4th Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., sand read prayers.
-reported the- receipt of a message from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral recommending an appropriation of revenue for the purposes of this Bill.
Statementby “ Irishman’s “ Passengers - Baths on Ships - s.s. “ Indra- pura.”
– Has the ; attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs been drawn to the series of serious statements contained in a letter published in last Saturday’s Sydney Sun, made by a passenger by the Irishman, and corroborated by ninety-seven other immigrants? If he has not seen the letter, will he read it, with a view to ascertaining whether there is a prim? facie case for investigation?
– I have not read the letter, but if the honorable member will give me a copy of it, I shall be pleased to look into the matter, although I think it probable that we have no jurisdiction.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice-
Is it a fact that the British Board of Trade do not insist on baths on British emigrant ships; and, if so, will he bring under their notice the advantages and benefit to the health of the future Australian citizens if the Board of Trade would insist upon hot and cold baths being supplied to human beings on British emigrant ships?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
Yes. Baths are not insisted upon, but are usually provided in small numbers. The Board of Trade will be communicated with, and the necessity of adequate bathing accommodation on vessels transporting immigrants to Australia will be pointed out.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What were the dimensions in cubic feet allowed on the s.s. Indrapura to each (a) male immigrant or assisted passenger;(b) female immigrant or assisted passenger?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
– In the course of a speech made by. the Minister of Defence at Newcastle on Saturday night - last he said -
You will be asked forthe power to control trusts, and to give Parliament power to establish iron works. If they had that power they could have established their own iron works, and made the rails for the transcontinental railway.
I ask the Honorary Minister if he will inform the House under what power Parliament has authorized the establishment of the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow, the Cordite Factory at Maribyrnong, the Woollen Mills at Geelong, and the Harness Factory at Melbourne? As Parliament authorized those works, could it not have similarly authorized the establishment of works for the manufacture of steel rails for the transcontinental railway?
– I cannot reply to the question until I have ascertained from the Minister of Defence exactly what he said.
– The following statement appears in the Sydney Daily Telegraph of Saturday last -
Replying to Mr. Downs in the Legislative Assembly yesterday, the Premier stated that everything was satisfactorily settled between the Government and the Federal Government regarding the land required for military purposes at Liverpool. The State Government, observed Mr. McGowen, would resume the necessary area, as they must keep control, but the Federation would have to find the money for the resumption. As yet, however, no instruction had been received from Melbourne to proceed.
I ask the Prime Minister if that statement is correct?
– The statement that no information has been received by the New South Wales Government of our intention to proceed with the resumption of the manoeuvre area at Liverpool is ast.onishing, as an official communication, asking the Minister of Home Affairs to proceed in the matter, was handed to him in the presence of the Premier and of the Treasurer of the State.
– Will the Minister representing the Minister of Defence lay on the table all the papers in connexion with the purchase of the Cunninghame estate near Liverpool, to be used as a remount depot ?
– I shall submit the request to the Minister of Defence.
Price of Sugar
– In this morning’s newspapers is published a letter written by the general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, in which the statement is made that the cause of the high prices of sugar in Australia is the existence of a duty of £6 a ton on imported sugar. I ask whether it is not a fact that sugar which is manufactured in Australia escapes duty, and whether the general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company is not misleading the public by his statement?
– I saw the statement referred to. The import duty on beef; sugar is£10 a ton, and on cane sugar £6 a ton, with an Excise duty of £4 a ton, and a bounty on white-grown sugar of £3 a ton, making the effective protective duty on white-grown cane sugar£5 a ton, and on beet sugar £10 a ton. There is a difference of something over £7 a ton between the prices at which the ColonialSugar Refining Company’s sugar is sold here and those at which it is sold in Auckland. ‘ It can hardly be denied that the reason for the higher prices here is the import duty on foreign sugar. It enables those who control the manufacture of sugar here - and in regard to the refining of sugar the company has a virtual monopoly - to charge the consumers of the Commonwealth the amount of the duty plus the ordinary profit on production and refining.
– Will the AttorneyGeneral lay on the table a clear and? intelligent explanation of the charge made against him by the general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, that he has made deliberate misrepresentations as to the prices charged, and the profits made by the company, and has used those misrepresentations as the basis, of his proposals for the alteration of the Constitution in regard to corporations?
– Does the honorablemember wish me to lay on the table facts, relating to my own statement, or facts relating to that of the general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company?
– The general manager of the Colonial Sugar Refining. Company has made against the AttorneyGeneral a charge of deliberate misrepresentation.
– The honorable member must not put a question that is virtually an attack on another honorable member by quoting a letter or paragraph published in some newspaper. The honorable member is not putting his remarks in the form of a question.
– The letter towhich I referred certainly prefers a chargeagainst the Attorney-General. It chargeshim with having misstated certain facts, and I cannot avoid mentioning that circumstance as the basis of my question.
– Will the honorablemember state his question?
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General whether he will make a statement to the House, either on paper or orally, in answer to Mr. Knox’s charge that he has been guilty of misrepresenting the -prices and profits of the company, and that he has made these misrepresentations the basis of proposals for an alteration of the Constitution in regard to corporations?
– It is quite unnecessary for me to lay on the table of the House information in regard to a charge which is made by a person outside of it. I propose to answer that person through the same medium as he has formulated his charge. If any honorable member chooses 4o repeat Mr. Knox’s accusation I shall answer it here.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister whether, in view of the explanation of Mr. Knox - which seems to be (borne out by the facts - that the difference between the price of the sugar supplied to :the public in Australia and in New Zealand is due to the circumstance that that commodity is admitted free into New Zealand, he can see his way at an early date to ask Parliament to abolish the duty on sugar, and to keep the industry alive by means of a direct bonus, thereby allowing the people of the Commonwealth to obtain their sugar as cheaply as the people of New Zealand?
– The Government have no intention of asking Parliament to abolish the duty.
– H. CATTS- I desire to ask the Attorney-General whether in his perusal of Mr. Knox’s letter he noticed any denial of the statement that the Colonial :Sugar Refining Company contributed £50,000 to the funds of the Fusion with which to fight the last referenda?
– I would point out that honorable members are developing the habit of transgressing parliamentary practice by asking questions which are founded upon reports in newspapers. That is not in accordance with parliamentary practice. If such a practice is to continue - and the Government seem inclined to answer the questions put - it seems to me that the asking and answering of them will occupy a considerable portion of our sittings each day. I must ask honorable members, as far as possible, to refrain from adopting the course which I have outlined.
– I do not think that the Attorney-General quite understood the question I asked him just now. I desired to know whether it was fair on the part of Mr. Knox .to say, in view of the fact that the duty on sugar is not paid by the company, that the duty is the cause of the high price to-day?
– I stated that the effective duty is £5. I had said that the price of sugar sold by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company in Auckland is lower by some j£i than is the price of the same class of sugar made and sold by them iri this country. The honorable member for Indi contends that the cause of the high price is not the duty, because the sugar is grown here, and, therefore, does not have to pay duty. That is perfectly true, and I never said otherwise ; but I did say that the company was able to charge the amount of the duty to the consumer.
– Can the AttorneyGeneral inform us whether the sugar that is sent to New Zealand is grown in Fiji by coloured labour, and also whether it would be possible to have sugar grown by white labour in Australia if we did not have a protective duty to preserve the industry to white growers?
– I do not say so for a moment. I have quoted some of the wages paid to the white men employed in this country by the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, and have shown that in Queensland the wages are 27s. 6d. and 2s. 6d. bonus, and in New South Wales 20s. and 2s. 6d. bonus. If the honorable member wishes me to say that the dearness of sugar is owing to the wages paid to white labour I shall say so, but I am afraid that nobody will believe it.
Chamberlain’s Colic and Diarrhoea Remedy - Formula
– I wish to ask the Minister of Trade and Customs whether his attention has been drawn to the report of a child’s death, which is published in the Merriwa and Cassilis Standard, and to the coronial inquiry held into the cause of death, at which the verdict recorded was that the child died from gastro-enteritis and opium poisoning, the opium being contained in a mixture called Chamberlain’s Colic and Diarrhoea Remedy. Will the Minister procure a sample of this remedy, and have it analyzed, with a view to having the result published for the information of the public?
– I confess that I have not seen the paper in question - indeed, I have never previously heard of its existence. I will, however, be pleased to look into the complaint, and to have the alleged remedy analyzed.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
In the interest and the welfare of the citizens of Australia, will he insist that the formula shall be printed on the label of all medicines and medical foods for man, woman, and child?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is -
It is proposed to seek power to require the formula to be declared wherever this appears necessary for the protection of the public ; but experience shows that there is no public advantage in requiring the formula to be declared in every case.
– I desire to ask the Minister of External Affairs whether he has observed in the London letter published in the Age of to-day a statement to the effect that from information received by those who have returned to England from Australia, the Agents-General and their various outside agents make false representations to the people of England regarding the facilities offered for the acquisition of land in the Commonwealth? As there have been misrepresentations made according to that letter, will the Minister take steps to prevent their dissemination in England ?
– I have seen neither the letter nor the newspaper. I will, however, look into the matter with a view to ascertaining what can be done.
– I wish to ask the Minister of Home Affairs whether he has considered the representations made by a deputation which recently waited on the Minister of External Affairs in regard to the provisions in the Electoral Act relating to signed newspaper reports and articles and, if so, whether he intends to accede to the request of that deputation?
– I have looked carefully into the matter, and in the light of the experience which I gained in the Werriwa election, and of the fact that it was the cleanest election ever fought in the history of the world - and I may say that I have had experience cf many elections in the United States ofAmerica - I have decided that it would bea tremendous mistake from the standpoint of the reputation, honour, and1 morality of the newspaper men themselvesto make any change, in the existing law.
– I wish to ask theMinister of Trade and Customs what arethe total Australian exports to, and imports from, Germany, for the years 1904 and 19 11. Also, has he noticed a statement in the press to the effect that thedebit against Australia in her trade withGermany has increased from ^4,000,000- odd in 1904 to ^8,000,000 odd last year, that we have to pay Germany £8,000,000 in cash, and that the German Fleet isbeing partly built with Australiansovereigns ?
– The honorable memberinformed me on Friday afternoon of hisintention to ask this question to-day, and furnished me with a copy of it. It appears that Mr. Hume Cook made the statement in question at a public meeting: which was reported in the Age of Tuesday last. In reference to that statement, Mr.. Knibbs writes as follows -
Copies of tables of imports into Germany and exports from Germany herewith. Mr. HumeCook is reported to have said that figures that. Mr. Knibbs had just supplied to him showedthat the debit against Australia in her trade with Germany had increased from ^4,385,000 io. 1904 to ^8,425,000 last year. We had to pay Germany that ,£8,000,000 in cash. Of course, the necessary deficit is the other way round.
So that Mr. Hume Cook either ignorantly or wilfully misrepresented the figures which* Mr. Knibbs had sent to him.
– He may have been* misreported.
– He may have been;, but, he has not corrected the report, as I think he would have done, if he had been, misreported. His statement, however, appears under a heading to the effect that the German Navy is being built with Australian money. As the debit is the other way round, it might, with equal justice, be said that the whole of the cost of thedefence of Australia is being paid for with German money.
– What newspaper is that in?
– The Age.
– Annanias !
– I am glad the honorable member knows the name of the newspaper - a name that, so far as I can see, it is worthy of. In 1904 we imported from Germany£2, 131,000 worth of goods, and in 191 1£3,985,000 worth, whereas in 1904 we exported to Germany£6,417,000 worth of goods, and last year£12,410,000 worth. These are figures supplied by Mr. Knibbs, in a document which will be returned to him now that the question has been answered.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been drawn to an article in Melbourne Truth of last Saturday, in which it is stated that the authorities of the Women’s Hospital in that city have been claiming from inmates a proportion of the maternity bonus? If such be the fact, is it in accordance with the desire of the Department, or, if not, will the right honorable gentleman take steps to prevent such a practice in the future?
– I have not seen the article, but I have seen two or three letters from persons who have been inmates of the hospital, and who, in two cases, alleged ihat they have, practically under duress, signed a document permitting the hospital authorities to draw three-fifths of the maternity bonus. I have instructed the Department to communicate with the superintendent of the hospital, and inquire whether this is done officially - with the consent and desire of the hospital authorities. I am sure it is not the intention of Parliament, or the wish of the people generally, that such charges should be made. In my opinion, a fair contribution ought to be made by those who get the benefit of the hospital, but the circumstances, as detailed to me - ex -parte, I admit - are such that -some inquiry is necessary.
– In view of the fact that applications for the maternity bonus are much larger from Victoria than from every other State - in fact, they nearly approach the total of all the other States - has it been suggested to the Prime Minister that this is an evidence of fraud on the part of the people of Victoria?
– I attribute the larger number of applications from Victoria to the fact that the Commonwealth Parliament [meets in Victoria, and that, this being the most compact State, so far as population is concerned, the larger number of applications have come in at an early date, though, no doubt, applications from the other States will come in soon. I have seen no indication up to the present of any intention to defraud and I am happy to be able to say that those who claim the maternity allowance are, speaking generally, most grateful for it.
– I should like to know from the Minister of Home Affairs what arrangements are being made by his Department for tree planting in the Federal Capital, and whether a reasonably large area is being reserved for this very necessary purpose.
– I shall be able to give the honorable member information to-morrow. We have done all that we can, but the trees are not blooming yet.
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs any idea when the redistribution scheme for New South Wales will be returned by the Commissioners ?
– I expect it this week.
– Has the Minister of Home Affairs, or the officers of his Department, made and completed an investigation as to the money spent by the various parties concerned in the Werriwa . byelection ?
– I shall be able to give that information to-morrow.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the right honorable member’s questions are- 1- 5. Details of the Savings Bank business up to 30th September last were published in the Commonwealth Gazette on Saturday last. I have a copy, and will lay it on the table of the House. The Governor of the Bank informs me that no further information can be furnished until the statement of accounts to 31st December, 1912, is made up.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
In view of the facts that New Zealand has placed her gift of a battleship under the unconditional control of the British Naval authorities; that the Malay States have determined to present the British Government with a battleship for incorporation with the Imperial Navy ; that the South African Union is contributing to Empire Defence six cruisers to be manned and controlled indefinitely by the British Admiralty ; and that the Government of the Canadian Dominion proposes to shape her contribution in ships so that it will become an integral part of the Imperial Navy under one central control -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
Mail Contractors - Postal Officers, Narrandera - Telegraph and Telephone Poles
asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The matter was referred to the Public Service Commissioner, who has furnished the following reply -
District allowances are granted in localities where the climatic conditions are severe, or where the cost of living is abnormally high. It is not considered these conditions apply to Narrandera to an extent to justify the payment of a district allowance.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -
Lighting of the South Coast of Australia (South Australia-Cape Northumberland to the Great Australian Bight) - Preliminary Report, with Recommendations as to Existing Lights and Additional Lights, by Commander Brewis, R.N. - October,1912.
Ordered to be printed.
Defence Act - Regulations Amended (Provisional) -
Military Forces - Financial and Allowance - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 220.
Universal Training - Statutory Rules 1912, No. 223.
Naval Defence Act - Regulations (Provisional) for H.M.A. Training Ship Tingira.
Debate resumed from 22nd November (vide page 5895), on motion by Mr. Hughes -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- Since the question- with which this Bill deals was before us in 1910, a considerable amount of discussion has taken place upon the question of striking out of the Constitution the limitation imposed with respect to trade and! commerce. Weighty contributions have been made to the consideration of the suggested constitutional amendment, and its practical application to the legislation of the country. The debate has extended beyond this House to the press and the platform. I scarcely think that those who have followed the history of the Federal movement in Australia will regard even the history-making period, when the Constitution was being framed, and the campaign when the Constitution was recommended to the people, as more educative than have been the debates aroused by the last referenda’ proposals. I sometimes think that we scarcely realize the historic character of the epoch through which we are passing. The character of the contributions that have been made to the consideration of the subject is hardly sufficiently appreciated by the people of Australia. The discussions have had a great effect upon the minds of every one of us. They have given us a broader and more comprehensive appreciation of constitutionalism. They have compelled us to read up the history of nations. Generally speaking, they have widened our views in every possible way regarding our constitutional powers and their distribution between State and Federal Legislatures. It has struck me particularly that we are dealing with a vital principle of government. The cleavage of opinion is with respect to a truly Federal or a unitary system. One of the weightiest expressions of opinion put forward during the last referenda campaign, was that made by Mr. Mitchell, K.C., of Victoria, quoted by the Leader of the Opposition in his speech last week. That gentleman gave us a purely constitutional1 analysis of the real effect of the proposed amendments. We have also had the honorable member for Angas, during the present debate, giving us a clear and compresensive view of the two systems of government which, almost more than any other, should engage our attention during the consideraton of this question. We have to consider whether we are to establish under our Constitution a unitary or a Federal form of government, and in dealing with that question we must have regard to the basic principles upon which our Constitution is founded. The Federal! and unitary forms of government are capable of many definitions. Professor Freeman states that -
There are two requisites necessary to constitute a Federal form of government in its most perfect form. On the one hand, each of the members of the union must be wholly independent on those matters which concern each member only. On the other hand, all must be subject to a common power in those matters which, concern the whole body of members collectively - that is, in all matters which concern the general body, the sovereignty of the several members will cease. Each member is perfectly independent within its own sphere, but there isanother sphere in which its independence, or,, rather, its separate existence, vanishes.
That, I think, fairly describes our own Federal system. A unitary system, as has already been pointed out, places the supreme power in a central body which? creates and establishes subordinate bodies for the purpose of carrying out purely local matters of legislation. Canada has ia operation a limited Federal system which, places all the residual or reserve power ia the central Parliament, leaving the States- to carry out the purely provincial duties of legislation. According to the authority which I have just quoted, we have in the world’s history five systems of Federation. The first of these dates back to the early Grecian period. Then we have the Federation of the Swiss Cantons, the Netherlands, the United States of America, and the Commonwealth of Australia. It is rather significant that most of the modern systems of centralized government have tended very largely in the direction of a unitary form of government, or of placing in the hands of the National Parliament, not only that power which is necessary to carry out purely national affairs, but also a reserve Or residual power which is necessary, in certain circumstances that cannot be forecasted in a written Constitution. We have in Germany, Canada, and South Africa, examples of the form of government to which I have just alluded. The decision of the people on the proposed amendment of our trade and commerce power under the Constitution will determine how far in the future the Australian Commonwealth is to “be controlled by a form of government which is of an almost unitary character, or whether to preserve a type of Federation most nearly approximating to that of the United States, which in some respects is regarded as the truest Federation in the world. The unfettered control of trade and commerce will really transfer to the Federal Parliament all important legislative functions, and what we have to consider is to what extent, in connexion with the widening of that great power, we should be able to protect the States against the incursions of the Federal authority - incursions to the detriment of the States in the performance of their purely local functions of government.
The debate on the last referenda proposals had a most informative and educative effect on the minds of honorable members. I must confess that the whole force of the last debate on these proposals in the House, as well as in the country, together with the erudite and weighty contributions made to the subject bv the press, revealed to every elector, and I think to honorable members generally, certain far-reaching effects of these amendments which those who had not made a very complete study of the question scarcely contemplated. I think that every honorable member will admit that, as the result of that discussion, he has realized that the effects of these proposed amend ments of the Constitution would be more far-reaching than he anticipated. My own view is that it is necessary that this Parliament should have strong national powers, and I believe that the people of Australia, either: now or in the future, will demand that this Parliament shall have conferred upon it sufficient power to enable it to carry out its national functions. The weakness of the present position is that if this extended trade and commerce power were granted, it would enable the National Parliament, not only to discharge its national I duties, but to cripple the legislative opportunities of the State Parliaments. They would not be afforded any protection in the form of a written Constitution, and endless confusion between the exercise of the Federal and the State powers would probably result. The trade and commerce power now sought would, if agreed to, enable this Parliament to deal with almost every branch of domestic legislation now controlled by the States. Under section 109 of the Constitution, it is provided that where a State law conflicts with a law of the Commonwealth, then the Commonwealth law shall prevail, so that if this power were granted there would be a danger of our overlapping in every possible way the State Parliaments in matters of purely domestic legislation. Although I can see that there are directions in which the trade and commerce power should be widened, I think that the great danger lies in this, that it is proposed to give the National Parliament additional power without any authority to protect the States by giving the latter a Constitution of their own. From my reading of various Constitutions - not so complete, perhaps, as it should be, but supplying a knowledge of the various principles which have governed their operation - I believe that a better form of Federation for the Commonwealth in the first instance would have been one on the lines of the Canadian Federation. It seems to me proper that the reserve power should reside with the Na- tional Parliament ; but, at the same time, I can see that ‘ if we strike out all limitations ; if we give this Parliament power to deal with every branch of local legislation, without affording the States any protection against the. extension of our power into every branch of local affairs, there is a very serious danger that we may cripple the operations of the States in those local affairs, whilst we shall overload the National Parliament with duties which it cannot effectively carry out.:
I think it is unfortunate that the Government did not bring down specific amendments in the trade and commerce power, which, I think, ought to have been possible. For instance, in regard to navigation, I can see that, in order to regulate trade on. boats running between certain ports in a State, as well as between States, it is highly desirable that we should have an extension of the trade and commerce power. It would, I think, have been” very much better if the Government had brought down specific amendments to empower this Parliament to legislate in particular directions. I recognise, of course, that it is very difficult, operating as we do under a Federal system, to bring down an amendment of the Constitution which would give to the National Parliament the power it requires without, in some way, making it possible for us to trench upon State matters, which could be best carried out by the States. The difficulty we have to face, in seeking to acquire the powers which I think we want to carry out the behests of the people in a national sense, is that we are not able to do so without remodelling the Constitution. A measure framed largely on the Canadian lines would involve a recasting of the whole Constitution; but the taking. away from the States of power to regulate purely local affairs - which, under section 109, would enable us to encroach on almost every branch of local legislation - is likely, it seems to me, to land us in a condition of absolute confusion ; to overload the Federal Parliament with powers which it could not effectively exercise, and at the same time, to so cripple the States by interfering with local legislation as to render their work very ineffective. Those are my reasons for believing that the proposed amendment of the trade and commerce power - which, I believe, should be widened in certain directions - is fraught with the greatest danger in the operation of the general legislation of the States and the Commonwealth. I . believe that it is not in accordance with our ideas of nationalism that the reserve power should continue to reside wholly with the States ; but, at the same time, I can see that an amendment such as we have before us would leave to this Parliament neither one system nor the other. The passing of this amendment would destroy largely the Federal character of our Constitution without giving us anything like a unitary system which would enable this Parliament to give a Constitution to the States, while, on the other- hand, it would take away from the States very many of the powers which they can best exercise in a local direction. Most of the argument, especially from the Ministerial benches, in connexion with the proposed amendment has concentrated itself upon the question of trusts and combines. This group of amendments is of trie most widereaching and sweeping character, completely altering the real basis of the Constitution. The trade and commerce power will,, we know, be the widest in its operation of any of the powers which it is proposed to secure to this Parliament. We recognise that the industrial power is one of supreme importance. We know, too, that the control of corporations and the nationalization of monopolies are two great questions. But, after all, we have found that most of the discussion on the Government side of the House in connexion with these farreaching amendments has been a general onslaught upon the trusts and combines of the Commonwealth. The answer given by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo a few nights ago to the attack was one of a most complete and convincing character. The Government have stated from time to time during their nearly three years of office that they believe that the trade of the Commonwealth is being rapidly mopped up by the trusts and combinations within our boundaries. We know that that has been the burden of the complaint in respect to these constitutional amendments ; that has been the chief claim put forward in their favour by the other side. At the same time, we have the statement of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, which has not yet been denied, that we have all the necessary power to deal with trusts and combines which are operating in more than one State simultaneously, that the constitutional power has never been seriously challenged in our dealing with such trusts and combinations. If we have the constitutional power to deal with Inter-State trusts and combines, and the Government, after nearly three years of office and talking continuously in condemnation of those trusts, have failed to put the law into operation, although they have a majority to make the law even more stringent than it is at present, that certainly is a serious charge against the Government, and one which should be answered at the earliest possible opportunity.
– You ought to. read the memorandum of the honorable member for Angas.
– Let him read his own speech on the last proposal.
– I shall give some of that a little later. I do not hesitate to say tha,t the discussion during the last referendum brought about certain modifications in my ideas, but not to the extent of changing my attitude substantially in connexion with constitutional amendments.
– The Caucus has had something to say.
– The Caucus has had nothing to do with the matter; fortunately on this side we are free men, and can think for ourselves.
– We have heard that tale before.
– In order to set at rest the perturbation which seems to have entered the minds of some honorable members on the other side, I wish to say that I believe that there should be an amendment of the Constitution in connexion with trusts and other matters. I regret very much, as T have already said, that we cannot have such an amendment of the Constitution in respect to trade and commerce as would give us the accretion of powers which we need, and which we shall have, sooner or later, to obtain. I regret that we cannot amend the trade and commerce power without destroying the Federal character of the Constitution. But in respect to trusts and combines, 1 believe, in accordance with the memorandum presented by the honorable member for Angas, and also with the amendment which was proposed from the Opposition side during the last debate on Constitution amendments, that we should have an amendment which would enable us to deal, not only with trusts and combines operating in more than one State, but with trusts . and combines found in any. part of the Commonwealth. I believe that we should have full power to deal with trusts and combines which are operating in restraint of trade or detrimentally to the public.
– Then you will support the Bill?
– I am defining my position at the present time. We should have the power to deal with trusts and combines in restraint of trade, or to the detriment of the public, whether they operate in one State or in more than one
State. On the last occasion, I voted against four of the five proposed amendments of the Constitution.
– The honorable member voted for the principal amendment, that of the trade and commerce power.
– Yes. I regret that we have not the trade and commerce power that we should have.
– Is the honorable member going to vote for this proposal on the present occasion?
– The honorable member will know if he has patience to wait. The charge made against the present Government by the honorable member for Bendigo is that, although Ministers during the past three years have been constantly fulminating against trusts and combines, they do not put into operation the law requiring the answering of questions by these bodies. The honorable member pointed out that there is on the statute-book a law, which was passed by the previous Government, which could be put into operation against Inter- State trusts and combines, and that if its provisions are not sufficiently severe, as perhaps they might be found not to be, we have the constitutional power to amend them by making them more severe. Although there has been continual denunciation of trusts and combines, there is only one way of ascertaining what is a trust or combine, and that is by putting into operation the law to which I refer, which would compel any supposed trust or combine to answer questions put to it at the instance of the Government, as the initiation of a prosecution. If those questions are not satisfactorily answered, a case may be taken to the Court. It is only by obtaining the answers to prepared questions, and the inspection of the books of these trading concerns, that we can .determine whether they are trusts or combines; but the law which would enable the discovery of the trusts and combines, whose existence has been so frequently alluded to by honorable members opposite, has never been put into operation by the Government. That law, of course, covers only trusts and combines operating in more than one State, and I am of opinion that we should have a wider power, namely, the power to trace trusts and combines, whether operating within a State or within more than one State.
On the last occasion, I spoke very strongly in favour of the widening of our industrial powers. I then voted against the Government proposals, but I believe there should be a substantial accretion to our industrial powers, because the operations of industries are not confined to separate States, but extend all over the Commonwealth. I then defined my position on the question in this way -
The States Parliaments, since they understand local conditions and circumstances, climatic and otherwise, are in a favorable position to judge of different characteristics. I believe, in any case, an Industrial Appeal Court might harmonize the wages between the various States in case of unfair competition owing to different factory laws. That is a very good scheme, and one which was put forward by the Government - the present Opposition - at the last elections; but whether it is possible to divide the authority in such a way as would give the initiative to the States, and the final appeal to the Federal Commonwealth, is a matter on which I do not feel myself sufficiently well’ informed to speak, and upon which I can hardly see that it is possible to make differentiation. But, if it can be done, it seems to be an ideal one.
I have always considered, and this forms the basis of my objection to the limitation of our industrial power, that the confusion which results in having certain industries controlled by the Commonwealth, and others controlled by the States, creates endless trouble. The Federal Arbitration Court has power to deal with disputes extending beyond any one State. It has been claimed that its awards have been respected, but we know that a great many persons who have desired to take cases before that Court have not been able to do so. The awards of Mr. Justice Higgins have not all been observed, but they have been generally observed, because they have been made during a period of great prosperity, and have resulted in a general rise in wages and in a general liberalizing of conditions. We all wish to see the conditions of our working people improved.
– There has been a rise in the cost of living.
– No doubt it is commensurate with the rise in wages. Probably the rise in wages and the increase of taxation are two factors largely responsible for the increase in the cost of living.
– The operation of trusts and combines has also contributed.
– Then why does not the Labour Government initiate prosecutions against those trusts and combines?
– There are only three that ian be prosecuted.
– Why are not prosecutions instituted against them? Let the Government put the law into motion, and require these trusts and combines to answer questions, and permit the inspection of their books. Ministers are recreant to their duty in not doing this.
– There is a case now before the Privy Council.
– Surely it is not necessary to wait for that to be decided. On the last occasion I showed that the dual control of industrial matters by State and’ Commonwealth authorities was undesirable, leading to considerable confusion, and that we must leave the initiation of industrial legislation to the States, or hand it over completely to the Federal authority. The crucial question which we have to answer is whether the industrial power should be handed over wholly to the Federation or left to the States. The awards of Mr. Justice Higgins have not been seriously challenged, but the existence of the Federal Arbitration Court has been a disturbing element in our industrial life. It is the desire of every section of the industrial community to put cases before Mr. Justice Higgins, and this has been the cause of constant unrest and disturbance in every State. I believe that there should be an adjustment of power which would enable the industrial authority to exercise discrimination. In ‘ travelling through the Commonwealth as the member of a Royal Commission, I have discovered that one of our difficulties as a Federation is that we have no power to exercise the discrimination in industrial matters necessary for the harmonizing of awards with local and climatic conditions. Parliament has not the power to authorize that to be done, and, in my opinion, cannot have that power without possessing full industrial control. I believe that the best course to follow would be that suggested in the quotation, which I made, that we should leave the initiation of industrial legislation - original jurisdiction - to -the Parliaments of the States, making the Commonwealth Court a Court of Appeal from the State tribunals.
– That would be a roundabout procedure.
– We do not propose to touch the State power of initiating, legislation.
– If we give to the Commonwealth full control of industrial matters, this Parliament will be able to initiate any industrial legislation that it may think proper, and section 109 of the Constitution states that any law of the Commonwealth which conflicts with the law of a State must prevail.
– To the extent of the repugnancy between them, but only to that extent.
– That is so; we cannot have dual control, the Commonwealth Arbitration Court dealing with a certain class of industrial disputes and the State tribunals dealing with other classes, because it is impossible to differentiate between Federal industries and State industries. Commerce extends throughout the whole Commonwealth, and industries operate all over Australia, so that it is impossible to say what is a State and what is a Federal industrial matter. The Federal Arbitration Court deals with what are regarded as Federal industrial disputes, and has imposed on it a limitation regarding the common rule, while the State industrial tribunals deal with what’ are regarded as State industrial matters, but what are really industrial matters affecting often the whole Commonwealth. You cannot draw a line of demarcation between Commonwealth industrial matters and State industrial matters. The amendment of the Constitution requires the full and free expression of opinion by every member of Parliament, and I regret that the proposals for its amendment now under consideration have been made a party matter. The amendment of the Constitution should be considered from start to finish without reference to party considerations.
– Who made this a party question ?
– The present Government. It is being proclaimed as a party question.
– Is that why honorable members opposite are always quoting the opinions of those Labourites who opposed our last proposals for the amendment of the Constitution?
– There is a great deal to be said for the view that the Federal Government should show its capacity for exercising its present constitutional powers before endowing it with larger powers.
– The honorable member says that this is a’ party question. Why, then, were honorable members opposite so. fond of quoting Mr. Holman’s views ?
– I do not know that I have ever quoted Mr. Holman’s views. In my opinion, the solution of the present industrial difficulty is to leave the initiation of industrial legislation entirely with the States, allowing the National Parliament, which has. the control of Inter-State commerce and the exercising of purely national functions, to establish Courts of Appeal for the- hearing of industrial disputes from the various State tribunals. I know that there is a certain limitation imposed in respect of that. I know that a stage may be reached when a number of dis.putes might take place in more than one State simultaneously, or when, in a single State, disputes might occur with which the State Wages Boards would be unable to grapple, or that cases might occur where there are no State tribunals dealing with particular industries. I believe, therefore, that power should be vested in the Commonwealth to enable it to intervene in cases of that kind, with a view to settling such disputes, either by means of the appellate Court itself, or by that Court being empowered to direct that the parties to such disputes shall at once have recourse to the. various State tribunals. As my position in regard to this matter has been challenged, I think it is only just to myself that I should read the view which I expressed when the subject was last under consideration. If honorable members will refer to Hansard, volume 58, page 4916, they’ will see that I am there reported as, having said -
After the Harvester Commission had very fully investigated one phase of this industrial question, the majority presented a report, and’ a minority report was presented by myself. The majority recommended- - “ That paragraph 35 of section 51 of the Constitution relating to conciliation and arbitration for the prevention and settlement of industrial disputes extending beyond the limits of any one State should be replaced by a paragraph giving the Commonwealth. Parliament power to make laws for tha peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to industrial’ matters,”
While in ‘the minority report the following clause appeared - “ That provision be made for the appointment of a Federal Court of Industrial Appeal from local or State tribunals, to harmonize and adjust wages conditions in similar competing industries extending beyond the limits of a State.”
That proposal I subsequently elaborated. To my mind, it represents the ideal schemeif it can be instituted. If we. allow the-
States to take the initiative in industrial legislation, by referring disputes to their own industrial tribunals, and if we establish an appellate Court to hear appeals from those tribunals, I think we shall have a system which will more nearly approximate to the practical than any which has so far been instituted.
– But there are so many disputes which extend beyond the limits of one State.
– So long as we create a tribunal which causes every industrial body throughout the Commonwealth to cast its eye towards the Federal Arbitration Court, we shall have constant industrial unrest, and we shall render State legislation in this respect absolutely abortive. That is my opinion.
– Would there not be the same straining after the Commonwealth Court of Appeal under the system suggested by the honorable member?
– There might be, but most cases would be settled before they reached the appellate Court.
– That would not apply to disputes of an Inter-State character.
– In the case of competing industries, it would be absolutely necessary to establish a Court of Appeal in order that wages conditions might be adjusted as between the different States.
– Why resort to State tribunals first?
– Because the State wages tribunals, however they may be constituted, will have a better knowledge of local conditions, and will be better able to analyze evidence from a practical standpoint, than will the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court or the appellate Court.
– ‘Cannot the Arbitration Court ascertain the facts?
– But there is a wider knowledge required than is implied by a. knowledge of the bald facts. I have already expressed my opinion upon the proposed alteration of the Constitution in regard to our trade and commerce powers, and also in regard to our power to deal with trusts and combines. I have also. expounded my views in respect of industrial matters, so that I have only a few more words to add. I believe we shall never have an ideal industrial system unless the industrial tribunal is vested with power to discriminate between different portions of Australia. This fact has been recognised in Victoria, where it has been found that, in the absence of that power, it is impossible to do justice to several industries. As a result, this State has been forced to establish country Wages Boards, in order that proper consideration may be given to local conditions.
– “ Forced “ is a good word to use.
– I admit that there is a large number of employers who do not take kindly to industrial tribunals. But I think that the wisdom of the Parliament ought to be greater than the wisdom of one particular section of the community; and if the National Legislature thinks it is in the interests of the country to discriminate between various localities, effect should be given to its decision. No central body which can be appointed to extend its operations over the whole of Australia can so completely inquire into local conditions as can bodies appointed on the spot, and more particularly Wages Boards which consist of representatives of both employers and employes. The system in operation’ in New Zealand is very largely akin to that which obtains in Victoria. I do not know whether country Wages Boards have been appointed in other States, but in New Zealand, which is only a little larger than Victoria, it has been found necessary to subdivide the Dominion into quite a number of provinces, so that the Arbitration Court may visit each province, and take into consideration local and climatic conditions before making an award.
– New Zealand can speak with as great authority on industrial matters as can any other part of the British Dominions. It has tried upon an extensive scale the settlement of industrial disputes by means of an Arbitration Court, and it has adopted certain methods of procedure which are almost unknown in other parts of the world. There, experience has demonstrated that it is necessary to divide the Dominion into quite a number of provinces, so that different awards may be made by the Arbitration. Court, in order to meet local circumstances. The same thing may require to be done in Australia. If we are going to insist upon a uniform system obtaining over the entire Commonwealth - a system embracing the tropical north as well as the temperate south - we shall bring about an industrial revolution. We must consider local conditions and local circumstances; and my own opinion is that
State Wages Boards are more competent to undertake this onerous duty than is any central Court, whose functions are required to extend over the whole continent.
– The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court discriminates now.
– The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court has no power to discriminate in anything like the way that is necessary. To a large extent, that Court, as it is at present constituted, is ineffective, because it has no power to authorize a common rule. If it had that power, probably things would be worse than they are, because a uniform award would be even more detrimental to the industries of Australia than would an award which embraces only a certain limited number of establishments in particular industries. I believe that the people of Australia are very generally in favour of an accurately defined extension of the constitutional powers of this Parliament. During the last referenda campaign I know that no proposal was more attractive to the electors than a proposal to extend our constitutional powers. But the question at issue is, “ How far shall we go ? “ The people require not a revolutionary change in our Constitution, but an evolutionary one. My own opinion is that they will not pass these referenda proposals at the next election. Judged by the experience of countries where the referendum is quite an established institution, it is not likely that the electors of Australia will consent to transform our Constitution from a Federal one into what Mr. Mitchell, K.C., has described as a “ mongrel Unification.” Generally speaking, where the referendum has been tried in other countries it has operated in a conservative direction. I cannot understand how it is that honorable members with democratic ideas, and democratic newspapers, should argue in favour of the referendum, when experience has shown that the result of its application has generally been to block advanced legislation. It has, I repeat, always operated in a conservative direction. In addition to that, it deprives Parliament of its real responsibility. If we are going to adopt a referendum system which will permit this Parliament to evade its true responsibilities, we shall do away largely with that morale which should be associated with it. I have taken the trouble to collate a few experiences of Switzerland in connexion with the referendum. It is interesting to note. that between 1894 and 1898. ten important referenda were taken in that country, some on the initiative of the deputies and others on the initiative of the people, and the results were overwhelmingly in a conservative direction. Whenever they were sanctioned it was always in approving a business proposal. In 1904 three important referenda were taken with a conservative result. One particularly was largely identical with the referendum recently taken upon the Financial Agreement entered into between the Commonwealth and the States. That proposal was turned down. The people were asked to demand that portion of the Customs duty should be assigned to the Cantons for Cantonal use. It was considered that this would weaken the Confederation, and it was rejected by a vote of 347,000 against 145,000.
– The people were for the Confederation, and not for the States.
– Yes. In the light of these figures, the vote cast by the electors of Australia in connexion with the Financial Agreement was a wonderful one. A still heavier majority was recorded against Socialistic proposals for a constitutional article guaranteeing the right of every Swiss citizen to remunerative work. This was supported by 75,000 votes, 308,000 votes being cast against it. The necessary 50,000 voters’ signatures required to demand a referendum in respect of gratuitous medical attendance was not obtained.
– That has nothing to do with the principle of the referendum.
– I am trying to show that the referendum is generally in a conservative direction.
– That does not affect the principle of the referendum-
– I am merely stating that the teaching of the referendum is that we get more democratic legislation from Parliament.
– It all depends upon what kind of Parliament - what about the Legislative Councils?
– I am speaking of this Parliament at the present time. A third’ referendum to extend factory legislation to all shops in which manual work was done, with Boards to fix salaries, prices, and so forth, was lost by158,000 votes to 135,000. In1895 an Army Reform Bill was rejected, and a State Bank proposal was voted down by 60,000. A proposal topurchase certain railways was lost by the people in 1896, as was an enlargement of Federal powers in the control of forests, and the manufacture, sale, and importation of food stuffs.
– I think that the votein regard to the railways was subsequently reversed.
– That is quite true. In 1900 other reforms of the Constitution, with respect to electoral matters) were rejected. Athough in 1887 the people gave the Federal authorities a monopoly in alcohol, many attempts to treat tobacco likewise have failed. It would seem, to me, therefore, that, if we desire democratic legislation, we shall have to go to the Parliament. Judging by the results of the referendum in Switzerland, and of the referendum- in Australia in connexion with the Financial Agreement, and the previous proposals to amend the Constitution, there is every reasonable probability that the people will emphatically “turn down “ the amendments now under discussion. My position, from which I do not wish to retreat, has been challenged by- honorable members opposite; and in this connexion I cannot do better than repeat what I said on the third reading of the Constitution Amendment Bill that was before us in 1910. I then said -
I supported the proposal to extend our constitutional powers relating to trade and commerce, because- I believe that to be necessary ; that we should not be restricted in that matter as we are at present. In many respects we need wider powers of legislation, especially in industrial matters and for the control of corporations- and trusts. But I cannot go to the length to which the amendment now under discussion would take us.
– That was in reference tothe railways?
– That was in reference to the whole of the proposals.
– But the honorable member voted for the trade and commerce powers.
– I did; but I thought that there was a possibility of having certain, modifications made in the subsequent amendments proposed by the Government.
– The honorable member did not say so.
– It is here in what I am quoting.
– The honorable member had to swallow the whole lot then.
– I went on to say -
The requirements of the Commonwealth would have been met by the institution of an Industrial Appeal’ Court to deal with decisions from the State tribunals. In this way conditions and wages throughout the State could be harmonized, at the same time extending the powers of this Parliament to enable it to’ legislate in regard to all industries which are Federal in character, but it is unnecessary at this stage of our history to give this Parliament power to legislate in regard to all industrial matters.
That is the position I took up. The trade and commerce powers will, in my opinion, have to be broadened out sooner or later. I regret very much that we cannot have specific powers delegated to us, by widening out the trade and commerce section, without going the whole length desired bythe Government. I have defined my position as clearly as I can. I think that,, under present circumstances, these sweeping: amendments are not justified, especially inthe light of the powers being placed in thehands of the party on the Government benches. That party, so far, have failed) to so handle their constitutional and administrative powers as to entitle them to any extension. For those and other reasons, and in view of the wholesale and sweeping character of the amendments submitted, I shall find it my duty to oppose these measures when they come to the vote.
– It is to be hoped, for the sake of the honorable member for Wimmera, that the speech he has just made will not becirculated in his electorate, and compared, with his utterances when this subject waspreviously before Parliament.
– I suppose that is the honorable member’s own affair.
– I ammerely expressing the pious hope that, for the sake of the honorable member, no suchcomparison will be made, because it would’ place the. honorable member in such a bad light that I am sure his constituents would’ begin to ask some very nasty questions. I must confess that until the honorable member was about to resume his seat, I wasutterly at a loss to know what attitude he was going to take up in regard to these Bills ; and then the honorable member gave his case away by candidly admitting that, he would have been prepared to support the whole of them if the- Labour party had not been in power.
– Nothing of the kind; that is a complete distortion of my remarks.
– I haveno desire to misrepresent the honorablemember, but that was what he said in somany words. Perhaps it would be just aswell to read some of the honorable member’s remarks on the previous occasion,., so as to show the marked contrast with his. utterances to-day. The honorable member admits that he then supported the extension of the trade and commerce powers.
– I did ; I voted for it.
– To-day, although each question is put separately, the honorable member declares that He will not support the extension; and it is a fair deduction that he takes up his present attitude for party reasons.
– He said so.
– That is clear, not only in the case of the honorable member for Wimmera, but in the case pf others ; and if those honorable members could only fear themselves away from the shibboleths of party, there would be a very different result to this debate than what we may expect. When similar proposals were previously before the House, fhe honorable member for Wimmera said -
I do not share the fear which has been expressed that; by making the important amendments in the Constitution which are proposed, we shall throw the whole instrument into the melting pot -
To-day he has practically said that that result will follow - nor . doI consider . that the first of these, if agreed to, will take us far in . the direction of Unification.
– Why not read the lot?
– I could read much more.
– Honorable members opposite have a habit of quoting little pieces.
– We were told the other day by the honorable member.for Parramatta that these Bills, if passed, would mean Unification; but we find the honorable member for Wimmera “ on the last occasion declaring that he apprehended no such result. Later on, in the same speech, the honorable member for Wimmera said -
But, although Federation has now been estab. ilished for ten years, this Parliament has been tunable to fulfil the purposes for which it was vlargely created, because of the limitations on its powers of legislation respecting trade and commerce and industry. Our anti-trust legislation cannot be made effective unless these powers are increased.
To-day the honorable member takes the Government to task for having done nothing in regard to trusts; and yet we find him admitting that our anti-trust legislation cannot be made effective unless our powers are increased.
– I said that to-day.
– The honorable member said something more on the previous occasion that he has not said today. In conclusion, the honorable member said -
I am ready to vote for the extension to this Parliament of accurately denned powers respecting1 industrial matters, and the control of corporations and trusts, but it is necessary that our trade and commerce powers shall be made as broad as possible.
If the powers are “ as broad as possible,” I cannot see that they can be made any. broader. To-day, in reference to industrial matters, the honorable member said that, owing to the diversity of climate, andso forth, it would be impossible to frame regulations applicable throughout the Commonwealth; but on the previous occasion he said -
I have looked into the Constitution of the Central Parliament in various countries of importance,, but I have found no such precedent for refusing a transfer of additional industrial power to the Federal Parliament, except in the case of the United States. . . . The conditions differ just as much in Western Australia as they do all over Australia, so that it is very difficult to say that a State boundary gives the State a better claim than the Commonwealth to deal in certain respects with this class of legislation.
He was then speaking of industrial powers which he now says are impossible, owing to the diversity of conditions. Ido not suppose that the honorable member desires to hear any more.
– Go on:
Mr.PARKER MOLONEY.- Here is another extract from the honorable member’s previous utterances -
The argument that Australia is too large for her trade and commerce to be adequately controlled by the Federal Parliament is answered by the statement that the Dominion Territory is quite as great, and that the Dominion Parliament has full power to legislate in respect of -trade and commerce. The present restrictions on our power tend to produce litigation.
I particularly wish to quote the following, because it introduces the name of the honorable member for Darling Downs, an exAttorneyGeneral -
According to the Attorney-General, his predecessor, the honorable member for Angas, thought an amendment of the Constitution necessary to enable the Commonwealth to deal with trusts and combines, while the honorable member for Darling Downs, when filling the office, indorsed the statement of the Secretary to the Attorney-General that it was advisable that power in respect of trade and commerce should be vested solely in the Commonwealth Parliament.
The honorable member has said that we have done nothing to prosecute trusts and combines; but all who take an interest in the politics of the country know that, at the present time, the result of the prosecution of the Coal Vend is before the Privy Council. He knows that the Government did attempt to prosecute the Coal Vend. Although Mr. Justice Isaacs, in a very lengthy judgment, decided against them, they appealed to the High Court. At the present time the case is before the Privy Council. I do not see that the Government could have given a greater earnest of their desires to prosecute trusts when they were found to encroach upon the rights of the people. It is entirely wrong to say that the Government have done nothing in this direction. Before dealing with this matter from my own stand-point, I wish to refer to another remark made by the honorable member for Parramatta on Friday. In order to prove that the powers of the Commonwealth were greater than those of the Canadian Dominion, he quoted from a book written by Mr. James Bryce; but he did not tell the House that the book was written in 1 901, before Mr. Bryce could tell how our Constitution would work in practice. Had he been able to study the working of the Constitution in conjunction with decisions of the High Court he might have written in an entirely different strain. The honorable member did not tell the House, either, that, in the opinion of the honorable member for Flinders, Mr. Bryce is an out-of-date authority on American affairs. I think that the remark made was that Bryce is a “very old” authority.
– I think that remark was made in relation to Bryce’s American Commonwealth, published in
– However, the question made by the honorable member for Parramatta was not a fair one, and he knew that.
– It was a fair quotation, and a good one. There is no better authority in the world.
– It was not a fair quotation, because the writer quoted could not have known how our Constitution would be interpreted by the High Court. He could not have known that the right honorable member for Swan, and those associated with him in a former Government, would try to do things which the High Court would not allow them to do.
– A very good thing, too.
– That is a very candid admission. I have always thought, in regard to those matters, that the* right honorable member’s Government tried*, to do-
– Do not associateme with it unless you are sure; I was not” always a member of the Government to which the honorable member refers.
– The right honorable member held office in the Deakin; Government.
– At one time.
– That Government tried to do things which the High Court declared to be ultra vires.
– I am very glad they did, too.
– If the right honorable member is prepared to say that it is a good thing that the High Court took up that attitude-
– I do say so.
– It places him in the position that the Government of which he was a member wilfully ran thecountry into litigation and costs in trying, to do something which they knew they could not do The honorable member for Parramatta stated on Friday that this partywas in favour of Unification, and he caused a scene which was not very creditable to him.
– Order ! The honorable member must not refer to that matter-
– The honorable member for Parramatta must have known that the last Labour Conference ir> Hobart decided by nineteen votes to nine against Unification, proving conclusively that the party as a whole is not in favour of Unification, and never has been.
– That was playacting for the public.
– If thehonorable member wishes to be fair he mustadmit that, inasmuch as there’ is no plankin the Labour platform referring to Unification, it is a proper inference that the party as a whole is not in favour of itPersonally, I .am not ; and the majority of the members in this House are not. In regard to the tendency of the proposals now under consideration, the honorablemember for Flinders, and the honorablemember for Wimmera, have emphaticallydeclared that they would have’ no effect in* making for Unification. If the honorablemember for Flinders would like to have his words resurrected I shall be pleased to quote them.
– I should like to hear them.
– When the referenda proposals were last before the House the honorable member for Flinders said that he had no sympathy with the statement that they would lead to Unification. He declared emphatically that that would not be the result He said -
I have simply said that the argument against the granting of this power is baseless, unless it is supported by fear of the Federal Parliament, and that that is the only ground which does lie at the base of some of the opposition to this proposal. It is said that if we take control of trade and commerce, we shall take away from the State Parliaments the whole ;ground of “their legislation. I can hardly listen patiently to such an argument in view of the tactual facts.
That quotation shows that the honorable member had no idea that the .proposals of <the Government would lead to Unification.
– Read some more.
– In case It should be said that these quotations from Hansard refer to matters that occurred a Jong while ago, I will quote from a speech which the honorable member made more recently. It was made at a meeting which will not be forgotten for some time, whereat the honorable member described those associated with him as propounding a policy which was no better than a gelatinous compound from which the bones had been removed. He said -
It was abundantly necessary at the present time for any party that was going to appeal to the people of Australia to state exactly what alterations in that regard were necessary in the Constitution. In America the arm of the Constitution had been absolutely paralyzed in its efforts to deal with trusts by the very same constitutional restrictions that were embodied in our Constitution.
That is a very recent utterance.
– Could the point be ^better put?
– I hope that the honorable member will take advantage of the present opportunity to indorse that expression of opinion, and to state it in better terms if he can. I now wish’ to put before the House one or two views which I personally hold. It has never struck me that the Constitution under which we are living is sacrosanct, and -should never be amended.
– The Constitution itself contains a power of amendment.
– I know it does. But honorable members opposite, “both here and on the platforms in the country, have said frequently that since Federation has only been established twelve years, it is too soon to alter the Constitution. The honorable member for Parramatta said that we are trying to thrust these proposals down the throats of the people. The honorable member for Wimmera declared that it is a most undemocratic thing to appeal to the people by means of referenda on such questions. The honorable member for Echuca said that we ought not to interfere with the sacred rights of the Legislative Councils.
– I deny that. What I said was that the Legislative Council had been the bulwark of this State.
– If the honorable member can point to any democratic act done in Victoria by the Legislative Council, I will admit that it has been a bulwark of the State. Personally, I have never known the Victorian Legislative Council to identify itself with any forward, progressive, or democratic movement. I say candidly that if the only danger that will arise from these measures is that they will take some power from the Legislative Council of Victoria or from some of the other Legislative Councils, of Australia, the Democracy of this country has not much to fear. Sinbad the Sailor did not breathe a greater sigh of relief when he got rid of the Old Man of the Sea, than the Democracy of this country will breathe when they rid themselves of those undemocratic institutions.
– Why does not the Democracy set about doing so?
– The honorable member should ask those who are associated with him in politics why they do not take steps in that direction; for they are mostly Liberals. Honorable members who say that the Constitution is too young to be altered at present are advancing an argument which they could not have entertained when the Deakin Government was in office. That Government proposed on three separate occasions to alter the Constitution. There was a proposal to alter the Constitution in order to secure the policy of new Protection. It was desired to extend the benefits of Protection to the consumer and the worker. This proposal was ruled out by the High Court. The Anti-Trust Act was hailed with delight by honorable members opposite as-‘ a measure which was going to break up trusts and combines in Australia. But what was the result? When an attempt” was made “to cope with the trusts under the Act, it was found that we were not able to do so.
– It was found that they were not trusts.
– The honorable member should not say that until he knows the decision of the Privy Council. Another measure passed by the Deakin Government was the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act; a very laudable measure with which every honorable member was in entire sympathy ; an Act by means of which it was proposed to prevent the import of shoddy goods masquerading as something which they were not. Traders have been found selling cotton goods as woollens, and boots with cardboard soles as leather. We know from disclosures made recently that attempts have been made to mix obnoxious drugs with infants’ food, and thus to poison the child-life of this country. An attempt was made under the Commerce (Trade Descriptions) Act to deal with the unscrupulous vendors of these articles, but, as the Opposition are aware, that attempt failed miserably. Every honorable member was in favour of the principle involved, but it was found that the desired action could not be taken. If there is any sincerity on the part of honorable members opposite who supported the passing of the Commerce Act, then they ought to be found supporting these proposals, which, if carried, will enable the Government to take effective action in the interests of the ‘childlife of Australia. Certain organizations outside, which are constantly urging the need of protecting our infant life, ought to be standing shoulder to shoulder with us to-day ; but I am confident that they will be found’ vigorously opposing these proposals, under which we should be able to take the very action which they say is necessary in the interests of the child-life of the community. There is another aspect of this matter that I should like to bring before the House. The honorable member for Wimmera, who has just resumed his seat, has spoken both ways concerning this question. He has certainly shown that he would like to support these measures for the amendment of the Constitution if it were not for that party discipline to which he has doubtless been subjected. When the last referenda proposals were before us, he appeared to be very much in sympathy with some of them, but he, together with the honorable member for
Flinders, raised the objection that the various proposals for the amendment of the’ Constitution were bunched together so that the people would not have an opportunity to vote upon them as separate questions. I ask honorable members to cast back their minds to the speeches made on this question’ on a former occasion, and to say whether certain members of the Opposition did not. then urge that if they were given the opportunity to vote separately on each proposal they would certainly be found voting for some of them. Take, for instance, theLeader of the Opposition.
– Which one?
– The honorable member for Ballarat. Here is a. statement that he made to a Ballarat audience a few days prior to the taking of thelast referenda -
The Government has bracketed together fourseparate issues, with five sub-issues, and a great: many more issues not mentioned. Instead of having at least twice five votes the electors are asked to declare by just one “Yes” or “No.”’
I ask honorable members to compare that utterance with the statements which thehonorable member made in this House last, week. As further illustrating the fact thathe evidenced a desire, even in his own case,, to vote’ for some of our proposals for theamendment of the Constitution, I would) point to the following paragraph in a manifesto which he issued to the people prior tothe last referenda -
Combinations and monopolies could, andi should, have been dealt with last session. TheOpposition proposal placed all trusts and combines under Commonwealth control, even if they- t existed within a State. Had Mr. Hughesadopted this course, and submitted it in a separate Bill, its acceptance by the people on next Wednesday would have been absolutely assured..
In other words, the Leader of the Opposition then declared that if our proposal tosecure increased power to deal with monopolies had been submitted as a separateissue, he believed that the electors would! have voted for it. I invite honorable members to compare that statement with the statement which he made in this House last week -
I have no fear of a Referendum Bill, provided proper opportunity is given to place matters properly before the people.
Then, although he had declared at Ballarat on the last occasion that there should have been “ twice five questions “ put to the people, he went on to say -
A fair answer can best be obtained when onequestion is submitted to the people, with one or two, perhaps, that are associated with it; but not, as in- this instance, with half-a-dozen proposals pointing in all directions like the spokes of a wheel. Six questions are too many to be submitted on any one occasion.
During the last referenda campaign he said that there should have been submitted to the people twice five questions; he now declares that the people should not be asked on any one occasion to vote on six.If that does not give evidence of a chaotic state of mind on the part of certain members of the Opposition, I do not know what would do so. Anticipating, as I do, that certain members of the State Parliaments will be very busy on this occasion, as they were on the last, I think it well to remind the House and the country of remarks which some of them made during the last referenda campaign. The Premier of Victoria, Mr. Watt, then took a very active part in the opposition to our referenda proposals ; but said most emphatically that if the people could vote on each question separately he believed that they would embrace the opportunity to vote for some of them. 1 hope that if he takes a hand in the next campaign his attitude will be consistent with that which he then took up. I should like to place on record the following statement made by him at the Essendon Town Hall two nights before the last referenda -
The second proposal, which attempted to add to the power of the Commonwealth with respect to companies and corporations, was on right lines; but, unfortunately, no proposal was singled out for approval. They must give a stupid “Yes” or a sullen “No” to all four questions.
He had no hesitation in saying that the increased powers that were sought in respect of corporations and combines were on right lines ; and since we are asking today for the same power, and are submitting the questions separately to the electors, the Premier of Victoria at the approaching referenda must be found advocating some, if not all, of^the proposed amendments of the Constitution. In view of the fact that we shall probably meet with opposition on the part of the press,I think it well to go a little further in this direction, and to quote a statement by the Argus. That newspaper, in urging that we should have placed each question separately before the people of Australia on the last occasion, made the statement that -
In November, 1910, the people of Oregon, United State of America, voted, by referendum, on thirty-two laws, on thirty-two distinct questions.
These quotations go to show that the chief objection raised by our opponents on the last occasion was that the several amendments of theConstitution proposed by us were bunched together, with the result that since they would not have the opportunity to vote separately for some of them, they could not support any. Now that we are removing this objection - now that we are proposing to allow the people to deal with each question separately, I think that the honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable member^for Flinders should be prepared to say, “ We are going to be consistent with our former attitude and vote for some, at least, of these proposals.” Instead of that, we find the honorable member for Wimmera - submitting to that party discipline which is exercised to a far greater extent ‘by his own party than it is by honorable members on this side of the House - going back on every word that he said when this matter was before us on a previous occasion. This is not the first time that we have found honorable members advising us to take a certain action’, and, when we have followed their advice, condemning us for doing so. Unlike Mrs. Sneerwell, in the School for Scandal, who was always trying to reduce other people to her own level, and when’ she had succeeded in doing so, appeared to be perfectly happy, the Opposition, now that we havecome down to their own level - now that we have taken their advice and have decided to put these questions separately - instead of looking cheerful and happy, seem to be quite the reverse. They now declare, “It is true that you have done what we asked you to do in. regard to the submission of these questions separately to the people, but still we are not going to support them.” As to the trade and commerce power for which we ask, I would emphasize the point that we are seeking merely to secure the same power to deal with trade and commerce within a State that we have in respect of trade and commerce between any two States. 1 should like the Opposition to ‘show whether there can be any serious objection to the proposal to give to the National Parliament the power to deal with that which the honorable member for Flinders himself has described as a national question. We have at present unlimited power to deal with trade and commerce between, say, Melbourne and Sydney, or Albury and Wodonga, yet, although there can be no material difference in the position, we have no such power over trade and commerce between Melbourne and Wodonga, inasmuch as they are both within the same State. The Opposition have never shown that there is any essential difference between trade and commerce between, say, Wodonga and Albury, and between’ Wodonga and Melbourne.
– The States have powerto deal with trade and commerce within their several boundaries.
– Can the honorable member point to any dividing line between trade and commerce within a State and trade and commerce between two States, which is such as should lead the people to say that the one should be under the control of the State Parliaments, while the other should be controlled by the National power.
– The States have the power for which the Commonwealth now asks.
– I have never heard any better reason than that just offered by the honorable member for Moreton in opposition to our proposal to secure power over trade and commerce within a State, as well as between the States. Surely no one will say that it is a sufficient one. To me, and to most honorable members on this side of the House, the power for which we are asking to deal with trusts and combines is all-important in the interests of the people. I ask honorable members to recall what was said during the last referenda campaign in respect of this matter. It was then asserted, not only in the public press, but by many honorable members of the Opposition, that there were no trusts or combines in Australia, and that, consequently, this power should not be given to the National Parliament.
– None working detrimentally to the public.
– I shall leave it at that. It was said at that time that there were no trusts in Australia, and that, therefore, the desired power should not be given to the National Parliament.
– They did not say that.
– I saw that statement in the newspapers ; as a matter of fact, I heard it come from the lips-
– The honorable member for Parkes made the statement in my electorate.
– Every one knows that’ the statement was made everywhere. The Attorney-General. I believe, told honorable members here that he had evidence to prove that £100,000 was put into a fund by the trusts of Australia to defeat our proposals.
– Where is that evidence? Mr. PARKER MOLONEY.- I have often stated on the platform that , £50,000 was put into a fund for that purpose.
– That was a wild statement.
– The honorable member might have to withdraw that, statement in response to a certain lady who is very much interested in the political welfare of his . party.
– I am always prepared tobow to the ladies, but not when they make statements of that sort.
– I like to prove my case from the lips of my opponents, and I think that the honorablemember, if he will not accept the testimony of my words, will probably accept the testimony of the words of the head organizer of the Australian Women’s National League, which supports his party. Here-: is a report of a speech delivered at Ballarat by Mrs.Berry, of the Australian Women’s National League, and it was from her lips that I got the statement that: £50,000 was spent in opposing the last referendum. From the official organ of that very august body I shall quote a statementwhich was made just before the last Stateelections, and, of course, after the referendum -
The Socialistic party, if it were returned in a majority at the coming State elections, could bring into operation all that it had asked thepeople to allow it to do at the late referenda, and the£50,000 which had been spent in defeating them lately was the best money everspent, so far.
– That is for Victoria.
– The honorable member for Illawarra, if he does not - believe me, can take that statement.
– The honorable member for Maribyrnong wished to insert the words “ in Victoria “ ; do those words appear Tn < the report ?
– Yes; it applies to Victoria. This quotation substantiates the statement of ‘ the Attorney-General that a large sum was spent on that occasion. Our opponents said at the last referendum that there were no trusts in Australia, but this lady, who supports the Opposition, said. that these trusts spent £50,000 in defeat ing the Constitution amendments.
– I do not think that she said “these trusts.”
– I wish to place before the people of this country the position as it appears to me. We have heard lately about the lot of money which the Colonial Sugar Refining Company spent then. The managing director did not contradict a statement which was made as to the sum paid by the company into a fund to defeat the referenda.
– He swore distinctly that he did not give that contribution - the one to which you refer.
– He did not do any such thing, as the honorable member must know.
– Read the AttorneyGeneral’s speech.
– He said that the counsel who was interrogating him was asking an impertinent question.
– No, read a bit further on ; get the speech which the Attorney-General made the other night.
– However, that is immaterial. The point is that the. managing director did not deny that the company paid a sum into a fund to defeat the referenda. We know that immediately the Constitution amendments were defeated the price of sugar went up ^3 I 2 S . 6d. per ton, and that, in a very little while, the amount put into the fund would be soon got back by reason of the increased price which was charged to the consumer in Australia. It is not only in regard to sugar that we have a monopoly in Australia.
– Why did not the Government initiate a prosecution?
– Order !
– Because you said the Act was ineffective.
– Order !
– I said only in respect to trusts operating within a State.
– I appeal to the honorable member for Wimmera and the honorable member for Werriwa to cease interjecting.
– The honorable member for Wimmera went out of the chamber when I was answering a statement he made in his speech, and now he is back he repeats what he said on his feet; that is hardly fair. Honorable members on the other side who represent country constituencies must realize that it is not only in the case of sugar that we have a monopoly. I know orchardists in my electorate who have stopped sending their fruit to the city because, as they told me candidly, they did not get enough money back to pay for the boxes or the freight. A little while ago there appeared in two or three columns of the Age a very carefully compiled table, which would open the eyes of any one who was interested in the fruit industry, as to where the profits go. It showed clearly that, while the men who had to undergo all the toil and trouble were not getting enough money to pay for the boxes and the freight, the middlemen, who stood in between the producer and the consumer, were making an enormous profit, and that the difference between the price to the grower and the retail price was something over 400 per cent., proving conclusively that the non-producers, and the class against whom these proposals are directed to-day are fleecing the producers of this country. I feel that it is not necessary to prove to any honorable members the existence of insidious trusts and combines in Australia, but, as I said before, I like to prove my argument out of the lips of my opponents. We have heard a great deal lately about the Beef Trust, and particularly have we heard of the existence of pernicious trusts in Australia from the lips of men who opposed the last referendum on the ground that trusts did not exist in this country. For instance, members of -the Victorian Parliament - both the Assembly and the Council - took a very active part in opposing the last proposals for that reason. Since then we have had members of the Legislative Council of this State standing up in their places and speaking about the disaster which is likely to befall this country if the American Beef Trust gets a footing on these shores.
– Because it will affect them personally.
– Exactly ; otherwise, they would not mind. In order to substantiate my statement that there is a Beef Trust in Australia - which, I think, promises to be the greatest enemy the producers of this country have ever had, unless something is done to check it at the beginning - let me quote the words which Mr. McWhae addressed to the Legislative Council of Victoria. He said -
The experience of the Argentine pointed out Australia’s great danger - and particularly Victoria’s. In five years the trust had cornered 31 per cent, of the sheep and lamb exports from that country, and 40 per cent, of the beef exports. Now it was after the 7,500,000 of sheep and lambs shipped from Australasia, and unless the Federal and State Legislatures realized the danger, and thwarted the trust by drastic measures, it would get hold of them.
Here is another statement made by the same gentleman -
The producer could not afford to risk it. Re, therefore, would sell his produce to Swift and Co., and have to take any price they liked to pay. As to the consumers, who must bear the eventual burden? The impost of the trust upon the Australian public, if it were 25 per cent., would amount to no less than £3,000,000 annually - a rather heavy burden on 4,500,000 people in Australia. A 25 per cent, increase would mean that £875,000 annually would be the trust’s charge on the meal tables of poor and rich alike.
– Is he a Liberal, or a Labour man?
– He is a very anti-Labour man - a very conservative gentleman in the Upper House of Victoria. Then we have the statement of Mr. Graham, a responsible Minister in the Watt Government, who had something very interesting to tell the producers of this country but a few weeks ago. Referring to the Shipping Combine, he told the people emphatically that the shipping space on the boats was taken up for the next three years, and that men in the country who wanted to export any of their produce, or frozen carcasses, would have to go, not to the shipowners, but to a band of men who are standing in between the ship-owners and the producers, and pay them an extra bonus to allow them to send their things away.
– Where was that statement made?
– That statement was made by a responsible Minister in the Watt Government, Mr. Graham.
– I was there with him, and he did not make that statement at all.
– If the honorable member will refer to the files of the daily newspapers of Melbourne, he will find that Mr. Graham, who is a responsible Minister, did make that statement.
– I repeat that Mr. Graham said that the space on the boats was taken up for a number of years ahead. Does the honorable gentleman deny that the space is taken up?
– Yes, I do.
– Then it is a case of the honorable member’s word against mine.
– The honorable member for. Cowper heard the evidence of Mr. Graham.
– I have the testimony of a responsible Minister in the State Government to prove what I am saying.
– I have the statement on oath.
– The honorable member will repudiate anything.
– Thank you !
– Perhaps the honorable gentleman will accept what the South Australian Wheat Commission stated in regard to the Wheat Combine. Here it is -
Owing to a Wheat Ring, the farmers of South Australia were robbed of 2d. a bushel on their wheat; and taking it on the yield for that year, they came to the conclusion, therefore, that the farmers of that State lost a sum equivalent to £167,000.
That means that the farmers of Australia in that year lost about £625,000. Honorable members opposite will, I am sure, accept the testimony of a Royal Commission. It has been found, after careful investigation by such a body, that stripper harvesters, which could be sold for £50 each, making provision for all the” expenses of manufacture, and allowing 10 per cent, on the capital invested, cost the farmers from £75 to £80 each.
– The minimum price is
– According to a Royal Commission, the farmers are fleeced to the extent of £25 on each machine sold, and as last year 8,700 of these machines were sold, the imposition on the farming community totalled £217,500. Seed drills, it was ascertained, can be manufactured and sold at a profit at £22 each, but the price charged for them is £36, or £14 more, and as 17,100 were sold last year, the farmers were done out of £239,400. A good deal has been said about the Standard Oil Company, and the last speaker told us that we have already ample powers under an Act on the statutebook to prosecute trusts and combines. The Act alluded to is a copy of what is known in America as the Sherman law, under which the Standard Oil Company was prosecuted recently, and fined £8,000,000. About 20,000,000 gallons, or 5,000,000 tins, of kerosene are annually imported into the Commonwealth, and as since the prosecution the price of oil in Australia has increased by 3d. a tin, it will be seen that the housewives of this country are paying the fine imposed on the Trust at the rate of £62,500 a year. But the point to which 1 chiefly direct attention is that the Trust was prosecuted under the law on which our law, which is said to be efficient, was based, and that, instead of being wiped out, it is to-day more prosperous than ever before. The pity is that, while there is ample evidence that various ‘trusts and combines are fleecing the producers of Australia, these corporations are paying big salaries to organizers to go round the country throwing dust in the eyes of the farmers by preaching false doctrines about the Labour party, and side-tracking them from the bigger issues which we wish to put before them. These paid organizers are going through the electorates making mountains out of molehills in respect to the demand for higher wages for rural workers. They are telling the farmers that they will be ruined by the wages which they will have to pay. The Commonwealth Government have no power in regard to the fixing of wages, that being a State matter ; but these persons have not the honesty to say that. Their statements are intended to take the minds of the farmers off the depredations and evil doings of the combines. The amount to which the farmers are fleeced by the high prices placed on stripper harvesters and other implements through the operations of trusts amount to many thousands a year more than the small increase in the rates of wages would amount to. Let me, in conclusion, draw attention to the dishonourable tactics resorted to by those who, on the last occasion, helped to defeat our proposals, by reading part of a publication which was circulated through every country electorate. This statement was made from public platforms, and was circulated in printed form -
If these amendments are carried, no farmer would be able to carry on his business in his own way. He would be dictated to as to how many hands he should employ, as to how many cows he should milk, as to the time occupied in taking his milk to the factory, and the time occupied in returning from the factory. His own sons would be forced into the union. Export duties would be placed upon wheat and the other primary products. Every industry would be nationalized, without those interested being consulted.
Honorable members opposite would be afraid to make that statement in this Chamber. They would not dare to stoop to such tactics here. But the organizers of their party are making it outside. The country should know that if this Parliament got all the powers that could be conferred upon it, it would have only the powers now possessed by the Parliaments of the States.
– Not such great powers.
– There are two Labour Governments in office in the States, and I ask, therefore, why this power, which it is said would be used to the detriment of the people, if given to the National Government, is not so used by these State Governments?
– Because they are not lunatics.
– If any Government, Labour or anti-Labour, does mad things, the people have a remedy ; it can put it out of office by voting against it. This Commonwealth Parliament should have the same power as is possessed by the: National Assembly in the case of Germany, Canada, and Switzerland. We do not ask anything more. We ask for this power for the sake of the national wellbeing. Other Governments whose projects, are defeated shelve them, but I am pleased to be associated with a Government that is manly enough to connect their names with their proposals, and are prepared to act according to their conscience for the welfare of the people.
– I” shall not deal with this matter for the sake of making political capital at the general elections, which are soon to take place ; I shall discuss it on its merits* showing that there is no good reason for giving to this Parliament the powers that are asked for. I have not changed my opinion on this subject since the matter was debated in the latter part of 19 10, not having sufficient ground for departing from the position which I took up then, and a little later, when addressing the people of my State on the proposals of the Government.
This is the second attempt of the Labour party to amend the Constitution, and the fact that on the 26th April, 191 1, the people refused to allow them to do what they wished to do is being absolutely disregarded. A heading which I saw recently in a South Australian newspaper amused me considerably, because I thought that it was very applicable to these proposals ; it was. “The same old monkey dressed up.” The proposals which we are now discussing are practically the same as those which were rejected by the electors about eighteen months ago. The Labour party now asks the electors to reverse their decision.
They say to them, in effect, “ You did not know your own mind last time, and acted foolishly. We, the Labour party, know what is good for you, and understand what is best. You do not. We demand, therefore, that you shall stultify yourselves by voting again in contradiction of your previous vote.”
On the 26th April, 191 1, there were on the rolls 2,341,624 electors, of whom only 483,356, or about one-fifth, voted for the proposals of the Government, or 259,348 fewer than voted against them. It cannot he said that the people took much interest in these proposals, seeing that only about half of those on the roll voted, and that only one-fifth of those enrolled voted for the proposals. The popular decision, however, on that occasion, was a decisive vote of want of confidence in the Ministry, and most Governments upon being defeated in such an ignominious manner on a principal part of their policy would have seriously considered their position. But honorable members opposite, although they felt their defeat bitterly, did not do that. They threatened at first “to re-submit their proposals at once, but wiser counsels prevailed. The verdict which the people gave on the occasion of the last referenda has been treated with contempt. It has had no effect upon honorable members opposite. They have not reconsidered their views. The Government have introduced this Bill, and intend to re-submit to the electors, though not in the exact form, the same proposals that were so overwhelmingly rejected at the last referenda. Apparently it has not occurred to them that in asking the people to reverse their verdict in such a short time they are treating them with contempt. They could hardly treat the electors with more arrogance or with more effrontery than to ask them, within two years of their registering such a decisive verdict, to reverse it. Such a course of action, I maintain, is tantamount to flouting them, and to treating them with contempt. I do not wish to conceal the fact that in Western Australia a majority voted in favour of the Government proposal. But, after all, it was a small victory. Very little interest appears to have been taken in those proposals in that State. As a matter of fact, only 33,043 electors out of 1.38,697 on the rolls voted in favour of it. In other words, less than one-fourth supported the Government proposals. In my opinion, the time has arrived when the electors should be asked to decide whether the Federation, which was established about eleven years ago, when they voluntarily surrendered all the powers that we now possess, shall continue, or whether an unitary form of government shall be substituted for it. In this matter there is no half-way resting place. Either we must have a Federal system, in which the Federal Government will control InterState and national affairs, whilst the State Governments will control local and internal affairs, or we must have a Unification. What is the wish of the people in regard to this matter? I shall have no hesitation in advising them to let well alone, and to continue the Federation which they of their own volition established. In my judgment, these proposals strike at the very root of the Federal system. If adopted, they mean the complete control by the Commonwealth Executive of practically everything connected with the daily lives of the people. I do not think that is desirable. I do not think that the Federation has yet been fairly tried. We scarcely know the powers which we possess. Very few indeed of the powers which are the subject of controversy have been submitted for decision to the High Court. Consequently these are early days to talk about destroying the Federation and substituting for it another form of government which, in my opinion, is altogether unsuited to our requirements. I do not think that the people of Australia would be more contented, more prosperous, or happier under a different form of government. There never was an occasion in modern times when they had a better chance of working out their own destiny than they have now, when national matters are dealt with by the Commonwealth Parliament and local matters by the State Parliaments, the two working harmoniously together. I see no reason why the greatest harmony should not exist between the Federal and State authorities. I blame the Governments - Federal and State - for any lack of harmony which has existed, and I think that the people ought to correct that lack of harmony. They did not set up Governments to quarrel with one another. Then I may ask, “ Who is it that desires the proposed change?” I believe that the people will be well satisfied with our Constitution if it be given fair play. But I recognise that there is a class of the community which is dissatisfied, and it consists chiefly of those who opposed Federation, and who favour Unification. I venture to say that if their efforts are successful at the forthcoming election, they will afterwards clamour most to regain the powers of local self-government which we shall have lost. Good government requires that the governing authority shall be close to the people who are governed. If we wish to do well, we must be close to the business with which we are identified, in order that we may control it. Consequently, a central Government, vested with great powers, is unsuited and inimical to the interests of the people of an immense continent like Australia. We have not far to look for examples of this. Even in our own day we clamoured for self-governing powers, because the people, small in numbers, but full of energy and of a determination to improve the conditions of this country, desired to be released from the authority of Downing-street.
Why did they wish to be relieved from that authority? Not because there was any want of sympathy between Downing-street and the people of Australia. It was because of the distance that Downing-street was removed fromthem, and because that distance engendered a feeling that the authorities there did not understand our business. When Mr. Gladstone was introducing his Home Rule Bill, I recollect that he spoke of the desire of the Irish people for selfgovernment. He said that British Ministers had tried again and again to give them what they required. He declared that they had repeatedly gone out of their way to conciliate and assist them. He affirmed that Ministers had given- them good laws, but he added that their reply was, “We do not want your good laws ; we want our own laws.” That is what the States of Australia say in regard to their internal and local affairs. If we seek to manage their affairs for them from a distance we shall not give them satisfaction. We know that municipal councils, shire councils, road boards, &c, have all been established for the purpose of dealing with local matters, and that we have the State Parliaments to look after their own internal affairs. Only a minute or two ago, I remarked that the Commonwealth and the States ought to work harmoniously together. I do not know what some may think is the reason that harmony has not existed between them to a greater extent. But I do know that the party which is in power has always been dissatisfied with the existing sys tem of government, and has consistently endeavoured to invade the powers of the States. Instead of being generous and friendly towards them, they have been arrogant and determined pirates.
The Commonwealth has sought to control the State servants ; depleted the State revenues ; taxed the State lands for the purpose, as it is said, of compelling closer settlement, which, however, is not within the Commonwealth power; taxed the imports of the States, including even the steel rails that are required for the railways for the development of the country, and now propose to take away nearly all their remaining powers. Such, has been the treatment meted out to the States; and even admitting the statements made opposite as to the action of the State Governments, I think the balance, from the point of view of harmonious working, as between the two authorities, is against the Federal Government. Further, the States have been treated with contempt in this House. I have often been pained, and so, I think, have many other honorable members, at the manner in which the States have been regarded by honorable members opposite. For a long period the States could not be mentioned without their calling forth expressions of contempt or jeering; and now, after practically taking away the State Savings Banks, and invading their legislative arena, it is proposed to absorb their power of internal and local control.
A member of the Labour Ministry in my own State not long ago said that what may be described as a bleeding process was to be the policy of his party. Labour members opposite say that they have no intention to kill the States by one act of violence, but by slow degrees, first by taking away the revenues, and then by taking away their powers, rendering the States incapable of fulfilling their duties and obligations. Then, I suppose, the States are to be allowed to die in peace.
What do the proposed amendments of the Constitution mean? When the question was last before us, the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Ballarat, in a memorandum he issued set forth the position; and I cannot do better than quote him as follows -
It transfers to the Commonwealth Parliament power over all wages and conditions of labour and employment in any trade or industry, whether city or rural, producing or manufacturing, farming, dairying, or pastoral, over all callings of whatever character, and also over trade, commerce, business, licensed houses, traffic, transportation, whether general or local, National or State, together with the control of navigation and railways, and of all corporations and companies of every- description.
To that I may add that the amendments before us mean the nationalization of industries and all means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the arbitrary fixing of prices of everything that is produced or manufactured in Australia - the control of the sale of goods and merchandise by bakers, millers, butchers, grocers, and drapers, the sale of intoxicants, and markets, both municipal and private. That is the goal to which these proposals lead us, and which can be easily reached by means of the powers now desired by the Government. It is said that it is not intended to go fast, but slowly, to that ultimate end. We know, however, that if once the powers are given, the States are done for. If power is given into the hands of any person, it is for him solely to say, after being invested with the power, whether it shall be used speedily or slowly ; and the powers proposed ought not to be granted on the plea, that they are not likely to b” used. Under all the circumstances, it would be much safer to leave the powers in the possession of the States.
It seems to me that the withdrawal of the self-governing powers from the States win destroy the Federation as it was adopted by the Australian people in 1901, and will altogether alter the distribution of powers. The Leader of the Opposition further said -
It was recognised that the immense extent of Australia, the sparseness of its settlement, and the distances and contrasts between the varied areas, made it impossible to meet the necessities of all its citizens, except by the activities: of a number of Local Governments organized in a National Union.
If these powers of local self-government are taken away from the States, what will really be left to them? I should like the Attorney-General to give us a list of what powers will be left in the absolute possession of the States.
– The same powers as now.
– No; in my opinion very few powers will be left to the States. Although legislation cannot extend powers thus taken over, it can amplify them to such a degree as to make themscarcely recognisable. The only powers, so far as I can see, that will be left to the States are those concerning lands and mines, and even these are subject to Federal taxation; indeed, we know that it is quite within the power of the Federal Parliament to practically tax both landsand mines out of existence.
– Education will1 be left to the States.
– Yes, that is so, and it is not a revenue producer. My belief is that if the Commonwealthand the State industrial tribunals work reasonably together, all that is required* can be secured without any of these proposed amendments. I believe in a Federal Court of Arbitration to deal with disputes that extend beyond the limit of st State; but I see no reason why interna! disputes should not be dealt with by local tribunals. I think, however, that the Federal Court should be much stronger than it is at present, consisting of, at any rate, three persons on life appointments subject only to good behaviour. One manought not to have control of all the industries of Australia. Powers so great and far-reaching, applicable over such an- immense area, should not be exercised by one man,, however wise, learned, or honest he may be. Such a system is, in my opinion, beyond what is reasonable, and can never give satisfaction ; indeed, it appears tome unwise and almost foolish. Of course, honorable members know that there is nopersonal application in what I am now saying.
– What about Chief Justice Griffith?
– I am not dealing with individuals; and I should have just as much objection to Chief Justice Griffith as I have to any other one man exercising similar powers. The present, system is not likely to be found a success ; and that one man, selected because he is learned in -the law, without any practical knowledge of the varied matters submitted to him, should1 have control of the industrial life of Australia is almost unthinkable. We are told that “ in the multitude of counsellors there is safety,” and that certainly applies to our Industrial Courts. I hold very strongopinions on this question, and I have no doubt that my views will find favour later on. We have Courts of Appeal for the most trivial of business disputes, in order that ultimate justice may be obtained; but in the case of the Arbitration Court there is little or no appeal.
The Prime Minister, and, I think, also the Attorney-General, has said that even if these additional powers are granted, the Commonwealth will have less power than is enjoyed by the Central Governments of the United States of America and Canada. That would be a very strong argument if it were a fact; but is it a fact? I think I shall be able to prove that the position is not as stated. Mr. Bryce has been mentioned ; and I think he is the greatest living authority on Constitutions. I regard him as one of the most learned and experienced men in the whole civilized world, as is shown by the positions he has held and by his record from the time of his being a ’ double first “ at Oxford to the present day. In connexion with such subjects he ranks as one of the great ones of the earth. At page 493 of his *Studies in History and Jurisprudence he gives his opinion of the Australian Commonwealth in the following terms -
Now the range of powers granted to the National or Commonwealth Parliament is very wide - wider than that of Congress, or of the Swiss National Assembly, or even of the Dominion Parliament of Canada.
What becomes of the assertion of the Prime Minister in face pf that expression of opinion? I take my stand on the authority of this great jurist.
But let us compare for ourselves the- Constitutions of the United States and Canada with ours. The trade and commerce power of Congress is defined in these words -
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, -and among the several States.
I submit that that is exactly the same power as is conferred by our Constitution, which uses the words -
Trade and commerce with other countries, and
Among the States.
The power which this Parliament enjoys to-day is exactly the same power that is enjoyed and exercised by Congress in governing 90,000,000 people, and under which they have lived and prospered for over 100 years. Surely it might suffice for Australia with 4,500,000. The people of America flourish under their Constitution, and we are flourishing under ours. Indeed, honorable members opposite have claimed that Australia was never so flourishing as she is to-day. The Constitution certainly has not hindered the progress of the people. The trade and commerce power under the Canadian Constitution is conferred in these terms -
The regulation of trade and commerce.
But exclusive power is given to the provinces in regard to several matters. These are shop, saloon, tavern, auctioneer, and other- licences; the incorporation of companies with Provincial objects; property and civil rights in the Provinces; and generally all matters of a merely local or private nature in the Provinces. Where are any of these exclusive reservations in the proposals now before us?
– All those matters are subject to regulation by the Dominion Parliament.
– No; exclusive power is given to the Provinces in regard to them under the Constitution itself - that is to say, under the North America Act. But there are no reservations in these proposals. Lefroy, in his Legislative Power in Canada, page 558, says -
It is manifest that by the words “ trade and commerce,” it was intended to express legislation over the general interests of commerce, which relate to the whole Dominion of Canada, the mode of importing and exporting merchandise, the storing of this merchandise in towns, so as to protect the Customs; entire prohibition in certain cases f-,r the general protection of the commerce of the Dominion : But not special laws of provincial Legislatures, which do nothing more than regulate the mode of selling and trading in certain matters of a merely local nature in the province.
The result of the interpretation of the Canadian trade and commerce power has been to make it approximate to that of our Commonwealth Constitution.
The Attorney-General’s speech on the Trade and Commerce Bill was an indictment against the whole world of business. He said, however -
Combines make for economy, and, as frequently do individuals, they treat their employes well.
He did not deal in detail with any combine in Australia, but reserved his criticism for America and other parts of the world. If there are terrible combines injurious to the people operating in Australia, why were they not referred to by the AttorneyGeneral? Why have they not been prosecuted, and exposed, and punished?
– We have no power ; the right honorable member knows that.
– I say that We have plenty of power. The AttorneyGeneral referred to the matter of rails for the transcontinental railway. He blamed1 the Steel Trust, but he should have blamed the bungling mismanagement of his Government and his colleague the Minister of Home Affairs. We have heard a great deal about business men and business
Governments, but it seems to me that this one transaction shows the business capacity and knowledge of the Government in a very unfavorable light.
It has been said, and will be said again, no doubt, on this and other occasions, that the Liberal party have sympathy with combinations which are injurious to the public and are in restraint of trade. I wish to say for myself and those who are associated with me that, as far as I know, we are absolutely opposed to all such wrongdoing. One of the main planks of our platform is -
To control by law the operations of trusts and combines acting detrimentally to the interests of the public.
But they must be injurious to the public before we would interfere with them; they must be in restraint of trade. Our test is that they must be injurious to the public. Otherwise they can go on their way rejoicing.
The Attorney-General has cited the Coal Vend case as a reason for this amendment qf the Constitution. But my honorable friend the member for Bendigo has conclusively shown that that case failed on its merits, and not through any defect in the law. The High Court considered that the Vend was not an injurious combine. There is plenty of evidence to show that honorable members opposite have applauded combines, and, indeed, this very “ Coal Vend Combine.” They have applauded those which they consider to be favorable to the interests of workmen. The High Court, in the Coal Vend case, ruled that -
The Crown had failed to prove any intent to cause detriment to the public.
Consequently, it was not because of any defect or insufficiency in the law that the case failed. It failed on its merits, and it was not proved that there was any intent on the part of the Vend to operate detrimentally to the public. As a matter of fact, we all know that the Labour party, in and out of this House, has supported the Coal Vend Combine. The AttorneyGeneral himself has said concerning it -
I look upon the Coal Vend Combine as a really good thing for the miners, and I do not think it is altogether prejudicial to the public interest.
Senator Henderson said ;
It has materially increased the selling price of coal, and also the wages of the men who produced it. The Coal Combine has done much good service up to the present moment.
Mr. Watson, whom we all remember as a member of this House, said in 1906 -
We should take care that nothing is done to prevent such legitimate combinations amongst the coal-mine owners as may enable them to get a fair profit on the capital invested, and to insure fair wages to the employes.
There is not a word about the interest of the consumers. The honorable member for Newcastle also said -
The Newcastle miners have practically gone out on strike to get a general agreement with the coal-mine proprietors, and, incidentally., tearing them into a combination so as to put the business on a fair basis.
– What is the date of that?
– I am quoting from Hansard of 3rd July, 1906, pages 93*5-7-
Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 p.m.
– The AttorneyGeneral, in The Case for Labour, wrote -
It is not only illogical and unfair to complaint about the trusts; it is also very foolish. Foi the trust is really a labour-saving device, andi the latest and most effective.
The anti-Socialist who wishes to destroy trusts, is like the Luddites, who wished to* destroy machinery. The anti-Socialist is still a troglodyte in this matter. He wants to club the trust.
In the Sydney Daily Telegraph, of 3rd March, 1911, the honorable member is reported’ to have said -
Prices of half the things we ate, drank andi wore were regulated by an arrangement between combines, trusts, and rings ia the country. Hedid not condemn that. He had no criticism foc it.
That was his opinion. Whether injurious to the public or not, “ he did not condemn, it - he had no criticism for it.” Yet wehave had the spectacle of the same honorable member trying his best a few days ago, in this House, to prove that the same Coal Vend Proprietary was causing, and’ had caused, injury to the people of the Commonwealth ; that it was detrimental to the public interests, and ought to have been, heavily fined, or otherwise punished. Because the High Court determined that the Coal Vend, to use his own words, was a really good thing for the miners, and wasnot altogether prejudicial to the public inrterests ; because the Court also agreed with the opinion expressed by Mr. Watson, the honorable member for Newcastle, and man> other honorable members of his party - because indeed the High Court agreed* with the Labour party in this House, that- the Vend was not an injurious combine - the Attorney-General was absolutely enraged, and adversely criticised both the Court and the Chief Justice. I submit that the law of the Constitution is strong enough, being, in regard to “ trade and commerce,” the same as the Constitution of the United States of America after an experience of over 100 years. The United States, with its population of 90,000,000, has the same Constitution as we have, and I submit that our Constitution is strong enough for our requirements. I submit, also, that the decisions of the High Court in declaring some laws passed by this Parliament to be ultra vires, has done no harm whatever to the Commonwealth. In the only instance in which a combine was prosecuted, the case failed on the facts, and not on account of -any defect in the legal power.
One would think there would be frequent prosecutions of trusts and combines if a good case could be made out against them. I have no sympathy with combines, or with any body of people who are acting prejudicially to the public interests; and, if a case can be made out against any trust, it should be prosecuted.
The object of these proposals is to undermine and destroy the Federal Constitution ; to substitute Unification in its place, and to nationalize all sources of production, distribution, and exchange. That, honorable members opposite would have us believe, is the cure for all evils. The States have all the powers necessary for their internal control and management. Surely we’ must credit them with knowing what they want. We must not forget that the people of the States are the people of the Commonwealth, and that we are constantly being told, especially by the Labour party, that the country is prosperous. That being so, why all this turmoil? If trusts and combines oppress the people, they have ready to their hand the power tn suppress them. One would think that the people of the States were foolish - that they did not know what was good for them - and that all the wisdom reposed in us. The Commonwealth Parliament has control of external trade, of Inter-State trade, and of imports and exports. And yet we are not satisfied, but desire to invade the internal trade of each State. I shall conclude by giving twelve reasons that have influenced me in opposing the proposed amendments of clause 51 of the Constitution.
– Are they the right honorable member’s own opinions?
– Yes, that is why I give them. They are as follows: -
Federal Parliament, with the control of all Socal and domestic business, will delay the passage of necessary Federal legislation; will impair the administration of public affairs, and destroy its efficiency as an instrument of government.
.- The right honorable member for Swan, who has just resumed his seat, began his criticism in condemnation of this Bill by telling us that our proposals for the amendment of the Constitution were submitted to the people last year, and that, inasmuch as they were> turned down by a very large majority, they should not be re-submitted. I would remind the right honorable member that he was a member of a Fusion Government, who submitted themselves to the people as a Government with a policy, and that, although the people turned them down, they are going presently to re-submit themselves to the electors with a view of securing their return to the Treasury benches. Other members of that Government and their party who were dropped by the people with a dull, sickening thud at the last general election are now most active in seeking once more the suffrages of the people, and in asking them to change their minds with respect to them. It is quite true, as the right honorable member has said, that we have not changed our views upon this question. We have not done so because the views we held then are still considered by us to be right. If the people made a mistake, they could hardly be blamed in the circumstances. The measures were complicated, and full of legal technicalities. It was difficult for the people to gain even a partial acquaintance with the facts, and when we consider that, in addition, almost the whole press- of Australia united in misrepresenting the facts ; that the paid agents of the trusts and com- bines went round the- country making statements that were not true, we can well understand that the people had no opportunity on that occasion to asoertain the truth of the case presented. Knowing that this is a complicated and technical question, and realizing that any arguments that one might advance after all would be taken as merely representing the opinions of the man who expressed them, I am going to-night to try, to some- extent at least, to prove the case for these Bills, and to adduce almost entirely from the Opposition the evidence which shows their necessity. Before proceeding to do so, I should like to have the position made plain. What is this Constitution of ours which some honorable members regard as sacrosanct ? It is something which was made by the people, and can be amended by the people. When an organization of any description - a football association, a friendly society, or a trade union - is formed, it draws up a set of rules, and if, in their working, it is found that they are such that the majority of the members cannot give expression to their wishes, the natural and sane thing for ‘that organization to do is to amend its rules.
– And that is done with. State legislation.
– We have the same position with regard to State legislation of all kinds. The Federal Constitution is a set of rules under which the Federal Parliament shall work, and if, as the result of experience, we find, as we have found, that under therm we , cannot give expression to the declared wish of the people, then it is very natural that we should ask the people who framed . that set of rules to amend it in such a direction as will enable us to give effect to their wishes. There are two statements I shall make, and endeavour to prove by the’ evidence of the Opposition. The one is that our Constitution does not give us the power which the framers of the Constitution believed that it did. The other is that the Constitution does not give us power to carry out the wishes of the people as expressed, on at least two occasions, at a general election. To those who say that the Constitution should not be altered - that it is a sacred document adopted by the will of the people and framed by the wise men of twelve years ago-I would say that all wisdom! did not die with the framing of the Constitution, and that even the framers of the Constitution themselves made provision in the Constitution for its alteration. A writer has said, “ The man who talks about an unalterable law is an unalterable fool.” I indorse that opinion. After the Convention which sat in Melbourne rose, the present Leader of the Opposition made this statement -
In this Constitution much has to be supplied out of our experience. It is but the framework and ground plan of the nation that is to be.
I ask whether we are to be content for ever with an edifice which has been described as merely a ground plan and framework? Are we never to put a roof on to keep out the weather, or attach a few boards to the framework to keep us warm ? Are we to be content with a framework or ground plan, when we might build up a proper Constitution for this country ? I have turned to some back files of the newspaper, and I find that the Argus issued a special supplement dealing with Federation on the 21st July, 1899, from which I quote this passage
The Constitution is not cast-iron, but is comparatively easily amended, so as to give free play to evolution, even in the Federal compact.
Professor Harrison Moore, of the Melbourne University, writing to the Argus on the same occasion, said that -
He attributed the Canadian system to a desire to avoid the scandals which occur, owing to the diversity of laws, in the American States.
The honorable member for Wimmera, who this afternoon qualified for a position in Wirth’s Circus as a political acrobat, made this statement on a former occasion -
Our Constitution has the greatest number of limitations to be found in any Federal Constitution.
The honorable member for Flinders said -
In Australia, at the present time, we live under one of the weakest Federal unions in the world.
I submit these opinions for the reconsideration of honorable members opposite in dealing with this question. There are two features that are outstanding in connexion with this discussion. For what reasons do we ask for these powers from the people? What are the important things we desire to do? What is the great work that is facing the great National Parliament of Australia ? There are two big things which loom larger as the years go by. One is industrial unrest, which is manifesting itself all over the civilized world, and the other is the growing power of trusts and combines, which likewise are spreading throughout the nations. We ask for power at least to mini mize the evils of both these great dangers that, are with us to-day, and are growing more dread and powerful year by year. Whenwe ask for the fullest possible powers to establish the principle of arbitration to deal with industrial disputes wherever they occur, are we asking for something that is. not approved by the people of the Commonwealth? We know that, on the contrary, we are asking for something the principle of which no honorable member or* the opposite side will dare to dispute or deny. If it be a good thing to introduceindustrial peace in connexion with a dispute that is Inter- State, is it not an equally good thing to establish industrial peace inconnexion with a dispute that is Intra- State?’ Where is the sense of a National Parliament establishing a Court which haspower to .settle a dispute if it extendsbeyond the limits of a State, but cannot: settle a dispute within a State ? Would any sane man say, if his front room were on’ fire, that he would refuse to call in the brigade until the fire had reached the kitchen? Applying the argument to our defence, should we, if an enemy landed oni the shores of Western Australia, from which* the honorable member for Swan comes, refuse to call out the Military Forcesuntil the enemy came into another State?’ The thing is ridiculous on the face of it. We say that if the principle of arbitration’ be sound and just, it is a principle which should be applied throughout the different States of the Commonwealth, even thoughthe dispute to be dealt with be confined? to one State. Honorable members opposite have told us to-day that they are greatbelievers in unionism. They say that they believe, and have always believed, in industrial unionism, but what they object to» is a unionism that associates itself with politics. Let me remind my honorable friends that there is a growing power in unionism to-day whichrepudiates all political action, and repudiates this party, because we believe inpolitical action .and in arbitration. If honorable members opposite associate themselves with the form of unionism that does’not believe in political action for the redress of grievances they are advocates of syndicalism in every shape and form. Syndicalism believes in the settlement of the troubles of the working classes without resort to the machine of politics. Thisparty stands for arbitration, for the settlement of industrial disputes between employers and employes, and is consequently against syndicalism. Those who refuse to extend the principle of arbitration are advocates of syndicalism and advocates of the strike, because that is the only means by which industrial disputes may be settled if we refuse the extension of the principles of arbitration. The Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was introduced in this Parliament in 1903, and was finally passed in 1904. During the discussion of the measure the honorable member for Angas was twitting the honorable member for Ballarat, who then led the Government, and sat opposite to the honorable member for Angas, with some remarks he had made in the Convention, and the honorable member for Ballarat replied in these terms -
My own view was that industrial legislation should be left wholly in the hands of the States until the Federal Parliament assumed this power, and that after it had assumed responsibility, industrial legislation for the whole of the Commonwealth should be in the hands of the Federal Legislature. That is the opinion I held then, and I still hold. The honorable member for Angas is a candid opponent of the Bill as a whole. He does not approve of compulsory arbitration ; and arbitration he has consistently opposed.
– Who said that?
– The honorable member for Ballarat made those remarks in reply to the honorable member for Angas. The honorable member for Angas is still of the same opinion. What opinion does the honorable member for Ballarat hold? We have had the honorable member for Wimmera, in common with many others, telling us that honorable members opposite are free men. If that be a specimen of their freedom I do not envy the people who elect free men of that description to represent them. We are freer than honorable members opposite when it comes to the question of the Caucus ; but I confess we are not free to change our opinions every session, and break the promises that we have given to the people of this country. I have said that the framers of our Constitution believed that it contained greater powers than it does. I intend to prove that by a reference to their own actions. We have in this Parliament some of the framers of the Constitution, and amongst them the Leader of the Opposition. He was head of the Government that brought down the new Protection. If he brought down that proposal, believing that it was constitutional, it proves that he believed that the Constitution gave this Parliament greater power than it did. If he brought it down, believing that it was unconstitutional, then there are no words to describe his action which would be parliamentary. I believe that the honorable gentleman honestly thought that he had the power to give effect to the principles of new Protection. I have said that the people have asked for something which under this Constitution Parliament cannot give them. My proof of that statement is that in 1906 an appeal was made to the electors by three political parties - the Reid-C’ook party, the Deakin party, and the Labour party. The Labour party and the Deakin party had the new Protection on their platforms. The honorable member for Ballarat, speaking at that city, described it as “ Protection to the manufacturer, the worker, and the consumer.” He rightly said that it was the only scientific Protection for Australia. I indorsed that opinion then from the public platform, although I was an opponent of the honorable member for Ballarat at the time. I indorse it now. It is the only scientific Protection to-day for the people of Australia. An overwhelming majority of those who were returned to this Parliament in 1906 was in favour of the new Protection. An attempt was made to keep faith with the people. The Excise (Agricultural Machinery) Act was passed, and honorable members know the fate of that measure. They know how the Harvester case was fought. They know that men like Mr. H. V. McKay wrote columns to the newspapers supporting the candidature of the honorable member for Ballarat, and asking the workers to enable’ him to secure for them the prin-: ciples of new Protection. We know that Mr. McKay got his Protection, and then fought in the Law Courts to prevent it being extended to the workers in his factory and the farmers who bought his machinery to till their land. In 1907 the Government of which the honorable member for Ballarat was the head placed on the table of this House a memorandum, from which I quote the following words - .
Effective and useful as State industrial laws have been, they do not secure uniformity in the conditions of manufacture throughout Australia. No authority but the Commonwealth Parliament can do this. . . . These proposals cover the ground already occupied by legislation in some of the States.
When the Court case was decided, and it was found that the Constitutiondid not allow the principles of new Protection to be given effect, the honorable member for Ballarat came down with another memorandum on 28th October, 1908, in which he said -
As the power to protect the manufacturer is national, it follows that unless the Parliament of the Commonwealth also acquires power to secure fair and reasonable conditions of employment to wage-earners, the policy of Protection must remain incomplete.
The policy of Protection remains to-day as incomplete as it was then. When the honorable member for Ballarat was asked whenhe would have the Constitution altered, as he promised in that memorandum, he said, “ Certainly not later than the next Federal election.” When he was asked why he should extend the time to eighteen months, he explained that it was because of the convenience and economy that would result from the taking of a vote of the people at a general election. But last week, in this House, lie criticised the present Government for proposing to take this referendum simultaneously with the general election. Blow hot or blow cold, it is impossible for us to please honorable members opposite. Nothing short of a position on these benches will satisfy them. Let me carry the history of the new Protection a little further. Speaking at Ballarat in his policy speech on the 7th February, 1.910, during the last Federal campaign, the Leader of the Opposition said -
We propose that what is called the New Protection shall not be limited to protected industries. We propose to establish Protection in all industries in Australia, whether subject to fiscal Protection or not. The securing of fair conditions of employment is a matter of grave national concern.
Mr. Justice Higgins, speaking from the High Court Bench, and referring to the cost and delay in connexion with arbitration, said -
The cost and delay of arbitration are chiefly due to the efforts of some to prevent any arbitration at all, and they are entitled to avail themselves of the law as it stands. But this Act was meant for practical purposes of the public, peace, and not for a game of infamous word-splitting.
To what did His Honour refer? I refer honorable members to a speech delivered by the honorable member for Flinders, in which he pointed out that every word in the industrial powers section of the Constitution, with the exception of the words “ extending beyond the limits of a State,” was the subject of litigation, and the honorable gentleman added, with a twinkle in his eye, “ When those words are gone I, as a lawyer, will lose an old friend.” I must give the honorable gentleman the credit of saying that he deposits in the Savings Banks of the Stateswas advocating the abolition of these limitations, even though it meant for himparting with an old friend. The honorable member for Swan told us that this extension of power should not be granted, because the Commonwealth does not deal properly with the States, but treats them as if they were pirates. Among other things, he said that we had taken away the Savings Banks of the States. Is that true? Has the right honorable gentleman any evidence with which to substantiate that statement ? Are not the- Savings Banks of the States still in existence?” Have their deposits been depleted ? If he had taken care to make himself acquainted? with the facts, he would know that the have increased more rapidly since the Commonwealth Savings Bank was established! than ever before, the increase amounting to £2,000,000. Instead of ascertaining the facts, honorable members opposite raise the cry that the Savings Banks are being depleted, and mislead the public. They are anti-Australian, and if the people believed them would do more by their speeches to discredit the country than a drought could do. An ex-Treasurer should not make statements which are not justified by the facts. The right honorable member says that we have taxed the land of the States. I have yet to learn that the land belongs to the State authorities ; it is the people’s land. We tax that land because we were sent here with a mandate from the people to tax it. The right honorable member says that we tax the States’ goods at the Customs, but he was a Minister of the first Government to put Commonwealth duties on the goods of the States. Then we had brought out an old friend that did1 so much service in the referendum campaign - the Home Rule argument. We were told about the people of Ireland and their demand for Home Rule. There was never a case more distorted than the case for Home Rule during the last referendum campaign. There is not the slightest analogy between the political position that Australia would occupy even under Unification and the political position of IrelandIreland is a nation as Australia is a nation. If the proposed amendments of the Constitution meant Unification and the abolition of the Parliaments of the States, which they do not, Australia would still have HomeRule as South Africa has Home Rule. To have a Federal Constitution in Ireland1 it would be necessary to have a National Parliament and provincial Parliaments possessing sovereign powers. The Home Rule argument has been raised to mislead the public. It has been trotted out to touch their sympathies.
– It will be trotted out again. I shall trot it out. The present proposals amount to a gross inconsistency on the part of the Labour party.
– I have not the slightest doubt that the Home Rule argument will be trotted out again, and that the misrepresentation that I complain of will be continued. We have been warned of that, and expect it. We do not expect that the facts will be rightly stated. The right honorable member for Swan asked us what powers the States would have left if the proposed amendments of the Constitution were made, and the honorable and learned member for Ballarat said that the State authorities -would be like so many stuffed birds in a /glass case in a museum. Such extravagant language is amazing. The right honorable member for Swan asked, “ Will you prepare a list of the powers that the States will have left if the Constitution is amended as proposed?” There has not (been much time at my disposal since the Tight honorable member made his’ speech, but I have compiled a rough list of the powers that the State Parliaments will have if our proposals are agreed to and carried into effect. We do not ask for a single new power ; we merely ask that powers on the exercise of which limitations are now imposed may be made unlimited. If effect is given to our proposals, the Parliaments of the States will still be able to make laws in respect of education, land -administration, the control of rivers, forests, and mines, the control of transport, including the railways, and the control of their own public works. The criminal law of the country will be within their domain, and the municipalities will be subject to their authority. The States have what I might call unlimited residuary powers. The right honorable member for Swan asked, with the approving cheers of the Opposition, which includes a large number of legal gentlemen, “ What exclusive powers have the States such as the Provinces of Canada have ?” He should know, and those who cheered him know, that in Australia, under our Federal Constitution, it is the Commonwealth that has explicit and specified powers, and the States that have (unlimited residuary powers, our Constitu tion being the reverse of that of Canada, where the States have only specified powers, and the Commonwealth possesses the residuary powers. In Canada the lesser authorities get their powers from the greater authority; here the greater authority gets its powers from the lesser authorities. Our system is entirely different from that of Canada. Honorable members tell us that the proposal is to make our trade and commerce power unlimited. This extension of the trade and commerce power is the chief thing that we are seeking, and covers almost everything else. Were it not agreed to, the other proposed amendments of the Constitution would be of little effect. We are told, however, that the extension of the trade and commerce power will destroy Australian Home Rule. I ask honorable members opposite if that is the experience of Canada, whose Dominion Parliament exercises unlimited power in regard to trade and commerce? Have the provincial Parliaments of Canada no powers? Are they “ like so many stuffed birds in a glass case in a museum “ ? The history of that country shows that they are not. The experience of the Leader of the Opposition has convinced him - at any rate, the last Government which he led was convinced - that we should have unlimited power in regard to trade and commerce, such as the Dominion Parliament of Canada possesses. The proofs of that statement are these: When South Africa was framing its Constitution, a Governor of that country sent an official message to the Government of the Commonwealth asking for advice in its drafting. The Deakin Ministry was in power at the time, and instructed our Parliamentary Draftsman to prepare a reply on lines indicated to him, because that officer could merely do what he was told. That reply was drafted. It was approved by the Attorney-General of the day - the honorable member for Darling Downs - and was sent on to the Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs - the honorable member for Ballarat - by whom it was transmitted to South Africa. In it this passage occurred -
The specific powers should be defined in words as general as possible, avoiding as far as possible all conditions, exceptions, and limitations. For example, trade and commerce powers with .other countries, and among the States. The limitation of Inter-State trade and external commerce bisects the subject of trade and commerce, and makes a hard and fast division of jurisdiction, of which, it is difficult to determine the boundaries, and which does not correspond with any natural distinction in the conduct of business. It would be more satisfactory, if possible, to take over trade and commerce generally.
When the honorable member for Ballarat was speaking on this subject, the honorable member for Adelaide interjected, “ Why did you advise South Africa to get full trade and commerce powers?” and his reply was one of the worst acts of repudiation that I have known since I entered this House. He said - I quote from the Hansard report of .this session, page 5621 -
It went through my office, but it was neither drafted by me nor revised by me. At this distance of time, I shall not say that it was read. I hope it was.
I hope so, too. The Prime Minister and Minister of External Affairs of this country, when asked by a great country like South Africa for official advice upon- the drafting of the Constitution, should at least read the reply sent with the imprimatur of his Government. A public man, speaking for one nation to the representatives of. another, should at least read the communications for which his Government were responsible. If the honorable member for Ballarat did not take the trouble to read or . to examine carefully the reply which he sent to South Africa, his AttorneyGeneral put his imprimatur upon it, and be ought not to repudiate it. Then the Prime Minister, on Friday, in advocating the extension of our powers, spoke of the need for a general companies law, and the honorable member for Darling Downs admitted, by interjection, that the Deakin Government had drafted a Companies Bill, but learned, through the decision in the Huddart Parker case, that this Parliament would have no power to pass its provisions into law. That is further evidence that leading members of the Opposition believed that this Constitution gave us powers which it does not give to us. When the Prime Minister was speaking on the subject of a Commonwealth companies law, the honorable member for Parramatta, with a sneering gibe, exclaimed, “ Labour men buttressing up capital ! “ Why not? We have no quarrel with capital. We sometimes have a quarrel with some capitalists, but not with capital itself, which is the product of the labour of those who send us here.
– Honorable members opposite would like a lot of capital.
– Of course we should. I should not mind having the honorable member’s share. What does a Parliament exist for ? To see that justice is done. If by a Commonwealth companies law we can prevent those who put their savings intoinvestments from being defrauded, we shall, do good service for the public. If that means buttressing up capital, it is what we stand for. Let us see the opinion of combines and monopolies which was held by the Leader of the Opposition six years, ago. Speaking at Ballarat in 1906, the honorable member said -
Combinations are the inevitable trend of modern industry. Their great power, as in. America, overshadows that of the State, defeatsthe laW Courts, and threatens to bring that country into a serious crisis.
If they are the inevitable trend of modern, industry why endeavour to smash them?If they are inevitable, the only thing we can do is to guide them into safe channelsand transform what would otherwise be private monopolies into public monopolies for the benefit of the people. Then the honorable member said that they overshadow the State and the Law Courts of America. If that be so, it is idle to look to the Courts to deal with them. If that was the testimony of the Leader of the Opposition six years ago, how much stronger should be the language employed by him, to-day, when we consider the growth which, monopolies have made during that period? Some ten or eleven years ago there was nosuch thing as a Beef Trust in the world. Within the last decade that great octopus has spread its tentacles into every meatproducing country in the world with the exception of Australia and New Zealand - indeed, it has a hold here at the present, moment. If the words of the Leader of the Opposition were applicable to combines, and monopolies in 1906, how much more strongly are they applicable to-day? Yet the honorable member for Swan counsels us* to leave well alone. I would like to read for the information of honorable membersa short quotation from the Age of 4th January, 1911, showing its opinion of the footing which the Beef Trust was getting, in Australia. That was the first real note of warning that we received. The Age said -
The American International Meat Trust hascarried its covert schemes of world conquests sofar towards achievement during the last year that there are no longer any sceptics left to. doubt its ultimate intention. Its power isofficially recognised by Germany and Austria. This monstrous organization has developed withbewildering rapidity since I900. We have it on excellent authority that there are actually at this moment in Australia accredited agents of the American Meat Trust.
We have seen how the Coal Vend and the Shipping Combine have treated the people of this country. We know that the price of coal was increased from 14s. per ton in 1906 to 24s. per ton in 1910. We know that the shipping companies raised the freight upon it from 3s. rod. to 8s. 6d. per ton. We know that the Victorian Railways paid 48 per cent, more for their coal in 191 o than they paid for it in 1906. We also know that the Melbourne City Council paid 50 per cent, more for its coal, and that other corporations and Governments have been charged higher prices for the coa] which they consumed. We have seen how the Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which started with a capital of £2,300,000, has mow an accumulated capital of over ^£3,000,000, whilst it has distributed i2 per cent, dividends. We know that the representative of that company, when on oath before a Royal Commission, dared not deny that a contribution, was made by it to the agents of honorable members opposite for the purpose of fighting the referenda proposals of the Government at the last election. Let me point to’ his sworn statements, made at a time when, if the charge had been untrue, it would have been indignantly denied. The official report reads -
Did the Colonial Sugar Refining Company contribute £50,000 to support the opposition to the proposed law to alter the Constitution relating to monopolies which was submitted? - That is a matter I am not prepared to give you any information upon. We have not done anything which is not strictly legal.
You do not deny such a contribution was :made? - I do not say anything about it, one way or another. You have no right to ask the question.
You did not make the contribution? - I do not say we did not make the contribution. We did not make that contribution.
– What does the honorable member think of that?
– I will leave that to the honorable member. I can supply him with the facts, but not with the intelligence to understand them. In speaking upon this question, when similar proposals were submitted in 1910, the honorable member for Flinders said -
The experience of the United States during the last fifteen or twenty years goes to show that to deal with this growing evil the arm of the States is too short, whilst the arm of the Central Government is paralyzed by the constitutional ligature to which I have referred.
At that stage the honorable member for Swan interjected -
But the States can deal with those trusts.
To which the honorable member for Flinders replied -
The States cannot. That is the whole point.
The honorable member for Swan then in- quired -
Not with the operations of a trust within a State ?
And the honorable member for Flinders said -
In introducing these Bills last week the Attorney-General said that -
The trusts could not be dealt with either by . the Commonwealth or by the States. and, in reply, the Leader of the Opposition said -
But they can be dealt with by the Commonwealth and the States. In joint action will be found the solution of practically all our difficulties.
If all our difficulties can be solved by joint action, why did we federate? Why did the honorable member deliver those beautifully eloquent speeches all over the country, urging the people to unite,, because we could not accomplish by any other means what we wished to accomplish? The honorable member also quoted the opinions of Mr. Bryce in respect of our Constitution, and the honorable member for Parramatta, with great gusto, repeated them. When asked for the date upon which those opinions were expressed he would not supply it. He would not tell us that they were written in 1901, just after our Constitution was framed, and before we had any decisions of the High Court upon it. The framers of our Constitution said grand things about it, and then started to put it into practice, but afterwards they had a different story to tell. Similarly I have no doubt that Mr. Bryce would now have a different story to tell. The Leader of the Opposition also said -
This proves the eminence of the national power in the Federal Constitution as it stands, and yet we are told by the Attorney-General that we are weak.
As a matter of fact, the Attorney-General was simply quoting the remarks of the honorable member for Flinders, who said that ours was the weakest Federal Constitution in the world. The Leader of the Opposition also said -
Look at section 51 of the Constitution, which includes thirty-nine powers. Twenty-seven are unlimited, and thirty-five practically unlimited. There are only three serious limitations. Those three limitations are now challenged.
What is the inference to be drawn from these remarks? Do they not mean, ‘ What are you making a noise about ? Have we not ample power ? Only three out of thirty-nine powers require extending.” Yet the whole burden of the honorable member’s speech was that these proposals of the Government are so large that the grant of them would destroy all the powers of the States and bring about Unification. As a matter of fact, all that is sought is an extension of the powers which we already possess in regard to three matters. Whilst the Attorney-General was quoting from the memorandum issued by the Leader of the Opposition, the honorable member for Fawkner interjected -
He was pushed on by the Labour party then.
A little later he said -
You chaps were pushing him on.
Then the honorable member for Fremantle interjected -
He was your leader at the time.
That is the way in which honorable members opposite deny their present leader. If he was our leader at the time, why do honorable members opposite travel round the country declaring that all progressive measures were enacted by. the Liberal party ? We have been told by them - as we were told during the last referenda campaign - that the proposed powers are too great to vest in the Commonwealth, inasmuch as they will enable us to do all the things that they choose to mention. My answer is that probably not onetwentieth part of those powers will be put into operation. “ Then why do you want them?” we are asked. My answer is, “ to enable us to do the things that we say we are going to do.” I think honorable members opposite will admit that whatever has been the intention of the Labour party that party has always had the courage to put it in black and white before the people. It has endeavoured to carry out its platform, and has never sprung anything upon the people of which they have not had due notice. It is the only party which has a policy that does not consist of generalities, that is not a “ gelatinous compound “ from which all the bones have been removed. A party which has a platform in black and white cannot deceive the people. When honorable members talk about the great powers over trade and commerce which the Commonwealth would have under this Bill, let me remind them that if we were a party of lunatics those powers would be too great. But the same thing may be said of our present powers. At the present time we have an unlimited power of taxation which is the greatest power that any Parliament can possess. Under that power we could do thousands of stupid’ things. Let us suppose that the framers of the Constitution had granted to this Parliament a limited power of taxation, and that at this stage we found that power cumbersome, and appealed to the electors to abolish the limitation. What would be said by honorable members opposite? Would they not exclaim, “ The Government want unlimited powers of taxation. Where, then, will the powers of the States come in ? Where will our municipalities come in ? How will the people get roads and bridges made in such circumstances?” Yet we have had an unlimited power of taxation ever since the inception of the Commonwealth, and we have not done any of the wild things which we might have done. In the same way this Parliament may be clothed with full trade and commerce powers without doing the things which have been suggested by honorable members opposite. On the occasion of the last referenda the honorable member for Bendigo published a pamphlet, in which he enumerated all the things that we might do if we possessed unlimited power over trade and commerce. He pointed out that we could then deal with the buying of bags and sacks, with peddling, with hawking, and with all that sort of thing. But does the honorable member think that if we had the power to deal with those matters we would send public servants round to his. back door to gather up the empty bottles? Is it to be assumed that we will go stark, staring mad ? The thing is absurd on the face of it. The honorable member for Echuca gave the position of the Opposition away when he said -
Australia has at present two bulwarks - the Legislative Councils and the High Court.
The High Court Judges will not thank the honorable member for associating them with the Legislative Councils -
If the Labour party can bring about unification, they will annihilate the Legislative Councils, and prevent them from doing good.
I should think the party would do something to abolish the Legislative Councils, and I should make one to help them -
That is a strong reason why the common-sense people of this country, who are many, should assert themselves.
I ask the Leader of the Opposition to listen to what one of his colleagues said -
– I am satisfied that he will, since he knows from long Parliamentary experience the value of Legislative Councils for the reviewing and checking of hasty legislation.
We have the knowledge that this great sugar monopoly could raise the price of their commodity by £3 IOS. after the defeat of the last referenda, and could, on 220,000 tons of sugar, make a profit of £800,000; and is it at the behest of this organization that the people of the countryare going to refuse these amendments of the Constitution? Are the farmers, who are battened upon by monopolists, rings, and trusts every day of the week, going to carry out the wishes and will of the Opposition to keep the hands of the representatives here tied? The honorable member for Flinders says that he believes certain of the powers should be granted, but not while the Labour party occupy the Treasury benches. That fact, however, should not keep him from supporting these amendments ; but if it does, I point out to him that the referenda vote is taken simultaneously with the vote for members of this House, and, if he refuses to give power to the Federal Parliament because of the gentlemen who now occupy the Treasury benches, it is a tacit admission that he believes they are going to occupy them after the elections. The opposition to these measures is an opposition to the extension of the power of the people. In almost every country in the world there are limitations on the people’s power. In Great Britain there are not the constitutional limitations that we have, because there the people have a unified system ; but there are limitations on the franchise. In Australia our franchise is broad ; but we have limitations in our Constitution, and on the powers of our Parliament, which affect the power of the people, to a very large extent, exactly as would a limitation of the franchise. No power but the power of the people should rule in a Democratic country. There should be no power to stand between the people and their desire to express their will. The people of this country have, on more than one occa- sion, expressed themselves in favour of a power to deal with trusts and combines in a most effective manner ; and, therefore, we say that if the Constitution does not give us the power to do these things, it does not give us the power to carry out the behests of the people. Have we lost our faith in democratic legislation, that we deny to the direct representatives of the people fuller powers to carry out their will ? Must we still continue, like the honorable member for Echuca, to look at those Houses, elected on a property qualification, as the bulwark of our safety? Have we so lost faith in our institutions that we shall allow the representatives of the people to have their hands tied, while the greedy hands of the monopolists are to continue free? Who is to rule this Commonwealth ? Is it to be the trusts and combines, with the power of their wealth to influence the press, and to pay agitators to influence the public? Is it to be the framers of the Constitution of twelve years ago, or even the people who indorsed the Constitution, at that time, many of whom have since passed away? Or is it to be the people of the living present who shall rule Australia? These are the questions which we commend to the consideration of the intelligent people of this country.
– The honorable member for Corangamite has made an impassioned appeal in support of these amendments, and has suggested1 that the opposition to them is based on a desire to limit or withhold power from the people. On behalf of myself and others who agree with me, I desire to say that our opposition to these amendments is not. based on any fear of the people or any desire to limit or contract their power. We contend that in the present Federal Constitution - in the distribution of power as established between the States and the Federal Government - the people are already in possession of the powers sought, and there is no necessity whatever for any radical or fundamental disturbance of this, settled form of government. The time hasarrived in this debate when we should cometo close quarters with the propositions - when we should examine them analytically and see whether the arguments advanced ii> their support are real, or largely ad cap tandum appeals to popular prejudice. Weought to have real, sound, tangible arguments that will bear the test of analysisand every reasonable logical examination-
Appeals to prejudice in the shape of denunciations of trusts, combines, and monopolies, such as we have been treated to this afternoon by two honorable members, are not sufficiently strong and convincing as arguments in support of these propositions. I am prepared to support any amendment of the Constitution! which is consistent with the Federal principle, and for which any sound public reason or necessity is advanced. I should now like to submit to closer examination one or two of the proposals which I had not time to cover- in the course of my previous speech ; and the first in the list is that iri the Bill under consideration to amend the commerce power. Speaking as a student as well as a Federalist, I take the strongest objection to this proposed amendment. I entertain the gravest apprehension with regard to the possibility of modifications in our Federal form of government which may follow suppose this alteration to be adopted. This power is in the very forefront of the distribution of powers - it is number one of the whole group - and is peculiarly interesting and important, illustrating, as it does, the dividing line between the State powers and the Federal powers. It contains what I may describe as a scientific and logical division of the powers, and is an illustration of the Federal principle, more conspicuous and more valuable than any other section in the Constitution. To many it might appear that the mere omission of the words “ with other countries and among the States “ would not involve any grave or fundamental alteration in the distribution of powers. But those words of limitation are placed in the Constitution for the purposes of delimiting and marking out the line between what may be called Federal commerce and State commerce. The effect is to divide the control over trade and commerce between the two governing agencies; and by the words as they stand in the Constitution we have established, as does the Canadian Constitution, two exclusive legislative areas. One exclusive legislative area is that assigned to the Federal Parliament, namely, trade and commerce with other countries and among the States, and the other exclusive legislative area is that reserved to the States, namely, trade and commerce within each and all of the several States. As the Constitution stands, therefore, there is no possibility of conflict between competing legislative enactments by the States and the Federation. The Federal Parliament knows that its work as solely confined to Inter-State and the foreign or outside area, and would not think, if its mind were properly drawn to the matter, of wilfully invading the State areas. On the other hand, the area of State legislation is strictly defined by what I may call metes and bounds, namely, the territories of the States, and they would not think of wilfully invading the Federal area. The test of this division has been that to the States are assigned matters relating to trade and commerce purely local, domestic, and internal, while to the Federation has been assigned the control of trade and commerce, which is general, Inter-State, national, and external. My first objection to this alteration is that, if we omit the words, we shall abolish the two exclusive areas, and -make the control over the domestic or internal commerce of a State concurrent; that is to say, we shall concurrently vest the power in the Federation as well as in the States, subject, of course, to the dominant provision that where there is any conflict the Federal law shall prevail. The inconvenience of this amendment is that, instead of there being two exclusive areas, within which each power is required to be confined in its legislative operations, there will be a common competing ground within each State where the Federation may be tempted or induced to invade, interfere with, or supersede State laws, and where, on the other hand, State laws may come Into conflict with Federal laws. Some honorable members, including the honorable member for Corangamite, pooh-pooh the suggestion that, if the Federation gets the whole of this control over State trade and commerce, it might exercise it in the direction indicated by the details published by several honorable members, including myself. It may be that there will be nothing to require or compel the exercise of the power ; but where the power exists there is at all times an inducement, if not a temptation, to exercise it. I contend that, if the Federation gets this power to interfere and tinker with the internal and domestic business of a State, including local option and local shopkeeping questions, whenever we stand for re-election, instead of our attention being confined to purely national and Federal questions, as it ought to be, we shall be invited to take into consideration the necessity of amending State laws and redressing State grievances of a local and domestic character. Such a possibility as that, apart from the exercise of Federal power, will be an unnecessary intrusion and interference with the functions and sphere of Federal activity. This power, if granted, will, in my opinion, also tend naturally to extend the possible power of the Inter-State Commission when it is called into existence. The Inter- State commerce authority under the Constitution will be confined to purely Inter-State and Australian matters. If this amendment be granted, the functions of the Inter-State Commission will extend, not merely to Inter-State matters, but also to the domestic trade and commerce of a State within the limits of the Constitution. Furthermore, this power, if granted, will extend the jurisdiction of the Federal Parliament to contracts. Parliament will have power to regulate the form, mode, conditions, and manner of making of all kinds of local domestic and internal contracts, such as bills of sale, stock mortgages, and other things which might really be left to the local desires and requirements of each and every particular State. In addition to giving power over contracts - and that is a very vast area - this amendment would give the Federal Parliament power over a large body of penal legislation. It would have authority to pass laws relating to all kinds of offences against trade and commerce, and all kinds of commercial laws. So that the power would be much wider than appears upon the face of it. It would not only be confined to local arrangements, but the field of legislative activity would be extremely wide and important. It would bring the Federal authority into conflict with what may be regarded as the local option requirements of the State Legislatures and with local jurisdiction. I. could understand the proposal if a strong case had been made out in favour of such an alteration of the Constitution. It has been said that the existing provision may lead to confusion. But it has not led to any confusion up to the present. The line of demarcation between the spheres of authority is quite clear and well defined. There has been no demand or necessity for an alteration. Nor is there any necessity for an amendment to secure an extension of the Federal power over trusts, combines, and monopolies, because there is sufficient power at the present time. By the way, the control over trusts, combines, and monopolies is in essence merely a branch of the trade and commerce power - a branch, so to speak, carved out of the trade and commerce power. You cannot put it under any other hea’ding, or give it any other term or description, than that trusts, com- bines, and monopolies are a branch or division of trade and commerce. So that the argument in favour of legislation in that direction is not in any way strengthened or reinforced by this drastic amendment in reference to the wholesale Federal control over the internal domestic trade and commerce of the States. If you want Federal power in that direction, by all means get it, if you can make out a strong case, and prove to the satisfaction of the country that extra power is required. Personally, I do not think it is needed. We can deal with the requirements as circumstances arise. There certainly is no public demand whatever for this drastic alteration of the Constitution, which is to give the Commonwealth control and power to regulate all the internal means of exchange, travel, and transportation of goods and passengers ; all the internal instrumentalities” of a State, navigation, roads and rivers, freights and rates, wharfage and tolls, and so forth. You might as well march right on to the goal of complete centralization and unification and the obliteration of the States- I fail to see what’ important power would be left to the States if this demand were conceded, except their control over education, land, and railways. The Federal authority would completely overshadow the States, not merely in Australian matters - not merely in Inter-State and external matters - -but it would dominate the whole political landscape, leaving practically nothing of any importance to the States. I do not know whether the proposals have been wilfully designed as a step in that direction, but, at any rate, they will amount to that. Therefore, in the absence of any strong argument in that direction, with practically no grievances crying out for remedy, I see no reason for what is proposed. The alleged grievances come under the heading of trusts, combines, and monopolies. I contend that even those who make such appeals for an amendment of the Constitution, to enable the Federal Parliament to deal with those excrescences on modem civilization, as they may be called, have shown no necessity to go to these extremes and to obliterate the exclusive area of trade and commerce now assigned to the States.
– What about Canada?
– I am coming to the Canadian case.
– The honorable member for Flinders made out an unanswerable case on the other side.
– I am not here to deal with what the honorable member for Flinders may have said. I am putting my own case. I do not desire to come, into conflict with any other honorable member in connexion with this matter. I submit my own argument in my own way, and am content to let others put their own case. The honorable member for Flinders is entitled to his view, and I am entitled to mine.
– But the honorable member said that no case has been made out on the other side.
– No case has been made out to my knowledge. Mere theoretical suggestions have been made. When we are entering upon a campaign for the alteration of the Constitution we ought to have something more than theoretical suggestions. We ought to have some sound, uncontradictable facts presented to us. We should not be called upon to alter the Constitution on mere philosophical suggestions. We ought not to be asked to rub off this equality and remove that limitation for the mere purpose of making a sentence read more smoothly. The Constitution in its present form has worked very well. It is based upon the American model, and there is no necessity for an alteration of the Constitution in Australia any more than it has been proved by experience that there is a necessity for the alteration of the model on which our Constitution has been founded. The suggestion has been made that we ought to confer upon the Federal Parliament full and unqualified control over trade and commerce, without any limitation. It is said that we ought to have the same power as has been conferred upon the Dominion Parliament in Canada. It is quite true that under section 91 of the Canadian Constitution the power conferred upon the Dominion Parliament is contained in the words “trade and commerce” without any limitation in the section itself. But there are limitations to be found in other parts of the Constitution. Although the essential limitation is not contained within that section, it is to be found in section 92 of the Constitution, which defines the exclusive area, and authority, and jurisdiction of the provincial Legislature. If honorable members carefully examine that section - which, of course, has to be read in conjunction with section 91 - they will find that the grant of powers to the provincial Legislatures largely and substantially cuts down the rights granted to the .Dominion Parliament. The two must be read together. Each exclusive grant is operative absolutely and independently of the .other. The exclusive grant of jurisdiction to the Dominion Legislature is dominant over anything granted to the Provinces, and the exclusive grant to the provincial Legislatures is dominant over anything granted to the Dominion Parliament. They do not stand separately. They must be read in conjunction. More than one problem with which the Privy Council has been faced has been that of giving a reasonable interpretation to those two grants of exclusive power.
– There are sixteen exclusive powers granted to the provincial Legislatures, but they are all subject to the Dominion Legislature if it chooses to exercise its authority.
– The functions of each are supposed to prevail, and the duty of the Judiciary has been to ascertain the real meaning of each grant so as to avoid anything in the nature of a conflict. To show that my contention is correct - and I am only in this respect supporting the views which have already been put forward by honorable members on this side - I shall quote one or two passages from Lefroy’s Legislative Power in Canada. These passages will support my contention that the trade and commerce powers granted to the Dominion Parliament are general powers, such as inter-provincial powers, oversea powers, international powers, and a general authority relating to matters in which the whole of the Provinces were concerned. That is the interpretation which has been placed upon the section ; and that interpretation, if correct, goes very near to the actual grant of power to our own Parliament.
– What is the date of the book?
– It is a very recent work, published in 1898. At page 60 Chief Justice Hagarty is quoted as follows - “ It may be safely said that there is no apparent intention in the Confederation Act to curtail or to interfere with the existing general powers of municipal councils unless the Act plainly transfers any of such existing powers to the Dominion jurisdiction.” He also deems, it may be observed, that it is a good argument to show that the power granted to township municipalities to prohibit the retail sale of liquor does not, “ by any reasonable construction, come within the words ‘ trade and commerce,’ as used in the Confederation Act.” That “ if such a construction prevailed it would seem to interfere most extensively with many powers granted by our Municipal Acts. They are full of provisions, not only for licensing, but for regulating, governing, and, in many cases, preventing acts locally affecting trade and commerce in the locality, such as auction sales of goods, hawkers and peddlers, regulating ferries.
So that according to that interpretation the words “trade and commerce” in the Canadian Constitution have to be read in conjunction with subsequent grants and have a restrictive meaning. They do not interfere with what I have described as the local option powers of the various State or provincial Legislatures. At page 551 it is stated that Mr. Justice Burton said that the words “ the regulation of trade and commerce ‘ ‘ in the Canadian Constitution w&e used in their “ general and quasinational sense.” In the Citizens Insurance Company v. Parsons, the Privy Council said that the words might have been used in some such sense as the words “ regulation of trade “ in the Act of Union between England and Scotland. Then, again, we have the statement, at page 553, that the Privy Council came to the conclusion -
That “ regulation of trade and commerce “ in No. 2 of section gr of the British North America Act includes “ political arrangements in regard to trade, requiring the sanction of Parliament, regulation of trade in matters of inter-provincial concern -
That is to say, Inter-State concern -
Mid may, perhaps, include general regulation of trade affecting the whole Dominion ; but it does not comprehend the power to regulate by legislation the contracts of a particular business >)r trade (such as the business of fire insurance), in a single province.” 1 draw attention to those words. According to the Privy Council, the words “ regulation of trade and commerce” were not used so comprehensively as to apply to contracts. They are, of course, cut down by the subsequent words of the Constitution retaining and preserving to the Provinces local and domestic control. Then, again, at page 554, it is started that what the Privy Council said in the case of the Citizens Insurance Company v. Parsons, was paraphrased as follows by -
Lord Dav.ey, upon the argument before the Board, in the matter of the Dominion Liquor
License Acts, 1883-4 : “ Regulation of trade and commerce “ means general regulations as applicable to trade generally, of what may be called, for want of a better word, a political character, that is for regulating trade and commerce between the Dominion and foreign countries, or other countries, including, of course, Great Britain, or, for instance, for regulating the trade between the provinces themselves.
According to the Privy Council, then, those words mean fiscal or political regulations - Inter- State and external regulations - rather than otherwise. He went on to say that they did not include -
Minute regulations affecting the terms and conditions, on which persons carrying on particular trades are to be allowed to do so in different localities.
At page 556 Mr. Justice Strong is cited as saying -
It has always struck me that those words “ regulation of trade and commerce “ had reference to regulations of a fiscal, or what may be called an economic and fiscal character, and did not apply at all to these police regulations.
At page 557 tha same Judge is reported as saying -
My proposition is that although trade and commerce is not restricted to foreign commerce, or commerce between the provinces, as in the United S’tates, it is still something different from mere retail buying and selling; that is, it is restricted to wholesale dealing and the word “trade” is a synonymous term. . . I do not understand the words “ trade and commerce “ mean mere buying and selling. -
The reference was to the words “ trade and commerce “ in the Canadian Constitution - They mean buying and selling, but they mean something more.
I might go on citing other authorities showing the restrictive meaning given in the Canadian cases to the words “ trade and commerce “ occurring in the Canadian. Constitution, as cut down’ by the subsequent grant of powers to the Provinces in all matters of a local, internal, -provincial character - local licences, shops, saloons, auctioneers and pedlars, and also to the words “ property and civil rights,” and other words of a similar restrictive meaning granting powers and authorities to the Federation. I think that the analysis, with which I am sorry to trouble the House, of some of these cases, differentiating and examining the Canadian Constitution, make it quite obvious that these words afford no support to those who argue that we should amend our Constitution to read in harmony with that of the Dominion of Canada. If we did so, we should confer upon this Parliament powers which the Canadian Constitution has not conferred upon the Dominion Parliament.
– The honorable member has only read individual opinions quoted in the book to which he has referred.
– They are opinions expressed in the course of judicial decisions. The opinions of recognised jurists, as used in argument, may be legitimately cited in support of any legal or constitutional view, such as that which we are now considering. I do not wish, however, to devote too much time to this branch of the subject. I desire to make a few supplementary observations in reference to another proposed amendment of the Constitution in favour of increased Federal power over trusts, combines, and monopolies. As the result of my study of not only Australian, but Canadian and American cases, I believe that under the Constitution, as it stands - under the grant of power to the Federal Parliament over Inter-State and foreign trade and commerce generally - this Legislature has abundant . authority to deal with all the alleged evils and grievances with reference to trusts, combines, and monopolies.
– Without any amendment of the Constitution?
– Quite so. I propose to proceed to sustain that proposition. I do not ask honorable members to accept my opinion without actual authoritative references in support of it. I propose, first of all, to give a brief analysis of the Australian Industries Preservation Act, popularly known as the Anti-Trust Act. I should like to remind honorable members of an Act that has actually been passed by us under the Constitution as it stands. Honorable members opposite ought to be friends of the Constitution, naturally sympathetic towards this Parliament, and they should give fair and favorable consideration to their own work. They should not launch on a campaign to alter the Constitution regardless of the fact that their own legislation up to the present time has not received a fair trial, and that within the four corners of our own Constitution at the present moment there is an unexhausted source of power that has not yet been tested. What is the present legislative provision against trusts, combines, and monopolies under our own Act? I shall briefly summarize the provisions. First of all, it is provided that any person - and “ person “ includes corporations - or corporation engaging in any combina.tion in relation to trade or commerce with other States -
It is also provided that any person who monopolizes or attempts to monopolize Inter- State trade or trade with other countries shall be guilty of an offence against the Act, and shall be liable to a penalty of £500. A third section is directed against the old system’ known as the granting of rebates, and is to the effect that any improper refusal to sell or supply goods or render services, except under terms and under conditions disadvantageous to the person who desires the goods or services, shall be an offence against” the Act, and shall be punishable by a penalty of £500. It will thus be seen that there are three distinct statutory offences created by this Act - combination in restraint of trade, monopoly of trade, and insistence upon rebates. True, these offences are directed against transactions in the Inter-State or foreign trade, but let me point out, without any desire to avoid the issue, that the whole of the alleged trusts and combines in Australia of which complaint has been made, and which are the subject of these assaults and attacks by the Labour party, as well as from other quarters, upon the Constitution, are engaged in the Inter-State trade. Take the case of the Colonial Sugar Refining Company. That, if it is a monopoly, is undoubtedly engaged in the Inter- State trade. Its ramifications extend over the whole of Australia. It has selling branches and refineries in the various States. There can be no doubt that it is engaged in the Inter- State trade, and if it commits an offence against the Anti-Trust Act, by way of combination or monopoly, it falls within the authority of that Act. That being so, no amendment of the Constitution is necessary to enable us to reach such a combine or monopoly if it comes within the Act. Then there is the alleged Tobacco Trust. That also is undoubtedly carrying on business in all the States. If it be. a combine or monopoly contrary to the Act, then it is necessary only to prove that it is carrying on business to the detriment of the public. The Attorney-General can launch a suit against it, and it can be subjected to the penalties of the Act. I come now to the alleged shipping ring, ls it not admitted that that alleged ring or combine is engaged in the Inter-State trade? If it is violating the provisions of this Act it must fall within its scope. The alleged Beef Trust has been paraded to-night, as on other occasions, as one of the great dangers of the future that hovers like a black cloud on the Australian horizon. The Beef Trust, if it exists in Australia, must undoubtedly be engaged in trade between Australia and other countries. It is not a purely local affair. -It must be engaged in the export trade. If it is here, and if it is carrying on business in violation of the Act, then it must fall within its authority, and become liable to the penalties for which, the Act provides. There is, therefore, no necessity for an amendment of the Constitution to enable us to deal with it or with any of the huge stalking, menacing monopolies and combines so obnoxious and dangerous to Australia. When referring to the Anti-Trust Act I forgot to mention two or three provisions for the purpose of facilitating the institution of prosecutions and the proof of cases. There is power under section 15B of that Act to require persons to answer questions. If the ComptrollerGeneral thinks that an offence is being committed against the Act he may require any suspected person to answer questions or to produce books and documents. That is to say, when the Crown suspects that a company or a person is carrying on business in violation of the Act it may present an ultimatum saying, “We want you to answer these questions. We desire also to see your books to ascertain the nature of your transactions and to learn what you are doing.” It means that the Crown can go into the house or place of business of a suspected person, and under liability to prosecution and a penalty for refusal demand answers to questions and obtain information from that person, which may be used later on in a prosecution against himself.
– Is not that the only way in which a trust can be discovered if it exists ?
– One. of the most effective ways I know of is to go into the place of business of a suspected person, and obtain from him evidence to convict him. In addition to that, when a suit is launched, interrogatories may be administered, and documents examined. It is the ordinary rule of law that a suspected person is not compelled to answer questions which may be used against him in a criminal prosecution; but that rule is set aside in this case, and a suspected criminal may be forced to answer questions, show books, and give evidence to assist in his own prosecution and conviction. I do not know of any stronger law than that in any pan of the world. It must have taxed the ingenuity of the keenest lawyer at the command of the Commonwealth Government to have designed an Act so comprehensive and so severe in its method of proof, and in the imposition of penalties. I wish to say that our Constitution and the Australian Industries Preservation Act are practically based upon the same grant of power as that provided for in the Constitution of the United States. The words are substantially the same in both Constitutions. Probably the words “ trade and commerce “ are the widest and most comprehensive that could be used. Certainly they are the widest and most comprehensive in the English language to cover such transactions as these. They have been interpreted in a most liberal and expansive manner in the United States and in other countries. I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to a brief summary of some of the convictions which have been secured against trusts, combines and monopolies in the United States under laws substantially similar’ to those which exist in Australia. The Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 is described as “ an Act to protect trade and commerce against unlawful restraint and monopolies.” Our Act is based upon that Act. The words of the first section are -
Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce, among the States, or with foreign countries, is hereby declared to be illegal. Penalty, misdemeanour, fine $5,000, or one year’s imprisonment.
– Perhaps the honorable gentleman will tell us what was the good of it all before he has finished his speech.
– I shall do so if the honorable member will give me his attention. I do not know that human legislation can do more than grapple with criminal offences by fine and imprisonment. They are considered the most effective methods of putting down crime and carrying out the mandates of a Legislature. If people will not obey the law they are fined or imprisoned. I do not know whether honorable members opposite would prefer the law to go further than fine or imprisonment. Our anti-trust law is based upon the United States law, and provides for fine and imprisonment. In our case the fines provided for are substantial, and may amount to £500 a day for continued offences, I do not know of many corporations - even the Tobacco Trust, the Coal Vend, or the Colonial Sugar Refining Company - that could stand fines of £500 a day for very long.
– They can stand them while they take the fines out of the public.
– I believe that if we wished to enforce this law, without any ulterior design, we could effectively carry out the mandate of the Legislature. These contracts in restraint of Inter-State ‘ trade were by the Sherman Act declared illegal and criminal offences. The law could not go further than that. It did not treat them as matters for which a civil remedy might be found by injunction, but declared them to be criminal offences, for which those participating in them might be liable to fines and penalties, and in default of payment might have to go to gaol. Honorable members will permit me to summarize some cases to show how that law has been interpreted, and has been effectively enforced. The constitutionality of the law was affirmed in the United States in numerous cases. There is no doubt about its constitutionality, and there is no doubt about the constitutionality of our Australian Industries Preservation Act, which was founded upon that law. In the TransMissouri Freight Association cases, decided in 1897, and in the Joint Traffic Association cases, decided in 1898, the majority of the Supreme Court held that the prohibitions of the Act applied to any restraint, whether reasonable or unreasonable, at common law. That was, of course, a very severe interpretation. In the Northern Securities case, which came before the Court in 1904, Mr. Justice Brewer said that the contracts in the first two cases were unreasonable, and the convictions were rightly sustained. In his opinion, a true test was whether the restraint was reasonable or unreasonable at common law. Congress, he said, did not intend to reach minor contracts in partial restraint. That was the modified view as suggested by Mr.- Justice Brewer. In the Standard Oil and Tobacco cases, decided in 1911, this construction was adopted by the Supreme Court as the rule of reason, namely, that only combinations in restraint of trade that were unreasonable were put down by the Federal law. It was held that the Act only forbade restraints which operated to the prejudice of the public interest by unduly restricting competition or the due course of trade. In the Standard Oil and Tobacco cases the Court found on the evidence that there was a direct combination for the purpose of crushing competition and monopolizing the market. I am giving my own summary of the various cases for the sake of convenience and accuracy. It was thought by some critics that this construction of the Act recognising the rule of reason and admitting judicial discretion amounted to an emasculation of the Act, but leading jurists of the United States contend that this is not so, and that actual experience shows that the rule of reason is sufficient for the purposes of the Act. Here are some of the decisions following on the same lines. Dealing first with railway cases, I find that in the Freight Association case in 1897, to be found in 166 United States Law Reports, it was held that the agreement of the Trans-Missouri Freight Association for’ the purpose of mutual protection by establishing reasonable rates on all freight traffic both through local and competing carriers was an unlawful combination within the meaning of the Act. In the Northern Securities case (193 U.S.L.R.) which was decided in 1904 it was held that the organization of a New Jersey Corporation as a holding corporation for the shares of competing state railroads was an- illegal combination in restraint of Inter- State commerce. In a manufacturing case, the Addyston Pipe Trust case (175 U.S.L.R.), heard in 1899, it was held that the agreement of certain iron pipe manufacturers to increase the price at which pipes should be sold and to abolish all competition between the parties was void under the Act. The Court found that the output and the price were to be regulated in order to deprive the publice of the advantage of competition in pipe manufacture, and that the prices were to be kept low enough to prevent competition by eastern manufacturers; that the parties agreed to sell only at prices fixed by a committee. This was held to be an agreement in restraint of trade contrary to the Act, and an injunction was granted.
– What was the effect of the judgment?
– An injunction was granted, restraining them from carrying on their business in’ restraint of trade.
– Yet they continued to carry on just the same.
– Nothing of the kind. I have stated the judicial decision, and I apprehend that the Supreme Court of the United States is strong enough to enforce its injunctions. Here are some of the decisions in coal cases. In the case United States v. Jelico Mountain Coal Company, heard in 1891, the Court held that an agreement between coal mining companies in Tennessee operating chiefly in one State, and the deliveries of the coal to be in another State creating a coal exchange, fixing the price of coal at the mines, and the margin of profit to the dealers, and enforcing the same by fines, was in restraint of trade, contrary to the Act, and liable to the penalties of the Act. The penalties of the Act were enforced and that coal combination was burst up. In the case United States v. Coal Dealers Association of California, an unincorporated association of coal dealers regulating the distribution and prices of coal in the Inter-State coal traffic was held to be an illegal combination.
– Did not our High Court give a ruling opposite to that?
– No. Our High Court on the facts submitted to it ruled that there was no proof of detriment to the public. In the United States v. Chesapeake and Ohio Fuel Company case heard in 1900, the Court held that an agreement by a corporation to take the entire product of a number of coal producing firms engaged in coal mining, intending to sell the same at not less than the price to be fixed by an executive committee and to account to the parties for the entire proceeds, above a fixed sum to be retained as compensation, was contrary to the Act and void, and was liable to the penalties of the Act. We have heard a good deal lately about the Beef Trust, and let me here state the decision given under the American Act in the case United States v. Swift, the Chicago Meat Trust case, which is to be found in the United States Federal Reports for 1903.
– The Chicago Meat Trust still exists.
– It was burst up.
– Not at all.
– In that case the defendants controlled 60 per cent, of the beef trade of the United States. They bought live stock from different parts of the country, and converted it into fresh meat, then shipping their meat to their agents to be sold to consumers in the different States. The purchases, shipments, and transportation were commercially independent; the purchasing agents of the defendants were required to refrain from bidding against each other. At times bidding up was allowed in order to induce large shipments. There was an agreement upon price to be adopted, and restrictions upon the quantity of meat to be shipped, and there were arrangements for rebates and discriminating rates. This was held to be an unlawful combination in restraint of trade, and an injunction was granted and penalties enforced. I give now the decision in the Tobacco case - United States v. American Tobacco Company (211 U.S.L.R.) heard in 191 1. It was proved that the defendants acquired dominion and control over the tobacco trade of the United States by principal and subsidiary’ associations, as the result of purchasing numerous competitors in many cases, closing up the business when acquired, and obtaining stock control of other competitors, as well as of concerns manufacturing the elements essential to the production of tobacco. It was held by the Court that the facts constituted a violation of the Anti-Trust Act,, that there was an unlawful combination in restraint of trade, and an attempted monopolization of the tobacco business. A decree was made ordering a plan whereby the Trust was dissolved, and the assets of the Trust were distributed pro rata among the shareholders organized, and for new companies. A similar pro rata distribution of assets of a combine adjudged to be illegal was approved by the Supreme Court in the case Northern Securities Company v. Harriman, in 1905, reported in 197 United States Law Reports. The last case I shall quote is that of the Standard Oil case, which is reported in 221 United States Law Reports, and was heard in 191 1. In that case it was held that the unification and control over the oil industry, which resulted from combining in the hands of a holding company the capital stock of various corporations trading in petroleum raised the presumption of intent to exclude others from the trade, thus centralizing in the combination the perpetual control of the business. That was held by the Court without dissent, and a decree of dissolution was granted, also an injunction enjoining the subsidiary corporation and stockholders from entering into any agreement to bring about any further violation of the Act.
– Have they dissolved?
– They were dissolved, and the holding company was split up into its original component parts. There may be limits to human legislation, but I think no legislation could be stronger than that which I have referred to. As evidence of the belief of its efficacy by all parties in the United States of America at the present time, I would mention that in the recent presidential campaign neither the Democratic party, nor the Taft Republican party, nor the Roosevelt Progressive Republican party suggested the amendment of the Constitution ; they merely suggested further Federal legislation.
– The Progressives recommended an easy method of amending the ‘ Constitution.
– I have before me an extract from the platform declaration of the Progressive party, authorized by Mr. Roosevelt and published in the Christian Science Monitor, Boston, in its issue of the 8th August last. I had great difficulty in securing it, because it was not to be found in our Library, but I was able to get it by the courtesy of the Public Librarian of Victoria, and I trust that I shall not weary honorable members by reading it -
The national regulation of Inter-State corporations.
We therefore demand a strong national regulation of Inter-State corporations. The corporation is an essential part of modern business. The concentration of modern business, in some degree, -is both inevitable and necessary for national and international business efficiency. But the existing concentration . of vast wealth under a corporate system, unguarded and uncontrolled by the nation, has placed in the hands of a few men enormous secret, irresponsible power over the daily life of the citizen - a power insufferable in a free Government.
Evidently they recognise the grievance and the need for legislation, but how do they propose to deal with it? -
We do not fear commercial power, but we insist that it shall be exercised openly, under publicity, supervision and regulation of the most efficient sort, which will preserve its good while eradicating and preventing its ill.
National Commission for Inter-State Cor
To that end we urge the establishment of a strong Federal Administrative Commission of high standing, which shall maintain permanent active supervision over industrial corporations engaged in Inter-State commerce, or such of them as are of public importance, doing for them what the Government now does for the national banks, and what is now done for the railroads by the Inter-State Commerce Commission. Such a Commission must enforce the complete publicity of those corporate transactions which are of public interest ; must attack unfair competition, false capitalization and special privilege j and by continuous trained watchfulness guard and keep open equally to all the highways of American ‘commerce. Thus the business man will have certain knowledge of the law, and will be able to. conduct his business equally in conformity therewith^ the investor will find security for his capital; dividends will be rendered more certain, and the savings of the people will be drawn naturally and safely into the channels of trade. Under such a system, constructive regulation, legitimate business, freed from confusion, uncertainty and fruitless litigation, will develop normally in response to the energy and enterprise of the American business man.
As a part of the scheme they say -
We pledge ourselves to the establishment of a non-partisan scientific, Tariff Commission, reporting both to the President and to either branch of Congress, which shall report first, as to the costs of production, efficiency of labour, capitalization, industrial organization and efficiency, and the general competitive position in this country and abroad of industries seeking protection from Congress.
Although in America they have been fighting the- trusts and combines for years, in the long series of cases that I have quoted, they do not say that there is any lack of Federal power; they say that all that is needed is to bring into operation the dormant power of the Federation, that which the Attorney-General said the other night is the power which we should exercise, the power of publicity. To this end they propose the establishment of a Commission, with the functions indicated in the manifesto. Assuming that this cry about the need of dealing with trusts is not merely a pretence to cover the ulterior aim of nationalizing everything, honorable members must know that we have under our Constitution the means similarly to control and regulate trusts. Under it, as under the American Constitution, there is plenty of power to fight and kill the trusts.
– Then why have not the Americans killed them?
– They are advocating the exercise of the power to which I refer. The new President, Woodrow
Wilson, has not complained of any deficiency in the Federal Constitution. During the whole of his campaign he has been speaking against the trusts, but all he suggests is an amendment of the Sherman law to increase its prohibitions, with a view to bringing them more under control. The same method of dealing with trusts and combines has already been resorted to in Canada, and was briefly outlined the other night by the honorable member for Angas, whose observations I shall merely supplement. Under an Act dated 4th May, 1910, “ An Act to provide for the investigation of combines, monopolies, trusts, and mergers,” provision is made for a Board of Investigation to inquire into complaints made regarding the operation of trusts, combines, and monopolies in Canada. When six or more British subjects resident in Canada are of opinion that a combine exists, they may make application toa Judge for an order directing an investigation into it, and if, upon the hearing, he is satisfied that there is reasonable ground for believing that a combine injurious to trade exists, he shall direct an investigation in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
– The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Chanter) adjourned.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
As a number of honorable members have yet to speak, and we desire to conclude the second-reading debates on all the Bills for the amendment of the Constitution before the end of the week, we may have to sit a little later to-morrow night. I ask honorable members to co-operate as much as possible to secure the end we have in view.
.- Honorable members opposite are prone to accuse those on this side of misrepresentation, but I wish to draw attention to a glaring case for which we are certainly not responsible. Recently, Mr. Lloyd-George, speaking in the Old Country, quoted figures showing that the effect of the Commonwealth land tax had been to increase the area under cultivation in this country by over 2,000,000 acres. I have endeavoured to ascertain where he got his figures, and find that he took them from a speech of the Attorney-General on the Address-in-Reply this session, who said that the land under cultivation in 1909 was 9,891,243 acres, and that in1911 it had increased to 11,893,838 acres. On turning up the official figures I find that the Attorney-General arrived at this result by the very ingenious process of attributing the figures for 1908 to 1909, and by attributing the figures for 1910 to 191 1. Of course, this error may have been the result of misreading. But I wish to place on record the actual figures for the separate years. In the year 1908 there were 9,891,243 acres under cultivation ; in 1909 the area had increased to 10,972,289 acres; in 1910 it had still further increased to 11,893,838 acres; and in 1911 it had increased to 12,107,017 acres. It will be seen, therefore, that in 1909 there was an increase of 1,081,056 acres; that in 1910 - before the land tax became operative - the increase was 921,539 acres; but that in 191 1 - the first year of the operation, of the tax - the increase was only 213,179 acres, or about one- fifth of the increase that had taken place in each of the two previous years, or one-tenth of both of those years. The area under wheat cultivation in 1908 was 5,262,473 acres ; in 1909 it had increased to 6,586,236 acres; in 19 10 it had increased to 7,372,456 acres; and in 1911 it had increased to 7,427,834 acres. That is to say, in 1909 there was an increase in the area, under wheat of 1,323,763 acres; in 1910 there was an increase of 786,220 acres ; whereas in 1911 - the first year after the introduction of the progressive land tax - there was an increase of only 55,378 acres, or about one-twentieth of the increase for 1909. I have taken these figures from the figures supplied by Mr. Knibbs to the Minister of Home Affairs, which are. published in the last -digest issued by the Home Affairs Department. On page 128 of that document it is stated, “ This is the latest statistical data for the Commonwealth of Australia.” In these circumstances I hope that we have heard the last of the statement that the Federal land tax has had the effect of increasing the area under cultivation, and I trust that the Prime Minister will call the attention of Mr. Lloyd-George to the mistake into which he has fallen through the misrepresentation of the position by the AttorneyGeneral.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.15p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 November 1912, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1912/19121126_reps_4_68/>.