2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– In the absence of the Attorney -General, I wish to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, if he has read the report published in this morning’s Argus of a gross act of tyranny perpetrated at the instance of the New South Wales Monumental Workers’ Union, the power of the local Arbitration Court having been successfully invoked by it to eject an unfortunate man from employment and turn him out into the streets to starve. Will he, in view of the facts reported in the newspaper, make provision in the Trade Marks Bill to guard against the union label being used for like tyrannical purposes ?
– I have not read the report referred to, but shall direct the attention of the Attorney-General to it.
– I wish to know from the Minister of Home Affairs the result of the inquiry which he promised to make yesterday with regard to the issue of electoral rolls in South Australia?
– I find that printed copies of the rolls for Adelaide, Angas, Boothby, and Hindmarsh were despatched to the Divisional Returning Officer on the 22nd July last, and the rolls for Barker, Grey, and Wakefield on the 26th July last. The Commonwealth Electoral Officer for South Australia has been instructed to ask the press to call attention to the fact that new rolls have been printed, and to urge persons qualified to vote to inspect them, to ascertain if they have been correctly enrolled.
– Has the Prime Minister any further information with reference to the Pacific Cable Conference which was recently held in London?
– I have just received the intimation that the report of the proceedings of the Conference has been posted, and it should be here within the next three weeks. It may be presumed to contain full information as to what was done at the Conference.
Customs Valuation of Harvesters.
– I desire to move the adjournment of the House, to discuss a definite matter of urgent public importance, viz. : “ The action of the Minister of Trade and Customs in raising the assessment for duty on harvesters to £65.”
Five honorable members having risen in their places,
– I do not think that any apology is needed for treating this matter as a question of urgent public importance. Those of us who represent country constituencies know that the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs is equivalent to increasing the duty on every harvester machine imported into Australia by £3 or thereabouts.
– But it does not mean an increase in the price of the harvesters to farmers. That is another matter.
– I ask honorable members, in view of the limited time at my disposal, to allow me to speak without interruption. The Minister has decided that henceforth imported harvesters are to be entered for duty at a valuation of £65 per machine, this amount to include the statutory 10 per cent. He has, therefore, in effect decided that the value of imported harvesters in the principal markets of the country where they are made is £59 or thereabouts. Hitherto these machines have been valued at $185, or ^38 os. 3d., the duty being chargeable at the rate of 12 J per cent, on ^41 8s. 3d., and amounting to j£$ 4s. 7d. per machine. The action of the Minister of Trade and Customs means the raising of the sum on which duty is chargeable by ,£23 or ,£24, and the increasing of the duty by nearly ,£3 a machine. The papers which he has laid on the Library table show that for a considerable time past Mr. McKay, a manufacturer of harvesters in Victoria, has been continually urging the Customs authorities to increase the valuation of imported harvesters. To get a firm ‘grip of the question it is necessary to ascertain the valuation on’ which harvesting machines have been sent here from beyond the seas. There arc two companies which manufacture harvesters in America, and export them to Australia. The first is the MasseyHarris Company, a Canadian company, of which the proprietors and workmen are British subjects, carrying on busi-ness in Toronto, and which distributes over £55,000 a year in Australia in wages and other similar expenditure. The second company is the International Harvester Company, which is a Yankee concern. Inflammatory statements have been published in the Age newspaper, and have been made before the Tariff Commission, about the tactics of this latter company. The public has been persuaded that it has been flooding the Australian market with harvesters, although, as a matter of fact, its importation of harvesters is of very slight dimensions.
– Hear, hear. The company has only just started its operations here.
– Eleven out of every twelve of the imported harvesters are manufactured by the Massey-Harris Company. A false impression has thus been designedly created in the public mind in regard to the operations of the International Harvester Company here. When the action’ of the Minister was challenged in another place, and in the press, the Minister of Defence made this statement, which is reported on page 518 of Hansard -
At first the machines were invoiced at ~£i8, hut that price was raised by a previous Minister of Customs to £38’.
He added - page 519 of Hansard -
The machines were ut first invoiced at j£a8 or £29, and the company at that time represented that as a fair value.
The Minister of Trade and Customs was interviewed by reporters of the Age and Argus last week, and his utterances were similarly reported in the issues of those newspapers of Saturday, last. The Age report is as follows: -
I was listening in the Senate for some time to the statements of Senators Cray and Pulsford about raising the duty. Why did .they not say something about Mr. McLean’s having raised the assessment to ^48 10s. when the invoice price was £26?
It will hardly be believed that there is only the slightest substratum of truth in the statements made by the Ministers I have quoted on this very important question. As a matter of fact, the Massey-Harris Company, which imports eleven out of every twelve of the harvester machines which come to Australia, has always imported its machines at the one price. Its valuation has not altered to the slightest extent. I have here every invoice which has been passed by the company since it commenced to import harvesters into Australia. Every machine has been invoiced at 185 dollars, or £38 os. 3d. These two Ministers have therefore - no doubt unwittingly - misled the public to a considerable extent.
– At what price does the company sell its machines?
– T will come to that in due time. The invoiced price of the International Harvester Company’s machines was 150 dollars, or ,£31. There were certain charges which they were allowed to deduct, but the Customs authorities decided that their machines should be assessed at the same value as those of the Massey-Harris Company. Naturally the Massey-Harris Company did not object to that; but in fairness to the International Harvester Company it should be stated that their machines are 5 cwt. or 6 cwt. lighter than the machines imported by the Massey-Harris Company, and that that would probably account for the difference in value. The defence put forward by the Customs officials for the action of the Minister does not constitute a statement in accord with the facts. At the urgent solicitation of Mr. McKay, inquiries were made in the Argentine Republic and Canada as to the prices of these machines, and the inquiries in the former country resulted satisfactorily. As far as Canada is concerned, the Canadian Government, at the special request of the Commonwealth Government, made exhaustive inquiries into the valuation of these machines, and reported in a letter dated October 20, 1904, and addressed to the Collector of Customs in Victoria, as follows: -
Upon careful investigation and examination of the books of the Massey-Harris Company, I am satisfied that the invoice price for stripper harvesters, viz.,183 dollars, with 2 dollars extra for poles and adjustments, represents a fair wholesale market value of these machines.
It is also worthy of note in this connexion that Mr. Smart, the Collector of Customs, stated on the 6th October, 1904, “ previous analyses of the Massey-Harris valuations for other machines have resulted satisfactorily for the firm.” Now we may ask ourselves what is the reason for the action of the Minister. He alleges that fresh evidence has come before him as to the values of these machines, which justified him in increasing the valuation for duty by £23 or £24. I desire to read that evidence. I call it evidence in deference to the Minister, but it is not evidence in the ordinary acceptation of the term. I shall first proceed to read a statutory declaration made by a. rival manufacturer as follows; -
I, Samuel McKay, of Bourke-street, Melbourne, in Victoria, manager, do solemnly and sincerely declare -
That I am sales manager in the employ of H. V. McKay, of Melbourne, machinery manufacturer.
That the lowest price at which stripper harvesters imported from Canada and the United States of America are sold to the farmers in Victoria and South Australia is £81 net cash, delivered at the railway station at Melbourne or Adelaide, as the case may be. That the lowest price at which such stripper harvesters are sold to farmers in the other States of the Commonwealth is£84.
That the said H. V. McKay’s price for stripper harvesters of the same size, manufactured by him, and sold on the same terms, is two or three pounds higher than that charged for Canadian and United States machines, as set forth in paragraph 2 of this declaration.
That hereunto annexed, and marked withthe letter “A,” is a true copy of a letter received by me from W. De Haan, of Milan, Italy, and hereunto annexed, and marked “ B,” is a true copy of the copy letter from the Massey-Harris Company Limited, referred to in the said letter from W. De Haan.
That in my opinion the prices set forth in the said copy letter from the Massey-Harris Company Limited are fair and reasonable as wholesale prices.
That the said H. V. McKay’s wholesale price for stripper harvesters 5 feet wide, in the case of exports to other countries outside the Commonwealth, is£70 delivered in ship at Melbourne f.o.b.
That I consider from £60 to£63 at port of shipment is a fair wholesale price for Canadian and United States stripper harvesters, and I believe that such machines are invoiced at these prices in exporting to places other than Australia.
Sworn 26th day of June, 1905.
Now I shall read De Haan’s letter to Mr. McKay : -
Via Parini I., 10th May, 1905.
Mr. H. V. McKay, Melbourne.
Dear Sir, - I beg to acknowledge receipt of your cablegram, which I have deciphered as under : - “ The report is utterly false, we have not closed, do nothing until you hear from me, please send Canadian letter quoting machines.”
I have pleasure in enclosing you a copy of the letter in question for your own private information, and await your instructions as to what I must do with the machines at present lying in Naples.
Yours very truly,
Honorable members will notice Mr. McKay’s standard of personal integrity. I shall next read the alleged copy of a copy of a letter, the original of which is not in Australia, and has not been seen by any one in Australia. This is the only evidence that the Minister can bring forward to justify his action. It is not evidence upon which any one could recover 2s. 6d. in the smallest petty debts court, or on which any man could be committed for trial on the most trivial charge. It was certainly not testimony upon which the Minister should exercise his judicial function. It was written by the agents of the Massey-Harris Company in London, and reads as follows: -
London, 3rd April, 1905.
Mr. W. De Haan, Milan.
Dear Sir, - We are in receipt of your favour of 1st inst., and are sending under separate cover copy of our English catalogue giving description of stripper harvester. We have sold large numbers of this machine in Australia and South America. As you no doubt understand, this machine can only be used in warm dry climates, where the grain is ready to be threshed or as soon as it is cut. So far we have not introduced them in Europe, as, unless in the extreme south, we are doubtful if the climatic conditions would be suitable. We have, however, arranged for two or three to be tried this year in Algeria and Tunis, and there is also one at present on the way from the works for Italy. Messrs. Del Palo Pardi and Co. have arranged for it to be tried in June next in the southern part of Italy. If you are interested in this machine, and would care to be present at these trials, we should be pleased to advise you later as to the exact date when they will take place. The machine is manufactured in two sizes, 41/2 ft. comb and 5 ft. comb. Prices would be as follow : - 41/2 ft. stripper harvester complete …£65 5ft”” - £67 delivered in cases c.i.f., Genoa or Naples.
– This is the statement, not of the Massey-Harris Manufacturing Company, at Toronto, but of one of their agencies, and was made to an individual who might be desiring to purchase a single machine. There is nothing on the face of the correspondence to show whether the order was given for a single machine, or for a large number, and Mr. McKay and Mr. De Haan carefully refrained from sending a copy of the letter from Mr. De Haan to the Massey-Harris agents in London, which would show the number of machines for which the company was quoting. On the face of the correspondence it is as reasonable for us to suppose that a quotation was given for a single machine as that it related to a wholesale order. One would think that, in view of the fact that the Collector of Customs had stated that previous analyses of values had always resulted in favour of the firm concerned, the Minister would have called on that firm for an explanation. There was a draft letter on the file, which was to have been written to the firm asking for an explanation, and it bears on its face very significant evidence of wirepulling. It is marked “ to stand over until Mr. Smart has seen Mr. McKay.” That is the way in which the Minister has exercised his judicial function.
– If the honorable and learned member would look at the date he would see that I was not in office at that time.
– That does not clear the Minister.
– It shows up the honorable and learned member.
– The Minister knew that there was a serious charge hanging over the head of the company. They were charged with having committed a series of gigantic frauds whereby the Customs had been robbed of thousands of pounds, and yet the Minister did not think it necessary to call upon them for an explanation.
– What the honorable and learned member says constitutes a serious charge against the Minister.
– What is the date?
– The 3rd of April, 1905.
– Then the honorable and learned member is trying to mislead the House.
– That is the date of the letter from the Massey-Harris Company, London. I do not know the date upon which the memorandum quoted was written, because the individual who wrote it was ‘cute enough not to attach a date.
– Who wrote it?
– It is a memorandum written on official paper, and must have been made by some officer in the Department.
– - The honorable and learned member is full of innuendos.
– How could the honorable and learned member tell us the name of the officer who wrote the. minute ; he does not run about the Departments in the way that some people do.
– What the honorable member has stated is not evidence.
– The position is this: We have a statement by the Collector of Customs that previous analyses of the company’s valuations had resulted in their favour. That is to say, their valuations had been found to be true. After that an allegation was made, based, not upon any evidence that would be accepted in any court of justice, but upon a mere copy of a copy of a letter, and yet the Minister, before exercising his judicial functions, did not call upon the people concerned for an official explanation. That in itself is sufficient to condemn the action of the Minister. He was told that the price of these machines was from£65 to£67 c.i.f. delivered at Genoa or Naples. He knew very well that no duty was charged on packing or inland freight, and, further, that no duty was chargeable on ocean freight or insurance. The cost of these items upon the transfer of a harvester to Australia would amount to about£12, and if were a true valuation, the £12 represented by the charges mentioned should be deducted from the total amount. Other transport charges have to be incurred before the machine can be laid down in the warehouse. It has to be taken off the boat, and it has to pay wharfage rates, which, in Victoria, amount to from 30s. to 35s. upon each machine^ and it has then to be carted to the warehouse. The cost of transport from Toronto in Canada to the warehouse aggregates nearly ,£15, and the duty amounts to an additional £5. Consequently the cost of transport plus the dutytotals about £20. The retail price of the machine is j£8$- If these charges are deducted, it will be seen that £60 represents approximately the cost of manufacture, together with the local profit and cost of distribution. I say “ cost of distribution “ advisedly, because that item represents one of the heaviest in the sale of these machines. If honorable members will read the evidence given before the Tariff Commission by Mr. McKay, the manufacturer of the Sunshine Harvester, and Mr. James Moore, the manager of Messrs. T. Robinson and Company, who are also manufacturers of harvesters, they will see that those gentlemen have sworn that it costs about ^22 to sell a machine.
– That would make the cost of the harvesters about £60.
– I have already admitted that. I have said that the fixed charges, together with the transport charges from Toronto, aggregate £20. If the honorable member will knock off another ,£20 for the cost of distribution, he will see that the price is reduced to £40.
– It leaves the cost of the local machine at about £60
– I shall be able to show the honorable member that it does not. If he reduces the cost of the local machine to £60, he must expect the local manufacturer to sell it without making any profit whatever. In the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, it is shown that one of the largest manufacturers in South Australia - I refer to Messrs. J. Martin and Company - were selling these machines in 1902 for £60. I have here a telegram from a leading constituent of mine, a farmer at Murtoa, to whom I wrote in reference to this question. It reads as follows : -
Martin last year £jo less 10 per cent., three or four machines. This year no quotation. G. Degenhardt.
That is to say,, that Messrs. Martin and Company were prepared to retail these machines in 1902 for ^63 cash. Yet the Minister of Trade and Customs declares that notwithstanding all the charges which have to be paid upon these machines in transport - charges which amount to ,£20 - their true value at Toronto is £65
– Who is Mr. Martin?
– The firm of Martin and Company are well-known manufacturers of agricultural implements. They are established at Gawler, in South Australia. All this information is in print - it is in the hands of honorable members. I have not quoted any statement except the cost of transport, with which honorable members could not make themselves familiar in a very short time. I repeat that the transport charges and duty upon each machine aggregate £20. The various items included in that amount have been shown to me, and I believe that each and every one of them can be verified up to the hilt. The contract for freight can be proved, and it can also be conclusively established that the fixed charges, from Toronto in Canada, inclusive of the duty,i amount to £,20. The position, therefore, is that the Minister has increased the valuation of these machines in an exceedingly arbitrary way. He has branded as a swindling concern, without even calling upon it for an explanation, a firm which his own Department declares has a good record, since every previous investigation has resulted in its favour Instead, the company in question merely received a curt notice that the Minister had decided to increase the valuation of these machines. I am quite satisfied that his two predecessors in office- the honorable member for Gippsland and the honorable member for Wide Bay - would have asked for some further explanation before taking such drastic action. The Minister should recollect that in administering his Department he discharges a judicial function which is not usually performed before both sides have been heard. The Massey-Harris Company has entered into contracts for the supply of harvesters during the coming season to my constituents, and to other members of the farming community. Each of these contracts will involve that firm in a loss if the Minister’s action requiring them to pay ^3 extra upon each machine is upheld. We, who represent farming constituencies - the users of these machines to a great extent - cannot too strongly reprobate an action which increases a burden upon them, without proper inquiry having first been made. Parliament never intended1, when it passed the Customs Act and the Customs Tariff Act, to invest the Minister with unlimited power to fix the duty which should be imposed. The power vested in him was intended to be used only after proper investigation and inquiry. There has been no proper inquiry in the present instance, and the firm charged with fraud has never even been asked for an explanation. It seems to me, therefore, that the Minister has acted in an arbitrary way, and one which calls strongly for an explanation from him. I much regret that in a matter of this kind, which also involves the interests of a large section of the community, the good name of a company which distributes £55,000 annually in wages in Australia should be impugned,; and its contracts for the supply of machines for this vear should be questioned, without first calling upon it for a single word of explanation.
– I hope that this matter will be discussed without the introduction of any side issues. I take it that this House ought to see that justice is done. Believing, as I do, in freedom of trade, I naturally desire that these imports should be admitted at their fair value, and I hold that every protectionist should also be imbued with the same idea. If the Minister’s action was prompted by a desire to prevent fraud upon the revenue, he has done the right thing, but he has done it in the wrong way. Personally I am of opinion that he should have prosecuted these gentlemen if he could prove that they had committed fraud. Whenever the Minister is doing a fair thing to protect the revenue - although I do not believe in protection - I am prepared to stand by him. I will say at once, however, that in this matter, at any rate, he has made a mistake. I think it can be conclusively proved out of the mouths of the gentlemen who sought to get this higher valuation placed upon the machines that the price which he has put upon them is absolutely too high. May I just say - according to the evidence of Mr. McKay and Mr. Moore before the Tariff Commission - that the expense of distributing them is very heavy. Both Mr. Moore, the manager for Messrs. Robinson, and Mr. McKay himself, state that the cost under this heading amounts to 27 per cent. What does that represent upon the valuation put upon the machines bv the Minister? He estimates their value at £65. the duty chargeable upon them is */~,S 2s. 6d., and the cost of distributing them - that is 27 per cent, upon the selling price - works out at £21: 7s. 6d., thereby raising the total price of the machine to £95. That is to say, the Massey-Harris Company are selling at £&t, spot cash, a machine, which, according to the valuation placed upon it by the Minister, should be sold at
– Was not that 27 per cent, based upon the price previously quoted ?
– No. It is based upon the selling price of the machine to the farmer. Consequently this machine ought to be sold at £95, and even then the importer would derive no profit from the transaction. If the valuation placed upon it by the Minister is correct, namely, 6052 and the Massey-Harris Company sell it at £81 - in view of the incidental expenses incurred - they must lose £14 upon each machine. It is apparent, therefore, that the Minister’s valuation is altogether too high.
– Why do not the firm take legal action?
– They cannot; but the Minister should give them the right to do so. In giving evidence before the Tariff Commission, both Mr. Moore and Mr. McKay swore that the material used in the machines which they manufacture costs about £26. Mr. Moore’s statement will be found on page 1034 of the official report, question j 5833, and Mr. McKay’s upon page 1067, question i672!2. The latter also states that the cost of the labour employed represents less than 30 per cent, of the cost of manufacture. Let us assume that it represents one-third of that cost. We then have this position - the cost of the material in each machine is £26, and the cost of labour is one-third of the total cost of the machine; this makes the price of the machine £39. This estimate is based upon evidence given bv Mr. McKay and Mr. Moore when before’ the Tariff Commission. According to their own evidence, the cost of the material in their machines is just about that at which some imported machines were invoiced, namely, £26. I do not think that the material which they use costs as much as has been estimated. I am not going to accuse Mr. McKay, or any of the local manufacturers, of having made untrue statements, but one cannot read their evidence before the Tariff Commission without realizing that they are rivals, and that their statements must have been tainted, at all events, with a desire in the direction of quoting the highest price possible in order that their competitors might be placed in a position in which they could not compete with them as well as hitherto. Tak- ing the Tariff Commission’s report, what do we find >as to the cost of material? According to Mr. Moore, American iron, the material which they use in the manufacture of their machines, is sold here at ^10 per ton. I was under the impression that they used steel for this purpose, but Mr. Moore informed the Commission that American iron was employed, and that it was obtainable here at the price I have mentioned. The weight of one of the Massey-Harris machines is, roughly speaking, 30 cwt., and 30 cwt. of raw material, at 10s. per cwt., brings out the cost at £1$. If we allow for a possible loss of 20 per cent, of material in the course of construction., the price of the material is increased to ;£i8, so that a reasonable deduction from the evidence of Mr. McKay and Mr. Moore is that the price of the raw material used in the manufacture of one of their machines is not £26, as they suggest, but about ^18. On that basis, the cost of the machine is considerably less than £39- Mr. McKay informed the Commission that the labour involved in the manufacture of one of these machines was worth about 30 per cent, of the cost of the machine. Assuming that it is equal to the cost of the material, we find that the total cost of the machine is shown to be ,£36, or less. Mr. Moore stated that these machines were not wholly manufactured here. Certain small parts are imported and put together here, and these, which are the most expensive, according to Mr. Moore, cost from 2 A-d. to 3d. per lb. Let us assume that the cost is 2fd. per lb. The weight of the machine is 3j332 lbs., or, roughly speaking, 30 cwt., and this, at £1 5s. 8d. per cwt., works out at ^38 ros. The price of the machine is therefore shown by these figures to be that at which the imported article is invoiced. A perusal of the evidence given before the Tariff Commission shows that the price at which the Massey-Harris machines are invoiced is the correct one. In corroboration of this statement,/ let us take the case of a reaper and binder, which is entered for the purposes of the Customs at £20 8s. The weight of one of these machines is 1,835 lbs., and on these figures the cost runs out at 2-7od., or a little less than 2$d. per lb. A MasseyHarris machine, which is entered at £38 ros., weighs 3,332 lbs., so that the cost in that case is 2”78d., or a little over 2fd. per lb. This strongly supports the contention that the price at which the Massey-Harris machines are invoiced is correct. There could be no motive for entering reapers and binders below their true price. They bear no duty and it is reasonable to assume that they are invoiced at a fair price. The cost of manufacturing one of these machines is “greater in proportion than is the cost of a stripper harvester. When we find such corroboration as this in the evidence given before the Tariff Commission, we must be forced to the conclusion that the importers of stripper harvesters have entered them for the purposes of the Customs Department at a fair price. The cost of making stripper harvesters in Victoria is greater than it is abroad, because both Mr. Moore and Mr. McKay admitted that the manufacturers in Canada and America specialize more than do the manufacturers in Australia. They admitted that the Canadian manufacturers used more machinery in turning out their stripper harvesters than was employed by manufacturers in these States. Looking at the question from every stand-point, we must agree (that the imported machines have been invoiced at a fair price, and that it is absolutely unfair that they should be called upon to bear an increased duty. We are told that Mr. McKay and other local manufacturers are deserving of some consideration. If the importers w:ere banded together to destroy competition with the object ultimately of securing an increased price for their machines I could understand action being taken to prevent such a thing; but they are not. Mr. McKay admitted when before the Tariff Commission that he had not reduced the price of his machines to the level desired by the others. Therefore, if there is a combination to keep up the price of these machines, Mr. McKay is a member of it. In any event, he was the man who stood out against a reduction of the price. That is shown by his evidence before the Tariff Commission. Notwithstanding this, we are told that the local manufacturers are those who keep down the price. I have marked certain passages in the report of the evidence given before the Commission by Mr. McKay, and will read some of them, because I desire to impress upon the House the point that I have just made. Sympathy has been extended to Mr. McKay on the ground that he is fighting the battle of the farmers. But is he doing so? What is his object? He has entered upon this industry with! a desire to drive out all competition, and as on a former occasion he sought to get a higher price than other manufacturers proposed, we may reasonably assume that when he has succeeded in shutting out all competition, he will obtain a still higher price for his machines. And yet we are told that he is acting in the interest of the farmer. I ask honorable members to listen to the following quotation from the report of his evidence before the Tariff Commission : -
Were you or other Victorian makers selling in South Australia more cheaply than in Victoria prior to 1904? - No. We got on the average ^”5 more in South Australia than we got in Victoria.
You as a matter of fact got a higher price all along? - We make a good article, and can command a high price.
Hut you got a higher price than the others? - Yes.
You are getting a higher price now? - Slightly. They allow us to go only £5 ahead of the combination.
Do they allow you, or was it that you would not come into the agreement otherwise? - They insisted that I should not sell £5 ahead of them. They said that I must come nearer. I would prefer to get £5 more.
This is the gentleman who seeks the sympathy of the House and of the whole community on the ground that he is doing what he can to help the farmer. He has from the first stood out for a higher price for his machines, and no sympathy should be extended to him or to any one else who resorts to such tactics. He would certainly be deserving of consideration if he were fighting against competition, with a view to keeping down prices ; but we should show no sympathy for men who are simply monopolists - who are members of a combination not for the benefit of the farmer, but with a view to enrich themselves.
– Does any man enter into business except in his own interest?
– That is my point. But when men profess to be philanthropists, and seek assistance from us, they should certainly show that their professions have some basis. Every man has a right to do what he can for himself in the conduct of his business.
– That is all that Mr. McKay is doing.
– Throughout his evidence, Mr. McKay sought to show that it was the local men who were keeping down the prices. I have proved by quotations from his evidence, however, that that is not the case, and that on the contrary he has endeavoured, as far as possible, to keep up the price of these machines. The Minister should take these facts into consideration. I have no desire to harass him or any one else, nor do I wish that the imported machines should be allowed to come in bearing one fraction of duty less than that which is payable on their fair cost. As the result of my inquiries, and of a careful investigation of the evidence given before the Tariff Commission by Mr. McKay and Mr. Moore, I am satisfied that the imported machines have been invoiced at their fair price. Mr. McKay is a rival manufacturer, and it is strange that the Minister should take the testimony of a rival without calling upon those against whom this charge is made for any evidence that they may be able to produce. The question should be dealt with bv the Minister in a judicial manner. The House should not tolerate or allow any other manner of dealing with such a matter, no matter what views we may hold on the fiscal question. Those views should not be allowed to enter into our consideration of the matter, but we should see that justice is done to every man, whatever position he may occupy, and the Minister should not be permitted to raise duties at his own sweet will. If that course is desired to be taken, let it be submitted to the House in a proper way, for open discussion. I have pleasure in supporting the motion. I do not make any charge against the Minister, who, I believe, has taken this step in his zeal for protection, I think that he has allowed his zeal to outrun his discretion. I trust that he will look more carefully into the matter than he has done, and try to give a judicial decision on the right kind of evidence.
– I wish to approach the consideration of this matter in ways perhaps rather different from those of the honorable and learned member for Wannon and the honorable member for New England. I recognise that my chief in the House is the honorable member for Gippsland, who is a good protectionist, and was lately Minister of Trade and Customs. I consider that the present Minister has, perhaps unwittingly, cast a slur on that honorable member’s administration by his recent action in this matter.
– How long has the honorable member given in his allegiance to that chief?
– The honorable member may not be aware of the fact, which I now tell him publicly, that I have been a protectionist all my life.
– Long before the honorable member for Bourke was a protectionist.
– I may not be a protectionist in the sense in which some honorable members on the other side are, but I have always stood up for the principle of reasonable protection.
– And followed freetraders.
– I have followed men who would not bow down to Socialism, and I hope I always shall continue to be with such men in politics, and never demean myself, either publicly or privately, like honorable members who sit on the Ministerial benches, at the beck and call of other honorable members.
– Will the honorable member discuss the question before the House ?
– The great and important question of preferential trade enters into the consideration of this matter, because one of the principal firms involved is one which does all its work in Canada. I am a very strong believer in the principle of preferential trade. I hope that before very long some means will be brought about by the medium of an Imperial conference in London whereby the system of preferential trade may be started and carried on. Inasmuch as the Minister is a great and strong believer in preferential trade, and has delivered some able lectures on the subject, I hope that he will bear in mind that he has been acting very unjustly to a firm which is carrying on its work in a part of the British dominions. If we wish to bring about inter-imperial trade throughout the British dominions, it is absolutely necessary that every possible consideration shall be given by us to manufacturers existing in every part of the British dominion so long as they are not acting detrimentally to the interests of manufacturers in Australia. Another point to be considered is the interest of the farmers. It has been shown bv the honorable and learned member for Wannon and the honorable member for New England that the farmers have not been receiving that consideration to which they are entitled. The evidence which has been taken by the Tariff Commission and1 the evidence which has been given by honorable members here today clearly point to the fact that these machines ought to be sold to the farmers - if the evidence of Mr. McKay before the Tariff Commission is correct, and as it was given on oath we must presume that it is - at a very much lower price than they are, and the tendency ought to be in that direction. I notice one fact in regard to his evidence, and that is that he desires to have the fixed duty of ^25 put on each machine, and is willing to give an undertaking in that case that the manufacturers in Victoria will not increase the price to the farmer. I can very well understand bis doing that, because if that were brought about it would! be his fixed intention to get £81 for a machine, whereas the tendency should be, both in his factory and in all other places, that when the initial cost of production has been paid for by the earlier users the price should be very considerably reduced. The farmer should have these machines sold to him at a lower rate. I think that the tendency will be in that direction, but it cannot be if the Minister should uphold the action which he has, in my opinion, rather hastily taken. I hope that he will carefully consider all the evidence which has been submitted in the House, and evidence which he can very, easily obtain outside the House if he desires to get further information on the subject; and1 if he is convinced that he has done an .injustice to the farmers and to the people who are supplying the wants of the farmers, I trust that it will be remedied at once. From the papers laid upon the table in the library, I find that he has acted principally upon the evidence of a communication which has been received by Mr. McKay from a Mr. W. De Haan, of Milan, in Italy. I need not dwell very much on the fact that it is only a copy of a copy of an original letter. We can presume for the moment that it is perfectly correct in all its’ statements. It is a peculiar fact that, although the honorable member for Gippsland was in charge of the Department of Trade and Customs, and this letter was lying in that Department for some time before he left office, it was not submitted to him for his consideration.
– Yes, it was; on the day before he left office.
– If the letter was submitted to the honorable member for consideration, as the Minister says, on the day before he left office-
– Yes ; and byandby I shall show the honorable member what he said.
– In that case, the honorable member for Gippsland had no time to consider the letter. But I think that the Minister is scarcely correct in saying that it was submitted to the late Minister, because I understand he has stated that it was not submitted to him.
– At any rate, I have the word of the Comptroller-General of Customs that it was submitted to him.
– I think I have the word of the late Minister that it was not submitted to him.
– Is there anything on the papers to show that it was submitted to him ?
– The letter, even if submitted to the late Minister, was not submitted as early as it ought to have been, and when it was submitted he had no time to take any action. When a quotation is asked with regard to this or any other kind of machine, it is very necessary to know whether the transaction is to include one, or ten, or one hundred machines. I presume that the number of machines wanted makes a very considerable difference in the price quoted. I do not know whether Mr. De Haan was acting as a wholesaler, or as a retailer who intended to apply the machine to his own use in Italy. Another point to be considered is whether he was a genuine man in the transaction, or whether he was simply used by Mr. McKay - perhaps sent there for the purpose - to get this information. Has he any connexion with the Mr. De Haan of whom we heard in Australia not so very long ago in regard to some Customs matters? As regards the quotations asked for from the firm of Massey-Harris in London, one fact has to be borne in mind, We all know to our cost that when we buv machines of this kind a little bit has to stick to all the hands through which they may pass. So that I presume that the firm in London would take a profit out of the business. The quotations were asked for by the firm of Del Palo Pardi and Company, of Genoa, and I presume that they also would require to make something. It must be remembered that ^65 was a c.i.f. quotation, including insurance and freight. If we add these amounts to the manufacturer’s cost, it will be found - with the profits that would have to be made by Del Palo Pardi and Company, by Massey-Harris Company, London, and, with additions for freight, packing, and shipping charges - that the price of the machines would be about £40, which was the price accepted by the former Minister of Trade and Customs. According to the quotation made by the honorable member for New England from the evidence given before the Tariff Commission - and this can lie verified - Mr. Moore and Mr. McKay stated that the machine could actually be manufactured for ^35. Taking into consideration the weight of metal in a harvester, and the actual cost of its construction, it will be admitted by any honorable member who has any knowledge of machinery that, intrinsically, a harvester is not worth anything like ,£81.
– Can the honorable member buy one for less?
– No; because Mr. McKay has entered into a combination to keep up the price.
– Who brought about that combination ?
– I cannot answer that question, but Mr. McKay came into it, and has assisted to keep up the price of harvesters.
– If he had not entered into the combine, he would have been crushed out.
– I do not see that at all. The facts - if the honorable member will only look into them without prejudice - show that Mr. McKay could not have been crushed out, because he had the benefit of a protective duty of 12 J per cent, under the Tariff, added to which freight, shipping charges, insurance, and other expenses bring up the advantage to 50 per cent, ad valorem. That is an exceedingly high rate of duty, as even the honorable member for Melbourne Ports must admit.
– I admit that the honorable member’s statements are utter rubbish.
– It seems to me that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports is an authority on these matters. He appears to be a special authority on most matters, including whisky distilling.
– Where does that come in?
– It comes in at Melbourne Ports.
– I think the honorable member must have had some.
– I consider that that is a reflection upon my character, because I can assure the honorable member that I have not consumed any Melbourne Ports whisky or any other whisky in the whole course of my life. I am not a whisky drinker. But that has nothing to do with the question of harvesters. I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to the fact that amongst the papers laid on the library table there is one written by Mr. Mills, the chief clerk of his Department, addressed to the Massey-Harris Company, asking for an explanation. That was a perfectly fair thing to do. But there is a memorandum upon the document, ordering that it should be held over. The letter was never sent. The Massey-Harris Company were therefore branded as being rogues without being called upon to explain. I think that the Minister might really have extended to this firm the courtesy of asking them for an explanation ; or, if he did not intend to treat them courteously, he should have seized the goods, and instituted a prosecution.
– Would there not have been a howl then ?
– No; because as soon as the firm interested have fulfilled their existing contracts in Australia for this year, they invite the Minister to seize every machine that comes into this State, to add 10 per cent.,, and to deal with it according to section 161 of the Customs Act.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I was somewhat surprised that honorable members opposite should have seen fit to attempt to raise the fiscal issue in this discussion. That was what the honorable and learned member for Wannon did when he said that the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs doubled the amount of duty, and doubled the burden on the people purchasing harvesters. To my mind it is simply a question of the protection of the revenue. I have had an opportunity to look through the papers in connexion with the subject. The concluding remarks of the honorable member for Corangamite are contradicted by the statement of those who are importing harvesters. The honorable member said that the question ought to be put point blank to the importers, whether they would allow the Customs Department to take over the machines at invoice price, plus 10 per cent. They were asked that question, and emphatically replied, “ No.”
– They emphatically say, “Yes” now.
– 1 make my statement upon the authority of the official papers.
– The Minister does not need to secure the permission of the importers.
– The papers show that in the course of an interview between the late Minister of Trade and Customs, and the representatives of the International Harvester Company - I believe Mr. Shields was named as one of the representatives - the .question was put clearly, and definitely : “Are you prepared to allow the Customs Department to take over your machines under the usual conditions “ ? Clearly and distinctly they said “ No.” I can understand that there may have been good reasons for that.
– Hear, hear. They had orders to fill.
– It may be said, “ Why did not the Minister exercise the power conferred upon him and seize the machines, as he had a right to do “ ? But we must consider the contracts that the importers had entered into. Let us be fair. It was stated by the honorable and learnedmember for Wannon that the Minister’s action had increased the burdens of people who purchase harvesters.
– The burdens have not yet been increased, but they will be.
– It is all very well to make wild, whirling statements on the floor of this House, and leave those statements to stand alone.
– Do not be angry.
– I am not ‘at all angry, but I like fair dealing.
– Then the honorable member ought to come over to this side.
– I hope I shall be fair in my dealings on whichever side of the House I sit. When a statement of that kind is made by an honorable member, who professes to be a farmer’s representative, he ought to lay before us some facts in support of his contention.
– What I said was that if the duty be raised, the price of the machines will be raised.
– There is no power within the province of a Minister of Trade and Customs to raise the duty on any article, without the authority of this House.
– But the Minister has done so.
– The Minister has not done so. What the Minister has done, has been to make an honest attempt - whether rightly or wrongly, has to be proved, but I think rightly - to protect the revenue of the Commonwealth. Take up the Commonwealth Gazette any day, and how many of those importers who are now so ready to defend this company, do we see fined for undervaluing goods and attempting to impose on the Customs revenue of the country ?
– What I say is that the analyses of the valuations of Massey-Harris have always been in favour of the firm. The honorable member cannot have read the documents.
– I ask the honorable member for Wannon to remember what he said a few moments ago, namely, that owing to the limitation of time in a debate like this, it is important that speakers should not be interrupted.
– There is no evidence whatever to support the statement of the honorable member for Wannon, that any burden will be imposed on the people by reason of the action of the Customs authorities.
– On the contrary, the burden may be reduced.
– There is no evidence that any increase in the price will be made by the manufacturers or importers of these machines. It is well known that if no machines were imported into the Commonwealth for the ensuing year, or from this time henceforward, the tendency would be for prices to come down.
– So it should be; that is what I contended.
– The importers took a most extraordinary stand in defence of their position. Whan the Minister .of Trade and Customs sought for further information than is disclosed in the papers, he asked that the matter might be referred to an arbitrator or umpire. What did the importers say ? Here is the statement of the representative of the company -
An ordinary engineer could not understand the expense attached to exporting, and would not be able to understand the methods of Canadian manufacturers as compared with Victorian.
What an absurd statement for a sane man to make, namely, that an engineer - an ex pert, who is qualified in the manufacture of machines in Australia, and who deals with machines of an exactly similar character - could not determine approximately the cost value ! The papers, which have been submitted, disclose the fact that the Customs authorities have not been able to ascertain the cost of the machines at the seat of manufacture.
– The machines are not used in Canada.
– I did not come here to be given that information by the honorable member for Corangamite.
– There is not one of those machines used in Canada.
– And that, of course, is the reason why those machines are not sold in Canada. Owing to climatic conditions, they are not used.
– Does the honorable member for Moira suggest that we should get an engineer from Canada to value the machines ?
– The authorities had an expert here, and an expert from Canada, and desired that an umpire should be called in, but the company refused point-blank to adopt such a course. If we go to another country to which these same machines have been exported, what do we find ? Although we apply to the fountain head, it is found absolutely impossible to get the invoiced value on a correct basis, simply because the company are doing in the Argentine exactly what they are doing here, namely, exporting to their own agents.
– In Buenos Ayres?
– How is it that the cost price of these machines cannot be obtained ?
– The cost price is ^41 in Buenos Ayres
– Where does the honorable member get that information ?
– From the GovernorGeneral’s telegram.
– That telegram, if the honorable member will be fair and quote the whole of it, says -
Buenos Ayres, ^41 ; agents do not wish values, known, and will not give them.
– There is another letter from Buenos Ayres.
– What I have read is: the official information, behind which this House cannot go.
– Is it an unnatural thing not to wish to disclose business?
– No, it is not. But why should we, on the other hand, condemn officers of the Customs Department, who occupy responsiblepositions, and are not here to defend themselves? It cannot foe denied that the Minister has acted under the advice, and on the recommendations, of his officers.
– It seems that the price in the Argentine is£41.
– Let us get back to the true position. The gentlemen who are importing these machines have “ got their foot in ‘ ‘ with binders throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and are now using all the power they possess to obtain control of the market for harvesters. This latter machine is well known to be a purely Australian invention, which was brought to perfection before ever the Americans attempted to make them. When the American agents, representing a close corporation, were travelling Australia with binders, and charging£50 and , £51 for implements invoiced through the Customs at £20, they utilized their opportunities to send the perfected harvester to America and Canada, and there have it manufactured, with a view to competing against the Australianmade machine. We know from experience of operations in other nations, that as soon as importers get control of the market the Australian manufacturer will be “ rubbed out.” This is the machine which helped Australians to produce wheat when wheat could not be grown under other conditions ; and when it is stated that the recent action of the Customs authorities will increase the burdens of the people, it is only fair that some proof should be produced. I am here as one engaged in the farming industry, and I am not going to have it said that I have ever done anything to impose burdens on myself, or on the particular class whom I in some degree represent. I am as much concerned as is any honorable member about the conditions under which the Australian farmer obtains his implements ; but, as I stated previously, I know that, as soon as the Australian manufacturer is “ rubbed out,” we are pinched by the foreign manufacturer every time. Binders are admitted duty free; but, if a part be broken, and a duplicate is wanted, three times the value is charged. And so with regard to the Australian harvester when it has to be replaced. I am mot here as the champion of any particular manufacturer or class of machine; but from past experience, I know that this machine was invented and perfected here at a cost price of , £100 to the farmer, and that before any American competition came into the field the price was down to£85. Throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth there are to-day practically only three importers, while I suppose there are something like thirty firms manufacturing these machines here; and I ask whether it is possible, considering the competition which will be created by the demand for labour-saving implements which are absolutely necessary in the graingrowing districts, that those manufacturers could control the market and fix the price?
– They have already done so.
– And what has been the chief factor in bringing about that result? Was it not a matter of selfpreservation? I do not wish to take up time unnecessarily, because I realize that this is not the place to discuss the question from the fiscal aspect. As it presents itself to my mind, the question is purely one of whether the Minister and officers of Customs are protecting the revenue. Incidentally there may arise the question of the enhanced price of the article under consideration, but there is no evidence, and, according to the experience of those who use the machines, there is not the remotest possibility of any increased cost by reason of the action of the Customs Department. I will go further, and say, as one of those using these machines, that if the Customs Department put the valuation up to , £100, it would not matter one cent, to the Victorian farmer, because he could get as good a machine at perhaps less coat than he is paving to-day.
– There cannot be the slightest doubt that had the action of the Minister of Trade and Customs been in the opposite direction of reducing the rate of duty, instead of increasing it, every one of the honorable members who have been approving and applauding the action which the Minister has taken in this case would have been anxious to be first in the field to condemn the honorable gentleman. I have looked through all the papers, in connexion with this case, laid on the Library table, and, from a very careful perusal of them, it seems to me that the Minister owes a very complete explanation to the House of his reasons for taking the action he did, because the papers do not disclose the slightest scintilla of excuse, or any foundation in fact, for his action. If there had been any excuse shown for his taking action against the Massey-Harris Company there were other means to which he might have had recourse under the Customs Act. The honorable gentleman might have proceeded under section 42, which reads as follows : -
The Customs shall have the right to require and take securities for compliance with this Act and generally for the protection of the revenue of the Customs, and pending the giving of the required security in relation to any goods subject to the control of the Customs, may refuse to deliver the goods or to pass any entry relating thereto.
I submit that the Minister could have taken action under that section, and the fact that he did not do so requires some explanation. I think also that some explanation is due from the Comptroller-General, and also from the Collector of Customs in Victoria, for their peculiar attitude in connexion with these imported harvesters, as disclosed by the papers. Again, section 161 of the Act might have been put into operation, without inflicting unnecessary hardship upon the importing company, while, at the same time, effectively protecting the revenue in the direction desired.
– Did not the company object to that ?
– It did not rest with the company to block departmental action by any objection, as the Minister had the right to take this action under the powers conferred upon him by the Act, and irrespective of any objection on the part of any outside party.
– I quite admit that.
– Section 161 reads as follows : -
I submit that, instead of dealing with this question in the drastic way in which he has dealt with it under section 160, the section under which the honorable gentleman acted, he should have had recourse to every reasonable means of dealing with the matter.
– The honorable member suggests that the Minister could have seized a shipment of the goods and could have sold them ?
– Undoubtedly he could have clone so if he suspected that the goods were undervalued. He had a right to do that under the section I have quoted. Again, section 214 provides -
Whenever information in writing has been given on oath to the collector that goods have been unlawfully imported, undervalued, or entered, or illegally dealt with, or that it is intended to unlawfully import, undervalue, enter, or illegally deal with any goods, or whenever any goods have been seized or detained, the owners shall immediately, upon being required so to do by the collector, produce and hand over to him all books and documents relating to the goods so imported, entered, seized, or detained, undervalued, or illegally dealt with, or intended to be unlawfully imported, undervalued, entered, or illegally dealt with, and of all other goods imported by him at any time within the period of five years immediately preceding such request, seizure, or detention, and shall also produce for the inspection of the collector or such other officer as he may authorize for that purpose, and allow such collector or officer to make copies of or extracts from all books or documents of any kind whatsoever wherein any entry or memorandum appears in any way relating to any such goods.
I submit that under that section the Minister had ample power to seize these goods and also to insist upon the production of all documents and books relating to the prices, not only of the particular goods seized, but of all goods which the firm had imported, notwithstanding they had passed through the Customs, for the previous five years. I submit that this is the course of action which the honorable gentleman should have taken had he reason to suspect that these goods were being undervalued. I further submit that this is the course which the Comptroller-General, the Collector of Customs, and the other officers concerned should have recommended the Minister to take before they recommended the course which the Minister did take. I think that an explanation is also due from the Customs officers of their reasons for not mak- ing this recommendation to the previous Minister, and for waiting until they knew they had a sympathetic Minister, or a Minister whom they had reasonable grounds to believe was sympathetic with their desire to increase the rate of duty on harvesters behind the back of Parliament. No powers should be placed in the hands of any officers of the State to go behind the back of Parliament, and raise duties which Parliament had fixed at a certain figure. I hope these explanations will be demanded by the House, and will be forthcoming. Dealing with the papers in the case, I find that the Comptroller-General acted upon information which had been supplied to him by Mr. McKay, a local rival manufacturer of harvesters. Acting upon advice probably received from that gentleman, or on suspicion engendered in his mind by the representations made by interested people, the Comptroller sent over to the Canadian Commissioner of Customs, Mr. McDougald, certain Massey-Harris invoices for perusal, inspection, and verification as to values, with a request for information as to the open market price - the open market price, I remind honorable members - in Canada of the Massey-Harris stripper-harvester. Mr. McDougald referred the letter sent to him and the invoices to Mr. S. W. Michael, Chief Inspector of Customs at Toronto, for full and complete investigation, and after making it the Chief Inspector reported : -
Upon careful investigation- no mere cursory examination - and examination of the books of the MasseyHarris Company^ I am satisfied that the invoice price for stripper harvesters, viz., $183 (about ^36 2s. 6d), with 82 extra (8s. 4d.) for poles and adjustments, represents the fair wholesale market value of these machines.
The Act provides that duty shall be assessed on the fair market value at the port of export, and not at the port of landing. In this case, about £38 10s. was the fair -value, as shown by the reports of the Canadian Customs authorities, on which duty should have been levied, plus the 10 per «ent. provided for by the Act, which would have brought the dutiable value up to something like £42. Prior to trie receipt of this report, the Collector of Customs for Victoria, Mr. Smart, sent a report to the Comptroller, bearing date 6th October, 1904, in which he says -
I am of opinion that the invoice value shown by the Massey-Harris Company for harvesters is correct. The value’ is about £12 in excess of the
International Harvester Company’s values for similar machines, which would be a reasonable profit. Previous analyses of Massey-Harris values for other machines have resulted satisfactorily for the firm.
Thus clearly showing that even before the Customs authorities obtained information from Canada the Collector of Customs in Victoria had been making inquiries from other sources, which led him to believe that the invoice prices quoted1 by this firm represented the true value of the goods imported. He emphasizes this opinion by stating that previous examinations and analyses of the Massey-Harris Company’s invoices had always resulted satisfactorily to the firm. That being so, there can be no reason for believing that the company would attempt to pass these goods on an undervaluation. Some time after the receipt of information from Canada, Mr. McKay again wrote to the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs, enclosing a declaration made before a justice of the peace, clause 4 of which reads as follows : -
That hereunto annexed and marked with the letter “A” is a true copy o£_.a letter received by me from W. De Haan, of Milan, Italy, and hereunto annexed and marked “ B “ is a true copy of the copy letter from the Massey-Harris Company Limited, referred to in the said letter from W. De Haan.
It will be observed that the original letter is not produced. Mr. McKay simply makes an affidavit that the letter which he sends is a true copy of a copy of a letter, and upon that flimsy statement the ComptrollerGeneral made a certain recommendation to the Minister, who acted accordingly. Dealing with this subject, the Secretary to the Minister wrote the following minute on the 28th July last : -
After tlie investigation by the Canadian Customs and information from Buenos Ayres, we were apparently on sure ground as to value for duly, but the information now furnished raises the most serious doubts. The statutory declaration of Mr. McKay, however, gives no first-hand information as to the Massey-Harris Company, and even in conjunction with the copy of a copy of a letter said to have been received by an Italian trader from the London house of the MasseyHarris Company, seems hardly to justify the exercise to their full extent of the powers conferred by section 214.
Mr. Smart wrote to the ComptrollerGeneral on the foregoing as follows : -
Upon the receipt of the letter of 22/10/04 from the Commissioner of Customs, Ottawa, Canada, the Department took the view that the invoice value of these goods was correct.
The further documents now under consideration, however, lead me to believe that the
Canadian information has been misleading - not that the officer who inspected the books of the firm had any intention to mislead.
Mr. Smart recommended the detention of the articles, presumably under sections 21.4 and 161 of the Act. But it must be borne in mind that the Canadian report confirmed the previous report of Mr. Smart.
– The time allowed to the honorable member by the Standing Orders has expired.
– I should like to say a few words before the Minister of Trade and Customs speaks. I understand that the discussion on the motion cannot, under the Standing Orders, extend beyond half-past 4, but if I speak for a quarter of an hour only, I shall leave the honorable gentleman plenty of time in which to reply.
– I should like to know whether, as I shall have only a quarter of an hour in which to answer all the charges that have been made, I may be allowed to speak a few minutes longer than the period allotted to honorable members under the Standing Orders?
– So far as I am concerned, I should like the Minister to have more time allotted to him, but I understand that the standing order closing the debate at half -past 4 o’clock is peremptory.
– Then I hope that the right honorable member will not make my time too short.
– No ; I shall speak only until ten minutes past 4. That will leave the Minister a full twenty minutes. Unfortunately my colleague, the late Minister of Trade and Customs, is not well enough to be in the House, and I think that I should address honorable members, in his absence, as representing him. The late Minister took enormous pains to get at the facts in this case. He made use of the kind offices of the British Government in several parts of the world. The Chief Officer of Customs in Canada made a personal inspection of the books and operations of this great firm at Toronto, and reported to the Government that he Was satisfied of three things : First, that the value placed by the firm was an absolutely fair one. It was tested in several ways. It was tested by actual sales to people abroad at Toronto value. It was tested by the rate of profit the company put on the actual cost of producing the machines, the Chief Inspector reporting that the rate of profit on the cost put on each machine when exported to Australia was actually the same as the rate of profit on the cost put on all other machines sent to other parts of the world.. So that there was a thorough investigation at the factory in Toronto. There was also, the test of a large contract with a wellknown firm in Adelaide, Messrs. Clutterbuck, who got the machines at a value of £45 each. In all these ways the late Government were satisfied that the valuation of .£38 10s. for export was a true and. proper one. My chief complaint is that the Minister and the Department did not bring this rival manufacturer’scharge before the notice of the persons concerned. Common justice, in view of all the trouble which the late Government had taken, should have led to that. Mr. McKay is a gentleman for whom I havethe greatest respect, and I am sure that no one wishes to see a great industry like his improperly injured. But I am speaking, entirely on the question of the administration of the law, which must be above all personal, considerations- We had Mr. McKay, a rival manufacturer, actually suggesting to the Department what theduty should be. He suggests, in hisletter enclosing the Italian letter, a valuation of ^63, plus 10 per cent., whichwould bring up the cost of the machines to the landed cost in Italy. But no man knows better than he that the landed cost in Italy must be a great deal more than the Toronto cost, because the freight onsuch bulky articles is enormous, and hemust have taken the Customs authorities for simpletons when he suggested a test of value which the law does not allow. The test of value is the actual invoice valuein the principal markets of the world, plus 10 per cent. Ten per cent, on ,-^38 is about £4, but the freight is about ^12.
– What freight?
– From Canada to Australia.
– Thirty shillings.
– That statement is absolutely false.
– The honorable member for New England said that the freight was- 30s.
– Well, it is an absolutely false statement.
– The weight of a machine is two tons, and the freight is 15s.: a ton.
– That statement is absolutely untrue. I want to put before the House what, to my mind, is the most extraordinary correspondence on this subject. No honorable member can’ justify it. The Comptroller-General of Customs, in his minute of 21st July, makes two opposite recommendations. He says in the typewritten part of the minute -
The correct value on which duty should be charged apparently is £65 or ^67, less freight and insurance charges.
But following that, in his own handwriting, he fixes an amount which clearly does not take those items into account in any way. Now I think it is a great pity, that this sudden action should have been taken. If these machines had been under-valued to the extent of £20 or ,£30, why did not the Minister take them over at the invoice valuation, plus so per cent. ? The Customs Act permits the Minister, in the event of a firm under-valuing its goods, to take them over at the invoice valuation, plus 10 per cent. If that course had been taken in this instance, no one would have had anyright to complain, and we should have been able to start a national organization for the dissemination of harvesters. We should not have been put to the trouble of manufacturing the machines, but could have taken them from the importers and have made a profit of £20 or £30 upon every machine. I am entirely with the Minister in his efforts to crush any kind of cheating or fraud at the Customs House. He will have every one, whatever his fiscal views may be, behind him in- that matter. But in administering the law he must endeavour to see that justice is done, even to the importer, who, in some senses, is an outcast. The worst feature of this matter is that Mr. McKay, a rival manufacturer, has dominated the whole of the action in the Customs House from first to last. When Mr. McKay made his sworn declaration that the value of these harvesters in Toronto was from £&3 to £65, he made a statement for which, I hope, he will never have to answer in a Court of justice. The Chief Inspector of Canadian Customs who, I think, we shall admit, is a man of some mark, was commissioned specially by his Government to make inquiries, and he ransacked the books of the Massey-Harris Company from top to bottom. Although thev stood the test, we have the statement of Mr. McKay to the effect that the company’s machines are worth £63 to ^65 in
Toronto. We have been told that the landed cost of the machines in Italy is £65. That includes all charges for freight and insurance, and also probably the cost of transhipment in London, and a number of other expenses. The expense connected with selling these machines under the system of advertising and commission adopted by the companies is enormous. As I have said, this is a matter of fair and honest administration as between man and man, and I utterly condemn the action of the Minister after all the trouble that had been taken by the late Government to sift the matter to the bottom. I do not say that the Minister has not acted as the head of his Department suggested, but I contend that it was altogether wrong for him fo proceed in the way that he did. I question whether the importers have any right of appeal against the determination of the Minister under section 160 of the Customs Act. But under the other provisions of the Act under which a summary: method can be adopted in dealing with any matter in dispute and doing justice, the importer pays the amount assessed, deposits it under protest, and afterwards has a right of appeal to the Law Courts against the decision of the Minister, But in exercising his powers under section 160. at the dictation of a rival manufacturer, the Minister has shut out the firm concerned from obtaining ordinary justice, and deprived them of an opportunity of being heard in their defence. The action taken was a gross abuse of the powers conferred by the Act. The worst feature of the case is that, instead of doing as Mr. Smart suggested, and seizing the books and documents of the firm, the Minister exercised his power in such a way as to deprive the Massey-Harris Company of any redress. If he had acted in the manner suggested by Mr. Smart, no one could have objected, because if the company had been doing anything wrong, they would have been fully exposed, and if thev had not been doing wrong, their books would have justified them. “Somehow, however, a section of the Act was deliberately chosen under which the Minister exercised powers which prevented the importer from obtaining any redress. The Minister practically increased the duty, on these harvesters by an arbitrary exercise of power, which was absolutely inexcusable after all that had been done by the previous Government. I have communicated with the late Minister of Customs upon this subject. As I have explained, he is too ill to attend the House, and I spoke to him to-day upon the telephone. It may he possible that this matter was submitted to him at the time that the fate of the late Ministry was in doubt, and that he would not then deal with it, but the fate of the Ministry was not in doubt until the 29th June. The papers date from the 14th June, when Mr. McKay sent in his letter. Then there was a suggestion on the 19th June, that the MasseyHarris Company should have an opportunity of explaining, and as the papers show Mr. McKay called at the Department on the 20th June. Then, on the 22nd June, the letter which was written to be sent to the Massey-Harris Company was stopped. All this was done behind the back of the late Minister. I have the distinct assurance of my honorable friend the late Minister of Trade and Customs that not one of these matters was referred to him from first to last between the 14th and the 28th June, when Parliament met, and, as we know, the political trouble began, and the Minister could not deal with them.
– The right honorable gentleman does not suggest that they were kept out of the way of the late Minister?
– No, I do not suggest that; I am merely mentioning the facts. We know that in a great department like that of the Customs, a paper might in the most innocent way get back a fortnight; but I desire to acquaint honorable members with the facts. The letter from Mr. McKay was not submitted to the late Minister on the 14th June, or upon any other date near it. But, putting that aside altogether, I say that, in view of the very strong doubt and the tainted source of his action - because if one man is dictating to the Customs against a rival trader the most infamous abuses may creep in - the Minister had no justification for the course he took. The Department has no right to set one business man against another, but its duty is to thoroughly sift all such matters as that now under consideration. The worst feature disclosed by these papers is the fact that Mr. McKay was taken into the confidence of the Department, and was allowed to suggest a duty to suit himself, whilst the men whose interests were being bartered away - the men who had satisfied the previous Government in the most thorough way - were kept in profound ignorance that anything was going on. That is my strong objection to what has been done.
– I have but a short time in which to reply to the many statements that have been made, and I shall be as brief as possible. First of all, I must express my regret that anything in the shape of insinuations have been made.
– Not to-day.
– I recognise that the honorable member for New England was not guilty in that respect, but I refer to the honorable and learned member for Wannon, who was not quite fair to me in the use he made of the copy of the letter written by the chief clerk in the Customs Department, Mr. Mills. He spoke as though I had directed that the letter should not be sent to the Massey-Harris Company.
– I did not for a moment suggest that.
– That was the inference. After the honorable and learned member had made his statements, I inquired of Mr. Mills as to the date upon, which his memorandum was written, and) he informed me that he wrote it on the 19th June, before I took office. I never saw the memorandum, or the letter, and I hone the honorable and learned member will now recognise that he was not fair tome in his reference to the matter. I do. not look upon the statements that have been made this afternoon as charges against nif. and I feel that I have no charges to answer. The statement I have to make is a very simple one. The papers were placed1 before me bv the Comptroller-General of Customs, who outlined the history of thecase. I did not look at the whole of thepapers, but only at some of them ; and I accepted what the Comptroller-General stated as being correct. I read the last pa ner, which contained the ComptrollerGeneral’s recommendation, and alsothe minute written by the Collector of Customs, Mr. (Smart, who suggested a more drastic course than that which I decided to follow. I venture to think that, if I had acted on Mr. Smart’s recommendation, we should have heard much stronger complaints than those which have been made to-day.
– There would be nothing underhand about that.
– The leader of the Opposition took exception to the first part of the minute written by the ComptrollerGeneral as being inconsistent with the view expressed in the last part of the- minute. In regard to that matter, I have received from the Comptroller-General the following minute: -
– Who informed him?
– I do not know. I have to accept his statement upon the matter. The Comptroller-General continues -
That is the statement of the ComptrollerGeneral upon that particular point.
– If the freight is what he alleges, I have not a word to say for the Massey-Harris Company. That is a simple issue. If the freight is what he declares it to be, I have not a word to say about the matter.
– A great deal has been made of the fact that I increased the valuation of these harvesters without any reference to the Massey-Harris Company. I may say that the International harvester was at one time imported here at an invoiced value of £26, and the late Minister of Trade and Customs increased itto £38. Why did not that Minister act as honorable members opposite suggest I should have done?
– The Minister has stated in the press that the valuation of that machine was increased to£48.
– No; that was a gross mistake. In reply to a press representative,, the other day, I said that the valuation was increased to£38. The late Minister of Trade and Customs might just as reasonably have been called upon to take possession of those £26 harvesters as I am called upon to take possession of the machines imported by the Massey-Harris Company. Reference has been made to certain inquiries which were made in Canada. From the very outset I acted upon the statements of the expert officers of the Department, upon whom I must, to a very large extent, depend - I refer to the Collector of Customs and the Comptroller-
General, who know every detail connected with the importation of goods and their invoice values. I should require very good reasons indeed before I would be warranted in over-riding their recommendations. After an inspector - I think his name was McMichael - had made inquiries in Canada regarding the cost of harvesters, those officers were dissatisfied, for. the reason that they could obtain no reliable valuation of these machines for Customs purposes. The question has been asked - and very pertinently, I admit, if there were no special circumstances to be considered - in view of this new development, why did not the Department again make inquiries in Canada ? I hold in my hand the copy of a letter which the Department had received from the Canadian Customs Department. Inquiries had been made regarding other matters, besides harvesters, and the following reply had been received: -
Ottawa, January 24th, 1905.
Department of Trade and Customs,
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your letter of the 8th ult., respecting the value for duty of a certain breakfast food known as “Orange Meat.”
In reply, I am to state that the Department is unable to meet your wishes in this instance, as the Minister decided some time ago that it was inadvisable for officers of the Customs in Canada to undertake inquiries in respect of such matters for Customs purposes in other countries.
Trusting yon may be able to get the information which you desire in the case irrespective of the Canadian Customs,
I have the honour to be, sir,
Your obedient servant, (Signed)John Mcdougald,
Commissioner of Customs.
In the face of that communication, were we to ask the Customs Department in Canada to undertake further inquiries on our behalf? Obviously we were prevented from doing anything of the kind.
– But the Massey-Harris Company were close at hand.
– I think that the right honorable member has already stated that one competitor should not be brought in as evidence against another. At that time, I do not believe that I had ever seen a member of either of the firms in question. I wish now to say one word in reply to the statement which has been made regarding my predecessor in office. All my information has been gleaned from the official papers. The following communication is from the ComptrollerGeneral : -
Mr. Smart (in my absence) saw Mr. McLean on the subject. The matter was under consideration when the House met, and then Mr. McLean told me he would not deal with any matter of this kind.
– That is right. When the crisis occurred, he would not deal with the matter.
– But Mr. Smart had seen the Minister, and had put the papers before him prior to that date. That is what I am informed by the Department. I sent a message to the Comptroller-General just now to ascertain if the statement is not true. Further, a little bird has whispered in my ear that the present leader of the Opposition knew that he had done so.
– All I can say is that that statement is absolutely untrue.
– I accept the right honorable member’s assurance. I have been informed twice during to-day that the International Harvester is practically the Massey-Harris machine, that the two firms form a combine and that their representatives met regularly in Melbourne to fix prices and freights, and to arrange mutual terms.
– They are alleged to be working together in America, anyhow.
– I am assured bv a very responsible person that they have entered into an arrangement regarding the nature of the evidence to be given before the Tariff Commission, and as to who is to give it.
– I think that the Minister ought to state the source of his information.
– I may tell the honorable and learned member that mv information was derived from the ComptrollerGeneral.
– He got it from somebody else, though.
– It is “information which I have received from the ComptrollerGeneral, whose word. I think, will be accepted. Moreover, I believe that his statement is true. If it is not, it can be disproved.
– That is the suggestion in regard to the duty.
– Seize the machines.
– The honorable member does not constitute the majority now.
– This morning T received the first communication that I have had from the Massey-Harris Com pany, in the form of a letter from their solicitors, Messrs. Gillott, Bates, and Moir. I handed it to the Comptroller-General, and asked him to tell me whether or not it contained facts. Its first paragraph reads as follows : -
We have been consulted by our clients, the Massey-Harris Company Limited, with reference to this matter, and the fact that you are reported in the Argus of the 5th inst. to have stated that the honorable the late Commissioner of Trade and Customs had raised the assessment of harvesters from £26 to £48 IOS., and that these machines were invoiced at the first-named price.
These statements and others made in the House appear to our clients to show - (a) That you had not been fully seized of all the facts in connexion with this matter ; (b) and the action taken by you, purporting to be under section 160 of the Customs Act 1901, was merely an approval of a recommendation by the comptroller or assistant comptroller ; (c) which recommendation is solely supported by an opinion of a gentleman who is a local competitor.
Remarks. - («) Gratuitous assumption implying my officers had concealed facts from me. (4) The Comptroller-General submitted to me a memo, giving the whole history of the matter, and recommending a certain course, which, after consideration, I approved of. The whole insinuation is an impertinence, implying that, as Minister, I did not do my duty, and that “my officers are unworthy of confidence, (c) This is simply not true.
The next paragraph in the letter is as follows : -
Under these circumstances, we are instructed to draw your attention to several facts, which, upon examination, you will find cannot be disputed.
The remarks on this paragraph are as follow : -
They first of all give their own colouring to the matter, and, assuming all their statements to be correct, proceed to make further assertions.
The solicitors for the Massey-Harris Company Limited went on to say in their letter that-
As to the statement that these harvesters under consideration were invoiced at ^26, the inference is that the Massey-Harris Company did bring in, or attempt to bring in, machines at that price, whereas no such attempt was ever made.
The remarks on this statement are as follow : -
No implication was made or inference drawn. I had what I deemed sufficient to go on to make use of powers committed to the Minister for “this special purpose, and such discretion was duly exercised.
According to the facts that are shown in the papers, many of the statements contained in this letter are a tissue of misrepresentation. I regret that I should have come into conflict with the Massey-Harris
Company, because they are a very energetic corporation. We have to remember, however, that they are also a wealthy octopus firm, practically controlling the machine trade in Canada., and that if we are not careful we shall have the trade of Australia in these goods absolutely over-run by them. As the honorable member for Moira has said, my only object in taking action was to protect the Customs. I was led to look into the matter as the result of a complaint relating to other goods that was brought under my notice about the same time. My attention was directed to the monopolies then and still existing in connexion with the export of machinery and other articles from the United States and Canada, and to the fact that a monopoly was being secured in the supply of these goods to Australian users by reducing the invoices submitted for Customs purposes. In the first instance those concerned in this movement used to put on fictitious freight and other charges as between the factory and the f.o.b. port, and these charges were allowed to be deducted from the true value of the article. I am informed that this practice has been followed to a very large extent.
– The time allowed the Minister under the Standing Orders has expired. Is it his desire to continue?
– It is, sir.
– Is it the pleasure of the House that the Minister have leave to continue his remarks?
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear !
– I am reminded that a refund was allowed in respect of these fictitious freight charges. We have now decided, however, that the price on which the duty shall be assessed shall be the f.o.b. price at the port of shipment without deduction. According to undoubted information, the Customs Department has been losing from ,£30,000 to £40,000 a year in respect of duties on the goods of these monopolies. I do not know whether stripper-harvesters have been introduced in the same way ; but I had to deal with the whole matter as Minister, and thought that the action which I took would inflict the least possible hardship on the Massey-Harris Company.
– Our complaint is that the Minister has taken action in the wrong way
– I feel satisfied that whatever action I might have taken would have been so described by the Op position. I have acted absolutely on tlie recommendation of the officers of my Department.
– But by the section of the Act under which the Minister took action he is the judge.
– Quite so; but the honorable member is aware that in 99 cases out of 100, a Minister accepts » the recommendations of his officers.
– Not in exercis-ing such a power as this.
– Half-a-dozen different methods might have been adopted. If I had availed myself of the power that it is desired I should exercise now, a greater infliction would have been suffered by the Massey-Harris Company.
– They would have had a right to appeal to the Court.
– I was just about to deal with that point. I believe in fair play, and whilst I am not sure that the right of appeal prevails, I may say at once that if the Massey-Harris Company have any reliable facts or data to bring before me, I should like to have them submitted for my consideration. If they then commenced proceedings against the Government, I should be very much disposed not to place any impediment in their way, but to give them every facility. I cannot say anything fairer than that. My only desire is that there shall be a true valuation for the purposes of the Customs, and to see that fair play is meted out to all.
– That is all for which we ask.
– In view of the fact that the power conferred upon the Minister to take, action in this matter had been referred to as a very excessive one, I requested the officers of mv Department to supply me with particulars of two or three cases in which’ I took action on a previous occasion. Amongst these was the case of the Gramophone Typewriter Company Limited. We had to deal with that company almost precisely as we have dealt with the Massey-Harris Company, because
Ave could not secure any basis of valuation for their goods. Then,, again, the United Shoe Machinery Company had to be dealt with by me under these provisions. This company sends boot and shoe machinery to its representatives in Australia for distribution on lease or royalty-
– They do not now sell any machinery.
– No. They send their machinery to Australia for distribution on lease or royalty, charging a royalty in some cases of 10 per cent., or 15 per cent. The Minister has to exercisehis discretion, and place a value upon machinery imported in this way. The most remarkable of these cases is that relating to the importation of the McLaughlin Electric Belt.
– The honorable gentleman did right in that case.
– But he acted in that case upon information that was not furnished by a rival manufacturer. In this case it is a rival trader who has furnished a statement to the Customs Department.
– I think that that is a reflection on Mr. McKay.
– I believe that he bears the highest reputation.
– I am not saying a word against him.
– I believe that the McLaughlin electric belts are sold here at prices ranging from £7 to £10 each, although the cost price is only about 12s. 6d. each.
– And that is 10s. more than they are worth.
– That is a case in which I had to exercise the discretion allowed the Minister when I was previously in office. These belts were invoiced at the time in question at about 30s. or £2 each, and I happened to know that they were being sold here at from £7 to £10 each.
– Up to £20.
– On learning of this, I think I trebled the invoice valuation for Customs purposes, with the result that the importer said, “ You will make us import the machinery, and manufacture them here.” I replied to him, “ If you do that I shall be very pleased.” I do not know whether they are now being made here, but I think this is a fair illustration of the cases in which the Minister is called on to exercise his discretion. In most cases, I feel safe in accepting the recommendation of the Comptroller-General, or of such an officer as the Collector of Customs.
Debate interrupted. Government busi
Mr. GROOM laid upon the table the following paper : -
Return to an Order of the House dated 16th June, 1904, giving cost of inspections, reports, &c, in regard to the proposed Federal Capital sites.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of aBill for an Act for the encouragement of manufactures in the Commonwealth.
Resolution reported and agreed to.
That Sir William Lyne and Mr. Deakin do prepare and bring in the Bill.
Bill presented by Sir William Lyne, and read a first time.
– I do not know whether there will be any objection to my moving the second reading of the Bill today.
– There is.
– In view of the fact that the previous Bill was technically ruled out of order, I thought that the leader of the Opposition would not object to my going on with the second reading of this Bill to-day.
Debate resumed (from 8th August, vide page 728) on motion by Mr. Isaacs -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– When it was proposed to the Government last night that the debate on this Bill might be adjourned until to-day, some protests were entered, more especially by the honorable member for Grey, who accused those who wished to debate this very important measure, on its second reading, of being engaged in a conspiracy to “Stone-wall” business. Iwould like to assure the honorable member that on this side of the House there is sufficient parliamentaryexperience to enable much more effective steps to be taken if at any time it should be deemed necessary in the public interests to prevent business from going along at the unseemly rate which apparently is desired by honorable members on the other side. I must confess that when I heard these objections raised, and listened to the honorable member warning the Government against making weak concessions, I did for one moment wonder how long the Bill would have been debated at this stage if there had not been a change of Government, and if the last Government had proposed even the modifications of the union label clauses which are proposed by the present Government. I can imagine that a good many of the honorable members on the opposite side, who are now apparently muzzled by some mysterious order and unable to debate this very important measure, would then have found themselves not only able but also willing to express their views at very considerable length. Even that comparatively silent gentleman, the honorable member for Boothby, might have felt constrained to offer a few remarks on the occasion. I think we may all agree that a considerable portion of the measure - the bulk of the ordinary trade mark clauses - ought to be debated in Committee rather than in the House. I am sorry that neither the Minister in charge of the Bill nor his understudy finds it necessary to be present while the debate on its second reading is proceeding.
– He will be back in a moment.
– It was noticeable all yesterday that a number of honorable members opposite were engaged in a very simple sum in arithmetic - that 28 plus 20 equals 48, and that 74 minus 48 leaves only 26. One could almost see that arithmetical process passing through the minds of some honorable members, and perhaps that was the cause of their impatience, that any one who had not the power of altering the predetermined decision of the House should bother even to express his assent or dissent therefrom, because I suppose we may take it for granted’ that, with the formidable alliance between the honorable member for Bland and the party he leads and the party he instructs, there will be no difficulty about anything on which thev are agreed being passed without debate from the Ministerial side.
– Is it an alliance or a suzerainty ?
– I do not know the exact nature of the arrangement. It is one of those things on which we were promised more information, but it is still to come to hand. I notice that the honorable member for Bass is consumed with a desire to work.
But I would suggest to him that even a minority in the House has rights, and one of these is the right of expressing its opinions on these matters. My view is that there is a deliberate intention on the Ministerial side to refrain from discussing this measure on its merits.
– An intention to getsomething done.
– Something done ! When I remember how nobody was allowed to do anything last session, and see the sudden change in mood this session, I am surprised at the political audacity of honorable members.
– We kept a House for the late Government time and again.
– Kept a House ! My honorable friends kept a House for us all night.
– Only once.
– There appears to me to be a conspiracy of silence on the Government side.
– I spoke yesterday.
– The honorable member is a sort of breakaway member on the other side. It does not matter what the merits or demerits of this measure are, honorable members opposite appear determined not to debate them. I venture to think - and I listened pretty carefully to the speeches - that there has been a good deal said about some parts of the Bill, which calls for an answer from honorable members opposite. Up to the present time it has not been given. I do not suppose that my humble efforts to induce them to defend their measure will have the slightest result, for the reasons which I have indicated.
– Why should it be debated now, when it can be as well considered in Committee ?.
– I think there are principles in this measure which are proper subjects for a second-reading debate.
– I differ from the honorable and learned member.
– That is not a new experience for me, and consequently I am less affected bv it than I should otherwise be. I should like, before I proceed to deal with the trade union mark provisions, to draw attention to two small matters, in order that the Government may have an opportunity to consider them before the Bill is dealt with in Committee. One is in reference to appeals from the decisions of the Registrar. I notice that the time-honoured appeal to the
Law Officers of the Crown is included, with the right of the applicant to pass by the Law Officer and appeal direct to the Court. I also notice that the appeal from the Law Officer may be to the High Court, or to the Supreme Court of the State in which the Trade Marks Office is situated. There is nothing to indicate that there will be a Trade Marks Office in more than one State, and, consequently, I am afraid, that the appeals from the Registrar even direct to the Court may be more expensive and lengthy than is necessary. I suggest the abolition of that time-honoured but comparatively valueless appeal to the Law Officer of the Crown, who is by no means necessarily an authority on trade marks law. But I do not wish to take up the time of the House by discussing details of that kind at this stage. I desire to say a few words about part VII. of the Bill, which deals with trade union marks; and I wish, first of all, to congratulate the Government upon their steady recession from the original position taken up in this Bill, as it passed the Senate. I may mention that it only passed the Senate by what I may call the “ skin of its teeth “ - that the motion for recommittal for the express purpose of leaving out this alien part of the Bill was only lost because of the requirement that motions shall pass in the negative when the voting is equal. I venture to think that the first thing which strikes one on reading part VII., headed “ Trade Union Marks,” is that it is a transparent device to bring this subject within the purview of a Trade Marks Act, by calling certain labels trade marks, when they are not trade marks. One may look at any elementary text-book on trade marks, or at any leading cases which define the purview of a trade mark, but I venture to say that he will always find one essential element, and that is, that a trade mark is the property of the man who owns the goods to which the mark is applied. That restriction of the assignment of a trade mark prevents it being assigned, except with regard to the classes of goods to which it is applied. That understanding runs throughout the other parts of the Bill, even if it is not expressed. It is made clear that the owner of the trade mark is the owner of the goods to which it is applied; that, nominally, the trade mark and the goods are joined under one ownership. To call those labels trade marks which may be applied to goods by a score of owners, is, I venture to say, an abuse of the English language. And I must confess that I entertain grave doubts as towhether it was present to the mind of any one of the framers of the Constitution, in giving to this Parliament, in section 51, power to legislate with regard to copyrights, trade marks, and designs, that this perverted use of that power could arise. IF we cannot find the power to pass this part of the Bill in paragraph e of section 51 of the Constitution, I. for one, do not know where else in the Constitution thepower is to be found. I must confess that I agree with those who think that it will be a matter of the gravest doubt when thequestion comes before the High Court for consideration, if it does get there, as towhether this is not an excessive use - or rather abuse - of a power supposed to be conferred upon this Parliament.
– It is assuming power by definition.
– Exactly. It is assuming power by definition. We propose to call’ labels trade marks, and, therefore, to a. that they shall have legislative effect. I have said before in this House, in connexion with other measures, and I venture to repeat it, that we have a judicial duty to perform with regard to the exercise of Federal power, especially in the early years of Federation. The present Prime Minister, upon the occasion when I last expressed that view, agreed with it. I do no<know whether he does so still. It is not sufficient to say, as some honorable members have said - as I think if I do him no injustice, the honorable member for Bland has said - that we will exercise the powers that we think we have, on the assumption that we have them, and leave it to the Court to cut them down if we are wrong.
– I do not remember saying that in those words.
– It is a very safe principle.
– That view has been expressed frequently. But with that view I do not agree. I think that in these early years of the Commonwealth especially, when the relations between the Federal authority and the States authorities have not had time to settle down into that thorough understanding which we all hope to see before many years have passed, it is necessary for us not to usurp power on the chance of its having been given to us by the Constitution. I am very much afraid that that is what is being done in this case. I say that this method of calling these trade union labels by the name of trade marks, and therefore regarding them as trade marks, is doubtful.
– In the American statutes they are termed “ union trade marks.”
– But they have not any of the essentials of an ordinary trade mark.
– They are so termed.
– That does not make them trade marks.
– The jurists of the United States,, perhaps, know as much about the matter as the honorable and learned member does.
– I am not setting myself up as an unimpeachable authority - or even as an impeachable authority - on this matter. Even the honorable member for Southern Melbourne will agree with me in that regard. But I do say that trade union marks are not what the ordinary “ man in the street “ understands as trade marks, and the ordinary “ man in the street “ is not usually very far out in his estimate of things that do not require technical consideration and technical discussion.
– That is hard on the lawyers.
– I do not know that it is hard upon the lawyers. I do not see the bearing of my observation upon the members of the legal profession.
– It is hard on the lawyers if “ the man ‘in the street “ is usually right.
– The lawyer generally advises “ the man in the street,” and that is why he is right, I suppose. This proposal as it came down from the Senate was in a form which the Government evidently recognises, and which the party that put it in the Bill now recognises was an impossible form - a form which gave a trade union the power to boycott particular employers, and to prevent them from using a union label or a union trade mark, even although they had complied with the necessary conditions just as fully as some more favoured employer had done. It was recognised - the honorable member for Bland, I understand, has recognised also - that that situation was not a fair one. Consequently modifications of the proposal have been made by the Government, which go as far as this Parliament can be expected to go. The Attorney-General has brought down a set of modifying clauses, which, in effect, provide that any one who uses union labour shall be entitled to apply the union label or the trade union mark, as it is called. We are told that the reason for the clauses is - and this is the Attorney-General’s own statement - that the public may be aware that the goods which they buy are made under proper conditions. The interest of the public in trade marks, or in goods bearing trade marks, has never, up, to the present, been as to the conditions of manufacture. A trade mark is a guide to the public as to the quality of the article itself, and not at all as to its history.
– A trade mark is a guarantee that the goods are the product of some person; it does not give any guarantee as to quality.
– It gives no guarantee as to quality, of course. A trade mark guarantees that the goods are the make of Brown, Jones, or Robinson ; but a trade union mark would not guarantee anything of the kind.
– It would guarantee that the goods were the work of members of the union-
– The value of a trade mark is that when a certain maker gets a name for a good article, the public get to know the fact, and buv the goods on the strength of their faith that the maker will continue to supply a good article.
– That is why the people will buy the article with the union label.
– The public will buy the article bearing the union label, because it is made by the members of a certain organization. A union label will not convey any guarantee as to the quality of the article, either expressly or by implication ; and my objection is that a fraud on the title of the Bill is attempted.
– A union label will imply the conditions under which an article is made.
– I have already said I hat the object of a union label is to inform the public as to the history of an article, instead of as to its quality - as to its past instead of as to its future.
– It will be a guarantee that there is no sweating.
– I am coming to that question but I am almost afraid to deal with all the points raised, lest I may be charged with delaying business. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne interjects lhat a union label is a guarantee that there is no sweating. But what an extraordinary place is a Trade Marks Bill in which to find a guarantee against sweating ! Such a guarantee ought to be found in the Arbitration Acts and Factories Acts of the States.
– The Factories Acts do not cover all the trades in which there is sweating.
– I was also coming to that point, but I cannot say more than one thing at a time. I am perfectly well aware of the fact stated by the honorable member for Yarra; but the present position is the fault of the State Legislatures. So far as our powers are concerned, we have legislated for all industries in our Conciliation and Arbitration Act. That Act was the measure which no union was going to accept under any conceivable circumstances, and yet all the unions have rushed to register, and have quarrelled as to who shall get in first.
– We advised the unions to go under the Act.
– Did the honorable member advise unions to register under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act?
– I heard the honorable member state in this House that he would not take the responsibility of so advising the unions.
– The honorable and learned member never heard me say such a thing.
– I said so, and I did not advise the unions to register.
– I also said so, and I say so still.
– And so did a number of other honorable members. But all this is hardly relevant to a Trade Marks Bill. An objection to the measure, as we now have it, is that it introduces the whole subject of union versus non-union labour. It introduces the whole subject of the hours, wages, sanitation, and other conditions of labour which are dealt with in Arbitration and other Acts - with all the variety of questions which arise as to the relations of employers and employes. A Trade Marks Bill is not the measure in which to give guarantees against sweating; such guarantees ought to be provided in proper legislation. The very statement that this measure is a guarantee against sweating is a strong, argument in favour of the contention that this is not a Trade Marks Bill in the fair sense of the term, but that, while the measure is called a Trade Marks Bill, it is applied to quite a different purpose. I have never been an enemy - on the contrary, I have always been a strong supporter - of all legislation necessary to the fair treatment of employes, as well as of employers.
– The honorable and learned member has got into bad company now.
– I do not know that I have. I am sitting in this particular corner to signify a particular thing, namely, that I am. a free man - absolutely free. My leader in this House is the honorable member for Gippsland - a gentleman whom I am not afraid to follow, and whose character enables me to support him without any fear of a challenge as to the soundness of my political views. I have always been a supporter of legislation which endeavoured to produce fair relations between employers and employed. The very first vote I ever gave in the Victorian Parliament was in 1895, in fa vour of a clause in the first important Factories Act which dealt with sweating.
– And the honorable and learned member wrecked the same Ministry afterwards.
– First of all, the honorable member for Grey does not know what industry was then dealt with - he does not know what the Bill was, or what was its object ; he only knows that I said or did something, and, therefore, he concludes that that something was bad.
– It was the Peacock Ministry that the honorable and learned member voted against.
– The Bill was introduced by the Turner Government, and I voted against that Government afterwards.
– Those matters have nothing to do with the question before the House.
– I do not exactly see the connexion myself, now that my attention is drawn to the matter ; but I may fairly claim that I was led astray by the machinations of honorable members opposite, rather than by reason of my own original sin. Notwithstanding our desire to abolish evils of the character indicated, our attempts should be limited to the proper place, and we ought not to abuse a right. If the provisions of this Bill could only be used, and not abused, my objections would be very much lessened; but I must say I am rather afraid of their abuse than of their proper use. Honorable members opposite have said they are prepared to impose all reasonable limitations, so as to insure that the clauses are not abused, and they will have an opportunity to show whether or not they mean what they say. The honorable member for Moira, for example, has indicated one proposal he intends to make, namely, that the registration of a union trade mark, Dr any other trade mark, shall be cancelled if it be used in any way to the restraint of trade. Such a proposal would cover not only a monopoly, combine, or trust, but also the abuse of the clauses by a union for any purpose other than a proper statement to the public that the goods were made under union - and, therefore, presumably, non-sweating - conditions. The honorable member for Kooyong proposes to prevent the boycott being applied under these clauses ; and I suppose the Government and their supporters will support this latter amendment, offering, as it does, a reasonable protection against possible abuse. There is no good in mincing matters, or using nice polite language - these clauses, if passed in their present form, could be used as an effectual boycott to compel employers and employes alike to enter unions. The fact that in the United States of America unions continually refuse to use the manufactured articles of other trades, unless they are union-made, affords in itself an example. In America, a union bricklayer will lay none but union bricks ; and the provisions of this Bill could be used in that way. That would be an abuse of the Bill. So long as the knowledge afforded by a label is not used by unions to compel articles to be union-made that otherwise might be made by non-union labour, there is not so much danger. But proposals of this kind would undoubtedly prove a great temptation to unions, if the latter had power to carry them out, and I want to keep unions out of temptation. There is no doubt that there would be a great temptation for a union to say, “ We will use none but articles which are branded union-made.”
– Does the honorable and learned member say that must necessarily occur ?
– I say there would be a great temptation to the unions to do it.
– That has never taken place in America.
– Yes it has.
– The honorable and learned gentleman cannot produce one tittle of evidence in support of that statement.
– As I have not been in America, I have not, with my own eyes, actually observed these things taking place.
– Can the honorable and learned gentleman give the name of a single union that has done such a thing,, or a single State in which such a thing has taken place?
– I have not the references by me, but I could give the honorable member instance after instance quoted, with every appearance of authority, bv impartial writers, to show that this kind of thing has been done.
– What is an impartial writer ?
– One judges the impartiality of a writer by the tone of his article, and writers who have apparently held no brief for one side or the other have made these statements, as though they were simply stating facts.
– Who are they ?
– I say that these powers can be so exercised, that unions can forcer unionism upon those who do not want it by the use of these trade marks in this particular way. If it be that these clauses are to be passed in this Bill, and become a part of the Act, and if it be that they are constitutional and will stand the test of investigation by the High Court, then, at the very least, some provision should be made to prevent the possibility of any such abuse of them as I have indicated. Honorable members opposite will agree with me that what I have referred to discloses an abuse, and not a fair use of the union trade mark. If they consider that such would be a fair use of the trade mark, why are they in such a hurry to disclaim that the union trade mark has ever been so used ? They recognise that it would be unfair. The clauses as they stand afford no possible means for preventing any such procedure, so far as I am able to judge, and consequently they should be modified to the extent necessary to prevent it. I feel, in connexion with this Bill, as I did in connexion with the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, that we must keep apart from each other political organizations and industrialorganizations.
– There is no obvious connexion here, is there?
– If the honorable and learned member will allow me to say so, there was no obvious connexion in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill.
– Indeed there was, and it is now broken.
– And it is now broken, and properly broken, and the unions have practically admitted it by coming in under the Arbitration Act, notwithstanding those limitations.
– The honorable and learned member does not understand what I mean ; tout that is nothing unusual.
– It is not unusual not to understand what the honorable and learned gentleman means. That will possibly continue to be nearly as common as the label “ union made “ may possibly be in the future. I feel that we must make sure that unions that have political purposes joined with their proper industrial objects shall not under this Bill, any more than under any other measure, be able indirectly to further their political objects by this industrial privilege; and that consequently in this Bill, quite as much as in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, it is essential to forbid unions to whom we shall grant this particular industrial privilege to have political purposes in the same way as they are forbidden under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. If that be done,, and if other limitation be placed upon these clauses so that the fears we on this side have expressed as to abuse of the privileges given might be diminished, if not entirely removed, much of the objection which I personally have to the clauses as they stand will be removed. I say, frankly, as I said on a previous occasion in connexion, with another Bill, that I am not prepared to accept these clauses unless we get some assurance that some such limitation will be made. I think it is only fair to ask in connexion with this measure, as was asked in connexion with another, that unions shall not have political purposes carried on while they are taking advantage of a legislative enactment for industrial benefits as they will be under this Bill. Not desiring to waste time, I have curtailed my remarks as much as possible, and I wish to say in conclusion that as regards the bulk of the Bill, while there may be some amendments found necessary in Committee, there is very little to be said in criticism of it. As regards these particular clauses, while the Government proposals have removed one obvious danger that existed as they came down to us from another place, there are still further limitations required in order that we may emphasize and maintain the principle we have already laid down, that political and industrial action shall not be permitted to be joined together, so far, at any rate, as legislative authority and legislative approval are concerned.
– I should like to call attention to the state of the House, and particularly to the scandalous state of the front Ministerial bench. Quorum formed.)
– I feel that the honorable and learned member for Corinella has voiced my opinion,’ in better words than I could use, to such an extent that what I intended to say must be considerably reduced. I confess that I have regarded this Bill as essentially a Committee Bill, requiring to be considered almost clause by clause, and line by line, to make it an effective instrument for the protection of the interests of those entitled to trade marks - that is, as they are understood throughout the whole British community. I do not think any honorable member can have any doubt as to my attitude towards the union label clauses. I am distinctly opposed to them upon grounds which I shall briefly state. The Attorney-General in introducing this measure explained, in reply to a question addressed to him across the floor of the House, that his idea in introducing these special clauses was that they should make provision for wholesome sanitary and anti-sweating conditions. I asked the honorable and learned gentleman if he believed that that was the sole purpose and object of those pressing for the introduction of these clauses. He did not give me a direct reply, but repeated his first statement,! and explained that it disclosed his motive, and I presume the motive of the Government, in introducing these clauses. I think that there is no one in this House but desires that the workers shall, wherever practicable, obtain good wages and labour under humane conditions, but, as the honorable and learned member who preceded me said, the Bill does not seem to be the medium for securing that. To ray mind, its ultimate object is to obtain for the unions powers which will give unionism an industrial domination.
– The unions never thought of such a thing.
– If the honorable member never thought of it, his forgetfulness belies the characteristics for which he is so well known. The unions are making a strong bid for provisions which will give them a position infinitely more commanding than they would have secured by the adoption of the principle of preference to unionists.
– Is the honorable member favorable to trade unions?
– I am distinctly favorable to trade unions. I disagree with the impression made by the excellent address of the honorable member for Parramatta last night. I think he was misunderstood when he seemed to indicate that unions had not secured great advantages for the workers. I hold that they have. 1 have been in close contact with unions, and I am persuaded that they have secured a great deal for the workers. The statement subsequently made by the honorable member for Parramatta showed that a wrong impression had been conveyed by his remarks, and it was a good thing to hear from one who has been so closely and intimately associated with labour for many years as he has been, the expression of the opinion that the unions have benefited the workers. I hold that the late crisis was really a case of premature birth, precipitated by personal misunderstandings between the principals and by newspaper misconstruction and influence. The rapidity with which the Deakin-Watson alliance was effected after the Governor-General’s speech was remarkable. It was all done in the course of an afternoon. We have been told that there was no settled conference, and no need for continued and close discussion. I am therefore bound to ask myself what induced it. It seems to me that the Labour Party said to the Deakin Party, “We shall keep you in office, and support you for the remainder of the life of the present Parliament, if you will give us the union label.” If the Labour Party made a bargain, on those terms, it showed their astuteness and cleverness. No doubt it is desirable to secure uniformity in regard to trade marks, but the honorable and learned member for Corinella showed clearly, in infinitely better language than I can command, how unnecessary it was to place in the measure, which has a good object and purpose, these interpolated provisions for the registration of union labels, which may be unfairly used by unscrupulous unions or the unscrupulous leaders of unions. Further than that, they may be abused by unscrupulous traders, since it has been, shown that in America the trusts have absolutely used the labour unions in this connexion. The privilege sought by unions is therefore likely to cut both ways, and will operate against the interests of those who at present believe that they will gain by it.
– Trade marks can be abused.
– Yes, but not as the union, label may be abused in the future. Those who support the use of union labels have always decried monopolies, but no greater monopoly can be created than that which will be constituted when every trader is placed in the power of the unions. It is the great body of workers, their wives, and children who constitute the consumers of this community, and to give the unions power to direct how they shall trade opens up gigantic possibilitiesof tyranny in the future. On behalf, not only of the electors whom I have the privilege to represent, but also of various important organizations which will be seriously affected, I protest with all my power and strength against such a radical departure being made from our existing practice. I am quite prepared to recognise that the Attorney-General has modified the proposals, as far as he feels capable of doing in view of the pressure that is behind him. He has sought to make the provisions workable, and to put them in such a shape that they will interfere as little as possible with the great commercial operations with which he is so familiar.
– If the honorable member will withdraw his statement as to the pressure behind me, he will be correct.
– I can only say that I believe that if it had not been for the present position of parties and for the fact that certain honorable members occupy the Ministerial benches, many votes which will be recorded in favour of these provisions would have been cast against them. It is surely improper that any section of the community should have placed in its hands such a weapon as that which it is contemplated to hand over to the trade unions. I should) object to any such power being given even to manufacturers or traders, because I do not believe in permitting any body of men to exercise compulsion upon-‘ the public to buy certain classes of goods, merely because they bear certain marks. The whole principle of that proposal is entirely wrong, as I hope will be fully demonstrated by the commercial men of Victoria, who areto have an interview with the Attorney-General to-morrow evening. The Attorney-General has stated that the provisions for the use of union labels are based upon humane considerations, but statements which have since been made, and the attitude assumed by members of the Labour Party show that some far more powerful motive is behind the present movement. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports admitted that under the existing law the trade unions could, if they wished, attach their labels to the work of their own hands.
– There is no law to prevent their trade marks from being infringed.
– I admit that an employer might- object to the union label being affixed to his property, but, on the other hand, a union could, if it chose, register its own trade mark, and attach it to the goods manufactured by its members under a system of co-operation. I have endeavoured to satisfy myself that humane considerations alone have prompted the proposals for the registration and use of union labels ; but I cannot come to any other conclusion than that the Socialistic Party are endeavouring to acquire tremendous powers which will enable them to exercise an overwhelming influence in the affairs of State. It is true that provisions similar to those now before us have been brought into operation in the United States, but the law there has been declared to be ultra vires of the Constitution. Moreover, it must be remembered that the Commonwealth Constitution does not contain the same provisions as does that of the United States for the protection of the rights of individuals, and that legislation such as that now contemplated might permit of the utmost tyranny being exercised. Upon this ground alone, the proposals should receive the most serious consideration. How is it possible practically to apply this union label? If I may be permitted to refer to the industry with which I am most particularly associated - the mining industry - I should like to point out how this principle would operate in relation to the product, say, of the Broken Hill Proprietary mine. The miner would require to have the head of his pick, as well as its handle, branded with the union label. The candles which he uses would also need to bear the same mark. The same remark applies to the braces, the cases. &c. All the materials used by the railway men. the furnace employed, the refiners, and the wheelers, would have to bear the union label.
– Then, we should have a co-operative Commonwealth.
– That is the aspiration of my honorable friends opposite. I hold that a whole industry might be thrown out of gear under the operation of this Bill, merely because a certain firm did not employ union labour throughout all their processes of manufacture.
– The hangman might object to hang a man with a non-union rope ?
– Quite so. The disadvantages which must result to the community from legislation of this character, are so enormous that the whole people should wake up to a realization of what is before them. Honorable members in the labour corner have asked for some proof of my statements. I need only remind them that Ray Stanner Baker has written a series of articles in McClure’s Magazine, in which he has described the vexatious methods used to harass poor business men merely because they did not put the union label upon some articles which he vended. That writer sets out the position fairly, because it must be recollected that he has been a strong and determined opponent of great trusts. It is urged that if this matter be left to public opinion, no great harm will result, but it is the abuse by the leaders of the labour movement of the powers conferred by the Bill, which is likely to create so much harm.
– Could not the other side also employ sandwich men if they so desired ?
– The honorable member has added to the other foolish remarks which he has made, by suggesting that the other side might employ sandwich men, to prove that the individual whom the advocates of the union label were attempting to harass should be supported. Surely he must see that subterfuges of that kind are unworthy of consideration. If he has any desire to gain a knowledge of this subject, I would recommend him to read the series of articles in McClure’s Magazine, to which I have referred. There he will see the outrages which were perpetrated in San Francisco, Chicago, and other cities of the Union, simply because of this tremendous power.
– Surely the honorable member must know that all those outrages would be illegal - that they would be offences under the Victorian law.
– I have already dealt with the question of common law responsibility,
– But that is a statute law.
– I do not care whether it is statute law or common law. I say that this Bill imposes upon the community a new doctrine, which in improper hands will work great harm, if not devastation, affecting not only the public at large, but the workers themselves. I was gratified to hear from the leader of the Labour Party, in his moderate speech, an admission that this great power which the Bill proposes to confer must be surrounded with proper safeguards. He expressed himself to that effect, and therefore I feel that in Committee it should be our endeavour to see that those safeguards are effective and complete. If my honorable friends who are pressing for this class of legislation merely desire that goods shall be manufactured under humane conditions - if that is their only motive and purpose- they cannot possibly entertain any objection to the new clause of which I have given notice, and which I understand has been circulated. I do not wish that provision to apply to one section of the community only. If a trade mark is being used by a manufacturer under similar conditions, I say that it should apply to him also. Let the same penalties be exacted all round. I want no distinction. In conclusion, I enter my protest against the effort which is being made to foist upon this country provisions in this much-needed Billwhichwill work an infinite amount of harm, and which must eventually react upon those who are clamouring for their adoption.
– It has been argued by many honorable members upon the other side of the Chamber, that there is absolutely no necessity for the introduction of a trade union label into Australia, because the workers already enjoy sufficient protection by being able to appeal to the Arbitration Court in some States, and under the conditions imposed by the Wages Boards in the State of Victoria. During the course of the debate I have interjected many times that in this State there are more trades working outside the conditions laid down by the Wages Boards than there are working under those conditions. So far as factories are concerned, the position is that there are thirty-seven which are under the control of Wages Boards, and seventythree trades which are not. It is interesting to hear honorable members opposite speaking in terms of admiration of the Wages ‘Boards provisions of the Victorian Factories and Shops Acts, because the party to which they belong has been most bitter in its opposition to any extension of that principle to trades which are not now under Wages Boards. We are now told by the Opposition that the Wages Board system is everything that is desirable, because it does not discriminate between unionists and non-unionists. I would remind the House, however, that there are many trades other than those conducted in factories to which the trade union label provisions of this Bill could not apply. There are, for instance, the building trades, and the whole of those associated with the transport and carriage of goods as well as the mining industry.
– How could a union label be applied to mines or buildings?
– Such a thing would be impossible. Those who oppose these provisions have condemned, not the union label, but the whole principle of trade unionism.
– I assert that that is the position. The arguments used by honorable members opposite have been directed against trade unionism, rather than against the union label provisions contained in the Bill. The honorable member for Kooyong asserted that trusts had combined with their employes to secure improved conditions, and that the people had had to pay. But neither he, nor any other honorable member, has pointed to a single case in which a union using a label has joined hands with the employers to secure better conditions at the expense of the public. Honorable members opposite have been urged again and again to cite a single instance of a union asking for improved conditions on allowing its label to be used by a manufacturer ; but they have not done so, nor have they responded to our request to name the cities in which the practices, such as boycotting, to which they have referred take place. There is nothing to support their assertions but a bald statement contained in a circular issued by the Employers’ Federation which, as I said by way of interjection while the honorable and learned member for Wannon was speaking, amounts to little more than this : “ That some one says somewhere that such and such a thing has happened somewhere.” Nothing more tangible has been put forward in opposition to the union label provisions of the Bill. Those who have been eulogizing the Victorian Shops and Factories Acts must surely know that the only shires to which they apply are those bordering upon cities or towns. The shire which includes Camberwell, for instance, is under the operation of the Wages Boards provisions of the Factories Act so far as the bakery trade is concerned ; but the assertion that the State factory legislation applies to the whole of Victoria is incorrect. It cannot be extended to shires unless such an extension is requested by the shire councils themselves. Those who have a knowledge of the shire councils of this State must be aware that they are extremely conservative bodies, and ‘ that plural voting and roll stuffing are carried on to a most remarkable degree in connexion with their elections. As an illustration of this, I may say that eighty-five votes for the west riding of the Shire of Ararat are held by four families. Bv doubling and trebling family votes in this way. and by means of the roll stuffing which is carried on, the shires can absolutely prevent the application of what has been described by the Opposition as a beneficent piece of legislation to their territory. The leader of the Opposition has said that the Victorian Shops and Factories Acts do not discriminate between unionists and non-unionists - that under the Wages Board system nonunionists and unionists are placed on the same plane so far as wages and hours and conditions of labour are concerned.
– I inquired whether it was not so. I had no personal knowledge of the matter.
– If the right honorable member would take the trouble to read the reports of any of the cases which are almost continuously before the Courts - cases in which complaint is made that workmen or workwomen have not received the wages stipulated by the Wages Board - he would know that in about 95 per cent, of these it is the non-unionist who is compelled to work for less than the prescribed wage. Let me read the following paragraph relative to a case which happened not more than four miles from this House: -
Instead of £2 10s. per week - for hours varying from 47 upwards; and also another man at £2 10s. a week for 52 hours -
Instead of forty-eight hours. In the one case a man who had no union to support him had to work for 10s. per week less than he should have received, while in the other a non-unionist was employed for fiftytwo hours per week, instead of forty-eight, and lost 4s. 2d. per week. Had he been a member of the Bakers’ Union, he would have received that additional wage. The report continues -
The solicitor who appeared for Doidge said that his client had never kept a record of the number of his workers, that it was one of the easiest factories in existence, the men were even allowed to smoke while working -
This is what occurs in a non-union bakery - men are allowed to smoke while preparing such an article of food as bread - and they were brought a cup of tea when they worked for a stretch of five hours. The Court, in summing up, found defendant, whose second conviction this is, guilty, and ordered him to pay a fine of ^5, and £2 ys. 6d. costs in each case.
Another paragraph from the same newspaper states that -
It is stated that J. R. Duncan, baker, who gave evidence in the Doidge case at Northcote, was given a week’s notice for supplying particulars to the factory inspector when the latter called.
Cases of this kind, in which non-unionists are compelled to work for less than the wages stipulated by the Wages Board, simply because they have no union to protect them, might readily be multiplied. When the law is infringed in this way, it is open to a unionist to bring the matter before his union. The employer of union labour is not so readily disposed to violate our factory laws as is one who employs non-unionists. It is stated in the circular issued by the Employers’ Federation that the union label proposal is one that is new to Australia. “ As far back as 189 1, however, a trade conference representing the whole of the trades of Australia carried a resolution in favour of a union label. The honorable member for Kennedy was present at that conference.
– And a label was drafted.
– That is so. It was found, upon inquiry, however, that no union could register a label - that if a union label were registered, it would be open to any one to infringe it without risk of prosecution.
– Because unions are not trading corporations or firms.
– That was perhaps the reason ; but why give to any trading corporation a preference that is to be denied to others? Why do honorable members who profess to be in favour of equal treatment to all persons desire to give it to one section and refuse it to the workers?
– Trade unions do not engage in commerce or trade.
– It has been stated that trade unionists could start a co-operative factory, if they desired to utilize a trade union label. If they did that, they would be told, “ Here you desire a monopoly. Our factories are working under union conditions, and why do you not extend to us the use of your label ?” That would be the argument advanced from honorable members on the other side, who talk a good deal about liberty to all individuals, but who, whenever an opportunity arises, are very backward in granting it. Surely trade unionists have a right, with other persons, to show whether or not their goods have been made under fair conditions. If honorable members think that the non-unionist is able to make a better article than can the unionist, why do they not, in their anxiety to support the non-unionist, advocate that the non-unionist shall have a label, and ask for only non-union articles-
– They do not ask for special privileges.
– Because they know full well that the unions throughout Australia comprise the most skilled workers in every trade.
– The honorable member need not question my statement. I have had far more experience of trade unionism and of the union label than he has had, and I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that the most skilled workers in every trade are members of a union where one exists, and are the strongest unionists.
– If that is so, the public will naturally prefer to buy their goods.
– Certainly ; and that is why we wish to give the public an opportunity of discriminating between goods produced by unionists and goods not so produced.
– Does not the honorable member think that quality will be the test?
– The union label was introduced into America and other countries to prevent the fair employer being brought down to the same level as the unfair employer. Before it was introduced, what did the manufacturers say ? They said, on more than one deputation of which I was a member, “ Why do you not introduce something which will give the public arc opportunity of deciding whether they will have goods made under fair conditions or goods made under unfair conditions?” The honorable member for Parramatta stated last night that, even if goods were made by trade unionists, it would be no guarantee that they were not made under sweating conditions. If that is so, I am confident that, if the union is compelled to tolerate sweating conditions, the lot of the non-unionist will be a great deal harder in that verv industry, and worse conditions will prevail for the non-unionist. But I contend that better conditions prevail where there are trade unions than where there are none. Every honorable member, no matter on which side he sits, knows that fact. The union label stands for better conditions ; and even the writers in America who do not believe in the Labour Party and its action advocate its use. Honorable members say that we are anxious to bring all the unions into political line with the Labour Party, and that the union label is used only in America. Do they not know that in America trade unions do- not take any political action? Probably one fault of trade unions in that country isthat, while they have been able to build up their unions very strongly in other directions, they take no political action, and that accounts for the position in which many of them stand to-day. The leader of the Opposition asked, “ Would the use of this label be granted to a firm if it employed ten non-unionists and fifty unionists?” Certainly not. Will he say that it could be truthfully said that an article wasmade under union conditions - that is, by unionists - if 10 per cent, of the employeswere outside of a trade union? Would he advocate that the public should be deceived” to that extent? Any man who would advocate public deception of that sort-
– So far from advocating that, I only wanted to get the admission that the effect of the proposal would be that the ten would have to go. All I wanted was an admission such as the honorable member has just made.
– Why would they have to go? In this legislation there is no power to compel the manufacturer to use the label if he does not want it.
– Oh, no ; nothing of that sort I
– I worked at my trade - the felt hat trade - in America, and the union of which I was a member has used 95,000,000 labels in the course of twelve years. I, at any rate, can speak with a certain amount of experience, derived from working in a trade which has used the union label. I was so satisfied of its beneficial effects in America that I moved a motion to introduce its use into Great Britain. Our union was the first trade union to indorse the label there. They did not keep it as a monopoly for a particular firm. Any firm which worked under union conditions was competent to apply for and obtain the use of the label. That is all that trade unionists ask anywhere. It is to their advantage not to keep a label for the use of any one firm. Unionists are not anxious that- a monopoly should be created in any industry. The more firms there are to which they can sell their labour, the more firms there are that work under fair conditions, the better it is for themselves. Like other honorable members, I realize that this is a measure for discussion in Committee rather than in the House. I should not have risen to speak had it not been for certain honorable members on the other side praising the Victorian Factories Act. I believe that if they were in the State Parliament thev would not be in favour of extending the Wages Board provisions to every industry. I sincerely trust that, in Committee, honorable members will place trade unionists in the same position as any other individuals throughout the community. The leader of the Opposition asked this question, “ Would we allow the use of the union label to a firm that employed ten nonunionists and ninety unionists?” No; for the very same reason that not one manufacturer would allow his label to be used by another manufacturer, even though the same conditions prevailed, and exactly the same raw materials were used in the production of a commodity.
– I wish to say a few words at this stage, although it is, as several honorable members have said, essentially a measure for consideration in Committee. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Corinella on one point, that it is a mistake to try to centralize appeals in the State in which the office of the Commissioner who administers the Act is situated, because in England the tendency is in the opposite direction - to allow even matters relating to patents to be dealt with in the County Court. It was assumed, until, a recent case, which is reported in the last Law Reports, that even the matters of trade marks were cognisable by County Courts in England. I think the step which is now being taken to declare that the High Court, or the court of the State in which the chief office is situated, shall be the only court to which an appeal shall lie is rather a mistake in the direction of centralization, and I hope that in Committee the AttorneyGeneral will see that it is cured. There are some other matters on which perhaps he might have given a little more explanation. I cannot see why the State laws should be kept in force in respect of trade marks after they have been registered thereunder. I cannot see why uniform legislation should not apply to them, the rights acquired by the registered owners, of course, being preserved subject to any changes we may make. It is not evident how the registered owner of a trade mark, under a State Act. can possibly be prejudiced by any of the provisions of this Bill. Why, therefore, the principle of uniformity, which is the basic principle of Federal legislation, should not be realized for perhaps twelve or fourteen years during the unexpired term of several of the State patents, I cannot understand.
– Would they labour under any disability from not coining under this Bill at once?
– No; that is curable bv this Bill, because they have the right of asking to be registered under the Act. Why thev should be allowed the option of remaining under the State Act 1 cannot see. Their registered marks ought to be regarded as valid, but the Bill in clause 6 goes beyond that, by preserving the Act of the particular State in which registration has been effected for the purpose of that particular trade mark. At present, I cannot see why it is necessary to postpone the perfect reform at which we are aiming for the unexpired periods of such trade marks. It may extend for fourteen years if the trade mark has only recently been registered. I also bel:eve. with the honorable and learned member for Corinella, and with the leader of the Opposition, that it is really only by a straining of the provisions of the Constitution that we can say that the power exists to register union labels as trade marks. I am adopting, not the words, but the sense of the honorable and learned members to whom I have referred. Evidently the Attorney-General himself is not very sure as to whether there is not a violation of the principle of section 51 of the Constitution in allowing these union labels to be so registered. It is a curious fact that when he endeavoured to show that something of the sort had been done previously in certain other States, the only State to which he referred was New South Wales. He alluded to Act No. 19 of 1900, of that State, which is one of the most conservative of States in its provisions as regards trade marks. In the beginning of the AttorneyGeneral’s speech he mentioned that the proposed legislation embodied in the Bill is based upon Trade Mark Acts of the various States, except one, New South Wales, and upon recent legislation in England ; in other words, that the Bill adopts the most advanced views of recent policy. But the one State that has not gone out of the old rut seems to be New South Wales, because Act No. 19 of 1900, of that State is, .as the Attorney-General said, a slight modification of the wording, though not of the principle of the Act of 1865, which itself was based upon the principle of the English Act of 1862, or the old Act. I mention that, because the AttorneyGeneral sought, in provisions of that Act, a justification for the policv of the union label ; though I do not think that the provisions to which he referred sustain the inference that he sought to draw. He went, for instance, to Act 19 of 1900 for definition of a trade mark, as including -
Any mark lawfully used by any person to denote -
And that word person is significant, as I hope to show later on. any goods to be goods of the manufacture or merchandize o’f such person, or to be goods of any particular description made or sold by such person.
The definition of “manufacture “ is that it is to include “ workmanship and production “ of the person. The terms “ workmanship and production “ are somewhat Sgnificant as indicating the meaning of the word “ manufacture,” and right through the legislation and decisions on the question of trade marks we find that the reason a trade mark is used is to indicate the quality or make of the goods.
– Does the honorable and learned member contend that “ trade mark “ has a restrictive meaning there?
– I do. I say that it is our duty to read the powers conferred by the Constitution in the light of existing conditions, and I say that it is a principle of judicial construction, that when you want to seek the meaning of particular expressions you can go to the conventional meaning of the words at the time the legislation was passed. Therefore, if we want to find out what power has been delegated by the Constitution to this Parliament, in reference to trade marks, designs, and patents, we have to take conventional meanings of the particular terms used ; because we cannot assume the power to extend the delegation given by section 51, by a mere definition in a piece of Federal legislation. If we could do that, they could have done it in America, where there is no express power as to trade marks given by the Constitution. Of course, patents matters, trade mark matters, and copyright matters belong almost to the one genus. They are very often dealt with in one textbook by the same author, as honorable members will see by referring to Sebastian’s book on Trade Marks, which was referred to by the Attorney-General. I, therefore, say that it requires some straining of the Constitution to- assume power - under the power of passing uniform legislation in reference to trade marks and designs - to legislate so that a label, which indicates nothing as regards make, quality, or anything else to the consumer - shall have an effect in regard to combinations of workmen ; a matter that - except so far as we can take action under the provision of the Constitution relating to Conciliation and Arbitration - to a large extent belongs to the province of the States Parliaments, and not to the province of the Federation. To push this matter a little further, I may quote some authorities upon the point referred to by the leader of the Opposition, and by the honorable and learned member for Corinella. But before doing so, I may refer to another authority mentioned by the Attorney-General, in favour of his policy. He mentioned that not only was something of the sort done in New South Wales legislation, which I have endeavoured to show is not the case; but he also said that the old trade guilds were allowed to register marks. At the time, I interjected that there was something very different between a mark used by a guild and a label which the
Attorney-General would allow to be used as indicating that the article upon which it was placed was made by members of a trade union. As a matter of fact, the reason for the use of marks by the old guilds was to indicate efficiency and training. The AttorneyGeneral does not contend .that the union label is to indicate that.
– Why not?
– Honorable members have only to look at the Bill itself to see that the amendments assume that there is nothing in the nature of a trade mark to indicate quality in the union label. Why does the Attorney-General find it to be necessary to knock out practically the whole of the rest of the Bill, as applicable to these particular union label clauses? It is significant also that he has almost recast the policy of the Senate. It ought to indicate the necessity for caution, when one who has been associated with radical legislation recasts the principle, as well as the wording of the amendments in the Bill as it came to us. In the case of the guilds, the marks were used, as I have said, to indicate efficiency and training, and they were applied only to particular trades by Act of Parliament. A particular mark became the mark of a particular trade, as indicating a certain quality of goods turned out by that trade. Take, for instance, the Cutlers’ Guild. The legislation to which the AttorneyGeneral referred, indicates that the title was “The Cutlers Company of Hallamshire, in the county of York.” In one of the statutes dealing with the Cutlers’ Company, there is power to deal with the makers of knives, sickles, shears, scissors, razors and so forth, and the mark is given to the individual maker, who must be a member of the company, having served an apprenticeship of seven years.
– Where is the difference in principle between giving a trade mark to a guild and to an association of workers ?
– The very object of the guild mark is to indicate workmanship or quality. The guilds prided themselves on a particular class of workmanship, as is shown by a history of the goldsmiths’ companies, of which there was one in London, and in various other cities throughout Great Britain, aswell asin Dublin. Each company had a separate Act, prescribing the quality of the gold to be used, and the mark was placed on the article, not to indicate membership, per se, but what the membership signified - a particular class of workman ship. I say that the Attorney-General is not entitled to rely on the marks of the guilds as being in any way analogous to a trade union label.
– The Attorney-General is. relying on his majority.
– Ostensibly not ; of course,, we are supposed to appeal to reason, rather than to numbers. One of the Acts of GeorgeIll., dealing with the Cutlers’ Company of Sheffield, makes the condition of membership apprenticeship for seven years, with, at twenty-one years of age, the freedom of the company and & mark to be assigned to. the apprentice. On the part of the member there had to be capacity to turn out work of a character which would not subsequently disgrace the guild. In an Irish Act of 1783, dealing with one of the goldsmiths’ companies, there is a provision that no gold1 plate shall be made or sold except of a certain fineness, and shall bear -
The following marks appointed for gold of 22- carats; the mark of the maker, which is the number 22, and the first letter of the maker’s Christian name and surname, and also a mark indicating the place of origin. The whole object was to indicate the individual origin of the goods, or, rouse the words of some of the British decisions, “ the quality and make of thework turned out.” This leads to what is really the meaning of “trade mark,” as suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corinella, in his forcible speech this afternoon. In Sebastian’s work, referred to by the Attorney-General, wefind
The benefits derivable from the recognition ofthe exclusive right of a trader to his’ trade mark are apparent from the consideration that thetrade mark is both a sign of the quality of thearticle and an assurance to the public that it is”the genuine product of the manufacturer.
That is, as defined by the New South Wales Act, an assurance of the workmanship of theperson - the mark is attached to goods in relation to a particular person. A trade mark is used by individuals except in thecase of companies, guilds, and corporations, and then generally as indicating the workmanship of particular persons; even in connexion with guilds the mark was given to aparticular person, and was capable of being assigned or dealt with by will. Referring again to Sebastian, we find- -
The function of the trade mark is to give thepurchaser a satisfactory assurance of the makeand quality of the article he is buying. Thus it was said by Lord Cottenham - “ Take a piece of” -steel ; the mark of the manufacturer from which it comes is the only indication to the eye of the customer of the quality of the article ; so it is of blacking, or any other article of manufacture the particular quality of which is not discernible by the eye.” It is on the faith of the mark being genuine, as representing a quality equal to that which he has previously found a similar mark to indicate, that the purchaser makes his purchase.
I do not wish to elaborate the point, but it seems to me that the whole trend of the judicial definitions is that a trade mark indicates the quality of the workmanship.
– It indicates that an article is made by certain persons, and so it does under the Bill.
– Does the honorable member for Bland follow that up by saying that because an article is made by certain persons, the object of the label is to indicate the quality through those persons ? Is that the object of the union label ?
– It is one of the objects.
– We are getting into a nice position. The same union label may “be attached to the manufactures of a dozen manufacturers, each competing with the other as to quality and finish.
– The label will show that articles are up to the standard.
– Surely the honorable member for Bland’ cannot say that in a trade union label there is any indication of quality ?
– I do; and I say that, generally speaking, the workmanship of unionists is better than that of nonunionists.
– That is a matter of opinion.
– And so is the quality of an article.
– But under the inducements now’ held out to join unions, it does not follow that the best workers may be unionists ; bad workmen may become unionists from the necessity of self -protection. Bad workmen may be forced to join under legislation, and men given a status they would not be entitled to on their skill alone.
– May we not assume that goods with the union label have been made under better conditions than have goods without the label ?
– I do not deny that. I must say here that I believe unionism has done an immense amount of good.
– And yet the honorable and learned member wants to block unionism.
– That is not fair.
– The honorable and learned member assumes the usual attitude.
– ‘The honorable member for Bland ought to be ashamed to say that.
– It is the attitude that is usually assumed.
– It is possible, and, under some (Circumstances, it is probable, that the unionist is the better workman. The better the wage the better the workmanship is the rule, according to our experience, but we must not assume that that rule obtains in all cases. At any rate, that is certainly not the reason why these amendments are submitted for consideration. It is surely a round-about way to institute a trade union label in order to indicate the superior quality of goods. That is a piece of political hypocrisy. Why should honorable members disavow the evident policy, which is to induce people to buy union-made goods, not because these goods are good or bad, but because by their purchase unionism may be furthered, and Arbitration Acts rendered more effective from the union point of view. Union-made goods may be good or bad, but it is hypocrisy to say that the union label is to indicate superior quality. Such a conclusion can only be arrived at by the involved course of reasoning pointed out by the honorable member for Grey.
– The indication of quality is incidental.
– That is a matter of opinion, and certainly does not affect the object of the introduction of these clauses.
– The object is to enable the public to buy union goods if they want them. If they do not want them, they will not buv them.
– No doubt ; but the object is compulsion in the long run. We are no better than are the people of America.
– We know something about Parliaments in America, but we are not against Parliaments in Australia on that account.
– I do not know what the honorable gentleman means.
– The honorable and learned gentleman is referring to American experience in the use of the union label. We have American experience of corruption in Parliament, but we are not against parliamentary institutions on that account.
– We must consider the tendency of the operation of human nature all the world over. Surely we are of the same stock as the Americans. We are of the race from which, they have sprung. We have been subjected to the influence of liberal institutions in the same way ; we speak the same language, and have been influenced by the same literature. Does the honorable member for Bland think that the interposition of a few thousand miles will make such a difference between us that our people in Australia are likely to refrain from practising abuse of these labels, knowing as we do, that they have been so tremendously abused in America.
– We know that parliamentary institutions in America have been corrupt. Will the honorable and learned gentleman say that for that reason they must also be corrupt here?
– lt is only a question of degree between the abuse of parliamentary institutions there and here. We might have an abuse of parliamentary institutions which does not involve the corruption found in America, and of which happily we see very little here. But even in Australia an honorable member may be guilty of an action which belittles parliamentary institutions, from fear of losing his seat, or from fear of being left out of office. I have not introduced this pharisaical reference to corruption ; it has been mentioned as an argument against my contention. I say that very often the subordination of public to private ends, beyond the reasonable requirements of party cohesion, is a kind of corruption, though it might not be the kind of corruption which is so obnoxious in America. It exists everywhere, and we must take warning from what is occurring in America, as a guide to what might occur here under similar inducements, which will be held out by this Bill. I do not desire to over-labour the matter bv reference to information, which, in my case, is not obtained at first-hand, as to what is taking place in America. It seems to me that the proposal now being made is going back upon the whole trend and object of unions and unionism for the last forty or fifty years, which was to free labour from the oppression placed upon it by the laws of the past. We seem to be going back upon that by adopting a line of moral coercion that will become just as odious as coercion which has the recognition of statute law. I have no wish to say any more on the subject. I have endeavoured to show that there are some grounds for doubting the constitution ality, of this measure, to show that the proposed union label clauses are inappropriate in such a Bill as this, and also that there are grounds of objection to it, on the score of policy, to which I have referred, all of which reasons I hope will be held to justify my opposition to these clauses when they are put to us in Committee.
– I have a few words to say on this Bill. I think that a Trade Marks Bill of national application is very desirable. I believe it is right that the manufacturers of goods should be able by law to register a trade mark indicating their goods, in order that others will not be able to take advantage of the success which they have achieved. In this connexion no exception is taken when it is proposed to deal with the great body of manufacturers in this country. They may adopt any trade mark they please, may use it in any manner they desire, and may carry the privilege to the extreme suggested by one honorable member during the debate of registering. as a colour, those used on either the 17th of old Ireland or the 12th of July. Manufacturers in general are given an absolutelyfree hand in this respect, but as soon as we propose to deal with another body of men, banded together’ to improve the conditions under which they have to labour, we find honorable members demanding that it must be specifically stated in this measure that these men must not be allowed to register a trade mark. It would appear that some honorable members are not prepared to extend to every one the freedom which they so glibly mouth when they are on their feet. If they desired to do so, there would be no serious objection to the proposal now submitted to enable trade unions to register a label. Honorable members on the other side have stood up one after the other to declare their belief in trade unionism, to admit that it has improved the condition of the workers, has educated and elevated them, and they have then turned round and as a reward for the good work which trade unionists have done in alleviating the sufferings of humanity, they have said, “We will not allow you to put on goods of your production a mark which will enable those desirous of assisting you to identify them from goods produced under sweating conditions.” One is forced immediately to the reply that the professions of those honorable members of interest and consideration for those who have done something for the relief of suffering humanity in this country, are merely electioneering gibberish,and that they are not prepared to put them into practice once they get into this Chamber. It seems to me that the members of a party that has always claimed to trust the people ought not to be afraid, under the conditions proposed in this Bill, to give the general public an opportunity to say whether they desire to assist those who are labouring under fair and reasonable conditions. I am very much afraid, judging by the attendance of honorable members on the Opposition benches, that my words will fall on barren ground. It is only in keeping with the arrogance of some honorable members that, when they have engaged in considerable debate upon a question, they absent themselves from the Chamber when an honorable member rises to present another side of the question, and they have reasonable justification for believing that he will not try to be overpolite.
– It is not very civil of the honorable member to ignore my presence.
– I am not prepared to express any obligation for the presence of the honorable member. The attitude which certain members of the Opposition are now asking the House to adopt is not that which we might reasonably expect from those who are always anxious to proclaim their desire to trust the people. How can any one who claims to be desirous of trusting the people refuse to grant them an opportunity to say whether they will purchase goods branded to indicate that they have been made under certain conditions? To pretend to be prepared to trust the people is pure hypocrisy on the part of those who take up that attitude. I look upon the registration of trade union labels as of great importance, because it will give the public an opportunity to express its views on a subject on which Parliament has failed to express them. If the public is humanitarian; it will desireto purchase articlesbranded as having been made under reasonable conditions, and Parliament should not prevent it from doing so. I am pleased to be wearing garments which have stamped upon them the trade mark of the Goldfields Tailors and Tailoresses’ Society. That society has adopted a particular brand, to be placed on goods made by its members ; but if the employers of Kalgoorlie, or other parts of Western Australia, do not care to use it, no attempt is made to compel them to do so. Where the brand is used; however, it denotes that the garment on which it is placed has not been made under conditions similar to those which caused the poet Hood to write his pathetic Song of the Shirt. Honorable members should encourage the use of these brands, and endeavour to strengthen public opinion in favour of the making of goods under proper conditions. We know how capable the honorable and learned member for Corinella, who objects to Part VII. of the Bill, was in framing phraseology to prevent trade unions from taking advantage of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act, so long as their rules could be interpreted by the most exacting to make them political in their nature, and the objections which have been urged against the Bill now before the House justify the assertion that certain members of the Opposition are desirous of removing all political power from the unions, and weakening the influence which they have atpresent, by preventing them from getting the industrial rights which they would enjoy under it. To my mind, the most questionable methods - I will not use a stronger expression - have been adopted by those who oppose this measure. I tope, however, that it will be dealt with on its merits by honorable members generally, and that those who have banded together to let the public know that their wares have been made under proper conditions will be allowed the opportunity to do so. All that the unions ask is to be put on the same footing as other persons who can register trade marks. As has been pointed out, employers will not be compelled to use the union trade marks. If an employer thinks that he can sell his wares with greater freedom by not attaching the union label to them, he will not be compelled to use it. But, on the other hand, employers whose goods have been made under fair conditions will be able, if they desire to do so, to give the public a. guarantee that the life-blood of their employes has not been drained to furnish it with cheap goods. I think that Parliament should give employers whose goods arc made under proper conditions the right to advertise the fact in the way provided for by the Bill.
– I would not have risen to take part in this debate had it not been for the speech of the honorable member for Kooyong, who this afternoon, in his usual way, had a good deal to say against trade organizations generally. It appeared to rae that his arguments were directed against these organizations rather than against the provisions of the Bill for the registration of trade union labels. Those who oppose the Bill tell us that they thoroughly believe in trade unionism, but, at the same time, they are .ready to use any weapon to assassinate it. We were told by them, when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was before the House, that the number of men in trade organizations was a mere handful, who were not worthy of consideration; but now we are told that their number is so vast and their influence so great, that they could compel shopkeepers to sell no other goods than those bearing trade union labels. We heard a great deal this afternoon about the effect of union labels in America, and particularly in San Francisco. We were informed that sandwich men had been paid to march up and down in front of certain shops with a view to establishing a boycott. But the article which we were invited to read in support of these statements says nothing about trade union labels. They deal with trade organizations and their methods. The article from which the honorable member for Kooyong has quoted is a very interesting one, and I should like to read one or two passages, which represent, in a somewhat different light, the case as put by the honorable member. Mr. Ray Stannard Baker says -
But if the undoubted right of the employer to hire union or non-union men indiscriminately is exercised without resistance, it means that the employers will gradually fill up their shops wilh non-union men, because non-union men, unprotected by organization, will work cheaper, and that ultimately means the end of unionism and all that unionism stands for. . . . Indeed, the tendency of wages in an unorganized industry is to sink to the wage of the man who will work cheapest and live poorest. A poor wage, like poor money, drives out the good. Allow Chinese labour to compete freely in the American market, and immediately only Chinese wages would be paid, and the American workman would be forced to live like a coolie or starve. On the other hand, in industries where no unions exist, there is a tendency for all employers to grade downward to compete with the most merciless taskmaster in the trade. An employer who wishes to pay good wages, lo share his prosperity, to be benevolent, cannot do it, because his neighbour grinds his workmen down, and in order to remain in business the honest employer must stoop to the methods of the dishonest employer.
Tt was manifestly unfair on the part of the honorable member for Kooyong to quote merely that portion of the article which was favorable to his own view, and to ignore those passages which have a tendency to show that, whereas there may have been occasional abuses in connexion with the operations of the trade organizations in America, the employers are mainly responsible for the extreme action taken. We are told that the use of the union labels would place certain employers at a disadvantage, but I am at a loss to understand how that result could be brought about. If, as has been stated, the unions are hardly worth considering, I do not see how they could exercise the power necessary to compel the majority of the people to buy only goods bearing union labels. Such labels would, at least, afford a guarantee that the goods had been made under conditions better than those prevail ing in the dens of the sweaters. The manufacturers’ and the employers’ organizations appear to have one desire, namely, to break clown the power of the trade unions in order that they may exercise a free hand in dealing with their workmen, and reduce wages to the lowest possible point. We know very well that if the .trade unions did not exert themselves, the employers would engage only non-unionists, and would reduce the wages down to rates far below those at present ruling. It has been urged also that the provisions relating to the use of trade union labels would destroy individual liberty, encroach on the rights of citizenship, restrict competition, and hamper trade. So far as that is concerned, it may be pointed out that nearly all the legislation we pass curtails, in some form or other, the rights of individuals. It has been asserted that the class of legislation now under consideration is entirely new, but I should like to read a quotation from one of Mr. Sidney Webb’s works, Socialism in England, in which he demonstrates th. extensive scope of the legislation passed for the regulation of industries and other matters affecting the daily life of the people. He says -
Besides our international relations and the army, navy, police, anc! the courts of justice, the community now. carries on for itself, in some part or another of these islands, the post-office, telegraphs, carriage of small commodities, coinage surveys, the regulation of the currency and note issue, the provision of weights and measures, the making, sweeping, lighting, and repairing of the streets, roads and bridges, life insurance, the grant of annuities, shipbuilding, stockbroking, banking, farming, and moneylending. It provides for many thousands of us from birth to burial, midwifery nursery, education, board and lodging, vaccination, medical atten- dance, medicine, public worship, amusements, and burial. It furnishes and maintains its own museums, parks, botanic gardens, art galleries, libraries, concert halls, roads, streets, bridges, markets, fire engines, lighthouses, pilots, ferries, surf boats, steam-tugs, lifeboats, slaughterhouses, cemeteries, public baths, washhouses pounds, harbors, piers, wharves, hospitals, dispensaries, gasworks, waterworks, tramways, telegraph cables, allotments, cow meadows, artisans’ dwellings, common lodging-houses, schools, churches, and reading-rooms. It carries on and publishes its own researches in geology, meteorology, statistics, zoology, geography, and even theology. In our colonies the English Government further allows and encourages the communities to provide for themselves railways, canals, pawnbroking, theatres, forestry, cinchona farms, irrigation, leper villages, casinos, bathing establishments, and immigration ; and to deal in ballast, guano, quinine, opium, salt, and what not. Every one of these functions, including even the army, navy, police, and courts of justice was at one time left to private enterprise, and was a source of legitimate individual investment of capital. Step by step the community has absorbed them……….
Besides all its direct supersession of private enterprise, the State now registers, inspects, and controls nearly all the industrial functions which it has not yet absorbed.
Mr. Webb goes on to enumerate the various functions which are now performed by the State, and to point out that very severe punishment is visited upon those who infringe the laws. It is idle for honorable members to declare that this Bill embodies any great innovation. The proposal to recognise the union label is merely one of those devices which are absolutely necessary under existing conditions. I do not regard it as establishing any great principle, but rather as a palliative which is intended to assist in tiding over one of the many industrial problems with which we are faced owing to present social! ‘conditions. I know that those who have shown the strongest opposition to the Bill would have acted much more straightforwardly if they had openly declared that the class which they represent - the employers’ class - desire to see all forms of trade unionism entirely wiped out. That is what they are actually aiming at. They all tell ‘ us how much they admire trade unions. Whilst unionism was a factor of very little importance in the welfare of the workers, they may possibly have believed in it. But the moment it became an active force in the politics of the country - as the honorable member for Kalgoorlie remarked a few minutes ago - the whole of the employing class set to work to break down the powers of that organization. I do not imagine for one moment that anything that the em- ployers may do will achieve that result. The working classes of Australia recognise too well that their great hope - apart from industrial organization - lies in political action. They realize that with the power which they at present enjoy they will be able to secure something better than the mere pittance which they have hitherto received. They are satisfied that they will improve their conditions generally. I do not think that all the abuse which has been heaped upon unionism by its opponents will have much effect. I regard a number of those who declare that they love our organizations - that they look upon unionism as a very good thing - as nothing short of humbugs, because I find that upon every conceivable opportunity they endeavour to injure our industrial institutions. Under such circumstances, I claim that there is a good deal of hypocrisy about many of their statements. By the adoption of a union label, I think that the public will be afforded an opportunity of assuring themselves that the goods which they purchase have been (manufactured under better conditions than would obtain if they were made in a sweater’s den. For these reasons I intend to support the second reading of the Bill.
– I desire to say a few words on this question, feeling ‘th’at, as one who possesses some practical knowledge of the working of trade marks and trade marks law, I have some right to do so. I think that a good deal of the criticism which has been indulged in on both sides of the House has been directed very largely, not to a consideration of the measure itself, but to the question of trade unionism and its assumed objects. I do not intend to occupy the time of the House by following on similar lines. I desire to deal with the concrete question of trade marks, and with the other question which has been imported into this discussion, and which I shall endeavour to show is really not connected with the matter of trade marks at all. The Trade Marks Bill, in the form in which it was originally introduced, was, I believe, drafted by the former Ministry, of which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was the head. The measure related to trade marks pure and simple. Later on it fell into the hands of the Government which was led by the honorable member for Bland. It was introduced by that Government without any alterations having been made in its provisions, so far as we are aware. It certainly did not contain Part VII. of the present Bill, but it was amended in the Senate, .he clauses which form the basis of Part VII. being inserted. In turn the measure was taken up by the late Government. We do not know what they would have done with it, but I think it is generally admitted that if it had been left in the hands of either of those three Governments the Bill would not have been carried with the provisions relating to the use of the union label which are contained in Part VII. I do not believe for a moment that the Ministry of which the honorable and learned member for Ballarat was the bead, would have accepted those provisions, nor do I think that the honorable member for Bland would have done so, because he must know that he ‘could not have carried them. Neither do I imagine that the late Government would have attempted to carry that part of the measure. Vow we are faced with the position that the fourth Administration, which has existed since the assembling of the present Parliament, has had the Bill sent down from another place - -not in the form in which it was originally launched - but with a very important addition. From these facts it is plain that the proposal to which I refer is one which, for some reason or other, has not commended itself to a majority of this House up to the present moment.
– Part VII. was inserted in the Senate last session.
– But not by the Government.
– Before the Prime Minister entered the Chamber, I mentioned that the Bill was sent down from the Senate, not in the form in which it was first projected, but with the addition of Part VII. As one who is a supporter of the Ministry, I feel that I am entitled to exercise my right of private judgment in this matter. I do not think that the Bill should be treated as a party question.
– Hear, hear !
– The fact that it has been so long before us, and that it has not until now obtained even the slightest countenance from a Government is very significant. That being so, I think I may fairly endeavour to discuss it altogether apart from any consideration as to who occupy the Treasury bench and who are opposed to them. Before passing to the measure itself it is only just to the present
Government to say that they have - by the amendments which the Attorney-General has brought down - made provision to prevent, as far as they possibly could, any abuse of the power sought to be conferred under Part VII. I think they are entitled to credit for that, because, looking to the composition of parties in this House, and the circumstances under which they came into office, it is only reasonable that they should pay some attention to the opinions of their supporters. I do not “blame them for that. I think that they have done what they could to remove the most objectionable features of the clauses in the Bil], which were inserted by the Senate at the instance of a private member. They Wave done what they could to cure the evil, and yet they have felt that it was their duty to retain in the measure the principle which was affirmed elsewhere. I may add that in reading the debate - I had not the privilege of hearing it - I was very much struck with the arguments which were put forward by my honorable friend the Attorney-General. Some of his arguments were subsequently supported with considerable force by the honorable member for Bland. One argument, which seemed to commend itself to the House, and is certainly plausible, was that it was only fair and reasonable that trade unions, as associated bodies, should have conferred upon them the same rights as private individuals or corporations, or, in other words, that they should have the right to register trade marks. That contention seemed to be accepted by many honorable members. I confess, however, that I was not convinced. I shall tell the House why. The fallacy which underlies the argument is that Part VII. of the Bill seeks to confer upon trade unions a power and privilege that cannot be conferred upon private individuals or firms. A trade mark is a proprietary right, which is given to individuals, so that they may indicate to the public, who consume their products, that those products are made by them, and inherently the proprietary right in the mark must necessarily be accompanied by a proprietary right in the article produced. I do not think it is arguable that anything else could be the case. The whole of our trade mark law is based on that fact. I heard the echo of a sentiment that is often expressed, in the speech of the honorable member for Kennedy as I entered the Chamber a few minutes ago. The honorable member was urging that those who did not see their way to support the union label provisions of the Dill were practically hypocrites, because, while they professed to be friendly to trade unions, they were really conspiring to prevent them from obtaining the rights and privileges which individuals enjoy. What is the definition of a trade mark ? After reading the best definitions that I could obtain, I have come to the conclusion that those who allege that a trade mark is something that can be conferred, in the way that the Government propose, are under a misapprehension. All I have heard in the House to support the view that a trade mark can be conferred in the way for which provision is made in Part VII. of the Bill, is the statement - for it is really not an argument - by the honorable member for Bland, that, because in certain statutes of certain States of America, trade union labels are termed trade marks, we should accept that definition. I have consulted within the last few hours one or two authorities. One of them, the latest American dictionary, to my mind, puts the whole matter beyond question. Being an American authority it will, perhaps, be accepted by my honorable friends of the Labour Party, who, in this matter, seem to think that because thev can find some justification in America for the course now proposed we should accept that justification without question. The Century Dictionary gives the following definition of “trade mark “: -
A distinguishing mark or device adopted. by a manufacturer, and impressed on his goods, labels, etc., to indicate the origin or manufacturer; in law, a particular mark or symbol which is used by a person for the purpose of denoting that the article to which or to packages of which it is affixed is sold or manufactured by him or by his authority, or used as a name or sign for his place of business, to indicate that he carries on his business at that particular place, and which by priority of adoption and more or less exclusive use, or by Government sanction and registration, is recognised and protectable as his property.
In Palgrave’s Dictionary of Political
Economy, which is an excellent authority, I find this definition -
The term trade mark denotes a distinctive mark or device showing that the article to which it is affixed is manufactured or sold by a certain house or firm.
I could produce other definitions from equally reliable authorities. They are all to the same effect. In this Bill we follow English legislation, and, as a matter of fact,) I find that the very language adopted in some of its clauses is identical with that employed in the Imperial Statute 46 and 47
Vic, ch., 57. Section 65 of that Statute reads as follows: -
A trade mark must be registered for particular goods or classes of goods.
Section 70 provides that -
A trade mark when registered shall be. assigned and transmitted only in connexion with the goodwill of the business concerned in the particular goods or classes of goods for which it has been registered, and shall be determinable with that goodwill.
The honorable . and learned member for Corinella alluded, in the; course of his speech, to “ the man in the street.’”’ The man in the street” puts the natural construction on the English language, and the authorities to which I have referred amplify and elucidate the same clear concep-tion of what a trade mark is. I said a few moments ago that the Government, even by the proposed amendments which they have circulated, are seeking not merely to place a trade union in the same position as a private individual, but to give to the trade union that which they cannot give to a private party, because no individual could apply a trade mark which he had registered to the goods of others.
– Which he could apply?
– What I pay is that this Legislature cannot confer upon a private individual the light to the exclusive use of a trade mark which he or any organization can apply to the goods of other persons.
– That is not proposed even in the case of trade unions.
– I am not dealing with that aspect of the question, and if the AttorneyGeneral will allow me I shall meet his point. At present I am dealing only with the general question. It must be evident to honorable members that I am absolutely correct when I say that no right can be conferred upon me to apply a trade mark of my own will, or in conjunction with others, to the goods of other persons. If that be so, it must be clear that there is a flaw in the AttorneyGeneral’s argument. He says that the Bill, as proposed to be amended, does not seek to confer such a right. That is true in a sense, inasmuch as the amendments which have been circulated by the Government indicate that any one who employs union labour can apply the union label to his own goods. There is no power in the Bill to compel him to do so, but he has the right to do it.
– There is no power to prevent him.
– Essentially a trade mark is something which belongs to an individual,, and which he must apply only to his own goods. Under the English law, which we are following, the assignment of a trade mark carries the power and the right to produce the goods to which it applies. A trade union label is not a trade mark, but is merely a label to be applied. I admit that the provision, as proposed to be amended, is very much better than it was before, but it is not in accordance with the intention of its author in another place, for he evidently meant the labels to be used as they have been used in America, which is the only country where they have ever been used to any extent, so far as I am aware.
– They have been used in England for the last thirteen years.
– Never, by law. That is am idle argument to address to me. We are now seeking to put upon the statutebook a principle which I unhesitatingly say has never been enacted in England.
– Does the honorable member object to embody the principle in a law or to the principle itself?
– I object to the principle. I hope to be able to show that it is unworkable, and therefore, to be logical, I must object to its enactment. I think it is quite legitimate for my honorable friends to try to put the principle upon the statute-book. They believe it will aid them in the objects which they have in view. They may be content to ‘accept its enactment to-day, with the qualifications which the Attorney-General has framed; but may they not hope that, having succeeded for the’ first time in a British community in getting a trade union label treated as a trade mark, they can very soon, if they have the numbers/ alter its application? I do not say that they intend to do so, but as we are making a law not for a moment, tout perhaps for generations, we ought to be careful to see that we do not sacrifice a principle. While I approve of the proposed amendments of the Attorney-General, and of some of the checks provided, and if we are to adopt the principle in the Bill I might support them, still I contend that we ought not to resort to these palliatives, but to face the question. If the principle is bad, and it is enacted, it will never be cured by a temporary expedient. I think I have fairly met the contention of the AttorneyGeneral and the honorable member for Bland, that in adopting this principle we are onlyputting trade unions in the same position as private individuals. The supporters of this Bill say that, in opposing it we are seeking to undermine trade unionism. I absolutely deny the allegation, and I am not to be put off or compelled to assent to a principle of which I disapprove because of any clamour of that kind. Having dealt with one aspect of the question, I wish to point out further, that inasmuch as a possessory right to a trade mark must necessarily accompany a possessory right to the production of the article to which it applies, I hold that this so-called trade mark can never be applied, because the owners of the union trade mark or label are not the owners of the goods. They cannot be made the owners of the goods, and they have no responsibility for the quality of them. The great reason for the use of trade marks at all is to enable men who produce an article which they wish to be distinguished, because they think it is better than that of somebody else, to put their name and mark on it, so that those who appreciate what they consider to be a good thing, will know that it can be got by asking for that particular brand. But it has been said in the House that, as a matter of fact, people would ask for the article bearing the union label, because they would know that it had been produced under sanitary conditions and was of approved quality. Those who speak in that way know but little of the workings of commerce. If they will reflect for a moment, they will, I think, come to the conclusion that they artaltogether too sanguine in that respect. If the wife of an honorable member were to buy an article because it bore the union label, and found that it was a very indifferent one indeed, would he not say to her, on the next occasion, “ You had better get an article without the union label “ ? The whole conception is seen to be absolutely erroneous, when we come to consider how it would apply. Supposing that one man made a very bad article, and that another man made a very good article, the latter would use his own trade mark, but the former would trust to the union label. Probably they would both be employers of union labour, and they might use the union label, but as a matter of fact, the article would not be sold because of the use of the union label, but because of the quality which experience had proved it to possess.
– But a trade mark is no guarantee as to the quality of an article.
– A man would be veryfoolish to put a good trade mark on a bad article. I claim to know something about what I am talking of.
– He would be a rogue if he did.
– I beg my honorable friend not to interrupt. If any person, firm, or company uses a trade mark which identifies an article with the producer, and that article is a bad one, it will very soon cease to command a market. Trade union labour may be employed tt> manufacture a very bad article, and if a union label were applied, it might sell the article once, but not twice. I am driven back to this conclusion, that the advocates of the union label either do not understand how little use it will be to them, or, if they do understand,; that they have in view some ulterior motive, which is left to our imagination to elucidate. I do not wish to attribute motives. I am sure that my honorable friends who have advocated this measure so strongly, do not mean it to be used harshly or unjustly to any one. I acquit them of any such desire. But we must look at human nature as it is. The tendency is for a power to be used when granted. And when we see the tainted source from which this proposal came - namely, -America, where the grossest injustices have been done under this system - when we know that the honorable member in another place, who introduced these provisions in the Bill, drafted th-em in such a form that the present Government could not accept them, because thev meant that any employer of labour might be put under the domination of trade unions - we are entitled to say to those who advocate the trade union label that we ought to walk very warily so as not to put a power into the hands of anybody or any collection of individuals or bodies which might be disastrously used, and has been disastrously used in the only part of the world’ where it has been tried. I think I have shown that the proposal would not answer the purposes intended, and that it is asking for a privilege for trade unionists which could not be conferred upon individuals. I have also shown that it would be no guarantee of quality, or anything of the kind. I will now seek to show that it would be impracticable in many cases. In one of his amendments, the Attorney-General very properly puts it that if the goods are not entirely made by trade union labour, but are what I may call composite goods, the owner of the goods may attach the trade union label, and may indicate clearly how far they are not made by trade union labour.
– May apply the label, so far as it is properly applicable.
– My honorable and learned friend has a very great acquaintance with trade marks, acquired in dealing with them in the course of his practice. But, unfortunately, he has not that practical knowledge of dealing with goods to which this label would have to be applied to enable him to grasp fully the significance of his own proposal. I know of goods that are put up by various manufacturers, in which perhaps six different trades are involved. Some of the workmen are employed under trade union conditions, others are not. I may say, in passing, that I have often listened with pain and surprise to statements . made in this House as to the relations of employers with their employes. I have been for over forty years a large employer of labour, and in all my expertence I have never encountered any of the conduct which is put forward here as representing the normal condition of the relations of employers with employes. Not only have I never experienced it, but I have never met, amongst those with whom I ant accustomed to associate, who are large employers of labour, any who seek to “ grind the faces of the poor.” I will not claim that they are always actuated by high moral or benevolent considerations, but any man who has to employ labour of any sort is a fool for his pains if he does not establish proper and righteous relations between himself and those whom he employs. In considering the case of goods, in which perhaps half-a-dozen trades are engaged, I would ask the Attorney-General : Are you to use six different labels? Are you to put on them “a long description to say that a particular article - say, cloth - has been made by trade union labour? .Are you to say that a particular pair of pants was stitched with union labour, whereas the material itself was made bv non-union labour; that whilst the buttons were made by union labour the tapes and other appurtenances were the product of some other kind of labour? There are far more difficult cases than that, which I could point to if I chose to instance them. The thing is absolutely ridiculous.
– There is also the wool to be considered in the case of cloth.
– I am not going backto the growth of the wool upon the sheep’s back, but that would complicate the matter further. There are other commodities, eatables as well as wearables, as to which it is absolutely ridiculous to propose to carry out any such idea. Those who bring forward this proposal, and those who believe in it, ought .to give heed to the views of men like myself - and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports knows very well that I have a right to say something upon this subject. I think the great mistake that our Legislatures, both State and Federal, are making is this - that they seek to legislate on theory. They do not inquire from those who could give them information as to what would best accomplish the object in view, if it is a legitimate object. Thev always assume hostility on the part of those who may be affected. Of course, there are men who are so narrow in their views of their own interest that you cannot, perhaps, place very much dependence on their opinions and suggestions. But the great bulk of men are desirous, in this country at any rate - I will not speak for other countries - to do the best they can, not only to alleviate the condition of those who are associated with them, but also to ameliorate the troubles which, unfortunately, attend our civilization in several respects.
– Hear, hear. It is always the minority who cause the trouble.
– I do think that the Legislature would do well in all cases where they are entering upon new ground, opening up fresh country, so to speak, at any rate to take means to ascertain, either through a Select Committee or in some other way, the views of those who could give them reasonable and reliable information as to .the position of affairs. If that were done, I believe that we should avoid making such fantastic mistakes as are frequently made in our legislation. I think I have said enough on the score of the absolute impracticability of this proposal. I might say more, but I do not think any addition would increase the force of my objection to this principle being embodied in our statute-book. I have explained to honorable members what a trade mark is; and I say that in no respect can this proposed union label be classed as a trade mark, either in the language of the man in the street, or the language of common-sense. The proposed label lacks every element which constitutes a trade mark. I come to another aspect of the question, which only dawned upon me within the last few hours in the Library. I ask your attention, Mr. Speaker, as well as the attention of the AttorneyGeneral, to what I am about to say, because, whether I am right or wrong in my view, it raises what I deem to be a very important question. I maintain that this Bill is not rightly before the House. That is a good deal to say ; but I shall endeavour, as briefly and lucidly as I can. to give my reasons, which, I think, will be of such a nature as to justify me, either at this or a later sitting, in asking your ruling. I have looked up the history of the Bill ; and, as I have already stated, it was drafted by the Deakin Government, but introduced, I believe, by the Watson Government in the Senate. On referring to the journals of the Senate. I find that leave was given in the usual way, to introduce a Bill “ for an Act relating to trade marks.” The Bill was read a first time, when leave was given, and was read a second time on the 27th July, J904. After the Bill had been read a second time, the amendments we have been debating were inserted, and I maintain, that by inserting provisions which were not covered by the title of the Bill, and were not relevant, the measure became bad, and should never have come to this House. I shall give my reasons for .that view. If there is one principle of parliamentary government which is more emphatic than another, it is that Bills introduced for one purpose shall not be made to achieve another purpose which is not indicated in the title, or is not cognate or relevant to the subject. When I began my political apprenticeship, about a quarter of a century ago, in this chamber, as a member of the Victorian Parliament, it was necessary to consider questions of constitutional practice more than the Commonwealth Parliament has had the opportunity ,to do. Perhaps, if this Parliament had had the experience of the Victorian Parliament in this connexion, we would be more careful as to what we do. At page 452 of the 10th edition of May it is laid down -
To obviate the difficulty thus created-
There had been a very loose practice prior to this - the House, in 1854, by standing order No. 34 - which, I may say, is practically the standing order of the Senate - gave a general instruction to all Committees of the whole House -
I think we have an instruction of similar purport, but I have not had an opportunity to look it up - to whom Bills were committed, which empowered them to make such amendments therein as they should think fit, provided that the amendments were relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill ; and, if such amendments were not within the title of the Bill- that is, relevant, but not within the title - the title was to be amended and reported specially to the House.
My contention is that the provision now being discussed, is not covered by the title, and I further allege that it is not relevant.
– Is the honorable member censuring the Senate’s action?
– I am pointing out what I think are the rights and privileges of this House. We passed a standing order, which enables us to take up in a following session measures from another place, and I may here say that, on constitutional grounds, I have very grave doubts as to the wisdom of that step. But we passed a standing order, and if we permit another place to make a breach of their own Standing Orders-
– It would be improper for us to sit in judgment on another place.
– If the honorable member will possess his soul in patience he will have an opportunity to speak afterwards. When we take a Bill over from another place on trust, we are entitled to see that, at any rate, it has been treated according to constitutional practice and usage. On page 453 of the same edition of May, we read -
Thus, as the subject-matter of a Bill, as disclosed by the contents thereof, when read a second time, has, since 1854, formed the order of reference which governs the proceedings of the Committee thereon, it follows that the objects sought by an instruction should be pertinent to the terms of that order; and that the amendments, which an instruction proposes to sanction, must be such as would further the general purpose and intention of the House in the appointment of a Committee. The object of an instruction -
Mark this - is, therefore, to endow a Committee with power whereby the Committee can perfect and complete the legislation defined by the contents of the Bill, or extend the provisions of a Bill to cognate objects; and an attempt to engraft novel principles into a Bill, which would be irrelevant, foreign, or contradictory to the decision of the House taken on the introduction and second reading of the Bill, is not within the due province of an instruction.
I am here to say that, in my humble opinion, this Bill is bad - constitutionally bad - and has no right to be before us. It is a Bill which will have to be begun de novo, because it introduces matter which, as May says, is irrelevant, novel, and foreign ; and I maintain, further, that Part VII. is contradictory to the very intention and scope of a Trade Marks Bill. I see that my friend, the honorable member for Kennedy, is smiling, and I believe that he is, perhaps, as well versed in May and the Standing Orders as any other gentleman in the House. I do not know whether the honorable member had this point “ up his sleeve “ ; at any rate, if he had, he concealed it very well.
– At any rate, I think the honorable member is absolutely wrong in his contention.
– In order to satisfy my honorable friend, I will read for him the standing order of the Senate bearing on the subject. It is as follows : -
Any amendment may be made to any part of the Bill, provided the same be relevant to the subject-matter of the Bill, and be otherwise in conformity with the Standing Orders of the Senate.
We have in this House a standing order which provides that -
The title shall agree with the order of leave, and no clause shall be inserted in any Bill not coming within its title.
So that both Houses of this Parliament are in the same position, and have practically adopted the Standing Orders of the House of Commons, so far as this matter is concerned. I say, with all respect, that it seems to me that this House will do well at this early stage of its history as a legislative body, to be very careful how far it departs from the rules and practices of Parliament. We should not,by any direct act, countenance a departure from well-known and respected principles, and we should very jealously guard ourselves against any attempt to evade what is required by the practice of Parliament by what I would say, without offence, is a subterfuge. That is to say, that by giving an absolutely unnatural name to a trade union label, the attempt should not be made to make provision for it in a statute intended to provide for trade marks, which are of a totally different character. You, Mr. Speaker, as custodian of the privileges of this House, may have to deal with this question, and you will admit .that we cannot be too careful in this matter. In this case I hold that this proposal cannot be introduced in the form in which it has been submitted to us. Again, without offence, I would say that had it not been sneaked in under false colours, under a false denomination, there is no other manner in which, consistently with the Constitution, it could have been introduced. I do not know of any of the powers given to Parliament by the Constitution under which this proposal could have been brought forward except that under which we are enabled to deal with trade marks. But it can only be introduced under that power by the most violent distortion of language and ideas, by saying that black is white, and by affirming in the Bill that a trade union label is a trade mark, when it really is not, and when, as I have said before, it has no quality which a trade mark possesses, and which makes it of value. I do not know whether this is the right time at which I should raise the question of the practice of Parliament in connexion with this measure. The position is somewhat unique. The honorable member for Kennedy says that it would be improper for us to sit in judgment on another place. I do not desire to do anything of the kind. At the same time, we owe it to ourselves, as a legislative body, to see that .a measure which we take over from another place in good faith comes to us for our consideration in proper form, and in accordance with the practice of Parliament. It will be admitted that this is a most serious question, whether my view of it be right or wrong. From the consideration of the premises and the whole of the facts, I cannot discover that I am wrong in my contention. There may be some subtle, legal refinement by which the difficulty I have raised may be overcome, but with that of course, as a layman, I cannot deal. Speaking to each other as sensible, reasonable men, I would say that there is not one even of our trade union friends who can say in his heart of hearts that, except by a distortion of fact and idea, it is possible to describe a trade union label as a trade mark.
– Does the honorable member for Mernda desire that I shall give a ruling now, or does he desire to raise the question later ? I am prepared to give a ruling now .if the honorable member raises the question.
– I shall ask for a ruling later.
– I have listened with some attention to the remarks of the honorable member for Mernda, and I have been somewhat surprised that a gentleman of the honorable member’s experience should think that this is a Bill which has been remitted to us from the Senate. To my mind it is nothing of the kind.
– The honorable member will kindly take his seat. Two matters were referred to by the last speaker, one the question of the second reading of the Bill, which, of course, is still before the House, and the other the question of compliance with parliamentary practice. Unless the honorable member for Mernda or some other honorable member raised the latter question now, it would not be right to discuss it at this time. The honorable member for Hindmarsh may himself raise the question of practice if he pleases, or otherwise deal with the second reading of the Bill. I must ask the honorable member to do either the one or the other.
– I should like to be permitted to say that I omitted to mention in passing that a message had to be brought clown here before this Bill was introduced, but from my stand-point that does not alter the position.
– I understood the honorable member for Mernda to state that it was his intention, at a later stage, to raise the question of practice, and get the ruling of the Speaker on it. I therefore merely intended to make a passing, reference to that question, and to say that what the Senate has done has nothing whatever to do with what this House may do in dealing with this measure. It is a new measure to this House. Clauses were introduced in another place, part of which have been adopted and part of which have been altered by the present Government in introducing this measure. The honorable member for Mernda has told us that a trade union label is impracticable. The simple reply to that is that it has been in existence for so many years in the United States. That is sufficient proof that it is thoroughly practicable. Further, its use is being extended year by year. The honorable member also said that a trade union label cannot be provided for in a trade marks law, but he has not given any proof that it is not possible to do that.
– We cannot call a spade a hat.
– The honorable member has told us that a trade mark refers to the quality of the goods to which it is attached, and he also stated, in reply to an interjection, that a man would be a fool to put a trade mark upon inferior goods. I do not think that the honorable member has been paying very much attention to the evidence brought before the Tariff Commission, or the evidence submitted to the Victorian Butter Commission, or he would have found that trade marks are being used freely upon goods which are positively not fit for human consumption. In these circumstances, where on earth is the value of a trade mark as an indication of the quality of the goods? In the case of a trade union label, there would be some guarantee of quality. The honorable member for Parramatta last night twitted honorable members who are supporting the Bill with having given no reason why a trade union label should be adopted. I was very pleased indeed to hear the honorable member say that he thought it was right not only for himself, but for every honorable member, to purchase goods made under fair conditions. Here the honorable member has exactly given the argument for the use of a trade union label. I challenge the honorable member to tell me how he can ascertain whether the goods which he purchases are made under fair conditions, unless they have the union label attached. He says that he wishes to purchase goods made under fair conditions, and we desire to give him an opportunity to do so by providing for the attachment of the union label.
– The union label will not guarantee that.
– If the honorable member for Parramatta has read the history of the use of union labels in England and in America, he will know that the people of those countries are very well satisfied with the system. It has become so popular that many traders have been put into gaol for forging the label, or using it without permission, they having seen that the people were determined to have goods on which was this guarantee that they were made under fair conditions.
It may be, as stated by the honorable member for Mernda, that in no part of the British Empire is the union label recognised as_a trade mark; but I know that I used to receive a journal on the lines of the British Board of Trade Gazette, published by the Government of the Dominion of Canada, which bore the union label, so that the Government of that country recognises the system.
– But that label was not recognised by law.
– I admit that the use of the label is not sanctioned by law in other British countries, but that is because the system has worked so well that it has been found unnecessary to pass a law to establish it.
– Then why should the passing of a law be necessary here?
– Because of the hostility of a section of the community and of the House to the proposal. It is a remarkable fact that when the employing classes desire concessions to assist them in their industry, they have no difficulty in getting them from any of the Legislatures of Australia ; but when anything is asked for on behalf of the industrial classes, on behalf of the struggling, unorganized classes-
– But this is not being asked for on behalf of the non-unionists I
– We ask many things for non-unionists.
– Let us have a nonunion label, then.
– That is just what I wish for. If the honorable member in Committee moves an amendment providing for the registration of non-union labels, it will have my support, and that of every member of the Labour Party.
– I do not want either label.
– So soon as we ask for something for the industrial classes, the conservative section of this House, which largely represents the employing classes, declares our request to be unconstitutional. That was the objection raised to the proposal to bring the railway servants of the States within the scope of the Commonwealth Conciliation send Arbitration Bill. The same objection was taken to the proposal to give preference to unionists ; and now, when we desire to provide for the registration of trade union labels, to distinguish goods made under fair conditions, that is” said to be unconstitutional.
But I have never heard of a measure introduced for the benefit of the employing classes being declared unconstitutional.
– The honorable member, or any one else, could raise the objection in regard to such a measure if it were unconstitutional.
– I think that such questions should be left to the High Court to determine. Then, again, whenever anything is proposed to benefit the industrial classes, we have the central council of the Employers’ Federation of Australia telling the public that this will mean giving control of the industries of the country to the labouring classes, and that it will ruin the Commonwealth. That is the cry that has been raised from the earliest days of legislation for the benefit of the poor. It was raised when the attempt was made to take women and children out of the mines of England; it was raised when the attempt was made to regulate child labour in factories, and to put an end to the system under which one relay of young children took the places in bed of another relay that had to get up and work through the night under the whip. Whatever is proposed on behalf of the industrial classes is objected to on the score that it will ruin industries. It cannot be said that the Labour Party dominates the Legislature of Canada, or any of the Legislatures of the United States, and therefore I ask why is it, if the union label system is attended by all the evils of which we have teen told by honorable members of the Opposition, that these Legislatures have not put an end to it ? It is the employing classes who dominate the Legislatures of America.
– Yet the honorable member has told us that a law sanctioning the use of union labels has not been proved to be necessary in the United States.
– I did not saythat. As the honorable member for Bland has pointed out. something like twentyeight Acts have been passed in the States recognising trade union labels, and yet they go on passing more of these Acts. Why should they do so, if the evils which honorable members have predicted result from such legislation? The unions have no political control there. The right honorable member for East Svdney has said that the object of this beneficent piece of legislation is to drive out of the factories the men who do not belong to the unions. The object is not to do justice to the unions, but to make the boycott an effectual weapon to destroy the means of subsistence of fellow-workers.
But this is not a proposal merely to benefit unionists; it is a proposal to benefit the public as well. It will be within the knowledge of honorable members that the King, when Prince of Wales, contracted a fever whose origin was traced to one of the sweating dens of London.
– His coronation robes were woven in the slums of London, and the fact was only discovered afterwards.
– I am glad that the honorable member let him know. But he did not catch anything from his coronation robes. What he suffered from about that time was appendicitis.
– I have taken clergymen into the sweating dens of Adelaide - into homes where garments were being made and in which young persons were dying of consumption, or suffering from other diseases. If the trade union label system were enforced, the public would not have to buy clothes made under such conditions as those.
– Would the use of the trade union label put a stop To that state of things ?
– No. But, although, if the honorable member wanted to buy his clothes out of a fever den, he could do so, still, if he wished not to run that risk, he could avoid it by buying clothes to which the union label was attached.
– But unionists might be working in a fever den.
– The leader of the Opposition thinks he sees some very sinister motive behind this proposal. He tells us in one breath that the Labour Party represents only unionists, and in another breath that the unionists constitute only a small minority of the workers. If these statements were true, how would it be possible for the members of the Labour Party to secure their return as representatives in this Chamber? According to the right honorable gentleman’s own showing, our presence here demonst rates that we represent, not only the unionists, but a much larger section of the people of Australia. The right honorable gentleman said that, of all attempts to create a monopoly, he thought the most cruel was the attempt of working men to create a privilege and a monopoly against members of their own class. The right honorable gentleman did not say one word as to the extent to which non-unionists have benefited from the operations of the trade unions. The non-unionists would not be earning the wages they, are receiving to-day but for what has been done for them by the much-abused unionists. Unorganized labour is unrepresented, except in so far as its interests are conserved by members of the Labour Party. We do not ask for legislation which will benefit only one section of the people. We do not ask for factory laws for the benefit of unionists only, but in order that the interests of all workers may be protected. I am glad to say that we have to some extent succeeded in our efforts in that direction. I am sure that we should not have secured what we have done if honorable members on the Opposition benches had had the making of the laws.
– The workers would have been enjoying much better conditions if their representatives had taken the course we suggested .
– The leader of the Opposition did not tell the House that, after unionists have fought in order to secure a certain wage, non-unionists have stepped in and taken their places ; that non-unionists who were single men have taken work at a smaller wage from married unionists who, with their wives and families, have been consigned to starvation. Such non-unionists have shown themselves capable of creeping and crawling to the employers and accepting work at far less than a fair day’s wage.
– What about the men who are being turned out by unionists to starve in the streets of Sydney ?
– For all that the honorable member is prepared to do, those men might starve till doomsday. I think that we have shown that we are willing to do a great deal for the non-unionists, and that is more than a good many honorable members on the Opposition benches are prepared to c10. The honorable member for Parramatta told us that voluntary arbitration was all that was necessary to insure fair conditions of labour and fair wages.
– I said nothing of the kind. I said that voluntary arbitration had proved to be better than compulsory arbitration up to date.
– -We have had a voluntary Conciliation and Arbitration Act in existence in South Australia for a good many years. That measure was introduced by the right honorable and learned member for Adelaide. The workers have, time and again, tried to put that Act into operation, but the employers have refused even to be represented on the Conciliation Boards, or to meet their employes in any way. I am connected with a union that entered into an agreement with the pastoralists, by voluntary conciliation, under the provisions of that Act. The agreement lasted for only one year, and when we asked the pastoralists to meet us again, they said, “ No, we will have nothing to do with you - we will fight you.” They did fight us, but I am glad to say that’ we came out victorious. It has been urged that the provisions to which so much objection has been taken will not improve the condition of the workers, and I should like to tell honorablemembers what has happened in connexion with our Wages Boards. Wages Boards are provided for in Victoria, the Arbitration Act in force in New South Wales operates in connexion with all industries, and there is an Arbitration Act in Western Australia. In South Australia, although the Assembly passed a Factories Act providing for the establishment of Wages Boards in four of the most sweated industries in the State, the Legislative Council, in what I regard as the most unconstitutional manner, prevented the establishment of such boards by refusing to pass the necessary regulations. I am glad to say, however, that now two of the industries are about to be regulated by means of Wages Boards. Under present conditions, how is it possible for the honorable member for Parramatta to know that good’s manufactured in the sweating dens of South Australia are not being sold in New South Wales, or that goods made in Tasmania or Queensland, free from restrictions such as are imposed by the industrial legislation in operation in other States, are not being disposed of indiscriminately. It is for this and other reasons that we are anxious to introduce the use of union; labels. I do not propose to take up any more time at this stage, because I recognise that when the Committee stage is reached a determined1 attempt will be made to defeat the provisions of the Bill relating to union labels. I shall then be prepared to advance arguments in justification of the proposals.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi - -Attorney-General). - I should like to say two or three word? before the debate is closed. I recognise the advantage that we have all received from the speeches we have heard, and I am free to acknowledge that whatever opinion? have been expressed as to the desirability of union trade marks are honestly held.
I am aware that the provisions of the Bill relating to union trade marks can be much more advantageously dealt with in Committee, and that it would be practically a waste of time to refer to them in detail now. At the present stage, I merely desire to say a few words with reference to the contention that the expression “trade mark” should have a limited significance. I wish to point out that the substratum of most of the arguments that have been used against the provisions of the Bill disappear when we look at some of the definitions and some of the observations of even the text-writers, who naturally take a limited view owing to the course of legislation. I need hardly point out, however, that it is not because legislation has hitherto taken a limited view of trade marks that we should, for all time in the long line of history that is before us in this Commonwealth, be restricted to that definition. Even up to the present time, the term “trade mark” has received a far wider interpretation than appears to be given to it by some honorable members. I propose to read a few lines from a work of authority - Sebastian’s Law of Trade Marks, 4th edition, page 4. I think that honorable members will see that very strong support is given to the view taken by the Government of the applicability of the term “ trade mark” to the union trade mark, as provided for in part 7 of the Bill. The passage I desire to read is as follows: -
The use of the trade mark is not in all cases to designate the maker of the substance to which it is attached (b), though that is usually so; it may indicate some other person who has expended labour on the article, so that, as finished, it owes some portion of its value to him. Thus, in a case in the Supreme Court of New York (c) it was held that, where one person manufactured cotton cloths, and another printed them, the mark was indicative of the printer, and not of the original manufacturer. So a trade mark has been recognised as indicating the bleacher who finished the goods which another person had manufactured; (a) and in the same way, one may serve to denote the importer (e) or exporter (f) of manufactured goods.
Again, a trade mark may be so composed as to indicate that the goods have been examined and selected by a person of known ability, so that they have attributed to them such value as his approval can give, and his reputation depends upon their corresponding to their alleged quality. In such a case, therefore, the trade mark belongs to the selector, and not to the manufacturer (g).
I quote those words to show that, as I remarked in my opening speech, the expression “ trade mark “ has been ex tended to cases in which it is desired to indicate that some person has done certain work upon goods, either at their very origination, or at some stage midway between that and their ultimate sale in the open market. Therefore, it seems to me that there is no new principle involved in applying the term to a mark indicating that some work has been done upon goods, or that they have been produced by the labour of members of trade unions. I have no desire to occupy the time of the House any further. I recognise that when the Bill reaches Committee this subject will receive the most careful and attentive consideration.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clause1 agreed to.
Debate resumed from 3rd August (vide page 501), on motion by Mr. Isaacs -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– I do not propose , to offer any observations upon this measure. As I have previously said, it is a Bill, the object of which I entirely approve.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
– I would suggest to the Attorney-General that we should merely make formal progress upon this Bill. Nobody understood that it would come on for consideration to-night.
Clause agreed to.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a formal measure that I apprehend the House will experience no difficulty in passing. It is a Bill to amend the Service, and Execution of Process Act 1901. That Act, which is No. 11 of 1901, provides for the service and execution throughout the Commonwealth of process, civil and criminal, and of the judgments of the Courts of the States, and of other parts of the Com- monwealth. In passing that measure an omission was made, which has recently been felt. It occurs in section 18, which relates to the execution of warrants. That section provides that a warrant issued by any Court or Judge or justice of the peace in one State for the apprehension of a person in any other State of the Commonwealth, must be indorsed, and after its indorsement, the accused may be apprehended wherever he may be found. But there is no provision made for what is termed a “ provisional “ warrant, and, therefore, as the Federal law at present stands, it is necessary for the authorities to wait until the formalities have been complied with - that is, until the actual warrant has been sent, perhaps, to a distant part of Australia, and the indorsement has been made there. In the meantime - as recent experience proves - the person charged may get away.
– Give us an illustration of its effect.
– What is meant by an “ indorsement “ ?
– An “indorsement” means that the justice of the peace in the place where the accused person is must put his name upon the back of the warrant. There has been a recent illustration of the existing difficulty, to which I need not refer.
Mr.Reid. - The honorable and learned gentleman refers to a justice in the locality where the accused person is.
– Yes. Of course, a justice cannot indorse the warrant until it has been sent over. We propose in this Bill to copy the provision which is embodied in the English Fugitive Offenders Act. Accordingly, the measure provides that any justice having jurisdiction in a State in which an accused person is, may, if he receives information and some proof of circumstances which, in his opinion, would justify the issue of a warrant had the offence been committed in the State where he is, issue a provisional warrant. The person may be arrested under the provisional warrant and detained, and that will be done unless the original warrant is sent over and indorsed within a reasonable time. This is at present the English law. It is to be found in the Fugitive Offenders Act, but by reason of the inauguration of the Commonwealth it has been decided by a learned Justice in Western Australia that Commonwealth action instead of State action is required. Without this provision we cannot have that Commonwealth action, and it is our desire that the Federal law shall be complete in this respect. The Bill is designed merely to fill up a gap that was inadvertently left in the Service and Execution of Process Bill as passed by us, and is in strict accordance with British legislation.
– If this were an important measure, one would naturally require more time for its consideration, but, as the Attorney-General has said, it is really necessary in order to make our existing Federal law effective in some cases that were not in contemplation at the time of the passing of the Service and Execution of Process Bill. In these circumstances I have no objection to the motion.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported without amendment ; report adopted.
Mr. ISAACS (Indi- Attorney-General). - I should like, by leave of the House, to move that the Bill be now read a third time.
– If it were a matter of urgency, that course could be followed; but as it is not, I must object.
– If we pass the Bill, will the Attorney-General adjourn the House?
– It is desirable that the Bill shall be read a third time this evening. We have no wish hereafter to break into other work that remains to be transacted, and there cannot be any objection to the course we propose. Our only desire is to pass the Bill through its remaining stages in order that it may be sent to another place.
Mr. REID (East Sydney).- The statement made by the Attorney-General does not show that there is sufficient urgency for the course he desires to take, and I must therefore object to it.
– If the right honorable member objects, the matter, of course, must stand over.
– We have completed all the work set down on, to-day’s notice-paper, and I must congratulate the House on having agreed to the second reading of two important measures. In the circumstances, I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I wish to enter my emphatic protest against the proposal that we should adjourn at this hour. The honorable member for Grey last night protested in vigorous terms against a proposal to adjourn at half-past 10, on the ground that we were playing with public business. We are asked now to adjourn, although it is only 9.25 p.m., and the honorable member for Grey, who protested so strongly last night, has evidently retired lo rest. It is a striking commentary upon the attack that was made last night upon the Opposition for seeking an adjournment at a reasonable hour, after honorable members had travelled from all parts of Australia in order to be present. This is the most important night of the week, so far as Government business is concerned, because on Thursdays private members’ business is taken until 6.30 p.m., and yet we are asked at this unduly early hour to adjourn. I consider that it is simply playing with public business.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).When the Opposition applied for an adjournment at half-past 10 last night, the Attorney-General distinctly objected, although several honorable members who were absent wished to speak on the Bill that was then. before the House. We were told then by the honorable and learned gentleman that there was so much business to be transacted that the Government could not possibly grant our request. Several members of the Labour Party professed their anxiety that the House should sit on. and alleged that the Opposition were “ stone-walling.”
– They also threatened the Government.
– They warned the Government of what they would do if business were not proceeded with. I think the Ministry deserve censure for failing to have business prepared for the consideration of the House, and also for neglecting to have honorable members in attendance.
– There are any number of honorable members present.
– The cries for an adjournment came from the other side.
– I said that if we passed the Service and Execution of Process Bill through all its stages we might adjourn. As a matter of fact, we did not call attention to the want of a quorum, as we might have done.
– -Why not do so now?
– Did I understand the honorable member to say that there was not a quorum present?
– - -No. no.
– I did not. Mr. Speaker. The Government have received, at our hands, better treatment than was meted out to the present Opposition when they were on the other side. I hope that when next a request is made by the Opposition for an adjournment at a reasonable time, as was the case last night, it will not be refused, inasmuch as we have shown a disposition to help the Government, as far as we can, to transact public business.
– I must protest against the charges of the leader of the Opposition. Last session, when the late Government had a majority of only one, I sat here hour after hour until I fell asleep, in order to assist the Government to keep a quorum.
– But we are now asked to adjourn.
– The request for an adjournment came from the Opposition.
– This little piece of theatrical display on the part of the leader of the Opposition is quite characteristic of the right honorable gentle,plan. Before I moved the second reading of the small Bill with which we have just dealt, we heard cries for an adjournment from the Opposition.
– I called for it.
– The only cries for an adjournment came from the Opposition.
– The demand was made bv only one member.
– We heard the cries of more than one honorable member. When we reached the Secret Commissions Bill, from whom did the request come that we should not proceed any further? From the leader of the Opposition.
– Nothing of the kind.
– We were ready to go on, and are ready now to proceed with that Bill, but the right honorable member asked us not to deal further with it this evening.
– I did not ask the Government not to go on with other public business.
– When I mentioned the Commerce Bill, the right honorable member interjected, “The Government are not going on with it now?” and when I sought just now to proceed with a small machinery Bill the right honorable member availed himself of the forms of the House to prevent us from going on with business.
– I rise to a point of order. I wish tol know whether the AttorneyGeneral is in order in saying that I used the forms of the House in order to obstruct public business?
– I said that the right honorable member availed himself of them not to obstruct but to prevent us from going on with public business.
– When the honorable and learned gentleman was making a proposal which was entirely contrary to the rules of the House I objected, and I wish to know whether the statement that he has just made against me is in order?
– I am quite sure that if the right honorable member for East Sydney objects, the Attorney-General will withdraw the remark.
– What remark, sir?
– The’ right honorable member objects to the remark made by the honorable and learned gentleman to the effect that he availed himself of the forms of the House to procure the postponement of certain business.
– If you, sir, think that the remark is not parliamentary, of course, I withdraw it.
– It is not the fact.
– The use of the remark is objected to.
– I merely say, as honorable members have seen, that the leader of the Opposition-
– I must ask the AttorneyGeneral if he withdraws the remark?
– Certainly ; but what the right honorable member did a few moments ago in raising an objection, which he had a perfect right to do, seems to me utterly irreconcilable with his action now.
– I really think, sir, we should have a quorum to listen to this speech.
– I am very sorry that the honorable member did that, because I promised to do all I could to prevent a count-out. [Quorum formed.’]
– I have only to add that the work which has been done bv the House during the last few days has been mam times greater than the whole of the work done under the regime of the leader of the Opposition during the ten and a half months that he held office.
– There is no obstruction now ; we treat renegades fairly.
– Order !
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 9.33 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 August 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050809_reps_2_25/>.