4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
GOVERNOR-GENERAL’S SPEECH : ADDRESS-IN-REPLY.
Debate resumed from 27th June (vide page 277), on motion by Mr. Bennett -
That the Address-in-Reply to His Excellency’s Speech, asread 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.”
Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) [3.0]. - In resuming my observations on the AddressinReply and the amendment thereto, I shall endeavour to traverse ground not covered by other speakers, and to condense my remarks as much as possible. But I realize that this is an occasion when it is the duty of members of the Opposition to draw attention to all matters on which they differ from honorable members opposite. I shall speak, first, upon that paragraph of the Governor-General’ s Speech in which it is stated that “ the Governor of the Commonwealth . Bank has been appointed, and is now actively engaged upon his duties.” I do not think that even the best friends and admirers of the Government can indulge in congratulation or laudation upon the inauguration of the Commonwealth Bank. For a considerable time there was great difficulty in getting any one to accept the position of Governor, notwithstanding the most generous, liberal, and, in fact, extravagant remuneration offered by the Ministry.
Mr. Jensen. - There were 800 applications for the position.
Sir JOHN QUICK..- Apparently none of them from qualified persons. None of the bankers of the first flight, and occupying the most prominent positions, applied for the billet; it was left to a gentleman possessing, no doubt, experience and ability, but not occupying a foremost position in Australian banking. I do not think that he is to be congratulated upon the onerous, difficult, and thankless job he is undertaking. Let me draw attention to the prospects of the bank, its functions and responsibilities, and the burdens it will impose upon Australia. Many honorable members approved of the establishment of a national bank to carry on the banking business of the Commonwealth, to undertake, conduct, aridsupervise the flotation of loans if necessary, and to provide for the possible consolidation of the debts of the States. Those would have been proper functions for a Commonwealth Bank. But the bank which has been established, instead of being confined to such business, seems to have been given a charter to undertake every kind of banking business, great, smalt, and indifferent, at the discretion and in accordance with the idiosyncracies of its management. The loss of the banking business of the Commonwealth is not a serious thing to the associated banks. A return laid on the table last session showed that the value of the exchanges and other transactions was not more than a few thousand pounds a year.
Mr. page.-Then why were the asso ciated banks so anxious to get the Commonwealth business?
Sir JOHN QUICK. - They have never shown any great anxiety, though no doubt they like the prestige of being the Government bankers. While the establishment of a Government bank to do Government banking business can be understood, it is a more serious thing to create a Government bank to undertake ordinary private banking business. Indeed, there are grave reasons for doubting the wisdom and expediency of competing with the ordinary banks in this way. In any such competition the Commonwealth Bank is bound to lose. Notwithstanding its prestige and credit, it has a capital of only£1,000,000, whereas, according to the latest quarterly returns, the private banks of the Commonwealth hold in gold £28,750,000.
Mr. Riley. - Whose gold?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Their own. They hold also nearly . £6,000,000 in Australian notes, making their total cash reserves nearly £34, 750,000. The Commonwealth Bank has not even a distant prospect of haying such a sum at its command. What then will remain for this bank to do? Apparently it has been started to compete with the Savings Banks of the States, and chiefly tor that purpose. The Governor from the beginning has. been engaged in the hercu lean task of making arrangements tofight the banking institutions of the Governments of the States. He has been in communication with those who control the institutions whichno doubt he desires to absorb, to ascertain how their business is conducted. He has applied to them for copies of their rules and regulations, and for models of their books of account, a very cool proposition under the circumstances. This official has had to approach the State Savings Bank for his ammunition - for the information necessary to enable him to engage in business competition with them. I think that’ these institutions have treated him with very great courtesy indeed. I understand that the Government of New South Wales, which at first hesitated to place him in possession of the knowledge ‘which he sought, has at last acceded to his request to be allowed to copy the forms of the books of the Savings Banks of that State. I cite the attempts made by the Commonwealth Government to compete with the State Savings Banks, and all the expense which is necessarily involved in the duplication of machinery and offices as a conspicuous ‘ example of Commonwealth extravagance and prodigality. I submit that there was no public demand for the creation of this institution. It shows the straits to which the promoters of the scheme are driven, when, instead of conducting business of a national character, they have to stoop to an endeavour to grab business from the State Savings Banks. I am very glad to notice that the whole of the State Governments, with the exception of that of Western Australia, have refused to acquiesce in this little plan for the destruction of the State Savings Banks. In this connexion, I would like to quote the views which were put before the Conference of Premiers which was held in Victoria in January last by Mr. McGowen, the Premier of New South Wales. These views are reported in the press on the 10th April, and will be found in the records of the Conference. Mr. McGowen, addressing his remarks to the Prime Minister, said -
You want to launch this bank but you have not yet the necessary machinery. We have the machinery. It is administered by us better than you could administer it. If you will leave it in the hands of the States it will meet the public needs very much’ better than you could meet them. Seeing that we have our land-settlement system attached to it, and have the security of the land, we can be more liberal in making advances on our own land, because we can go to the extent of the whole of the improvements.
Later on Mr. McGowen moved -
That the Conference is unable to agree to the proposal laid before it by the Prime Minister, but makes the following offer in lieu thereof : -
That, in consideration of the Commonwealth Bank refraining from entering into Savings Bank business, the States agree to provide on loan to the Commonwealth Bank, on terms to be arranged, a monthly amount equal to 25 per cent. of the increase in the excess of deposits over withdrawals in the States Savings Banks.
That such arrangement commence on the 1st day of January, 1913, and continue for a period of five years from that date.
That was the proposal which was submitted to the Commonwealth by the whole of the States, with the exception of Western Australia.
Mr. Sampson. - A very sound and generous one.
Sir JOHN QUICK. - It was a very generous proposal indeed. They did not want to monopolize the whole of their funds, but offered to grant to the Commonwealth Government for the purposes of investment 25 per cent. of the excess of deposits over withdrawals. An alternative proposition was that some arrangement should be made for the Commonwealth and State Governments forming a kind of financial partnership in respect of the State Savings Bank scheme. But even that was rejected by the Commonwealth, thereby showing that it was a case of grabbing all or nothing. What has been the result? The result has been that several of the States, anticipating this miserable cut-throat competition, have had to launch upon expenditure for the purpose of providing themselves with new buildings and accommodation in which to carry on their savings bank business. The Governments of Victoria and Queensland were quite justified in refusing to wait until they got notice from the Commonwealth to quit the post-offices, and in proceeding to take steps to provide accommodation for themselves. I say that this proposal to allow the Commonwealth Bank the right to undertake savings bank business is an illustration, not merely of Federal extravagance, but of the unfortunate tendency which is observable in some quarters to promote a system of Federal encroachment upon the domain of State rights, State functions, and State duties. Does it not seem unjustifiable that the Government of Australia should appoint as Governor of the Commonwealth Bank a gentleman at a salary of £4,000 a year, and with £3 3s. per day travelling expenses, merely for the purpose of engaging in this comparatively simple type of savings bank business? Yet that is all he has to do at the present time. There is no immediate prospect of the bank being able, even at a remote period, to undertake Government business. For that the Commonwealth will still have to be dependent upon the associated banks, and it will only be in the central districts of Australia that this bank will be able to undertake Government business. That the institution will be intrusted with the conversion and consolidation of the State debts seems a very dim arid distant prospect indeed. In the meantime, it will be paying large salaries, because other officers will require to be appointed, and I presume that their salaries will be fairly high. Upon a low estimate I believe that the cost of the institution will be . £50,000 a year, and all this expenditure is to be incurred merely for the purpose of enabling it to engage in State savings bank business. The Australian Labour party ought to be heartily ashamed of itself for having incurred such great obligations for the purpose of doing so little work. Now I wish to refer to a somewhat cognate question, namely, the Commonwealth note issue. We are told, in the Governor- General’s Speech, that the Australian Notes Act is working satisfactorily; and, in the course of his address, the Prime Minister indicated that we were now in receipt of interest to the amount, I think he said, of £183,000 a year. But the Prime Minister did not seem to indicate in detail what were the losses involved to the various Governments of Australia by the adoption of this Australian bank notes issue. I am aware that there are several honorable members, even on this side of the House, who have felt disposed to support this scheme; but I, for one, have, from the very inception, assumed a critical attitude ; and I think that, at the present time, with the experience we have had of the note issue, the results financially are not such as to give rise to much congratulation or praise. Let me remind honorable members of the present position of the note issue as indicated by the latest figures obtained from the Treasury. The notes issued up to the 31st May were £9,609,000 ; the gold held in reserve in the Treasury at that time was £4,304,215; there was invested on loan from the note issue fund £5,285,000, and no doubt this is the investment from which the .£183,000 mentioned by the Prime Minister is received. In regard to the notes in circulation, I find that up to the present time the whole of the original Associated Bank notes have not been withdrawn from circulation by a considerable number. Thus, there is ,£60,000 in Queensland Treasury notes and £658,777 in Associated Bank notes still in circulation. The Commonwealth notes held by the public amount to about £4,204,639, and the total notes in circulation at present represent £4.959»4l8> or nearly .£5,000,000, the rest being in the hands of the banks and used by them as till money. It may be assumed that the £4,240,639 represents the note circulation required by the Australian public for business at the present time, though sometimes the amount may go higher or lower.
Mr. Laird Smith. - Did the honorable member not say £5,000,000 a moment ago?
Sir JOHN QUICK. - Yes, but £4,240,639 represents Commonwealth notes, the balance being made up of Queensland Treasury notes and Associated Bank notes still in circulation. In instituting this Federal bank note issue the Government and people of Australia have, in the first place, lost the original tax on the bank notes imposed by the States, which, according to the figures submitted to the House, amounted to £90,000 on an issue of about £4,000,000. In addition to that loss the Commonwealth has undertaken the expense of maintaining and supervising the new notes issue, an expense which represents a very substantial amount.
Mr. Laird Smith. - Will the honorable member kindly say how many notes were in circulation before the Commonwealth issue ?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Those notes represented £4,000,000, or a little over.
Mr. Laird Smith. - They represented £3,500,000.
Sir JOHN QUICK. - They represented £4,000,000, according to figures submitted to the House.
Mr. Sampson. - Those were only the notes in circulation.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- That is all I have taken into account; the State tax was imposed only on the bank notes in circulation.
Mr. Kelly. - Which, amount to about the same as to-day.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- They represent a little more now - about £5,000,000.
Mr. Kelly. - Half the issue to-day is in the till.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- I have already accounted for the balance-in the till. Assuming that the normal circulation of bank notes in Australia is about £5,000,000, then, if the Commonwealth, instead of authorizing a Federal note issue, had passed Federal laws regulating the issue of notes by the banking institutions, and had, at the same time, imposed a Federal tax of 2 per cent, on the notes, they would have been in receipt of an annual revenue of not less than £100,000, which might have been maintained for all time without involving or in’ any way mortgaging the assets and credit of the Commonwealth ; and therefore I contend that they have not only lost the revenue I have mentioned, but they have incurred the obligation and burden of maintaining the issue. The Commonwealth has to bear the cost of the original printing and preparation of the notes, and the maintenance and supervision of the currency, together with the cost represented by office expenses, guarding the reserve, the purchase of material, and the cancellation of the notes. These are the headings of the expense which is continually going on. What will be the cost of the currency? During the debate on the Australian Bank Notes Bill, it was said that the cost of the note currency of the banks was from 1 per cent, to per cent., while some witnesses before the Banking Commission said it was represented by J per cent. Taking the cost at the very lowest estimate given, namely, f per cent., I estimate that such a charge on £9,609,000 represents nearly ,£70,000 a year, which, coupled with the loss of the bank note tax, means £170,000 a year. The balancesheet in connexion with the Commonwealth note issue shows on the credit side a gain of £183,000 a year on an investment of £5,285,000, while on the debit side we have the loss of the bank note tax to the amount of ,£100,000 and the cost of the Federal note issue at f per cent., ,£70,000, leaving a net gain to the Commonwealth of about £13,000. This result is attained at the expense of a loan of ,£9,600,000 - a loan which will continue until liquidated, or provided for otherwise. I think that a source of revenue such as a bank note .tax, which would have yielded £100,000 a year for all time, with- out any mortgage or burden or other obligation, would have been a better financial transaction than a Commonwealth note issue, involving a loan of over £9,600,000 sterling for a net profit of merely £1,3,000 a year.
Mr. Frazer. - Would the members of the Opposition repeal that Act, in the event of their coming into office?
Sir JOHN QUICK. - We have, unfortunately, launched upon this scheme, and money has been borrowed by the Commonwealth. We could not pay that money off if we wanted to do so. The burden hangs upon the neck of the Commonwealth, and will do so until some extraordinary diversion occurs which will enable the Government to pay off the amount. So much for the note issue as a financial proposition considered on a profit and loss basis. I should now like to refer to an impending danger which overhangs the whole scheme. Many honorable members on this -.– of the House supported the scheme guardedly and provisionally, subject to the understanding that it was to be protected by a gold reserve of at least 25 per cent, up to an issue of £7,000,000, with a sovereign held in reserve for every note issued in excess of that sum. That was a safeguard which recommended itself to the House, and even helped to reconcile honorable members to the scheme. There was a certain amount of security against undue inflation occasioned by the development of events, or by a reckless policy. But now that safeguarding condition has been abolished by legislation. The only condition now is that there is to be a 25 per cent, gold reserve, without any limitation. The £7,000,000 limitation has been abolished, and we are resting merely upon the word of the Prime Minister that he will not bring the new Act into force until after a certain time.
Sir Robert Best. - Until after the gene-
Sir JOHN QUICK.- I was not sure whether the promise was that the Act would not be brought into force until the end of this session or until after the general election. .Certainly the promise gives’ the House and the people of the country “breathing time in which to review the position, and to consider the dangerous situation into which we may drift. I ought to remind tlie House of a warning addressed to the Government, prior to the introduction of this Bill, by the representative of the associated banks in Victoria. He wrote to the Prime Minister -
You will remember that before the present Act became law, the question was fully discussed by yourself with representatives of the banks, and, as the outcome of that discussion, you decided to propose to Parliament that all issues in excess of .£7,000,000 should be protected by a reserve of £1 for £i. The effect of this proposal has not yet been fully ascertained. From the published returns it would appear that a total issue of ,69,718,000 was in existence on 25th October last. Of this sum it is estimated that notes amounting to about £3,662,000 are in the .hands of the public, the banks holding upwards of ^6,000,000. The purpose of the Government in holding a reserve of £1 for £1 beyond £7,000,000, was understood to be the protection of note holders by insuring payment in full in coin of all notes presented. If, however, the present fixed proportion is altered, as now suggested, and the banks for any reason found it necessary to materially reduce the amount of their. Commonwealth notes, it would seem that the reduced gold reserves would not suffice to repay in full the notes held by the banks.
In illustration of the effect of the abolition of the £7,000,000 limit, I need only ‘point out that, instead of there being a gold reserve of £4,305,000 as at present, that reserve will be reduced to about £2,250,000 at the very outside, even on the basis of an issue of £10,000,000 of notes. There we have a sword of Damocles, so to speak, hanging over the career of this note issue. That is a source of danger which certainly ought to be impressed on the House and the people of the country at every possible opportunity, and there is none better than the present occasion. I wish now to refer to another matter mentioned in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech with reference to the Federal land tax. It is said that the revenue from land value taxation, as well as from Customs and Excise, has exceeded the Budget estimate. The revenue is certainly an enormous amount to be derived from a limited number of persons. The question is how long it can be sustained by them. It must inevitably result in a confiscation of property. However, we are not here to discuss the question of absolutely repealing the tax, because it seems that so many Federal obligations have been ‘launched in view of this source of revenue that its absolute repeal would be out of the question. But I should like to take this opportunity of draw:ng attention to provisions which certainly appear to me’ to be beginning to press with great hardship upon a certain class of land taxpayers. One is with reference to joint owners, and the other with reference to financial investment companies beyond the seas, which are called absentees. Dealing first with the absentee provisions, there can be no doubt that a differentiating tax might reasonably be imposed upon persons who are really arid truly absentees from Australia. By absentees from Australia I mean persons whose property and whose homes are here, whose families and family relationships are here, who derive their income and. means of living from Australia, but who live abroad. That may be a fair definition of absentees, and as regards such persons it may be justifiable to impose a greater burden of land or income tax than is imposed upon those who live in the country. But I contend that there is a great difference between such a person and a financial investment company whose central office may be in London, New York, or Berlin. It is justifiable to draw a distinction between such a technical absentee as-, an. investment company which sends money for investment in Australia, and whose shareholders may be scattered all over the world, and a real absentee coming within the .definition that I have just laid down. Within the limited period of the operation of the Federal land tax the result has been to cause a large number of financial companies whose domicile is abroad to withdraw their capital from Australia, because they found that it would not pay them to invest here. The land tax has been operating so oppressively and so harshly that they have alleged that their investments were being gradually confiscated and destroyed ; and they have had to sell out in order to escape complete eventual confiscation. I should like, in support of my contention,, to quote a statement made by Mr. Alfred Studholme at the annual meeting of the Van Diemen’s Land Company, which appeared in the Argus of 25th ultimo. Mr. Studholme said -
It was about twelve months since he relumed from visiting the company’s property in Tasmania. He went out at the request of the Board, who saw the .heavy taxation that was coming along and that it would have the result of completely taking “ away their income.
In a letter written by Mr. Mullens, who is a partner in the firm of Messrs. Mullens, Marshall, and Daniell, that gentleman, writing., said with regard to the underwriting of the Australian Freeholds -
In every Australian colony in which I have invested, my property has been depreciated by the confiscatory action of their Governments, and I am only thankful to withdraw what is; left. I should certainly not put money into; ally of them again.
The comment made by Mr. Studholme on. this statement was-
When they got a strong man like Mr. Mullens writing to that effect they would Understand that people would not go into the company.
Complaint may be made against some of these foreign investment companies having money invested in large areas of land. If there were reasonable grounds for complaint - if they were monopolizing the land, failing to put it to proper use, or not throwing it open for. closer settlement - -the fair and honest way of dealing with them would be for the States to pass laws for the compulsory purchase and resumption of the land rather than to impose a land tax to. destroy land values; To soy nothing of public honesty, I can hardly regard such a proposition as fair. It seems quite plain, from the quotations I have made, that many investment companies are gradually but deliberately withdrawingtheir money from Australia for the purpose of escaping the land tax. They may withdraw their money arid sell their properties to others without the result necessarily being the subdivision of their estates.. I therefore think that the best way of dealing with exceptional cases such as that would be to honestly and fairly buy them out, according to the public laws of the State. I say this without prejudice to the proposition that I have already affirmed, that personal absentees from the Commonwealth, as distinguished from investment companies, might be fairly differentiated against. Attention has been drawn to an extraordinary increase in the withdrawal1 of gold from Australia within thelast twelve months. There can be no doubt that there has been an unfortunate,, deplorable, and startling tendency in that direction. One explanation which has beengiven is that there has been an excess of imports over exports, with the result that gold has had to be sent away in payment of the balance of exchange. That may be one explanation, but another operating factor may be the withdrawal of invested’ money by a large number of persons in all’ parts of the world in order to escape the pains and penalties of Federal taxation. I was informed that two steamers recentlyleft Australia within a month carrying between them no less than £1,500,000 insovereigns. That is a startling event, but it is only one of many that is going on. Before long, Parliament, and the thinking people of Australia generally, will have to take into consideration the many causes now contributing to the gradual withdrawal of gold; and I suggest that this is one of them. Let me hasten to another feature of the land tax, which I think is working harshly and tending to prejudice, not only the settlement and distribution of estates, but also small holders. The Act provides that joint owners shall, in certain circumstances, be taxed as one consolidated owner, and shall be entitled to only one exemption of £5,000. A case in my own electorate that came under my attention shows that that provision may work in a very curious manner. A gentleman whom, for the purposes of this case, I may call John A., and who is the father of a number of grown-up sons, divided his estate of 3,160 acres amongst himself and his sons. He reserved about 850 acres in his own name, and transferred the balance to a partnership named John A, and Sons, consisting of himself and his sons. He did that to give them a start in life. He practically took them into a partnership, and the whole estate was worked as one. In the first year of the operation of the Federal land tax the father was taxed separately, and was allowed an exemption of £5,000 in respect of the land which he had reserved for himself, and which was worked in common with the partnership land, while the balance, being in the partnership name, was allowed another exemption. Thus two exemptions were allowed under the then interpretation of the Act. Under a recent decision given by the Attorney- General, however, it has been determined that, although the father has this 850 acres in his own name, while the balance of the land is in the name of the partnership, there can be only one exemption, instead of two. The result is that, under this interpretation of the Act, no encouragement whatever is given to the father of a large family to split up his estate among himself andhis sons, and to work it as a partnership property. If the father had been allowed to continue the distribution, he might have conveyed the estate to his sons in their own names during his lifetime, and that transfer, under the Transfer of Land Act, would have been complete and absolute. There would thus have resulted that division and splitting up of estates which is aimed at by the Act, but that result isnow to be pro hibited under this recent interpretation merely because the father and the sons are partners in a property which is worked for their joint benefit.
Mr. Fenton. - That decision has been altered.
Sir JOHN QUICK,- It has not The gentleman to whom I have referred has received notice of taxation, and only one exemption, instead of two exemptions, is allowed. The former interpretation has been so altered as to allow father and sons, as partners, only one exemption.
Mr. Frazer.- When it is a partnership with distinct ownership.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- The profits of the partnership flowing from the combined pro-. perty may be distributed amongst the various members of the partnership according to the acreage which they own.
Mr. Scullin.-The Commissioner has, recently altered that decision,
Sir JOHN QUICK.- I saw the return, and the interpretation givenby theCommissioner under which the two exemptions for which I am contending are not al-: lowed. I saw a letter, addressedby the Commissioner to the father of this family, showing that only one exemption would be allowed.
Mr. Fenton. - When was that letter; sent?
Sir JOHN QUICK. - Within . the last two or three weeks.
Mr. Scullin. - That decision has since been amended.
Sir JOHN QUICK. - This gentleman has had notice of the tax, and has had to pay it. The Commissioner said that,because they were deriving common benefit from the land in the father’s name and the land held in partnership, there could be only one exemption.
Mr. Scullin. - If the partnership is a partnership in the land, they are jointly taxable ; but if they are only working the property as one, for greater convenience, the position is different.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- The honorable member’s statement shows that there has been no alteration of the decision of which I am complaining. Where there is a partnership in land, as between father and sons, and where the land is in the name of different individuals, those different individuals should each be allowed a separate exemption. The properties in such cases should not be lumped together for the purpose of making one estate with only one exemption.
Mr. Frazer. - The honorable member is now stating his case differently. He said at first that the partnership in existence was only for the purpose of working the property more satisfactorily.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- No; I said the father distributed the property among himself and his sons so as to give them a direct interest in it. This interpretation of the land tax, I contend, shows that the effect of its operation is not to encourage the breaking up of estates amongst, say, the members of a family, and conveying the portions to the names of its different members. If the giving of separate exemptions be the result, why should not these persons have the benefit of the result if they become absolute owners of the land? Honorable members on the other side want to break up estates. They want to enable the father of a family to divide his estate among his children, or they want to make the owner of an estate divide it and sell it. If a man divides his estate or sells it, and conveys it to different owners, then those persons ought to be allowed the benefit of that act of conveyance. I admit that if there is proof, or reasonable ground for believing, that a transfer is not bond fide, but is made for the purpose of evading the tax or getting an additional exemption, it might be open to examination. But where there is a bond fide transfer, and the lands of, say, A, B, and C are simply worked together, and there is a division of the profits in proportion to the respective interests, they ought not te be regarded as one owner, but as separate owners.
Mr. Frazer. - It is marvellous how generous some of these parents became just when the tax was imposed.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Is it not the object of the tax to break up large estates, and if the effect of its operation le in that direction, why do my honorable friends want to stop it? Why should they not encourage it ? Why should the owners not have the benefit of the immunity from liability if estates are divided and transferred? The mere working of the estates together ought not of itself to be regarded as evidence of collusion or conspiracy or fraud.
Mr. Scullin. - The mere working together does not make a liability.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Yes, it has been held that if persons have a common interest in the division of property it does.
Mr. Scullin. - No, a common interest in the land.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- A common interest in the land or a common interest in the profits. I shall wait for an authoritative exposition of this matter from the Attorney-General. There has certainly been, according to the interjections, some modification of what I read in the papers as an indication of policy. If that is being done, I am glad to hear of it. I think it ought to be well known. I would certainly like to know whether the case which’ has been specifically brought under my attention has been dealt with by the Department, because I think it would be a most disastrous thing if, instead of having a land tax, we had, in effect, a tax on partnerships. Let us have a real land tax, but do not make use of a land tax to impose a tax on partnerships merely because the lands of, say, half-a-dozen persons are used for partnership purposes. Do not let us have a tax on partnerships, but a real tax on the registered legal owners - not merely on the partners, as distinguished from the owners of the land. I must hurry on to refer to another branch of this Speech. Paragraph n states that proceedings under the Australian Industries Preservation Act have been instituted against a shipping and coal combine, that a decision has been given in favour of the Government, and that penalties have been imposed upon the defendants. The next paragraph shows that it is the intention and scheme of the Government to introduce an alteration of the Constitution to - enable the Parliament to legislate effectively with regard to corporations, trusts, combinations, and monopolies in relation to trade, manufacture, or production, and to extend its powers in regard to industrial matters and navigation.
The occurrence of these two paragraphs one after the other is certainly most interesting. It enables me to ask the House, to use a quotation from “ Hamlet,” to “ look here, upon this picture, and on this “ - to look on paragraph n and then on paragraph 12. In the former we have the announcement of the victory of the Federal Constitution and Federal legislation over trusts and combines, and in the latter we have a declaration of intention to proceed for an amendment of the Constitution, because the Federal power over trusts and combines is apparently considered to be inadequate. How is it possible to harmonize the two pictures ? The paragraph relating to the decision in the Coal Vend case gives me an opportunity of drawing the attention of honorable members to the real meaning and significance of that case. I do not think that its importance and transcendent significance are altogether quite realized. I have therefore looked through the judgment of Mr. Justice Isaacs, and made brief extracts for the purpose of placing them on record. It appears to me to be one of the most brilliant judgments even given by a Judge in Australia. It is comprehensive, masterly, and most learned, involving apparently stupendous work, unlimited industry, and the greatest amount of care and caution in its preparation. I think it is a matter for the greatest amount of praise that we have on the High Court bench a gentleman of such great ability and such great powers as to be able to give first seventy-five days to the hearing of the case, and afterwards to analyze its various minute points, and draw up a judgment, the delivery of which occupied upwards of three days’ reading from his own manuscript. It was a wonderful, most masterly performance. I have sketched a few points from the judgment. Shortly stated, it was an action by the AttorneyGeneral against forty defendants, of whom sixteen were individuals, twentytwo were ordinary corporations, and two were commercial trusts within the meaning of the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906-9. The action was brought for several alleged violations of the Statute between 24th September, 1906, and 4th June, 1910. The defendants consisted of two main groups, the colliery defendants and the shipping defendants. The first comprised all the proprietors of coal mines in the Newcastle and Maitland districts of New South Wales. The second comprised the InterState shipping companies. The allegations against the defendants were that after the Act came into operation they entered into an express contract in relation to Inter- State trade and commerce, with intent to restrain that trade and commerce to the detriment of the public. His Honor said that it was alleged that the defendants monopolized, or attempted to monopolize; that they combined and conspired to monopolize the trade and commerce in Maitland and Newcastle coal, with intent to control, to the detriment of the public, the supply and price of coal to persons engaged in the Inter- State trade. He said that the alleged detriment to the public consisted in the practical abolition of competition in the sale of coal on land and sea ; the excessive arbitrary and capricious prices charged to consumers ; the restriction of their opportunities of choice; difficulties in obtaining particular classes or grades of coal they desired; and delays in obtaining deliveries of coal. The defence was, in effect, a denial of all that was alleged against the defendants. In the course of his judgment, His Honor said that he found, as a matter of fact, that coal under the Vend agreement could only be supplied by colliery proprietors to Inter-State consumers through the intervention of the Shipping Companies ; that by the agreement the supply of coal was limited, and the price of coal was enhanced, and the public had to pay excessive prices, through which the defendants realized unreasonable profits. In very nearly every charge in that indictment against the defendants, His Honor found against them, and convicted them of the several offences proved. He said that the contract and combine between the defendants were in restraint of Inter-State trade, interfered with its freedom, and tended to its monopoly. He defined monopoly thus -
If not content with serving the public to the best of his ability and letting the consequences take care of themselves he so acts as to concentrate in himself the existing means of public satisfaction, in such a way and to such an extent as, in the circumstances, to prevent or destroy all reasonably effective competition he does within the meaning of the Statute monopolize or attempt to monopolize trade. Comp:tition itself connotes attraction of trade, and so long as it remains legitimate the law, as I read it, does not reprove it simply because it attains its necessary object. In my opinion the prevention or destruction of all resonable and effective competition - the natural safeguard of the public - is at the root of the conception of monopoly within the meaning of the Statute.
That is a definition of monopoly from which, I think, very few will differ upon examination of it. In the result of this gigantic action thirty-seven of the defendants were fined £500 each, aggregating £18,500, and they were further ordered to pay the costs of the action. It is estimated that the costs of the Crown alone will exceed £10,000, and the costs of the defendants cannot be much less. That action, so briefly referred to in paragraph 1 1 of the Governor-General’s Speech, is, in my opinion, a triumphant vindication of the Federal Constitution and Federal legislation. It shows that under the present constitutional provision relating to and dealing with trade and commerce between States and with other countries, and under the present Commonwealth law, the Federal power is strong enough, and that that power has been already exercised in an effective manner. First of all, the Constitution has been brilliantly vindicated; and, secondly, the effectiveness and competency of Commonwealth legislation has been demonstrated by this tremendous litigation.
Mr. Mathews. - But the Trust is still in existence; in effect, at any rate.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- That is utterly impossible, because the law has been interpreted, and the action has resulted in these offenders being declared guilty of restraint of trade to the detriment of the public, and the Act provides that they shall be liable to continuing penalties, which may go on accumulating from day to day. It is not a case of a conviction for one defence, and the offender then defying the law. Under the law the defendants are each liable to this penalty of £500 for every day on which the offence is continued, and a corporation is liable to a penalty of £1,000. That is surely drastic enough, and the result of this legislation shows that the Act is effective enough. The Attorney-General, in referring to this case, said that, notwithstanding the decision, the Trust is going on just as merrily as before. The accuracy of that statement is open to question. It cannot possibly continue its operations merrily for long at that rate. It might continue pending the appeal - pending finality. There might be some reason in suggesting that the Trust would not obey the injunction of the Court pending the appeal. But I beg to differ even on that, because I understand the injunction was made operative from the pronouncement of the decree. I doubt the accuracy of the statement made by the AttorneyGeneral that the Trust is operating in defiance of the decision of the Court, because if it were the defendants in the case could be attached for contempt of Court. There is a way of bringing an offender against the law of any country to account.. If it be “true, as alleged, that these defendants are defying the judgment of the Court, it is the duty of the AttorneyGeneral to ascertain whether its injunction cannot be enforced. We have here the Executive of the Commonwealth in control of the machinery of the law, and if, pending the appeal, the injunction of the Court is being defied, I ask why steps are not taken to enforce it? The law officers of the Crown are surely strong enough to intervene. In the circumstances, it is reasonable to doubt the accuracy of the Attorney-
General’s statement, because we find that since it was made, at any rate, an announcement has been’ made publicly in the newspapers that the members of the Coal Vend are abandoning the appeal, and giving up the combine, so far, at any rate, as it relates to Inter- State trade.
Mr. Tudor. - But what about the shipping companies ?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- They are appealing; but, even so, they could be attached for contempt of Court if they are defying the injunction of the Court. The AttorneyGeneral seemed to doubt the efficacy of Federal legislation on its present basis. In the experience of mankind through all ages of history it has been found that the only effective way known to all Legislatures has been to prohibit wrong-doing, and if it be persisted in to punish the wrong-doers. If, notwithstanding the prohibition, wrong is done, the wrong-doer should be punished. Punishment is the necessary consequence of every infraction of the law, from the command, “Thou shalt not steal,” right through the Decalogue. The only way to prevent wrong-doing is to punish the wrong-doer. What more could any act of legislation do than is done by what is known as the Anti-trust Act? Its declaration is: “Thou shalt not monopolize; thou shalt not combine in restraint of trade “ ; and it makes the penalty for the disregard of this prohibition £^500 a day for a private individual, and £1,000 a day for a corporation; and, if necessary, imprisonment may be imposed. I attribute attempts to discredit or minimize the effect of that Act to the desire to suggest or support some new-fangled remedy, such as Nationalization or Socialism. This Parliament has now no power to adopt such remedies ; and it may be that the minimizing of the value of Mr. Justice Isaacs’ judgment is done to bolster up the demand for an amendment of the Constitution. But so long as this case stands on record, it will demonstrate the efficacy of the law. The Act deals, not only with trusts and combines, but with monopolies, too. It has been objected that trusts, combines, and monopolies operating wholly within any one State are not interfered with, and a list of such combinations has been read. My reply is that the laws of the several States must deal with them.
Mr. Tudor. - Does the law of Victoria prevent the operation of the Brick Combine?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- The Government and Legislature of Victoria are able to deal with the Brick Combine, or any other combination in restraint of trade. If there were a serious grievance, and the Victorian Parliament did not remedy it, the people of the State would insist on something being done. To say that Commonwealth legislation is necessary is to reflect on the competence and willingness of the Governments and Parliaments of the States to legislate for the regulation and suppression of State trusts and monopolies carried on within their respective boundaries.
Mr. Mathews. - What about the Upper Houses ?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- No Upper House in Australia has ever rejected a Bill dealing with trusts and monopolies. A great deal of what has been said about the Brick Combine and others is mere exaggeration - an attempt being made to create alarm.
Mr. Tudor. - The Brick Combine prevented the Victorian Government from starting brickworks.
Sir JOHN QUICK. - I cannot credit that.
Mr. Tudor. - The Victorian Government bought land for brickworks, and the Brick Combine stopped the enterprise.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Were the Victorian Government to be interfered with by any’ local combine, it could easily have legislation passed to deal very summarily with that combine. I am not. defending combines; what I say is that the State Legislatures are competent to deal with all combinations in restraint of trade operating wholly within any one State. However, I shall deal with this subject at greater length when a proposal for the amendment of the Constitution is made. We are told that it is to be proposed to extend the powers of the Commonwealth in regard to industrial matters and navigation. A proposal that was included in the last referenda seems to have been omitted ; I do not find any intention to propose an amendment giving this Parliament control over what has been termed the internal or domestic trade and commerce of the States. If that proposal is not to be made, I congratulate the Government upon having abandoned its attempt to interfere with the rights of the States in this matter. The inclusion of the proposal in the last referenda was one of the strongest grounds for attacking it, and had much to do with its defeat.
Mr. Tudor. - The honorable member would have opposed the referenda on any ground.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- That is not so. I do not find evidence of an intention to propose an amendment of the Constitution in favour of the nationalization of monopolies. We have been told that the Constitution is to be amended to enable this Parliament to legislate effectively with regard to trusts, combines, and monopolies in relation to trade; but the inference may be drawn that Ministers have abandoned the proposal for the nationalization of monopolies, or that it is to be made later. I will conclude my observations under this heading by a reference to the paragraph contained in the no-confidence motion in relation to industrial unrest. There can be no doubt that within the last two or three years there has been an alarming, amount of industrial unrest in Australia,, and particularly since the accession tooffice of the Labour Government. I And that from the advent of the Fisher Ministry, in April, 1910, till the end of May of the present year, there have been 230 strikes in Australia. In 19 10 there were forty strikes; in 191 1 there were fully loo-; and during the current year there have been nearly ninety. These figures certainly disclose an alarming amount of industrial unrest during the period that the reins of government have been in the hands of the Labour party, and the latter have been in command of majorities in both Houses of the Legislature. That party have also had all the prestige which attaches to the moral force of government. I know that at the last elections many persons voted for the Labour party in the belief that if they came into office they would exercise their moral and political influence to minimize the effect of strikes and industrial disturbances. They thought that people would be more happy and contented under a political regime in which the Labour members were supreme than they would be under any other form of government. But what has been the result? Instead of there having; been less industrial unrest, there has been a steady acceleration and growth of it. It seems to me that a great deal of responsibility for this increase of industrial unrest is due to the fact that many of the heads of the Labour party, instead of discouraging strikes, have, by their extreme utterances, done quite the reverse.
Mr. Scullin. - Why does not the honorable member quote some of them?
Sit JOHN QUICK. - I wish, also, to point out that among these industrial disturbances no less than twenty have been strikes, not on questions of wages, but in regard to the employment of non-union or union labour. There have been thirty strikes upon wages matters, and’ ten against industrial awards and agreements, and pending arbitration proceedings. Five strikes have actually occurred against State Governments or Government Departments, or in connexion with Government contracts. There have been two strikes in reference to the hours of labour and a similar number in reference to piece work. The remainder have been for various causes more or less significant. I think it is very interesting and important that we should review some of these strikes and industrial disturbances, with a view to seeing how far the proposed amendment of the Constitution would be effective in dealing with them. Take some of the strikes against industrial awards. What is the use of amending the Constitution to provide for arbitration if it be proved by actual experience that those on whose behalf arbitration is sought, and in whose interests arbitration awards are granted, will not obey those awards, but will endeavour to repudiate them? It is impossible to ‘secure the settlement of industrial disputes unless obedience to the law is demanded and encouraged. I think that arbitration ought to be calculated to improve the spirit of respect for and obedience of the law. In other words, it should - as was mentioned by the honorable member for Ballarat in the eloquent speech in which he introduced the Bill dealing with this important question - lead to the reign of law, instead of the reign of force. Yet we find, in respect of some of the awards by State Arbitration Courts, that there has been a distinct repudiation of them. There has also been repudiation of agreements by workers. One of the most barefaced repudiations of an arbitration award was that in connexion with the Perth tramway strike in July, 1910.
Mr. Tudor. - Can the honorable member point to any Federal awards which have been broken?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- There have been more Federal agreements made than awards given, and that circumstance may account for the fact that there has been less repudiation.
Mr. Tudor. - Can the honorable member point to any repudiation of a Federal award ?
Sir JOHN QUICK. - No.
Mr. Thomas. - There was one by the Broken Hill Proprietary mine.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- The repudiation of an agreement is, to my mind, more reprehensible than is the repudiation of an award by a Court. The reason alleged for the repudiation of the arbitration award made in connexion with the Perth tramway strike was the refusal of the London directors to grant a larger increase of pay to the men than the Court had awarded. The Court had granted an eight hours’ day and an increase of wages of 50 per cent., thus augmenting the wages list by £10,000 per annum. Upon appeal the Court refused to alter the award. The strike lasted till the 7th September, when work was resumed. Again, on the 6th September, 1911, a strike of glass bevel.lers took place in Melbourne which lasted fourteen weeks. The men had been working under a Wages Board determination, at £2 8s. a week of forty-eight hours, but they repudiated the award and demanded £3. On the nth September the miners at Collieburn, Western Australia, struck against the award of the Court. On the 19th September of the same year 170 builders’ labourers struck for is. 3d. per hour, or £2 15s. per week of fortyfour hours, they having been receiving, under agreement, a minimum wage of 9s. 6d. a day of eight hours. They refused to have a Wages Board. The Sydney Waterside workers struct on the 19th October, 191 1. After long negotiations an agreement was made between the Waterside Workers Federation and the Steam-ship Owners Association, and that agreement was signed, sealed, and delivered by and between both parties. A short time afterwards, however, the whole of the Sydney branch, numbering 4,700 men, struck without notice, demanding increased rates. On the seventeenth day of the strike they decided to resume work, having then lost, at their own lowest estimate. £39,000 in wages, without reckoning highly-paid overtime. The external trade of the port of Sydney was brought to a stand-still, and, food becoming scarce, prices were raised in every direction. The loss inflicted on the shippers of perishable goods was estimated at £100,000 per day. This was a case in which the men did not repudiate the award of an Arbitration Court or. - a Wages Board, but repudiated their”“ownsigned agreements. Then a strike occurred on 6th November of 100 builders’ labourers in Adelaide for 10s a day, they refusing to be bound by the decision of the State Wages Board in Adelaide.
Mr. Scullin. - In Adelaide there is no Arbitration Court.
Sir JOHN QUICK. - I am pointing out that, notwithstanding the extended ramifications of Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards in Australia, there is a distinct tendency on the part of the working classes to repudiate the awards of those bodies.
Mr. Mathews. - They wish for a Federal tribunal.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- They do not; a large number of them are no more in favour of Federal Arbitration Courts than they are in favour of State Arbitration Courts. At a large meeting of the Australian Labourers Union, held in Sydney last week, as reported in the newspapers of the 25th June, efforts were made to bring about the consolidation of bodies representing a membership of 25,000 unionists ; and it was said by the secretary of the United Labourers Union of Victoria, Mr. Culliney, that his union was utterly sick of Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards.
Mr. Mathews. - The meeting “ knocked him out “
Mr. Tudor. - They did not carry his motion 1
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Those present said they agreed with the motion, but they did not think the time was ripe. It is very strange and discouraging to those in favour of Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards to see any such sentiments expressed.
Mr. Thomas. - Who has done more for arbitration than the Labour party?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- The Labour party has done much; and I am surprised to find Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards repudiated at such a mass meeting.
Mr. Scullin. - That is not repudiation by the Labour party.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- How can we account for such sentiments as these? -
We are satisfied with our own working class basis of organization, as we find we are only able to get as much as we are well enough organized to drag from the employers by force.
Mr. Mathews. - The speaker, Culliney, would vote for the honorable member for Bendigo before he would vote for me; that is the sort of Labour man he is !
Sir JOHN QUICK.- I am quite willing to accept his vote. He went on to say -
We are disgusted with craft unions, and dissatisfied with craft federations, as they are maintained for the purpose of goingto the Arbitration Court. They only serve to provide a number of officials with the pleasures of office.
These are the sentiments which show that in the minds of certain leaders of trade unionists-
Mr. Scullin. - Does the honorable member charge us with such sentiments?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- I am not saying so.I think honorable members opposite are, like myself, honestly in favour of Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards. I think, however, that the system of Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards may as well be confined within the legal limits defined by the Constitution - that there is no necessity to extend Federal arbitration any further.
Mr. Tudor. - The honorable member and. Culliney are “ in the same boat.”
Sir JOHN QUICK. - That is silly nonsense. As a further illustration of repudiation I point to the action of the miners at Ararat on the 25th March, 19 12, when all the men, except those employed at the Cathcart Central Mine, struck in protest against the Wages Board award, although, according to Mr. Tunnecl iffe, one of the State members for Bendigo, the result of that award was to increase the wages of miners to the extent of nearly £4,000 per week. It is deplorable when such a spirit of repudiation is abroad - when there is such a reckless desire to rush into strikes and exhibitions of force, rather than to respect the law of the land with its legal determinations and agreements. As another illustration, I point to the slaughtermen’s strike in Western Australia on 27th March. The slaughtermen of Kalgoorlie struck for an increase of £1 in addition to the wages fixed by the Arbitration Court. That Court, I think, is a very effective and liberally designed tribunal. I have not heard that its fairness or its powers have been challenged even by the trade unionists of Western Australia. ‘ This does not appear to be a contest between Arbitration Courts and Wages Boards so much as opposition to both systems. Another case is presented in the strike of the dock labourers in Melbourne on 1 2th May. They received very liberal concessions, including a pay of1s. 3d. per hour ; but they struck for other reasons. I wish to refer to another class of strikes, namely, those affecting Government Departments, and in connexion with Government contracts. Strikes have not been simply confined to cases where it is alleged that private employers have been unkind, ungenerous, or tyrannical, or have worked their men under sweating conditions. They have even extended to works conducted by State Governments. This shows that the strike spirit is an active force that has been, and may again be, directed against the ordinary constitutional authorities of the country.
Mr. Scullin. - All the more reason for having an Arbitration Court.
Sir JOHN QUICK.-If you had legislation to cover the complete nationalization of all the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and everybody was a Government employe - if you had Government workshops superseding private workshops - you would still have the same liability to strikes.
Mr. Scullin. - Then the honorable member does not admit that the Arbitration Court does any good?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Your nationalization schemes would be still liable to the same attack. The spirit of unrest and insurrection seems to be growing.
Mr. Scullin. - Will the honorable member not admit that arbitration has minimized that state of things?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- I admit that arbitration has done some good, and support the principle ; but I am not prepared to extend the Federal jurisdiction. I am not prepared to grant an extension of the Federal authority to disputes that occur within the limits of a particular State. I wish now to illustrate the strikes that have occurred on Government works;. In September, 1910, the railway glut handsin the metropolitan district, Adelaide, struck in protest against the re-instatement of ganger Thompson. This was not a strike against sweating, or for improving the conditions of labour, but practically the railway hands wanted to dictate to the Railways Commissioners as to who should be their “ boss.” That is an illustration of the extremes to which some of these strike unionists will resort. There were between 600 and 700 strikers, and they remained out of work for a considerable time. They resumed on being promised that Thompson would not have charge of them. Practically, they succeeded. I think there was a Labour Ministry in office who were afraid of these men, though they were really rebels against the Department which employed them. In Sydney, in December, 1910, the rockchoppers employed in the sewerage works, Long
Bay Tunnel, struck, demanding an increase of wages to11s. 6d. per day. The demand was granted ; but the men afterwards again struck for 12s. 6d. per day, and six hours’ work. The Government, though granting the demand, refused to amend the terms made between themselves and the contractor. In January, 1912, there was a railway strike in Western Australia. On that occasion, 150 men, who were employed in regrading the Perth-Fremantle railway, struck for an increase from 9s. to 10s. per day, and a free passage to and from work. The Commissioner granted the free passage, but refused to increase the wages as the work was not urgent. In February, 1912, on the Midland railway line, Western Australia, the railway mechanics, who had been on strike for six weeks, returned to work, the Perth men having gone back two days previously. No fewer than 800 men were affected by this strike. In February, 191 2, the men employed by the New South Wales Public Works Department as road-menders at Mount Kosciusko, struck. I will say, to the honour and credit of the Minister, Mr. Griffith, that he paid them off, and declined to take cognisance of any dispute not authorized by the union. That is an illustration of Mr. Griffith’s independence and determination to enforce the law. Such straight-out, manly action on the part of even Labour Ministers would go a long way to discourage strikes and industrial unrest. What is required is an assertion of responsibility ; but if you egg the men on and encourage them, they will go on to their own destruction.
Mr. Scullin. - Who eggs -them on ?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Have we not heard it said by many Labour members, “I am for the strike every time “ ?
Mr. Finlayson. - I have not.
Mr. Mathews. - The strike has been very effective on many occasions.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- It is that kind of ‘ thing which encourages and foments unrest. If the Labour party would stand up for the assertion of the law it would go a long way to discourage the multiplication of strikes, many of which probably take place in the hope and belief that the men will be backed up by those in power. In March, 1912, the Minister of Works in New South Wales ordered that the strikers on the Wagga sewerage works who did not at once resume work should be dismissed and the works closed up. At that time the men had been receiving 8s. and 8s. 6d. per day, and they demanded is. per day increase. A third strike against the New South Wales Government occurred in March, 1912, on the Grafton line. There the navvies” struck on some question of conditions of employment. I have not the exact particulars. The Minister, Mr. Griffith, again showed his independence by giving them notice that unless they returned to work they were to be paid off and not further employed. The worst illustration of a strike against the Government has occurred in Victoria in connexion with the Wonthaggi coal mine. I wish to place on record a few facts in connexion with that occurrence to show the spirit of unrest which is abroad. A long standing dispute between the miners and the management of the State coal mine lasted between March 27th and May nth. The miners then appear to have discovered that nowhere else in any occupation could they earn so much money at the average of 14s. 1½d. per shift per man as they had actually received for the six months preceding the abandonment of their work. They then decided to resume, having lost £25,000 in wages, and deprived 300 of the original 700 men of their chance of work. It would take too long to give further particulars, but I have selected a few as typical. The remainder relate mainly to the employment of union and non-union labour. All these facts go to show that there is undoubtedly great reason to be alarmed at the amount of industrial unrest prevailing, and at the extension of strikes that have occurred since the present Federal Ministry have been in office. The members of the Government might have done much by precept and example to discourage these occurrences. Instead of that, however, they threaten to launch another campaign for the amendment of the Constitution, and for the extension of the area of Federal jurisdiction. That would mean that instead of these disputes being dealt with within the limits of the States, and under State laws, they would “be dealt with under Federal jurisdiction. A great deal of this industrial unrest has also been brought about by systematic and determined efforts to introduce what is called preference to unionists. That has been the great bone of contention. Instead of men being assisted in any reasonable effort to get better wages or working, conditions, they have been advised to go in for this “will-o’-the-wisp” known as preference to unionists, and no one has done more to lead them in that direction than has the Federal Government.
Mr. Scullin. - Who introduced preference to unionists?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- The most prominent introduction of that principle is that lately made by the Minister of Home Affairs. Instead of relying upon Federal legislation authorizing him to do so, he took it upon himself to issue a mandate to the effect that in future none but unionists were to be employed in the Department presided over by him, and that those who were not members of a trade union should receive notice of dismissal. That assisted to foment many of the disputes, in reference to preference to unionists, which I have enumerated this afternoon. I think that the .Postmaster-General has also to’ shoulder his share of the responsibility because of the promise he gave in connexion with the Brisbane strike, to the effect that he would grant preference to strikers in the distribution of any work that might be available in the Postal Department.
Mr. Finlayson. - That is incorrect.
Sir JOHN QUICK- That is another case of the kind, and neither was authorized by law. Each was an act of administration, on the part of Ministers, without the authority of Parliament. That previously done in reference to preference to unionists was authorized by Parliament. It was placed on the statute-book by the vote of Parliament, and was surrounded by certain conditions and safeguards, which prevented an abuse of the privilege. There is a great difference between the preference to unionists authorized by the present Minister of Home Affairs and that authorized by the original Conciliation and Arbitration Act. That granted under the Act was a preference to unionists clearly restricted to members of what are known as industrial trade unions. What was objected to, and what was prohibited by that law, was the granting of preference to unionists who were members of political organizations.
Mr. Scullin. - That is special pleading.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- It is not. Instead of allowing that law to remain on the statute-book, . the present Ministry, as soon as they came into office, amended it, and repealed the qualifications and safeguards to which I have referred. They might as well have allowed those safeguards to stand, but they were determined to show their desire to give complete and unqualified preference, not merely to bond fide industrial trade unionists, but to political supporters. That is what their action amounts to, because under the amended law unionists who are to receive preference are not members of bond fide workers’ unions formed for the purpose of protecting the interests and rights of the workers, but members of political organizations, inasmuch as there is nothing to prevent the funds of those socalled trade unions being used at the next Federal election to support Labour candidates. That differentiates completely the system of preference to unionists under the old law, which was arrived at as a compromise when the Watson Government were displaced by another Ministry, and when a modified scheme of preference to unionists subject to judicial discretion was conceded. I wish now to allude to one other matter mentioned in the Governor-General’s Speech, and that is a proposition which certainly has in it the charm of novelty. I refer to the proposed maternity allowance, or, as it is called, the bonus for babies. It is a new proposition in the history of the Labour party, and comes upon the House and the country as a startling and almost dramatic surprise. It is strange that such a proposal did not find favour at the last or any preceding Labour Conference. I find that the whole question was discussed very fully at the Labour Conference held in Hobart last January, and that no proposal of this kind was adopted. Mr. Bryant, of New South Wales, proposed, “That compulsory insurance and national control thereof be a plank in the next Federal Labour platform.” The Tasmanian delegates submitted an amendment in favour of a scheme of compulsory and contributory insurance against sickness, old age, and motherhood, with a discrimination in favour of parents of large families. Mr. Giblin, of Tasmania, advocated the encouragement of population by raising the exemption under the Income Tax Act in the case of people with large families. During the course of the discussion, I find, reference was made to the scheme now in operation in New Zealand; and it seems strange that even the modified scheme recommended by the delegates from New South Wales did not find acceptance at the Conference. It may be interesting here to quote the provisions of the New Zealand scheme for a maternity grant. They are to be found in the National Provident Fund Act, No. 41, passed in 1910. The Act provides an optional system of in- surance by individuals coupled with a Government subsidy. Insurance may be obtained upon the payment of a small contribution beginning with 9d. a week at the age of seventeen years, and going up to is. 8d. per week at the age of thirty years, 2s. 3d. a week at the age of thirtyfive years, 3s. 2d. a week at the age of forty years, and 4s. nd. a week at the age of forty-live years. The contributions go into a general fund, and at the end of twelve months the contributors are entitled to certain privileges and certain relief during any period of incapacity. It is also provided in section 16 that -
If and so long as at any time during any such period of incapacity the contributor is the parent of any child or children under the age of fourteen years, the contributor shall be entitled to receive from the fund during the period of his incapacity (subject, however, to the conditions and limitations hereinafter expressed) an allowance in accordance with the provisions of the second schedule hereto.
The second schedule gives an allowance of 7s. 6d. a week for each child during the period of incapacity. The important provision relating to the maternity proposition is contained in section 18’, which reads as follows : -
If the wife of any contributor, or if any contributor (being a married woman) gives birth in New Zealand to a child or children, and the joint income of that contributor and his wife or her husband (as the case may be) during the period of twelve months immediately preceding the date of such birth does not exceed Two hundred pounds, such contributor, if he has contributed to the fund for a period of not less than twelve months, shall be entitled to receive from the fund the sum of Six pounds, or such less sum as the Board, in pursuance of sub-section three hereof, directs.
Applications for payment of any such sum shall be accompanied bv a statutory declaration by the contributor (which shall be exempt from stamp duty) that the joint income as aforesaid during the said period of twelve months did not exceed Two hundred pounds.
The Board may reduce the said sum of Six pounds to the amount of the expenses actually incurred by the contributor, or by the wife or husband of the contributor, in respect of *medical attendance.
” Medical attendance “ for the purposes of this section means the services of a registered medical practitioner, or of a registered midwife, and of a nurse at the birth of the child, and at any subsequent times within a period of three weeks during which such services may be required.
That legislation was referred to during the course of the Federal Labour Conference in Hobart, and strange to say, no proposal for a maternity bonus of any kind was adopted there, and it remained for this Government and the party opposite on the eve of an election to come forward and propound this scheme of a maternity bonus. Whilst I, and I dare say most honorable members of the House, would be disposed to regard with favour any proposal founded on humanitarian motives and considerations, at the same time, I think - and I believe that the most reflecting minds would be disposed to arrive at the same conclusion - that a vote of this kind ought to be surrounded with reasonable safeguards and proper conditions to see that the money reaches any of those who are reasonably in want of it. The scheme as put before the country up to the present time is very crude, and very incomplete, and therefore one is at a disadvantage in criticising what has not been completely formulated. At the same time, it is only right and fair to anticipate, as far as one can do, the proposal when it comes before the House. Whilst I am disposed to favour - I speak only for myself - any scheme founded on humane considerations and motives, for the saving of life and relief of distress, there ought to be safeguards and precautions to prevent an abuse of the scheme, and certainly to prevent men of means, and people who do not want the bonus, being able to claim it, and thereby unfairly and improperly place a burden upon the community. One of the matters referred to in the amendment is “ reckless irresponsibility in the financial affairs of the Commonwealth.”
Mr. Mathews. - Of which we have heard nothing.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- I have already drawn attention to the reckless expenditure involved in connexion with the Commonwealth Bank. That undoubtedly will mean an extraordinary waste of public funds for years to come.
Mr. Scullin. - The honorable member does not expect any one to believe that, does he ?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Certainly.
Mr. Scullin. - Nothing has been spent yet on the bank.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- Money is being spent, and the bank will probably involve an annual expenditure of £40,000 or £50,000 for years to come.
Mr. Scullin. - Is that the only charge of extravagance?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- That is one.
Mr. Scullin. - Give us another.
Sir JOHN QUICK.- I am not going to anticipate what may be said by the financial experts on this side, but I cer tainly wish to draw attention to one Department in which there has been a great expansion of expenditure since it was taken over by the Federation, and that is the Quarantine Department. The expenditure has increased by leaps and bounds, and threatens to rival the expenditure in many other directions. When the Department was taken over in 1909-10, the total expenses in connexion with the service did not amount to more than £23,182. In 19 10- 1 1 the expenses had jumped up to £25,753, and in addition to that, £2,206 was spent on works. In 1911-12 the expenditure increased by nearly £30,000, and there has been an outlay of £33,208 on works. So that in three years there has been a jump of £39,400 in the expenditure of the Department, and now we are threatened with a further enormous expansion in that respect. A new scheme of expenditure and enlargement has recently been brought forward by the Director ‘ of Quarantine. Of Dr. Norris I wish to speak only in terms of the highest respect and admiration. He is a very clever doctor and a reliable medical adviser of the Department, but he has certainly high-flown notions about Federal works expansion. I find that he has brought forward a scheme of expansion in connexion with the quarantine institutions of the Com-‘ monwealth estimated to cost £187,000, of which it is proposed that , £80,000 shall be spent during this year. According to the newspapers the Minister very promptly, and, it is said, almost gleefully adopted this report in globo, and is going to bring down an estimate of £80,000 for one year. It remains to be seen what arguments are to be presented in favour of this huge inflation of expenditure, because a number of the represenatives of the Department in the States have already offered adverse criticism of the proposal, and the general view is that it would be far better to spend money in exercising closer supervision over the arrival of persons across the sea, say at Fremantle station, on the one hand, and Thursday Island, in the north of Australia, on the other. It would be far better to keep out disease than to make provision for its reception, and its incubation and treatment in Australia. Why should we make provision for the absolute introduction of these cases, instead of fighting the disease at the ports? There have been notorious cases of steamers evading the quarantine regulations and inspection. In June, last year, for instance, there was the case of the R..M.S. Mooltan, which arrived in the port of Adelaide. Persons were allowed to land at Adelaide and to proceed freely to the eastern States without any notification to the health authorities. What is the use of having an expensive quarantine establishment if the system of inspection at the ports is to be loosely interpreted, instead of being rigidly enforced? The system of inspection is certainly very lax and absolutely inadequate. I speak from knowledge gained recently on my return voyage to Australia. Certainly passengers were made to march in procession before the medical officer of the ship. That, forsooth, was considered and regarded as a sufficient opportunity to decide whether there was any disease on .board. If necessary, instead of spending money on public works to accommodate passengers for whom there is already accommodation, I would be quite prepared to vote money to pay for the services of a medical officer to board inward-bound steamers at Colombo, and accompany them to Australia, so as to get in touch with all the passengers. That would be a much more effective way of guarding against the introduction of disease than the formal procession of passengers before a medical officer.
Mr. Webster. - What kind of a staff should we require to give effect to that proposal?
Sir JOHN QUICK.- The principal traffic would be in connexion with the Peninsular and Oriental and Orient lines of steamers, and the necessary staff would not be so expensive as the buildings and establishments proposed on the shores of Australia are likely to be. I am afraid that I have already taken up too much time, and I shall, therefore, bring my remarks to a close by saying that, in my opinion, sufficient ground for criticism has already been made out to justify a vote of want of confidence.
Mr. MATHEWS (Melbourne Ports) [4.12]. - As you, sir, and some of the suffering public have already listened to those who can juggle with figures, and have heard the speeches of Ministers and ex-Ministers who are orators, you will not mind listening for a time to a “bread-and-butter” politician like myself. I listened carefully to what has been said by honorable members opposite, except when they became abusive. As you, sir, .are always very severe on those who return abuse, I had to leave the chamber on’ .those occasions. I have heard honorable members opposite denounce as planks of the Labour platform almost every proposal other than those which we ourselves advocate. I have heard nothing from them which would warrant ,a vote of want of confidence in. the administration of the present Government. Like their supporters outside, the Conservatives in this House abuse those opposed to them, and object to their policy, but will submit no policy of their own. We have heard of nothing from the other side which they would substitute for the policy of the present Government. They have not had the courage to say that they are prepared, should they get into power, to repeal any legislation we have passed, or reverse any action taken by the Government, with the exception of the action taken to abolish the flat rate for telephones, and the legislation abolishing voting by post. These are the only great national affairs they intend to alter .should they be returned to power. These represent the only policy they would have to submit in preference to that advocated by the present’ Government and their followers. I have been listening to honorable members opposite for days, and they evidently propose to base their principal criticism .of the Labour party on the Brisbane strike and the existence of industrial unrest. But since the honorable member for Brisbane addressed this House on Thursday, we find that newspapers supporting the Conservatives apparently think it would be just as “ well to drop those questions. The honorable member’s explanation of the .course of events in Brisbane was so lucid, and he so clearly proved that the trouble there was caused by the other side, and not by our side, that the criticism based on the Brisbane strike has fallen through. From the moment the Leader of the Opposition threw this bomb in the shape of a motion of want of confidence on the table of the House, honorable members opposite made industrial unrest and the Brisbane strike the chief grounds of their indictment against the Government. I have said that the Brisbane strike argument has failed, but to-day we have had from the honorable member for Bendigo a tabulated statement of all the strikes that have recently occurred. I have also received a copy of that statement.
Mr. Tudor. - It came from Walpole’s crowd.
Mr. MATHEWS.- Yes.
Sir Robert Best - I feel aggrieved; I have not received a copy.
Mr. MATHEWS.- That is a shame; the honorable gentleman ought to have received a copy.
Mr. Fairbairn. - Is there anything wrong with it?
Mr. MATHEWS. - Yes ; I shall explain the matter to the honorable member. We, on this side, in season and out of season, have advocated that it should be left for the Federal Parliament to pass legislation to put a stop to, and prevent, industrial unrest in Australia. It is important to note that every strike enumerated in the list quoted by the honorable member for Bendigo was not a strike against a decision of the Federal Arbitration Court, but against decisions of State Courts. This proves conclusively that what we have advocated would have the effect of preventing industrial unrest. As the Minister of External Affairs has said, the only decision of the Federal Arbitration Court which was dissented from was that made in connexion with the Broken Hill strike, and in that case it was not the workers, but the employers, who dissented from the decision of the Court. There has never yet been a decision of the Federal Arbitration Court which the workers have dissented from.
Mr. sampson.-Because the men were given all they asked for.
Mr. MATHEWS. - Not at all. Last session I went at some length into the difference between a decision by the Federal Arbitration Court and a decision by a State Court, or Wages Board. I shall not repeat what I said then ; but I showed conclusively that under State legislation it was impossible to secure an industrial decision which would not be detrimental to a particular State or industry. I can give two instances of this. The bootmakers of New South Wales tried the other day to get such a decision from a State Wages Board. The Chairman of the Board said that he could not increase the wages in the way asked for, because, if he did so, they would be higher in New South Wales than in Victoria, and Victorian manufacturers, having to pay lower wages, would then be able to undercut manufacturers in New South Wales.
Mr. Harper. - It was not true.
Mr. MATHEWS. - It is a fact that the wages asked there would have been higher than the £2 14s. a week wages paid here, and the sole reason why the Chairman of the Wages Board in New South Wales would not give a decision in favour of higher wages was that it would injure the manufacturers of New South Wales, since Victorian manufacturers would not be called upon to pay equal rates.
Sir John Forrest. - Does the honorable member think that wages should be uniform throughout Australia?
Mr. MATHEWS. - The Federal Arbitration Court could fix wages in the same industry all over Australia, taking into consideration the different conditions in different parts of the Commonwealth. The right honorable gentleman will probably agree that bootmakers working in Melbourne and in Sydney are working as nearly under similar conditions as it is possible to conceive. The one decision ought to suit both.
Sir John Forrest. - The honorable member appears not to believe in uniformity of wages throughout Australia.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I do not.
Sir John Forrest. - How can there be fair competition among the manufacturers when wages differ?
Mr. MATHEWS.- There are places in Western Australia where, if boot factories were established, the men would want higher wages than they get in Victoria, for example, because it would cost them more to live there. As a matter of fact, these places are not suitable for the establishment of boot factories.
Sir John Forrest.- The Western Australian factories have all been removed to Victoria.
Mr. MATHEWS.- The wages fixed for Western Australia were decided upon with a view to meeting the local conditions, but they made it impossible for the factories of the State to compete with those elsewhere. The manufacturers of one State should not be allowed to undercut those of another in the matter of wages. Some of the jam manufacturers of Victoria have told me that the protection which they enjoy is useless to them. That I cannot believe; but there is this fact in connexion with the jam industry to which I would draw attention. In Victoria the jam employes are paid as badly as those in any trade we have, and it is disgraceful that this state of things is allowed to continue without improvement by a Wages Board. But when the New South Wales jam employes sought to have their condition bettered, what did the President of the State Arbitration Court tell them ? He said, “ It is impossible to grant the wages you ask, because, if your wages were raised, the jam manufacturers of Tasmania and Victoria would take away the business of the jam manufacturers of New South Wales.” That fact evidences the need for a Commonwealth tribunal to settle the matter of wages.
Mr. Atkinson. - The better thing to do would be to establish the Inter- State Commission.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I expected to hear something from the Leader of the Opposition, who is a Victorian, in regard to the fiscal question, but all he proposed was the establishment of a Tariff Board. What will that give us? I wonder that he did not rate the Government for not proposing a revision of the Tariff this session. Those two great Protectionists, the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Bendigo, are as much afraid to touch the Tariff question as if it would burn them. All they suggest is the establishment of a Tariff Board.
Mr. Sampson. - We tried to bring that about two years ago.
Mr. MATHEWS.- At that time there was no proper scheme formulated for presentation to the people.
Mr. Sampson. - Yes; a definite policy.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I did not hear of it. I am willing to vote for duties so high that they would prevent the importation of commodities which could be manufactured in Australia.
Mr. Fairbairn. - The honorable member’s party would not support him in that.
Mr. MATHEWS. - There are only about five Protectionists on the Opposition side, although it numbers nearly thirty members. All the Leader of the Opposition would do to settle the Tariff question is to appoint a Board to investigate the cost of production in Australia and abroad. I hope that the question of wages will also be considered.
Mr. Deakin. - Its business would be to find all the facts.
Mr. MATHEWS.- Exactly. The honorable member proposes to bring into existence a Board to settle all Tariff matters, and to give it a power which this Parliament does not possess. That is absurd. It seems to be supposed that manufacturers will give to the Board information that they will not give to the Customs Department. When the Board has collected information in regard to any industry, and has determined that certain rates of duty are to be applied to it, the Governments and Parliaments of the States are to be approached.
The Board is to say, “ Please, Mr. Watt, please, gentlemen of the Upper House of Victoria, will you be good enough to hand over to us your powers for regulating local industrial matters?” The honorable member for Ballarat, in the past, tried, without avail, to make agreements with the State authorities. Now that he is associated with the Conservatives, he may have some ground for hoping for success in that direction, but when he had the Labour party behind him he could get no concession at all from the States.
Mr. Deakin. - All this is “ spoke sarcastic.”
Mr. MATHEWS.- I do not intend it to be taken in that way. I know that when the Labour party sat behind the honorable member, and kept him in office for nearly three years, he could get nothing from the State Governments. But now that he has to consult, not only Mr. Watt, but also Mr. McGowen, the Premier of Queensland, the Premier of Tasmania, and the Premier of Western Australia, merely by a wave of his magic wand all the State Parliaments will enact legislation empowering the Federation to give effect to the recommendations of the Tariff Board.
Mr. Tudor. - All the States must do the same thing at the same time.
Mr. MATHEWS.- Exactly. But that is not the worst feature of it. The Board, I presume, will consist of three men, and will be of a non-political character. They will be three business men.
Mr. Mc Williams. - Three political “ discards.”
Mr. Roberts. - Then the honorable member will be eligible for appointment within a few months.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I do not like to be too hard upon political “ discards.” I recognise that we shall all come within that category some day. Moreover, there are many men who are political “ discards “ and who are just as capable, and perhaps more so, of sitting on the Tariff Board as would be anybody else. But what is the Board to be composed of? Are its members to be strong Protectionists?
Mr. Fairbairn. - They will be all Protectionists.
Mr. MATHEWS.- If that be so. the honorable member for Parramatta, the honorable member for Lang, the honorable member for Wilmot, and the honorable member for Franklin will have many questions to ask regarding its composition. If the Leader of the Opposition thinks he will have a rosy time in selecting its members, he is greatly mistaken.
Mr. Roberts. - He would not select them. The honorable member for Parramatta would select the lot.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I suppose that the Leader of the Opposition, if he has the selection of the members of the Board, will appoint three Protectionists. But will they have a leaning towards the workers?
Mr. Fenton. - What about the public?
Mr. MATHEWS.- The honorable member is anticipating me a little. Upon this Board, which presumably will consist of three Protectionists, I want two men with Labour tendencies - that is, Labour Protectionists. I will trust no Board to come to any decision upon Tariff matters unless a majority of it consists of Labour Protectionists.
Mr. Sampson. - If there are Labour Protectionists upon it, they will be out of harmony with members of the honorable member’s party.
Mr. MATHEWS.- But, after the Board has presented its recommendations, unless Parliament be composed of a majority of Protectionists and Labour Protectionists, there is no possible chance of those recommendations being adopted.
Dr. Carty Salmon. - Most of the Free Trade members of the Labour party must have known that the honorable member was going to make this speech, seeing that they are all absent.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I know that if this Parliament were empowered to fix wages, conditions, and prices for the consumers, the Free Trade members of the Labour party would have” to vote for Protection whether they liked it or not, otherwise they would have to leave the party. I notice the honorable member for Grey looking at me, and I know that he recognises that position, and accepts it as a man. But, has the honorable member for Ballarat any chance whatever of securing votes from the Free Traders upon the opposite side of the chamber ?
Mr. Roberts. - He does not want Protection. Did he not try to secure the election of Mr. Conroy for Werriwa?
Mr. MATHEWS.- That is the funny part of it. If ever this House possessed a good debater from the Free Trade stand-point, it was when Mr. Conroy was a member of it. Yet the honorable member for Ballarat, the great leader of the Protectionist party, actually visited
Werriwa and advocated his candidature. Did he expect to get a Protectionist vote from Mr. Conroy if that gentleman had been elected?
Mr. Deakin. - I think he is as good a Protectionist as Mr. Bennett, anyhow.
Mr. MATHEWS.- My honorable friends opposite took good care not to send the Leader of the Opposition into the Free Trade portion of the Werriwa electorate. They know how to hold up the umbrella quite as well as we do. Do we not all recollect that the honorable member for Bendigo was the chairman of the Tariff Commission, which was appointed some years ago, and that he had associated with him the honorable member for Illawarra and the honorable member for Perth?
Mr. Fuller. - The Minister of Trade and Customs does not do much for Protection, anyhow.
Mr. MATHEWS.- The Protectionist members of that Commission submitted certain recommendations to Parliament, and the Free Trade members of it presented a minority report. But was one bit of that evidence, which was collected at enormous expense and trouble, considered by honorable members when the Tariff subsequently came under review here?
Mr. Fairbairn. - The honorable member read it.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I did not have time to read it in its entirety. Just as the report of the Tariff Commission was treated, so would the report of any Tariff Board appointed to collect evidence to enable us to frame a protective policy for Australia be treated.
Mr. Fuller. - If the honorable member’ had read our minority report, he would not be talking as he is now.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I know that the Leader of the Opposition will never secure a Protectionist vote from the honorable member.
Mr. Mcwilliams. - And honorable members opposite will never get one from the Attorney-General .
Mr. MATHEWS.- We had seven or eight votes from the Attorney-General on iron commodities which are manufactured in the honorable gentleman’s own electorate.
Mr. Mcwilliams. - Then the AttorneyGeneral stopped short !
Mr. MATHEWS.- I shall let honorable members know what occurred, because it may have been forgotten. One of the duties was only a small one after all, but we had to take the duties we could get at the time. In regard to several commodities in the iron industry the duties were saved by two Free Trade votes, those of the honorable member for Dalley, Mr. Wilks, and the Attorney-General. From other honorable members on this side not a vote could we get when we wished to clinch a duty. I believe, however, that, when Mr. Wilks and the Attorney-General voted, they were “ holding up the umbrella.”
Mr. McWilliams. - I think the honorable member is “holding the umbrella” pretty high just now !
Mr. Fuller. - In a great effort to save himself ; he has been reading the Age lately.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I believe that the proprietors of the Age know as well as the honorable member-
Mr. McWilliams. - That they can bring the honorable member “ to heel “ whenever they crack the whip!
Mr. MATHEWS.- The honorable member, like the Age, knows very differently ; as a matter of fact, the more the Age assails me the thicker my armour grows. I deal with this point to-day because I desire to show the honorable member for Ballarat
Mr. McWilliams. - Why does the honorable member not show his own leader?
Mr. MATHEWS.- I happen just now to be talking about the Leader of the Opposition, who, I know, does not mind hearing a few truths now and then. I desire to show him that the party he is leading to-day is no more Protectionist than it was when it opposed him at the time the Labour party was behind him. I desire, further, to show that the press which supports the honorable member for Ballarat takes just the same view as it did then. I was in Sydney last week-end, and on the Saturday, Sunday, and Monday every newspaper, with the exception of the Sun, was howling at the Labour party because they put duties on commodities, and thus made the cost of living high. In Melbourne, on the other hand, the Age is assailing the Labour party day after day because we do not put on more duties, and make the cost of living still higher. In my own opinion, the imposition of protective duties should make the cost of living higher, having regard to the state of civilization in Australia compared with that of other countries. No doubt unrestricted Protection, without further legislation, may play it into the hands of manufacturers to a great extent ; and that is the reason we desire further powers before they are given higher duties, so that a fair share of the benefits may be given to the workers and the cost to the public restricted in some way.
Mr. McWilliams. - Is the honorable member against any higher duties?
Mr. MATHEWS.- The honorable member is trying to put me a “ poser “ ; if I said “ Yes “ he would ask me why I voted for higher duties last session. But I am prepared for the honorable member; and I can tell the House that, last session, increased duties were given only where manufacturers had supplied certain information to the Minister, and had shown a desire to improve the condition of the men working for them. I wish that the Age, in assailing us, would always be as fair as it has shown itself to-day.
Mr. Fuller. - They are “ tripping up “ the honorable member in regard to the Federal Capital !
Mr. MATHEWS.- I rather think it is the honorable member for lllawarra that the Age is “tripping up.” The Age has at last spoken fairly, and told Opposition members with Protectionist proclivities really what they are. This is done in connexion with the opposition to the exmember for Maribyrnong as a candidate for the Senate. We know that the Conservatives outside this House are not a happy family.
Mr. McWilliams. - Honorable members opposite were not very happy over Stuart Robertson and the honorable member for Cook.
Mr. MATHEWS- I am happy to say that, in that case, the man who tried to “ scalp “ ultimately “ fell in.” The article in to-day’s Age contains the following -
The strongest possible pressure is being brought to bear upon the Parliamentary Liberal party to intervene at once inthe dispute amongst the Liberal leagues over the selection of the Victorian Liberal candidates for the Senate. The Parliamentarians, however, have informed the Constitutional Union -
That is another Conservative organization - which has acted as a sort of “buffer” between the leagues- that it cannot possibly adjudicate unless all three leagues unanimously refer the dispute to them, and all three leagues state in writing that they will unreservedly accept their finding on the facts as “final.”
The article goes on to say -
In view of the circumstance that the Parliamentary party includes a number of lukewarm
It is the Opposition the newspaper is talking about- and one Or two members who privately wish the fiscal issue sunk altogether, though publicly proclaiming themselves Protectionists, this attitude is not viewed with favour by members of the People’s Liberal party. As, too, it has come to the knowledge of a number of city Liberals that certain negotiators are prepared to pass on to the Parliamentary party the names of entirely fresh candidates, who may be treated as alternatives to Mr. S. Mauger - and, for the matter of that, to Messrs. McColl and Salmon -some doubt is entertained as to whether the Parliamentary party’s intervention may not increase instead of minimizing the difficulties of the present situation. In any event the People’s Liberal party cannot possibly entertain the abandonment of the one candidate whose fiscal and progressive policies commend themselves to the vast majority of Liberals throughout Victoria.
That is the Age on the present position. I do not know whether the Leader of the Opposition feels that he has a strong Protectionist party behind him now.
Mr. Fuller. - Why does not the honorable member read the Age on the Minister of Trade and Customs?
Mr. MATHEWS.- I am thoroughly in agreement with what the Government have decided to do in regard to the Tariff ; and, as a new Protectionist, 1 am quite willing to stake my political life withthe Minister of Trade and Customs on the view that he takes of the question. But I am particularly keen to know what the attitude of the Leader of the Opposition is. All we have been told is, that if he gets into power, we are to have a Tariff Board. I have been trying to ascertain how the Board is to be composed, how long it will take about its work, and what is going to be done by Parliament when it has reported. Does the Leader of the Opposition, if he gets into power, expect to obtain the same support from the Labour side as he did last time?
Mr. McWilliams. - Easily !
Mr. MATHEWS.- Will he, though?
Mr. Higgs.- He never expects to get into power.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I am assuming ‘for the moment that he will. Does he expect that, after his Board has reported - and, I suppose, it will take a year or two to prepare a report - Parliament will bend the knee and bow the head to it ? Will he expect to get a vote from me, and will he expect the workers to be satisfied with as little in the future as they obtained in the past?
Dr. Carty Salmon. - The honorable member will be a member of the Board.
Mr. MATHEWS. - I am satisfied that it will be a life-long job for anybody who is a member of it. If the honorable member for Laaneccorie is so fortunate, he may be satisfied that, by the time the work is finished, he will have gone to his Heavenly Father. I suppose it is not fair for me to expect the Leader of the Opposition to give me information on this subject.
Mr. Deakin. - Not now; there will be a proper time for the information.
Mr. MATHEWS.- But the bald statement that the Leader of the Opposition will appoint a Board is very unsatisfactory. We can expect that the Board would not be appointed and get to work for at least twelve months after the honorable member came into office; and we cannot calculate how much more time would be occupied before it was ready to present a report. Suppose the Board started to consider the duty upon boots.
Dr. Carty Salmon. - The first thing they would consider would be the amount of their travelling expenses.
Mr. MATHEWS. - I can assure the honorable member that, if he is the member for Laanecoorie at the time, and the Board does not visit every hamlet and town in his electorate, he will upbraid them for not doing so. Nearly every other honorable member will do the same .; and we can, therefore, calculate how long it will be before the Board is ready to advise Parliament. The Leader of the Opposition will have to give the Victorian Protectionists stronger evidence of his desire and his ability to bring into existence a satisfactory Tariff than we have at present, before he will be able to induce them to transfer their votes from our side to his.
Mr. Roberts. - He will give them a few Conroys.
Mr. MATHEWS.- The Age actually accepted Mr. Conroy as a Liberal candidate.
Mr. Deakin. - As compared with the present honorable member for Werriwa.
Mr. MATHEWS.- The Labour party have been assailed both inside and outside Parliament because we will not agree to bring about more immigration. While the Governor-General was reading the Speech in another place, when the reference was made to the efforts of the present Government, I positively heard the smile of the whole Opposition.
Mr. Deakin. - Hear, hear!
Mr. MATHEWS.- It was so loud that one could not fail to hear it. Out of respect to the Governor-General honorable members opposite restrained themselves ; but while they professed to be amused at what the present Government have done in regard to immigration, I venture to say that they have induced people to come to Australia under false pretences.
Mr. Fuller. - This Government?
Mr. MATHEWS- This Government.
Mr. Fuller. - That is a serious charge.
Mr. MATHEWS.- When the Government came into office there was a system of advertising per medium of cinematograph exhibitions, with an able lecturer, throughout Great Britain. The advantages offered by this new country, in comparison with the Old Land, were held up before the people. Pictures of beautiful corn-fields and splendid mansions were exhibited. Many believed that they had only to come here to enjoy such wealth. Many men and women were deluded into immigrating. I opposed the expenditure of money in advertising Australia in that way before this Government came into office, and I oppose it still. I always objected to it when our late lamented friend, Mr. Batchelor, was Minister of External Affairs. I thoroughly believe in Australia. I know that our people, as a whole, are better off than are those in the Old Country; but it is cruel to tell working people that if they come here they will be able to get work at the high wages which they are told about. And if any honorable member opposite tries to bolster up the case for immigration in the same way as the State Governments are doing, all I can say is that they have not as much humanitarian feeling as I credit them with.
Mr. Fuller. - Does the honorable member recollect what the Prime Minister said in England as to the opening for coal miners in Australia?
Mr. MATHEWS.- Yes, and I have heard the Prime Minister’s explanation.
Dr. Carty Salmon. - What was it?
Mr. MATHEWS.- I refer the honorable member to the Prime Minister himself. In common with every one else in Australia, I recognise that we have to people our idle lands. I have heard many politicians and orators soar into the loftiest heights of poetry regarding this great land of ours that needs to be peopled, and, whilst I certainly believe that we require a larger population, and cannot do better than obtain it from Europe, I do not think that we should bring people here quicker than the country can assimilate them. At present, however, that is just what we are doing. I am also satisfied that we are not only bringing here more than we can at present provide for, but that a large percentage of those coming out to Australia are not of the right type. We are told in the Conservative press that the Labour party want to keep this glorious country to themselves ; that they do not desire their brethren of the Old Land to come here and to partake of the blessings of the new. But while the Conservative press are making these statements, and endeavouring to instil into the minds of the workers of the Old Country the idea that we are opposed to their coming here, our only objection is that they are being sent out in such large numbers that we cannot take care of them, and that, to a large extent, the right class are not being brought out. During the last two years we have brought to Victoria about 13,000 immigrants.
Sir Robert Best. - Who are “we”?
Mr. MATHEWS.- I refer to the Victorian Government. When the State Government were preparing to induce immigrants to come to Australia we were told that they were going to put them on the land. They said, in common with others, that the population of our cities was too large, and that what was needed to be brought about was a larger settlement on the land. But of. the 13,000 immigrants brought here by the Victorian Government only 259 have been settled on the lands of the State.
Sir Robert Best. - That statement is not correct.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I was one of a party that made a special excursion to our irrigated lands, and I heard an official, who ought to know, make the statement I have just put before the House.
Mr. Palmer. - He was referring to only one particular area.
Mr. MATHEWS.- He was referring to Victoria as a whole.
Mr. Sampson. - He was referring to the closer settlement areas.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I repeat that he was referring to Victoria generally.
Mr. McWilliams. - If only 259 of the 13,000 have been settled on the land, what has become of the others ?
Mr. MATHEWS.- They are in Melbourne and other cities, putting our men out of work,or else loafing about the streets.
Mr. Fenton. - Go to the Newport workshops, and other works, and you will find some-
Mr. MATHEWS.- Exactly. I propose to read what I think is conclusive evidence as to what is happening in regard to these new arrivals. I shall deal, first of all, with the position of certain coal miners, and I suppose I shall be told that the Prime Minister is responsible for their coming here. Coal miners in the Old Country were informed that they could get work here at 16s. a day.
Mr. Mcwilliams__ Who told them that?
Mr. MATHEWS.- The following extract from the Herald, of 27th ultimo, will enlighten the honorable member -
Mr. J. Hackett, with his two sons, arrived in Victoria by the steamer Kaiboura on Wednesday last, and, according to his statement, was unable to obtain the employment promised him in England. He therefore decided to return home, and left for London this afternoon in - the mail steamer Orvieto. Mr. Hackett made the following statement : - “ I had read so much about Australia that i thought if the place were anything like painted it would be a good country for myself mid sons. I communicated with the Victorian Agent-General, and was referred by him to his representative at Cardiff. In order that my information should be first hand, I paid the expenses of the Cardiff agent to visit me at my home in Nottingham. The agent came and stayed at my place for the night. He told me, among other things, that I would have no difficulty in obtaining work at my trade as a coal miner at either Wonthaggi, Outtrim, or Jumbunna. The average wage for a coal miner was, he said, 16s. a day. The prospects seemed so attractive that I decided to come with my boys to Victoria. “Last Wednesday I visited the Immigration Dureau. The officials there told me that there had been some trouble at the State mine, but advised me to see the manager of it. I went to Wonthaggi, and interviewed Mr. G. H. Broome. He shook his head when I told him the object of my visit, and said that he was sorry that he could do nothing for me. Mr. Broome informed me that he was already weeding out ‘ the single men, and that unless some developmental work was undertaken, which rested with the Railway Commissioners, he could hold out no hopes for me. I also tried Outtrim and Jumbunna, with the same result. “Tired and disgusted with my experiences, i made up my mind to go back home. I booked passages for myself and sons by the Orvieto, and had my luggage removed from the pier, where it was stowed on arrival, to the ship. My experience of Victoria has been a sad and costly one. By the time we get back home the trip will have cost me about £120 in cash in addition to loss of employment on the other side.”
Mr. Fuller. - Was it in consequence of the Prime Minister’s statement that those men came to Australia?
Mr. MATHEWS.- Mr. Hackett does not say so. He obtained his information from the Cardiff agent for the Victorian Agent-General.
Mr. Mcwilliams. - He says that he had previously read a great deal about Australia.
Mr. MATHEWS.- Quite so. But he also states that he communicated with the Victorian Agent- General, and was referred by him to his representative at Cardiff, who told him that he could get plenty of work at 16s. per day. This is an illustration of the sort of lies that are being circulated in the Old Country. Let me deal now with the case of four other men who arrived in Victoria about a week ago. They went up to the Jumbunna, or one of the other private coal mines here, and got work. They worked for three. days, and found at the end of that time that they had earned 10s. 66. They chucked up that job too. These men were told that they could earn 15s. a day, at the very least, in the coal mines here.
Sir Robert Best. - Does the honorable member say that many of the men at Wonthaggi are not earning 14s. and 15s. a day ?
Mr. MATHEWS.- The honorable member must not put those words into my mouth. What I say is that men were induced to come out here wholesale, and told that anybody could get those wages here.
Sir Robert Best. - Yes; and strikes have almost ruined the Wonthaggi mine, and, consequently, lessened employment.
Mr. Anstey. - Owing to the fact that the State will not give the men a Wages Board or an Arbitration Act.
Mr. MATHEWS.- Here is another article which I propose to read. It is taken from the Age, which the honorable member for Kooyong knows is not a Labour newspaper, although it fathered him, and he has to father it.
Sir John Forrest. - It is of no use for the honorable member to abuse the country which has been such a good friend to him.
Mr. MATHEWS.- The right honorable member for Swan, I know, believes in immigration. He would bring any number of persons here. I do not know whether he will agree with this article.
Sir John Forrest. - Why does the honorable member want to run down his own country, which has served him so well ?
Mr. MATHEWS.- If the right honorable member had listened to what I said a little while ago, he would not have made that statement. I see that I. am misunderstood. I shall have to again say that I believe that we have room for immigrants ; but that we ought to bring out the right sort. We ought not to bring out the wrong sort - to displace our own people. We ought not to bring out men under false promises.
Sir John Forrest. - There are not 5,000,000 men, women, and children in the whole country.
Mr. MATHEWS.- The Age of 2nd July contains the following article, headed “ Difficulty with casual arrivals “ : -
A number of new arrivals who landed in the morning from the steamer Otway put in their appearance at the Immigration Bureau yesterday, and stated that they had just come from England and wanted employment.
I might mention here the case of four constituents who bought a ragged hat each, went to different places, said that they were immigrants, and got work which, otherwise, they could not have obtained.
The bureau is called upon to find situations for many such casual arrivals, as almost every steamer from England brings persons who have paid or worked their passage out to the State, and intend to settle here. While it is felt to be desirable to encourage such settlers within reasonable bounds, as the number includes a fair proportion of satisfactory workmen, the bureau is faced with one very obvious difficulty. Its supply of applications for farm labour varies according to the season of the year, and the stream of new settlers now comes steadily. The bureau regards itself as in duty bound to find employment for its assisted immigrants, and the casual newcomers constitute a drain upon the number of situations offering. The end desired by the selection in London is that only a satisfactory class of farm labourer should be allowed to come out. The casuals include the larger proportion of incompetent men. By finding employment for the incompetent, the bureau is not only prejudicing farmers against immigrants, but is reducing the prospect of finding positions for the assisted men when they arrive. At present the indications are that farm labour is not required to a very large extent Although all the assisted newcomers have been placed in employment, the response to the last issue of circulars has not been considerable. As many as 36,000 circulars have been sent out of late, but the number, of applications coming into the immigration office from day to day has remained very small. In the meantime it is not proposed by the Government to withdraw its instructions to Mr. McLeod not to send forward farm labourers. The extent to which casuals work their way out to Victoria may be judged from the fact that fifty-three were discharged on the arrival of the steamer Belgie and the majority of these sought employment through the bureau. If the bureau is to find employment for all the casual labourers, the prohibition .on the London office is likely to be extended over a longer time. If the inquiry in London into the credentials of assisted passengers is to he of any value whatever, it should be to send out the class of agricultural labourer required for this State. The bureau can have little or no assurance that the casuals whom it is sending into the country are really competent men. The nominations of passengers now come under the direct attention of the Minister in charge of immigration, and greater care is being exercised before the nominations are accepted. The fact is one of the indications that in the future wiser caution is to be exercised in all the selection of immigrants for assisted passage to Victoria.
That is all we ask - that care should be taken in the selection of the poor unfortunates who are induced to come here ; because a man who is - I will not .say a derelict in the Old Country - a casual worker, and not physically strong at that, is not likely to find his position much improved’ here. He will, however, find that it is far “better to half starve in a country where you are known and have some friends, than to come to a strange land and half starve where you have no friends. Not only are we doing men an injury, but we are bringing them out and planking them down in those places where we already have enough men of that sort.
Sir John Forrest. - You do not want them to compete with you.
Mr. MATHEWS.- Might I say that the right honorable gentleman wants immigrants to reduce wages?
Sir John Forrest. - That is all you can think about.
Mr. MATHEWS. - But I would not say that.
Sir John Forrest. - You do not care about the country, or anything else.
Mr. MATHEWS.- Perhaps I might say that that is not a fact.
Sir John Forrest. - You want to keep this country empty.
Mr. Thomas. - No.
Mr. MATHEWS.- I want to prove that the authorities of the State are bringing artisans from the Old Country in greater number than they want, and displacing our own men, to create positions. They are giving- a preference to immigrants against men who, they admit, can do their work more quickly and equally as well.
Mr. Joseph Cook. - Who is doing that now ?
Mr. MATHEWS. - The Government of Victoria. I ask honorable members to listen to the following report, which appeared in the Age of 27th June: -
Mr. Whitehead’s Selection.
Preference on Railway Work.
An arrangement which has the effect of giving preference to a number of immigrants has been arrived at between the Railway Department and the Immigration Bureau. As stated in yesterday’s issue of the Age, the Railway Commissioners asked on 15th June, 191 1, that Mr. Whitehead should engage 146 artisans for them.
They have the barefaced, brazen effrontery to admit that they are giving preference to immigrants against our own people -
They were recently requested to put on a number of the men of the particular class, but declined to do so, on the ground that their instructions from the State Government were that they should obtain all workmen through the Labour Bureau, regardless of whether they were immigrants or not. At present there are about 1,100 labourers and artisans on the books of the Labour Bureau, the majority of whom are regarded as competent men, but were put off in many instances through the recent decline in the implement making trade, while operations in the country were slack during the dry weather. Yesterday it was announced that, as a result of the negotiations between the immigration authorities and the Commissioners, preference was to be shown to the artisans engaged by Mr. Whitehead specially for the Department. Mr. Hagelthorn stated in explanation that the Department had consented togive preference to Mr. Whitehead’s selection, but only in regard to these particular artisans. All other immigrants who were unable to find employment must take their chance by registering at the Labour Bureau. Up to the present the Commissioners have engaged thirteen of the artisans selected by Mr. Whitehead. The twelve who were left on the hands of Mr. Ashby, the secretary of the Chamber of Manufactures, it is understood, are being put on immediately. The manufacturers asked for hundreds, if not thousands, of artisans, and, though only a few dozens were brought out, Mr. Ashby has twelve on his hands for whom he cannot find employment. It is then understood that these men are to be put on immediately.
– At the railway workshops. Men who were brought out at the request of the Chamber of Manufactures, in order that they might compete with men already here, and force them to take lower wages and accept worse conditions, are now being provided with work by the Victorian Government. In spite of this fact, taunts have been hurled at the Postmaster-General because he proposed to find employment for unfortunate unionists who were starving in
Brisbane. Here we have men brought out from the Old Country to displace our own men for the benefit of private employers, and when these are unable to find work for them the Victorian Government give them preference over men who have been ratepayers and citizens in this country for years -
In the case of all others offering from the number of artisans now coming out to Victoria on Mr. Whitehead’s selection, preference is to be shown, until the total of 146 is reached. At the same time, it is to be observed that, until a scarcity of applications for labour from private firms arose, the necessity of bringing pressure to bear on the Commissioners to carry out their undertaking was not felt by the Immigration Bureau. The programme of locomotive construction to be carried out at the Newport workshops and by private firms is expected to absorb much additional labour, quite apart from the relief which is likely to result, when the effect of the rainfalls is reflected in various trades.
Then we get an explanation from the Premier -
The Premier yesterday discussed with the Chairman of the Railways Commissioners the question of imported artisans.. Mr. Watt said afterwards that in order to provide against possible contingencies he had gone into the matter at great length with the Chamber of Manufactures and the Trades Hall Council before any action was decided on.
At this point, Iwish to say that when the members of the Chamber of Manufactures were howling for more workers, and said they could not get artisans enough, the Trades Hall Council denied their statement. This was only twelve months ago, but the Chamber of Manufactures repeated their statements, whilst the press helped them in the matter. The Trades Hall representatives made a mistake - and I believe they are themselves of the same opinion now - in accepting figures submitted by the manufacturers. Events have shown that they were false; but, on those figures, the Trades Hall representatives were induced to concede that a certain number of men was necessary. They were brought out, and now we have several on the hands of Mr. Ashby, the Secretary to the Chamber of Manufactures -
When Mr. Whitehead left lor England he took a list of men required by the Railway Department. Since then private employment had not been so brisk, and some of the workers wanted by the Department had been available in the local labour market.
This evidence, which is taken from a newspaper that is not a Labour newspaper, goes to show that a greater number of artisans have been brought to Victoria than were required. As a Victorian, I deal only with
Victoria. I am not fully seized of the facts in connexion with the other States, though I believe that the same remarks apply to the immigration to those States. The men who were brought to Victoria were to’.d that when they arrived here the bosses would be waiting for them on the wharf, and would receive them with open arms. Many of them have since said that when they arrived they saw no bosses, and some have been unable to secure a job since their arrival. Not only did the Victorian Government bring out more men than there was employment for, but they were not careful in the selection of those they did bring out. I can prove this by another quotation from a newspaper that is not a Labour journal. I quote from yesterday’s Age.
– A wonderful newspaper.
– It is a marvellous newspaper.
– A good all-round journal.
– Yes; one can quote it to prove anything. Under the headings, “ New Settlers,.” “ Unsuitable Immigrants Arriving,” “ More Careful Selection Needed,” I find the following -
While (he Immigration Bureau has found employment for practically all the new settlers who arrived by the Miltiades, Kaikoura and other steamers over a week ago, it is still called on to deal with a number of immigrants of the casual c’ass, for whom it experiences a difficulty in obtaining engagements. A certain amount of caution has to be exercised by the immigration officers in sending the newcomers into the country districts as farm labourers.
Still the main difficulty of the bureau in satisfying all the immigrants is not with the selected passengers but the casuals. Almost every steamer, it is stated, brings a number of tuen who have worked their passage out to Victoria, in the belief that the prospects are golden. One butcher’s employ^ informed the bureau that he was led to believe, by what he had heard in London, that when he arrived in Melbourne he would find employers waiting on the wharfs to secure his services, and that he would be able to obtain practically what wage he asked. Other immigrants have informed the officers of the bureau that such glowing accounts have been given by lecturers that men out of employment or dissatisfied with conditions in England went about the docks in the hope of finding the opportunity of working their way out to Victoria. Certainly the stream of casual immigrants is increasing, and while many promising settlers are said to be included, there is a risk of their failing to find satifactory employment through the bureau, which is compelled to give preference to the farm workers who have received the approval of the immigration officers in London.
– I have endeavoured to state the attitude of the workers to immigration. We admit the desirability of having a larger population in Australia, but we think that immigration with Government assistance has been overdone, and that the Chamber of Manufactures and the farmers have been making unnecessary complaints about the shortage of labour. . It has been proved that the farm labourers in our midst cannot all find employment, and there has been the same experience in regard to our artisans. The facts to which I have referred have related chiefly to Victoria, but I may add that when the Ballarat recently brought four engineers and fitters, one of them a brass-fitter, to Sydney, three of them, although competent workmen, found that they could not get employment at their trade at remunerative wages, and, together with the fourth, who was not in good health, left again on the return voyage of the steamer. It is not the Labour party, but the Opposition press, by which the statement is made, that too many farm labourers are being imported. I wish now to say a few words’ about preference to unionists. I do not like to charge the Op-, position with cant in taking the part of the non-unionists, because they may be sincere, but their love for the non-unionist is due to the fact that the non-unionist can be used as a weapon against the unionists. It is by organization that the wage-earners of the world have improved their position; that is universally admitted. The need for organization was recognised early last century; but those who formed unions were first imprisoned, and then hunted from pillar to post, and now, although unionism is established in almost every civilized country, there are employers who, if they dared, would sack their union workmen.
– The honorable member will admit that the unionists have shown a spice of tyranny.
– No. Unionism is necessary for self-defence, and the workers have endeavoured to make the principle as strong as possible. The non-unionist takes all the benefits that have been gained by the efforts of the unionist, but will not contribute 6d. or so a week to the support of the movement which has so greatly improved his position. No wonder, then, that there is antipathy against the non-unionist in the breast of the unionist. In whatever walk of life one may be, he feels strongly against his fellows who do anything opposed to the interests of his section. The unionists are human, and assert themselves, not with a view to “ downing “ the non-unionists, but to make the non-unionists take their share in the fight. Could it be charged against the unionists that they prevent men from joining their unions, I would say that they act unfairly. But they open their doors to every man. Why do not the non-unionists join unions ?
– Because of their meanness.
– I do not think that that is the cause in most cases. Many men do not join unions because they say that they wish to be free. But the freedom which they enjoy has been won by unionism. I interjected the other day that the nonunionists connected with the Brisbane strike were toadies, and I was right. The Brisbane tramway employes who would not join the unionists are like the non-union employes of the Melbourne Tramway Company, in thinking that by “smoodging “ and toadying to the bosses they will be given preference over the unionists who are fighting for the whole body of workers. Yet the non-unionists are spoken of as loyalists, as strong-minded men who have the courage of their opinions. While the unionists fight to improve the conditions of the whole body of workers, the non-unionists take the benefits that are won for them without doing anything to assist their fellows. It is sometimes asked, “ What has unionism done for the workers ?” My reply is that it has raised their wages. We are told that in doing this it has increased the cost of the necessaries of life, so that the increase in the rates of wages is comparatively useless. Many of the workers say the same thing, but, when asked if they would accept lower wages in the hope of buying commodities at lower prices, they say that they would prefer to retain the wages they have, and look for the reduction of prices by other methods. There are other methods. We know them, and the Opposition knows them. In our midst are trusts and combines which have raised the price of commodities.
– Then why does not the Labour Government take action against them?
– They cannot do so effectively. Many manufacturers have raised the price of the commodities which they produce. It is the duty of Protectionists to see, not merely that the manufacturer and the worker are protected, but that the consumer is not fleeced by prices unnecessarily being raised against him. A
Protectionist should take that stand in order to prove that Protection does not unnecessarily increase the price of commodities. A Protectionist who will not do so is merely playing into the hands of Free Traders, who endeavour to make it appear that a Protective policy will result in the raising of the prices of commodities, although we know from experience that it does not raise them very considerably
– It does raise them a little bit, then?
– That is so. But the honorable member must understand that in Australia we expect to maintain a higher state of civilization than obtains in any other country. We are told by the Opposition to-day that the raising of wages has resulted in an increase in the price of commodities. We denythat. We say that the price of commodities has been increased because this Parliament does notpossess sufficient power to. enable it to deal effectively with trusts and combines. I make no claim to be a constitutional authority, but I am satisfied that the grand decision which it took a Justice of the High Court three days to read is a product which lawyers will hand down to posterity as something to be admired. It is a decision upon which its author may well be congratulated by laymen. But it will not put food into homes, or reduce the prices of commodities. What effect has the AntiTrust Act of America really had upon combinations in that country?
– Because, like the present Government, the authorities there will not put it into operation.
– I say that the gentlemen who formed the combine in this country to which I have referred, can carry on their “ honorable understanding,” in spite of the judicial decision against them. There is only one way in which they can be prevented from exploiting the public, namely, by holding over them the threat of a policeman, just as that threat is held over every common robber and thief. If we possessed the requisite constitutional powers, we could employ other methods for preventing them from exploiting the public.
– What methods would the honorable member employ?
– I would nationalize one industry to begin with. With such a. threat over their heads - I say it with regret - the persons comprising that trust would take good care to refrain from adopting the methods which they have hitherto employed.
– The law is good enough.
Mr-. MATHEWS. - It is not.
– The honorable member’s colleagues were a party to it.
– So were the honorable member’s colleagues. The Government of which he was a Minister were very active in their endeavours to prevent trusts and combines from operating in Australia.
– We took proceedings against your Coal Vend.
– The Government of whichthe honorable member was a Minister were very active in promising legislation along the lines of the new Protection. The honorable member was a member of the Government which was in office in 1906, and which brought forward the Excise Tariff (Agricultural Machinery) Bill. That measure sought to regulate the prices of certain agricultural implements; but was declared ultra vires of the Constitution by the High Court.
– I am not so sure that I was a member of that Government.
– I am quite sure that the honorable member was. That Bill was brought forward at the close of 1906, and the honorable member was a Minister at the time. Of course. I am aware that he has been in so many Ministries that it is difficult for him to remember the whole of them. The Government to which he then belonged pretended to be actuated by a desire to meet these cases.
– To do what?
– To suppress trusts and combines.
– When their operations are injurious to the public, we are opposed to them. We had to proceed against your Coal Vend. The honorable member’s party was the head and tail of that, I understand.
– The honorable member’s party said that its operations were beneficent.
– WhenI am asked what is my attitude towards Protection and towards the suppression of trusts and combines, I say, frankly, that we have not the power to effectively deal with either of those questions.
– We knocked out the Coal Vend.
– But it is still in existence under a new name, and the honorable member ought to be aware of that-. In conclusion, I say that the criticism of the Opposition has been merely of a destructive, and not of a constructive, character. They have outlined no policy for acceptance by the country. Only yesterday, a member of one of their organizations said, “ Of course, we have not a policy, and it is better to have no policy than to have a bad one like the other side.” The policy of honorable members opposite is merely to prevent the Labour party from giving effect to its policy. In common with many others, I feel that it is impossible for them to frame a policy, because their party is split into so many different sections
– That is all the better for the honorable member’s party.
– That is why my honorable friends do not present a policy to the country.
– The honorable member is not sorry, is he?
– I should like to see a policy enunciated by honorable members opposite and presented to the country, because I know that it would be cut to pieces by criticism, and would result in the party itself falling to pieces, leaving honorable members opposite, after all their efforts to explain it away, with no desire to attack the present Government.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has laid down a rather novel doctrine in the conduct of censure motions. He is not satisfied with the attack made by the Opposition, but points out, as a weakness in that attack, that we have not venturedto substitute a policy of our own. The terms of the motion indicate serious sins of omission and commission on the part of the Government and their supporters. A feature of this debate has been the extraordinary hilarity of my honorable friends opposite ; and that hilarity is in itself most suggestive. I was a member of a Government which held office for a period of five years and a half in the face of a wicked and unscrupulous Opposition. I have found, when in office, that Oppositions always are wicked and unscrupulous. We laid down a rule that the more severe the punishment, the more hilarious we became; and this exterior appearance was remarkably effective so far as it went. We were fortunate in having, as a colleague,. one who could smile expansively, even audibly ; and, under the circumstances, the Chamber resounded with merriment and hilarity when the darts of the Opposition were getting home; indeed, it would then appear that we were the ‘ ‘ jolliest dogs” that ever entered Parliament. Thus,. I quite appreciate the artificial hilarity which has marked this debate. We admit that, in launching this motion, we do so with the depressing knowledge, and under the disadvantage, that the numbers are against us. Honorable members opposite have the advantage of a substantial,, and, I shall not say,, a docile, but a loyal, majority,, the members of which are bound hand and foot, tied and tethered, so that they dare not exercise any discretion or express an independent opinion. On the other hand, we have the distinct advantage that this motion of want of confidence in the Government has already been carried by the country in overwhelming numbers.
– W - What about Werriwa ?
– The verdict of the country on the occasion of the referendum has been continuously supported, save and except in the case of the one little ewe lamb to which the Minister of Home Affairs refers.
– What about Tasmania and Western Australia?
– It is true that we have had the Werriwa election with its faked majority ; and honorable members opposite are entitled to all the satisfaction and rejoicing they can get out of that solitary instance. Meritoriously, the present Government have no right on the Treasury bench. They submitted a vital portion of their policy to the country; and on that policy they were overwhelmed and routed.
– I thought the referendum was not a party question?
– Honorable members opposite took precious good care to make it a party question; and the campaign was conducted largely on party lines, with the result already mentioned. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports appeared very much disturbed in mind owing to several causes. . He repeated more than once that the Opposition had never dared to present a policy in the course of this debate. I shall show, a little later on. how, particularly in regard to the matters to which he referred, a decisive and distinct policy was submitted by the Opposition. But what was the honorable member’s great concern? It was in connexion with a Tariff Board ; and’ he declared that the Leader of the Opposition had stated that the only Tariff reform he required to settle the question of Protection was a Tariff Board. A similar statement was made by the Attorney-General ; and it is a statement totally incorrect. Never at any time has the Leader of the Opposition made a proposal or suggestion that the Tariff Board was to decide the fiscal question or have the framing of the Tariff. ‘
– The Leader of the Opposition said that an Inter-State Commission would do so.
– I shall come to the Inter-State Commission later on. The proposals in connexion with the Tariff Board have been explained by the Leader of the Opposition and other honorable members, including myself, on several occasions, but it has never been suggested at any time that the fiscal issue should be delegated to such a Board - that Parliament should relieve itself of any responsibility whatever. It has at all times been pointed out that the sole aim and object of a Tariff . , Board is to secure information, in order that Parliament may be in a position to come to a right decision with full knowledge. Honorable members know that the present procedure in the framing of the Tariff is of a very haphazard character ; that all kinds of lobbying and misrepresentation are indulged in. by various persons interested either consciously or unconsciously. The upshot is that Parliament has not the means of dealing with the Tariff with complete knowledge as to the merits of the various questions submitted. A Tariff Board is intended for the purpose of continuous investigation, so as to enable Parliament to legislate with knowledge, and not under the disadvantage of ignorance. As President Taft said, referring to the Tariff Board of the United States, it is intended to be “A bureau of information which provides a chart of the nation’s manufacturing activities.” That is. the idea of it. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports sought to disparage investigation and to depreciate the advantages that this Parliament derived from Tariff inquiries previously held. On a previous occasion I pointed out in regard to the last Tariff Commission, of which the honorable member for Bendigo was
Chairman, that it obtained a mass of most valuable ‘information. Speaking from memory, I believe that some 500 odd recommendations of that Commission were accepted by this House, and only some sixty or seventy, if I remember rightly, were either altered or rejected.
– That did not prevent lobbying.
– But it guided Parliament, which, by reason of the Commission’s investigations, was placed in a position to deal with a degree of knowledge with the various items submitted to it. Take the present position. The Minister of Trade and Customs has introduced two Tariff Anomalies Bills. He gave Parliament the information at his immediate disposal. But is there a man in this House who will deny the assertion that Parliament dealt with those particular proposals without full and complete information ? We were dependent upon ex parte statements, and were not in a position to do justice either to ourselves or to the interests involved. What has been the practice in other countries ? In Canada we find that the universal practice is to have full and complete investigation made before Tariff Bills are introduced. Going as far back as 1893, I find that in that year Sir John Thompson conducted the necessary investigation precedent to the introduction of a Tariff Bill. In 1897-8 three Cabinet Ministers constituted themselves a Commission for the same purpose. In 1907 the same course was resorted to; and at the beginning of the present year a Tariff Board was proposed and sanctioned by the Lower Chamber, with the design and object of making a full and complete inquiry. Perhaps I may be permitted to read a few Lines to indicate the directions which this inquiry was intended to pursue. The Board was to investigate and report to Parliament, amongst other matters, upon -
Can this Parliament be effectively equipped to deal with Tariff matters, and do justice all round, without having such a complete investigation as is provided for in the statement that I have just read?
– The Minister of Trade and Customs has been sending similar questions to manufacturers in this country, and they have refused to answer them.
– -It is inevitable, I think, that the next Parliament will have to deal with Tariff matters. Properly speaking, they should be dealt with in the present session, but, at all events, they must be dealt with next year. Would it not be of immense importance and value to honorable members to have a preliminary investigation made between now and the introduction of a Tariff Amending Bill, to enable them to deal properly with the subject? The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, who was so disturbed on this question, wanted to know what would be the constitution as to membership of such a Board as would be proposed by this side of the House; and, following out the excellent precedents of those who dealt with the same idea in the Hobart Conference, he said that nothing would satisfy him but to have two out of three Labour Protectionists on the Board. Of course, if the matter were dealt with inthat particular way the nature of the results would be very largely assured beforehand. But the point is, that the aim and desire should be to have on the Board experts in industrial matters.
– Does not the honorable member think there should be some Labour men?
– What I am saying is that it is unfair to stipulate, first of all, that the members of the Board should be selected from any particular side in politics.
– The honorable member does not care whether they are Protectionists or not, then?
– I never said anything of. the kind. The leader of the Free Trade party himself announced on many occasions that he recognised that the fiscal policy of this country was Protection, and I venture to say that that con- elusion is largely, if not completely, accepted throughout the Commonwealth. The cause of Protection may fairly rely on the results of such an investigation as I advocate to substantiate its claims. If Protection cannot, by evidence, justify its existence in the interests of the industrial affairs of this country, the case for it is not so strong as I think it to be. In the case of the last Tariff Commission in Australia we had the result of an investigation made jointly by Free Traders and Protectionists, but only a limited number of items occasioned dissension on the part of the Free Trade section.
– The two sections brought in two distinct reports.
– In regard to a few items that was so.
– Nearly all.
– Not at all.
– In 80 per cent, of the cases.
– Nothing of the kind.
– My honorable friend is quite wrong.
– I am sure of it.
– Such a Tariff Board as I am now advocating has been in existence for some three years past in the United States, and an eulogium on its work has recently been passed by President Taft, who said that when the Board was originally appointed it was intended to prevent the Tariff being made the mere football of Congress. The other clay, speaking of the working of that Board, he said that the encyclopaedic information the Board had obtained had proved of enormous value to the Legislature, to Labour, and to all producing interests, and had equipped Congress to deal scientifically with the Tariff. In no circumstances is it suggested that the Tariff Board should be superior to Parliament. On the contrary, it should be subordinate to Parliament. It is to be the servant of the Legislature for the purposes of investigation, recommendation, and report, alone.
– Would all the evidence taken by the Board be before the Parliament ?
– Quite so. This is no novel proposition. In addition to its introduction in Canada, and to its existence in the United States, there is a Board of the kind in Japan, Germany, and the Argentine. There is, therefore, ample pre cedent to justify its establisHment here. In view of the circumstances I have detailed, the policy of establishing a Tariff Board, to secure information, and not for the purpose of being superior to, or of relieving, Parliament of responsibility, is well justified, and it is the distinct policy of the Opposition. I feel that I must make a passing reference to a subject that has already been referred to by, I think, every speaker during this debate, and that is the land tax. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports said that he noticed that when the paragraph dealing with immigration in the Governor-General’s Speech was read, it caused a broad smile to spread over the faces of the Opposition. I do not wonder at it. There was never a more unwarranted and, indeed, more ludicrous -statement. The paragraph in question reads - there has been a very marked increase in the volume of oversea immigration, to which the land tax and general policy of my advisers has largely contributed.
That statement is not justified by the facts, and I think it fair to say that the Government and their supporters have at least cast upon them the onus of proving its correctness. I challenge them to do so. I do not want to be unfair. The Federal land tax came into operation less than two years ago, and of its full effect we cannot yet speak with any degree of confidence. Certain features of our experience of the tax, however, are distinctly manifest. It was claimed for the tax, first of all, that it would so reduce the price of land as to bring it within the reach of persons of humble means. As a matter of fact, it has not, so far, had that effect, and the all-important feature of its operation is that it has not yet caused any substantial additional permanent settlement.
– The honorable member is wrong.
– I am speaking with some degree of experience.
– If the honorable member will come with me to the Riverina, I will show him that it has done something in that direction.
– I am not content with my own experience in this regard ; the statement I have made is the outcome of consultation with those who are dealing daily with the land. If honorable members ask for my own experience, I admit at once that it shows that the land tax has been an estate-breaker. I have professionally to deal every day of my life with land transactions. The tax has been an estate-breaker, I admit; but so far its effect has practically been only to bring about subdivisions amongst families, amongst partners, and amongst syndicates, and so forth. In that way, there has undoubtedly been a substantial subdivision of estates since the passing of the Act ; but there has not been up to the present any substantial degree of increased permanent settlement, and that is the point I wish to emphasize.
– Why. Mr. Knibbs shows that there has been an increase.
– It is true, as the Prime Minister said, that something like £18,000,000 worth of land has been dealt with; but that has largely been the result of subdivisions within the cities themselves, or of subdivisions of the character to which I have already referred. I do hope it will have, in time, the redeeming virtue of bringing about subdivision of large agricultural estates, and increased permanent settlement. But for my honorable friends to say that it has already had that effect, and that it has also assisted in increasing the influx of oversea immigrants, is simply to play with words, and to use them in the most irresponsible and unwarranted way. As a matter of fact, the land tax, by reason of its unfair financial incidence, has done serious injustice. In many cases, particularly in the city, it has been passed on to struggling tenants in the form: of increased rentals, and in several other cases it has brought about serious hardships and cruelties so far as mortgagors are concerned. During the period that it has been in force, my honorable friends opposite have had the enormous advantage of bountiful seasons and prosperous times, and greater hardships will occur when a cycle of drought is experienced. Honorable members opposite were very successful at the polls when they asked for a land tax to bring about the subdivision of agricultural areas. That was, and always has been, the policy of the Liberal party.
– But they never put it into practice.
– And they have put it into practice. The Labour party, in this connexion, were very astute in providing an exemption of some £5,000. That was very attractive to the farmers at one stage, but never again will it be so. They have seen that it has been part of the policy of the Labour party, in Victoria more particularly, to support a graduated laud tax without exemption. They have seen, too, a big effort at the Labour Conference at Hobart to remove the present exemption.
– The State Land Tax Act provided for an exemption of £500.
– Precisely. The Liberal party were driven by the Federal Government to resort to that particular taxation for revenue purposes ; they could not go beyond the £5,000.
– Your own party reduced the exemption to .£250.
– The Liberal party were driven to that taxation. At Hobart we also had the exhibition of my honorable friends endeavouring to increase the taxation from land. These are elements which I am sure will be remembered hereafter. The subject of finance has been mentioned, and I intend to deal shortly with it in passing. I propose to quote a few figures for the purpose of illustrating at the outset the difference between Liberal economical management and Labour’s reckless extravagance. The estimated expenditure for 1909-10 was £7,867,62.1, and the actual expenditure was £7>497,866, which meant a saving of £369,755 by the Deakin-Cook Government then in power. Let us look at the management of the finances by the present Labour Government. The estimated expenditure for 1910-11 was ,£.11,122,000, and the actual expenditure was £13,156,000, showing a difference of £2,033,868. The estimated expenditure for 1911-12 was £15,451,429, and the actual expenditure was £18,682,866, showing a difference of £3,231,437. So that, the last three months being calculated, the Labour Government spent in these years, without parliamentary authority, a sum of no less than £5,264,437, against the saving of ,£369,755 by the DeakinCook Government. I have quoted these figures incidentally to indicate the difference between conservative or careful finance and extravagant finance.
– You wound up with a deficit.
– <0n the actual revenue and expenditure, undoubtedly. We wound up with a deficit of £405,000 mainly because of certain urgent expenditure in the Post and Telegraph Department, and. further, because in the next year there -would be a large increase in revenue on -account of the termination of the Braddon section.
– Is that what you call good finance ?
– Yes, as compared with the reckless finance of the present Government. There was a very cogent :reference to this matter in the Sydney Daily Telegraph, that collected some figures which are very suggestive arid ominous. It points out that, whereas in 3909-10, the Commonwealth expenditure was £8,155,666, and the total Government -expenditure by the Com’monwealth and the States for the same year was £51,913,462 in 1911-12, the estimated expenditure for the Commonwealth was £15,451,000, and the total Government expenditures for that period, £,70,266,000. This newspaper, in its trade and finance column, publishes this very ominous statement, and I refer to it especially, because these matters are operating most seriously in the minds of financial authorities in the Old Country -
The enormous jump of ,£18,300,000 in the past two years marks the advent of the Labour party to office, and in the main the loan expenditures in these years have been provided from local sources. There is little need to comment upon figures such as these, but if, as a fair estimate, the total incomes of the people reach about £50 a head, or say ^225,000,000 in the aggregate, the Government expenditures now exceed 31 per cent, of those incomes, and it is a proportion which appears to be almost incredible. Of course, it includes railway working expenditure, and many other “ business undertakings,” but still the figure is almost beyond acceptance. This year the incomes of the people will be curtailed.
My honorable friends on the other side have been fortunate in holding office in prosperous times. During the last nine years, Australia has enjoyed unparalleled prosperity, and if has not been necessary for us to resort to London for the purpose of securing financial assistance. Of course, these local borrowings have resulted in the absorption of a certain amount of capital which otherwise would have been expended in industrial enterprises. But the fact remains that during this period we have been independent, so far as our loans
Ate concerned. But the result of the Government basing its expenditure on revenue obtained at the high -water mark of prosperity has injured our credit abroad. It is not so good now as we would wish it to be.
– How do you know - has it been tested abroad ?
– At the present time, there is a feeling of insecurity in con sequence of industrial unrest and financial extravagance, which affects our credit and reputation.
– This is good enough for a turn at the Opera House.
– According to the best advice, the abnormal .expenditure to which I have referred, together with the Socialistic proposals o’f the Government, has been productive of a feeling of insecurity. We are not justified in financing on the basis of the highwater mark of prosperity. We must realize that it will be our duty, in perhaps not the very remote future, to go to London for additional capital. At the beginning of this year, possibly, Australia had reached its most prosperous period, but when a drought was shortly after threatened the effect was simply electrical. Money was drawn in from all kinds of sources; and the money market became tight very rapidly. This goes to show that in the event of a drought befalling us we may fully expect to suffer in financial matters. With the knowledge that we will have to go to the Old Country, in perhaps not the remote future, and with the. hope and anxiety of introducing fresh capital, our duty should be to most cautiously conserve our credit. As a result of the imposition of the land tax, and for similar reasons, a very considerable amount of money is being withdrawn from Australia.
– Would you repeal the land tax?
– I would alter the unfair and cruel incidence of the land tax. I am pointing out that, in the case of many companies, the effect of it has been - every one can see that for himself by an inspection of the balance-sheets - to bring about to a degree a withdrawal of capital. This ominous condition of affairs exists. During the last ten months the withdrawals of gold from Australia have amounted to no less than £7,000,000 more than the withdrawals for the corresponding period of last year. If we feel that we can always be independent, that we are justified in bringing about these withdrawals, and in any way discouraging the introduction of capital into this country, our policy is a very short-sighted one, and one from which we must ultimately suffer.
– Is it not a fact that statistics show that there is more money invested in Australia now than there ever was before ?
– Yes ; and we should seek to encourage the investment of money in Australia. But I am pointing out that some of the money which was so freely invested in this country is being withdrawn. I come now to another important matter: The honorable member for Melbourne Ports complained that there were only two serious indictments lodged against the Government - one was on the ground of industrial unrest, and the other was in connexion with the Brisbane strike.
– The honorable gentleman spoke of excessive expenditure, and before he leaves the question of finance, perhaps he will indicate on what lines he thinks the expenditure should be cut down.
– I have shown that there has been a vast increase in expenditure during the past two or three years, and I say that the effect has been disastrous to our reputation and credit abroad.
– I gathered that. But perhaps the honorable gentleman will indicate which line of expenditure should be indulged in and which should be cut down.
– Not just at present. An opportunity will be afforded later on for doing that. The figures speak very eloquently for themselves. The charge has been made from this side of the House that the term of office of the present Government has been disastrous in respect of the prevalence of industrial unrest. No period in Australia has been so prolific of industrial unrest. This can be accounted for by special reasons, which I shall give; but in the meantime I venture to suggest that sentiments expressed by leaders of the party opposite, and such as the AttorneyGeneral made use of in the course of his speech the other day, will not tend to the settlement of industrial matters. The Leader of the Opposition had been dealing with the question of co-operation and profitsharing, and had mentioned the fact that great success has attended that particular mode of dealing as between employers and employes. The principle of profit-sharing has been resorted to with advantage in the Old Country, and several instances in point could readily be given. It has meant the voluntary coming together upon satisfactory terms of employers and employes. It has not tended to the embittering of relations between them, or to create a prejudicial feeling of class against class. It has provided a modus vivendi between the two classes by which a satisfactory basis of mutual cooperation can be secured in the working of industrial concerns. The Attorney-General’ informed us that the working man’s idea ofprofitsharing is syndicalism. He went onto point out that he insists on fundamental alterations of our existing conditions, and” that by the regulation of profits and prices alone can we get a solution of these problems. That, of course, means nationalization. He further said that it- is by a process of evolution that the Labour party must come to their own. The point I wish to emphasize is that the honorable gentleman claims that there must be a fundamental alteration of existing conditions, and that the working man’s idea of profit-sharing is syndicalism. I think that in saying so he has done the party opposite, as a whole, ariinjustice. I realize, and admit at once, that syndicalism is the policy of a very substantial section of those opposite. They have never hesitated to avow it. Syndicalism! in its bare and brutal aspect means confiscation, theft, and robbery. By a more technical description it may be said to mean the total destruction of the existing system of industrial organization, and it has been> still more technically defined as the transfer of the means of production from the present possessors, the wage-payers, to the wage receivers by means of a general strike. If I am to understand from the AttorneyGeneral, who, I know, is largely supported by the Socialist section of his party, that syndicalism means this system of confiscation and robbery, then it is not to be wondered at that we should hear so much of industrial unrest. In my opinion, this industrial unrest, which has been so identified with the existence of -a Labour Government, has arisen from two main causes - first the lax ideas and administration, as to law and order, of the present Government ; and, secondly, their utter insincerity and the insincerity of the party so far as arbitration is concerned. Their lax ideas and administration in respect of law and ‘Order are proved to the hilt by the occurrences connected with the Brisbane strike. Tt was there proved conclusively that there was a conspiracy of militant unionists, who joined together for the purpose of declaring war upon society.
– The honorable gentleman could not have heard the honorable member for Brisbane, or he would not have said that.
– I did not hear the honorable gentleman. But I could readily give now the statements published in the newspapers by an eye-witness of the events that transpired in Brisbane, a reputable man, well known in Melbourne. It has been conclusively proved by honorable gentlemen who have spoken from this side of the House that the Brisbane strike, was a declaration of war on society by militant unionists; that it was a rebellion against the civil authorities; and that riot and insurrection did exist in Brisbane.
– Would the honorable gentleman have sent the soldiers up?
– I say that if riot and insurrection did exist in Brisbane, it is a matter of very grave and serious moment that it was condoned by this Government and its supporters.
– Would the honorable member have sent the soldiers to Brisbane?
– Would the Honorary Minister hesitate to use the military to prevent the destruction of life and property ?
– I shall answer the question ii f the honorable member will answer mine. That he is afraid to do.
– I repeat what the Honorary Minister’s leader said, that he would not hesitate to use the military to pr.event the destruction of life and property.
– When did the Prime Minister say that?
– The statement was made in Brisbane during the course of the strike.
– During the election campaign.
– The actual words will be given later. A state of riot, rebellion, and insurrection existed in Brisbane, and it was the duty of the Commonwealth Government to reply to the State Government that law and order would be preserved.
– What evidence was there of riot?
– My honorable friend must have closed his ears to . the statements of eye-witnesses who have spoken from this side of the chamber. Let me add to them the statement of a wellknown and reputable citizen of Melbourne, Mr. George E. Blackburn, the chairman of the North Melbourne Bench. He was in Brisbane at the time, and, in speaking of what he saw, referred to the “ howling mobs that stopped all business, irrespective of class or complaint.” He goes on to say that “ Employers and respectable citizens had to arm themselves to be even able to get the necessaries of life. The cafes were surrounded by the mob ; persons were not allowed to go in and get meals, and the cooks and waiters and girls were terrorized into leaving. In the hotel where I stayed cooks, barmen, waitresses, and housemaids left without notice. This also happened at other places. The landlord of my hotel, to get bread, had to be escorted by a couple of policemen and two private individuals armed with revolvers. The secretary of the Railwaymen’s Association, because he protested against the men going out (as, I understand, did the rest of the executive) was mobbed at his home, and had to escape by a back way, and had his life openly threatened twice. Every class of business was brought to a standstill. The theatres were mobbed, so that people had also their recreation stopped. A convent, that has a children’s hospital attached, asked permission to get ice, and was refused by the Trades Hall, but obtained it by application to the police, who sent a van with an escort. Window smashing, assaults on individuals, stoning motor cars, and general blackguardism were ordinary matters. And Mr. Fisher is pleased ! Now, to a more serious view still. Mr. Bowman, M.L.A., Leader of the Labour party, said the unions must govern the country.” That is a description of the state of Brisbane by one who was an eye-witness of the events he has described, and signed his name to what he wrote about them.
– His statements have been denied by equally reputable men.
– And supported to the hilt by most conclusive evidence furnished by honorable members on this side of the chamber. It is all very well for the Prime Minister and his friends to ingeniously try to cover up this disorder, so that they may find an excuse for refraining from assuring the Government of Queensland that law and order would be preserved in accordance with the obligations of the Constitution. Mr. .Coyne, in his impudent telegram, complained about the audacity of the police in attempting topreserve law and order, and asked for protection against those who were thus doing, their duty.
– In what way did the electors of Brisbane protest against the strike when the elections came?
– In what way did the people of Queensland protest? The citizens of Brisbane, by voluntary effort, when they could not get the assistance of the Commonwealth Labour Government, took every care to .see that law and order were preserved.
– Were they preserved?
– Under the direction of the Queensland Government a substantial modicum of law and order was preserved. The honorable member for Darling Downs said the other day that in the communication from the Queensland Government it was stated that firearms had been used to prevent the arrest of a man guilty of riotous conduct. The honorable member for Brisbane replied that that statement was not correct, and that the only shot fired was fired by a policeman. In reply to the honorable member for Brisbane, let me read a telegram which has been sent to the honorable member for Darling Downs by the Premier of Queensland.
– A very unbiased source !
– An authoritative source, but perhaps the honorable member does not wish to hear it.
– We have heard it before.
– The honorable member has not. This is the statement of the Premier of Queensland, made with all the responsibility attaching to his high and important position -
Commissioner Police lias given me a written statement, begins - the statement is absolutely untrue. I can prove that not one member of the police force was armed on the day in question, and I challenge any person to prove that the shot was fired by a policeman.
Honorable members opposite have the opportunity to refute that challenge, if they can.
– The honorable member for Brisbane said that he saw the shot fired.
– No, this is what fie said. I quote from page 251 of our Hansard report -
The sub-inspector fired a shot at the ground, evidently with the intention of awing the crowd, and it was- that shot which ricocheted, 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 read ing 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 subinspector.”
– I prefer the statement of an independent witness.
– My honorable friend would rather accept the statement of a woman whom he does not know, and whose name he has never heard, than the authoritative denial of the head of the police i Could blind partisanship go further? For electioneering purposes, various interjections have *been** made by my honorable friends. Amongst other things, they have endeavoured to fasten upon honorable members on this side of the chamber charges against certain individuals of having attempted .to use dynamite in connexion with the Brisbane strike. But a careful perusal of the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition will conclusively show that no attempt has ever been made to fasten on to respectable unionists such violent criminal acts as that of laying dynamite on the tram lines.
– Then why did he bring it forward ?
– Because the fact remains that dynamite was laid upon the tram lines. It is true that criminal acts by desperadoes are incidental to strikes, and I particularly wish to point out how desirable it is that such attempts should be put down ruthlessly, because, in America, dynamite is a recognised weapon =0 far as strikes are concerned.
– Try and connect us with that.
– I merely say that it is the duty of honorable members opposite to exercise every power they possess - moral and otherwise - for the purpose of suppressing strikes. If they do not, these strikes will acquire criminal proportions, just as they do elsewhere. Here is a cable from Indianapolis, in America, bearing upon such acts -
A staggering blow has been dealt to the Labour cause throughout America by the . investigations in connexion with the dynamiting conspiracy.
The grand jury which investigated the conspiracy has indicted thirty officials and agents of Labour unions, holding them to be criminally responsible for outrages in which the McNamaras participated.
Honorable members opposite have, not yet shown themselves prepared to take up a firm attitude towards the suppression of strikes* and if .they do not do so, and these industrial troubles develop more and more in this country, criminal offences will inevitably be resorted to in connexion with them. It is all very well for my honorable friends to say that they do not approve of strikes, whilst at the same time they encourage them. That is not the way to suppress them. There is a very large section of the party opposite - particularly do I refer to the Socialist section - whose policy is deliberate brute force, violence, coercion, and intimidation. They will not brook restraint, as was well illustrated by what took place at Hobart. Here is a resolution which was carried at the Labour Conference in that city -
That the Defence Act should be so amended as to clearly set forth that the object of creating a Citizen Defence Force, based upon uni- versal compulsory military training and service, is for the purpose of defending the Commonwealth against possible foreign aggression, and therefore, under no circumstance, should any person so enrolled be compelled to bear arms against any fellow Australian citizen, notwithstanding anything contained in the oath of allegiance.
That is to say, the members of that Conference did not hesitate to use seditious language, notwithstanding anything that is contained in the oath of allegiance. Mr. Watson opposed this on the ground that law and order must be maintained. They -evidently thought it was not at all necessary; for, despite his protest, the motion was carried. Now, I wish to point out what a defiance such a resolution is of the law as it is set forth in the Constitution. Section ug of our Constitution reads -
The Commonwealth shall protect every State against invasion, and, on the application of the Executive Government of a State, against domestic violence.
– But, in this instance, an attempt was made to have a law passed to prevent the Citizen Forces being taI led out to preserve order.
– The honorable member is abusing words.
– I have read the protest which was carried at the Hobart Conference against anything of the kind. Then, again, in a meek and mild manner, the New South Wales Government attempted to maintain law and order at Lithgow, and with what result? Here is the protest which was carried by the
Amalgamated Miners Association, on the 3rd September, 1911-
That this Association is appalled and disgusted with the action of the New South Wales Ministry in sanctioning the transference of a large body of paid assassins to Lithgow for the purpose of bludgeoning the workers into submission to the cause of capitalism.
The “paid assassins” against whose presence they protested were the police, who were sent to Lithgow to preserve law and order.
– The honorable member’s leader applied a similar term to me the other day.
– In my opinion, this industrial unrest is assignable 10 two causes - first, the lax ideas and administration of law and order of the present Government;, and secondly, the insincerity of my honorable friends opposite upon the question of arbitration. Our whole experience of arbitration during the last two years of unprecedented industrial unrest has been one of vacillation on the part of the present Government. These elements have largely contributed to the non-success of arbitration. It was essentially a policy of the Liberal Government who introduced the present arbitration laws, with, amongst others, at least three objects. One of these was to secure harmonious relationships between capital and labour, it being realized that on this depends the progress of the country. In spite of the teaching and preaching of a certain agitator, particularly in connexion with the agricultural strike, who expressed the hope that the time would never come when contentment would prevail as between employer and employed-
– Who said that - Brown?
– Smith, I think his name was. The idea of establishing an Arbitration Court was to secure economic justice as between employer and employ^, and, above all, to put down strife and the barbarous system of strikes. A great experiment such as arbitration, and particularly compulsory arbitration, required the full and hearty co-operation of all parties in order to make it a success. The conduct of militant unionists and .the weak and vacillating policy of the Government are responsible for its non-success; and in this connexion I shall briefly emphasize three or ‘four points. First, according to the Constitution, this Parliament is authorized to make laws for peace, order, and good government in connexion with conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State. The idea was that these laws should be .made applicable to any great Australian industry, such as shipping or shearing. They were also intended to apply where a strike occurred in any one State and by a natural process extended into an adjoining State. That was the beneficent design of this section of the Constitution. But what has been the procedure under this section ? The section has been made a means of creating artificial disputes. No sooner does a dispute occur in a State than emissaries are sent to other States where contentment prevails; disputes are deliberately worked up, and thus disputes extending beyond the limits of a State are generated.
– Can the honorable member give one illustration?
– In nearly every case before the Federal Arbitration Court, the dispute has been artificially manufactured in the way referred to or by a strike process.
– In every case the Judge has had to hold there was such a dispute before he could go on.
– That is the point I am making ; I say that in nearly every case, though I shall not say in all, submitted to the Federal Arbitration Court, the dispute has, after a long and expensive process, been artificially manufactured into an Inter-State industrial dispute - it could not come before the Federal Arbitration Court unless it was an Inter-Stale dispute.
– That shows a defect in the present Act.
– It does nothing of the kind: When a dispute has occurred in a State, instead of those concerned resorting to a local tribunal constituted for the purpose, the great aim and effort has been to reach the Federal Arbitration Court.
– .Why ?
– Apparently, the State tribunal was not good enough for them, and discontent had to be deliberately created for the purpose of reaching the Federal Court. I say that that is a wicked distortion of the object and intention of the Constitution Act itself.
– There is no Arbitration Court in Tasmania which could have settled the Mount Lyell dispute.
– And in Queensland there was none to settle the tramways strike.
– In the case of the Brisbane tramways, a strike was made in defiance of the law, although, as a matter of fact, they had an opportunity togo before the Federal Court. Ultimately, the dispute was taken before the Federal Court, and the point as to the badge wasdealt with. To show the extent to which this sort of thing is carried - though I speak now subject to some correction as to thefacts - 1 may refer to the woodworkers’ case. A dispute arose in the hardwood milling industry in Western Australia, and those concerned set to work and created an. industrial dispute amongst the lightwood. workers of Queensland and the sawmillers of Tasmania, Victoria, and NewSouth Wales, a class of workers between whom there was no nexus or common: interest. Thus, instead of a small strike that could have been settled locally, we had a dispute spread throughout thelength and breadth of the Commonwealthby an artificial process ; and, by that means,, the case ultimately reached the Federal. Arbitration Court. It is said that all the Federal arbitration awards have been accepted by the workers, but that is an ephemeral condition of things, and arises from one sole fact. It has been the good’ fortune of the workers to have secured’ satisfactory awards before the present Federal Arbitration Court.
– That is a reflection !
– It is true.
– For that reason, alone, arbitration is popular, and is theideal of honorable members opposite. Experience, both here and elsewhere, showswhat a small circumstance will turn thewhole wave of popular ideas from one direction to another. My first point is that the Constitution has been grossly and improperly abused, and the spirit and intention of the Act thwarted. My second point is that arbitration cannot possibly succeed unless it is loyally accepted by both sides.
– Which side is doing the appealing ?
– Arbitration in. the hands of honorable members opposite has been a sham, a delusion, and a snare ;. it has meant, “Heads, I win; tails, you lose.” When an award suits, the militant unionists it is accepted, and arbitration is held up as everything that can be claimed for it ; but if the award is against them, they refuse to obey it.
– That is not so; quote cue case.
– Arbitration was first introduced in New Zealand. When it was introduced there the unionists almost fell over one another in their rush to register to secure the advantages of arbitration. But after the law had been in operation for a few years, and after a number of awards had been given against them, the Judge who made those awards - against whose judicial capacity, fairness and judgment in other legal matters not one word of suspicion was raised - was at once subjected to violent abuse from the militant unionists.
– They demanded his resignation.
– They did. The result of these few adverse awards was that the whole tide of ideas on the part of the workers turned against arbitration. Now all the leading unions in New Zealand are cancelling their registration for the purpose of avoiding arbitration.
– The honorable member is making general statements. Can he mention one case?
– In 1907 the slaughtermen struck. They had been earning from £5 to £7 per week, or £1 per hundred for freezers. They struck at a very critical juncture. The award affecting them had nominally expired, but they were awaiting die obtaining of a new award from the Arbitration Court constituted for the purpose. They claimed j£i 5s. per hundred, which was equal to between £7 and £10 a week. Notwithstanding the fact that the award had just expired, and that they were awaiting an award under a new claim, they struck with most alarming results to shippers, and their claim had to be conceded at once. Arbitration did not stop them from striking. In 1908 a very stringent law was introduced in New Zealand against strikes. ‘ In the same year, or in 1909, the miners in the Government coal-mine threatened to defy the law. They were getting 14s. a day, and wanted more. The Government at first refused them. They were on the point of coming out when the Government saw fit to concede their claim. The same “has been the experience in New South “Wales and Western Australia, and even in one or two instances in Victoria, which have been mentioned by the honorable member for Bendigo. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports, and others, have interjected, “ Can you quote a case where an award of the Arbitration Court in Australia has not been observed “ ? Obviously the workers have not objected to the awards of the Federal Arbitration Court, because substantially they have been in their favour. I do not suggest for a moment that they have not rightly been in their favour. I believe the present Judge to be an honorable, high-minded, and conscientious man, who has endeavoured to do justice as between the two parties. But when honorable members opposite reproach me with the fact that I cannot instance a case where an award of the Federal Arbitration Court has not been observed, I am entitled to point out that in every case the awards have been favorable to the men. I will, however, say this : That if at any time the Judge of the Arbitration Court in the honest discharge of his duty should see fit to make adverse awards, from that period both he and the Arbitration law will be doomed as far as the militant unionists are concerned. That has been the experience in other parts, and it will be the inevitable experience here. Let me prove it.
– We have been wanting proof. We have not had it yet.
– -I have said nothing that I have not proved. Some two or three years ago the High Court of Australia was audacious enough to upset two or three decisions or awards of the Federal Arbitration Court, which happened to be in favour of the militant unionists. As soon as the High Court did that it was most violently attacked, in accordance with other precedents, not only by people outside, but even by some of my honorable friends opposite. What was the remedy suggested ? In Queensland the abolition of the High Court was advocated. Tn 1910 the Trade Unionist Congress there passed a resolution in favour of the abolition of the High Court. That motion was duly transmitted to conferences. I do not deny that my right honorable friend, the Prime Minister, is a fair-minded man in every way, but even his judgment was warped in this respect.
– I suppose the honorable member will connect these observations with the motion of censure?
– I am dealing with maladministration and the failure of the Government to discharge its national duties. Here is what the Prime Minister himself said -
The High Court always took the Conservative view. It was always against men who were least able to defend themselves.
That is a most serious charge.
– That was not high-minded, anyway.
– Where was that reported ?
– I cannot identify the report for the present, but I made a note of the observation at the time. In the Argus of the 20th March, 191 1, was published a telegram.
– We cannot accept the Argus.
– My honorable friends will not accept anything against them, of course. The telegram said -
Mr. Fisher gave a speech at Newcastle on the referendum. He said, “ The agricultural implement workers had obtained a verdict from the Arbitration Court of which they had been robbed by the High Court.”
In other words, the” High Court, in the discharge of its duty, declared what the law was, and that according to the law the workers in question were not entitled to this particular verdict. Therefore, the High Court was charged with “ robbing “ them of something they never had.
– A very proper term.
They had been robbed of their rights, and had been compelled to strike to try to secure justice, and yet there were men, said to be Labour men, who would stand up and let them be robbed.
– There was an addendum to that statement.
– I can only say what appeared in the newspaper.
– That is not all that appeared.
– I have given the date.
– Read the whole of it.
– I have read it.
– The honorable member has torn it away from the context.
– I have done nothing of the kind.
– In that case the employer agreed to abide by the decision of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, but he broke his agreement.
– I can only give the House what appeared in the newspapers.
– If that is all the evidence the honorable member has, I am sorry for him.
– The honorable member for Melbourne Ports spent most of this afternoon in reading extracts from the newspapers ; yet, when I venture to read one, I am charged with failing to give all the facts. The statement which I have quoted appeared in the Argus of 20th March, 191 1. Various members of the Labour party in this House, some two years ago, attacked the High Court, and did not hesitate to suggest its abolition. I heard them myself attack it.
– The feeling must be general, because, when the High Court gave a decision against the honorable member’s wealthy land tax people, a lot of them attacked the High Court.
– They have abided by the decision of that Court.
– They have to.
– And they have abided by the awards of the Conciliation and Arbitration Court. I propose to remind my honorable friends opposite how some of their colleagues at the Hobart Conference proposed to deal with the High Court. In the first place, the Labour party in Queensland, in 1910, passed a resolution for the abolition of the Court, whilst at the Hobart Conference the following proposition was submitted -
That the Inter-State Conference immediately take into consideration the remodelling of the whole of the Federal Constitution, with a view of the abolition of the High Court and the State Governments and Parliaments, as at present existing, and the transfer of their property and powers to the Government and Parliament of the Commonwealth.
That was not carried, but it wasseriously proposed and debated. Another proposal made at the Hobart Conference as to the best means of putting the High Court upon a proper basis was -
That two additional Judges be immediately appointed to the High Court in order to ensure verdicts in accord’ with the spirit of present Federal industrial and other legislation.
That was a remarkable proposition : If we could only manage to pack our Bench and jury we should have no difficulty in gauging what the verdict would be. This proposition was not carried. The third feature that I wish to emphasize is the right to strike, which is persisted in by a large section of the supporters of the Labour party. The Attorney-General and the Prime Minister have piously said that they do not believe in strikes, but the fact remains that a large proportion of their party do, and they dare not defy that section or act against it. Even a substantial number of my honorable friends opposite insist upon the right to strike being retained.
Mr.Fenton. - A large proportion?
– At all events, a number of them do.
– They never denounce strikes.
– No ; that is the point.
– Is the Opposition, as a whole, opposed to them?
– Undoubtedly we denounce them. I wish to show that the right to strike is part of the policy of a very large section, and particularly of the Socialist wing, of the Labour party. This policy even has its source at the other side of the globe. Mr. Ramsay Macdonald, the Leader of the Labour party in the House of Commons, was present at a Labour Conference in Birmingham, at which, according to a cablegram published in January last, resolutions were passed favouring the right to strike, condemning the employment of the military in connexion with industrial disputes, and advising all trade unions to defy the law until theOsborne judgment is reversed. That is a fairly large order - insistence on the right to strike, refusal of the maintenance of law and order, and defiance of law, until the Osborne judgment is reversed.
– Are we to be held responsible for all that Mr. Ramsay Macdonald has said?
– Certainly not.
– Look at what the Liberal party in England are saying at the present time.
– I have already told my honorable friend that he must have heard a number of his own supporters insisting on the right to strike. If my honorable friends opposite do not like to hear what Mr. Ramsay Macdonald has said, let me come nearer home. In this House, on 6th September, 19 11, the honorable member for Maranoa. as reported in Hansard, Vol. LX., p. 116, said -
The right to strike is the only weapon the workman has, and we are not going to give that up.
Then, again, Senator Rae, speaking in the Senate on 14th September last, said, as reported in Hansard, Vol. LX., p.. 431 -
I hold that, whether it is in big political issues or in industrial issues, force still holds sway, and that striking produces better results than any other method yet found out.
Senator St. Ledger. Do you think that workmen will ever give up the right to strike?
Senator RAE. I hope not; that is, until they get a much more perfect form of arbitration.
– T - That shows the real freedom of the Labour man.
– I have not yet observed any sign of it.
– What has Sir Edward Carson been saying?
– I have been asked to confine my attention to statements made within the Commonwealth, and I am trying to do so. I come now to the sugar strike, in connexion with which Messrs. Charles Collins and George Ryland, then Queensland Labour members - I think I have heard the name “ Ryland “ before - said -
The men were more than justified in their action. They only wondered that the men had not struck against their ill conditions years ago.
Then, again, in the Brisbane Courier of 10th July, 191 1, there is a report of speeches made at Cairns on the 8th of that month by Senators Rae, Blakey, and Russell, and Messrs. Howe, Ozanne, and Finlayson. The report states that -
Each speaker urged the workers to be strong, and said that if they kept together they would win the day. Mr. Howe said he was a revolutionist to the heart’s core. They had to view the facts as they were, and to look on the industrial world as it was. He had every sympathy with the men, and hoped they would be victorious in the struggle.
Honorable members are aware of the resolutions passed in Sydney in favour of preserving the right to strike, and here is a statement made by Mr. Coyne, as reported in the Argus of 9th February last -
The strike leader (Mr. Coyne) this morning told the usual assembly of some 3,000 strikers that the Strike Committee held the key to the situation. It was no use, he said, for Mr. Justice Higgins to call a compulsory conference in regard to the tramway matter. There was a far greater issue to be fought now. If all the tramway men went back to-morrow it would not settle the trouble. No matter what the compulsory conference might decide, the strikers need take no notice of it. Nothing that Mr. Justice Higgins could do in that respect would be binding.
– I suppose you know that Mr. Coyne has denied that?
– I am very glad to hear it ; if so, I stand corrected. I gave my authority, and will be amazed if the statement has been denied, because it was reported, not in one paper only, but in several papers to the same effect. The point I am making is that a strike is open defiance of arbitration, and that it is absolutely impossible for arbitration to succeed unless the power of striking is abandoned. Where I hold Ministers and a number of my honorable friends blamable is that they take no opportunity of denouncing strikes; on the contrary, they show their sympathy with the strikers. A strong, responsible attitude on their part would mean the discouragement of strikes. In so far as strikes are discouraged will arbitration be encouraged. Moreover, the action of the Prime Minister, other Ministers, and certain honorable members present in sympathizing with various strikes has a moral effect, and exerts a great influence on the masses. If my honorable friends would use their power and influence in the denunciation of strikes, then the effect would be the discouragement of them, and I should hope their ultimate extinction. Arbitration, I repeat, cannot possibly succeed unless Ministers and the members of the Labour party are prepared to take up a strong and firm attitude in the denunciation of strikes. Only in such circumstances can arbitration have a. possible chance of success.
– A moment ago you complained that men were forcing themselves into the Arbitration Court.
– Then we have another body called the Federation of Labour, who avow themselves as particularly opposed to arbitration and directly in favour of syndicalism.
– Where is that?
– The Worker of the 13th June reports that at a meeting of the New South Wales Trades Union Congress, the following motion was submitted : -
That we demand the repeal of all industrial legislation that takes away the right of combination and the right to strike
The motion was strongly supported by many members, and this amendment was moved -
That, pending the establishment of Federation of Labour, the present industrial legislation be allowed to stand.
The Federation of Labour has for its object the abolition of arbitration. In the first division on the amendment the voting was even, and in the second division the amendment was carried by 35 votes to 28. I have stated a few ominous factors in connexion with the matter. Unless my honorable friends on the other side take up a different attitude, it is utterly impossible that arbitration can succeed. I speak as one who is earnestly desirous that this peaceful means of settling industrial disputes should pass from a mere experiment to a successful scheme.
– Why do you not denounce employers who lock out their men?
– Undoubtedly I would.
– I have not heard one word of denunciation of Badger, who locked out the Queensland tramway men.
– But the honorable member has heard me-
– No, you have not spoken a word.
– Order !
– The honorable member has heard my denunciation of the defiance of the law. At Brisbane that defiance took the form of a strike by the men.
– You have not uttered one word of denunciation of Badger, who locked out the tramway men in Queensland.
– It was a strike.
– The Judge said it was a lock-out.
– The Court decided that it was a lock-out.
– Order !
– I suppose my honorable friends will deny that there was a strike in Queensland.
– There were a strike and a lock-out.
– I have no sympathy with a lock-out.
– Give us half-an-hour’s denunciation of Badger.
– I for one would denounce a lock-out. I do not for a moment approve of Mr. Badger’s attitude in the matter. What I distinctly disapprove of is the defiance of the law when it was within the power of those who were affected to secure a peaceful settlement.
– The man who defied and broke the law was Mr. Badger, the manager of the Tramway Company. The Judge said that.
– On the subject of immigration the honorable member for Melbourne Ports quoted one or two instances to indicate why there should not be immigration. It is true that he avowed that he had no objection to people coming to our shores, but he sought to show every reason in his power why they should not do so. He gave two solitary instances, I believe, where men had come out here, but things had not turned out to their expectation, and therefore they had returned. As regards the case of the Wonthaggi miners, it is a deplorable fact that the Wonthaggi mine has been brought to the verge of failure by reason of the unfortunate industrial disputes which have occurred there. In these circumstances I can quite understand a miner from the Old Country going there and being unable to secure the terms of employment which he had reason to expect. While I am prepared to say that there are avowals by some of my honorable friends of their not being opposed to immigration, the general tenor of their attitude is towards the discouragement rather than towards the encouragement of immigration.
– They want immigration in the abstract.
– They want immigration in the abstract, but not in the reality.
– Like the Liberal policy, a sort of “ gelatinous “ thing.
– I give my honorable friends credit for endeavouring to develop and carry out the defence policy of the late Government, as laid down in the Bills introduced by the honorable member for Parramatta. They have done some good work in connexion with that defence policy and its development. But valuable as that contribution towards defence is, there is something infinitely more important than that. We, as a matter of fact, are unable to keep up that measure of defence which would grant us immunity and complete security. That can only be achieved by the peopling of our waste spaces. Hitherto, we have enjoyed some protection by reason of two circumstances - isolation, but mainly and chiefly the strong arm of the British Navy. As regards our isolation, that is being steadily reduced as conditions in the Pacific are radically changing. There we find the rise of Japan, the rise of China, and the opening of the Panama Canal. These things are completely altering the conditions of the Pacific, and reducing that protection from isolation which we have hitherto enjoyed. Japan is now the strongest naval Power in the Pacific. ,
– N - No fear.
– Japan is not only a first-class Power, but the strongest naval Power in the Pacific. We know that a peaceful revolution is taking place in China, which nation will, in possibly the early future, become a rival of Japan. We are aware of the internal development which is proceeding in China. The Panama Canal, when it is opened, will bring Asia, America, and Australasia into closer contact, particularly having regard to the mammoth steamers which are being constructed, and minimize those difficulties of transport which previously were all im-‘ portant obstacles. On the other hand, we have the fact that the conditions in regard to the British Navy are altering seriously. European navies are being gradually increased, with the result that Great Britain has had to concentrate her naval force in European waters for the protection of her immediate self, and generally in the interests of the Empire. It will be seen that the protection which we have hitherto enjoyed is to some extent diminishing so far as the Pacific is concerned, and that the Mother Country will not be. able in future, certainly not to the same extent as in the past, to send fighting fleets to Australia in our defence. These are serious elements, and the subject of grave comment at times - they make our position more and more perilous every year, and accentuate more and more the actual necessity for a volume of immigration to these shores, rather than a complaint against the driblet that is coming in. We need the encouragement of a volume of immigration to Australia as a national policy for this country.
– Of the right kind. We want men who will go upon the land, and not artisans and casual labourers.
– I quite agree that our immigration must be of the right kind.
– Will immigration reduce wages here?
– I should hope not. In view of the experience of Canada and America, which is absolutely to the contrary, it is very short-sighted to suggest that we should be afraid thatthe immigration of white people will have the effect of reducing our standard of living. Our percentage of increase by immigration is not improving as it should be. From 1881 to 1891, that increase represented some 40 per cent. If that percentage had been maintained, our population at the present time would be something like 6,250,000. The fact is that, for the last twenty years, the increase has been only something like 18 per cent., with the result that at present we have only 4,500,000. persons tor occupy these vast areas. I say that Australia, and. the Northern Territory particularly, are not effectively occupied.. I regret to note that the idea of the Minister of External. Affairs in settling people on the land is not to. give it to them., but to try some -experiments which have heretofore been exploded.
– What is the exploded experiment referred to?.
– The leasehold system the honorable gentleman proposes.
– The- honorable gentleman believes in the- freehold system?
– Undoubtedly, I dot
– I am glad to hear the honorable gentleman say so.
– The whole experience of effective land settlement, including the experience of New Zealand, has been upon the basis of giving the freehold of the land to the people; and thereby anchoring them to the soil.
– Is that the policy of the Liberal party?
– Freehold occupation is my policy, and I speak with some little knowledge of the subject. I should say that it is the. policy of. most honorable members who canspeak for themselves, and that it is the policy of at least a majority of honorablemembers on this side.
– We have had the freehold policy in operation in the Northern Territory for forty years, and it has been the most disastrous failure one could dream of.
– The honorable gentleman must remember that the Northern Territory has now come under the authority of the Federal body, and we may sincerely hope that the Federal Parliament will exercise more energy and zeal in its settlement than was exercised by South Australia. I do not wish to depreciate the work done by the South Australian Government, but it is unreasonable to suppose that they could do as much for the Northern Territory as Australia can do with all her great resources.
– The fact that large areas are now held out of use by freeholders is preventing the settlement of people in the Territory.
– So far aswe can see, honorable members opposite have done nothing by way of direct encouragement to immigration, and! nothing short of a progressive policy of immigration will meet our national needs. It is impossible for the present Government to put forward such a progressive policy, having regard to the drawbacks from which they suffer by reason of the attitude of their supporters, outside this House particularly. Even when the States made proposals for cooperation, the Federal Government could not see their way to join in the cooperation proposed. A proposal was made to the Federal Government’ for an Empire Exhibition, with a view to encouraging a stream of immigration, to promote agricultural” education, and! to further develop the industrial resources of Australia. But. all these proposals have been turned down by the present Government ; and I repeat that it is impossible for. them to develop a forward policy of immigration, in view of the attitude of their supporters.
– What does the honorable member propose to do with our present unemployed ?
– The greater the volume of immigration, the less unemployment there will be. The attitude of the trades unions towards immigration may be gathered; from these press references, which might be indefinitely multiplied* -
Painters Society (Trades Hall Council, Melbourne) decided’ to wait upon the- Federal and State Governments to. protest against immigration policy. One speaker suggested that cablegram be sent to Ramsay Macdonald stating that poverty: and unemployment were rampant in Victoria-.
Annual. Inter-State Conference of Australian Workers Union. Opposed to assisted immigration as at present carried out by State Governments. Bound to oppose until provision made for. people here.
Amalgamated Society of. Engineers. Deputation to Premier. Asked Victorian Government to prevent importation of any more artisans in the engineering trade, as many out of work. Statements of society re unemployment were inquired ‘into by Inspector of Factories and found to be incorrect.
Trades Hall Council. Immigrants coming in in excess of requirements. False information circulated. Resolved deputation to Premier and Prime Minister.
Agricultural Implement Makers’ Society. Deputation to Premier re immigration of blacksmiths and other implement makers.
Mr. Edden, Minister for Mines, New South Wales, in letter to the Premier of New South Wales, said that immigrant .miners not required, as many out of work, and made request forinquiry. But secretary of the Colliery Employers’ Federation,’ New South Wales, states that not enough men are .procurable. .John Veale, mine manager, Johnson’s Reef Gold Mine, Bendigo, at annual meeting, said that there were not enough miners available for work required to be done.
Municipal Employes Union (Sydney). Navvies not wanted, too many here.
In the circumstances, we cannot expect from the present Government any active, energetic forward immigration policy such as is essential to the best interests of this community. I had intended to speak of two or three other matters ; but I shall close my remarks by a word or two on the Tariff. I have already dealt with the Tariff Board, but I wish to show, in a few and concise words, the attitude I take, and the regrets’ I have to express in connexion with what the Government have done. They appear to me to have betrayed the hopes and expectations of the Protectionist section of this community, in view of the circumstances under which they came into office. In 1909, our imports were valued at £51,000,000, and our exports at £59,250,006. In 1911 our imports had risen to nearly £66,000,000, and our exports were £79.500,000. The returns for the first quarter of 1.912 show an increase in the value of imports over the corresponding .period of 19.11 of .£3,500,000. Our present imports represent something like £16 per head of the population. What is more, although I do not attach too much importance to it, the balance of trade has gone against Australia so far as the first quarter of this year is concerned, the value of our imports being in excess of the value of our exports for that period. If this were .to .go on much longer, it would mean an .increased exportation of ;gold. The position I wish shortly to put to honorable members is this.: It is acknowledged that wages have gone .up during the last few years from .30 to 50 per cent.
– No. The increase has been nothing like that.
– Then the honorable gentleman and I totally disagree. My information is that wages have increased: ‘ from 30 to 50 per cent. ‘
– The honorable gentleman cannot name one trade in which the wages have been increased by 50 per cent.
– I said between 30 and 50 per cent. The provision forWages Boards has meant an increase of something like £5,000,000 in the wages paid -in Victoria, and the yearly increase has been as much as £lS°>000-
– That shows that previously the workers were “got at.”
– The workers of Tasmania have recently had their wages substantially increased; a fact on which I congratulate my honorable friend.
– How much have profits increased?
– In the protected industries profits have not increased to a degree corresponding with the increase in wages. Therefore, the intention of Parliament in regard to the protection of these industries has not been carried out, and they are entitled to an increase of duties.
– On what authority does the honorable member say that wages have increased 50 per cent. ?
– I have frequently read statements to that effect. The statement is made in an article in the Age, in which the writer says -
We have frequently pointed out that the Minister, in his everlasting declaration of “ protection for employe as well as for employer” ignores the fact that by the general rise in wages, ranging during the last few years from 30. to 50 per cent., the workman has received substantial advantage, while the manufacturer, as far as the Tariff is concerned, is .no better off than he was five years ago.
– The honorable member is making statements which, as a lawyer, he knows would not influence a Judge.
– If all the evidence brought forward in this -House wererequired to be of the nature demanded by a Court of ‘ law, most of the statements: made by honorable members would have to be eliminated. A great portion of the speech crf the honorable member for Melbourne Ports was ‘based on ‘newspaper statements. What I have read I believe to te strictly accurate. The official -figures show that wages ‘have been increased, by the operation of the Wages Boards, by £500,000 in a -year. Possibly my honorable friends ase prevented -from acting 4b accordance with their Protectionist profession by the following proposal of the central executive of the Political Labour Council of Victoria -
That in order to give effect to the principle of new Protection by a simple and effective method. Conference urge the Federal Government to
legalize the eight hour day for all wage earners in the Commonwealth ;
reduce this standard when proved necessary by existence of unemployed;
revise Tariff in protectionist direction in order to make the foregoing effective.
However, I have not time to develop my argument further now. I think we have fairly made good the statement that unrest, due to the want of proper, effective, and energetic support of arbitration by the Government, does exist in this country.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Archibald) adjourned.
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers : -
Electoral Act - Report, with Maps, by W. H. Graham, one of the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions.
Public Service Act - Department of PostmasterGeneral - Promotion of C. G. Brown, 4th Class clerk, Chief Accountant’s Branch, Central Staff, to 3rd Class.
House adjourned at 10.13p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 2 July 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19120702_reps_4_64/>.