4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I have to announce that the Hon. William Knox has resigned his seat as member for the electoral division of Kooyong. I shall read his letter to the House - “ Ranfurlie,”
East Malvern, 26th July, 1910.
The Hon. the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth Parliament.
My Dear Mr. Speaker,
Owing to my continued ill-health, yielding to the advice of my medical attendants, and in pursuance of the promise made by me at the last election, that, if ill-health should prevent my giving full and proper attention to my Parliamentary duties, I would resign my position, I hereby beg to resign my place as a member of the House of Representatives for the electorate of Kooyong.
It is with feelings of profound regret that I take this step, but I feel that it is my duty, not only to the House, but also to my constituents and to the country generally.
May I express my grateful thanks to the members in all parts of the House for the kind consideration and courtesy they have shown to me at all times since the inception of the Commonwealth Parliament, and which I have always endeavoured to reciprocate, and my appreciation of the good feeling which has always existed among us in spite of differences of political opinion.
May the deliberations of the House be guided by Divine wisdom and a singleness of purpose for the good of Australia, my country.
Yours very truly,
– I think I may speak for honorable members generally in expressing regret for the cause which has induced the honorable member for Kooyong to take the step indicated by the letter which you, Mr. Speaker, have just read. His condition is another evidence of the stress of political life on the physical and mental endurance ofhonorable members, he, like so many others, having failed to maintain bis health while performing the arduous work which falls upon the representatives of the people. I am sure that I voice the feelings of every honorable member in expressing the desire that Mr. Knox may live long to enjoy his retirement. Although he held strong political views, he always expressed them with fairness and directness, and, however politicians may differ, it will always be well for the country to have men of his stamp in its public assemblies. We are one in hoping that he will long enjoy the peace and repose to which he is entitled at the end of his arduous commercial life and of the political career in which he embarked for his country’s sake.
.- Expressing our appreciation of the remarks of the Prime Minister regarding the retirement of the honorable member for Kooyong, I shall not weaken them by repetition. The honorable member brought to the performance of his duties great business knowledge, extending over many years, and. a mind trained by wide experience of large affairs. These qualifications often proved exceptionally valuable to us. Few honorable members who have occupied so small a portion of the time of the House by formal addresses to the Chair have contributed more substantial . matter for consideration on business issues. Those who have been associated with Mr. Knox from the first recognise the truth of what the Prime Minister said regarding the friendly personal relations existing between him, his political associates, and political opponents. These were due to a certain frankness and directness he possessed in dealing with matters in hand. I hardly remember an occasion when a reflection upon a fellow member fell from his lips. He was content to put his case, and to allow ‘it to stand on its merits. We much regret his loss, and share the wish of the Prime Minister for his speedy restoration to health. In any review of the work of this Parliament, the contributions made by honorable members like him will be recognised as possessing an exceptional value in a country like this which is still in the process of making or being made by men of his type.
– As perhaps the oldest friend that Mr. Knox has in this House, I may be permitted to say a few words expressing my regret at his resignation. When quite a youngster, and a clerk in the Colonial Bank, I knew him as perhaps the handsomest young man in Melbourne. Not only had he good looks ; he had also good qualities of brain. I was the youngest in the clearing house, and others were disposed to take advantage of me for that reason, but Mr. Knox was’ ready to take my part when I needed his’ assistance. During the years that we have been friends our political paths have lain asunder. He has taken what is called the Conservative side in politics, and has held honestly to his views, while my opinions have been those of the party which now, thank goodness, is in the ascendant. But our political differences have never interfered with our friendship. I knew that had I been in need at any time, he would have been only too willing to help me, while, for my part,
I should have been just as willing to do what I could for him had he required my assistance. I had the misery of meeting him on the 14th April last - the day after the elections - as he was coming dowp the steps of Dr. O’Hara’s house, and I was going up. He said, “ Well, Maloney, I am bad, and have been told that I had better go back to bed.” When he informed me what he had been told by his medical adviser, I felt that we should never hear his voice in this Chamber again, though I did not tell him so. I am very sorry that the impression then left on my mind by the statement he made to me has proved to be true.
– With rest, he will be himself again shortly.
– No one hopes so more than I do. As his oldest friend, and one who accepted kindness from him when my years did not permit me to take my part as I should have liked to do, I pay him my meed of regret. I hope that with quiet and rest he will so far recover that he may be able to enjoy his life among his circle of friends. Those who know him best love him best.
– As you have allowed the honorable member for Melbourne to pay a tribute to the honorable member for Kooyong, I should like to be permitted, as an old personal friend, to say a few words in regard to his great worth. I had the pleasure of seeing him this morning, and I am disposed to indorse what the honorable member for Wentworth has said, in believing that we may yet hear his voice here again. Having enjoyed his close and intimate friendship, not merely during the ten years for which we have been members of this House, but for the last thirty years, I can say that he never took part in any debate without feeling the profoundest concern lest he might take a course which would not prove beneficial to his country. He was able this morning to accompany me on foot to the gateway of his drive. We conversed on many subjects, and he expressed his deep regret that, from a sense of duty to his constituents, he felt bound to give place to some one who could perform the task of a representative more completely than his health would permit him to do. In testifying to his great worth as a politician, let me say that, while he differed radically at times from honorable mem bers opposite, he never doubted their sincerity, although his long and wide experience of the commercial affairs of this country often satisfied him that the course which seemed immediately least popular would prove ultimately the most beneficial to the interests of Australia.
.- I should like to add my testimony to that of honorable members in proof of the loss which this Parliament sustains through the resignation of Mr. Knox. Those of us who had the pleasure of being associated with that gentleman in the first Parliament, remember with pleasure the breadth of view he displayed from the first in treating great national questions, and also the cordiality and kindness of his relationship with other members of the House. We shall all miss him very much, and I join in the hope expressed by those who have seen him more recently that he may again find a place in this House.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether, in view of the strong objections to the establishment of a quarantine station at Claremont, he will postpone further action until the matter has been fully investigated and the opinion of the residents of the district obtained ?
– A good many honorable members, including the honorable member for Franklin, have wired tome on this subject, and I have to say that the whole matter is to be postponed until the citizens are well satisfied.
– Has the Prime Minister seen the following in to-day’s Argus, referring to the Northern Territory railway route -
The Premier (Mr. Verran) laid on the table of the House of Assembly to-night the opinion of the Crown Solicitor in respect to the route which must be taken by the transcontinental railway to the Northern Territory, supposing the present Transfer Bill was passed by the Federal Parliament. Mr. Dashwood concluded a lengthy and closely argued opinion in these words : - “ On the whole, however, and with great deference, I adhere to the view expressed in my opinion, that the true construction of the act and agreement is that the transcontinental railway line is to be constructed wholly in South
Australia and the Northern Territory, and, as above stated, I do not think the Bill before the Commonwealth Parliament conflicts with this construction.”
Will the Prime Minister state whether he indorses the opinion thus expressed?
– The Government can have only one opinion on this question, and that is the opinion expressed by the AttorneyGeneral.
– In view of the report in this morning’s Melbourne Age of the visit of certain senators to the Federal Capital Site, and of the statements- I suppose we must call them statements - of that newspaper in reference to the merits of the site selected by Parliament, I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he thinks it would be possible to get fairly accurate information showing the loss which that newspaper would have to bear-
– Order !
– What I am saying is intimately involved in the question I desire to ask, and I shall not occupy more than a minute. I should like to know whether we can ascertain the pecuniary loss that that paper would suffer if the reports of the affairs of Parliament, and the doings of the Departments, had to be sent from a site away from Melbourne, as contrasted with the present favorable circumstances.
– I shall ask the newspaper proprietors to make a report on the matter.
– I desire to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether the Rev. H. Worrall, who recently made certain allegations affecting the administration of the Department of External Affairs - to wit. that certain Fiji missionaries were compelled to find a money deposit of £200 each, whilst Jack Johnson, pugilist, was received with open arms, meaning thereby that there had been differential treatment- has, in view of the fact that the Permanent Head of the Department has given such allegations a flat denial, made any withdrawal, retraction, or apology, or expressed his regret for circulating those allegations ?
– A letter has been received from the Rev. H. Worrall since the letter from the Secretary of the Department was sent to him. The reverend gentleman’s letter contains no apology, but I take it to mean that he does not now insist on the statements he previously made - in fact, it amounts to a retraction.
– Can the Minister of Trade and Customs state how matters stand with reference to the export of wheat and other produce in bags containing not more than 200 lbs. weight?
– The steps that were taken at the instance of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro were to prevent the importation of produce in bags containing over that weight. In the event of the passing of the Customs Bill, which it is proposed to introduce as soon as possible, power will be taken to prohibit the export of goods in bags containing more than that weight.
– Will nothing be done in the meantime?
– We shall do our utmost to keep to the limit of 200 lbs.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs made up his mind as to imposing an export duty on hides, skins, and so forth?
– That matter has not yet: been considered by the Cabinet.
– In order that readers of the Federal Hansard may be fully aware of the nature of Bills introduced, will the Prime Minister have the full text of such Bills included in Hansard at the first-reading stage?
– I have never given consideration to that matter. We are not allowed to put into Hansard anything that is not read in the House, and I should not like to have the task of reading the full text of every Bill before it is considered. We might read the Bills into Hansard when they reach the stage of consideration preceding that in which they become Acts.
-Would the Prime Minister consider this way of getting over the difficulty : Instead of the clauses of a Bill being given from the Chair in Committee, as clause No. 1, and so on, could they not be read in extenso, and so appear in the pages of Hansard?
– I do not think it necessary that all the clauses of a Bill should be published in full in Hansard. It would be another matter if there were any way of including the full test of the Bills when they have become Acts.
Accident, Andover - Randwick Ranges :
Charges for Targets - Military Reserve, Liverpool
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence kindly lay on the table all papers and communications in connexion with the recent railway accident at Andover, in which several horses were killed?
– I shall.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence ask his colleague to take into consideration the advisability of reducing the charges made to rifle clubs for the use of targets at Randwick ranges, Sydney, for rifle practice?
– I shall be glad to do so.
– Can the Minister of Home Affairs give any information as to when the resumption of the proposed reserve for military purposes in the Liverpool area, New South Wales, is likely to be completed ?
– I shall have the matter carefully inquired into.
Mr. KING O’MALLEY laid upon the table the following paper -
Lands Acquisition Act -Land acquired under at Wallerawang, New South Wales - As a site for a post office.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice, whether he would place on the table -
-The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the importance of the mining industry in Australia, and the present unsatisfactory system of issuing local certificates, will he consider the advisability of consulting the State. Premiers, with the object of substituting Commonwealth mining certificates for the competency certificates now issued to mining engineers by the various local Schools of Mines in several States?
– Yes. trust funds.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice - .
Who were the Treasurers when, previous to this year, moneys were taken from the Trust Funds, and what were the totals respectively in each Treasurership ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
– All useless and misleading - not what was asked for at all.
In Committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s Message) :
– 1 move-
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purposes of a Bill for an Act to grant and apply out of the consolidated revenue fund a sum for invalid and old-age pensions.
This Bill is simply for payments to a Trust Fund. It involves nothing else. If there is. any surplus money it will go into the fund; if there is none, nothing will happen. The Bill is necessary simply because the old trust account is, I am sorry to say, about run out.
– :The Treasurer’s speech is in keeping with the general way in which he has treated the House during this session. He says there is nothing in the Bill; that it is a mere matter of form; but he does not tell us that its principal object is to -secure to the Commonwealth any surplus revenue under the operation of section 94 of the. Constitution.
– I did say that.
– The honorable member did not say that this was a means of evading the intention of the Constitution that any legitimate surplus at the end of a financial year should belong to the States.
– There will not be any.
– There would be some if it were not for this Bill, the intention of which is to mop up any surpluses there may be, . and so to defeat the clear intention of the Constitution and making it impossible that there should be any surpluses during the time that this appropriation of £3,500,000 runs. No one can imagine for a moment that the Government want .£3,500,000 for old-age pensions at the present moment. That sum is, I should say, far in excess of the requirements for the current year.
– A year and a-half .
– But we shall be in session again long before a year and a half. The reason is not that. The reason why so much is asked for is, as I said, to mop up any surpluses that there may be under the operation of section 94 of the Constitution. It is therefore intended to destroy the effect of the clear intention of the Constitution, which was that the Commonwealth should spend all the money it wanted for the operations of the year, and that any balances should go to the States.
– We shall want it all.
– FORREST.- Whether we want it or not, this Bill will destroy the chance of any surpluses going to the States, in view of the recent decision of the High Court that “ appropriation “ means expenditure. None of us in the Convention, when the Constitution was framed, understood that. We thought expenditure meant expenditure. In view of that decision, I do not know why the Treasurer has stopped at £3,500,000. He might as well have asked for £20,000,000 at once, so as to have no bother about- it for the next ten years. What I object to is that the Treasurer has not stated the clear intention of the Bill. If he had said plainly what his intention is there would be no room for misunderstanding, and no necessity for me to complain of his want of candour in the matter.
.- I think the right honorable member for Swan hardly appreciated what the Treasurer did in his condescension tell us with reference to this proposal. I thought he explained the Bill infinitely more fully than he did others of vast importance, which we had before us only yesterday. I take it that the Treasurer is. only carrying on the powers which we previously had under certain Acts. I can see no objection to such a proposal, and I am sure no member of the Opposition would throw any bar in the way of the Government assisting by such machinery the old-age pensions fund of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
That Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes do prepare and bring in a Bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Bill read a third time.
Debate resumed from 26th July (vide page 729), on motion by Mr. Fisher -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– No one can quarrel with the Government for taking steps to repeal the Naval Loan Act, which formed so prominent a feature of last session’s business, since they base their action, I take it, upon the decision of the recent election, and are purporting now to obey a direct mandate of the people that this very important measure shall be repealed. I wish, however, to express my very keen regret that this is being done, and I hope to show why it is a mistaken policy to repeal such an Act, in view of the future history of the Empire in relation to naval defence. I am glad that we are coming to the end of the election speeches that have been delivered by honorable members opposite.
– We are going to have another, apparently, from the Opposition.
– No. I have a great deal more to do with my time than to use it in “ dishing up “ speeches which I do not relish after they have so long gone by. It is quite apparent that the speeches to which we listened, for instance last evening, formed part, of the stock-in-trade of honorable members opposite at the last general election.
– What has this to do with the Naval Loan Bill?
– I have already connected it with the Naval Loan Bill, and I hope that the honorable member will bear with me for a few moments, because I desire to make a slight reference to some of his statements concerning our relation to the naval policy generally. We have already been told, during this debate, many things concerning the naval policy and, in particular, the proposed naval loan, but I, for one, cannot appreciate the horror which honorable members opposite, including members of the Government, appear to have of the policy of borrowing for any purpose whatever. They seem to be filled to the full with righteous indignation at the idea of borrowing under any circumstances.
– They do not mind taking the money ; it is the payment of interest to which they object.
– I was going to point out that on the very day on which the second reading of this Bill was moved, we dealt with two positive loan proposals, one of them connected with the loan of Trust Funds-
– The honorable member must not discuss that matter.
– I am making the very slightest reference to it.
-The honorable member is going beyond a slight reference to the subject.
– In questioning the consistency of Ministers in proposing to repeal the Naval Loan Act, I made the very slightest reference to two other measures.
– I allowed the honor able member to make the necessary reference so as to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair ; but he was proceeding to deal with the details of measures which the House has already determined, when I interrupted him.
– I was merely going to mention them. I begin to wonder what we can discuss in dealing with this Bill. It seems to me that the discussion of a loan policy raises the whole question of the finances of the Government.
– The honorable member will not be in order in discussing a general loan policy.
– I am not doing so, but I think that I am justified in discussing the financial position as it relates to a loan policy. From time immemorial that has been the ordinary procedure of every Parliament of which I know, and that is all I propose to do. As bearing upon the consistency of the Government in being so anxious to repeal every trace of a loan, I was merely pointing out, when, interrupted, that two positive proposals for borrowing were announced on the very day that we proceeded to consider this Bill for the repeal of the Naval Loan Act- We were told last night that that Act cast a stigma, on the people of Australia, and that the Labour party are glad that that stigma is now being removed. Another- honorable member declared, and I suppose that he thought he was on the platform when he made this declaration, tHat the Act was the best of all evidence that the Opposition had sunk their personal convictions and had joined in some unholy alliance for the purpose of raising a naval loan. The only justification for making these abusive statements - and they are both abusive and insulting - is that we are supposed to have been opposed, in 1902, to a borrowing policy. The honorable member who made these statements does not recognise that a loan policy may be perfectly unjustifiable at one time and quite justifiable seven or eight years later. I do not know how we can appeal to his reason. The simple fact is that in the rears gone by, when we were opposed to borrowing for any purpose, there was an overflowing Treasury. ‘We had an abundance over and above what we were able to expend out of our one-fourth of Customs and Excise revenue, and in those circumstances it would have been criminal to plunge ourselves into a borrowing policyThe position to-day is entirely different. The Treasury is empty, and the Government and their supporters., who propose to borrow to replenish it, now denounce us for this inconsistency because, when the Treasury was overflowing, we happened to be opposed to borrowing. We were also told that we must not borrow for naval purposes, because of the general indebtedness of Australia, the honorable member who made that statement being forgetful of the fact that the indebtedness of Australia is a very slight burden upon the taxpayers.
– The honorable member must not follow that line of argument.
–I am only touching on these points.. Our loans in New South Wales cost us only 7 Jd. per head. I am only running rapidly over these statements, believing that they need to be answered, since they circulate through honorable members’ electorates, and that it i,s iu.’t as well to send the antidote after the bane. Another argument which was put forward by the honorable member for Denison last night was that, under the Naval Loan Act of last’ year, we should’ have had to pay £1,500,000 in interest before we had wiped out the loan. He, therefore, urged that by repealing the Act we should save that £1,500.000. He might have gone still further, and have inquired what the taxpayers would be saved if Australia had no indebtedness whatever. Weshould save them £9,000,000 per annum. But is it not foolish to argue in that fashion? The only reason why we borrow is that it is a profitable and a commercial transaction even if we have to pay interest upon the money. In this respect ‘we differ from my honorable friends opposite. They are not opposed to borrowing so long asthey can take the money from somebody without being required to pay interest upon it. That is the great distinction between them and us. The Government already have two borrowing propositions before the House. It is only the payment of interest to which they object. If they can lay their hands upon the gold, they will do boevery day in the week so long as they, are not obliged to pay interest upon it. Then, we are told thai they are not averse toborrowing for reproductive public works. Is the creation of a navy not a reproductive work? In asking that question, T hope that I am not contravening any of the canons of political economy which were emphasized last night by the honorable member for Denison, with so much erudition. He flourished aloft the writings of Michael Flürscheim, and exclaimed, “ The Ministerial supporters read and study political economy, but the benighted members of the Opposition do not.”
– I should like te’ know in what author he found his observations.
– Another of hisauthors is Morrison Davidson, the celebrated Radical writer of London, who belongs to the same profession as does the honorable member for Parkes.
– I am not answerable for all in my own profession.
– The honorable member for Denison spoke of the author of Money Island! He declared that he had’ studied political economy according to that author, and that the members of the Opposition had not. But I hold that a loan for naval purposes is in its very essence a loan for a reproductive work. My reading of> political economy teaches me that production extends to every action which has to do either with the protection of trade whilst it is intransit or with the facilitation of its exchanges. How can we insure any production at all unless we take steps to protect our trade ? If ever there was a reproductive work, the building of a navy adequate to protect Australia is in its very essence a reproductive enter prise. The honorable member for Indi last night referred to the fact that in 1815 £600,000,000 or £700,000,000 were raised for war purposes at an average price of £64. What does that prove? Does it not prove the utter fatuity of inadequate war preparation ? Which is the better thing to do : to raise money at par to prevent a war, or to wait until war is upon us, and then raise money at £64?
– Could the late Government have floated a naval loan at par - at 3 per . cent. ?
– At the outside I think we could have got the money for3½ per cent. Indeed, my own impression is that we should have obtained it for less than3½ per cent, for this particular purpose. I do not hesitate to say that the flotation of a naval loan would have been a good thing for Australia in many ways. I doubt if we shall ever have as opportune a time to float a loan as we have in connexion with this matter of Empire defence. We hoped to obtain specially good terms in connexion with that loan.
– Did the late Government make any attempt to float it?
– Not that I am aware of
– Then this is all supposition.
– We were told in the most contemptuous way last night by the honorable member for Indi that Colonel Foxton was sent to England as the representative of the late Government at the Imperial Defence Conference, and that amongst his other achievements he was able to cadge £250,000 from the Mother Country.
– That is really what he did.
– I do not wish to quarrel with the statement of the honorable member except in regard to the terms in which it is couched. But I may tell him that 1 should infinitely prefer that Australia should provide that £250,000 rather than that she should accept it from the Mother Country. I should like to know what the Government intend to do in this connexion. When the Naval Loan Act of last year was before this Chamber the present Prime Minister, speaking from the place which I now occupy, used language of a very strong character in reference to this matter. Now that the Labour party have the power to do what they choose they can find the whole of the money required for our naval defence if they so desire. But whatever merits the loan policy of the late Government may have had, at any rate, it enabled us to’ initiate the work which is now progressing at a very much earlier date than would have been possible had the present Minister been in office. The present Prime Minister again and again declared that the question of the construction of an Australian navy ought to wait until we were in a position to pay for it. No matter how emergent were the circumstances his dictum was that we should not enter upon work of that kind until we could pay for it.
– Hear, hear; and we propose to do that.
– Then I suppose that my honorable friends will start the work of building a navytwo or three years hence? It is quite safe to say that the works would not have been commenced on the lines and the scale now adopted. The honorable gentleman and his friends would have gone on building their two or three little boats and spending, say, a quarter of a million a year.
– I must ask the honorable member not to enter upon a general discussion of naval policy.
– I am not going to do that. I am simply pointing out the advantage that our policy has given to the country.
– If I allowed the honorable member to deal with the general question, I should have to allow every honorable member to do so, and then we should get away from the object of the Bill altogether.
– I quite agree; and I do not intend to discuss matters of general policy. But I am entitled to show that the plan which we proposed has certain advantages over the attitude and performances of the present Government.
– The honorable member was going beyond that.
– I have no intention to go further. I am referring to the statement of the Prime Minister - and it was a repetitive statement - that - we should not enter upon this work until we can pay for it.
I say, therefore, that whatever the results may be from the point of view of defence, our proposals have had the immense advantage, as I think, of facilitating this work, and getting it done on the scale now adopted by the present Government. But what is the Prime Minister going to do about the £250,000 which is proposed, under the arrangement made, to be paid by the Imperial Government? When this matter was under discussion before, and the ex-Prime Minister - my leader - was speaking, this is what we heard from the then Opposition. The honorable member for Kalgoorlie, now an honorary Minister, said: “That is delightful patriotism!” That remark had reference to the £250,000 which the Imperial Government is proposing to pay towards the cost of our navy. The honorable member for Cook said : “ There is no Australian Navy about that !” To clinch the point, the Prime Minister treated the subject at some length, and this is what he said -
It is proposed to discontinue the subsidy of £200,000 to the Imperial authorities, and further to claim from them £250,000 towards the expenses of the Australian unit.
The Prime Minister put the matter much more politely than did the honorable member for Indi, who called it “ cadging from the Mother Country.” The Prime Minister went on -
Does the Treasurer really mean what he said? Does he really mean that Great Britain is to continue to pay £250,000 towards the upkeep of our navy? The Prime Minister nods his head. Is this an Australian Navy, an Australianowned and Australian-controlled Navy. …… Is this patriotism ?
Here is the Prime Minister expressing the greatest indignation !
Is this the idea the Government have of helping the Mother Country and the Empire? This £250,000 has been very generously offereda t the Imperial Conference, apparently as a way of smoothing the way for the proposal now before us. A more robust minded Government would have said to the Mother Country, “ You have difficulties and trials enough in Great Britain, and seeing that we were prepared to give two millions for a Dreadnought for you, we ask you to keep the £250,000 for your own defence, leaving us to provide the whole of the money for the defence of this part of the world.”
I confess that I have a good deal of sympathy with those sentiments.We had to stand the trouncing. Our proposal has been defeated.
– Why did not the honorable member prove his sympathy when he was in power?
– When the honorable member gets into power, does he think that he will be able to do just what he likes ? He may take it from me that he will not.
-He cannot do that even now !
– I again say what I have already said, that I should have been better pleased had that £250,000 been proposed to be paid by Australians for their own naval defence. I said so at the time. I said so in this House.
– Hear, hear.
– What is more, I shall have something to say about that question of payment in a minute or two, and although repetition is not good in Parliament, I shall repeat what I said previously. I think that we ought to be prepared to pay very much more in the very near future. But what are the Government going to do about it? That is the point. Are they going to “cadge” this quarter of a million from the Imperial Government ?
– Going to do what?
– “ Cadge “ this quarter of a million from the Imperial Government - that is a quotation from one of the honorable member’s own colleagues. The honorable member for Indi called it “ cadging,’’ and represented what was proposed as a stigma upon Australians. What then are the Government going to do about the matter? I should like to know. I think we ought to hear from the Prime Minister very explicitly what he thinks. He ought to tell the House in all conscience what arrangements he proposes to make; and I submit that we have no right as a Parliament to pass this Bill to cancel the Naval Loan Act until we have heard from the Government in power an explicit declaration as to how they propose to finance this important matter.
– Does the honorable member know that when he is playing “ bluff “ he has to pay to see the other man’s hand ?
– I do not know anything about “bluff,” but I am prepared to believe that the honorable member knows all about it. When he talks of “seeing the other man’s hand,” I may tell him that I do not know one card from another.
– The honorable member knows the “joker” when he sees it!
– I suppose that the honorable member for Gwydir is an authority on joking. But honorable members opposite are talking in a foreign language, as far as I am concerned, and I must ask to be excused if I cannot reply to this kind of talk. Here, however, is a statement from the Prime Minister, who had nothing but terms of contempt, ridicule, and denunciation for our policy. He denounced what we proposed as indicating a want of ‘robustness in our Imperial thinking, and expressed misgivings as to whether we should take this money from the Imperial Government at all. I should like to know, in view of his fierce denunciation of this “ cadging” proposal, as it has been termed by one of the honorable gentleman’s followers, what he proposes to do with regard to the ,£250,000. Then again, we are told by the political economist who sits behind the Prime Minister that no civilized nation in the world has ever been known to borrow for defence. I am amazed that an honorable member should talk in this confident way. I challenge him to point to a civilized nation in the world which has not borrowed for defence.
– In peace time?
– In peace time. In Germany this year there is a special appropriation of ,£13,000,000 in her schedule. Half of Japan’s naval expenditure this year is covered by borrowed money. France is borrowing £3,000,000 this year for naval purposes. Russia is borrowing by tens of millions for purposes of defence.
– That is no justification for our doing it.
– Is my honorable friend waking up now? Will he mind my telling him that his remark has nothing whatever to do with the subject?
– That is why he interjected !
– I suppose so. I was saying that there is not a civilized nation in the world to-day that does not borrow for defence.
– We say that they are not civilized, or they would not do so.
– It may be that they are not civilized.
– Does ihe honorable; member say that the United States borrows for defence?
– I am not quite clear about that. I do not think that the United States Government is borrowing directly for defence purposes, but for some collateral purposes. The honorable member will find, if he looks into the matter, that nearly every civilized country constantly borrows for defence purposes. They borrow large sums, irrespective altogether of the upkeep of the army and navy, for such purposes for instance as the building of docks and harbors. In almost every instance works of this kind are paid for out of loans, even in the United States.
– Are they doing that now in the United States?
– I am not prepared to say, but I do say that so far from no civilized country borrowing for purposes of defence, the fact remains that po civilized country in the world has not at some time borrowed for that purpose.The salient fact which we should keep con:stantly in mind is that every country, whether by raising the money from revenue or by borrowing, is arming to the teeth. Honorable members opposite have admitted that borrowing is justifiable in emergent circumstances, and our position is that the present circumstances are emergent. There never were circumstances of greater emergency than those which surround the British Empire at the present moment. I hope to be able to make that plain in a moment or two.
– We have heard that for a long time.
– That may be. Some persons require to hear a thing a great many times before they are convinced. Even if the honorable member; has already heard it it will not hurt him to hear it again, because, I venture to say, it is” a truth which we should all do well to become conscious of as speedily as possible. We were told that the series of wars ending in 181 5 cost Great Britain £620,000,000. It is a fact that nearly the whole of the National Debt of Great Britain to-day has been borrowed for war purposes. When the people of Great Britain are paying ^£20,000,000 or £30,000,000 every year on loans borrowed for defence purposes, is it not idle for honorable members opposite to contend that no civilized country ever borrows for purposes of defence? Great Britain has borrowed as few countries have borrowed to make her shores secure.
– In times of peace?
– I have already dealt with that point, and I now repeat that it is infinitely preferable to borrow in times of peace when money can be procured at par in order to prevent war, than it is to have to borrow three times as much in war time, and pay nearly double the price for it. I wish now to direct attention to what I think was a very uncalled-for statement by the honorable member for Capricornia. The honorable member actually charged us with betraying Australian interests in the naval proposalswe made. The honorable member could make no worse charge.
– Did I say that last night ?
– Is that the refuge the honorable member is prepared to take now?
– I wish to know how the honorable gentleman connects the statement with the discussion upon this Bill.
– I connect it in this way. The honorable member declared that the naval proposals associated with this loan policy were a betrayal of Australian interests.
– That is so.
– Order ! I ask the honorable member not to go into the question of a borrowing policy. He must know that I prevented other honorable members from doing so yesterday, and if I were now to permit him to do so, I should have done other honorable members an injustice.
– I understand that, sir, but I hope I am entitled to reply to a charge of the kind to which I have referred.
– I understood that the honorable member was going to reply to something that had been said elsewhere.
– It was said in this House, in connexion with this matter. The honorable member for Capricornia made quotations at length which were entirely inappropriate. The facts he alleged, so far from supporting his view of the case, told against it. For instance, he said -
Having regard to England’s experience in 1667, it is not at all likely that the British naval authorities would allow the British Isles to be unprotected. In June of that year, a powerful squadron of seventy Dutch vesselsappeared in two divisions at the mouth of the Thames, one of which passed up the river to Gravesend, while the other entered the Medway.
Certain very serious things happened to which I need not refer; but the whole af fair tells against the honorable member’s argument, and is in favour of a policy of naval preparation of an aggressive character. If the honorable member had looked at a paper, The Navy and the Nation, laid before this Parliament by Sir George Sydenham Clarke, than whom, I suppose, we could get no better authority on matters of defence, he would have taken a different view. Here is what Sir George Sydenham Clarke says on the subject, and, strange to say, he quotes the incident referred to by the honorable member for Capricornia as an instance of what followed from the lack of adequate preparation on the part of the British authorities. After telling us that some years before, simply by investing the country with the British Navy, the English compelled the Dutch to surrender without firing a shot or landing a man, he goes on to say that they also engaged in a fierce encounter in the year 1666, the year preceding that referred to by the honorable member for Capricornia. They inflicted great damage on the Dutch, and completely beat them again by pursuing the proper naval policy of seeking out the enemy, and beating him in his own waters. And then he makes the following reference to the year 1667 : -
In the following year (1667), Charles II. laid up his main fleet in order to save expense, and restricted his aims to commerce destroying. The result was that a Dutch squadron sailed up the Thames and Medway, and this disgraceful episode has frequently been used as an argument for excessive local defences–
The honorable member for Capricornia has used it as a reason why our ships should not leave our coasts. But Sir George Sydenham Clarke goes on to say -
This disgraceful episode has frequently been used as an argument for excessive local defences, instead of being treated as a warning for all time of the danger necessarily attending the policy of Charles II. which was the policy of keeping the fleet at home.
– He did not keep the fleet at home in the sense suggested by the honorable member for Capricornia.
– He kept the fleet at home and laid it up.
– There is a great distinction between laying a fleet up, and keeping it at home.
– Referring to the Spanish Armada, he quotes a letter written by Lord Howard to Elizabeth’s Council. It will be seen from this quotation how completely throughout the ages the British Fleet has been penetrated with the idea that it must not stay at home, but must go abroad to defend the Empire, wherever its need may be greatest -
The opinion of Sir Francis Drake, Mr. Hawkyns, Mr. Frobisher, and others that be men of greatest judgment and experience, as also my own concurring with the same is that the surest way to meet with the Spanish Fleet is upon their own coast or in any harbor of their own, and there to defeat them.
The arguments of the honorable member for Capricornia go in the teeth of the British naval experience of all ages, and, indeed, of that of nearly every other navy. If the last Government betrayed its country, its betrayal was of this nature : The arrangement was made in London that in time of peace the control of this Fleet should be ours, without qualification; but that in time of war or of threatened war, it should pass to the senior officer in command, so that in all probability the British Admiral would control all combined operations.
– That is a wrong policy for Australia.
– It is the policy which this Government will pursue.
– Is that so?
– Ministers have said so without qualification, and, I believe, will stick to what they have said.
– Subject to the will of this Parliament.
– When the last Labour Government was in office, the question of control was dealt with by the then Minister of Defence-
– The honorable member must confine his remarks to the question before the Chair.
– In view of the castigation which the members of the late Government have received, and the charge of betraying Australia’s interests which has been made against them, I am entitled to ask the honorable member for Capricornia if he will support the present Government in a course of action similar to that of their predecessors. Our policy is theirs in this respect-
– The honorable member must confine himself to the question.
– Stick to the Bill.
– There is nothing in the Bill to stick to. It is the shortest measure ever introduced into a Parliament. All it says is that the Naval Loan Act is hereby repealed.
– At any rate, it is undoing the work of the late Government.
– Only in one particular, and that a subsidiary, though nevertheless an important one. I said last session, and I repeat it frankly, that we are making only a small beginning in our naval defence preparations, and shall have to spend more money on them before many years have passed.
– The late Government would have borrowed for the purpose.
– No doubt the honorable member knows what was in the minds of the late Ministers. He should remember, when addressing this House, that honorable members are not like the electors of Indi, who swallowed his every word, without inquiring as to the truthfulness of what he said.
– That is uncharitable.
– Order !
– I should have . said accuracy, not truthfulness. The honorable member made some very impudent statements last night. He made the astounding announcement that the life of our naval unit will be only ten years, and that it would have taken eighteen years to repay the proposed loan.
– Members of the Opposition have admitted that the life of the ships would be only ten years.
– I have not heard them say so, and ask for proof of the statement. A vessel may become obsolete in ten years, but the preparations of the British Navy are based on the assumption that the life of warships is twenty years. If the honorable member will read the German Naval Bill, he will find that the German authorities assume the life of war vessels to be twenty-five years, although the period has since been reduced to twenty years. The Imperial Conference made its recommendations on the assumption of a life of twenty years, and our fleet would have been paid for long before its effectiveness had ceased. I do not know where we can go for expert advice, if not to men like Sir Charles Ottley and Admiral Fisher.
– What about Lord Charles Beresford ?
– Lord Charles Beresford recently headed a deputation to the Secretary of the Admiralty to urge the British Government to borrow £100,000,000, to be spent in making up the leeway which he alleges the British Fleet has made.
– He has stated that the life of a battleship is ten years.
– 1 challenge the honorable member to produce proof of that.
– What is the subject before the Chair?
– The policy of a naval loan, though the Prime Minister may be unable to follow the discussion. Had he the courage to prevent his followers from making foolish interjections which enable me to state a few- of the facts of the case, he would shorten the debate considerably. If Lord diaries Beresford were here, he would say, “ Whatever you do, do not repeal the Naval Loan Act. Spend every penny you can on_a navy to be used for Imperial Defence.” The Naval Loan Act, will do neither good nor harm until its provisions are availed of, but while it stands on the statute-book the Government, should an emergency arise, may proceed immediately to float a loan to make necessary defence preparations. That is one reason why I think the Act ought not to be repealed. It contains a standing authority to this or any other Government, if the need comes, to borrow for war purposes. Why is it so eagerly sought to wipe this Act out of the statute-book? There are numerous other Statutes which have become entirely obselete; but they are not interfered with. The Naval Loan Act, instead of being treated as a reserve power, is to be repealed, so that if emergent circumstances arise the Prime Minister will have to rush the Parliament for the requisite authority to borrow. I desire to repudiate the statements which have been thrown across the Chamber that the late Government -intended to participate in further borrowing. That statement was denied at the time, but honorable members opposite, no matter how explicit a denial may be, simply repeat their allegations.
– The late Government proposed to borrow £600,000 for ordinarypurposes at the same time.
– I do not know that they did.
– The honorable member was a member of the late Government.
– I know that this Government is proposing to buttress its revenue by a loan. If there is a purpose for which borrowing should not be resorted to, it is for the ordinary finances of the country ; and yet the present Government, which is so thin-skinned in re gard to borrowing for a navy to insure the security, of the Empire, propose on the very same day to borrow in order to supplement the ordinary finances.
– Order ! I have repeatedly called the honorable member to order for making that same assertion.
– It is in reply to an interjection. I think I had better say no more if I am to be pulled up like this. I do not see how I can discuss the policy of naval loans without some references to the finances of the country. The Bil] is a simple one, but it traverses the whole of the financial ramifications of government.
– I have never once checked the honorable member for discussing the financial position of the Government, and if he desires to follow that course he will be in order. When, however, he proceeds to discuss the question of naval policy or the general policy of loans, I have to rule him out of order. I ask the honorable member not to follow those lines of argument.
– You, sir, pulled me up just now, when I was making the remark that this Government-
– Will the honorable . member resume his speech?
– I wish to understand the position. I was simply remarking -that this Government do not hesitate to borrow for the purposes of their ordinary finances - purposes of ordinary expenditure - and yet they hold up their hands in holy horror at the very idea of borrowing for the supremest of all national purposes.
– The honorable member has repeated the same statement three or four times during his speech. On the first occasion he was evidently referring to matters that have already been settled by the House during this session; he has been long enough in Parliament to know that he should not refer to anything that has been so settled; and I ask him not to do so again.
– What is the position of affairs at the present time? This year Great Britain is spending £68,000.000 on defence, £40,000,000 of which is for naval purposes. Germany is spending between £20,000,000 and £30,000,000, a large “portion of which is money borrowed for the purpose of constructing engines of war. It is very difficult, indeed, to find out exactly how much
Germany is borrowing, but a cursory reading of the Estimates would show that the figure is ,£7,000,000 or £8,000,000, while the special appropriations, over and above the maintenance of the ordinary services, amount to no less than £13,000,000. Naval writers assert that the bulk of that £13,000,000 is money borrowed for the purposes of carrying out Germany’s naval policy. I am now dealing with the point whether the present circumstances are emergent or ordinary. In 1912 Great Britain will have twenty-two Dreadnoughts, and Germany at least seventeen ; and this would seem to be so far so good from Great Britain’s point of view. But we must recollect that, after 19 12, the great fleet of battleships, which now gives Great Britain such a- preponderance of naval strength, will be rapidly becoming obsolete, and very soon the contest will be between Dreadnoughts and Dreadnoughts only. Great Britain then will be at a tremendous disadvantage. It has been estimated that if Great Britain is to replace her naval strength in the minor ships of war, which by this time will have become obsolete, she will require an additional expenditure of over £60,000,000 in order to maintain the relative strength she now possesses over, say, a country like Germany.
– And there is no evidence to show that Germany is providing a sinking fund.
– None whatever - Germany is not troubling about sinking funds. My only fear is’ that at the end df this period Germany will have a fresh naval policy. I am not sanguine enough to believe that she is going to cease her preparations in 1912 or 1913, but rather fear a continuation on an accelerated scale. I single out Germany, because that country enables a better comparison to be made ; and we have to remember what her resources are. If Germany had the same per capita expenditure that Great Britain has, her present war bill would be increased by £50,000,000; that is to say, Germany would raise £50,000,000 more than she raises now, which is about £60,000,000. This brings us to a total of from £110,000,000 to £120,000,000; and then the burden per capita would not be any heavier than that at present borne by Great Britain. These are the facts we have to take Into consideration, and this is the time we must do so; Because a few years hence it will be too late. It will not be good enough to come running to Par liament for millions of money four or five years hence, when it will be too late to build Dreadnoughts in time to overtake the preponderance which will have passed to other nations of the world. All we do in the outer Dominions in the way of naval defence can only be regarded as a poor setoff to the preparations made by places like Italy and Austria, who are partners with Germany in naval defence. It will still be a contest between Great Britain and Germany - it will still be a question of which is to have the preponderance and maintain the supremacy. And remember that in Germany we have one of the most prosperous nations iri the world, with a population half as large again as that of Great Britain, competing in the building of Dreadnoughts. Where the end is to be I know not, unless it is reached by the process of exhaustion. That is the only remedy I see at present, or, perhaps, relief may be found in time in a very material development of the Hague Conference in the direction of peaceful control and settlement. We may all hope for this, but cannot rely upon it; meanwhile we must go along in the mad race for naval supremacy, and, therefore, instead of curtailing the authority of the Government to borrow money, if need be, for the purpose of maintain- ing that supremacy, we ought to leave the Naval Loan Act where it is, as a standby for emergencies. We must begin to prepare almost immediately to overtake the arrears which are already upon us concerning the naval defence of the Empire. Our development is after all a lop-sided one. Has it ever struck honorable members how peculiar it is that in Australia of all places, an island continent, with a huge seaboard to defend, we should be spending five or six times as much on land as on naval defence, which, after all, should be our first line of defence? Even with the proposals recently inaugurated, we shall be spending on naval defence only a little over one-third of the amount proposed to be spent on land defence. For many years past we have been spending about ,£800,000 on the army, and £200,000 on the navy. If there must be a disparity of this kind, the figures should be reversed. But, at any rate, before we can be said to be in a sound position we must do what other nations in like circumstances are doing - approximate the expenditure on our navy to that on our army. France is making up a good deal of leeway in this respect ; in fact, all the great land nations of Europe are increasing their naval expenditure while their armies are pretty well stationary.
– Is the honorable member connecting his arguments with the Naval Loan Act Repeal Bill?
– I am showing how urgent it is that by this or any other means we should get ahead with our naval preparations, and advancing as one reason why the Act should not be repealed, the fact that our present preparations are altogether lop-sided. However, I shall not pursue that point, as it seems to be distasteful to the honorable member. He is very anxious that I should be kept strictly in order, and next time he addresses the House I shall take care that he does not contravene the strict rules of debate. I have been simply replying to-day to seme opinions that he stated in a very disorderly fashion. I have some further facts which I should like “to give the House, but honorable members opposite seem to be restive and do not want facts. They want the repeal of the Act. In the circumstances it is the very last thing that ought to have been proposed. I say that with. the utmost deliberation after giving the matter the fullest consideration. I know they are pledged to it, and I am not blaming them for attempting to carry out their pledges, but I think the pledge given to the country was wrong and mistaken, and that the decision of the country, if there has been a decision on this point, is also wrong. I do not think it is in the interests of the safety of Australia that the Act should be repealed. 1 sincerely’ hope the Government will look most seriously at the matter, and for conscience sake, in view of their statements, if for no other reason, refuse to take that quarter of a million of money from the Imperial Government. I trust that Australia will provide it herself, and immediately set to work to build up a war chest for adding further to the naval defence of the Empire, without which. I submit, we shall be in a very poor case by-and-by.
– I have no complaint to make regarding the speeches of honorable members opposite on this measure.
– Surely the honorable member is not closing the debate yet?
– I think it is’ a fair thing-.
– The honorable member for Bendigo desires to speak.
– As no other honorable member rose, I called upon the PrimeMinister to reply. If other honorable members desire to speak, perhaps the PrimeMinister will give way.
– I wish to get on with, other business, and so perhaps the honor- ‘ able member for Bendigo had better move the adjournment of the debate. I gaveway before to the honorable member for Parramatta, and he spoke for an hour without touching the subject.
– That is a most insulting observation. ‘The Prime Minister does not understand the rudiments of the question.
Debate (on motion by Sir John Quick)adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
The measure deals with the law relating toconciliation and arbitration, but is not intended to express the final views of the Government as to what industrial legislation by the Commonwealth should be. It gives effect to certain principles which the party have long advocated, and removes from the Act certain restrictions inserted by previous Governments against the wishes of the Labour party, and opposed, in their opinion, to the principle of industrial arbitration. It extends the- scope of the Act, and the powers of the President, and also effects some amendments in procedure, which the decisions of the High Court and experience in the actual working of the measure have suggested. Clause 2 amends the definition of “ employ£ “ to include “ any person whose usual occupation is that of employe in any industry.” That is to meet the case of unemployed persons in an industry, since it is conceivable that there may be a dispute in an industry where in fact thereare no contractual relations existing at that, time. The definition of “industrial dispute” is amended by omitting certainwords which exclude persons employed inagricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits, and by remodelling the section so as to include “ any threatened’ or impending or probable industrial dispute,” and to exclude from persons employed by the Commonwealth or by a State those employed upon State railways. The definition of “industrial matters” is amended by inserting at the end the words - and includes all questions of what is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as a whole.
The intention of this amendment is to give effect to the basic principle of industrial arbitration, which is the right of interference by the State in disputes which vitally concern itself, and which alone justifies its interference. It is, too, a recognition of the fact that in every industrial dispute the community as a whole is interested, and ought to be considered as well as all the parties to it. This is a most important alteration, because it is a recognition of the principle underlying the whole law of conciliation and arbitration. There has already been a good deal of litigation, due to a prevalent idea that the powers conferred on the Court are exclusively judicial, and it has, therefore, been thought wise to add these words, so as to make it clear that the Court deals not only with legal rights, but with social justice. The definition of the word “ industry “ in the principal Act is also amended by the omission of the words- “’ excepting only persons engaged in domestic service and persons engaged in agricultural, viticultural, horticultural, or dairying pursuits,” and inserting in their stead the words “ and includes a branch of an industry and a group of industries.”
I am not at all sure that the words proposed to be inserted are necessary, for I think that the intention has been made fairly clear by some of the decisions of the Court. It has been thought wise, however, to make it perfectly clear in this way.
– Does “ group of industries “ mean a group of related industries?
– I shall explain what the intention is. For instance, in the shipping industry there are officers, engineers, cooks, stewards, and other persons engaged in cognate industries which might properly be grouped together under the generic title of “shipping industry.” In order to make it perfectly clear that that group of industries can register and obtain the benefit of the Act, these words are being inserted. They will also enable any branch of an industry to obtain relief. The next part of the Bill requiring notice is that dealing with Division 2 of the prin cipal Act, and having reference to the jurisdiction of the President of the Court in relation to the prevention of disputes. Under section 16 of the principal Act the President of the Court is charged with the duty of endeavouring-^– to prevent and settle industrial disputes whether or not the Court has cognisance of them in all cases in which it appears to him that his mediation is desirable in the public interest.
This provision, which was embodied in the principal Act, with the idea of exercising our powers for conciliation in and prevention of industrial disputes under the subsection of the Constitution from which we derive our legislative authority in this matter, has proved a dead letter. It has, therefore, been thought desirable, and, indeed, necessary, that an amendment should be made giving the President sufficient jurisdiction and ampler powers. This amendment will enable the President to deal with disputes whether or not he has cognisance of them, as set forth in Division 3 of the principal Act. Under this Bill he will be able to summon the parties to an impending or probable dispute, or any actual dispute, and compel them to confer in his presence, either in public or in private. If the President has reason to believe, that a dispute, is pending or is probable, and he may inform himself of this in any way he pleases,, he may then, under this provision, call the parties together, and make them confer, and the result of their conference may either be made public or kept private, asthe President of the Court shall determine. While the President will have no power under these provisions to compel the partiesto come to an agreement, this will be a most valuable ancillary power to those withwhich he is clothed under the Division in? the principal Act, to which it relates.
– Does this refer to a dispute which threatens to extend beyond aState ?
– In the case of prevention it is doubtful whether it is necessary that a dispute shall have actually extended’ before the President can take action. If in all probability it would extend then, sofar as prevention is concerned, the powers of the President under these sections may be exercised. There are dicta, I think, to support that view, but whether that power goes to the extent of compulsory arbitration I do not know. That point has not been made clear, but there has been included in the definition of “ industrial dispute,” whatever it means, and without limiting its meaning, the matter set forth on page 2 of the Bill, beginning at line 5 and ending on line 16.
– The President thinks the Constitution gives this power, and, according to the press, he publicly asked for it on the 22nd April last.
– Whether we can do anything at all in relation to a dispute before it has become an “ industrial dispute” within the meaning of the Act I do not know. I am not at all certain whether that has been stated in so many words, but I feel reasonably sure that the powers which we propose to take to ourselves under this Bill are within the ambit of our authority. Clause 4 seeks to amend section 19 of the principal Act by inserting after the word “cognisance,” the words “for purposes of prevention and settlement.” So that, the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court will, in future, be able to take cognisance of the industrial disputes specified in that section for purposes of prevention and settlement. Clause 5 of the Bill relates to procedure and provides that a certificate of the Registrar shall be conclusive evidence of the facts stated therein. Clause 6 seeks to extend the provisions of the equity and good conscience section of the principal Act to matters other than industrial disputes. The President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court has expressed some doubt as to whether that section is applicable to proceedings other than those covered by the words “ industrial disputes.” Consequently it has been thought wise to extend its provisions to all proceedings before that tribunal. Clause 7 aims at securing another amendment in the procedure to be followed by the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. It has been rendered necessary by the decision of the High Court that tHe President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court cannot exercise jurisdiction outside the terms of the plaint.
– Is the Attorney-General referring to the Broken Hill decision?
– I am referring to the Broken Hill decision, and also to the decision of the High Court in the case of the boot- workers. In both those instances it decided that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court could not exercise jurisdiction outside the terms of the plaint. The President of the Court desires that he should be vested with that power. Seeing that it is his duty to secure industrial peace, he ought to be vested with such a wide discretion in regard to the way in which that object can be attained, as is compatible with the interests of the parties and of the public. I come now to clause 8 which provides for the amendment of section 40 of the principal Act, which deals with the granting of preference to unionists, arid with the prescription of a minimum rate of wage. This clause seeks to alter very radically one of the provisions of that Act round which there has been considerable discussion. It is a provision which has achieved some notoriety. Section 40 of the principal Act prescribes that preference may be granted to unionists at the discretion of the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, subject to certain restrictions which are set forth in a series of provisos. One of these provisos recites that notice shall be published in the Gazette calling upon the parties interested to appear and to show cause why preference should not be granted. Another sets forth that no preference shall be granted to unionists unless a majority of those who will be affected by the award have interests in common with the applicants - in other words, unless a majority in the industry have interests in common with the applicants and are favorable to the application. The Court may also qualify that preference, if it be granted, in anyway that it deems fit. It may exercise a censorship over the rules and regulations of the industrial organization concerned. We propose to strike out all these provisos and to remodel the section so as to make it read in the form in which clause 8 appears in the Bill. It will be observed that paragraph a of clause 8 is identical with paragraph a of section 40 of the principal Act, except that the reference to a tribunal which appears in the latter is deleted in the former.
– Why is the reference to that tribunal omitted?
– Because there is no necessity for it. In another portion of the Bill we provide for what are called Boards of Reference which will do exactly the same work as that tribunal. It has- been decided by recent judgments of the High Court that the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court has no power to refer matters to Boards of Reference. Now it is very desirable that the President of a COurt which exercises jurisdiction over the industrial conditions of a whole continent should have that power. Paragraph b of clause 8 provides -
The Court by its award, or by order made on the application of any organization or person bound by the award, may -
The effect of clause 8 is this - that, other things being equal, preference is to be given to unionists, and that the Court is to prescribe the manner in which this principle is to apply.
– What provision is to be made for giving notice to persons who are not parties to the dispute?
– None, except that their interests are to be safeguarded by the Court itself. It has been laid down over and over again in New South Wales by Mr. Justice Cohen and by Judge Heydon that the public was represented, and was a party in every case heard by the Court, and that the Court was there to see that the interests of the public were considered. In my opinion, as I have already pointed out, that is the primary justification for this legislation. In fact, it can be the only justification for interference in any dispute, whether industrial or of any other kind - that the interests of society are concerned. There is no real difference as far as interference by the State is concerned between an industrial dispute and any other kind of dispute. A quarrel between two men is in itself quite immaterial to society. The question that concerns society is: What are the consequences, or what may be the consequences, of allowing people to quarrel, and to what extent are you to allow them to go ? Obviously the State cannot interfere in an infinitesimal concern, but beyond a certain point society says, “ You may not quarrel.”
– Supposing that the common rule is valid, would it not be a fair thing to give all an opportunity of being heard in defining the new condition?
– Suppose the common rule is not valid. He would be a hold man who could pick out of the recent dicta of the Court in the bootworkers’ case any indication that the common rule was valid. If a man can come away from perusing the judgment with that belief in his mind, he can get satisfaction and hope out of anything
– The honorable gentleman is basing this Bill on the assumption that the common rule is valid.
– I presume so. There is no decision to the contrary yet.
– The point is this: The Bill says that, whoever are bound by the award, the Court may give preference to members of an organization.
– If the common rule is to hold good within the powers of this Bill, does the Attorney-General think that notice should be given to other persons to come in?
– If the common rule is held to be good, then the effect of the clause with which I am dealing would be that the Court has power to make an award in respect of an industry, and to decree the terms and conditions under which there shall be preference to unionists. It does not necessarily follow that the unionists in the organization or branch of an organization that approaches the Court need be the only participants in any benefit or decision or award decreed by the Court.
– But, of course, the AttorneyGeneral must remember that he is now re-defining “ industry,” and that the term comprises a congeries of industries.
– I have already said that I doubted whether the added words really increased the scope of the Act. We are perfectly justified in taking all the power that the Constitution gives us. What that power precisely is - what the scope of it is - we do not know. But we know, at any rate, what it includes. In the Jumbunna case the Chief Justice said an - “ Industrial Dispute “ must be a dispute relating to an industry, and in my judgment the term “industry” should beconstrued as including all forms of employment in which a large Dumber of persons are employed the sudden cessation of whose work might prejudicially affect the orderly conduct of the ordinary operations of civil life.
There is the root principle of this industrial arbitration. The reason the State interferes is because society and the ordinary operations of civilized life are jeopardized. Our interference is a recognition of the fact that production is a social and not an individual function; and that consideration has brought about the conception of the necessity and value of this class of legislation. In regard to the principle of preference, it is necessary to make perfectly clear upon what ground preference is granted. I was saying just now that it is a matter of perfect indifference to society whether any particular employer has a dispute with a single workman, as far as the ordinary conduct and the ordinary operations of industrial and civil life are concerned. This class of legislation would never have been before us if there had not grown up great combinations of workmen. When Jones ceases his employment society is indifferent. But when nearly every person in an industry ceases to work we cannot afford to be indifferent. We have been compelled, therefore, to do one of two things - either to try by legislative means to prevent such disputes, or to endeavour to repress them when they occur, and by force compel the parties to come to terms. All these means have been tried in different countries and in Australia. All over the world people are coming to recognise that the reign of law must be universal, and must not exclude from its operation disputes merely because they are industrial disputes. The principle with which we are concerned then is this - that this legislation deals with organizations, not with individuals; that an organization is the only party that can approach the Court. It approaches the Court, because it would be illegal for it to obtain relief in any other way than by approaching the Court. The difficulty is now very much accentuated by the fact that in some States - in New South Wales, for instance - to strike is not merely an offence in the ordinary sense of the term, but becomes, as far as relates to the punishment that flows from it, a crime.It was contended in one case - by counsel for the State of Victoria - that an organization had no right to anything that it could not get by force or without the aid of the law, and that, in point of fact, an industrial dispute was not created unless the men were prepared to back their demands up if necessary by a strike.
– That was not the view put by counsel for Victoria. It was put by counsel for the employers.
– I think it was Mr. Mitchell who put that argument.
– I thought he appeared for the State of Victoria.
– I have heard Judge Heydon say many times, “ You have no right to get anything which you would not have got if you had been allowed to strike ; what you could have got if you had been allowed to strike the Court will give you now.” I have no hesitation in saying - having had some experience of these matters - that that is a most dangerous doctrine. It is not at present sustained in the State Courts; and now the principle is this-“ You are entitled to get what you ought to get as a fair and just thing, whether you could have got it by force of the sword or not.” I say that is a sound principle. It is most unsound to say that a litigant should only get what he could have got by force or duress, because in that case the strong litigant would have a better chance to get something, whether it were just or not. than the weak one. The principle underlying this proposal is, as I say, that, since organizations alone are responsible for these interruptions of the ordinary operations of civil life, it is clearly these organizations alone that are to be considered, so far as the adjustment of their disputes is concerned, if such an adjustment will make for a resumption, continuation, and promotion of the ordinary operations of civil life. Society has said to these organizations : You had a perfect right to strike before. You have no right now ; we will hale you before the Court.” And I contend that it is only acting fairly by these men that we should say, as soon as we do get them before the Court :” Whatever decision the Court arrives at in fixing the terms on which the industry shall be carried on, you shall have the first chance given you to take advantage of it. If you do not avail yourself of it, some one else will.” There is nothing at all revolutionary in that principle, because it has already been adopted by every party in this House. I point out that there is nothing revolutionary, either, in the amendment of the principle now before the House. The principle is precisely the same, and I hope to be able to show that the application of that principle inflicts no injustice upon anybody. While the Act was going through this House in 1904 two proposals were considered. The one put forward by the Watson Government was, shortly, that preference should be given to members of organizations where they substantially represented those engaged in an industry. I have not looked up the debates, but I had good cause to remember what took place and, so far as I can recollect, we said that those seeking preference should substantially represent those engaged in the industry, while the other side contended that they should be in a majority. I do not hesitate to say that there was no real difference between the parties at that time.
– Except being in and out of office.
– Just so. Mr. Watson was asked by his opponents: “Why do you not accept that? It is practically the same as your own proposal.” Under the Act, as it now stands, preference can be granted to unionists if they are in a majority. A great wall goes up about the poor non-unionist, but under the present Act he is in this position : So long as the poor non-unionist is in a majority, he is all right; but directly he becomes one of a minority, he is all wrong, because then the Act will not help him at all. If, in connexion with any industry in which relief is sought under the present Act, there are 5,000 persons engaged, and if 2,501 of these are in an organization, and the remaining 2,499 outside of it, then the 2,499 will be thrust ruthlessly on one side, because they are two short of a majority. There is a most callous disregard of the rights of the individual non-unionist in the Act as it stands; and this is only cloaked by the provisos to the granting of preference. The present preference clause is a recognition of the fact that when unionism has developed its powers sufficiently, we are then to bow at its shrine. That is to say, that preference to unionists is a question of arithmetic. We, on the contrary, declare that the question involved is not one of numbers, but of principle. It is either right or wrong, whether there are twenty or 2,000 unionists in an industry. In view of certain criticisms already made in anticipation of this proposal, it is very necessary that I should point out this. Supposing that in any one industry there are, say, 5,000 persons engaged ; that 1,000 of these are in a union, and 4,000 outside the union. Under the Act as it stands, preference could not be given to the unionists. Under this proposal preference could be given them. As a matter of practice and fact, how is any injustice done by granting preference to the 1,000 unionists? Ex hypothesi an industry employs 5,000 persons, 1,000 in a union and 4,000 outside the union, all employed in the industry. It is a perfectly unassailable proposition that the whole of the 5,000 get work. I want to ask how there is any injustice done to the 4,000 non-unionists by giving the 1,000 unionists preference. Clearly it is only an injustice, or, I should say, only has the appearance of injustice, when you treat them as members of an organization rather than as individuals. Because it is perfectly clear that, in taking on any 5,000 men, you must give a preference to 1,000 of them before the remainder. You take on Brown, Jones, Robinson, Smith, and so on, until you have completed the 1,000. You give a preference to these men because you must take on some men before you take on others. The question whether the men you take on in this way are superior to the men you would take on in the way prescribed by the Act must be a question for the employer to decide and depends upon circumstances. The Act does not say that you must take on a unionist if he is an incompetent person. It only says, other things being equal, he shall be given preference.
– To whose judgment is the question of equality left?
– To that of the employer. It always has been so.
– The honorable gentleman proposes a legal obligation, and that can only be determined by a judicial tribunal .
– The honorable and learned member will permit me to say that I have appeared before the Courts in New South Wales very frequently ; that in nearly every case in whichI have appeared preference to unionists has been asked for. In several cases it has been granted; and, without exception, in every case in which I have appeared, the question as to who was to decide the competence and general fitness of a man has been left to the employer.
– The honorable gentleman does not propose to alter that?
– Not at all.
– The honorable gentleman must see that that makes the whole provision nugatory.
– Not at all. It does not make the whole provision nugatory. It is perfectly well known that the cream of the workmen of the Commonwealth are within the ranks of organized labour, and we ask for nothing more than that they shall have preference of employment if able to do the work for which men are required. To ask an employer to give work to one unable to perform it would set up a condition of things which would defeat itself.
– Then the only sanction, the only method of coercing the employer, is to be by a strike, which is what the Bill seeks to prevent.
– It is, of course, perfectly clear that unionists should have opportunities for learning when their services are needed, and, in most instances, the Courts have decreed how they shall be notified. That was done in the carters’ dispute, in the wharf labourers’ dispute, and in nearly every other New South Wales case. The direction of the Court has been that the unionist shall have an opportunity to offer his services, and that the employer, if a man is not competent, shall be at liberty to discharge him. All that the Bill says is that, if a unionist presents himself, you must employ him in preference to others.
– Other things being equal.
– The honorable members is not to suppose that an employer will be at liberty to declare, on merely seeing a man, that he will not employ him he must prove him incapable. The ordinary operations of industry are conducted by those who have knowledge of men and their capacity. Every employer of labour becomes a fairly good judge of the capacity of those asking for work. The practical men who will have to give effect to this provision in the ordinary affairs of life will have little difficulty in observing the principle which we wish to lay down. But I admit that I cannot say in so many words exactly how the capacity of each man is to be decided. Naturally, every employer will say, r’ If you compel me to employ members pf organizations, other things being equal, I shall expect from them a fair day’s work, and that they shall be equal to the ordinary requirements of my business.” It is not to be supposed that preference is to be given to unionists without any restriction. On the other hand, an employer should not be allowed to dismiss a man or refuse to employ him because he is a unionist. If honorable members will look at the measure, they will see that before -an association may be registered, and thus become an organization, it must comply with certain provisions. Section 55 of the original Act says that an association, to register, must have no fewer than 100 members. Then, under section 60, it must satisfy the registrar in respect to a number of matters, and especially that its rules provide reasonable facilities for the admission of new members, and do not impose unreasonable conditions- upon the continuance of their membership,” or are not in any way tyrannical or oppressive. That is an effective barrier against any attempt on the part of a union to make itself a close corporation, by precluding reasonably competent and sober men from joining it. As no association can enjoy the benefits of the law until it has been registered, and as to register it must comply with the provisions to which I have referred, there are surely sufficient safeguards provided. Subsection 2 of section 55, which requires an organization applying for registration to comply -with the conditions set out in schedule B has not been effective for a long time past, the schedule having been superseded by the new regulations which came into force on the 12th January last, and which, to a large extent, repeal its requirements.
– The Bill will not remove this precaution.
– We merely repeal the provisions relating to schedule B, because they have ceased to operate. We provide that the rules of every organization must comply with the regulations.
– The regulations were published at the beginning of this year.
– Yes ; under the honorable member’s regime. Before an association can register it must contain 100 members, comply with sub-section d of section 60 and with the conditions of registration set forth in accordance with sub-section 2 of section 55. Under the circumstances, it can hardly be said that there is any danger of a union or association obtaining the benefits of the Bill by exercising tyrannical disregard of the interests of .other organizations. I pass on now to clause 9 which amends the procedure and appoints a Board with certain assigned duties. I have already explained the necessity for this provision, and it appears from the facts to be a very necessary one. Section 55 of the Act is amended by clause 10 of the Bill, by the omission of all the provisos that followed sub-section b. These are the provisos inserted by, I believe, the Reid-McLean Administration, and they absolutely exclude from the benefits of the law all organizations which devote their funds to political purposes. It is perfectly well known that this was aimed at our organizations, and was, in fact, an attempt to prevent the Labour unions promoting their interests by subsidising the political side of our movement.
– Not an altogether effectual provision !
– Such a provision is altogether out of place in the Act, and there is no reason why it should remain. The last clause of the Bill repeals schedule b of the principal Act. This measure is not an attempt to set before the House a comprehensive scheme setting forth the final opinions or views of the Government as to what industrial legislation should De, but merely an attempt to amend the present Act where it has proved notoriously defective, and to take advantage in the fullest possible way of the powers given to us under the Constitution. The Government have already declared in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech that it is their intention to take an early opportunity to ask the people to so amend the Constitution as to enable this Legislature to make laws of a comprehensive and satisfactory character, covering the whole field of industrial conditions; and pending that amendment, this measure is put forward. It will enable the Court, I hope, to deal more effectively with industrial disputes. Had it been in force some months ago I venture to say it would have gone a great way towards preventing the further extension of, and many of the unfortunate consequences that flowed from, the strike in the coal trade. It has been said, of course, that arbitration does not prevent strikes; and I admit the fact. But industrial legislation is as effective in preventing industrial disputes as ordinary legislation is in regard to ordinary disputes. No man will say for a moment that the Crimes Act has prevented crime ; to any such idea the newspapers from day to day give a most effective answer. Wherever there is a law, there are breaches of that law; but the Bill is, at any rate, a step in the right direction, seeing that it seeks to replace force by law, and to establish a sane and rational method of dealing with disputes. It is an assertion of the right of society to control industrial operations. We say that neither employer nor employe has any right for one moment to disturb that orderly conduct of the ordinary operations of civil and industrial life which is so essential in any civilized community. We give preference to unionists because there has been taken from unionists the only weapon they possess. Unions are legalized combinations, and while they are, there must always be a danger of cessation of industrial operations with incalculable harm and loss to the community. It ought to be the duty - it is obviously the duty - of this Parliament and of every State Parliament to make laws and to use every means at their disposal to render the cessations less frequent ana less harmful ; and this Bill is an attempt in that direction. We have seen in New South Wales that a law - against the merits of which I here say nothing - forced down the throat of the organizations, lost much of its virtue because the organizations were prejudiced against it. We ought to do everything in our power to induce organizations to register, because it is infinitely better that they should look to the Court rather than sharpen their swords and resort to violence. I make no apology on behalf of the Government for introducing the amendment in regard to preference to unionists. The party to which we belong advocated that preference before the inception of the Commonwealth, and we believe in it thoroughly. The Watson Government left office because it believed in the principle so strongly that it was not prepared to purchase a continuance of power by abjuring its principles. Now that we have an opportunity at this early stage of the session, we introduce the measure ; and I hope that it will -speedily receive the approval of the House.
– I suppose that the Prime Minister will consent to an adjournment of the debate?
– I do not see how I can. I consented to an adjournment in the case of the Bill previously before us, in order to suit the Opposition.
– It is almost impossible at such short notice to deal with a measure of this kind.
– 1 have done everything to please the Opposition.
– The Bill was on the table yesterday.
– 1 shall, of course, endeavour as far as possible, to deal with the somewhat technical matters, and the other subjects of great substance dealt with in the- Bill; but I should much prefer an adjournment.
– I would rather the honorable member proceeded.
– I never knew a request of the kind refused by a Government.
– There is nothing new in the principle of the Bill.
– It entails a minute examination of the existing law.
– The consideration in Committee may be postponed.
– This is the first time 1 have known a measure of such great importance - not merely a matter of technical amendment, but one of exceeding moment –pushed on when really there is no urgency,
– I think there is.
– I regret the decision of the Prime Minister, because there are more matters relating to arbitration and to the general working of the Act to which one would like to draw attention than is possible on the spur of the moment. I should have liked to hear something from the Attorney-General as to the difficulties into which we have come at present in connexion with some of the interpretations of the Act. There have been complaints made by employers as to the impossibility of their obeying not only the award of the Arbitration Court, but the determinations of the State Wages Boards. On these matters some suggestions have been asked for from the Government, but none appear to have been made. I think I am entitled to suggest that some light should have been thrown on the subject by the Attorney-General, because the Government promised to open up the whole question of arbitration, and there does exist at present a good deal of discontent, with which we must sympathize, on the part of employers owing to the apparent conflict of duty raised by the decisions of the different authorities I have referred to. It would have been something if the Government had mentioned in what direction they propose further amendments of the Act, so that employers and employes might know, at all events, whether in the near future there is to be a recasting of the whole question. The Bill seems to deal with two 01 three matters of great substance, as well as a ‘ few perhaps minor amendments. I am sorry I was not present when the Attorney-General dealt with the definition clause, because the definition of “industrial dispute,” for instance, opens up matters that are significant in the light of what I believe to be the policy of the Government towards monopolies. Paragraph b of clause 2 defines “ industrial dispute “ as including, amongst other things -
Any dispute in relation to employment in an industry carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth ci a State.
I take it that the Attorney-General, so far as the decision in the railway case permits, intends to take jurisdiction over disputes between States and their employes and the Commonwealth and its employes. The decision in that case appears to have gone to this length, that the words contained iti the Arbitration Act of 1904, dealing with employes in the railways of the States, were ultra vires, and that the seclion has now to be read as though those words were excised. But during that case, if I remember aright,, there was a long discussion as to what instrumentalities were, and, on a reference to the case of South Carolina v. The United States, it was suggested that railways were not true instrumentalities of government. In the South Carolina case there was a tax placed upon the liquor trade of the State, which had been taken over as a monopoly by the State, and the question arose whether the United States Congress was entitled to interfere with that monopoly, as it was alleged that it was a Government instrumentality - that is, that the consumption of liquor under the- Government was an instrumentality of government.
– It was held that it was not an instrumentality of State-
– I was not aware that it was so held, but, in the case before the High Court, Sir Samuel Griffith stated, in his judgment, that although for the purposes of the argument they might presume the correctness of the decision in that American case, the Court did not say that they would apply it in any case that came up for decision. In other words, the Court could decide that the railways were an instrumentality, apart altogether from the decision laid down. in that case. The Court did therefore decide that a railway was an instrumentality, but they did not go beyond that, and now the AttorneyGeneral is bringing in a Bill, in view of the possibility of several other things being monopolized by the States or the Commonwealth, whichever is to bring about the nationalization of monopolies. That, of course, depends on the extent to which the Government ask the electors to amend the Constitution and the electors acquiesce. But the idea seems to be that, when the policy of nationalization, which for the present seems to be suspended in this House, becomes an operative part of their programme, the Government will have, this clause as ancillary to their policy of curing all disputes by arbitration, whether “they take place between private individuals or between a State and its employes.
– The States clearly cannot go on extending their functions industrially to an indefinite extent, and then claim that they are instrumentalities of government.
– I am simply pointing out that a doubt is expressed in America as to what instrumentalities are. That view has gone the length, according to some professors whose works I have read, of even impugning the correctness of the decision of the High Court that a railway is an instrumentality of government. I do not agree with the articles to which I refer, “but I have seen one, written by, I think, a professor of an American University, the effect of which was that to declare a railway to be an instrumentality went beyond the conception of instrumentality that would he entertained by some of the Courts in America.
– We are quite justified in taking what powers we have taken in this measure.
– I simply want the House to understand, as the Bill is to be hurried through, that it is not quite so simple as the Attorney-General seems to think. It is not, as we heard a few days ago, merely a Bill to cure a few technical faults in the Act, or to deal with minor matters. As a fact, it opens up large matters of substance which were agitated in this Parliament in 1904, and one of which has been the subject of decision by the High Court. The Government are now asking that instrumentalities created by their policy of nationalizing monopolies shall be included in the Bill, and are directly re-emphasizing the principle which separated States and Commonwealth in 1904, and which, so far as it was exercised then by legislation in relation to instrumentalities, has been held to be ultra vires of the Commonwealth. There are also in the definition clause provisions which considerably extend the powers of the President of the Court. For instance, the word “ employe” “ is to include “any person whose usual occupation is that of employe in any industry.” I do not see that much objection can be taken to that, but the principle seems to be to open up the powers of the President as much as possible where the evidence seems defective.
– Surely there is objection to it, because a man can bring his dispute before the Court, although no longer employed, on the ground that he was once an employe.
– It is for the Court to say what is his usual occupation. There may not be so much in that amendment as in some others to which I shall direct attention, and I merely mention ‘ it as an instance of the way in which the Bill enlarges the powers of the President by extending his powers of decision on evidence.
– I think that the learned President of the Court has suggested an increase of power in various directions in order to facilitate the working of the Act.
– I know more about this than I care to say, and I shall deal only with the matters that have been publicly declared. I certainly do not suggest that all this matter has been extemporized by the Attorney-General. One has to be guided largely by the administration, and by those responsible for it as to what amendments may or may not be necessary for the purposes of the Act. Under paragraph c of clause 2, industrial matters which may be the subject of industrial disputes include - all questions of what is fair and right in relation to any industrial matter having regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned and of society as a whole.
That is a very wide definition. Under it a complaint may be most indefinite; it may amount only to simmering discontent which has never been expressed in actual propositions. As a matter of fact the words “ simmering discontent “ have been used in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court in connexion with some disputes brought before the President.
– But the complaint must relate to an industrial matter.
– No doubt. This part of the definition of “ industrial matters “ »s part of the definition of “ industrial disputes.” That is a commonplace to which it is unnecessary for the Attorney-General to direct my attention. The definition of “industrial matters,’”’ however, is now being extended by phraseology which is somewhat wide and indefinite. A dispute may be indefinite, but so long as the demand is held to raise the question of what is fair and right with regard to the interests of the persons immediately concerned, and of society as a whole, it may be inquired into. Does not the Attorney-General think that that is a very indefinite definition?
– No, I think that it is very necessary.
– At present a demand is made by employes in relation to their employment. It may relate to particular hours and their reduction, to particular wages and an addition to them, or to conditions in regard to the employment of apprentices, which are defined and can be clearly apprehended. But we are now extending the definition to anything which may be fair and right in relation to society as a whole. I can only say that 1 wish the Court joy in determining what is meant by the words “ fair and right in relation to . . . society as a whole,” apart from the particular situation of the employes under particular employers.
– Some things might be very fair to the parties concerned, but unfair to society as a whole.
– Is such a demand as this one that falls within the words of the Constitution, “industrial disputes”? Did not the framers of the Constitution and the people’, when they accepted it, think that what was meant by those words were disputes in terms of the Arbitration Acts of England, or such disputes as were cognisable say, under the Western Australian Act which came into force in 1900, or under the New Zealand Act of 1894. Under all those Acts it is necessary to have some definite claim in relation to wages, hours, or other conditions of employment, but does any one of those Acts contain a provision that the term “industrial matters” is to cover such a thing as a demand that may be held by the Court to be fair and right from considerations of its relation to society as a whole? It seems to me, on the spur of the moment, to open up a very wide region of dispute. This purports to be a Bill to make clear what was vague in the principal Act, to enable disputes to be readily dealt with by the Court without much litigation ; but here we are introducing terms that will give scope for the lawyers, whether they are amateurs or professionals - and both as we know appear in the Arbitration Court - to exercise their ingenuity, and to exercise it to some extent at the expense of the unfortunate litigants. In paragraph d of clause 2 we have words providing that “ industry “ is to include “ a branch of an industry and a group of industries.” This again opens up a very big question. In the United States there has been for some time a good deal of discussion as to whether the word “ industry “ in relation to arbitration, means a collection or group of industries or a particular trade in an industry. We know that, in America, one trust may have under it a group of industries almost coextensive with the list to be found in the statistical register, each industry being necessary to the other. We may have a pin or an engine produced there by the same employer.
– In. connexion with the Lancashire cases a group of industries in the textile trade was concerned.
– I can refer the honorable gentleman to numerous American authorities. In the Annals of the American Academy of Social and Political Science for. igo4, he will find several articles relating to this subject. I think that a whole volume is devoted to a series of articles on industrial questions, and one, in particular, to the question of whether or not the basis of arbitration ought to be in relation to separate trades. That point was raised in the Federal Court in connexion with the case of the Federated Sawmillers or the Jumbunna coal mining case.
– The Court determined what is an “ industrial dispute “ in the butchers’ case, and also in the barbers’ case.
– The High Court also dealt with the question to some extent in the Broken Hill case. The question was raised there whether the Broken Hill mining dispute should be regarded as one dispute or more.
– The Port Pirie and the Broken Hill men were concerned.
– Yes, because there may be in connexion with the Broken Hill mines a number of trades or pursuits under the one employment. When we limit a dispute to a particular trade or class of business, it must be much simpler to deal with than it would be where an industrial dispute is declared to cover a group of industries which are associated under one particular trust or employment. That point also becomes important in relation to the scope of the award.
– The word “industry” as the honorable member knows, is denned in the principal Act, but the definition is amended by this Bill.
– Yes ; “industry” there is defined to mean “ business, trade, manufacture, or undertaking,” but the point has not yet been definitely settled whether an industry within the meaning of the Act covers an association of trades constituting one industry, or whether it must be a definite occupation, such as mining, carriage building, or any of the other industries that will suggest themselves to honorable members. This definition declares that it includes a group of industries. It is obvious that there might be in one branch of an industry discontent, which did not substantially affect other branches, yet one organization would cover the lot, and owing, perhaps, to the agitation of a few, connected with only a particular branch, that organization would be able to precipitate a dispute between all the employes and the employer, although the actual centre of discontent was only one branch of trade in the industry concerned. According to the Argus of 10th April last, when the case of the marine stewards was before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, the President said that he wished the principal Act were amended so as to enable him to exercise the constitutional function of preventing industrial disputes - of dealing with matters of which he had cognisance before disputes arose - as well as the constitutional function of settling disputes. That might, perhaps, be a salutary provision, but whether it falls within our constitutional powers Was not yet been determined. The President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court thinks that the enactment of such a provision does come within our constitutional powers, but the High Court has not yet decided that such a power is constitutional, and that the President can, by any compulsory method, make this particular section, effective. Clause 4 is merely ancillary to clause 3. Clause 5 seeks to effect what seems to be a particularly simple amendment, but really involves questions of very great importance. It declares that -
A certificate of the registrar that any specified persons were at any specified time members of any specified organization shall (subject to review by the president under section seventeen of this Act) be conclusive evidence that the facts are as stated.
Now, some of the most important questions raised in cases which have come before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court have related to whether the membership of an organization conformed to section 55 of the principal Act - whether it contained 100 members, and whether a sufficient number of members had made a complaint to constitute a dispute within the meaning of that Act. In a case of the Federated Sawmillers there must have been twenty or thirty firms summoned by complaint before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. In that instance the question of the jurisdiction of the President depended upon whether there were in the employ of those firms any members of the organization which had issued the plaint, and, if so, whether there were in relation to the total number engaged in the industry, a sufficient proportion to justify the President in interfering? These questions were discussed for quite a week or ten days. The bulk of the cross-examination was directed to ascertaining the extent to which the dispute was a genuine one, or whether it was merely a bogus dispute which had been got up in relation to certain firms, of those summoned, by, perhaps, 1 or 2 per cent. of the total of their employes. In one instance it transpired that there were only about three members of an organization in the employ of a particular firm which had been summoned,, out of seventy or 100 employes in the industry who would be affected by the award of the Court. The question, therefore, arose, as to whether there was a sufficient number of men in the employ of a particular firm to justify that firm being dragged before the Court and subjected to the resultant expense. That information could be obtained only by examining the secretary of the association. That officer declared, honestly, of course, that there were so many hands employed by particular firms; but upon being subjected to cross-examination in detail, some of these hands proved to be non-existent. Thus the proceedings in respect of three or four firms were at once terminated because, under cross-examination, a certain number of members of the organization who were supposed to be in their employment had disappeared or ceased to be members of the association. Now, the Bill proposes that this essential matter of membership of an organization shall rest absolutely on the certificate of the registrar. That certificate is to be conclusive’ evidence of the facts stated therein. Under a later portion of the Bill I think power is to be given to the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court to review certain decisions of the registrar. It is intended to amend .section 1 7 of the principal Act, under which - the president may review, annul, rescind, or vary any act or decision of the registrar in any manner which he thinks fit.
The Bill proposes to extend that provision to certain cases to enable the President to act as a sort of court of appeal from the decision of the registrar. But the fact remains that under clause 5 the registrar, in the first instance, and the President finally, can certify to the correctness of the list presented by the plaintiff industrial organization, and the power of disproving the accuracy of that list by cross-examination in court will disappear. In this connexion all I can say is that the lists which have been presented to the courtup to the present time have not disclosed justification for summoning all defendants in certain cases, and consequently we are not warranted in placing this great power in the hands of the President and of the registrar. This is a matter not merely of a technical amendment of the principal Act, but one which involves a very farreaching proposal of substance in regard to its working. Section 25 of that Act provides that the President may discard legal technicalities and legal forms and decide any case upon any evidence which he may think fit to accept. Clause 6 seeks to extend that power to the President of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court no matter in what capacity he may be acting. Personally, I do not think there is very much danger to be apprehended from accepting that provision. It is true that a case did arise in which the President of the Court was in doubt as to ‘whether he could accept secondary evidence of alleged facts which, under section 25 of the principal Act, he could have accepted had he been acting as its President. In that instance the point at issue was whether he was acting as the Court in relation to a dispute or merely as its President on an interlocutory or machinery proceeding. But as a general rule the Conciliation and Arbitration Court does not disregard the regular rules of evidence. It is not bound by them, but nevertheless it ordinarily follows them. I know that in some cases great difficulty has been experienced by the President, because of the loose way in which they had been prepared for him’. He remarked that much time would have bt en saved had those cases been prepared by trained men. He did not wish to depart from the regular legal methods of proof, but in one or two instances in which it was desirable that such a departure should be made, the application of section 25 was in doubt. This clause is intended to remove that doubt. It may have a wider scope, in view of the fact that there are a good many proceedings of importance that may be dealt with by the President, not as a Court, but merely as President under the Act. I may refer to an application that may he made to review the decision of the registrar under section 17. There is power to appeal from a refusal or acceptance by the registrar of an application to register. Take the New South Wales railway case. That very important case was decided on an appeal from the decision of the registrar in the first instance; though afterwards the case went on to the High Court on a pure question of law. The right to appeal is a matter, under the amending Bill, in relation to which the President can satisfy himself by anything he likes to call evidence as to the allegations made. If ordinary legal methods are followed, there is no harm in what is proposed, but if they are not followed we may have decisions which may seem to accord with equity and good conscience, but which, at the same time, may be very loose from the point of view of legal proof. As regards clause 8, ‘ under which arises- the question of preference to unionists, I listened to the AttorneyGeneral with a good deal of interest, and had to admire his ingenuity. He put this matter to the House from the point of view only of men making applications to become members of unions. He referred to the existing Act, and pointed out that we have already provided in it, under section 60, that the rules of a union must offer reasonable facilities for the admission of new members, and that they shall not impose unreasonable conditions of membership. The point raised by this proposed amendment is as “to whether the rules should or should not provide for admission. That was one of the two points upon which the. debate centred in 1904. But there is also the other point, as fo whether you should force men to join unions. That is the main point, and upon that an amendment is included in this Bill that settles the question that preference is to be given to unionists, and that, so far as the provisions are effective, men must join. The question is this : Whether we want such a provision in Australia, whether unions are so unpopular, or whether the membership of them is so small that the majority of employes do not’ wish to join them. If that be so, prima facie it applies against this Bill. Yon have no right to force men into unions if the majority do not wish to join. I will put it in this way : It seems as if it were assumed that the position in this country were like that in America, where unions require to be protected by legislation. I admit that in America unionism has had to battle for a long while. But this provision almost takes us back fifty years in English history. The conditions in Australia are not as they were in England some forty or fifty years ago, nor as they are still in America to-day. The condition here is that unions are not under any ban. They are not disqualified by law. Subscriptions to unions can in this country for the purposes of the Act be recovered as legal debts.
Mr.West. - But a man may be persecuted for belonging to a union.
– Well, a man may be persecuted for belonging to a particular party or sect, or for following a particular trade or business. A man’s motives may be impugned, and he may be placed under conditions that are sometimes rather disagreeable. But that question is not touched by this Bill.
– Social boycotting is not so bad as industrial boycotting.
– What this Bill proposes to do is to shift the boycott. If there be any pregnancy in the honorable member’s remark it means that a certain number of men who are outside unions are to be boycotted by employers. We are now introducing a sort of legislative boycott, which is a new thing in a Commonwealth Act of Parliament by providing that men who are voluntarily outside unions, and do not want to take advantage of the undoubted benefits of unionism - for I believe that there are advantages in it, and that men ought to join unions - are not to be free to exercise their own choice under the good conditions that prevail in Australia. If they will not join, they are to be subjected to a boycott under this legislation.
– They are not prejudiced if they do not join.
– The point is that it is proposed to interfere with the discretion of an employer with regard to the persons employed. He isto employ A instead of B. That, I say, is a kind of boycott of B. It is a question of degree; merely because a man does not join a union an employer is to give a preference to some one else.
– Is there any other way of giving effect to this legislation?
– The Attorney-General very zealously confined himself to the safeguards with regard to unionists, but he did not refer, except in general terms, to the other aspect of the question, which is whether we should, under our conditions, force men to join unions. There are a number of provisions under the existing Act which safeguard the position. The Court has to decide upon various matters, having heard all the parties interested. Under the Act, as it stands, you must give notice to any organization, and to the various persons affected. Under section 55 conditions are imposed upon the power with regard to registration. Those conditions are now being cut out. All that I can say is that the case that will be presented is not, as the Attorney-General supposes, a case as between a thousand men who are unionists and three thousand who are not unionists, and as to whether the non-unionists should be employed. The case that we find in actual life is that of a number of employers wanting a few more hands and there being, let us suppose, five applicants for employment who are unionists and five who are not. That is the practical sort of case that will arise, and not that, in effect, put by the Attorney-General, of a man starting business without any employes. The employer will have to make his choice, and the chance of a non-unionist securing employment is not very great when, amongst ten applicants, five are unionists and five are not. The fact that the employer is working under this measure must mean, if it be effective, that, other things being equal, the unionists will secure employment; and that means to some extent forcing the employer to exercise in one direction a choice that ought to be left to his own discretion. One can understand a provision of this sort if unionists in Australia were situated as they are in America; but I see nothing to justify it under conditions such as we have in this country to-day. We are told that the discretion is still with the employer. If that be so, the clause is nugatory. You cannot coerce a judgment that is not challengeable outside.
– What I mean is that if the contention of the Attorney-General is right that, other things being equal,, the decision as to competence rests with the employer, it is unchallengeab le outside. Who is to interfere with thed ecision? No one could challenge the employer then. But as I read the Bill, it is not so. As a matter of practical working it may be, but asa matter of law it is not.
– Any virtue in the principle originally is in it now, of course.
– Under this Bill, if, other things being alleged to be equal, the employer does not employ a unionist, there will be a breach of an award, and on that the parties breaking the award may be summoned before the Court. So that it is not a question for the employer, but ultimately for the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration. If it is not a question for the Court, then it is a question of discontented unionists striking against the employer acting on his own discretion and employing a non-unionist as against a unionist. They may allege that other things were equal, and that their man ought to have been employed, and, having no redress by an appeal to the Court, they may strike. It seems to me that, apart from the employer under this proposal, there are two other sanctions involved, one an appeal to the Court, and the other an irregular one, declared to be penal under the Act, and that is a strike, and it should not be forgotten that it is a strike which arbitration is proposed to prevent. I do not intend to deal with this Bill at any greater length. I am sorry I have not had time to do more than read the Bill cursorily. I have touched upon the points that prima facie arise under it. I can only urge that these matters of substance should have a good deal of consideration, because they were debated at very great length in 1904. One of the questions - that of the inclusion of State servants - led to the resignation of a Government. That itself indicated that the public mind at the time was seriously divided upon the policy of interfering with the sovereignty of the States, if there is sovereignty to the extent mentioned, in these matters. The question of preference to unionists shook another Government. I think that the Watson Government went out on that. Yet we have now before us a Bill which, according to answers to questions submitted to the Attorney-General the other day, was to be an innocent measure, intended to make some small technical amendments in the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. but which really involves the reconsideration of two issues, on each of which a Government lost office. That being so, I repeat that it might have been better if the Ministry had acceded to the request I made in the beginning, and allowed a little more time for the consideration of a Bill that involves matters of such great importance.
– - It is quite true that for the most part this Bill deals with matters which might well be left to consideration in Committee. But it contains two provisions which involve more fundamental matters, and which necessarily force upon us to some extent a discussion of the principles underlying the working of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act altogether, and also raise the question as to whether, after all, it is wise that we should attempt to recast in fundamental matters any portion of the Act without waiting for the much greater discussion which must arise when we come to consider whether it will not be necessary to invest this Parliament with some greater powers in connexion with industrial and trade legislation.
– Should we not make any improvement that is possible?
– In the consideration of two matters involved in this Bill we shall, at the threshold, be forced into the discussion of how far we can proceed without an amendment of the Constitution. When we come to deal, for instance, with the first of these fundamental matters contained in paragraph b of clause 2, we have a provision which, if passed, will include within the area of matters dealt with by the Conciliation and Arbitration Court disputes - in relation to employment in an industry carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State.
I join with the honorable member for Angas in regretting that we had no explanation from the Attorney-General as to the exact effect-
– The words quoted are taken from the original section ; no alteration is proposed so far as they are concerned.
– It is true that the words quoted are in the original section ; but we are repeating them in this clause after the whole subject-matter contained in them has been dealt with in the railway servants’ case. I may point out the difficulty as it presents itself to my mind. We may all have different opinions as to the extent to which Parliament can successfully interfere in these matters. There is, however, undoubtedly a strong desire on the part of a great majority of the people that this Parliament should somehow or other attempt to deal with these industrial questions. That, I think, is perfectly clear. No matter what our views may be on one side or the other, I do not think that honorable members on either side are entitled to shirk that distinct issue which the majority of the people have practically given a mandate to this
Parliament to try to deal with. But we are now asked by this Bill to give a new definition of “ industrial dispute, “ and include in it words which certainly have been used in our previous legislation, but in a somewhat different collocation, but which, if used in the way proposed in this Bill, will hold out to persons in the employ of the State Government-
– We have taken note of the decision so far as it went.
– That is to say the honorable gentleman leaves out the reference to the railways of a State?
– Still, Parliament in passing this Bill will hold out to all persons employed in the Public Service of a State whether, directly, or indirectly under some of the State authorities which are mentioned here, the anticipation that their industrial relations may be regulated by this Court. It is obvious that the Bill on the face of it is a return to what was done in 1904.
– Does the honorable member contend that the Bill holds out any more hope in that respect than now exists, these words being in the original Act?
– These words were in the original Act, coupled with further words - including disputes in relation to employment upon State railways or to employment in industries carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State- and so on. Paragraph b of clause 2 of this Bill merely omits the reference in the original section to State railways. If we pass it it will be practically a statement by Parliament to the people at large-
– Can the honorable member show us anything in the judgment which would warrant our going further?
– The honorable gentleman will permit me for a moment to deal with the way in which the provisions of this Bill are likely to be regarded by the people at large. Surely, if passed in its present form, it will convey to all persons engaged in the Public Services of the States other than the railways, that this Parliament reads the judgment referred to as not limiting its authority in any way with respect to them.
– I know that the public servants of one State will not act upon the hope suggested, since the decision in respect to railway employes has been accepted as affecting all the public servants of that State.
– Then why include this provision in the Bill?
– Then why not strike out paragraphb of clause 2 ? Why by retaining a power hold out hopes which cannot really be fulfilled? The Government in this Bill are really stating to the Public Service employe’s of the various State Governments that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court will have power to deal with and regulate their conditions of labour.
– We still believe that it ought to have that power.
– That is a totally different question. That is just the point I was raising. By discussing this question we are at once brought face to face with considerations respecting the desirability of amending or not amending the Constitution. That is why I think that it should have stood over until the whole policy of industrial legislation could be dealt with. However, I do not complain about that now. To reply to the AttorneyGeneral’s question, the actual result of the judgment to which he refers, put into plain language, was the adoption of the principle, originally stated clearly by Chief Justice Marshall, of the United States Supreme Court, and repeated in a number of cases since - a principle which finds no direct expression in the Constitution of either the United States or of this country, but which the Courts have determined to be inherent in every Federal Constitution - namely, that there cannot be a division of powers between two sets of authorities under a Federation without it being necessarily implied, though not necessarily expressed, that no legislation by one can be good if it affects the instrumentalities of government of the other. The Court here has decided that, if the Commonwealth Parliament, under any of the express powers given to it, could make laws taxing or affecting directly the servants or instrumentalities of government of the States, a State Parliament could, under its reserve powers, pass a law similarly affecting the instrumentalities of government of the Commonwealth, and this power of legislation would be used as a weapon in a perpetual and never-ending conflict. This is held to be inconsistent with the idea of a Federal partnership. I admit that the provision referred to does not go further than that now on the statute-book, but we are reenacting words which, on the face of them, are a defiance of the rule to which I have just referred. Were we going to determine how the Constitution should be amended, the whole question of policy would be before us, but we cannot deal with that now. The only question for us is the wisdom of re-enacting a provision which says that all persons employed by the States are at liberty to obtain the protection of the ComTion wealth Arbitration Court. No harm nil be done if the Attorney-General, before the Bill passes, will state clearly that, whatever effect the railways servants’ case had on the provision now on the statute-book, it will have on this provision. This will leave it open to be determined whether the view which I have put forward is the right one. If the Government requires the reenactment of this extremely doubtful provision, the least that Ministers should do is to state authoritatively that it does not make lawful anything which was not lawful before ; that the decisions of the High Court still have their effect. The proposal regarding preference to unionists is distinctly new, and of a very drastic character. Strictly, what is provided for is, not preference to unionists, but preference to organizations under this law. In 1904 the compromise was adopted that preference should not be given to unionists by Act of Parliament, but that the Court, after hearing the persons interested on both sides, might use its discretion as to whether this very important advantage should be given to members of associations. The AttorneyGeneral has invited us to consider the question as if it affected only industries in which the majority of the labourers are unionists or members of associations. That may be the case in some industries, but it need not be so in all. An industry may extend all over Australia, as it was recently contended that the bootmaking industry does. There might be within that industry an association containing only a comparatively small proportion of the whole number of operatives ; but so long as it contained 100 members it could bring a plaint against all the employers in the industry, or against any of them, so long as the dispute extended over more than one State.
– Suppose there is no preference and no common rule, what is the good of an award ?
– The common rule is more or less bound up in all industrial legislation of this kind. Whether you try to regulate industry by establishingWages Boards, which, in some form, provide probably the most useful method, or whether you legislate for arbitration on a larger scale, to be ultimately successful you must have, in certain circumstances, something in the nature of a common rule. Where you have competition beyond the boundaries of a State, and disputes extending into perhaps two or three States, you cannot effect a real settlement unless you are able to impose obligations upon those who are not actually parties to them. Hence the common rule - though I do not say the form of common rule the AttorneyGeneral has adopted - is essential. Something should be done in the nature of legislation affecting persons who are not actually parties to the dispute. The AttorneyGeneral will not regard me as for one moment admitting that his Arbitration Court, particularly the form of Arbitration Court with the common rule, is the best form of industrial legislation - that is a totally different question. Whether we should take the broad general machinery of the Arbitration Court, which, hitherto, to my mind, has been extremely clumsy, expensive, and unsatisfactory, or whether we should take a system of domestic tribunals, such as the Wages Boards of Victoria, or modifications of them, with some general controlling power is a matter of opinion ; and honorable members may be in favour of one or the other. But if we are to have a court or tribunal, or series of tribunals, whereby ultimately a substantial settlement - for we cannot have a permanent settlement - may be arrived at over a considerable area, then we must-
– Does the honorable member say that we have no power to make a common rule?
– That is a different question, but I think not. However, 1 do not think I ought to be bound to give legal opinions on the floor of the House; that is for the Attorney-General to do, although he has now drawn one from me.
– I am inclined to the honorable member’s opinion, as I said.
– Of course, we are trenching very close on the discussion of a totally different question - that is, as to what extent it may be desirable or necessary to ask the people to give the extended power. But whether the common rule be valid or not we are now only discussing the power to deal with the question of compulsory preference to unionists.
– That is valid, so far as the constitutional power is concerned, is it not ?
– That is a difficult question.
– I am speaking as a layman.
– I do not think I ought to give any more legal opinions, but I am assuming that it is valid for the purposes of my argument. I do not contest the proposition at present, but I point out that what we are doing now by this clause is a very different thing from the existing law as to preference. I was dealing with that view when the Attorney-General drew me on to the question of the common rule. The present law, as I pointed out, is that we give a discretion to the Court to hear all the parties concerned. These may be numerous, and many of them may be unconnected altogether with the particular dispute or the associations in the dispute and after all have been heard for and against a general provision for preference to unionists, we invest the Court with discretion. If we are to give effect to the very vague obligation or rule which is embodied in the general term “ preference to unionists,” the only fair and just way in which we can do so is by vesting the discretion in each case in somebody. If Parliament is going to do it by general legislation, and provide by Act that under all circumstances, no matter what, in a dispute, no matter how small or insignificant, and no matter whether the association be one in Wodonga and Albury, and in no place else, or whether the dispute be confined to such a place, any one of the persons engaged in that dispute may apply to the Court, and if the Court is to be bound to make the rule of preference to unionists apply in the industry throughout the length and breadth of Australia-
– We cannot give the Court that power if it is not in the Constitution.
– I am assuming that we, in this House, have the power; the Bill assumes it; but I will not deal with that point now, because it may raise very difficult questions. I confess I have not had occasion to consider whether it is within the constitutional power, but I am assuming that it is. Now we are asked to exercise that power, and I put it to honorable members, as reasonable men, that if it is a good thing to decree this preference, surely it must depend on the circumstances of each particular dispute - on the number of persons, for instance, engaged in the dispute compared with those employed in the industry, the extent of the particular association formed and the place where it exists, the circumstances under which the business is carried on, and particularly the nature of the elements of the dispute, which may merely be as to some small matter. There may be a dispute, such as is not uncommon, owing to some man having been improperly dismissed, as the employes think.
– How could that involve the payment of a minimum wage?
Mr.W. H. IRVINE.- I do not think it would affect the payment of a minimum wage at all.
– If the honorable member looks at the clause he will see that preference does not arise in such case.
– I beg the honorable member’s pardon - he is quite right, and, therefore, the particular instance I was about to give does not apply. But suppose we take any of those cases where a minimum wage is one of the elements in the dispute. We are asked now not to leave the discretion to anybody, but to pass a law which must apply to any dispute involving a question of wages, whetherthat dispute be within broad or narrow limits, or whether the industry be great or small - to any dispute, which, though it be InterState, may extend over a very small part of the whole area covered by the industry. When that dispute is settled - and the Court cannot settle it without knowing the facts - any party to the dispute - it might be one of the employers, though that is not likely - any association, however small, may apply and the Court will be at once bound to make that particular rule apply throughout Australia.
– Registered organizations could only apply.
– But I think the Attorney-General will admit that once the rule is made it will govern the whole of the industry.
– If a minimum wage is fixed, non-unionists as well as unionists will get it.
– That is the common rule, if the common rule be valid, but the Attorney-General assumes that it is not. Even if it were it could not be made without giving to both employes and employers, who chose to come and present their views one way or the other, an opportunity of being heard. That seems the only way to make such general legislation either fair or practicably workable. Why should we depart from this simple plan of discretion properly safeguarded, seeing that ever) body interested would be heard? We must intrust the power to somebody; Parliament cannot step in at any moment in connexion with a particular dispute, and say what should and should not be done. If we regulate industry, we must invest some authority with discretion,- and we have, under the present law, rightly or wrongly, vested the discretion in the Arbitration Court.
– I think, rightly.
– It may be rightly, but it is certainly very much better than this proposal, because the Government now say, “ We are going to take that discretion away from the President altogether, and direct that, in all circumstances, no matter what the nature of the dispute may be, so long as it is a dispute about wages, no matter how small the association or how limited the area of the immediate conflict, that particular conflict cannot be settled without giving the association preference.”
– The effect is precisely the same in every case. If there are only 100 men applying, only 100 men can have preference.
– I quite admit that, but even in the short time that this Act has been in operation, organizations of employes have been formed of all sizes and to all extents, some actually covering a particular industry in practically all the States, and some covering only a limited area.
– In many cases no industrial dispute within the meaning of the Act could take place effectively.
– Yes, there may be numbers. Take the Broken Hill case, for instance. There was an Inter-State dispute, whereas the organization contained but a very small part of the actual mining industry. True, in the circumstances of that particular moment, it was held that the miners of Broken Hill and Port Pirie constituted a separate industry, and so this provision would not actually apply to them, because they were under the same employment; but these circumstances may operate at any time-
– Almost in any case where an organization can come under the Act, it is a large organization.
– Not necessarily.
– It is so, in fact.
– I think there have been a large number of small organizations formed in the short time the Act has been in operation.
– Was preference to unionists given in the Broken Hill award?
– No. Of course, if it is made obligatory to join unions; if we create guilds-
– That cannot be done under the Act.
– No; but assuming that we could reconstitute a system like the guilds of the Middle Ages, and say that everybody who works in a particular industry shall belong to a particular organization
– Like the legal profession.
– If we could do that, then we could undoubtedly do the rest. I say that in the legal profession is an example of a very close union.
– And in Russia the legal profession are part of the labour unions.
– There is no objection whatever to unionism, and I have never said a word against it. What I do° say is that if, under, this Constitution, we could revert to the guild system, taking control over each industry, stating the qualifications which a youth must have before entering it, and prescribing that no person shall work outside of it - if we could reconstitute industry on those lines, we should, of course, be dealing with a totally different subject. But we are not doing that. The Government, in this legislation, are recognising that we have no power at present, and very likely no desire, to attempt any such thing. We are creating machinery which may operate on a large or small scale, which is elastic, and based on voluntary and not compulsory association. That is the principle of it; and the main condition of it, subject to certain limitations set out, is that there shall be at least 100 employes - a very low number compared with the total number of employes in an industry. The Government will therefore gain nothing by saying that in every case where an award is made any one of the disputants has the right to declare that there shall be preference to unionists throughout the length and breadth of the industry.
– The preference is only mandatory after the Judge, in his discretion, has granted a minimum wage.
– That is so. Of course the discretion to determine what is aminimum wage must be invested in the Judge, because otherwise the matter cannot be settled. I want to deal with this matter fairly. I have had a certain amount of experience in connexion with the working of the Act.
– We are all being mellowed by results.
– In some directions my views in regard to this legislation have been confirmed ; in others, I admit that they have been altered as I have gone on ; but no matter what our views on this kind of legislation may be, our intention on both sides of the House ought to be to try to have as workable- a scheme as possible. I submit that there is no use in overloading a measure of this kind, no use in adopting too drastic or too stringent provisions which will undoubtedly have the effect of breaking it down. If we stipulate that, no matter what the character of the dispute, so long as it contains a claim for wages, no matter how small the association, the exercise of the President’s power to make an award shall, in all conceivable circumstances, be conditioned by the fact that the association may at once demand preference to unionists throughout the whole industry, even though the minimum wage fixed in the award cannot be extended by the award beyond the particular dispute before the Court-
– The effect of that argument entirely depends on whether the Court has power to make a common rule or not.
– I admit that, so long as the discretion is left to the Judge, no reasonable Judge would dream of making provision for preference to unionists unless he made it a common rule. One hangs on to the other ; but in this Bill the Government are leaving the’ Judge the discretion to make it a common rule, and no discretion whatever as to preference to unionists, whether the award is a common rule or not.
– If we were assured that we had the power to make a common rule, there would be a great deal to be said in favour of leaving the discretionary power to the Judge.
– But the two things ought to stand or fall together. If it is thought necessary to make a common rule, the Government will probably have to seek further powers, and then they will have to attach to those powers the necessary discretion to see that they are fairly exercised. Assuming that there is constitutional power to make a common rule-
– If we have no power to make a common rule the Judge deals with all the parties that come before him.
– Suppose there is no power to make a common rule. Here you have a dispute in a portion of an industry, the Judge has no power to make the minimum wage a common rule, the association that has brought the dispute before the Court contains the only persons who can get the benefit of the minimum wage, the Judge cannot extend the award beyond the limit of that association, and yet the association, under this Bill, if it is passed, can demand from the Judge an order for preference to its members.
– In that case no possible injustice could be done.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7.45 p.m.
– Before you left the chair, Mr. Speaker, I was endeavouring to point out some of the effects of including in this Bill a compulsory provision for preference to unionists. I have used the words “ preference to unionists, “- because that is the phrase usually employed, but the preference for which this Bill provides is not to unionists at all. We might very well have under this measure an association representing only a small portion of the employes of an industry who, having a quarrel with their employers, bring it for decision before the Court. The Court then fixes a minimum wage, because that must be one of the terms of the particular kind of dispute in question. That minimum wage, let us say, is higher than that prevailing throughout the industry. Every member of the association is at once interested, having got that higher minimum wage fixed, in going to the Court, and insisting on that preference being given to him. In that case the association would necessarily, in its own interests, be bound to apply to the Court to give a preference to its own members, and the Court would be bound to make the rule that members of the association, wherever they might be, and even if they had left their particular employment, should have preference over all other persons employed in that industry.
– Does the honorable member say that if the award applied to only a certain part of the industry, the persons employed in that particular part, because preference was granted, would have to receive the rate provided in the award, although it did not apply to the others?
– No. Let us take .the case of an association consisting of one-fifth of the employes in an industry whose operations are limited to a particular area, including portions of more than one State. That might happen, and indeed has happened. That association, let us assume, has secured a higher rate of wages than that prevailing throughout the rest of the industry in Australia. Those are the conditions of which I am speaking. In such circumstances that association would at once have the right, which the Court could not ignore, to say that its members in every part of Australia, wherever they might happen to go, should receive preference over persons who did not belong to it. What justice or reason is there in that? Yet that is what the Bill says shall be done.
– I do not see the argument.
– I dare say that it would take more skill than I claim to possess to convince the honorable member of the hardship of anything which purported on its face to give some advantage to labour, no matter how unreasonable or how unworkable it was, and no matter how advantageous it was to one small class of labourers and disadvantageous to all the rest. But these are the facts. I have correctly described the way in which this Bill would work. The common rule is either valid or invalid. If it is invalid the Court cannot make the minimum wage apply to one man outside the particular limited association, and yet that association may claim, as I say, that its members shall have preference everywhere over all other persons engaged in the industry. Let us assume on the other hand that the common rule is valid. In that case, the Court would have to determine - for the power is still left to it - whether it was just to extend the minimum wage to all other persons employed in the industry in other parts of Australia. Before it had had an opportunity of hearing what was to be said by all other persons, employers and employes, in the industry throughout Australia, it could have its hands forced by an application on the part of the association, which could say, “ Whether you fix a minimum wage or not, you must, at all events, give our members preference over all other persons employed in the industry.” Can any reason be given to justify such a provision? I think not. I wish now to refer briefly to the general question of the policy of preference to unionists. What is ordinarily called preference to unionists is not really provided for in this case. The Bill simply provides for preference to members of associations. That must always be borne in mind. What we are giving is not preference to unionists, but preference to members of artificial associations formed under the Act.
– But who are in certain circumstances unionists.
– They may or may not be. A trade union often registers as an association under the Act, but in. many cases the association is not and need not be an existing trade union in the ordinary sense. Persons who are not trade unionists may register under the Act. We might have an association, and there have been several already formed under the principal Act, embracing amongst its members persons who are members of a trade union and others who are not.
– We might, but in point of fact we do not have them.
– We do.
– -Not in the case of associations of employes.
– In a case which was recently under the consideration of the Court, as well as in the timber workers’ case, which previously engaged its attention, we had trade unions of all kinds in the different States, bound by no particular law, but entitled to unite under their own rules, and a general association formed under the principal Act, which had nothing whatever to do with the trade unions, except that it was furthered probably by persons prominent in the unions. When it was brought into existence it was an association, the rules of which were different from the rules of a trade union. Members of trade unions no doubt belonged to it, but it was a new association, and was not coterminous with or in any way the same as a trade union.
– Why was it necessary to surround the provision as to preference with so many safeguards?
– Tt is important to remember that this Bill does not really propose to give preference to unionists. If it were designed to give preference by law to members of voluntary associations who have no responsibility to the public or to Parliament as to the way in which they frame their rules, or as to the conditions under which they admit persons into their ranks, the Government would be proposing something absolutely tyrannous. I am, therefore, making a distinction in favour of the provision in the Bill when I say that it is one to grant preference not to unionists, but to associations that may be formed under the Act. It is true that Parliament has prescribed that before preference can be given to such associations, and as a condition to such preference their rules and the terms of admission to their ranks shall be submitted to some supervision. Whether preference to associations, for that is what is really proposed, be just or unjust, depends entirely on circumstances. It may he a fairly legitimate mode of extending and affording facilities for the organization df labour. It may on the other hand be an absolutely tyrannous and cruel abuse -of power. Whether it is one or the other depends almost entirely upon the rules and conditions under which an association is formed. For that reason Parliament has insisted under the principal Act that the rules of these associations shall be submitted to the Registrar. Parliament did not attempt to regulate the rules _ of 4rade unions. It recognised trade unions as bodies created under the law, and entitled to impose upon their members any rules they liked ; but it said,_ “ If you a re going to create an association under this Act in order to obtain the rights which we give to such associations, we insist that your rules shall be submitted to’ the Registrar, and that you shall comply with certain statutory provisions.”
– Then what makes the provision unjust ?
– Whether the misapprehension of the Attorney-General arises from the fact that he did not hear my remarks I do not know, but I have not yet stated that it is unjust. I have merely urged that, under proper safeguards, it may be either a legitimate extension of trade organization or one of the most cruel uses of power of which we can possibly conceive - an exercise of power against the most helpless and defenceless class of the community. What I say is that we have already adopted a provision - though it is -not, to my mind, a sufficiently effective provision - with a view to insuring that this principle shall operate fairly. But under -the Bill, the Government propose to leave “ the supervision of all rules of association entirely to the Registrar, who is a public -officer. I have nothing whatever to say against the gentleman who at present occupies that position, for whom I entertain a great respect, and whom I regard as my friend. But to place it within the province of any official to say that he alone has the. power to decide whether the conditions relating to the subscriptions paid by members of an industrial organization, or whether the rules of that organization are fair, is to saddle him with a very serious responsibility. If we are going to organize labour as it may be necessary to organize it - as it certainly will be necessary to organize it if we adopt this cumbrous machinery in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court - if we are going to grant to members of industrial organizations a special privilege in the form ot a preference, I hold that the rules of those organizations ought to be made public by being laid upon the table of the House.
– They are laid before the Registrar.
– But they are not made public. I do not claim that the rules of a trade union ought to be made public. It may desire to keep them secret for many reasons.
– Does the honorable member mean that the rules should be made public after the organization has been registered ?
– Before the association is registered those rules ought to be laid upon the table of the House for a week, if Parliament be then in session, and, if not, they should be published in the Government Gazette.
– I do not think that any trade union has secret rules.
– I do not know whether those ‘organizations have secret rules. I’ do not suggest that they have anything to conceal.
– Before he registers an industrial organization, the “ Registrar decides whether its rules are right or wrong.
– I do- not think that the expense which would be incurred in making these rules public would amount to very much. In the first place, the law requires that an industrial organization must consist of at least 100 members. Its application for registration must be made to the Registrar, and that officer would experience no difficulty in securing a copy of its rules for submission to Parliament. Before any rules of association are sanctioned - seeing that the extraordinary power is sought to grant a preference to one class of persons who voluntarily associate themselves over all other persons engaged in an industry - Parliament and the public should have the fullest opportunity of seeing that those rules are such that they cannot be used as an engine of oppression and cruelty. These are the only points which struck me on my casual perusal of the Bill. I only secured a copy of the measure a quarter of an hour or so before we were compelled to continue the debate upon it, and necessarily I had not an opportunity of giving it my close attention. But it has since been pointed out to me that, in my casual examination of it, I entirely failed to observe a most drastic amendment which it seeks to make in the existing law. I refer to the extension of the provisions of the principal Act to domestic servants, and all persons engaged in agricultural, horticultural, viticultural, and dairying pursuits.
– If it be a good thing, why should they be denied the benefit of it?
– The honorable member must agree with me that such an alteration of the law is scarcely in accordance with the statement of the AttorneyGeneral that we were merely being asked to deal with formal amendments.
– I do not think that the honorable member could have heard the Attorney-General speak, because he specifically mentioned the case of persons in the industries referred to.
– That it dealt only with machinery clauses was urged as a reason why we should continue the debate upon the second reading of the measure.
– The difference between amendments is simply one of degree.
– The difference between good and bad is merely a matter of degree. Surely this is a question which we ought to have an opportunity to consider. It involves a vital change in the existing law. It was completely threshed out in 1904, when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was under consideration. Surely ve ought now to be afforded an opportunity of considering such a vital proposal as that to extend this class of legislation to an immense class of persons who have not previously been affected by it.
– Has it not been extended to them in New Zealand?
– I am not arguing whether it is a good thing or a bad thing.. I merely say that when a Bill involving such a momentous change is brought forward, and when the Opposition request an adjournment of the debate for a few days in order that they may consider it and prepare their arguments, thai request ought to be granted.
– Cannot the question be dealt with in Committee?
– There are many matters which cannot be dealt with in Committee, where our remarks are necessarily confined to the particular clause which is under consideration. Otherwise a secondreading debate would be of no use. The object of discussion on the second reading of a Bill is to allow debate on the whole policy of the measure as well as on provisions which may be discussed in detail ir> Committee.
– Electioneering speeches.
– I am not accustomed to make electioneering speeches in this House. The honorable member has only recently entered Parliament, and he ought to wait a little longer before making such a criticism as to other honorable members. I say that the Government are entering upon a field in reference to the inclusion of agricultural labourers, the end of which they cannot well foresee. I can foresee even now, when the matter comes suddenly before me, consequences that are likely to be just as injurious to the class which honorable members opposite desire to benefit, as they may be possibly beneficial to some small portion of that class. In the first place, the whole of the agricultural labouring class is composed of a large number of persons- of all degrees of capacity. Some are entirely unskilled, whilst others possess a comparatively high degree of skill with regard to particular kinds of agricultural work. They are infinitely more varied than are the particular classes in any manufacturing industry. The personal equation enters largely into different cases. A man’s value may depend entirely - as, indeed, it generally does depend - on his individual qualification for the particular class of work upon which he may be engaged on a farm.
– Can the honorable member indicate under what circumstances such men might be brought under this Bill?
– As an honorable member said, it is all a question of degree. But there is a wide differencebetween degrees. In the manufacturing industries definite conditions as to hours of labour can be prescribed. To impose any such conditions in an agricultural industry, or at all events in some agricultural industries, is practically impossible. And it is no hardship that you should not be able to do so. The kind of work performed by agricultural labourers is sometimes very arduous, but it is relieved by long periods of comparatively light work. It varies, not only from season to season, but from week to week and from day to day. It is a class of work which, in most cases, is not at all capable of regulation by definite rules such as those which are applicable to manufacturing industries.
– Would not the Court recognise that fact?
– This consideration rather emphasizes the view which I have put with regard to the question of preference to unionists. A point has been suggested to me by the honorable member for Richmond, since 1 first saw the clause in question, as to what would happen if the preference to unionists applied to agricultural labourers. A very considerable proportion of the agricultural labourers employed by farmers, dairymen, and fruit-growers throughout this country are relatives - usually sons and daughters - of the farmers themselves. Suppose this principle of preference were applied to them. What is going to happen in case a member of a union comes along and says to a farmer, “ You are employing your own sons ; I am a member of the union.”
– The Bill would not apply.
– Why not? Where is the provision in the Bill to present it from applying?
– It is only when a man is asking for employment that the principle of preference comes in.
– There are hundreds of cases in which farmers employ their own sons and pay them wages.
– There is an easy way out of the difficulty. Let the sons and relatives join the union.
– There are hundreds of cases where men employ their sons and do not pav them.
– Very well; in such a case are you going to put an end to such relationships? This is an example of the very visionary nature of the schemes brought forward by honorable members opposite without anv attempt being made to think out the difficult practical problems which must arise.
– Was it on the ground of futility that such a clause was kept out of the existing legislation? Not at all
– I did not happen to be a member of this House at the time the existing legislation was introduced, and 1 am not going to quarrel with what the Attorney-General says about that. I do not know what the reasons were. But honorable members will see that any attempt to apply this principle of preference to the large number of people working under conditions absolutely distinct in character from those which we usually regulate by courts of arbitration and wages boards involves undertaking a task which will not only be unworkable, but which will do a great deal of injury to the very class which honorable members opposite contemplate benefiting. If you make the conditions of agricultural employment more onerous, if you insist upon a particular rate of wages being paid to agricultural labourers, you will undoubtedly throw out of employment a very large number of people of that very class who are most helpless, namely, the unskilled portion of the community. There are times - and the present time is one of them - when the farmers are particularly prosperous, when they have had good seasons and are looking for labour, and when, probably, the fixing of a minimum wage would not throw people out of employment. But the occupation and profits of farmers are perpetually fluctuating. They vary very much, according to the character of the season. Farm labour is necessarily temporary, and employment in this occupation is necessarily casual. If you impose restrictions of this kind a number of people, who are least able to protect themselves, will undoubtedly be injured very seriously.
– Does the honorable member assume that farmers employ labourers whom they do not require?
– The labour which a farmer requires depends on the profit that he is able to make out of its employment. All that I can say is that whatever views we may have on this subject I confess myself unable to approach this very serious invasion with the preparation which 1 should have liked to devote to it. I have felt myself unable to put into shape a number of ideas which I have in my mind, and which, I believe, are worthy of being expressed. I have not had an opportunity of studying the Bill as I should have desired to do. For my own part, I shall say no more except to enter my strong protest against this method of forcing entirely new measures like this upon the House without affording honor able members time for their consideration.
– This measure is introduced for the purpose of amending an Act whichwas passed early in the history of the Federal Parliament, which Act has already been amended. Now this proposal for a further amendment reminds me of a procedure which I advocated in the early days of Federation. I urged that amending Bills should be dealt with in an entirely different manner - that we should in some way repeal the whole of the existing legislation on a given subject and re-enact that portion of it which we desired to retain, together with such amendments as it might seem desirable to make. As against that course, the argument has been urged that no Government would submit to the initiation of a debate on a number of enactments already on the statute-book which it was not desired to alter. To meet this I suggested that we should have printed together with a Bill of this character those portions of the existing legislation which it was not proposed to alter in some different type - say, italics - so that we might see at a glance what provisions it was proposed to amend and what it was proposed to leave unaffected, and then finally print the Act in its entirety. When we pass a measure in that form, it can be printed in a way in which, when it goes forth to the public as the law of the land, they will be able easily to understand it. We might meet the difficulty in another way. After passing an amending Bill, we might adopt some system by .which we could have it reprinted, together with the existing legislation on the same subject, under the authority of the AttorneyGeneral and, say, the Speaker, certifying that the Act as thus printed constituted the legislation already on the statute-book, together with the amendments of it recently effected. By these means, the public would be easily able to understand what was the law on any particular subject. Let us consider the subject immediately before us. This legislation will practically affect the lives of thousands of our people. Every one likely to be affected by it will desire to know all the details of the law governing the relations of employer and employed If we pass this amending Bill, it will be necessary for all who desire to know what the law on the subject is to carefully peruse three enactments dealing with the question. I have been trying during the last three or four hours to look through these three measures, but without sufficient success to my mind to justify me in dealing to-night with the questions involved. I have endeavoured to make notes on our past legislation on this subject, to show what it is proposed now to repeal, and what to retain, and what alterations of the law generally this Bill will involve. I have not been able to do this satisfactorily in three or four hours. I am not addressing these remarks particularly to the present Government. I have addressed similar remarks to previous Governments. I think it would be a practical reform if, when we initiate any measure, whether an original or an amending Bill, we should see that when it was printed it would embody in one Act the whole of the law on the subject dealt with. I submit that the matter is one to which the Government might give careful consideration.
– That would be bad for the lawyers.
– It would. Under existing conditions, no one but a lawyer could say what the law of the land on this subject will be under the three enactments. With some such system as I propose, any one who could read would be able to understand what the law was. This Bill was introduced yesterday, and we received copies of it only to-day. We are placed at a great disadvantage in having to deal with so complicated and difficult a matter without having a few days in which to consider it. There was a time when Ministers in charge of measures such as this, in making their second-reading speeches, could explain, in some simple language which all could readily understand, what the Government proposed to do. They did not merely read a clause of the Bill and a section of the existing Act and then leave their listeners to their own conclusions. We had men in charge of measures who were able in a few passages of common English to state plainly what the intentions of the Government were. One could thus get some idea at least of the general principles underlying a Government proposal. But in second-reading speeches which we have heard from present Ministers there has been a sad neglect of what I consider to be the very wholesome practice of giving honorable members a clear indication of what the Government propose to do by the legislation submitted. This afternoon the Attorney-General in introducing this measure read various extractsand made various statements, but I, for one, must admit that I was no wiser at the conclusion of the honorable gentleman’s, speech than I was before he commenced. I had to get the Acts and set to work to com- pare them with what is proposed in this Bill. While doing that I had, as best I could, to listen to the criticism which some of the ablest legal members on this side were able to make upon the Bill at a fewmoments’ notice. It must be understood that most of these honorable gentlemen have been engaged in controversies in connexion with this kind of legislation, and are, therefore, seized of the effects of amendments of a machinery character, the necessity for which, according to the Attorney-General, was the chief reason for the introduction of this Bill. But what did we find ? The honorable member for Flinders, for the purposes of a subsidiary portion of his argument, suggested a supposititious case, and the Attorney-General was able to point out to him that a certain clause in the Bill rendered his argument altogether futile. The honorable member for Flinders had at once to retire from the position he had taken up. What sort of a position is that in which to put members of the Opposition? I say that this measure, so far as I can gather, does not involve merely the alteration of a few machinery provisions of the law, as stated by the Attorney-General. It involves principles which, no matter how we may regard them, are of such importance that sufficient time ought to be given honorable members on both sides to consider them fully. Honorable members opposite do not seem to be so very ready to get up and express their definite opinions on the various clauses of this measure. We have heard no speech from the other side which shows that they have any honorable member amongst them, with the exception of the Attorney-General, who has any real conception of what this Bill means, or of how far it goes in the direction of meeting their wishes. How can we be expected in the, circumstances to offer criticism calculated to make a workable measure, and to insure the passage of useful legislation which will not render necessary a still further alteration of the law almost immediately after it has come into operation? I, for one, do not feel in a position to do so, owing to the short notice which Ministers have given us. I say it is an impertinence - and I use the word in its true sense - to expect honorable members to discharge their duty properly in connexion with a measure of this complicated nature when it has been in their hands for only a few hours, and was introduced to their notice in a way which threw no light upon the subject with which it deals. I feel constrained in -the circumstances, and in the interests of good legislation, and without any desire to prevent the Government proposals being considered as rapidly as possible consistent with a true regard to the interest of our constituents, to move that the debate be adjourned.
– The honorable member cannot now move the adjournment of the debate.
– I am aware that the Government would not consent to an adjournment. Shall I be in order in asking leave to continue my remarks tomorrow ?
– The honorable member will be in order, but he will have to obtain the leave of the House. Is it the will of the House that the honorable member shall have leave to continue his remarks to-morrow ?
– Personally, I regret the attitude of the Government. I have never been guilty of obstruction in this House. I have always endeavoured to assist Ministers, even those to whom I have been hostile, on general principles. I am prepared to assist the present Government. There are some principles in this Bill which I am prepared to support. I cannot say that I will support the Bill as a whole. I am not in a position to say which of its provisions I will support, and which I will not support, by reason of the fact that I have not had sufficient time in which to grasp the whole of its principles. One honorable member said that second-reading speeches on this measure were totally unnecessary, and that we might at once go into Committee to consider its provisions in detail. I say that the honorable member who made that statement does not understand the true reasons which led our experienced forefathers to adopt the forms and procedure which we follow in this House. The reason for the second-reading stage is to give an opportunity for the discussion of the general principles of Bills. In Committee members may deal only with each clause as it comes before them ; but on the second reading one clause may be contrasted with another, and an instruction may even be given to a Committee to deal with a Bill so as to alter its provisions in a way which will meet with the views of the House. I do not wish to occupy time uselessly, and am not now in a position to occupy it with profit to honorable members or to my constituents. Therefore, since the Government will not grant my request for an adjournment of the debate, there is nothing further for me to say. There are on the noticepaper motions relating to Bills introduced before this Bill. Those measures I have read and considered, and I am prepared to discuss them ; but I am not in a position now to deal with this one.
Motion (by Mr. Greene) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
Question - That the debate be now adjourned - put. The House divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
.- The circumstances which have led up to this evening’s events are absolutely without precedent in the Commonwealth Parliament. During the present session, the most bitter opponent of the Opposition will admit that, in no instance, has a single hour of the time of this House been wasted by us, while every assistance has been given to the Government to dispose of its measures as expeditiously as possible. We have proceeded without heat, delay, or disorder, and as a consequence we can show an Address-in-Reply, packed with contentious matter, disposed of more rapidly than in any preceding instance.
– Is the honorable member going to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– In one moment. In addition, important measures, the complexity and magnitude of which are apparent to every observer, have been rapidly disposed of. What then is the position in regard to this particular proposal ? I owe it to the Prime Minister that last night he was good enough, before the rising of the House, to hand me a copy of the Bill. I had no knowledge as to when it was to be dealt with, but, fortunately, transferred it at once to my colleague, the honorable member for Angas. However, as he did not anticipate that it was to be dealt with to-day, he simply laid it aside amongst his papers until this afternoon, when he heard that the second reading was to be moved. Then, at my request, he ran through it as well as he could during the short time which elapsed before the Attorney:General rose to introduce it. It is necessary that I should make this explanation, because, if I had dreamed that this or any similar course was to be pursued, it would have been my duty to endeavour to master the measure as well as I could in the short time at my disposal. As a matter of fact, I have had no such opportunity, and have not read the Bill. I glanced this morning at some condensation in the newspaper, only gathering that it was an amending measure which it would be necessary to read clause by clause in comparison and contrast with the existing Act on the statute-book. My leisure did not permit me even to commence the task. When arriving here for the transaction of business, on the way into the House the Prime Minister said that he hoped there would be no debate on the Bill. I am repeating his words for the reason that I understood him to mean the first measure on the noticepaper, namely, the Trust Fund Advances Bill. There was no debate on that measure - not a word - and, consequently, I was absolutely unprepared, as was every honorable member on this side, to be asked today to proceed to the consideration of the measure now before us directly the second reading had been moved. It is a measure which is essentially one for full criticism in Committee. It consists of a scattered series of propositions, many of them of great importance, associated with similar or somewhat similar propositions proposed to be amended. But this Bill was laid aside by me to-day for the very simple reason that, for the last two years or more, the original measure on the statute-book has constantly occupied the attention of the High Court, being interpreted in certain aspects and uninterpreted in others, with suggestions as to possible interpretations, which have, I confess, left me very much in the dark as to the exact effect of the existing sections questioned. I dare say that others are also in doubt on these points. I have taken no special pains to unravel them. Not having held legal office for eight years, I have had no immediate need to familiarize myself more than the ordinary newspaper reader does with the significance of the present law. Consequently, even if I had taken the Bill and read it in connexion with the proposed amendments, I could not have formed an opinion on some of the points - at all events, on some of the most important - worthy of expression to the House. That would need considerable legal research and a fresh endeavour to come into touch with the real problems to be dealt with. Under the circumstances, I submit that no more unreasonable request was ever made in this Chamber than that we should debate such a Bill without an opportunity for a single moment’s consideration. The honorable member for Angas, from his general knowledge, was fortunately able to undertake the task, and was followed by the honorable member for Flinders, who has enjoyed to the full the very opportunities which I so sorely lack for keeping himself in close touch with every legal development in connexion with ‘ this question during the last several years. These two honorable members, of course, were competent for the task impromptu; I confess that I am not able to take up the Bill and endeavour to do it justice. I think that no honorable member on this side has trespassed on the time during this session. Never having in the least hesitated to face a measure or to assist the Government in every way, I say that the treatment to which we have been subjected to-day is utterly unjustifiable. It does not advance the cause sought to be served, nor does it assist the transaction of the business of the House, but breeding bitterness and misunderstanding, leaves us in a worse position than we were before. Through no fault of my own, being unable to effectively criticise a single clause of the Bill. I decline to pretend to attempt to do so.
– Though very little exception can be taken to the words of the Leader of the Opposition, I think his tone and attitude hardly fit the circumstances that have arisen. The honorable member for Flinders admitted that this is a Bill which can only be effectively discussed in Committee.
– I did not say so; I said that most of its provisions could only be effectively dealt with in Committee, but . that there were two or three clauses certainly not of that class.
– Subject to that correction, which is only a slight variation of what 1 said-
– If the Prime Minister says that he will say anything !
– Whether the team opposite is well generalled or not I do not know-, but some indication is given in the fact that those who know nothing about the subject are anxious to intervene. The honorable member for Flinders distinctly stated that this is a Bill which primarily should be discussed and dealt with in Committee.
– It is only fair to add what I added, namely, that that was so in regard to most of the provisions, but that there were two or three that affected the fundamental principles of the whole of this legislation.
– The honorable member for Angas treated the Bill in the same way, though I do not think he used any direct language conveying distinctly that the Bill ought to be dealt with solely in Committee. As to the statement made by the Leader of the Opposition that I expressed the hope that there would be no lengthy discussion on the Bill, I may say that I referred not to this Bill, but to the debate on another measure on which the honorable member for Parramatta had moved the adjournment at the previous sitting. Seeing that the Leader of the Opposition has traversed the whole attitude of honorable members opposite towards the Government, I may be permitted to refer to the attitude of the Government towards the Opposition. In every instance I have yielded to requests of the Opposition for adjournments.
– Too much so!
– Order !
– I shall abandon that course altogether.
– Hear, hear. Shut the whole thing up.
– The honorable member is not going to secure martyrdom.
– A set of petty tyrants !
– Order ! I have repeatedly called the honorable member for Parramatta to order. I now ask him to cease these continuous interjections, and to withdraw the remark he has just made.
– I withdraw it. I was not aware that you had called me to order before. I am sorry.
– I hear now from the Leader of the Opposition a statement of the case which was not put by him before, nor put directly to me in any circumstances.
– I put it across the table directly the proposal was made.
– The honorable member now says, in his public capacity as Leader of the Opposition, that he Kas not had the. rime or the opportunity to go into the question. Had he and the right honorable member for Swan put that case directly to me at the time, it would have received consideration. Nothing the Opposition has done or said since will alter my view if the ^ honorable member makes an appeal for rea- ‘sonable time.
– I made it across the table.
– Before this debate began, as the honorable member for Darling Downs can bear out - although my statement will stand alone, without needing to be borne out - I went round and told him and the honorable member for Angas that we were going to adjourn the debate on the other measure and bring on this measure. The honorable member for Angas replied that while he would like more time, he would be prepared to follow the AttorneyGeneral.
– I did not know the other debate was to be adjourned, until I was sent for upstairs.
– Why did not the honorable member go to tEe Leader of the Opposition ?
– The Leader of the Opposition was not then available.
– I was in the Chamber when the adjournment of the other debate was moved.
– What I am referring to occurred prior to that. The Leader of the Opposition should be the last mau to say that I have treated him with any discourtesy, now or at any time. The Government do not wish to unduly press the Opposition to proceed, but they intend to get on with the business. This is a comparatively simple Bill so far as the second reading is concerned. Although the honorable member for Richmond had technically lost his right to speak on the second reading, I was quite ready to agree that he should be heard, and that the debate should go on ; but I am prepared to consider any proposal for a reasonable adjournment. How long is wanted for the consideration of the matter ?
– I think the debate ought to go over until Tuesday next.
– That is rather unreasonable. We want work for the Senate, and this is an important and urgent Bill, on which we, as a party, appealed directly to the country. It is quite true, as has been said, that our conciliation and arbitration legislation has brought down two Governments in its time. It has, I am happy to say, enlightened the people of Australia, and people outside, to a greater extent than any other legislation passed by the Federal Parliament. It has altered in a large degree the whole course of thought of the Australian people on industrial matters. This Bill deals with the principles of that legislation, and alters them in details which in some instances are fundamental. During the last six or eight years honorable members of this House have denounced this legislation as intolerable, endangering the whole of the industries of Australia, and likely to destroy the prosperity of the Commonwealth; yet, to-day, we find those who made such statements a few years ago cooing like cloves. They now say that the principle is an ideal one, only we must beware that we do not cany it too far. Exactly the same statement was made regarding the original Bill, when some of us were trying to put more advanced propositions into it. We are bound, as a party, to go on with this measure with reasonable expedition. Beyond that, I am prepared to give every consideration to thf; request of the Leader of the Opposition, but an adjournment until Tuesday is unreasonable. It will be fair to hear som*: speeches from this side of the House, and get on a bit further with the secondreading debate; but, obviously, if there were any attempt to continue the debate at un- reasonable length, the Government would be placing themselves entirely in the hands of the Opposition, although the Opposition are a minority, if they did not take notice of what was going on. We have not wasted the time of the House ourselves, and it is reasonable to offer an adjournment of the debate until Friday. In fact, I think that is a very generous consideration to honorable members opposite.
– It is better than nothing.
– The Government are prepared to meet the Leader of the Opposition to that extent.
– Very well.
– Then I agree to the adjournment of the debate until Friday.
Motion (by Mr. Spence) proposed -
That the debate be now adjourned.
– Can another motion for the adjournment of the debate be moved within a quarterofanhour of the previous motion?
– I understand that more than a quarter-of-an-hour has elapsed.
Motion agreed to; debate adjourned.
Second Reading. mr. TUDOR (Yarra- Minister of
Trade and Customs) [8.55]. - In moving
That this Bill be now read a second time,
I should like to say a few words, particu larly as there are a number of honorable members in the House now who were not here at the time the original sugar industry’s legislation was enacted. Honorable members will recollect that, at the outset, an effort was made to do away with black labour in the sugar industry in Queensland, and it was enacted that there should be an Excise duty of£3 per ton on all sugar, subjectto a rebate of £2 per ton, in respect of sugar grown by white labour. That legislation was to operate until 1st January, 1907. It was found, however, to work inequitably, as the rebate was paid from the Excise. The four non-sugar growing States of Australia received Excise, on Australian-grown sugar consumed within their boundaries without having to pay any rebate, whereas the two sugar-growing States, Queensland and New South Wales, had to pay the whole of the rebate. The remedy was supplied by the late Mr. Charles Cameron Kingston, then Minister of Trade and Customs, who proposed that the rebate system should be abolished and that there should be paid on all white-grown sugar cane a bounty at the rate of 4s. per ton, calculated on cane giving 10 per cent, of sugar, and that it should be increased or reduced proportionately according to any variation from that standard. The Act of 1903 declared that that bounty should be paid out of the Consolidated Revenue, so that all States contributed on a per capita basis to the bounty payments, and received Excise on sugar consumed by them. That legislation was to operate until the end of 1906, but before the expiration of that period the sugar growers of Queensland generally expressed the opinion that if it ceased to operate they would be placed at a disadvantage. A large number of members of this Parliament visited Queensland in 1905, and shortly after their return there was introduced in this House a Bill increasing the Excise to £4 per ton and the bounty to£3 per ton. That provision was to operate until the end of this year. It further provided that in 19 11 there was to be a reduction of the Excise and bounty by one-third, and a further reduction of two- thirds was to be made in 1912, so that in 19 13 both bounty and Excise would cease. After that date the only duty operating would be the import duty of £6 per ton. Some honorable members, and a great many people outside, have an idea that the proposed legislation would simply improve the position of the monopoly which exists so far as the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is concerned.
– I believe that all the big men, from the members of the monopoly itself, to the sugar-growers cultivating fairly large areas in . Queensland, are anxious that the present Excise Act and Bounty Act should lapse in 19 13. They say, in effect, “ We do not wish to have any hampering conditions in connexion with the industry. Give us £6 per ton protection, but do not let us have labour conditions enforced in the cane- fields, and, later on, in the mills.”
– The small growers say the same.
– On the contrary, they are anxious that the present legislation shall remain in operation, and the Excise and bounty provisions be extended.
– When I was in Brisbane three years ago, I found that they were not.
– Since then, I have enjoyed the advantage of travelling through most of the sugar-growing districts of Queensland, and I am sure that the honorable member for Darling Downs, who is a member of the honorable member’s party, and knows more about that State than he does, will support my statement that every small grower in Queensland desires that the bounty and Excise shall continue.
– For what reason?
– In order to protect them against the monopoly. The honorable member for Capricornia and the honorable member for Herbert will support my statement in this connexion. Under the Act of 1905, certain labour conditions were imposed, and we declared that a grower of cane should not be entitled to receive the bounty unless he observed the average labour conditions obtaining in his district. I do not know how far we shall be permitted, in dealing with this Bill, to discuss the Sugar Bounty Bill, which is complementary to it, but I think that it would be well on the one measure to have a general debate in regard to the whole question of Excise and bounty. It would be unfair for honorable members to make second-reading speeches upon this Bill and to repeat them upon the Sugar Bounty Bil!. These measures must be taken together. One is the necessary complement of the other. Honorable members will notice that in the legislation affecting the sugar industry which we propose in the other Bill it is intended to insert fresh labour conditions. However, I shall hot deal with those conditions now, but when the ‘Sugar Bounty Bill is under consideration. In order that honorable members may appreciate the progress which the sugar industry has made under our White Australia policy, I have had printed and circulated amongst them certain figures, some of which have been taken out of the Budget papers, whilst others were secured from departmental records. It will be recollected by all who were present in this chamber during 1901-2 that we were then told that if we legislated to maintain a White Australia the sugar industry would undoubtedly fail, and that instead of thriving towns existing in the north of Queensland, grass would be growing in the streets. As a matter of fact, the very reverse is the case. Honorable members will see by reference to the figures supplied to them that in 1902, when this legislation became operative, the number of farmers in the industry employing white labour was 1,521, whereas last year it was 4,577 - an increase of three to one. During the same period the number of farmers employing black labour has decreased from 975 to 320. The figures in respect to the area under cultivation are not available for the first two years, but statistics for subsequent years show that the area under cultivation by white labour has increased from 45,424 to 114,940 acres, whereas that cultivated by black labour during the same period has decreased from 74,375 to 10,083 acres. If we take what is more important still, namely, the quantity of sugar produced, we find that in 1902 the entire production in Queensland totalled 77,835 tons. Of this quantity 12,254 tons were produced by white labour and 65,581 by black labour. During the present year it is estimated that 170,684 tons will be produced by white labour and 15,492 tons by black labour. So that there has been an increase in the production by white labour from 12,254 tons to 170,684 tons, and a decrease in the production by black labour from 65,581 tons to 15,492 tons.
– The aggregateproduction does not reveal an increase.
– Yes. It discloses an increase in Queensland from 77,835 tons to 186,176 tons. The estimated production of Queensland this year is 1,000 tons in excess of that of any previous year.
– That is merely an estimate.
– In any case, the aggregate production does not affect the question.
– The honorable member for North Sydney will observe that in 1902 only 15.7 per cent, of the crop of Queensland was produced by white labour, whereas to-day 91.7 ger cent, of it is thus produced. Further, the percentage of the crop grown by black labour has decreased from 84.3 per cent, in 1902 to 8.3 per cent, to-day.
– How much higher is the price of sugar per ton now than it was in 1902 ?
– The present price of sugar is higher all over the world than it was when we enacted our legislation affecting the industry. It is a few pounds per ton higher than it was then. But this measure will not affect the price of sugar at all. If I thought that it would increase the cost of that commodity I should not advocate it. The sugar industry is the only industry this Parliament has protected which takes the full advantage of that protection. In every other industry competition has existed, but in the sugar industry there is a monopoly which carefully keeps the price of that article at 15s. per ton higher than it would cost to land it here without paying the duty, or 5s. per ton less than the import duty.
– Can the Minister of Trade and Customs prove that?
– I believe that it can be proved by trade prices. The monopoly of which I speak keeps up the price of sugar almost to the amount of the protective duty imposed upon that article.
– That is done in every other industry.
– It is not done in any other industry. The Colonial Sugar Refining Company practically controls the sugar market of Australia, and it is careful to so regulate the price of that commodity as to obtain the full amount of the protection which has been granted to it.
– What about whisky ?
– I am not an authority on whisky.
– Can the Minister give us the Continental price of sugar as compared with the Australian price?
– I cannot. But I know that present prices are fairly high all over the world. According to Saturday’s Argus, the latest Continental quotation for refined sugar was £16 15s. per ton. That amount, plus the duty, would just about bring the price up to that at which it is selling on the Australian market.
– The Minister is referring to the wholesale price?
– Yes. In 1902 bounty was paid in Queensland on only 105,364 tons of cane, whereas this year it is estimated that it will be paid upon 1,541,076 tons. Nine or ten tons of cane are required to make one ton of sugar. Of course, we all recognise that in New South Wales the -production of sugar has considerably decreased during recent years, mainly because in the electorate of Richmond the farmers have dropped the cultivation of cane for the purpose of devoting their attention to dairying. But in Queensland the production of sugar has increased. This is shown by the fact that in 1902 there were 98,795 tons produced in the Commonwealth, and 93,103 tons imported. -The crop last vear was a poor one. not owing to the legisla tion of this Parliament, but owing to the prevalence of frosts and grubs. This year it is estimated that from practically the same acreage we shall obtain a yield of 54,000 tons more from Queensland than we obtained last year. It is estimated that the sugar annually consumed in Australia is a little over 200,000 tons, and this year we shall produce nearly that quantity. Of course, the company which controls the sugar trade of the Commonwealth will have to import a certain quantity of sugar in order to retain their hold upon that trade. Doubtless the right honorable member for Swan will be interested to know that we shall be required to pay just as much for our sugar next year as we are obliged to pay for it this year. Further, if a fall should take place in the price of sugar upon the Continent we should not obtain the full advantage of it, owing to the fact that one company controls the Australian market.
– If we offered it for next to nothing people would not buy it. There is no sale for it.
– I am quite prepared to say that the honorable member for North Sydney would be very willing to place an order for 20,000 tons of sugar with the right honorable member for Swan, if the latter could obtain it for £1 per ton less than the price at which it is quoted to-day..
– I would take it at 10s. less.
– It has often been complained that while the present legislation operates there is no gain to the revenue - that we pay away in bounty the whole df the money that we receive in Excise. Honorable members will see, on page 4 of the printed document which I have circulated, a statement as to the amount that has been received through Customs ; secondly, the total amount received from Excise ; thirdly, the amount of bounty paid ; and, fourthly, the net gain in respect of bounty. On the last page is a return as to the number of employes engaged in the sugar industry.
– As regards, the Excise, is the statement based upon the consumption?
– It is based upon the estimated effect of the measure that is now introduced. There will be an Excise of £4 per ton, and £3 per ton will be paid in bounty. There is also a table based on the legislation which will continue in existence until the end of this year.
– What is the estimated number of tons?
– One hundred and eightysix thousand tons produced from Queensland, and 14,000 from New South Wales.
– There are two sets of figures.
– That is because the financial year dealt with is roio-11, whilst the whole of the sugar is harvested and crushed before the end of December. But the figures are practically the same, though there may have to be a balance, in consequence of amounts held over from the 31st December until the beginning of the year. Honorable members will also see on the paper which has been circulated an estimate of the number of employes in the industry. The figures are only approximate, because the persons engaged in harvesting sugar go from one plantation to another, and it is possible that some of them may have been counted more than once. There may have been more than 20,000 white persons engaged in the industry, or there may have been fewer.
– I think that, with some care, accurate figures could have been obtained.
– No; the Excise inspectors and the sub-collectors of Customs in Queensland were instructed to try to obtain exact figures if possible. But, as the honorable member for Richmond knows, men who travel from farm to farm cut out one farm in six or seven weeks, and then go oh to another. Consequently, there is a possibility of some being counted twice or more. That consideration makes the figures not so reliable as they would otherwise be.
– Do those men get on to the electoral rolls twice, as well ?
– I have no idea; but, if so, they would be. doing what has been done by people in the right honorable member’s party dozens of times.
– I disapprove ot that kind of thing.
– So do I. Another matter to which I should like to refer is that it was said from time to time, while our White Australia legislation was under discussion, that the supply of labour in the north would not be sufficient to meet the demand. In company with other honorable members, I went through Queensland in 1904-5. Previous to that time I had heard complaints to the effect that the class of labour was not suitable, that the supply was inadequate, and that those engaged in it were a worthless lot. I do not know what the right honorable member for Swan heard when he went through Queensland three years ago ; but I was up there again last year, and every farmer to whom I spoke, as well as every miller, admitted that the supply of labour was adequate, and that the class of labour engaged in the industry was becoming better each year. It was generally acknowledged that there is little fault to find regarding the labour available, except in the far north, nor were any complaints made as to the steadiness of the men engaged in the industry. I have before me a copy of the monthly reports which are supplied to the Department of Trade and Customs. They deal with each district. I will quote a little from each. The report from Port Douglas states -
Harvesting operations commenced on the 13th inst., but, owing to the shortage of labour, few, if any, of the fourteen gangs were up to their full numerical strength; in consequence, the mill has not yet reached the point of being able to work continuously.
From Lucinda- -
Labour is sufficient for the requirements of the district. Harvesting is progressing favorably.
From Townsville -
The supply of labour is in excess of the demand.
From Bowen -
There is sufficient labour to meet the demand in the district.
From Mackay -
Labour is plentiful. A number of mcn are now in the district.
From Bundaberg -
At the present time there is ample labour to meet all requirements.
From Maryborough -
No difficulty is anticipated in obtaining ample labour to harvest and mill this season’s crop.
From Brisbane -
The supply of labour in the district is ample for all requirements. Work in connexion with cane production is progressing satisfactorily.
It is not my intention to deal with the question at greater length. When 1 speak upon the Bill relating to the sugar bounty I shall have something more to say as to the labour conditions, and shall also to a greater extent deal wi.th the alterations proposed in regard to the bounty.
– The honorable member has pointed out the satisfactory conditions prevailing in the industry in all directions. Why, then, amend the law?
– There is no present amendment of the law. We are proposing to carry on the law now existing. An amendment of the law will operate next year unless this Bill be passed. The present labour conditions are satisfactory simply because the full bounty is payable to those growers who employ white labour. But sweep away the bounty, as has been suggested by some honorable members, and we shall have employed in the fields - as is the case in many mills to-day - black and other coloured labour.
Debate (on motion by Mr. G. B. Edwards) adjourned.
– I move -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
This is a measure which I think will not excite great opposition from any quarter of the House. It is a machinery Bill intended merely to remedy one or two defects of the existing Act under which undesirable immigrants manage to secure a landing in the Commonwealth. In moving the second reading I may say that our policy of a White Australia, as defined in the Immigration Restriction Act, has now been in force for some eight or nine years. When first introduced, and for some two or three years thereafter, it excited a good deal of hostility outside of Australia - I am not referring to hostility expressed within the Commonwealth- and much misunderstanding as to the objects and scope of our legislation. Time has been on our side in this matter, and it has come to be generally recognised in other countries - I say it with feelings of gratification - that our policy is a wise one, and although it is not accepted with the most cordial approval, it is now admitted to be necessary in our special case. As a purely machinery Bill I think I may fairly ask the House to put the measure through, perhaps, to-night, unless there is a strong desire on the part of any honorable member for a postponement of its consideration. It was the first Bill introduced this session, it has been before honorable members for some time, and it contains no new principles. Further, I may say that it is not particularly the Bill of the present Government. One might very properly describe it as a departmental Bill. It was prepared under the direction of tuy predecessor, the honorable member for Darling Downs. In view of the criticism we had a few moments ago to the effect that it is desirable that in intro ducing a measure the Minister in charge should indicate its scope, I shall briefly refer to the principal clauses of the Bill. In paragraph a of clause 2 it is proposed to amend sub-section 2 of section 5 of the principal Act by substituting for the words “one year” the words “two years.” The object of the proposed amendment is to allow two years within which action may be, taken by the Department to apply the dictation test to persons who enter the Commonwealth, not irregularly under the Act, but on certificates of exemption and passports. Under the principal Act, unless action is taken by the Department to apply the dictation test to such persons within twelve months, there is no means of deporting them if they refuse to leave at the end of their term of exemption. Honorable members will see that as we give them twelve months’ exemption and only twelve months is allowed in which to apply the dictation test in order, if necessary, to be able to deport them at the close of their term of exemption, it is impossible to apply the provisions of the Act if persons entering the Commonwealth in the way described refuse to leave it at the end of their term of exemption. The proposal of this Bill is to give an additional twelve months within which, if it is found desirable, officers of the Department may apply the dictation test to any person who refuses to leave the Commonwealth at the expiry of his term of exemption. The object of paragraph b of clause 2 is to place the burden of proof that an alleged immigrant is an immigrant upon the defendent. It is proposed that in any action by the Department against an immigrant the averment in the indictment shall be deemed proof that the defendent is an immigrant in the absence of proof to the contrary. The onus is placed upon the defendant to prove that he is not an immigrant. The reason for this is obvious. The officers of the Department may not know when a certain person entered the Commonwealth whilst the person charged with being a prohibited immigrant will, of course, know the ship by which he arrived, and will be in a position to protect himself if he is not a prohibited immigrant under the Act. Clause 3 reads -
Section gA of the principal Act is amended byomitting from sub-section 2 the words “ for thepurposes of this section.”
The Act of 1908, popularly known as the Stowaways Act, makes the owners and” agents of vessels bringing here prohibited” immigrants as stowaways liable to a penalty. The omission from sub-section 2 of section qa of the words, “ for the purposes of this section,” will make such stowaways, too, liable to arrest and possible conviction, it being desirable to punish them as well as those who are technically responsible for bringing them here. As for the amendment of section 9d provided for in clause 4, it has been thought necessary to require the owners or agents pf vessels to give notice of the presence on board of prohibited immigrants as stowaways “ forthwith after arrival,” that is, at the earliest reasonable moment. This amendment is proposed because, in one case at least, after the presence of stowaways had been brought by Commonwealth officers to the notice of those responsible for the ship - the stowaways being discovered when the vessel was in quarantine - the captain reported it, and it was held, after considerable argument, that he having thus given notice, his owners were not punishable. In clause 5 we provide that every person directly or indirectly concerned in bringing to the Commonwealth immigrants intending to land secretly, or in concealing an immigrant with the intention of enabling him to land secretly, or in concealing an immigrant with intent to prevent his discovery by an officer, shall be guilty of an offence against the Act. Now, when prohibited immigrants are brought as stowaways, only the owners or agents of the vessel are liable, no punishment being provided for aiders and abettors among the crew or in Australia. These at present get off scot-free, whereas it is extremely desirable that they should be punished. The clause also provides that persons arriving in the Commonwealth, having in their possession false certificates of naturalization or of birth with intent to deceive or mislead an officer, shall be guilty of an offence against the Act. Since the Act of 1908 was passed, most of those who have fraudulently attempted to enter the Commonwealth have represented themselves to be the rightful holders of naturalization papers, but some of these were issued so many years ago that they must have belonged to persons old enough to be the fathers or grandfathers of those claiming to possess them. At present we can only send back such imposters ; we cannot punish them. But the proposed new sections in clause 5 will make them liable to punishment. Sections 6 and 7 make what are mere verbal amendments of the principal Act. The words, “every member of the police force of any State and “ are omitted from sections r4 and 14a, because the words “ every officer “ are sufficient. Clause 8 gives us power of search. At the present time an officer is not empowered to stop a cab or boat, or to enter a house, in which he believes a prohibited immigrant to be. I think that honorable members will agree that, while the provisions of the measure are drastic, legislation of this kind must be thorough. That our administration has not been harsh is proved by the fact that it is not now viewed with such disfavour as used to be shown to it. Representations from foreign Governments are carefully considered, and, where possible, their views are met. We are determined to give effect to the White Australia policy, but have no wish to be harsh.
– The Minister would be all right if left to himself.
– Does the right honorable member suggest that everything would be right were it not for the promptings of the Opposition?
– No; I referred to those behind the honorable member.
– They are ready at all limes to uphold my hands in this matter.
– I was paying the honorable member a compliment.
– I appreciate it. The White Australia policy is now accepted by every party in the Commonwealth.
– Why did not the honorable member say that during the electoral campaign?
– I did.
– Some candidates said that 1,000 coloured men were to be dumped into Australia to provide labour for the mines.
-I do not know what was said in the honorable member’s electorate.
– I am referring to what was said in Victoria.
– I did not hear or read such statements. No doubt candidates made the most of the fact that the members of the Labour party were the strongest supporters of the White Australia policy at the outset, and were perhaps readier than some of those opposite to take drastic action to maintain it.
– It was suggested that the members of the Opposition were not ready to do so.
– I do not think so. Of course, any reference to the Opposition was to the whole party, not to individuals. Honorable members on this side are, I think, entitled to credit for the passing of the Stowaways Bill, and for very prompt action then taken. The party to which I belong have every right to say that, by their action at the right moment, the influx was stopped.
– They were assisted by the Opposition.
– I admit that.
– How many were stopped ?
– The number coming in was very great, but it is difficult to say how many were stopped ; and it is impossible to say how many would have come in had that action not been taken. The ease with which the Act could be evaded had a great deal to do with the evasion ; and in the absence of special provision dealing with stowaways the officers were powerless.
– I do not think there was a very large number coming in.
– There was a very considerable number, though I do not think there was anything like as many on the north-west coast, and by way of Torres Straits, as was suggested in the newspapers. I went to a good deal of trouble, and I am sure that the honorable member for Darling Downs, who succeeded me, did no less, in order to ascertain the extent of the evil, and we found that, though it was pretty considerable, it was mainly to be found in the main ports. We had to follow up a number of alleged cases, in the northwest particularly, but no proof whatever in regard to these could be found. There may be leakage going on now ; but, so far as these isolated parts of the country are concerned, there is very little likelihood of a prohibited immigrant, even if he gets into the country, reaching the more settled portions, where employment is to be obtained. As I say, it is mostly at the principal ports that these undesirables are to be found.
– Is there anything in the Bill to interfere with the pearling industry ?
– No ; anything affecting the pearling industry would have to be dealt with in the Navigation Bill.
– Pearlers get exemption under the principal Act.
– Exactly. Crews are not immigrants under the Act, seeing that they do not propose to take up their domicile here; and I doubt whether they could be dealt with under this measure even if we desired to do so.
– There is a good deal of trouble with the pearling crews.
– There is always considerable trouble in the pearling industry, and it would be very desirable if, by means of a bounty or co-operation with the States of Queensland and Western Australia, we could bring about the substitution of white labour for coloured labour.
– It is not fit work for white men.
– The honorable member will see that the mere diving is only a small part of the business.
– Order !
– The Speaker reminds me that we are getting somewhat outside the scope of the Bill, and I only refer to the matter by way of reply to an interjection. I think honorable members wilt assist the Government in passing this measure. It will be of great use to the Department, and, though it is drastic, it will net give rise to any trouble, while it will stop the leakage, and punish those who are primarily responsible for evading the law.
– The Minister of External Affairs has very properly said that the introduction of this Bill is due to administrative defects found while I was administering the law, though I dare say they were obvious to him when he previously occupied the position. Generally speaking, the honorable gentleman is right in saying that an endeavour has always been made to pay the fullest attention to international courtesy, and there has been no attempt to enforce the Act beyond fair and legitimate bounds. As I say, I found, in administering the Act, that there were certain defects, and that there were constant efforts to evade its provisions. Persons, were found in Australia who were improperly assisting others to enter the country contrary to the Act, and it was because we could not reach the arch- offenders that it became necessary to devise some provision to carry out the wishes of the Legislature. Thus it was. that section 12A was drafted. in order to bring under the law those persons who trade in naturalization papers, and. illegally act in concert with others outside the country. I paid considerable attention to the practical administration of the Act, going down to the vessels to see the methods of examination.
– Did the honorable member catch any one?
– On this occasion one was, I believe, stopped. I had then an opportunity of observing the practical administration; and I regard this as the only satisfactory way in which a Minister can be brought to thoroughly appreciate the difficulties of the officers. It was found that a large number of naturalization certificates were being improperly, used. In one State particularly, quite a large number of prohibited immigrants were found, and their evidence in Court in one or two instances compelled us to go to the extreme of enforcing the forfeiture of the deposit, the evasion of the law being so wilful. Some naturalization papers which had been in existence for years were found to have been falsely used.
– One man would come under two or three different names.
– In one instance a man came to Australia, got an exemption for a certain time, obtained a certificate falsely, went away, came back under another name with the certificate, and attempted on false grounds to get into Australia. These are some of the many instances that one found in administering the Act, which had to be met, and proposed new section 121$ was deliberately framed with the intention of preventing fraud in the use of certificates. The other sections mentioned were also necessary. We found, for instance, under subsection 3 of the original Act, that there were two defects. When a certain immigrant was suspected the difficulty was to find out when he came into Australia. Further, we had to prove that he was an immigrant, and, in some instances, that was an almost insuperable difficulty. We knew that he was not a resident of a particular district, and we were satisfied that there were suspicious circumstances requiring investigation, but we (‘ould not prove that he was an immigrant. Now the onus will be thrown on him of proving that he is not an immigrant, and did enter the Commonwealth within two years before failing to pass the test. The only reason why this Bill was not introduced at an earlier stage was that there were certain defects in the administration of the Act which we could not make known at the time unless we could get the Act amended at once. As the Minister says, the amendments proposed are important,, and, although drastic, are riot directed in any hostile spirit against any other race. The Bill is introduced simply to strengthen the Act and enable us to administer it in the way we ought to do. In the circumstances the measure might proceed, and I am sure that if passed it will facilitate the administration of the law and enable us to carry out a policy which, as the Minister has properly said, is common to all parties in Australia. It was alleged some time ago that a large number of persons were coming in through the northern ports. The strictest investigation was made into the matter, and we know from reports of officers located in the different districts that any strangers going through could be very quickly detected. In Queensland, for instance, there are the protectors of aborigines and the police stationed at different places, and on every track strangers could be immediately detected.
– The police send us word about any movements of strangers.
– In that respect the State authorities have given us every assistance. As regards Western Australia the same allegations were made and thoroughly investigated. It was found there that many of the causes for apprehension were groundless. Of course, that does not absolve us from exercising the strictest vigilance. Although the investigations showed a negative result, they do not of necessity imply that there should be any relaxation of the duties of observation cast upon us in the administration of the Act. Allegations were also made that a large number of immigrants were coming in under contract to Western Australia. I think that the present Minister has investigated that matter since he took office and found that the allegations are not correct.
– We have not found any additional cases beyond those discovered at the previous inquiry.
– And the previous inquiry showed that on the whole the Act was being observed.
– One case recently came up that cast doubt upon that.
– At any rate, it is not shown that the wholesale importation alleged has taken place.
– Were there not allegations of leakage in the Northern Territory ?
– In that regard the present Minister followed up the investigations which I had myself made. The result has shown that although there may be a casual or two there is no leakage in that direction to cause serious alarm.
.- I think I had this Bill before me for settlement about the end of last session, and I queried some of the clauses on the score of the penalties. On the whole, the Bill seems to be right, as the honorable member for Darling Downs has said, and he is much more conversant with the subject than I am. We had no time to deal with the matter last session, and I only glanced at it one night here. It struck me then that some of the penalties were rather drastic. One provision very properly declares that the averment in the information that a person is an immigrant shall be prima facie evidence of the fact. In the case of Potter v. Minehan, decided last August or November, the Chief Justice declared that immigration did not mean mere physical entry into the Commonwealth. He said that if we could prove physical entry it was strong prima facie evidence that the person was an immigrant, but that when we found a man here we might not be able to prove physical entry. Consequently it was necessary to declare in the information that a man was an immigrant, and let him prove the contrary. That is the reason this provision was put in. If we could prove physical entry that, of course, would help us, but if, as was often the case with our large sea-board, we could not prove it, it was necessary to make sure, and if there is any justification for making a declaration in an information prima facie evidence, I think this is one case in which it ought to be permitted. So far as I remember, a difficulty arose whether section 9A of the Act of 1908, which says that every stowaway brought into a port on board a vessel shall be deemed to be a prohibited immigrant unless it is proved that he has passed the dictation test, applied also to section 9D, which is a pretty drastic one. Under 9D a shipping company, last November, was fined £100 for each of six stowaways who, after entry into the port, but before landing, were discovered on the vessel, not merely by the detectives, but by the captain.
– Yes, but only after he had been repeatedly informed by the Customs authorities that there were stowaways on board.
– I think that in the Paroo case there was .properly a conviction, and, perhaps, the section, although drastic, may be necessary, but it was rather hard that the Court had to convict and impose a penalty of £100 in each case.
– We returned half the penalty.
– Yes, it was stated in the judgment of the Court that, although notice could be given, before the vessel came into port, of the fact that stowaways were on board, notice could not be given after coming into the port. The captain did not discover the stowaways until he had actually come into our territory, and, although he then gave notice, it was too late, and he could not purge the offence, because the entry had taken place. In those circumstances, although technically the company had to be fined, it was rather hard, and the present Government have very properly remitted a considerable portion of the penalty. This Bill makes the provisions of that section more drastic. Clause 5 is supplementary to the provisions of sections 9a and 9d, to which I have referred. It carries that principle further still, and it would have been worth considering whether an amendment could not be made to get over cases such as I have mentioned, where a master comes into our waters, discovers a stowaway, and, as soon as he does so, gives notice.
– Take the case of a master who knows that there are stowaways on board his vessel. That vessel calls at Port Darwin and several other ports along the coast, and a suitable opportunity is sought to land them, but, finding that he cannot do so, the master, on reaching Fremantle, gives notice. Should that notice in the circumstances exonerate him?
– No, because the master in that case knew beforehand that there were stowaways on board. In the case to which I have referred, however, the master did not know. He discovered the presence of stowaways on his vessel when he came into our port, and, as soon as he did, he gave notice. The notice, however, was too late, because he had technically come within an Australian port. I do not wish to press the matter, but I think that we ought to mention these cases, because in amending such an Act as this we ought to know, as fal as possible, the difficulties that have arisen, and the harsh cases that have occurred in connexion with its administration. The Paroo case was a harsh one, as evidenced by the remission of a considerable proportion of the penalties. Clause 6 provides for a necessary amendment, because the object aimed at in the section to which it relates, was accomplished by the definition section, and the words “ every member of the police force of any State and “ are superfluous. Clause 8 deals with penalties. Proposed new section 14B (1) provides that -
Any officer may stop and search any vessel or vehicle in which he suspects any prohibited immigrant to be.
Under the Act at present there must be reasonable cause for suspicion. That being so, this is an innovation. Under the proposed new section, an officer may stop and search any vessel or vehicle whether he has or has not reasonable cause for suspicion. In 14b (2), we have the. words -
Any officer may, at any reasonable hour in the day time, enter any building premises or place in which he has reasonable cause to be- ‘lieve an3> prohibited immigrant to be. . . .
So that, under that provision it will be necessary that there should be cause for the suspicion. I queried this clause at the time, because those who are always at the head of a Department naturally take a purely departmental view of these matters,’ and desire, by hook or by crook, to obtain efficacy. We have to consider the question, however, from a broader point of view.
– Does the honorable, member think that the use of the word “ reasonable “ in proposed new section 14b (1) would make any real difference?
– It may be all right as it stands, because, after all, art officer would not be likely to stop a vessel very often merely because he suspected that a prohibited immigrant was on board. If he did so without reasonable cause he would no doubt receive such a “wigging” as would prevent his doing so again. I think that, on the whole, the Bill is a desirable one, and provides for same fairly good amendments of the principal Act.
– I was very glad to hear the Minister refer to one matter, which I think cannot be too often mentioned nowadays, and that is that the principles underlying this legislation have been accepted by every section of the House. I deeply regret that some unfair charges in connexion with the policy of a White Australia, which this Bill seeks to make more secure, are hurled about and engender bitterness, because they are absolutely and utterly without foundation.
– What are the charges?
– I refer to charges that are generally circulated on the election platforms such as the statement that the people must vote for the Labour party if they wish to preserve a White Australia.
– Is it the religious-test question on which the honorable member speaks from his platform?
– I speak on none save the purest politics. I wish I could commend the honorable member for doing the same.
– I have heard something different.
– The honorable member is always about the tracks, in the grass, and behind the hedge, but, whatever he may have heard or may not have heard, but says that he has, he certainly cannot assert that I have ever played the game of politics except in a fair and straightforward way, advocating my own case and my own principles.
– I Have heard a different opinion.
– The honorable member’s opinion is just about worth the paper it is written on. I do not wish to bandy words with him. I desire merely to say that I was glad to hear the Minister of External Affairs, who is a fair-minded man, express the opinion to which I have referred, .because it enables us to criticise the provisions of the Bill in an absolutely impartial spirit. Looking through the Bill as carefully as one can in the circumstances, I see some reason for amending it, so as to make it more stringent in the direction aimed at. It is certainly right that the Government should have the power to prevent what one might describe as impudent efforts to evade our Alien Immigration. Restriction Acts. I am sure that the only bad effect that could arise from legislation such as this, that is, its harsh administration against foreign peoples before those people can be held to be really subject to Australian laws, will not occur whilst the honorable gentleman is in his present office. In dealing with this question of alien immigration, the Department might well follow a wellrecognised detective principle, namely, that the detectives should get into daily intercourse with criminals and know every one of them,’ so that when a criminal is missing and some offence has been committed, the police are able, by a process of simple deduction, to determine who in all likelihood is the criminal. This involves getting to know the people with whom you have to deal, and I am gratified to think that the Minister, who is essentially a common-sense man, has himself realized the advisableness of getting into close and intimate touch with those with whom he has to deal under a Bill such as this.
– Will he have to go to China to do that?
– No. My honorable friend the Minister of External Affairs, in the cause, purely of his duty, in order that he might understand these people and rightly administer this legislation, has already seen fit to accept hospitality from them. He has gone into their quarters, entered their cook-shops, and has seen them in the hours of ease and relaxation. I do not hold this up against the honorable gentleman.
– Did he use chopsticks ?
– No, I think it was birdnest soup that interested him.
– He never was a “ souper. “
– I am not worrying about that. I have never been a souper or a jumping frog.
– I think that the honorable member is one at the present moment.
– I have never been a quack, anyhow ! I hope that I shall be forgiven, Mr. Speaker, for seeking protection from the sort of interjections which the honorable member for Melbourne is aiming at me. I should not have taken up one-fourth of the time of the House that I have, but that he has seen fit to hurl at me insult after insult. Seeing that this Bill proposes to vest the Minister with power to prevent abuses of the Immigration Restriction Act, I hope that it will be administered with temperateness. I am quite confident that if the Minister of External Affairs is allowed a free hand he will administer it in a way that will obviate friction, and lead to the maintenance of the White Australia policy to which every section of the House is committed.
.- The honorable member for Wentworth prefaced his remarks with a number of general charges, but was not man enough to mention one specifically. He said that charges had been made on the public platform. He was invited to name one, but he was not man enough to do so– ‘
– I am perfectly certain that Hansard will show that he made the remarks which I am attributing to him. Perhaps he would like to know why
I called him a “ souper.” It was because some time ago a certain family by the name of Kelly lived in Connemarra, whose members were known as the “ soupers.” Why? Because they ate soup on Fridays. I would like the honorable member for Angas to recollect that, in Hong Kong, at the present time, a very rauch more stringent law than that which we are considering is operative. If a passenger were landed from Macao, which is only three and a-half hours’ sail from Hong Kong, and was unable to earn his livelihood, the captain and the owners of the vessel by which he had travelled would be liable, not only to a fine of £100, but also to return him to the place of his birth. Thus, if an Englishman became a charge upon the rates of the municipality, the captain of the vessel by which he had travelled would be liable to return him to the place of his birth, even if it were London. That is a much more stringent provision than is any contained in this Bill. I wish to pay my moed of .praise to the late Charles Cameron Kingston in connexion with this matter. He it was who showed that the leakage which we are endeavouring to remedy commenced with vessels touching at Port Darwin. At that time New South Wales was the stumbling block, and his efforts were, to a large extent, frustrated by her incapacity. Since then the Commonwealth has been established, and I hope that it will administer this Bill fearlessly. The Chinese Consul is of opinion that the law ought not to be broken. He has declared that there is no justification for any person breaking it, and has offered to assist the Government. I hope that Parliament will abolish the absurd education test which is imposed in the case of aliens. When the principal Act was under consideration, I recollect that Sir George Reid stated that, whilst he could admire a nation which excluded coloured aliens directly, he had nothing but contempt for a nation which adopted an education test to achieve the same object in a roundabout way. Had the motion which was submitted by Mr. Watson on that occasion been carried, we should not have experienced half the heart-burnings which are being experienced by many white persons to-day. I cannot ask the Government, in view of the tremendous amount of work which is ahead of them., to further amend the principal Act this session, but I hope that next session it will be so amended,
It is idle to attempt to fool nations as wise as are the Japanese by the frivolity of an education test.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
In Committee :
Clauses1 to 7 agreed to.
Clause 8 -
After section fourteen A of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - “ 14B. - (1.) Any officer may stop and search any vessel or vehicle in which he suspects any prohibited immigrant to be.
. -Itwas gested by the honorable member for Angas that this clause should be amended. Proposed new sub-section 1 of section 14B, as the honorable member stated, empowers an officer to stop and search any vessel if he suspects that there is a prohibited immigrant on board. It was suggested that the officer should have “reasonable cause” to believe. The difference would be that, in the one case, an officer may suspect without any reason, whilst in the other case he must have reason to suspect. There is no objection to making an amendment to that effect. I therefore move -
That the word “suspects” line 4be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof “ has reason lo suspect.”
.- While I was speaking I referred to the Paroo case. I believe that an earlier clause has been drafted for the very purpose of meeting a case of that kind. I think that it cures the evil to which I referred.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report adopted.
Bill, by leave, read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Fisher) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
. -I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether he will consider the advisableness of giving time for the circulation of the Government measure with regard to land assessments before the Committee debate takes place. It is desirable that the Bill should be circulated in the outlying parts of Australia before it is disposed of in this House.
This is entirely new legislation, applying to new conditions, and affecting people in all parts of the country.
– In some parts of the Northern Territory there is only one mail in six months.
– The Bill affects people in the outlying parts of Australia. I am sure that the Prime Minister does not desire to force legislation through without the people of the country understanding what we are legislating for.
– That is just what he does desire !
– It is reasonable, when we are legislating in a new direction, that there should be time for the Bill to be posted at least to the capital cities of each State.
– Only the capital cities?
– As far as possible, it is wise that such measures should be circulated, so that they may reach persons engaged in the industries affected.
– The honorable member alluded only to the capital cities just now.
– Of course, the PostmasterGeneral is of opinion that we should legislate simply by a stroke of his pen. In my opinion the people affected by the contemplated legislation should be in a position to make themselves acquainted with it so that they may, if they desire, make representations to Parliament in connexion with it. In the case of many of our important commercial measures the second reading was initiated at an early stage and then the Bills were allowed to be circulated amongst those affected by them. This is not a question of party politics, but it must be remembered that the proposed legislation affects large interests and is introduced under new conditions.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs mentioned to me privately the matter to which he has just referred. His request is an unusual one in regard to a taxation measure.
– I was referring to the land assessment measure.
– The measure to be introduced deals with the whole principle of the proposed taxation. It will be introduced . as early as possible, but I cannot pledge myself to wait until representations can be made by persons concerned in the interests affected. The Bill will, in the usual course, be posted to various representative bodies, as other Bills are, as soon as it is printed. Of course, it will be laid before the House as early as is convenient. When it is introduced I do not think there will be any necessity to wait for outside representations. The Bill will be available, not only to people resident in the capitals, but also to those in the outlying districts.
– Including those living in the Federal Capital area?
– Undoubtedly. It is a political and national matter, and the place where it must be discussed is in this Parliament, by the representatives of the people.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.34p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 July 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19100727_reps_4_55/>.