Court to obtain information for its guidance in determining the rates of wages and hours of labour to be fixed. It would be necessary in the first instance to show that these labourers suffered some injustice. In every manufacturing industry, it is an easy matter to ascertain the cost of production. A man who attempts to manufacture a piece of cloth in Australia can readily ascertain the cost ; but no farmer can foretell the cost of raising a thousand bags of wheat. His experience counts for nothing. He has to incur the cost of buying or leasing the land, and of putting in his crop ; but it is impossible for him to say, until the last, what is the cost of production. He does not know until the harvest season approaches whether he will obtain a single bushel of wheat from the area which he has put into cultivation.
– What extra cost has the inclusion of farm labourers in the State Act entailed upon the farmers of New South Wales ?
– The Act has never been applied so far as farm labourers are concerned.
– It has been in operation for several years.
– The honorable member for Grey would have men go to bed by Act of Parliament, and rise again in accordance with ‘the same rigid rule. Has any request been made by the agricultural labourers,’ or the farming community generally, for inclusion in this Bill? Decidedly not. The honorable member for Bland told the Committee last night that the measure would protect the farmers from the danger of a strike in the har.vest field. They would, however, never make application to the Court until they wanted the men, and then it would be too late.
– They could make application months before.
– Of course they could, and then they might have no work for this men to do.
– The honorable member did not follow my remarks on the subject.
– I followed them as closely as it was possible to do. If the farmers were brought under the Bill, and a farmer had made application to a union for what he considered to be a sufficient nunn ber of hands to take off his crop, would’ her in the event of the weather conditions rendering it necessary to employ immediately a larger number of hands, and non-union labour offering, refuse to accept that labour ? I think that he would rather disregard the. law than waste the time necessary to apply to the union secretary for more unionlabour, and thus lose his crop, even though that secretary might be in the next town. When farmers realize the possibility of occurrences like that, they feel resentment against the Bill as a whole, although its provisions in other directions may be just. It is true that the community earnestly desires the prevention of industrial disputes; but there is no justification for doing what is uncalled for in order to secure what is right and proper. This Parliament will have enough to do foi a generation to come if it confinesitself to necessary legislation, without reaching out towards the impossible. Knowing what has happened in New Zealand and New South Wales, and having a practical knowledge of farming, I say that there is nojustification for applying the Bill to agricultural labourers, and that they have nodesire to come under it.
– Have the farmers of New South Wales received any injury through being brought under the State ArbitrationAct?
– I am not going toadvise the farmers in my district to take any risk. I shall oppose the amendment, for the reason which I have given.
– I desire to indorse what has been said by the honorable members for Grampians and Moira against the inclusion of rural workers in the Bill. There is no question of which I have” had experience during my parliamentary life which has caused such a ferment among the farmers of this State - and I speak only forthe State which I know - as the proposal to bring them under this Bill. I have received” numerous communications on the subject from farmers, and day after day meetings, of farmers protesting against the proposal are reported in the press. This attempt toimprove the position of rural workers will’ act to their disadvantage. Rightly or wronglv, the farmer believes that if this provision- is inserted in the Bill, it will be put into, force, and consequently he will not take the risk of cropping his ‘land.
-The farmers of NewSouth Wales take that risk every year.
– It seems to me an absurdity to pot the provision into the Bill if it is not to be called into operation. Why should we cause all this unrest and ferment in the farming community by inserting this provision, if it is not- to be used ? If the amendment is agreed to, the farmers, instead of cropping their land will lock up their machinery, and put their holdings under grass.
– Ha, ha !
– Whenever one speaks ot the farmers, he gets a. laugh or a sneer from honorable members of the Labour Party, from the leader of the Opposition down to the smallest member of the rank and file.
– That is not true. I have given every assistance to the farmers.
– ,The leader of the Opposition must withdraw the words, “That is not true.”
– I withdraw them, if you insist, Mr. Chairman; but the honorable member for Echuca knows that what he has said is incorrect.
– The leader of thu Opposition must also withdraw his remark that the honorable member for Echuca has made a statement which he knows to be incorrect. ‘,’
– That statement may have been a jocular observation. .1 submit that you should wait, Mr. Chairman, until the honorable member for Echuca takes exception to my remark.
– I did not hear it.
– It is my duty to keep order, and I rule that the remark that an honorable member has made a statement which he knows to be incorrect is disorderly.
– - I have heard even yourself, sir, make jocular observations which no one would take seriously, and no doubt the honorable member for Echuca was speaking jocularly when he made those remarks about myself. If he made ‘them seriously, although I withdraw my observation, I shall repeat it at another time.
– I will let the matter pass.
– The honorable member ought to be ashamed of himself.
– I am not ashamed of myself.
– The honorable member for Echuca said that whenever the name of a farmer was mentioned there was a sneer and a laugh from the leader of the Oppo-“
sition and honorable members on this side. I ask that he be required to withdraw that statement.
– It is extremely offensive, if he meant it.
– The honorable member for Echuca having made a remark concerning the leader of the Opposition and the members of his party which is considered offensive, I ask him to withdraw it.
– I have much pleasure in withdrawing it. It was called forth by the action of the leader of the Opposition at the time.
– The honorable member for Grey interjected just now that the statement of the honorable member for Echuca was contemptible. I think that the word “contemptible” is not parliamentary, and I ask that he be called upon to withdraw it.
– I am called upon to deal only with expressions which I myself hear. I did not hear that expression.
– This amendment is being strongly resisted by the farmers, and if agreed to will injure those whom it is intended to benefit, because land will go out of cultivation, or, where farmers continue to cultivate, they will use machinery, and dispense as far as possible with manual labour. Still, as the amendment will not be agreed to, any further remarks on my part are unnecessary.
– It is true that, while the honorable member for Echuca was putting forward what he considered to be arguments against the acceptance of the amendment, I smiled -audibly, but that was because the honorable member asked the Committee to believe that the farmers are concerned at the prospect of their industry being injured by a provision which he says will never be put into effect. He told us that if they are brought within the scope of the Bill they will cease to crop their land, and he also said that the experience of New South Wales proves that this provision is never likely to be put into operation. Which of those statements does he wish the Committee to take seriously ? With regard to his observation that whenever the word farmer is mentioned honorable members on this side receive it with sneers-
– The honorable member for Echuca has withdrawn that . statement.
– Nevertheless, I wish to say in reply to it that, although I have been less time in Parliament than he has, I place my record against his in this matter. There has never been an occasion, either in this House or in the Parliament of New South Wales, in which I have not supported every effort to assist the farmers, and I resent the insinuation that I desire to harass them. I am not, however, in favour of enacting class legislation by leaving the farmers outside a Bill which is to apply to all other classes.
Question - That the amendment be disagreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “excepting only persons engaged in domestic service, and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits,” lines 23 to 25.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the amendment be disagreed to.
– I indicated on a former occasion that I advocated the inclusion of domestic servants within the scope of the Bill, in order that no distinction might be made between citizen and citizen. Since the Federal Parliament in its wisdom has conferred the franchise upon domestic servants, male and female, I maintain that they are entitled to the full rights of citizenship, and that they should not be treated as a class apart. The Prime Minister made a statement to the effect that there were no unions of agricultural labourers in Queensland, New Zealand, New South Wales, or Victoria. So far as Victoria is concerned, the right honorable gentleman’s statement was correct, but I am in a position to show that he entirely misstated the facts in regard to New Zealand. A large number of agricultural labourers are registered in that colony as members of unions. I shall first quote from the Tocsin, which of all the journals published in Victoria, has fought longest in the labour cause. That journal contains the following statement : -
During the debate on the Arbitration Bill on Tuesday night, Mr. Reid, with all confidence, declared that “not a single union was in existence in connexion with the rural industries “ in New Zealand. This is incorrect. Not only is the Otago Agricultural Labourers’ Union registered, but in October last the union obtained an award of the Arbitration Court against the Threshing-Mill Owners of Bruce. A summary of the judgment appears elsewhere in this issue.
The summary is as follows : -
The award of the New Zealand Arbitration Court in the dispute between the Otago Agricultural Labourers’ Union and the Threshing-Mill Owners, contains the following provisions : - The hours of labour shall be left to the discretion of the mill-owner; but he shall not, except in cases of emergency, require employees to work by lamplight or artificial light. That the wages be9½d. per hour and found, or1s. per four, men finding themselves. A band-cutter or feeder shall receive1s. per hour. There shallbe no distinction between members of the union and non-members, and both shall work together in harmony and under the same conditions, and shall receive equal pay for equal work.
That affords clear proof that the statement made by the Prime Minister, and also by the honorable member for Bland was incorrect. As the. majority of honorable members opposite may not care to accept the Tocsin as an authority, I shall quote from the Otago Liberal, of 29th October last, page 6, in which the following statement is made : -
The Arbitration Court has forwarded its award in the matter of the dispute between the Otago Agricultural and General Labourers’ Union of Workers (Milton), and the Threshing-Mill Owners of Bruce county. We make the following extracts : - Hours of Labour - The hours of labour shall be left to the discretion of the mill-owner; but he shall not, except in cases of emergency, require employees to work by lamplight or artificial light. That the wages be9½d. per hour, men finding themselves. A band-cutter or feeder shall receive1s. per hour. General - Wages men, who are required to be on duty to assist in shifting the mill from slack to stack, or from camp to camp, shall be paid at the above hourly rate for the time during which they shall be required to be on duly for such purpose. Subject to the conditions of this award, the employer shall retain the right to conduct his business and manage his property in such manner as he thinks best, and shall make such rules, not inconsistent with this award, as may be reasonable to that end. No employer shall, in the engagement or dismissal of his hands, discriminate against members of the union, nor in the conduct of his business do anything for the purpose of injuring the union, whether directly or indirectly.
Now I come to a statement which may be held to be rather unfavorable to the view that preference should be given to unionists, but I intend to quote it, in order to safeguard myself against a charge of unfairness. The award of the Court provided -
There shall be no distinction between members of the union andnon-members, and both shall work together in harmony, and under the same conditions, and shall receive equal pay for equal work. The award comes into force on the1st prox. for two years.
It was unwise for us to use the word “ preference.” It would have been much better to have employed the word “ protection “ to unionists, and to have provided that no employer should be permitted to dismiss a man simply because he belongs to a union. In order that there may be no doubt as to the correctness of the information I have given, I propose to quote from a New Zealand publication, which contains a list of the industrial associations and unions registered under the New Zealand Industrial Conciliation and Arbitration Act, on 30th September, 1904. At page 12 of that publication, I find that the Canterbury Agricultural and Pastoral Labourers’ Union is registered under the number 463, the address given being the Trades Council Hall, Christchurch. Upon page 13, the Waimate Workers’ Union is registered under the number 327, and the address is given as the Foresters’ Hall, Waimate. Honorable members may think that the latter is not an agricultural labourers’ union, but I have the authority of Mr. Tom Mann, who , was present at Waimate on the date of the registration, for saying that a large number of the members of the union are agricultural labourers. Any one who knows New Zealand must be aware that Waimate is a purely country district, and that agricultural operations are largely carried on there. Upon page 14, I find that the Otago Agricultural and General Labourers’ Union is registered under the number 424. Altogether there are four unions ofagricultural labourers, and I think that this fact should convince honorable members that agricultural workers should be brought under the operation of the Bill. The population of New Zealand is not crowded into the cities, as is the case in the various States of the Commonwealth ; and we must recognise that these unions in many cases contain agricultural workers. One of my earliest memories - I am referring to thirty years ago - is that when I was a boy upon the Moorflat station, I was astonished to see one of the employes there retiring to his hut at four o’clock in the afternoon. I inquired of him if he had ceased work for the day, adding that in Victoria men were required to work much later. I shall never forget his reply, which was, “ My boy, when you grow up to manhood, you will think that eight hours work per day is quite enough for any man. I retire to my hut at four o’clock to read and to enjoy a well-earned rest.” That disposes of the argument that no union of agricultural workers exists in Australia. I now come to the proposal of the Senate to include domestic servants within the scope of this Bill. I claim that the measure should be made applicable to them. I may add that my view upon this matter would be the same if the ladies of East Melbourne were being subjected to a similar injustice. The other evening I spoke of the cowardly term which is used in England to describe domestic servants. There they are designated “ slaveys.” I say that that term should ring throughout the length and breadth of the United Kingdom as an insult to the intelligence of the community. But in the old country, we must remember that men and women do not enjoy the broad franchise which is bestowed upon all Australian citizens. So far as considerations of citizenship and of humanity are concerned, the mother country occupies a position much inferior to that of Australia. If the people could exercise the wide franchise in vogue in the Commonwealth, they would sweep into oblivion the fetishes which exist there. How many domestic servants are there in our midst? Quoting from that statist of all statists, whose name rings loudest wherever the English language is spoken - I refer to Mulhall - I find that in 1841, the agricultural labourers of England were the most numerous class of workers, numbering as they did 3,400,000. Next upon the list stood the operatives who were engaged in manufactures. These totalled 3,137,000. The domestic servants constituted the third most numerous class, their numbers being 1,555,000. In 1881, the number of agricultural labourers had declined to 2,561,000; but that of the operatives in manufactures had increased to 4,535,000, and of domestic servants to 2,448,000. It will thus be seen that they still maintained their position upon the list. In 1891 the agricultural workers , had further declined to 2.500,000. Those engaged in manufacture had increased to 9,000,000, and the number of domestic servants had undergone a slight decrease, totalling only 2,341,000. In other words, they were still third upon the list. Comparing these returns with the statistics published in the Australian Handbook, I find that whereas in New South Wales, those engaged in professions or in attending upon professional callings number 41,000, the domestic servants total 72,000, the commercial classes 121,000, and the industrial workers 146,000. Honorable members will recollect that more women than men are employed in the factories and clothing establishments of Victoria. In this State those connected with professions number 35,000, the domestic servants 66,000, the commercial classes 109,000, and the industrial workers 145,000. From these figures it will be seen that the domestic servants stand, third upon the list of workers in Great- Britain, and fourth upon the list in these States. In the primary industries I find that there are 173,000 engaged in New South Wales, and 161,000 in Victoria. If the agricultural workers are to be denied the benefits which would be derived under this Bill, how can any honorable member go before his constituents and justify his attitude in differentiating be- tween one class and another? Is it not almost akin to that harsh word “ hypocrisy “ for this Parliament, after having conferred upon all adults the right to vote for the return of representatives to frame their laws, to declare that this Bill shall not apply either to the third most numerous calling in Australia, or to those employed in the fourth? My own opinion of second chambers has recently undergone a considerable change. I give my meed of praise to the Senate for its action in connexion with this Bill. It is the most democratic and glorious second chamber speaking the English language to:day. I care little whether the Bill be carried or rejected, but I care much for the stigma of injustice which will attach to us if we carry; it without these amendments. I care also for the myriads of people outside who wil suffer injustice at our hands. I claim that the vast majority of Australians would - if the opportunity were afforded them - do justice to their fellow men and women. I venture to prophecy that if the Bill be returned to the Senate, and if as the result of that Chamber’s insistence upon its amendments, a double dissolution ensues, the country will support the members of the Opposition. It is not my intention to delay the Committee any longer. I have made my protest as vigorously as possible, and with all respect to those whose opinions differ from my own. But I would warn those honorable members who are simply voting against these amendments because they desire to keep a certain party off the Treasury benches, that when the people understand the wrong that is being perpetrated - when they realize the stigma which is being placed on human beings fashioned like ourselves - they may have cause to regret their action. ‘ I say, a plague on both your parties, when it is simply a question of the “ins” and the “outs.” That is the sole consideration ruling the Legislature to-day. The seventy-five members constituting this House, in other circumstances, would gladly do good work for the country ; but when it is a question of the “ ins “ and the “ outs “ - when we have one side strenuously fighting for a Bill which will do the greatest good to the greatest number, while others are opposed to it lock, stock, and barrel - the position is different. I believe that but for party considerations, there is not one honorable mem-
I ber opposite who would vote for the whole 1 Bill. It mav not be in accordance with the rules of this Parliament, but I am satisfied that if we could bring the two Houses of the Parliament together to decide without debate whether we should have the Bill as amended by the Senate, or as we sent it up to another place, we should arrive at a decision which would certainly be in the best interests of the Commonwealth.
– When this question was under our consideration on a previous occasion, I opposed the extension of the Bill to domestic servants. I have since given the matter careful consideration, and have found no reason to alter my opinion with regard to the constitutional difficulty. I believe that, in view of the provisions of the Constitution on which the Bill is based, we cannot apply this principle to domestic servants. Even if it could be so applied, I believe that it would prove inoperatime. At the same time, I have no desire to disagree with the decision arrived at by the Senate, as I think they are likely to insist upon the amendment which they have made. I do not believe that any sane man would say that his home constituted an “ industry, ‘ ‘ and as I hold thatdomestic servants cannot be said to be engaged in an “industry,” within the meaning of the Constitution, I feel that we cannot extend the provisions of this Bill to them. For the reason that I have stated, however, I shall support the amendment made by another place.
– I do not propose to discuss this question at length, for the probabilities are that we shall have a repetition of the vote which has just been given. I desire, however, to protest against the exclusion of so important a section of the community as are the agricultural labourers and domestic servants. I presume that the Government are in earnest in their desire to pass this measure. It is a Bill which, according to its title, is designed to prevent strikes and locks-out, and to secure the settlement of industrial disputes by means of a Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Through the agency of the Court, employers and employes will be brought together, and any industrial dispute arising between them will be peacefully settled. In this way it is hoped to prevent the recurrence of the disastrous strikes which we have experienced in Australia, with all the inconvenience, loss and misery which they entail. With this high ideal before us, we are asked to excludea large section, of the community. The honorable member for Melbourne has quoted very telling figures from Mulhall and Coghlan, with reference to the number of agricultural labourers and domestic servants in England and Australia, and I think that the facts that he has placed before us are worthy of serious consideration. The Government invite the Committee to exclude those engaged in all branches of farming, as well as in domestic service, from the operation of this measure. We are now legislating for the whole Commonwealth, and I should like to know why these industries should be excluded, while others which are closely allied to them are not. It has not been clearly shown why the Bill should not be made applicable to those engaged in every calling. I can quite understand the attitude taken up by the representatives of Victoria, in view of the fact that all attempts to extend the factory legislation of the State to those engaged in farming have been strenuously resisted. But in New South Wales the position is wholly different. A State Conciliation and Arbitration Act is in operation there; and is applicable to those engaged in agricultural pursuits, as well as in shearing, and many other industries. It is quite possible, therefore, that the farmers of that State may be brought under an award of the State Court. That is a point which is worthy of attention. The products of the farmers of New South Wales have to compete with those of this State; and if they are brought under the operation of the State conciliation and arbitration law, the producers there may be placed at a disadvantage. Why should we not extend this Bill, which is expected to do so much in the direction of bringing about better industrial conditions, to all persons engaged in farming pursuits throughout the Commonwealth ? It has been contended that it is unlikely that disputes will arise among those engaged in the agricultural industry, or in domestic service. If we make provision for them in this Bill, and no disputes occur, the Act will remain inoperative, so far as they are concerned ; but if,on the other hand, any trouble arises, we shall be prepared to cope with it. We should not legislate for a class; our legislation, as far as possible, should be applicable to the whole of the people of the Commonwealth. We are charged with the important duty of legislating for all Australia, and why should those who are seeking a livelihood as farm hands or domestic servants be excluded from participating in the benefits of a measure of this kind? For these reasons I shall support the amendment. I trust that better counsels will prevail, and that honorable members opposite will withdraw their opposition to the amendment.
– This matter has already been fully discussed.
– I have not previously given my reasons for supporting the amendments made by the Senate. I am a farmer, and as a representative of a farming constituency, wish to explain why I consider that agricultural labourers should not be exempted from the Bill. In my constituency, many farmers are engaged in the dual industry of wool raising and wheat production, upon a very large scale. Within the last few years large areas of land in my electorate, which were previously used solely for grazing purposes, have been put under the plough and devoted to wheat production. We have the same employers engaged in both branches of the industry, and they have to find a market for their produce, not in the Commonwealth, but beyond it. They have to cater for the needs of the old world. In some parts of New South Wales we have men working as shearers and as farm labourers, during different portions of the year, for the same employers. If the amendment is not agreed to we shall tell these people that, as growers of wool and meat they may come under the provisions of the measure, but as agriculturists they cannot enjoy its benefits, because the agricultural industry is outside its scope. Though, as pastoralists, they may settle their disputes with their employes by conciliation and arbitration, if, as agriculturists, they have disputes with their employes, they must revert to the old barbarous methods of strikes and locks-out. But if the measure can give efficient protection to those engaged in one branch of rural production - and that is claimed by the Government - it is, in my opinion, capable of giving equally efficient protection to the branch which they propose to exclude. On the other hand, if it is incapable of serving the agricultural interest, it is equally incapable of serving the grazing interest. In my State, both agricultural and pastoral interests come under the State Arbitration Act. That measure provides for the control of agricultural disputes equally with grazing disputes ; but if the Federal legislation, which deals not with disputes confined to any one State, but with disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State, is so lop-sided as to apply only to grazing disputes, an injury may be done to the agriculturists of New South Wales through the spreading of a dispute to that State from another State, for which there will be no remedy. If this is to be a good and beneficial piece of legislation, it should apply to every industry, and to every person engaged in that industry, male or female. Every such person should have a right to regard it as a means for obtaining redress for industrial grievances. Therefore, I protest against the proposal of the Government to apply it only to certain industries, and to thus make it a piece of class legislation.
Question - That the amendment be disagreed to - put. The Committee divided.
Majority… … … 12
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 40 -
The Court, by its award, or by order made on the application of any party to the proceedings before it, at any time in the period during which the award is binding, may -
direct that as between members of organizations of employers or employees and other persons offering or desiring service or employment at the same time, preference shall be given to such members, other things being equal ;
And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
Senate’s Amendment. - Leave out “ and provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given unless the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, approved by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.”
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the amendment be disagreed to.
– I move as an amendment -
That the following words be added : - “ but that the word ‘ unless,’ line 12, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word ‘ if,’ and the word ‘ approved,’ line 14, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word opposed.’ “
If the amendment were carried the amendment of the Senate would read -
And provided further that no such preference shall be directed to be given if the application for such preference is, in the opinion of the Court, opposed by a majority of those affected by the award who have interests in common with the applicants.
I wish the Court to be absolutely untrammelled in the exercise of the power to grant preference. In my view, the experience gained in New Zealand and New South Wales is quite sufficient to justify us in the belief that the practice there established, of always insisting that the unionists shall ‘reasonably represent those engaged in a trade or calling before preference is granted, would be followed by any Court constituted as the result of this measure. One has, however, to accept the fact that the Committee upon a former occasion insisted that a majority should be shown to exist in favour of preference before it could be granted, and I am willing, as one, to so far give in to the voice of the majority. In a spirit of anxiety to have the measure passed in something like an effective form, I am quite willing to accept the provision with regard to the majority, so long as the onus is placed upon those who oppose preference, of showing that the majority are on their side. Honorable members opposite argued that it was an easy matter to prove that a majority existed one way or the other.
– That was not argued.
– With all respect to the honorable member, that was argued ad nauseam on the last occasion. I then put forward the contention that it was a matter almost of impossiblity, at least in some callings, to discover the opinion of a majority of those who might be affected by the award.
– Then, why does the honorable member oppose the amendment - why not oppose the proviso straight out?
– I had the impression that I was addressing reasonable-minded men ; but, of course, if the honorable member does not come within that category it is not worth his while to listen to me. Honorable members opposite contended that the question of majority could easily be settled.
– But the honorable member contended that it could not.
– And I say so still, but I am -proposing to put honorable members opposite to the test of their own convictions. They said that it would be comparatively easy_ to discover upon which side the majority lay, that the Court would be guided by common sense, and would not insist upon a mathematically accurate demonstration of the numbers of those affected by the award. If that be so, what objection can they have” to shaping the clause in the way I propose? If they believe in their own medicine, why should they not be willing to take a dose of it? If, on the other hand, they now discover that there will be some difficulty in the working of the clause, I say that they give away their whole case as against the proposition which we put forward previously.
– The honorable member is proposing something in which he- does not believe - that is hypocrisy.
– I am proposing something which, in the opinion of the honorable member, as expressed by his vote, is easy of accomplishment. My position is perfectly clear. I do not wish to hamper the Court in giving preference. I am content to trust the Court. If my contention be correct, that it is difficult to prove upon which side the majority lies, we shall, under the amendment, be in no worse position ; whereas if the contention of honorable members opposite be correct, that the matter is easy of proof, then they will be no worse off.
– Does the honorable member mean that if ‘his contention is correct the adoption of ‘his amendment will be equivalent to our agreeing to the Senate’s proposal ?
– I am giving’ the Minister an opportunity to prove that there is nothing ulterior behind his own proposition, and that all that is aimed at is to insure that the majority rests on one side or the other. If the amendment be carried, what will be the position? Those who ask for preference will still have to convince the Court that it is right for them to grant preference. They will have to submit all their considerations to the Court, to show how many members are in their union, and how far, within reason - as the practice now prevails in New South Wales - they represent the body of men employed in the trade or calling. All that process will have to be entered upon and carried through before the stage is reached of discovering whether there is a majority opposed to preference or not. The Court has to be satisfied that preference is a justifiable demand.
– They will have to make out a case against themselves every time.
– The right honorable gentleman misunderstands me. The applicants for preference will have to make out a case and convince the Court that they are entitled to preference upon the merits of the case, before the amended provision will come into operation. They will first have to convince the Court that preference is justifiable. Presuming that they do so convince the Court, then, under the amendment, the opposing counsel could say, “ Very well, your Honour, the Court is convinced that preference should be granted, but we have now to put forward the fact that the majority of those affected by the award are against preference being granted.”
– The opponents of preference will have to prove their case.
-If the Court be satisfied that all other requirements are complied with, and that on .the equities of the case preference is justified, then the question will arise as to how the men engaged in the trade or calling feel with regard to the matter of preference At that stage ‘.he onus Till be upon those who. oppose preference to prove that they represent a majority.
– There may be no one opposing it.
– Then, silence will give consent - judgment will go by default.
– In other words, the defendants will be required to prove .that they are not guilty.
– Even though they may not be parties to the dispute.
– If they are not interested, why should they be parties ? If they are interested, it is their business to become parties.
– Every individual workman must go to the Court with his lawyer.
– Now that the clause is turned against himself, the right honorable gentleman is discovering objections which were not apparent to him a little while ago, when it was operating in another direction.
– The unions are nol individuals, but organizations.
– But if the unions want preference, they “will be compelled, if the clause be carried in its present shape, to canvass every individual outside of the union who may be affected by the award, in order to discover upon which side the majority lies. The right honorable gentleman knows perfectly well that that is what is insisted upon in the clause.
– That is not correct.
– How can the honorable member advance such a proposition?
– I would point out that we are in Committee, and every honorable member will have an opportunity to express his views: This is a very important amendment, and I think that it is due to the leader of the Opposition that he should be permitted to state his case without interruption.
– I do not complain of reasonable interjections, but at the sametime I appreciate your anxiety, sir, to maintain order. I do not object to interjections which discover views which may be met as I proceed with my argument. With regard to the contention that it will not be necessary to ascertain definitely the views of individuals outside of the unions, in order to prove that the majority of those affected by the award are in favour of preference, I would ask how that information is to be gained, except by consulting the majority of those who are likely to be affected by the award. I do not wish at this stage to enter upon the argument which was engaged in at some length a few months ago on the question of who are likely to be affected by the awards, although I hold a very strong view that that question will be pushed to a far greater extreme than a number of honorable members are inclined to admit.
– The honorable member’s proposal is absolutely opposed to the accepted canons of British law.
– The honorable member for Lang is taking up exactly the same attitude as that assumed by the honorable member for Wentworth. No doubt that is due to the fact that neither of those honorable members were members of the last Parliament. If they had been here they would have known that we transgressed that beauteous principle of British law on several occasions, and yet the heavens have not fallen, and there still seems to be some respect for the powers that be. In both the Customs and Excise Acts we provided distinctly that, except in regard to indictable offences, the onus of proof should lie upon the defendant.
– But was not the defendant in all cases a party to the dispute?
– And are they not in all cases under this Bill parties to the dispute?
– Decidedly not.
– Of course they are. We can sec now that some honorable members are beginning to discover that there is some ground for objection to this particular clause, that, even according to their own admission, it has a two-edged effect. In view of the fact I have stated, that in two other statutes this Parliament has provided that the onus of proof shall be upon the defendant, except, of course, in cases involving serious offences which are indictable, it doss seem to me that the objection urged by honorable members carries no weight when put forward- in regard to this particular case.
– All the temperance people advocate the adoption of the same principle in connexion with the licensing laws.
– Yes, and it has also bean adopted in connexion with gaming and other laws, under which the defendant is required to show that he was in a certain place for a good purpose, the police being relieved of the responsibility of showing that he was there for an improper purpose. Presuming that a union is asking for preference, my proposal does not relieve it of the necessity of making out a good case before the Court. The only proposition I put forward is that if the Court is satisfied that preference is justifiable, the applicant union will still have to run the gauntlet of the majority of those engaged in the industry - if that majority takes sufficient interest in the matter to disclose itself. All the arguments advanced by honorable members as to the workable character of this clause in its original shape apply with as much force to the proposed amended form. I trust the Committee will see its way clear to adopt my amendment, and) thus afford some possibility of making ‘this preference provision a workable one.
– The leader of the Opposition has stated very concisely ‘the grounds upon which he submits this amendment. We had heard in various indirect ways that some serious effort was being made to devise an amendment which would be of such a reasonable character that it might lead to a happy settlement of the wide difference which exists in this Chamber upon this very important matter. I may say at once that had the honorable member been able to suggest any such reasonable amendment we should have been glad to fall in with it.
– Did not the right honorable gentleman tell the newspaper reporters that he could not consent to any amendment?
– Certainly not. I stated that I could not consent to -any amendment which infringed the principle contained in the clause.” Nobody could possibly object to an amendment which would make the meaning of the provision clearer, so long as its substance was preserved. I have never yet met a man who objected to having his object expressed in clearer language. There would have been no objection to an amendment of that character. I am sure that my honorable friend has done his best to propose an amendment which might have had some chance of being accepted.
– I do not know that this proposal will not be accepted.
– As the result of his labours, the honorable member has submitted an amendment upon’ this clause which, it seems to me, is repugnant not only to the ordinary rules which prevail in connexion with legislation and the onus of proof, but to the spirit of any proposal limiting preference at all. We all know - honorable members opposite have made no secret of the matter - that when a Labour Government was in office they accepted a number of amendments with which they were not in accord. We have always recognised that they accepted them, not because they liked them, but because they occupied a Ministerial position, which entailed responsibility, and which to some extent fettered the fearless independence which they enjoy when they are in an irresponsible position. They accepted certain amendments of an important character which were not agreeable to them as matters of principle. I do not blame the honorable member for Bland for his action-
– It would be pretty hard if the right honorable gentleman started to blame anybody in that connexion.
– I do not blame the leader of the Opposition or his supporters for attempting to get back to the naked principle of preference, in which they sincerely believe. They believe that a preference should be extended to unionists, absolutely unshackled by any sort of regard to the rights of workers who are not members of trade unions. That is a simple statement of fact. As so much effort has been expended in an effort to make it appear that the principle of compulsory arbitration is inseparably associated with preference to unionists, I should like to read the words of the author of the New South Wales Arbitration Act, from which a great deal in this Bill has been copied. He is a man of great distinction, and is acknowledged to be perhaps the leading authority in Australia upon a measure of this character. As is well known, the New South Wales Arbitration Act was passed under the auspices of the Attorney -General of the day, Mr. B. R. Wise, a gentleman who is not altogether unknown to honorable members. We all recognise that any statement which he makes upon questions of fact or intention can be implicitly accepted throughout Australia, and therefore I ask honorable members to implicitly accept the statements which he made in the Legislative Council on the 31st October, 1900, when moving the second reading of this Bill. I quote his words, because they bear upon the particular matter referred toby my honorable friends.
– Does the Prime Minister always accept his statements?
– I never accept them.
– Yet the right honorable gentleman wishes us to accept them.
– There are some mortals into whose utterances the element of irony occasionally enters. But I hope that honorable members opposite will accept the statements made by Mr. Wise, which are reported in the New South Wales Hansard, page 4547. He said -
However, theBill provides that before any combination of workmen can be registered as an industrial union, they must previously form themselves info a trade union.
That is what is stated in this Bill.
– It is not the case, but that does not matter.
– It is a fact that, under this Bill, no body of men can form themselves into an organization apart from a trade union. I suggested as a solution of the whole of the troubles we have experienced in connexion with this clause, that the trade unions should form organizations solely for the purposes of this Bill. My honorable friends, however, declared that they could not accept that solution, and I hope that ‘they will allow me to continue the quotation, because it is in the nature of an assurance to a House of Parliament which was asked to pass a similar Bill. Mr. Wise continued -
It has been thought that this provision necessitates that every workman in the Colony shall become a trade unionist. I desire in the most emphatic terms of which I am capable to repudiate that suggestion. It is neither the purpose of the Act, nor is there, I believe, a single clause in it which can be fairly considered or reasonably imagined to have the result of compelling any person who is not a member of a union to join one.
– Preference was contained in that Bill unabridged.
– If preference is to be given in any Bill, how can any one urge that a man who is not a member of a trade union is not compelled to join one ? I admit that in the sense of tyranny, he is not compelled to do so. He is at liberty to stand back and to see members of certain trade unions pass before him, and obtain any employment that may be offering. I say that if we make a distinction between unionists and nonunionists who are engaged in the same trade - if we provide that a man shall obtain a preference if he joins a union, but that he shall be shut out from employment if he does not - we apply to him the most cruel compulsion in the world. It is true that we do not touch him in his views of abstract questions. We do not affect his religious or political convictions; but we touch him upon the point which is vital to every indi- vidual who has to support those who are near and dear to him by the labour of his hands. Mr. Wise continues -
There is no provision whatever which will make it more difficult for the free labourer - as he is sometimes called -
He regarded that term as an offensive one, and consequently added this long parenthesis - the non-unionist, as I prefer to call him, for I believe it is only by joining a union and coming under the influence of unionism that a man is really free -
That is a fair matter of opinion. I do not find fault with Mr. Wise for entertaining that view, but I know how I should exercise my opinion if I occupied a similar position. He continued - - but it is a disputable point which I do not wish to touch - there is nothing in this Bill which either expressly or by implication will make it more difficult for the non-unionist to earn a living.
That is the statement of the honorable and learned Attorney-General of New1 “South Wales upon these very preference provisions. Can it be urged that the amendment submitted by the leader of the Opposition will not make it more difficult for a nonunionist to earn his living?
– Does the right honorable gentleman say that it will ?
– Difficulties will always arise if one body of men is privileged in its opportunities of employment. One of the grandest principles of advanced democracy is equality of opportunity. There is no equality of opportunity, however, if the Legislature surrounds men with preferences in their struggles for a subsistence.
– Then the Prime Minister should oppose preference, even if a majority of those engaged in the industry affected approve of the granting of it.
– I am coming to that point. In the interests of the beneficent objects of this legislation, honorable members upon this side of the House have made concessions. I consider that I have made a very serious concession, and so have other honorable members. We have conceded the principle of preference, with the qualification, not that a majority of trade unionists shall claim it, because we leave’ all non-unionists free to express their wish that a preference shall be extended to unions to which they do not belong ; but the test which we apply is that a- majority of those engaged in any industry which would be affected by an award of the Court must first approve of the granting of that preference. Mr. Wise continues
I can assure honorable members that if their ingenuity should be able to detect anything which can -even remotely have that effect, I shall be prepared to have it eliminated from the Bill.
That is the sort of talk which was indulged in when the New South Wales Arbitration Bill was passed into law. I venture to say that not one of my honorable friends opposite would make use of similar language.
– I am not discussing that.
– I should think that the honorable member was not. He is far too straightforward to make such a statement. Why is this question of preference made such a life and death issue? Is it because it means nothing ? Is it because it will have no industrial operation or effect - that it will not help one man as against another? Is it because it will not help the member of a trade union as against the man who, in the exercise of his rights as a democrat, independently refuses to join a union?
– We had better go on as we are.
– My honorable friend will excuse me for talking in a way which is not common at a pleasant Sunday afternoon meeting. I hope he will allow me to express my own views in the frankest and most straightforward fashion. That is a right which is still left to honorable members. My honorable friends opposite, rightly or wrongly, believe that preference is a great advantage for the trade unionists whom they represent.
– We admit that without it they would be at a disadvantage.
– That is very much the same thing.
– Not quite.
– I should like to put a question to my honorable friends of the Opposition. Supposing that an employer desiring to engage twenty men had a right to differentiate in the ranks of trade unionists, would he not be vigorously criticized if he happened to differentiate between a man who had been very active in his factory–
– He does that now.
– That is one of the matters of which my honorable friends complain. But what is the hardship as compared with that suffered by a man who, on applying for employment, is told, “Before I can give you an opportunity to work at your trade, I must ask whether you have got a certificate from a certain body “ ?
– That is done now. Trade unions in many instances have secured that concession without the intervention of the Court.
– If trade unions have secured it without the operation of law-
– But if this Bill becomes law thev will not be allowed to strike.
– The honorable member is now dealing with another matter.
– It is the same point.
– The honorable member says that trade unions have secured this concession without the intervention of a Court of law.
– Some of them have.
– I do not object to any preference which men may secure by legit mate agitation - by the assertion of their rights as individuals, or as members of trade unions. But the point at which I stop is that a Court of Justice created by this new Australian Parliament should be called upon to decree this preference under the operation of law. I object to the contention that they are to place on trade union certificates the stamp of the Commonwealth of Australia,’ and by means of fines and penalties to deprive workmen of employment. That is the line at which I stop.
– Then why do not the Government do away altogether with the provision as to preference?
– Because I have conceded that point, with a safeguard. The honorable member wishes to remove the safeguard.
– Not at all.
– Does the honorable member say that the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland does not take it away ?
– No, it leaves it as it is.
– Does it leave it delightfullyeasy for the outsiders ?
– It makes it just as easy for them as the right honorable gentleman said it would be for the other side.
– That is not an answer to my question ; the honorable member is now indulging in mere speculation. The fact remains that this principle was accepted in the interests of the magnificent objects of the Bill, which are recognised by the great majority of the people of Australia. The principle of preference was accepted, as many other things have been accepted, subject to the principle of some sort of majority rule.
– .The right honorable member is correct in saying “some sort” of majority rule.
– At any rate, there has been no naked assertion of the principle of the right of a trade unionist, by the mere fact of his being a member of a union, to claim preference. Are we to leave the Court in such a position that it will have no indication from the Legislature of the principle upon which this discretion should be exercised? The value of the amendment moved by the honorable and learned member for Corinella when the Bill was before us on a previous occasion is that it gives the Court a clear indication of the rules upon which its discretion should be exercised. We must remember that it will not be a Court in which every statement must be proved according to the dry precision of ordinary Courts of law, whose decisions are liable to be upset. This will be a Court of equity of the freest kind. It will be absolutely free from the technicalities of a Court of law.
– It will have to deal with facts.
– I hope that the honorableand learned member will allow me to make myself heard. This Court will not be asked, as an ordinary Court of law is asked, topronounce opinions on questions of law. It is not asked to be satisfied in the driest legal sense that an application for a prerference is supported by a majority of those affected. If, in the opinion of the Court, a majority of those affected in the industry are in favour of the preference, it will know what it may do, and will be ableto do it. We are asked by the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bland,, to adopt an extraordinary course. It is remarkable that my honorable friend should be prepared to seriously submit such a proposition if he allows the principle of majority rule at all. The amendment has one advantage. If it is a genuine one,, honestly submitted, it clearly binds my honorable friends opposite to the acceptance of the principle of majority rule.
– We accept the principle that the Court should be untrammelled.. Trust the Court !
– I know what platform oratory is.
– The right honorable member certainly does.
– I congratulate my honorable friends opposite upon the marvellous ease- with which .they can speak upon every subject under the sun, unburdened, as many of them are, with any heavy cargo of accurate knowledge.
– We cannot approach the right honorable member in that respect.
– If this is an honest amendment, intended to deal seriously with a grave difficulty in a measure of national importance, it begins by acknowledging the principle that an application for preference must have the support of a majority of those affected. That has been the decision of .this House, and, so far as the amendment recognises the principle which this House has affirmed, we have no objection to it. But, whilst on the platform, one can make these statements, and propose amendments of this kind, we are compelled in a House of Parliament to consider individually whether such an amendment would really carry out the principle which it acknowledges. Look at the burden which is put upon those who have no corporate existence. A trade union is a large, organized, powerful body. These bodies have nearly become the masters of all the political power of the Commonwealth. But there is one place in the Commonwealth where political power and political organization, however strong, ought never .to be allowed to rule, and that is a Court of Justice. Throughout the great struggles for liberty and for despotism in our grand old mother country, where .the tide of liberalism has been forced on for centuries past, it has always been our boast that whilst the Tories and the Radicals may fight, and properly fight, on the open platform of honest political agitation, there is one temple where these rival political forces must never intrude. It’ is one of the boasts of the country from which we have obtained our traditions and our institutions that these rival political forces can never interfere with the even, impartial flow of British justice. Whilst in this new land we may perhaps be more adventurous in many respects, and wisely more adventurous than our forefathers in the old land - whilst we do not shrink from a progress which may terrify in the old country - all parties have agreed to leave our Courts of Justice severely alone. No party, great as it may be. has ever been able to influence the decisions of our Courts.
– The right honorable member is a good one to talk; in this way.
– The honorable member must give other persons credit for some sincerity.
I know of no men who are more wounded to the quick than are my honorable friends when it is insinuated that they are playacting. I hope that honorable members will not personally insult me by considering me incapable of sincere conviction.
– The right honorable member has been insulting us throughout his address.
– The honorable member has generally been below the level of any shafts that I have discharged; it is by mere accident that I have hit him.
– That is not insulting, of course.
– I am not speaking in a personal sense. The honorable member for Grey knows .that I have no personal feeling against him; but I think that I ought to be allowed to make a statement on behalf of the Government upon this important question. I repeat that the proposal put forward by the Opposition is an extraordinary one. In our every-day experience, whether as Members of Parliament, as candidates, as electors;, or as members of various political, social, or business bodies in the community, we all are familiar with the meaning of the expression, ‘’ the will of the majority.” But of all the daring innovations applied to Courts of Justice, this would be the most daring. There are two bodies of organized forces ; there is certainly one, so far as the workers are concerned. Individual workers will not be able to go to the Court, and claim its advantages.
– Why should they control the actions of a united body?
– I do not intend1 at present to answer that question. I am dealing with another point. I admit that in a dispute before the Court an employer may be a single individual ; but, so far as the workers are concerned, only an organized body can appear before the Court as a party to a dispute between employers and employes.
– Individuals can be cited to appear.
Mr.- REID. - Does the honorable member think that I do not know that? I am not speaking about that matter.
– The right honorable member ought to be dealing with it.
– As one who has been recently admitted to the Bar of New South Wales, the honorable and learned member must have been trained in the meaning of terms, and he should recollect that I used the expression “party to a dispute.” I am surethe honorable and learned member knows what I am referring to when I use those words.
– The right honorable member must use the words in this Bill, and not those employed in ordinary lawcourt business.
– I come back to this question. Let us take a dispute before the Arbitration Court, between a large employer, or a corporation of employers, and a large body of trade unionists. The body of trade unionists apply to the Court for a preference in their branch of industry over all the other workers in Australia. There is no one there to represent those other workers, who have no organization, and no means to express their opinions, and are scattered over the length and breadth of Australia.
– The employers’ organizations act for them pretty effectively.
– I ask the country, through you, Mr. Chairman, to mark the observation of the leader of the Opposition as to the other workers of Australia who are not in trade unions. The tender merciesof their employers are good enough for them. It is to their employers that the nonunionists must look for protection and justice. These very men who picture employers as the incarnation of selfishness, ready to trample the workers to the dust, are willing to leave the non-unionist workers to their mercy.
– Who said that?
– I have heard infinitely worse remarks than that, describing the employers as vampires - capitalistic vampires, who suck the blood of labour.
– That is a good invention.
– That is the wretched jargon of our friends opposite when vindicating the rights of the trade unionists. They say, “ We want this Court, we want this Judge, to protect the trade unionists from the rapacity and sweating of the employers of Australia.”
– Of some employers.
– But when the interests of the non-unionists in matters affecting their daily bread and employment are concerned, all that it is thought necessary is that they shall go cap in hand to their employers to ask them to intercede for them with the Judge sitting in the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. I invite the attention of the people of Australia to the sortof friends who are considered good enough for the non-unionists of the Continent, whilst this Court is to be established to save labour from the rapacity and greed of the employers of the Commonwealth.
– I have never used those words.
– No. My honorable friend is a thousand miles behind the men who support him.
– No one, so far as I know, has said that all employers are rapacious and greedy.
– My honorable friend is one of those well-balanced, moderate politicians under whom almost any advanced man could serve. I have no quarrel with him. I do not regard him as a source of danger. But the views of those behind him are not of such a rational and moderate character. I wish, however, to get back to the question, what have the disorganized, friendless workers of Australia, who are scattered all over the. Continent, to do in order to express an opinion ? They have to go to the employers ; they have to ask the employers to be good enough to help them. I ask honorable members who have the slightest glimmer of fairness in this matter, what would be the opinion of a Judge if employers took workers under their protection, and came to the Court in their case and on their behalf? What scepticism the Court would feel in regard to employers who tried to act as the friends and legal representatives of the non-unionisfts of Australia !
– The right honorable member knows of an instance in New South Wales in which the employers did so - the Machine Shearers’ Union.
– I have never justified that state of things.
– That is an instance in which employers took up non-unionists.
– They took up a bogus union in that case.
– That is the class whom the right honorable gentleman is taking up.
– On the contrary, I appeared for the Shearers’ Union.
– The right honorable member is appearing for the other crowd now.
– Any man, whether unionist or non-unionist, would have a contempt for a union organized by the other side, under the guise of friends of the workers of Australia. Surely we should all have a con- tempt for anything of the sort. I have already expressed my opinion, without any disguise, in regard to the union referred to by the honorable member for Bland, but I do not call the non-unionist workers of Australia bogus. I do not call them blacklegs and parasites. I consider them to be men who areentitled to the protection of the laws of the land, and to some show of justice.
– So do we.
– The attempt is now being made to put the onus of proof upon disorganized workers, who are scattered throughout Australia, instead of on the organized trade unionists. Why should the onus of proof be thrown on men who ask only for equal opportunities to earn their living? What has the country come to? Have we sunk so low that when we get to the very bed-rock necessity of a human being, to live in decency, the onus of proof that he is entitled to doso is thrown on him, and he is required to prove what is, in form, an affirmative, though practically a negative? The effect of the proposal of the honorable member for Bland would be that the moment an application for preference was made by a union, the duty would be cast upon the Judge - though my friends would like him to take no concern on that point - to consider whether there was a majority. In form, there is an admission of the principle which we desire to enforce, but by a cruel twist of the clause the burden of proof is taken from the shoulders of the strong and put on the shoulders of the defenceless. It is taken from the shoulders of the litigating party in the Court and put on the shoulders of the artisans who are unrepresented, and are scattered over the Continent.
– The unions have always had to fight for the other crowd.
– That is another point. I could understand honorable members saying, in this Chamber, and before the country, “ We object to this principle of majority rule, and we say it has no right to be in this Bill.”
– We say, let the Court decide.
– Does my honorable friend admit that regard should be paid to the majority ?
– I say that the Court ought to decide.
– Does the honorable member admit what his amendment admits?
– I would not trammel the Court at all, but I am prepared to fix the right honorable gentleman on his own ground.
– The honorable member for Bland has already said that he does not want preference for minorities.
– I am prepared to leave it to the Court.
– The honorable member will not get the party behind him to admit that if the members of a trade union happen to be in a minority they should not have preference. Do my honorable friends say that? They have suddenly become so timid that they point to the bell-wether, and desire him to speak for them. Honorable members who, upon other occasions, fearlessly express their own democratic convictions, when I now put a question to them, point to my amiable and moderate friend the leader of the Opposition. Coming back again to the amendment itself, which admits that the Court must have regard to the question of majority,. I say that the proposal that some persons residing in scattered localities, thousands of miles apart, are to come into Court and prove that they represent a majority, is one of the most extraordinary ways of testing such a question of which we could conceive. That is my view. Now let us test this provision by applying it to the case of the trade unions which this Bill was specially designed to meet. I think that we can in this wayshow whether our amendment is unreasonable or not. You cannot test a novel experience of this kind where everything is in the dark by precise examples. All you can do is to regard the existing industrial facts throughout Australia in order to judge what kind of dispute will in all probability be submitted to this high tribunal. As the honorable member for Hume has pointed out on more than one occasion - with an accuracy which I do not always perceive in that honorable member - only members of the large unions will be affected by this Bill, which is designed to deal with disputes extending beyond any one State - the seamen who work all round the coast of Australia, the marine engineers, who are employed in the same way, and the shearers, whose work requires them to move from one State to another. It is a notorious fact that the Shearers’ Union, the Seamen’s Union, and the Marine Engineers’ Institution, and. I think that I might add the Wharf Labourers’ Union, the members of which work all round Australia - every one of these great organizations, whose affairs are likely to be submitted for the decision of this Court represent an overwhelming majority of those engaged in the respective callings followed by their members. What difficulty would the officers of the Seamen’s Union have if they came before the Arbitration Court in proving that they represented a majority of the persons engaged in navigating round our coasts? We know that they have an overwhelming majority.
– But they must show that there is a majority in favour of preference.
– If the majority of the men are in. the union, there would be no difficulty on that score.
– Some of the members of. the union might not be in favour of preference.
– Surely my honorable friend knows that one of the advantages of organization lies in the fact that the officers of a union can speak for every man in it.
– Not in this case. They have to show that a majority of those affected are in favour of preference.
– We are developing unexpected recesses of human innocence. If the recognised officials of a great union appeared in the Arbitration Court, what difficulty would they have in. proving that they represented the majority of those engaged in the industry or calling?
– The words are the majority of “ the persons affected.”
– Yes, the majority of those who have interests in common.
Air. REID. - I do not wish to be diverted from the precise point with which I was dealing.
– The right honorable gentleman used the word “engaged,” whilst the term employed in the amendment is “ the persons affected.”
– I am perfectly well aware of that, but I am not dealing with that point at all. I am dealing with the objection raised by the leader of the Opposition. Does the honorable member for Bland seriously contend that, if the officials of the Seamen’s Union appeared before the Court, and asked for preference, the Court would ask them to take a poll of the members of their union in order to ascertain if they wanted preference? That is a wonderful difficulty which exists only in the imaginations of honorable members opposite. What is the advantage of organization? That the officials of a union can appear before the Court as representatives of every man in it, and that, when they make application in the name of the union, the onus of proving that their principals repudiate it is thrown upon some one else. I think that these difficulties are quite delightful. I can quite understand the state of mind into which honorable members have been thrown over this clause. They have some idea that when a great union asks for preference, proof must be afforded that each man joins in the application. The whole idea is simply absurd. ,
– That is a very farfetched construction.
– I decline to recognise the right of the honorable and learned member to interrupt me. I have a personal objection to his interjections. As I have pointed out, the officials of the Seamen’s Union would have no difficulty in proving that their members represented the vast majority of the men engaged in coastal navigation. The Shearers’ Union, embracing 20,000 shearers, would have no difficulty in proving to the satisfaction of a Court of equity that it represented a majority of the shearers in Australia.
– There might be a great difficulty in proving that.
– I do not follow my honorable friend - I cannot understand the difficulty.
– It is difficult to ascertain the number of shearers employed.
– I should think the union would have some ready means of proving that its 20,000 odd members represented a majority of those engaged in shearing. It would be more easy for the union to do that than for 20,000 units, scattered throughout Australia, to prove that the majority of those engaged in the occupation were opposed to preference. I can understand the position of honorable members opposite. This is not the fight they want. Their fight is against these men altogether. They are endeavouring to obtain preference for a union containing 250 members against 2,000, or even 20,000, other men. Honorable members may laugh, but they cannot deny my statement.
– We can, and we do deny it.
– Then my honorable friend is in favour of majority rule.
– I say that the right honorable gentleman cannot prove his statement.
– The honorable member is very clever, but he cannot get from one thimble to the other in that short space.
– I am not so accustomed as is the right honorable member to thimblerigging.
– That is why the honorable member cannot do it. He ought to leave it to professors of the art. I am willing to take my honorable friends either way they like. Either they are in favour of this majority principle, or they are not. As I have pointed out, the amendment says they are. They are in favour of the majority principle, but they throw upon the disorganized units the onus of proving practically a negative against a powerful union which is organized. If the disorganized units can satisfy the Court upon this point, the organized bodies can do it much more easily. I rest my whole case upon that fact. This Bill contains the principle-
– What principle?
– The principle that a majority shall approve of the granting of a preference before that preference is extended to unionists, and the amendment constitutes a detail as to how that fact shall be brought within the cognizance of the Court.
– Why not accept it?
– Will the honorable and learned member ask me if it is vital first? Then I shall know what he means.
– The Prime Minister will make nothing vital.
– At any rate, I have so much vitality that when I was able to spend a month in Melbourne my honorable friends had to shift their quarters. I may inform them that my vitality is still unimpaired. I wish the honorable and learned member for Corio to recollect that he need not trouble me with questions, because after a ferocious denunciation of this very principle - a denunciation of that” for which my honorable friends opposite are asking-
– Not at all.
– Well, I will say after a mild denunciation.
– It was not a denunciation except under certain conditions, which I afterwards obtained.
– Was that when the honorable and learned member asked the present leader of the Opposition if he regarded a certain amendment as a vital one.
– I would never dream of asking the Prime Minister that, because he will not accept anything as vital.
– My honorable and learned friend will never ask me anything which will commend itself to my respect. 12 m 2
– Because the right honorable gentleman has no self:respect.
– The honorable and learned member is one from whom I do not court interjections. I limit my intercourse with him as strictly as possible. I do not court any exchanges with him, except those which public duty demands. This amendment recognises that the President of the Arbitration Court must pay regard to the principle of majority rule, but it throws upon the helpless and disorganized the onus of proving something which - if - it can be proved at all - can be proved more easily by the consolidated labour bodies of Australia.
– Will the Prime Minister tell us how?
– I would suggest to the honorable member for Gwydir that the time has not yet arrived in this country when a man is not entitled to obtain the benefit of work unless he is a member of a union.
– That is not the ques tion.
– With me, that is a serious question. We have accepted the principle of majority rule, but we will not twist it round so as to impose an almost impossible task upon men who are not organized throughout Australia. I hope that I have expressed very plainly the views of the Government upon this matter. I would infinitely prefer - if my honorable friend cannot suggest some amendment which we can seriously consider - that he should fight the question that no regard should be paid-
– Let us leave the granting of a preference to the discretion of the Court.
– The honorable member does not propose to leave it to the discretion of the Court in his amendment.
– I am prepared to do so, thus meeting the right honorable gentleman half-way.
– It would be infinitely better for the persons who are not unionists to leave it to the Court absolutely, than to have this onus of proof put upon them.
– That is a splendid admission.
– The great trade unions, such as those which represent the shearers, sailors, and marine engineers, which are the only organizations likely to come before the Arbitration Court in connexion with Inter-State disputes, contain a vast majority of the persons engaged in those industries.
– Then why fight about the matter?
– In establishing a new jurisdiction, which is to be vested with power over the means of livelihood of every person in the Commonwealth, I desire to indicate some broad principle upon which it should exercise such a tremendous discretion.
– These principles are embodied in the Bill, irrespective of whether or not this amendment be carried.
– That is a remark which does not advance us very much upon the merits of the amendment.
– What does the right honorable gentleman suggest?
– I am prepared to stand by the Bill in the form in which it left this Chamber, and, in answer to the allegations regarding the difficulty of ascertaining the will of the majority, I am pointing out that, in all disputes which are likely to come before the tribunal which we propose to establish, no difficulty would arise in that connexion, because a vast majority of the persons engaged in those industries are members of trade unions.
– The right honorable gentleman said the very opposite at first.
– I never did anything of the sort. I have never stated that the members of the Shearers’ Union do not constitute a majority of those who engage in that calling-
– But the right honorable gentleman quoted the case of the pearl fishers. I can show it to him in Hansard.
– I am not talking of pearlshellers just now.
– Because it does not suit the right honorable gentleman to do so.
– I have not the remotest recollection of ever having made any such statement.
– I can assure the Prime Minister that it is reported in Hansard.
– That is very satisfactory, and we will leave it there. I would ask the honorable member if he thinks that a pearl-shelling dispute - an industry in which most of the employes’ engaged are coloured aliens - is likely to come before the Arbitration Court ? When I am speaking of great bodies like the Seamen’s Union-
Several honorable members interjecting,
– Order. I would ask honorable members to refrain from interjections, and I would suggest to the
Prime Minister that he should not take so much notice of those which are made.
– Upon a point of order, I wish to ask you, sir, to confine the Prime Minister strictly to the subject under discussion. He has been wandering considerably.
– Wandering is the one subject upon which, the honorable and learned member is an authority. I never object to an interruption or two, but only to a sort of organized union of disturbance. It is not the units to which I take exception, but the battery. The honorable member for Newcastle is endeavouring to lead me into trivial channels, when he takes me from a consideration of great bodies of organized workers to the coloured alien pearl-fishers upon the Australian coast.
– I was only quoting the right honorable gentleman.
– Then the honorable member might quote me to better advantage, and at a more seasonable time. I say again that my friends have committed themselves in this matter by the terms of their amendment. It is not that they like it ; but from the exigencies of the present situation, they have endeavoured to approach us in such a way that honorable members on this side may change their votes, and accept the Bill as amended, on the ground that it protects the rights of a majority. That is the basis on which we are asked to vote for the amendment. I have pointed out that this proposal is a cruel sham. So far from protecting the rights of the disorganized majority, if that majority is unfavorable to preference, it imposes on them a cruel, unjust, and unprecedented onus and burden which it is impossible that they could discharge. When honorable members retort that that is what the Bill does as it stands, I reply that that is not so. I have quoted all the great organized bodies - the only bodies ever likely to come into the Court . - all of whom can, without the slightest difficulty in the world, prove the existence of a vast majority of unionists.
– Why insert this clause?
– My reply is because, a majority of this House believe that when this preference is to be within the power of a British Court of Justice, and when it affects the daily rights and opportunities of the working citizens of Australia, the Judge should at least have an opinion - having the discretion in a Court of equity to arrive at that opinion - that there is a majority, not of trade unionists, but a majority of trade unionists combined with others outside engaged in the industry, who have no objection to preference. That is what this House is anxious about. If that were conceded, there would be no difficulty ; if it were a mere transposition of words, what difficulty would there be in accepting the amendment? But, instead of that, the principle is left in, and a condition is imposed which makes it a sham, and I do not think that any honorable member who voted for the principle can consent to that.
– As my remarks will occupy some time, I suggest that progress be reported.
House adjourned at 11.5 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 1 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041201_reps_2_24/>.