4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to the following passage in a leader in this morning’s Argus ? -
A startling change in the outward appearance of our postmen may be expected shortly; it is as well that the public should be prepared for it. The first announcement of this momentous event was made, in an apparently casual manner, by Mr. Fisher in his speech on Tuesday - the same speech in which he hurled at the Brisbane strikers the bitterest condemnation that has yet been uttered. He said that, knowing the men exceedingly well, hewas very surprised that they had refrained from acts of incendiarism.
I ask the honorable gentleman if he made use of those words, or any of similar import? Does he believe that those on strike in Queensland would have committed actions of that kind?
– The statement is a wilful perversion of what I said, and the time must soon come when writers for the press will be compelled to disclose their identity.
– I desire to offer an explanation regarding a statement made last night by the honorable member for Wentworth, that accomplished political pimp on the other side-
– Is it in order to call an honorable member a pimp?
– My attention being engaged,I didnot hear the word; but if it was used, it must be withdrawn.
– I intended to say pimple.
– The honorable member must not use such epithets.
– It is hard to refrain when looking at objects of that kind.
– The words complained of have not been withdrawn. They are most insulting.
– I ask the honorable member for Gwydir to withdraw what he said, and not to repeat the expression.
– I withdraw the words, and leave it tothe sense of the House as to whether they were justified.
Last session I had a notice on the businesspaper for an inquiry into the operations of the Tobacco Trust, which I subsequently withdrew, and the honorable member last night construed my motive as an unworthy one. A similar misrepresentation was made during the Werriwa campaign, to which I had no chance to reply. I withdrew the motion simply because I found that in the report and evidence of a Commission which had dealt with the matter there was sufficient information to justify action, and I thought, therefore, that the cost of another inquiry was not warranted. The statement that I consulted members of my party on the subject is worthy of the honorable member. I did not consult any of them before placing the notice on the businesspaper, or before withdrawing it. So much for the mare’s nest which he discovered.
– Some years ago I introduced into the State Parliament the practice of having the messages for members written on certain cards. This arrangement has proved of great convenience to the members of this House also. I ask that a similar arrangement be established here in connexion with telephone calls. The form which I suggest might be used was supplied to me by Mr. Prendergast, M.L.A., and provides for the orderly setting down of messages, with the time, and date, and the sender’s name and number.
– I shall look into the matter and see what can be done.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Commonwealth Bank- Documents relating to the appointment of Mr. D. S. K. Miller as Governor.
Defence Act -
Government Factories -
Regulations Amended (Provisional) - Statutory Rules 1912, No.113.
Military Forces - Financial and Allowance Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Statutory Rules1912, No.114.
Statutory Rules1912, No.115.
Northern Territory Acceptance Act and Stock
Diseases Act1888 (of South Australia)-
Proclamation re Prohibition of Introduction of Stock into Bathurst and Melville Islands (dated 7th June,1912).
Seamen’s Compensation Act - Provisional Regulations - Statutory Rules1912, No.127.
Werriwa Election,1st June, 1912 - Detailed Return of Voting.
Debate resumed from 26th June (vide page 219), on motion by Mr. Bennett -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, as read by the Clerk, be agreed to by the House.
Upon which Mr. Deakin had moved -
That the following words be added to the Address : - “ and to inform Your Excellency that the Government merits the censure of the House and the country for its failure to realize its national and constitutional obligations, for flagrant neglect of its duty to secure industrial peace and good order, and to uphold the law within the Commonwealth ; for its maladministration of public affairs and public departments ; for its grossly partisan actions and appointments, and its reckless irresponsibility in the financial affairs of the Commonwealth.”
– The Leader of the Opposition has challenged the administration of public affairs by the Government. Those charges have been put in distinct language, and cover many important points. The Government is charged with having failed to recognise its constitutional and national obligations, with having flagrantly neglected to secure industrial peace and good order, and to uphold the law within the Commonwealth ; it is charged with the maladministration of public affairs and public departments, and grossly partisan action in appointments, and reckless irresponsibility in the financial affairs of the Commonwealth. If any one of these charges be true, Ministers have ceased to deserve the confidence of the House and of the people. No previous Commonwealth Government took office with a stronger following. They have a majority in this House and in the Senate, and, therefore, within the limits of their constitutional .power they have complete political authority to realize «very practical national scheme that they put before the country.
– Subject to the decisions of the High Court.
– I said every scheme that is within their constitutional powers. At the last election they went before the public at a time when there was a wave of enthusiasm for national sentiment running through the land. They played upon that national sentiment to the full. They proclaimed themselves the National party of Australia, and upon that ground they asked for support. They declared that they were a party who were going to realize the national ideals of the Commonwealth. How have they succeeded in that realization? Can they point to their record, and show that they have fulfilled all the promises of. every kind that they put before the people ? My contention is, Mr. Speaker, that instead of realizing their national ideals, they have’ proved themselves to be the only party that has taken control of the affairs of Australia which has been distinctly sectional in itsaims, and, on the whole, partisan in itsaction. I will presently endeavour to substantiate that statement. I will test them first of all on one important matter, and that is the fulfilment of the national obligation upon any Government to assist in the preservation of peace, law, and order’ within the Commonwealth. Test them byone incident alone, that of the Brisbane strike, and they can be proved to have failed to realize their national obligations and responsibilities. Their action was such that it ought to receive the censure of this House. First of all, I want to reply to one or two statements made by ‘the Prime Minister in his speech during this debate. He led this House, and the public, to believe that Brisbane itself favoured the strike, because, he said, in Brisbane the Labour party swept the polls at the last State elections. That was a distinct statement. Let us examine it in the light of the actual facts. How many seats did the Labour party win at the last Queensland elections in the area in which they are supposed to have swept the polls? I take the constituencies within a radius of 15 miles of the General Post Office, Brisbane. Labour secured the following seats : - Brisbane, Buranda, Fortitude Valley, Ithaca, Maree and Paddington. But what are the seats that they did not win, but which went to the Liberal party? They are Bulimba, Enoggera, Kurilpa, Merthyr, Nundah, Oxley, South Brisbane, Toombul, Toowong and Windsor. In the metropolitan area, therefore, the Labour party w.as defeated by ten seats to six. Yet the Prime Minister claims that they swept the whole area around Brisbane.
– What was the position before?
– Previous to the election, the metropolitan area was represented under a different system. The Labour party held two seats. But is securing six seats, as against ten, evidence of sweeping the metropolitan area?
– It is a big increase.
– We secured more than two seats, at any rate.
-Is that sweeping the constituencies ?
– There was a very big increase indeed, although we did not win.
– Is that the honorable member’s idea of sweeping the metropolitan area, when his party secured only six out of sixteen seats?
– If we sweep the Queensland constituencies in that way at the next election, we shall not regard our triumph as very great. Let us examine another aspect of the matter. The Prime Minister said, in regard to the remainder of the Queensland electorates, that the people were misled by statements that were laid before them. That is to say, the right honorable gentleman’s argument amounts to this: that of the whole State of Queensland, the only part that is capable of pronouncing a judgment upon the events that took place in Brisbane is Brisbane itself ; and I have already shown what the judgment of Brisbane was. But take the places at which the Prime Minister himself addressed meetings, and where the people had an opportunity of forming their opinion, not upon what was told them in the form of local newspaper criticism, or by statements emanating from the Brisbane Courier and the other metropolitan papers, but where they had the unexampled advantage of nearing the Prime Minister himself put the point of view of the Commonwealth Government fully and fairly. What was the result? Starting from Brisbane and travelling north through Gympie, Maryborough, and Bundaberg to the furthest district where the Prime Minister went, I find that only one seat went to Labour. These people had the invaluable opportunity of not being misled by the capitalistic press, but of heaving the one authority who could speak for the Commonwealth Government. The right honorable gentleman’s speeches were fully reported in the metropolitan and Bundaberg newspapers. The people had as full an opportunity of hearing what he had to say as of knowing what the case on the other side was. I mention that fact owing to a statement made by the Prime Minister himself.
– Our party secured a fair increase on the Darling Downs.
– They did not win a single seat for Labour in the whole of the Downs. In comparison with the last election, we more than held our own. At the last Federal election I secured a majority of over 7,000. That majority was sustained at the referenda, and at the State election the result was very much the same in the same area. Let us take another statement, which I am sorry that the Prime Minister made, because I do think that he would not wilfully repeat a statement which he knew to have been contradicted. This, however, is what the Prime Minister said -
When Mr. Denham was asked at Rocklea, after the strike, what he had done to settle it, he is reported to have said, “ I did not do anything. I did not intend, to doanything. I left them to stew in their own soup.”
I find, however, that on the18th April, immediately he saw this report, Mr. Denham replied at Gladstone to the Prime Minister, who was then in Queensland. I am sorry that the right honorable gentleman did not see the denial. Mr. Denham pointed out the efforts which had been made to try to bring about a settlement. He referred to efforts of Mr. Barnes, and remarked that the honorable member for Brisbane and others had been in consultation with him, although their endeavours had been fruit- ‘ less; but he insisted that as far as conciliation was concerned, the Government had undoubtedly done their best.
– Was the report published in his own newspaper a true one?
– After it had been denied, the Prime Minister repeated it.
– That was not a denial.
– I will give Mr. Denham’s exact words as reported in the press -
As to leaving men to stew in their own juice, what he had really said was that heleft the strike promoters, the strike committee, the leaders, who wanted Parliament called together, to stew in their own juice. He had the highest regard for the workers themselves.
– I quoted him fully. That is his explanation.
– Although on the 18th April the statement was denied, the Prime Minister in all his subsequent speeches has taken no notice of the denial.
– I quoted from the Courier.
– But when the statement: is denied, why does not the Prime Minister accept the denial ?
– I never saw it. What is more, that is not a denial of the statement.
– The Prime Minister asserted that Mr. Denham had said that the Queensland Government would leave the workers to “ stew in their own soup.” Mr. Denham denied ever having made such a statement.
– He never denied it. He tried to explain it away.
– I have given the House his own statement.I have read Mr. Denham’s denial.
– What the honorable member has read is not a denial, but a shuffle.
– The honorable member, perhaps, speaks with authority ; but I believe that the courtesies of public life will be better observed when public men are prepared to accept each other’s word. Who are more susceptible than are honorable members opposite when a mistake is made in regard to their utterances? All that we ask of them is to accept the standards of ordinary courtesy.
– The lies of the Opposition press have brought our party into prominence.
– But is the honorable member, because lies have been told about him, going to refuse to . recognise the ordinary courtesies of life, and to decline to accept the word of another public man? I am sure that he is not going to do anything of the kind. He is a man of a higher type, and has had the manliness on more than one occasion in this House to admit that he has made a mistake.
– As soon as we accept one statement it is denied, and when we accept that denial it in turn is denied.
– So far as I am personally concerned, I care not whether the honorable member accepts or refuses to accept this denial. My only desire is to bring out the truth; and I quote this denial in justice to a man who is not here to defend himself. The charge that we make against the Government is that they have failed in one of their obligations under the Constitution. What is that obligation? It is to be found in section . 119 of the Constitution, which provides that -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion, and, on the application of the Executive Government of the State, against domestic violence.
There we have clearly defined the obligation in this regard placed upon the Government of the Commonwealth. That section is really a reproduction of the fourth section of the fourth article of the Constitution of the United States of America, which provides that the United States shall guarantee to every State in the Union a Republican form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion ; and. on the application of the Legislature or of the Executive - when the Legislature cannot be convened - against domestic violence. We have in Rawle’s Constitution of the United States of America an interesting passage showing the nature of the compact. On page 292, he writes -
The power and duty of the United States to interfere with the particular concerns of a State are not, however, limited to the violent efforts of a party to alter its Constitution. If from any other motives, or under any other pretexts, the internal peace and order of the State are disturbed and its own powers are insufficient to suppress the commotion, it becomes the duty of its proper Government to apply to the union for protection.
There we see that the duty is placed upon a State, when it cannot deal with its own internal affairs, to apply to the Union for assistance -
This is founded on the sound principle that those in whom the force of the union is vested, in diminution of the power formerly possessed by the State, are bound to exercise it for the good of the whole, and upon the obvious and direct interest that the whole possesses in the peace and tranquillity of every part. At the same time it is properly provided, in order that such interference may not wantonly or arbitrarily take place, that it shall only be on the request of the State authorities ; otherwise the self-government of the State might be encroached upon at the pleasure of the union, and a small State might fear or feel the effects of a combination of larger States against it under colour of Constitutional authority ; but it is manifest that in e’very part of this excellent system there has been the utmost care to avoid encroachments on the internal powers of the different States, whenever the general good did. not imperiously require it.
Rawle goes on to point out that -
No form of application for this assistance is pointed out, nor has been provided by any Act of Congress; but the natural course would be to apply to the President or officer for the time being, exercising his functions. No occasional Act of the Legislature of the United States seems to be necessary where his duty is pointed out by the Constitution -
This is significant. He concludes - and great injury might be sustained if the power was not promptly exercised.
When the Federation was formed, there had to be a distribution of powers between the Commonwealth and the States. The States had given to them the control of domestic affairs, and the Commonwealth the control of general affairs, including the power of the military. But the States, when they surrendered the control of the military, had to be given some guarantee of protection against domestic violence. The supreme power of a nation in its last resort is its military power, and, therefore, to preserve the States it was necessary, under the Constitution to give each of them a guarantee against domestic violence. Let us see how the Government themselves at one time looked upon their duty in this regard. Here is a quotation from a speech made by the Minister of Defence, Senator Pearce, in the Senate, on 2nd November last -
Law is the only element so far discovered by which communities can be kept together in units as nations. We have, in order to maintain ourselves as a nation, to uphold the laws of our nation, not only against foreign aggression, but also against internal aggression. The whole duty of government is summed up in that. It is to uphold and enforce the law. The people of Australia have declared that they will have a military system for the defence of Australia as 1 nation, and I will say that that does not merely mean that we will defend Australia from foreign oppression, but that we will defend the laws of Australia, no matter from where the attack may come, if that attack takes the form of force.
I have yet another quotation from the speech made by Senator Pearce speaking with the full authority of the Government -
At present, as far as I know, the only way by which the Commonwealth Parliament is able to protect itself or a State from domestic violence is by its Defence Force.
There we have the position clearly defined. Let us see what has happened since then. This statement was made by Senator Pearce, on 2nd November last, during a debate in the Senate on a motion submitted by Senator Rae, which read thus -
The Defence Act should be so amended as to clearly set forth that the object of creating a Citizen Defence Force based upon universal compulsory military training and service, is for the purpose of defending the Commonwealth against possible foreign aggression, and, therefore, under no circumstances should any person so enrolled be compelled to bear arms against any- fellow Australian citizen, notwithstanding anything contained in the oath of allegiance, or in any other conditions of compulsory service. . . .
That motion was opposed by the Government, and many of their supporters; but with the persistence so characteristic of the Labour party the supporters of this proposal came up smiling at the Hobart Conference, and submitted it once more, although in a different .form. The words “bear arms against any fellow citizen “ were eliminated, and for them were substituted the words “ interfere with workers engaged in an industrial dispute “ ; so that under no circumstances should a citizen defence force be used to interfere with workers engaged in an industrial dispute. In that form the resolution was carried by the Hobart Conference which opened on the 8th January last, notwithstanding that it was opposed by a man of military instincts, the honorable member for Adelaide, who knew from his own experience in military matters, what his duty in this connexion was. Notwithstanding, the motion was carried, and after that the Government apparently took a different view of their constitutional obligation in connexion with matters arising under the Defence Act.
– Notwithstanding my remarks, properly published in that pamphlet, I fully and without qualification agreed with what the other members of the Government did.
– Quite so, and if the honorable member did not agree with what the Government did then we have not such a thing as responsible government in Australia. I wish to point out incidentally that several times during this strike the Prime Minister said. “ I accept the responsibility for this.” In the first place he has to accept the responsibility. In the second place,’ according to the theory of our Constitution, if the principles of a corporate Cabinet are to continue every member of it has also to take his share of that responsibility. It is no excuse or no virtue for a Minister to claim that he takes the responsibility, because he has to do so whether he likes it or not.
– That is distinctly incorrect.
– We have a new theory of responsible government when a Minister can do what he likes, and his fellowMinisters can set it at nought, as if it did not matter in the slightest degree.
– The honorable member is wilfully misrepresenting me.
– No, I do not want to misrepresent the honorable member.
– Does not the honorable member think that it is a pity that we have not got to that stage where each Minister would be responsible for his own actions?
– Each Minister has to be responsible for his actions. That has been the theory of the Constitution since responsible government has prevailed, but there has been the further principle that every member of the Cabinet has to share a responsibility with his colleagues.
– That is the rotten part of it.
– The honorable member may take a different view as a reformer, but that is the theory of our Constitution. I have shown incidentally what Senator Pearce’s view of the duty of the Government was at that date. Let us now take another authority to see what the nature of this obligation is. In his Constitution of the United States, John Randolph Tucker refers to the section of the American article an the following paragraph, at page 640 -
The clause then provides that the United States, on application of the Legislature or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), should protect each of them against domestic violence. In the case of domestic violence, it is obvious that the United States cannot interfere unless called upon to do so by the Legislature, or by the State Executive when the Legislature cannot be convened.
Then he makes this important statement -
The United States, then, are not to determine what is domestic violence calling for their protection, but that is to be determined by the Legislature or Executive of the State.
That is his view. He quotes the observations of Maddison on this point, and then, on page 641, he continues -
These views show that the United States are bound, on the application of the Legislature or Executive of a State, to aid in suppressing an insurrection in a State, even though it may have a majority, including alien residents not suffragans,on the side of the opposition to the Government. The United States cannot join with the parties to domestic violence, because they are in the majority, to overthrow the Government, which is guaranteed as a Republican Government, and to be protected against domestic violence. This would make the United States a factor in domestic quarrels, and not a protector of the Government against those who are too strong tobe overborne by it. Where there are rival Governments and the demand is made by either or both, it has been decided in the case of Luther v. Borden, followed in Texas v. White, that when the application is, made the President may have the authority to decide which is the legitimate Government. This latter part of this clause was insisted on by the southern States, because assuring them of protection of the United States Government in case of servile insurrection.
Under that authority he places it on the highest possible ground that the Commonwealth is bound to interfere when an application is made. In The American Com monwealth, Bryce takes exactly the same view of the nature of the obligation which is placed upon the State. In his first volume, at page 329, he lays down the proposition -
This case is that of the breaking out in a State of serious disturbances. The President is bound, on the application of the State Legislature or Executive, to quell such disturbances by the armed forces of the Union, or by directing the militia of another State to enter.
He enumerates the different cases in which, on the application of the States, this power has been enforced, and enforced successfully. I am only going incidentally to mention the last case, namely, the case of President Hayes, who was obliged to use military force “ during the tumults in Pennsylvania caused by the great railway strikes of 1877.” I turned to the only account I could get of these strikes and the effect of Federal intervention in the matter. In a series of historical essays, published in 1909, Dr. Rhodes writes -
Where the regular soldiers appeared order was at once restored without bloodshed, and it was said that the rioters feared one Federal bayonet more than a whole company of militia.
That is the effect of the exercise of the power. He goes on to say -
It was seen that the Federal Government, with a resolute President at its head, was a tower of strength in the event of a social uprising.
The President of the United States is, of course, the Executive Officer. In Australia, it is the Prime Minister who exercises the same power, and we may say that the Federal Government, with a resolute Prime Minister at its head, would be a tower of strength in the event of a social uprising.
– Was there any social uprising?
– I am dealing with the constitutional power at present. I shall deal with the other matter presently. That is the position put by these authorities . After carefully considering the whole position, and looking further into the authority of the leading case of Luther v. Borden, which went before the Supreme Court of the United States, my view is that this duty is a political one. It isnot a legal duty, which one can enforce by going to the High Court and getting a mandamus against the Prime Minister to discharge his responsibility. It is a political duty, and that is stated in the case of Luther, v. Borden, as reported in Thayer’s cases at page 192 -
Moreover, the Constitution of the United States, as far as it has provided for anemergency of this kind, and authorized the general
Government to interfere in the domestic concerns of a State, has treated the subject as political in its nature, and placed the power in the hands of that department.
The power to interfere in a domestic disturbance is a political power, which, in Australia, is placed in the hands of the Government of the day, but, at the same time, there is a mandatory side to it. Our Constitution, as was pointed out by an eminent authority, is something in the nature of a treaty. The States surrendered to the Commonwealth their power to look after military matters, and the Commonwealth has the control of the military power. It is the military power in the end which preserves to the nation its very existence, lt is the instinct of self-preservation manifested in the military power in national life. What was the condition of the surrender of the power? The States gave up the power on condition that in case their domestic power was not adequate to the occasion, the Commonwealth would, in the hour of crisis, come in and assist them, and protect them against domestic violence. It s in the nature of a treaty obligation ; it is a moral obligation, and it is just as binding as any other treaty is binding upon the people. When it comes to the exercise of a power, undoubtedly there must be with the Commonwealth some means of ascertaining whether the conditions exist which call for an exercise of the power. . There must be that right in the Commonwealth in order to ascertain whether this duty ought to be fulfilled.
– The honorable member is right on the pivot now.
– That is the position, but let the Government remember that it is their duty to ascertain whether the facts exist, so that they may fulfil their treaty obligation to those who are in the Union. That power is clearly set out in the first of these cases Luther v. Borden. Referring to an analogous case I find that at page 195 Thayer says -
The words “ it shall be the duty “ in ordinary legislation imply the assertion of the power_ to command and to coerce obedience. But looking to the subject-matter of this law, and the relations which the United States and the several States bear to each other, the court is of opinion the words “it shall be the duty” were not used as. mandatory and compulsory, but as declaratory of the moral duty which this compact created when Congress had provided the mode of carrying it into execution.
That is the position in this particular case. There is a duty which is mandatory in the sense of a moral obligation, and the Com monwealth has no right when the conditions exist to fail to fulfil its constitutional obligation. There are two points at issue. The first is that when the demand^is made there is a duty to be performed in two ways. If the power is discretionary that discretion has to be exercised. There must be an honest, proper, and complete exercise of the power of discretion in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. The next point is that if the facts are found to exist which call for aid, no matter what one’s political opinions may be, if there is domestic violence within a State with which the State authority cannot cope, there is no liberty on the part of the Commonwealth authority to refuse to fulfil its obligation. It is bound to interfere to protect the State against domestic violence.
– No one has said anything different.
– I am glad that we are getting round to the same point. Let us see, first of all, whether the Prime Minister exercised any discretion in this matter. Did the Commonwealth Cabinet consider the application as it was their duty to do according to the Constitution? Did they make a full and impartial inquiry to find whether domestic violence existed or not? All we have to go by in considering this phase of the question are the statements made by the Prime Minister and the AttorneyGeneral and the papers laid on the table of this House.
– Was a proclamation ever issued ?
– I shall deal with the proclamation presently. A telegram was. sent at five minutes past 7 o’clock on the evening of the 1st February by the Governor of the State of Queensland in these terms -
In consequence of general strike riot and bloodshed are imminent in Brisbane. State police are not able to preserve order. Firearms have been used to prevent arrest of a man. guilty of riotous conduct.
The Executive Government of State request that you direct steps to be taken immediatelyto protect State against domestic violence in terms of section 119 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.
As situation is extremely grave my Ministers urge immediate action.
Here is the reply sent on the 2nd February - the next day.
– What is the time mentioned ?
– The time is not mentioned in the official paper.
– That is an important omission.
– It is, and I am sorry it was not supplied.I understand that this telegram was sent at mid-day. Perhaps the Honorary Minister will say if that be so.
– I could not tell the honorable gentleman the exact moment. The message from the State Government was considered immediately upon its receipt.
– Yes, and the reply was probably sent the next morning. This is the reply -
The Government recommend your Excellency that the following reply be sent to the Governor of Queensland.
That whilst the Commonwealth Government is quite prepared to fulfil its obligations to the Stales, if ever the occasion should arise, they do not admit the right of any State to call for their assistance in circumstances which are proper to be dealt with by the police forces of the States.
That is a very pious expression of opinion, but no one had asked for it. This is the important part of the reply.
The condition of affairs existing in Queensland does not, in the opinion of my Ministers, warrant the request of the Executive Government of Queensland contained in your Excellency’s message being complied with.
Included amongst these papers there is another telegram which, when the papers were tabled in this House, was headed in this way -
Copy of telegram received from Premier of Queensland dated 2/2/12.
Assuming that Ministers present are in charge of the House l wish to ask them if they can tell me when that telegram, which obviously was not from the Premier of Queensland, but from the Combined Unions, was received? Can they tell me why that telegram is dated 2nd February, 1912 ?
– I could not tell the honorable gentleman.
– I ask because it appears on the files after the other dates, and anyone reading the papers would naturally come to the conclusion that this telegram was received after the receipt, of the other telegram to which I have referred.
– I came to that conclusion.
– It is important to know when that telegram was despatched. According to this statement, it appears to have been despatched on the 2nd February.
– Is the honorable gentleman quoting from a copy of the paper laid on the table ?
– Does the honorable gentleman suggest that the dates, as printed, are not correct?
– I want to know whether they are correct?
– There is something curious about it.
– There is, and that is why I refer to it. What I wish to know is whether the Commonwealth Government exercised their discretion, and decided to refuse to the Queensland Government the aid of the military before or after the receipt of this telegram. That is a very important point, because if we take away this telegram there is absolutely no evidence shown by the Prime Minister or anybody else of anything in the nature of an inquiry or the exercise of a proper discretion.
– Does the honorable gentleman mean to imply that the parliamentary paper is not correct?
– I am asking for information. Since this paper was laid on the table of the House, the whole of the headline to which I have referred has been struck out.
– We shall have the originals produced. If the honorable gentleman moves for their production, I shall support him.
– If the originals are here, I wish to see them. I am not suggesting that there is anything improper.
– Do I understand that the honorable gentleman has the originals ?
– No; I have a copy of the paper laid on the table.
– Does fhe honorable gentleman suggest that those papers are incorrect?
– The Honorary Minister is a member of the Cabinet, and ought to be able to tell me what I wish to know. I wish to know whether the members of the Cabinet had this telegram from Mr. Coyne before them when they refused the application of the Premier of Queensland ?
-If I am not mistaken, the two telegrams were received about the same time; or, at any rate, within a few hours of each other.
– I think the honorable member is right, because Mr. Coyne says that in an urgent wire he appealed to the Prime Minister to send troops to protect the people against the police, but that owing to defects in the Federal Constitution the Prime Minister could not accede to his request. He added that, twenty-four hours after, Mr. Denham made a similar request, but he was too late. That is the statement which Mr. Coyne made at Toowoomba.
– Does not the honorable member think that the public required to be protected against the special constables who were let loose in Brisbane with batons?
– The public want to know the facts as to when this particular communication was received by the Commonwealth Government. Personally, I think that Mr. Coyne’s statement is correct.
– It is not.
– From the way in which they talk, it strikes me that some honorable members would like to see the streets of Brisbane running with blood.
– I am sure that in his calmer moments the honorable member will regret having made that statement. He knows perfectly well that our desire is to prevent bloodshed and to preserve peace. Let us dispassionately discuss the facts. The application of the Queensland Government was the first of its kind which has ever been made to the Commonwealth, and for that reason, if for no other, it is worthy of temperate consideration. Mr. Coyne’s telegram reads -
Strike combined Committee have maintained absolute order up to this morning. Peaceable processions have taken place, also peaceable public meetings this morning. Permit to hold procession refused ; foot and mounted police fully armed- posted all corners preventing people proceeding peaceably along streets. Many serious unprovoked assaults by police. We have Vigilance Committee keeping perfect order if not prevented by police. Will you assist us with your naval and military to maintain peace and order. Reply urgent.
– I think that that telegram is a lovely satire on the other communication.
– Does the honorable member suggest that it was intended as a satire? If so, did Mr. Coyne know what was in the other communication ? Mr. Coyne says that his wire was despatched twentyfour hours before Mr. Denham’s, and in it he Speaks of “ peaceable processions” having taken place that morning. Now we all know that on the 2nd February no procession was allowed in Brisbane. The only peaceable procession to which the telegram could have referred was one which took place on 1st February. Obviously it must have been despatched on 1st February, and must have referred to the events of that day. I come now to the question of how the Government exercised their discretion. What was the material upon which they exercised the important function which devolved upon them of preserving domestic peace in another State? It is perfectly clear that the material which they had before them was a telegram from Mr. Coyne, containing information which upon its very face was incorrect, because there was no “ peaceable procession” held in Brisbane on the 2nd February. The Prime Minister has given us no assurance that a complete and proper inquiry was made as to the conditions which obtained in Brisbane before the reply of the Executive was forwarded to the Government of Queensland.
– Did not the Prime Minister say that the Government were in close touch with the whole affair, and that they had information from independent sources?
– I am content to accept the Prime Minister’s own statement. In speaking at Brisbane he said -
He made no apology for not having sent the troops. With unerring instinct and a thorough knowledge of the people, he had come to the conclusion that they were not needed, because the people were honest at heart and faithful to the principle of good citizenship.
He practically repeated that statement at Bundaberg on 18th April when he said -
The Commonwealth Government unerringly diagnosed the situation.
In fulfilling its constitutional obligations, is the Government to act upon “ unerring instinct “ ? Where is the evidence that any proper inquiry was made by Ministersto ascertain the conditions which obtained in Brisbane at the time the Premier of Queensland urgedthat “ in consequence of a general strike, riot and bloodshed are imminent?” Surely such a message sent to a Government intrusted with national responsibilities ought to have been sufficient to make them rise to the situation. They were not asked to send the military to Brisbane. They were merely requested to protect the State, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution. Did the Government give any assurance to the State authorities that, they were taking action with a view to having everything in readiness should occasion arise for their intervention? Certainly not. On the contrary, there was an absolute negation of their responsibility - a banging of the door, and a complete failure to realize their constitutional obligations. Had the Prime Minister sent a message to the Premier of Queensland stating that, in his. opinion, conditions had not yet arisen which called for intervention on the part of the Commonwealth, but that he had given instructions to have everything in readiness for such an emergency, it would have , had a most re-assuring effect upon the people. The mere fact that the people knew the Prime Minister to be on the side of law and order would have had a peaceful effect ; but, instead, there was a complete refusal to comply with the request of the State Government. In the communication from the Queensland Government it was stated -
Firearms have been used to prevent the arrest of a man guilty of riotous conduct.
That statement is true ; it is undoubtedly the fact that a shot was fired, and went very close to Sub-Inspector Carroll’s head.
– It was fired by a policeman !
– If the shot was fired by a policeman at his superior, what about the Prime Minister’s inaction?
– Surely the honorable member would not call out the military on that account ?
– Does it matter who fired the shot? There is the fact that a shot was fired.
– The inference is that it was fired by a striker. ^
– I am not drawing any inference. I am trying to discuss the matter dispassionately, making no imputation against the honour and integrity of the general mass of unionists in Brisbane.
– The honorable member is making imputations.
– I am not. I have not said ‘one word on the merits of the strike, and my only desire is that we shall discuss th-; matter impartially.
– We have not even
Galled them “bushrangers” yet!
– As to that, the honorablemember for Darling can now speak as an employer as well as an employ^ : doubtless he now sees the advantage of looking at both sides of the question, and I am sure he will do so. Is the statement that I have made true? The first time we have heard about this shot being fired by a policeman is in this House.
– Nonsense; the honorable member is quite wrong ! ‘I made the statement publicly at Brisbane.
– If that be so, I apologize to the honorable member, but I should like to know when and where he made the statement.
– 1 made it a dozen times !
– Then I withdraw my statement. The question is, however, whether, on the 1st February, that statement was true - is it true that -
Firearms have been used to prevent the arrest of a man guilty of riotous conduct.
– No; on the honorable member’s own showing that is not true !
– The reports and information I received at the time led me to believe that it was true ; at any rate, the Commonwealth Government acted without any knowledge of whether it was true, or false. The communication from the Queensland Government went on to say -
Executive Government of Slate request that you direct steps to be taken immediately to protect the State against domestic violence in terms of section 119 of Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act. As the situation is extremely grave, my Ministers urge immediate action.
Let us see how the Prime Minister regarded that application. He said, in an interview in Melbourne -
I have received two communications - one from the Queensland Government and one from the strike executive. It amounts to this : - That they complain of each other’s action.
This was after application had been made officially by a responsible Government intrusted with the administration of the affairs of the State ; and the Prime Minister refers to that Government in the same way as he refers to a sort of revolutionary committee; he places the Government of Queensland on the same basis as he places the strike committee sitting in Brisbane.
– That was strictly impartial.
– Strictly impartial ! Here we have the Prime Minister of Australia, under an obligation to preserve the Constitution and the Constitutions of the States, and he is so impartial that he places ;i Stats Government and a strike committee on the same footing ! In the same newspaper interview, the Prime Minister went on to say -
You can say this - I am delighted with the way in which the men are behaving under very trying circumstances. Long may they continue to do so. That is my personal opinion -
He then abandons Ministerial responsibility, and adds - and, of course, does not involve the Government
The right honorable gentleman then went on to refer to section 119 of the Constitution, and to the section in the Defence Act. When a man defends his actions, he usually sets forth the most important justification first ; and the Attorney-General told ms, “ We could not do it, because no pro clamation was issued under the Defence Act.” The defence of the AttorneyGeneral is like that of the young man who, when asked why he did not rescue a drowning young lady, said he really could not do so because he had never been introduced to her ! The Federal Government could not come to the aid of the State when requested by the Premier of the State on the ground that bloodshed was imminent, because, technically, no proclamation had been issued. According to the present Government, in view of their constitutional obligations, the issue of a proclamation in -the hour of peril is more important than is the preservation of life and property. However, the most interesting feature of this gallant defence is that we heard it for >the first time when the Attorney-General spoke in the House. If that was the reason that actuated the Government, why did they not say to the Queensland Government, “ Regret we cannot consider the matter until you issue a proclamation?” That question, however, was never raised until the Government found that the public opinion of Australia was against them.
– There was a proclamation issued.
– That was the day after, and merely to enable the State Government to take advantage of their own laws.
– To enable them to exercise their own powers, which they had not exhausted when they asked for the aid of the military. The honorable member ought to be fair.-
– I have shown that the Government exercised no proper discretion; at any rate, I have shown that a letter from Mr. Coyne seemed to be good evidence on which to come to a decision, unless the Government have other ‘secret information which they do not care to disclose. We have to put ourselves in the position of the citizens of Brisbane, at 7 o’clock on the 1 st February, when this application was made. What happened afterwards does not concern us now except that the subsequent acts cast light on what went before. We must confine our attention to what took place before and on the ist February. The e8th January was a most important date, because it was on that Sunday that this resolution was arrived at by a meeting of trade unionists -
This meeting of delegates representing fortythree unions, recognising that the action of the Brisbane Tramway Company in prohibiting its employees from wearing badges, the symbol of their unionism, constitutes an attack on the principles of unionism recognised under the Statute law, Federal and State, resolves that a general cessation of work take place on Tuesday evening, 30th inst., unless in the meantime a satisfactory settlement is arrived at.
It was on that basis that the general strike started. The cause of complaint, as alleged by the representatives of fortythree unions in conference, was the action of the Brisbane Tramway Company in prohibiting its employes from wearing their union badges. This prohibition they regarded as justifying them in throwing the business of Brisbane into confusion. On the following day, the secretary of the Strike Committee published the- following advertisement in the Brisbane Courier: -
To the members of the unions assembled at the Trades Halt on Monday last, 28th inst. As no attempt has been made before 6 p.m. on 29th inst. by the Brisbane Tramway Company to endeavour to settle the dispute between themselves and their employees, now locked out, I do, on behalf of the above unions and committee, subsequently appointed by them, hereby instruct each and all members of the above unions to cease work at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, 30th January inst. Written applications for permits in regard to hospitals, &c. , will be received by* me at my office, Trades Hall.
A Strike Committee was constituted, and took control of affairs, with the result that on the following Wednesday the business of Brisbane was paralyzed. I was in the city on , Thursday, ist February, when things were at their worst, moved through the streets, and heard and saw something of what was going on. Things had then become so acute that trade and business were paralyzed, and storekeepers and shopkeepers had to close their buildings. The affairs of Brisbane, instead of being controlled and directed from the Treasury, were controlled and directed from the Trades Hall, over which the Commonwealth flag was flying.
– What was wrong with the flag? “
– It is the abuse of the flag that I complain of. Men who seek to cover social outrages and disturbances with the Australian flag are not patriots.
– Where was the red flag?
– The red ribbon was all over the streets of Brisbane. .
– What the honorable member wanted over the streets was red blood.
– Australia has not to thank honorable gentlemen opposite for preventing the flow of blood in Brisbane.
– We were not a “ fire low and lay them out “ Government.
– But there was a subsequent offer of billets by the Government to the strikers. The point I am making is that on the 1st February the trade of Brisbane was paralyzed. Its citizens could not pursue their ordinary callings. It was reported that women who had purchased goods were compelled to return them to the shops, and to go without the necessaries of life.
– Did the honorable member see that?
– That happened. Bands of men went to different houses and compelled cooks and domestic servants to cease work. At Eschenhagen’s, a large body of men assembled, and the restaurant had to be closed, and the same thing occurred at Rowe’s café.
– Did the honorable member see it?
– Does the honorable member deny that it happened? These incidents were reported in the newspapers, and were reported truly. Does the honorable member deny that on the 1st February there were no less than three occasions in the one morning in which large bodies of men assembled in the streets of Brisbane in connexion with disturbances? Speeches were first delivered at the Trades Hall. Then there were processions, and thousands of men were parading the streets. Those people who were enthusiastically with the men were gathering round them. After the meetings and the processions, these men scattered themselves through the streets of the city; and it is that which constituted a great deal of the peril. There were three occasions reported on that one morning when the mob had possession of the streets.I am not blaming the unionists particularly for those cases, but 1 am pointing out what the domestic condition of Brisbane was during the strike. There was the case of certain goods which were being taken from the wharf along Mary-street towards Edwardstreet. Does the honorable member deny that a mob of perhaps a thousand people assembled’ there ? Does he deny also that many men attacked the police with pieces of wood, and that one constable was in capacitated ? Does he deny that act of violence? Does he deny the incident when lorries laden with barrels of beer going down Market-square were attacked? The third occasion was the stoppage of a lorry laden with potatoes by a mob who had control of the city of Brisbane on the1st February.
– Finlayson !
– I will show presently that the honorable member for Brisbane was in a “ blue funk.” I will show what his condition was. The control of the streets of Brisbane, trade and commerce, and the powers of government, had been taken out of the hands of the properlyconstituted authorities and transferred to a committee at the Trades Hall.
– What was Denham doing then ?
– Honorable members opposite admit the charge.I happened to be in Ipswich when Mr. Collings spoke on the 1 st February. This is what he said -
The Strike Cominittee sitting in the Trades Hall were the absolute dictators of Brisbane at the present time.
That is, a pretty strong statement on the part of one of the leaders - one of those who were put up day after day to try to keep the men in heart. Let me sav this for Mr. Collings and Mr. Coyne. When the strike began to fail thev did not slink away, but saw the whole thing out to the bitter end. Is that statement of Mr. Collings which I have quoted true, or is it false? He. was speaking with intimate knowledge. What was going on in Brisbane on the morning when Mr. Coyne telegraphed to the Fisher Government? This is what Mr. Coyne himself said -
The second morning after the strike was proclaimed there was not a man in Brisbane who could buy a loaf of bread without a permit from the Strike Committee. Would it be a surprise for them to know that the Government of Queensland had come to the Strike Committee for permits? Would it surprise them to know that the Water Board and the biggest merchants in Brisbane had to get permits? The Strike Committee carried on the business of the country better than the Denham crowd.
That was the statement of “the men who were organizing and carrying on this strike. Let us see how they exercised their power. This is the sort of thing that they issued -
From the office of the Combined Unions Strike Committee-
The above body has decided to allow bread to be baked under the following conditions.
Bread is one of the first necessities of life. Every one was clamouring for it, and many could not get it, and had to go without it -
We will send men in shifts to bake bread, the same to be retailed at 3½d. per loaf.
They were beginning to regulate prices -
All wages to be paid to the Strike Committee.
Secretary Bakers’ Union.
By authority of the Strike Committee.
There was communism at once. All wages were to go to the central fund. There is another interesting document, which is signed by “ J. A. Moir, secretary.” It reads as follows : -
Combined Unions Committee,
Trades Hall, Brisbane, 30th January, 1912.
The provisions governing the enclosed permit are as follow : -
All work to be carried on solely by unionists.
The said unionists not to receive any of the remuneration direct, from you, -but such remuneration to be forwarded to the Strike Committee, who will pay strike allowance to such employes on application, providing they produce fidelity voucher signed by you.
Any infringement of the above provisions will render the permit liable to forfeiture.
The Committee hold the right for the withdrawal at any time of this permit.
I do not want to go into details at undue length, but wish to show that that is the kind of thing which was taking place in Brisbane at that time. It is interesting to observe what a gentleman who was in the midst of the trouble thought- of the occurrences. He wrote as follows: -
It is quite impossible for any intelligent citizen of Brisbane to contemplate with any degree of equanimity the position of affairs in the city to-day. We are living on the edge of a volcano, and while the leaders of the strikers are doing their very best to uphold law and order, and consistently urging the men to avoid any disturbance of the peace, the fact remains that any quite unpremeditated action may precipitate a serious disturbance.
– Who wrote that?
– Finlayson !
– That was written by the honorable member for Brisbane. He continued -
As the days go by the danger will inevitably increase, and every good citizen should seriously consider what it may be possible to do to guarantee the safety of life and property.
The safety of life and property - that was the problem before the people of Brisbane at that time. That is the way the honor able member looked at it. He considered that Brisbane was “ on the edge of a volcano,” and that any unpremeditated action might produce a serious disturbance. He went on -
If this proposal is unacceptable, then, in the name of peace, let us have something that would render unnecessary a continuance of the present critical position of affairs in Brisbane.
– Why does not the honorable member read the part which he has omitted ?
– The point is how the honorable member himself regarded the state of affairs on the , 1st February, when he saw these thousands of people marching through the streets. He then realized the danger. He himself later on said that Mr. McLachlan prevented the occurrence of a more serious disturbance. But how does he regard the matter now that it is all over, and when the Denham Government have restored peace and order? How calmly he can contemplate the wholething ! Here was one of the finest cities in Australia taken out of the control of its proper authorities and handed over to this irresponsible body. Let us see now what the honorable member for Brisbane had to say the same evening. He said -
He had gone home at dinner time.
He was a lucky man to be able to go home to dinner.
Mr.Finlayson. - That statement appeared in the honorable member’s newspaper, which is published at Toowoomba.
– Does that make it untrue ? Does not the honorable member consider that he was lucky to be able to go home to his dinner that day?
– There was not a man in Brisbane at that time without a dinner.
– That is incorrect. At all events, if no man went without his dinner, plenty of women and children did, or many of them at least could not obtain bread.
– Nonsense !
– The honorable member knows what took place early one morning in Brisbane, when, before 4.30, thousands of people were clamouring round the bakers’ shops for bread, and even taking away dough to bake the bread for themselves. Honorable members opposite may laugh, but their laughter affords no answer to my statement. Ensconced in their comfortable seats, they may prate about the people knowing nothing of poverty, but I am showing what actually happened, and the suffering that was caused as the result of this general strike. What was the object of the strike committee in taking this action, if it was not to bring to bear the powerful lever of poverty and suffering to subjugate the public to their will?
– It will be interesting to hear the honorable member for Brisbane on the honorable member for Darling Downs.
– He has the right of free speech, and will be able to reply. The honorable member for Brisbane is reported to have said at a meeting in the evening -
He had gone home at dinner time after the scene in Market-street -
That was the occasion on which a pistol shot was fired - feeling that a supreme crisis had come.
The honorable member was truthful in his statement, and I applaud him for having had the courage to declare the truth to these men. I am not going to utter one word against his honour or integrity, nor am I making any personal attack upon him. I am simply quoting his own statement as evidence of what were the actual conditions in Brisbane on the day in question. He went on to say -
Now he was satisfied that the next day the position would be of even greater gravity.
Although a supreme crisis had arisen that day, he was confident that the position on the morrow would be of still greater gravity. Just before he made this speech, the Queensland Government had preferred their request for assistance, and their statement was practically on all fours with his own, that a crisis had been reached. The two statements were practically identical. The honorable member for Brisbane went on to say -
He urged all to take their instructions only from those at the Trades Hall, and to do nothing to break the peace.
This statement stands to his credit. Throughout this great industrial strike, he did his utmost to restore peace. He went out of his way to do so, and might even have incurred hostility in his efforts.
– I did.
– The honorable member for Darling Downs, on the other hand, left Brisbane for Ipswich on the night in question.
– I had business to attend to at Ipswich. I did not occupy any official position, and I was not a member of the Commonwealth Ministry refusing to discharge my duty. It is interesting to contrast Mr. Finlayson’s statement with the telegram sent by Mr. Coyne, in which he said that -
Peaceable processions have taken place ; also peaceable public meetings. . . . We have vigilance committee keeping perfect order.
On the very day on which, according to Mr. Coyne, perfect order was being maintained by a vigilance committee a serious disturbance had taken place in Marketstreet, and the honorable member for Brisbane declared that a serious crisis had arisen. Yet we have this telegram from Mr. Coyne, assuring the Commonwealth Government that perfect order was being maintained. Mr. Coyne had taken control of Brisbane; he said that he was managing the affairs of the city better than the Denham Government was doing, and it was apparently upon the evidence of -this man that the Commonwealth Government acted. I do not wish to labour this matter. I have already dealt with it at greater length than I had intended to do, but I think it necessary that we should ask ourselves what were the views of the Premier of Queensland in regard to the actual situation. On the 5th February he gave his reasons for applying to the Commonwealth for military assistance. He said -
In the first place, when the appeal was made it was clearly impossible, with the means at the command of the State Government, to restore order without the aid of the force prescribed by section 119 of the Commonwealth Constitution.
The Premier of Queensland, with a full knowledge of the actual position, makes this serious statement, and I should like to know who could speak with better authority on the subject. Believing this to be the actual position, he preferred his request to the Commonwealth Government. And how has the Attorney-General spoken of it? He has said in this House that this application for aid without the issue of a proclamation was a trap on the part of the Queensland Government. Is that a fair and proper statement to be made by a Minister of State administering an important office of the Commonwealth ? Mr. Denham went on to say -
Secondly, thousands of men heldup the city and suburbs, and under directions from some illegal authority determined to starve the community, into subjugation.
Do we need any further proof of the truth of this statement than the admissions made by the. strike committee themselves? I should like at this stage to say that my observations in this connexion have no reference whatever to the great mass of unionists. My charge is levelled, not against them, but against the members of the strike committee who took control. Mr. Denham continued -
Realizing that they had gone too far, and trying to disguise the consequences of their illegal conduct, they resorted to a system of permits. Law-abiding citizens were subjected to this gross indignity, and sick people and young people were deprived of necessary nourishment. … In the third place, the restoration of order was only effected by the unusual exercise of the authority of His Excellency the Governor in the callins of citizens away from their vocations in order that they might secure that peace and security which they had the right to expect would be provided by the Government to which they owe allegiance.
The question that we have to consider is whether in the circumstances the Commonwealth Government fulfilled their duty. I maintain that they did not, and for this they must accept the full responsibility. The Attorney-General may put to the Opposition all sorts of interrogations as to whether they would have done this or that, but the question that he has to answer is, why the Commonwealth Government, when the circumstances were such as have been depicted, not only declined to give assistance, but did not offer to give that assurance which, had it gone out, might have restored peace and order, and have preserved the city of Brisbane in a state of tranquillity.
– Then the honorable member would have sent the military ?
– I say that the Commonwealth Ministry ought to have given to the Queensland Government a complete assurance that they stood beside them in this matter. The Queensland Government throughout acted in the most impartial manner.
– Oh !
– Perhaps the honorable member for Brisbane will point out the acts of partiality of which it is suggested the Queensland Government were guilty. I ask him to say whether they interfered with the men, save to preserve law and order. It was the duty of the Government to do this, and to restore trade and commerce, and in order to carry out their duty they had to resort to the calling out of large bodies of special constables-. So far as industrial troubles are concerned I sincerely hope that we shall be able to dispense, as far as possible, with the services of special constables, because, obviously a great many of the men who volunteer may or may not be partisans.
When you come to administer law and order what you want is not men imbued with partisan feeling, but men who as far as they can do, will hold the balance of justice fairly betwen man and man. Of what do our Military Forces consist? Are they only unionists, are they only nonunionists? The men who go out and stand side by side on public duty should and must be men drawn from all classes of the community. They should have no other, duty when they have their uniform on than that of fulfilling every desire to assist in the preservation of peace. I admit that as far as possible in a free community we ought not to cai! out our Military Forces ; but when you got to the position in which the Queensland Government were placed, when they had lost control of their capital, and another body of men had come in and usurped control, the time had arrived for the Prime Minister to intervene and say, “ Whether I am Labour or Liberal, or whatever I am, I have only one duty to remember. It is my duty to preserve this country against domestic violence, and in spite of my obligation to this man or that man, I am going faithfully to stand by and see that life and property shall not be interfered with.” The duty of the Commonwealth Government always is to stand by and preserve life and property, but in this particular case there was a complete abrogation of their constitutional duty.
– Would the honorable member in the circumstances have sent the military up there?
– There was no need to send the military up there.
– Does the honorable member say that there was no need to call upon the military?
– I said that there was no need to send the military up from here. The local forces in Queensland were available.
– Would the honorable member have called them out?
– In the first place I would have exercised a proper discretion. I would have given the Premier of Queensland the assurance that as far as it was necessary to preserve law and order he would have behind him the full force of the Commonwealth.
– According to that, the honorable member would have made inquiries ?
– I would certainly have had some evidence before I refused such an application.
– According to the honorable member now, the whole of the statements made in the Premier’s telegram to this Government were not sufficient to justify the calling out of the troops. He would have had to make other inquiries.
– Those statements were sufficient to immediately put the responsibility upon the Prime Minister of Australia. As soon as he received that telegram, his duty was to ascertain the existing circumstances, and to take all necessary action. What he should have done was to have had everything in readiness in Brisbane, so that if bloodshed and destruction of property were feared, or any circumstances should arise necessitating action, a telegram might have restored peace and order in the community. That was his position.
– What wrong resulted from the Government not doing what the honorable member has suggested they should have done?
– The wrong which resulted was that the Premier of Queensland had to resort to the extraordinary action of accepting volunteers from various parts of the State. Fanners’ sons had to ride a hundred miles to Brisbane to fulfil this duty.
– That is a constitutional obligation on the Premier of a State before he calls upon the Commonwealth for the services of the military.
– The honorable member is quite wrong. He misunderstands the position.
– I do not.
– We require no stronger evidence than that of his failure to realize his obligation. I do not know how the Minister of Home Affairs would have regarded this little proclamation which was issued in the Strike Bulletin -
The Combined Unions’ Strike Committee hereby instructs all men now on strike that until the general strike is settled no rent is to be paid. (Signed) J. Harry Coyne, President.
A. Moir, Secretary.
Underlying this strike was undoubtedly a strong syndicalistic idea. That is my opinion, though I may be wrong. I have here a speech in which Mr. Collings made pretty clear what they were after. Dealing with the strike, he said -
They wanted to control distribution, production, and exchange, and they would fight for it.
Let us see the feeling which existed in the minds of some of these advocates. Mr. Coyne found on the 5th February that the strike was beginning to weaken, and this is the generous way in which he was going to treat his unionist compatriots -
If any man went back to work before the victory was won he would be a traitor, and he would be dealt with as a traitor deserved. It would be no use his going to New South Wales or any other State - they would be on his track. Any employer who victimized a man for his action in connexion with the strike would also be dealt with.
Let us ask ourselves what was the dispute in issue during the strike. Perhaps the Prime Minister, who has now come in, will tell me now whether “ 2nd February,” which is struck out at the head of the paper in my hand, is the correct date of the telegram from the Strike Committee to himself ?
– It is the correct date.
– The internal evidence of that telegram shows that it was sent on 1 st February.
– Mr. Speaker, I will produce the original telegram.
– The Prime Minister said during this debate -
I have told honorable members that they desired that their case should go to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, and if they could have got there there would have been no strike. . . But before that plaint was considered by the Court,the Tramway Company had determined to dismiss every man who wore a badge and every prominent unionist.
The right honorable gentleman has expressed his complete sympathy and identification with that strike.
– What strike?
– The general strike that took place in Brisbane.
– The right honorable gentleman justified it.
– No ; there were two strikes.
– Which strike did the right honorable gentleman approve of?
– Mr. Badger refused to allow the tramway men to wear the badge, and dismissed those who did so. Their fellows protested against that, and that is the strike I approved of.
– Then I understand that the right honorable gentleman did not approve of the general strike?
– No, I did not.
– I am glad to hear that, and I accept the right honorable gentleman’s statement at once. The position was this: These men had a Court to go to. They chose their own Court, and, after it had been appealed to by them, the general strike took place in Brisbane. I say that that strike was absolutely without justification. Ifwe consider the resolution of the Strike Committee itself, we shall see distinctly that it was because of the refusal to allow the wearing of the badge that the unionists in Brisbane went out on general strike.
– More than that.
Mr.GROOM.- That can be seen from the resolution itself ; and that is the only matter mentioned in it. I doubt very much whether the men who went out on general strike in Brisbane knew what was happening in this connexion. I do not think they knew that the plaint of the tramway men covered the badge.
– I do not think they bothered about it.
– The honorable member, is probably quite right; they did not bother about it. They probably wentout in sympathy with their fellow unionists ; and there is no doubt that a great many of them were misled. I can give the opinion of Senator Turley.
– If the honorable gentleman is now referring to the Warwick speech, Senator Turley says that he never said what he is reported to have said there.
– It is most extraordinary that every time we confront these gentlemen with the statements attributed to them, they say that they never made them. If it has been denied I will not use it. Did the honorable member for Brisbane say that the whole difficulty revolved around the question as to the right of the men to wear the badge?
– The honorable member for Brisbane is present, and can answer for himself. He is twenty-one years of age.
– The general strike in Brisbane was absolutely without justification; and when it took place, it should have been announced by those in authority that there was in existence a tribunal which could deal with the matters in dispute.
– But which the men could not get to.
– They could get to it, and they did get to it. The men had filed a plaint which covered every possible question that could arise. Is that not so?
– Hear, hear !
– That plaint included the question of wearing the badge. Perhaps the honorable member for Batman will tell me whether it did not also include the claim for preference to unionists.
– I think it did.
– It indicated every question at issue. The men had chosen then own tribunal, and every possible question that could be raised, including preference to unionists, was included in their plaint. The law of Australia provided the men with a remedy,even on the question of victimization. They had chosen their own forum, and had cited all the parties concerned in the strike, and, notwithstanding the fact that there was a legal tribunal provided to deal with the matter, and they had appealed to that tribunal, they went out on strike.
– The honorable member is using the wrong word ; they did not go out “ on strike.”
– The Prime Minister has referred to two “ strikes.” As a matter of fact, what really happened was this : On the 3rd May, 1911, notice was publicly given to the employes of the Brisbane Tramway Company in these terms -
The wearing of badges of any kind except those provided by the company when on duty or when in uniform is positively forbidden. -
– He had no right to issue that notice.
– I am not going to discuss whether Mr. Badger was right or wrong in issuing that notice. I am not even going to express, an opinion on the merits of the dispute. The point I make is that this Parliament, with a view to securing industrial peace, provided at great expense the machinery for arbitration. The men chose their own tribunal under the law, and the unions had then no right to go out on general strike, and attempt to starve a community into submission. I am referring to the general strike, and honorable members opposite may correct me if I am wrong as to the facts. The notice I have quoted was published on 3rd May, 1911. and the men in the employ of the Tramway Company continued to work under it. If there was an individual case in which Mr. Badger victimized any men, I am not here to justify any such victimization. We have provided a law which makes it a penal offence for a man to victimize a unionist, and the law further provides that the man charged with having done so must prove that he did not do so. In October, 191 1, a plaint was filed that included every possible term and condition in dispute between the parties. Beyond all doubt it included the question of the wearing of badges. The men had presumably been advised by their own lawyers to go to law and invoke the aid of the tribunal this Parliament has provided, and they had taken action under the law.
– The honorable gentleman overlooks the fact that Mr. Badger threatened that any man who dared to organize others for the purpose of taking advantage of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act should be “ sacked.” That is in his sworn evidence.
– It was to meet just that kind of thing that we inserted a particular section in the Act providing that any one attempting victimization should be prosecuted. If Mr. Badger committed a breach of the law, he can look for no sympathy from me. I am looking at this matter from the point of view of the general public of Australia. The people of Australia, becoming tired of these great industrial conflicts, and anxiously desiring to put an end to them, as they are themselves the persons most injured by them, provided proper machinery for the purpose. The tramway men selected their own machinery to deal with the dispute between them and the Tramway Company, and on the t 1 th October t.he filed their plaint, included in which, according to the resolution of the general committee, was the cause and act which constituted the ground for the general strike.
– If there had been no unionists in the employ of the Tramway Company the Arbitration Court would have had no jurisdiction.
– The honorable member may be right. But when this plaint was filed, and on the very day that the men refused to work unless they were allowed to wear badges, there were more than 200 unionists in the employ of the company, so that the Court had jurisdiction. Yet, notwithstanding that the plaint had been filed, and that the men knew that it would be decided in due course, they declined to discharge their duties.
– Mr. Justice Higgins said, “ The men were willing to go on working, but were deprived of their work and of their pay.”
– They were willing to continue working only if they were pei’mitted to wear their badges. Instead of allowing a properly constituted legal tribunal to decide the question in dispute they took the law into their own hands, and forty-three unions in Brisbane endeavoured to force ‘the community to compel the case to be decided before it went into Court. Did the people know the cause of that strike ? Here is Mr. Finlaysons own letter on the subject -
I have consulted with Mr. Brennan, M.P., of Brennan and Kundle, solicitors, Melbourne, who prepared the case for the Tramway Employees Association, and who is at present in Brisbane, and he assures me that this particular item is not so included. Further, I have to-day examined a certified copy of this claim, and assure the public that there is not a word of reference in it to the matter of wearing the badge. “
Prior to that there had been some discussion as to whether the plaint had been filed. Mr. Badger said that the question of the right of the men to wear a badge was included in the plaint, and to that statement Mr. Finlayson replied -
If it is included in the plaint it is news, indeed.
But did Mr. Brennan know that the right of the men to wear the badge was in dispute ?
– When the honorable member quotes my statement, I will accept responsibility for it.
– Did not the honorable member visit Brisbane in connexion with the tramway strike?
– I did. Mr. Finlayson will be responsible for his statements, and I will be responsible for mine.
– A little later Mr. Finlayson wrote the following to the Brisbane Courier -
I have now satisfied myself that my statement that the matter of the right of the tramwa’y employees to wear their badges was not in the plaint filed in the Arbitration Court was. incorrect, and it is due to the public that I should publicly acknowledge the error into which I unwittingly fell. 1 greatly regret it. May I point out that, in a previous letter, I stated that if Mr. Badger’s statement on this matter was correct “ it was good news indeed,” and! rendered the ‘other ‘matters the “ more easilycapable of adjustment.” The only hope of a settlement, now, of this critical position of affairs in the city seems to me to lie with business men,- who may be able to exercise someinfluence with the authorities on both sides, and every effort in the direction of an honorablepeace would be valued and appreciated by all.
The moment he discovered his error, Mr. Finlayson, as a man of honour, proceeded to correct it. But if he was misled as to the main issue in dispute, after consultation with Mr. Brennan, and after examining a certified copy of the claim, what can be said of the hundreds of unfortunate men who went out on strike?
– The honorable member has already stated that they knew nothing about it. He also knows, as a lawyer, that if the right of the men- to wear the badge was not included in the filed plaint, it could have been put in it at any time.
– The important point we have to consider is, “ Did the men go out on strike after their right to wear the badge had been included in the plaint?”
– The honorable member has said that they were misled into the belief that that matter was not included in the plaint.
– I say that - they were not correctly informed as to the situation. Then the honorable member for Batman, on the 2nd February, said -
First, Mr. Badger and his advisers are welcome to my acknowledgment that they are right on the unimportant matter of the detail raised since the commencement of the strike. The right to wear the badge is asserted in the plaint. For Mr. Finlayson’s misconception on that point I am willing to take the whole responsibility without going into explanations, the more so as that phase of the question has scarcely been adverted to anywhere except in Mr. Finlayson’s personal praiseworthy efforts to come nearer settlement.
It is extraordinary that this cause - the denial of the right of the men to wear a badge - should be the sole cause of their going out on strike. To give assurances without first making careful inquiry into any matter is to accept a serious responsibility. Before proceeding further, I would like to ask the honorable member for Batman whether the report of a speech by him which appears in the Tramway Journal is correct ?
– I have never seen that report. ‘
– It reads-
The Brisbane cars were running, or some of them. They looked like river destroyers. The men of Melbourne complained of the inconvenience of car driving. They ought to be in Brisbane. The cars there bristled with bayonets. The cars were all crowded, but no fares were taken. The passengers were all police. There were, all told, about twenty cars moving; some of them were covered with armour plate.
– I think that that report is substantially correct.
– Then it will be news to the people of Brisbane to know that “ the cars bristled with bayonets,” and that they were covered with armour plate.
– But I also pointed out that all those precautions were quite unnecessary. There was really no occasion for them.
– The honorable member is at liberty to say what he likes. But I ask what was the general view of this particular strike? The honorable member for Herbert is * reported to have said that the general strike was “ unnecessary, cruel, and foolish.” Mr. G. S. Beeby, a Labour member, Minister of Lands, New South Wales, declared at Orange that the general strike at Brisbane was “ illconceived, and a rash act of men blind to the teachings of past experience.” Mr. Griffith. Minister of Works in New South Wales, said that a general strike was a “ nice blend of imbecility and barbarism.” The present Attorney-General of the Commonwealth, under the heading of “ The Case for Labour “ in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, said -
The general strike is not practicable, and, if it were, it would not be effective. It is but a nightmare, which, if by any chance translated into actuality, would mean social suicide. It is the wildest and most extravagant travesty of trade unionism.
The Transport Workers Council of New South Wales, embracing seamen, marine engineers, wharf labourers, and carters, passed resolutions in which it was declared that the principles of general strikes are illogical and injure indiscriminately and wantonly destroy amicable relations. . . . Therefore, the joint Executive of the Transport Workers Council, comprising the Sydney branches of the Australian Institute of Marine Engineers, the Federated Seamen’s Union, the Merchants Service Guild, the Australian Wharf Labourers Union, and the Trolley, Draymen, and Carters Union, informs the members of the above organization that it will be considered and treated as an offence to the organization concerned if any member of any of the foregoing societies ceases work on or boycotts any vessel in New South Wales waters from sympathy with the Brisbane strike.
The Waterside Workers Federation of Australia say in their official organ, speaking of the general strike -
Its leaders and spokesmen, by their errors, excesses, recklessness, and ambition, are bringing dishonour to the party and compromising the cause, by causing, as they did a few weeks ago, a disaster to unionism in Brisbane. Their excess of fanaticism was not even excusable, as the Court granted the tram men the laudable object for which they asked. They swept away the constitutional method of obtaining their demands, and, as the result of their methods, they lost prestige, lost the strike, and caused endless pain and suffering.
No wonder the Minister of Home Affairs, after it was all over, or, at any rate, when things were pretty well developed, said, on the 23rd February, that he was “ tired of the manner in which things are going on in the world.” I do not desire to deal more fully with this matter. I have attempted to show, first of all, what the obligation under the Constitution is. I have shown that there is a discretion to be exercised properly, and that it wasnot so exercised; that the facts justified sympathetic action on the part of the Prime Minister, and that that action was refused ; that the strike itself was something to be condemned, and that the Government failed to stand by the industrial laws and secure peace by pointing out to the men that there is already in existence a tribunal established for settling such matters. All this points to the conclusion that the Government failed to stand for industrial peace and order in the community. The amendment declares that the Government have been partisan in their appointments. I shall not deal with the case of the Administrator of Lands in the Northern Territory, for that has already been dwelt upon pretty fully elsewhere. But if high offices are not to be held out as objects of laudable ambition tor those already in the service we shall discourage efficiency. Hundreds of young men in the Public Service put the best of their lives and energies into their work in the hope that a grateful Government will show appreciation by appointing them to positions for which they are fitted. The action of the Government is, as I say, likely to discourage efficiency in government and administration. The Prime Minister’s heart burned when he heard that Mr. Badger victimized unionists, and he informed us that . he suffered in sympathy with the wives of those concerned. I agree with the Prime Minister, because every time a person is victimized, that person is injured. The Commonwealth is quite right in passing a penal law to impose a heavy fine on all who are guilty of victimization.
– They ought to be hanged !
– The honorable member says that such offenders ought to be hanged; and no doubt we should “make the punishment fit the crime.” What is victimization ? It is penalizing a man by refusing him work on account of his reli gious, political, or industrial opinion. We have no sympathy with that sort of victimization. Senator Pearce, the Minister of Defence, is thus reported -
The Minister of Defence (Senator Pearce) announced yesterday that no more names would be registered for work at the Victorian naval base, Westernport. First preference, Senator Pearce added, would begiven to unionists, and second preference to married men.
It will be seen, therefore, that, if a single unionist and a married non-unionist come along, the single man is to have the preference, although the married man may be equally fitted for the position.
– If that be so, it is only copying what the honorable member’s crowd has done.
– Is that the honorable member’s idea of the morality of the position? Does he mean that if one man commits an offence, another man is justified in doing the same? An honorable member said just now that people guilty of victimization ought to be hanged.
– So they ought.
– But is victimization to be condemned only on one side? A man may say that he cannot join a trade union because of his political opinions.
– Because he is a toady.
– Such a man is to be penalized, while another man joins the union and enjoys its privileges.
-It is the non-unionist who is the toady.
– Mr. Badger may seek to justify his victimization of unionists by the fact that he is a private employer, and may do what he likes with his own; but what is the position of those who administer affairs on behalf of the whole of the citizens of Australia? We are told that first preference is to be given to unionists, and the second to married men.
– What is the honorable member quoting from?
– An announcement in the Argus,Is it not true?
– I arn not saying whether it is true or not ; but I do not take my material from the public press.
– The honorable member is apparently in sympathy with my attitude, because he cannot believe such a statement credible.
– The honorable member heard how the press misquoted the Prime Minister ?
– I should not believe the statement until I heard it from Senator Pearce.
– In view of the motion of censure, no questions can be asked of Ministers, though those honorable gentlemen may give paragraphs to the press and the public. Is it denied that the Minister of Defence made such a statement?
– The Minister of Defence is out of town.
– Do the Labour party agree with preference to unionists?
– Yes; all other things being equal.
– In the Public Service?
– I think there ought to be preference, at any rate.
– And would the honorable member penalize non-unionists?
– You fellows look after the non-unionists, as you have in the past.
– That, then, is the conception of politics opposite - that we “ fellows “ shall look after the non-unionists, while they look after the unionists. Honorable members opposite, who, when elected, ought to represent the whole of the citizens, admit that they are partisan in action and sectional in aim. I wish to say one thing more in reply to the AttorneyGeneral, whose utterances it is interesting to contrast with those of the Prime Minister. We are to have submitted referenda proposals dealing with trusts and combines, monopolies, and industrial legislation. So far as trusts and combines of an injurious nature are concerned, had the Government accepted the offer of honorable members on this side, they would have had the power. We were willing that power should be taken to deal with combines and monopolies in restraint of trade, commerce, and manufacture in any part of the Commonwealth, but Ministers would not accept our offer. The Attorney-General tells us that the present law is not effective, but that it can be made so. He has done nothing to make it effective. He has also told us that he does not believe in harassing trusts and combines. His method is to nationalize. Why does he not say so? The Prime Minister says that he believes’ in industrial legislation -
I believe that our civilization, advancement, and security can be better promoted in that way than by any other method I know of. It is for that reason I regret the attempt to make this an issue now, or at the next election.
The Attorney-General, on the other hand, says that no legislation will put an end to industrial unrest, which he says will exist so long as the present conditions continue. He thinks that the time will arrive when the people will come into its own - he does not believe in profit-sharing. To him companies and co-operative societies, presumably, are in nature the same as trusts and combines. The industrial co-operative village settlements, which the honorable member for New England says will populate the Northern Territory, would come under the condemnation of the AttorneyGeneral. The one thing the honorable gentleman has in view is nationalization, the community owning all sources of production, distribution, and exchange. That is the real reason for the constitutional alterations which he desires. Why do not the Government declare this publicly, and say that their policy is one of nationalization ; that they desire only to alter the Constitution to obtain power to nationalize the means of production and exchange?
– Extensive powers are needed to deal with trusts. America has found that out to her sorrow.
– Does not the honorable member believe in tackling the problem ?
– I do.
– In what way?
– By holding over the trusts the right to nationalize. It is a good whip.
– The honorable member’s idea of legislation is to hold a pistol at every one’s head, and say, “ Do what we require, or it will be the worse for you.”
– Do the right.
– Do what the honorable member thinksto be right. The aims and objects of the Labour party are what I have stated. Yesterday the Attorney-General made point of the speeches of the honorable members for , Ballarat and Flinders as reported in the press. Why did he not point out that an incomplete report of the Liberal programme appeared in the press; that the honorable member for Flinders criticised this incomplete report, and that it was subsequently that the honorable member for Ballarat spoke, and then referred to the complete programme? I have spoken at greater length than I intended, partly because of interjections to which Ifelt bound to reply to avoid the suggestion that I was not prepared to answer them. I submit with the greatest confidencethat, although the Ministry started with high ideals, it has dragged them down, and the party no longer voices the national sentiment. Its members are partisan in action and sectional in aim, and incapable of realizing the great national obligations imposed by the Constitution.
– I have listened to the debate with more than usual interest, because of the prominence given to the Brisbane strike, and I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Darling Downs on the way in which they have presented their view of that industrial dispute. In replying to their speeches, I am faced with a serious difficulty. It is impossible to refute all of their very many misstatements, although several were obviously selfcontradictory, and I am forced, therefore, to be content with a plain, free statement of what T know and saw. I was in Brisbane at the inception of the trouble and during the general strike, in which I took an active part, and I therefore speak now from actual knowledge, and not from hearsay. The statements of the Leader of the Opposition show that his sources of information were one-sided and partial. Although there are other matters in the Speech of His Excellency the Governor-General to which should like to refer, I shall confine my remarks now to the Brisbane strike, knowing that subsequently there will be other opportunities to deal with questions which, to my mind, are at the moment of less importance. In 1904 the employes of the Brisbane Tramway Company attempted to form a union. Let me read the following extracts from evidence on oath given in the Arbitration Court by the secretary of their union. Mr. Champ joined the company’s service in 1902, and in 1904 he was the official secretary. He said in his evidence -
When was the first, attempt made to your knowledge ?
In 1904. There was a meeting called, and a number of employees, about 260, expressed their desire to form a union and to try and get better conditions. The result was on the following day a number of men were called to head office and dismissed.
Mr. Champ was asked whether any other attempt was made to form a union, and he said -
Yes, there was another attempt made, but that also was frustrated by the management.
What year? - 1908. A number of employees tried to form a union and a couple of the most prominent men were dismissed at that time, and the men thought it was because these men had taken a prominent part in the union.
Throughout Mr. Champ’s evidence he stated again and again that the men who took any active part whatever in the for mation of a union of Brisbane tramway employes were promptly dealt with and dismissed from their employment. Of course, various trivial excuses for their dismissal were given. The Tramway Company never professedly dismissed any man because he was a unionist, and its books do not show any such record. Certainly not. The weakness of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Act lies at that point. Just where the honorable member for Darling Downs said that it was so strong it is weakest. The Act requires that employes must not be dismissed merely because they are unionists. But it is always impossible to prove that a man has been dismissed merely because he was a unionist. In 1908 the Queensland Government proposed to bring the tramway employes under a Wages Board. The Tramway Companyopposed the formation of a Wages Board, and offered their men an agreement to sign. Each man was asked when he came to the office to sign an agreement which offered him an increase of wages to the extent of 3s. a week. The men refused to sign, and the Minister declined to ratify any such agreement, insisting that a Wages Board should be appointed to deal with the claims of the tramway men. That Board gave them an increase in wages of 4s. 6d. a week, as against the 3s. offered by the company. In 1908 also a very peculiar circumstance came to light in connexion with the management of the affairs of the company, and its relations towards the union. At that time Mr. Badger, the manager of the company, made it publicly understood amongst the employes that under no consideration would he allow anything in the shape of a union amongst them; and from that time we may date the continual irritation and disturbance that occurred as between the employes of the Brisbane Tramway Company and their manager. It is to the credit of Mr. Badger that his attitude all through has been well known. He has made no secret of his hostility to the existence of a union under any circumstances. But we are living in an age when workmen demand that they shall have some say as to the conditions under which they are expected to make their living. The time has gone past when men are simply the tools of their masters; when employers can say to a man, “ Go, and he goeth,” or “ Come, and he cometh,” without any consideration of his will or as to whether’ what is commanded is in his interest or not.
– That would be too much like what occurred under the centurion of old.
– We have travelled a long way since those days, and much water has flowed under the bridges in the interval. The men of to-day are demanding some say as to the conditions under which they live. It is far too late in the day for any company to assume the right to refuse to men permission to combine for their mutual protection. Such an attitude is in fact an abrogation of the very conditions of society as they now exist, although it may be a continuation of ideas that at one time prevailed. Until 1910 there was continual discontent, and, at length, in that year, a union was formed. At this time the Tramway -Employes Association of Australia came into existence. Fifty of the employes of the Brisbane company were willing to become members of that body. As soon as that fact was known urgent efforts were made to block the association from being registered in the Courts of the Commonwealth. I invite honorable members to consider this position - that the Courts of the Commonwealth were deliberately, purposely, and specifically made open to associations’ of working men in any industry. They were in fact invited to form themselves into associations, and to be registered under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. But the tramway companies, and especially the Brisbane company, did everything possible to hinder and resist the registration of their employes. When that occurred we had a singular exhibition of partisanship on the part of a State Government, which, I hope, will never be repeated in Australia. On December, 1910, in the Queensland Parliament, Mr. Ryott Maughan moved the adjournment of the House in order that he might call attention to a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, the action of the Queensland Government in using the public funds for the purpose of defeating the aims and objects of the Australian Tramway Employes Association of Australia. In the course of his speech, Mr. Ryott Maughan stated -
As a matter of fact, some years ago six or eight men were discharged from the Brisbane Tramways Company for daring, not only to advocate unionism, but to become unionists ; and they were only taken back into the employ of the company on condition that they would have nothing to do in future with unionism. . . In fact, i think it is quite , unprecedented for any Premier, whether it be in the States or the
Commonwealth, to have gone as far as the honorable gentleman did yesterday in supplying non-union labour with funds to practically right the union movement.
Mr. Kidston was then Premier of Queensland, and in reply he said -
I might just mention the fact that some two years ago, or something less, the timber merchants here were summoned to Melbourne in the same way, and, in the same way, they came to the Government asking for some form of assistance.
Mr. Coyne. Financial assistance ?
The PREMIER. - For financial assistance. They wanted the Government to fight the matter for them in Melbourne, and I told them at the time that I considered they were quite competent to take their own part; that I did not think they needed financial assistance from the Government at all; and they went, and they did fight their own case in Melbourne, and they won. But that had nothing at all to do with the Government.
The main argument used in the debate was that the Government was using the funds of the public to fight the unionists, and particularly to prevent the tramway employes from registering under the Commonwealth Act. It was one of those unfortunate instances in which a State Government, owing to their remarkable prejudice against the National Government, have sought to defeat and to reduce to impotence the acts of the National Parliament. Mr. Blair during the debate said -
I am sorry to hear such a statement as that which has just come from the Premier of this State. I do not think there is any one in this Chamber, or outside, who looks at this matter from a dispassionate point of view, who can come to any other conclusion than that a scandalous misuse of public funds has been perpetrated by the man who, for the time being, has headed this State politically. … If assistance is to be given by the State to any individual or body of individuals to fight their case before any Court, where is it going to end ? If the State were going to provide legal assistance both in civil and criminal matters indiscriminately, I would have no locus standi; but if exceptional treatment is going to be meted out with the funds of the taxpayer - to be handed out to help-
Mr. D. Hunter. This is an exceptional case.
Mr. BLAIR. There is no exceptional case whatever. It is tantamount to nothing more than class assistance, and the Premier has given the whole case away when he states that he would use the funds of the State to resist any attack by the Commonwealth Government on our system of Wages Boards.
– Is Mr. Blair a member of the Labour party?
– He was then in conjunction with the Labour party, but he has since gone over. His position reminds me of the story of Bridget Flaherty, who left Ireland for Australia with a very good reference as to her character, which was blown out of her hands and fell overboard while she was in the act of showing it to a fellow-passenger. She asked the fellowpassenger to write out another for her, and this is what he wrote, “ This is to certify that Bridget Flaherty had a good character when she left Ireland, but she lost it on the way over.” Mr. Blair went on to say -
Why not tell the men that you sympathize with them, but you could not use the taxpayers’ money. It is the most pernicious thing that I have ever heard of in Queensland.. I am speaking strongly, because I feel strongly. If this House were conscious of what is being done they would rise in a body and protest against such a thing.
One more quotation and I shall have completed my references to this debate in the Queensland Parliament. Mr. Coyne, of strike fame, during the debate said -
This article -
An article relating to an interview which the discontents had with the Premier - goes on : - “ And different attempts have been made to get them to form a union secretly, but somehow or other the “ Boss “ always got to know who were trying to organize, and any one in the company’s employ with ginger enough in his composition to talk of combining to get better conditions got the sack.” It says here - “ A couple of months ago a motorman happened to suggest forming a union, and he was given his walking ticket a couple of days afterwards.”
My purpose in quoting these statements is to show that the tramwaymen’s union has been opposed, obstructed, and hindered in every possible way. We have reached an unfortunate position of affairs when we have the spectacle of the Premier of a State going out of his way to use public money to provide counsel to oppose the registration of a union when the National Parliament has invited that and other unions to register under the Commonwealth Act.
– Was he a shareholder in the company?
– I cannot say. That attempt to block the tramwaymen’s union failed. ‘ Despite every obstacle that was placed in the way of its registration, the union on 15th December, 1910, received a certificate of registration as a properlyestablished organization of men engaged in an industry in Australia. The men then took the very honorable course of advising the company without delay that they had received their certificate .of registration. The company was made officially aware of that fact on 18th January, 191 1. I have looked through the correspondence that passed between the company and the union at the time, and I find that in the most courteous manner the members of the union in Brisbane asked that the correspondence between the company and its employes concerning matters affecting the conditions of the employes should be conducted through their association. The company was advised as to the names of the officers of the association, but every effort made to secure the recognition of the association by the company utterly and miserably failed. Then Mr. Badger, who had been on a holiday to the Old Country, returned to Brisbane, and the request was repeated, only to be met by a distinct and absolute refusal to recognise that there was any union in existence. Throughout the strike, Mr. Badger refused to admit that there was any such union, and at times he distinctly stated that there was not. Although the union held its certificate of registration from the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, Mr. Badger refused to admit that such a union existed. I come now to the plaint before the .Court. The honorable member for Darling Downs sought to make a good deal of capital out of the fact that the men had the Conciliation and Arbitration Court open to them, and he said that they ought to have used it. Honorable members ought to know that as early as July, 1911, a plaint was filed in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. For several reasons, however, it was not proceeded with. It was finally withdrawn, and a new plaint, which is now before the Court, was filed on nth October, 1911. Immediately that plaint had been filed, notice was given that the Brisbane Tramway Company were going to ask for the cancellation of the registration of the union, and were going to deny the jurisdiction of the Court to hear and determine the plaint. Further than that, I wish to point out the action that was taken by the Brisbane Tramway Company to defeat the union in its effort to get this plaint heard by the Court. I have here the sworn evidence given by Mr. Simmons before the Court in reference to the petition against the registration of the association. He was asked -
Did Mr. Dalby say anything to you?
Mr. Dalby is a Brisbane solicitor acting for the Tramway Company. Mr. Simmons replied -
No ; only that he wanted me to sign a petition to abolish the union.
The examination continued -
By the Judge. - Did Mr. Dalby say why he wanted you to sign this?
Mr.Prendergast. - Didn’t he say anything about any questions that may be asked in the Court?
Witness. - Yes, he told me that would be the first thing; they would ask.
Why did you sign that petition? - Because I was afraid of being sacked.
The witness went on to say -
He told me that he had a petition he wanted me to sign to agree to pay £11s. towards the Court.I explained to him that I could not alford it, because I had a wife and children to keep. He then said it was only bluff on ray part. The petition was to abolish the union out of Court.
Did you read that petition? - No, I only saw a few names, and I signed it on the conditions that Mr. Badger would also pay the£11s. I took Mr. Dalby’s word for that.
The position is that the Tramway Company got a number of its employes to go to this solicitor’s office to sign a petition for the cancellation of the registration, agreeing to pay a guinea towards the expense, while the company itself was finding the money to fight the case all the time, and this matter of the men doing it was only a bit of bluff.I have sworn evidence here as to the dismissals which are continually taking place. Honorable members may have seen this matter mentioned in the plaint. Here is one case -
About the beginning of the year1911, Lord informed that Inspector Hanley had asked Lord if he was paying off his house. Hanley said, “ I am inquiring on behalf of the company.” Lord said, “If that is so, I suppose I must tell it. Yes, I am paying off my house.” Hanley said, “ Look here, George, if you want to pay off your house with any more tramway earnings get out of the union.” Lord said, “I lived before I saw the tramway company, and I will live again.”
In reference to Mr. Simmons, Mr. Jessop, a motorman in the employ of the Tramway Company, gave this evidence -
I saw Simmons, and he told me that he was one of the men who had resigned from the union. He had been to Mr. Stephens, and had told him so. Mr. Stephens told me to go to Mr. Dalby’s office. He had got a letter from Dalby asking him to come in to the office, which he did. At the office Dalby told me that he had a petition signed by a lot of men.
Can you give me any date at which this conversation took place? - End of October. Signed by a number of men who had left the union, and he wanted me to sign. Simmons replied, “Will you show me the petition?” Dalby read the petition to him. In the petition Mr. Dalby said, “ That when they got to Court applying against our registration they would be asked, Who was supplying, the cost and defending the case, and if we cannot say the men are we will be put out of Court.’ I want you now to sign this document, which states that you are agreeable to pay me £1 towards the expenses of the case.” Simmons said, “ I have got no £1, Mr. Dalby, I cannot afford it.” Dalby replied, “That is all right, I do not want your £1. Mr. Badger will give me that.”
Here is evidence as to a case of victimization. It is the case of a motorman named Bishop, and a unionist -
About August, 1911, this man Bishop’s cars left the points at show time. Exhibition time. The company use a back street in heavy traffic. You do not know where you have to go until you reach these points. This man came to the points. This man came straight to the points - thought that he had to go straight down. The points were set to go down the back street. He missed the points. He was dismissed for this.
It ssems quite unnecessary to quote all these cases, but there are dozens of them.
– Head them all; it will be good stuff for the next election.
– Mr. Frew, on behalf of the Tramway Company, crossexamined Mr. Jessop -
Did you understand that Reah was dismissed because he was a unionist? - Yes, this is my firm belief that he was dismissed for that reason only.
How can you swear that? - Only by the company’s altitude towards him.
In regard to Bishop’s case. Was he not dismissed through carelessness, and yet you state that his dismissal was like that of Reah’s? - Yes, I believe he was dismissed for being nothing else than a unionist.
There is continuous evidence of men having been dismissed for no other apparent reason than that they were unionists, and further that when the men asked why they were being dismissed they were told by the secretary that it was not his affair, that he had his instructions to carry out. The men were given no satisfaction as to the reasons of their dismissals, and naturally and properly they were entitled to consider and argue that those who took an active part in the affairs of the union were being dismissed because of their connexion with the union. Thereis one thing more which I want to point out to show the attitude of the Tramway Company towards the union. This evidence was given on oath by Mr. Jessop -
Do you know the questions asked an applicant for employment ? - Yes.
Let us see what the questions were -
Where did they work last?
Had they a union?
Were you a member of that union?
Do you know that there has been a union formed among the tramway employes?
Would you join the union if you were asked?
Do you know any tramway man who is in the union ?
Will you give me your word of honour that you won’t join the union?
I can now take your word that you will have nothing to do with the Tramway Union?
One of the first actions which Mr. Badger took on his return from Europe was to give the men notice that their recreation clubs were to be vacated. Previously at each of the three depots the men had recreation clubs which were open to every tramway employe. To show how fond Mr. Badger was of unions, and to point out his consistency in regard to the actual formation of a union, he gave the recreation club unionists seven days to take their goods out of the rooms. After a short time he installed billiard tables and all sorts of games in the rooms, and formed what he now calls the Brisbane Tramway Employes Union, which is strictly limited to nonunionists, that is to non-members of the Tramway Employes Association. The recreation club rooms are now closed against members of that association, and only members of the Brisbane Tramway Employes Union are allowed to enter. That shows the kind of treatment which employes who believe in trade unionism have had to put up with. I want to deal now in a brief way with the wearing ot the badge. The Leader of the Opposition said that this is the matter on which the whole battle was fought, and that it was a very trivial one. All through the piece we have been told that the question of wearing the badge was so small and so mean as to be absolutely ridiculous as an argument for entering upon such a strike. “ Behold how great a matter a little fire kindleth.’ ‘ Honorable members who know anything of history will easily remember that in all the affairs of the world a very small matter, which has been sometimes quite outside the real circumstances involved, has brought about a crisis. Might I, for instance, suggest an analogy? It has been said that because the Sepoys were asked to bite off the ends of the cartridges, which were greased with pigs’ fat, the Indian Mutiny was brought about. Who believes that statement? That request was only the little spark which ignited the powder. Who believes that the Boer War was fought because President Kruger refused to give the franchise to foreigners in his country? I found a most interesting illustration of that in a Melbourne newspaper the other day.
In contrast to these nameless thunderbolts were the two short, sharp, and decisive amendments that unseated two Ministries in 1904. The Deakin Government went down on the omission of the three words in the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill “does’ not include,” in relation to Commonwealth and State public servants. Later on Colonel J. W. McCay successfully moved the omission of a clause in the same measure which gave preference in employmentto unionists, and the Watson Government resigned.
Does any one imagine that the Deakin Government were put out because of the meaning of those three words “ does not include “ ? We know that they m were not.
– Yes, they were.
– We know that it was because their administration and control of affairs was considered unsatisfactory by .the House.
– No; the division was not on those lines, but On the merits of that particular question. The honorable member does not realize what a great question it was.
– Many great events of history have, in the same way, arisen from very small and, apparently, trifling causes. I wish now to give honorable members the facts in regard to the wearing of the badge. On 2nd May, 19.1 1, the Brisbane tramway men, for the first time, appeared in procession with the other unionists of Brisbane. They took part in the Eight Hours Day precession. They had previously asked permission to wear their uniforms in the procession, but that permission was denied them. They, however, wore the red badge of the Eight Hours Union as they walked in the procession, and men who belonged to the union, and were on that day employed on the cars, also wore the Eight Hours Union badge. Next morning there appeared the ukase at the office of the Tramway Company expressly forbidding any employ^ of the company to wear any badge other than the badge of the company. Immediately the employes identified themselves with the other unionists of Brisbane this ukase appeared. Then arose the question of the use of the badge, and dismissals and victimization immediately followed. Before passing from this point, I might refer to the fact that the right to apply the regulation prohibiting the use of the badge has always been challenged. The company has claimed that it was a rule of the company. Mr. Badger, referring to the matter, said -
I-Ie had informed the men that work was there for them, provided that they abided by the rules of the company, which they clearly understood. You have .had a full statement of affairs already in your paper, and I have said that the rules and regulations of the company did not permit of the wearing of the badges,, and those rules Still hold good.
Mr. Hardacre, M.L.A., in the Brisbane Daily Mail called attention to this fact : That, according to the Brisbane Tramways Act, no by-law can be enforced until approved by the Governor in Council and published in the Government Gazette. He alleged, further, that this particular bylaw of the company had not been submitted to the Government for approval, and, therefore, had not the force of a regulation of the company. In support of that, I quote what Mr. Justice Higgins said when the matter came before him.
The order issued by Mr. Badger on 3rd May, 191 1, as it was not approved by the Governor in Council or published in the Gazette, was, in my opinion, unauthorized and invalid.
And yet, on the strength of that unauthorized and invalid regulation, Mr. Badger denied the right of these men to wear that or any other badge of membership. After all, by what legal right can anybody give another the right to wear a badge, or take from him that right. Every man in every community claims, not the legal right, but the moral right, to wear the badge of any union or religious association he chooses to belong to. He claims the right to wear the badge of any craft, industry, or organization of which he is a member. Indeed, most of us are proud to be able to display our badges of membership in order to show that we are identified with a particular society, trade organization, or church. Yet Mr. Badger, when, on the. 15th January, he was faced with the decision of the men to wear their badge, immediately declared that unless they conformed to the rules of the company, they would have to take the consequences. Now, why did the men decide to wear a badge? 1 shall tell honorable members in a very few words. From the time the plaint- was lodged until the decision to wear the badge was arrived at, there had been a continuous secession of members and succession of resignations from the Tramway Employes Association. Between the time of the lodging of the plaint in October and the decision to wear the badge in January, over 100 resignations were received by the Tramway Employes Union. It is somewhat significant that all these resignations came from the one office, and were all merely typewritten forms, with a blank left for a signature to be filled in. They had all been signed at the same solicitor’s office in Brisbane, and had all clearly emanated from one source. When the matter was investigated, it was easily proved that the men were being told on the trams to go up to Mr. Dalby’s office to see about something, and when they got there they were asked to sign the resignation form.
– Could we have better evidence of vicious victimization ? And yet the men who refused to be victimized were to be shot down !
– Honorable members will see the difficulty in which the employes were placed. Their case was coming before the Court, and Mr. Badger had stated definitely his intention to oppose its getting to the Court at every step, and to fight it through the Court if it got there. He stated at one time that he would not only fight in that Court, but in every other possible Court to which he could take the matter. It must be remembered that, before the men could get a standing in the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, they had to be able to show that they were a registered association. If Mr. Badger could have come before the Court with a statement that the men did not represent the tramway employes ; that, for instance, there were 500 employes, and the association comprised only 100 or 200 members, or a very small proportion of the total number of employes, the. Court would have had to take, cognisance of that objection, and it would have been a very strong objection to overcome. In such circumstances the Brisbane Tramway Employes Association would have no standing in the Court. Mr. Badger’s whole purpose and sole reason for his action was to reduce the membership of the Tramways Association in Brisbane, and so leave them without a standing in the Arbitration Court when the case came before it. Hence the victimization and threats of dismissal. Hence, also, the resignations from the association of a number of men who sent them in in order to save their positions. It was necessary, in the circumstances, for the employes . to do something to protect themselves, and what more reasonable, natural, or effective decision could they have come to than to say, “ Well, every man who belongs to the union must show his badge “ ? Honorable members will remember that not two years ago, when the Melbourne Tramway Company threatened to dismiss men because they decided to wear a badge, some of us very anxiously watched at a certain hour of the day to see whether the tramway employes would wear their badge.
– And they have been wearing them ever since.
– They have been wearing them ever since. The Melbourne Tramway Company had more sense than to refuse its employes permission to wear a badge. The Brisbane tramway employes, in order to protect their own interests, and to secure a standing in the Arbitration Court, decided that they would pursue exactly the same course as the Melbourne employes had taken. Consequently, they resolved that on the18th January they would wear the badge.
– Was not the case before the Court then?
– No. The trouble is that the mills of the Arbitration Court grind exceedingly slowly, and the employes of the Brisbane Tramway Association had been so obstructed in their efforts that they began to doubt if they would ever get their case before that tribunal.It was some time in November when I became acquainted with the facts. I was asked by the employes if I would see what could be done to expedite the submission of their claim to the Court. I accepted a position upon the Federal Council of their association, with that one object in view. Whilst we were endeavouring to get the case before the Arbitration Court, Mr. Badger was doing his utmost to prevent that. It has been said in this House that an agitator from Melbourne visited Brisbane, and that the men were misled by their leaders. The Leader of the Opposition particularly mentioned the honorable member for Batman and myself as having misled them upon the question of whether or not the right of the men to wear the badge was included in the plaint filed. I can assure honorable members that I took absolutely not the slightest part in inducing the tramway employes to wear the badge, or in advising them in the conduct of their negotiations. They held two meetings in Brisbane, at both of which it was unanimously decided that on the 1 8th Jaunary they would wear the badge for the purpose of closing up their ranks, and preventing further defections from their union, which defections would have shattered all their hopes in regard to the Arbitration Court.
– Is Mr. Badger a British subject?
– He is not. He has never been naturalized. He was kind enough upon one occasion to give me his reasons for declining to be naturalized, and I think that they are rather good ones. He was living in the hope that he would be able to return to America, and he consequently said, “ If I become naturalized here it will take me seven years to regain my American citizenship rights.”
– Is the honorable member sure that he is an American?
– At any rate, he adopts all the American methods. I can assure honorable members that the statement that the Brisbane tramway employes were influenced in their decision to wear the badge is absolutely without foundation. To my certain knowledge no member of the Queensland Parliament took any part whatever in the meetings that they held. The men acted entirely upon their own initiative. They decided that they would wear the badge on the18th January, and on that day each man as he arrived at the dep6t, or at certain streets with his car, was accosted by an inspector and instructed to report himself at the office. When the men so reported themselves they were told off for the day. Every man presented himself for duty next morning in the usual way, an’d they were then asked, “ Are you going to take off that badge?” Upon answering in the negative, they were told, “ Very well, there is no work for you today.” The employes received their badges some time in August. They wore them on their private clothes. One man - Mr. Reah - happened to be called to the head office one day upon some matter of business. He went there after he had had lunch, in his privnte clothes, and wearing his badge. He had concluded his business, and was leaving the office when the secretary suddenly asked, “ What is that you are wearing?” He replied, “ That is my medal.” Thereupon the secretary said, “ How dare you come into the tramway office wearing the badge of the Tramway Association.” Between18th January, when the men decided to wear the badge, and the 30th January, when the general strike took place, continuous efforts were made by the men to discuss the matter with Mr. Badger, with a view to arriving at an amicable settlement. I hold in my hand a report of an interview which they had with him on the day after they decided to wear the badge. It reads -
The expected interview , between some of the more prominent of the union tramway men and Mr. Badger, general manager or the company, took place at about 3 p.m. yesterday, when nine men were admitted to Mr. Badger’s office. About a quarter of an hour later the men emerged from the office, and informed their waiting comrades outside that Mr. Badger had insisted on the discontinuance of the wearing of the badges, but to this they had not consented. The announcement was received with cheers from the crowd, who now numbered about 200. The men thereupon proceeded in a body to the Trades Hall, where they held a meeting with closed doors. Mr. Badger afterwards stated that he merely had informed the men that their positions were open to them in the morning provided they observed the rules laid down by the company, one of which was that no badges should be worn. He had no desire, he added, to dismiss any of the men, particularly as some of them were old and trusted servants of the company, but the rules of the company must be complied with. Mr. Badger further stated that the number of men who had come out was greater than he had expected, but he understood that this was partly the result of intimidation. In the course of the interview Mr. Badger was asked if he would receive a deputation from the union. He replied that he was willing to receive a deputation from the men as employees of the company, but not otherwise.
I have no hesitation in saying that the strike would never have taken place if Mr. Badger had uttered five words during the progress of the negotiations - if he had merely said, “ I recognise the men’s union.” From the 18th January to the 23rd January the Tramway Union did its best to enter into negotiations with the Tramway Company for the settlement of the difficulty. Every effort was made, honestly and conscientiously, to prevent further trouble, but without result. No other course was therefore open to the employes but to appeal to the Australian Labour Federation, with which their union was affiliated. Immediately the federation took the matter up, it forwarded the following letter to the Tramway Company : - The matter in dispute between the Brisbane Tramway Company and the Australian Tramway Employees’ Association, Queensland branch, having been referred to this council, a body with which the latter association is affiliated, I have’ been instructed to inform you that my executive desire to confer with you at your earliest convenience on matters relative to the present dispute, and hope you will acquiesce in their desire, when it is anticipated that a settlement satisfactory to all parties will be the result.
That was surely a fair and honorable request for an understanding. Mr. Badger’s reply was as follows : -
This is to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 21st inst., and to say, in reply, that I see no justification or good reason for a conference such as your letter suggests. I am quite prepared, and have at all times been prepared, to discuss any matter on reasonable lines with any employe or employes of the company, and to consider any suggestions from them which might lead to the satisfactory adjustment of the position which has been created by the refusal (temporary, I trust) of some of the company’s employes to observe the regulations under which they have hitherto served.
S. Badger, General Manager.
That locked the door once more, and left the men against a brick wall, Mr. Badger taking the position, “ Do what we say, or else there is no business.” Honorable members opposite hold up arbitration and conciliation as a remedy ; but their position becomes utterly impossible when it is pointed out that every effort in this direction was met with an absolute and direct refusal by the company and its officials. There was not even a suggestion or hint of compromise or conciliation made that was not indignantly refused by the manager. Honorable members are already aware that trade unionists in Brisbane were consulted j and here I must call attention to a flagrant misstatement. The unions were asked to send representatives to a meeting on the Sunday afternoon. Each union sent representatives, some with absolute discretion as to the decision, and some with authority merely to report to their unions. On the Tuesday the unions received reports from their delegates ; and every union without exception unanimously decided to go out on strike in favour of the tramway men. That these unions were called on or requested to strike is untrue ; they themselves decided to come out - that is the truth of the matter. The resolution they passed was as follows : -
This meeting of delegates, representing 43 unions, recognising that the action of the Brisbane Tramway Company in prohibiting its employes wearing badges, the symbol of unionism, constitutes an attack on the principles of unionism recognised under Statute law, Federal and State, resolves that a general cessation of work takes place on Tuesday, 30th inst., unless in the meantime a satisfactory settlement is arrived at.
The strike committee met on Sunday evening and appointed officers. On the Monday morning they sent to Mr. Badger, saying that they would meet him at any time or place to suit his convenience, in order to arrive at a settlement. Mr. Badger announced through the press that he was not going to send a reply ; and he never acknowledged the invitation sent by the fortythree trade unions to meet in conference.
– He is sorry for that now.
– Perhaps he is. The honorable member for Darling Downs quoted a number of authorities, good in his opinion, as to the “imbecility.” “stupidity,” and “‘foolishness” of the strike. Let me now quote from that particular friend of the Opposition, the Melbourne Age, on the rst February -
Seldom or never has a great crisis been balanced on a more puerile triviality than the general strike now proceeding in Brisbane. If reports which have reached us describing the genesis of the event are accurate, Australia has been acquainted with a man whose name will go down to industrial history as a monument of stubbornness and stupidity.
Mr. Badger is the manager of the Brisbane Tramway Company. Those employees of the company who are trade unionists claim the right elsewhere almost universally conceded to the workers of their genre, to wear union badges during their hours of service. People of common sense and independent spirit are generally agreed that the custom is ridiculous, because all badges are in essence certificates of servitude, and there is nothing to be gained which any self-respecting person can covet by advertising himself the servant of a sectional order. . . . He read into the men’s demand an intention to abuse the right they claimed as a means of oppressing their non-unionist associates, and subverting the discipline of the service. He assumed that they were determined to twist a lawful right to a wrongful purpose. In short, he prejudices the men’s case, and arbitrarily convicted them of a deliberately criminal determination. … By locking out the men for wearing their union medals, Mr. Badger has effectively dragged the dispute out of the industrial sphere, and made it an issue of purely human rights. The men claimed to exercise a right which, however silly vid trumpery it may be, is a common right to ill enfranchised humanity. The manager disdained to wait and discover whether or not the men would collectively abuse their right and convert it into a social wrong. He assumed that they would so abuse it, and he punished the men accordingly. He stands, therefore, in this position : Because the men in his employ presumed to enforce a right which the law of the land allows them, he deprived them of the right to work and live in his company’s employ.
The reason given by Mr. Badger for not approving of the badges was that those who did not wear them were liable to be abused by the public; and that the wearing of badges would create strife and ill-feeling -amongst the employes, by making a distinction, which was not good or desirable. What wonderful consideration for the feelings of non-unionists. There was no suggestion that the wearing of the badge would cause any trouble with the public ; there was no suggestion that the men who wore the badges would be discriminated or -objected to by the public; but there was a fine consideration shown for the feelings .Ot the non-unionists because some of the public, it was said, might object to the men who did not wear them. It is a good thing that some of the public take an interest in seeing whether unionists wear their medals or not, and that, when buying goods, they wish to know whether they are union made. On that auspicious day, when the Melbourne tramway employes first wore their medals, there were members of the public who asked to see them; but, as a matter of fact, the public regard the trams merely as a public utility, and do not care whether the men are unionists or not, so long as travelling facilities are afforded. People do not travel on the trams because they are worked by union men or otherwise. Mr. Badger made an unfair, unreasonable, and unwarranted statement when he said that the public would discriminate against the men who did not wear the union medal. I am glad that the honorable member for Darling Downs gave me some credit for trying to arrive at a settlement, though I do not claim any particular credit for myself. As the representative of Brisbane in this National Parliament, I did what I honestly thought was the right and proper thing to arrive at an honorable solution of the difficulty. The honorable member for Darling Downs did not inform the House, when dealing with my position, that on the 27 th January I inserted a letter in the Courier in which I appealed for a settlement of the dispute. A private citizen of Brisbane had, at my instigation, submitted to Mr. Badger on the Friday certain proposals, but he absolutely failed to get those proposals accepted. What I suggested in the letter which appeared in the Courier on the Saturday was that the men should temporarily abandon their claim to wear the badge, and that Mr. Badger should not insist on the right to prohibit it - that the question should be suspended and referred to the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. Unfortunately, as I say, the suggestions I made were not taken up by the public; indeed, there was correspondence) ‘ mostly anonymous, iri the press, in which the idea was described as somewhat ridiculous. Next day Mr. Badger stated in a press’ interview that it was useless to discuss my suggestion, because the matter of the badge was already in the plaint; and I made the reply read by the honorable member for Darling Downs. At that time I did not know, and the members of the Tramway Employe’s Union did not know, that the matter of the badge was in the plaint. The question did not arise then. I was the first to raise_it, on the 27th January, nine days after it had been decided to wear the badge.
– What were the leaders of the union doing that they did not inform the men on this subject?
– The men decided to wear the badge to protect their union from disintegration, and to preserve their standing before the Arbitration Court.
– Why were they not informed that the question of the badge was in the plaint?
– That would not have made any difference to the position. The fact that the matter of the badge was in the plaint did not affect the moral right of the men to wear badges. Even if the Court had decided that they had not the legal right to wear badges, the dispute would not have been ended. The matter of the badge being in the plaint was such an unimportant detail that one wonders that Mr. Badger did not say, “ Let us see what we can do to arrive at a settlement pending the decision of the Arbitration Court.” His attitude wasthis - ‘ ‘ Abandon your position, and when you have done so, I shall do all I can to hinder you from getting to the Court, and, if you get there, to prevent an award being given in your favour.” Had Mr. Badger been desirous of peace, he would Have met the men in conference, and discussed matters with them. Negotiations for settlement proceeded, and on the 31st January, the Brisbane Courier paid me this compliment -
The most noticeable fact was the continuance by Hon. W. H. Barnes and Mr. W. F. Finlayson of their efforts to bring the disputing parties together with a view to a peaceful settlement. But all attempts at reconciliation failed.
Every attempt at reconciliation failed, because neither the State Treasurer nor any official of the Tramway Employes Union, nor any man representing the business people of Brisbane, nor any authority in the city, could persuade Mr. Badger to discuss the matter with the employes. Had he said these five words, “ I recognise the men’s union,” matters would have been settled without a strike. However, fortythree unions decided that they would cease work on the Tuesday. You may say what you like as to their foolishness, their want of consideration, and the inutility of the strike; but 1 am proud that I was in Brisbane at the time, and associated with those who conducted the strike in the manner in which it was conducted. I never hope to see again such an exhibition of true fraternity as I saw then. The members of these forty-three unions had no quarrel with their employers ; but fellow-unionists were being tyrannized and victimized by being threatened with dismissal, and they said, “We shall not go about our work until they have been lifted up to the position which we occupy, and the principle of unionism is recognised.” Talk about disruption and division ! If we can create that spirit of fraternity which will make the whole people recognise that an injury to one section is an injury to all, we shall do a great deal to settle differences. When the general strike took place, over 20,000 trade unionists, who had no quarrel with their employers, “ downed tools.” On the Wednesday morning they gathered at the Trades Hall, and we had a great procession through the streets of Brisbane - a peaceful one. At midday the crowd dispersed, every man and woman of them. There were many women there, and they were as true as the men - all honour to them. At night we had an immense meeting, the like of which had never before been seen in Brisbane. Next day the programme was repeated, and the crowd was beginning to disperse at midday in the Market Square, when a blunder was made by a police officer which nearly precipitated a riot, and in five minutes I lived longer than in any previous year of my life. A lorry load of beer coming down the street was temporarily held up by the crowd, and the police closed round it. Then, instead of taking it away by a side street, as would have been reasonable, they put the horses to a trot, and charged right through the people. We are told that the unionists of Brisbane could not control themselves. I question if any other community in the world would have been held in check as they were under similar provocation. AH honour to their leaders, and particularly to Peter McLaughlin, the then member for the Valley, who was able, by the exercise of his authority as president, to control the people.
– Did the police go through the crowd?
– Right through the middle pf the crowd. The lorry was taken down towards the brewery, and a number of persons naturally followed it with good- humoured interest, to see what fun there might be. At Mary-street the police suddenly charged into the crowd, and a shot was fired by a sub-inspector, whose nameI could give.
– What was it?
– It would not be fair to make his name public.
– The honorable member makes a statement and does not substantiate it.
– The sub-inspector fired a shot at the ground, evidently with the intention of awing the crowd, and it was that shot which ricochetted, and, it is said, narrowly missed Sub-Inspector Carroll. A few weeks later I received a letter from a lady who holds an important position in Brisbane, but whom I did not know, in which she said, “I am so disgusted with the statements in the papers regarding the strike that I write to tell you what I know. The shot was not fired by any of the men. It was fired by a police officer.” I had another letter from Brisbane two days ago. A gentleman, after reading the report of the speech of the Leader of the Opposition in this chamber, wrote to me to say, “ I can give you the evidence of an eye-witness that the shot was fired by a sub-inspector.” But this is not the first time, by any means, that strikers have been blamed for regrettable occurrences for which they were not responsible. I will deal by-and-by with the matter of the explosives, and shall be able to explode many of the statements made by the Leader of the Opposition in that regard. The Premier of Queensland, in his letter to the Prime Minister asking for the aid of the military, stated that a shot had been fired to prevent the arrest of a striker. That is absolutely untrue. I notice that the honorable member for Darling Downs very skilfully avoided all reference to that point. But he quoted a letter which I wrote to the Brisbane Courier after I got home on the Thursday night. I went home late and had some dinner. Here I may assure honorable members that I managed to get my breakfast, dinner, and tea each day during the strike without any trouble. I frequently lunched in town. I know of no man or woman in Brisbane who went without meals during that time. We had had processions on the Wednesday and the Thursday. On the Thursday night I was addressing a meeting in the market square when Mr. Moir, the secretary to the strike committee, came down and interposed, saying that he wanted to make an announcement. He said to the people, “ I wish to tell you that, in reply to our request for permission to hold a procession to-morrow, the same as yesterday and today, the Commissioner of Police has given an absolute refusal. Men and women, there will be no procession to-morrow.”
Honorable members can perhaps imagine my feelings when I commenced to address the meeting again. Some of the people shouted, “ We will have a procession in spite of them.” I said, “No; the law is there, and we must obey it. The refusal is wrong, but to-morrow will be a critical time in the history of this strike. Tomorrow will prove what you men and women are made of. As you come into town to-morrow make up your minds that there is going to be no procession. We are going to show as men and women worthy of the name, and as unionists, that we can. stand up for our cause and show loyalty to our principles, no matter what may be done.” It was after I got home from that meeting that I wrote ‘the letter which has’ been quoted by the honorable member for Darling Downs. It was after midnight, and after I had made another most serious effort - one of the most earnest efforts of my life - to arrive at peace. I dreaded the next day, and, as I said in the letter, felt that we were on .the edge of a volcano. My reason for that was that there were 20,000 men loose about the streets with nothing to do. While we had them in processions we could control them; but there was danger from having 20,000 men idle under those circumstances. Some of them were not particularly choice, characters. They were true men and good unionists, but many of them were men accustomed in their ordinary avocations to a bit of rough and tumble. I was of opinion that to have them loose about the streets, uncontrolled by their leaders, was a serious position. May I say here that I make no claim to have been a leader during that strike. I was neither a member of the strike committee nor of the tramway men’s executive. I was simply a private individual doing my very best to right a wrong, and to preserve” the peace. Friday dawned, and such a scene as Brisbane showed on that day will, I hope, never be repeated in Australia. Lined up across the square were armed policemen, mounted and on foot, with cartridges and fixed bayonets. But there was no attempt to form a procession. Not the slightest effort was made to break the law, or to interfere with the decision arrived at.
– Or was ever intended.
– No such effort was ever intended. The ladies, headed by Mrs. Miller, had, however, arranged for a deputation to a Minister, and they asked the police officer in charge to allow them to go through. There was no trouble. The officer said, “Very well; but do not go that way, come along this way.” He took them round another way, and there was no trouble whatever. There was absolutely no attempt to interfere with the processes of thelaw that day. On the previous day the request was made to the Federal Government for the aid of the military. To show how utterly foolish that request was, I want honorable members to hear my statement as to the condition of Brisbane at the time. Here is what the Courier said. I quote it because the Courier, as honorable members are aware, was more likely to be against us than with us. If I can prove my statement from our opponents, the position is made the stronger. The Courier said -
The Trades Hall was at once the storm centre and the point on which interest centred. There at an early hour a large crowd assembled. Members of the different unions on strike appeared to form up in the streets, as procession after procession continued ‘to arrive. Each new batch was received with wild cheers, and the crowd slowly augmented until by10.30 Turbotstreet and adjoining thoroughfares and the park above presented a sea of faces. The men were orderly in their demeanour, and little drunkenness was observed. The Police Commissioner last night (Wednesday) reported that there had been very little disorder.
That was published on1st February. On the same day the Courier published . the following under the heading, “ The last look round “: -
Throughout the evening the police were shadowing gangs of hoodlums, as one subinspector described them. They were simply out for noisy fun, and were easily dispersed when they showed any inclination to become obstreperous.
The Brisbane Telegraph of1st February published the following: -
Most of the noisy demonstrations last night was the. work of a band, or several bands, of youths, who marched about the city streets, hooting and cheering. Some of them no doubt were not even unionists, and were only out for fun.It is but fair to emphasize that the leaders disclaim any connexion whatever with these “ roaring commissions.”
I also wish tomake this statement in reply to allegations that have been made.It has been said that in the early days of the strike it was impossible to procure food, and that men and women had to take even unbaked dough from the bakehouses in order to get something to eat. I shall quote a letter from the Courier on that subject -
Master Bakers’ Association of Queensland.
Elizabeth-street, 29th January,1912.
That was the day before the general strike -
Re Anticipated General Strike.
Dear Sir or Madam, - In connexion with the anticipated general strike I am instructed to advise the trade that should such be declared on Tuesday that the best course to follow is not to deliver any bread on Wednesday and following days until such is settled.
If the strike occurs it will be wise not to deliver, as nroperty may be endangered and the drivers may be injured.
It is advisable to have a double supply baked to-night and the trade should, if possible, rush the work through so as to deliver a double supply to-morrow (Tuesday). This is hurried advice, but it is the earliest opportunity we have of advising the trade.
If the strike assumes any alarming proportions it is considered advisable that no bread be baked at all, not even to be sold at the bakeries, because such bakeries may be rushed and property damaged.
The trade is earnestly advised for the safety of their property not to send out any carts on Wednesday should the strike eventuate.
This information will reach the trade much quicker than if a general meeting was called, as at the general meeting called on Saturday last it was considered the best course to pursue.
This letter is being rushed through to catch the mid-day delivery, and the trade will be advised of deveiopments as they arise.
I am, yours faithfully,
Thos. S. Dawber, Secretary.
Here follows the second communication, which is dated 30th January. The general strike started on the evening of that day : -
Master Bakers’ Association of Queensland.
Elizabeth-street. January 30th,1912.
Re General Strike.
Dear Sir or Madam, - You are expressly requested to attend a general meeting called for Wednesday afternoon, January 31st, 2 p.m.
Business : To receive report from delegates attending the Employers’ Federation meeting as to what course it has been decided to follow by the Federated Employers during the continuation of the strike.
Every member is requested to attend as the business is of the utmost importance.
I am, yours faithfully,
Thos. S. Dawber, Secretary.
Here comes the crusher -
Master Bakers’ Association of Queensland.
Elizabeth-street. January 30th,1912.
Dear Sir or Madam, - At the special general meeting of the trade held this afternoon, the delegates attending the mass meeting of the Employers’ Federation reported the result of that meeting to the following effect : - “ That it was resolved that the whole of the trading community of this city c ose down their businesses on Friday next, until such time that it is decided to resume.”
The meeting held this afternoon resolved that this Master Bakers’ Association endorse the resolution of the Employers’ Federation and that all the master bakers cease baking bread on and after Friday next until such time as is considered advisable to re-start; so that Thursday night, February ist, will be the last day that bread will be baked to be sold at the bakehouse, and on no account is bread “to be delivered either Thursday cr Friday.
Particularly note that no bread is to be delivered these remaining three days, and that Thursday is the last day that bread will be baked.
The trade will be further notified of any other matter that may arise.
I am, yours faithfully,
Thos. S. Dawber, Secretary.
Does the honorable member for Darling Downs now persist in his statement that the workers were responsible for people being unable to obtain bread. Will the Leader of the Opposition persist in his statement in this regard.
– Does the honorable member say that the strike was not responsible for that? Would these things have occurred but for the strike?
– Let us hear the facts. Why be alarmed?
– The warehousemen held a meeting, and also decided to close on the Friday night. They passed the following resolution -
That a serious position having been caused by the withdrawal of all union hands from the respective trades represented at this meeting, it is decided that under the present circumstances it is advisable to cease trading until such time as may be decided upon at a future meeting of the Federation, and that this resolution come into effect as from Friday evening at 6 o’clock.
The retailers and the restaurant-keepers determined to do the same.
– Would they have done that if there had been no strike? All this followed from the strike.
– The argument of the Leader of the Opposition was that it was the strikers who compelled the closing up of the shops.
– Hear, hear ! Does the honorable member think that these people closed down and lost business for the pleasure of losing it.
– Does the honorable member think that the workers went out on strike for the fun of the thing? I can assure him that no man, unless he is a fool, goes out on strike for fun. It is a serious thing for men to lay down their tools, and leave their occupations when they know, better than the honorable member can tell them, that their living and the welfare of their wives and children are at stake.
– And the living of other women and children as well, who had to suffer in consequence of their act.
– All this proves my contention that when 20,000 men are found willing to cease work, knowing that the result of a strike must be to deprive themselves and their wives and children of ordinary comforts, we may rest assured that, however misled or mistaken they may be, they take that action because of a very high sense of duty. The whole purpose of these shopkeepers, warehousemen, and others in closing down their places of business was to starve the. strikers into submission.
Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 7.45 p.m.
– When we adjourned for dinner I was showing that, so far from the unions of Brisbane being responsible in any way for the stoppage of the food supplies of the city, it was owing to the action of the employers themselves - the merchants, the bakers, and the tradespeople generally - if there was any difficulty in the people being able to secure supplies.
– Will you kindly say if those letters were meant for publication or not?
– Certainly they were never meant to see the light of day ; they were private letters. In his address the Leader of the Opposition said that honest citizens could not go about their business or obtain supplies in the absence of permits from the strike committee. Now the very fact that the strike committee issued these permits was the first real guarantee which the people had that food supplies would be available. The bakers had decided that they would close, and that no more bread would be baked after Thursday. The tradespeople had decided to close on the Friday. I find that on Friday, 2nd February, a notification was issued by the Home Secretary that in consequence of all operative bakers having been called out, the master bakers were unable to continue the supplying of bread and flour, and many families in the city and suburbs would be prevented from obtaining a supply of bread or flour. The Government would therefore deliver to any depot indicated, requiring just the bare cost thereof. There is another statement to show that a supply of food was available. The tradespeople said, “ We will not supply anr food,” and the Government said, .” We will,” but they did not. They said, “We will supply flour at the bare cost thereof.” Whatever may be the reasons, it is very certain that the tradespeople used some influence to prevent the Government letting the public know what the bare cost of flour was, because there was none issued. The Home Secretary added this significant statement, which, in view of something I shall have to say regarding the call for military aid, is rather peculiar. “ Adequate police protection,” he said, “ will be afforded to all concerned.” After the request for the military had been made, and before a reply had been received, it was stated that there was adequate police protection available for the protection of the food supplies of the city. A good deal was made as to the supply of ice to the general hospitals. I wish to give the actual facts. In its issue of the 16th February, the Courier said -
It is a source of gratification to know that Birt and Company’s cold stores in Stanleystreet did not suspend operations during the strike. Inquiries elicited the information that the butchers’ rooms were open, butter was stored, and ice was manufactured. In fact, during the industrial trouble, the routine work continued as if nothing out of the way had occurred.
Yet the most harrowing pictures were drawn,- and the most startling statements have been made, that children were allowed to die in the hospitals for the want of ice ; that sick people were simply being killed through the cruel, heartless action of the strike committee. Here is a statement made in regard to the supplies to the hospitals in the Courier of the 16th February-
At a meeting of the committee of the General Hospital yesterday, the medical superintendent reported that the strike had affected the hospital only in respect of the stoppage of work on the new pavilion. . . . They had to do a little carting of ice, butter, coal, &c, but the contractor had seen that the hospital suffered little inconvenience. The work of the hospital had been very quiet. The closing of the hotels was to the advantage of the hospital. The refractory ward, which had been occupied for months past, was entirely out of commission until the hotels were re-opened. It had been reported that the hospital had been crowded with casualties, but admissions, both indoor and outdoor, had been few, there being only two cases of importance connected with the disturbance.
It is also remarkable to notice that the
Courier admits, in its report of the public meeting held on the ist February, that “ the speeches were again marked by a strenuous appeal for good conduct.” All these things, I take it, go to show that, so far from there being any danger or any undue excitement in the air which might lead to rioting or misconduct, the contrary was the case. Considering that there were 20,000 unionists about the streets doing nothing, the city was unusually quiet. During that week and the week following, the police court cases were remarkably few in number. There were no serious crimes. There was more crime in Melbourne during the week of the strike than there was in Brisbane. When the appeal for military aid was made certain things had not happened. To my mind, the most serious thing which occurred during the whole progress of the strike was that the appeal for military aid for the protection of the affairs of Brisbane was made while matters were quiet. After that appeal had been sent to the Prime Minister, and before a reply was received, there occurred one of the most disgraceful exhibitions of force, and the use of force, which have ever occurred in the course of a strike, and which I hope will never occur again in Australia. On the Friday morning, as I informed honorable members, armed police, with fixed bayonets, were drawn across the streets to prevent a procession which it was never intended to hold - which we decided should not be held. Evidently annoyed that all their carefully laid plans should collapse, that every opportunity they had hoped to enjoy of batoning the citizens of Brisbane had been frustrated by some means or other, the police got loose when they were dispersed from the square. Who gave the order, or whether an order was given or not, is quite uncertain. No statement has yet been made by any person that anything happened on the Friday morning to justify what was done. Suddenly the streets of Brisbane were taken charge of by mounted special constables from the country districts, who, riding even on the footpaths, chased innocent helpless women and children, old men, and all classes of citizens, about the streets of their own city.
– Shame !
– The Sydney Daily
Telegraph’s correspondent wired from Brisbane on Friday to this effect -
Matters in connexion with the strike took a very serious turn this morning.
The police drew their batons and charged the crowds, chasing them from the streets.
Several men were injured in the melée and had to be removed to the .hospital by the ambulance.
In its issue of Saturday morning the Courier said -
Batons were called into use wilh such effect that several men bit the dust and were taken in hand by the ambulance men who were in attendance with the motor and the large transport waggon.
Beaten back by the determined pommelling which they had received at the baton’s point, some of the crowd broke up Elizabeth-street to North Quay, while others took refuge on the bridge.
A considerable number of women were in the crowd. . . . The determination of the force made itself felt, but not before a number of them had been struck down.
The ambulance brigade was on the scene attending lo the injured promptly.
Some of those who were struck were able to leave unassisted, others had lo be carried off by the bearers.
– Do you always accept these newspapers as reliable sources of information? You accept them only when they suit you.
– The honorable member may rest quite assured that the Courier was looking for no compliment to pay to the strikers on that occasion. The worst it could say was going to be said. Nothing that would in any way reflect credit upon the strikers was likely to appear in the Brisbane Courier.
– It is somewhat singular that the honorable member should quote these newspapers as reliable authorities on this occasion, and repudiate them on all other occasions.
– Did the honorable member see this himself ?
– When these Conservative organs are trying to develop a case in their own favour they generally manage to exaggerate the truth. The trouble is that when they are dealing with matters that are likely to reflect upon this party they are much more likely to distort the truth in order to mislead’ the public. The honorable member will remember that Tennyson says -
That a lie which is half a truth is ever the blackest of lies;
That a lie which is all a lie may be met and fought with outright ;
But a lie which is part a truth is a harder matter to fight.
If the honorable member likes this kind of thing I can give him some more from the Brisbane Courier -
The ambulance brigade was on the spot attending to the injured promptly. Some of those who were struck were able to leave unassisted, but others had to be carried off by the bearers.
The honorable member for South Sydney asked me whether these were things I had” seen myself. I can tell him that my own father, who was sitting quietly on a doorstep in a street, had to run down a lane to save his life. Women and children were chased about the streets of Brisbane that morning, and for what? Nobody knows ; but the police had evidently been so much irritated and annoyed by the failure of their plans, and of their hopes that they would have some work to do against the strikers, that they had to find an outlet for their feelings. It was rather a remarkable fact that on that morning all the police appeared on the streets with every mark of identification carefully removed from their uniforms; Their numbers were removed from their collars and helmets, and that in itself is a pretty sure indication of what was their intention. The honorable member for Ballarat said that the Premier of Queensland had wired to the Governor-General -
In consequence of general, strike riot and bloodshed are imminent in Brisbane.
He must have been anticipating the action of his own minions.
The State police are not able to preserve order.
No ; but they were able to incite disorder, as they did on the Friday morning after this message was sent.
Firearms have been used to prevent arrest of a man guilty of riotous conduct.
I have already proved that that was false as the only shot fired was fired by a police constable, and not by a striker, in defence of another.
The Executive Government of State request that you direct steps to be taken immediately to protect State against domestic violence in the terms of section 119 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act.
Honorable members are no doubt aware that section 119 of the Constitution provides that -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion and, on the application of the Executive Government of a State, against domestic violence.
There is in the Argus of this morning a report of an interview in Brisbane with Mr. Denham, the Premier of Queensland. In the course of that interview Mr; Denham said that the Queensland Government were so considerate of the feelings of the Commonwealth Government that they did not ask’ for the military under the Defence Act, but under the higher constitutional provision. He said -
We made our appeal not under any Federal Statute, but under the higher enactment of the Constitution. Doubtless, no matter what course we adopted, Mr. Fisher would have exercised his discretion, but as it is he has exercised it unwarrantably.
It is very refreshing to havehad a statement from the Leader of the Opposition to the effect that the Commonwealth Government have an absolute right to exercise their discretion in dealing with any such application for the military. I think that was somewhat interesting to honorable members who recollect a discussion which took place in the Senate during last session. It will be remembered that on the 2nd November,1911, Senator Rae moved the following motion in the Senate -
That in the opinion of the Senate -
The Defence Act should be so amended as to clearly set forth that the object of creating a Citizen Defence Force based upon universal compulsory military training and service, is for the purpose of defending the Commonwealth against possible foreign aggression, and therefore, under no circumstances, should any person so enrolled be compelled to bear arms against any fellow Australian citizen, notwithstanding anything contained in the oath of allegiance or in any other conditions of compulsory service.
It is remarkable that during the discussion of that motion, with the exception of three every honorable senator who spoke, including the Minister of Defence and Senators Millen and Clemons, emphasized the fact that in any circumstances the reply to an application for military to suppress domestic violence was a matter which, in the last resort, was left to the discretion of the Commonwealth authority. Even where a State is disposed to ask for military assistance in justifiable circumstances no one can compel the action of the Commonwealth Government. The result of the debate in the Senate on the motion referred to was that only four voted for it whilst fifteen voted against it. This shows that the feeling of the Senate was that the Commonwealth Government have a perfect right, and are justified, if they are not indeed authorized, to refuse military assistance on the application of a State, unless they are satisfied that it is needed. Honorable members opposite may dispute our statements as they please, but if this motion of censure means anything at all, and the debate upon it is revolving entirely around the Brisbane strike - the matters of the finances, maladministration, and the policy of “ spoils to the victors “ have taken very secondary and subordinate places, and the burden of all the addresses from honorable members opposite has been the Brisbane strike–
– That is hardly correct.
– One thing is certain, and that is that every vote given for this censure motion means a vote in favour of the calling out of the military to suppress industrial disturbance. This party stands at least for this position : That if there is domestic violence, if there is reason for calling out the military to deal with an industrial disturbance, the decision as to whether the military shall be called out or not rests in the last resort with the Commonwealth Government, and they are under no compulsion by the provisions of the Constitution to call out the military. Honorable members will probably be interested if I read for them what the Right Honorable R. B. Haldane, K.C., M.P., Secretary of State for War in the Imperial Government, said before a Select Committee on the question of the employment of the military in a case of industrial disturbance. The honorable member for Darling Downs read for us some lengthy extracts referring to what had happened in America, evidently basing his remarks on the fact that our Constitution follows the American model.
– Unhappily, I think.
– Most unhappily, and, unfortunately, it follows the American model very closely. I want to point out that we as Britishers have somewhat different ideas in many respects from those held by Americans. Mr. Haldane is an undoubted authority, and this is what he says in regard to the use of the military in industrial disturbances -
Now, the soldier is a person who is different from the ordinary citizen in this, that he is armed with a deadly weapon. Moreover, he comes out in a military formation. The result is that if he appears unnecessarily he creates an impression in the minds of all those who are about of a hostile character. His veTy menacing aDpearance may lead to the very thing which it is his purpose to prevent - disturbance. For that reason, in the War Office, we are very averse to allowing the military to be employed. We are compelled to do it; we have no choice; we have to obey the law, but we always tend to insist - and while I am there we always shall insist very strongly - on this, that we are called out legally and not illegally.
We are called out illegally if we are called out under any circumstances which admit of being dealt with by a force less menacing than a military force necessarily is. There is a principle which must be borne in mind, and that is that people are taken to intend the consequences of their actions. It may be perfectly legal for the military to march up and along a certain street, but, if their doing so will unnecessarily and unjustifiably bring about a disturbance, the military may find themselves breaking the law. There are familiar cases in the books. There is one case in which somebody in the neighbourhood of the Strand owned a theatre, and he gave a performance of a very well-known play, which had the result of attracting an enormous crowd trying to get in. He was acting perfectly legally in opening his theatre and advertising the play, but he created such a disturbance by attracting the crowd that he was held liable to injunction. In the same way it has been held in the courts that if you put up a very exciting and stirring advertisement in Fleet-street, and a crowd collects and blocks the pavement, you are liable. I say that by the way of illustrating that if the military, even within their rights, come upon the streets in circumstances when their doing so may create disturbance, they may be committing an offence against the law. That is a principle which I am always disposed to bear very closely in mind when dealing with the question whether they . should act or not. But, subject to those qualifications, I wish to emphasize this, that the War Office has no discretion. We are in control of «. number of people who are citizens as well as soldiers, and if they are requisitioned to assist the civil authority, then, if it is necessary that they should assist, and if they are required, and they cannot be done without, they have to go. . . . The other day, for instance, at Winchester, the civil authority requisitioned the officer commanding the troops at the depôt to bring them up, and the officer did not bring them up, and the civil authority complained to us. I went into the case, and I had not the smallest hesitation in approving the action of the officer commanding, and yet it was said, with some truth, that the paragraph in question says that the military authorities will arrange for the despatch of troops. They did not in that case, because they said, very sensibly, “ This must be read in accordance with the common law, and not as inconsistent with it.” The Regulations cannot repeal the common law. I agree that should be made more distinct than it is at the present time. That is the statement which I wanted to put before the Committee in order to make the law perfectly clear, as I think it is.
That is rather a remarkable statement, coming from the source which it does, and it utterly disproves the allegation of the honorable member for Ballarat, that a force of citizen soldiers would be more likely to cause disorder than would a military force. There is no doubt in my mind that if, during the strike, troops had appeared in the streets of Brisbane in their regimentals, and with all their accoutrements, it would scarcely have been possible to restrain the excitement of the crowd. To be faced by police with fixed bayonets, and also by a large number of men and youths with batons, was bad enough. But still it had its ridiculous aspect. All told, there were, perhaps, a thousand foot and horse constables, regular and special, and there were 20,000 unionists. If the word had been given, the street would have been cleared of those constables in five minutes. As some one remarked, “ Why not let the wharf labourers at them, and they will run.” But the wisdom of the leaders prevented that. I admire the courage with which they faced the situation. They said to the strikers, “ No. If we charge the police there will be a few dead unionists before the trouble is over, and we do not want dead unionists, but living, ones.” I am proud to say that we won that battle in Brisbane by moral courage, and by re fusing to be tempted to disorder and deeds of violence. Yet the Premier of Queensland has said that there was disorder. The Leader of the Opposition stated that the refusal of the Commonwealth to send the military led to the enrolment of special constables. As a matter of fact, the application for military assistance was refused on the 3rd February, and the Brisbane Courier on the 30th January published the following statement -
For over a week the work of supplementing the force by the addition of men from the country districts has been going on quietly.
That is an absolute contradiction of the statement of the honorable member for Ballarat. One is inclined to be amused rather than annoyed at the action of the enthusiastic sons of farmers whom the honorable member for Darling Downs eulogized so much this afternoon. They travelled hundreds of miles to Brisbane_it is true, but for their services they received” 12s. 6d. per day, and their horses were well fed. It was really a picnic for them. No doubt, too, the prospect of having a scrap with the townies was an inducement to -them to volunteer their services. I may add that an order was passed round the Government Departments in Queensland that the civil servants were to enroll as special constables. But the response was so meagre in two Departments at least that the employes in those Departments were summoned to the Minister’s room, where they were addressed by him-, and practically threatened with dismissal if they did not stand by the Government. The special constables were drawn from all ranks. The civil servants were distinctly given to understand that it was their duty to act as special constables whether they liked it or not. Many of them who went on to the streets of Brisbane heartily wished themselves hundreds of miles from that city. Many of them were much more afraid of the strikers coming down the street on that memorable Friday morning than the strikers were afraid of the police. I wish also_ to remind honorable members that section 51 of the Defence Act reads -
Where the Governor of a State has proclaimed that domestic violence exists therein, the Governor-General, upon the application of the Executive Government of the State, may, by proclamation, declare that domestic violence exists in that State, and may call out the Permanent Forces, and, in the event of their numbers being insufficient, may also call out such of the Militia and Volunteer Forces as may be necessary for the protection of that State, and the services of the forces so called out may be utilized accordingly for the protection of that State against domestic violence.
Honorable members will see, therefore, that the very first condition precedent to the calling out of the military was not complied with by the Queensland Government. No proclamation was issued that a state of domestic violence existed. Further, although the police magistrate of Brisbane was up and down the streets of that city all day long, he never once drew the Riot Act from his pocket to read it. There was no need for even such feeble action as that to be taken. Yet we have been told that the military were necessary to preserve order. Shortly after the Prime Minister’s reply to the application for military assistance had been received in Queensland, Mr. Denham was interviewed, and here is what he said -
Probably Australia is the only civilized country in the world to-day where the military is not ready at a moment’s notice to back up the civil power in such a state of things as has obtained, and still obtains to a lesser degree, in Brisbane.
When I read that, I thanked God that 1 belonged to the first country in the world that had declared for such a splendid state of affairs. Let us be thankful to-day that we are Australians, and that this is the first civilized country in the world to-day in which the soldiers, who are trained for the purpose of repelling foreign aggression, are not available for quelling internal disturbances such as industrial conflicts. Mr. Denham made a remarkable admission when he was refused the military. He said - in such a state of things as has obtained, and still obtains to a lesser degree to-day, in Brisbane.
That was an admission that the position of affairs in Brisbane then was less grave than cn the Thursday when he sent the telegram for the military. Mr. Denham went on to make a much more remarkable statement -
Tt is not so much deeds of violence as the holding up of food supplies that constitutes a serious menace. 1 have already proved that this was no’t the act of the strikers, or the strike committee - that if it were necessary to employ the military, it was to compel the shopkeepers to keep their shops open. If it were not for deeds of violence that the military were needed, what was the meaning of the statement that, owing to imminent bloodshed, troops were required? After consultation with the Home Secretary and the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Denham said -
I can assure the citizens that ample protection is afforded by the enrolment of special constables, foot and horse. I see no reason why early in the week normal conditions of trade should not obtain in the metropolitan area.
He, apparently, asked for things he did not need, and, when he did not get them, he said, “ I did not want them ; I had enough of my own.” An exactly similar statement was made in regard to adequate police protection to guarantee the food supplies; and yet we hear this talk about the strikers holding up the supplies. The honorable member for Darling Downs may laugh, criticise, and abuse the permits by the strike committee; but it was the use of the permits that guaranteed the food supplies to the people of Brisbane. From the very first day of the strike, the strike committee guaranteed that neither the hospitals nor the sanitary service would suffer, and that nobody need go hungry ; from beginning to end no man, woman, or child need have gone without a meal. It did not matter whether a man were a unionist or a non-unionist, he had only to come to the Trades Hall and say he was out of work, and had no food in his home. I took such men in by dozens, and got tickets for them, so that they might get supplies at the stores. Who opened the stores? It was the action of the strike committee in making arrangements with grocers, bakers, butchers, and carters, that enabled the people to get supplies. The strike committee took charge because the Government absolutely failed to exercise proper control of affairs. The strike committee said, “ We must preserve and secure the food of the people;” and, to their honour be it said, they did it well. Honorable members may laugh at the 3½d. coupon, but every coupon was the price of a loaf of bread. And no coupons were exchanged for drink ; they could be exchanged only for food. To the credit of the unionists of Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, and every other part of Australia, they generously supported the strikers, and the committee were able to honour every permit at its face value when presented in the morning. Mr. Denham accused the Prime Minister of violating the Constitution, simply because the Prime Minister did not interpret the Constitution in the same way as Mr. Denham. But who was it violated the Constitution? Section 1:14 of the Constitution provides that no State, without the consent of the Commonwealth Parliament, shall raise or maintain a naval or military force ; and 1 charge the Queensland Government with having raised a military force in Brisbane, armed them, and sent them out into the streets to shoot down the citizens. I am sorry I have not a photograph to show honorable members of the military camp in Brisbane organized by the order and authority of the State Government. I could have shown the headquarters camp in the gardens near the Executive buildings, with flagstaff, sentry-go, and every appliance and accessory of a military force. Yet section 114 of the Constitution contains the provision I have read ; and I am certain that the consent of the Federal Government was never asked for. Under the circumstances, we can only say that it was the Queensland Government, and not the Commonwealth Government, that violated the Constitution of Australia. The use of the military in strikes is a thing against which every honorable member on this side, at any rate, most emphatically protests. It is somewhat significant that during the railway strike in England, at the latter end of last year, the military filled the signal-boxes and the railway stations. But what a remarkable change came over the scene in the space of a few months. The great coal strike took place; but no military were called out. The Government of Great Britain had learned a lesson between the railway strike and the coal strike; and there must have been more than mere pretence in the following motion that was submitted in the House of Commons by the Leader of the Labour party, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, on the 1st December. That gentleman moved -
TI1.1t this House is of opinion that the results of the coroners’ inquests at Liverpod and Llanelly, and the facts elicited in other parts of the country, show that responsibility for breaches of the peace in connexion with .the recent industrial disputes does not rest upon the working classes, and that the use of the military was unnecessary and provocative; and this House regrets the action of His Majesty’s Government in promising the use of the military, thereby encouraging the railway companies in their refusal to recognise the workmen’s trade unions, and in sending troops into various localities. . . . and further declares that civil order depends upon just social relationships, and not upon a display of force.
The facts must have burned deeply into the hearts of the British Prime Minister and his colleagues. I believe that, in nil honesty, they made every possible effort to bring about conferences between the miners and the employers. They tried move after move ; and, finally, as honorable members know, they introduced the Minimum Wage Bill, with all its defects and deficiencies, as a. means of settlement. Indeed, that dispute has been settled to a certain extent, and there has never been a call on the military. If the Australian people once get it into their heads that the Citizen Forces are to be available for industrial disputes and in local difficulties,- we shall be at the end. or at the beginning of the end, of the defence system of Australia. The men and women of Australia are to-day freely giving their sons to be trained for the defence of the country. We are proud of our land, believe in it, and would be ready, if necessary, to die in its defence. But if our sons are to be at the call of any Government for the quelling of industrial disputes, there will be a passive resistance to compulsory training that will bring about the destruction of our defence system. We hear a great deal about the taxation that is imposed to pay for defence, and honorable members have strong opinions about it. There are some who, with good reason, believe that the burden is already too heavy, and that something should be done to prevent what seems to be its inevitable increase. But were the amendment to be carried, the passive resistance to the payment of taxes for defence would become so strong that no Government would stand by the opinion that our forces should be available for the quelling of industrial disputes. If our soldiers are to be asked to take part in industrial disputes, it will be necessary to refuse to enroll, train, and arm the sons of unionists, or young men with Labour sympathies, lest, should the time unfortunately come for the calling out of the military to settle an industrial dispute, there should be found armed men on both sides, be cause the sons and brothers would not shoot down their own relatives.
– The Opposition is playing with fire.
– Are not our forces to be asked to keep order, and to protect innocent people?
– The “ fire low and lay them out “ Opposition ! The second blotch of blood on the career of the Opposition 1
– The Honorary Minister has been talking of blood all day.
– A professional blooddrinker that is all he is.
– The honorable member must withdraw those words.
– I withdraw them.
– A prominent writer in an English newspaper, dealing with the coal strike, says -
When strikers are killed by soldiers the Government is shot through the head. It is parted by a river of blood from the democracy.
– Who makes the river of blood ?
– Had the Leader of the Opposition been present a few minutes ago, he would have heard me read a statement by the late Secretary for War to the effect that soldiers, when called upon to quell local disputes, always provoke disturbance.
– Not citizen soldiers.
– Lord Haldane pointed out that soldiers are also citizens, and, possessing that dual capacity, should not be called out to interfere in industrial disputes.
– How would the honorable member propose to quell a serious riot if the military could not be used ?
– I promised the Leader of the Opposition that I would say something in regard to the cases of putting explosives on the tramway lines in Brisbane. The honorable gentleman specified seven distinct acts of this kind.
– More than that. I read the official list furnished to the Government.
– And published by the Government. I shall have something to say about that later. I have gone through the files of the Brisbane Courier from the date that the industrial trouble began, to discover the reports about dynamite caps, gelignite, and other explosives being laid on the tram lines. The newspaper stated, on 23rd January, that a plug of gelignite, a very powerful explosive, with fuse and cap, had been found on the Bulimba tram line. That was eight clear days before the strike began. On the 25th January it was reported that on the previous day a small quantity of explosive had been found on the Bulimba tram line - this may have been the one incident repeated - but that a car passed over the obstruction without damage, before it was discovered.
– I mentioned that case, and read the explanation as to why there was no explosion.
– The report states that had there been an explosion the noise might have occasioned some alarm. On the 26th January it was stated that the substance found had been submitted to analysis, and the (Leader of the Opposition has read the analysis given by the Government Analyst. Material which failed to explode when a tram car passed over it was found, when it reached the Government analyst, to be a terribly explosive agent of destruction. It is not the first time in Queensland that an occurrence of that nature has taken place. The Prime Minister told us the other night that a report of the Commissioner of Police concerning the incident in the shearers’ strike was very much altered before being presented to Parliament, and that only by accident was it discovered that it had been mutilated. And it is not many years since a map for the distribution of electorates passed through the Premier’s office, and was altered after leaving the hands of the Commissioners. I am among those who believe that the material submitted to the Government Analyst was not that over which the tram car passed. The statement read by the Leader of the Opposition appeared in the Brisbane Courier of the 25th April. This circumstance is alleged to hare taken place in January. Not a single re-, port about it appeared in the columns of the newspapers at that time. There was no report of a guaranteed character that explosives had been found. Yet on 25th April, two days before the election, this accusation appeared.
– I suppose that disproves the statement?
– Does any reasonable man believe that if the strikers of Brisbane had desired to do damage to the cars they would have made such a mess of it as the Leader of the Opposition would have us suppose?
– I simply quoted the statement made.
– The Leader of the Opposition said that if the dynamite had been handled by men accustomed to mining; there would have been a very different result.
– Hear, hear !
– I only know this: that, even according to a statement of the Leader of the Opposition referring to the alleged explosives found on the rails on 1 4th and 15th February, the Courier said that a car passed over without being damaged, and without any explosion occurring; whilst, on 20th February, it is said that there was an explosion, but no damage. There was tramway material lying in every street in Brisbane, stretching away into the suburbs. There were wires, points, and rails lying unprotected ; yet not a wire was cut, not a point was interfered with, not a rail was touched. I think that that is a remarkable thing. When a little local tramway strike occurred in Sydney, before it had been in existence many hours, cars were left all over the streets, and some were overturned. Tramway material was damaged in every direction. But to the honour and credit of the Brisbane unionists, not a shilling’s worth of damage to the property of the Tramway Company was done.
– Who said the unionists put the explosives on the line?
– These are the men against whom the military were asked to be called out; and the Queensland Government put these statements in the newspapers two clays before the election. For what purpose? To tellthe people the truth? No; to influence the election. But they got their reply from Brisbane. The honorable member for Darling Downs may juggle with figures as much as he pleases; but Brisbane spoke clearly on the 27th April in regard to this strike. The honorable member said that there are sixteen electorates around Brisbane. As a matter of fact, there are only ten metropolitan electorates. The other six mentioned by the honorable member are country electorates.
– I said “ within a radius of15 miles of Brisbane.”
– That is quite correct; the honorable member did say “ within a radius of15 miles of Brisbane.” But the metropolitan area does not extend for 1 5 miles.
– Is that the only part of Queensland ?
– I will mention the constituencies. There are North Brisbane, Fortitude Valley, Buranda, Ithaca, Maree, Paddington, South Brisbane, Bulimba, Merthyr, and Toowong. Of these, Labour held two seats before the last election. Fortitude Valley had two Labour members. North Bris bane had always been considered a black spot from a Labour point of view. The hope of a Labour man ever winning that seat seemed absolutely out of the question. But to-day a member of the strike committee, a victimized railway man, who was refused reinstatement by the Railway Commissioner, represents North Brisbane in the Legislative Assembly. That is the answer of the city. North Brisbane, Fortitude Valley, Ithaca, Maree, Buranda, and Paddington all returned Labour members. South Brisbane, Merthyr, Bulimba, and Toowong are Government constituencies. That is the voice of the people of the city. Even then Merthyr and South Brisbane were really won by Labour men on what I may call the primary votes. It was the votes of the absentees living in the country that turned the scale.
– They were the people who suffered most from the strike.
– If we take the actual votes which express the opinion of the people on the spot on the day of the election, eight electorates out of ten in the metropolitan area expressed their approval of the strike committee, and their belief that the Government had not done the right thing during the strike.
– Does the honorable member say eight electorates?
– Yes, if we take the votes of the people on the spot. I say again that it was the absentee votes that turned the scale. As it was, South Brisbane was only won for the Government by thirty-two votes, and Merthyr by a majority of only four. We can look forward with confidence to the next election, and can say with a considerable degree of equanimity and satisfaction that South Brisbane, Kurilpa, and Merthyr will certainly be Labour seats if the last election affords any indication of the trend of feeling. Since the last State elections I have travelled in North Queensland and talked to the people at Cairns, Townsville, Bowen, and Maryborough. What did I find? I found people saying on every hand that they had been hoodwinked. They believed what the Government told them. They believed the statements in the lying press, which went into every district of Queensland. They believed the statements which I have exposed to-day, and they voted in such a way that now many of them would give their right hands to recall the votes they cast.
– Tell that to the marines !
– There are some circumstances in connexion with the elections of Brisbane that have yet to be probed to the bottom. A number of protests are awaiting investigation by the election tribunal. There will be some revelations to which I recommend honorable members to give their attention. They will find that those constituencies which were nearest to the trouble, where the people knew the facts, where they did not need to take their information from the Courier or any other newspaper, but knew of their own knowledge, were the constituencies in which the State Government went down.
– What about the Prime Minister’s own constituency?
– That is a country electorate.
– What are the figures for that electorate?
– I have not got them here.
– They would not suit the honorable member.
– The Prime Minister the other day referred to the fact that, during the shearers’ strike, the men were blamed for all sorts of things that could not possibly have occurred. Statements were made to the effect that they had poisoned water tanks and burnt down woolsheds; when, as a matter of fact,the shearers were not within miles of the places where these things are alleged to have happened.
– The sheds were burnt down to get the insurance money.
– I know of one case where a wool-shed was burnt down ; but when the insurance company made inquiries the insurance money was not paid. It is rather peculiar that we should be supplied to-day with another illustration of how this sort of thing is worked even in the Old Land. In the Argus this morning, under the heading of “ Intimidation Denied,” the following cablegram from London is published -
Mr. Will Crooks (Labour) referred in the House of Commons on Tuesday to the statement made last week by Mr. Rowland Hunt (Unionist), that thousands of men were in hiding at the docks, because they were afraid to go to their homes, and face the gangs of men lying in wait to assault them.
Mr. Crooks characterized the statement as a “ deliberate falsehood.” He said that he had visited the Poplar Hospital, in the East India Dock road, and instead of finding rows of vic tims, he saw only seven. The house surgeon told him that assaults had been fewer during the period of the strike than at any other time inLondon.
This parade of stories as to explosives being laid to blow up the Brisbane trams is on a par with the statements regarding the poisoning ofwater, the burning of woolsheds, and the hiding of frightened men in the docks. When the nonunionists were placed in charge of the Brisbane tram cars, Mr. Badger having refused to reinstate the former employes, although he said they were capable and reliable officers, there was a succession of accidents during the first month exceeding by far the number that had happened for years previously. One wonders whether the explanation is that these non-unionists on the cars had to keep their eyes on the rails to see where these parcels had been placed for them. In one case, when a package was opened, the alleged dynamite was found to consist of a piece of tallow candle, which had been thrown on the line as a bit of bluff. In another case, which I have documentary evidence to prove, a package picked up was found to contain a piece of hardened soft soap, such as is ordinarily used to grease the points on the tram rails. I desire now to refer to Mr. Denham’s own statements regarding his actions during the strike. I say advisedly that one of the most lamentable features of that strike, which I still believe was easily capable of adjustment in its early stages, is the fact that the Premier of Queensland took no steps whatever to bring the parties together. It is most unfortunate that the Premier of the State was so indifferent, or, at all events, so unconcerned, about the matter that he made absolutely no effort to. bring the parties together to arrive at a satisfactory settlement.
– Is the honorable member sure that is quite correct ?
– It is not correct.
– I shall prove that it is correct.
– The honorable member knows that the Premier of Queensland went up specially from Sydney in connexion with the strike.
– His own statement is that he left the leaders of thestrike to stew in their own juice.
– That allegation has been disproved.
– I shall come to that point presently. Mr. Denham arrived from Sydney on the Tuesday night, and immediately went home. His house was at once surrounded by a force of special constables and regular police.
– Brave man !
– He was a brave man. I know of no one who has so fittingly recalled Prince Bismarck’s reference to Lord Salisbury, that he was “ a lath painted to look like iron.” The Premier of Queensland had the opportunity of his life to make a name for himself. Had he chosen, on the night of his return to Brisbane, or on the following morning, to take any step whatever to bring the parties together, he would have been relieved of all the odium that now attaches to him because of his attitude during the strike.
– There is no odium at all.
– He takes credit for the attitude he took up. He prides himself on the fact that he did nothing. When he was speaking at Rocklea an interjector declared, “ You did nothing to stop the strike,” and Mr. Denham replied -
No, not in any sense did I try to get them out of the mess ‘they fell into. They fell into the soup, and there they can stew.
The honorable member for Darling Downs has tried to water down that remark by quoting Mr. Denham’s own qualifying statement, made some time later, that he was referring only to the strike leaders, and that he had the greatest possible respect for the men themselves. He could not have been referring only to the strike lenders, however, for, after saying that they had Fallen into the soup and could stew there, he went on -
These men deserted their posts and then returned later and asked that the men who had filled them should be thrown out and themselves reinstated.
That was not a reference to the leaders.
– What is the honorable member quoting from?
– From the Courier.
– The statement which the honorable member is quoting is in his own handwriting.
– It is an absolutely correct copy of Mr. Denham’s statement as reported in the Courier. This later statement shows distinctly that it was not the strike leaders to whom he was referring when he said that they had fallen into the soup and that they could stew there. In passing, I may mention that this assertion that the men who deserted their posts and wanted to go back, asked that the nonunionists should be dismissed,, is a very doubtful one. So far from Mr. Denham having inadvertently said that the men had fallen in the soup and could remain there, the actual fact is that he repeated it. He went north, and at Charters Towers, Ayr, Ravenswood, and Townsville repeated the same statement with variations.
– With variations !
– The Leader of’the Opposition will not laugh when he hears what the variations were. The honorable member’s sources of information in these matters may be the same as my own. I am taking my information from the public press. There are the facts. At Ayr, he referred to the strikers, and called them “ drunken loafers.” At Charters Towers, he referred to unionists as “ running sores.” At Ravenswood, he called them “ brainless idiots,” and that was quite on a par with a statement he had made in regard to strikers, strike leaders, and unionists generally, at Rosewood, during a by-election a few months previously, when he referred to the leaders of unionists as “dirty scabs.”
– I think that you should produce some proof of these later statements.
– I will give the proofs. When the Prime Minister came to Brisbane on the 15th February, he quoted what Mr. Denham had said at Rocklea. Mr. Denham, at Gladstone, two days later, said -
In reply to Mr. Fisher, he would like to tell them that on Friday, February 2nd, he had met Archbishop Donaldson, Rev. G. E. Rowe, Hon. T. C. Beirne, M.L.C., and Mr. W. F. Finlayson, M.H.R., with Mr. Badger, and discussed the situation. … In this Mr. Fisher, like the others, was absolutely incorrect.
Mr. Denham first took pride that he had done nothing to stop the strike, but had let the strikers stew in their own juice.
– So you say. That has to be proved.
– When the Prime Minister charged him with having made that statement, Mr. Denham did not den.v it, but he said that he did not refer to the men, but to their leaders. I have proved that in his statement he did not refer to. the leaders, but to the men.
– You have proved nothing.
– I have proved id from his own statement.
– After saying at Rocklea that he had. done nothing to block the strike, at Gladstone he said, “ I did do something,” and that the Prime Minister was wrong. On the following day, I put a paragraph in the newspaper, and asked what Mr. Denham had done to call the conference in his room, which he referred to. At the same time, I told the people of Brisbane that the conference was called, not by Mr. Denham, but by my action in getting Archbishop Donaldson and the Rev. G. E. Rowe at work, as citizens and clergymen teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ, to try to bring about peace. I told the people that the conference was held in the Premier’s room, not because we wanted Mr. Denham there, but simply and solely because that room was neutral ground, and we could ask Mr. Badger to meet us there. Archbishop Donaldson and Mr. Rowe went to see Mr. Badger one night at about10 o’clock. I met them at about half-past eleven o’clock that night, and found, to my ufter surprise, that they had come from Mr. Badger with the impression, at any rate, that he was prepared to meet representatives of the men to try to arrive at a settlement. I arranged that these two clergymen should meet the strike leaders next morning. They did. They got from the men a promise that they would be prepared to meet Mr. Badger at any time or place which suited him. They went to Mr. Denham at half-past 9 o’clock on Friday morning - Black Friday - and made an arrangement for a conference that afternoon in his office, because it was neutral ground, and he was to invite these men to come and meet in his 100m, and discuss the matter. That was the first time that he came into the business. It was the first thing he did to try to make things right, and to find out a basis for settling the dispute. At five minutes to 3 o’clock, the hour appointed for the conference to be held, Mr. Rowe got a telephone message from Mr. Barlow that the conference was off, and no reasons were given. When Mr. Rowe went to make inquiries, it was found either that Mr. Badger had withdrawn from his position, or that the two clergymen had entirely misunderstood him, because he refused to meet other than the employes. He would meet no representatives of the union, or recognise the union in any way.
– Was Mr. Barlow a colleague of Mr. Denham?
– Yes. That Conference was called, not by Mr. Denham. I utterly dissented from his statement that day in Brisbane, and told the people through the columns of the Telegraph what the actual facts were. What did he say? In reply to my statement in the Telegraph, he was interviewed, and said -
I remained silent in the matter until the party with which he is associated tried to traduce me by saying that I was not interested at all in bringing the strike to a conclusion. I did not claim to have initiated the movement to bring the parties together.
In all conscience, what did he do? He said, “ I remained silent.” Until he was flogged from behind to do it-
– Was not Mr. Barnes endeavouring allthe week to bring about a satisfactory settlement ?
– I have already stated that in the early stages Mr. Barnes and myself–
– When you are reflecting on Mr. Denham, that is the time to refer to what his colleague was doing.
– You should have been here all through the speech.
– That would not have altered that fact.
- Mr. Barnes’ efforts, made about four days previous to this, had utterly collapsed. Nothing was done, and the strike committee tried to induce the Government to do something. A deputation of members of Parliament waited upon the Premier, and asked him to do something. They asked that he should call Parliament together to discuss the matter, but no, he would not. Mere passiveness seems to be the attitude they were taking up, coupled with this peculiar decision, which was quite in line with the previous attitude of the State Government: they were going to stand by any man or combination of men that could defeat the unionists, or would be prepared to tackle them. I have read to honorable members what Mr. Kidston did when Premier, using public money to pay a lawyer in Melbourne to protest , against the registration of the Tramway Employes Association of Brisbane. Here is the conduct of a later Government who were standing behind Mr. Badger,and seemed to have more regard for the alien manager of an absentee company than for the men who were doing the work of the city of Brisbane, and who were citizens of their country. I think that; perhaps, I have covered the ground fairly well to give honorable members a good grasp of the actual position of affairs. The strike dragged its weary way. In spite of every effort which was made on behalf of the men to arrive at a settlement, no settlement was possible. We were met by a blank wall of absolute resistance. Not until a fortunate trouble arose in Adelaide were we able to take advantage of the compulsory conference provision of the Arbitration Act. It is a most unfortunate reflection on our boasted compulsory arbitration provisions that during the whole of that unhappy trouble in Brisbane not a single effort could be made by the Commonwealth to arrive at an amicable and peaceable solution. The State Government had no machinery. The Commonwealth Government’s machinery was not available. But for the fortunate circumstance of the Adelaide dispute, also in regard to the wearing of a badge, and the convening of the compulsory conference in Melbourne, one wonders what would have been the result even now. The compulsory conference was held here, with a result which is well known. It ended as most compulsory conferences have ended in similar circumstances, the employers absolutely refusing to discuss the matter or to come to any decision. The Judge is so impotent in these matters that the compulsory conference had only this result, happily, that he was so satisfied as to the seriousness of the position that he stated a special case to himself as President of the Arbitration Court, and the award he gave in regard to the badge justified to the very hilt every action which has been taken by the unionists of Brisbane.
– How can that justify a strike? That award was granted without a reference to the strike. That hits you home.
– The whole argument of the Leader of the Opposition was that the strike took place over the matter of wearing the badge. I shall read one or two short extracts from the Judge’s award in regard to that matter -
Mr. Badger has a quaint theory that he has a common law right to tell an employe what he should wear. Apart from the power to make regulations, I know of no such common law right. … I find that the forbidding of the badge is, iri the case of Melbourne and Brisbane, merely part qf the policy of the company to suppress unionism, and especially federated unionism. . . . Mr. Badger and Mr. Wilcox frankly admit that they have tried to prevent unionism among their men. . . My award is, therefore, distinctly against the attempt to forbid the union badge. It is monstrous to think that a union should be forbidden such [ii] an anfluence as the badge in its favour, while the companies, with their greater resources, their command of money, of employment, of place, pay, and privileges, use every effort against the union and in favour of a parasitic growth which they plant and foster.
Then he made this award -
That the regulation dated May 3, 191 1, purporting to be the regulation of the Brisbane Tramways Company Limited, is both unauthorized and unreasonable….. The notice issued by Mr. Badger on May 3, 1911, as it was not approved by the Governor in Council, or published in the Gazette, was, in my opinion, unauthorized and invalid.
– All that could have been obtained without a strike.
– What is there in that to justify the action of the unionists in paralyzing the whole trade of the Commonwealth ?
– It is a remarkable fact that in all industrial disputes of late years this matter of non-unionists getting advantages over unionists, and unionists being victimized and dismissed because they are unionists, although ostensibly for some other reason, is a prominent feature. I was interested to note that this came out prominently in connexion with the recent railway strike in Ireland. In this connexion I quote the following : -
The strike of railway men which began in Dublin on Friday developed to a serious extent during the week end, and on Monday morning three big lines, the Great. Southern and Western, the Midland Great Western, and the .Great Northern of Ireland were affected. The crux of the dispute is the handling of timber consigned from firms involved in disputes with their workmen. The Dublin and South Eastern management have not insisted on their men handling “ blackleg “ consignments, and this line isi immune from the strike.
The Executive Committee of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants at a meeting in Dublin on Tuesday night resolved lhat unless the railway companies cease to dismiss and penalize men who refused to handle traffic from firms engaged in disputes with their employes, and reinstate without penalty all men now on strike, they will authorize all the railway workers to withdraw their labour.
On this Reynolds Newspaper says -
Doesn’t it seem outrageous that workers who do not share the cost of self protection should have the impudence to work side by side with those who levy themselves to maintain a leading wage, control the hours of work, and abolish sweating. Non-unionists gain all the advantages won by organized workers, yet it does not cost them a single penny. The trade unionist has, however, come to the conclusion that this is an impossible state of affairs. It must be stopped, and the present struggle will clear the air.
To-day the Brisbane trams are manned entirely by non-unionists. There is not a union man on one of them. When the tramway strike occurred, the Brisbane branch of the Tramway Employes Union was something like 380 strong. Before the strike was a week old it was 480 strong ; and, although every effort has been made by the offer of additional pay, and every inducement has been presented to the men to return to their employment, the gates of the Tramway Company’s premises having been opened to receive them on any day, at any hour, not a single member of the Brisbane Tramway Employes Association has gone back to work. Honorable members opposite said that they were misled by their leaders. The honorable member for Ballarat said that with the honorable member for Batman I misled them. Goodness knows they have had time enough now to find it out. They must know by this time whether the advice offered to them was right or not. I again remind honorable members that every action I took in trying to bring about a settlement, every letter I wrote, and every suggestion I made, was entirely on my private responsibility. I was not a member of the Strike Committee, nor was I in their confidence. I was not a member of the Tramway Executive, although I was somewhat in their confidence as their representative on the Federal Council. No action I took was submitted to them. I did not ask for their approval. I acted in my private capacity in the endeavour to bring about a settlement of the trouble. The men have had plenty of time in which to find out whether they were misled, and what are the facts? Although they could have gone back on a simple statement that they had resigned from the union and would not join it again, not one of them has taken service with the Brisbane Tramway Company. On the question whether I misled them or not, I merely say that a little over a month ago they were appointing a representative to the Federated Council of the Tramway Employes Associations of Australia, and they unanimously requested me to act as their representative on the Federated Council. Misled ! Oh, dear no. The unionists of Brisbane have found out their true friends by now. They know that the men who were prepared to stand by them in their dark days can be depended upon to stand by them when the sun is shining. They will come into their own yet. Before their case gets through the Arbitration Court, with its long and weary process, there will be a change. Perhaps not the least change will be one which I believe will operate for the good government of the tramway system in Brisbane so far as the relations of the company with their employes are concerned, and that is that Mr. Badger is to be given two years’ leave of absence. I have no more to say on that aspect of the matter. I am more concerned about the future than I am about the past. I am concerned as to the possibility of averting such another time as we had in Brisbane. I am most anxious, if it is at all possible by our legislation or administration, to prevent a similar state of affairs arising in any city of Australia. As men who are charged with the government of the country we should do all we can to prevent the recurrence of such a state of affairs.
– Hear, hear !
– I am glad to hear the Leader of the Opposition cheer that statement. The suggestions which are usually received from politicians of his colour are not much on these lines. During the coal strike in Great Britain some suggestions were made by Conservative organs. The London Standard made the following suggestions for the prevention nf industrial disputes : -
That should suit the honorable member for Ballarat, because, during his speech he said, “ Let us have compulsory conciliation and arbitration, and when an award is made let us then suppress disturbances.” It is this continual suppression, coercion, and choking down that will never settle industrial disturbances.
– Of what use is an award then? You get an award, and you then immediately have a dispute about it.
- Mr. Justice Higgins has publicly stated repeatedly that wherever he has had a fair chance to make an award, and wherever he has found it possible to arrive at a fair idea as to the facts of a case, the award of the Court has been honoured. Not only so, but industrial agreements that have been filed in the Court, apart from formal awards, have also been honoured. If reasonable provision had been made for the Arbitration Court to sit in Brisbane, so that it could have brought the parties together in the earlier stages of the difficulty, I venture to say that the whole of the unfortunate aftercircumstances would have been entirely obviated. However, the trouble has taught the people that they made a mistake in April of last year. The electors of Brisbane have now discovered that if they had voted “Yes” instead of “No” at the last referenda, the strike would never have taken place. There will be a different tale to tell next year. As one who came through the Brisbane strike, I look forward with perfect equanimity to the possibilities of the vote at the approaching referenda. If the people of that city have not entirely forgotten - and I do not think they will ever forget - the circumstances attending that memorable Friday when they were chased about their own streets by irresponsible constables, and when they were compelled to submit to a military dictator in the person of Commissioner Cahill, they will vote to vest this Parliament with power so to amend our Constitution as to insure that wherever an industrial dispute occurs, efforts will be at once made to settle it. I do not think that the people of Brisbane will soon forget the petty action of the Government in removing from the roll of justices of the peace the name of a member of the strike committee, or that they will condone the action of the Ministry in removing the secretary of the Marine Board from his position, simply because of petty spite. Upon the first page of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act it is stated that it is an Act “ for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes.” Yet here was an industrial dispute of an unusual character, and under the Act we were absolutely powerless to deal with it. The chief objects of that Act are clearly set out in its preamble. They are, “ to preventlocks-out and strikes in industrial matters.” Yet here was a lockout which culminated in a strike, and the whole of our legal machinery was powerless to cope with it. Nevertheless, I believe that the true heart of Australia beats soundly. Not only Australia but the whole world is seeking a solution of these industrial disturbances. It is quite true, as the Leader of the Opposition remarked, that there is a good deal of industrial unrest throughout the civilized world to-day. Everywhere the cry is, “ How can we, by legislation, arrange for a speedy settlement of these troubles ? “ I was interested in reading what Justin McCarthy had to say some years ago inThe History of our own
Times in regard to strikes. He said -
No body of employers, however wealthy or powerful, could regard with indifference the prospect of having their whole business brought to a temporary stop by the refusal of the operatives to work any longer on the old conditions. The capitalists might be able to win in the end and to enforce their own terms because of the ample resources which enabled them to hold out to the last, and by reason of the fact that it was with them a struggle for the maintenance of what they believed to be reasonable profits, and not a struggle for the maintenance of life. But a wide-speading strike was always an event likely to give pause to the energy of the most determined and uncompromising capitalist, and it compelled him at least to stop and think whether it would not be more for his interest to consider the question as impartially as might be, and to see whether the prosperity of both classes would not be better served by the capitalists making some concession towards the demands of the worker. . . . We may say that the disputes between capital andlabour are already coming to be universally regarded as questions capable of final and satisfactory settlement by the decision of impartial arbitration. It must be admitted that the remarkable progress made of recent years towards such a condition is in great measure due to the intelligence, the perseverance, and, on the whole, the moderation of the operatives themselves, and the intelligent men of their own order who lead them in their organized movements and represent them in the House of Commons.
Honorable members must recognise that there is a remarkable change coming over the spirit of the times. One thing is certain, namely, that the people, as the result of education and experience, have decided that there must be a change in the existing condition of affairs. The rich are going to become poorer in order that the poor may become richer. No more significant statement has been made oflate than that which is reported in the press this week, that the Imperial Parliament proposes to give every man in the United Kingdom a vote. The influence of such a movement towards industrial peace will be something amazing. Kipling, with a poet’s vision, saw something of this coming when he wrote -
So when the world is asleep and there seems no hope of her waking
Out of the long bad dreams that make her mutter and moan,
Suddenly, men are awaked by the sound of fetters breaking,
And each man smiles to his neighbour and tells him his soul is his own.
Men are beginning to realize that their souls are their own.
– Does the honorable member say that a man’s soul has not been his own in Australia?
– It has not been. And,100 years ago, a greater than Kipling, and one with a keener vision, saw something better coming, for Robert Burns sang -
Then let us pray that come it may -
As come it will for a’ that -
That man to man, the warld o’er,
Shall brothers be for a’ that.
Let us pray as men who believe that there is one Eternal Father who is interested in His children, as men who believe in the brotherhood of man, and as men who believe in the prayer with which this Parliament is daily opened -
Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.
That is what we are seeking. Let us pray by all means. But let us labour and legislate to make it come. It is because we are content to pray for it, and not to work for it, that so little is being done. The world is moving towards thelight ; the masses of the people have been down in the valleys, amidst the fogs and the mists for many centuries. But here and there, as in Brisbane, they have forced their way up to the sunshine; a hill there and a hill here has been captured, and the masses all over the world are moving upward. Here and there they are repulsed by force; but the time is coming when the masses of the workers in every country in the world, including Australia, must force their way into the sunshine, and declare that the heavy burden shall be removed, and every man, woman, and child given an opportunity to live. The Leader of the Opposition has thrown out the taunt that we are seeking some ideal existence.
– An unfair existence.
– The honorable member said that we were seeking some ideal existence. I am always glad to know that my ideals are more or less invisible. If we had reached the end of our efforts we should know exactly where we were; but there is something better further on. We believe there is a better state of things ahead - that we shall leave the world better for those who come after us ; that each generation will inherit improved conditions - and to that end we hold it to be worth while working and legislating. We are seeking a new heaven and a new earth. What we are doing now may be spade work - we may be laying only drains or water-pipes - but we are widening the streets and letting in more sunshine; and, please God, we may be able to tackle, not only industrial problems, but international problems, and bring about a better state of affairs for the people of fair Australia. The Labour party, in my opinion, is doing more for peace than any other party or organized institution. The one guarantee for the peace of the world lies in the solidarity of the Labour party. The fact that there are110 Socialists sitting in the German Reichstag is the great guarantee for no war with England. There is one general strike which I hope to live to see - a strike that is now being arranged for, and for which we are preparing and working. If war should be declared by any of the rulers of the countries or the world, I hope to see the workers of the countries concerned throw down tools, and do no work until the war is stopped. Then, indeed, there will be no war, and the Labour party may go on with full confidence in the gospel of peace and goodwill. Our friends opposite have nothing but the gospel of force - of guns and bullets. The Labour party stands for something better - for brotherliness, fraternity, and good feeling. Dilletante members of the Peace Society may think that the Labour party are disturbers of the peace, and let them think so. If it suits Carnegie to forget about Pinkerton’s detectives, and, with his millions, to play with his new toy, the Palace of Peace, let him do so. Let those men who have a feeling that peace can be maintained by the reiteration of pious aspirations continue to nurse that feeling. But the party that stands to-day for a settlement of industrial troubles by the readiest possible means, and for the settlement of international troubles by prompt and decisive measures, is the Labour party and the Socialist party in every State and country in the world.
– A lot of honorable members opposite never were Socialists.
– I am proud to belong to the Socialist party. That party will stretch its hands from land to land across the seas, and will yet dominate the world, because it stands for righteousness, peace, truth, and honesty.
.- Honorable members have heard so much about the Brisbane strike that, doubtless, they would like a change of topic; and, personally, I should be very glad to refer to some other subject. But, after the eloquent peroration of the honorable member for Brisbane, I feel called Upon to follow that subject even a little further. The honorable member, towards the conclusion of his speech, drew the inference that it is highly desirable to have more effective Federal legislation to deal with the settlement of calamitous industrial disputes such as that which occurred in Brisbane, and he wound up with a pathetic allusion to the necessity for promoting the brotherhood of man, and so forth. I think 1 can fairly appeal to honorable members to concur in the contention that in no country in the world is there more liberal democratic legislation for the settlement of industrial disputes than in Australia. In Commonwealth legislation we have machinery and procedure of a scientific, judicial, most effective, and far-reaching character for dealing with even such industrial disturbances as “that to which I have referred. In support of that view, let me remind honorable members of the provisions of our Conciliation and Arbitration Act for the settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of a State. Let me further remind honorable members of the recent improvements and amendments in that legislation, under which it is possible to deal with cases of industrial emergency like that in Brisbane. The admitted facts of the case go to show that Commonwealth legislation ait the present time is quite sufficient ; that there is no such . alarming necessity for further drastic amendments and enlargements in the directions suggested by the honorable member for Brisbane, and which he is of opinion would have stopped the Queensland trouble. On the occurrence of this strike or lock-ou - whichever honorable members choose to call it - there was pending in the Arbitration Court of the Commonwealth a plaint which raised the whole of the questions in dispute between the tramway company and its employés, including the question of the badge. It was apparent on the face of the plaint, which was drawn up by experienced lawyers, that it came within the jurisdiction of the Court, because it set out that the matter submitted to the Court, as between the Australian Tramway Employes Association and the various tramway employers, included those of Hobart, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Fremantle, and other places. The legal advisers who acted on behalf of the tramway employes must have had evidence of an Inter- State dispute which came within the jurisdiction of the Commonwealth Court. To show that the point at issue was included in the plaint, let me read from a copy of it published in the newspapers at the time-r-
Matters in dispute. - (a) Wages; (4) Conditions of work.
Under the latter heading, paragraph. 39R read as follows -
The employes shall be permitted to wear and display the badges of members of the association.
Paragraph 60 of the reply read -
The respondent disputes the paragraph, relating to the badge of the plaint, and says that no distinction between members and non-members of the association shall be allowed.
I ask honorable members to note the terms of the plaint, and that the plaint was within the cognisance of the Arbitration Court at the time of this industrial dispute. The second thing to be remembered is that the hearing of the plaint had evidently been delayed by the congestion of business of the Court, or the employment by the President in other work of the High Court. Fortunately, however, our legislation provides that in cases of urgency or emergency, the President may convene compulsory conferences between the parties to an InterState industrial dispute. This gives him the opportunity to bring the parties together, and talk matters over; and if he finds that there is a prima facie case of an Inter-State dispute, and that he cannot settle it by conciliation, he may make a special appointment for the speedy hearing of the matter. The complaint of the honorable member for Brisbane is that our legislation is imperfect, and that the Constitution should be amended to make more liberal and adequate provision for the settlement of Inter-State disputes is therefore unjustifiable, there being now abundant machinery for dealing, not only with Inter-State disputes which are not urgent, but also with special and emergency disputes. The President, on a case being brought under his notice, and on being satisfied that the dispute was an Inter-State one, made a special appointment for its hearing and determination.
– If a dispute is not Inter-State, he has no power to deal with it.
– I am not discussing a hypothetical case ; I am dealing with the facts of the case under review. The plaint alleged the existence of an .InterState dispute, and it was proved to the satisfaction of the President of the Court that there was an Inter-State dispute coming within his jurisdiction. Therefore, the statement that the Brisbane strike is a reason for the amendment of the Constitution is mere clap-trap. The facts proved that there is ample and abundant provision for dealing with these cases. An emergency sitting of the Court was held, and the applicants procured an award in their favour. What more did they want? What more could have been provided by the most perfect Constitution, or even by any of the amendments which honorable members opposite suggest? It is not said that this case broke down because of the inadequacy of the legislative and judicial machinery. Had the dispute been confined solely within the State of Queensland, the parties would have had to depend on the law of the State.
– Which is futile.
– The Queenslandlaw provides for Wages Boards as liberal as those of New South Wales or Victoria.
– By it, Mr. Badger could not have been compelled to submit the matter to a Wages Board.
– The law of Queensland is applicable to industrial disputes confined wholly to that State, and if it is not all that is desired, can be amended by the local Legislature. That, however, has nothing to do with the facts that we are reviewing. The tramway dispute was proved to be a dispute extending beyond the limits of Queensland, and the case cannot fairly be used to support the proposal for the amendment of the Constitution. The honorable member for Brisbane occupied nearly three-quarters of an hour, during a lengthy and exhaustive speech, in drawing attention to a large number of uninteresting and unimportant incidents in the history of the relations between the Brisbane Tramway Company and its employes. I do not know that we have anything to do with disputes that occurred in 1904, 1908, and 19 10. Apparently, there have been a number of squabbles and unpleasantness. It may be that there have been indiscretions and mistakes on both sides. I am not here to apologize for the company or its manager.
– Is it not relevant to show the persistent rebellion of Mr. Badger against the Act?
– It is not relevant to the issue involved in this motion, which has relation to the fulfilment of Commonwealth obligations.- The question is not whether Mr. Badger was right or wrong in insisting that the employes of the company should not wear their badges whilst they were on duty. With reference to that question there is a reasonable difference of opinion. In the view of some people the wearing of the badge is an evidence of freedom and of the solidarity of labour. On the other hand there are those who think that it is an evidence of servitude, and is in the nature of a firebrand to incite to tumult and disturbance.’ I shall not discuss that issue at the present time.
– The question is, would an Opposition Government have sent the military to Brisbane?
– I have not reached that point. .
– But that is the real question.
– The honorable member for Brisbane, referring to Mr. Badger, quoted a passage from the Melbourne Age severely criticising his action in forbidding the tramway employes from wearing these badges. But he did not quote the Age, either in the same leading article or in another one dealing with the badge question, and with another issue that has been discussed in this debate, namely, whether, when the Government of Queensland appealed to the Commonwealth for assistance and protection against domestic violence, the Federal .Government was justified in refusing to carry out their constitutional obligation. I should like to quote the opinion of the same newspaper on the action of the Government. The Age wrote -
Mr. Fisher’s great political crime is that when the anarchists of Brisbane set up their mob law, refusing to permit business in the streets of Brisbane without a permit from the strike committee, he had not the courage to uphold the fundamental law of the land against insurrection.
What has the honorable member for Brisbane to say to that quotation? We are not concerned either to defend Mr. Badger or to apologize for him or to represent his views. I decline to do so. But we have to deal with the situation which occurred upon the cessation of labour, and with the strike or lock-out, which involved great and serious industrial disturbance and riot almost bordering upon bloodshed within the city of Brisbane.
– Why does the honorable member say “ almost bordering on bloodshed”?
– We in the southern States were dependent for our information about the strike upon the public prints and the official reports and statements. My own information is derived substantially from the Brisbane Courier, which I have examined, and from which I have made extracts; and also from the statements of the Premier of Queensland. The question is not whether the military should have been sent to Brisbane for the suppression of an industrial dispute. The question is whether the States have a right to look to the Federal Government for protection against domestic violence. There might be an extensive, serious, and alarming strike. But that strike of itself might be confined to a mere cessation of labour without necessarily developing into mob law or into the suppression of the civil law of the country. If this had been an ordinary cessation of labour, no one would ever have suggested the application of military power or the interventionof the Citizen Defence Forces. This, however, was something more than a strike ; something more than an industrial dispute. It was more in the nature of an insurrection, of a revolution, while it lasted. Undoubtedly it involved the temporary cessation of the civil power. The State authority in Brisbane was suspended for the time being, and this great city of the north was practically in the hands of what the Age called “ the anarchists of Brisbane.”
– Does the honorable member indorse that statement ?
– I certainly do, because 1 think there is evidence to support it. it is, I admit, a matter of evidence.
– Would the honorable member have sent the troops to Brisbane?
– I shall tell the House what I would have done presently.
I am not going to permit the honorable member to cross-examine me. I should like to invite the attention of honorable members to a series of dates of events which took place in Brisbane. I have taken them from the columns of the Brisbane Courier. The honorable member for Brisbane, who spoke on behalf of the strikers in such impassioned tones, has this evening himself appealed to the Courier for information. He has relied on certain reports in that newspaper. Therefore I can fairly appeal to the columns of the Courier, a journal of unimpeachable integrity and great ability, for my information. I will give these dates seriatim. The first is the 18th January, when the issue was presented to the employes of the BrisbaneTramway Company whether they would give up their badges or their billets. Practically that was the alternative, the issue. It is said that that ultimatum on the part of the management amounted to a lock-out. But there is this distinction to be made : At the very time when the question of whether badges should be worn led to a strike, the question was at issue before the Court. But the men were not willing to await the decision of the Court. They wanted to anticipate it. They wanted to assert a right contrary to the regulations of the company, and contrary to the terms of their employment.
– That is not correct.
– In any employment men are bound to observe the terms on which they are engaged. The men had no right to impugn the validity of the terms on which they took service, one of which was that they should not wear this badge. A regulation to that effect had been in force for a considerable time. The men knew it, and must have acquiesced in it when they accepted employment. The manager said to them, “ Badge or billet,” and they preferred the badge. In doing so they took the responsibility. They were not forced Theymay have been right or wrong.I merely say that they themselves took the responsibility of saying, “ We prefer our badges to our billets.” It was a very sad decision, because it led to all this trouble. That was what took place on the 18th January. Then the trouble began. The tramway service stopped that night, ana one of the first acts of violence occurred towards a loyal tramway conductor, who was assaulted. A demonstration took place in the streets, and large crowds paraded the highways. On the 19th the strike began to extend, and the maintenance of order became very difficult. On 21st January a number of persons were charged with disorderly conduct, and were fined at the Police Court. No trams ran at night, because it was considered dangerous and inadvisable to run them. During the day there was a twelve hours’ service. On 22nd January there were more cases of disorderly conduct, and a motor man was assaulted. On the 23rd and 24th the posi tion was the same. On the 25th attempts were made to damage tram cars Stones were placed on the rails. Similar conditions ruled until the 29th, when a general strike was declared. The question of the preservation of peace be1 came acute, and steps were taken to secure special constables. The honorable member for Brisbane menti’oned this evening that at one stage he intervened with a suggested means of settling the dispute. On 28th January he appealed to Mr. Badger, who states that his reply was as follows : -
My reply was that my company would not entertain any such proposition, because the claim of the men that they had the right to wear the union badge had already been included in the claim filed by them before the Arbitration Court. It is unnecessary to point out that they have assumed the right to wear the badge without waiting for a decision. However, as they have appealed to the law in the matter, the company propose to have it settled by the law.
That was the attitude taken up by the manager of the company on 28th January, and I suppose that the company had a. perfect right to rely upon the legal position. The matter was pending in the Court, and the company had confidence in the ultimate decision df that tribunal. They were not prepared to withdraw the case from the CoUrt in which the disputants - the tramway men themselves - had sought a solution of the industrial difficulty. Practically the decision of the Tramway Company was that the men had appealed to Caesar, and to Caesar let them go. On 30th January a general strike took place, and the members of forty-two unions were called- out. This, I have heard it said, involved upwards of 20,000 men being thrown out of employment. It is undoubtedly to be deeply deplored that all these men struck purely out qf sympathy with their fellow-workers in the tramway service. It may afford evidence of their spirit of comradeship, but hardly of their sound judgment and discretion. It is now generally admitted by the leading members of the Labour party that a fatal blunder was made by the members of these other unions iri leaving their employment. Had they riot done so, the area of the strike wOuld have been confined within well-defined limits, and it would noi have been so serious as it eventually became. To return to my summary of the press report’s I find that on 30th January a large number of special constables were sworn in, arid that the city was in a state of terrorism owing to the industrial hold-up. Business men were intimidated, and were forced by the mob, under orders from the Trades Hall, to close up their shops. That is one of the allega- tions made by the Brisbane Courier, and I remember reading in the Melbourne press statements as to mobs of men patrolling the streets, holding up the shops, and forcing them to close.
– Who wrote that statement?
– I suppose it was written by the journalist in the employment of the newspaper concerned. On 31st January processions were held, and a hastily called meeting of the. Employers Federation decided that all should close down. On Friday the cafes were called upon by large mobs to close. All these business places, including the bakers’, shops, were compelled to close owing to the terrorism exercised by these wandering mobs. On ist February business iri Brisbane was at a complete standstill, and several cases of violence occurred. The Courier gives an account of ari attack on a lorry loaded with potatoes, by about 600 persons, who were diverted from a procession, arid states that the carter was forced to return to the wharf with his load. A sulky with merchandise was also attacked, about a thousand persons being involved as participants or spectators. The police found it necessary to use their batons, arid a serious riot was narrowly averted. During a further riot a revolver was fired at a police officer, and a great crowd rained missiles on the police, several of whom Vere injured, and one permanently incapacitated. The report goes on to show that a second riot was, caused over a lorry load of barrels of beer. A huge mob blocked the lorry, and eventually the crowd was forcibly cleared away by mounted and foot police. The Commissioner of Police was given a free hand by the Premier for the preservation of order. During the same night the suburban mal train service was stopped. All these facts occurring cumulatively from day to day show the gradual suspension of law and order. On 2nd February an Unprecedented tumult occurred in Market-square. Pro.cessions were interdicted by proclamation but, nevertheless, the strikers assembled at the Trades Hall to hold a procession. The police determined to prevent this in the interests of peace arid order, and on the strikers persisting in the attempt to march the police were compelled to clear the streets by a widespread series of baton charges. On this day the Premier explained that he had applied for the assistance of the military Under the Constitution. We come now to the 4th February, on which date there were serious developments. The supply of fruit and vegetables in the city was completely stopped, and by order of the Trades Hall the supply of ice to both hospitals was also stopped. Both institutions, however, were served with necessaries privately, and under police escort. It appears that on this date the bakers endeavoured to resume the manufacture of bread, but the bakehouses were assailed and forcibly closed. Many hundreds of women and children clamoured around them for bread, and several bakers attempted to bake, but were compelled to close, owing to threats of violence. In some cases sand was thrown into the dough, and the Government found it necessary to establish, under police protection, depots for the distribution of flour. Women known as “ red ribboners “ in many instances stabbed police horses with hatpins; and an old man sweeping the tram rails was seriously assaulted.
– We do not believe a word of that, and the honorable member does not.
– All these incidents are recorded in the public press of Brisbane. I admit that, after all, it is a matter of credibility. The honorable member is not forced to believe these statements; but they were circulated all over Australia.
– Does that prove their truth ?
– I think it is fair evidence of their accuracy. On the same date incendiary speeches were delivered by Labour leaders, who publicly advised the wharf labourers to see that accidents occurred to free labourers. I shall now give a summary of the alleged discoveries of dynamite. The first discovery took place on 23rd January, when a plug of gelignite, with fuse detonator, was placed on a tram line. On 27th and 28th January, dynamite and detonators were placed on the tram points.
– That was before the strike.
– Yes. On13th and1 4th February four plugs of dynamite and six half plugs, with fifteen detonators, were found on tram points covered with sand. On 26th February, plugs of dynamite were found on the tram rails, and on 6th March a tram passed over and exploded a charge of dynamite. The theory now calmly and audaciously put forward is that those charges of dynamite and gelignite - dangerous compounds and explosives - proved by incontrovertible evidence to have been found on the tramways which convey the public, were Chinese crackers. To use the words of a former distinguished member of the Victorian Legislature, such suggestions and explanations are “ too thin.” These are the facts.
– Was there any liberal gelignite found there?
– Evidently the honorable member does not like these statements. I think it is only fair that the constitutional adviser of the Crown in Queensland, and the head of the Executive Government in that State, should have the opportunity of stating the grounds, apart from these newspaper reports, on which he applied to the Federal Executive for protection against domestic violence. In order to support my own opinion, formed by evidence collected in Melbourne before the beginning of this debate, I sent to the Premier of Queensland a telegram asking him to be good enough to favour me with a brief summary of the reasons and the grounds which influenced him in applying to the Federal Government for protection against domestic violence under section119 of the Constitution. On Tuesday last I received the following reply -
Request for Commonwealth protection proceeded from Police Commissioner, who considered his force unequal to cope with general strike developing into an insurrection. Agents of Strike Committee compelled business men close premises and their employes to cease work except where permit was granted by Strike Committee, force being employed to secure obedience, even physicians ordered to get permits to visit patients. Bakers and butchers prevented from trading and cabmen from plying. Vehicles loaded with goods could not proceed without police protection. At time State Governor made appeal for Commonwealth help Brisbane streets were in possession of many thousand strikers, behaving riotously and menacingly, and real control of affairs was in hands, not of State Government, but of Strike Committee. In such circumstances, I regretfully came to conclusion police inadequate preservation order, life, and property, and invoked Commonwealth aid.
It is all very well to challenge the accuracy of newspaper reports, but I do not see how honorable members on the other side can challenge the accuracy of this telegram from the Premier of Queensland. It is a message given with all the authority of his official position, and knowing the use which I intended tomake of it. I think it can be used here as strong evidence in support of what otherwise appeared to be the real fact, namely, that at the time of the strike, of the cessation of labour, Brisbane was beyond and out of the control of the local State Government, and was in the hands of what the Age called the “ Brisbane anarchists.”
– Would you have sent the troops ?
– The honorable member evidently does not like the continuation of this narrative.
– Would you have sent the troops ?
– The honorable member is not going to prevent me from completing the narrative. I will tell him presently what I would have done if he will leave me alone. I am not afraid of my opinions ; I am not going to shirk them. In order to corroborate, by circumstantial evidence of an incontrovertible character the statement of the Premier, that Brisbane was in the hands of these anarchists. I propose to quote from a letter written and signed by Mr. Harry Coyne, president of the Combined Unions Committee.I have a fac simile copy of the letter in his own handwriting, so that there can be no doubt about its authenticity -
Combined Unions Committee. 6th February, 1912.
We have been informed that you are conveying supplies from your stores to various establishments in this city.
This Committee wishes to intimate to you that the only conditions under which work can be sanctioned by this Committee, is by permit and according to the conditions as per enclosed slip.
We remain, dear Sir,
For the Combined Unions Committee,
Annexed to this precious letter there is the following enclosure -
Combined Unions Committee.
Trades Hall, Brisbane, 30th January, 1912.
Sir, - The provisions governing the enclosed permit are as follow : -
Any infringement of the above provisions will ender the permit liable to forfeiture.
The Committee hold the right for the withdrawal at any time of this permit.
To that enclosure is appended the following foot-note -
Combined Strike Coupon.
Negotiable for Foodstuffs Only.
J.H. Coyne, President.
Those documents, on their face, show first that this wasnot merely an ordinary strike. It was a real case of local insurrection. The civil government was suspended ; the police admit that they were not able to maintain order; the police appealed for Federal assistance and Federal protection ; the Government of the State appealed for Federal assistance and Federal protection. At this time there was sitting in the city of Brisbane a committee called the Strike Committee or the Permit Committee, which seemed to exercise in Brisbane the same functions as were exercised by the Jacobin clubs in Paris during the French Revolution. It undoubtedly was a revolutionary committee. It is quite obvious that they had bailed up the State, that they had issued an order and a mandate that the shops were to close, that the ordinary traffic was not to go on, that there was to be no production or delivery, that ordinary business was to be suspended, that nothing was to be done except by their permit. There is Mr. Coyne’s intimation -
This Committee wishes to intimate to you that the only conditions under which work can be sanctioned by this Committee is by permit, and according to the conditions as per enclosed slip.
There is no getting away from that notification. It speaks for itself. It shows that this was not an ordinary strike which might have been allowed to work its way out in the ordinary course of nature, the weaker side having eventually to give in. It was more than that. It was an insurrectionary movement; it was a revolutionary movement of the nature of syndicalism about which we have heard so much, and which means the suppression of the law of a State and the introduction of the mandate of the strike committee or the anarchical committee. All this went on at a time when the law of the Commonwealth was quite sufficient to settle the industrial dispute, and when, according to the law of the Commonwealth, if a situation of civil stress arose through domestic violence, the State had a right to appeal to the central authority for protection against that domestic violence. The State has not the right to appeal for protection against an ordinary strike. There must be something more than a mere strike or cessation of labour. There must undoubtedly be something in the nature of domestic force and violence amounting to a partial or complete suspension of civil government. In this case we had the confession of the police authorities and of the Premier of the State that civil government had ceased there, that life and property were in danger, and that assistance was necessary. It is impossible for an ordinary police force in any State, or in any great city, to deal with such a vast and far-reaching ramification of violence as evidently occurred in the development of events in Brisbane.It is certain that the police of Brisbane were quite unable to deal with those great, exciting, and dangerous events. What, then, was to be done? The Constitution provides that a State Government shall have the right to appeal to the Commonwealth authority for protection. If an appeal is made for protection, and the protection is granted, it does not necessarily follow that there will be an application of armed force to an unarmed people. It does not necessarily mean a resort to the use of firearms. It is assumed that the presence of the representatives of law and order wearing the King’s uniform will exercise a salutary and peaceful influence. It is more for the purpose of keeping the crowd back from trespassing upon a railway line or a tramway that the military forces are used in such cases. On many occasions soldiers are used, as they were in London during the Coronation celebrations, for the purpose of preserving order in the streets, and keeping the crowd back. It is not necessary that military assistance should be given for the purpose of applying force and violence, or of firing upon the crowd. It is too monstrous to assume that any application was made for a resort to violence or force, or that the military should be required to fire upon the crowd.
– The honorable gentleman is afraid of his own motion.
– Not at all. We might as well be afraid of the Constitution itself, since it gives the right to a State to apply for protection. The State in this case had a right to seek the remedies provided by the Constitution.
– The honorable gentleman admits that he would have sent the troops had he been in the Prime Minister’s place.
– Certainly the Prime Minister was bound to consider the evidence placed before him, and I say that if the facts as alleged in the statement by the Premier of Queensland were true, his appeal was justifiable, and the Prime Minister would have been justified in responding to the appeal. Is that enough for my honorable friends opposite?
– No, it is not. If the honorable member had been in the Prime Minister’s place would he have sent the troops ?
– If I believed the facts to be as alleged, 1 would have acquiesced in the proposal to send troops to protect life and property and preserve law and order.
– It would have been the honorable gentleman’s duty to do so.
– Undoubtedly, if I believed that the facts were as alleged.
– Does the honorable gentleman believe them?
– I do believe them.
– Then the honorable gentleman would have sent the troops.
– If the facts were as stated by the Premier of Queensland, I consider that troops should have been sent, not for the purpose of committing violence, but for the purpose of protecting life and property, and maintaining law and order. The provisions of the Constitution must be enforced, but in such a matter the responsibility rests first of all upon the State Government to make out a strong case.
– The honorable gentleman should not modify his statement. He has said that he would have sent the troops.
– That is enough; let it rest at that.
– He would have sent the soldiers to shoot the unionists.
– Certainly not. The honorable gentleman has no right to make use of such a bloodthirsty expression as that. It is unworthy of him. I ask thatthat expression be withdrawn.
– Order ! There are too many interjections being made across the chamber. I ask the honorable member for Adelaide, since the honorable member for Bendigo takes exception to what he said, to withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw the remark if the honorable member for Bendigo takes exception to it.
– I certainly would not have sent troops for any such purpose as the honorable member has suggested. I would have sent them for the protection of life and property and the preservation of law. and order. That is all, and that is the limit beyond which no person in this House, or the country, would, in my opinion, have any right to go. I do not propose to refer to the Brisbane strike at greater length. I have covered the ground I intended to deal with. I propose now to refer to some other matters dealt with in the Governor-General’s Speech. I have taken the trouble to analyze its contents very carefully, and I find that it refers to about thirty subjects of administration and legislation either actually adopted or proposed. This presents a very attractive field for discussion, but I do not intend to yield to the temptation by going into the details of the whole of these matters. I shall confine myself to a. limited number of them. Of the thirty subjects referred to in the Speech, I find that three may be described as non-party questions, such as the Imperial Trade Commission, the vote for Tasmania, and the question of the standard gauge for Australian railways. There are three matters of legislation and administration which may be described as exclusively of Labour origin. First, there is land value taxation, for which the Labour party are entitled to all the honour or criticism associated with it. Then there is the Commonwealth Bank, about which the same thing may be said, and the party are also entitled to be considered the originators of the Australian Notes Act. The fourth is the maternity grant; the fifth, the proposed alteration of the Constitution ; the sixth, the clothing and harness factories ; the seventh, the design for the Federal Capital ; and the eighth, the State-owned Atlantic cable. So that out of the thirty subjects referred to in this glittering programme, only eight are real Labour questions. The remainder relate to matters of Liberal legislation and administration - matters of common interest to all parties. Let us consider some of these matters. There is, for instance, the consolidation of the State debts.
– What is wrong with that?
– There is nothing wrong with it; but I say that it belongs to all parties. Then there is the Australian Industries Preservation Act. The Labour party cannot claim exclusive credit for that, because the Bill was supported by all political parties. Then the provision for the creation of an Inter-State Commission is included in the Constitution itself, and such a tribunal was actually proposed by a former Liberal Government. The site for Commonweath offices in London is also a matter which had been developed, and one which was well advanced before the present Ministry took office. The development of the Northern Territory was authorized by an Act which was passed at the instance of a Liberal Government. The export trade and the promotion of markets on the Continent of Europe were also provided for in the Commerce Act, which was passed on the initiative of a Liberal Government. The construction of the Naval College was authorized as the result of action by a Liberal Government. Universal military training was sanctioned at the instance of the Deakin Government. The Small Arms Factory at Lithgow was similarly authorized, and the contract was actually let by the honorable member for Parramatta when he held the office of Minister of Defence. A similar remark is applicable to the Cordite Factory. The Navigation Bill was drafted and prepared by one of the Deakin Ministries. The system of inspection and of granting certificates under the Commerce Act was suggested long ago by one of the Governments of which the honorable member for Ballarat was the head.
– “ Suggested.” They did not get further than that.
– The system is almost a part of the Commerce Act itself. The inspection of lighthouses is, of course, a natural development of the federalization of our lighthouses. In the same way the law relating to quarantine and the extension of quarantine works is the natural development of the federalization of quarantine. The Bounties Act, which is to be dealt with, was originally introduced by the Deakin Ministry, as was also the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway. The Old-age and Invalid Pensions Act was passed at the instance of a Liberal Government, so that no party can claim exclusive credit for it. It was supported by honorable members generally, and notwithstanding any hostile criticism which may have been directed to it, I venture to say that it is quite safe, so far as the Opposition are concerned. We will not be a party to any adverse amendment of it. The proposal to- deal with the transferred properties was well advanced under the administration of previous Liberal Governments. So, also, was the adoption of wireless telegraphy. So that these eighteen or nineteen subjects which find so prominent a place in the Governor-General’s Speech are matters in regard to which all parties in this House arc equally entitled to credit. There is a great deal to be said both for and against the other eight proposals which I have enumerated. Dealing with the items in the order in which they occur in the Vice- Regal Speech, I would first direct attention to the suggestions in regard to the development of external trade. We are told that efforts are to be made to place the products of Australia more fully before the extended markets of Europe, and that steps will be taken to insure that Government inspection and certificates under the Commerce Act may be looked upon with confidence abroad. 1 thoroughly agree with that proposal, and I would like to support a suggestion which has already been made to the Minister of Trade and Customs by some of my colleagues in favour of an amendment of the present conditions under which the export of butter is permitted. At the present time I understand that the regulations require that butter for export shall not contain more than 15 per cent. of moisture. Deputations have urged upon the Minister the desirableness of allowing an increase of 1 per cent.
– The honorable member is aware that for five years under the Commerce Act the moisture allowed in superfine butter was 1 4 per cent.
– I am quite aware of that; but objection has always been taken to the great restriction which is involved in that low percentage on the ground that it hampers export, and prevents some of our producers from sending Home an article to compete with butter which may not be regarded as superfine.
– It is 15 per cent. now.
– I know that. It has been suggested that the moisture allowed should be increased to 16 per cent. What I ask the Minister of Trade and Customs to do is to make it 16 per cent. If he says an effort ought to be made to place the products of Australia more fully before the markets of the world, we ought not to place in the way any technical difficulties or regulations. I should now like to call the attention of the Minister to the question of the export of beef. As to the regulations which have been passed recently prohibiting the export of beef in a certain shape or form, . such as beef containing briskets, I desire to call attention to some observations recently made by Mr. Angliss, M.L.C., who is a large exporter of beef, mutton, and pork. Mr. Angliss says that some of the regulations which have been passed will have the effect of killing the export trade. He points out that the prohibition of the exportation of briskets is detrimentally affecting the trade. There is, he says, no justification for removing the briskets from carcasses of Victorian-bred fat cattle for export.
– I do not think that Mr. Angliss would say that to-day, although the interview from which the honorable member is quoting took place only a few days ago.
– There was also another decision that the breasts should be cut off calves for export, and Mr. Angliss points out that that detrimentally affects the industry - that the veal trade with South Africa has been wiped out. Mr. Angliss says -
Disease was almost unknown in calves. The trade had been lost through the authorities not allowing the small calves killed by the owners themselves in the country to be exported. Africa would take only small calves, but very few were marketed alive in Melbourne, owing to the fact that to send them to market in that condition would not pay.
The Minister of Trade and Customs has probably also noticed the complaint of Mr. Angliss to the effect that the pork trade has also been practically wiped out by drastic regulations, and that it will be totally lost unless the severity of the regulation is lessened. Mr. Angliss goes on to say. -
The Federal Government appeared to be seeking a perfection in carcasses which no country could attain. The present conditions under which the industry worked were intolerable.
No doubt it is desirable to have perfection, but we ought to consider what is practically obtainable. Dr. Johnson, the chief supervising officer, has said that the embargo was placed on the portion of the carcasses referred to on account of suggestionsfrom the Home Government, and he contends that representations should be made to the Home. Government to see whether there cannot be some relaxation in favour of the Australian trade. I ask the Minister to take the matter into consideration. At this hour,I think I may fairly ask leave to continue my speech to-morrow. Honorable Members. - Hear, hear. Leave granted ; debate adjourned.
Mr. FISHER (Wide Bay- Prime Minister and Treasurer [10.34]. - I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
The Government propose to-morrow to make Supply the first business, after which the honorable member for Bendigo may continue his speech. We hope that inasmuch as the Supply is based on the old Estimates, there will be found no reason for delay.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at10.35p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 June 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120627_reps_4_64/>.