2nd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. KELLY presented a petition from a conference of the master bakers of the Commonwealth praying that a Royal Commission bs appointed, or other inquiry made, to ascertain the probable effect of the passing of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill before such Bill is passed.
Mr. REID laid upon the table the following paper: -
Transfers of amounts approved by the GovernorGeneral in Council under the Audit Act, financial year 1903-4, dated 6th December, 1904.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been directed to a statement which has appeared in the press in connexion with the tenders for locomotives for New South Wales to the effect that a tender has been received from South Australia at a price some £30,000 or £40,000 less than the tender from the Clyde Works in New South ‘ Wales, the reason given being that the wages paid in South Australia are much lower than are the wages paid in New South Wales. I wish also to ask the right honorable gentleman whether there is any public document in his hands, or in the hands of any member ‘ of the Government, which will show the rate of wages paid in this industry in New South Wales, and in South Australia, and whether, if there is, the right honorable gentleman will have the paper laid on the table of the House.
– I have not seen the statement referred to, and, if it is true, I can only sympathize with the workers of South Australia. With reference to the main object of the honorable gentleman’s question, I shall get information on the subject, and lay it on the table of the House.
– Referring to the question asked by the honorable member for Hume, I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that any comparison of the wages paid in the particular establishment to which the honorable member for Hume has referred - and; I presume, it is Messrs. Martin, of Gawler - is affected by the fact that a portion of the wages of employe’s in that factory may be represented by an interest upon profits - that the employes may be partly shareholders?
– I am glad that my honorable and learned friend has asked that question, ‘ because it would be proper in securing information of the kind suggested to make inquiries into the true position of the workers in both States. I shall endeavour to get ‘full information on the subject.
– The workmen at Martin’s get no profits whatever.
– I should like to refer again to the question which I put arising out of the question of the honorable member for Hume, because some misunderstanding appears to have arisen. I took it that the honorable member for Hume, in asking the Prime Minister whether the wages paid in the establishment of one South Australian company were lower than those paid in New South Wales, . wished that tenders should not be accepted if they came from South Australia on that ground.
– I did not say anything of the kind.
– That, naturally, was the import of the honorable member’s question. What I asked was that all the circumstances connected with the tenders should be taken into consideration, particularly those under which the men had an interest in .the profits. I do not wish to infer that they receive a share of the profits, but I was counsel for them in objecting to their being compelled to take out a certain proportion of their wages in shares, and I do not wish them to be doubly penalized through loss of work caused by rejection of the tenders.
– What is the question which the honorable and learned member asks?
– Before .the Prime Minister interferes with the tender which has been accepted on the ground mentioned by the honorable member for Hume, I wish to know whether he will consider all the circumstances ?
– As I said before, I intend to lay all ,the information upon the table, and, in doing so, it will be my duty to make it as complete as possible. I have heard it stated that the firm referred to may have some project for making these locomotives in New South Wales, in which case the matter would assume another aspect.
– The statement published was that they must make them in South Australia.
– I am having inquiries made, and will give as much information as possible.
– I wish to know if the Prime Minister can state when it is likely that an opportunity will be given to push forward the Manufactures Encouragement Bill? I may state that owing to a “bereavement in his family, the honorable gentleman who has recently had charge of the measure asked me whether I would take his place when it was brought on.
– The honorable gentleman who has recently been in charge of the Manufactures Encouragement Bill came to me and mentioned a family bereavement, in connexion with which I am sure we all sympathize with the honorable gentleman.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– And it was arranged between the honorable gentleman and myself that in view of the fact that the honorable member for Hume had previously been in charge of the measure, he should be asked to take charge of it again, in his absence. The Government make no objection to that at all. I will intimate to the honorable member for Hume later in the day some information on the subject. I cannot at this moment answer the honorable gentleman’s question.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, viewing the innovation,, as I do, with great alarm, whether he will make it clear and plain that he is not establishing a precedent to be followed under any conditions whatever in other parts of the Commonwealth by allowing Sunday work in connexion with shipping?
– The question has been gone into very carefully, and it has been recognised by my predecessors, as well as by myself, that Sunday work should be discouraged as much as possible, and should be permitted only in the most extraordinary circumstances. But there are two of the northern ports of Queensland where the tidal conditions are such as to render it imperative that Sunday work should be done occasionally.
– What ports are those?
– Keppel Bay and Flat Top. They are open roadsteads.
– They are right out in the ocean.
– When the right honorable member for Adelaide ha charge of the Customs Department he was strongly opposed to Sunday work, and would not permit it under any conditions unless it could be shown that the greatest loss and inconvenience would result from the refusal of such permission. The right honorable gentleman permitted Sunday work at the ports to which t have referred. I have been considering the matter ever since I came into office, and my immediate predecessor, who also went into the matter, granted the permission at one of these places, up to a certain date, and refused it at the other. After going fully into the matter, I found that the conditions were in both cases the same, that they were both tidal ports and open roadsteads, where the ships could not stay outside the harbor; also that the tidal conditions were such that they had to come in on the Sunday or pass on.
– Ships never go into the ports in either case.
– I may say that the honorable members who represent Keppel B ayhave both expressed themselves strongly in favour of granting the concession at that place. The only persons opposed to the concession were the workers at Flat Top, who do not like the idea of Sunday work. The men at these places are paid is. 3d. per hour on work days, and in granting the concession I have imposed a condition that Sunday work shall be permitted at these places only if the men employed are paid 3s. per hour.
– Has the Minister power to make that condition ?
– I think so. If I am asked to make a concession I think that I can attach any conditions I please to the grant of the concession. . The condition I have imposed will, in my opinion, discourage Sunday work as much as possible, and on the other hand, it will compensate those who, against their wish, are required to work on that dav.
– I wish to ask whether the Minister proposes also to make it a condition that members of the crews of vessels, who may have to work on the Sunday as a result of the concession granted, shall be paid the same increased rate of wages as the workers to whom reference has been made?
– I did not make any condition with regard . to the crews. I did not consider that I had anything to do with them.
– They will have to work on the Sunday also.
– The persons with whom I was concerned were the workers of the Commonwealth, the settlers interested in the trade of the ports, and the ship-owners. Those were the only parties with whom I dealt. The other matter, was not brought under my notice in any way. I do not know whether the crews of vessels will have to do any extra work as the result of the concession .
– I should like to ask whether, when this matter is again before ‘him, the Minister will give consideration to those ships which carrv stock. I am aware that on the north-west coast of Western Australia a great deal of cruelty to. animals is perpetrated bv. reason of the fact that ships carrying stock are delayed at various ports on Sundays.
– I may tell the right honorable gentleman that I have considered that question. I saw that there would be grave danger in making the concession on this account, for the reason that people would be induced to. load at such times as would make it imperative that we should grant the concession, and Sunday work would thus be made general.
– Forrest. - I refer to the fact that ships carrying stock are delayed at intermediate ports.
– Where vessels have carried live stock permission has been asked to do Sunday work, in order to avoid the necessity of keeping the stock a day longer on board. That really only means a day’s extra fodder.
– It means very much more than that, as the honorable gentleman would know if he owned the stock.
– I have had a great deal more to do with stock than has the honorable and learned member. I have been a stock-owner practically all my life.
– Then the honorable gentleman is not acting according to his knowledge.
– I quite agree that there is great hardship in having to keep stock on vessel’s any longer than is necessary. On the other hand, I found that if we were to open the door in the way suggested the result might be to make Sunday work general. That is the report which has been submitted to me by the officers of the Department who are intimate with the conditions at these ports. Whilst I should be the last to wish to keep stock on board a vessel any longer than is absolutely necessary, I see the danger which has been brought under my notice - that the making of the concession asked for in this instance might lead to Sunday work being made general.
– I should like to ask the honorable gentleman whether in imposing the condition that the workers who will have to work on Sundays at “Keppel Bay and Flat Top are to get 3s. per hour, he proposes to make the shipping companies- pay those men the increased rate of wages from the time they are engaged at the port or from the time they actually start work? I should explain that those who have to work in Keppel Bay are engaged in Rockhampton. The wharfs at Rockhampton are forty miles from Keppel Bay. and these men will be five hours in getting down to what the honorable gentleman refers to as “ the port.” It will be clear that these men will lose a considerable amount of time in getting to the place at which they have to start work, and I therefore inquire whether it is the intention of the honorable gentleman to- enforce payment of the increased wages from the time the men are engaged for the work.
– I obtained the rates of pay per hour at present paid in the different ports, but the particulars I obtained did not mention when the work commenced or ceased. I increased the Sunday rate by 50 per cent. Just now, they are paying 2s. an hour for Sunday, and, I think, is. 3d. for week-day work. When I increased the Sunday pay by 50 per cent., I did not make any alteration in the hours. I do not know when the time starts, but whenever it may be there was no alteration made in that respect.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether, before granting permission foi vessels to unload on Sundays, he will take into consideration the desirableness of seeing that the members of the crew shall also be paid extra for the time they are compelled to work on Sundays?
– I may tell my honorable friend that I have already acted in this mattter, and have sent a written intimation of my decision to all the parties affected. I can show my honorable friend a, copy of the decision which I sent.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs, as he has stated that he did not take into consideration the interests of the crew, and as he must know that the members of the crew will certainly have to work, whether, in connexion with whatever decision he has arrived at, if he has not included the crew, he will see that those members of ‘it who are compelled to work on Sundays shall be paid at the same rate as are the other workmen ?
– I shall be glad to make inquiries into the subject. The case of the crew was never brought under my notice. All the other parties to the transaction brought their cases under my notice, and I have been considering the subject for weeks past. I dealt with every interest that was put before me. Although the case of the crew was never brought before me, I shall be glad to make inquiries into the position of matters.
– I should like to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether any decision has been arrived at in connexion withthe claim made by divisional returning officers for allowances in connexion with the last general elections ?
– I think I have already informed the honorable member that I was not disturbing the decision which had been come to by my predecessor, and had no intention to disturb it, unless it was shown that definite promises had been made to the divisional returning officers by those having authority to make such promises. In such cases, I think it would be only right that the honorarium which some of the officers have claimed should be paid. If evidence of such promises is given in any case. I shall act on the decision already stated.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs another question on the same subject. It is, whether the Chief Electoral Officer is to be considered as a person having authority to make promises of the kind mentioned ; and, secondly, whether the Minister is aware that payments have been made in a few cases ?
– The Chief Electoral Officer, I at once admit, was a person competent to make such promises, and I any aware that promises have been proved to have been made, and that payments have been made accordingly. I shall be glad to give the honorable member any information he desires, if he will apply to me, and also to show him the papers in connexion with the question.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether his attention has been directed to a paragraph appearing in the Age newspaper this morning referring to a petition from French residents of the New Hebrides, in which they ask the French Government to .annex those islands?
– Some of the residents.
– Undoubtedly ; some of them. Will the Prime Minister be vigilant with regard to the interests of the Empire in connexion with such a proposal ?
– Is it the intention of the Postmaster-General, in cases where postmasters have been reduced in their grade by reason of the Public Service reclassification, and where such officers have hitherto been acting as returning officers in connexion’ with the Federal elections, to dispense with their services and lose all the experience which they have gained in electoral matters, by removing them to other districts ?
– It would be fairer if the honorable member would give notice of a question of that kind. It is rather an important question, and one which has not been brought under my notice hitherto. I was not aware of any trouble in regard to the matter, though I know that in some cases postmasters have objected, on the score of the pressure of postal business, to transact electoral business. In such cases they have not been forced to take positions as returning officers.
– I should like to ask the Prime Minister a question with reference to the consideration of the continuance of the bounty on sugar. I wish to know whether he is aware that the price of sugar, as stated in the public press, has been twice increased during the last fewmonths, and that another increase in the retail price has been announced; whether he is aware that, according to the Sydney Daily Telegraph, the present price in Australia is £,$ a ton higher than the price in England; and whether, under these circumstances, in considering the question of the continuance of the bounty, he will also consider the operation of the import dutv, and whether it is expedient to reduce it?”
– In dealing with that very important matter, every phase of the question must be taken into consideration.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether, in view of the fact of the .alarming prevalence of burning accidents caused by the wearing of a highly inflammable material known as “flannelette,” he will bring the matter underthe notice of the Tariff Commission, and recommend that a flannelette rendered non-inflammable bv special treatment be admitted at a reduced rate of duty, in order to discourage the use of the highly inflammable material so generally in use?
– I beg to say, in reply to my honorable friend, that this matter will receive attention.
In Committee (Consideration of Senate’s amendments resumed’ from 6th December, vide page 7 890) :
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.”
Upon which Mr. Reid had moved -
That the amendment be disagreed, to.
Upon which notion Mr. Watson had moved by way of amendment -
That the following words be added : - “ but that all the words after the word ‘.unless,’ line 12, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words ‘ the Court is satisfied that the organization applying for such preference substantially represents the industry affected in point of the number and competence of its members.’ ‘
– When speaking upon this subject last evening, I dealt with the right of the employes to the treatment indicated by the leader of the Opposition. I showed that it would tend to the greater security of the law if the question of competence were made a far more important factor in the decisions of the Court. I do not intend to pursue the matter at greater length. I am satisfied with the appeal which I have made to the Government to deal with the question apart from party considerations. I ask .them to consider it as a matter of equity. In my opinion, the amendment of the leader of the Opposition will make the Bill operative, although it is not all that] I desire. Cannot the Prime Minister bea little more reasonable? Is it right for him to use the small majority which he has for the purpose of imposing conditions which he. must know will hamper the administration of the Bill, and certainly interfere with the effectiveness of it? I fully expected, when the amendments came down from the Senate, that they would at least receive the sympathetic consideration of the Government, and, seeing that no party issue was at stake, that the Government would desire to make the measure more practicable than it was previously. I have already quoted the opinions of men who know what they are talking about, and who have acquired their knowledge in the severest school possible, that of experience. I have also quoted the opinions of men on the judicial bench, who have had charge of the administration of similar laws in the States, and the opinions ‘of men who have been associated with unions for a lifetime. But it seems that these appeals to the Prime Minister will be of no avail. I only know that if this clause is passed as the right honorable gentleman desires, we shall have something to regret in days to come, because, I am afraid, the Bill will prove an inoperative measure. If honorable members on this side were as determined as I am to safeguard the interests of those whom they represent, they would be preipared to fight to the end in defence of the principle at stake, and no considerations of personal convenience would be allowed to interfere. There are honorable members who may have to explain their attitude on this measure - to explain why they exhibited such apathy - if the prophecy I have just made should prove correct. I have some feeling of sympathy with honorable members opposite. I know they are anxious to return to their homes, irrespective of the legislation which they leave behind, after a long and trying session. But, as I have said, no considerations of personal convenience should be allowed to influence those on this side of the House, who feel that they have a mission and a duty to protect, at all hazards, the interests of the men and women affected by this Bill. We have been told by several honorable members that only certain unions are likely to be brought within the operation of the measure. No honorable member, however, can prophesy with accuracy what conditions may arise, if such a law be passed. There is not only a possi bility, but a probability, that many of the trades and callings now followed in the States may be brought within the purview of the Bill; at any rate, there is a possibility of trade unions being brought into’ such contact with them as to bring them within the sphere of a Federal law of the kind. Why should we single out only one or two unions? Even if these unions represent only 8,000 or 9,000 men, we have no right to conjecture that they will be the only organizations affected. We have to provide not only for the conditions of to-day, but for conditions which may arise hereafter. It appears to me, however, that there is an anxiety to place on the Statute-book of the Commonwealth an impracticable piece of legislation. The Prime Minister now has an opportunity to associate his name with legislation which ‘would be welcomed with pleasure by generations unborn; yet with all his aspirations and ability, he is not prepared to wrest himself from the trammels of the organization which seems to most influence him at the present time. Surely the Prime Minister has had sufficient experience in passing legislation to know that it is not always a commendation to have one’s name associated with a particular measure. Many laws have been passed in the States which reflect not credit, but, very often, grave discredit on the framers, who are thus proved to have been utterly unfitted for the work they undertook. There is not the slightest doubt that this clause contains the main point of the Bill, and unless the provision be passed in accordance with the wishes of honorable members on this side4 all the other clauses, however professedly libera] they may be, will prove absolutely inoperative. This clause is undoubtedly the main-spring of the Bill ; and it is of no use the Prime Minister endeavouring to close his eyes to the fact by stating that he is looking after the interests of the community - that his heart is bleeding for the non-unionists who will be left out in the cold. No explanation will avail the right honorable gentleman, if, in the future, it should’ be found that unionism is decaying for want of an incentive. Of course, we know that by that time the Prime Minister may be placed comfortably in some judgment seat - that he may have passed away from the troubled sphere of politics. That is an unfortunate feature of our legislation as conducted by the politicians of to-day. Those politicians carry no responsibility beyond a certain date ; t they are here to-day, on the highest pinnacle at which their ambition has aimed, and to-morrow they take liberties with legislation which they have hitherto advocated. They feel that, come what may, they will be safe in some haven, comfortably sheltered from all political warfare. When this Government was formed I thought we were in a very happy position, inasmuch as, if we could not get a reply from one half of the Prime Minister, we should be able to get one from his other half; but I find that I was deluded in that expectation. The Minister of Customs is “equal in all things” with the Prime Minister in th’is double-headed Government ; but from the former we onlyget an echo of the latter gentleman, who is practically conducting the business of the House. The Minister of Trade and Customs, as a prominent Sta*te politician, has advocated legislation representing a marked advance on that which prevailed prior to his attaining office; and if I thought that that gentleman was actuated by sincerity - by a high personal ambition to protect the interests of those who are contemplated by such legislation - and not by political necessity, I should have no hesitation in appealing to him. But there are professed democrats who have deluded the’ people into the belief that the legislation they favoured was in the interests of unionists and toilers generally, and we appeal in vain to the Government, on the ground of logic, common sense, or experience. The Government will not advance one inch towards a compromise. The Minister of Defence is probably capable ‘of constructing a subtle amendment for a particular purpose; but surely the Prime Minister is not going to tie himself to an amendment framed by a gentleman who has had no practical experience in industrial matters. I can not think that the Government intend to adhere to this amendment simply because it has been prepared bv the Minister of Defence, especially when men with fifty times the experience of that gentleman can prove that the provision would be injurious in its operation. Practical men, having regard to the antecedents of the Minister of Defence - practical men who take an unbiased view of the history of that gentleman
– Order !
– Surely I am in order in referring to the author of the amendment which we are asked to adopt, and asking whether the Minister of Defence is really qualified to lead the Committee.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon. He is not referring to the author of the amendment, because it was moved by the leader of the Opposition. I would ask him to confine his remarks to that question.
– If this amendment be not accepted, the alternative will be to accept the amendment which was inserted in the clause at the instance of the honorable member for Corinella. I realize that, according to strict rule, I have to discuss the question immediately before the Committee ; but if I am to be kept right up to the collar in this way I shall not be able to discuss the relative merits of the two proposals.
– I do not think that the honorable member can complain of the Chair this morning.
– I am not complaining. I have too big a case to fight to permit my personal feelings to have play. A man can rise superior to that consideration when he is fighting for the rights and liberties of thousands of workers in the Commonwealth, who are anxiously waiting to see whether this Parliament is prepared to put fetters upon them. In Sydney, the other day, an organization unanimously passed a resolution appealing to this Parl:ament to prevent this class of legislation from being passed. We have the great unions of the Commonwealth appealing to honorable members to prevent the enactment of the very provision we are now seeking to modify. Whilst I hear these legitimate appeals from the workers through their organizations, I have something more to interest me than the mere question whether I am technically out of order. I am always desirous of keeping in order if possible, and if I do err, sir, it should be remembered that it is only human to err. I was dealing with the amendment which the leader of the Opposition has moved, not as an indication of what we should like, but as an alternative to that for which the Government contend. We are not now debating the question as to whether this legislation as proposed is what we desire to be enacted. We are prepared to come to a compromise. We are prepared to abandon our ideal for a time, and endeavour to meet the Government half-way, but they are not willing to budge an inch from their position. The clause before the Committee has been mainly responsible for- the wrecking of three Governments. For nine months the Parliament has been practically engaged upon this measure. What has it produced? If it were producing a practicable measure I. should have no objection to remaining here for another period of nine months, or longer if necessary. The successful operation of the Bill will depend upon this clause. Some honorable members seem to think that it ought to be . passed1 with ‘ the same speed as a mere machinery clause or a clause dealing with regulations. But the provisions which have been embodied in the clause since it was introduced have practically cut the heart out of the measure. Apparently, honorable members on the other side wish to. place on the Statute-book a law which will be inoperative and unnecessary, or they are trying to make the people believe that they are endeavouring to honestly legislate for the removal of those labour difficulties which always arise in a new country. For the settlement of industrial disputes we have adopted a method which is not yet known outside the Southern Hemisphere. We are seeking to place on the Statute-book a law which will be an example to the rest of the world. In New Zealand, New South Wales, and Western Australia the law contains a provision largely similar to the amendment which has been moved by the leader of the Opposition. No unbiased man can say that in any of those three countries the law has not been a blessing, not only to the employes, but also to the employers. On the one side, it has secured continuity of employment, and on .the other side it has given security to capital. By granting preference to unionists in the measure, we should not only secure the rights of the employes, but also preserve indirectly the rights of bond -fide employers who are trying to do their best to develop the industries of the Commonwealth. We cannot, therefore, be charged with acting from a selfish stand-point. Although it has been made apparent that each side objects to the clause, the Government are nevertheless prepared to force upon them this objectionable legislation. I do not say that the attitude which has been taken up by the leader of the Opposition is the best one in the interests of the Bill. What I contend is that when neither employers nor employe’s desire the Bill to be placed upon the Statute-book, a compromise could be arrived at. The Prime Minister could reasonably say to us, “ If you are prepared to strike off all the conditions which have been stipulated during the last nine months, I am prepared to allow the Court to judge . from the evidence the wisdom or otherwise of granting preference.”
– Without any stipulation as to preference?
– Yes ; as in New Zealand and Western Australia, it should be left to the common sense of a just Judge to decide according to the evidence submitted.
– The honorable member ought to have voted for my amendment whenit was moved, because it left the matter open.
– How was I to know what sincerity was behind an amendment from an honorable member who had declared that he was an opponent to arbitration in. any form ?
– I never said anything of the kind. I absolutely deny that statement.
– It is so recorded in Hansard, which is better than my word.
-The honorable member must accept the denial of an honorable member.
– I was not refusing to accept the honorable member’s denial.
– He made his position clear. He voted for the amendment to wreck the Government.
– Nothing of . the sort.
– That is recorded in , Hansard. (The CHAIRMAN.- Order.
– I do not care from what quarter an amendment may come, so long as it is likely to have a beneficial effect, and its mover is sincere. I am technically out of order in answering interjections ; but it is rather amusing for the honorable member for Lang to ask me to take him as a guide in dealing with this class of legislation. It would be ridiculous to attempt to place upon the Statute-book a law which experience teaches us would only be a delusion and a snare, and I feel that I have_ a right to stand here as long as my physical powers will permit in order to oppose such a proposal, but as I do not wish to repeat the remarks I made yesterday, I desire to have an opportunity of looking through the proofs of my speech. Therefore I shall postpone any further observations for the present in order that I may safeguard myself against repetitions, and also prepare other matter of special interest, which I desire to lay before the Committee.
– The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland throws us back to the position we occupied before the Bill was forwarded to the Senate, and I regret that it should have become necessary for us to go over the old ground again. The present trouble seems to arise from the fact that whilst honorable members on ..this sidle of the Chamber propose to give definite directions to the Court, honorable members opposite wish to leave the Court to practically make a law for itself. We think that the Court might by reasonable means - without taking a poll of those engaged in the industry, or insisting upon absolute proof - very easily satisfy itself as to the side upon which the majority lies. Under the Government proposal, a clear and distinct issue would be placed before the Court, but the amendment of the honorable member for Bland would, by the introduction of the qualifying word “substantially” leave it to the Court to make a law for itself. One Judge might say that 10 per cent, of those engaged in an industry constituted a substantial number, whilst others might insist upon a larger percentage being shown. The leader of the Opposition has. stated that he desires that a substantial number shall really be a majority, but his intention is not definitely expressed by the amendment. It has been strongly contended that it would be impossible for the unions, without a great deal of trouble, to show that they represented an absolute majority of those affected. I do not, however, anticipate any trouble on ‘.that score, because I assume that the Judge would take it for granted that all in the claimant union were in favour of preference. Statistics as to the number of persons engaged in any particular industry would be available, and upon these the opponents of preference would have to rely. Therefore, their case would probably be weaker than that which could be presented by the applicants for preference. If the leader of the Opposition is ready to admit that a substantial number of those affected by an award would really represent a majority, or almost a majority, it would be as difficult for applicants for preference to establish the fact that they substantially represented those affected as it would be for them to demonstrate that they represented an actual majority.
– One hundred would be a substantial number if there were a .thousand persons engaged in an industry.
– My objection is that the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland would leave it open to the Court to make a law for itself, whereas, in my opinion? the Court should merely administer the law. As I have said, it would be as difficult to arrive at a decision as to whether the applicants substantially represented those affected as it would be to prove that they represented a majority. The Government do not intend that there should be absolute proof with regard to that majority, but that we should trust the Court to satisfy itself upon that point.
– The honorable member for Gwydir and the honorable member for Grey have made certain references to myself, which I do not feel inclined to allow to pass unchallenged - although I have made denials previously. It has been stated by the honorable member for Gwydir that I have declared myself opposed to this Bill, lock, stock, and barrel. That is an absolute misrepresentation of the facts, because I have never so declared myself. I have, on the contrary, taken particular pains to explain that I am not opposed to the Bill, but to certain provisions, which I regard as objectionable. The honorable member for Grey states that I had declared that my object in supporting the Bill was merely to wreck the late Government. I never declared that to be my object, and that was not my object. The measure has not been used for that purpose, so far as I am concerned. Therefore, the honorable member had absolutely no justification for attributing any such motive to me. The vote to which the honorable member evidently refers, which helped to wreck the Deakin Government, was upon an amendment to include the public servants of the States - simply a detail of one clause of the Bill. It did not affect the Bill as a whole.
– I desire merely to point out very briefly indeed the reasons why I cannot accept the Government’s proposal, and why I prefer the amendment proposed by .the honorable member for Bland. Something very much more important than the mere difference of words distinguishes the respective attitudes assumed by the two parties in this Chamber. I wish to give one concrete example - because, after all, an ounce of practice is worth a ton .of theory - which came under my notice in the Arbitration Court of New South Wales only three weeks ago, to show that there is a fundamental difference between the proviso and the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland. The Trolleymen Draymen, and Carters’ Union, of which some mention has already been made in this Chamber, is one of considerable strength, numbering some 1,200 members. In connexion with a dispute which was submitted to the Arbitration Court for settlement, the union sought for preference for its members, and the employers endeavoured to show that the majority of those engaged in that calling were not members of the union. They did not succeed in this, and it was established that the majority of those in the employment of the respondent association were members of the union. I pointed out to the Court, however, that the union did not embrace anything like a majority of the persons engaged in the industry affected, or actually engaged in industries cognate to that of the Carters’ Union. There are 1,200 persons in the union, whilst there are at the very least 3,000 persons engaged in driving vehicles in the streets of Sydney. I have no doubt there are very many more than 3,000, but I adopt that estimate because its correctness may be established by the most cursory inspection of the traffic. If we had had to show that we as a union represented a majority of those engaged in the industry, to say nothing of those affected by it, we’ should have utterly failed. We should not have been able to obtain preference, and, if that had been denied, the award would have been, of no service. If, by reason of the decisions given previously, we had not been quite certain that we should obtain preference we should never have gone to the Court, but might have decided upon action which, if taken, might have involved those in commercial circles in very great loss. We should have settled the matter very speedily one way or the other by refusing to work. Here, then, is one of the strongest unions in New South Wales which would, under such a provision as the Government favour, have failed to make good its claim for preference. The provision for preference is the basis of the measure ; without it no unions will register ; and, un less the unions did register, the Bill would become a dead letter. Therefore, I shall oppose the passing of the Bill if it embodies this obnoxious provision, and I shall throw upon the shoulders of those who approve of the provision - some of them doctrinaires who believe in what they say, some of them (bitter opponents of the Bill, and some of them indifferent to anything but getting into recess - the responsibility of defeating the object of the measure, and rendering it absolutely useless.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I have listened again to the case which the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has placed before the Committee. An unfortunate feature of the arguments of the opponents of the proviso is that every case which they have cited, apart from that of the Shearers’ Union, is one which can. by no possibility come before the Court. It is impossible to conceive of a trolley and draymen’s strike extending over the whole of Australia. Where is the sense in quoting a case which, would have point enough in its application to a State arbitration law, but which can have no point whatever in relation to a Commonwealth law? That is my answer to the honorable and learned member. He declares that an ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory. So it is if it has any relevancy at all to the case which we are considering. The fact is that it is almost impossible to conceive of a trolley and draymen’s strike extending beyond the confines of any one State, and therefore, his argument completely falls to the ground. Honorable members upon this side of the Chamber are opposing the amendment of the leader of the Opposition for various reasons. My reason for doing so is that in its application to any organized union - to any case which we can conceive will come under the operation of this Bill - there is no practical difference between it and the proposal of the Minister of Defence. The leader of the Opposition himself has repeatedly stated that there is no practical difference between the two proposals, and that in the working of the measure there will be no practical difference so far as the principle of majority rule is concerned. He has repeatedly affirmed that he does not desire to obtain a preference for minorities. He has said that any Judge would interpret his proposal to mean that a majority of those engaged in any industry affected by an award must first approve of a preference being granted, and he wishes it to be interpreted in no other way. That has been stated by him time and again. For the very reason which he has assigned) and knowing it to be the practical truth of the matter, I say that the proposal of the Minister of Defence, which is embodied in the Bill, and the amendment submitted by the leader of the Opposition, are practically identical, the only difference between them being that the provision already contained in the measure is a very much plainer and more straightforward statement of the position. I shall, therefore, oppose the amendment, inasmuch as it constitutes a more difficult and indefinite way of stating the same facts.
– I think it is a very great pity that an important measure of this character, affecting, as it does, the industrial interests of the community should in the past have been made the battle-ground for purely party purposes. I do not think .that that fact can be combated. In the first place, the Deakin Government were defeated upon it by certain honorable members, who declared that their votes must be interpreted in the light of those of wreckers.
– Their votes did not defeat the Deakin Government. There were only two or three members who voted in that way, and there was a majority of eleven against the Government.
– Their votes exercised a very great influence in bringing about the defeat of that Administration.
– They did not affect the position at all.
– The provision as to preference was the crucial matter upon which the Watson Government were defeated. That Government were endeavouring To bring under the notice. of the Committee a certain .amendment when they were defeated, as the result of a very ingenious flank movement on the part of the Minister of Defence. So that two Ministries have already been sacrificed ostensibly upon the altar of this measure, and the probability is that a third will be sacrificed if it is disposed to make it vital to its existence.
– Let us get to the deadly point at once. Why delay the fate- of the Ministry for a moment?
– One important factor in this connexion is that the Government do not regard the amendment as a vital one.
– The Government do not say what they will do.
– No doubt they will take some shifting.
– At any rate, they have not indicated that they regard the amendment as vital to their existence.
– If we did so, the honorable member and his party would talk about “ cracking the whip.”
– The matter is entirely in the hands of the Ministry. If they wish to make the question a vital one, they are as much entitled to do so as were their predecessors. I do not know that any complaint could be urged if they decided to make it vital. An attempt has been made to show that there is practically no difference between the proposal of the Government and that of the leader of the Opposition - that, in the actual operation of this legislation, they would prove almost identical. That is the view entertained by the honorable member for Parramatta-
– It is the opinion which was expressed by the honorable member’s leader.
– The honorable member’s knowledge of the industrial side of this question ought to entitle him to express an opinion upon it. If there be no difference between the two proposals, what is .the reason for all this wrangling and fighting? Why do the Government attach so much importance to the words which are already embodied in the Bill ? We are now being asked to consider, not a decision of this Committee, but a decision of the other branch of the Legislature. That Chamber has thought it advisable to disagree with the wording of the clause under consideration in the form in which it left this Committee, and has asked that other words may be inserted.
– We are not now considering the amendment of the Senate, but that of the leader of the Opposition.
– At the same time the amendment submitted by the leader of the Opposition would, if adopted, have the effect of bringing the views of this Committee more into line with those of the Seriate.
– Oh, no.
– I think that the leader of the Opposition will admit that. He prefers the Senate’s amendment to the provision inserted in the Bill by this Committee. Failing to secure the adoption of the former, he desires to bring the measure more into line with the views of the Senate upon this particular matter. I entirely differ from those who urge that the proposal of the Minister of Defence as embodied in the Bill, and the amendment of the leader of the Opposition, are practically identical.
– Hear, hear. I do not agree with that view at all.
– I think that there is a substantial difference between the two proposals. I would, also point out that that view is shared by competent legal authorities, and also by those who are engaged in industrialism, who take a leading part in the unionist movement, and whose opinions are valued by large bodies of organized labour. I am glad to find that the Prime Minister recognises that there is a difference between the two proposals. The Committee will not be misled, therefore, into supposing that no difference exists, and subsequently express disappointment when they learn - as the result of the decision of the Arbitration Court - that they have misconceived the position. I desire to make a short quotation from a gentleman who, it will be admitted, is an authority upon this point. I refer to Mr. B. R. Wise, who is the author of the New South Wales Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The Sydney Worker of the 29th October last contains a very able article written by him, entitled “ Compulsory Arbitration, How it has worked in New South Wales, Preference to unionists absolutely necessary.” I do not propose to quote extensively from this article, but I wish rather to direct particular attention to a paragraph relating to the very matter which is now under consideration. Under the heading of “ What McCay’s amendment meant,” Mr. Wise puts the position thus : -
One last word as to the particular amendment moved by Mr. McCay, on which the Watson Government went out of office. That provided that the Court should not grant preference, unless it was satisfied that the demand was made “ by a majority of the persons affected.” I have never yet met a lawyer who was able to tell me what these words mean, or how such a fact could be proved. Nor do I know of any one who has had any experience in the practice of the Court who does not admit that the insertion of such an amendment would make the preference clause a dead letter.
That is his opinion of Mr. McCay’s amendment, which we are assured by some honorable members does not differ materially from that which is under consideration. After stating Mr. Watson’s amendment, Mr. Wise deals with its effect, and says : -
The difference between the two proposals is very great. Mr. Watson’s proposal puts the burden of proof upon the persons who deny that the applicants do substantially represent the trade in both these respects, while’ Mr. McCay’s amendment puts the burden of proof upon the persons who ask for preference. This is a difference which will be appreciated at once by any lawyer.
That is the opinion, not only of a very able lawyer, but of a gentleman who has made the question of industrial legislation a special study, and who is, therefore, entitled to speak upon it with a greater degree of authority than are most legal men. In the course of the same article Mr. Wise points out how this proposal would work in practice. I did not happen to be present in the Chamber when the honorable and learned member for West Sydney was addressing himself to this question, but I understand, from the reply of the honorable member for Parramatta, that he instanced the case of the trolley and draymen in this connexion. In the opinion of the honorable member for Parramatta, that case did not apply to the present Bill, inasmuch as he declares that the industry represented by that union is not likely to come under its operation.
– I said that it W:ls almost impossible to conceive of an interState strike of trolley and draymen.
– I do not know that it is. The probability of such a thing is certainly remote, but the honorable member must recollect that there are unions of that character throughout the various States, and. consequently, it is quite possible that a difficulty may unexpectedly arise which may affect the interests of that industry in more than one State. That, however, is a matter of surmise. In the article to which I have referred Mr. Wise deals with another industry, namely, that which is represented by the Amalgamated Engineers’ Union. He points out that that union represents an industry which requires a considerable amount of theoretical, ns well as practical, study upon the part of its members.
– Are they marine engineers ?
– I presume that the association embraces both marine and land engineers; but I cannot speak authoritatively on the point. Mr. Wise points out that the members of the Amalgamated Engineers’ Association require considerable theoretical, as well as practical, knowledge, and that, for that reason, the union is a highly organized one. On the other hand, there are many men, outside the union, employed for the most part as engine-drivers in the industry which it represents, but who have no such qualification. About six years ago, the present Prime Minister introduced a Bill in Ohe Legislature of New South Wales which related to -engineers, and more particularly to those in charge of mining machinery. Prior to that there was no State legislation dealing with the matter, and any man who, by .working as a fireman, had obtained a slight knowledge of machinery, was entitled to take charge of an engine if he could find an employer ready to trust him with one. Such men lacked expert knowledge ; they were a menace to those engaged in the works in which they were employed, and the Bill was, therefore, introduced in the interest of human life. A number of accident’s directly traceable to insufficient knowledge on the part of those placed in charge of engines and machinery had occurred, and the Bill was consequently introduced to regulate the industry. It provided that if a man could show that at the time of the passing of the Act he had a practical knowledge of machinery, he should receive a certificate entitling him to engage in this occupation. Failing this, he had to pass a fairly stiff examination to prove his fitness for the work, and, on doing so, received a certificate without which he could not Tie employed as an engineer. As the result of this legislation a number of men who, up to that time, had been in charge of machinery, employed more particularly in mining operations, were deprived of this means of employment. Mr. Wise points out that a similar course has been followed in some of the other States, and he shows that while the Amalgamated Engineers’ Association represents the competent men of the industry, there are many men in charge of engines and machinery who -do not possess the same qualifications.
– And, therefore, they cannot be engaged in the occupation.
– They are following it in different States.
– But they are not allowed to do so in New South Wales.
– Until the passing of the measure to which I have referred, they were able to do so. That Act, however, excluded them, and a considerable number of those previously engaged in the industry were registered under it, although they could not pass the special examination as to fitness. We are legi’slating now, not for New South Wales, but for the whole Commonwealth, and we must bear in mind that the conditions vary considerably in the several States. The regulations in some of the States are perhaps more stringent than are those prevailing in New South Wales, while in others we have a state of affairs similar to that which we had in New South Wales prior to the passing of the legislation I have mentioned. Mr. Wise points out that under this Bill, members of the Association applying for preference might be met with the opposition of men who were not equally qualified, and who rightly believed that if the concession were granted, their opportunities for employment would be curtailed. The mere fact of their opposition would throw upon the Association the onus of proving that they represented a majority not merely ‘ of the most competent men in the industry, but of those actually engaged in it. The leader of the Opposition, and those who agree with him in opposing the Government proposition recognise the difficulty, if not the injustice, of throwing upon such a body of workers the onus of proving not merely that the majority of the members of their union are in favour of preference, but that their application has the approval of a majority of those engaged in .the industry, including many with whom they are not in touch, and whose opinions it would be practically impossible to ascertain. Mr. Wise says -
Mr. Watson’s amendment, in fact, recognises that the object of unionism is not only to raise wages, but to improve the standard of the workmen. It requires ‘ that character, ability, and skill, when they exist in a trade union, should be recognised by the Court, and have due weight given to them. In fact, the practice of the Court of New South Wales has been only to grant preference in cases where the conditions stated in Mr. Watson’s amendment have been proved to exist.
He goes on to say that he sees no necessity for the limitation proposed by the leader of the Opposition; he thinks that the matter might be left to the discretion of the Court, just as has been done in the legislation bearing on this subject passed in New Zealand and New South Wales. This view of the position indicates some of the problems that we have to consider. It is the opinion of a gentleman who not only holds a very high position in the legal profession in New South Wales, but is specially qualified to deal with the subject from the industrial stand-point, by reason of his close study of, and his association with, a similar piece of legislation now in operation in that State. The point which he emphasizes ought to receive the earnest consideration of the Com- mittee. If honorable members wish to destroy the measure-
– If talk would kill it it ought to have been dead long ago.
Mir. BROWN. - I do not know that the right honorable gentleman can charge me with having spoken at undue length on this question.
– The honorable member seems to come in at the finish - just as we appear to be ready for a division - as fresh as a greyhound.
– I belong to the race from which the right honorable gentleman springs, and which has always been noted for being pretty strong at the finish - especially if the fight be a losing one. I do not wish, however, to unduly take up the time of the Committee. I cannot complain of the attitude of those who openly assert that they are opposed to legislation of this character, and are anxious to render it as futile as possible. THey have clearly indicated their position, and I have no hostile feeling towards them. They are entitled to hold the opinion that the measure is undesirable just as I am entitled to believe that it will tend to solve the labour problems which we have to face. But the point which I wish to emphasize is that those who desire to make this legislation as effective as possible, and who contend that there is no real difference between the Government proposal and that put forward by the Opposition should ask themselves which of the two would go furthest in the direction of making the measure a workable one. If they believe, after careful consideration, that the Government proposal is right, we cannot quarrel with them, but if, on the other hand, we can show - as I think we have done - that the Government proposal does not go so far in that direction as would the Senate’s amendment or the modification of it proposed by the leader of the Opposition, that fact should have some weight with them. I have to make a choice between the two propositions, and, as the result of careful consideration, I have decided that the Senate’s amendment or the modification of it proposed by the leader of the Opposition, would do more to make this a workable measure, acceptable to industrialism, than would the Government proposition. I am supported in the view I take not only by legal authority, but practically by universal industrial authority, which ought to be competent to express a sound opinion on the point. That being 50, I shall vote as before to secure a modification of the clause as favoured by the Government. So far, I have not taken up an attitude of hostility to the Bill as it stands. I recognise that concessions have to be made, and that it is impossible for an honorable member to secure the passing of a measure which carries out to the full all that he thinks desirable. Even a Minister charged with the duty of drafting an important measure generally finds on submitting it to the House that he cannot carry it in the form in which he thinks it should be placed on the Statute-book. He has to make concessions. I have not assumed an attitude of direct hostility to this proposal. Failing to obtain what I wish to obtain, I have endeavoured to have the proviso amended so as to meet my wishes as nearly as possible, and I express my regret that my efforts in this direction, and the efforts of those associated with me, have met with so little success. I trust that as these are vital matters, the Committee will even now see its way to make concessions, not only to those who in this Chamber are opposed to this proviso, but to members of the other House, whose opinions should obtain some consideration at our hands. I appeal to those who are favorable to legislation of this character, and who wish to make the Bill effective, to seriously regard the position placed before them by the Senate, the leader of the Opposition, and those who support him, and the representatives of industrialism outside.
– While the honorable member for Gwydir was speaking, he referred to the attitude of the honorable member for Lang in regard to this matter generally. I interjected that the position of the honorable member for Lang was clear, because he had supported the measure in order to defeat the Deakin Government. The honorable member, later on,, made a personal explanation denying the accuracy of my statement. I wish, therefore, to quote the following extract from a speech delivered by him earlier in the session, and reported in Hansard, on page1174:-
To my mind, the crux of the present position is, not whether the employes of the States or the railway servants shall be included within the operation of this Bill, but whether a Ministry, which is responsible for the mischievous legislation from which we have suffered during the past two or three years should be permitted to continue to occupy the Treasury bench. I believe that that is the only cons:deration which will influence a great many honorable members on this side of the House in voting on this amendment, it is our duty to turn the present Government out of office at the earliest possible opportunity. I am pledged to that course. I only regret that I cannot make use of a weapon which would be more congenial to my taste. However, in political warfare, we are not always able to exercise a choice as to the weapons which we shall employ. Recognising the injury which the Government are doing to the prestige of Australia, I cannot reconcile it with my conscience to vote in such a way as will continue them in office f ot one moment longer than is absolutely necessary. My only hope is that, as the result of the division, changes will be brought about in the near future that will lead to a Government taking office that will be more in accordance with our ideas of the basic principles of democracy. We wish to see government of the people for the people by the people, and I hope that we shall have a Government commanding a majority that will enable it, without any coercion on the part of a third party - no matter what that party may be - to carry on the affairs of the country in an effective manner. It is because I desire to bring about such a change that I, for one, am not prepared to do anything to assist the present Government to remain in possession of the Treasury bench.
– Those remarks have nothing to do with this amendment. We were then dealing with the proposal to tiring railway servants within the scope of the Bill.
– -Yes, but the passage which I have quoted - and I made a lengthy citation in order that I might not be accused of unfairly representing the honorable member - shows that he has supported the Bill in order to defeat the Deakin Government. I have a decided objection to the proviso which the Senate wish to omit. As I explained to .the Minister of Deft nee last week, there are, to my mind, two serious questions involved. My first difficulty is in regard to the word “ application.” On two or three occasions, when I held office in connexion with the Shearers’ Union, it would have been absolutely impossible to put into effect the requirement of the proviso in regard to the making of an application - cases in which, within a few weeks, and sometimes within a few days, after the men had started out to their work in different parts of the Commonwealth, the employers decided to reduce the rates of wage. In one case a reduction, where men found themselves, from 20s. to 18s. was proposed. In all cases the executives of organizations try, as far as possible, to obtain the opinions of their members before taking any course, but there are occasions when an executive cannot do this, and even the secretary has sometimes to act without consulting his local committee. In such cases, how could a majority of the union indorse an application?
– The proviso merely repeats the phraseology used in the first lines of the clause -
The Court, by its award, or by order made on the application of any party.
– Yes, but the proviso says that no preference shall be directed to be given unless the application is “approved by a majority.”
– Does the honorable mem-‘ ber think that a Court would assume that the members of a union which was asking for preference were not in favour of it ?
– I think that a Court might ask the officer appearing for the union if a majority of the members of the organization had indorsed the application, and if, he answered the question truthfully, he might ‘have to say No.
– The executive would act for the whole organization. It would be’ a singular trade unionist who would say, “ I do not wish for preference for myself or for my trade. “ The presumption would be against the members of a union which was applying for preference being opposed to the granting of it.
– In the law courts it frequently happens that the Judges say, “ The equity is so-and-so, but, unfortunately, the law is something else.”
– But legal rules arc not to apply in the Arbitration Court.
– That is one reason why I prefer to have the Court untrammeled by any direction.
– Clause 22 prescribes that a dispute may be submitted to the (.’curt only after certain formalities have bee” complied with, that is, the consent of 3 majority of the committee of management at least must be obtained.
– That would not be so difficult.
– Once that was obtained. I do not think that the Court would assume otherwise than that all the members of the union desired preference.
– My next point is in regard to the requirement that there shall be a majority of those affected by the award “ who have interests in common with the applicants.” The common rules enforced by the Court would certainly embrace very large areas, and, in some cases, the whole Commonwealth.
– The words “.who have interests in common with the applicants “ were inserted , to insure that when a majority of employes is in favour of preference being granted, it shall not be necessary to obtain the consent of a majority of employers also. The phraseology of another clause has been adopted. In my view, the words limit the requirements of the clause, and do not enlarge them.
– I am afraid that they may be stretched so as to bring in others who are not even parties to the application.
– The words are taken from clause 35, which provides for the appointment of assessors.
– Their exact effect is not very clear. The proposal of the leader of the Opposition to substitute the words “substantially in number and competence” does not meet with my approval. It is true that the Arbitration Courts of New Zealand and New South Wales have, in nearly every case, considered the competence and numbers of those represented in an application, but I should like , to see the Bill passed without this limitation, so that the Court might exercise its own discretion, and give a decision in accordance with equity and good conscience.
– I think . that in the case put by the honorable member, the Court would require evidence which would be quite as difficult to obtain, having regard to the loss of time involved, as that required by the proviso. No time would be saved even if the proviso were left out altogether.
-I am inclined to agree with the honorable and learned member. There would be the same difficulty in regard to loss of time if a technical objection were taken to an application. There seems to me great danger in accepting either . the proviso or the amendment of the leader of the Opposition.
– The honorable member could vote against both.
– That will not suit me. If the amendment of the leader of the Opposition is agreed . to, the Court will be compelled to act on the lines laid down. Of course, there have been, and always will be, complaints about the decisions of the Court, no matter what we may provide. Persons will apply for preference or concessions, and will be discontented if they are refused. In New South Wales and New Zealand, however, there have been very few complaints from the organizations of employe’s, though a good many complaints by employers have been published in the newspapers. I support the amendment of the honorable member for Bland only on the ground that it is in accordance with the practice of the Arbitration Courts in New Zealand and New South Wales. I should have much preferred to leave the Court untrammelled by any limitations or suggestions. No one is more anxious than I am to have this matter settled, but my principal concern at present is to prevent the Bill from being converted into a machine for inflicting injury upon unionists, and into an instrument of tyranny. Those who have taken an interest in the trade union movement must know that from the very earliest period it has involved great sacrifices on the part of those who have been prominently identified with it, and that it has, at the same time, accomplished great good. The unionists are now being asked to give up the only weapon which they have been able to use effectively in the past - sometimes at great cost to themselves. The danger is that upon surrendering their present rights and liberties they will receive in exchange something that would be much less effective as a means of protection. As a matter of fact, apart from legislation of this kind, they have nothing to fear. Their forces were never more effectively organized than at present, and they could employ their old methods with greater advantage than ever before. They recognise, however, that strikes afford only a barbarous means of settling disputes, and that they involve in suffering and loss large numbers of persons who are in no way connected with the disputes. Therefore, they are prepared to accept a measure such as that now before us, so long as adequate provision is made for their protection. I am disappointed that the Prime Minister should have thought it necessary to so strictly adhere to the proviso. It cannot be contended that the language which the Government ‘have adopted is so perfect that it could not be improved.
– No one has suggested an alteration.
– Suggestions have been made, but honorable members opposite have not approved of them.
– Those suggestions have related to the alteration of the principle and not of the wording of the clause.
– I should think that the Minister of Defence could very readily suggest an alteration in the wording of the clause which would render it impossible for it to be applied in such a way as I have indicated.
– The union would be assumed to be in favour of preference. I cannot conceive of any other conclusion.
– The Court might recognise the difficulties which beset a large union in obtaining evidence which would establish its claim to represent a majority of those affected by a dispute, but it would be hampered in giving a decision upon what it might regard as the merits of the case. Surely we are justified in assuming that the Court will be a competent tribunal, and such as we could trust. Do honorable members for a moment suppose that the Court would grant preference to a few trades unionists, to the prejudice of several hundreds of persons outside the union, unless there were some special reason for doing so? If 100 constituted a majority of the persons affected, and the applicants could prove that they represented only 99 persons, the Court would be prevented from granting them preference. The same arbitrary distinction would be made in the case of non-unionists, who might be opposing preference. It is not to be supposed, for a moment, that the Court would grant preference, even to a majority, if it were shown that injury would be inflicted upon a large number of other men. I believe that in every case the Court would, if untrammelled, give a decision upon the merits. Why should we not instruct the High Court ? ‘
– We do.
– We do not instruct them as to the decisions they shall give, but only as to the procedure they shall follow.
– The whole process of the law is to find out the limitations of the Courts.
– Yes, but no special instructions are given to the Courts as to the decisions at which they shall arrive.
– Every one concerned is a party to an ordinary suit in the law Courts.
– Have we not made provision for opening the Arbitration Court to all parties concerned?
– We have provided that all parties may be represented. In an ordinary Court, all persons interested must be parties, or the Court will not arrive at a decision.
– We have provided that all parties interested shall be notified of the application to be made to the Court.
– Yes, but the proceedings in ordinary Courts are sometimes adjourned in order that all persons interested in a suit may be made parties.
– My feeling is that the Bill, if carried in the form approved by the Government, will give satisfaction to no one. In view of the fact that the alteration of the measure no longer involves the fate of a Ministry, honorable members ought to direct their best energies to making it workable. Up to the present time we have not had the slightest evidence of any such inclination on the part of honorable members opposite. They say that the proviso is perfect.
– The Prime Minister and myself have stated that verbal alterations would be considered, but that we cannot consent to any interference with the principle.
– The amendment of the honorable member for Bland is not merely a verbal alteration, but recognises an element which is entirely ignored by the proviso as it stands. It provides for the substantial representation in numbers and competence of those engaged in an industry.
– But it does not recognise majorities.
– Because in some cases it is very difficult to prove that the applicants represent a majority. I fail to see the importance of the provision for the representation of majorities. Where do the elements of equity and good conscience come in, if the ‘Court is to be restricted in the way proposed? It seems useless to argue further. The amendment apparently is, like the laws of the Medes and Persians, unalterable. It is the embodiment of the wisdom of honorable members opposite, and, therefore, cannot be wrong. The opinions of those who have been associated with trade unions almost from their youth go for nothing.
– Is the honorable member satisfied with the alternative amendment ?
– No, but I prefer the alternative amendment to the proviso. I take that view only because the decisions of the Arbitration Courts in New Zealand and New South Wales upon applications for preference have been based upon con- sideration for the number and competence of the applicants.
– If the Bill develops defects in its working it can be amended.
– No doubt; but . the honorable member must recognise that there is a possibility of the Bill being availed of by bogus unions to the prejudice of the bond fide trade organizations.
– When that occurs, it will be time enough for us to amend the Act.
– One trade union has already been nearly ruined in its efforts to expose 3. bogus union.
– It was the political tricks of other unions which were responsible for that result.
– The whole crux of this question is contained in that interjection, which completely betrays the hand of the other side. Obviously, some honorable members wish to utilize this Bill as a piece of legislative machinery to destroy the political aspect of trade unions. That is their object. I appeal to the honorable and learned member for Wannon to say whether he does not believe that the measure will cripple the political character of those organizations ?
– I do not say that at all.
– The whole trend of the measure is to deprive trade unions of the powers which they already enjoy. Under this Bill, in its present form, the secretary of a union cannot acknowledge a letter from a parliamentary candidate, or in any way countenance the use of a hall for the purpose of holding a political meeting.
– That is pure exaggeration.
– I think that the honorable member is rather anticipating another discussion.
– I apologize. If the honorable memberforParramatta wqre upon this side of the Chamber, and another Government attempted to deprive unionists of a preference, he, as a. unionist of many years’ standing, would take up a very different position. When he talks about coercion, I ask him to remember that he himself has stood upon the shafttop of a coal mine, and refused to allow men to go below until they had become unionists.
– That was the rule for 200 years:
– For over ten years in this State, whilst I was engaged working in the mines, no man was permitted to go below unless he were a unionist. Yet we are now asked to sacrifice all the rights which unions have hitherto enjoyed upon the altar of a measure which is ostensibly introduced to benefit those organizations. I say that in the absence of a Bill of this description trade unions have nothing to fear. In spite of opposition of the character offered to them by the ‘honorable and learned member for Wannon and others who would have crushed these organizations if it were possible to do so, they succeeded in making wily politicians bend to their will long before there was any Labour Party or any Political Labour Leagues in existence.
– Who are the “ wily politicians ? “
– It is very difficult to discriminate. When I used that term I meant that every reform movement has its origin outside of Parliament. I have never known any legislation to be enacted which had its origin within the walls of Parliament. I did not use the term “ wily “ in any offensive way. We know that at the last election the present leader of the Government ‘ went before the electors upon a certain issue. He thought that it was wise for him to raise that issue. The leader of the Deakin Administration, however, said in effect, “ No, we intend to make fiscal peace the issue at the elections.” Similarly to a great extent all Members of Parliament are compelled to pay attention to which way the wind is blowing. I intend to support the amendment, although I am not at all enamoured of it, and would much prefer to leave the Arbitration Court unfettered in the exercise of its discretion.
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang).- The honorable member for Grey has quoted Hansard with a view to confirming a statement which he made at an earlier stage this morning. I find, however, upon referring to that publication, page ii74j that what ‘is there reported absolutely bears out the statement which I made by way of personal explanation to-day, namely, that the attitude which I took up towards the Deakin Government had no connexion whatever with the amendment which is now under consideration, and that it did not affect the merits of the Bill as a whole. That amendment had not then been thought of.
– The Deakin Administration imposed no qualification upon the granting of a preference.
– The question which was then at issue had nothing whatever to do with the extension of a preference to unionists. At that time the provision under consideration was clause 4, paragraph (b), which reads as follows: -
In this Act, except where otherwise clearly intended, “ industrial dispute “ means a dispute in relation to industrial matters . . ‘. 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, but does not include a dispute relating to employment in the Public Service of the Commonwealth, or of a State, or to employment by any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.
Upon that proposal the honorable member for Wide Bay had moved by way of amendment -
That after the word “State “ the words “but does not include “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “and includes.”
– I prefaced my remarks by saying that the statement which I quoted was made when that clause was being considered.
– My remarks referred particularly to the proposal to include public servants in this Bill, and had absolutely no connexion whatever with the clause under discussion. Nor is there one word in any of my speeches upon this subject as reported in Hansard, which is capable of bearing the construction put upon my utterances by the honorable member for Gwydir, who declared that I expressed myself as opposed to the Bill, “ lock, stock, and barrel.” On the contrary, reference to Hansard will show that I am not opposed to the Bill, although I do not regard compulsory arbitration as the panacea for all labour troubles. I simply look upon it as experimental legislation of doubtful utility, even to those in whose special interests it is designed. Upon page 1174 of Hansard, honorable members will see that I stated -
On the merits of the proposed amendments, I have, so far, an open mind. I mention these matters to show that there is no justification whatever for the feverish haste that has been displayed in pressing forward a measure of this character at the beginning of a session which might have been devoted to useful legislation. The Government, however, are entirely responsible for that, and for any consequences which may follow their act. To my mind, the crux of the present position is, not whether the employes of the States or the railway servants should be included in the operation of this Bill, but whether a Ministry which is responsible for the mischievous legislation from which we have suffered during the past two or three years shall be permitted to continue to occupy “ the Treasury bench.
It will thus1 be seen that my attitude had nothing whatever to do with the clause which we are discussing at the present time, but related to a proposal of an entirely different character, namely, the proposal to bring public servants within the operation of this Bill.
– I confess that the amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition does not go far enough to please me. It is certainly a vast improvement upon the clause in the -form in which it is proposed by the Government, but that is all that can be urged in its favour; Doubtless it was submitted with a view to showing the Government that its author is prepared to meet them in a reasonable way. But I would warn the leader of the Opposition that in submitting to .continual encroachments by the Government upon the principles of the Bill, he is likely to sap the very foundations of unionism. It is possible for him to yield too much in that direction. It is absolutely unjust that one of the parties to this legislation should be asked to forego all the advantages which it at present enjoys without receiving anything whatever bv way of compensation.
– I “regret that there is not some ready means of settling differences that occur between the two Houses of the Parliament. The amendment made by the Senate is a very important one, but the Government, in their wisdom, cannot see their way to accept it. It was carried by a fair majority in another place, and has the support of a very large minority in this Chamber. So far as this and the other amendments made by the Senate are concerned, it would appear that it is a question of a large majority of the Senate, plus a large minority of this House, against a small minority in the Senate, plus a small majority in this House. I am perfectly certain that if we could bring the 1.1 1 members of the two Chambers together to settle the question, this amendment would be carried. It does not ask that’ an injustice should be done to any one. It is contended that it seeks to give to one set of men that which non-unionists could not claim. If that be so, what is there to prevent non-unionists from joining the ranks of unionism? That argument is, to my mind, as illogical as would be the conten tion that it is unfair that any one wishing to join either of the two professions of law or medicine must first prove, by passing* certain examinations, that he possesses the knowledge entitling him to call himself a doctor or a lawyer. Then, again1, no man is allowed to call himself “ reverend,” and to perform a marriage ceremony, unless he is registered and belongs to the union; no medical man can sign a death certificate unless he is registered, and belongs to the union of the medical profession; while no man can charge certain sums in respect of advice to a litigant unless he has been admitted to the legal profession. There are a great many members of the legal profession sitting on the opposite side of the Chamber, and I ask them to seriously consider whether it would not be well for us to accept the Senate’s amendment, and to go away joyous and happy, to seek rest from the turmoil through which we have passed since the opening of the session. To me the issue is an extraordinary one. Seventy-five members of this House, returned by the aggregate wisdom of the various majorities in the different . constituencies of the Commonwealth, propose to reject an amendment made by another place, and to insult the greater part of the population of Australia, as represented by that Chamber. Three Ministries have been wrecked in connexion with this measure, and, without desiring to make any unpleasant suggestion, I would point out that a fourth is now in trouble in regard to this very question. I propose to make a suggestion which ought to appeal to the intelligence of the Committee. If I may claim the kindly courtesy of the Prime Minister, I think that information should be placed before us as to what would be the cost of obtaining the opinion of the voters who created this Parliament in regard to any difference arising between the two Houses. There is no doubt that this amendment, and the others dependent upon it, constitute the sole difference of opinion between the two Chambers, and that there is, a large majority of the members of the Parliament as a whole in favour of them. I obtained from one large city company, which carries out the work of addressing envelopes, information which enables me to form some estimate of what would be the cost of taking an open referendum through the Post Office. It seems to me that difficulties of this kind could be easily settled if the Prime Minister and his colleagues, with the approval of the majority of the House, sought the opinion of the people in what may be called, for the sake of clearness, an open referendum. In round figures there are 2,000,000 adults in Australia, and 2,000,000 double post-cards might be issued bearing the question whether the electors to whom they were addressed would accept the Bill, as amended by the Senate, or as it was sent by us to another place. On the 31st December last there were 2,073,200 adults in the Commonwealth, but the number enrolled was only 1,893,586. Taking the larger figures, the cost of 2,000,000 double postcards would be , £1,500. The charge for addressing 1,000 envelopes in the city of Melbourne is 7s. 6d’., and at “this rate the cost of addressing the 2,000,000 post-cards would be , £750. Then we may allow £1,000 for the cost of checking and scrutinizing the answers, although I do not know why this work should cost . £250 more than that of addressing the cards. Allowing a further sum of £750 in respect of contingencies, we have a grand total of £4, 000 By making such an expenditure, we should be able to ascertain the desire of the electors of Australia in regard to a difference of opinion occurring between the two Chambers on a question of great moment. I feel, sure that honorable members will agree that such an expenditure would be trifling, as compared with that incurred as the result of the desire of the Opposition on the one hand, to see the Bill carried in a form in which it would ‘apply to every unit, and the desire1 of honorable members opposite on the other, to confine its operation to a limited number. The expense attendant upon the retirement of three Ministries alone must have been much greater than would be the cost of taking a referendum in the way I have suggested. We contend that every human being should be able to come under the provisions of this measure, and that we should not render it difficult for the Court to determine whether a union applying for preference substantially represents the workers in the trade, or calling, to which it relates. I am informed by a gentleman that whilst travelling in one of the tram cars of this city he saw- an officer approach the conductor, and heard him say, “Give me all the money in your pockets.” The conductor had to comply with this request. After this rudely-spoken officer had left the car my friend inquired what was the reason for his action, and was told that it was the result of a new regulation, which compelled conductors to produce the money in their possession whenever they were required to do . so. In the eyes of a stranger unacquainted with the true position of affairs, the action of the officer suggested that the conductor was a thief. I am sure that honorable members, and more particularly the representatives of New South Wales, would not permit such a system to exist in Sydney. If the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland were carried, and the employes of the tramway service in Melbourne were allowed to form a union, I feel satisfied thai that organization would more than represent the majority of those actually engaged in that calling. I plead with the Government to endeavour to arrive at some easy method of settling these difficult questions. I presume that if the life of this Parliament extends over its full term of three years, similar difficulties to that which. now confronts us are likely to recur. We are to-day ‘face to face with a situation the equal of which has never previously occurred. We have the will of a second Chamber more democratic, more advanced, and more in touch with the people of Australia than is that which is commonly called the people’s Chamber, flouted by a small majority in this House. The two Chambers are in conflict, and I think that the suggestion I have made would be a ready means of settling the difficulty. It would not lead to the employment of an additional postal officer, and as the Department is under the control of the Federation, the cost of postage would be avoided. As the result of such a referendum we should get rid of the present unsatisfactory position. Whether the Opposition, or the Government won, if the Ministry in its generosity saw fit to accept my proposal there would be an end to the trouble, and the Ministry and its supporters, in common with the Opposition, would be abb to enjoy a well-earned holiday. If the Government are determined not to accept the Senate’s amendment they will receive the support of all the Conservatives in Australia, if such a class of politicians still exist here. At present the great Protectionist Party of Victoria is rent asunder, and I appeal to them to unite in supporting the amendment which the honorable member for Bland ‘has submitted in a spirit of fairness, and for which I myself intend to vote.
– I think that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bland is of the very essence of compromise, and one which, if *there be any idea of concession on the part of honorable members opposite, ought to be accepted without demur. It would certainly make the Bill more workable, and would obviate the tendency to litigation which might otherwise arise. We are here to place this measure on the Statute-book in clear, unmistakable Anglo-Saxon terms, so that he who runs may read. We are not here to create work for lawyers ; our duty is to declare on the face of the Bill exactly what we mean. We are assured by the Government that they are anxious that the Bill shall be not a dead letter, but an effectual means of settling disputes between employers and employes. If that be so, there is only one way in which they can achieve their purpose. The position is narrowed down to this : that if the Government are anxious to make the Bill a workable one they must recognise that the amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition is a finger-post, pointing the clear road to right doing, and that they ought to accept it. The Government proposal would lead to endless litigation, and would prove a fruitful source of profit to members of the legal profession. It would never be accepted by trade unionists as the final method for the settlement of disputes. The amendment requires that the Court must be satisfied that the organization applying for preference substantially represents the industry affected in point of number and competence of its members. I am glad that the last three words have been added, because a numerical majority may not substantially represent an industry. A majority which substantially represents an industry must be a competent majority. I do not think that honorable members are fully aware of what the trade unions take upon themselves in accepting the amendment. We pledge them to see that their members are competent, that thev have served their apprenticeship, and are skilled handicraftsmen. lt will be the duty of every trade union appealing for preference to show that it has a numerical superiority over the non-unionists in the trade, and that its members have served their apprenticeship, and are skilled in their trade or calling. The honorable member for Melbourne pointed out that the medical profession is a close trade union, which noman can enter who has not obtained the necessary diploma. Similarly, in the leading historical branches of the Christian
Church, no one is intrusted with ministerial functions who has not passed examinations which justify his being called to that high position. Further, no one can appear in the courts of the country on behalf of another if he. has not shown himself to be possessed of the legal .training necessary to make him a fit guide in legal matters. Trade unions are now being put on the same footing. By accepting the amendment, we shall require the trade unions to insist upon the technical training of their members. Thus the amendment will serve a double purpose. It will secure that those who are most interested in a trade or industry shall, when necessary, be able to obtain preference from the Arbitration Court, and it will guarantee to the public at large, and to employers in particular, the competence of members of trade -unions. All through, the trade unions have insisted on the apprenticeship of workmen. No men are more jealous of the black-leg or the unqualified workman than are the properly qualified trade unionists. We want to encourage this feeling, and the amendment will do so. The proviso, however, would, as it stands, lead to endless litigation, because of the difficulty of proving whether the majority of the trade affected was or was not contained in the trade union applying for preference. We wish to make the Bil! a credit to ourselves, and I am sure that the Government would like it to be a workable measure ; but if the proviso is passed as it stands, the measure will be valueless. With the amendment of the Header of the Opposition, we can commend it t.o the trade unions, and it will, I believe, be acceptable to them; but, without the amendment, it would prove a curse instead of a blessing. I would rather see the Bill consigned to oblivion’ than vote for a measure which would increase industrial strife and trouble, and multiply litigation. Let us have an end to political hypocrisy, and seriously set ourselves to provide for the settlement of disputes by rational and constitutional methods. When we ‘have done that, we can lay the flattering unction to our souls that we have done what we could to prevent unnatural strife between capital and labour, and to bring about an era of peace and good-will. The worker will have the assurance that ‘his rights will be respected, while the capitalist will know that he will receive justice and consideration. So far from the measure hindering investment, and driving capital from the country, it will give an inducement to capital to come here. If, however, the amendment is not accepted - and I am afraid that it will not be - it will be only a matter of time before an amending Bill is introduced, because the measure will be found to be utterly unworkable. The preamble sets out that the measure is a Bill for an Act’ for the settlement of industrial disputes. Let us make it what it professes to be. It cannot be a true Conciliation and Arbitration Bill unless the amendment of the leader of the Opposition, which is , in the nature of a compromise to meet the views of another Chamber, is accepted. I ask honorable members to consider this matter with a. view ,to avoiding a crisis. The amendment has been moved in a spirit of conciliation and compromise, and, if it is negatived, the Government must take the consequence.
Honorable Members. - Divide.
– My honorable friends, after speaking at considerable length all the morning, are suddenly anxious for a . division. Knowing their patient tactics, I am led by instinct to the conclusion that some of my supporters must be beyond the reach of the division bells. I am very anxious that in the settlement of these important issues, which must, at some time or other, inevitably come before the people, our conclusions shall not be the result of snatch votes, sprung upon one side or the other. In dealing with my honorable friends opposite, I have never asked for a division until they were fully prepared. I do not say that a surprise was intended just now, but the sudden clamour for a division, sounding on the ears of an old parliamentarian, and coming from an Opposition that has seemed to be entirely oblivious to the value of time, or the expense of parliamentary institutions, makes my supposition a probability.
– That is a very audacious statement, seeing that Government supporters “stone-walled” this morning.
– The speeches made by Government supporters were all short in comparison with the portentous deliverances of honorable members opposite, which went to the length of sickening repetition.
– That is a reflection on the Chair.
– As I understand that we are dealing with the Senate’s amendment on the preference clause, I ask if the remarks of the Prime Minister are relevant ?
– I was involuntarily taking one-thousandth part of the latitude which other honorable members have been enjoying all the morning, thought I do not wish to set a bad example to my honorable friends opposite, because I know how quickly they would follow it.
– The question before the Chair is the amendment of the honorable member for Bland. I understood the Prime Minister to be making an explanation of his reasons for speaking at this particular juncture.
– I do not wish to transgress the rules of debate, even in making an explanation, but as the discussion has been prolonged I am anxious to clearly define the position of the Government, and of those who are supporting them in this matter. As honorable members will recollect, I desired last night, because of the great .amount of time which has been occupied in the consideration of the Bill, to have a division forthwith on the amendment of the leader of the Opposition. That amendment is well known, since it is word for word the same as a suggestion made by the honorable member in this chamber some months ago, when the proposed recommittal of clause 48 was before us. I therefore was very brief in my utterance last night, but now that the’ debate has been prolonged to such a length, I feel it necessary to state clearly the view of the Government in regard to this proposition. There are persons who differ as to the importance of the amendment of the honorable member for Bland. The honorable member for Parramatta quoted the honorable member as saying that in his opinion his amendment was practically the same as the proviso adopted by the Committee,
– The honorable member for Parramatta did not quote me quite correctly.
– I have read the honorable member’s statement in Hansard, and, with every desire to be fair to him, I say that I think that the honorable member for Parramatta made a perfectly correct statement in regard to one speech, at any rate. I do not know whether my honorable friend qualified his statement afterwards, but dealing with that speech the honorable member for Parramatta fairly quoted the remarks of the honorable member for Bland.
– Does the right honorable gentleman wish to draw me up in reply to. him ?
– No, I do not. I wish to say only a few words. I differ from the honorable member for Parramatta. I think that there is a substantial difference between the two amendments. If there had not been, the late Opposition would have had no justification whatever for refusing to recommit the clause, or for taking up the stand they did. The only justification we could have had . was that there was a serious difference between the two amendments ; so serious was it that we were not prepared to consider any modification of our proposal. Now that the honorable member asks us to consider a modification of precisely the same kind that we were formerly unable to accept, I want to define the position of the Government in this way : If the two amendments were substantially the same, I should have no objection in the interests of the Bill to adopt the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland, but the Government consider that there is a vital difference between the two proposals, and that prevents us from accepting the modification before us.
– What is the difference?
– In my view, if there were 1,000 men engaged in an industry, and 100 men in a union registered under the Act became parties to a dispute in the Arbitration Court, they would substantially represent the 1,000, within the meaning of any interpretation which the Court would put upon the proposal of the honorable member for Bland. I am willing to accept the principle of majority rule, but I am not prepared to adopt a conclusion of the kind I have indicated.
– Surely the right honorable gentleman does not seriously say that 100 men would substantially represent 1,000?
– I say that 100 men, in a case such as I have mentioned, would very substantially represent the 1,000. For instance, I substantially represent this House in one sense of the word; and yet I am only one member.
– The right honorable gentleman is entitled and authorized to speak for the House under some circumstances.
– And the 100 men, if they were authorized, would be competent to speak for the 1,000. I do not wish to detain the House. My sole desire is to mention the view the Government take.
- Mr. Chairman
– This is too bad altogether.
– It costs the people £1,600 per day to keep this kind of thing going.
– They are getting value for their money.
– The honorable member costs the public£500 per day, and he is not worth that amount.
– That is not for the right honorable member to say. The Prime Minister has at last distinctly explained why he cannot accept the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Bland. He has stated that in the event of its being adopted, if 100 men belonged to a union, they could control 900 others engaged in the same industry. As a matter of fact, that does not occur under the law as it is applied in New South Wales and in New Zealand.
– Because there are no such words as those proposed by the honorable member for Bland embodied in the law as it stands to-day.
– The Arbitration Court in New South Wales has proceeded upon practically the same lines as those proposed by the honorable member for Bland. It has taken into consideration the question whether the applicants for preference represent a fair percentage of those engaged in the industry. In order to show the improbability of such results as those predicted by the Prime Minister being brought about, I would point out that in New South Wales recently, a union, embracing 250 men, applied for preference, but as there were 1,250 men employed in the industry, the Court held that the unionists had no just claim for preference.
– Because words similar to those embodied in the amendment are . not contained in the Act. If they had been, the unionists would have obtained preference.
– Does the right honorable gentleman seriously pretend that if there were 250 men in a union, they could prevent 750 non-unionists in the same industry from obtaining employment? It is absurd to maintain any such thing. The right honorable gentleman ‘has no right to insult honorable members upon , this side of the Chamber, and also the Chairman, by stating that he has been listening to sickening repetitions. That is not only a reflection upon honorable members, but also upon the
Chairman, whose duty it is to see that no tedious repetition takes place. As I have said previously, we have a duty to perform. If the honorable member for Wentworth will persist in sitting in front of me and annoying me, I shall take measures to prevent him.
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Gwydir has taken umbrage at my sitting opposite to him, and I should like to ask you, Mr. Chairman, whether the objection is justifiable?
– I shall not continue my remarks whilst the honorable member is sitting in front of me. I shall resume my speech from a position alongside of him.
Mr. Webster, having crossed the floor of the Chamber -
– Order !
– I presume that I am entitled to resume my speech from this position, alongside the honorable member forWent worth.
– Order ! The honorable member for Wentworth has asked, upon a point of order, whether the honorable member for Gwydir was in order in taking exception to the position he occupied in the House. I would point out that any honorable member has a perfect right to occupy any convenient seat, apart from the Treasury bench.
– I did not take exception to the honorable member’s position in the House. What I objected to was his attempts to throw ridicule upon my speech.
– Why has the honorable member crossed the Chamber? His sole object is intimidation.
– Nothing of the kind. I desire to bring before the notice of honorable members tne detrimental effect that the Bill will probably have upon the legislation of the various States. In New South Wales we have an arbitration law which is far in advance of the Bill which the Government are seeking to place upon the Statute-book. The. Arbitration Act in Western Australia, with all its faults,. is of a more effective and liberal character than the Bill now before us.
– The honorable member must not debate the Bill as a whole.
– I am endeavouring to show the effect of the proposed clause upon the arbitration laws which obtain in the States.’
– Order ! I would point out that the question before the Chair is not the proposed clause, but the amendment proposed by the honorable and learned member for Bland.
– I desire to point out that the adoption of the proviso will probably have a prejudicial effect upon the laws which may be framed bv those States which have not already passed legislation for the creation of Arbitration Courts. Preference is granted under the States laws which are in operation, and ‘to pass a Bill in the form proposed by the Government, would be to cast a serious reflection upon the progressive character of this Legislature.
– Does not the honorable member think that he had a fair innings last night and to-day; he is only one man amongst seventy-five?
– The Prime Minister will not budge an inch from the position he has taken up, but he expects others to give way.
– The honorable member cannot force a man by the exercise of brute strength to vote against his wishes.
– I am not trying to influence the right honorable gentleman by brute force.
– What about me, though?
– We were anxious to proceed to a division, only a few moments ago, when the Prime Minister started to stonewall the measure. He expects other members to cease when he says that it is time for them to stop.
– The honorable member thought that two of my supporters were away ; that is the extent of his patriotism.
– I am justified in standing here as long as I think fit, to oppose legislation such as that now contemplated by the Government. The people of New South Wales are entitled to look to us to protect their interests. The Prime Minister is endeavouring to force an objectionable Bill upon the country, and we are trying to prevent him.
– The honorable member cannot prevent him.
– At least I can do all that lies in my power. I have no desire to repeat what I have said upon previous occasions. If the Chairman rules that it is inadmissible for me to refer to the effect of this legislation upon State legislation and prospective State legislation-
– I rise to a point of order. In the arbitration legislation which is operative in the various States of Australia, I understand there is no such provision as that which is now under consideration.
– Yes, there is.
– I wish to ask if the honorable member is in order in discussing a proviso to a clause from the stand-point of State legislation, when no such proviso is contained in State legislation?
– I fail to see the reason why the question of State legislation has been raised. The honorable member for Gwydir is entitled to gain information from the Chair as to whether he is in order in referring to the effect which this legislation will have upon State legislation.
– I wish, sir, that you would give it to him.
– It seemed to me that you, sir, were denying me the right to refer to State legislation for the purpose of pointing my argument.
– The honorable member has misunderstood me. I merely requested him to refrain from debating this legislation generally, and to confine himself to the amendment which is under consideration.
– I wish to place upon record the fact that the proposals embodied in this Bill are absolutely antagonistic to the legislation which is operative in two of the States at the present time. The measure does not reflect the progressive character of that legislation. It constitutes a retrograde movement, and consequently is unworthy of this Parliament. What kind of an object lesson will this Bill afford to those States in which no arbitration law is in operation to-day? It will probably ‘have the effect of inducingthem to model their legislation upon the same lines. As honorable members are aware, the operation of the New South Wales Conciliation and Arbitration Act is limited to six years, at the end of which psriod it must, be re-enacted or its provisions will lapse. In view of that fact, I exceedingly regret that the Government cannot approach a little neaiei to legislation wfoich is reasonable and effective than they have done.
– A few minutes ago the Prime Minister quoted certain remarks by the honorable member for Parramatta, with a view to showing that I was reported in Hansard to have admitted that there was no difference between the proviso embodied in the Bill, ait the instance of the Minister of Defence, and the amendment which is now under consideration.
– I did not say that. I admit that the honorable member declared that there was a difference.
– The honorable member affirmed that his proposal would be interpreted by any Judge to mean that a majority of those engaged in any industry affected by an award must approve of a preference being granted to unionists before it would be extended to them.
– That is quite a different matter. I certainly did say that the Court, in the absence of any limitation, would be guided by the practice which has already been established in New Zealand and New South Wales. That practice is to insist, as far as possible, that those who apply for a preference shall constitute a majority. But I contend - and I have always contended - that there is a very wide distinction between my proposal and the amendment which was carried at the instance of the honorable and learned member for Corinella.
– The honorable member said that there would be a difficulty in establishing the fact that a majority approved of a preference being granted.
– Yes. It is that difficulty to which I object, rather than to the Court granting a preference to an actual minority.
– We do not wish to allege any more than the honorable member admits.
– From the remarks of the honorable member for Parramatta I inferred that I was alleged to have stated that the two amendments practically amounted to the same thing.
– I did not desire to convey that impression.
– I am very sorry to again interpose in this debate, but the matter under consideration is of some concern to me. In the electorate which I represent there is a very large number of unionists, and I wish to put myself right with them, in view of the statements of the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition. What I said, during the course of my previous remarks, was that the leader of the Opposition had insisted that his amendment was the only practical means of insuring that- the President of the Arbitration Court should not grant a preference unless a majority of those interested in the award asked for it.
– I think that the honorable member puts the case too strongly.
– For instance, the main objection of the leader of the Opposition to the proposal which was inserted at the instance of the Minister of Defence is that it is impossible to establish the fact in connexion with all industries that a majority desire a preference.
– Under the McCay amendment that fact cannot be proved.
– Exactly. The honorable member does not object to majority rule, but to the difficulty that would be experienced under the proviso which the Government support in proving that a majority were in favour of a preference. I, on the other hand, can foresee no difficulty whatever in convincing the Arbitration Court in connexion with all well-organized unions that a majority of those engaged in the industry desire a preference. Since there will be no difficulty in convincing the Court of that fact, there is no need for any further amendment.
– Then the honorable member disagrees with the Prime Minister.
– Of course I do. I apply the reasoning and experience of the leader of the Opposition to my own view of the case.
– Then the honorable member ought to cross over to this side of the Chamber.
– I entertain the view, singularly enough, that the amendment inserted at the instance of the Minister of Defence really crystallizes the practice which the leader of the Opposition desires to see inaugurated.
– It crystallizes it in an unworkable form.
– Does the honorable member for Parramatta think that unionists prefer the amendment supported by the Government to that which is under consideration ?
– Honorable members opposite pretend to say that all unionists are in favour of their amendment.
– Which is “their” amendment ?
– That which has been submitted by the leader of the Opposition.
– I am glad that the honorable member admits that that is the amendment of the unionists.
– I claim to be as good a unionist as the honorable member, and I am as capable of deciding upon the merits of this matter as any unionist outside of this House. I make that statement with all deference and respect.
– The honorable member will admit that he is voting against the wishes of unionists?
– I do not. When the matter is explained to them, I am, satisfied they will see that there is nothing wrong in what the Government propose. Ever since this clause was first debated, I believe that a tissue of misrepresentations has been indulged in as to its effect upon them.
– We say that too.
– If we place this measure upon the Statute-book, we shall see who is right. I confidently predict that we shall experience none of the- troubles anticipated by honorable members opposite. It will be proved that in all their talk during the past three or four months, they have been chasing so many wild shadows, and that they have conjured up many hypothetical cases which will never come before the Arbitration Court.
– We believe that the Prime Minister is sometimes right.
– I agree with the leader of the Opposition as to what was his statement of the position.
– I take my own course upon the present occasion, in the light of my own experience. -The leader of the Opposition has repeatedly stated that he wishes to see the principle of majority rule applied to the granting of a preference. He believes that in actual practice the President of the Arbitration Court will require to be convinced that a majority approve of that preference, -and he entertains no objection whatever to that tribunal .refusing a preference to minorities. The Government wish to retain in the Bill a straightforward intelligent proposal for granting a preference. That proposal directs that the Judge must grant a preference if there be a majority of applicants in favour of it.
– It does nothing of the sort.
– It amounts to that.
– Nothing of the sort.
– Does the leader of the Opposition say that, under this provision, the President of the Arbitration
Court would refuse to grant a preference to unionists if a majority asked for it ?
– He can refuse to do so. The honorable member ought to know that.
– I know he can ; but if we were to refuse to do so, we should have to conceive a set of circumstances which are almost outside human comprehension. Does the honorable member for Bland say that under this clause, if an ordinary dispute occurred, and a majority of those affected applied for a preference, the Court would refuse to grant it? Such a proceeding is almost unimaginable. The provision directs that where a majority asks for a preference, the Court may grant it, but “may “ there, I take it, means “shall.”
– I do not think that is the intention.
– I assume that the Court will interpret this clause as it will interpret any other provision in the Bill. Consequently I claim that when a majority applies for a preference, it will be granted, unless an extraordinary state of things should arise. If such a state of things did arise, no doubt an extraordinary way of dealing with it would be adopted by the Court. But, under ordinary circumstances, 1 claim that the proviso in the clause amounts to a direction that the Court shall extend a preference to unionists when a majority apply for it. Since the leader of the Opposition desires only to insure that a majority should receive a preference when they ask for it, I claim that the Government proposal constitutes astraightforward method of Sealing with the matter, and is therefore preferable tb the indefinite and difficult method which is contained in the amendment.
-, The honorable member for Parramatta is distinctly under a misapprehension as to the meaning of this clause. He imagines that the effect of the provision in its present form is that if a majority approve of a preference being granted to unionists, the Court is bound to concede that preference., I venture to say - and I am prepared to pledge any reputation which I have upon my statement - that he is wrong. If he thinks that he is going to persuade the unionists in his constituency, to whom he has referred, that that is the case, he is making a great mistake. The provision here is simply negative. It is not proposed to give preference unless there be a majorityIt is just the same as if we gave a person power to distribute pennies among a number. of school children, but subject to the condition that he must not give a penny to any child unless it had a clean face. That would not mean that he would give every child a penny. I should be very sorry if on an important division of this sort, when the probable majority is so slender and when the Prime Minister rests solely upon majority rule, as he calls it, there should be even one vote cast on the wrong side owing to a imisunderstanding of the clause.
– I wish to express my appreciation of the fact that the misunderstanding as to what the leader of the Opposition did or did not say in regard to this proposal is being cleared up. I feel that as the result of an interjection made by the honorable member for Parramatta in regard to this matter I have been placed in a false position. Earlier in the day, while I was endeavouring to show the difference between the Government proposal and that put forward by the Opposition, I understood the honorable member for Parramatta to interject that the leader of the Opposition on a previous occasion had expressed the opinion that there was no difference between his amendment and that which was carried on the motion of the honorable and learned member for Corinella before the Bill was sent to another place.
– I merely said that he had admitted that all he desired was to secure a majority.
– It is sometimes difficult to clearly hear interjections made by honorable members. My impression was that the honorable member meant to say that the leader of the Opposition had expressed the opinion to which I have just referred. I was not in a position at the moment to verify that assertion. I accepted it as being correct, and proceeded to controvert the opinion said to have been, expressed by the leader of the Opposition by quoting the views of the late Attorney-General of New South Wales, the Hon. B. R. Wise. I am glad that the matter has been cleared up, and that the leader of the Opposition has not at any time taken up a different attitude from that which he now assumes on this question.
Question - That the worcls proposed to be added be added - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
Question - That the Senate’s amendment be disagreed with - put. The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion agreed to.
Clause55 - (i.) Any of the following associations may, on compliance with the prescribed . conditions, be registered in the manner prescribed as an organization : - ….
Provided that no such organization shall be entitled to any declaration of preference by the Court when and so long as its rules or other binding decisions permit the application of its funds to political purposes, or require its members to do anything of a political character. . . .
Senate’s Amendment. - Insert “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.”
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the amendment be agreed to.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I have no objection to the amendment of the Senate being agreed to, but to my mind, it, together with the general provision prohibiting unions from engaging in politics, carries us a great deal further than a number of honorable members desired to go when thcoriginal clause was before us. It seems to me, therefore, proper that we should state as definitely as possible how far it is intended to go. What I understood was aimed at in the original amendment of the honorable and learned member for Corinella
Workers’ Union, one of whose rules was that members should vote for selected labour candidates. To that rule Mr. Justice Cohen took exception, and he said that he would give no consideration to any application made by the Australian Workers’ Union until it was expunged.
Following in the same line, I now come to the objection to amalgamation with the Australian Workers’ Union, in consequence of the political element embodied in its constitution. (See rules 54-7.) Having arrived at the conclusion that it is perfectly legitimate for a trade union to own and publish a paper, I must logically follow it up by also declaring my opinion th.it political advocacy of its views comes within its scope. It seems to me perfectly legitimate, as the constitutional method of finally giving effect to the opinions it may hold, that it should seek to have those views ventilated in the Parliament of the country by representatives of its own choosing, and where requisite or necessary embodied in the Statute. I think I would be correct in saying that all Acts of Parliament have been the result of advocacy which may be aptly called “political “ - nay, the very Act we are now considering, and under which this tribunal is constituted, is the outcome of political discussion, and the ultimate maturing of political opinion. And, assuming, as I think I may correctly, that trade unions had a large share in the political action (including the return of their approved parliamentary candidates), which resulted in legislation deemed hy the Parliament to be beneficial to the State, how can it be effectively urged that political action should be declared to be outside the function of trade unions?
That opinion, coming from a learned gentleman, who apart from any bias, one way or the other, has had unique opportunities during the last year or so, of forming an opinion upon this subject, and of studying in detail the rules of the greater number of the unions in New South Wales, should carry weight with honorable members and with the country generally. One can understand honorable members opposite - indeed, honorable members on either side of tha Chamber - objecting to any provision which might have the effect of assisting one particular party or another; but the claim I am urging now is that there should be no bar placed in the way of that legitimate political action which has been characteristic of trade unions ever since their inception, and the prohibition of which would alter completely their whole complexion and the methods which they have adopted for years past. I take it that we do not seek to amend the Trade Unions Acts of the various States. We do not wish ;o put disabilities upon the unions which are not imposed by any of the States Acts. Nothing of that kind was contemplated when this proposal was brought forward. All that was urged was the desirability of preventing men from being coerced into political action against their wishes, and of preventing the funds of the unions from being used in a manner contrary to the desires of the mem-, bers. Sp far as that aspect of the matter is concerned, I have no objection to offer to provisions which will secure that end. Honorable members may remember that, when this clause was before us on a former occasion, although I accepted it, I made a reservation as to the phraseology. I told the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs, that I accepted the spirit of the proposal, but was not convinced that the phraseology was all that could be desired.
That the motion be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ Political purposes’-‘ in this section does not include obtaining or maintaining provisions applying to all persons in any particular industry, without discrimination as between those who are and those who are not members of an organization, with respect to the regulation of the following industrial matters : -
Preservation of life and limb.
Compensation for injuries or death.
The sex and age of employees.
The hours of labour.
The remuneration of labour.
Protection of salaries and wages.
Conditions of labour generally.”
I do not pretend that this list is complete, but I have endeavoured, in the first place, to generally provide that action taken on behalf of all those engaged in an industry, irrespective of whether they are unionists or non-unionists, merely affecting their status and general conditions as workmen, shall not be deemed to be political in the sense in which political action is prohibited under the Bill. I feel sure- that honorable members generally can sympathize with that view. If their object is merely to restrain the unions from coercing their members into taking political action of a party character surely they can have no objection to exempting from inclusion in the term “ political purposes “ those actions or agitations which are absolutely non-party in character. None of these matters are ordinarily considered as within the range of party politics, and with a view to having them clearly denned, I submit my amendment.
No amendment shall be proposed to an amendment of the Senate that is not strictly relevant thereto -
Then May, tenth edition, page 478, in dealing with this matter, says -
It is also a rule that neither House may at this time -
The time referred to is when amendments from the other House are being considered - leave out or otherwise amend anything which they have already passed themselves; unless such amendment be immediately consequent upon the acceptance or the rejection of an amendment qf the other House.
Provided that no such organization shall be entitled to apply for or to oppose any declaration of preference…..
Would the Minister contend that it would not be competent for us to amend that proposition - that it would not be competent for us to attempt to define the term “ political purposes?” I say that no such contention would have been urged if the amendment had been made in the way I suggest. The Senate has decided that the original proposition sent from this House shall be qualified in a certain manner, and the form which that qualification takes does not alter the position. The question of form is .nothing ; the point which we have to remember is that they have made a qualification. My contention is in the first place that clause 55 has not been adopted ; that consequently, the proviso which the Senate has inserted is a qualification - and a material qualification - of the original provision, and that any qualification which we desire to impose on that made by another place as a condition to our assenting to their additional proviso, would be strictly relevant to the general purposes of the original proviso, and that made by another place. Both these conditions are met by my proposition. Surely it cannot be held that the definition of the term ’ political purposes “ is not relevant to the Senate’s amendment. As its amendment is a qualification of the original proposition which was put forward, we are entitled to define the term “ political purposes “ before agreeing to it. Standing order 192, which was quoted by the Minister of Defence, practically repeats - although in a slightly different form - the procedure laid down by *May, and I take my stand upon the practice laid down at page 478-
It is also a rule, that neither House may, at this time, leave out or otherwise amend anything which they have already passed themselves; unless such amendment be immediately consequent upon the acceptance ot the rejection of an amendment of the other House.
I contend that my amendment is consequent upon and relevant to that made by another place. It is a material qualification of the amendment made by the Senate,” just as their proposal is an amendment of the original clause passed by this Chamber. I therefore contend that under our own Standing Orders, as well as under the practice laid down by May, the amendment is perfectly in order. That is the general view which any common-sense person might be expected to take of it.
No amendment shall be proposed to an amendment of the Senate that is not strictly relevant thereto. . . .
When amendments made by the Senate, in Bills which shall have first passed the House, shall have been agreed to by the House without amendments, a Message shall be sent informing the Senate thereof j and if they shall have been agreed to with amendments, the Bill shall be returned…..
It is perfectly clear that we have power to amend an amendment. But there has been no agreement between the Houses as to the terms of clause 55. This House has proposed one form, and the Senate another, and now we say, “ We will meet you halfway, by agreeing to your amendment, if you will allow us to qualify it by explaining the meaning of the words ‘ political purposes.’ “ Standing order 207 shows that we can go still further, and be in order. It says that -
No amendment can be- proposed in any words of the Bill-
That is to say, we cannot strike words out of the clause or make any change of that sort - which, having received the concurrence of the Senate, have not been the subject of, or immediately affected by, some previous amendment.
The standing order is badly expressed, but its intention is plain.
No amendment can be proposed in any words of the Bill which, having received the concur rence of the Senate, have not been the subject of, or immediately affected by, some previous amendment. “Previous amendment” means, an amendment made by the Senate, so that if the Senate inserted a clause, we could, in accepting the amendment, actually change words to which we had already agreed. The Minister of Defence has referred to page 478 of May, but I would ask him to look at the following passage on page 477 -
If a Bill be returned from one House to another with amendments, these amendments must either be agreed to by the House which had first passed the Bill, or the other House must waive their amendments : otherwise the Bill will be lost. Sometimes one House agrees to the amendments, with amendments, to which the other House agrees.
So far the prima facie position is all right. We wish to amend the amendment of the Senate, and I apprehend that the only point which you, Mr. Chairman, have to consider is whether the amendment of the leader of the Opposition is relevant to the’ addition to the clause made by the Senate. If it is not relevant, it is out of order, but if it is relevant, it is in order. You have nothing to do with ‘its ulterior effect upon the construction of the Bill. Then, at page 478 of May, it is stated that -
It is also a rule, that neither House may, at this time, leave out or otherwise amend anything which they have already passed themselves ; unless such amendment be immediately consequent upon the acceptance or the rejection of an amendment of the other House. “ Leave out “ ; that is the very point which is dealt with in standing order 207. We cannot alter our accepted words unless something has been done by the Senate, which is a reason for qualifying what we have done. But to “ leave out or otherwise amend “ is quite different from adding something in the nature of a proviso upon a proviso. I know that your attention has been called to this point, Mr. Chairman, and therefore I shall not speak at greater length. But in May reference is made to the Commons’ Journal, and particular reliance is placed on what occurred in England in connexion with the Municipal Corporations Bill, about seventy years ago. In the Commons’ Journal will be found instance after instance of amendments which have the effect of saying, “-We will agree to the amendment of the Lords provided that they will qualify the meaning of certain Words throughout the Bill.” That is what is being done here. I submit, not in the interests of the Opposition, or even of the Bill, but in the interests of proper parliamentary procedure, that it would be lamentable if, when the Houses were trying to come to an agreement, and we had approached so nearly as we are now, we could not find a half-way house at which we might meet. We are willing to accept the amendment of the Senate prohibiting unions from getting preference if they have political purposes, provided that they agree to assign a certain meaning to the words “ political purposes “ throughout the Bill. As regards the effect of the clause, I have no hesitation in saying that, from our point of view, it will be a very healthy one. I am not, however, dealing with that matter now. I do not think honorable members intended to prevent an employers’ organization from applying its funds for the printing and circulation of pamphlets against the Immigration Restriction Act, the Pacific Island Labourers Act, the Victorian Factories Act, or any similar measure. But if the amendment is agreed to as it stands, any organization whose rules permit a penny of its funds to be used for any such purpose- will fee debarred from appearing before the Court to oppose an application for preference. The amendment goes far beyond what we had in view. The amendment of the leader of the Opposition will have a retro-active effect, which is perfectly justifiable, and that effect will be a healthy one, because we went too far in the first instance. I do not think honorable members wish to penalize unions of employers or employes because their funds may be spent in pamphleteering or in employing lecturers or lecturesses
Court. Therefore the honorable member for Bland must not claim any weight for his argument, owing to his own interpretation of the words “political purposes.” I feel sure that they will be found to be . far less restrictive than he is inclined to believe. As the honorable member for Northern Melbourne has pointed out, it would be possible by a re-interpretation of words embodied in an amendment submitted by the Senate to affect the meaning of a whole Bill which we had previously passed, and to which the Senate had already agreed.
Ave should have it in our power in the Very last amendment to vitally alter the whole character of a Bill. I cannot accept any such position.
No amendment shall be proposed to an amendment of the Senate that is not strictly relevant thereto.
Can any one say that the honorable member for Bland’s amendment is not strictly relevant to that made by another place? I fail to see how it comes within the prohibition. If it does not come within it, it ought to be allowed. I desire, Mr. Chairman, to submit another phase of the question to your consideration. The Senate has inserted this proviso in clause 55 alongside one which existed in the Bill as it left this Chamber, and it has used the very, words, “ political purposes,” that we used in the preceding proviso. It is conceded, as it must be, that we can give our interpretation to the words “ political purposes “ in the Senate’s amendment. And does any one venture to say that it is consistent with common sense that we are to be permitted to define the words “political purposes” in the Senate’s amendment, and to allow a different meaning to attach to the very same words in the immediately preceding proviso ?
That Mr. Speaker be requested to give his opinion as to whether any private member may propose an increase in a rate of duty under consideration in the Committee of Ways and Means.
As this is admittedly a difficult, and certainly a most important question, affecting, as it does, the possibility of agreements and compromises being arrived at between the two branches of the Legislature, I would suggest that it should be referred to Mr. Speaker for his opinion.-
If any objection is taken to a ruling or decision of the Chairman of Committees such objection shall be stated at once, in writing, and may forthwith be decided by the Committee ; and the proceedings shall then be resumed where they were interrupted.
I would point out that it does not say that the objection “ shall “ be forthwith decided by the Committee. If the Committee decide that it be submitted to another authority, I have no objection to that nurse being followed. But, personally, 1 would prefer that it should be decided by ‘he Committee, which, I think, i.s quite competent to deal with it without any further debate. I have been asked to allow the point of order to be withdrawn, and to accept the amendment. I cannot consent to that proposal, but I will readily agree to the decision of the Committee, which, I feel, would be in the direction of placing the amendment in order.
Mr.Crouch. - I notice that the standing order provides that if any objection be taken to a ruling of the Chairman, it shall be stated at once in writing, and may forthwith be decided by the Committee. I submit that that means that the Committee should decide the question immediately. I am glad that the Chairman proposes to stand to his guns. I fail to understand why he should be called upon to stultify himself in this matter. I admire a man who is ready to defend a position which he has assumed, and I think that it is a very great mistake for suggestions to be mark’ from both sides of the Chamber that the Chairman should abrogate his rights in connexion with this question.
Motion (by Mr. Watson) agreedto-
That progress be reported with a view to obtain Mr. Speaker’s opinion upon the point of order decided by the Chairman ; and that the Committee ask leave to sit again.
In the House :
The Chairman of Committees. - I have the honour to report, by direction of the Committee, that the honorable member for Bland has submitted an amendment, which I ruled out of order. That amendment was in the nature of an addition to a motion by the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister had moved in connexion with clause 55 -
That the amendment of the Senate be agreed to.
Thereupon the honorable member for Bland moved -
That the motion be amended by the addition of the following words : - “ Political purposes “ in this section does not include obtaining or maintaining provisions apply ing to all persons in any particular industry without discrimination, as between those who are and those who are not members of an organization with respect to the regulation of the following industrial matters : -
I have ruled that the amendment exceeds the scope of the Senate’s amendment, and could not, in my opinion, under our Standing Orders, be received.
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.
I contend that by inserting that proviso the Senate. has materially qualified clause 55 as it left this Chamber. Had that provision been passed in the form approved by this House, it would have been open to any organization to appear before the Arbitration Court and to oppose the granting of a preference to unionists. The amendment of the Senate has had the effect of debarring some organizations from opposing the granting of a preference. It applies to organizations both of employers and employes, and therefore constitutes a very material qualification of clause’ 55. That being so, I maintain that we have a right to qualify the Senate’s amendment by defining the meaning of “ political purposes.” Our Standing Orders declare that so long as an amendment is strictly relevant to the amendment of the Senate, it is in order. Standing order 192 says -
No amendment shall be proposed to an amendment of the Senate that is not strictly relevant thereto, &c.
I maintain that my proposal is strictly relevant to the amendment of the Senate. I would further point out that May, page 478, contains the following reference, which is somewhat similar in terms, although its phraseology is slightly different -
It is also a rule, that neither House may, at this time, leave out or otherwise amend anything which they have already passed themselves ; unless such amendment is immediately consequent upon the acceptance or the rejection of an amendment of the other House.
I hold that this amendment is immediately consequent upon the acceptance or rejection of the Senate’s amendment. Under these circumstances, I maintain that my proposal is in order, and I can only urge, as an excuse for bringing the matter under your notice, Mr. Speaker, its very great importance.
Mr. Isaacs. - Mr. Speaker-
– The Standing Orders provide very clearly that when a point of order is raised, Mr. Speaker shall listen to the statement of the point of order by the honorable member who raises it, and shall then give his decision. In some cases I have given my ruling forthwith, but at other times I have sought such help as one or two honorable members on each side of the House might desire to give me. In this instance I have listened to a statement made by one more honorable member on each side of the House1, and do not propose to require further assistance beyond that which, perhaps, one honorable member on each side may be prepared to give. It would unnecessarily take up the time of the House if I were to invite a general discussion on the point. I shall be pleased to hear one honorable member on each side.but no more.
– The simple question, as I understand it, is, what is there to prevent this amendment being put before the Chair? Standing order 192 provides -
No amendment shall be proposed to an amendment of the Senate that is not strictly relevant thereto ; nor can an amendment be moved to the Bill unless the same be relevant to, or consequent upon, either the acceptance or the rejection of a Senate’s amendment.
I take it that, unless that standing order forbids the proposed amendment, it can be put. The proposed amendment, in my opinion, does not come within the prohibition, and, therefore, may be put. It is no answer to that argument to say that it affects some other portion of the Bill. That is almost the inevitable consequence of any amendment. The Senate, by amending clause 55 in the way it has done - by inserting what I may call a co-relative proviso to one immediately preceding it - cannot have intended that a different meaning should be given to the words “political purposes “ in the one proviso from that which is attached to .the use of the same words in the other. As we have a right to define the words “ political purposes,” in the one case, “It seems to be perfectly consequential that we should have the right to do so in the other. I feel sure ‘that common sense and legality agree in giving the Committee power to consider the amendment.
– In the first place, I wish to express my extreme regret at having to differ in any way from the ruling given by my honorable friend, the Chairman of Committees. It has always been a pleasure to me to support any decision which he has given in the exercise of his functions, and it is, therefore, with regret that I find myself compelled on this occasion to differ from the ruling which he . has given. I should like, next, to say that if I had any doubt upon the question submitted to me, I should certainly give the benefit of it in the direction of conferring the largest possible powers on this House in determining any issue. I think that in any case of doubt we should rather seek to enlarge the powers of the House, than to limit them. For that reason, if I were in doubt on this question, I should give a ruling in the direction I have indicated. On this occasion, however, for reasons which I shall very briefly state, I have no hesitation in arriving at a decision, lt is true that, as the Minister of Defence has said, there are two circumstances contemplated in the two. provisos - the proviso in the Bill, as sent up from this Chamber, and’ that which has been inserted by the other branch of the Legislature. There is the proviso relating to an application for preference, and that relating tq opposition to any gift of preference. But I have to look, not so much at the form, as at the substance of these proposals. When I examine the two provisos, I see that the other branch of the Legislature has most carefully followed, to the very letter, the form’ of our proviso in framing that which it has inserted, evidently intending that whatever principle applied to opposition to an application for preference should also apply to any application for preference. The same principle was intended to apply in each case. In fact, the Senate really asks us to insert after the word “ Court ‘ ‘ in the proviso which we passed the following words: - “or to appear before the Court to oppose an application for preference by any organization.” Then the proviso would read on as passed by us. The substance of the whole difference between the two branches of the Legislature is evidently that whatever conditions are intended to apply in one case shall apply in the other. The conditions in each case’ must be identical. We have therefore not two separate matters, but one, to deal with, and that is the nature of the restrictions which are to apply either to an application for preference or to an opposition entered to such an application. On that ground, I rule that we may determine in any way which the House may desire what definition shall be applied to the words “ political purposes “ appearing equally in both provisos. The definition which we apply will have reference, not only to the second proviso inserted by the Senate, but also to that of which it forms an essential part - the proviso which was sent up from this House to the Senate. There are one or two other points which I think strengthen that view, but, as on this ground alone it seems to me that the matter is clear, I am content to leave it at that, and to rule that the amendment, if the House pleases to accept it, is one that we may make to the proviso which has been sent down.
– I have to report to the Committee that Mr. Speaker has ruled that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bland is in order. I shall now proceed to put it.
– I have been able to carefully consider this amendment, and find that it has the great advantage over all the arguments which we have heard for weeks and months past in reference to this vexed question, that it fairly and honestly recognises the interests of the workers as a whole, that it recognises the interests of unionists and non-unionists alike. I should like to clearly direct the attention of the Committee
– This is simply marvellous.
-All this is so amusing to me. I have not said more than half-a-dozen words before I find my honorable friends opposite becoming impatient.
– We also are amused.
– It only serves to show how soon we ought to get into recess. This amendment is expressed in terms that are refreshingly novel.
– Oh !
– I shall refer to their novelty in spite of the vacant laugh. It provides that - “ Political purposes “ in this section does not include obtaining or maintaining provisions applying to all persons in any particular industry without discrimination as between those who are and those who are not members of an organization.
We are now on very different ground from that on which we have been fighting for some months past. The attempt to compel a court of justice to grant a preference, as between unionists and non-unionists, has now been safeguarded by two particular provisions. One of these provides that no such preference shall be given unless a majority of the persons in the industry- that means unionists and non-unionists indiscriminately - approve of preference being given. The other is a limitation, but not of any provision in the Bill. There is no limitation in the Bill. Some honorable members may perhaps misapprehend the point. There Is no limitation attempted as to the organization of or the means of working the unions of Australia, in this Bill ; there is no attempt to interfere with their concerns, affect their organizations, or limit their powers. The proviso is that, before you can get this preference from the Court, you must show that your union or organization - they are practically the same - does not spend its funds upon political agitation. The object of that proviso is plain. It is not to discourage trade unions. Those who are opposed to trade unions do not find me by their side. As I have said over and over again, I am entirely in sympathy with such bodies, so long as they do not attempt to exercise their powers to control their fellow-citizens.
Mr.Isaacs. - This will lead, to another debate, probably.
– Am I to say nothing on the subject ?
– I am not reproaching the right honorable gentleman.
– I hope that, after the laboured incubation of this amendment, I shall be allowed to say a word or two in regard to it. I have only just made its acquaintance. I wish to recognise everything that is good in it, though that, no doubt, is a source of keen disappointment in some quarters. I am not going to be made to appear to favour the limitation of the legitimate political rights of any man or body of men. We have got beyond that day. But we, on this side, have stood up against allowing any organization or body of men to obtain preferences from Courts of Justice which distinguish between one worker and another, except under certain safeguards. So long as the objects sought to be attained are in the true sense public objects, common to every man in the community, whatever his industry, I am opposed to any limitation of freedom. What is it that the amendment wishes to separate from the prohibition of the Bill ? First we have “ the regulation and preservation of life and limb,” the passing of legislation for the preservation of the lives and limbs, not of trade unionists only-, leaving their fellow-workers uncared for, but of all workers in every industry. Is there any one who objects to legitimate agitation for the improvement of the laws relating to the preservation of life and limb ? If so, I am not with him. Such agitation might have been objected to 200 years ago, but I do not think that it is looked upon with suspicion in Australia nowadays. I have no desire to discourage and ban it. I say to ihe trade unionists and to the working men of Australia, “ So long as your object is the general good of the workers, without claiming any right or privilege to yourselves which is denied to your fellows, I have no objection to your agitation for the improvement . of your conditions.” The next thing that is provided for is “compensation for injuries or death.” We all know that that has been recognised as a subject of legislation in every country in the British Empire. There is no such country where such laws are not in existence, and I have no objection to any agitation for their improvement. But, like every other movement, it must commend itself to the intelligence and good sense of a majority of the electors and of the Legislature. The right to express opinions on these subjects, with a view to securing reform, is one which I deny to no man, and to no body of men, but I should strenuously oppose an agitation for a special law to preserve the limbs and lives of unionists only, no care being taken 3f non-unionists.
– Who has ever advocated that?
– I admit that it has not been advocated, but I am drawing a distinction between the track which my honorable iriends have been following for weeks past, md that which they are now on. They have now come back to a common ground, in which we can meet thein. The third subject is “ sanitation.” Does any human being object to agitation for the improvement of the sanitary laws of the country? I do not, so long as the sanitation is to include the dwellings of non-unionists as well, as of unionists. I would object to sanitation which passed over non-unionists foi the benefit of unionists. The preamble, however, covers both parties, and confirms the principles for which we have been fighting so steadfastly during all these weary months. We have asked that no discrimination shall be made in these matters between those who are members of organizations and those who are not. I welcome my friends back to the broad ground of national legislation. The fourth subject is “ the sex and age of employes.” There have been laws on the statute-book even of the mother country for a long time past preventing inhumanity by the employment of children of tender age in industrial occupations whose burdens they were unfit to bear, and prohibiting conditions under which the sexes have been employed together in a manner repulsive to every feeling of modesty and self-respect.’ Who objects to agitation for the improvement of such laws, so long as not only the unionist boy and the unionist girl, but all boys and girls are legislated for? The fifth subject is “ hours of labour.” In many of the States the hours of labour in. some occupations are already regulated by statute. In Victoria there is such legislation affecting the miners, and I believe that there is similar legislation in New South Wales. The Postmaster-General,. when Minister of Mines and Agriculture in that State, had the honour to pass a law which very much improved the conditions of the miners, and although he tried to provide for a limitation of ‘hours of labour, he failed to do so, because of the action of the more conservative House of the Legislature in throwing out his proposal. Then there is legislation on the New South Wales statute-book regulating the ages at which children may be employed. T have no objection to any man, or any number of men banded together in a trade union, taking political action to bring about even better legislation upon such subjects, though, before such legislation can have effect, the electors and the Legislature of the country must agree to it. The “ remuneration of labour “ is another legitimate subject for political agitation by the workers of the Commonwealth. I do not wish to limit the healthy individual freedom of any man or of any body of men in Australia. We have so far-been dealing with a widely different subject, with the demand that a Court of Justice shall use its powers to make distinctions in every-day work between one man and another. That is a different thing from preventing individuals from agitating for domestic reform by the improvement of laws relating to the comfort and the conditions under which workers are employed. I should be very sorry to think that any member of this House wished to impede such activity. The “protection of salaries and wages” has, I understand, been provided for in New South Wales.
– And in Victoria, too.
– I think there is no one who does not sympathize with the abuses which have occurred over and over again through men who, after working week after week on a large contract, have, when it is finished, been deprived of their wages, sometimes by misfortune, and at other times by dishonesty and fraud. Is there any one who does not sympathize with the desire of the workers to secure the payment of the wages which they have earned? Now I come to the last of the matters enumerated in the amendment of the honorable member for Bland. I understand my honorable friend to wish to embrace all matters that cannot be specified, similar in character to those that are mentioned. The honorable member will see that the words “ conditions of labour generally,” might permit of the circulation of a socialistic propaganda. I know that the Honorable member does not wish to use ambiguous words that can be construed in two or more different ways. I feel quite sure that he does not wish to introduce, at the end of the amendment, a provision that will be more important and far-reaching than all the others, and to couch the provision in .general words, the meaning of which cannot be easily understood. My honorable friend does not draw up amendments in that spirit. My desire is that the matter shall be clearly expressed, and I suggest that, for the words “conditions of labour generally,” we should substitute the words “ similar conditions affecting employment.” There is another amendment that I would suggest, namely, that the word “ industrial,” in the opening paragraph of the amendment, should be excised. The term “ industrial matters “ is there used in a general sense, and not in the technical sense in which it is employed in other parts of the Bill. Under the interpretation clause, the term “industrial matters “.has a technical definition, and it would be as well to avoid any possibility of confusion.
– I am willing to accept the right honorable gentleman’s suggestion with regard to the excision of the word “ industrial.”
– It is. a great pleasure to me to be able to accept an amendment from my honorable friends opposite. I shall be prepared to accept the whole of the amendment with the slight alteration I have suggested.
– I am very glad indeed that the Prime Minister has seen his way to accept the amendment. I think that it will tend to a large extent “to soften the feeling which has undoubtedly arisen with regard to the attitude of the Government in respect to the Bill. I should like to say - and this is the only reason why I made an interjection whilst the Prime Minister was speaking - that it seemed’ to me that he was travelling over the old ground to a certain extent. There should be no misunderstanding in the country as to the attitude maintained by the- Opposition with regard to the matter referred to by the right honorable member. We never for a moment advocated anything with the slightest intention of influencing the Court and causing It to deviate from the strict path of official duty. Nothing could be further from the truth than to suggest that we had any such intention, and nothing could be further from the effect of the provisions advocated by us. There is not a line in the Bill, or a syllable, which dictates, to the Court that it should ever give preference irrespective of the circumstances connected with the application. All the Bill says about preference is that the Court shall have the fullest power to give or refuse, according as it thinks just or right, and if not a single word of limitation had been inserted in the Bill, there would not have been the smallest possibility of influencing the Court except by evidence and legitimate argument. But limitations have been imposed which are not found in any other similar measure. These limitations, which were not objected to by the members of the Opposition, relate to the notice to be given to persons interested in any application made to the Court, as to the nature of the organization which shall be entitled to ask for preference, and’ other matters. I say, without any fear of successful contradiction, because the Bill itself will show it, that the only fight on the part of the Opposition in relation to the matter of preference has been conducted with the object, not of gaining an advantage for unionists over non-unionists, but of assisting unionists to achieve their legitimate aspirations, which are directed to the good of labour at large. If there had been the least indication of a desire on the part of the Labour Party to insert in the Bill any provision that would have given the unionists an unfair pull over non-unionists they would have found me opposing them.
– I hope the honorable and learned member will not enter upon a general discussion of the clause. I understand that he is explaining an .interjection that he made.
– Exactly, and I think it is only fair that I should do so. I desire to be quite frank with the Committee. In relation to this amendment, for which I am to some extent responsible, I desire io point out that there has been no departure by the Opposition from the position taken up from the first, and I do not think it is fair to represent to the country that we are now abandoning the fight in which we have hitherto been engaged throughout the discussion of this Bill. We must place oh record the fact that our efforts in regard to preference have been in the direction of enabling unionists to secure the amelioration of the conditions of labour for all workers alike.
– Once honorable members came on that ground we met them; that ground is common to both of us.
– Then let us remove the misunderstanding, if one has existed. Does the right honorable gentleman wish to have it believed - I do not think he does - that the unionists and the Labour Party, who are supporting them, are endeavouring to steal a march upon the non-unionists of this country ? The demands we made were legitimate, and this amendment is in perfect consonance with them, because the unions which are endeavouring to improve the conditions of labour would be placed at a decided disadvantage if there were no power to grant preference. The penalization of the unions would be so great that thev would be deterred from making any efforts to advance the cause of labour. When we admit that any political purpose that has not for its object the advancement of labour of every kind, whether organized in unions or not. is indefensible, so far as preference is concerned, we make no departure from the principles we have advocated from the beginning.
The two great points upon which the Prime Minister relied find no place in this Bill. The first point had reference to political interference with the Court, and the second, which he urged constituted a departure from the position to which we assent in this amendment, was that an undue advantage had been sought on behalf of unionists. Neither of these matters finds any place in this measure. I wish it to be remembered - and I desire to place the fact upon record - that the great advance which has been made in liberalizing this measure is not due to the Government side of the Chamber, but rather to the Opposition.
– This is what we may call gratitude.
– I am glad that Ministerialists feel the force of my remarks in thi:) connexion.
– I rise to a point of order. I desire to know whether the honorable and learned member is in order in entering into a general discussion of the principles of this Bill? If he claims that privilege, other honorable members will do so.
– Order ! I hope that I shall be allowed to address the Committee without interruption. The honorable member for Wannon has asked whether the honorable and learned member for Indi is in order in discussing the general principles of the Bill. My reply is, “ Certainly not.” But I would point out that the honorable and learned member is not now discussing the Bill.
– He did so.
– But in reply to a request from the Chair he curtailed the scope of his remarks. What he said was rather by way of personal explanation.
– I hope that we shall all be afforded the same privileges.
– I would point out that the honorable and learned member for Indi, when interrupted, was debating strictly the amendment before the Chair.
– When I was interrupted, I was discussing nothing but the amendment. The Prime Minister stated to-night that what was embodied in the amendment was all that the Government had fought for. If that be so, it is remarkable that no such proposal ever emanated from them. It remained for the Opposition to bring forward, not only in principle, but in form, an amendment which I venture to say will exercise a very beneficial and enlarging influence upon the whole measure. I believe that it will not only satisfy the desires of the real friends of the Bill, but that it will go a long way towards conquering the bad feeling which has been engendered in our discussions.
– When the honorable and learned member for Indi began his speech he expressed pleasure that the Government had seen fit to adopt this amendment. The honorable member, however, is not a good actor.
– I say what I mean.
– The honorable and learned member had not been upon his feet more than five minutes before he showed unmistakable indications of great disappointment ; and from that moment his speech has been a tirade against the Government - not for resisting the amendment, but for adopting it. I speak as an outsider, who was absent from the Chamber when the proposal was adopted by the Prime Minister. But it does not take one long to understand the honorable and learned member for Indi. The five minutes during which I was present in the Chamber were sufficient to convince >me that though the honorable :ind learned member had begun his speech by expressing pleasure that the Government had adopted the amendment, he was really sorry that they had done so, and is now anxious that the country sha.ll know that he is the designer of it. He informed us in a modest way that be had had “a little to do with it “ himself. From the moment that I saw its phraseology, I recognised the designer. Although, as a whole, that amendment is unobjectionable, it contains certain words which are utterly unnecessary, and which have been inserted only to parade something with which the honorable and learned member has never exhibited any sympathy, namely, a desire to help non-unionists. Why do we require, at this stage, any definition of what are “ political purposes “ in the case of non-unionists? They have no organizations, and no attempt has been made to limit them in any way. This piece of legislative “ burly “ is thrown into the amendment merely as a sort of political bird lime, and to give to the public the idea that the party for whom the honorable and learned member now speaks has throughout been most anxious to assist the nonunionists of Australia.
– The honorable and learned member himself is more disappointed than is anybody else.
– Are we never again to hear the word “ scab “ used in this country? Is this amendment designed by the honorable and learned member to indicate that henceforth unionists and nonunionists are to be a happy family, and that no harsh terms of opprobrium are to be applied to the latter? If that were so, one would hail the amendment with unlimited pleasure, because it says - “ Political purposes “ in this section does not include obtaining or maintaining provisions applying to all persons in any particular industry -
Then comes the “ burly “ - without discrimination, as between those who are and those who are not members of an organization
With respect to the regulation of the following industrial matters : -
These word’s are utterly useless as applied to non-unionists.
– The Prime Minister declared that it was their inclusion which induced him to accept the amendment.
– The whole purpose of the amendment is to place something like a definite interpretation upon the word “ political.” Though the proposal is designed not to block other matters from being held to be of a non-political character, it practically lays down the lines upon which the powers of existing unions may be exercised without depriving them of the right of having their cases adjudicated upon by the Arbitration Court. But in the case of non-unionists, everybody who reads these words, even with a minimum of literary * intelligence, must realize that they are utterly unnecessary. If the honorable and learned member for Indi, as the creator, or even one of the parents, of this amendment, imagines that the public of Australia will think that the Labour Party have always been anxious to provide for the nonunionists, as well as for the unionists, he is welcome to his belief. But, although I hold that the words to which I have referred are utterly useless, they are quite harmless. As an affectation of good-feeling towards the non-unionists, they have no value. The public have been reading the debates upon this Bill for months past, and they know the attitude which the Labour Party has assumed towards non-unionists. The word “ scab ‘ ‘ has been thrown across this Chamber over and over again ; and the honorable and learned member for Indi is entirely in sympathy with the use of that word.
– I ask that the honorable and learned member be compelled to withdraw that statement.
– To what statement does the honorable and learned member object ?
– The honorable and learned member has stated that I am in sympathy with the use of the word “ scab.” His statement is absolutely inaccurate, and he had no right to make it.
– In view of the honorable and learned member’s repudiation, I withdraw my statement, and apologize most humbly. He has addressed the Committee as if the acceptance by the Government of this amendment constituted a complete vindication pf his attitude upon the question from beginning to end. I have no hesitation in saying that the object of the amendment was not only to embarrass the Government, but to embarrass the whole of their supporters before the people of Australia. It has utterly failed to do so. If there ever was anybody who was “ hoist with his own petard,” it is the honorable and learned member. I regard the amendment really as a concession, because so long as the word “ political “ remained undefined, it was quite possible to contend that the advocacy of such a scheme as the nationalization of the tobacco industry was an allowable function of trade unions. But the honorable and learned member for Indi has now laid it down, in terms to which I cannot take exception, that the functions which those organizations are permitted to discharge are purely of an industrial character. Nobody has contended for a moment that a trades union should not be permitted to use its organization for any and every such political purpose, so long as it did not attempt to make itself a sort of seed-bed of Socialism - a kind of nursery for the espousal, of the nationalization of State industries.
– Their members will attend to that business quite as (veil in their individual capacity.
– As one of the most pronounced individualists in this Parliament, I hail the amendment with confidence, because under its operation the wings of these organizations will be clipped, so as to prevent them being used for unlimited political purposes; and that owing to the efforts of the Labour Party itself. Who could object to this proposal? The “ preservation of life and limb “ does not involve any political principle. Neither does the question of “ sanitation “ nor of the “ sex and age of employes. ‘ ‘ “ The hours of labour “ is a matter upon which unionists are justified in seeking legislation. “ The remuneration of labour ‘ 1 relates to the wages which a unionist shall be paid. I have justified the existence of trades unions for many years. Seventeen years ago, I published a magazine article, a considerable portion of which was devoted to justifying trade unions as a means of dealing - through their officers - with a large body of men, whom it would be impossible to reach individually. Nobody can object to a trade union maintaining a particular rate of wage, any more than one can object to a bank maintaining its rate of interest, or keeping down its rate of discount. Passing on to the matter of the “ protection of salaries and wages,” I claim that that constitutes merely a repetition of the same thing. The last words, if I may say so without any warmth, have a somewhat dangerous aspect. Although every lawyer in this House is aware that the doctrine of ejusdem generis, when applied to this provision, would have the effect of limiting irs operation to matters of a kindred nature to those which precede it, it is desirable that the public should understand that the last of this category may be intended as a sort of drag-net to bring in a number of matters which were not included in the preceding paragraphs. As long as it is perfectly clear that it is not intended by paragraph 8, to include matters which are not covered generically bv the preceding paragraphs, I shall have no objection. There is one other objection which I am sure that honorable members generally will recognise. In the last sentence in the general provision, which precedes the category, the phrase, “The following industrial matters “ is used. “ Industrial matters “ is a term that is defined in the interpretation clause.
– But the leader of the Opposition has agreed to strike out the word “ industrial.”
– Then, I see no objection to the proposal. I can only say that I am very glad of the opportunity to convince any one who has any doubt about the matter, that, although I may, at times express myself very emphatically upon industrial questions, I have always been an advocate of trade unionism. I have no desire to see trade unions limited in their functions, as long as they are not used, contemporaneously with their being adopted for the purposes of this measure, and as organizations which non-unionists may have to join, as seed-beds for political purposes, which have nothing to do with that which I should call legitimate union, work. Subject to that condition, I hail the amendment with pleasure, and I say quite seriously to the leader of the Opposition, that, so far from regarding it as a concession on the part of the Government, or of rabid individualists, I should look upon it as a definition which has a curtailing rather than an extending effect upon the term “ political “ as used in the Bill in which it is to be inserted
– With regard to the remarks made by the Prime Minister, I may say that I have no objection to the elimination of the word “ industrial.” If that be done, it certainly will not limit the operation of the proviso, and it may perhaps prevent any conflict with the term “industrial matters,” as defined in clause 4. Coming to paragraph 8, I think that it would perhaps be as well to substitute for the words “ Conditions of labour generally “ the words “ Other conditions similarly affecting employment.” That would remove the objection which has been put forward. The honorable and learned member for Parkes has stated first of all that he regards this amendment as a restriction of the original proposition. Considering that the original proposition, if insisted upon, would have debarred unions fromtaking part in political agitations of any character, I fail to see where the restrictive effect of this amendment comes in. The effect of the original provision was certainly to prevent a union from taking any political action with respect to matters of the most legitimate character, and having no relation to party politics.
– Was not that amendment drafted by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs?
– It was drafted by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and subsequently modified, as the result of a proposal made by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. The honorable member for Parkes has spoken of the anxiety which, according to him, has been suddenly displayed by honorable members of the Opposition for the interests of non-unionists. Curiously enough, the Labour Party draws the greatest amount of its support from nonunionists. Does the honorable and learned member mean to say that in New South Wales the unionists would alone be able to return to the Parliament the number of labour members who are elected? The honorable member also knows that Sydney, where the bulk of the unionists of New South Wales reside, has the smallest measure of labour representation.
– And yet honorable members opposite have called non-unionists “ scabs “ and’ “black-legs.”
– That is not correct.
– I have heard the honorable member for Kennedy speak of them in that way.
– The honorable member for Lang, the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and also the honorable and learned member for Wannon, have fallen into an egregious error in regard to this matter. In my experience of unionism, the only men to whom such opprobrious epithets have ever been applied are not the non-unionists as a class, but that particular section who are ready to step in, and accept work under conditions against which unionists are striking. Men who take work in an industry in relation to which there is a strike in progress, have had applied to them by unionists generally such terms as “ scabs “ and “black-legs,” as well as other opprobrious epithets. But non-unionists generally are not .of this class. They are men who, from one cause, or another, are not in the ranks of unionism, but who, in the vast majority of cases, are in absolute sympathy with the efforts of unions to better the conditions of the working classes. That sympathy is made manifest, not only in the political arena, where, as I’ have said, the Labour Party derive the largest proportion of their support from non-unionists, but also in connexion with serious labour disputes. When the maritime strike took place, men who had never been organized put their hands in their pockets, and liberally assisted the unionists who were struggling for what they considered to be reasonable conditions of employment.
– We sent ^16,000 to assist the men in Victoria.
– Quite so. The great bulk of non-unionists have always manifested their sympathy with trade unions, and that fact has always been recognised by the unionists themselves. Unionists have never been so selfish as to refuse to share with others the benefits they have won. With the exception of one or two union’s, which have attempted, as honorable members opposite have said, to set up a sort of close corporation - a proceeding to which 1 have for many years offered the most strenuous opposition - every trade organization has been glad to throw open its doors to non-unionists, and to share with them the privileges which their energy has succeeded in winning. In these circumstances, it is ridiculous for the honorable member for Parkes to argue in the way he has done. There is certainly no foundation for the suggestion that our amendment has been put forward merely with a view to em barrass the Government.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance.
– Some time ago I consulted the honorable and learned member for Indi as to the form the amendment should take. I first suggested to him the desirableness of having the term “ political purposes” so defined as to allow of unions taking part in political agitations in “ho way associated with party politics.
– But the honorable member kept it dark so long, and then broke the news suddenly.
– I did not think it desirable to publish the proposed amendment until I had satisfied myself that it was framed in the best possible way to secure the object at which I was aiming, and at the same time to insure its meeting with success. One is justified in these circumstances in refraining from publishing the terms of a proposed amendment until he is quite certain that it is in the best form. The amendment has been submitted with a genuine desire that unionists shall be allowed to take part in legitimate political agitation - in political movements in which they have been able to engage for years - a right of which it would be most improper for us to attempt to deprive them. I ask leave to amend the amendment by omitting the word “ industrial, “ and also to amend paragraph vin. so that it will read, “ Other conditions similarly affecting employment.”
Amendment, by leave, amended
– I listened with some amusement to the vehement attack made by the honorable and learned member for Parkes on the honorable and learned member for Indi, whom he described as a good actor. I do not know whether he is, but I know some honorable members who are. The honorable and learned member for Parkes is a consummate actor. I venture to say that no honorable member who may speak to-night in the way that he has done will be secretly boiling over with indignation, as he is, at the action of the Government in accepting the amendment.
– The honorable member thinks I do what I do not like. That occurs very rarely.
– All that the honorable and learned member has written shows that he is opposed to the cause of labour.
– Every book and every article that the honorable and learned member has written shows that he is absolutely opposed to the labouring classes of Australia. Whenever he has had an opportunity to strike a blow at the labour movement in Australia he has done so. He would now endeavour to hoodwink the Committee, and lead it to believe that he is glad to see some action taken in the interests of labour. The position taken up by him is most amusing’ I may say that there are other actors in the Committee, and that the Prime Minister is amongst them. I do not make this assertion in any malignant spirit.
– Unlike the honorable member, I am not a heavy tragedian.
– We saw tonight .the most consummate piece of acting that it has been our privilege to witness for some time. I enjoyed in a quiet way the exhibition of sincerity made by the Prime Minister in accepting the amendment. It was also amusing to listen to his eulogy of the State Government of which he was the head. He asserted that that Government had rendered great . service in the interests of labour, but when he appealed to the Postmaster-General it seemed to me [that the information received from that honorable gentleman discounted his statements. He was reminded that the State Government of which the right honorable gentleman was the head did not carry the Eight Hours Bill.
– We carried it through the Lower House.
– But did not place it on the statute-book. I wish to direct the attention of the Prime Minister to one or two inaccuracies in the statement made bv him in accepting the amendment. What did the Government do in the first instance? Did they not propose to accept the amendment as inserted by the Senate? Although the Prime Minister has now accepted the amendment, he had previously moved that the Committee agree with the amendment of the Senate, which would prevent the members of organizations from exercising the rights which he is now willing to give to them. Therefore, one of two things must have happened. Either he did not give sufficient consideration to the Senate’s amendment, or the interest in the unionists and the non-unionists of Australia, which was so prominent a f feature in his speech, was created in him very suddenly. I congratulate him upon being able to wheel round so quickly,, and accept an amendment of this kind, after doing all he could to defeat it with a view to the passing of an absolutely contrary proposal. I think that the amendment of the honorable member for Bland will greatly improve the Bill, and will tone down a great deal of the opposition which would otherwise be shown to some of its provisions. The Prime Minister took the various parts of the amendment one by one, and said, in regard to each of them, “No one can object to this; no one can object to that.” The Opposition never objected to giving the trade unions the fullest opportunity to move for legislation on all these matters. The amendment of the Senate, however, to which the Prime Minister wished the Committee to agree, would have prevented unionists and others from utilizing their funds for political purposes without defining the meaning of those words, and in this way I believe that every union would have been prevented from expending a penny in securing the return of any member of Parliament.
– Under the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, the unions would not be able to spend their money on the employment of Mr. Tom Mann as a Socialist lecturer.
– Perhaps not. However, the only way to secure the amelioration of the conditions of the labouring classes is to return to Parliament men who will pass legislation dealing with compensation, hours of labour, sanitation, and so on. If the unionists do what they were told to do when the strikers were being tried at Deniliquin, they will seek to redress their grievances at the ballot-boxes, and not by strikes, and the amendment of the honorable member for Bland will enable them to do so by allowing them to spend money in securing the return of candidates pledged to advance the subjects named.
– That would be to the State Parliament. This Parliament could not pass an Act dealing with sanitaj tion.
– They will be able to spend their money in returning members to this Parliament ito secure for them every reform which can be obtained under the Constitution. Therefore, under the amendment, -the definition of “ political purposes “ will be as wide as is necessary. Instead of the unions being restricted in the employment of their funds in a manner which, to my mind, is not right, they will be allowed to employ them in any way they choose.
– Not in paying Tom Mann.
– I do not know about Tom Mann. Personally, I do not believe in most of his social ideas, because I think that they are very extreme.
– What about Walpole’s individualistic ideas?
– The amendment will allow the unionists to spend their money in the way they choose. They will thus be able to support the return to Parliament of men who will give them the laws which they desire. I congratulate the Prime Minister upon the way in which he was able to turn round. After fighting against a provision of this kind, he is now accepting it.
– I have risen solely to elicit one or two facts which ha%’e not yet been put before the Committee. We have before us an amendment which will allow industrial organizations to take action in seven specified and one general direction, without being thereby prevented from obtaining preference from the Arbitration Court. It is clear that all the Liberals -in this Chamber, I myself amongst them, are fully seized of the advisability of giving unionists the right to endeavour to alleviate the conditions of the working classes in the manner proposed. That has been made abundantly clear by the speech of the Prime Minister, which, in my opinion, is the best which has been delivered on this proposal. Until the honorable and learned member for Indi, and the honorable member for Hume, spoke, there was no discordant note amidst the general jubilation with which the amendment was received. But the honorable member for Hume has gone further than any other honorable member who has addressed the Committee on the amendment. He has told us that, under it, the industrial organizations* formed to facilitate the ad ministration of the measure, which nonunionists will be compelled to join because of the preference clause, will be able to declare for what parliamentary candidate their members should vote, and for whose return they will devote their funds.
– I did not say that.
– That was the inference which I drew from the honorable member’s remarks, but if I am wrong I shall be glad to withdraw my statement. I cannot believe that that is the object of the amendment, and therefore I wish to know from the leader of the Opposition if he thinks that an industrial organization could devote its funds to these objects.
– The next question which I should like to ask the leader “of the Opposition, is this : If there are two or more political parties advocating reforms in the eight directions specified in the amendment, does he propose to leave it to the officials of the industrial organizations to say to which of them their funds shall be devoted ?
– He would have no control over the unions.
– I do not think that he would. That is the only objection which I see to the amendment. In itself, it is most praiseworthy. But, if, for the sake of argument, every party in the political arena proposed to forward the objects stated in the amendment, the question would arise, to which of these parties should the funds of the organization be devoted, and the settlement of that question would be in the hands of one or two persons.
– It would be a foregone conclusion.
– It would be. The honorable member for once in his life is quite correct. I am convinced that the leader of the Opposition does not wish, by this amendment, to evade, in a hidden, way, the provision which his own Government placed in the Bill.
– I wish to do what I said a little while ago. should be done - to give the unions an opportunity for legitimate non-party political agitation.
– I am with the honorable member there. I ask the honorable member these questions, in order to satisfy myself on the point.
– As the honorable member’s chief is a lawyer, and I am not, I suggest that he should question him as to the effect of the amendment.
– The Prime Minister” “Has accepted the amendment.
– Does the honorable and learned member accept without demur everything which his leaders accept? I wish to know whether there is a safeguard in the direction required.
– I am in the exceptional position this evening of having no longer to fight for the political liberties of those whose position was endangered by this clause. It is no longer necessary to point out that honorable members who were ostensibly discussing the preference clause were really discussing the subject now before the Committee, because what they objected to. chiefly was, not the manner prescribed for the determination of the majority affected by an application for preference, but that the men and women who constitute the trade unionists of this country, and who have done so much for the emancipation of their fellows, should be allowed to continue their good work. I hope that the Prime Minister will accept my congratulations on his marvellous conversion in this matter. So sudden a conversion by one holding such a high position was never before seen in the history of this, or any other country in the world.
– It shows the advantage of morning sittings.
– I am pleased to hear the right honorable gentleman say that. To my mind, the Prime Minister estimated the chances of carrying a motion antagonistic to the proposal now before the Committee, and discovered, on counting heads, that place and power depended on his backing down, because the common sense and justice of honorable members had been appealed to by those who know what the wants pf the people are. I take no notice of the attempts of the honorable and learned member for Parkes, and his echo, the honorable member for Wentworth, to square their consciences with the acceptance of an amendment against whose principle they have been fighting for weeks and months past. Non-unionists, as well as unionists, have obtained benefits from the efforts of the latter, and I am glad that “the “Prime Minister has now consented to allow them to continue their good work. As a legislative enactment cannot be framed to distinguish between unionists and nonunion.ists, the Prime Minister is making a virtue of necessity. It is absurd to say that we are backing down because we do not differentiate in this amendment between unionists and non-unionists. All along the line the non-unionists have benefited from the sacrifices made by unionists. The honorable and learned member for Parkes, an aristocrat of the individualistic school, has changed his opinions. He cannot translate himself to this side of the House, and has had to square his views with those of his leader. I sympathize with the honorable and learned member. He certainly is not made df the material which will enable him’ to leave the Government side of the House and join those with whom he now professes to be in sympathy.
– Would honorable members opposite receive me?
– Undoubtedly. Like the unions, our ranks are open to all. I regret that the honorable and learned member so far forgot his dignity as to make references to certain terms applied in the heat of the debate by some honorable members on this side to non-unionists. Those remarks were directed, not to non-unionists generally, but to those of a certain type who, like criminals, have shown themselves prepared to rob their fellow-men of that which they had acquired by their own labours. It is a slander upon the nonunionists as a class to apply to them the terms which the honorable and learned member has repeated this evening.
– The honorable member is now referring to them as criminals.
– My remarks refer only to a certain type of non-unionists. There are good and bad in all sections of the community. Among the members of the profession to which the honorable and learned member belongs there are to be found some of the greatest scabs and blacklegs that ever existed. Whilst we are much indebted to the honorable members who have evolved this amend’ment, since it will have the effect of rendering the Bill less objectionable, we are also entitled to congratulate ourselves upon the light which the action of the Government throws upon the circumstances which led to the removal of the’ late Government from office. It is now evident that the motion upon which the late Government were ejected from office was a mere make-believe and a sham, and I desire nothing better than the opportunity that will be afforded to me a- little later on to explain the whole position to the people of the country. The amendment is not all that I could desire, but I recognise that compromise is a leading principle of politics, and that, so long as we do not sacrifice principles, we are sometimes justified in making concessions to the views of others. Whilst, however, the clause relating’ to preference remains in the Bill in its present form, even this concession will not satisfy the unions. I shall vote for the amendment, inasmuch as it affords the best way out of a somewhat difficult position, and reserve to myself the right to exercise my vote at a’ later stage in the manner that I think necessary Po conserve the best interests of those I represent.
– A marvellous change, the full purport of which I am not yet able to appreciate, has come over the spirit of our dream, and our actualities in the House, since I went to tea. Apparently it is a good thing to go to tea. When I left the Chamber a question had been raised by the Minister of Defence as to whether the amendment was in order. Upon my return I find that the point of order has disappeared, and that the Prime Minister has accepted the amendment. I think that that is good work for two short hours. All around me there is a chorus of congratulations upon. the amazing readiness of the Prime Minister to adapt himself to his changing environment, which the honorable and learned member for Parkes, who is a great Spencerian, would tell us is one of the marks of fitness to survive. That organism which can adapt itself to an everchanging environment is the best fitted to survive in this best of all possible world’s.
– The honorable and learned member looks pleased.
Mr. -HUGHES.- It is impossible not to look pleased when I find that among the faces around me not one is awry. I think, however, that it is not so much the prospect of passing trie amendment, as the hope of reaching home for Christmas, that is casting a beautiful halo over everything. Although I may look’ pleased, I am yet in some doubt as to whether this amendment will accomplish all that is claimed for it. When one considers tHe readiness with which honorable members who have never shown any leaning in our direction have adopted tha amendment, and the amazing unanimity with which they are now smiling a cheerful acquiescence, such a doubt is excusable.
– The honorable and learned member is a little suspicious.
– And I think I have reason to be. I should like to ask those smiling gentlemen opposite in what way the unions can do all these things which are set forth in the details of the amendment. Would it be competent for a union to contribute towards the expenses of a candidate who pledged himself to support proposals in the directions indicated?
– Not if he indorsed other proposals as well.
– Then, are we to understand that the powers of the unions under this amendment are to be limited to political action only in cases where a candidate advocates only these matters set forth in the amendment? What appears to me to be obvious is, as the honorable member for Gwydir said, that we already enjoy the rights which it is proposed with this flourish of trumpets to confer upon us. Every union has the right to agitate for the improvement of the conditions of employment, and, so far as I know, has always claimed the right to exercise it. The method which they generally adopt is to send out a circular letter, or to ask a candidate, either publicly or privately-, whether he is in favour of such and such a thing which the union desires to see brought about. If the candidate is favorable to the views of the union, and he is the only one among those who represent themselves who leans in that direction, it would appear to be the obvious and undeniable duty of the union to support that man.
– If two candidates favoured the view taken by the union which would it support?
– I am coming to that. We are all agreed as to the course that should be adopted in the case of only one candidate being favorable to the aspirations of the union.
– Unfortunately, we are not the Court.
– Even although honorable members may not be members of the Court, I should like to know their opinions as to the effect of this amendment. I think we have every right to know exactly how far it is intended that the amendment shall go. If there be only one candidate in favour of a particular proposal, everything will be clear ; but if there be two or more entertaining the same views, I desire to know what will be the position of the union. Is it to say, “ Now, here are two candidates, and they are both in favour , of bringing about certain results which we desire, but you are to vote for Jones, and not for Smith.” Are they to say, “ You are to vote either for Jones or Smith,” or “We know Jones only too well, and as Smith is in favour of our principles, you should vote for him.” What would be the position if some member of the union then moved that £10 be devoted towards defraying Smith’s election expenses. Could that be done under the amendment?
– It might possibly have been done even without the amendment.
– Clause 55 is very emphatic. The proviso to that clause reads -
Provided no such organization shall be entitled to any declaration of preference when, and so long as, its rules or other binding decisions permit of the application of its funds to political purposes.
I take it that the amendment of the leader of the Opposition does not deprive the words which I have just read of the limitation which they impose upon the clause. When a proviso limits the effect of a clause, and, later on, some powers are, by exception, taken from the proviso, all the matters which are not specifically mentioned in the exception are still forbidden by it. That is the rule generally applied to the interpretation of a statute. Consequently, it would seem that as the expenditure of fund’s under this provision for certain purposes is forbidden, and as in the exception to the proviso - which is what the amendment of the honqrable member for Bland practically amounts to - power is not given to expend funds in that direction, funds may not be so expended. Therefore, the rights of unions are limited, so far as their action in this particular direction is concerned’.
– That is what I contended.
– No doubt. It appears to me clear that the effect of the amendment of the honorable member for Bland is to confer upon them the power to do certain things. But it does not provide them with the means with which to do them. And if what I have said be true regarding the words dealing with the application of funds, it is also true regarding the other part of the proviso which refers to organizations of a political character. In the amendment, “political character” is defined as not including certain matters. But as those in themselves are of no value if the method by which alone they are to be obtained is barred, I have serious doubts whether the amendment means anything at all. Nobody can predict how far the Arbitration Court will say that it extends. We must be glad that we live in a time when fixity of principles is no longer regarded as the mark of a great man, and when that politician is considered the nearest approach to a statesman who can, within half-an-hour, make such a volte face as we have seen to-riight, and find himself supported by the whole of that gallant, but rather discordant dishevelled phalanx which sits behind him.
– I am very glad that the Government have accepted the amendment. From the beginning, I failed to see any objection to allowing trade unions to agitate politically for a direct amelioration of the conditions surrounding the employment of their members. I did object, however, to compelling men to subscribe to funds which, were devoted to that purpose. However beneficent the object may be, I hold that men ought not to be obliged to subscribe to it. I regret that the Committee did not accept the amendment which I submitted upon a previous occasion. Personally, I am of opinion that it is a great mistake to endeavour to ban expressions of opinion of any character. 1” assure the honorable and learned member for Indi that there has been no . change, at all events, in my attitude upon this question.
– The honorable and learned member would increase the list of subjects contained in the amendment?
– I do not think that the clause is as clear as it ought to be. In clause 62’ we define “ political purposes, “ but we do not define “ political character. “
– “ Political character “ would probably be defined by the Court.
– It is alwavs dangerous to leave the definition of words to a Court.
– The honorable and earned member would not mind increasing the number of subjects to which organizaions may apply their funds?
– I have not the slightest biection to doing so. . The Bill actually endorses agitation to a certain extent. If onorable members will look at the definion clause, they will find that “ associaon “ is there defined as “ an organization composed of representatives of employers or employe’s, or for further protecting the interests of employers and employes.” These o rganizations are allowed to be registered: s eeing that we allow them to be registered is part of the machinery of the Bill.
I claim that by inference we indorse the objects of trade unions. If we do that indirectly, why not directly ? Why not allow members of organizations to agitate directly ? The Bill impliedly recognises the right of members of trade unions to agitate politically for the direct amelioration of their conditions ? I cannot see any logic in saying that whilst we ‘approve of the right to agitate by allowing unions to become organizations, we shall not permit them to agitate directly. What we really should do is to define “ political’ purposes ‘ ‘ to mean “industrial matters.” The latter term includes all matters relating to work, pay, hours, privileges, &c. It covers almost all the conditions which enter into the relations of employer and employe.
– “ Industrial “ connects employer and employe, and .” political “ may not do so.
– I cannot say whether that is so.
– An organization under this Bill cannot pay Tom Mann to advocate the nationalization of industry.
– Could not Tom Mann stand upon a platform and advocate the absorption of certain industries upon the ground that such a step would lead to the better remuneration of labour? I do not object to the amendment, but I do object to forcing men by means of a preference to subscribe, whether they like it or not, to trade unions. Upon the whole, I welcome the amendment as a concession in principle to the desire of some honorable members, that unionists should be allowed as hitherto to agitate for a change in the conditions of labour in the direction contemplated by the appointment of an Arbitration Board.
– Tomorrow morning the people of Australia will be rather dumfounded when they read the utterances of the honorable and learned member for Parkes. I am pleased that in him we have a convert who has informed us to-night for the first time that he is in favour of everything which is contained in this amendment. I hold in my hand a little work upon Liberty and Liberalism, the author of which is Mr. Bruce Smith, who is none other than the honorable and learned member himself. If honorable members will take the trouble to peruse that interesting work they will be astounded at the change of front which we have wit nessed to-night. Upon page 358 of that publication I find the following : -
I turn now to the subject of legislation for the registration of factories, of which a startling example already exists in the Colony of Victoria; having been placed upon the statute-book within the last two years. The provisions of that Act have been conveniently summarized by one of the leading local manufacturing firms for the ready comprehension of their employees. The following is that summary : - “ No one under thirteen can be employed in a factory. No female can work more than forty-eight hours in a week. No male under sixteen can work more than forty-eight hours in a week. No girl under sixteen can be employed between the hours of six in the evening and six in the morning.”
– Do not paraphrase it. Read the book.
– I should, then have to read an extract far longer than the honorable member’s longest speech, and I do not propose to inflict such suffering upon the Committee.
– Does the honorable member propose to connect this quotation with the amendment?
– Yes. I am showing my delight at the change in the opinions of the honorable and learned member for Parkes.
– The honorable member under that contention might deal with almost any subject.
– I shall not deal with any subject which is not relevant to the .amendment. I would remind you, sir, that the amendment relates to such matters as the preservation of life and limb, compensation for injuries or death, sanitation, the sex and age of employes, the hours of labour, the remuneration of labour, the protection of salaries and wages, and other conditions similarly affecting employment. The quotation which I have read from, the book written by the honorable member for Parkes is certainly relevant to such questions as hours of labour, sanitation, and Che age and sex of employes ; but I do not propose to make any further extracts from it. The honorable member also issued a paper relating to strikes.
– I have it here.
– In that paper he said that the workers were quite right in combining to fight their battles as long as we did) not interfere by legislative effort.
– I objected to picketing.
– I am glad to find that the honorable member now sees the error of these carefully considered words.
– Surely the honorable member does not object to an eleventh hour conversion.
– No; but the honorable and learned member for Parkes goes much further. In this book he stated that he was opposed to the very principle which he has accepted to-night, because it would prevent the manufacturers from obtaining cheap labour. I am pleased to learn that he now thinks it undesirable that children under thirteen years of age should be allowed to work in our factories. But why this change of front? When the people of Australia learn to-morrow what has happened in regard to this measure, I think it is well that they! should also learn who they have to thank for it. It has not been due to the generosity of the Government. Throughout the afternoon the Ministry have been doing all in their power to prevent this amendment being considered by the Committee.
– I am afraid that the honorable member is now about to do unwittingly something that he would not willingly do. The question which was considered this afternoon had absolutely nothing to do with the merits of the amendment, and I shall ask the honorable member to refrain from making any statement which might reflect on honorable members who supported the point of order relating, not to the merits of the case, but to a purely technical question.
– I am not in the habit of exceeding the bounds of legitimate debate, or pf reflecting on honorable members, but I wish to show what led up to the acceptance of the amendment by the Government. It is my duty to let my constituents know to whom they are indebted for this proposal. They are indebted, not to the Government and honorable members opposite, but to the Opposition, supported by three honorable members, who let it be clearly understood that unless the amendment were carried the Government would not remain much longer in office. I am delighted at the change of front which has taken place on the part of honorable members opposite ; but they will have some difficulty in explaining their position to members of the Employers’ Council, and still greater difficulty in explaining their action to those nonunionists for whose interests they recently professed so much anxiety.
– We have no more to do with the Employers’ Council than have the Opposition.
– The honorable and learned member for West Sydney admitted that the amendment was a limitation.
– Both the Government and the Opposition are satisfied
– Then why such an exhibition of annoyance on the part of the honorable member?
– The honorable member certainly does not relish the position. He is afraid that he will be called upon for an explanation. Honorable members opposite will not be able to claim any credit for the passing of this amendment, and they will have the greatest difficulty in explaining why they suddenly decided to accept a proposal against which they have really been fighting for years. I am not. enamoured of the Bill. Unfortunately, even if the amendment be carried, it will not assist us to ward off one of the greatest disasters that has ever overtaken the Commonwealth. I have good grounds for fearing that within the next six months Australia will be in the throes of an industrial dispute compared with which the last maritime strike will sink into insignificance. Unfortunately, we have done nothing to avert the threatened disaster. Although the Government have agreed to accept the amendment, I am far from satisfied with what is being done. If honorable members opposite think they, have made too great a concession to the Opposition, I invite them to join with me when the resolutions are reported, in vot. ing against the adoption of the report. This measure will not do very much for the great mass of the workers of Australia*. I know that honorable members opposite are under the impression that they have made a great concession to the Opposition. But in what way have they done so? I agree with the honorable and learned member for Werriwa that this amendment is a limitation, but it is not such a limitation as he would like to impose on the actions of unionists.
– I should not place any limitation upon their operations. I should not legislate in regard to unions.
– The Government and their supporters find that they cannot deprive us of the whole of what we ask without running the risk of losing their position, and they simply say, “ We give you what you ask.” I am sorry that the leader of the Opposition has not asked for a good deal more, but as a matter of fact, we have never demanded anything to which we were not entitled. At the present time unions are not taking any political action to which exception could be taken by any Court.
– They are using their funds to support Tom Mann.
– They are using them for the very purposes which the honorable member says are legitimate, and should be encouraged. I am very glad that he has changed his opinions since writing the book to which I have referred.
– The honorable member, unless he is careful, will be advertising that work.
– That is what I desire to do. An honorable member who reads the views put forward in this book will immediately join the Labour Party. I hope that the honorable member for Parkes will continue to show improvement in this direction. I shall not further detain the Committee; I have not spoken at any length, and rarely do so, but I wish the people of Australia to know that they are indebted- more particularly to three honorable members of this House, and to the Opposition generally, for the fact that the Bill will be a more liberal measure than that which only -a few hours ago was likely to be thrust upon them.
– It is pleasing to realize that after the great conflict of opinion which has occurred during our consideration of this measure, harmony once more prevails. Now that our little differences have been settled, why should there be any exhibition of annoyance on the part of the Opposition? Is there some feeling of disappointment? Do they consider that they have obtained something which was not worth ‘asking for, or is their annoyance due to their realization of the fact that by the action of the Government, in accepting the amendment, they have gained nothing more than that which was already in the Bill ? So far as I am able to understand the situation, the definition of the term “political purposes,” which is contained in this proviso, is already covered by the interpretation clause, which defines the meaning of “ industrial matters.”
– But many “ industrial matters “ mean “ political matters,” and many “political matters “ do not mean “industrial matters.”
– The definition of “industrial matters,” which appears in clause 4, is as follows : - “Industrial matters” includes all matters relating to work, pay, wages, reward, hours, privileges, rights, or duties of employers “or employees, or the mode, terms, and conditions of employment or non-employment.
– But the Bill, as sent to another place, prohibited the application of the funds of an organization to industrial matters, if they were of a political character.
– There is nothing in the Bill which prohibits the application of the funds of a union to industrial matters.
Mi. Higgins. - As the clause was originally passed by us, it would have prohibited the application of the funds of a union to industrial matters that were of a political character.
– Those who have sought to place upon honorable members on this side the stigma of having desired to prevent workers in any industry from utilizing their funds for industrial purposes, have been seeking to show something that is not in accordance with facts. My desire from the first has always been to see that the funds collected by unions for the purposes of this measure shall not be devoted to other objects. I object to the funds .of an organization being utilized for political purposes, contrary to the will of those who have been compelled to join it in order to obtain a livelihood.
– But without this amendment the Bill would not carry out the honorable member’s intentions.
– An honest effort was made by us to provide that the funds of unions should not be used for political purposes, but it may be that our intention was not clearly defined. I am amongst those who have been prepared from the first to go as far as possible in that direction. What I desired was to prevent the utilization of the funds of a union in the way disclosed in ‘ the case of the Australian Workers’ Union.” It cannot be fairly said that the. Government, or the honorable members supporting them, have attempted, by voice or vote, to prevent the workers of Australia from using their influence and such funds as they can command, to improve their position; but we object to their using such funds to deprive their fellow workers, who cannot see eye to eye with them on ques- tions of party politics, of the means of gaining a livelihood. I am glad that we are coming to a better understanding of the position. There has been, not so much a difference of opinion between the Opposition and those on this side of the Chamber as a misunderstanding. I cannot, however, see why there should be a feeling of distrust in the minds of honorable members opposite now that the Government have accepted the amendment of the leader of the Opposition. Although that amendment may put the position more clearly, it does not go any further than the provisions already in the Bill. There is not a single paragraph in it which is not, in my opinion, covered by the interpretation of “industrial matters.” The honorable member for Hindmarsh says that they are not indebted to honorable members on this side of the Chamber for any concession. I do not quarrel with him for that statement, but he might extend a little consideration to honorable members on this side.
– They did not extend an’ to us until they could not avoid doing so.
– I have yet to learn that all the sweet reasonableness of the race exists among honorable members of the Opposition. As the honorable member has spoken of the possibilities of industrial strife, I wish to express the opinion that those who profess to do so much for the benefit of the workers should make themselves conversant with the industrial conditions which are now confronting our people. They should consider whether the workers are able to live up to the doctrines preached by their leaders. If they think that by working six hours a day for five days a week they can produce as much material wealth as is produced in other countries by people who work ten hours a day, T hope that their ideas will be realized, though I fear that they are mistaken. Those who preach these doctrines forget that the workers of Australia have to obtain a livelihood in competition with the workers of the world. The difficulty is not so much a question of wages as a’ question of obtaining work. Unless there is work to be done, this Bill, good as its objects may be, will not confer upon the workers the benefits which they expect to receive from it.
– I do not see now what we have to fight for. It seems to me that the war is over, and that we can lay aside our Winchester rifles and cannon. We can rejoice that we have brought conviction to the Government, that they have seen the error of their ways, and have repented. The sinner who has repented is received, even at the eleventh hour, with as great a welcome as the sinner who repents in the first hour. While the lamp continues to burn, the vilest sinner may return. Now that the Government have repented, we should be prepared to give them absolution. I am sorry that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has abused them. He should rather have praised them for keeping a mind open to the preaching and teaching of the Opposition. I was afraid that this show would have been burst up at Christmas time before we had done anything. The honorable and learned member for Parkes had a great deal to say about the action of members of the party to which I belong in calling non-unionists scabs.
– I merely said that those words had been flung across the chamber.
– The honorable and learned member is labouring under a stupendous multiplicity of hallucinations. The men whom we call “ scabs,” “black-legs,” and “red herring, blackhearted roosters,” are those who leap into the breach whenever there is a strike, and rob of their bread and butter unionists who are fighting for some great industrial principle. In America, the immoral beef trust has forced up the price of meat so high that thousands of poor persons have to live without meat ; but, notwithstanding this increase in price, the butchers of Chicago recently reduced killing wages, with the result that their men went out on strike, and their places were filled by others to whom we apply the terms “scabs,” “blacklegs,” or any other name which would give expression to our eternal contempt for them. It must not be forgotten, however, that thousands of non-unionists vote for members of the Labour Party. In my division there are only 1,000 unionists, and yet I polled ‘ oh the last occasion between 4,000 and 5,000 votes. Where should I have been if it had not been for the non-unionists? I do not get in by the votes of a minority, and whenever I am returned to Parliament it may be known that the country I come from’ has been pretty well stirred. I think that, now the amendment of the leader of the Opposition has been accepted, we should place the Bill on the Statutebook. It will be two years yet before Parliament dissolves.
– The honorable member need not believe that.
– Those who speak of an early dissolution may have common-sense, but they are destitute of uncommonsense. Let us put the measure on the statute-book, and then, if it does not work, we can remedy our mistakes by means of an amending Bill which will do what is required. I do not wish it to be thought that I am satisfied with the present Bill, because I am not. But I am willing to give it a trial. We should prove all things, and cling to those which are good. We on this side are the friends of labour. No doubt honorable members opposite are also the friends of labour. We, however, are the friends of organized labour. While many honorable members opposite exalt industries, we as a party exalt labour. Labour owes nothing to civilization, but civilization owes everything to labour.
– I shall not detain honorable members very long, . and desire merely to echo the idea underlying the remarks of the honorable member for Moira when he said that we had been misunderstood. The words of the song, “ Not understood,” must often have occurred to you, Mr. Chairman, during this debate. I shall not repeat them now, for two reasons - first, because to do so would lengthen your onerous task, and you would probably rule me out of order; and, secondly, because I do not know them. We on this side of the chamber were fighting for the great democratic principle of majority rule, and we now discover that honorable members opposite, when that principle, upon which they were elected, conflicts with the principle of preference to minorities, are ready to give way to it. There has been a misunderstanding, but now we are all in agreement, though we discovered the fact but an hour or two ago. The supporters of the Government desire that the unions registered under the Bill shall be primarily industrial, not political and shall be used to ameliorate the conditions of the people and improve the lot, not of a small section, but of the great body of the community. We have discovered now that we are in agreement with honorable members opposite on that subject too. They also now believe that the benefits of the measure should be given to the whole of the people, and not to a limited section of the community, so that there has been another misunderstanding in that case. I should not have risen to speak had not one or two honorable members appeared to be astonished at the action of the Prime Minister in accepting this new-born baby around which we are all clustering, full of hope and satisfaction. When the leader of the Opposition offered it to him, he would have been justified in remembering that it is dangerous to trust the Greeks, even when they come bearing gifts; but he did not show any distrust, nor make any Cassandralike cry. He paused for a moment or two to see whether the baby was in order, and, having discovered that it had none of the ailments to which children are frequently subject, that it had not the thrush or appendicitis, although the investigation may have disclosed a Semitic origin, he received it into the bosom of the party. I make these remarks to show how unreasonable some honorable members are. The head of the Government . did no more than any person would have done in social life. He merely saw that the child was reasonably satisfactory before receiving it into the home circle. It is a matter for regret that during these debates honorable members have not shown a little more consideration for one another. Now that honorable members opposite realize that we are prepared to go as far as we can in the direction of real reform, they should withdraw some of the undesirable but characteristic statements which they have made, with the object of prejudicing us. We felt all through that the progress of the country depended, not upon any class or sect, nor upon our legislating in favour of minorities, but upon our passing laws in the interests of the whole of the people. We know how our forefathers had to fight against the privileged classes, and yet in the twentieth century we have been asked to set up another privileged class, which desires to governthe masses of the community. Our refusal to do this has been the cause of difference in regard to the matter now under consideration. Now that the golden gates have been opened, through which every man can. march unmolested to his labour, and without being compelled to belong to any organization created to advance the interests of any small section, harmony should prevail, and it might be acknowledged that each side of the House has been misunderstood by the other.
– It is as well that I should make my position perfectly clear in regard to the amendment.
Whilst I accept it as the lesser of the ‘twoevils between which I have to choose at present, I shall at a later stage vote against it. I represent organizations which have been built up at infinite trouble. Many of the men connected with these organizations have spent years in gaol because they have stood up for their industrial and political rights, and I do not feel prepared at this stage to accept anything but the full measure pf political liberty which has been gained at such great cost: Some years ago we were told distinctly that the only effective way in which we could redress our grievances as unionists would be by securing political power. The Judges advised us from the bench to seek our remedy through the Legislatures. Now that we have made our organizations so strong that we have compelled our political opponents to swallow the principles of a lifetime, an attempt is being made to deprive us of some of our most valued privileges. In Australia, and in other parts of the world, the two antagonistic forces of labour and capital are struggling with all their might to obtain the upper hand, and we cannot afford to consent to any legislation which will have the effect of rendering our organizations less powerful or effective than they are to-day. Our principal means of achieving our ends is political action, and I object to limitations such as those which would be imposed under the amendment. There are many. matters upon which the trade unions should be free to take action other than those which would be embraced by the provisions of the amendment. Whilst I admit that the amendment will to some extent minimize the injustice which would have been done to unionists, it will still involve a large surrender of their powers. I was very pleased to hear the statement of the honorable and learned member for Ballarat that the trade unions will not be affected unless they register themselves as organizations for the purposes of the Bill. If that be so, the measure will not interfere with our organizations, because they will refuse to come under its operation. The Bill was introduced in this Chamber, in the first instance, for the purpose of tiding over an industrial difficulty, but it has now assumed such a shape that it will prove a curse, because it will deprive the organizations which avail themselves of its machinery of their liberty of political action. They will have no power to combat the operations of the large trusts and combines which are now operating to the serious prejudice of the workers, and which, in other countries, are grinding them down to the depths of slavery, and I cannot, therefore, place the stamp of my approval upon any such legislation.
– The proceedings in this Committee this evening have been of a memorable character. ‘ We have had expressions of goodwill from both sides of the House, which, coupled with the enthusiastic acceptance of the amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition, mark a distinct stage in our history.
– Hear, hear; the great reconciliation.
– I hope that it may prove to be a reconciliation, attended with great benefit to the community. Honorable members who have listened to the debates during the last nine months, must, in view of what has taken place at this sitting, ask themselves what all the fighting has been about. The reports of our debates extend over 8,000 pages of Hansard, the greater number of which are occupied by the records of the proceedings in connexion with this Bill ; whereas within two or three hours to-day this most important question has been summarily settled.
– The honorable member does not suppose that we have fought for nine months over the question of giving men rights which they already possess?
– I am endeavouring to discover what we have been fighting about.
– We were fighting against proposals to make distinctions in favour of one man against another.
– Honorable members opposite have endeavoured to persuade the public that they alone represented the interests of the workers, but it must be clear that honorable members on this side of the Chamber ,had only) one object in view, namely, to secure justice and equality for all classes of the community. Honorable members . opposite started with a determination to secure unlimited preference to unionists. If that demand had been conceded, the unions would have become an immense political power, and the Bill would have -been used as an instrument for capturing the whole legislative forces of the Commonwealth. Having been defeated upon that point, honorable members shifted their ground, and desired to secure unqualified political power for the organizations registered under the Bill. In my printed address to the electors at the last election, I indicated that I yielded to no man in my desire to see justice done to the workers, and I stated that I would support every legislative measure designed to raise them and improve their condition. I do not find in the amendment any departure from the lines which I laid down for myself on that occasion. As far as the paragraphs contained in the amendment are concerned, I am in entire sympathy with them.
– The honorable member has merely been misunderstood.
– That is impossible, because there has been no change in my attitude. I claim that I have always exhibited a desire to advance the interests of that portion of the community which enjoys less privileges than do the minority ; but I shall always resist any attempt to coerce any section of the people. To-night it has been demonstrated that this Bill has practically been a stalking horse for party considerations. To-night we have found a solution of the difficulty which confronted us, and we have discovered that from a humane stand-point there was practically nothing separating the rival parties in this Chamber ; but I consider that the Opposition have secured a concession in principle upon which they are perfectly justified in congratulating themselves.
– I welcome the action of the Government in accepting the amendment of the leader of the Opposition. I do not ‘regard their action altogether in the light of a victory for honorable members upon this side of the Chamber. I consider it is rather a triumph of the democratic principles which permeate this House. It is idle to deny that there is a good deal of democracy upon the Treasury benches. At the same time I shall fight to obtain a change in certain amendments which have been effected by this Committee. I am not content with the Bill, but I believe in the principle of accepting a bun- if you cannot obtain a whole loaf, and I am prepared to trust the other Chamber to alter its defects. I welcome the amendment before us, and I trust that when the measure has been disposed of, we shall devote ourselves to legislation for the welfare of the Commonwealth. Mr. ROBINSON (Wannon).- When this Bill was being discussed in another place, I felt that a great deal of weight attached to the considerations urged by some honor able senators there, and that the word “ political “ ought to be defined to prevent a prohibition being imposed upon the discussion of industrial matters. Accordingly I was sorry that a more earnest attempt was not made to give a better definition to that term. I do not object to trade unions in any shape or form. The attitude which I have consistently adopted is that I object to any body of men being coerced into joining those unions which have political objects. I know that the honorable member for Kennedy is of opinion that we have destroyed the usefulness of the measure, and I understand that it is his intention to vote against the adoption of the report. What makes the Bill obnoxious to him, to a large extent commends it to me. I think that the Government have done right in accepting the amendment. It practically involved giving away nothing, because I am of opinion that the contention of the honorable and learned member for Angas is correct, and that under the interpretation clause, trade unions could have agitated upon the matters referred to in the amendment without being interfered with by the Arbitration Court upon the ground that they were spending their money for political purposes. I think that that is a sound position to take up ; but, as it might lead to litigation hereafter, it is wise to place in this clause a distinct statement of what are to be considered political matters. I am glad that the honorable member for Kennedy entertains the belief that the “ fangs ‘ ‘ - so to speak - of the Bill have now been drawn.
Amendment agreed to.
Motion, as amended, agreed to.
Reported that the Committee had disagreed to three of the amendments of the Senate, and had agreed to the fourth with an amendment.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That the report be now adopted, and that Mr. McLean,Mr. McCay, and the mover be appointed a Committee to prepare reasons for disagreeing with the Senate’s amendments.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- Whilst the prohibition imposed upon the right of unions to take part in politics has been agreed to in a form which meets the objections that I entertained upon that score, I must say that, in the absence of any proper provision for granting a preference, free from restrictions which, in my judgment, will render, it impossible for those organizations to comply with the procedure laid down in the clause, I feel that this Bill will not accomplish the results which we all hope for. Believing that the whole effectiveness of the measure will be impaired by this provision, it is impossible for me to take the responsibility of recommending it to the electors. I am of opinion that it will toe absolutely ineffective, owing to the restrictions imposed upon the granting of preference. I am fully convinced that with those restrictions it cannot achieve the object for which it was originally put forward, and consequently I cannot recommend anybody outside of this House to place any faith in it. At the same time I do not feel inclined to object to the adoption of the report, because the Senate has yet to consider the Bill in the form in which it is returned by this Chamber, and it is just possible that it may hit upon some method of regulating the granting of a preference which will meet the objections of honorable members opposite. In that hope I am quite prepared to agree to the adoption of the report.
– /The view I take of this matter is that for those who desire a Bill of this sort at all, it would be a great advantage to have on the Statute-book the foundation for a system of arbitration. If, as the result of an appeal to the electors, it transpired that we were wrong, and that the Opposition was right in the position taken up by us with respect to the three or four serious matters on which we differ, it would be infinitely more easy for my honorable friends - provided they commanded the support of a majority of the electors - to give effect to the views they have at heart by amending a measure which was already in operation than it would be for them to undertake the terrible responsibility of building up the whole measure and passing it through the two Houses of Parliament. If the fabric of the principle of arbitration were placed on the Statute-book it would make the path of my honorable friends towards their goal much easier than it would otherwise be. I most earnestly commend that view to the serious consideration of the Opposition. It is admitted that nineteentwentieths of the provisions of the Bill have been accepted by both -Houses, and that there are only one or two points - I admit that they are most important matters of principle - at issue between us. If a- majority of the electors approved of the stand taken by the members of the Opposition it would be far easier for them, on coming into power, to be able to introduce a short amending Bill, whose provisions need not occupy twenty lines, to give effect to their views, than it would be for them to go over the whole work again. I earnestly submit that view to the consideration of the Opposition.
– This will probably be the last opportunity that honorable members will have to express their opinion with regard to this measure, and I think it is desirable to make my position clear. I totally disagree with the suggestion of the Prime Minister, that this Bill would lay the foundation of a whole system of arbitration, and I very much regret that in passing this legislation we are about to set a very bad example to the States Parliaments. This Parliament has been elected upon the broadest possible franchise, and as it has been elected by a democratic people, its legislation ought certainly to be democratic. Nevertheless it has imposed restrictions upon the self-government of industrial organizations that are not to be found in any of the State legislation on the subject. These restrictions, to my mind, must retard the whole movement of trade unionism. Every one must admire the heroic struggle which trade unions have made to secure better conditions for the workers.
– Does the honorable member think that that has anything to do with the question before the Chair?
– I am afraid that I am not clear as to the limits of this debate, but I am endeavouring to follow the lines adopted by the Prime Minister. In spite of the fact that the Government accepted the last amendment proposed by the leader of the Opposition, I consider that the Bill is unsatisfactory. We have invited the State Legislatures, which will have to deal with this question, including the Parliament of New South Wales, which will shortly be called upon to consider the desirableness of re-enacting the State Conciliation and Arbitration Act, to interfere with the most important of all principles - the right of trade unions to seek to improve by constitutional means our social and political life. To my mind, this Bill will interfere with the free exercise of the franchise. Honorable members are unanimously of the opinion that trade unions have a legitimate right to seek to improve the conditions of the working classes, and yet many honorable members who profess to hold this view would restrict their operations in that direction. I deny that there is any attempt to coerce men to join unions, or that labour members seek to control such bodies. The idea is absurd.
– Is this relevant to the question?
– I am afraid that the honorable member is going beyond the matter before the Chair. The question before us is whether the report of the Committee shall be agreed to. That report covers the decisions of the Committee on the four amendments which came to us from another place. Any discussion which bears upon either one of those amendments, or the whole of them, would be in order ; but any debate on the general aspect of the measure will not be in order.
– I think that the field of discussion is wide enough to allow me to clearly explain my position. I have not Spoken since certain amendments have been under consideration, and I do not wish it to be understood that my silence means approval of the decision of the Committee. I have, from the very outset, taken a great interest in this measure, and I wish to clearly define my attitude. An effort has been made in the most unfair way to interfere with the operations of trade unions, and I hold that as the result of the passing of this measure, the work of these admittedly noble institutions will be hampered. I am opposed to the restrictions which have been imposed. Trade unions have always done their very best for all persons engaged in the industries which they represent. Hence I say that the limitations which have been imposed will retard the whole movement for the betterment of the conditions of the workers. The measure will not be found satisfactory, and I throw upon the Government the whole responsibility for it. It is true that they have not been in charge of the Bill from the outset; but the Government in office, when it is finally passed, must bear the whole responsibility, because they need not have taken it up in the condition in which they found it. I refuse to accept the responsibility of being a party to the adoption of certain of these clauses. I accepted one amendment because it was the best we could get; but I feel satisfied that the measure, as a whole, will be unsatisfactory, and I wish to enter an emphatic protest against it.
Mr. McDONALD (Kennedy).- Before the vote is taken, I wish to say that I shall vote against -the adoption of the report, because I believe that it relates to certain clauses which will destroy the effectiveness of the Bill. I believe, that unionists in coming under this measure, will be making, a great sacrifice in the interests of industrial peace, and that they will not receive anything like the return which they are entitled to expect. They are entitled to receive full preference in compensation for thesacrifices they are making, and it was the general idea of the framers of the Bill that that should be extended to them. The refusal of the Committee to grant it, is one reason why I shall vote against the adoption of the report. I shall vote against it because I am also opposed to class legislation of the kind of which a major ity of the Committee has approved in trying to exempt certain sections of the community, namely, the agricultural labourers and the domestic servants, whose present position is little better than slavery, from the operation of the measure. I am also opposed to it because it attempts to take from organizations the right which they have enjoyed for many years past to use political influence for the redress of grievances. The workers have been continually urged to take that course, but the Bill practically prevents them from doing so. Having stated the reasons why I cannot support the measure, I shall content myself with voting against it.
Mr. KELLY (Wentwortb).- As one who at the last elections opposed the measure, I feel that I owe it to my constituents, as well as to the House, to explain my reasons for the course which I now propose to pursue. I do not intend to state now the reasons which actuated me in opposing the Bill, because I set them out fully in my second-reading speech. Some of those reasons have disappeared, because of the amendments which have been made in the measure. It has, however, been borne in upon me during the ten months that we have been in session, in which period we have been engaged chiefly on this measure, that there is a very strong majority in this Chamber and in the country who desire to have the Bill passed into law, and I can see that if I were to exhibit the spirit of factious opposition which has been displayed by honorable members opposite, I should not be advancing the cause of my constituents.
– The honorable member is now discussing the Bill, whereas the question before the Chair is the adoption of the Committee’s report.
– In that case I shall reserve my remarks until another occasion.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir).- I wish to say a word or two in justification of the vote which I intend to give on this matter. I have already shown pretty plainly that I cannot vote for a Bill which takes from the unionists rights and privileges which have been given to them by State laws. I have not changed, my opinion, but the Bill is taking from the unionists rights which they have enjoyed ever since we obtained constitutional government, although by means of a compromise we have got back some of these tights. I am opposed to the Bill as amended, because it does not give preference and full political liberty to unionists, and therefore I shall vote against it being placed on the Statute-book.
– I base my opposition to the adoption of the Committee’s report on the rejection of the Senate’s amendment relating to preference. I had anticipated that the Bill would be fairer to those who will be called upon to assist in its administration by carrying out the award of the Court, but, seeing that the results which we hope for cannot be obtained, I shall vote against the motion.
– The action of the Government in connexion with the Senate’s amendments leads me to take a pretty serious stand at this stage. I anticipated that the proposals of the Senate, in regard to the inclusion of farm labourers and domestic servants, and the removal of the workable restrictions placed on the granting of preference, would have been accepted by the Government in a spirit of compromise. They have, however, disagreed with all three amendments, and I understand that they accepted a part of the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, enlarging the political freedom of unionists, only when they found that a number of members would leave their ranks and vote against them if they did not. If, in my opinion, the’ Bill requires too great a sacrifice from those who were primarily responsible for its introduction - the trade unionists of this country. I believe that after another ejection ot two at most, with their present freedom unrestricted they will be able to exercise their political influence to such good effect that a majority will be returned here, who will place upon the Statute-book a measure which will not unduly interfere with their liberties as this measure would do.
– The honorable member will be a conservative by that time.
– I hope I shall never be as conservative as the right honorable member is. I have heard .honorable members opposite say that they do not believe in arbitration, and are opposed to every word in the Bill. Some of those on this side are now giving them an opportunity to express their disgust at the proposal to place such a measure on the Statute-book. We shall see whether they will have the courage ‘to vote against the adoption of the Committee’s report, or whether they will consider the Bill sufficiently mutilated and party ties will prove too strong for them.
– I can understand the feelings which actuate those who intend to vote against the adoption of the report, because I myself have- frequently felt inclined to vote against a measure which I was afraid would be of no service in bringing about industrial peace, seeing that the unions would not register under it.’ Now that the amendment of the honorable member for Bland has been accepted, however, I am prepared to send the Bill back to the Senate, hoping that we have not yet reached the final stage in its consideration. There will still be an opportunity to reject it if no further improvement is made.
– I rise to make it clear that the Bill does not meet my ideas of what an Arbitration Bill should be. In my opinion, the clause providing for preference is unworkable. I wish the Government had met us in regard to that clause as they have done in regard to clause 55. I understand, however, that no great credit is due to them for accepting the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, because they did so only when they knew that three or four of their supporters would vote for it.
– When I made my speech accepting the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, I did not know how my supporters were going to vote in regard to’ it.
-The action of the Government in trying to have the amendment moved out of order did not indicate a desire on their part to meet us. I am thankful for- what we have got in that amendment, because I think that there is more in it than the honorable member for Kennedy sees there. A very broad and liberal interpretation can now be placed on the political action of unions. Notwithstanding the acceptance of that amendment, however, there still remains the provision which requires applicants for preference to demonstrate to the Court that they represent a majority of those affected. Still, I do not think that this is the stage to vote against the Bill, and I am willing to give an opportunity for its re-consideration by the Senate, because I hope that that House will insist on some proposals for the improvement of the preference clause.
– I should not have spoken on this motion, although I do not waive my rights as an ordinary member to do so, had it not been for the remarks of the honorable member for Grey. I hope that there will not be any misapprehension in regard to the action taken this afternoon by certain honorable members and myself with reference to the amendment proposed by the honorable membet for Bland.
– I did not say anything about the action of the Chairman.
– The honorable member’s remarks applied to the decision which I was compelled to give, as well as to the action of honorable members in raising the point of order. I regret to be compelled to refer to the matter, but I feel that it is necessary to do so, because I wish the honorable member, and those to whom we are responsible, to know that the merits of the amendment were not under consideration while the point of order was being discussed. I hope that there will be no misapprehension in the public mind on the subject. Those who dealt with the point of order had regard purely to constitutional considerations, and made no reference to the details of the amendment itself.
Question - That the report be now adopted and a Committee appointed to prepare reasons for disagreeing with certain amendments - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Mr. REID, on behalf of the Committee, brought up the following reasons for disagreeing to certain amendments of the Senate: -
As to amendment No. 1 -
As to Amendment No.2 -
As to Amendment No. 3 -
Because questions of preference in employment are of such vital importance to the people of the Commonwealth that they demand some such safeguard as that contained in the provision removed from the Bill.
He said : I may explain that this message simply represents the reasons of those who oppose the amendments of the Senate, and not the reasons of those honorable members who did not vote against the Senate’s amendments. I move -
That the Committee’s reasons be adopted.
– I suppose so. I would point out that the Senate is waiting to receive this message before it adjourns. The reasons stated are those of honorable members who voted against the Senate’s amendments.
– May I ask, Mr. Speaker, if the reasons can be submitted separately ?
– They can.
– I understood the Prime Minister to read a statement to the effect that an amendment could not be seriously considered.
– No ; what the message states is that the likelihood of a dispute affecting domestic servants extending beyond the borders of any one State could not be seriously regarded.
– I think that those words might be objected to by the Senate, and perhaps they could be altered.
– I have no objection to altering the form of the message. I hope that I may be allowed to make a suggestion as to the order of business.
– The Prime Minister will be able to speak presently. If he is allowed to answer a question by the honorable member for Hume, he may be called upon to answer half-a-dozen questions by other members.
– I think that the usual course adopted under similar circumstances is to adjourn the consideration of the Bill until the next day, irrbrder to afford honorable members an opportunity of seeing in print the reasons which have been prepared by the Committee.
– They are not the honorable member’s reasons, but ours.
– We are asked to allow to be transmitted to the Senate cer tain reasons which I do not regard as correct. I wish to have an opportunity to leply to those reasons, so that my own ideas may be published in Hansard. Whilst the reasons were being read, I could catch only an occasional word. I understand that the Prime Minister made a reference to something which he regarded as “remote.”
– If the honorable member desires it, I will ask the Clerk to read the reasons.
– I should like to hear them.
Reasons read by the Clerk.
– I take the strongest exception to reason No. 1, and I object to the whole of them.
– The honorable member must understand that that is our reason for excluding agricultural labourers.
– When the Prime Minister has recovered from his pique-
– I rise to a point of order. The honorable member for Kennedy has been upon his feet three times in connexion with these reasons. In the first place, he inquired how they should be put. Since then, he has made a speech. He broke off from that speech, and is now making another. In view ofl the fact that you, sir, would not allow the Prime Minister to say a wore? in explanation, I claim that the member for Kennedy is out of order.
– The honorable member has misunderstood the position. In the first place, the Fronorable member for Kennedy asked - as he liad a perfect right to do - upon a point of order, whether the reasons could be put separately from the Chair. When such a request is made, it is obligatory under our Standing Orders that the questions shall be put separately. Then, the honorable member commenced his speech, intimating that he had not distinctly heard the reasons when they were first read. Thereupon, I directed the Clerk to read them, and after that had been done, I allowed the honorable member to continue his speech.
– The action of the honorable member for Parramatta has compelled me to make a fourth speech. I object to the reasons advanced in the message for the exclusion of agricultural labourers from the operation of this Bill. I believe that that is one class of labour which is likely to be organized throughout Australia in the very near future. It is well known that at the present time strenuous efforts are being made in that direction in Queensland, New South Wales, and other parts of the Commonwealth, and that money is being devoted to that purpose. Consequently, I claim that in the very near future there will be a huge organization of farm labourers. Further, I oppose the reasons embodied in the message, because they do not convey to the Senate what is really at the root of this legislation, namely, the fact that it is class legislation. I realize that it is idle to occupy much time in placing my views before the House”, because the majority of honorable members are opposed to me. Nevertheless, I think that the opinions of the majority should be couched in such terms-
– As would please the honorable member.
– They should at least be couched in such language as would not be calculated to mislead.
– The Prime Minister has declared that the reasons embodied in the message are only . those of the Government. I would point out, however, that when they reach the Senate they will be regarded . as the reasons advanced by this House. I object to the statement contained in reason No. 1, because there is no evidence to show that the conditions of trie farm labourers vary in the different States. I deny that the conditions surrounding their employment vary even as much as do the conditions in other industries. In any case, that is not a sufficient reason for refusing to accept the amendment relating to them.
– Then vote against it.
– We know that the Government have other reasons for adopting this course. There is no reason why farm labourers should not be -brought under the control of the Court in the same way as are other workers. The same remark will apply to domestic servants. The maritime dispute of 1891 extended to various unions, and there is no reason why ‘a dispute among domestic servants should not extend beyond the limits of any one State. The conditions under which domestic servants are called upon to labour are practically similar in all parts of the Commonwealth. Take the position of domestic servants in hotels.
– Domestic servants in hotels are not excluded from the operation of this measure ; it is only domestic servants in private employemnt who are shut out.
– At all events, I disagree with the exclusion of farm labourers and domestic servants. I hold that no one who can be reasonably brought within the provisions of the Bill, should be excluded from it, and that the reasons proposed to be given for the exclusion of these persons are not correct. I . do not know of any debate which has taken place in this House that would support the giving of these reasons. The Government think that because certain workers are not organized, they never will be; but that merely shows that they know very little about trade unionism.
Question - That the reasons for disagreeing to amendment No. 1 be adopted - put.
The Committee divided.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Reasons for disagreeing to amendments Nos. 2 and 3 agreed to.
Bill returned from Senate with amend ments.
– I should like the House to consider these amendments to-night. Last week I promised the honorable and learned member for Bendigo and others to provide statutory power in the GovernorGeneral to appoint a commander of the troops in time of war, instead of leaving the power to be exercised, as at present, under prerogative. In pursuance of that promise, 1 had inserted, while the Bill was before the Senate, an amendment providing that the Governor-General should be empowered to “ appoint an officer or officers of the Defence Force to command the whole or any portion of the Defence Force in time of war.” In the next place, I promised that provision should be made for securing the seniority of the Inspector-General. Accordingly an amendment was made in the Senate providing that the Inspector-General and the Director of the Naval Forces “ shall have such seniority and powers as may be prescribed,” the words “seniority and” being inserted. In the Senate, there was also inserted the words “ or performed “ after the word “ exercise “ in a place where those words did not appear, although they occurred in other portions of the measure. In omitting the words “ General Officer Commanding “ in one clause, the word “ the “ was not also omitted, and an amendment in the Senate has put that matter right. Those are the whole of the amendments made by the Senate, and to enable me to take steps to put the scheme in operation at the earliest date, I ask honorable members to deal with them to-night. I move -
That the amendments made by the Senate be Agreed to.
–The amendments seem purely formal, and since they have been made in accordance with the promise made by the Minister, I do not think any objection can be raised to the course suggested.
– If the amendments involve a limitation of the prerogative it may be necessary to adopt express words negativing the prerogative, or the Royal Assent may be refused.
– The Royal Assent would not be refused, if the amendments did not negative the prerogative.
– I wish to know whether the amendments include an express negative of the prerogative?
– Then I am afraid there may be difficulty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I desire to-morrow to give the honorable and learned member for Ballarat an opportunity to introduce his motion in regard to Preferential Trade, and I move -
That the remaining orders of the day (Government business) be postponed.
I intend to follow that up with a motion that the notice of motion No. 1, dealing with preferential trade, be an order of the day for to-morrow, and have preference over other business. When the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has spoken, I shall ask the House to allow me to move the adjournment of the debate. Ii propose that we should then proceed with the Appropriation Bill.
– How long will the adjournment of the debate extend ?
– That is a matter for the House to settle as the business proceeds, but I should like an opportunity to speak on the subject during this, session.
– Other honorable members may also wish to speak.
– I .shall give way to other honorable members if necessary. But we desire to send the Appropriation Bill to the Senate, in order that there may be a prospect of finishing .the session, at the latest, next week.
– Is. it proposed to go on with the Appropriation Bill before we dea with the Manufactures Encouragement Bill?
– I propose to ask honorable members to take the Manufactures Encouragement Bill into Committee, but there is no possibility of our dealing with the measure if we are to prorogue next week. If the Bill be taken into Committee it may be resumed at that stage next session. That, I think, is a reasonable suggestion, because, as I say, there is not the slightest prospect of finishing the Bill this session. I know sufficient of the temper of the House to gather that we cannot deal with the measure if we are to prorogue, as I hope we shall, if not at the end of this week, at the end of next week.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Reid) proposed -
That general business, notice of motion No. i, be an order of the day for to-morrow, and have preference over other business.
– In regard to this motion, do I understand that when the honorable and learned member for Ballarat has spoken, the Prime Minister proposes to reply?
– Not to-morrow.
– But when the Prime Minister does reply, is it his intention to allow other honorable members an opportunity to discuss this all-important question?
– I hope so, but I am afraid it will not be possible to finish the debate, if the whole of the seventy-five members desire to speak.
– I only desire to know whether honorable members will have an opportunity to follow the Prime Minister?
-I hope so, but I cannot promise that the whole of the members will have an opportunity to speak.
– What time is the Prime Minister prepared to devote to the matter ?
– I am going to co-operate with honorable members in order to close the session certainly by the end of next week. I cannot state the precise length of the discussion, but it will be allowed to go as far as possible.
Mr. W ATKINS (Newcastle).Discussion of the question of Preferential Trade is likely to be a waste of time at this stage of the session, especially when we . consider that we have had before us for over three years the Manufactures Encouragement Bill.
Mr.Reid. - I have already given a week and two days besides to the consideration of that measure.
– The second reading of the Bill has been debated, and it is time we came to a decision, in fairness to those who are interested.
– If I can get the Bill through I shall be delighted.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).I should like to know what opportunity will be afforded to discuss the motion which I submitted in reference to Home Rule for Ireland ?
– It seems to me that the honorable member for Ballarat desires to do a thing which he did on several occasions in the State Parliament. He wishes to deliver a splendid specimen of oratory, after which other honorable members are not to have a chance to reply. I remember an occasion when he did that in connexion with the religious education question. I took exception to it, insisted on my right to speak, moved an amendment, and pressed the matter to a division. If the Prime Minister will assure us that we shall have fair play all round I shall have no objection to offer, but I do object to one honorable member being given special opportunities at the expense of others.
– Some days ago I raised an objection to the course which it was proposed to take in reference to Preferential Trade. The Prime Minister has no right to expect us to attend at half -past 10 in the morning after a long sitting, even to hear a brilliant oration from the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. No doubt it is very pleasant to hear him, and it is quite fair that the Prime Minister should have time in which to prepare a reply. But the question is a very important one, and if there is not to be a general discussion I am prepared to let the Prime Minister and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat have their say, and then to have a division. It is, however, merely wasting time for one honorable member to talk for . four or five hours unless we are to come to a decision. I object to it. When the Prime Minister moves the adjournment of the debate tomorrow, I would advise those honorable members who have anything to say on the subject to insist upon a division or upon the debate proceeding. Under the circumstances, it would be wise for every honorable member who has anything to say to sharpen his little tomahawk in readiness for what will happen. I object to private members’ business being put on one side in order that special favours may be shown to the honorable and learned member for Ballarat. Why are rights conceded to him which are denied to others?
– I should like to point out that I am not asking private members to give up their time. 1 am simply arranging for the course of business in Government time. I promised the honorable and learned member for Ballarat to give him an opportunity to bring on this question, and I am simply carrying out the promise which I made. It is well known that I made it, and I am sure that no honorable member would ask me to break my word. If I can assist any other honorable member I will, as. far as I can consistently with the policy and programme of the recess party. But I desire honorably to discharge my obligations, and I hope that honorable members will re-, collect that that is the object of this motion..
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11. 18 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 December 1904, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1904/19041207_reps_2_24/>.