4th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m.. and read prayers.
– When the Prime Minister was delivering his Budget speech last night! failing to notice, although I was following him closely, that he had ceased from speaking in regard to the Northern Territory and was dealing with matters affecting Papua, I interjected, “ When are you going to send a live man up there?” meaning the Northern Territory, but, of course, as reported the interjection seems to refer to Papua. Any imputation I might make in regard to the administration of Papua would be as unjust as it would be ungenerous. I knew the Administrator for some time previous to his appointment, of which I cordially approved, and which his work has fully justified. I have not had the pleasure of meeting the LieutenantGovernor, but his popularity, and the esteem in which he is held, give the most complete and emphatic contradiction to any reflection on his administration. I desire to unequivocally deny any intention of reflecting on the administration of Papua. Further, I thank the Prime Minister for the offer of the post, which lie made so publicly, and which I as publicly decline, with thanks, although I feel highly honoured by the offer, inasmuch as this is the first occasion upon which a member of this party has had an offer of anything like a decent billet from the Labour Government.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs noticed the following statement in this morning’s newspaper : - DEAR FOOD IN GERMANY. MINISTER os Frozen Meat.
Berlin, 26th October. The debate on the subject of dear food was continued in the Reichstag yesterday.
Herr Delbrueck, Minister for the Interior, said the importation of Argentine cattle into Germany would not be permitted owing to the danger of Texas fever being introduced into the country. Frozen meat, he remarked, had gained a certain footing in Great Britain, but the people endeavoured to avoid it. Great Britain during the Boer war suffered badly owing to the inferiority of tinned meats.
Seeing that our export trade’ in meat is likely to develop materially, and that we hope to do business largely with Germany, as well as with France, will the Minister cause a report to be forwarded to the German and French Governments regarding the manner in which meat exported from Australia is examined prior to export?
– I had not read the paragraph until the honorable member brought it under my notice. I shall see that the High Commissioner is notified, and that the steps necessary to do what the honorable member suggests are taken.
– Following on a question some time ago by the honorable member for Maribyrnong as to markets for our frozen meat and butter in Germany, I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he is aware that under the contract between the German Government and the Norddeutscher-LIoyd line of steamers, that company is prevented from carrying any such produce from Australia to Germany. And, if this be so, will the Minister endeavour to take steps to have the contract so modified that we may have the benefit of the German market?
– I cannot say whether or not there is such a clause in the contract under which the subsidy is granted by the German Government. I remember that, some years ago, when I took part in a Royal Commission on the mail service, I understood that there was such a condition, but, in any case, it is a matter for the German Government alone. If that Government chose to grant a subsidy under the terms indicated, I cannot see that we have any right, even by inference, to interfere.
Lapsing of Motions
– May I ask, Mr. Speaker, why the notice of motion regarding the appointment of a Commission to inquire into the Sugar Commission, which I moved, is not now on the notice-paper?
– The honorable member was good enough to inform me this morning that he would ask this question, and I am glad to have an opportunity to explain the position. Before I became Speaker, motions on which discussion was continued until the time allowed for it under the Sessional Orders had expired, dropped off the business-paper, but as- prior to my election I had held that to be an unfair way of treating them, because it is not right that perhaps one member should be able, by talking a motion out, to defeat a proposal of which the House is in favour, I took it on myself, on becoming Speaker, to alter the practice, and allowed motions whose discussion continued up to the time when, under the Sessional Order other business had to be called on, to go to the bottom of the notice-paper. Yesterday, however, at 26 minutes past 4, when the honorable member’s motion was called on for discussion, the honorable member for Lang moved, in his absence, that its consideration be postponed until that day week. That motion was negatived, the House deciding by a majority that it should not be postponed until that day week. When the division had been taken, it was 32 or 33 minutes past 4, and past the time fixed by the Sessional Order for the calling on of other business. Therefore, no further discussion regarding the motion could take place, and I was in this awkward position, that there was nowhere to put it. I thought, therefore, that the safest course to follow was to allow it to drop off the business-paper.
– Can it be restored ?
– The honorable member can give notice with the object of restoring it for any day he pleases.
– Then I do so.
– I wish to know from the Minister representing the Minister of Trade and Customs if the report of the Royal Commission on the iron industry at Lithgow has been received, and, if so, whether a copy will be given to each honorable member ?
– I shall cause the question to be communicated to my honorable colleagues.
– Has the attention of the Minister of External Affairs been called to a statement sent to each member this morning in which occurs a list of twenty-six private wireless telegraph stations in Australia, and is the honorable gentleman aware that these stations have all been erected and equipped since we voted money for two Commonwealth stations ?
– I have not seen the statement, but there may be twenty-six, and even thirty-six, stations in various parts of Australia equipped under experimental licences. The honorable member, if he visits Pennant Hills, will see that there is no comparison between any of these experimental stations and the Commonwealth stations.
– Hear, hear. The experimental stations are working, but the Commonwealth stations are not.
– The experimental stations allow communications to be transmitted over a distance of from 250 to 500 miles at the most, while the Pennant Hills station will have a range of 4,000 miles, it being one of the largest in the world. There is no comparison between an experimental station and those we are building for commercial purposes.
– I wish to ask a question on the subject, to which, perhaps, the Postmaster-General will give an answer on Tuesday. In the specifications for tenders for the supply of wireless telegraph installations, installations capable of supplying a service over 1,250 miles radially “ under all conditions “ are asked for. Will the installations be tested “ under all conditions,” or under normal conditions ? I suggest for the Minister’s consideration that some tenderers may have been influenced by the use of the words “ under all conditions “ to make provision for a plant very much more effective and costly thanwould be required for a normal service over 1,250 miles radially.
– The practice is to give notice of questions asking for information on some future date.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question with reference to a statement which he made last night, and which, to my mind, was not quite clear. The right honorable gentleman spoke of inaugurating a new policy in regard to immigration only, as I understood him, after the erection of new premises for the housing of the High Commissioner in London. I should now like to know if he wishes to convey to the country that nothing in the direction of encouraging immigration will be done until the offices have been erected and are in working order ?
– My statement was quite clear and direct. I said that, in my opinion, the first essential to making the work of the High Commissioner and of the States’ representatives in London efficient is the erection of a suitable building for them. As regards immigration, the same policy will be pursued as in the past. We shall advertise the Commonwealth, and make the facts regarding it known in every country ; and, by legislation and administration, make this continent worth coming to.
– In which Government Department does the responsibility of seeing that penalties incurred in connexion with the failure of contractors to observe the terms of their contracts are enforced ? There must be some Department charged with the responsibility, and I should like to know whether it lies with the Department of Home Affairs, or with the Department which happens to have credited to it the money on the Estimates?
– This is a most unusual question, but the answer to all such is that, in the ultimate, the Attorney-General must determine when a breach of contract has taken place. It is for the Department which has entered into a contract to discover whether the terms have been adhered to, and for the Attorney-General to advise whether there is a legal breach.
– Does the Treasurer propose to make any provision by appropriation in regard to the Trust Funds? The practice now is that money is placed to the Trust Funds, and, under some general appropriation, probably made by Parliament years ago, taken out as required. Does the Treasurer think that is a wise course? In every country, and certainly in every State, the custom has always been, when even loan money is required - and trust moneys are in the same position - to have an annual estimate of proposed expenditure and annual appropriation. I notice that that practice has not been followed here.
– I must ask the honorable member to confine himself to the question.
– If the right honorable gentleman will look into the matter, he will see that, in view of the multitude of operations, it is necessary that we should have an annual appropriation of the Trust Funds as required. The Estimates are very confusing in this respect.
– Order ! The honorable gentleman must confine himself to a question.
– I only desire to explain exactly what I mean. Will the Prime Minister look into the matter, and see whether he thinks annual estimates and annual appropriations by Parliament in respect of all Loan and Trust Funds should be made obligatory?
– I am not at all sure whether the present is the best practice, but probably I have fallen into the error of my predecessors. In any case, I shall be glad to have an examination of the position. I do not think that Parliament in any way loses control by the present practice, but the idea has occurred to me that it is very difficult to get a straightforward statement of the position. It is, however, a merely technical matter, and I shall be very glad to have inquiry made.
– I shall ask the question on Tuesday or Wednesday next, so that it may be seen exactly what I mean.
– Wait until the discussion of the Estimates.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
Customs. The land not required for this purpose is to provide for the future requirements of the Commonwealth. 2 and 3. No sketch plan has been prepared, but a design for the subdivision of the land will shortly be decided on.
asked the Minister of Home Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
The official statement relating to each of the proposed laws was advertised in the country press through the New South Wales Country Press Co-operative Company, a du4y constituted and registered organization, authorized to act on behalf of the newspapers concerned. The same course was followed through the Victorian Country Press Association.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
Whether he will cause inquiries to be made and official reports obtained respecting the practicability and advisability of introducing, in connexion with the Commonwealth Telegraph. Department, the following instruments, said to embody the latest improvements in telegraphy : -
– Full inquiry has al-‘ ready been made on each of the several points referred to, and official reports obtained thereon. At the present time inquiries are current as to which of the various recent forms of automatic telegraph instruments are best suited to the Australian conditions. No unnecessary delay will take place in the introduction of the system when a decision has been arrived at.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 26th October, vide page 1823) :
Clause 1 agreed to. Clause 2 -
Section four of the Principal Act is amended by omitting from the definition of “ Industrial dispute,” the words, “ arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employes on the other part.”
.- This* clause, of course, raises rather a fundamental question of policy, for we are now, it seems, rendering organization optional on the part of employes, and striking at what we regarded as really essential to effect the presentation of disputes for the adjudication of the Court. Section 2, sub-section 6, of the original Act very properly laysdown, as one of the chief objects, the facilitating and encouraging of the organization of representative bodies of employers and employes, and the submission of industrial disputes to the Court by organizations. Further, in section 19, which provides for the submission of disputes to the Court, it is provided that no dispute shall be submitted by employes except through their representative organization j and it is somewhat significant that there is no provision in the Bill for the submission of a dispute by an employer or employers to the Court, the apparent object being, as section 2, sub-section 6, indicates, to induce organization on the part of employers. The position seems to be that no dispute can be submitted by workmen unless through their organizations, and no dispute can be submitted by an employer to the Court, though if employers chose to organize, of course a dispute may be submitted. This is not expressly declared right through the Act, but there are several sections which seem to indicate this as the policy.
– How can workmen, as such, approach the Court, except by the aid of some machinery or organization?
– No doubt they cannot do it effectively, but we are now providing that they need not be organized for the purpose of presenting a dispute to the Court. I understand that the Australian Workers Union - I do not mention it with a desire to impugn its organization in any way - is partly political in its objects, and that it is only in a somewhat attenuated sense that one can call it an industrial organization. If I mistake not, when its case came before the Arbitration Court of New South Wales a few years ago, some question arose between it and another body, known as the Machine Shearers Union, as to whether the Australian Workers Union could be regarded as an industrial organization within the meaning of the law, and I think that Mr. Cruickshank, who was adjudicating in the matter, called attention to the fact that the Australian Workers Union had very large political objects. He thought that the policy of the Legislature authorized it to be an industrial union, but he seemed to doubt the wisdom of such a policy, owing to the extensive membership of the union implying coercion upon the judgment of its members.
– That could not apply here, because we have expressly taken out of the original Act all reference to those limitations imposed upon organizations with political objects.
– That really removes a safeguard against the evils of which I complain. I do not lay very much stress upon the fact that we may have political as well as industrial objects connected with one association, because the members, after all, are free to exercise their choice. But the point I wish to make is that it may be that an organization is essentially largely political rather than industrial, and that what one might cali its effectiveness for industrial purposes will be weakened in proportion to the extent to which it is devoted to political purposes.
– That is not the case with the Australian Workers Union.
– I said that I did not wish to impugn the basis of that organization. No doubt it has done a great deal of good in presenting the case for what is, to a great extent, disorganized and rather unskilled labour. I believe it relates par ticularly to bush hands, and a question might arise as to whether these are industrial hands in the sense of belonging to a clearly defined industry.
– The members of that union are engaged principally in pastoral pursuits.
– They are engaged in an industry, but their labour is unskilled, and a pretty extensive organization is required, owing to the fact that the bulk of these workmen, for whose position we have the greatest solicitude, are unskilled.
– There is no such thing as unskilled labour.
– Mr. Justice Higgins recognises that there is a difference.
– Does not the Federal Court recognise the Australian Workers Union as an industrial union ?
– Undoubtedly ; and it must present the case of the shearing hands. The point I am taking is that if we do not insist’ upon organization, a body of men may come together upon some political rather than industrial basis, and will be able under the amendment of the principal Act to present a case to the Court, although, perhaps, 99 per cent, of the objects of the association are purely political. I do not think we ought to destroy organization as a necessity ; my view is that we ought to encourage it by every means. If we had the power, I should go the length of compelling organization on the part of the employers as well as of the employed. I freely acknowledge that our present arbitration, laws are not as effective as we desire them to be. The reason for this is, I think, that we have misinterpreted the scope of the arbitration power; and that when we desired to .have a common rule applied to the whole industry we were really exercising the legislative functions of the High Court. It is desirable, however, if we can accomplish it, to bind all employers and employes in a well-defined industry. For instance, if we could induce all the employers in the coal-mining industry to be bound together by an organization, as well as all the employe’s, I would also compel those who were non-unionists to come in. The non-unionists receive the incidental benefits of every award, in obtaining which there is often much sacrifice. It should really be our object to see that, where we are adopting arbitration as a method of settling industrial disputes, that method is made effective within the limits of our power. I doubt if we could compel organization except by inducement.
– If the honorable member will move an amendment compelling the employers to organize, I will vote for it.
– I do not want to endanger the validity of the AttorneyGeneral’s amendment. If we introduced a provision requiring all employers to organize, and followed up that provision with what is really the essence of the object in view by requiring that all employers and employes in an industry should be bound by an award, I do not know whether such an amendment would be valid. I believe, however, that there are members of the Opposition who desire to secure what would be something approaching a common rule by such a re-arrangement of our legislation as would enable an award of the Court to bind the employers in a clearly -denned industry, such as mining.
– Would the honorable member compel both sides to register under the Act?
– I do not think much is to be gained by compelling the employers to register. The register is simply an indication of what organization is to be regarded as representative of the industry affected. There might be two organizations connected with an industry. The register would merely show which of those bodies properly represented labour for the purposes of the presentation of a dispute to the Court. Registration of an organization of employers is unnecessary, because we can always identify a particular employer affected. If we went further and declared that on registration all members of the organization should be bound, whether they were parties to the dispute or not, and if we could get all concerned into such an organization, I think registration would be necessary
– Could that be done under the Constitution?
– I doubt it. I am simply throwing out a few suggestions as to what would render arbitration possible, in the direction of something approaching a common rule, without taking over the whole industrial power. My point is that the Government are reducing the inducements on a voluntary basis for employers to organize, and also impairing the effectiveness of presenting a dispute by declaring that employes need not organize. In the case of a dispute affecting half those engaged in a wide industry, there would be nothing to prevent the non-unionists presenting a case to the Court although the members of the organization of labour relating to the industry might not wish to go on. They might have settled the dispute by some industrial agreement. Because they were organized, they would be subject to penalties if they broke through such an agreement or did anything in the nature of a strike. But we might have a body of men who have never taken upon their shoulders any of the responsibilities incidental to securing an industrial agreement. They might be discontented for some reason or other with the terms accepted by the organization, and they could present a dispute to the Court. We should have in the same industry parties who were bound and parties who were not.
– But the latter would hardly be heard if there was a large organization.
– If there was an industrial dispute, the Court would be judicially bound to hear it. Assuming that half the labour in a particular industry were organized and half unorganized, then, under this amendment, we might have the organized labour taking one view, and the disorganized labour taking another. Another point is that the only means of enforcing an award as against labour at present is through organization. I could show that by reference to several sections of the principal Act. Right through the Act organization is regarded as an excellent method of putting the demands of labour in a particular industry before the Court, and my fear is that by taking away the inducements to organize we shall impair the efficiency of the law. The English Labour Commission, in 1894, presented a very extensive report on the conditions of labour, in which it recommended the organization of employers and employes for bringing about industrial peace. In paragraph 66 of their report we have the following statement : -
We have considered it to be our main object, so far as relates to these associations, whether of employers or employed, and their larger development in the shape of federations of associations, to inquire to what extent their existence or absence, strength or weakness, in various trades and occupations have affected, for good or evil, the relations between employers and employed, and are a causeof, or obstacle to, conflicts between the classes. If, and in so far as in the result of this inquiry it should appear that the increase of strength and organization in these industrial bodies tends, on the whole (in spite of occasional conflicts of great magnitude), towards the establishment of a kind of industrial peace higher than that which has previously prevailed,. this would be a reason, subject to the consideration of the effects of such increase of strength upon the general interests of the community, for favouring any legislation which should offer to those organizations a better legal basis than they already possess.
There we find the English Commission, appointed to inquire into the conditions of labour and what would conduce towards industrial peace, recommending organization, the only qualification being that, when the organization becomes too widespread by disregarding particular industries, there may be too great pressure brought to bear upon some members, or upon the community at large. In the subsequent amendments proposed by the Attorney-General we are widening the scope of these organizations in a way to which one may direct criticism subsequently. I do not want to propose an amendment, but must express regret that we are departing from what was declared in 1904 to be the very essence of the presentation of disputes to the Court. It is not necessary to the presentation of a dispute to the Court that there must be organization on the part of the employers, so long as it is not presented by the employes. The registrar may certify that there is an industrial dispute, or an industrial dispute may be referred by a State authority to the Court without there being an organization. That, I think, rather strengthens my argument. The Act is symmetrical at present, and by these amendments we are removing inducements to effective organization.
– - I agree, in the main, with the statement of the case by the honorable member for Angas, but, at the same time, should like to restate my objections to the proposed amendments of the Act in my own. words and in my own way. In viewing these proposals of the Government, we ought lo be guided by two groups of considerations. The first is, whether the proposed new scheme of registration and organization aimed at by this amending Bill would be expedient, wise, just, or prudent, and whether it would tend to effectuate the main object of the arbitration scheme embodied in the principal Act. The second consideration is whether, even if the Bill were passed by Parliament, it would be within the scope of the Federal power. I submit that the proposed amendments of organization and registration would not be wise, effective, or prudent. The main object of the scheme of arbitration embodied in the principal Act is the settlement of industrial disputes, and the maintenance and preservation of industrial peace, and not the manufacture 01 fomenting of disputes. The main object of this measure seems to be rather to extend and widen the possible area of disputes, to create fictitious and artificial disputes, rather than to settle real, substantial, tangible disputes as they arise in the ordinary course of industrial controversy and conflict. The scheme of arbitration as embodied in the principal Act prepared_by the late Mr. C. C. Kingston was, in its way, a “masterpiece of industrial legislation. Above all, it gave expression to the true spirit and principle of the interpretation of the Constitution. No doubt it was at the outset a serious and important problem to construe and give effect to the power conferred upon this Parliament, by paragraph xxxv. of section 51 of the Constitution, to settle industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration. There were certain clear and “distinct limitations to the Federal power in that paragraph’. The Attorney-General quoted specimens of State legislation with reference to the settlement of industrial disputes by conciliation and arbitration. Let me remind him that those hardly help us in determining the true lines and principles of Federal legislation, on the subject. The Federal power is distinctly limited, whereas the State power within State boundaries is practically unlimited. Therefore, samples of State legislation giving the State Courts power to deal wilh; all kinds of employment?, vocations, and crafts, have no application, and afford no real assistance or guide to us in keeping within the limits of the Federal power. What would be the use of any further legislation aimed at improving this machinery, if it facilitated and promoted industrial strife or controversies that could not be dealt with by the Federal tribunal which has been created ? It may be that this amended scheme, when adopted, will, on the face of it, appear to be within the exercise of the Federal power. I do not say that it will not, because it merely proposes to eliminate words of construction and interpretation from the principal Act, but the real difficulty will come later on. This amended scheme of registration and organization, if adopted, will be an encouragement and inducement to a large number of Labour organizations either to maintain their present form of general registration or to induce others to endeavour to secure registration, and the difficulty will arise when they come before the Court to enforce the settlement and determination of difficulties. I agree with the honorable member for Angas that, in order to effectuate this Federal authority, we must have some form of registration and some form of organization. It would be almost impossible to conceive of labour controversies coming before the Court to which mere private individuals were parlies. A private individual would hardly be able to conduct a great campaign, in this Court, lt would, therefore, appear that organization of some kind is necessary, but Mr. Kingston evidently found the keynote of that organization in the words - “ industrial disputes “ - of the Constitution itself. The first condition of any organization is that there must be an industrial dispute, and the second is that that industrial dispute must extend beyond the limits of one State in order to bring Federal jurisdiction into force and operation. An industrial dispute must connote, to use the term used by the Chief Justice in the enginedrivers’ case, at least two propositions. The first proposition is that there must be two parties to a dispute, and the second is that the dispute must have reference to some question of industry. I apprehend that those are fundamental propositions.
– Are those the exact words of the Chief Justice?
– I think they are his very words. According to the Argus Law Reports, page 289, he said -
I adhere to what I said in the Woodworkers Case, 15, A.L.I?., 381, on this point - “ The dispute must be single in the sense that there must be .1 substantial ‘community of interest amongst the demandants and amongst those who refuse the demand.”
That shows that there must be two parties to the dispute, a claimant or group of claimants on the one hand, and a combatant or contestant or group of combatants, contestants, or employers on the other.
– How could there be a dispute unless there were two parties?
– That is what I am contending. But this amended scheme contemplates a form of registration or organization in which there is to be, as it were, an army of men. engaged in a common craft, such as engine-driving, scattered all over Australia, asserting a claim, not against any particular employer, but against the world at large. That, I contend, would not be a dispute, to start with, within the meaning of the Act, because a dispute must be definite, concrete, and capable of being reduced to the shape or form of some issue which may be determined by the arbitration tribunal. To allow an army of men, organized or otherwise, representing forms of labour dissociated, separated, scattered all over the continent, to come into Court by a plaint, and say to the Judge, “ We want an increased rate of pay,” or “ We want an alteration of conditions,” would be to ask the Judge to do a thing which he is not authorized to do by the Act. It would be impossible to describe a mere general demand for increased pay or altered conditions as a dispute within the meaning of the Act, unless it were reduced to a controversy or dispute or conflict between a definite number of men, capable of ascertainment and determination, on the one side, and a definite number or group of employers, capable of ascertainment and determination, on the other, so that they may be brought before a Court. This scheme, however, contemplates the registration and organization of a number of men, not fighting to assert a community of interest or of rights, as against definite employers, but to assert a differentiation of rights. You may have one body of men claiming one rate of pay and one set of conditions, and others of the same class, in other parts of the Commonwealth, claiming different rates and conditions, their only common bond being the desire for an increase of pay, or some special improvement of conditions.
– The honorable member is setting up a bogy.
– That is the definite object aimed at. Apart from the unwisdom, inexpediency, and injustice of allowing such cases to be brought before the Arbitration Court, there is the objection that such a course raises the constitutional question whether the dispute would be within the jurisdiction of that Court. I do not wish to anticipate a subsequent amendment regarding the abolition of prohibition, but, even should it be carried, and the Arbitration Court determine that there was a dispute when in truth and reality there was not a dispute within the meaning of the Constitution, its decision would be open to review by the High Court on a motion for prohibition. I, therefore, join in the words of warning so clearly uttered by honorable members on this side.
– And on the other side.
– The honorable member for Cook’s objections to the proposal were not based on the same constitutional and economic grounds as ours. 1 would support any amendment which would improve the efficiency and usefulness of the Arbitration law,’ and tend towards industrial peace, but every amendment should be wise, just, and expedient, and within our constitutional powers. In the engine-drivers’ case the Chief Justice said that it would be inconvenient if all persons who employed, say, carpenters, were regarded as carrying on a common enterprise or industry, and so liable to be involved in one great law suit -
A good illustration is afforded by the present case, in which the award as proposed would extend to employes engaged in industries of all possible kinds, from drivers of locomotives or of winding engines on mines, to men in charge of small gas-engines used in industries in which Hie use of engine power is merely subsidiary, and to employes engaged in equally diverse industries.
The honorable member for Maranoa says that I am raising a bogy, but the enginedrivers’ case was an attempt to combine in one huge law-suit all the engine-drivers of Australia.
– That is what we want.
– There is no community of interest between all the enginedrivers of Australia. One man may be driving a high-power steam-engine, and another merely attending to a donkey-engine on a farm.
– There is no more difference than between the honorable member’s profession and the medical profession.
– The remuneration of lawyers and doctors could not be decided in the settlement of one dispute. What is contemplated would be unworkable. No Court could arrive at a satisfactory determination on such a multitude of conflicting duties, rights, and interests. Trie Court is to be asked to fix rates of pay and conditions, not for men doing the same class of work, but for men doing different classes of work in different industries.
– An award was given in the engine-drivers’ case.
– An award has also been given in regard to shearers and shed hands, who are employed all over Australia.
– Shearers and shed hands are all employed in the same industry, and remunerated by employers of the one class, whose profits all spring from the sale of wool. The pay of enginedrivers must be determined by the character of their work, the nature of their attainments and experience, and similar considerations. There is a great difference between an engine-driver in charge of mining machinery and a man in charge of a small engine in the country.__
– Does the honorable member say that the engine-drivers cannot be classified ?
– They should be classified according to industries. The scheme of the Act is that organization, must be based on industrial community. What is now proposed is the registration in one organization of men engaged in different kinds of work and in different industries. One group of engine-drivers might be working under conditions with which they were highly satisfied, being well paid and well treated. They would not desire to be brought before the Court, but, under the Bill, they could be dragged into litigation to fight some phantom employer. I discussed the engine-drivers’ case before I left for England, and could not see how their disputes could be legally or conveniently brought before the Court.
– The only difficulty was the legal one.
– The Chief Justice pointed out that there were legal and practical difficulties.
– The President of the Arbitration Court did not refer to any but legal difficulties.
– He is a great and esteemed official, but not the sole judge of what is convenient and practical.
– His views are as much to us as are those of the Chief Justice.
– The Chief Justice said in that case -
It seems to me impossible to deny that the employers and employes concerned in an industrial dispute must be engaged in the same industry as to affirm that every person who employs a carpenter or engine-driver is, in any relevant sense, engaged in the industry of carpentry or engine, driving.
My impression is that the engine-drivers’ case was practically faked up for the purpose of extending the jurisdiction of the Court, if possible, by evading the constitutional limitation regarding the extension of a dispute beyond the limits of a State. The Commonwealth power of arbitration is based on the condition that there must be a dispute in an industry in one State extending to another - in other words, the development of a dispute beginning in one State and extending to another.It is not the extension of an industry or calling from one State to another that gives our Court jurisdiction. If the President had made an award in the engine-drivers’ case-
– He did do so.
– That award was capable of being reviewed by the High Court, and whatever legislation we pass by omitting words of interpretation, construction, or definition, and thus going beyond the scope of the Constitution, will ultimately be upset on the ground of unconstitutionality.
– I again rise to express a hope that we may get along a little faster. The honorable member for Bendigo has very strongly emphasized his objections to this clause ; and as I listened to him, I realized for the first timethe dangers that beset the road we are treading. Unfortunately there is absolutely nothing the honorable member said that has any relevance to the question before the Committee. The honorable member who approached this question with his mind fresh and vigorous from long fallowing and ploughing in pleasant lands, was apparently quite unaware, until the honorable member for Maranoa told him, that an award had been made. He dealt with the question as if it were the introduction of a new and dangerous principle, whereas it is merely making certain that which is clearly implied in the Act, and was always understood to be enforced therein, so as to leave no room for doubt. I call the honorable member’s attention to section 4 of the Act of1904, in which is the definition of “industrial dispute” as it left the hands of the late Mr. Kingston, upon whom a very eloquent eulogy was delivered by my honorable friend. In that section “ industrial dispute “ is defined as a dispute
That was struck out later, but, at the time the Bill was first placed on the table it contained that clause, and in that shape it was passed into law. That Bill was introduced by the Government of which the honorable member for Bendigo was a follower and a supporter ; and it left in the hands ot one man - and that man not the Judge but the Registrar - to decide what an “industrial dispute” was, with all those terrible potentialities for danger that my honorable friend pointed out. For seven years this principle has been acted upon, and not the least shadow of these disasters has appeared. We are proposing the amendment of the Act because we desire to give the Court power to deal with all conceivable industrial disturbances, subject to the constitutional limitations which, as we know, usually arise between organizations of employes and employers. This the present Act does not do, for several reasons. It may happen for some reason or other that men do not organize. For instance, when there was a dispute among the wharf labourers in Sydney, some fifty men formed themselves into what they described as a union, and called themselves free labourers for the purpose of doing- the work on the wharfs. They were an organization merely for the purpose of defeating the unionists. Nothing is more likely than that the interference of such a body of men will create disturbance. Everybody knows that it is like a red rag to a bull when bodies of so-called free labourers claim the right of unionists. I am not saying whether that is sensible or expedient, but merely stating a fact. The proposed amendment of the Act is to make it perfectly clear tha’t the Court has jurisdiction to deal with such associations as with any other body.
As to everything else the honorable member for Bendigo said, we can discuss it when we are dealing with the proposed amendment of the Act to which it is relevant. It may be pointed out, however, that the honorable member for Angas took quite an opposite view to that of the honorable member for Bendigo, and desired that everybody should come into organizations, indeed, he even went so far as to suggest that all employers should be organized. Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to hear the honorable member move an amendment to that effect - nothing would give me greater pleasure than to ask every member in the Committee to vote for it. However, had the Government made such a proposal no protection or walls would have been strong enough to prevent the shafts of criticism piercing our unfortunate hides I am between Scylla and Charybdis - between the suggestion that we go too far, and the suggestion that we do not go far enough. I hope the Committee will accept the clause as it stands.
– - The Attorney-General has left out the qualification made by the honorable member for Angas, who spoke of clearly defined industries, and urged that if we could- get complete organization of employers and employes in an industry he would like to see it, so that an award might deal with all the parties concerned.
– We can discuss that point, under another clause
– The honorable member for Angas did not wish to discuss under this clause any question but that of organization : and he asked why it was proposed to strike out the words. According to the Act, “industrial dispute” means one extending beyond the limits of any one State, and arising between an employer or an organization of employers on the one part and an organization of employes .on the other part. What the honorable member for Angas said was that, by striking out these words proposed to be omitted, there seems to be a desire to discourage organization, while the whole scheme of the Act was directed to encourage the registration of organizations. There is an advantage in having an organization on each side, because the views of each can be crystallized and responsibility thrown on clearly defined bodies, and a distinct claim formulated The evidence and material on which the opinion is formed is accessible, and there is a record of the persons who can be bound by the award.
– These are all good reasons for preference to unionists?
– No, they are reasons for organization - there are quite other reasons when the object is political. The object of striking out the words seems to be to allow the vaguest kinds of association to have the benefit of the Act.
– The object is to make clear that what was in the original Act still stands.
– No, the object of the original Act was to encourage organization, but, according to the proposal before us, any association, whether registrable under the Act or not, may be proclaimed.
– Surely the honorable member does not object to that?
– I say that instead of encouraging organization as defined under the Acf, the amendment will encourage men not to register, because ill-defined associations outside the Act will be able to get the same benefit as do registrable associations.
– Supposing men will not organize and register.
– Then we should do all we can to encourage them to do so. Mr. Hughes. - So we do.
– That is not being done by the proposal before us.
– If employers organizations do not register, the employes cannot “ get at “ them.
– An organization of employes can appeal to the Court, and even if the employers are not registered the men can “get at “ them.
– Only individually !
– What does it matter so long as the men do “get at “ them?
– Look at the expense.
– In the engineers’ case there were 177 defendants, and the difficulty was that there was no common bond of interest to enable them to register as one employers association. For instance, the defendants included the City Council of Sydney, the Commissioner of Works of New South Wales, the Tasmanian Smelting Company, and so forth ; and no organization was possible on a common basis. There is danger in striking out the words lest we defeat the purpose in view, namely, to get all registrable organizations registered under the Act.
– I cannot understand the arguments from the other side, which in the general debate were to the effect that the Bill was giving a premium to organizations. The Bill is before us because of the difficulty in the engine-drivers’ case, caused by the High Court’s interpretation of “ industry.” The award of the President of the Court was upset on a technical issue ; and an attempt is now being made to clear the way so as to give craft unionists an opportunity of appearing before the Court.
._l have not spoken up to the present, but have listened very attentively to the greater part of the debate, and the more I listen the more surprised I am that honorable members opposite should support a proposal of the kind. There can be no doubt, as the honorable member for Maribyrnong has said, that a decision was given by the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court in the engine-drivers’ case; but assuming that the learned Justice recognised that he was within the limits of the Constitution, he had no alternative but to give that decision. No one acquainted with that case would hesitate to admit that it was only a very partial presentment of a. case which would undoubtedly, if this power were conceded, be developed under the amending Act. I cannot understand how it is that honorable members opposite do not realize the danger to their own movement that will come from the mad craze for unification and centralization which has overtaken them during the last year or two. We have been told by interjection to-day that the case of the engine-drivers is fairly well instanced by the analogy of the senior and junior members of the legal profession. To my mind there is not the slightest similarity. _ Let us put the case of a man controlling a gasolene motor in a sausage-making establishment in Melbourne alongside that of an engine-driver in charge of a huge complicated steam-engine on one of the Western Australian mines.
– Has the honorable member ever had any experience of the difficulties that often arise in driving an oil-motor?
– I am coming to that. I desire honorable members to consider at what period in his career, a man in charge of a .gasolene motor, complicated and intricate though it may be, will be competent to take charge of a large steamengine such as we find in use on the Western Australian mines? He may work the one for a lifetime, and never be able to control the other for the reason that the two engines are entirely dissimilar. The two industries are also entirely different; there is no connexion whatever between them. Therefore, these analogies as regards other industries are altogether pointless. The danger that I see to the principle of arbitration and to the Labour movement in this connexion is that what may be described as a wholesale judicial decision in a case such as that of the engine-drivers would apply to the whole Commonwealth, and must of necessity deal with a tremendous variation of employment and a variation in the nature of the machinery handled by the men. It is utterly impossible for any one decision to fit all these varying cases; there is sure to be friction and dissatisfaction here and there. Take a case that I have in mind as bearing on the possibility of any judicial authority being able to apply one uniform decision all over Australia. We have in Western Australia what is called a special concession to the postal employes employed on the gold-fields; but it has been all along a matter of irritation amongst our postal servants in that State that the decision does not recognise the full differentiation between the case ‘of Commonwealth, employes in Western Australia as compared with that of the Commonwealth servants in the eastern States. It is only a mere make-believe. Any one who looks at this matter broadly must realize that the tendency of all judicial decisions is as near as possible to a condition of uniformity. I know that honorable members opposite are aiming at uniformity in this matter, because they think it will centralize the control and authority of those who control labour organizations in a political sense. This Bill is, I believe, the handiwork of the Attorney-Genera!, and members of his party are accepting it in entire, ignorance of its true significance. There is no doubt that if it is found to be constitutional, and an attempt is made under this power to give decisions regarding industries of the nature of the enginedrivers, it will lead ultimately to the disintegration and demoralization of labour, both politically and industrially.
– The honorable member for Perth has mis-, understood the scope and object of the clause before the Committee. Both he and the honorable member for Bendigo must admit that the object which both parties had inview in introducing legislation of this character was to settle industrial disputes and bring about industrial peace. Take the position in which we stand to-day. Will it be denied by the Opposition that a judicial decision of the High Court regarding an interpretation of the Court below has practically prevented the older craft industries from reaping the benefit of industrial legislations. Honorable members may raise as many issues as they like in reference to the matter, but that is the position, concisely stated, to-day. In my opinion, that was never the intention of this Parliament, and if we strip this question from all party considerations I do not think it can seriously be said to be the intention of the Committee to-day. We hear a great deal about the number of industrial upheavals and strikes that are now taking place; but we have not had serious disputes, calculated to endanger industrial peace, in connexion with the old craft industries of Australia. There is a greater tendency in that direction on the part of the younger organizations which have not the experience and knowledge of the older ones. The Australian Workers Union, for instance, has been in existence for something like thirty years, and during that time has gained much experience. And so with the Amalgamated Engineers. The Waterside Workers in my own State have been organized for something like forty years, and in connexion with those organizations we have known what strikes really mean to the workpeople. We have learnt how serious are their effects on the workers, apart altogether from their effect on the genera] industry and progress of the country, and the evil they inflict upon innocent persons. We have profited by these experiences, and consequently there are more industrial troubles in connexion with the modern organizations than there is in connexion with the older ones. As these younger organizations grow older they will learn. We all profit by our experience, and some of us have paid pretty dearly for it. There is no exception even in the case of a trade organization. Even in the absence of industrial legislation the wonderful prosperity which Australia has enjoyed for some time must of necessity have resulted in wages being raised, and in the absence of the effective industrial machinery that we have to-day, we should have had more chaos and strife than at present prevails. If the employers on the one hand, and the employes on the other, were unchecked by industrial legislation the position would be much worse than it is. Do honorable members opposite mean seriously to say that they would shut off from our industrial legislation the whole of our ancient labour organizations - organizations having behind them in some cases the traditions of a hundred years or more ? Are they going to say that we have a new patentCourtcreated “ industry “ and new patentlawyercreated “industrial disputes,” and that these old craft industries of the Englishspeaking people are to be cut off?
– They would not be excluded.
– But as it is they are. It is remarkable that in appeals from the Conciliation and Arbitration Court to the High Court we generally have a majority decision of three to two. That means that in reality the decision of one Justice in the Arbitration Court can be reversed by another Justice in the High Court. We want to ascertain how far it is possible to secure industrial peace under the Constitution as it stands ; and we must necessarily keep on amending our industrial legislation. It may suit the press to say that we are “patching” legislation, but, patching or no patching, we must in the interests of industrial peace make our industrial legislation as perfect as possible, and ascertain the limits to which we can go. I do not disguise my opinion that the dual control of legislation in this regard must be attended with failure. It is an axiom that if you want good government you must have undivided control, and since the power to legislate on industrial matters is divided between the Commonwealth and the States, we must have failures. The sooner the people of Australia give us the power to bring the whole of industrial legislation under the authority of the Federal Parliament, the sooner will we be able to establish industrial peace.
– The Federal control itself is a dual control.
– I Have already shown the honorable member where the dual control lies. The Government are anxious to get on with this Bill, and I am not anxious to retard them in any way.
– We have had quite enough of this abortive legislation. We ought not to skimp its consideration any more.
– The honorable member will have to put up with more abortive legislation until we learn from the High Court how far we may go in accordance with the Constitution to secure industrial peace. When their Majesties of the High Court agree to indicate our exact limitations, we shall stop what the press calls patching, and what I call amending legislation. There is nothing novel in the introduction of amending legislation. What is the history of the past with regard to legislation and lawyers?
– The honorable member must not proceed on those lines.
– The honorable member for Perth fears centralization.
– He fears a general strike
– With our conditions, there is no fear of a general strike in Australia ; and, indeed, there is nothing to justify it here. I saw what a general strike meant in another land, and the conditions that brought it about. Our conditions, however much they may be susceptible of improvement, cannot be compared with those of pur brothers in the Old Country. The only possible way to prevent centralization in this matter is by removing the existing dual control. If that is done, we shall be able to build up a law dealing with industrial matters, and establish industrial peace upon the lines of New Zealand.
– Does the honorable member consider that an unqualified success ?
– I do not expect anything in this world to be an unqualified success.
– Does the honorable member think that New Zealand is doing any better than Australia in that regard? Mr. ARCHIBALD.- Undoubtedly.
– There is no analogy between the two countries.
– There is no dual control and no constitutional difficulty in New Zealand. When the people of Australia give us power to remove the dual control, we shall be able to simplify our industrial legislation, and build up a system which will bring Australia industrial peace. But we are not sent here to dream. Honorable members on the other side are very strong on their State rights They are welcome to that attitude, as far as I am concerned.
– The honorable member is a Unificationist.
– I gave the honorable member for Richmond credit for a little more intelligence than that interjection indicates. The removal of industrial legislation from State control into the province of the Federal Parliament, under the Constitution, will not hasten unification in any respect. It should be possible to get that branch of legislation under our control - and it is urgently needed - not as a mere abstract idea, but as a matter of practical common,-sense. Dual control in this legislation is an impossibility. If the honorable member thinks that that contention proves me to be a Unificationist, I am sorry for his intelligence.
– I simply mentioned that, the honorable member being a Unificationist, that was the natural trend of his argument.
– I ask honorable members on both sides of the Committee to support the measure, so that we may see what we actually have the power to do.
– Hear, hear; a try on.
– The honorable member may call it a trial, for, after all, what has been the history of all legislation in the past ? When Parliament passes a law, the army of lawyers get together and say, “ What is up here ? How are we going to get through this ?’ ‘ That applies, not only to the industrial, but to all other legislation. There always was, and always will be, a war, a friendly one if you like, between legislators and lawyers, because the legislators are anxious to pass effective legislation, and the lawyers are anxious to see how many holes they can drive through it. I am not saying this out of any disrespect for the gentleman of the long robe. It is simply an historical fact which no one can dispute, and which every legislator of common sense or experience realizes. We must first pass this Bill, so as to give the craft organizations and the craftsmen of the Commonwealth a chance of securing the advantage of industrial legislation, and, secondly, we must continue to improve. the Act until we know exactly what power we possess, subject to the opinion of the High Court of Australia, to deal with industrial questions.
.- I have been content to listen to legal gentlemen on both sides of the House discussing this measure, which appears to me to bristle with technicalities. They are much better fitted to deal with its details than I am’, and, therefore, I have not previously spoken upon it. But, having listened attentively to many of the speeches, I have come to the conclusion that many clauses in the Bill are unconstitutional. If we pass the definition of “industry” in clause 2, we shall have in store for us a big crop of litigation. There is no doubt that we shall greatly increase the power of the Federal Arbitration Court. By doing so we shall be defeating the will of the people as expressed in no uncertain manner at the recent referenda.
– Not in Western Australia.
– I do not think the people of that State count for very much when we are dealing with the Commonwealth as a whole. We are also striking a blow at our Wages Board system. The arbitration system was In vogue in New South Wales before the Wages Board system was introduced, but it proved unwieldy and cumbersome and altogether too slow in its operation. Men could not get their cases before the Court for twelve or eighteen months. The Wages Board system superseded that cumbersome method in New South Wales, and if in one State alone the Arbitration Court was found absolutely unable to deal with disputes brought before it, how can we expect one Arbitration Court to deal with all the matters that can be brought before it over the whole Commonwealth for decision ?
– The honorable member is now making a second-reading speech. The question before the Chair is the definition of “ industry “ in clause 2.
– The Wages Board system in New South Wales was responsible up to a certain date for satisfactorily settling considerably over 150 cases, and many more may have been settled since. In the majority of cases it was the employes who received benefits under the Wages Board system.
– With very little expense or loss of time.
– That is so, and that represents the beauty of the Wages Board system.
-The honorable member must not discuss the Wages Board system, although he may make a casual reference to it.
– If the proposed definition of “ industry “ becomes law, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court will of necessity be congested with business with which it cannot possibly deal. At present, owing to the good seasons and flourishing times, there are not perhaps as many disputes as will most certainly occur when times are not so good. We cannot always have these bounteous seasons. The day of reckoning will come very soon, and then there will, no doubt, be a big crop of industrial ^disputes all over the Commonwealth.. It wilt be impossible for the Federal Arbitration Court to deal satisfactorily with them all. I do not think that we should flout the people by passing this measure. The reason for this endeavour by the Government to have all industrial disputes submitted to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court is that the Court has proved itself peculiarly sympathetic towards the workers. The Attorney-General and Ministers generally believe that they will be able to bring about more easily a general strike under the administration of the Commonwealth Court. That is the whole purport of the Bill.
.- I am surprised at the arguments of honorable members opposite. It was the New SouthWales employers who forced the enginedrivers into the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. Mr. Justice Heydon roundly lectured the Northern colliery employers because they would not meet the men and discuss their grievances. The secretary to. the Engine-D rivers and Firemen’s Association repeatedly tried to meet the employers in New South Wales, but was told that better conditions could not be granted because of the Inter- State competition.. Therefore the Association - rightly, in my opinion - set about organizing the enginedrivers and firemen in the other States, and’ finally brought a case before the Commonwealth Arbitration Court. That case was fought out, and an award given which, on technical grounds, was upset. Hence the Bill. The Labour party has nothing to do with this. Engine-driving and firing is an occupation which is much the same in every industry.
– It is not more complicated than mining.
– A general award is never given in regard to mining.
– That is so.. But if the same set of conditions existed in mining, and the same obstacles were met, the remedy seized upon by the engine-drivers and firemen would be applied. The time is not far distant when the coal miners of the Commonwealth will be united, and, if need be, will apply to the Commonwealth Arbitration Court for the redress of their grievances.
– Does the honorable member think that wages should be uniform all over Australia?
– No. There should be a minimum, though I do not think that a uniform rate for Australia is possible.
.- The clause is an important one, but, in my opinion, likely to have an effect contrary to that desired. It is essential to true arbitration that both sides should be properly represented. That is provided for in the existing law. But under the amendment now before us, men engaged in a particular craft throughout Australia will be able to organize and bring cases into the Commonwealth Arbitration Court to which no effective reply can be made, for want of organization on the other side.
– There has been such organization. A case has been brought before the Court, and an award has been given.
– Then what is the need for the Bill?
– The Bill has been introduced because the award was upset on a technicality.
– When it is proposed to grant large powers to one section of the community, and to embarrass another section, the possibility of reducing industrial turmoil and strife by our legislation _ is very much open to question. Nothing stronger can be said against the Bill than to instance what is happening every day. What is being done by the members of the Waterside Workers Union? Certain claims were made by that union, and concessions granted, an agreement being filed in the Arbitration Court.
– I ask the honorable member not to discuss that dispute.
– Unless the parties to arbitration can be got to abide by the decisions of the Court, it will be useless to provide means for arriving at decisions.
– That may be an argument against the Bill, but is irrelevant now.
– Surely I shall be in order in pointing out that, no matter what increased powers are given to the unions, they will, if it suits them, refuse to abide by any award. That being so, what is the use of the clause?
– Let us strike it out.
– It would be a good thing to do so, and thus to destroy the Bill, which will be inoperative unless both sides are bound by the decisions of the Court. The actions of the unions have been outrageous and disgraceful, and we shall increase their powers only to the detriment of the Commonwealth unless we pass .penal provisions for the breaking of awards. We must judge the probable effects of the clause by what we know to be the disposition of those who will be brought under its operation. One section refuses to be bound by the awards of the Court. Under the clause they will have the power to compel the Court to consider their claims, but there will be no effective response, because there cannot be. They will be given power to secure almost all they desire under the Act, and yet they will be just as free to resort to strikes and turmoil as they would be if the Act had no existence. I admit, Mr. Poynton, that your ruling undermines what I had intended to say.
– Surely the honorable member may discuss industrial disputes?
– I thought I could. This clause appears to me to be absolutely fatal to the true principle of arbitration, which is that, wherever a dispute arises, the parties should be cited to appear and give evidence, and that that evidence shall be duly weighed by a properly appointed authority, and a decision arrived at equally binding on both sides. The clause is dangerous in its character, for the reason that it undermines the fundamental principle that both sides should be fairly and properly heard.
– Why does it?
– The Attorney-General is President of the Waterside Workers Union, the members of which, however, rebel not only against the law of the land, but against his authority j they have just as much contempt for their President as we have in this House for the AttorneyGeneral as a lawyer. This clause, so far from being in favour of reasonable and proper conditions, gives undue advantage to a section of the community. It will impel the Judge to give an award on the evidence of one side only, and can have but one effect so far as the workers are concerned, and that is to decrease the sum total of the labour given. Enterprise will be scotched, and the investment of capital will be seriously interfered with; and, as a result, there will be a decrease of prosperity all around, particularly to the disadvantage of the workers of the community.
– I am sorry the honorable member for Hindmarsh is not present, because, a little while ago, in. that sententious style of his, he made some remarks to which I desire to refer. When I look at the honorable member I always think of the wisdom of Solomon, so impressive and weighty is he.
– I must ask the honorable member to deal with the clause.
– I am about to deal with some remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and I shall not be found very far away from the clause. The honorable member said that we all have to learn by experience in regard to legislation of this kind ; and he gave us no hope that, anything we are doing now in contriving this new measure would bring about industrial peace. He said, “ Try on ; we must keep on trying as long as we are in this world.” I suppose that long after we leave the world we shall keep trying in some other sphere, and that others will be trying here hi our place. I admit that in a Federal system there must needs be more or less experiment in regard to legislation. What I complain of is that we leave the straight, plain path of the State legislation, under which most of what is desired could be accomplished in a peaceful and satisfactory manner, and proceed to deal with measures of doubtful legality. Of course, if the people outside are prepared to keep on making experiments and Ideating their heads against the High Court, we shall have to put up with it ; but, in my opinion, it is most unwise. The AttorneyGeneral told us the other day, when winding up the debate on the second reading, that the provisions we are trying to pass are already contained in the statutes of New South Wales. Why cannot the parties concerned resort to State legislation in regard to which there is no difficulty with the High Court, and which can give them redress and satisfaction? So far as the craft unions are concerned, it does not matter to them whether they get satisfaction from a State Court or a Federal Arbitration Court.
– That is perfectly true; it makes no difference to them.
– As the AttorneyGeneral says, craft unionism may obtain awards for particular crafts under the New South Wales law, and I cannot see why there is this anxiety to run against the Constitution. Experience at this time of day would suggest to anybody but the honorable member for Hindmarsh that there is a much easier way of obtaining industrial peace than by constantly butting our heads against the constitutional limitations. I now wish to refer to the remark of the honorable member for Nepean, who, in urging that crafts and handicrafts should be the basis of the new organization, brought in the coal-miners. The honorable member knows very well that we cannot organize the whole of the mining industry in New South Wales into one union. There are three districts, and three distinct organizations, which obtained separate and distinct awards from the Court every time, and which have nothing to do with each other.
– This amendment does not touch that at all.
– Then honorable members opposite have not been anywhere near the clause in the discussion. I am merely replying to some remarks that were made; and I submit that anything relating to industrial disputes may be discussed under this clause. The definition of “ industrial dispute ‘ ‘ is the very essence of die Bill.
– No plaint can be filed’ except by an organization, and, therefore, all that the honorable member is saying is not to the point, so far as that is concerned.
– Perhaps it will be better to leave this phase until we reach the next clause; but I should like to say. something as to the analogy which has been drawn in this connexion between New Zealand and Australia. When the honorable member for Hindmarsh was speaking, I interjected that there was no analogy, and the honorable member replied, “No; they are successful there, and not here.” Whether or not the honorable member knows anything about the industrial conditions of New Zealand, he must know that New Zealand is only a small community, on a very narrow strip of land, and the industries, being of a simple character, are easily grouped and organized for the purpose of settling disputes. But small as that country is, it is broken up into industrial’ districts, which are clearly defined and each segregated from the other. If that is found to be a wise step in a little place like New Zealand, how much more desirable is it on a continent like Australia ?
– The honorable member is only proving what I say - there is dual control.
– There is no dual control, but separate control and independent districts. Section 11 of the latest New Zealand Act provides that, in order to prevent needless multiplication of industrial unions connected with the same industry in the same locality or district, the Registrar may refuse to register a union in any case where he is of opinion that in the same locality or industrial district there is any other union to which the members might conveniently belong.
– The same principle applies in New South Wales.
– New South Wales is not divided into industrial districts, whereas in the case of New Zealand there are not only industrial districts, but a severe prohibition on the multiplication of organizations. Here we seem to be on the opposite tack, and desirous of multiplying these bodies indefinitely.
Sitting suspended from i to 2.13 p.m.
– The more I think over this proposal, the more it appears to me that nearly all that is desired can be obtained under our present organization. I never could understand, and cannot yet, why the engine-drivers in, say, the boot trade, should be ruled out from an award; so far as it relates to that industry, while, on the other hand, the shearers’ award covers all the engineers included in. the shearing industry.
– There was no fight over the question of jurisdiction in the pastoralists industry, and the award of the Court has not been challenged.
– But surely the decision of the High Court would apply all round, and would nullify the award already given in the shearing industry?
– It may do so yet, unless this Bill is passed.
– I do not know that this Bill will help them very much. My point is that whatever they cannot get under the Federal Act can be got under State legislation, and obtained in so substantial a degree as to leave them under no real disability.
– But some of the States have no such legislation.
– Tasmania is the only exception, but I believe there are Wages Boards in operation there. I do. not appreciate the whole of the industrial machinery of the Commonwealth being moulded and shaped to fit one particular corner of the continent. When we begin to twist our legislation with that end in view, it seems to me that we are on the wrong track. I hope the honorable member will not misunderstand me. The industries of Tasmania are entitled to the same justice as are those of any other State, but I have yet to learn that we are to shape the whole of our industrial machinery in order to make it fit one particular corner or nook of the Commonwealth. Let us deal with that particular industrial difficulty by itself. We proposed to deal with it, and although honorable members opposite may try to laugh that proposal of ours out of court, they will come to it before many years have passed. In trying to compass evey little industry in the Commonwealth they are twisting the machinery out of shape in some other direction.. Legislation of this kind is like one of those little india-rubber balls which, when pressed up in one place, is depressed in another as soon as its rigidity is lost. I am afraid that our Federal machinery cannot be shaped altogether in that way. I am just as anxious that the industries of Tasmania should receive justice as is the honorable member for Denison, but there is a way out of the difficulty without remoulding the whole of our industrial machinery. Moreover, there are -very large powers given to the Court under the Act as it exists. There is nothing to prevent the President of the Court making the engineers or any other body of men parties to a dispute. One section provides that he may direct parties to be joined, or strike out certain parties, so that, as I understand the position, the whole matter is within the control of the Justice.
– Then, why did the Mount Lyell case break down ?
– I am not closely acquainted with the details of that dispute, “and therefore cannot answer the honorable member. Speaking generally, very extensive powers are given to the Court under the law as it exists. I come back to my point that, whenever our industrial machinery is breaking down on its Federal side, we may readily fall back upon the State machinery, which, in every State but one, is fairly complete. I believe that in Tasmania - the exception to which I refer - it is becoming more complete every day ; and, in any event, the local Legislature has power to do what is required. Experience makes it abundantly clear that we can never get such a consolidation of interests in these large craft unions, embracing the whole ramifications of the continent, as will give us any prospect of solid peace, for the simple reason that conditions which fit one part may be totally inapplicable to another part.
– The Amalgamated Engineers are all over the world.
– Only the other night the secretary of the Amalgamated Engineers told us that only 50 per cent, of the engineers in Australia were embraced within his perfect craft guild. It is absurd to treat an engineer in a technical, highly-organized branch of engineering as being concerned in a dispute in the same way as is a man who tends a little pumping plant in some other part of the continent. There is an almost infinite range and scale in all these crafts. The proposition was easy enough in the old days, when industries were more simple and where they were within geographical limitations such as obtain in the Old Country; but it is quite a different proposition when we try to compass a continent like this, which is nearly as large as all Europe. The Government and their supporters will not succeed in doing what they want; the attempt will land them in more difficulties, and troubles that they cannot cure. I have no doubt this Bill will be passed. We can hope only to give honorable members opposite reason; we cannot control their will. They will have their will in spite of us. All that we can do is to show what will, in our opinion, come to pass, and I am sure that this legislation will fail to accomplish that which honorable members opposite intend it shall. Clause agreed to.
Clause 3 (Definition of “ industry “).
.- I do not intend to speak at length on this clause, because it has already been fairly well discussed. The difficulty in the engineers’ case arose from the fact that, unlike the case of any other dispute, there was a great number of callings within the organization. In the bootmakers’ case there was only one calling, and the position was the same in the harvesters’ case. In the engineers’ case, however, we had engineers engaged in various classes of mining - as well as greasers, oilers, and fitters. There were some eighteen or nineteen different classes in all, and during the early part of the hearing some five or six were struck out by the President of the Court by consent. Fitters, for instance, were struck out as not being properly engineers, being claimed by another association, and therefore men who ought not to have been brought into that dispute. No matter how we look at this question, there are difficulties ; but it may be, on the whole, better for the employes that they should be capable of uniting in craft unions for the purpose of dealing with disputes. There is a special difficulty in the case of the engineers, who, taken by themselves, are a comparatively small body. In these Inter-State disputes a large body of men is required. If the engineers’ organization were confined purely to engineers and firemen, and perhaps to the oilers connected with engines, its total membership would be so small that it would be felt that they could not bring much momentum to bear in connexion with an industrial dispute. It was for this reason, no doubt, that they brought in a number of employe’s really not related to engineering, and that seems to have been the cause of their failure. One can understand that those who favour craft unionism do so, because, under it, a settlement can be obtained applying at once to all these different classes. From the employes point of view there is a good deal of reason in that. Hitherto these organizations have been unions dealing with State matters and regulated under the industrial determinations of State Boards. Questions were settled by the Boards independent of any dispute between particular employers and employes, and they set for the whole union some standard rate of wages. But under our arbitration law the same end cannot easily be obtained. Being a judicial matter, there must be some relation of employer and employed. In the circumstances, confining, as the High Court decision does, the term “ industry “ to a number of men engaged in some homogenous trade, _and confining, as the Act does at present, the term “employment ‘ ‘ to persons ‘ ‘ engaged for hire ‘ ‘ in some particular employment, it is very difficult to get a general ruling applicable to all engineers. From the engineers’ point of view it seems to be expedient that they, as employes, should have the possibility of obtaining under the guise of arbitration a common standard for all employed, no matter what the dispute is. The High Court says that that is not arbitration, -and I doubt if it is ; but Mr. Justice Isaacs and Mr. Justice O’Connor have said in their judgments that there is no reason why under the Constitution craft unionism cannot be made the basis of organization. On the other hand, we have the difficulty of the employers. Under craft unionism we cannot easily get an organization of employers. What inducement will there be for employers of engineers in the milk trace, electric lighting, silver mining, coal mining, woodyards—–
– What about the Employers Federation ?
– That is not an industrial organization, but a body of men organized apparently simply to look after the general interests of employers.
– They could register.
– I do not think so. The Employers Federation is not an industrial organization. On the engine-drivers decision, they certainly could not have organized, because the same objection, that they are not in some definite industry, would hold just as much against the employers’ as against the employes’ organization. When you come to what are true industrial organizations under the Act, and extend your craft unionism, you diminish on the other side the incentive to organize to meet that craft unionism, _ because it is beyond the bounds of possibility, for instance, to get an organization of all the employers who were made respondents in the engine-drivers’ case. They covered all sorts of mining, smelting at Port Pirie, electric works, electric wire men, and others who had not the remotest connexion or interest as employers. The objection from the employers’ point of view that I see to widening the definition of “industry,” is that it will incidentally diminish the inducement to effective organization on their part under the Act. In the circumstances it is inexpedient to seek, under the guise of arbitration, to bring in craft unionism. I recognise the difficulties, and do not propose to move an amendment. On the whole, 1 believe it will be constitutional. Mr. Justice O’Connor thought that under the Act as it stands craft unionism would be included.
– Mr. Justice Isaacs thought it would be.
– I think he said so in the Jumbunna case.
– He said so in the engine-drivers’ case.
– T have here the first reference lo it by Mr. Justice Isaacs in the Jumbunna case. He then referred to an industry practically as covering everything that appears in this definition as it will be amended. He said the definition of “ industry, “ appeared to mean a business, such as that of a merchant, a trade, a manufacturer, such as a flour-miller, an undertaking such as that of a gas company, a calling such as that of an engineer, a service such as that of a carrier, or an employment. He said that, in his opinion, a general terra’ like “calling” would be an industry embracing some others than those mentioned, and intended to refer to general vocations. He added that, as the Act stood, the governing terms were those now to be struck out, and that the relation of employer and employe was connoted by them. If, then, we knock out, as the amendment does, the words “ in which persons are employed for pay, hire, ad vantage, or reward,” it seems to me, according to what the Judges have said, that the definition of “industry “ in terms of an aggregation of employers or an aggregation of employes would ;be within the meaning of the Constitution.
– This clause is undoubtedly the key clause to the whole Bill, the last that was passed merely making a subsidiary alteration. I do not intend on this clause, although it is really the heart of the Bill, to repeat the arguments I used in the House. In fact, I fail to find from any quarter of the House any definite answer that has been put forward to those arguments. One suggestion was made by the AttorneyGeneral, and also, I think, by one other honorable member on the other side of the House, to the effect that, if the view which we are urging from this side was right, how was it that in New South Wales there was registration of craft unions under the State Arbitration Act? In fact, that, to my mind, constituted the main part of the answer which the AttorneyGeneral gas:e to our arguments. He cited the Act of New South Wales, and in fact cited me as having said that the present legislation was based upon that Act - which I did say in a totally different connexion. d.n the engine-drivers’ case, the judgment of the majority of the Court proceeded upon this simple ground, that, apart altogether from the particular verbal expressions used, it was plain, from all the main sections of the Act, that the intention and scheme of the Legislature was based upon organization of industries, and not organization of crafts. The interpretation clause was referred to by most of the Judges as not necessarily creating anything inconsistent with that general scheme, but their conclusion was based upon provisions such as section 7, which now the Attorney-General has given notice of his intention to alter, and mainly upon section 55, dealing with the registration of organizations, and upon certain other sections, all of which showed that the word “industry “ was really used to indicate an aggregation of employers and employes in relation to each other. The AttorneyGeneral might, when he referred to the New South Wales Act, have told honorable members that not one of the expressions or the sections in our Act on which the Court relied for the conclusion to which it came, is present in the New South Wales Act at all. Neither the expression “ any industry,” in section 55, which was the main basis of the High Court’s decision, nor the provision in section 7, nor, so far as I know, any of the provisions in which the words “ any industry “ were used in our Act, appear in the New South Wales Act. Had the High Court been called upon to decide this question upon the language of the New South Wales Act, it would have been deprived of the basis of the conclusion at which it arrived. Let me turn to the main section in that Act, corresponding to section 55 of our Act. Section 55 of our Act is the section providing that an organization of . employers which may register is an organization of employers in connexion with an industry, and that an organization of employes which may register is an organization of employes over 100 in number, connected with any industry. The High Court’s main reason for coming to the conclusion they did was that it could not be supposed that the Legislature meant those simple words “ in connexion with any industry “ to mean one thing at the beginning of the section and another at the end of it. That was the simple and very sensible common-sense basis of their conclusion, but it turned upon those words. What do we find in the similar provision in section 4 of the New South Wales Act of 190:1:. It is provided there that -
Where the registrar, or in case of appeal the Court, is satisfied that the provisions of this Act have been complied with, the registrar shall in the prescribed manner and form register as an industrial union («) any person or association of persons, or any incorporated company, or any association of incorporated companies, or of incorporated companies and persons, who or which has in the aggregate throughout the six months next preceding the date of the application for registration employed on an average taken per month not less than fifty employes.
That is with regard to employers. There is not a word of “ employers connected with any industry.” The word “ industry “ is not used. Look, then, at the next provision - (#) Any trade union or association of trade unions, or (f) any branch -
So that, under the New South Wales law, not only .was there no indication that the organizations or unions that could be registered were organizations or unions on one side or the other in connexion with an industry, but the very widest terms were used which in our Act are used to govern the meaning of association, and not of organization at all. There is no provision in the New South Wales Act similar to our section 7, nor, from a hasty look at it, is there any provision similar to section 41, nor is there any provision, so far as I know, from which the Court could in that case come to the conclusion that under the New South Wales Act “industry” was limited to or was intended to mean an aggregation of employers in connexion with their employes. The scheme of our Act, as the Court found, to paraphrase their language for the present, is not like the scheme of the New South Wales Act, under which all associations and trade unions could be registered. The scheme of our Act is that we define associations in the widest terms and say that only a certain class of. those associations shall be entitled to be registered - namely, that class of association which is an organization both 011 the side of the employers and on the side of the employes, in connexion with a particular industry. That is the language they adopted. For that reason the Court said that the scheme of the Act was organization of industries.
– On both sides?
– If there is no organization on one side, what happens ?
– The honorable member may put all kinds of conundrums to me. I am simply endeavouring to show the basis of the decision with which Parliament is now asked to deal. I thought I had cited enough from the judgment when I spoke in the House to convoy to honorable members what its real effect was. But if I may be permitted to go a little more in detail into it, because this clause is really the crux of the whole matter, I should like to place beyond all possibility of doubt what the meaning of the judgment of the majority of the Court was. What they said was this : It is not associations, it is not trade unions, as such, which are entitled to register, but it is organizations on one side and on the other in connexion with an industry, the organizations being in connexion with the same industry. ( Let me cite again the language of Mr. Justice Isaacs, as set out on page ,303 of the report of the case -
The true meaning, then, of section 55 is not, I think, difficult to grasp. First it dealt with employers’ associations by allowing any association of employers in any industry to be registered, provided that during the preceding six months the employers associated employed on an average per month not -less than one hundred employes in that industry.
The next paragraph gives the corresponding right to the employes, by permitting that a hundred or more may register as an organization, and so protect the workers in the industry against the employers. In other words, where there is an industry in which you have employers, they may register, and where they may register, so may the employes. Mr. Justice Isaacs held that Parliament has enacted that if an industry is not of a sufficient size or importance, it shall not” come within the machinery of our arbitration law, that only industries in which there are more than 100 employes can be formed for registration. He went on to say -
If the employers had only ninety -nine employes they could not possibly register as an organization ; and it would be strange if on the wording of that section, drawing no distinction between the industries referred to, those ninetynine employes could, by combining with another employe outside that industry, and having nothing whatever to do with it, register themselves as an organization for the purpose of raising an industrial dispute in the employers’ industry within the meaning of the Act, although the same employers in precisely the same circumstances could not.
Such unequal treatment is opposed to the reciprocal aspect of the whole Statute. Is not that pretty plain language? ‘The scheme of the Act is organization by industries in the ordinary sense of the term, and does not permit the registration of organizations of trifling industries, because no organization of less than 100 employes can be registered. Mr. Justice Isaacs says that if the word industry were taken as meaning craft, and there were in some business only ninety-nine engine-drivers, they could defeat the Act by saying to an engine-driver in some other business, “ Join with us in making an organization of 100 employes.” The Government does not propose to amend section 55, and without its amendment it is absurd to con? elude that Parliament, while imposing this restriction as to_ the size of organizations, desired that where there were fewer than too employes in a business they should get employe’s in other businesses to join with them for the purpose of bringing a dispute before die Court. It is not proposed to amend that provision of the Act which requires that an organization must have 100 members before it can be registered. It was not intended that if in an industry - take the shipbuilding industry, for example - there were fewer than roo carpenters employed, they could join with carpenters in some other industry to form an organization.
– Would it not be an advantage that they should do so?
– I am not arguing that point. The main objection to the Bill raised by honorable members on this side is not as to its constitutionality, although that is doubtful, the Chief Justice himself having expressed a doubt_ as to the constitutionality of craft organization, though Mr. Justice Isaacs seems to think that the Constitution would permit it if Parliament approved of it.
– It will be a thousand pities if it is unconstitutional.
– That is another question. The argument on this side against the Bill is not directed so much to its unconstitutionality as to the fact that it introduces a principle which will throw the existing machinery out of gear. It can be no pleasure to any one, whether a lawyer or not, to see great sums of money, contributed by all sorts of poor people, involving considerable sacrifices in many homes throughout Australia, being wasted. Our main objection to the Bill is that it attempts to graft on to the stock something which will not grow with it. Section 55 provides for the registration of organizations. Its restrictions and qualifications are obviously based on the idea, as Mr. Justice Isaacs pointed out, that the employers and employes who register in connexion with a dispute shall be related in an industry. Mr. Justice Isaacs has pointed out that it makes section 55 absurd to take any other view, because that introduces a new element. In the ship-building industry you have engineers, carpenters, and other artisans. The employers and employes have a common interest. There may be mutual antagonism, but they are bound together in a common undertaking. It is necessary for them to work together in peace and harmony. Organization on those lines is the basis of our legislation. It may be said that some other basis would be a better one. but that, as the High Court has pointed out, is the present basis. If you attempt to introduce legislation by crafts, you say to persons who cannot register as employes in an industry, being too few, “ You can remedy your disability by getting others from some other industry to join you, persons not interested with you, and having nothing in common.” That, Mr. Justice Isaacs Iws pointed out, reduces the whole thing to an absurdity. I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether it is intended that when this Bill is passed, the engineers in the ship-building industry can be members of a registered organization of ship-building employes and also members of a registered organization of engineers? It seems to me that there must be one form of organization or another. A man cannot ride on two horses at the same time, unless he has keen trained in a circus, and even then he cannot do it for long. We must provide, either that employes may register as craft organizations - though to do that further alterations of the law are necessary - or that the registration shall be of organizations of employes organized according to the industries in which they are engaged. Is it intended to register both kinds of organizations ?
– I do not see that that is workable.
– That is my difficulty. An organization of employes in the ship-building industry could enter into a binding agreement with their employers, or again, all the engineers of Australia, including those engaged in the ship-building industry, could form a union and enter into an agreement with employers generally, but the latter arrangement would not, except in a limited way, settle a dispute in the ship-building industry. It will inevitably lead to confusion if both kinds of organization are permitted. The employes of soapmaking works may have a dispute with their employers, and an agreement between them may be come to and registered. That is what is now contemplated by the Act. Hut if the Bill is passed, you may have overlapping, and then what would become of such an agreement? The engineers throughout Australia, assuming craft organization to be constitutional, might make demands on the whole of their employers, or on some of them, or on one of them, and make an industrial agreement. But such an agreement might clash with the agreement between the soapmakers’ employes and their employers, to which the engineers engaged in the soapmaking industry were a party. Thus we have two different sets of organizations which are inconsistent, and can never come together - we have all the difficulties that arise from instituting, as a basis for the very difficult process of settlement, two heterogeneous and inconsistent methods.
– Judge Heydon is complaining of the same thing every day.
– I believe Judge Heydon has his troubles, but we are now talking of serious, practical difficulties. The Attorney-General was good enough to make a good deal of sport out of some innocent words which I used. I expressed a wish that we could all put off our party clothes, and discuss a question of this sort face to face; and it took the honorable gentleman some days to discover that I felt myself hampered by my party claims. I myself was not aware of it at the time ; and I can assure honorable members that, on a question of this sort, I am absolutely unhampered by any party claims. I am prepared, personally, to accede to any view in which I can see a hope of making something like a permanent foundation for the settlement of disputes. We are now introducing the basis of craft organization ; and what the effect may be I know not. I am not prepared to say definitely, as a matter of legal construction, even after reading the judgment, that, if we make this and the other alterations, the Court will necessarily adhere to the same interpretation. Courts always endeavour, if the language of an Act will permit, to give effect to what they believe to be the intention of the majority in Parliament; but does the Act enable them to do it? This is a clause which deals with the interpretation of particular words, and that clause affects all the clauses in which those words are used. It is proposed to make a further alteration, and I shall not prophesy what view the Court may take ultimately. But, without the slightest fear or doubt, I prophesy that this machinery will be thrown into such complete confusion that, if there is any benefit whatever derived from the new thing which we are grafting on the old, it will be at the cost of unutterable expense and delay throughout the continent. There will be delay, dissatisfaction, and unrest amongst employers and employed ; there will be difficulties introduced where there are already more than sufficient, constitutional and otherwise. It would be better to throw the whole thing into the melting pot and start afresh, and see if we could not arrive at some basis. If we think there ought to be organization by craft, let us so remodel the Act that the sections will dovetail.
– Can we do that with our present constitutional limitations?
– We can, to some extent. Mr. Justice Isaacs thinks we can, although other expert opinion seems to throw some doubt on the point. I do not think we can determine that matter until we know more definitely what’ kind of machinery will be raised on the craft basis.
– To remove the constitutional difficulties would be the best way !
– Personally, I do not think we possess enough power ; but we have to deal with the Bill in the light of the powers we do possess.
– We can only attempt” to do the best we can; and, failing, we must have an amendment of the Constitution.
– I am afraid that interjection rather indicates that honorable members opposite are not so anxious or concerned about this particular Bill as they are about an extension of the powers. I should be sorry to think that that was so, because we are trying to debate this question on its merits.
– The suggestion of the honorable member is scarcely in keeping with the balance of his argument.
– I should not have made the remark if the interjection had not directly warranted it.
– Can we do anything effectually under dual control ?
– We are not now, and should not be, allowed to discuss the question of constitutional amendment. We are dealing with a particular Bill ; and all we can do is “to make the best of it with our present constitutional power.
– The honorable member is proving that we cannot do much.
– I am afraid that we cannot do much, and I have always said so j but still, we had better do the best we can.
– In the face of what is happening in Sydney to-day, can we do anything ?
– I know to what the honorable member refers. I think the task before is us extremely difficult; but that is no reason why we should take to pieces the somewhat ineffectual, very costly, and not altogether satisfactory machinery - which, however, is doing a little work at immense expense - and try to introduce other parts, which will not work with the old parts. Let us do the best we can with the machinery we have without altering the basis of it.
– It is all a matter of education by experience !
– There is no experience which is so dear as that obtained in the law courts, though it is very salutary sometimes, and I do not object to being engaged to assist^ in imparting it. The matter has now been pretty well threshed out ;’ but I do not think any real answer has been given to the arguments advanced by honorable members on this side as to the effect of the proposed amendment. If there be no answer, what are we doing? We are simply walking with our eyes open into a morass, where we shall have to plunge about a good deal before we are able to get out - that is the position, I submit, as it stands now. At a later stage, we shall have an opportunity to deal with the important question, of the control of this House over the High Court. Such control, if we can exercise it, might possibly enable us to pass any legislation we like. But I have now only to say that we are going with our eyes open into a condition, of things which will lead to endless confusion, delay, irritation, and worry in the’ industrial ranks of both employers and employes; and the only outcome will be a still vaster expenditure - a still more wasteful and useless expenditure - of the people’s money, which might be devoted to much better purposes.
– The honorable member for Flinders has not advanced any argument that takes us beyond where we were the other evening. He has devoted a good deal of time to removing an impression, which was very heavily imprinted on the minds of the Committee, that he had fallen into error in declaring that the Act was not based on the New South Wales and other Acts, and, to that extent, was governed by the definition of the various terms used in these. The honorable member spoke of the scheme of the Act, but I remind him that, underneath the scheme is the intention of the Legislature - the reason that inspired the Legislature to take action. That reason was a desire to prevent industrial disputes. The honorable member devoted much time, in a” very interesting manner, to showing us the great dangers that await us, the confusion and disaster that must inevitably overtake us if we agree to this amendment. What’ does the amendment propose? The’ honorable member asked, “ Are you going’ to have both systems of organization side by side? - you cannot have both.” My answer is that we can have both, because we have had both for the past seven years. 7’hey have worked together, they will work together, and there will be no confusion. There will not be driven across any award relating to the wages and conditions in any industry - using the term in the sense of the interpretation of the High Court - the plaint of any craft association asking for wages and conditions for its members, some of whom are, let us say, embraced by the award regulating the industry. During the past seven years in the Commonwealth Court, and for the past ten years in some of the States, there have been these two methods of organization, and the scheme of the Act and the intention of the Legislature was devised in order that we might avail ourselves of the two systems. To show that there will be no confusion, and that men will fall either into a craft organization or an organization by industry as their circumstances demand, we have only to look at the facts to-day. The engineers and the carpenters, for instance, are both organized as crafts, simply because that is more convenient for them. In many such cases, there are skilled trades which have inherited traditions binding them together. In the marine engineers we have a craft inseparable from an industry by its very nature, because a marine engineer cannot be other than attached to the shipping industry. A land engineer, on the other hand, may be attached to any of a hundred industries, but he always does the same work. A shearer of sheep, on the other hand, at the same time that he allies himself with his fellow-craftsmen, must be a member of an association attached to the industry, because he has no other way of finding occupation except in shearing sheep. He not only does the same work, but does that work always in connexion with the same industry.
The honorable member says that there will be confusion if we adopt this amendment. My reply is that there will be no confusion if we adopt it, though there will be if we do not, for some 20,000 men will be unable to register unless the amendment is passed. The honorable member bids us beware of many dangers ; but what does he or any other honorable member opposite advance as a method by which these 20,000 men may be brought under the Act? Perhaps they will tell us that these men must organize by industries. That is easy to say, but hard to do. Let us take, for instance, the profession which the honorable member for Flinders and myself follow. Supposing it were said to be better for the public good, that, instead of being banded together by the nature of our profession we should join with other professional men, such as doctors, architects, and so forth in the district in which we lived? Under such circumstances, instead of finding ourselves allied with our fellow craftsmen, we should “find ourselves, as I have indicated, allied with doctors, engineers, architects, and other professional men, with whom we had nothing in common. My honorable friend would surely have objected to that. He would have said, “ No; my interests lie with the members of my own profession, and therefore I wish to organize with them.” What does an engineer know or care about the circumstances of a soap factory in which he is employed? What have they do do with him ? What does it matter whether a man drives an engine in a soap factory or in a jam factory? A man who drives an engine is an engine-driver, and it requires the same sort of skill to drive the same sort of engine, whether that engine is hauling quartz from a mine or goods along a track.
– Does the honorable member suggest that wages in respect of the same class of work should be equal all over Australia irrespective of the cost of living?
– I do not. The wages paid to a person must have relation to the cost of living, and the cost of living is determined by many conditions, including geographical position. I do not say that there should be one wage paid all over Australia in respect of the same sort of work. But other things being equal as to the cost of living, disadvantageousness of -position, and so on, the same wage ought to be paid for the same kind of work. That is obvious, and has been recognised by the Court in the Boot Trade case. One wage is paid to men in Queensland, another to the men in Victoria, and still another to those working in another State. The scheme of the awards tends finally to reach a level, because the conditions in the southern portions of Queensland are not materially different from those prevailing in New South Wales and Victoria. But let us look at the circumstances of another industry. A wharf labourer here will receive is. 3d. or is. 6d. per hour, as the case may be, over the greater part of Australia, and in Normanton as. 6d. or 3s. 6d. per hour. Yet no one can say that the difference does more than fairly measure the disadvantageousness of the one position as against the other.
Engineers are allied as craftsmen. How could they possibly leave their interests to an industry of which they formed an insignificant proportion? Let us take the case of a factory where 400 men are engaged on the general work of making bodies of buggies and motor cars, where one or two engine-drivers and fitters are also employed. The 400 men can register; they have interests in common. It is suggested by the Opposition, however, that they should take with them the two enginedrivers and fitters, of whose skill or work they know absolutely nothing, and that the Court should hear a full and comprehensive statement of not only the carriage and motor building industry, but also of the trade or calling of engine-driving and engine fitting, although the interests of only four men are to be considered. On the face of it such a proposition is absolutely absurd. It is now laid down firmly as a principle in the Commonwealth that an unskilled labourer is to receive a fair and reasonable wage, and (here is to be superimposed on that wage an additional payment for skill. No doubt an engineer is one of the most skilled tradesmen in the country, and before the wage that should be paid for the exercise of his skill can be measured, there must be a close inquiry into the whole of the circumstances under which a man has attained and practised that skill. The period of his apprenticeship, and so forth, must be considered, and, in short, there must be an inquiry into the whole industry.
Let us take the case of a soap factory employing one brassfounder and one coppersmith to look after its boilers or coppers. Are the wages ot coppersmiths and brassfounders to be fixed by the circumstances of one employe” in a soap factory, or are we going to take the craft, and to inquire into the measure of skill required, the degree of effort put forward, and the amount of money and time expended in learning the trade? All these things must be looked into by and large. The convenience and obviousness of the position have forced some men to register by way of “ industries,” and others to register by way of “ crafts.” A wharf labourer naturally registers by way of “ industry.” His business begins and ends in carrying in connexion with the shipping industry. The sailor is. similarly circumstanced, and so are the marine engineers. They register by way of “ industry,” and also by way of “craft.” If it were conceivable that a man employed as a sailor could go into the Court, as i.t were, at the tail of some other industry, would it be possible to determine, in such circumstances, the rate of pay and conditions to be observed in respect of such a man? Certainly not. Carters and drivers, for example, are employed in fifty industries. Are we to say that when those engaged in a biscuit factory or manufacturing confectioner, which industries seek and obtain an award, the wages of carters and drivers employed in that industry are also to be fixed in the same award ? How could that be done? The Opposition point out the hopeless bog into which one man must get when he tries to regulate all the industries of a country, and yet they are calmly prepared to so increase and multiply the difficulties as to make the task utterly insuperable. If Mr. Justice Higgins is asked to fix the wage’s for engine-drivers, he is not to take into account each little industry all over Australia. He takes the engine-drivers themselves, listens to what, they have to say, and has evidence put before him by the employer, whether he is a biscuit maker, a brickmaker, or a mine manager. The employer, no matter what his occupation is, gives evidence, and in what way is he to be inconvenienced because of the procedure we propose? In any case, he has to give evidence, and if it is to cover all his employes, the same evidence. If we take the industry, the engineer must still come before the Court, and his employer must appear and say what he thinks are the wages that ought properly to be paid to engineers. We would not lessen the work of the Court by compelling all men to register under the grouping of “ industry “ ; we should rather confuse and multiply it almost interminably in that way. We desire” that there shall be opened to the men of this country an opportunity to register either under “ crafts “ or under “ industry,” whichever is convenient to them. The honorable member for Flinders spoke about the scheme of the Act, and said that this alteration would be so incongruous to the Act, so out of harmony with it, that our last condition would be worse than the first, and that it would lead to confusion. It might be unconstitutional ; in any case it would lead to delay.
– I did not say it would be unconstitutional.
– No. It might be held to be unconstitutional ; and. in any case, it would lead to delay. Upon what is that charge based? Upon the statement made by the Chief Justice, and reported at page 289 of the Argus Law Reports. Speaking of the definition of “ industry,” the Chief Justice, in the Engine-drivers’ case said -
Tn Hie second place, that is nol the scheme of the Act. The unit of aggregation for the purpose of industrial agreements and proceedings in the Court is not the handicraft but the collective enterprise in which employers and employes are associated.
It was contended by the union ‘that “ industry “ was capable of bearing the further definition of craft organization. The High Court decided that the scheme of the Act, apart from, the wording itself, was opposed to that definition. It never said - it never could have said- that the word “ industry “ was in itself incapable of such a meaning.
– No one has suggested that.
– Very well ; everything depends upon the definition. The definition of “ industry “ in the Act is - business, trade, manufacture, undertaking, calling, service, or employment.
The honorable member for Angas pointed out that the words that made the word “calling” ambiguous were those immediately following “ in which persons are employed.” The Chief Justice, dealing with the two meanings of the words - the one passive and the other active - pointed out that the whole question turned on the words “ in which persons are employed or engaged,” and not on the calling which the person followed. A man may be employed as a gardener, and his calling will depend upon the industry of his employer, which is quite a different thing. When we set down in this definition what we mean by “ industry,” we shall entirely remove the grounds upon which the Court decided that “ industry “ did not include and connote “craft organization.” That is perfectly clear. We come now to the consideration of the other point raised by my honorable friend, namely, that the scheme of the Act is such that we cannot alter it without, upsetting the Act itself. Take any section you please-
– Take section 55. Mr. HUGHES.- Very well. Section 55 provides that -
Any of the following associations may, on compliance with the prescribed conditions, be registered in the manner prescribed as an organization -
any association of employers in or in connexion with any industry, who have in the aggregate, throughout the six months next preceding the application for registration, employed on an average taken per month not less than one hundred employes in that industry ; and
any association of not less than one hundred employes in or in connexion with any industry.
When the Bill passes “ industry “ will mean one of two things. It will mean the industry in which the employer is interested, and it will also mean the craft or. calling which the employe follows. I fail utterly to see how it can be said that this definition will be repugnant to the meaning of section 55. I would ask the honorable member for Flinders to look at subclause b of the Bill, and apply it to subsection b of section 55 of the Act. The question is whether the definition as enlarged is repugnant to the scheme of the Bill to such an extent that it is impossible to apply it without rendering the whole thing meaningless, or inviting endless confusion and trouble. Sub-section b of section 55, read with the amendment, will be as follows: -
Any association of not less than a hundred employes in or in connexion with any calling, service, employment, handicraft, or industrial occupation or avocation of employed on land or water -
– Oh, no. That is not what it says.
– That is what it will say.
– In one sense it will say that; but it leaves the word “ industry “ as meaning one thing in the first part of the section, and practically another in (he second.
– Industry either means the industry of the employer or the calling of the employe. Surely the honorable member will not contend that this Legislature cannot legislate so as to enable persons to group together upon the basis of craft organization ?
– I am afraid I cannot argue by interjection.
– Then, can the honorable member supply a word which will be inside the constitutional limitations and enable us to achieve our purpose better than the word “industry”? We have to face the fact that there are twenty thousand men who cannot register as things stand now. They are some of the best organized, most highly skilled, and most likely to cause industrial chaos if at any time’ they have a dispute. We must take our responsibility, and make such preparations as we can within our limits to enable them to register. The honorable n ember is not able to tell us how we can d-> that. No effort is made by the Opposition to tell us what we are to do with these people. This amendment will not make for confusion and delay. It will, 0:1 the other hand, make for peace and harmony, and the speedy settlement of troubles. Who are those that objected in the engine-drivers case yesterday, or the day before, to such an adjournment as would permit of this Bill becoming law? Were they persons who are keenly desirous to expedite the settlement of the men’s claims?’ Not’ at all. When it* was plainly shown that the men were cheated, or choused, of their award by reason of an interpretation put upon the word “ industry “ that the men outside and people inside this House never intended to put on it, and that this Parliament was going to set forth its meaning in plain terms, they opposed the adjournment of the case. All that was asked was that the Legislature should be given time to say what it meant, and that the 4,000 men engaged in engine-driving should get fair terms and conditions. Those people want the engine-drivers to group themselves into 130 industries.
– One hundred and seventy.
– They are not all distinct. Some of them are grouped together. There are about twenty leading classes.
– At any rate, there arc a great number. I have no doubt that the number of industries which employ enginedrivers is considerably, over a. hundred. Those people want the men to break their own ties, to disrupt their organization, and to band themselves into a hundred or more insignificant little new organizations all over the country, in which they and their claims would become of trifling importance to the industries to which they are attached. That is the method suggested by the gentlemen who speak about the delay and confusion that this amendment will cause. Confusion and delay have been caused already, and injustice has been done to an intelligent and orderly body of men who, in spite of the very greatest temptation, have stuck to their work, and are willing to stand by the award of the Court, which was by no means unduly favourable to them. Those gentlemen who prate about peace and the benefits of industrial harmony, tell us that we must not make any amendment in the Act, or do anything to help the men. The honorable member for Flinders said the scheme of the Act in section 55 contemplated so clearly organization upon the basis of industry that there was no escaping it. He said that the employer who can register must employ not less than 100 employes, and that the association of employes which may register must contain not less than 100 employes- From that he deduced that there is some causal or necessary relation between those two, so that the whole of the employes of the employer are, as it were, identical or coincident with the 100 employes who may form an association.
– It was not my deduction; it was that of Mr. Justice Isaacs.
– I say there is no relation other than a quite incidental one, and not in any way causal. We must have some limit. We cannot allow too great a multiplicity of organization. If we allowed an employer of, say, two employes to register, or every band of five employes to form an association, the business of the Court, which is already sufficiently difficult, would be multiplied indefinitely. We, therefore, fix a number. In the New South Wales Act it was fifty, but here we made it 100. I remember that it was because we were dealing with the whole of the States that we made the number 100 instead of fifty. We must never let go of the fact that at that particular time, and now, 100 employes could, and can, associate themselves together upon any basis. In New South Wales there exists the restriction that they must be members of a trade union. Trade unions have been formed in New South Wales, and exist there to-day on the basis of crafts. It is also well known that this Act, so far as it was possible for us to make it, followed the New South Wales Act. The honorable member for Flinders admitted that himself. We intended to enable these existing organizations, subject to the provisions of the Act, to come in and register. If we do not, we cannot get industrial peace. This is not an Act to benefit trade unionists, lt is an Act to protect the community. The honorable member for Flinders said it would produce difficulty and confusion. The difficulty is this, that the public are ever menaced by breaks in the continuity of industrial operations. That is the one evil. Every honorable member must realize that that is a matter of such great importance, and growing greater every day, that we have to face it. We must have continuity of industrial operations, if we can secure it by any means at our disposal. Twenty thousand men are outside this Act, and do honorable members mean to say that if 20,000 people could not get civil justice, or redress under the criminal law, such a state of things would be allowed to exist for a moment? Why, then, should we allow it in this case? We have to provide for the registration of these men. We are now providing for it. The provision we make is not repugnant to the meaning of the Act, but is in consonance with it. It will not involve amendments in other sections to any greater extent than has already been given notice of. It is open to the Court, and the Court will be compelled, to look at the definition of industry, which will be now set forth in such clear terms that there can be no difficulty or doubt about it. The honorable member for Angas has made one suggestion worth considering. He pointed out that everything depended upon the words in section 4 of the principal Act as amended. The amendment will remedy a great wrong without doing injustice to any one, and, instead of making for delay or confusion, will straighten out much that is tangled, and lead to expedition.
Motion (by Mr. Hughes) proposed - That the House do now adjourn.
.- I wish to bring under notice the manner in which the Labour party is treated by the daily press, as instanced by a recent article in the Argus, based on remarks made by Lord Dudley, a former Governor-General. Lord Dudley is reported to have said that there is, in Australia, a set of professional politicians who are the outcome of payment of members, and the Argus published a leader on the subject, in which these statements occur -
There is no reason at all why a GovernorGeneral who has closed his term of office should refrain from making a statement of his observations whilst amongst us on political matters. Lord Dudley has returned to England to take up once more his duties in the House of Lords, and since payment of members is now beforethe British people, it would be only natural if he were to discuss the subject in the light of his experience in Australia. It would be childish of us if we resented comments which did not take the form of fulsome praise. Mr. Murray and Mr. Fisher go to England with more or less prejudiced minds, and when they return they speak freely about British institutions and the condition of the people. They should not complain if Lord Dudley, or any one else who has been here, were equally frank in expressing their opinions of us and our laws.-
If it is childish to object to anything that is not fulsome praise, why did not the editor of the Argus insert a letter, which I sent on Thursday last, with a respectful note requesting its insertion, and which wasreturned to me without any statement as to why it had not been accepted ? I ask honorable members to listen to this letter, and” to say whether it might not fairly^ have been published in a journal professing to represent the public interest, and to give both sides of public questions. It is as follows -
LORD Dudley. To the Editor of the Argus.
Sir, - It is quite true, as Lord Dudley suggests, there is a body of politicians in Australia which depends for its bread and butter on the “ allowance “ received for “ expenses,” but it should be pointed out to the British public that body is not formed of politicians belonging to one political party. Most members; - conservatives, liberals, and labour members - are glad to get the “ pay “ ; and, man for man, they are as honest and upright as the conservatives, liberals, and labour members who can afford to live without their parliamentary salary. And I think it can be proved that Australia has made greater headway in all the States since she adopted payment of members, than when she allowed members to pay themselves in those various indirect ways that an unpaid Parliament usually pays itself.
An unpaid Parliament would, no doubt, have put up with the vagaries of Lord Dudley as Governor-General of the Commonwealth, but not so a Parliament elected out of the wider choice that payment of members creates.
I do not suppose the most idle paid-member of an Australian Parliament would, as GovernorGeneral, with a salary of ,£10,000 a year and expenses, have performed his duties as Lord Dudley did.
Amongst the items of his singular conduct was his opening of the Federal Parliament on the 3rd of July, 1910, and departure for Sydney on the same day.
As you, Sir, know, in our Commonwealth Parliament, the Governor-General’s Speech is debated, and there is an Address-in-Reply. So far as I am aware, all the Australian GovernorsGeneral who preceded Lord Dudley stayed in Melbourne to receive the Address-in-Reply as soon as it passed both Houses. Not so Lord, Dudley. He went to Sydney on the 3rd of July, and did not return to Melbourne until the 27th of October - three months afterwards. It is said that some one . proposed to send the address down to Government House, to avoid drawing attention to Lord Dudley’s late arrival, but the Speaker of the House of Representatives declined to be a party to such an irregularity.
Another and much more important matter has reference to section 56 of the Commonwealth Constitution Act. This section provides that no vote, resolution, or proposed law shall be passed by the Parliament unless the purpose of the appropriation has in the same session been recommended by message of the GovernorGeneral.
Lord Dudley was, apparently, not much concerned with the constitutional duties of his post, which see.
The following message was presented to Parliament on the same day it was supposed to have been signed by Lord Dudley :- “ Message No. 7 : In accordance with the requirements of section 56 of the Constitution, the Governor-General recommends to the House of Representatives that an appropriation of revenue and moneys be made for the purpose of a Bill for an Act to grant and apply out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund, a sum for invalid and Old-age Pensions. (Signed) Dudley.”
This message was for an appropriation of three and a half millions of money. It was dated as having been signed by Lord Dudley on the 26th of July, and it was presented to the Speaker on the same day. Lord Dudley was in Sydney, and could not have signed the message in question.
The only possible explanation is, that Lord Dudley did not sign the message at all, that some person forged his signature, or that Lord Dudley left his signature on a number of blank sheets of paper, so that others could fill in the messages as it suited them.
The same remarks apply to Message No. 9, Tuesday, August 9; Message No. 15, Friday, August 26; and Messages Nos. iS and 19, Wednesday, September 7, 1910. (It would furnish an interesting point for constitutional lawyers as to whether the Bills passed after the receipt of such bogus messages are genuine laws.)
As to the foregoing facts, if any doubt arises in your mind, I beg to refer you ‘to the Parliamentary Records for 1910.
I am sure you will agree with me that, no paid member of Parliament could neglect his duties as Lord Dudley did without risk of defeat at the hands of the electors; and further, I respectfully nsk you to agree with me that as we pay our Governor-General £10,000 a year and expenses totalling another £13,000, it would be a good plan for Australia to elect that high official by popular vote.
I am, &c,
C. Higgs. Parliament House, 24th October, 1911. 1 may have been very innocent in expecting the “childish” editor of the Argus, Mr. Cunningham, to accept that letter, but let me quote the motto of that journal -
I am in the place where I am demanded of conscience to speak the truth, and therefore the truth I speak, impugn it whoso list.
– Did the honorable member send a copy of his letter to the Age?
– Why not?
– Because it was in the Argus that the leading article to which I have referred appeared.
M’r. Joseph Cook. - I suppose the honorable member sent his letter to the Argus because he knew that that journal would not publish it.
– That interjection is of a class to which we have to submit from the honorable and bitter member for Parramatta. He is a disappointed man, who missed his chance when he left the party which otherwise he might have been leading to-day. Disappointment is written on the honorable member’s brow ; I know that the honorable member for Parramatta is very much annoyed because I have stuck to my Republican views, while he has forsaken his and become an extreme Loyalist, and possibly a sycophant.
This party is badly treated by the daily press, which is really a “ suppress “ of the worst type. Of course, I do not so class all newspapers ; but it seems, strange that the editors of many of the leading journals, such as the Argus, seem to have entered into a conspiracy to protect Lord Dudley, simply because he happens to be a titled personage.
Not long ago, we had cabled out from England the news that Pete Curran, a Labour man, had been fined for being drunk. It is known that the Australian Labour party is more sober than any other party ; and it was cruel, to try to blacken its reputation by this paltry little bit of news. Some newspapers, like the Argus, are absolutely unfair ; and some of the pressmen in this House, wage-earners like ourselves, are not fair in their methods, as I shall show by a few instances
– Did Lord Dudley draw his salary while he was here?
– That question was very pertinently asked by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports ; and the Prime Minister replied “ Yes.” The answer was a whole speech in itself as to the inconsistency of Lord Dudley in talking about professional politicians when he was receiving pay ; and at the same time making his position as Governor-General a perfect farce.
The Labour party in this Parliament has raised the status of the gentlemen of the press. Only a few years ago, reporters and journalists generally had to stand on the mat while they waited for some ignorant, but wealthy, man who had been elected to a public position. The Labour party, however, has placed the pressmen in a position of social equality, where they ought to be. Yet, what is the treatment some of them give to the party? That question I can only answer from the way in which I have myself been treated. Last year, when the Constitution Alteration ^Legislative Powers) Hill was before the House, on a Friday I made a speech, to which the Melbourne Age referred as follows : -
The last chapter of the second reading of the debate on the Industrial Powers Bill produced a couple of thoughtful speeches from two Queenslanders, Mr. L. E. Groom and Mr. V. Higgs.
I do not wish to boast ; but, as a matter of fact, the speech I made received some praise from quite a number of honorable members! How was that speech dealt with ? The Brisbane Courier, the representative of which is Mr. Sampson, gave a very fair report to the honorable member for Darling Downs, and one or two that followed him, but did not even mention the fact that I spoke. I could mention other similar cases.
Mr. Sampson, who misrepresents the Labour party in so many ways, is employed, not only on the Brisbane Courier, but in connexion with Pathe Freres. The late Minister of External Affairs, Mr. Batchelor, myself, and others, during our visit to Europe, went to the Roubaix Exhibition, and were most hospitably received by the Mayor and the municipality generally. Mr. Batchelor was there to open the Australian Court. I may say that Roubaix is one of our best customers for wool, and can boast one of the largest woollen mills in Europe. On the occasion Pathe Freres look cinematograph films, which have since been exhibited in Melbourne. Now, Air. Sampson, whose duty it was to furnish some description of the film, actually headed it “ Australia at the Roubaix Exhibition ; President Fallieres meets Sir George Reid.” As a matter of fact, neither Sir George Reid nor the President was there ; and I submit that that description of the film was given merely because a member of the Labour party happened to be Minister of External Affairs. If the Minister had happened to be the honorable member for Ballarat, or the hon orable member for Parramatta, the name would have appeared, and not that of Sir George Reid. Then how did Mr. Whyte, the reporter of the Sydney Morning Herald. report my speech on the Industrial Powers Bill ? He wrote as follows -
The debate was begun this morning by Mr. Groom, who skilfully showed where the Government were wrong in fairs proposals, and pointed out the dangers that would arise if the measure was carried in its present form. Mr. Higgs, of Queensland, followed, and bored the !House with an hour’s speech until he gave - way to “Sir John “Forrest.
My own opinion is that Mr. Whyte is not instructed by the editor of his paper to misrepresent the Labour party in this fashion. 1 know the editor of trie Sydney Morning Herald well enough to believe that he tells the representatives of his paper to give fair reports. If we search the columns of the Sydney Morning Herald, I am certain we shall not find similar remarks made about any honorable members opposite. It is urged, 1 know, by some, that the reporters act thus in accordance with’- instructions ; but I cannot believe that Dr. Ward, the editor of the Sydney Daily Telegraph, gives his reporter, Mr. Peters, instructions to write the bitter vitriolic stuff which appears about this party ‘ in the columns of the Daily Telegraph.
– The honorable member will be given some space to-morrow.
– It is possible that not a word of my remarks will appear. I am not troubled about any criticism there may be of me ; but I do contend that the reports of my speeches ought to be fair, so that people may be able to judge whether or not I bore the House. These poor literary worm’s think that what they write pleases their editors or their party ; but I ask them whether it is to their interests to so work into the hands of the’ capitalistic section. Which programme is - more likely to suit them - the .programme of the Labour party or the programme of the capitalist? A great change has come over the press of late -years. At one time, the newspaper proprietor was a man with some milk of human kindness in his breast, but the modern press has become a- commercial machine. When I was a compositor on the Sydney Morning Herald, some twenty-five years ago, it was a treat to see old compositors of sixty years or more allowed to come into the office and earn what they could at the case. Mr. John Fairfax paid them £1 a week each, in addition to what they could earn, so that these poor old fellows in their declining years were provided for. The position is different to-day, for now there is no old-age pensions system in connexion with the newspaper. When they are old, the compositors are turned adrift, and my friends of the press who are writing down the Labour party, which is trying to do its best to help them, and all other sections of the community, will probably be turned out also when they get old ; and some of them, no doubt, will be glad enough to take the old-age pension, for which the Labour party has succeeded in making provision. I am not going to submit any longer to the treatment to which I have been subjected by these representatives of the press. If I find that I am unfairly treated in any degree, I shall probably avail myself of another- opportunity to deal with the matter. Let me point out, for a moment, bow unfairly this treatment operates. Some of the newspapers can afford to send to Melbourne a special representative. Mr. Sampson, for instance, is specially employed by the Courier. But a Queensland newspaper company which is not in a position to be directly represented here, takes its news from the Sydney Morning Herald or some other paper. Thus, if Mr. Whyte sends to the Herald a garbled report of our parliamentary proceedings, that report is transmitted to various newspapers in Queensland which take their news from that journal. Honorable members will thus see how very unfair is this attitude on the part of the press towards our party. These great newspapers avail themselves to the full of the postal and telegraph facilities, yet they are not prepared to deal fairly by the Labour party. The matter of which I complain is a positive outrage,, and serves only to emphasize our conviction that we ought to have a daily Labour press.
– It is coming. Mr. HIGGS. - But coming too slowly. I appeal to these gentlemen of the press for fair play. We are paid members of Parliament; they are paid members of the press ; and the one calling is as honorable as the other, so long as a man does his duty and behaves himself. I appeal to the representatives of the press to be fair, and ask them to say whether they think it just to treat a party as. the Labour party has been treated for years in the columns of some of the daily newspapers.
Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 4.8 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 October 1911, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1911/19111027_reps_4_61/>.