4th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to announce that His Excellency the Governor-General has appointed it o’clock this morning as the hour at which he will receive the AddressinReply to the speech which he delivered on the occasion of the opening of Parliament. He will be present in the library at that hour.
– I shall be pleased if, at the time stated, as many honorable members as can conveniently attend will accompany me to present the Address.
– I have to announce that I have presented the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency the Governor-General.
Penny Postage - Wireless Telegraph Stations - Lopping of Trees - Undergrounding of Wires - Peak Hill Postmaster
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow: -
Broken Hill,East Broken Hill, South Broken Hill, North Broken Hill, Broken Hill West, and Broken Hill Railway Town - Six offices.
Harden and Murrumburrah - Two offices.
Narribri and Narribri West - Two offices.
Wyalong and West Wyalong - Two offices.
These areas were all granted prior to Federation, the maximum radius under the regulations passed since Federation being 8 miles.
The estimated population of the areas is 893,000, or 56 per cent. of the total population of’ the State.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are - 1 and 2. No.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
With reference to the lopping and consequent injury of a large number of trees in the prin- cipal streets of Albury by his Department, to make way for telephone and telegraph lines -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– Inquiries are being made, and the desired information will be furnished as early as possible.
asked theMinister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
What is the estimated present value of the various naval establishments at Sydney?
– The Department has no information at present available in the matter, but inquiries are being made.
asked the Acting Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. It has been decided to immediately make arrangements for the quantity survey for the transcontinental railway, provided for in this year’s Estimates.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice-
– The Public Service Commissioner reports -
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
With reference to the little white girl, Leontene Adell, taken to India to be brought up as a Mahomedan, will the Minister inquire from the Government of India as to whether they have any power to return the child to Australia.
– Every means available will be adopted with a view to having the child either returned to Australia, or placed in the care of suitable persons.
asked the Minister of External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the third question is “Yes.” I ask the honorable member to move for a return embodying the information asked for in questions 1 and 2, as it is not available in Melbourne.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 26th October, vide page 5251) :
Clause 4 -
Section fifty-one of the Constitution is altered by omitting the words “ Conciliation and Arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State,” and inserting in lieu thereof the words “ Industrial matters, including employment and the wages and conditions of employment and also including the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes.”
– I move -
That the words “ Industrial matters, including employment and the wages and conditions of employment, and also including the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes” be left out, wilh a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ Labour and employment, including -
the wages and conditions of labour and employment in any trade industry or calling; and
the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, including disputes in relation to employment on or about railways the property of any State.”
It has been urged, particularly by the honorable member for Flinders, that the phrase “ industrial matters “ is ambiguous, because it is difficult to say what subjects are, and what are not, included in it. ‘The clause has accordingly been remodelled. It is, I think, now free from ambiguity, and definite in its terms. It is, in some respects, narrower than the clause as it originally stood in the Bill. In one respect - the inclusion of railway employés - it is wider.
It has been stated very many times during the course of this debate that the object of these amendments is to destroy State rights. Nothing could be farther from the truth. I wish to make it perfectly clear that our object is not to take from the States one jot or tittle of power not absolutely needed for the effective working of the National Government. I am inclined to think, and I am strengthened in that view by the arguments used yesterday in a case now before the Arbitration Court, that the words “ industrial matters “ would be held to mean no more than is covered by the proposed amendment - that is to say, matters affecting the conditions relating to labour and employment. It might be contended, however, that such a thing, for example, as technical education is an industrial matter ; that Parliament having power to make laws in respect to industrial matters, it could legislate for the training of citizens in the arts and crafts. That, however would be a bad thing, because it would divide the education power now wholly within the province of the States. I do not say that it would be held that we had such a power if “ industrial matters “ were inserted in section 51, but it might be so held, and all we ask for is the power necessary to make effective laws for the preservation of industrial peace and the regulation of the conditions of industry. The amendment gives us as much as. and no more than, we want.
– Why are tramways left out?
– To my knowledge, I havenot left out the tramways.
– This amendment does not include them.
– I think that “railways’’ is a generic term which includes tramways. It is not intended to leave out tramways. The amendment has been worded with a view to include the employés of any Railway Department. During the second- reading debate numerous allusions were made to the position in which the Federal Arbitration Court finds itself today. This Parliament, like that Court, in relation to its industrial powers, is also in a most pitiable position. One by one the powers which we thought we possessed have been whittled away. The definition of the HighCourt of “ industrial disputes “ has seriously curtailed the sphere of our operations. Our power to legislate with respect to industrial agreements is but at best a shadow. We may not, for instance, give the sanction of law to an industrial agreement, which, I repeat, is the most effective way of preserving peace and promoting it. Those who have had experience of industrial organizations know that you are more likely to get industrial peace under an industrial agreement arrived at between the parties than in any other way. All the arguments which have been used from time to time against compulsory arbitration have been based on that assumption. And I have always contended that when you can get the parties to agree it is infinitely preferable to a compulsory award. But we cannot make use of this most excellent means of preserving industrial peace. For our power does not extend to making laws in respect to industrial agreements. Let me give an illustration of what this involves. There is at present a subsisting agreement between the Steam-ship Owners Federation and the Waterside Workers Federation regulating the conditions of labour and employment all over Australia. It has worked satisfactorily. But the sanction of law cannot be given to it, and so it may be broken by either party, without anything being done to bring that party to book.
Here, then, owing to lack of power to legally register a collective bargain, industrial trouble is for ever hanging over the heads of the people of the Commonwealth. We ought not to be without the power necessary to give sanction to such beneficial and peace-promoting agreements.
Again, we have no power to make a common rule. In the absence -of such power, industrial arbitration, in so far as it is a Federal question, is nothing but a farce. You may, perhaps, do without a common rule in a State where the scope of an industry is necessarily limited by the geographical circumstances of the case; but ever a great continent, clothed with the power to impose upon all employers the same conditions, what tribunal is going to give an award which will bind some and allow others to go free ? That is not right at all. It is not fair to the good employers; it is not fair that those who are not cited should escape. You cannot by citing all hope to overcome that, because it is of no use to cite a man unless there is an industrial dispute in which he is concerned, and the Court has held that it must be a bond fide dispute. There are plenty of cases where it would be impossible to get the employes of small employers to agree to have a dispute. They would say, “ No, we are satisfied “; and so you would have a peacocked industrial sphere. In one square you would have one set of conditions and in another square a different set. A common rule, therefore, is absolutely essential. It promotes industrial peace. It is essential to its maintenance. Without it the power to settle industrial disputes is hopelessly handicapped. In England, the common rule was a general feature of the earliest forms of. not compulsory arbitration, but industrial arbitration. And not only did the earliest forms of English legislation in this direction provide for a common rule, but it is now usual in the textile trades there for the employers and employes to meet and determine what the conditions all over England are to be for the ensuing year. It is an eminently wise and sensible thing to do. Take any industry you like - shearing, coal, iron, or anything else. It would be absurd to say that men inside a coal combine should be bound and those outside should not be bound, and so able to pay whatever wages they pleased. Therefore, it is perfectly clear that we must acquire the right to impose what amounts to equivalent conditions all over Australia.
We have not that right now. Although we have utilized to the uttermost the powers now at our disposal, they have been proved to be utterly futile. Therefore, no apology is required for an insistence on this very essential amendment of the Constitution.
I need not again emphasize the fact that in this matter, as in others, we have a dis-: tinct mandate from the people. The question was definitely and emphatically placed before the people at the last election. We are pledged to do several things in this direction. We are pledged, for example, to secure fair and reasonable wages to all classes in the community. Where the States have, through inability or negligence, failed to do that, there should be, and must be, a tribunal with sufficiently wide powers to remedy the State negligence. Then there is the New Protection, to which we are pledged, to which this Parliament has been pledged by successive Governments for years, and we are no nearer the goal to-day than we were four or five years ago.
– Yes, we are.
– Well, we are; but only because there is in power a party resolutely determined to proceed along that road which alone offers any prospect of arriving at the goal. The new Protection is a condition precedent in the mind of this party to a revision of the Tariff. But we do assert most emphatically that there ought to be such means at the disposal of the Legislature as to allow the benefit of Protection to all consumers and producers, as well as manufacturers.
The new Protection demands that we shall have power to safeguard the interests of the consumer, which have never been safeguarded before, to safeguard the interests of the worker, which have never been safeguarded before in connexion with Tariffs, as well as to safeguard the interests of the manufacturer, which ought to be safeguarded, and which we are ready to safeguard. And the new Protection demands this power, supplemented, of course, by the trade and commerce powers which are necessary to protect the consumer as well as the producer.
It will be said - as it has been said over and over again - that it is impossible for one Court to deal with the industrial affairs of the continent. I do not pretend to say any more in regard to that argument than to remark that it is irrelevant. No one is endeavouring, for one moment, to contend that one authority is sufficient, if it is to deal unaided with the industrial affairs of the continent. But what we do declare is that there should be one supreme tribunal which could review the whole industrial circumstances of the continent, which a number of Wages Boards would be quite unable to do. We do not wish to do away with Wages Boards. They are infinitely useful in their way. But, obviously, they are subject to this limitation; they cannot deal with industrial disputes, they can only determine the rates and conditions in a particular industry. Every man who is acquainted with industrial circumstances knows that very frequently disputes arise from quite other things than what are termed the rates and conditions, and the greatest troubles we have had in this country have not arisen out of the question of wages, although I do not deny that they are based on something to do with wages. As a matter of fact, they have arisen very frequently from circumstances quite removed from the possible jurisdiction of Wages Boards. Besides, there is such an intimate correlation between all industries now that the circumstances of one industry and those of another are not capable of being adequately treated by separate tribunals alone. I do not deny that they can, and ought to be, treated by separate tribunals. But there ought to be also a general tribunal, clothed with wide powers to review the whole, to adjust discrepancies and differences, and to watch over, in the interests of the public, as well as of the producer, the industrial peace of the community, which is the dearest and most valuable asset of Australia. In six weeks we can lose what it would take us sixty years to pile up, and no price is too great to pay for industrial peace, if by any means that can be obtained. I come now to the wording of the proposal.
– As it is nearly n o’clock, had not the honorable and learned gentleman better postpone his remarks on thatmatter until after the presentation df the Address-in-Reply ?
– Very well.
Sitting suspended from n to 11.20 a.m.
In Committee (Consideration resumed) :
– I come now to paragraph b of the proposed new clause, dealing with the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, including disputes in relation to employment on or about railways, the property of any State. It was generally a widely prevalent idea when the Commonwealth was established that the Constitution as it stood gave us power to prevent and settle industrial disputes without reservation, but it appears that all the power we ever had and have relates to the creation of Courts of Conciliation and Arbitration for that purpose. As this has been proved to be quite inadequate, we take, in this Bill, full power to prevent and settle industrial disputes, bymaking laws for determining industrial conditions, by the creation of Courts, or in any other way we think fit. This provision includes, amongst others, disputes in which railway servants are engaged. I take it that, since we are going to be properly charged with the prevention of all industrial disputes, and the promotion of industrial peace generally, there ought not to be excluded from our jurisdiction 100,00c men; and I take it that the State railway servants all over Australia fall not far short of that number. Quite apart from the question of State control or non- State control, it is very much better that the body which has jurisdiction over the whole of the industrial sphere should deal, if neces- sary, and, of course, only if necessary, with all industrial disputes, if and whenever the industrial peace of the Commonwealth is threatened. If we admit that it is proper to allow such a large and everincreasing body of men to be outside our jurisdiction, one of the chief reasons for the whole amendment would appear to be abandoned, because our contention was, and is, that unless one authority is endowed with control over the whole field, we are never likely to have such a control over the factors that make for industrial unrest as is absolutely essential for the promotion of lasting peace. Although it is unlikely that the employes of the railways of several States would be disturbed at the same moment, yet clearly a strike and stoppage of transport in one State must inevitably affect other States. We have, therefore, to face the facts, and one of those facts, unfortunately, is that railway servants do strike, as we have lately seen in France; and, when they strike, cause endless confusion, and practically arrest the entire industrial machine. I say nothing now about the circumstances that led up to the Victorian railway strike, or the Sydney tramway strike; but, while it is very properly the business of the States to see that the industrial conditions of their employes leave them no reasonable ground for protest, there are such things as sympathetic strikes, and the inevitable effects of strikes, which elude every effort, on the part of tribunals whose operations are limited, to deal with them. Only those who have been thoroughly acquainted with industrial organizations realize the power and danger of sympathetic strikes. There is nothing so much to be dreaded, and unless we have a power capable of covering the whole industrial sphere, nothing which we have so much reason to dread. We are asking in this amendment for nothing but what the Parliament has approved in the past, and what it was thought we had when we voted for Federation - a power that every day becomes more and more necessary to be included in our jurisdiction. Whereas there are to-day, say, 100,000 railway employes and perhaps 200,000 State employes altogether, in Australia, there are very likely to be 500,000, and perhaps more, in twenty-five years’ time.
– I said so. I see nothing outrageous about that. Would the honorable member be better pleased if I said 500,000,000? It is perfectly clear that the tendency of the times is to increase the number of persons employed by State and municipal authorities. If, therefore, we are to exclude from the operation of the Federal Act all persons engaged by public bodies, we shall, as years go by, exclude an ever-increasing number of persons. If we had an approximate approach to what my honorable friends opposite call Socialism, we should surely not exclude all persons employed by the States or Commonwealth from the jurisdiction of some competent Industrial Court. There must be some tribunal charged with the preservation of public peace, industrial and civil. Just as there is a Court to which, in civil matters, appeal may be made from the decisions of every State Court throughout the land, so there ought to be a final Court of appeal in industrial matters. There should be no man above the law, and no man who can evade the law, in the industrial or any other sphere. I have no doubt that we shall be told that this is another invasion of State rights. Unification again sticks out here like a disinterred monster of the post-pliocene epoch. Every time we bring forward a proposal to p.ut things on a common-sense and businesslike basis, we are told that it is Unification. It is like a man who, being knocked down or persuaded to lie down by his enthusiastic friends, and becoming tired of being walked over, and run over, and otherwise being made to feel uncomfortable and look ridiculous, proceeds to get up, and is told, “ Good God, you are getting up.” When he protests that there is nothing unreasonable about that, the reply still is, “ But you are getting up, which you agreed not to do. Why don’t you be a man and lie down quietly and submit?” So here, it is undeniable that we are going to get up, but I submit that it is not an answer to the reasons we give for getting up, to tell us that we are getting up. We do not deny that we intend to do this thing, but when we propose to do it honorable members opposite say, “ But that is Unification.” I say it is not Unification. We are going to take this power, which this Parliament thought we had-
– And which it was intended that we should have.
– I learn by reference to Hansard that, on 21st April, 1904, Mr. Fisher submitted an amendment to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration
Bill having for its object the inclusion of State servants within the scope of that measure. Some of those who voted in favour of that proposal have, unfortunately, gone from amongst us, although they still exercise a vicarious activity elsewhere. Of those who remain, I find that Messrs. G. B. Edwards, W. Elliot Johnson, J. Cook, G. W. Fuller, and J. M. Fowler, supported it. The division upon the proposal to include railway servants within the scope of the same measure took place ‘ on the ist June, 1904, and amongst those who voted for it were Mr. G. B. Edwards and Mr. L. E. Groom.
– Mr. Groom made a great speech in favour of it.
– That is rather an unusual circumstance. For any honorable member of the Opposition to vote and speak in the same way is surely a sign of incipient lunacy. Those who paired in favour of the proposal were Mr. Joseph Cook and Mr. J. M. Fowler. No doubt we shall be told that this proposal constitutes an attack upon State Rights. It appears that State Rights are almost protean in the shapes which they assume. Sometimes they take one shape and sometimes another. Apparently it all depends upon who is holding the turnip to the candle. The honorable member for Lang, whose fulminations against this measure are extremely interesting, neither paired nor voted upon the question of the inclusion of railway servants within the scope of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, although he was present. That circumstance shows that the march of coming events cast a rather ominous shadow, and consequently, when the division was called for, he thought it wise to go outside and see a friend.
I claim that this amendment expresses more definitely and precisely what we desire than does the original clause of the Bill. It is not open to the objection of vagueness. It states directly what we want, and it does not seek to take to the Commonwealth more power than is necessary. I wish to say, in the most emphatic way possible, that it is not the intention of the Labour party, or of those who favour the amendment, to trench upon the powers of the States in any way. All we want is the power, without which neither the States nor the Commonwealth can deal with these matters. We wish to supplement the Commonwealth authority. But the States will still exercise concurrent powers. It is entirely wrong to say that, as a result of the amendment, the States will be left without any authority in the industrial sphere. They will have ample powers. The State Parliaments will still have more than enough to occupy their energies in the matters which will remain to them. I trust that the amendment will be agreed to.
.- We have heard the Acting Prime Minister in many moods, and on many notes, the most familiar being those in which he is wont to cheer on his followers by the many inflammatory means within his practised power. But, severe as have been the raids which he has made upon us under those circumstances, they are absolutely nothing compared with the pillage he subjects us to while in the mildly benevolent mood in which he has - addressed us this morning. Never was anything so sweet and simple as the manner in which he sought to demonstrate that when he puts his hand into other people’s pockets appropriating their necessaries of life in case he may require them in the future, this is all to be understood as in the way of kindness. Only one enthusiasm consumes him at the present moment - his enthusiasm for State rights. Rather than that any State rights should be invaded, he offers himself as a willing victim on the altar. He seeks, to suggest that on the present occasion he is making quite a new departure. But it is by taking away the control of State servants from their State masters he poses as a State Righter !
– My merits are becoming visible to the honorable member.
– The honorable gentleman’s past annexations and aggressions have been costly enough, but his present concessions and condescensions are absolutely ruinous. The next time that he is out for political rapine, let it be in his old familiar style. This modest method of the domestic fowl does not fit either his appearance or purposes. Generous sentiments will not make us rich, and a few more proofs of it will send the State Legislatures out into the world in a condition positively verging upon the indecent. They will not have a rag left with which to clothe the nakedness of their local governments. They will be turned out into the world burdened with nothing but his effusive sympathy and good-will.
Let me emulate the Acting Prime Minister by assuming, though far off, a somewhat similar patience under provocation. This is the first amendment in the Bill which has any prospect of being carried, and it has been proposed by the honorable gentleman himself. He has given us to understand that it is “ submitted in obedience to the strong representations of Opposition critics. They have shown him that in the words “ industrial matters “ there may possibly lurk some desperate, piratical attack by the Commonwealth upon technical schools. Rather than that the technical schools in any hamlet of the Commonwealth should be threatened, the honorable gentleman has come down to this House, withdrawn his original clause and submitted another under which we have his personal guarantee that those schools will hereafter be safe from the tyrannical clutch of this Parliament. That represents an enormous gain ! Throughout this country the glad tidings will flash to the presidents and secretaries of our technical schools. They may henceforth slumber in peace. The technical schools have been saved. But at what price? What pressure and strain have been put upon the sympathies of the Acting Prime Minister inducing him to part with this prize, while incidentally, unostentatiously, compassionately - and as a sort of casual consequence - annexing 100,000 employes from the State railways? This is no bargain, but a gift to the technical schools !
– I omitted to mention the kindergarten schools, which are also in peril.
– The only persons qualifying for the kindergartens are, first of all, the innocent and relatively youthful members on this side, and the members of the State Legislatures overwhelmed by the benevolences of the honorable gentleman. In case it is by a lapse of memory that he is annexing some hundreds of thousands of persons who are receiving State pay for discharging State services, but who are now to have their wages and conditions dictated by this Parliament, perhaps we had better take him at his word. All I am dreading is lest the super-generosity of his nature should be so affected by some argument of mine that he may desire to re-draft his amendment out of some further consideration. After these instances we ask for no more sympathy. The honorable member may continue to favour us with a few half-bricks, or any other missile that is handy; but we ask him to give us no more concession and no more charity, even to save more technical schools.
Let us be fair to my honorable friend, whose attitude throughout has been perfectly consistent. For instance, in regard to trade and commerce, he took out of the States all a man could take; he struck out the only limitations that exist. There is nothing left; but, as to that, we have no room for complaint. Of course, as has to be incidentally pointed out, the trade and commerce power never having been defined, so far as I am aware, within any sovereign State, the task of defining whatever residuary relics may remain to the States after the Attorney-General has taken all he can get under the widest amendment he can possibly frame will still leave a large field for legal interpretation. But that is not the honorable member’s fault, because he would have taken the residuum too if he could.” There was really nothing more within grasp that he could seize ; and. therefore, his consistency is amply manifest. He was above any pettifogging consideration as to what the Commonwealth actually needed - as to what extension of the trade and commerce powers was really required in the interests of Australia. Some of us were reckless enough to admit that we could see directions in which, if a segment of the sphere could have been technically severed, there might have been some valuable additions to our trade and commerce powers. Unfortunately, we did not have the honorable gentleman’s assistance, and were unable to make any such advance; But, as I have admitted, so far as it is possible for him to lead or the House to go, he has gone.
Again, in regard to corporations, we were able to make a distinct offer to federalize and sterilize them so far as they related to monopolies, combinations, or trusts - to give all the power necessary to meet the highest and widest view of present Commonwealth needs. But here, too, the honorable member was consistent; he was not concerned with meeting the needs of the Commonwealth, even where they could be clearly defined - he wanted all, and he took all.
Next, having proposed an amendment of our industrial powers, drafted in some guileless hour - an amendment which apparently left something in the corner of his mind unswept - his conscience pricking him with sleepless vigils, he at last produces another amendment of which it can be frankly and fairly said that, like every other he is associated with, it leaves the States nothing of their own to come and go on- when he has taken what he desires, he leaves a vacuum.
– The honorable member is very hard to please.
– The honorable member does not seem to realize that I am praising his consistency above everything. The most stern and severe member of the revolutionary committee in France, who voted for the guillotine on every possible occasion, from the highest moral motives, was not more strictly consistent than the honorable member.
– What became of him? Was he guillotined?
– As Mark Twain once said, that member of the revolutionary committee, having attended an execution, unfortunately received personal injuries, which terminated in his death. The point is that the Attorney-General is consistency itself. Having, on reflection, suspected that his previous amendment might, by some perverse legal construction, exclude 100,000 State employes, who have 100,000 votes, he hastens to repair the omission. His new proposition embraces everything possible, and places the dominance of the Commonwealth beyond doubt. This tribute to the consistency of the Attorney-General is due ; and I have paid it not ungenerously.
– - I am following the admirable example set by the honorable member’s colleagues.
– I do not propose to detain the Committee by considerations which originally would have been strictly apropos, and, in fact, unavoidable. In the briefest and most summary way I have given my view of the effect of the AttorneyGeneral’s consistency on the various proposals before us. The further clause, which has yet to come, is precisely of the same character. If it had been material to any possible action by this House, or if we could have influenced this Committee in any way, it would have been necessary to consider how far this clause could be modified so as to meet, at all events in this instance, the actual, present, or approximate industrial difficulties of the Commonwealth by ample and sufficient, but not excessive, extensions of the Federal power. We have considered this ques tion in 1907-8, and at other times, making a steady advance towards a practical method of meeting such cases as are now unprovided for by the machinery of the Constitution. Personally, I think that our progress has been very real ; at all events, for my part, I confess to having a much clearer opinion than that previously cherished. I believe that if opportunity had offered, we could, with confidence, have submitted to the Committee a modification of the proposal of the Government bringing within the scope of Federal jurisdiction every industrial dispute, difficulty, or, using the word in a large sense, every industrial unfairness which might be expected to occur in connexion with the working of the Commonwealth. I fully admit that until this is accomplished our Constitution will remain incomplete. But great as this issue is, it is not, under present circumstances in this House, and in view of the fact that the Bill must be sent directly to the electors, a practical obligation on us to enter into the particular field covered by the amendment. We should be doing so then for the purpose of assisting, so far as we can, by mutual consultation and expressions of opinion, in the formation of a right judgment here, and of a practical conclusion in the country. I put these considerations aside somewhat reluctantly ; but time is valuable, and the amendment which we had before us, and which would have evoked these considerations as necessary corollaries, is now displaced by another Ministerial amendment, which differs not simply in its effect, but also in its character.
So far as I can form an opinion in this short space of time, I think that the amendment, first drafted by the AttorneyGeneral, as it appeared in the Bill, would not have covered - clearly it might not, and, in my opinion, it would not - the case of the railway servants with which he now proposes to deal expressly. There was mere than a slight doubt whether it would have included that body of men; but whether it did so or not is immaterial now. The Government have placed the issue beyond all doubt by submitting an express proposition, to invest this Parliament with the control of the employes of all the State railways of Australia, present, and to come. This Commonwealth, without any financial or other responsibility in connexion with the railways, is to “call the tune,” and the States, submitting to the Commonwealth superior control, with no possibility of challenge or appeal, are to “pay the piper.” That is a relation which in itself is remarkable, inasmuch as both bodies being representative of the people, chosen by the electors to discharge certain administrative functions under legislative control, the Commonwealth is to seize, not simply the double jurisdiction which every one of those proposals gives us in all the field covered by trade and commerce-
– There is double jurisdiction now.
– We have a certain double jurisdiction, but there is now proposed an extension of our authority incomparably greater both in its actual working and effect than any double jurisdiction hitherto suggested. We shall rather create a new jurisdiction than extend that we have, so complete is the transformation. With the trade and commerce power added to the power oyer corporations and over industrial matters, now proposed in a wider form, and specifically over railway servants, buttressed again by the provisions in regard to combinations and monopolies, with a fifth amendment coming close behind, we shall attain, as I have several times observed, to a grouped, cumulative action of those powers, each to some extent, and some of them to a large extent, reinforcing the others, so as to bind, as with an iron chain, every State in this Commonwealth to the chariot wheels of this Parliament. The position was serious enough when we were protesting against the double jurisdiction, in spheres of State action, implied under the conjoint powers. I, for one, am not prepared to say what State jurisdiction is left, so small is the remnant that cannot be invaded should this Parliament choose to exercise its full powers under this group of amendments. But the former exercise of the double jurisdiction proposed represented, so to speak, invasions of territory. The territories of the States were as much invaded as if by a hostile army, one that will soon be in effective occupation; but, large or small - as I think very small - as the tract left to the States was, at all events it did leave them with some nominal sovereign control over it. Thus their dignity was preserved, although they were reduced from what might be termed large States to petty principalities. But this intervention is altogether of a different kind. It is impossible to call any State sovereign the conditions of em ployment in whose services is governed by a body outside itself. Not only have the possession and power gone, but the prestige and dignity, the independence and sovereignty, of the States are now to be impaired also.
– “You pay; we will control.”
– The last remnant of efficient management and control has gone.
– Before we consider material considerations, we ought to recollect that in politics, as in national diplomacy, prestige- often considered of little or no significance - is really an active power which has to be allowed for. One of the great objections to diminishing the jurisdiction of the State Governments is that it causes them to dwindle in the public eye, makes them less attractive to men of affairs, of character and independence, affords a much narrower field for the exercise of whatever self-governing capacities our people possess, and generally promotes public indifference. Public indifference in politics always exists in Australia, where private considerations- as in all other countries - occupy so much the larger place, when compared with public interests. We are always much more slack than our democratic government can afford. In some other forms of government that want of care for public interests may not count for so much; but in ours - under a Constitution which brings Parliament into such close and intimate relation with the people, and brings the public into close touch with their Governments - it becomes a much more serious matter.
The greatest agency which the States possess for developing their territories, their greatest means of placing people on the soil - unless you put it second to water supply - is their railway system. That is inseparably connected with the lands and the water supply; it is by far their greatest business Department. Under present circumstances, the Ministry are asserting that the States of Australia cannot be trusted to deal equitably with their own servants, and that the electors of State representatives will not deal as fully and fairly with these men as they would be dealt with if they were under the thumb of the Commonwealth. This places a very curious imputation upon all the electors of Australia.
We are asserting that we, as Federal representatives, having no financial responsibility, are in a position to deal more justly and equitably with the employes of the States than are the States which have to pay them, which have to make the system remunerative, which have to carry out the development of their territory. This is rather a curious by-path, however, into which T do not propose to enter.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that this Parliament would influence the Court?
– I mean to say that this Parliament takes power to appoint a Court - that in itself is a very great power.
– This amendment goes a great deal further. It includes power to legislate as to all the conditions.
– Exactly. It places the control of the State railway servants first under a Court appointed by this Parliament - under a Court whose jurisdiction is under the control of this Parliament. Next it will keep under the control of this Parliament, by any legislation it pleases to pass, all the conditions of employment of the whole of the 100,000 persons said to be employed on the railways of our States.
– The amendment means that this Parliament may legislate as to all conditions.
– That is the second point. In addition to, or substitution for, but quite irrespective of, State laws, it will be competent for the Federal Parliament to lay down all the conditions of employment - as long as the conditions are general - which must be applied to the servants of the State Parliaments.
Of course, one is at a great disadvantage at every turn during the discussion of this Bill. Because every man of us here knows that the great bulk of the votes that will >e cast for it, when it is submitted to the country, will be given by men who perhaps approve of one or other of the four different and separate proposals which are here improperly tied together. The electors will look at what they may get industrially, 01 at what they may get by some exercise of the trade and commerce power, or at what they may get by dealing with corporations, or at what ‘ they may get by checking trusts and combines ; and, wishing to get some advantage, they will vote for getting that particular thing, and not for changing the Constitution. But it will be transformed. As we are all citizens of the States - it may be said that we are citizens of States before we are citizens of the Commonwealth - and we are brought, in one way or another, most intimately into relations with local Governments.
Besides, we are all accustomed to a unitary form of government. That is to say, our States have accustomed us to a unitary form of government, and to dealing with their problems in the relatively direct and simple fashion, characteristic of a unitary form of government. We are now asked to lay before the people proposals which a great portion of our population will read and consider as though they were made under a unitary form of government. They will ignore the fatal effects that their action will have upon our Federal structure - a structure which ought to be permanent. Aiming at industrial matters, or those connected with trade and commerce, or with corporations, they will ignore the fact that they are striking at the Constitution and destroying the pillars which support it. The consequence is that we shall get a vote on particular legislative proposals which ought to be a vote, wholly and solely at this stage, to determine a new distribution of legislative powers. We labour under an enormous difficulty. Those who take the view that the Federal Constitution, and especially its Federal principle, should be preserved, and that any amendment made should be in accordance with that principle, start with that very heavy handicap against us. And now the Attorney-General - excellent tactics, if you like ! - gets 100,000 more votes into his scale by this specific proposal affecting the railway servants. He holds out a specific inducement to every railway servant in this country to vote for altering the Federal Constitution, with a view of securing the anticipated benefits which he may think likely to arise hereafter from the operation of Commonwealth legislation. Yet that is not the ‘real question on which he is voting.
What did the Attorney-General say? That this power, making the Commonwealth supervisory and supreme over the State railways, is to be employed whenever this Parliament ventures to think that there has been State neglect of anything it chooses to call the interests of the men. Whether for anything or nothing, this Parliament may interfere at pleasure with the States which built the railway systems, which owe the money invested in them, which have to find the interest upon the money borrowed here or abroad, which have to manage those railways for the development of their own territories, adjusting them to their municipal growth, while supporting them by their land legislation and by their general policy. These railways will be, and remain, at the dictation of an outside, independent, irresponsible power, compelling them to do its will at the States’ risk and expense.
– Without having any responsibility for the indebtedness which the States have incurred in connexion with their railways.
– If we put the States in the power of the Commonwealth in this respect, we shall have to assume responsibility for their indebtedness. There will be no choice then. We must take over their railways. The Commonwealth’s credit would bt ruined if it permitted the States to get into Queer-street. But now you are taking power to enable the Federal Parliament to cut right into the control of the State railways in any fashion - the most trivial or the most serious, as it thinks fit - without regard to the local Governments of the country directly responsible for them. Surely in a country such as ours, whose government is based upon universal suffrage, with every member of the Public Service, together with his wife and his relations, armed with votes, does any one pretend that our public servants are not strong enough to obtain a prompt response to any legitimate request for consideration?
– Votes were taken away from the public servants on one occasion.
– And why? Has the honorable member asked himself that question? Why was that step taken in Victoria ?
– The only mistake the Victorian Parliament made was in repealing that Act.
– However, fee State battles of long ago, though fought after this Parliament was established, are not within our sphere, and are not germane to this debate. There, again, you get away from the fundamental point at issue, which is the alteration of an established Constitution, under cover of a knot of other questions only incidentally associated with it. The only points that it seems necessary to establish at this stage are the magnitude of the possible interference, and the fact that the nature of that interference makes it much more than a business matter. It establishes a dual control that is wholly unjust, and absurdly unbusinesslike. It could not be employed in circumstances of private employment. We are interfering with the manner in which another Legislature discharges its business, dictating the terms and conditions by which it shall be carried on. How can that principle of control without responsibility be justified?
– Do not the Arbitration Courts act in that manner now ?
– So far as is necessary lo fix the general conditions with which all private owners must comply. But we are dealing now with bodies which are, and will remain, Government monopolies in every State - businesses in which, there being no competition, there is no question of putting competitors on a fair and even footing. Competition is excluded - a factor which is enormously to the advantage of those engaged in State employment. Besides, a State or public body invariably considers those under its charge, more liberally than a private employer. It is not under the same pressure. A State cannot be forced into the Bankruptcy Court by its rivals. It can raise its charges, and deal with its conditions, as it pleases. The private employer, however, has no such choice. He may not alter his charges, nor vary his conditions, except at the risk of ruin, while the State can go on its way rejoicing, developing at the public expense. The Attorney-General has not given an illustration of a State in Australia in which railway servants are unfairly treated. Even if he could, he would require to proceed to the next stage, and to show that the electors in that part of Australia were so insensible of the demands of justice that they were not taking steps to remedy that condition of affairs.
The circumstances of the States vary, and administrative control and legislation change also. To-day, employment in Australia is more plentiful than ever. There has been, for some time, a steadily increasing activity. In the face of that development, and, in the face of a better temper and disposition- towards industrial questions than has previously existed - we are stepping in as if there had been some grave injustices to State servants calling for violent interference by an outside body. The injustice would need to be widespread and severe to justify such an interference. It does not exist, and, further, cannot be justified, as long as the States remain sovereign.
Bad as are the other proposed amendments of the Constitution for which this measure provides, because, in every case, they go beyond the necessities, making wide and sweeping changes that are not yet justifiable, that now before us is far worse. It carries us into a new sphere. It alters, or should alter, the attitude which ought to be adopted by the country towards this measure. I had hoped that the people of the Commonwealth would set this Bill aside, so to speak, on its merits ; that they would say that whatever the necessities of the country required could be obtained without throwing the whole Federal system into the melting pot and taking it out again, with its federal character eliminated.
I had thought that they would weigh it on those grounds, without regard to the particular matters on which an amendment of the Constitution was sought. But we have now reached a new position. We are not only to become militant invaders of all State territories, but, as the Attorney-General says, we are to possess concurrent authority with the States. He never reminds the Committee that, once we have concurrent authority, every State law must yield to any Federal law on the same subject. In such circumstances, the State law disappears, and the Commonwealth law remains. The State law ceases to operate directly a valid Commonwealth law touches the particular matter with which it deals. That being so, this concurrent legislation, so lightly spoken of, only continues concurrent as long as this Parliament does not choose to exercise its powers. Let this Parliament choose to exercise its concurrent powers, with or without cause, and the State authority disappears. Honorable members opposite speak of that as concurrent legislation. It sounds well, but I do not know what ownership we should have in a house in which we could reside only until another person having concurrent ownership chose to put us out.
– There are a lot of men in that position.
– There may be some, but they have not reached it in consequence of an invasion of a self-governing community. Here we, as representatives of the whole of the people, are undertaking an aggressive invasion of all the important fields of legislation of other self-governing bodies elected by our own constituents in our own country.
– Only with the consent of the people can we do anything of the kind.
– If the Federation secures this power, it will be, not because the people are dissatisfied with the Constitution as it exists, but rather because the Government are holding out four or five - shall I say bribes? - or inducements.
– Because the Government in this one Bill dangle four or five baits before the people affected. Those engaged in trade and commerce, employed on our railways, interested in industrial matters, or affected, or believing themselves to be affected, by trusts and combines, represent together a great majority of the people of Australia. They are directly or indirectly interested in taking the baits that this Government are holding out to them, and will accept them innocent of the fact that the Federal Constitution is to be destroyed in order to obtain them.
– What more does the honorable member want? If these powers are granted, it will be by the will of the people.
– But the Federal Constitution should be retained. As far as possible the people should achieve these objects through their local Governments. Those relating to industrial matters, the railways, trade and commerce, and production, must always be largely conditioned by local circumstances. The local governing bodies should keep their share of the work, remaining a self-governing community. Australia cannot be ruled by one Parliament from one centre.
– When the Financial Agreement was before us the cry was “ Trust the people.”
– Exactly. In thar case there was a clear issue to submit to the people, and we did trust them.
– The Constitution Alteration (Financial Agreement) Bill comprised five clauses.
– But they affected only one matter. The voting was very close, and we, who were in the minority, have not complained of the verdict of the people.
– We had better put the Constitution in a glass case.
– If the people assent to these proposals, we shall need a glass case for six stuffed birds, representing the States of Australia. Moreover, such a transfer of energy and responsibility as will flow to this Parliament, if these amendments of the Constitution be carried, will find it already over-burdened with its own national work. It will not present proper outlets for its activities, such as cooperating local governing bodies, each vigorous in its own sphere, would afford.
I have indicated, as well as I can, that this branch of this amendment, being quite different from the other proposed amendments of the Constitution for which the Bill provides, places the measure in an entirely different position. Whatever were the objections on other grounds, there is now added the cardinal objection that this . proposed amendment of the Constitution would not only invade the territories of the States, but deprive them of a sovereign power. It would subordinate than once and for all, rendering it impossible, even on the theoretical grounds adopted by the Attorney-General, to term this a federation of States. If the Constitution be amended in this way, we shall have not a federation of States, but six local bodies with all their principal activities subordinated to this Parliament. Not only will the balance of power be destroyed between them and the Federal Parliament, but they will be deprived of their character and dignity. The States will be sovereign no longer, but merely provincial. They will be provinces rather than States. We take their lives when we take the means by which they live.
Once the proposed invasion of the legislative powers of the States in all these spheres is crowned by this- transfer of their authority over their own railway servants, the work of the destructionist and unificationist will be complete. And yet the Attorney-General told us, in words which I took down as they fell from his lips, that his chief anxiety was to make it perfectly clear that he was not proposing to take from the State Governments a jot or tittle of their power. He was depriving them, he said, of nothing that was not essential to secure industrial peace, and in the other cases. I suppose, to secure trade and commerce peace, and the peace of corporations, trusts, and monopolies. All is to be done in the interests of peace.
– Even if that were true, would the States have nothing left?
– Next to nothing. If this latest amendment be made they will not have left to them even their selfrespect. The Attorney-General in his demeanour to-day posed as “ the mildest manner’d man” that ever, so to speak, attempted to cut the throat of six States at once. The conduct of those who supported him was most appropriate. While he spoke they felt that they were at a funeral, and behaved as mourners. They were extremely sympathetic, and at times discreetly sad. They were determined to inter the corpses of the States, and not only to bury them, but to place upon them a weight of legislation against which even their ghosts must find themselves powerless.
. -The proposed new clause which the AttorneyGeneral brought down at a late hour last night transcends in importance and dwindles into insignificance almost all the other matters with which this Bill deals. The submission of such an amendment at this stage, after the Bill has been before the Parliament and the country for about two months, is in itself a rather remarkable circumstance. Having regard to the fact that it is brought down some weeks after the departure of the Prime Minister from our shores, the questions naturally arise whether the leader of this new Government, formed under new auspices, is not more or less of a cypher, whether he was ever consulted about the introduction of this momentous change, and whether it was introduced upon due consideration after he left Australia. If he consented to such a proposal, why was it not put before us two months ago? Has it been kept up the sleeve of the Government, so to speak, or is it that the people who govern the Government had not made up their minds as to whether or not it should be brought forward? When I first heard, last night, of this proposed amendment, it occurred to me that it was the outcome of that kind of elation which a man feels when he finds himself in a position of authority. It struck me that it was one of those “ fantastic tricks “ which we are told in Shakespeare sometimes arise from a man being dressed in a “little brief authority,” and that the Attorney-General, clothed with authority as Acting Prime Minister, had decided to bring it forward. On further consideration, however, I decided that that was not the position. I came to the conclusion that the Attorney-General, and those who support him in this matter, are merely pawns in a game over which they have no control, and that they have come here practically obliged to take this step. I indorse entirely what the Leader of the Opposition has said as to this meaning
Unification. Honorable members will not credit me with a desire to take a States rights’ view of this proposed amendment of the Constitution, but there can be no question that if it be carried it will cut at the very taproot of all State control. But this, after all, does not strike me as the most objectionable feature of this proposal. I regard this attempt to take away from the States the control of their servants as the direct outcome of a political conspiracy between the 100,000 or more employes of the State Railway Departments and those who are now occupying the Treasury Bench and their supporters, to use this Federal Parliament as a means of exploiting the State Treasuries, and to secure for these people what they have not been able to obtain through authorized State tribunals, because they have made demands to which they are nol entitled.
– It is an outcome of a black act of the honorable member’s some years ago.
– I intend to give the House and the country a few facts. It will be for the country to decide whether it will allow the control of their own servants to be taken from their legitimate masters, chosen for the purpose, and invested with the responsibility of exercising that control. It will be for the country to say whether it will allow these 100,000 men to control the Departments in which they are servants, through an authority which is not directly or indirectly responsible to the State electors for the mode in which those Departments are conducted. I have had an opportunity for many years past of obtaining a pretty close and accurate knowledge of the way in which public services are managed. I have seen, as has every thoughtful man, the great difficulties which must always attend the control by representative bodies of large numbers of public servants. I speak from Victorian experience, and I leave it to honorable members who have been members of State Legislatures in the other States to say whether the same thing does not apply in those States. For many years it was the invariable practice at every general election in Victoria for the State public servants, and especially the railway employés, to submit to candidates certain schedules of demands. The candidates were asked, “ Are you in favour of this particular increase of pay to this particular class of public servants?” -“ Ar;. you in favour of making this particu lar change in the hours of labour of public servants?” A series of interrogatories of that kind were presented to each candidate at an election. The gentlemen who put forward these demands appeared to be very little, if at all, concerned in any matter of public interest affecting the general community. The one thing in which they appeared always to be interested, and on which they made their votes as a body depend, was whether these particular questions were answered favorably to their claims or otherwise. The difference between the position of the public servants of a State and other sections of the community is twofold. First of all, we have the fact that they are servants of the State, and are directly interested in securing pecuniary advantages through the ballot-box by means of the candidates for whom they vote. Secondly, their interests being so directly and pecuniarily concerned, and dependent upon the action of Parliament, those interests in most cases entirely overshadow in their minds every matter of public interest. The result of this, in the State with which I have had something to do, was that there was a gradual but continuous progress of increases in the benefits and pecuniary emoluments of the servants of the different branches of the public Departments of the State. As a result, when bad times came, it was inevitably necessary that the Government of the day should, in the public interest, put a check upon that perpetual process. I could give a number of instances, and one or two from memory, but I need not trouble the Committee with them now.
– Were the public servantsgetting too much wages?
– Whether they were getting too much or too little is a matter on which none of us can express an opinion. I can, however, say that they were getting a great deal more than people outside the Public Service were receiving for the same class of work. That was invariably the case, and invariably also, whenever a vacancy occurred in any branch of the Public Service, swarms of people outside were found anxious to be appointed to fill that vacancy. This is evidence that the State Parliaments and Governments have been at least as indulgent to their employes as under the existing economic conditions they could be expected to be. So far as wages, hours of labour, perquisites, and advantages generally are concerned, no one can question the fact that in the Railway and other public Departments of the States, the State Parliaments and Governments have secured to their employes at least as good conditions as they could have obtained from any Board of Arbitration or Wages Board.
– They ought to be the best conditions in the country.
– So they are.
– They are not.
– I venture to say without hesitation that they are the best conditions in the country. By an interjection, which I think I am entitled to answer, I have been charged with taking away the votes of the public servants of Victoria. It is not my practice to answer interjections, but the one to which I now refer is pertinent to the matter in hand. What I did was to say to the public servants, “ You shall have your full voting power, but it will be for representatives of your own. You shall not be entitled to come in as a wedge in every electorate regardless of every public interest, and by means of your selfinterested vote turn- the balance in favour of one candidate or another.” The result of the influence which the State public servants exercised in every electorate was made abundantly manifest in every State Parliament of Australia. From my own experience in Victoria I am able to say that after every general election fully one-half, and sometimes more nearly two-thirds of the members entered Parliament definitely pledged up to the hilt, and in writing, to certain changes, advances, and benefits claimed by the railway and other public servants of the State, to which they had given their adhesion in the midst of a political conflict, and before they had an opportunity of hearing the matters discussed or of considering them fully themselves. Whenever any matter arose in connexion with the Estimates affecting an increase of pay to public servants, or their interests in any other way, it was invariably found that a majority of the members of the Parliament were not open to consider the matter at all, because they were pledged in writing to the demands made before they entered the House.
– That is rather a reflection upon the members of the Victorian Legislative Assembly.
– It may be a reflection upon human nature. It is not a reflection upon the members of the Victorian Legislative Assembly or of the Federal Parliament. It is a fact, and one of those facts which we cannot lose sight of in connexion with representative government. I remind my honorable friends opposite who are in favour of the Socialistic theory that apart from all practical difficulties in the way of giving it effect, they will find that the first difficulty will always be the voting power of those persons who are engaged in carrying out services undertaken by the Government.
– Our railways are Socialistic.
– I admit that, to a certain extent, they are; but we need not enter upon a definition of the word “Socialistic” now. What the honorable member has said is exactly in accordance with what I have pointed out. I say that the great difficulty in extending the area in which the Government is to be an employer will be the political difficulty. There will be practical difficulties, but the first that will confront my honorable friends in giving effect to their theory will be the political difficulty. The reason is that, by the expansion of those great schemes of Government employment, such as we have in the existing system of railway management in Australia, we must increase the inherent difficulty of the management of large bodies of men whose direct personal and almost sole interest in public affairs arises from, and is connected with, the particular terms and conditions of their employment. I do not wish to raise the smoke of old battles* as the Leader of the Opposition has said, but I have been so often attacked by interjection, innuendo, and statements made in public and in private with regard to my past conduct in connexion with these matters, that I have taken this opportunity to outline once again, distinctly and clearly, I hope, the principles which I maintain justified the action I took on the occasion which is referred to. The question which’ is brought prominently under notice by the proposed amendment is whether the public who find the money are to have the control of the employes, or the employes are to have control of the public? That is the great question involved. Honorable members opposite come here simply as representatives
– Of the people.
– I venture to say that the majority, if not the whole of my honorable friends opposite come here pledged to give this particular advantage at the demand of the 100,000 voters of whom the Attorney-General has spoken.
– And of hundreds of thousands of others.
– I think that this particular inducement to the 100,000 railway employes to support the Government proposal has not been made clear to the hundreds of thousands of others to whom the honorable member refers. I should like to know why this was not done long ago. Why was it rejected in the first place?
– It was not rejected.
– Then why is it being brought forward only now? Have there been negotiations respecting it? Is there any connexion between what is now proposed and the recent hurried visit of the Honorary Minister to Sydney? It is suggestive that he should have found himself compelled to go there for health reasons at this particular time.
– He had nothing to do with the railway men.
– They, I understand, are the honorable member’s monopoly. It is impossible to do justice, at the short notice which we have had, to the momentous character of the proposed amendment, though we shall have other opportunities to speak on it before the Bill leaves us. I draw attention to the length to which the amendment goes. The proposal to bring the railway servants of the State within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Arbitration Court was much narrower, and wholly different in character, though I should object to it as much as to this. Still it did not empower Parliament to interfere as it chose with the management of the railways. The amendment will enable us to make laws regarding the conditions of employment on the State railways, to dictate what wages shall be paid to the staffs, from the highest to the lowest, and to both casual and permanent hands, to direct what hours shall be worked, what conditions shall prevail, what housing shall be provided, and what holidays shall be given.
– The Court will have to state what the conditions shall be.
– The honorable member has either not taken the trouble to read the amendment, or has not fully comprehended it. Parliament will be able to make laws respecting every contract between the Governments of the States and their railway servants. Although the confidence of the Attorney-General is, to a certain extent- justified by events, he will find that the public will not allow the control of the railways to be taken from those who are directly responsible for their management, and given to this Parliament, which is not so responsible. I cannot conceive of a more impracticable and destructive control of a State service than to allow the Commonwealth Parliament to dictate the terms on which the railways of the country shall be managed, and to compel the State Parliaments to manage and finance them.
– This means that the Commonwealth must take over the railways.
– It amounts to the taking over of the railways in a most illogical way. What will the State Governments do if we insist on raising wages and shortening hours of labour?
– The Constitution empowers us to prevent the levying of certain rates.
– The Constitutional provision referred to is directed merely against unfair competition by the railways with one another. It prevents them from unfairly using the powers which they possess. But the amendment takes the control of the railways from the States, and gives it to the Commonwealth. What will happen will be this : Every candidate seeking election -to this Parliament will be full of promises, it being only natural to make promises which can be fulfilled by merely moving or supporting a motion in a Parliament which is not responsible for finding the money needed for the working of the railways.
– Does the honorable member speak from experience?
– Yes; from experience in a Parliament in which the evil grew to sufficiently large dimensions even though that body was compelled to finance the railways. The State Parliaments are responsible for finding money for the management of their railways, and for the interest on the money, which they have borrowed for construction and maintenance, and to take from them the management and confer it on this Parliament is not merely to strike at the tap-root of the Federal union, but to do something worse, to allow this Parliament to be used as an instrument for enabling the employes of the States to obtain control over the State services. To that the people will never consent.
– I think we ought to have a quorum. (Quorum formed.)
.- Just as the honorable member for Flinders finished speaking, the hour for adjournment for lunch arrived, and perhaps that was a good thing, because I never felt warmer in my life than when I was listening to the cold speech made by the honorable member, and if I had spoken then I should, perhaps, have not been as calm as I am now, or would desire to be. I never listened to a colder, more incisive, or more inhuman speech from any honorable member in this House.
– That is not in order. The honorable member should withdraw it.
– Will the honorable member withdraw the word “inhuman”? Mr. W. H. Irvine. - I do not object to it.
– I withdraw the word at your request, Mr. Chairman.
– He talked about conspiracies over here to rob Treasuries.
– He talked about conspiracies, and very strongly, too.
– I do not mind the adjectives so long as the honorable member gets the facts right.
– The honorable member took great pains to refer to the railway strike in Victoria, with which he was connected. I have never approved, and do not approve, of a strike ; but the way those men were vindictively treated afterwards was not becoming to any Australian Government. I refer to the treatment that was meted out to them afterwards by the honorable member.
– Would the honorable member mind stating any fact in support of that assertion?
– If I remember rightly there were about 400 dismissed, and some of them, years afterwards, were not allowed to return to the service. If that is not vindictive treatment I do not know what is. Is it to be thought that the railway servants are not to have the same privileges as private individuals? How does the honorable member reconcile his action in any way with humane conduct? If the railway officials at that time thought they had a grievance, and I believe they had a great many, grievances, as was proved afterwards, they should have their rights. They should not be deprived of their civil rights. The honorable member said he never took their civil rights away ; but most undoubtedly he did, in an Act of Parliament which was passed directly afterwards.
– The Act the honorable member refers to was passed six months before.
– I thought it was passed just after. I do not remember exactly; but the honorable member did pass an Act taking away from the railway servants their civil rights. or a portion of them, and allowing them to vote only for members representing the civil servants, and not to vote in the electorates, as they had and should. The honorable member speaks about notices being sent to members of Parliament. Are not notices sent to members of Parliament in connexion with other combinations, such as the Employers’ Federation, and a variety of others?
– The Chamber of Commerce.
– Yes, and the Chambers of Commerce in Victoria and New South Wales have always been the great Free Trade people. In fact, it was the Free Traders that were fighting at the last election, and the honorable member for Parramatta was one of their leaders.
– On a point of order, is this matter relevant? I submit that the honorable member has no right to digress into the fiscal controversy in this way.
– I submit that there is no point of order. I was referring to the present position, and following the speech of the honorable member for Flinders, to whom great latitude was allowed.
– I remind the honorable member that he is not in order in introducing the fiscal question.
– I am not doing so. The honorable member for Flinders referred to the railway men as having sent certain requests or notices to members of Parliament. That is not singular. It is done by many other combinations.
– The Employers’ Federation sent a bundle of papers up to the honorable member for Parramatta a few weeks ago, but it miscarried, and they had ‘fifty -five men running all over the country looking for it.
– That is quite untrue.
– If the railway servants are to be prohibited from approaching members of Parliament while others are to have their full swing, surely it is not giving every one the same fair play.
– Will the honorable member for Parramatta withdraw the remark he has just made?
– Yes, and I say that the statement made by the honorable member for Maranoa is absolutely inaccurate. No such thing took place.
– The honorable member must not make a speech.
– I felt keenly for the civil servants at the time to which I have referred. Even if there are 100,000 of them in Australia, and in the future there will be probably 500,000 men affected by this proposal, surely we are not going to deny them the franchise when every one else has it, or refuse to allow them to defend their own rights, and ask their members to see that they are not imposed upon. What is the Parliament for but to see that they as well as other people have their rights ? I am not in favour of strikes if they can possibly be avoided, but I am not in favour of malicious treatment of the railway officials. A finer body of men than the railway officials cannot be found in the Commonwealth. It is for this Parliament to say, if this amendment is carried, what power it will exercise under it. It does not follow that, because the Government are asking for an amendment of the Constitution, we shall exercise all the powers that may be given to us; but it is a very good thing to have some of them, and be able to delegate them in various ways, and keep a supervising control over the whole of them. The honorable member said that this power was not given in any other way. I think it was intended, at any rate, that whenever there was a railway dispute or a strike which extended from State to State the Commonwealth Parliament should deal with it; but it was only to the question of extension from State to State that the Justice of the High Court who dealt with the matter took exception. He decided on a technical point that certain strikes did not extend from State to State. Take the case of the coal miners. That dispute was intended to extend from State to State, but it was held that it did not. No member was more against the action taken by the High Court, or against the principle of their action, than was the
Leader of the Opposition. He thought, before the decision was given in that case, that it would be in quite the opposite direction, as was the intention of the Constitution.
– What does the honorable member mean by saying that the coal miners’ dispute was “ intended “ to be an Inter-State dispute?
– I was referring to the dispute at Newcastle, where the men were affiliated with the miners at Jumbunna, in Gippsland. They thought that the dispute would extend beyond New South Wales, and I believe it was an extension.
– They tried to make it extend.
– If it did extend, no matter who made it-
– They looked for protection.
– They did, but their application was ruled out by the Court. We have to abide loyally by the decision of the High Court, and technically, perhaps, they are right, as they are men whose minds have been trained to deal with these matters, but it was a great disappointment, at any rate to myself, and I think to the Leader of the Opposition also, when the decision was given which practically stopped us doing what we wanted to do at that particular time. It was then promised that action should be taken hereafter with a view to giving the Commonwealth Court power to deal with matters of that kind, and the railway servants, as well as all others, were to come in. I cannot understand now how the Leader of the Opposition or the members who were then in his Ministry can oppose the measure. What was right then, and what was intended to be done and approved at the time by the Government, is right, and should be approved by them now, no matter what side of the House they sit on. It may be a good thing, and an asset for a politician, to be callous, and certainly the honorable member for Flinders is the ideal of callousness. The Ministry ought to be very thankful to the honorable member for his cold, hard words of this morning, for if they do not rouse the people of the country, nothing on earth ever will.
– They will hear the jingle of the leg-irons !
– Never mind about the “ leg-irons.” “ Fair play is bonnie play “ ; and, whichever side of politics we take, if we believe in one great principle we should adhere to it, unless we can justify an alteration of our views. The honorable member for Parramatta laughs; and, apparently, it is nothing to him how men may suffer. The honorable member for Flinders evidently forgets the misery he brought on the wives and children of the men in the Victorian railway service.
– The honorable member ought to do me the justice to say that I made no reference to the strike ; I referred to events which took place six months before the strike.
– The honorable member also referred to the action he took when there was the railway trouble in Victoria.
– I was not referring to that time.
– I am quite sure the honorable member did refer to the strike in Victoria, though he may not have used the word “ strike.”
– I made no reference whatever to the time of the strike. In reply to an interjection from the other side, I justified my action six months before then in regard to separate representation.
– The events are interwoven, and represent such a black spot on the career of the honorable member that the people of the country are not likely to forget them. My desire has always been to create a buffer against strikes, which cause so much harm and suffering ; but I knew many of the men employed on the railways in Victoria at that time, and knew what they had suffered. I told them that I knew they would be beaten ; and I admit freely that they took action to remedy their grievances in the wrong way, but any man in a public position ought to deal leniently with those who make a mistake, and not in the way in which the honorable member acted, or in the way in which the strikers in New South Wales were dealt with. The House is practically in favour of taking more power in connexion with industrial legislation, and, in my opinion, the amendment ought not to stop short at railway servants. As under the Tariff it is sought to give protection to the employes, so ought protection to be given to all the employes in the Public Service. The honorable member for Flinders, however, has shown the iron hand without the glove, and seeks to lay it bare on the shoulders of these unfortunate men. I hope the time will never come when we shall deal with our public servants as though they were beasts of burden and not of human flesh and blood. All humanity is liable to mistakes, and should not be menaced in the way that the honorable member seemed to think right when he was in power in the State. I hope the Attorney-General will see his way to make the clause wider so as to embrace all public servants. If the provision be left as it is, with the special reference to railway servants, a great army of public servants may find themselves excluded. The honorable member said that public servants were better paid than were those in similar employment outside; but we all know that that is not so. I had the privilege of introducing the present Commonwealth Public Service Act, which provides for a minimum wage of £110 per annum. Under the regime of the States Governments we found in Victoria, for instance, public servants of fifteen to twenty years’ service receiving from ^40 to £jo per annum ; and it is not reasonable to expect the Federal Government to sit quietly by while people are asked to work for less than a living wage. It ought to be our endeavour to see that every one receives sufficient remuneration to bring up a family, not in affluence, but in comfort - that there is no sweating or grinding down in the Public Service, either State or Commonwealth. Similar small salaries were paid in New South Wales at one time, excepting to a few heads of Departments. As a whole, the public servants there were receiving less, by a great deal, than was paid to others similarly employed outside.
– Does the honorable member say that he brought in the provision for a minimum wage?
– I did.
– The honorable member for Hume was Minister in charge of the Bill.
– But that provision was forced on him, and he spoke against it.
– I had charge of the Bill, but before it was introduced I was one of the strongest advocates of the minimum wage. As I was saying, the rank and file of the public servants, not only in one State but in all, were paid less than was paid for similar work by private employers, and they had to work very long hours. All the circumstances completely justify the present action of the Federal Government. Are we to be guided by what is paid by private employers? Are we to dominate private employers, or are private employers to dominate us? If we have a spark of manhood we shall dominate them, and, at any rate, see that the people under our control and supervision receive such a wage as to enable them to live comfortable and happy lives. The honorable member will, I think, on reflection, see that he has made a great mistake in his speech of to-day. But he has come out in the open ; and I am led to wonder how “liberal” that “Liberal party” is to which he belongs.
– The honorable member means the “ Liberal party “ who fought the last election?
– Yes; the honorable member for Flinders is conservative all the time - a Conservative of Conservatives. I had begun to think, from his utterances during the last week or two, that he was seeing with different eyes ; but today he has unmasked himself, and the fact will live in history.
– There has been a caucus meeting since !
– I know nothing about the caucus ; I belong to neither one caucus nor the other. The honorable member for Flinders, in his speech this morning, did not do justice to himself, and certainly did not do justice to the Public Service. The Attorney-General has told us that there are 100.000 railway servants in Australia, and that in twenty years he thought there would be 500,000. Twenty years is rather a short time for such an increase ; but when the continent becomes pierced with railways, as we desire, for the purposes of development, we shall, if not in twenty years, perhaps in forty, have twice 500.000. Are all those people to be left to the tender mercies of the States? In my opinion, the proposals of the Government do not even approach Unification ; but there are powers exercised by the State Parliaments that ought to be vested in the Commonwealth, and which the framers of the Constitution intended should be so vested. The High Court, however, has decided against the Commonwealth ; and the sooner an appeal is made to the people the better. It is proposed to ask the people whether they agree to the change; and surely the honorable member for Flinders has no objection to majority rule? During the last ten years great strides have been made by the Commonwealth, with the result that many eyes have been opened. The result of the elections on 13th April made people open their eyes a great deal wider, as will, I believe, the next election, or I am very much mistaken. Honorable members opposite should honestly call themselves Conservatives, because while they describe themselves as “ Liberals “ they are sailing under a false name. The sooner they rid themselves, if it be possible, of all Conservative elements, including the capitalistic element, the better it will be for the Commonwealth. As to the Inter- State Commission, which is expressly provided for by the Constitution, the honorable member for Flinders expressed the opinion that its duty will be to deal only with differential rates. My own opinion, however, is that the InterState Commission will have to deal with a great deal more ; and I am not betraying any secret when I say that it was the intention of the Leader of the Opposition, when he. was in office, to vest that Commission with power to deal with industrial disputes all over the Commonwealth. I think the honorable member even placed his proposal before the House ; but at any rate, he was very strongly in favour of it. Why all this outcry on the part of the Opposition? I should regret to see in Australia anything but a democratic Parliament - a Parliament prepared to consider the interests, not of one class, but of all. Such a Parliament can be secured only by an extension of our powers, and I hold that the Acting Prime Minister is doing theright thing in proposing this amendment of the Constitution. T cannot speak long and vigorously, because my health will not permit of my doing so at the present time, but God forbid that the honorable member for Flinders should ever have power to embody in an Act of Parliament the sentiments to which he has given expression today ; God forbid that he should have power to deal with the public servants of Australia, ‘ and to harass and tread upon them as he would, according to the statements that he made this morning.
– He has no chance today.
– I should hope not. I have only to say, in conclusion, that I could not refrain from expressing my utter abhorrence of the sentiments uttered by the honorable member for Flinders.
– I fail to understand why the remarks made by the honorable member for Flinders should have roused the ire of the honorable member for Hume. We have always known on which side of the fence the honorable member for Flinders stands, and I do not think it can be justly said that, in the speech which he made this morning, he gave expression to any callous sentiments or to opinions to which exception could rightly be taken.
– The honorable member did not object to a certain Bill that he passed in the State Parliament.
– That measure was necessary for the salvation of the rights of the people whom honorable members opposite are supposed to represent. But for such action as rhe honorable member for Flinders took, when Premier of Victoria, the whole State would have been cast in gloom, poverty, and misery, owing to the course pursued by the railway men. They knew at the time that there was in existence a Conciliation and Arbitration Act, of which they could take advantage, and had they been wisely led they would have done so. I know many of these railway men - a number of them are my personal friends - but I cannot help saying that if they had not been misled they would have appealed to the Federal tribunal. During the Victorian railways strike an engine was stopped at my own door, at Great Western, the fire drawn, and the water allowed to run away, the passengers being left stranded on the roadside.
– I cannot allow the honorable member to discuss the incidents of the Victorian railways strike without allowing others to do so. That I do not intend to do. I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the proposed new clause.
– I would remind honorable members that we have not yet been federated for ten years, and that we are working under a Constitution which was. drawn up, after the most careful consideration, by a Convention representing the collective wisdom of Australia. When the people of Australia accepted that Constitution they little thought that within ten years, and before the population of the Commonwealth had increased by 500,000, an attempt would be made to throw it into the melting pot. This proposed amendment of it means the destruction of all State rights. I do not think for one moment that the States would have agreed to federate had they thought that within ten years the Commonwealth Parliament would seek practically to annihilate them. That is what this proposed amendment of the Constitution really means. Unlike the honorable member for Hume, I hold that it means Unification, and that if it be accepted by the people there will be practically nothing left to the States. I feel confident that the Labour party will find that the people will disapprove of this proposition, for its acceptance would mean handing over the States to the service of the Commonwealth. It would mean, further, that men inside a ring fence, employed all the year round, wet or dry, at a fair wage would be able to dictate the policy of the Government of the Commonwealth. Instead of remaining a free people we should become fettered. Whilst the honorable member for Hume was speaking an honorable member interjected that this proposal meant the leg-ironing of the States. It means something more; it means legironing those who are free to-day. Do honorable members think that the people are prepared to become slaves to party and to party legislation? If they do, they are mistaken. I believe that they will stand up for their rights, and that at the next general election they will reverse their recent verdict. Common sense and justice is sure to prevail. The people did not realize that legislation of this drastic character would be proposed, to the detriment of all free people.
– If they disapprove of the proposed amendment of the Constitution, they will reject it.
– I think they will, notwithstanding the action of the caucus. There is no caucus on this side of the House. This latest addition to the proposed amendments of the Constitution was carefully concealed until the last moment. It was circulated in printed form after a vote had been taken on the Bill, so that it must have been ready for some time, and I fail to understand why it was not included in the Bill as originally introduced. I dare say that the honorable member for Cook, who is interested in railway servants, knew that such a proposal was contemplated, but it was probably held back to be made more definite. After all, I welcome its definiteness. I am sure that when the people are called upon to vote upon it, they will not forget what transpired in connexion with the Victorian railway strike-, and that they will take effective measures at the next general election to insure the retention of their freedom. Do honorable members realize that the primary producer is responsible for all the wealth of the Commonwealth? All manufactures, industry, and commerce depend upon his industry, integrity, and ability ; yet he is the most heavily taxed. All this must affect, later on, our manufacturers and those they employ. If the proposed amendment of the Constitution now before us be accepted, it will shackle the people, and bind them body and soul to the public servants of Australia and to the Labour party.
– I should like to see the honorable member in hobbles.
– The honorable member never will. I recognise that the Labour party, in submitting this proposition, are simply endeavouring to carry out the dictates of their masters, the Labour unions of Australia. Unless they did so they would not be true to the platforms they have signed, and the pledges that they have given. This is an endeavour to secure the enactment of restrictive measures that will satisfy their organizations.
– The same remark will apply to the Opposition.
– But, unfortunately, our party is not organized. Every honorable member opposite is a worker in the Labour organization, but the position is different with us. I have not formed committees or appointed secretaries in any part of my electorate. At the last general election I was prepared to rise or fall according to the will of the people.
– What has that to do with the question?
– I wish only to say that these measures are being forced upon us by the Labour Government, who have the ball at their feet, and are determined to kick it. This is not a just proposal. It is against the interests of the people, and I am satisfied that, although the Labour party were returned with, a large majority at the last general election, the people never dreamt of their being shackled in this way.
– The honorable member says that of every thing we propose.
– That is not so. The honorable member for Hume referred to the question of wages. We must not forget that a man can only pay according to his means. At the time to which he referred the States paid a fair wage for the work that had to be done.
– What ! Forty pounds a year?
– In some cases that might have been £10 too much, and in others a hundred times too little. A Government, like a man, must pay according to its means. When the States freely handed over to the Commonwealth their chief source of revenue, they little thought that an attempt would be made to take all these powers from them. We are satisfied, however, to bow to the will of the people. The cry of the Opposition has always been, “ Let us accept the verdict of the people,” whereas the Government and their supporters have said from many public platforms, “ We cannot trust the people.” They were induced to say so during the Federal campaign, because they did not think that the provision made for the representation of Labour was sufficiently liberal. From our point of view it has been too liberal. We have been indifferent, whilst the Labour party have been up and doing.
– The honorable member will have a chance to “stump” the country on this matter.
– When I attempt to “ stump “ the country I shall have nothing else to do. As an Australian who believes in his country, I say that the States should not be put into hobble skirts. I have been called a Conservative, but if it were not for Conservatism, the so-called Liberals would land the country in the Insolvency Court. It is to the Conservatives that they have to trust to find ways and means for our great national works, the Liberal attitude being, whenever any proposal is mooted, and the question of cost arises, “That is all right; the money will be found.” The money can be found only by taxing the primary producer, on whom the community depends. Recently a speaker in Melbourne advocated the nationalization of the railways and the free carriage of passengers. He, no doubt, was a Liberal ; but under such an arrangement, how would money be found to pay wages and the cost of maintenance, to say nothing of the interest on the loans borrowed to construct the works which have made this country what it is - the finest in the world? This is the last country in which there should be ill-feeling between labour and capital. Yet it is being stirred up every day.
– By the honorable member’s side.
– No ; by the opposite side. This proposal is absurd. The railway strike in Victoria showed how disastrous it would be to remove State control, while the fact that collieries are closing in the Newcastle district is evidence of the foolishness of the miners there in striking last year. The men forget that the employers have to find markets for their coal and other produce, and to earn a profit on their transactions to enable them to pay wages. No doubt the true economic position will be generally understood some day. I am a Nationalist, and a believer in Federation, and, therefore, I say that we should not tear up the Constitution. Through public apathy in the past, taxation has been greatly increased, and it is not easy to reduce it; but the burdens which are now pressing on them may arouse the people to the need for legislation for the community as a whole, and not for a section only.
. -I can speak with authority on this question, as I was once one of the abused civil servants, having been a railway employe for nineteen years, though only a casual hand. In the Tasmanian railway service, and in the Public Service of the State generally, nothing could be done without bringing pressure to bear on members of Parliament, and he who had most influence got on best. This created an individualistic system, every one working for himself. Now the service is on a sound footing, and the men are able to get their grievances redressed. Personally, I am opposed to strikes, and was not in favour of the Victorian railway strike; but the men were so dealt with that they were forced to strike. In one case, an engine-driver living at Bendigo, who had taken up rifle shooting, and had become a crack shot, was compelled to resign from the rifle club, although the practice did not interfere with the discharge of his duties. In another case, a man who was giving away his surplus milk was charged with selling it, and put to endless trouble. It was pin-pricks like these that brought about the strike. Before the strike occurred, men were sometimes on their engines for eighteen and twenty hours at a time. A driver told me that he had often found himself asleep when the engine was running 40 miles an hour. Such a state of tilings is not conducive to public safety. Engine-drivers as a class are as fine a body of men as there is in Australia. No matter how hot the day, they have their duties to perform, the engine-driver watch ing the signals and the running of the engine, and the fireman shovelling coal into the furnace. The first consideration is not what they are to receive for their work, but the safety of the travelling public. Certainly they are not paid exorbitant rates. The honorable member for Flinders claimed to know all about their duties, although he was never a railway man, and has probably not done a hard day’s manual labour in his life. An engine-driver is always watching signals, and regulating the speed of his engine so that he may carry out his timetable. If the driver of an express train cannot run to time, he is put on to a goods locomotive, while if he tries to make up time, and an accident happens, he is charged with manslaughter. The higher officials are always protected by the regulations, however. In Great Britain, the Board of Trade would not allow a signalman to be on duty more than eight hours. Its inspector would suspend a man who exceeded that period, and an independent inquiry would be held to ascertain why he had been kept so long at his post. It does not pay to overwork men, or to treat them as they were treated in Victoria prior to the strike. If the railway servants cannot get justice from the State Government, they should be allowed to go to an independent tribunal, such as the High Court. We compel private employers to treat their employes fairly.
– The High Court might reduce wages.
– The High Court might sometimes decide against the men ; but they would know that they were getting justice. In Tasmania, if a man makes a mistake, he is brought before a tribunal of subordinate officers, who are not likely to submit an adverse report to their superiors.
– Those conditions do not obtain in New South Wales.
– Everything is not as it should be in New South Wales. Some time ago the Arbitration Court there made an award under which carpenters had to be paid at certain rates. The railway carpenters were working at a far less wage, and when the machinery was put into force to compel the Commissioners to pay the same wage as outside people, I understand that the Commissioners refused to do so. Why should men who are working faithfully and well for the State be refused the same treatment as is extended to men working in private employment? The honorable member for Flinders said that thousands of men were making application to get into the service. If they do, they apply without knowing the way the service is conducted, or the conditions under which they will be expected to work when they get there. I want to put the case fairly before honorable members on the Opposition benches, many of whom, I believe, desire to do justice by advancing the cause of the many. In the old days in the civil service a man’s soul was not his own. What I am about to relate is a fact. It may be said that the incident is too small to bring before the Committee, but it is little things of that kind that demonstrate what it meant to be in the service in the old days. Let me cite a case that came under my notice about eighteen years ago. An official was carrying out some important work that necessitated his standing by the men all day, and consequently he had to go back to work at night. On the Chief Officer of the branch entering, the > officer failed to rise when he saluted him, and for this petty offence he was severely reprimanded. ‘ Those are the pin-pricks that make one long for a just tribunal from which justice -may be obtained. It was that kind of thing that brought on the strike in Victoria, and has caused no end of trouble throughout the length and breadth of the services in Australia. On behalf of a section of the citizens of this great Commonwealth, I appeal to honorable members to be just and fair to those who are not in a position to help themselves because they cannot go on to the hustings or come into Parliament and look after their own interests, as private employers and employes can. As an ex-railway man, all I ask for, on behalf of those in the services throughout the length and breadth of the Commonwealth, is justice. The only way they can get justice is by submitting their case to an independent tribunal, such as we wish to establish, by placing on the statute-book the clause now before the Committee.
.- Whilst listening to the speech of the honorable member for Denison, I could almost imagine that we were dealing with a matter connected with some little Pedlington, instead of a great and important constitutional question affecting the welfare of the people of a vast continent. After years of careful thought and deep consideration by the best and keenest intelligence of Australia, the Federal Constitution was evolved and deliberately established. That Constitution is in operation to-day. What it took years to perfect and to induce the people to adopt, is going to be undone by a single Act of this Legislature.
– What about die electors and the referendum?
– The Government propose to put these constitutional questions before the people in such a way that their individual interests will be brought -into conflict with the broader issues, which only should be placed before them when .dealing with constitutional matters. We are told that the railway men in Victoria were suffering under grievous pin-pricks when the great strike occurred. I am not going to descend to controversy in regard to any officer who may have been reproved because he saluted his chief sitting down. Those questions are beneath the dignity of this House, and the importance of the issues before it. But whatever grievances may have existed at the time of the great Victorian railway strike, and whatever attitude the honorable member for Flinders may have taken up, the fact remains that no sooner did the strike take place than the people of Victoria decided against the men.
– The honorable member has no warrant for saying that.
– I have warrant, because no sooner did the strike take place than immediately in every town and village, and in almost every hamlet, meetings were spontaneously held, owing to the feeling of the people against the railway men. These so fortified the Government that a speedy collapse of the strike took place. Those are the facts connected with the early termination of what otherwise might have been a very disastrous dispute. It was possible to bring that strike to an early conclusion in the best interests of the people and of the men themselves, because the State of Victoria is compact, and those who were involved in the contest were comparatively near to the centre of government. The Government were also vested with all the power and authority necessary to control the service. By the exercise of that power, and the fact that they were sufficiently near to the dispute to bring proper pressure to bear, the Government brought about a satisfactory result to the public, and to the men themselves, in the shape of a speedy settlement. But when we compare the State of Victoria, which, from the point of view of area, is comparatively insignificant, with this vast island conti- nent, the conditions are seen to be totally different. If we adopt the legislation now proposed, and give the Federal Parliament authority to step in and prescribe rates of pay and conditions of labour for the employes of State Governments, it will practically mean that the Central Government will control the State railways. Can we reasonably hope, as thinking men, that this control will be effectively exercised by the Central Government? Reason appears to be against the contention. The area is too vast, and the conditions too diverse. Constitutionally bound as we are to legislate for one portion of the Commonwealth as we legislate for every other, whatever determination we adopt for one State must be adopted for the others. Our reason must convince us that what is fair as applied to the Victorian railway system, or the New South Wales railway system, may be absolutely unfair and outrageously illogical if applied in other States. If the Bill becomes law and has the effect, as I presume honorable members opposite hope it will have, of largely increasing the rates of pay, and, to some extent, reducing the hours of labour of State railway employes, it will mean either that higher rates of freight will have to be charged or that less advantages will be given to the public.
– Then, does the honorable member argue that those concessions are given now to the public at the expense of the men?
– There is no desire to do it at the expense of the men. When the honorable member for Denison was talking about the hardships which the engineers endured, I appealed to him to say what rate of pay they were receiving, but he ignored my appeal.
– I could not hear the honorable member’s “ still, small voice.”
– I am not prepared to say what rates of pay the engineers and other employes in the railway service are receiving, but I do know that they are receiving very fair rates.
– If the honorable member does not know what the rates are, how can he say they are fair?
– I know that they are fair, because we do not hear any extensive grumbling regarding them. If there were anything outrageously wrong about them, I am satisfied that those concerned would have brought all their political power and influence to bear, and had them righted long ago. The power to pay these men the wages which they demand depends largely upon the earning capacity of the railways. In order to increase the railway earnings we should encourage production, but the raising of the rates of freight will follow as a necessary corollary upon what is now proposed, although freights are quite as high as they should be, judging by figures from other parts of the world. .The inevitable effect of raising freights will be to diminish production. Indeed, the whole course of our legislation this session appears to be in the direction of discouraging production. I refer especially to the land tax, and to the higher rates of freight which will have to be imposed by the Railway Departments if this amendment is agreed to. Is that the way to encourage productive development, and our railway business? The proposals of the Government tend entirely in the direction of Unification. I fail to see a solid power that will remain vested in the States if this measure be passed. It is not so very long ago that we in Victoria used to hold a public holiday on what was known as Separation Day, celebrating the granting of a separate Constitution to the Colony, because separation meant the right of the people of this part of Australia to legislate in their own interests. But we are now asked to take a retrograde step ; and it will be interesting to know whether the sanction of the Prime Minister has been given to this measure. I am not inclined to think so, and that this is a case of “ when the cat’s away the mice will play.” The fact remains that these proposals, if carried, will sap the very foundations of the State Constitutions, and, more particularly the amendment bringing the whole of the railway men of Australia under one set of rules and conditions. It is impossible to tell what the effects may be. I am not a prophet of evil, because I believe the common sense and judgment of the people will ultimately prevail; but it is within the range of possibility that, if we seek to bind closely and firmly all the varying parts of Australia into one whole, we shall create conditions which the people will resent, and which, if not relaxed, may possibly lead to bloodshed.
– Perish the thought !
– Perish the thought, yes; but, in other parts of the world, we have seen, over and over again, when diverse interests have been welded together by political means, such feelings of antagonism and rancour aroused as to lead to bloodshed. What has happened in the past may happen in the future. It is because I feel that the people of each of the States desire to control their own affairs that I regard this proposal as a retrograde step, calculated to make for the undoing rather than the development of Australia. It is almost hoping against hope, but I should like to see wiser counsels prevail amongst the supporters of the Government. At any rate, we may with reason rely on the common sense of the people outside, and anticipate that, when they apprehend the true significance of this measure, they will be prepared to support us in our opposition. I regard this measure as an illicit and improper proposal, diametrically and almost wickedly opposed to the terms and conditions under which we sit as a Federal Parliament. It aims at drastic and farreaching consequences - at giving the supreme power, not to the people as a whole, but to a section. It is true that the people as a whole have to sanction the change; and if they do so the blame will be on their heads and not on ours, and they will be the sufferers. Under this legislation trade unions will be able to so establish themselves that there will not be a free man in Australia. Every one will be dragged at the heels of the unions, and compelled to contribute to their support.
– What has that to do with the clause?
– The clause is designed to give the unions such powers as I have described ; but when they do get that power I believe they will turn against the Commonwealth Labour Government, as they have turned against the Labour Government in South Australia. I have been to Adelaide, and I know that the trade unions are speaking against the Verran Government, which they regard as doing no more for them than any previous Government, and as acting as harshly in industrial disputes as the Wade Government did in New South Wales. The same will happen with, the Commonwealth Labour Government as soon as they are obliged to assert themselves in defence of the rights of the community against the mob rule of those who call themselves unionists. I speak of “mob rule,” because it represents unlicensed and undisciplined control.
– I thought the honorable member was objecting to the organization and firm discipline of the unions !
– The union organization is a thumb-screw organization; every man is a “ forced “ man, apart from the few who profit in a pecuniary way. The intention of the amendment before us is to increase the power of the trade unions to subvert the liberty of the people, and to compel men whose politics are not in agreement with those of other unionists, to subscribe to union funds. That is all we have to hope for from legislation on the lines the present Government are now following.
.- Honorable members opposite seem to tate altogether too extreme a view of the powers proposed to be given under this clause. All that is sought is to establish an Arbitration Court clothed with power to deal with all industrial matters. This Parliament will not fix wages and conditions, but merely provide a proper tribunal to perform that duty. A previous Parliament established an Arbitration Court, which has saved considerable money to both employers and employed, while at the same time preventing the spreading of strikes. In the Broken Hill dispute, for instance, the State Court of New South Wales absolutely failed, but the Federal Arbitration Court, with Mr. Justice Higgins on the Bench - in which the men had confidence as against Wages Boards - successfully brought the dispute to a termination. It was Mr. Justice Higgins, and not this Parliament, who dictated to the mineowners what should be the wages and conditions. The honorable member for Flinders took the view that the Commonwealth Parliament was going to dictate to the States as to the hours and wages to be observed; but, while I have great respect for the abilities of that gentleman, he seemed altogether illogical in this regard. Every Court dictates to the parties before it the terms under which disputes shall be settled, and, in the case of an Arbitration Court, the conditions under which an industry shall be carried on. Even the Wages Boards do that; and, really and truly, honorable members opposite are only raising a bogy. The Federal Government will appoint a Judge, with, I trust, lay assistants representing all classes of the community ; and it is really a stretch of imagination to suggest that this Parliament is going to dictate the wages and conditions of all State employes. The object is simply to create machinery to prevent strikes extending beyond one State.
– Why take power to go further ?
– We are not going to deprive the States of their powers, but we have a right to co-ordinate powers, so that, if the State tribunals cannot settle a dispute, the Federal tribunal may. Surely such a proposal is in the interests, not of one class, but of the whole community ; and I cannot think that the people will revolt at a measure of the kind. The Commonwealth Parliament passed certain legislation with a view to giving the harvester industry a start without outside competition; but the members of both Houses had the full expectation that the employes would receive fair and reasonable wages. Unless that had been so, I question whether Parliament would have passed the Act giving a complete monopoly to this industry. But, notwithstanding that there was this distinct understanding, the High Court held that, because Parliament had passed practically a Bonus Bill, it had gone outside of its jurisdiction; and the whole legislation was null and void. We as a Parliament representing the people, ought to have the power to regulate industries. The ramifications of the pastoral industry extend throughout the Commonwealth, so that no State could adequately deal with a dispute. In the case of the shearers and rouseabouts, when some difficulty arose, both parties agreed to appeal to the Federal Arbitration Court, without raising the question of jurisdiction, with the result that for the last three years there has been satisfaction and peace in the industry ; and it is a great advantage to have this stability. When a dispute arises among railway employes in a State, or in more than one State, the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court should have jurisdiction to intervene and settle it.
– But this proposal goes very much further.
– I know that it does, and in my opinion the Federal tribunal should have power to regulate all industries. Whilst we take that view, we do not say that we are going to tell every employer how he shall run his business.
– That is exactly what is being proposed.
– All that we propose is to empower the Parliament to create a Court, the President of which shall be a Justice of the High Court, having the confidence of the people, to do justice to all parties.
– We have power to tax the people to the last extremity, but we do not do so.
– That is so. I have the greatest confidence in the Court to be created, although I do not know what its personnel is to be. Why should not railway employes of the States be able to avail themselves of any machinery that is set up for the settlement of industrial disputes? The mere fact that they are servants of the States should not deprive them of the right to take advantage of any law that we pass.:
– Can they not avail themselves of the Boards in their own State, which are at present working so satisfactorily ?
– If an Inter-State strike of State employes took place, then according to a recent decision of the High Court the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court could not deal with it.
– Does not the honorable member know that the State Government, with the machinery that it already has, can prevent an Inter-State dispute?
– It cannot do so in all cases. We are asking for a wider power, and we hope to create a Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court that shall have power to make an award which cannot be set aside on any question as to the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth. Awards have been made by Mr. Justice Higgins and by Mr. Justice O’Connor, after due consideration, and I believe them to have been just and equitable, but on a tech.nical point they have been set aside, the High Court holding that the powers conferred upon the Federal Parliament have been exceeded in passing the law under which the awards were made. The railway men give value for the money they receive,_ and, that being so, they have an equal right with all other sections of the community to free access to the Federal Arbitration Court. It is no argument to say that since they are Government employes they can have no grievance. We know that they have. I am also sure that there would be greater satisfaction in the Post and Telegraph Department if its employes were allowed to file a case for the decision of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. If that were done, they would receive justice, and be satisfied. I look forward with the greatest confidence to the work of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court when it has the extended powers for which we are now asking. I hope that the Opposition will not think that we are trying to secure complete control of all State industries.
– What would the honorable member do if the railway men did not accept an award of the Federal Court ?
– What would the honorable member do if they refused to accept an award of a State tribunal ?
– Put them in gaol, and leg-iron them !
– The honorable member has asked a fair question, and I shall give him a straight answer. I believe that occasions must arise when neither an Arbitration Court nor a Wages Board will give satisfaction, and I hope the time will never come when the workers will give up their final right to strike. Every inducement, however, should be given to men to be guided by the awards of the Court.
– That is a straight answer.
– It is a logical one. As an industrial community, I think we are in a better position than were our fellow workers in the last century, and I feel confident that the time is rapidly approaching when Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards will take the place of the old methods of settling industrial disputes.
– What the honorable member says in effect is, “ Let them be content to arbitrate while they are satisfied with the award, and when they are not let them strike.”
– No. My experience of men is that once convinced that their case has been fairly tried they will loyally abide by the decision of the Court. In my experience as a representative of the employe’s in the Arbitration Court of New South Wales, I never knew the workers to refuse to accept an award of the Court, although they suffered by it, provided that they felt satisfied that they had received a fair hearing. When men hear of intriguing, and believe that false evidence has been given against them, they cannot be blamed for being discontented. I believe that with the advance of education in the industrial arena the time is coming when industrial disputes will be settled by the higher and nobler method of arbitration rather than by resort to brute force, and I therefore welcome the wider powers pro posed to be taken in this connexion. I feel that they will tend to the welfare of the employers as well as of the employes, and prove to be in the best interests of the progress’ of the community.
.- Although suffering from influenza, which has been raging in Melbourne during the last week or two, I cannot allow the debate to close without making a few observations on this important question.
– I should think the honorable member would support his own proposal.
– Part of this is a proposal which I had the honour to submit to the Inter-State Labour Conference held at Brisbane in 1908. The reasonableness of it appealed to the representatives at that Conference, and it now has the support of the whole Labour movement.
Under the Constitution, this Parliament has power as follows : -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to -
Conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.
When that paragraph was inserted in the Constitution, it was understood by the electors that it would provide a real power for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes by means of conciliation and arbitration, exercised by a tribunal to be constituted by this Parliament. The terms of the provision are, when critically and legally analyzed, so contradictory and vague, however, that the Justices of the High Court have practically judicially reduced our power to make laws with respect to industrial disputes to a nullity.
We have heard from various members of this Parliament who were members of the Federal Convention all sorts of pleas in favour of non-interference with the Constitution. It is the work of their hands, it is their pet baby, and therefore must not be interfered with. It is so sacred, according to their view, that one must not suggest any alteration of it. The High Court has shown, however, that in some respect’s the framers of the Constitution did not know what they were inserting in it. In the very memorandum prepared by the Attorney-General in the late Government - who, by the way, took part in framing the Constitution - we have a quotation from a judgment given by the Chief Justice, Sir Samuel Griffith, inwhich he said -
In my judgment, the words of pl. xx. (of the Constitution) are not clear and unequivocal, but are open to two constructions.
What greater reflection could be heaped upon those honorable gentlemen who claim that the Constitution should not be amended? Are we not to have some power clearly and definitely expressed in the Constitution? The Chief Justice of the High Court went on to say -
Applying the principles which I have stated, I think that they ought not to be construed as authorizing the Commonwealth to invade the field of State law as to domestic trade.
Here, then, is a power so vaguely expressed in the Constitution that the Chief Justice, despite his learning, found it impossible to clearly define it. It was open, he said, to two constructions, and he was forced to say, in effect, “ I think a certain construction should be placed upon these words.” Thus it is left to the Chief Justice of Australia, whether he be a Conservative or a Liberal, to determine, according to his way of thinking, the kind and extent of the powers of this Parliament. It is open to him to place upon these words a construction which he may believe to be right, although the electors may consider it to be altogether wrong.
– Does the honorable manber suggest that if this amendment be made there will be no more quibbling or misunderstanding ?
– The amendment that we propose to make is clear and definite. The whole objection of the Opposition is that we are asking for too wide a power, and that the amendment should be narrowed down to fit some specific case. If that were done, the old story would be repeated, and it would be found that the Arbitration Court was powerless to deal with certain cases that had not been anticipated. The power would be narrowed down by the fine quillets of the law, until a chaotic position similar to that which now confronts us would again come into existence. We need a wide and definite power to prevent this eternal quibbling in the High Court. The boot trade employés spent£3,000 in going before the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, in the exercise of their powers under the Federal Act; but, whilst the award made was in equity and good conscience, it was cut down on some technical point upon appeal.
Mr.J oseph Cook. - Still, all that money is in the country.
– The honorable member’s interjection shows to what straits he is reduced in endeavouring to find some reply to my argument.
There has been argument in the High Court as to the meaning of “ conciliation,” of “arbitration,” and of “industrial dispute.” It has been held that there may be a dispute which is not an “ industrial dispute,” and it has been asked, ‘ ‘ What does ‘ industrial ‘ mean?” The question whether unionists or non-unionists should be employed has been held in some cases not to involve an industrial dispute. The meaning of the words “ extending beyond the limits of a State “ has been questioned. What most people would think an “ Inter-State dispute “ has been held by the Court not to be one. I do not know that it has been definitely stated in a judgment of the Court, but I believe that the view is held by legal luminaries that there could not be an InterState railway dispute, because the railway men of each State are working, as it were in airtight compartments, each under the separate control of Acts of the State Legislature. Should a dispute occur in the New South Wales, Victorian, and Queensland railway services, the employés all asking for the same conditions, or striking because of the same grievances, the dispute would be held to be, not an Inter- State dispute, but a series of separate State disputes. It has been held that to constitute an Inter-State dispute there must be employers with businesses extending over more than one State or possessing factories or distributing agencies in more than one State. Where men are working at similar employment in different States, under different employers, their disputes, although about the same matters, are not Inter-State, but separate State disputes.
When I hear the academic arguments of honorable members opposite, it seems to me that the people, when asked to vote for the Constitution, were not told what some of its provisions were intended by its framers to mean. Furthermore, members like the honorable members for Flinders and Angas, both constitutional lawyers, express different opinions. How, then, can the people know what is meant? The other day, the Attorney-General had to confess that he was quite unable to understand the honorable member for Ballarat, and, although I followed the honorable gentleman very closely, I could not make out his meaning half the time. While I strongly disagree with the honorable member for Flinders in politics, I think him the ablest man on that side in regard to these questions. He makes himself understood, and does not cloud his ideas by the use of voluminous and contradictory phrases. Many honorable members opposite, if they make a statement, immediately find it necessary to spend, perhaps, a quarter of an hour in whittling it away by definitions which end in confusing, not only their hearers, but also themselves.
At the present time, our constitutional powers regarding industrial matters amount to almost nothing, because of the decisions of the High Court. Therefore, we ask the people to give us the powers that we need. We seek by the amendment now’ before the House to have the Constitution altered to read -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to : -
Labour and employment, including -
the wages and conditions of labour and employment in any trade, industry or calling ; and
the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes, including disputes in relation to employment on or about railways the property of any State.
The original proposal in the Bill is that the Constitution shall be made to read -
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to : -
Industrial matters, including employment and the wages and conditions of employment, and also including the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes.
Dealing with paragraph a first - the wording is more definite than as proposed at first. Were the wording of the Bill to be retained, the High Court would be asked to define the meaning of “ industrial matters,” and it might be held that some disputes between employers and employes are not “ industrial disputes.” The wider language of the amendment will not leave the Commonwealth at the mercy of the High Court, as the language of the clause does.
It is said that in asking for this power we seek to take from the State Parliaments the right to deal with industrial disputes, but that is not so. There will be no interference until the necessity for it arises; but, of course, the Commonwealth law must prevail over a State law. The Constitution empowers us to pass laws in regard to many subjects with which we have not dealt. For instance, we have not passed laws relating to marriage or to immigration. During the last ten years the States, through their Agents-General, have been promoting immigration, and, although the system adopted has been most objectionable, this Parliament has not interfered. But wherever national considerations outweigh State considerations, they should prevail. It must not be forgotten that the Constitution gives us two classes of powers - exclusive and concurrent powers. Our legislation in regard to invalid and old-age pensions was passed in the exercise of a concurrent power. The States have still the right to provide pensions for their citizens if they care to do so, and if they thought that our pension rates were not generous enough. The imposition of duties of Customs and Excise is the exercise of an exclusive power not possessed by the States. In regard to industrial matters we desire a concurrent, not an exclusive, power.
Those who say that we wish to take from the States the right to deal with industrial disputes talk with their tongue in their cheek. No doubt, they will make this false statement throughout the country, with a view to misleading the people and obtaining a prejudiced vote on a great national question. It is said that it would be a mistake for the workers to place all their eggs in one basket; but they are not asked to do so. We are adopting the safer method of placing the eggs in two baskets. If the bottom falls out of one and the eggs get broken there will still be some left in the other.
It is true that the power proposed says nothing about Industrial Courts, Wages Boards, or tribunals of any description. It is a general power to legislate with regard to labour and employment, but I am sure no one on this side of the House would attempt to determine by direct Act of Parliament the wages and conditions of employment in industries. That has never been the policy of this party. Our policy has rather been to constitute tribunals to investigate industrial disputes and determine labour conditions. That policy will be continued by this party. I have pledged myself to my constituents to go in that direction, and shall certainly do it unless I go to them again and give them an opportunity of indorsing or rejecting an alternative proposal. We cannot state a political policy in a constitutional clause. The means of carrying a policy is machinery, and must not be confused with the original power under which such machinery would be constructed.
It is said that this proposal means the abolition of Wages Boards. It means nothing of the kind. An argument as to the desirability of Arbitration Courts versus Wages Boards is raised, but a Wages Board may be the same as an Arbitration Court, or vice versa. We are not discussing “means” as much as “powers.” There is nothing in the names, but everything in the powers with which they are clothed. In New South Wales the late Wade Government thought they were bringing in a new proposal by instituting Wages Boards in place of the previously existing Arbitration Court, yet they practically clothed them with the same powers as were exercised by that body. The Labour movement had been urging that one Court could not deal with all the disputes, and that subsidiary Industrial Courts should be created to deal with a large number of them. The Wade Government did practically the same thing under another name. They re-created the Court, and gave it power to constitute a number of subsidiary Courts, which they called Wages Boards. Upon them they conferred to a very large extent the powers which had been vested in the previous Arbitration Court.
– Then why did the Labour party fight it so hard ?
– After the criticism of the Labour party Mr. Wade withdrew the whole original Bill and brought in a new one, which, after passing through the House, provided the present machinery.
– The Labour party fought it after it had passed Parliament.
– That only shows how wide of the mark honorable members opposite are in their criticisms. As a matter of fact, the New South Wales Labour party, whilst not agreeing with the scheme in its entirety, went to the industrial unions and advised them to accept the Bill. The honorable member cannot point to any statement by a member of the New South Wales Labour party, or any resolution of the party as a whole, advising the unions not to accept it. As a matter of fact, the members of the Labour party went to the Labour Council and other industrial bodies and advised its adoption.
– Eventually, yes.
– There were certain unions and industrial organizations that refused to accept the Bill, but that had nothing whatever to do with the political Labour party, who from the beginning advised them to accept it. Mr. McGowen and Mr. Holman addressed the Trade Union Congress to that effect, although the Bill was certainly not everything that was desired. I do not care whether these bodies are called Wages Boards or a series of Industrial Courts. I am concerned only with the powers they exercise. If a Wages Board has power to investigate industrial disputes fairly and lay down awards, that is to me an acceptable form of arbitration. They are good or bad according to the powers vested in them, and the principles of administration upon which they are based. Therefore, this talk about Wages Boards versus Arbitration Courts is foolish, because the terms themselves have no meaning to the ordinary mind. Whilst there is no desire on the part of the Labour party to exclude the jurisdiction of the State Parliaments from the industrial sphere, it is necessary for this Parliament to have power to deal with such disputes as have been mentioned, and so we ask for this extended power.
I come, now to the second paragraph. Since speaking on the second reading. I carefully examined the statement of the power asked for, and found it did not include railway men as necessitated by the High Court judgment. Having brought the omission’ under notice, it is now corrected by the express provision now before us.
I have been for many years connected with the railway and tramway employes of New South Wales. In the test case.that was referred to the High Court, I was one of the parties. When the applications for registration under the Federal Act came before the Registrar, I was present and took part in every case considered. The case taken to the High Court was really stated on a question raised by me. I was very desirous that the Commonwealth Arbitration Court should have the power to deal with the disputes of railway employes. It was not a question of what I desired, but of finding out the actual position. I for one thought it best that the Court should at the earliest moment be given an opportunity to settle whether it really had power to deal with railway disputes. I did not think that railway organizations should exist for years under the registration of the Act, believing they had certain powers and rights under it, when, as a matter of fact, they had none, and so at the earliest opportunity, on the application for registration, I sought to have the question decided. It was decided that the Commonwealth Parliament had no power to legislate for the disputes of railway men.
Some honorable members will remember the great fight that took place in this House over the matter originally. The Deakin Government were defeated and the first Labour Government came into office on the question of the inclusion .of railway men under the Commonwealth Arbitration Act. There was a majority in the House in favour of including them, and the Watson Government, before they went out of office, passed the clauses in the Act bringing them under the Federal Arbitration Court.
Application for registration under the Act was then made by the railway organizations, a body of which I am the Federal secretary. In the test case before the Court it was found that they could not be included in the Federal Arbitration Act.
After that a Conference of the amalgamated railway employes’ associations of the various States was held in April, 1908, at Adelaide. There it was decided to ask the Inter-State Labour Conference, meeting at Brisbane in July, 1908, to seek an alteration of the Constitution to include the railway employes. At the Brisbane Conference I had the honour to move the following motion : -
That steps be taken to amend the Federal Constitution Act so that the benefits of concilia- tion and arbitration be extended to all State Government employes.
That was seconded by the honorable member for Newcastle and carried unanimously. It then found a place in the platform of the Federal Labour party.
Every man on this side of the House has come to this Parliament pledged to his constituents to give effect to that proposal. When honorable members opposite ask why this question is being placed before the House, my reply is, “ Because it is necessary to do so in order to keep faith with the electors who sent this party into power.” It is not a matter fixed up at a hole-and-corner meeting in the last five minutes, but has been blazoned forth on our platform since 1908 and placed before the electors in the printed platform of the party in every constituency in Australia.
Apart from .the desire of the railway men to have the same rights and privileges under the Federal law as are extended to other employes, let me refer to some phases of the question which show how the conditions of railway employes are related to conditions in other industries. The railway employes include practically every trade and calling in Australia. There are among them bricklayers, engineers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and so on; in fact, I could run through the whole gamut of the mechanical and artisan trades and show that the same classes of men are working in the various Railway Departments. If under the Federal Arbitration Act power is given to the Court to deal with carpenters, bricklayers, and engineers working in private employment, but no power is given to deal with them when working in State employment, we may have two different tribunals dealing with the same class of workers engaged in the same district. The Federal Arbitration Court may lay down one set of conditions for outside carpenters, and the State tribunal may lay down a different set for carpenters in the service, although the men might belong to the same union. Some of the amalgamated engineers in the Railway Departments of the States are associated in their union with men in outside employment. Unless this power is given, the Union would be cut in half, and the Federal Arbitration Court would have to say it had no power to deal with State servants.
Personally, I believe that the employes’ of Railway Departments represent a selfcontained industry, and should be organized as one industrial unit; but I am not here to ask for legislation to suit my particular ideas. Power ought to be vested in the Federal Arbitration Court to determine whether it is proper to include railway men with private employes, or whether it is more advisable that they should be segregated as an industry with special conditions.
Then, again, there are a number of private railways in Australia; and, while the Federal Court would have power in regard to the employes on these, they would have no jurisdiction over State employes.
The Railways Commissioners of the various States meet in their periodical InterState Conferences and deal with the con- ditions of the employes, but no tribunal exists with similar jurisdiction to reviewany such matters should objection be taken to them.
Under new Protection, it is proposed to provide that employes in protected industries shall have certain rates of wages ; and why should there not be a tribunal with power to decide the conditions of engineers in State workshops as well as of engineers, for instance, in McKay’s harvester works?
– The State engineers are much better paid than the engineers in McKay’s works.
– That may be; but it is impossible for us here to settle the merits of existing or problematical disputes.
Protection is given to the industry of building locomotives ; and, while there is a tribunal to settle wages and conditions in private employment, it is suggested that those employed by the States in precisely similar work shall be excluded. This is to create an artificial line of demarcation that can lead only to endless confusion.
There may be a dispute which, while not strictly conforming to the High Court’s idea of an Inter-State dispute, extends over a number of States, and which no State Court has the power to settle. For instance, in connexion with a coal strike at Newcastle, the railway men of Victoria and New South Wales might refuse to carry “black-legs,” and yet no State Court would be able to deal with the situation.
– Each State can deal with its own railway men.
– That may be; but supposing the railway men of Victoria and New South Wales ceased work rather than carry “ black-legs “? I am not saying that such a. contingency is likely; but, as we are dealing with problematical cases, we might as well deal with that one.
– How would the honorable member suggest that the Federal Court should deal with such a case?
– Supposing such a contingency did arise, the men might refuse any terms of settlement by a State Court that did not cover both States. Each State Court, could deal with its own railway men, but these men might refuse any settlement which did not embrace their comrades over the border, and on which these latter had not been consulted ; and there would be no body in existence with Inter-State jurisdiction, such as there should be in a national crisis of the kind.
– Does the honorable member suggest that State employe’s could be brought within the jurisdiction of a Federal Court in such a case?
– I suggest that there is necessity for a tribunal with sufficient jurisdiction to decide the merits of such a case.
– Supposing either of the State Governments declined to carry out the award ?
– Then we should be in exactly the same position that we are in every dispute, if a party declines to carry out the award ; whatever remedy there is now there would be then. The honorable member’s interjection means that there is no power to settle disputes unless the employes are willing to settle.
– I mean, what would be the position supposing a State Government refused to accept the award ?
– In reply, I may cite the case in which Sir Joseph Carruthers, as Premier of New South Wales, refused to accept the decision” of the Commonwealth Parliament. The Commonwealth had imposed a duty on imported wire-netting; and Sir Joseph Carruthers refused to pay the duty, and practically took the netting by force from the Customs Department. But he was taken to the Law Courts, and compelled to obey the Federal law. Does the honorable member mean to say that there is no power in the Federal Parliament to carry out the laws they pass?
– I am asking what would be done in such a case as I have instanced.
– We should do the same as in the wire-netting case ; the powers under the Constitution are quite sufficient to carry out the Federal law.
The honorable member for Flinders presented the academic argument that the proposal means taking the control of railway employes out of the hands of the States - that it means heaping indignity on the States and lowering their prestige. But in New South Wales the State Parliament has practically admitted its inability to deal directly with industrial disputes arising in the railway service, and has created an industrial tribunal to deal with them. The State Parliament does not fix the wages of the railway men in New South Wales, but these are fixed by the Railway Commissioners, or by the Wages Boards constituted under the industrial
Acts. During the last three years I have been concerned with the constitution of eight or nine Wages Boards for the railway servants, and in that time, though I do not say the whole result has been due to those particular Boards, wages have been increased by at least ,£100.000 a year. The question now is whether the wages shall be dealt with by a Federal tribunal or by a State tribunal.
– Have the Wages Boards proved satisfactory?
– Not altogether; but I suppose that when there are two sides to a question, no decision can be satisfactory to both.
– But they have been fairly satisfactory?
– They have bettered conditions, though, as I say, they have not proved altogether satisfactory.
The honorable member for Flinders has told us that railway men will always get fair treatment from the departmental administrators ; but the very fact that under the Wages Boards in New South Wales the wages have been increased to the extent I mentioned, shows that in the past the Railway Commissioners have not given what is now considered fair. The honorable member for Echuca contends that increased wages to the railway employes means increased fares and freights ; but it is a very curious fact that, during the last three years in New South Wales, in face of the increased wages, there has been a reduction in freights and fares equal to ^1,000,000. As a matter of fact, it has been shown time after time that reduced hours of work do not necessarily mean reduced output, but that, on the contrary, fair conditions and fair wages give men more heart in their work and produce better results. The better paid men are, within reasonable limits, the better for all concerned ; and fair wages have never militated against any industry, but rather, according to the experience of all broad-minded employers, tend to increased profits.
The honorable member for Flinders further said (hat a Commonwealth tribunal would dictate to the State Parliaments as to their annual appropriations. Well, there is nothing new in that suggestion, because, under the Constitution at present, the Government has control of the railway’s with respect to transport for the naval and military purposes of the Commonwealth. Under that power the Commonwealth Government could demand a train, or trains, anywhere ; and if such trains meant the impairment of the rolling-stock or permanent way, it would necessarily entail increased Estimates. We have power to tax materials imported for railways, and do so. This increases the State appropriation, and because we have the power and exercise it, nothing dreadful happens. When that academic argument of the honorable member for Flinders is tested it is found to be of no value ; and the question resolves itself into one of the necessities of the situation, and of convenience in dealing with certain classes of cases. If it is a necessity in regard to transport for naval and military purposes that the Commonwealth should have certain power over the railways of the States - a power which may incidentally be reflected in the Estimates of the States - surely it is reasonable that the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court should have power to deal with industrial disputes amongst State railway employes. After all, the question resolves itself into one as to what is for the public good. On that point-, I submit that the whole principle has long since been determined, and that it was recognised, even by the Conservative Convention which had the drawing up of our Constitution.
Another point to which attention must be given in this connexion is that we are proposing to construct Commonwealth railways. We are to have a line to Western Australia, and a transcontinental line in the Northern Territory, which will run really through the heart of Australia. The construction of those lines will mean the employment of thousands of railway men ; and it may be that a dispute will arise in which those men will work in sympathy with the railway employes of a State. Is it to be said that, from a national point of view, it is desirable that, in such circumstances, there should be one authority having jurisdiction over one set of the men, and another having jurisdiction over the other set?
– We could deal with our own men without this proposed amendment of the Constitution.
– We might not be able to do so. If a sympathetic strike occurred the whole of the railway men of Australia may insist on a consideration of the merits of the case from the viewpoint of the whole.
– The honorable member is a fine railway man. He wanted an Arbitration Court to compel the railways to carry “blacklegs” in the case of the miners’ strike.
– If I were asked to name the greatest pessimist in Australia - the man who pulls the longest face, and has no faith in humanity - I should name the honorable member for Parramatta. He has no faith in the Commonwealth Parliament. The peoples representatives are apparently a band of evil doers.
– I do not believe in “black-legging” like the honorable member does.
– I do not understand the reference.
– I understand that the honorable member cited a case in which he wanted an Arbitration Court to compel the railways to carry “blacklegs” in the case of the miners’ strike.
– The honorable member was not present when I was referring to the matter ; and he is deliberately misrepresenting the position, as he always does. He draws a long, sanctimonious face, and outside makes many professions as to his undoubted probity; but he does not hesitate to deliberately misrepresent his opponents.
– The honorable member is a good one to talk about misrepresentation, in view of all the lies he writes in his paper. He is a beauty !
– The honorable member displays his beautiful Christian spirit in the language that he is using. Next Sunday, no doubt, he will be preaching in the pulpit and advising his congregation to remember the text, “ Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.”
– The honorable member writes more stuff to the square inch than does any one else of whom I know.
– When the honorable member objects to what I write, I am led to believe that it is Aery effective and of the right class.
I should like to see the power proposed to be taken under this amendment of the Constitution a little wider. I am sorry that it is to be confined to railway men; and think that it ought to be so extended as to expressly cover all State employes. The view is held by the Crown Law Office that State industries come under the gene- ral power, that it is only State instrumentalities which need express inclusion, and that the employes of general industries are not in the same category.
May I suggest that the clause should be .amended so as to apply to persons employed on or about railways “ and tramways “ the property of a State. We have tramways under State control ; and unless the word “ tramways “ be inserted, it may be held by the High Court that, since this is an interference with a State instrumentality, it must be strictly construed.
– I think that “ railways “ is a generic term, which includestramways.
– I know that the honorable member holds that view ; but the railway and tramway employes of New South Wales are brought under the State Arbitration Act by a section which refers to them as employes of the Chief Railway Commissioner. Those words cover both railway and tramway men.
– They are all under the same regulations.
– But it may be held that they do not come within the specific reference to railway men. We must not think that the classification of the men will govern the legal terms of the Constitution. I ask the Attorney-General to insert the words “ and tramways “ in the proposed new clause. Such an amendment would very likely save the situation if an objection were taken later on that tramway men were not included.
– In my opinion, trainway employes are included.
– They could not be included under the Constitution at present, because our power over railways relates to Inter-State trade.
– The trade and commerce power must include any means of transport.
– The question of Inter-State disputes does not arise in this connexion, because this is not a power limited to Inter-State disputes. In the railway employes case, the Chief Justice was very explicit, declaring that a State instrumentality should be interfered with only to the extent of the interference for which the Constitution expressly provided. If this provision were read in its narrower sense, it might not be held to include tramway employes.
– First of all, there is the presumption that the railway and tramway employes, being in the one Department, are in the same service; and, secondly, we have the fact that railways and tramways are practically one and the same thing.
– Tramways are really street railways. They both carry vehicles of transport on rails, but being administered by one specific authority has nothing to do with the legal meaning of the word “ railways.”
– I think there is a strong presumption that the word “ railways “ in this clause would include tramways.
– The late AttorneyGeneral thinks that there is a strong presumption the other way.
– I would not say that.
– At all events, the honorable member for Angas thinks that there is a presumption the other way ; and I wish to put the matter beyond doubt.
– In view of the fact that we propose to omit the words of limitation in the trade and commerce paragraph of section 51 of the Constitution, so that we shall have the right to deal with all transport, and as a” tramway is clearly a transport, that must rebut so far as the trade and commerce power is concerned, the presumption ,in section 981 of the Constitution.
– I cannot see, altogether, that the trade and commerce power can enable us to deal with industrial conditions and conditions of employment.
– I do not say that it does.
– It is a distinct power; and, as the Chief Justice of the High Court has explicitly declared that every interference with a State instrumentality must be specifically expressed, it may be held that railways do not include tramways. It would be a matter for regret if a case were taken to the Court, and it was held that a strict reading of this provision would not allow it to apply to tramway employes. We must not be governed altogether by the conditions existing in New South Wales. In other States, the tramways are not under the same control as the railways, although in some cases they are owned by the State. They are under municipal and State trusts, quite distinct from the railways. It is only in New South Wales that the railways and tramways are controlled by the one Board appointed by the Government. Unless the amendment which I suggest be made, we shall probably have bodies of men belonging to the same organizations- whose duties are interchangeable, who may be transferred from one Department to another under the same authority - unable to submit their disputes as a whole to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. We must, of course, be guided by the Attorney-General, and if he is satisfied that the tramway employes are covered by the words used, we must accept his view. But the High Court has so often dissipated into thin air powers which we thought we possessed, which were held not to be given by the Constitution, that I wish to leave nothing to chance. We ought not to be satisfied with any presumption, but should state our meaning in express words, so that there may be no opportunity for mistake. We do not amend the Constitution every day in the week, and. therefore, when we are doing it, we should do it properly.
The narrow ideas promulgated by the Conservative mind do not find acceptance with the people, who have an increasing faith in the National Parliament, not because the Labour party is in power, but because they know that it is elected on the freest franchise, and that errors of omission and commission can be corrected on an appeal, periodically, to them. Therefore, I have full faith that they will give us the powers which we ask for, and remove some of the many restrictions which now prevent us from legislating as we should for the good government of the Commonwealth.
.- The honorable member for Cook has complained of the ambiguity of Acts of Parliament, but looseness of expression is not the fault of any one political party in particular; the amendment moved by the Attorney-General indicating a fault in the drafting of the provision in the Bill. Again, the High Court, instead of narrowing the provision of the Constitution regarding our power to,, legislate concerning conciliation and arbitration, has rather widened it. In the Jumbunna case, the argument was advanced that our power was sufficient only for legislation to cover disputes which the States could not deal with, such as disputes between seamen and their employers, and possibly disputes in the shearing industry. A narrow interpretation of the constitutional provision would certainly have been symmetrical, and would have prevented the clashing of Commonwealth and State awards and determinations. A Commonwealth award applicable to seamen voyaging from the ports of one State to those of another would not be inconsistent with a State award applicable to seamen whose voyages were made from port to port within any one State. Had the High Court been guided by strict logic and the perfect coordination of the functions of the Commonwealth and the State authorities, it would have given a less wide construction to the arbitration provisions. Parliaments are incapable of the marvellous precision of language which the honorable member for Cook thinks should be exhibited.
– My contention was that the Constitution is not sacred.
– I do no.t say that it is, but we must not, with the cocksureness of neophytes, conceive that we know what was in the minds of the Convention. If we had the heaven-born omniscience which the honorable member thinks we should have, there would be no difficulty in interpreting the provisions of the Constitution, but we are all fallible, and, as Shakspeare says, “ Justice resides between the endless jar of right and wrong.”
– The Chief Justice said that, in his judgment, paragraph xx. of section 5 r of the Constitution is not clear and unequivocal, but open to two constructions.
– We must not blame ourselves or others for not being absolutely clear in our conceptions and expressions. There was only one Act of Parliament passed last century through whose provisions it would not be possible to drive a coach-and-four, and that is one which no layman can understand - the Fines and Recoveries Act of 1837. If the honorable member wishes to qualify for a lunatic asylum, I recommend him to study it. The last Government intended to deal liberally in respect to the industrial power, as the memorandum which was issued will show. According to the High Court, it was not intended by the Constitution to provide for the making of a common rule applicable throughout the continent, and in that, I think, the Court was right. In the memorandum, I drew attention to the fact that if the common rule was held to be intra vires, it would be possible for the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court to regulate by its adjudication in disputes, which, of course, could easily be created if necessary, wages and conditions of labour throughout the continent. In provid ing for an acknowledged deficiency in our industrial power, pointed out by Mr. Justice Higgins, we proposed the establishment of an Inter-State Commission, to which an appeal could be made from the industrial tribunals of the States, to prevent unfair competition by reason of the existence of unfair remuneration in any one State. It was provided that all the States might ask for the extension of any award or determination, which would then have the force of law universally throughout Australia. We intended to deal liberally in providing for current necessities regarding the widening of the industrial power; but what the Government proposes goes beyond all reason. The grounds for dealing with the State railways in connexion with Inter-State commerce or Inter-State disputes do not apply in respect to disputes wholly within a State. As has been pointed out by the honorable member for Flinders and others, it is now proposed that the Commonwealth Parliament shall have power to interfere with the internal management of the State railways without accepting any responsibility for it, and without the direct and close knowledge of conditions which would enable its decisions to be sound. I hope that the electors will consider that we are asking for too great an addition to our powers. A point to be considered is how would awards against the State Governments be enforced. I have not seen a method provided for. A State Government could be compelled to pay money, or to return goods seized, as in the wire-netting case, but it could not be compelled to raise the rates of wages of 50,000 or 60,000 employes. No doubt, from the Government point of view, the amendment in expression is an improvement on the original clause, of which I had drafted an amendment, though I do not intend to move it, because the proposal now before us goes so far that any amendment would be futile. The provision which I wished to insert commenced, “ The regulation of wages and other conditions of employment “ ; whereas the amendment of the Attorney-General commences, “ Labour and employment,” and contains two paragraphs which widen the scope of the Federal power indefinitely. “ Labour and employment “ ought to mean only “ wages and conditions of labour and employment in any trade, industry, or calling,” but is said by the proposed definition to “include” them, so that it will really cover every possible case of one person employing another, no matter whether there is an industry or not. It struck me at first that the idea of the definition was to get over the difficulties presented against the Commonwealth Arbitration Act in the Jumbunna case, where it was argued that the word “industry,” as defined in the Act, was too wide. The Act defines it as “ business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment.” As the Jumbunna case shows, the word “ industry “ alone does not include every calling, and we are now asked to add to it the very terms of the definition in the Act of 1904 which were under discussion in that case. The judgment was not decisive as to whether the width of the definition rendered the Act ultra vires, the decision going on another point.
– Does the honorable member say that the Jumbunna case impugned our jurisdiction in so far as an industrial dispute was concerned?
– One of the points raised in the Jumbunna case was that the definition of “ industry “ in the Act was wider than “industry” meant in the Constitution, and that definition includes the two words “ trade “ and “ calling “ upon which the arguments hung, and which are proposed to be added by this amendment. It struck me at first that the draftsman was endeavouring to get over the difficulties of a too wide definition in the Arbitration Act by now placing the extra words in the Constitution.
– Which does the honorable member say is the wider term - “ industry,” or “ labour and employment “?
– I am dealing now with paragraph a as part of the definition of “ labour and employment. “ The point as to the definition of “ industry “ in the Act being too wide was not decided, because the Court could hold that the Act was valid at all events within the limits of the true meaning of “ industry “ under the Constitution. They, therefore, did not find it necessary actually to decide that point, but what is proposed to be done now is, by adding the words “ trade or calling,” to drag in every possible thing which might have fallen under “ industry,” and make it apply to the smallest altercation in any State. In doing that we are going beyond what we are called upon to do at this stage. I mentioned yesterday that I thought the trade and commerce power gave us jurisdiction over employment. I believe my impression is right upon that point. I feel also that the draftsman of this amend ment thought so; but lest the special mention of arbitration in our Constitution - it is not mentioned specially in America - might show that it was not included within the comprehension of the trade and commerce power, although I believe it is, and that, therefore, our laws of arbitration and conciliation would not be valid against the State instrumentalities, although our trade and commerce laws would be so valid under section 98 of the Constitution, he expressly declares that the arbitration power also, as an express power, will apply to the railways ot a State. It seems to me that the draftsman probably agrees with what I said with regard to the commerce power. In America the commerce power includes arbitration, and it was included in 1898 under an Act passed by Congress before we federated. Therefore, according to the particular interpretation followed by the High Court, the existence of legislation and judicial decisions on the point in America at the time we framed our Constitution would have a greater authority in guiding them on doubtful points of jurisdiction here than would any Acts of Parliament or decisions after 1900. The High Court laid that principle down, because -they assumed that the framers of the Constitution had in mind, in relation to similar texts, the interpretations given in America. That interpretation is not binding, but it is what lawyers would describe as of prime authority. In 1898 Congress passed an Arbitration Act for Inter-State commerce, based upon the commerce power. I believe we can do that here, independent of the express power now proposed. If we have that power, we are not affected by the fact that the railways are State instrumentalities. In America it was decided, although our High Court may not-
– Our Court has decided it the other way.
– I do not think so. What the Chief Justice said was that his inclination at present was to think that the regulation of hours and wages of employes onthe State railways had not such a direct proximate relation to commerce as to be ancillary to the trade and commerce power.
– In that case his judgment was the judgment of the Court, and not his own.
– I remember it; but he said it was not necessary to decide that point now. 1 think he added that it was a matter for further argument. Since then the matter has been the subject of judicial decision in the United States Courts, where, in the Howard v. Illinois case, it was declared that it had a direct and proximate relation to the trade and commerce power. This appears in, I think, volume 207 of the United Slates Reports, at page 463. This is from the most recent article on the commerce power, dealing with the employers’ liability cases -
It was contended by the defendants in these cases that the Act was unconstitutional upon another ground, viz., because it attempted to regulate the relations of master and servant, which were not fairly parts of Inter-State commerce. This contention was declared to be unsound.
The writer then goes on to support his argument by several other cases. If that decision is followed here, then the trade and commerce power will give everything, but lest it should not give everything, and because of the express mention of “arbitration” in our Constitution, the Government are now dragging in what they want by the special mention of the arbitration power. In conclusion, I can only repeat, in one general statement, what other honorable members have said, that I regret that we are unnecessarily and futilely attempting to regulate employment on the State railways, and, as regards civil employment elsewhere, going far beyond the necessities of the present time.
.- I am prepared to go as far as the Government are inclined to go in widening our powers, so that we may extend what is called new Protection to “ all industries,” using the words of the Leader of the Opposition, “ within the care and protection of the States.” My objection to the proposed amendment of the Bill is not where it limits the original proposal, but where it extends it, by including under the arbitration power the railway employes of the States. I regret that the honorable member for Flinders did not discuss this matter to-day in the same calm, constitutional manner that he usually does. He brought in an incident in Victorian history that left a good deal of sore feeling behind it.
– I was expressly challenged on the point.
– I know the challenge was given, but it was unfortunate that the matter was revived. Whilst it is true that members of the Public Service combine for their own interest, I do not think they combine to any greater extent than do people in other callings. It is perfectly true that many of them at election times will vote wholly and solely for the candidate who may be prepared to accede to their wishes as to the terms and conditions of employment in the Public Service, but the majority vote for a man according to the political views that he advocates, apart altogether from their personal interests. Even those who look at the question from a purely personal point of view do nothing more than do other classes in the community. Throughout the constituencies, farmers are continually being advised at election time not to vote for any particular party, but for a certain candidate because he is a farmer. In my own case, my opponent was recommended to the farmers because he had resided in the district for many years, had been a judge of cattle at shows, and in his youth had rung trees in the moonlight.
– It is not always a successful appeal.
– It is not, because, although some farmers may vote for those reasons, the great majority vote for the candidate with whose political views they are most satisfied. I was first asked the question regarding bringing the railway employes of the States under the Federal arbitration laws during the Senate election campaign in 1903. 1 said then that I was opposed to it, and have seen no reason since to alter my opinion. In fact, some incidents that have occurred in the neighbouring State have rather confirmed me in the views I then expressed. My objection to including those employes under the powers of the Arbitration Court was, in the first place, not a question of State Rights, but a question of Governments fighting. The Federal Parliament might pass a law empowering a Court to deal with the employes of another Government.
– Or to deal with them themselves.
– Although the powers contained in this proposal are wide enough for us to propose to deal with them ourselves, we may well say of that suggestion, as the honorable member for Flinders said of the objection raised to the wide meaning of the words “ trade and commerce,” that one could not imagine this Parliament entering into all the details made possible by the grant of power. I cannot imagine that this House would in this regard do more than provide for disputes in connexion with rail« way employes to be dealt with by the Arbitration Courts, just as in the case of employes in other callings. It has, however, always seemed to me absolutely wrong for this Parliament in any way to interfere, even through an Arbitration Court, with the powers of a Government and Parliament who employ the individuals referred to, and who have to find the money for their wages by means of taxation. It seems to me that the persons who are responsible for fixing the remuneration of State employes should also have the responsibility of raising the necessary money. Then, again, this great difficulty arises : Supposing, as has been suggested by the honorable .member for Angas, that a dispute takes place, and an award is given against the Government of the day, how are we to carry it out ? The honorable member for Cook said there was an instance in which the New South Wales Government were taken to the Court in the wire-netting case; but that is altogether a different thing. There may be an award involving the expenditure of many thousands of pounds. Where the railways are vested in independent Commissioners as a corporation, they would no doubt, if able to pay their way, comply with the award ; but if they are unable to do so, they must reduce the train service, increase the fares and freights, or, as the Victorian Railway Commissioners had to do until a few years ago on most occasions, ask that the sum necessary be placed on the Estimates. The latter course would mean asking both Houses of Parliament to vote sufficient money to make up the deficiency ; and what would happen supposing a Government declined to take that step ? How could we compel them to do so? Then, further, what would be the position if the Government did place the sum on the Estimates, and the Parliament refused to vote it? I do not think that that is an impossible position when we recollect that there have been such men as Sir Joseph Carruthers and Mr. Wade in power - rabid State Rights men prepared to fight the Federal Government and all its Departments and Courts in every possible way. There would be such a clash between the two - the State and the Federal - powers that the original cause of the trouble would be mild compared to the position we should find ourselves in. The Federal Parliament could not stand by and see the Federal Arbitration Court decisions slighted; and nothing but force would enable those decisions to be carried out. Rather than see such a position, I would object to bringing those services under the operation of the Arbitration
Court. If the railways belonged to the Federation I should have no objection to leaving the settlement of disputes to an independent tribunal; and probably honorable members would be glad to do so in order to rid themselves of the trouble. But that is very different from directing that the employes of another Government shall be handed over to an independent Federal Arbitration Court; and, on that ground, I am not prepared to support the concluding portion of the amendment.
.- I must say that the amendment, when I read it this morning, completely took my breath away. It is of such a drastic character that I really think it would have been much simpler to take over the whole of the State work, because, so far as I can see, the only power left to the States is that relating to education.
– Education is included in this proposal.
– Is education an industrial matter?
– It is a calling.
– Then the whole of die power is taken away from the States, and it would be better to leave all to the Federal Parliament than to expect the States to carry on their great enterprises under such circumstances. If this measure passes, it will, as has been pointed out, put the States in an impossible position ; and any honorable member who thinks the matter over will see how true that is. The Commonwealth Parliament will have the power of directing what wages are to be paid, and what hours observed, and fixing the rates to be charged for the carriage of goods and passengers. And this power would apply not only to the railways, but to every industrial concern carried on by a State. If education is also included in this proposal, all that is left to the States will be the State debts ; and even these will have eventually to be taken over.
– The criminal law is left to the States.
– Do criminals not follow an industrial calling?
– Theirs is a profession.
– It may be a profession; and I dare say the lawyers will be able to bring it within the clause. I cannot think that the Attorney-General has seriously considered the far-reaching effects of this amendment. I have heard it repeatedly argued by honorable members opposite that, as this Parliament has the power to impose duties of Customs and Excise, it ought to have the control of all industries ; and we shall very shortly, I suppose, be hearing the same argument in reference to the land. We have exercised our power of taxation, and will doubtless be told that we ought to assume the administration of the lands of the Commonwealth. It is now proposed to take over the control of every calling and species of trade, and there will be absolutely nothing left for the States to do. Honorable members have contended that, athough we take this great power, we do not intend to act upon it. The position, however, would be similar to that of employes who always prefer to appeal to the employer rather than to the overseer - to the man who has the real power.
– That is not what the honorable member used to tell us in Queensland - he used to tell us to go and see the manager.
– That was doubtless when I did not wish to grant the request made; but the Federal Parliament would always be desirous of granting the requests made by employes who have votes - that is only human nature. I feel sure that honorable members generally are of opinion that the States ought to exercise a certain amount of legislative power in the government of this great country. In the past, Unification has been tried and found impossible. One Colony after another broke away from New South Wales until there were six, all owing to the impossibility of administering this great continent from one centre; and what has happened before is very likely to happen again. For a long while I lived in Queensland, and the honorable member for Maranoa will bear me out when I say that that large State cannot be governed satisfactorily from one point. The further we get away from the centre the worse the executive government is. The railways, and other public works about Brisbane are well administered, while at Rockhampton the conditions are only middling, and, further out, are very bad. This, be it remembered, is within one State, and any effort to govern the whole of the Commonwealth from one point is absolutely certain to break down, and cause some secession movement such as caused great disaster to many people in the United States. This is a point of view which honorable members would do well to take into consideration, because a great country like this, with ever varying conditions, cannot be governed from one centre. Human ingenuity cannot grapple with such a task ; and it is nothing short of Unification that this proposal involves. I know that such a view as I have presented is very difficult to propound, especially in my own electorate. There the people are close to the Seat of Government, and often express the opinion that it would be better to have one Parliament only - that it is very easy to interview members of Parliament at the top of Bourke-street, and that there is no necessity for the second Parliament in the Exhibition Building.
– We do not say that in western Queensland !
– Quite so; I have often told my electors that if they lived in western Queensland, or further away still in Western Australia, they would take quite a different view. Anything like Unification, which is the real object of this amendment, will lead to absolute disaster. I am very sorry to see this proposed further extension of powers, for the reason that it will bring all industries under Arbitration Court machinery, with the loss of our Wages Boards, which have done so well - at any rate in Victoria.
– I do not think that that is the intention ; the idea is to have coordinate powers only.
– But what I have said must be the practical outcome. The Arbitration Court system has dealt fairly well with a great many industries, but if. we are to have any real harmony, the proper system is that of Wages Boards.
– A Wages Board in Victoria could not regulate a competing industry in New South Wales or Queensland.
– The idea of the Opposition, when in power, was to have an Inter-State Commission to harmonize the Wages Board systems of the different States. But the Commonwealth has adopted the Arbitration Court machinery, although I think that a Court is the worst place in the world to reconcile two parties. When in a Court, I find myself anything but conciliatory; and the general experience is that litigation leads to great expense and bad feeling.
– That is the worst feature.
– The passions of the parties are inflamed, and the system leads to anything but harmonious working. I am afraid, as I say, that the Wages Board system will be completely wiped out.
– Not at all.
– I am glad to hear the honorable member say so, but that is my fear ; at any rate, it will be practically, if not actually, wiped out. Disputes will be taken before the Wages Boards in a perfunctory sort of way, and an appeal immediately made to the Arbitration Court, thus involving double proceedings without any additional relief. That is one reason why I am very much opposed to the proposed extension of power. If we have the Arbitration Court system, it must, I think, inevitably break clown. It has worked badly in New South Wales, where the congestion of business brought proceedings to a standstill. If we bring the whole of the public servants, including railway men, under the machinery of the Arbitration Court, we shall take a step which, at one time, I was not altogether prepared to take. The States are taking over more and more industrial enterprises ; and the point raised by the honorable member for Flinders is a very serious one. How are the States to manage the immense army of public servants that they perforce must employ? How are the States going to see that those employes get fair wages - not too much, and not too little, but a proper wage? This is a very serious question, deserving consideration. I should be prepared to go the length of extending the Wages Board system to all public servants and railway employes, and believe that it would work well. We cannot eliminate human nature from all these questions. We are all prone to give first consideration to our own interests, and every one regards the State as a splendid milch cow, and thinks it a fair thing to try to get something from it. The question of how best to regulate and discipline the great industrial concerns of the State and the labour they employ is worthy of careful consideration. I believe that the solution of the problem is to be found in the application of the Wages Board system to all State employes. In that way we should remove from members of Parliament the odium as well as the eclat which sometimes attaches to the duty cast upon them of having to declare what is a fair wage for public servants. Every honorable member must object strongly to being called upon to fix what he considers a proper wage for public servants or railway employes. The State in this regard occupies very much the position of a public company. The shareholders elect the directors who, in turn, determine what is a fair remuneration for their employes. If the employes are dissatisfied with their conditions an agitation takes place, and usually a Wages Board is appointed to draw up a scale of wages. Wages Boards or Arbitration Courts stand between the directors, as representatives of the shareholders, and the employes. If the position were reversed - if the employes of a company had to elect the directors - then the shareholders would require similar protection. I would remind honorable members that the employes of a State assist in electing its directors, or, in other words, the members of its Parliament, and we need some sort of machinery to stand between us and our State employes, so that we shall not be called upon to pledge ourselves to fix their salaries, and to determine their conditions of employment. It seems to me that the proper system is that of Wages Boards which has been adopted in New South Wales. I understand that in that State Wages Boards are dealing with questions of this kind in relation to the Public Service, and that members of the local Parliament are thus freed from the duty of dealing with the salaries of public servants, and the conditions under which they shall be employed.
– Does the honorable member see any difference between a Wages Board and an Arbitration Court?
– There is in principle a great difference. These tribunals stand between two conflicting interests. They stand between the employers on the one hand, who wish to secure their labour as cheaply as possible, and the employes on the other, who wish to sell their labour as dearly as they can. That is the principle on which these tribunals are constituted, but in practice there is a distinct difference between Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards. The Wages Board is, so to speak, a friendly Court, where representatives of employers and employes meet, and do not require to call evidence in order to determine what shall be the conditions of employment in the industry. As soon as the parties to a dispute enter an Arbitration Court, however, a feeling of hostility is aroused. In the first place, the presiding Judge is unfamiliar with the working of the industry with which he has to deal, and expert evidence has to be called. However competent he mav he, he cannot hp expected to be familiar with all the technicalities of every industry. On the other hand, the members of a Wages Board are cognisant of all the details of the industry to which it relates, and in that fact we have the difference between the two systems. In the one case, the members of the Board are familiar with the details of the industry, whilst in the other evidence has to be called to instruct the presiding Judge, who knows nothing of the surroundings of the case submitted to him. He has to form an opinion on the evidence brought before him. Then, again, there is always a strong conflict in a Court ; bad feeling is often stirred up between employers and employés, and from every point of view the Wages Board system of settling disputes must eventually prove to be the better.
– All those objections apply to the Wages Board system.
– I think not. There is a better chance of a satisfactory decision being arrived at by a body of men thoroughly familiar with the business with which they have to deal, and meeting outside a Court, than there is in the case of a Court where evidence has to be called.
– The members of a Wages Board are their own witnesses.
– And they do not try to fool one another.
– In most cases the award of a Wages Board depends upon the decision of the Chairman, who is neither an employer nor an employ6.
– That is so, but the chairman of a Wages Board associates with his fellow-members, and in very many cases a mutual agreement is arrived at. There is more likelihood of a mutually satisfactory agreement being made under such a system than in connexion with a trial before an Arbitration Court. The chairman of a Wages Board in time becomes an expert in the industry to which it relates, but a Judge in an Arbitration Court cannot be expected to master all the details of the hundred and one industries that have to be reviewed by him.
– The Judge is an expert in weighing evidence.
– And everything depends on the evidence submitted to him. Where a man is thoroughly conversant with all the details of an industry, it is useless to put anything but straightforward evidence before him, but, as a rule, the parties to a dispute before a Judge state their case, to say the least, in a highly-coloured way.I have given the subject a great deal of study, and I am sure that it is the desire of honorable members generally that our industries should be conducted in a fair and reasonable way from the point of view of both employers and employés. Our industries are the backbone of the country, and belong more to the employés than they do to the employers. If the employes could only be induced to realize the fact that far more of the outcome of an industry goes to them than goes to the employer, I think the position would be more satisfactory than it is. These are questions that will agitate the community for a long time, and one of my objections to this proposed amendment of the Constitution is that I fear it will cause the Wages Boards system to give place to Arbitration Courts. There is only one other point to which I desire to refer, and I do not think that it has been previously mentioned. As one who has always had to look after the “ bawbees,” to some extent,I cannot lose sight of the fact that these referenda are going to cost the Commonwealth a huge sum. I should like them to be put off until the next general election. They are not burning questions, and at the most there would be a delay of only two years.
– The honorable member for Ballarat distinctly promised in this House that they would be taken at the last general election, and that promise was broken.
– On this point?
– Certainly not.
– I do not recollect such a promise.
– We were promised a referendum on the new Protection proposal “by the honorable member for Ballarat.
– We have just passed through a general election followed by a State election, and now we are to have two referenda, so that the people will never be done with the turmoil of elections. It seems to me that we ought to have our referenda served up with our breakfast every morning, and so settle the conditions of the Commonwealth. These referenda will cost the country£50,000, and the money could be spent to greater advantage in other directions. People are not likely to take such an interest in them as they would at election time, and this proposal will practically mean another campaign. The Commonwealth has not so much money to spare that it can afford to throw away £50,000 in this way, and since there are no real burning questions at the present time - since the Labour people are getting their own way and every one is prosperous - I think the Ministry might well consider the desirableness of postponing these referenda until the next general election.
– Like many other honorable members, I have been greatly surprised at the change which the Government have made in this Bill within the last twenty-four hours, no doubt as the result of some very strenuous caucus debating. Every one knows how the honorable member for Cook has been battling there to have a provision covering the State railways inserted in the measure; but the amendment goes beyond even what he desires. It embraces all the industrial enterprises of the States, even to the most humble calling. The AttorneyGeneral could not resist the temptation to have a tilt at some of those who, on this side, voted on one occasion for the inclusion of the State servants in a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. But the action taken then, as was stated at the time, had a purely political object, the intention being to bring about a divorce of the Labour party from the Government which was in office. The Opposition voted with the Labour party on that occasion to defeat the first Deakin Government; and its purpose was expressly stated at the time.
– No secret was made of it.
– We regarded the existing alliance as-
– The honorable member supplies the fitting word. We considered ourselves in duty bound to put an end to that alliance by any means which should offer. Reference to the press of the day will show that we made our intentions quite clear. The present Prime Minister speaking just before the vote was taken, said -
Believing as I do in State Socialism -
A team of bullocks would not drag language like that from him to-day - and holding that the general welfare of the people must be considered, I am bound to embrace every opportunity to advance those views. I desire to protect the State Parliaments against the civil servants.
A change has occurred since then. The civil servants are now under the special care and protection of the Labour party; they are nestling snugly and securely in its bosom. It was not always so. The honorable member for Wide Bay looked upon them at one time as a nuisance to the State Governments, and said -
I desire to protect the State Parliaments against the civil servants.
– From what is the honorable member quoting?
– From the Hansard report of the speech delivered by the honorable member for Wide Bay on the 27th April, 1904. The honorable member will find it on page 1243 of the volume for that year. He went on to say - by transferring the powers which are at present vested in them to a judicial body which will have ample opportunity to investigate every grievance which will come before it.
– Those words put an entirely different construction upon the sentence.
– I do not think so. The statement is not qualified in any way. He desired to protect the StateParliaments from the civil servants.
– I shall read a little before and a little after the words that the honorable member has read.
– The honorable member does not know what he is going t» read.
– Suppose the honorable member were to read the past life of the honorable member for Parramatta.
– I would put it against the honorable member’s past life. I have always had a great deal of sympathy withthe view that since you are putting all the private employments of the States under the control of the Parliament, there is no logical standing-ground for not applying the same provisions to the servants of the States if it can be done. It seems to me that the physic which you force down the throats of private employers ought not to be bad for State employers.
– Then the honorable member will vote for the clause?
– I shall not.
– That is verycontradictory.
-I am afraidthat the honorable member has not read the provision. Honorable members do notr seem to be aware that this is not a provision for the settlement of disputes. It is a provision which enables you to deal with wagesand employment in relation to any trade, industry, or calling.
– Enables who to do so?
– This Parliament.
– To regulate wages?
– To regulate everything which relates to labour and employment.
– It enables us to empower a Court to do so.
– We take the power, amongst many other things, to authorize and instruct a Judge to deal with everything relating to labour and employment, without restriction of any kind.
– To erect a tribunal to which people can go to get justice.
– Only it incidentally destroys the States. If honorable members say that this is not Unification, I should like to know what is. You are taking power, not only for the prevention and settlement of disputes, but to do very much more. The words of the amendment are -
Labour and employment including -
Including, and therefore larger than - the wages and conditions of labour and employment in any trade, industry, or calling.
What does “calling” mean? I find the word defined in the dictionary as -
An avocation, a profession, a trade, a collective name for persons following any profession, the state of being divinely called.
Surely that must mean the caucus. Not satisfied with getting all the industrial concerns of the States in your clutches, you are going to control the labour and employment engaged in sacred callings, and, if need be, to fix the wages for the clergymen of Australia.
– We ask for no more than the Act of 1904 gives us -
Industry, business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, employment on land or water.
– “ Calling “ means any profession, any collective employment of any kind. It would include lawyers.
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I pointed out that the amendments ‘ submitted by the AttorneyGeneral contained a very different power from anything contained in any provision previously submitted to the House under the terms of the existing Constitution. Amongst other things, I said that I saw no great objection to control of wages and conditions within some of the State Departments and State services. In making that statement 1 should have said that in New South Wales I believe nearly all the employment in the Railway Department to-day is regulated by Wages Boards set up under the industrial and arbitration powers of the State. I believe it is a fact that in the Railway Department there alone there are eight or nine different Wages Boards regulating conditions of employment. I think the only objection which our Railway Commissioners offer is that they shall not be associated with the trades or callings outside - that they shall be confined within the Department.
– It is the outside ones that he has to obey.
– It is the outside ones that he does not obey. He obeys the awards of the Boards within the Department, and there, I believe, lies a constant source of dispute as between the honorable member for Cook and the Trades Hall. They want to control the rates of wages in the Department by means of the Boards set up under their own associated bodies outside, but I understand that the honorable member, on the other hand, supports the Commissioner in confining the Boards which have to regulate railway employment to those set up within the Department itself. Since there must be Arbitration and Conciliation Courts and Wages Boards within a State, 1 see no great objection to setting up Wages Boards like that to settle disputes within the Department. Of course, we must always recollect that, while they are loyally obeyed by the Government and by the Commissioner, none of these Boards can destroy the sovereignty which the State Government must exercise finally over the instrumentalities with which they are intrusted. I understand that these Wages Boards have not. extended as yet to any State employment within the other States. That is what I meant when I said that it seemed to me that no very great harm could come from applying to some of the services within the States the same physic that was applied to private individuals. But that has nothing to do with what we are discussing now.
I went on to point out that the power now asked for was immensely wider than anything which had been suggested in this House or was operating in any of the States, and immediately the Attorney-General pointed out to me that the definition of “ industry “ in the existing Arbitration and Conciliation Act was, if anything, even wider. I said that it was taking power to control any calling, trade, or industry, and incidentally that one definition of “calling” was that it related to divine callings, according to the dictionary definition, showing the range cf the powers sought by the Government. The honorable member immediately directed my attention again to the definition of “ industry “ in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, pointing out that it embraced ‘ ‘ business, trade, manufactures, undertakings, callings, service, and employment.” All that is very true, but the honorable member sought to convey a wrong impression altogether when he said that that was very much wider than the range of powers now being considered by the Committee. Certainly “calling” is included, so is trade, so is industry, in the definition in the Arbitration Act, but they are all governed by the limitations of the Act itself and by the clear limitations of the Constitution. “Calling” there is a calling which provokes a dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State. There is no such limitation in the provision before the Committee. The very title of the Act cited by the Attorney-General shows its limitations, because it is an Act “ relating to conciliation and arbitration for the settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” This provision is not of that kind. It has nothing to do with State limitations, and includes all callings of every kind in the Commonwealth. It necessarily includes the calling of the State teachers in the educational institutions of the State. That is a calling, and is embraced within the range of the powers sought to be acquired by the Commonwealth. I do not know of any kind of employment that is not also embraced. Before the adjournment for dinner, I made, in reply to an interjection by the honorable member for Corangamite, an admission which I wish to correct. The honorable member said that their party did not intend to control every industry, calling, and trade, but proposed only to refer the matter to a Court established for the purpose. There is no such limitation in this proposal. Nothing is said in it about a Court or other tribunal.
– That is only a quibble.
– I do not think so. No machinery is here provided for reference to a Court. There is nothing to prevent this Bill interfering with all the employment and labour of this country without reference to a Court of any kind, if it chooses. It does not matter what the honorable member intends ; that is precisely what is in the terms of the amendment before the Committee.
– We can discuss that when we get a machinery Bill before the House.
– Of course we shall, if we ever do get a machinery Bill, but I can quite conceive of a collection of honorable members like my honorable friend pooh-poohing any such machinery, and legislatively fixing the terms and conditions under which these callings and industries shall be plied. I am simply pointing out that the Government are asking for power to interfere in any and every State industry, and any and every calling, including the professions, such as those of the lawyers and doctors. We shall then expect, under these powers, to see a tribunal set up to determine the value of the “ legal “ talent that is employed in the Arbitration Courts from time to time. Perhaps then we shall find out something about the fees that seme of those gentlemen have been able to exact out of the £3,000 that, we are plaintively told, has been the cost of the submission of their case to the Court by the boot trade employes. We shall discover how much Comrade Sutch gets, and how much Comrade Holman and Comrade Beeby have been getting out of all these disputes.
– And Comrade Irvine and Comrade Bruce Smith.
– Honorable members here on my side will not’ let me call them comrades. I understand that that is a term of endearment appropriated and patented by honorable members opposite.
– The honorable member used to be a comrade, but has fallen from grace.
– All the comradeship I had did not bring me in any cash. I received no five guineas a day. I used to do a good deal of work for no payment at all.
The scope of the amendment submitted by the Attorney-General may absoluteley destroy all the industrial operations of the State as they are now conducted and regulated from time to time by the various State agencies and instrumentalities. The Attorney-General this afternoon was very careful to point out the way in which we voted when the matter was before the House previously, but he omitted to say that on that occasion the honorable member for Hume voted against the proposition of the honorable member for Wide
Bay. We are not quite in the same position, after all. as we were then. Neither are some honorable members opposite. The honorable member for Hume was a violent opponent of this kind of thing when he was in the Government, and he has only discovered reasons for being in favour of it since he became an ordinary member of Parliament. On that occasion he voted against it, and the Attorney-General might have added him to his list for quotation purposes.
– The honorable member is putting forward a new doctrine, that because another honorable member sinned some time ago and is now repentant, it excuses him for committing a sin now.
– I am merely pointing out how unfairly and partially the honorable member quotes, and how much he covers up when he sets out to make quotations for the purpose of injuring his opponents. I do not claim to be a paragon of consistency, but merely to do my best according to my lights as matters arise from time to time.
In my judgment what the AttorneyGeneral is setting out to do is absolutely unnecessary. I cannot see why he desires to tinker and interfere with State industries now that they are nearly all controlled in the large States by Wages Boards. I have already pointed out that railway wages and conditions are governed in New South Wales by seven or eight Wages Boards, which are working satisfactorily ; and it seems to me that, if those local agencies are made adequate for their purpose, the State Governments - and I say this advisedly - can always prevent an InterState dispute from arising, unless there happens that which, so far as I know, has never happened in Australia, thanks to the good sense of our workmen. I merely point out that a Government which has gone so far as the New South Wales Government has in this respect can always prevent an Inter- State dispute. For instance, we have power to penalize strikers ; and here, again, there is a great difference of opinion amongst honorable members opposite. Some of them do not believe in penalizing strikers, but hold that the strike should remain as a last resource and power beyond all other agencies.
– A strike is the only weapon we have !
– It is a weapon that the Attorney-General has said ought never to be used. When this question was being discussed in the New South Parliament, so lately as the Newcastle strike, Mr. Holman declared that any one who incited the miners to strike was guilty of a criminal action ; and there is only one place for criminals that I know of in any civilized country.
– Is the honorable member going to connect his remarks with the question before the Chair?
– The question I submit is the prevention and settlement of strikes. Mr. Wade has been blamed more than his share for what he did, and what took place in connexion with the Newcastle strike.
– A funeral oration !
– The honorable member thinks that everything was settled by the decision of the 13th April last.
– Wade is settled !
– He has been settled for the time being only.
– He will never rise again !
– The honorable member should not be too sure, and he had better look to his own political future, and leave Mr. Wade alone.
– What about the honorable member’s political future? Wade has a poor champion, anyhow !
– I. do not claim to be a champion equal to the honorable member ; but, .at any rate, I look at facts as they are. Mr. Wade was not the only person responsible for what took place. Those who must take the final responsibility are those who insisted on eliminating fines and on making imprisonment the only penalty under the Act. Mr. Wade was merely the instrument for carrying out the behests of Parliament. But we are not trying Mr. Wade now ; he has been tried, and to day he is far less responsible for the leg-ironing of Peter Bowling than are honorable members who are howling him down. He simply did what he was authorized by Parliament to do; and he was directed by Labour members of the State Parliament to jail men who. struck.
– That is untrue £?
– The honorablemember must withdraw that statement.
– I shall withdraw it, and say that the honorable member’s statement is absolutely incorrect.
– I am absolutely correct. The members of Parliament who framed the Bill and insisted on severe penalties against strikers and locks-out-
– That is a different statement altogether.
– It is the same statement ; and I say that those members must take the final responsibility for the carrying out of that measure so far as it represented the intention of Parliament.
– To what Act is the honorable member alluding?
– I am referring to the Act under which that which occurred took place. The honorable member is concentrating his attention on one amendment in the Act, but I am talking about the penalties already in the Act which were initiated by Labour members.
– We are not now discussing that Act.
– When I hear honorable members indulging, as they do almost every day, in violent diatribes against Mr. Wade, who, after all, was the mere instrument for carrying out the intentions of Parliament as insisted on hy Labour members-
– That will not do !
– Those Labour members must in the final resort take the full responsibility.
– The honorable member’s remarks do not apply to Wade’s amending Act.
– 1 am talking of the Act under which Mr. Wade took action.
– That is the Act I mean.
– It is not; the honorable member means only a short section of the Act - a slight amendment.
– The Labour members were not allowed to express themselves on that Act - they were gagged.
– I ask the honorable member for Parramatta not to follow up that line of argument.
– The honorable member does not blame Labour members for shackling and manacling Bowling through the streets ?
– I do not, neither is Mr. Wade responsible; and iE the honorable member desires to know my opinion, I think that leg-irons ought never to be used in a country like Australia for any such offences.
– The Labour members did not object to leg-irons in the case of Sleath and Ferguson I
– That is a different matter that 1 do not desire to rake up.
– What does the honorable member think of the party which used the leg-irons ?
– I do not know of any party which has used them, nor does the honorable member either.
– Wade’s party did. How did the irons get on to Bowling?
– In the same way that they got on Sleath and Ferguson, with the support of Labour members.’
– The honorable member has been talking for half-an-hour, and has not yet touched the proposal !
– I do not require the honorable member to tell me on what I have or have not touched ; but it is perfectly evident from the squealing that I am touching somebody.
My main objection to the proposal is that it goes altogether beyond the range, purpose, and intention of the prevention and settlement of dispute. It has a much wider application, and means that, without a tribunal of any kind, this Parliament may interfere in any business, calling, trade, or industry. The Attorney-General was not here when I alluded to his criticism.
– I heard the honorable member define “calling.”
– And the honorable member directed my attention to the words in the Act ; but I point out that all these words are limited by the terms of the Constitution. According to the Constitution, a calling, trade, or industry only comes within our power when there is a dispute of an Inter-State character; but there is no limitation whatever in the Bill, and that makes all the difference. The Bill proposes to interfere in any calling, no matter of what kind, without the slightest limitation. Not even a tribunal such as an Arbitration Court or a Wages Board is mentioned ; and it is proposed to take power to do what we like, so far as wages and employment in Australia goes. The clause is not even limited to industries, because we have simply the bald words “labour and employment”; and nothing could bt wider or more general. The provision does not speak of labour or employment in case of dispute, or connected with’ an organization, or subject to any Industrial Court; and we may do anything we like in regard to all labour and employment under the power asked for. It is not to the point to say that we intend to confine ourselves to the Arbitration Court; we may or may not do that, but we are asking for a power subject to no limitation.
– The State Governments are able to clothe the State Courts with exactly this same power; and why should we be limited?
– If the power asked for is taken by the Federal Parliament, the power of the States will be absolutely empty - a dead letter. The States will have no power at all, but simply a mere piece of parchment, dead to all intents and purposes.
– Is the State power of taxation a mere shadow ?
– I should hope not.
– Yet we have power over taxation just as they have.
– The AttorneyGeneral can cripple that power at any time he chooses, and he is crippling it now, very seriously, with the land tax.
– The honorable member must not discuss taxation.
– Surely I may illustrate the points of impingement on the State powers? The Federal Parliament has already taken such powers as to interfere with the State powers of taxation. There can be no concurrent powers in these matters except by the will of this Legislature, and this Parliament is clothed with powers which, when attempted to be used concurrently, will always result in our taking the supreme control. The AttorneyGeneral ought not to introduce a proposal of this kind without limitation. It gives the Federal Parliament a right which is neither necessary nor essential, and is not required for the settlement of industrial disputes. He could define this power in a general way, but he has not attempted to place a definition of it in the Bill. And why? Because, as the honorable member for Cook says, lawyers are apt to hold different opinions as to what these powers really are. Judges also disagree. Is there never to be any definition of legal power because judges and lawyers are apt to differ? I have never heard a more absurd proposition put before this Chamber. This is a drag-net, and with it the AttorneyGeneral will sweep away, not merely all the industrial powers of the States, but all their powers in relation to labour and employment. It relates to individuals as well as to organizations, and under it this Parliament may say to a private individual in any of the States, “ Your wages and conditions of employment shall be such as we declare they ought to be.” That mav be done with or without arbitration, and with or without reference to Wages Boards or a resort to conciliation.
– That is not proposed.
– But the Government are taking the power to do it.
– The honorable member knows that that is not proposed.
– We are dealing with the question of the range of this power.
– The State Governments have power to do anything.
– I do not think that they have.
– We cannot limit their powers, yet they do not make fools of themselves, nor does this Parliament do so.
– Will the honorable member forgive me for replying to his sarcastic interjection that I think he and his party are making fools of themselves now in trying to secure this power. I cannot conceive of a more foolish act than that of taking a power which it is not intended to use. If it is not to be used, then what is it for? Is it to put in the political shop window?
– It is for use, not abuse.
– The honorable member said just now that it was not to be used.
– I did not.
– If these powers are being taken for use, then we may use them, and they are given to us to control everything relating to labour and employment, whether it be the labour of an individual, a company, a corporation, or a union. The statement that this power is not to be used clinches my argument that we should not take a power which we are not going to use, and to use in a beneficial way.
– Does any sovereign State in the world act on those lines?
– No; but a Federation does.
– The honorable member has power to commit suicide, but does not do so.
– It would not be a bad thing if some men were to commit political suicide.
– A good many did on the 13th April last.
– And the honorable member cannot let them alone. I have never seen in any other Assembly such gloating as I have witnessed here since that date.
– It is beautiful ! I love it !
– No doubt; and it is this evidence of the brotherhood of man that makes me feel thatI do not want any of it. Since honorable members are prepared to gloat over a political opponent in this way, what would they do if they had complete power over him as they would have in their Socialistic State? Honorable members, by their interjections, furnish the best of all reasons why this amendment ought not to be carried. I speak as a Federalist, who is sometimes wrongly taunted with being a State Righter opposed to this Parliament and to its control. A more untruthful statement has never been made than that concerning me which is published in the press every day. When the time comes to test the question, honorable members will see who are prepared to stand up for this National Parliament. That Parliament is strongest which most respects its powers and its limitations. Its best friends are not those who, under cover of a false and spurious Nationalism, would try to destroy the bond that has been deliberately entered into by the people of this country.
– This Bill will have to be referred to the people.
– That is true; and when it is, I shall want no better argument in favour of my attitude as an uncompromising opponent of this referendum than the statements of my honorable friends opposite concerning the undemocratic character of the Parliament that is to control these powers. At a Labour Conference not long ago, Mr. J. C. Watson said, “ Our position is that we desire to place as little as possible in the Constitution, because of its undemocratic character.” In our undemocratic Constitution, as it is called, the Labour party are going to place such powers as ought to belong only to a truly National Parliament, having no element of State rights connected with it. These are national powers. Honorable members opposite are seeking to obliterate State boundaries by means of the powers they are proposing to take, and they are going to place them under the control of a Parliament which is fettered, limited, and strictly bound from beginning to end by the State element. In other words, industrial matters relating to everything connected with labour and employment, in New South Wales, for instance, are going to be placed under the control of a Senate, where a representative of Tasmania has ten times as much power as has a representative of New South Wales.
– Is the honorable member now denouncing State rights ?
– No. I desire reasonable State rights, and a reasonable State House to deal with and safeguard them. I am pointing out that if the Government are going to nationalize all these functions and powers, there will be no further need for a State House of any kind. If the Government are going to pursue that course, let them do what is done elsewhere. Let them arrange their instrumentality so as to make it an efficient instrument to achieve the object they have in view. The Dominion of Canada, where the Attorney-General is constantly taking us, has these powers; but the Parliament that controls them is different from that of the Commonwealth. The AttorneyGeneral says, “ We need powers like those of the Dominion Parliament”; but he says nothing about a desire for a Parliament like that of the Dominion to control and regulate these national concerns. We have to make up our minds on this question as to whether we are Federalists or Unificationists. In this Bill, we have straight-out Unification so far as labour and employment are concerned, and that which labour and employment connote, it seems to me, covers nearly everything over which the States now exercise control. We shall need no better argument against this Bill than the statements made so often by my honorable friends opposite concerning the undemocratic character of the constitution of the Senate. We must be, as far as possible, logical and reasonable in these matters. If we are going to have, and to exercise, full national powers, we must have a National Parliament in the truest sense of the term to deal with them. I believe, however, that we ought to have a limitation of these powers - that State rights on the one hand ought to be reasonably preserved in connexion with industrial matters, while Federal rights are preserved on the other. As a corollary to that, I therefore support a State House to safeguard the States’ powers which, so far, have been firmly fixed in the Constitution. But now that the Labour party are going to rip up the Constitution, and to throw it into the melting pot, why are they not prepared to act in a straightforward way? Why should they not say to the people, “The whole thing is a mistake. Let us have another division of powers.” Why do they not do that, instead of trying to filch away these powers - I was going to say bit by bit - but, as a matter of fact, this is a huge slice, and will leave a tremendous gap in the industrial powers of the States.
– Let time settle that.
– The honorable member is one of the happiest men in this House, because of the trend of events. From the first, he has told us of the contempt he has always entertained for our Federal Constitution.
– Quite right.
– The honorable member is logical. He believes that we ought to have one Parliament controlling the whole of Australia.
– I believe that we ought to have a Constitution suitable to the people of Australia. Let them alone, and they will obtain it.
– The honorable member says that our Constitution does not suit the “ instincts “ - that, I think, was the word he used the other day - of the British people.
– Of the Australian people.
– Just at present, the instincts of the British people are leading them to a further devolution rather than to a centralization of power. If I read the papers aright, they are now proposing very seriously a further devolution of power in regard to, not only Ireland, but Scotland, and also, I suppose, Wales. That being so, the instincts of the British people at Home are leading them, as they must lead them wherever there is a big business to be done, to the adoption of the principle of the specialization of functions.
– The honorable member is now speaking of a delegation of powers.
– It is none the less an effective devolution of powers. There was in our case a delegation of power by the States which was clearly defined and circumscribed.
– It is desired to reverse the order.
– If the order is reversed here, and powers are centralized too much, my honorable friends opposite will, in a few years, be leading a crusade for their devolution again. Constitutions are nothing to them, except as they may be used for forwarding their class propaganda, and as they enable them to realize their Socialistic ideas. They will alter the Constitution in any way that will suit their objective, and enable them to get a little nearer to the time when all the industrial occupations of the country shall be under the control and direction of the Government.
– Man is greater than constitutions.
– Yes; and, therefore, we believe in preserving to him his freedom. We do not wish him to be shackled and regimented as honorable members opposite propose, in many, various, and subtle ways. The Bill will potentially destroy the States. If that is desired, let it be done in a straightforward way. Let there be a revision of the Constitution in its entirety, and a readjustment of powers between the States and the Commonwealth. I am preserving the Federal character of our Constitution, which has done excellent work in the past ten years, and, if preserved, regulated, and controlled in the best interests of the country, is capable of adding further laurels to our crown, and directing the destinies of Australia for the benefit of all.
.- I supported the proposal to extend our constitutional powers relating to trade and commerce, because I believe that to be necessary ; that we should not be restricted in that matter as we are at present. In many respects, we need wider powers of legislation, especially in industrial matters, and for the control of corporations and trusts. But I cannot go to the length to which the amendment now under discussion would take us. The requirements of the Commonwealth would have been met by the institution of an industrial appeal Court to deal with decisions from the State tribunals. In this way conditions and wages throughout the States could be harmonized, at the same time extending the powers of this Parliament, to enable it to legislate in regard to all industries which are federal in character; but it is unnecessary at this stage of our history to give to this Parliament power to legislate in regard to all industrial matters. Even such a proposal would not be as objectionable as this, which provides for legislation by this Parliament in regard to the regulation of wages and conditions in the railway services of the States. That, in my opinion, is a direct blow at the sovereign rights of the States. The railway employes have now the right to appeal to the Governments which control them, and it is to take a downward step to make them subject to a subordinate tribunal created by this Parliament. The association of the railway men of Victoria with industrial unions outside resulted in one of the most disastrous strikes known in Australia. It plunged the commerce of Victoria into confusion, and threatened the State with disaster. There are about 100,000 men employed in connexion with the railways of the States, and, no doubt, if this proposal is agreed to, an attempt will be made later to bring all public servants under the Commonwealth tribunal. If it is necessary that the Commonwealth tribunal should regulate wages and conditions in State employment, it is equally necessary that it should regulate Commonwealth employment in services like the Department of the Postmaster-General. The railway and tramway men of New South Wales have succeeded in securing the appointment of Wages Boards to regulate their conditions of employment, though I understand that the Boards are composed of men within the service, and, therefore, not exactly like the Wages Boards dealing with private employment.
– In some cases; not in all.
– My remark may not apply to the Wages Boards appointed in connexion with the railway workshops, but I understand that those appointed in connexion with the traffic branch are composed of men within the service, and are in reality departmental Boards. The State railways are Australia’s arteries of commerce. The Constitution provides for an Inter-State Commission to regulate and control Inter- State trade, but no reason has teen shown for placing the railway employes under Commonwealth jurisdiction. To place them under such jurisdiction would be to invade the sovereign rights of the States, and subvert the authority which should control them. Therefore, I am sorry that the Government has seen fit to propose an amendment which is a direct blow at the existence of the States authority.
– I have always held the opinion that where the State invaded the realm of private enterprise its operations should be controlled by the same laws, and it should be compelled to observe the same conditions as are imposed on private employers. The Government proposes to considerably enlarge the legislative powers of the Commonwealth, to enable us to entirely control a large number of industries. These industries will compete with those established under private enterprise, and should, therefore, be subject to the same conditions, and the same pains and penalties should apply where the law is not observed. It is said that the railway service differs from any other State service. I hold that where there is an intermediate authority, such as a Commissioner, to whom powers have been delegated, that authority should be amenable to the control of Courts of conciliation and arbitration, though I agree that up to the present Australia has not much reason to congratulate herself on the success of her efforts to provide for the settlement of industrial disputes by this means. I question whether, if the proposal of the Minister be carried, we shall have the hearty co-operation of those who are so strenuously seeking to obtain these added powers. I am astounded at the scope of this proposal. The Minister proposes to put all State services as well as all State industrial enterprise under the supervision of the Commonwealth Court. As a Federalist, I feel that it would be a grave error to do so, and, therefore, I refuse to support the amendment. The inherent powers of the States must be recognised in a true system of Federation. We have no warrant for trenching upon those powers, unless in a grave national emergency, such as has not yet occurred. Statements were made today regarding the attitude which would be adopted by the Commonwealth Court of Arbitration if railway officials refused to perform the work for which they are engaged, supposing it entailed the carrying of men to a place where a strike had been declared. I asked the honorable member for Cook what he thought would happen under such circumstances if an appeal were made to a Federal Arbitration Court, and I must say that his answer was anything but satisfactory. The honorable member, with his intimate knowledge of railway matters, went somewhat astray in the illustration he gave.
He and his party are asking that enormous powers shall be given to the Federal tribunal, but in using such an illustration he did not recollect the effect which the exercise of those powers would have upon those whom he more particularly represents. If the Federal Court interfered in any direction at all, it would be in the direction of compelling the men to return to their duty and continue the work which they had contracted with the State to carry out. As in the United States, the Court, if it interfered at all, would direct the men to keep up that communication between the several parts of the Commonwealth which would be almost entirely destroyed if they ceased work. The only possible claim that could be made to the Federal Arbitration Court would be to bring pressure to bear upon the men to compel them to restore those communications which they had by their acts destroyed. I regret that the Minister has seen fit to depart from the spirit, if not from the actual language, of the resolutions carried at the Labour Conference at Brisbane regarding the extension of these powers. I am certain that if such a proposition as this is properly understood by the people it will not be indorsed by them, but, under present circumstances, I must say, with a certain amount of regret, that it may be adopted. If it is adopted it will strike a very severe blow at the permanency as well as the usefulness of the Federation of which we have reason to be proud, and which cost us an enormous amount of labour to create. It was brought into operation under auspices with which no other country was favoured, yet at this early stage of its history it is being treated in a fashion in which no self-respecting gardener would dare to treat any seed or plant from which he expected to reap a decent return. There seems to be a desire on the part of some honorable members to pull up, with almost infantile inquisitiveness, the tree that we have planted, and endeavour by examining its roots to see how it is progressing, and then to try to hasten its growth by taking it away from its natural soil and subjecting it to conditions under which it cannot possibly be expected to flourish.
.- I wish to reply briefly to the charge that we are seeking to wrest rights from the States. This Commonwealth could not have come into existence except by the cession of certain State rights; therefore, it cannot expand except by the cession of further State rights. We are not taking up a standanddeliver attitude towards the States. We could not do so if we wished. We are simply appealing to the greatest of all forces, the people, who are behind this and every other Parliament. Honorable members seem to be taking a sympathetic stand in defence of the State Governments, as if the particular powers with which they are at present intrusted ought to be vicariously protected by them at any cost. The wellbeing of the rank and file of the people is, we say, a national question. We consider that the future of the Australian nation is involved in the well-being of the working community, and we say that some of the States have not been giving the working community a fair deal. Hence we claim that it is the duty of this Parliament, elected on a more democratic basis than the other Parliaments, and therefore more truly representing the people who allegedly govern this country, to take a hand and create a tribunal which shall be above all the State Governments and Parliaments, and see that equity obtains. If that is necessary in regard to the rank and file of the workers engaged by private employers, it is only rendered necessary because the State Governments have not done the right thing towards them. If the State Governments have made it necessary for this Parliament to step forward to protect those in private employment, surely it is illogical to contend that the same State Governmentsshould be trusted with the fate of their own employes.
– Then they are not fit toemploy them.
– The honorable member himself has said that it is necessary in the case of certain private employes to establish a Federal tribunal to oversee these matters. I rejoin that it is only necessary because the State Governments have neglected their duty in that regard. Therefore, it is onlylogical to assume that they have equally neglected their duty in regard to their ownemployes.’ Some of the State Governments, at any rate, are to be blamed in that regard, and hence our action to-day. We are simply appealing to our rulers, the people, and as these matters are to go before the people, why all the outcry and protest from the benches opposite? If the Opposition have a case which the people indorse, that will settle it. The people are the final arbiters, and we ask that an appeal be made to them. We are not endeavouring to force anything on the country that the country will not have an opportunity of rejecting. That is a perfectly logical attitude to take up, and it does not merit the attacks that have been made upon it.
.- It seems to me that the more the Federal Government get the more they want. The first big business they took over was the Postal Department. They had only managed or mismanaged that for a short period when a demand was made for a Royal Commission to inquire into the whole business. If that was necessary in the case of the Postal Department, what are the Federal Government going to do with a large business like the railways ? If some little thing goes wrong at Port Augusta it will have to be referred for decision to YassCanberra, or some other distant spot. I do not think the people will feel inclined to give the Federal Parliament any more power. They already regret those which have been given to the Federal Parliament, and I think the Government would be wise to leave this part of the business alone. This Parliament appears to want to undertake everything but what it should undertake. It should have taken over the State debts, but has kept carefully clear of them. It is now trying to take over another paying Department, and leave the debts with the States. By-and-by this Parliament will get all the paying Departments over, and leave the people to pay the State debts as best they can. This Parliament wants to get the railways, and mismanage them as it has done the Postal Department. How can we develop AustraIia without the railways? If this Parliament interferes with our railways it will be doing a great injury to the whole of Australia. The proposition to bring all the railway servants under the control of this Parliament is too ridiculous to think of, and if it were submitted to the people as a separate issue there would be a majority of three to one against it. Unfortunately, several questions will be put to the people together. One will vote in favour of one proposition, another in favour of another, and in the aggregate a majority will be obtained for them all.
– Hear, hear ! That is what we want.
– I do not think the honorable member wants it in his heart. No man would be more grieved than the honorable member to see the railways and other interests of Queensland managed from Yass-Canberra. The honor able member’s heart is with the people of his State, although he dares not show it. I trust that every man and woman in this community will vote against this proposal when the time comes. I sincerely hope that each issue will be put to the people separately, so that their voice may be fairly heard. The proposition now before us, if carried, will mean misfortune for the people. Let this Parliament carry out its duties. It has taken over the Northern Territory. Let it deal with that first. It cannot be developed without railways. The proposition that this Parliament should have power to deal with all the railways of Australia will have my best opposition in the country, and I hope it will never be indorsed by the people.
.- I was struck, when listening to the AttorneyGeneral’s opening remarks this morning, with the absolute want of any convincing arguments for the introduction into our Constitution of such a sweeping amendment, dealing with the whole of the industries of Australia. I understand that after T left the chamber the honorable member referred to the votes given on a previous occasion by certain honorable members, presumably with the object of suggesting that if they voted against this amendment to-day they would be acting inconsistently. If that was not his object, I do not know why he should have made special reference to the votes given by honorable members in 1904. I was one of those to whom the honorable member referred. Not only in 1904, but on a previous occasion I spoke and voted for the inclusion of the railway servants under the provisions of the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill then before Parliament. That, however, was under the terms of section 51 of the Constitution, relating to “ conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State.” I felt convinced at that time that it would be in the interests of the producers and of the rest of Australia to have our railway services in disputes extending beyond the limits of a State under the effective control of a Conciliation and Arbitration Court established by the Federation, and so I gave my vote for the inclusion of the railway servants in the Bill on the two occasions referred to. On one occasion there was no crisis, but I gave my vote as a matter of principle. On the second occasion
I also gave my vote as a matter of principle, although there was a crisis. It has been stated that at that time honorable members voted for the purpose of dislodging the Government. That may be so, but I distinctly stated that I had both spoken and voted for a similar proposal before as a matter of principle, and that I was quite consistent in the action I then took. Honorable members will, perhaps, bear with me while I read half-a-dozen lines from a speech I delivered on the ist June, T904, as follows : -
As one of those’ who on a former occasion supported the proposal to bring railway servants within the scope of the Bill, I desire to say that I intend to vote for the amendment. When I voted previously there was no crisis, and no question as to whether the Ministry should remain in office, or be rejected from it. I voted for what I believed to be an important principle, and I shall act similarly this evening.
– Very few men are “ game “ to read their own records !
– I think that my actions in this House have been pretty straightforward, and I am always prepared to turn up my speeches ; indeed, I think some honorable members have been doing so on their own account in the course of this debate. The position then was absolutely different from the position now. The proposal then was to include railway servants under a Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, whereas the amendment now before us embraces under the terms “ labour and employment “ the regulation of the whole of the industries of Australia.
– It is only an extension of the same principle.
– It is more than an extension.
– The word “ industry “ then meant any trade, calling, employment, business, or service.
– It has already been pointed out by the honorable member for Parramatta that the word “ calling “ was then distinctly limited by the terms in the Constitution, whereas now it is proposed to apply the word without limitation, so as to include every trade and avocation from one end of Australia to the other. Such legislation must result in chaos and confusion most disastrous to the development of the continent. There is no mention in the amendment of any tribunal ; and it has been suggested that under the power asked for Parliament will be able to regulate the wages and conditions of all employments and industries in the Commonwealth. One of the causes of the Newcastle strike, which had such dire results from one end of the country to the other, was the congestion in the New South Wales Conciliation and Arbitration Court, which rendered it impossible for over two years to have the grievances of the men considered. But what will the congestion be under such legislation as that proposed?
– Was there not chaos and confusion last year?
– There will be greater chaos and confusion in a couple of years if the Attorney-General and his party have their way. One of the great objections I have to the proposal is that it will tend towards Unification. Despite what the Attorney-General may say, when the whole control of all the industries is given into the hands of one central authority, what is that but Unification? By means of this amendment we are taking away practically the whole of the fights of the States. The Attorney-General interjected a little time ago that the rights of the States in this matter would remain, and could be used ; but he knows as well as anybody that the State laws must give way to the Federal laws. I know there is anxiety to have a division; and I have only to express the hope that I have made my position perfectly clear. I trust that I have shown that my action in 1904 is quite consistent with my action tonight, when I shall vote against this sweeping amendment, which, if carried, must be detrimental to the interests of Australia and will, in effect, substitute Unification for Federation.
.- I have no desire to delay the Committee, but on an important question like this a word or two from me may not be out of place. I am altogether opposed to the proposals of the Government. It is not desirable, at this time at any rate, that this Parliament should be given power to interfere in the internal management of the States in relation to the fixing of wages and employment. Such legislation must prove subversive of all discipline; and it is hard to conceive any reason why a Parliament like this, composed of members from all parts of Australia, should arrogate to itself the fixing of wages and working conditions of persons employed by the States. It is an invasion of the State rights and a violation of the arrangement made when’ we entered Federation. Further, it is a reflection on the people of the States, because we, in substance, tell them that, although they have their own Parliaments, elected on the same franchise as this, they are not competent to manage their own local internal affairs. The fundamental condition precedent to Federation was that the internal affairs of the States should be left to the State Governments, while trade and commerce, and affairs generally extending beyond the limits of any one State, and also with foreign countries, should be controlled by the Commonwealth Government ; but all that now is to be thrown on one side. This Parliament cannot have the local knowledge possessed by the State Parliaments, and must, on that ground alone, altogether fail in the exercise of the powers now sought. The Attorney-General has told us that it is not proposed to exercise the powers except in directions where they may prove beneficial; but the full powers may be resorted to, if not by us, by succeeding Parliaments and Governments. Under the circumstances, the best plan would be to take no more powers than we intend to exercise. Another point to be considered is the unification of wages and working conditions all over Australia ; and to this the Government might turn their attention with some advantage.
– Is the right honorable gentleman opposed to the Federal Parliament having extended powers in the direction sought?
– I cannot answer general questions, but I am opposed to the proposals of the Government. Some time ago, when the Prime Minister was in Western Australia, he was asked to do something to prevent industries gravitating from States where wages were high to States where wages were lower. I asked the honorable gentleman a question on the point, and received an indefinite reply to the effect that the matter was under consideration. I returned to the attack on the 19th July last with the following question -
In further reference lo the questions asked on 1 2th isst., as to the different rates of wages paid in the various States to persons engaged in the same industry, and producing the same kind of goods in competition with one another -
How soon, approximately, does he think he will be able to give a reply to Resolutions 1 and 2 placed before him by the Western Australian Chamber oj Manufactures?
Does he propose 10 submit to Parliament any plan by which manufacturing may continue to be possible in States where wages are highest, and prevent such manufacturing business gravitating to States where wages are lowest?
Does he favour uniform wages in all States for persons engaged in the same industry and coming into competition with one another?
The reply was -
Here we have a question that the Government might well consider, because it is a practical question requiring solution. One of the reasons why the people will not be inclined to support the present proposals is furnished in the difficulty to which I have alluded; and the question is whether wages will have to be levelled up or levelled down. I do not suppose that we can make wages higher or lower by Act of Parliament; but how is the wage of the miner at Bendigo at 50s. a week to be equalized with that of the miner at Kalgoorlie at 80s a week ; or how are manufacturers in Perth and Melbourne, paying unequal wages, to be enabled to compete with one another in the production and manufacture of the same class of goods? There is a marked dissimilarity between the wages paid in all industries in the. western State and those prevailing in Victoria. We may depend upon it that if a central tribunal were appointed and met in Melbourne to deal with all these matters, its decisions would be in the direction of bringing about uniformity. I do not say that it would attempt at once to secure uniformity, but that is the road along which it would travel.
– So far the central tribunals have recognised the different conditions prevailing in the States.
– To only a small extent. I do not say for one moment that an attempt will be made straight away to secure uniformity, but I am convinced that that would be the ultimate goal.
– The central tribunal would consider the evidence and the circumstances in every case.
– If a miner in Western Australia who was receiving £4 a week were asked to submit his industrial grievances to a central tribunal where there was even a risk of a reduction of his wages to £2 10s. per week, so as to bring them into uniformity with those prevailing in Bendigo or Ballarat, he would probably take a different view of the situation, and say that it was better to -
Than fly to others that we know not of.
– The railway men of Western Australia desire to come under the Federal Act.
– lt is to me astonishing that railway employes who exercise influence in the moulding of the Parliament of their own State, should desire to delegate the task of determining their wages and conditions of employment to a distant tribunal on which they can have but a slight influence, and which probably knows little of their conditions and may be even out of sympathy with them. If it were put to them, “ You have the right to control and manage your own business for yourselves. You have an opportunity to vote for your own State Parliament members to advocate your own cause, and why, therefore, should you desire to give up that position of advantage and delegate these powers to people far removed from you, who do not understand your conditions and circumstances, and who probably are out of sympathy with you?” I think that they would recognise the unreasonableness of this proposal.
– The railway men of Western Australia desire to come under the Federal Act, and they wrote to the right honorable member about the matter.
– And unlike some honorable members, I gave them an answer. I told them that I could not understand why, having local control, they should desire to allow their interests to be dealt with by a distant tribunal. If they are incompetent to manage their own business and desire people from other States to deal with it, I do not see why their desire should not be gratified, but I do not believe that such is the case, nor do I approve of such a course.
- Mr. Justice Burnside, according to this morning’s papers, says that the Western Australian Conciliation and Arbitration Act is a comedy.
– Then why does not the Parliament of Western Australia amend that Act? The Labour party has almost a majority in that Legislature, and the workers of Western Australia have as much right as the people who have returned the honorable member to this House to ask their representatives in the local Parliament to interest themselves in their behalf. They have the same franchise, and it is idle to say that the State Parliament fails to do this or that. Even if a section of the community does desire this change, that is no reason why it should be brought about, unless it is in the interests of the people as a whole.
Mi. Carr. - We say, “ Let the whole community decide the question for themselves.” ,
– I do not object to their being asked to decide the question for themselves, but they should be given a fair opportunity to do so. Is it fair that four different proposed amendments of the Constitution should be submitted to them at one referendum? Why should they be asked to accept or reject the whole of these proposed amendments, when they might approve of some and disapprove of others. Is that honest government? I say that it is not. I cannot understand reasonable, honest-minded people agreeing to such a proposition.
– The Fusion Government submitted a Bill of five clauses to the one referendum.
– We had two clear questions submitted to the people.
– The honorable member for Cook does not understand what he is talking about.
– In connexion with the referendum on the Financial Agreement there were five clauses on the one ballotpaper.
– I do not think that the course proposed to be taken in submitting all these questions in one referendum is fair or reasonable. It is an attempt to foist on the people of Australia four amendments of the Constitution when they may approve of only one. We are now told that it is for the people to decide whether these amendments shall be made. That is not the attitude which the Labour party took up when we proposed last session to submit two questions on a referendum. . The Labour party would not at that time trust the people. However, that is not the point. We have our responsibilities, and have a right to determine what questions shall be sent to the people. I am willing to submit this matter to a referendum, but why should the referendum take place next March ? At the last general election which took place about the same time of the year, 670,000 votes were cast for the Labour party, and 645,000 votes were cast for us, but nearly 1,000,000 people did not exercise the franchise. This referendum, which will cost ^40,000 or ,£50,000, will take place at a time when there will be no political excitement, and we may well ask how many persons are likely to go to the poll. This action will come home to the Labour party some day, and perhaps they will be treated as they are trying now to treat us. This proposal is not founded on justice.
– We are giving the Opposition a dose of their own physic.
– That is a most ungenerous remark ; and I am sure that the honorable member does not mean what he says.
– The present Opposition treated us most cruelly by applying the “ gag “ last session.
– When we overstep the mark, it will be open to the Government to treat us in the same way. If the Ministry had to deal with such an Opposition as that which confronted us last session, they would not be able to do any work this year. If we chose, we could keep them here for the next six months. I shall not detain honorable members further. I rose only to enter my protest, and to put one or two considerations before the Committee. I repeat that it is most unreasonable to ask the people to deal with these four important amendments of the Constitution in one question. It is not fair, and must in the end bring discredit on those who propose it. I protest against this attempt to invade an arena which properly belongs to the States, and in which the State Parliaments can do better work than we can hope to accomplish.
.- As a representative of Tasmania, I desire to inform the Committee that we have absolutely no industrial legislation on the statutebook of that State. There Wages Boards are unknown, and employes are at the mercy of the capitalists.
– The Tasmanian Constitution is similar to that of ‘Western Australia.
– The right honorable member has been telling the Committee, and the country, that the State Parliaments are capable of looking after the wants of their own people. I propose now to show that the Parliaments of Tasmania for the last fifty-six years have neglected their manifest duty with regard to the oppressed of that State. The State Government pay their public servants lower wages than those prevailing in any other State; and the same may be said of private employers of labour. Nevertheless, the financial position of Tasmania is worse than that of any other State of the Union. Having regard to the starvation wages that are paid by the State Government and the capitalists, manufactures and industry generally in Tasmania should be going ahead by leaps and bounds; but it is surprising to find that they are behind those of all the other States. This is simply due to the fact that we have had in the Parliament there for the last fifty-six years the friends of the right honorable member who has just resumed his seat. They have never been capable of properly governing the State. Some three years ago, Senator Long, who was then a member of our party in the State Parliament, made statements in regard to the low rates of wages prevailing in Tasmania, the accuracy of which was denied by the Government. A Royal Commission was appointed, and presented a report giving the names of persons who were paying sweating wages. The Premier of the State moved, however, that those names should be deleted from the report before it was placed on the table of the House.
– Was not the honorable member in that Parliament?
– Yes; and I protested. But our party was in a minority.
– Then why come here with these local affairs?
– The State Parliament has failed to do its duty ; and I have a right to ask the National Parliament to pass legislation that will assist the oppressed. If we can deal with them, this is the place to do it.
– Why did not the honorable member deal with them?
– Because the right honorable member’s friends were in power. The Government of the day was so ashamed of the alarming rates of wages which were being paid to the men and women of Tasmania that it would not allow the names of the employers to be published in the daily press, because that would have created a public scandal. The House divided on the question that the names be deleted, and the Government, being in a majority, the people do not know who these financial bloodsuckers are. I speak on behalf of the workers of Tasmania. There are no unions in the State because there are no Acts of Parliament to work under. Is the National Parliament, when it can appeal to the people for power to remedy these evils, to refrain from doing so ? It will use its power only in cases of absolute necessity. I have here a copy of the report to which I have referred. The State Righters say that the State Parliaments do all that is necessary for the people. That is not so. The people of Tasmania, and perhaps those of some of the other States, look to the National Parliament for assistance in domestic matters. The Royal Commission was composed of a member of the Government party, a member of the Labour party, and a member of the Independent party, and their report was of such a nature that the Government was ashamed to let it be published as it was sent to His Excellency the Governor. It was proved that the Government itself was the worst sweater. Men who have to use the doubleended pick for eight and nine hours a day in connexion with railway work are getting the miserable wage of from’ 4s. 6d. to 5s. a day, on which they have to support a wife, and, perhaps, five, six, and seven children. Would honorable members like to live on such pay? Yet they oppose a measure having for its object the enabling of this Parliament to intervene. Surely the High Court might well be trusted to deal with the cases that will come before it. We do not ask that Parliament shall deal specifically with each case; we wish to give the High Court jurisdiction to determine who is right and who is wrong where the question of money as opposed to blood, bone, and sinew is concerned. In the State service of Tasmania, married men are getting from 4s. a day, and 7s. a day is considered a very high wage. It is paid only to really capable men, men who are regular artisans. The municipal councils pay honest, hardworking men 5s. a day. That is all they get for the support of their wives and families. It would not keep my household in one item of food - meat. God help the poor people who have to pay rent, to decently clothe and feed their wives, children, and themselves, and to obtain the necessaries of life with a miserable 30s. a week. The present Leader of the Opposition two years ago asked the Premier of Tasmania to come into line with the other States, and get certain industrial legislation passed. No attempt has been made to do that. Conservative Governments will not bring Tasmania into line with the other States. They are hanging back, as they have done for the last fiftysix years, and are indifferent to the people’s wants. Let me read from the Royal Commission’s findings to show how the workers of Tasmania are treated where there is no legislation to assist them. If a man or woman asks for an increase of wages, he is passed out, -because there are poor, hungry individuals waiting for the places to become vacant.
– They should go over to the West.
– A good many of them have gone to the West, and to other States. The young men of Tasmania are leaving because they can get better conditions elsewhere, and the State is left with the old men, women, and children. That is happening because we have no industrial laws to give the people their rights. On page 4 of their report, the Commissioners deal with the baking trade. They say -
In this industry we find that the following rates of payment made to the undermentioned employes are inadequate for the services rendered : - Clerk, aged 25 years, 4^ years’ service, 25s. per week ; biscuit baker, aged 22 years, 8 years’ service, 30s. per week; general hand, aged 26, 2 years’ service, ns. per week; packer, aged 22, in his fifth year of service, 20s. a week ; general hand, almost 18, just on 3 years’ service, 9s. per week.
They say further -
In the bootmaking trade we find that rates of payment made to several of those employed are very low, a finisher, with 8 years’ experience, receiving only 22s. 6d. per week, whilst a bootmaker engaged on children’s boots receives 24s. 6d. per week ; putter-up, 9 years’ experience, 30s. per week ; bootmaker, 12 years at the trade, 32s. 6d. ; another, 13 years at the trade, 29s. A packer, 28 years of age, receives 22s. 6d. per week.
On page 6, the Commissioners speak of the conditions in regard to Government clothing contracts -
A female operative that was examined, who is employed in the manufacture of clothing by the Government contractor, is paid the following rates for the various classes of garments she turns out : - Trousers of a dark-bluey material, 7£d. per pair; cadet trousers, gd. per pair. This operative can earn at those rates, on the average, 10s. a week. The garments are cut out before being sent to the worker. The trousers for - the post-office and railway employes are made on piece work, and paid is. fid. and is. 3d. respectively. The females engaged thereon earn on the average 10s. to 11s. per week.
That is the remuneration for work for the Commonwealth service. The women of Tasmania are earning us. per week in making clothes for the servants of this Government. Is it not time that we took industrial matters in hand? -
In one work-room the girls are taken on as learners, and work up to six months without pay.
That is the way in which the State arid the Commonwealth contractors are treating employes in Tasmania. Dealing with coffee palaces and cafes, the Commissioners say -
There were two of these places of business visited, where it was found that the pay to the employes varies from 8s. to 15s. per week and board for housemaids and waitresses; kitchenmaid, 14s. ; second cook, 20s., £2, and £2 5s. Cashiers and clerks are paid 10s. a week to 12s. In one establishment the higher rate is paid during the summer, which lasts about four months. The hours worked weekly range from 79 to 83 for waitresses and housemaids. The porters receive from 173. 6d. to 22s. 6d. per week.
As to corporation employes, the report says -
We find that the rate of wage paid (.0 labourer in the employ of the. Hobart City Council are very low - 5s., 5s. 3d., 5s. 6d., 5s. gd. per day - being, in our opinion, insufficient to decently house and maintain a family.
Fancy language like that from a Royal Commission. The men who work for these wages have to pay from 8s. to 10s. and 12s. per week for house rent. Not one of them dare murmur, because the city of Hobart is in such a poor way, and every other place in Tasmania is in a similar condition. They have to take these rates or starve. The Commission was appointed because a Labour member in the State House stated that these conditions existed.
– Yet nothing has been done.
– -The Government has not attempted to pass legislation to deal with these poor people since the report was tabled. Yet we have their champions on the other side of the House saying that the State Governments have done their duty and are quite capable of looking after the wants of the people of the States. Yet if a man dare open his mouth in regard to the way in which he has to live, he is not wanted. He must take what is offered to him, or starve. That is the condition of affairs in Tasmania. The report regarding the Hobart Council’s Cartage Contractors is astounding. It concludes as follows : -
The low rate at which the Hobart Corporation cartage contracts are let renders it impossible for the contractor, who receives 6s. 6d. and 7s. 6d. a day for horse, cart, and driver, to pay a fair wage to those engaged as drivers; married men with families receiving 20s. and 23s. per week in this capacity.
Does the honorable member for Swan want any further evidence? Does he still say that the State Governments in the past have carried out the duties intrusted to them, and that there is no need for the people to come to this Parliament for relief?
– The honorable member should not misquote what I said.
– The honorable member said that the State Governments have done their duty in the past, and were quite capable of carrying out the legislation required. As a matter of fact, they have failed to do so. With regard to dressmaking, the report states -
Five establishments that carry on dressmaking as one of the branches of their business were investigated. The system of employing gratuitous labour for apprentices was found to be generally adopted, ranging from one month to six months, without any payment being tendered for services rendered.
These children gave six months of their labour free to those blood-sucking capitalists. Simply because he has a business, a man in that State can take the flesh and bone and sinew of his neighbour’s children, and say, “ You must work for me for six months for nothing.” These are rich men who own retail shops in the city. Any of them can take his motor car at night, drive out to his suburb, smoke the best cigars and drink the best champagne, go to every theatre, and take a floating palace to London every year. Yet they tell the poor that their children have to work for them for six months for nothing before they can be taken on as regular hands. Is that right or fair? Why should any man who has brought up his children decently be forced to let them work for nothing for a fellow citizen living under the same State laws? Those are absolute and positive truths, undeniable facts, and honorable members opposite must be aware that these things exist -
At the expiration of the period of probation a wage is paid of from is. 6d. to 2s. 6d. per week.
After six months’ service these decent young girls, who leave their parents’ homes in the morning with pure and innocent hearts, are taken on by these capitalists at a wage of from is. 6d. to 2s. 6d. per week for doing work which is worth to their employers probably £1 or £z a week. What a wonderful country we live in - this democratic Commonwealth that has a turnover of ^265, 000,000 each year, and in which a portion of its 4,500,000 people are treated in that way.
In some cases the girls are called upon to return of an evening, in order to make up time lost through public holidays. The wages of juniors, improvers, and senior hands range up to 35s. a week. The hours worked average from 44 to 48 per week. Sick pay is discretionary with the employers. Three private dressmaking establishments were visited, and the evidence showed that in two of them apprentices were taken for one and three months without wages ; then they were paid from 2s. to 2s. 6d. per week. In the other case, is. per week was paid as wages from the start. Payments to employes vary from 2s. 6d. to ’25s. per week. The hours worked vary from 44 to 47 per week. Absence through holidays and sickness is not paid for.
Wonderful country ! Beautiful State Governments ! I come now to Launceston -
In Launceston, there were five establishments visited at which dressmaking was an adjunct of the business. In one it was found that apprentices were paid 2s. 6d. at the beginning of their employment; in the others, the period of service for which no payment was made varied from a fortnight to six months.
One evening in Hobart a young lady called my attention to a dress in a shop window. She said she was paid 2s. 3d. for making it, and the material in it cost 9s. or 10s. The sale price of the dress was 15s. That shows the way the workers are sweated. Regarding the flour mills, the report says -
The system of dividing 24 hours into two shifts of 12 hours by millers and engine-drivers appears to us unnecessary and objectionable, considering the nature and responsibility of the work engaged in, and we are also of the opinion that this work should be carried out by three shifts of 8 hours.
Fancy, in the flour mills of Tasmania men working two shifts of twelve hours each at responsible work of that kind. Yet the honorable member for Swan champions the State Parliaments for the way in which they have carried out their duties in the past. He said that any industrial laws that were necessary were always given to the people in the States. The honorable member for Wilmot knows that it is an absolute fact that there is not one atom of industrial legislation on the statute-book of Tasmania.
– The Lower House has sent up proposals for Wages Boards before now.
-And the property House - the Dead House - has kicked them out. In the jam factories, according to the same report -
We find that the wages paid in branches of this industry are altogether inadequate, several adult labourers receiving 4s. and 4s. 2d., fireman 3s. 8d., solderer 3s. 4d. per day ; girls of 16 years of age, 8s. per week; girls of 17 years of age, gs. per week; girls of 18 years Df age, 10s. per week ; girls of 19 year’s of age, 12s. per week, and girls of 20 years of age. 10s. per week.
It is also our opinion that females should not be called upon to work more than 46 hours per week; more especially when it is considered that many of them found it absolutely necessary to remain standing during the whole period they are employed.
– Are not wages better now than when the Commission reported ?
– No. There is a strike going on at present in Launceston. In the contract for laying down the Launceston municipal tram lines, the workers, who have to . use a double-ended pick and a shovel all day breaking up the hard macadamized road, are paid 6s. a day for eight hours’ work. When they struck, the excuse put forward by the employers was that when they tendered for the work they were prepared to give whatever the Government or municipal rate of wages was. It is simply because the Government of Tasmania are starving the people of the State that the private .employers follow suit. That is one of the State Governments which are held up to the House as such patterns. The report further states -
At the laundry visited, in Launceston, the female hands are paid from 8s. to 15s. per week; the carter, £2; assistant carter, £1 ; forewoman, 22s. 6d. The hours average 54 per week. Overtime is paid for at the rate of 4d. per hour for those receiving under 10s. a week, and over that amount 6d. per hour. During the summer months some of the girls return to work on Sunday for 4 hours, for which they receive 2s.
The rates of payment paid to females following this unhealthy occupation are inadequate, in consideration of the number of hours worked, which, in our opinion, should not exceed 46 per week. The nature of their employment requires them to be standing for the whole time they are at work. Sunday work, which is unnecessary, should be abolished.
At Launceston, the pay for painters in the establishment visited ranges from 5s. to ys. 6d. a day ; signwriters, 8s. to gs. a day. Boys start at 5s. a week. The hours are the same as those worked at Hobart, and all time lost is stopped.
We find that the rates of wages prevailing in this trade are insufficient remuneration to competent tradesmen, considering the skill required and the character and responsibility attaching to their particular calling.
From the evidence obtained from those employed on the river steamers of Hobart it was ascertained that the firemen received 15s. to 30s. per week ; deck hands, 10s. to 20s. ; pursers, 20s. to 25s. ; stewards, 20s. to 23s. ; cook, 15s. ; mates, 15s. to 30s. per week. The hands are all supplied with their board and lodging.
Office hands receive 8s. to £2 per week. The hours of the firemen are usually about 72 during the ordinary season, but when the Sunday excursions are run, the hours average 84, without any extra pay. The deck hands work 62 to 70 hours per week ; stewards and pursers, 54 ; mates, 50 to 60 hours per week ; neither holidays nor absence through sickness is paid for.
In Hobart, we find that the rates of payment made to officers and general hands are very low in proportion to the long hours worked weekly and the nature of their occupation. The practice of exacting service from employes on Sunday, without remuneration, is most reprehensible, and, whether running Sunday excursions or engaged in the ordinary channel trade, consideration should be given to those that render service whenever Sunday work becomes necessary.
These capitalistic steam-ship companies of Hobart, some of which are very wealthy, pay their men 15s. a week and expect them to work on Sunday for nothing in order to take pleasure-seekers about. The Commission pointed out specially that that was unfair, but nothing has been done. I come now to the shirt manufacturers, and this comment on the shirt industry is the most striking in the whole report -
Piece-workers who are engaged in the manufacture of under-flannels and blueys are paid at rates that render it extremely arduous for operatives to earn a livelihood. It has been learnt that 2d. is paid for making a flannel and7½d. for completing a bluey -
I suppose honorable members know what a “ bluey “ is. It is of material almost as heavy as a blanket, and it is used for overcoats by men in the wet portions of Tasmania. Just fancy a woman having to press a needle and thread through a “ bluey,” and complete the garment for 7½d. !- from cutting it out and finding the necessary thread, and that necessarily very long hours have to be worked in order for those engaged in their manufacture to obtain a living.
As to tailoring, the report says -
In this trade the making of trousers and vests is almost entirely in the hands of female operatives. The log prices for making sac coats vary considerably, as low as 7s. being paid to female workers. In one establishment visited two logs were kept, the female workers’ log prices being about one-half that of the male workers’ log prices.
If a woman can turn out a coat in an establishment she should receive the same remuneration as a man, but, as a matter of fact, the employers take advantage of the weaker sex. I protest against such treatment from the floor of this House, and if this Parliament is intrusted with the power which it seeks, it will be no more than it has a right to expect from the people, considering that such conditions as those to which I have referred can be found to-day in a State of this Commonwealth.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, stand part of Bill- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 14
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 5 -
Section fifty-one of the Constitution is altered by adding at the end thereof the following paragraph : - “ (xl.) Combinations and monopolies in relation to the production, manufacture, or supply of goods or services.”
– I hope that, as far as possible, discussion on this clause will be curtailed, in view of the fact that opportunity will be afforded, under the Monopolies Bill, of practically traversing the same ground. It has only to be observed that this clause is supplementary to the trade and commerce and corporation clauses. Whereas the trade and commerce clause deals with the sale of commodities and articles of various kinds, and the corporations clause with the power of corporate bodies and trading companies generally, the present clause relates to the production, manufacture, or supply of goods. The clause gives Parliament the power to make laws in respect of all those phases in which goods appear and reappear from the moment of production to the moment of consumption; it follows the production, the sale, the manufacture, and the ultimate disposal of them, both from the side of the producer and from the side of the consumer. It is proposed by the honorable member for Angas to substitute an amendment, so as to make theclause apply to combinations and monopolies in restraint of trade. It is necessary to deal with the production, manufacture, and supply of goods, because the trade and commerce power as well as that dealing with corporations are not sufficient.In the case of the sugar industry, for instance, it is of no use controlling the sale if we cannot control the manufacture - we must have control over the whole. These powers will be exercised by the Parliament elected, most probably, after the referendum, and consequently elected by people who are thoroughly well aware of the powers which will exist, and who will exact from their representatives a pledge of how far they propose to go.
– The Government, therefore, will not endeavour to exercise any of those powers during this Parliament.
– I do not say that at all. We are pledged to introduce the new Protection in this Parliament, and we shall do so if we get an affirmative reply to the referendum. We are pledged to give a reasonable wage to every person in the Commonwealth, so far as legislation can do so. I do not say what else we shall do, because time is obviously the essence of the contract, but I do sincerely hope there will not be many more sessions like the present one. I do not suppose that any honorable member desires another, but, having regard to what we have promised to do, we are perfectly justified in doing this very necessary work this session. I wish only to point out to honorable members and to the community that we do not propose to exhaust the possibilities of these amendments in this Parliament, and that the people will have ample opportunities to exact from their representatives a pledge as to how far they are prepared to go. In view of the present methods of production in this country, as well as in every other land, it is absolutely necessary that we should have power to deal wilh combinations and monopolies.
.-I think that the shortest way to test the feeling of the Committee on this question is to be secured , by moving to omit the word “ relation “ in lines 4 and 5. I do not care much whether the word “ trust ‘ ‘ is inserted or not. I think it better that it should be, but since the Attorney-General takes a different view, I shall not press my proposal in that regard. I believe that our power to deal with trusts is contained in an earlier clause. In order as far as possible to meet the Attorney-General, I suggest that the proposed new paragraph should read as follows -
Combines and monopolies in restraint of trade, commerce, or manufacture, in any, part of a State of the Commonwealth.
If a combination is not in restraint of trade we ought not to touch it. All the laws in relation to monopolies and combinations are based purely on restraint of trade. The question was considered in the English shipping case dealt with in r892, when it was held that there are combinations which, not being detrimental to the public, and not being in restraint of trade, ought to be beyond the law of unlawful conspiracy.
– What is the meaning of “restraint of trade “ ?
-I could not explain, nor possibly could the honorable member apprehend, the meaning without breaking the rule of economy which has been prescribed bv the Attorney-General. As the clause stands, power will be taken to suppress any combination, irrespective of whether it is or is not in restraint of trade. The trade and commerce part of the Bill is independent of this provision. I move -
That the word “ relation,” lines 4 and 5, be left out.
Question - That the word proposed to be left out stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 13
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Preamble and title agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report, by leave, adopted.
Mr. FRAZER laid upon the table the following paper : -
Defence- Commonwealth Military Cadet Corps - Report of the Director-General for year ending 30th June,1910.
Ordered to be printed.
Accountant, Post and Telegraph Department - Accommodation for Warships - Markers’ Strike at Williamstown.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Mr. J. H. CATTS (Cook) [10.41).- I desire to ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General if he will be good enough to lay upon the table of the House the papers relating to the appointment of an Accountant in the Post and Telegraph Department ?
– The honorable member for Cook will realize that, although I am acting for the Postmaster-General, inasmuch as I answer questions relating to his Department, I have no direct official connexion with the Department, and cannot make a definite statement in reply to his inquiry. I will, however, submit his request to the Postmaster-General. Personally, I see no reason why the papers should not be laid upon the table of the Library. I trust that the request will be complied with.
.-I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence a question with reference to a promise made last week to lay upon the table of the Library the correspondence and report in connexion with the accommodation at Williamstown, Brisbane, and Sydney of the warships which are shortly to arrive in Australia ? The papers have not yet been laid upon the table of the Library, although they were promised a week ago.
.- Has the Minister representing the Minister of Defence received from the military authorities a report relating to the instruction given to members of the Permanent Artillery to take the places of the markers who went on strike at the Williamstown Rifle Range?
– In reply to the honorable member for Illawarra, I have to say that the papers to which he refers were in my possession last week. They were returned by me to the Minister of Defence. I assure the honorable member, however, that there will be no difficulty in getting them back; and I will see that they are obtained.
– To-morrow ?
– Yes ; I do not see any difficulty about obtaining the papers tomorrow. In reply to the honorable member for Adelaide, I have to state that the report of the Inspector-General relating to the Williamstown incident has been received by the Minister of Defence, who is now considering it. I hope to be in a position to make a statement in reference to the matter, on behalf of the Minister, tomorrow.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 October 1910, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1910/19101027_reps_4_58/>.