5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– On Wednesday I asked the Prime Minister whether the Government had decided to reimburse the Government of New South Wales all the expenditure incurred in the active quarantine in that State during the present small-pox outbreak, to which he replied that he did not know what had been done. I want to know whether the Government has made any arrangement, or come to any understanding, with the Government of New South Wales whereby it will pay all the cost of active quarantine during the present outbreak, which, according to our Quarantine Act, should be borne by the State Government ?
– I believe the facta are. that this Government has sent in a voucher for the expenditure incurred up to date, and has asked the State Government to liquidate the account.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question relating to procedure. I have consulted Mr. Speaker about it,and he thinks that the question should be referred to the Prime Minister. This is the first time that it has been raised, and it is one of some importance. On the 15th October a statutory rule was issued in reference to a certain Department, and I subsequently gave notice within the prescribed time of a motion to disallow it. As the Prime Minister will know, if no such motion is tabled within fifteen days from the date of the laying of the rule on the table, the rule becomes statutory law if not disallowed within thirty days from the date of issue. This thirty-day period expires either to-day or to-morrow, and I wish to know how the rule is affected by my notice of motion? I have not had an opportunity to move the motion, because its position on the business-paper has not allowed me to do so. It is not my desire that the rule should be disallowed, though I think that it should be amended; but the Acts Interpretation Act 1904 gives me no option but to move to disallow it, no provision being made there for the amending of a rule. Section 10 of the Act says -
Where an Act confers power to make regulations, all regulations made accordingly shall, unless the contrary intention appears -
be notified in the Gazette;
take effect from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in the regulations ;
be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.
But if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given, at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such House, disallowing any regulation, such regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.
The manner in which, I think, the rule should be amended is not material to the point that I am now raising, though it would have to be discussed during the debate on my motion. I ask whether this statutory rule, though challenged within the prescribed period, will become statutory law. If not, when can my motion be discussed and finality reached in the matter?
– The point raised is one of those nice constitutional questions which require some consideration, and I confess that it has never before come within my knowledge. If the Government had no control over these things, members, by challenging regulations and insisting on their motions of challenge being debated, could hold up the business of Parliament as effectually as in any other way.
– That has nothing to do with the question. The Prime Minister is raising a political issue.
– This morningI counted the interjections in the proof report of a speech delivered by me last night, which lasted only ten minutes, and found that they numbered forty. The same thing is beginning again to-day.It is obvious, on the other hand, that if every alteration of a regulation is to be deferred until Parliament can find time for its discussion and ratification, the Public Service of the country will be held up. I ask the honorable member to let the matter stand over, and we shall have it looked into carefully. His point, I take it; is whether a regulation, after having been laid on the table of the House for thirty days without being disallowed by motion–
– My point is, does the challenge count?
– I have been trying to explain the consequences which would ensue were a mere challenge to count - that either the public business of the country or the Public Service of the country would be held up. There would be no way of holding up business with greater facility than by constantly challenging the statutory rules, which seem to pour out of the Government Printing Office every day. The honorable member’s point is a new one, and I ask him to raise it again next week.
– I ask the Prime Minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, whether he considers that, the political aspect of this question has anything to do with the point raised by the honorable member for Herbert ?
– I did not raise the political aspect.
– The Prime Minister spoke for five minutes on the political effect of obeying the law of the country. That is what I take exception to.
– I never did such «. thing.
– The Prime Minister -complained of my interruption just now, and I admit that to interrupt is disorderly; but he is equally ready to interrupt, though I take no exception to that. I ask whether the political effect of a -constitutional rule has anything to do with the fact that it is the bounden duty of the Government to comply with it, whether that course be convenient or not? Is he prepared to put political issues before constitutional rules? The honorable member for Herbert asks-
– Is this a speech ? If 80, I wish to reply to it.
– The Prime Minister made a speech lasting five minutes. I am asking a question. I wish to know whether the honorable gentleman considers that political exigency has anything to do with the duty of the Government to give effect to the laws of the country, whether that be inconvenient or not?
– The Government is responsible for the conduct of the business of the country and of the House, and no Government could permit a rule, or even a law, to stand in the way of that business being done. If the interpretation turns out to do so-
– You have an AttorneyGeneral.
– We have an AttorneyGeneral, and I am going to hay© the law in this matter looked into. If it is as suggested, and the business of the country can be held up every day while statutory rules are being discussed, the law will have to be altered at the earliest moment, in the interests of the business of the country.
– I am informed thai* the men of part of the Forces who are going into camp at 8.30 to-morrow morning to take part in the review at Royal Park are to be provided with only 3d. for their dinner. If that be- so, I ask the Honorary Minister to make representations to the . Minister of Defence so that they shall have- at least a good square meal.
– I shall bring the matter under the notice of my honorable colleague.
Cessation of Work
– I ask the Honorary Minister representing the Minister of Defence if he will ask the Minister to speedily inquire into the reasons why work is being tied up at the Fitzroy Dock in almost every department? I do not wish to unnecessarily handicap the Department, but, in the face of the frequent wires and letters that come to me from there, I feel bound to make the inquiry.
– It is obviously impossible for me to answer a question without notice relating to the . Defence Department, but I shall ask the Minister of Defence to have this matter inquired into without delay.
– By way of personal explanation, I call attention to a statement in this morning’s newspapers, which reads as follows -
Several members did not vote in the division, and were not paired. They included Messrs. Anstey, Chapman, W. M. Hughes, and O’Malley. Messrs. Jensen and Mcwilliams are out of the State.
The honorable member for Darwin was not very well last night, having a cold, and I told him to go home and I would pair with him. He went home, and a pair was arranged. The newspaper’s statement that we were not paired was therefore incorrect.
– In the Argus report of the remarks made by me last night, when I was commenting on the question of preference, these words occur -
Theoretically that was the position; but what happened was that the man who really wanted the work, and had the capital, joined the union and got the job.
I made no remark as to a man requiring capital or having capital. On the contrary, I pointed out that the door was open in every union, and that, as a matter of fact, many of the unions, including the Australian Workers Union, had no entrance fee at all. Any of the Unions that have entrance fees will advance the money until a man can earn it. He does not require a penny to join, and I can assure the House that I .never used the words that the newspaper report attempts to put in my mouth.
– Have you any further communication to make to the House, Mr. Speaker, in regard to Hansard proofs? I understand that a new arrangement has been arrived at to emphasize the confidential .character of the proofs that are sent to honorable members, both as regards the speech itself and interjections, until it ,has been returned to the Hansard office. In this the Prime Minister and myself entirely agree.
– May I suggest that the sooner we can end this trouble about Hansard the better for ourselves? My view of all this criticism is that in the end we may lose some of the privileges and rights that we possess. The sooner we let the thing alone and revert to our old practices, whatever they were, and try to treat others fairly, the better it will be for the House and for all of us.
– I had a consultation with the President of the Senate yesterday, at his request, and the chief of the Hansard staff, and we decided to amend the intimation which accompanies the proofs sent to honorable members to read as follows: -
The attached proofs are issued by Mr. Speaker’s direction only for the correction of errors in the report, and must be regarded as strictly confidential.
That amounts to. an intimation that uncorrected proofs are not to be made use of for public purposes.
– That means that we get back to where we were? .>
– Exactly. I may add that I have never given any instructions to depart from the practice which had hitherto prevailed in that regard.
– Will the Prime Minister consider the advisableness of consulting -with the Speaker, with a view to submitting to. the Library Committee the question of making a recommendation to the House for the issue of more condensed reports of members’ speeches in Hansard, in order that they may be more generally read, and that that publication may attain to a wider circulation?
– I am prepared to have a talk with the Speaker on the subject, as the honorable’ member suggests.
– With reference to the discussion that took place the other day regarding the alteration in the method of sending Hansard proofs to honorable members, I understood you, Mr. Speaker, on that occasion, to say that you did not know who was responsible, and to-day you have said that you gave no instructions for the change. I should like to know whether you have obtained any information as to who was responsible for the mutilated condition of the proofs. -
– The trouble arose through a misunderstanding in the Government Printing Office. .
– Could you intimate, sir, who it was that gave the instruction that was misunderstood in the Government Printing Office?
– I would remind the honorable member that it is against the practice of both this House and the House of Commons, to ask repeated questions relating to the one subject. This question has been already fully dealt with, and a full answer has been given. I do not want to go too far in the matter, or to implicate an officer of another Department. I think, therefore, that the explanation I made ought to be accepted. I can only repeat that I gave no instructions for the mutilation that took place, and no instructions of that kind were given at all, but through a misunderstanding on the part of an employe, honorable members received Hansard proofs in the way they did.
– When the last Supply Bill was going through the House the Treasurer promised to draw the attention of the Defence Department to the fact that the work of building our fleet at the Fitzroy Dock was being considerably delayed through the plans and details being kept in Melbourne, and to ask if the plans could not be moved to where the work was. going on. Has anything been done in this matter?
– I brought the matter under the notice of the Minister of Defence, I think in writing, but have not heard anything further. I shall see what action has been taken.
Letter-Carriers’ Arrears of Overtime -Electrical Mechanics’ Examination - Automatic Telephones
– Is it a fact that a number of letter-carriers and other postal officials have not yet received back money which has been owing to them for a considerable time for over-time work?
– There is a notice of question on the business-paper relating to this matter in connexion with the postal mechanics. I have not been advised that there are any arrears of pay, but if this has occurred in New South Wales, the Deputy Postmaster-General there will, if asked, cause inquiries to be made.
– I observe in the press this morning that about 100 candidates for appointment as electrical mechanics submitted themselves for examination, and not one passed the necessary test. According to the report, some possessed a theoretical knowledge of electricity, but most of them had not had the necessary practical experience. I desire to ask the Postmaster-General if, before sending abroad for persons to fill the positions, the Department will give local applicants a further opportunity to qualify themselves.
– The examination is very simple, and it is proposed to extend the classes in the Department, as suggested in the discussion with the Public Service Commissioner the other day. Lectures are. at present being given to the students, and they attend classes, but it is proposed to do the thing on a larger scale. We shall then see if some arrangements can be made by which outside applicants foradmission to the service will be able to attend these lectures, just as they attend lectures at the University and other places.
– A notification was. given the other day that two officers were to be sent abroad to inquire into improved methods of telephony. Is it the PostmasterGeneral’s intention to delay the introduction of automatic telephones until those officers present a report?
PRIVILEGE: SUSPENSION OF MR. McGRATH. .
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister, without notice, whether, after the justification of the Age newspaper yesterday, and in view of your own indifference upon the matter, Mr. Speaker, as shown at the time, and also in consideration of the fact that the motion for the suspension of the honorable member for Ballarat was closured, he does not think that he, and the Government, should reconsider thematter and allow the honorable member for Ballarat to take his seat in the House again ?
– The honorable member knows as well as I do that the honorable member for Ballarat has only to do the manly thing, and he may come back to his duties at once.
– The question is whether it is the manly thing to do.
– The House has decided that it is. If my honorable friend wants to wipe away all traces of the past and beget a more amicable spirit between the two sides of the House, he should communicate with his friends outside who are repeating the offence every day of their existence.
– Has any action been taken by the Department of Trade and Customs with regard to the requests made by the co-operative butter manufacturersfor the granting of grade certificates for butter for export?
– Yes ; it has been decided to grant them.
– Has the. Minister of Trade and Customs received any por- tion of the money owing by different sugar companies , under the Sugar Excise Act? Mr.GROOM.-I answered that question quite recently. The Department has the whole matter completely in hand.
– And nothing has been paid.
– That is so at the presentstage, but the question is receiving the immediate attention of the Department.
-Has the Minister of Trade and Customs , any information as to the decision of the conference that has beensitting this week to consider the proclamationconnexion with the smallpox epidemic?
-The conference is still deliberating, and has made no report yet.
Mr.WATKINS.- Will the Minister of Tradeand Customs say whether the members ofthe Conference intend only to deliberate,or will they take evidence of actual cases to find put the results of vaccinationin New South Wales?
Mr.GROOM. - The Conference was convened to discuss two definite matters, one the question of quarantining Sydney, and the other the relations between the Commonwealth and State Departments. It is entirely in the discretion of the Conference to take such action as they think fit in respect to the matter to which the honorable memberhas referred.
– To take action, or to advise ?
– To make such inquiries asthey think fit, and report.
Mr.WEBSTER.-I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. In view of the grave doubts in the mind of the public as to the wisdom of the proclamation issued by the. Government some months ago, and the serious effects of that proclamation upon the people of the great city of Sydney, does he not think it advisable that a searching inquiry should be instituted,, the conclusions of which might form the basis of action in dealing with any further epidemics occurring in Australia?
– For thenine- hundred and ninety-ninth time–
– This matter is of more importancethan the honorable gentleman seems to think.
– The honorable member is already aware thatan inquiry into the subject is going on, and why can he not rest satisfieduntil we hear what those making the inquiry have to say ?
– It is only a smalllocal inquiry.
– The honorablemember for Maribyrnong asked a question the other day concerning camp canteens. He asked that the reports upon the matter should be laid upon the table of the House. I have the papers here and will lay them on the table of the Library.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister whether he is aware that manufacturers of explosives in Australia are complaining of a variation in the standard of explosives introduced into the Commonwealth as detrimental to their interests? In addition; I wish to ask the honorable gentleman is he aware that recently the Board appointed for testing explosives to be placed: upon the permitted list for use in gaseous mines have again altered the list, and have removed some of the explosives that were previously included in it, with the result that very large supplies are held at a loss in the hands of some of the collieries and business people in New South Wales,because under the regulation in regard to permitted explosives the Mines; Department cannot allow their use? In view of this, will the honorable gentleman take into consideration the necessity of establishing, once and for all, a testing station of our own in Australia ?
– I am having the whole matter inquired into. It is purely a question of cost. As the honorable member is aware, we have not. many people in Australia who have new explosives to test. We have some, and I hope we shall have more as time goes on. My own impression is that it is time we had a testing station of our own. The establishment of a Federal Department is an expensive matter, and the question to be considered, and which is now being inquired into, is whether the establishment of the station can be justified, in view of the cost involved. If it can be done at a moderate cost, the honorable member may rely upon it that we shall have it done.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question without notice. He will remember that I have raised the question of the Tasmanian mail service onseveral occasions. He is aware that now is the time for the people of Tasmania to apply to the Government in order that they may secure cheap freights’, as under existing conditions they are virtually controlled by a monopoly. I received the following letter from the Ulverstone Council, dated 10th November : -
Re the Straits mail service. I am directed to inform you that this council, in conjunction with the Devonport Council, have passed the following resolution relative to the above : -
That a strong protest be made against a mail subsidy being paid in any ‘other direction than the direct route to the north coast, and also against tying up the fares and freights for the next seven years.
Ishall not read the whole of the letter, but I ask the Postmaster-General, whether it is not possible at this date, in view of the vital issues at stake, and the fact that from 180,000 to 190,000 persons are dependent upon two steam-ship monopolies, and have’ been exploited by them for years, to do something now that an opportunity is afforded? Willthe PostmasterGeneral refuse to sign the contract for the mail service until we get another chance to have an interview with him ?
– I will not promise not to sign the contract, but I will consider any representations that are made before it is signed. The great trouble in Tasmania is that there is so much local jealousy between the people of different ports. The people of each port wish that the service should be run direct to their port.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General whether he wouldconsider it a sound principle to use a postal contract as a lever, in order to compel the ships of a particular company to call at ports when they would not otherwise be justified in calling there commercially?
– In some cases where it does not interfere with the mail service, it has been the practice of the Department in the past to meet the wishes of the people if this can be done without any great increase of expense.
– I wish to ask the PostmasterGeneral, without notice, whether he still proposes that mechanics shall be imported from elsewhere until such time as ample opportunities are given to young men’ already in Australia who are partially trained ? I may say that a large number of young men were precluded from entering for. the examination prescribed simply because they had not the necessary practical knowledge. Young Australians will be debarred fromthis employment if the Public Service Commissioner carries out his idea of importing postal mechanics.
– In connexion with this matter, I should like to say to the honorable member for Maribyrnong, and to other honorable members, that the importation of the few mechanics it is proposed to import will not interfere with any right or privilege of young men already in Australia. The opportunity for employment at this work will be as open as the day to them, and to any persons who care to qualify for the position. Many more than are proposed to be introduced will be required. . We are introducing some men to carry out urgent work of the Department, but the door to this employment will still be open to any young Titan who may come along and demonstrate that he possesses the necessary qualifications.
– Is the Department doing anything to meet the need for the employment of these men in the future?
– Yes. Honorable members have already been told that classes are being formed with a view to instructing those who wish to take up this work. I think that this should have been done years ago. Those in charge of a big business department like the Post and Telegraph Department should have had sufficient forethought and foresight to make provision to meet emergencies of this kind.
– If that had been attended to, we should not have had this trouble now.
– Quite so. Steps are being taken to meet the difficulty, but, in the meantime, the work of the Department cannot be held up. We must get these men from elsewhere if we cannot get qualified persons here.
– At most, a few only will be imported ?
– I think the number is ten. I can assure the honorable member that nothing goes more against the grain of the PostmasterGeneral and myself than to be compelled Jio import these men. If the honorable member has any eligible youngsters in his mind, let him send them along, and they will be given the fullest opportunity to qualify for this work.
– Bearing upon the question asked by the honorable member for Maribyrnong, I wish to ask a further question on the subject of postal mechanics. Inasmuch as it has been decided to import mechanics for the Post and Telegraph Department, will the Minister see that before they are imported the practical and theoretical tests to which local applicants are subjected will also be applied to them ?
– I take it that we shall take steps to require that all the men imported shall be thoroughly efficient for their work.
– On the question of the importation of postal mechanics, I wish’ to ask the Postmaster-General whether the Department will undertake to do what the Railway Departments of the States have done for years, and that is, train their own men from the time they are lads by a system of apprenticeship, instead of following the course which I understand has been adopted of making some arrangement for theoretical instruction by some university or school ?
– I quite approve of the system suggested by the honorable member, and would like to see it introduced. All that is being done at present is to provide for lectures and instruction.
– We shall never make mechanics in that way.
– I am quite satisfied that the proper course to follow is that suggested by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
– I wish to ask the Minister representing the Minister of Defence a question without notice. There is a disturbing, an irritating, report in circulation that the kilts to be supplied to the Scottish regiments are of a pattern of tartan unknown to history, and quite unacceptable to Scotchmen in Australia. Will the Minister say whether the report is true?
– The first expression I have heard of this rumour is the one just now given by the honorable member. I shall have inquiry made to see if there is any foundation for it.
asked the Minister of Trade and Customs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has he yet received the report of the Committee appointed to inquire into the railway gauges of Australia; and, if so, will he state what steps are being taken by the Government to invite consideration of the Committee’s recommendations by the various States?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Government recognise the great importance of this question, and intend to deal with it at the earliest opportunity.
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
In connexion with the claim of the postal mechanics of New South Wales for back money, is he aware that although it has been intimated to the daily press that the money is available, the men have not yet received it; and will *>e give instructions for them, to be paid without further delay?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
I am aware that payment has not been made. It will take some time to make the necessary calculations, but these will be expedited.
Mr. W. H. IRVINE laid upon the table the followingpaper: -
Trade Marks Act - Regulations (Provisional) Statutory Rules 1913, No. 260.
Debate resumed from 13th November (vide page 3183), on motion by Mr. W. H. Irvine -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
– When the Prime Minister was kind enough last night to grant me permission to continue my remarks this morning, I was speaking on the benefits derived from unionism, andI did not mean altogether to the members of the various unions, but to the community generally. I think it is now recognised all over the world that the community generally has derived much benefit from unionism. I am deeply indebted to the honorable member for Darling for having very kindly supplied me with the matter which he, owing to the limited time at his disposal last night, was unable to use in his speech. Having gone deeply into this question he finds that in Australia there are 341,000 unionists.
– 433,000. Those are old figures.
– I must quote the figures of my authority.
– He is the best authority in Australia.
– I think that we all look upon the honorable member for Darling as the Grand Old Man of Unionism. He points out that governing those unionists for the purpose of bringing about industrial peace, and getting better conditions for all concerned, there are no less than 667 bodies in the shape of Conciliation Courts, Arbitration Courts, and so on. My honorable friend also points out that 120,000 unionists are now working under Federal arbitration awards. I do not think that any honorable member on the other side will contradict me when I say that the Federal Arbitration Court has done wonders in bringing about industrial peace throughout Australia. In the face of those facts and figures I cannot understand why honorable gentlemen opposite are so opposed to the principle of preference to unionists. The only object I can see in giving preference is for the purpose of getting the men to go into the unions, and once we get them to realize the great benefits derived from being joined in a body, we shall have no difficulty in keeping them in the unions, and inducing others to become unionists. It is admitted now all the world over that the day of the individual has gone past. A thought flashes through my mind about the guilds referred to by the AttorneyGeneral. I do not know where he got his history from. But I have read deeply about the history of the guild, and also conversed, as the honorable member for Darling did in the Old Country, with gentlemen who. have . been connected with the guild movement for many years, and Enow its history thoroughly. My principal authority is Mr. Thorold Rogers, and though I have consulted the authorities I cannot find out where it has been stated that poor workmanship, or, in other words, the men themselves, were responsible for breaking down the guild system. History, so far as I read it, teaches me that the guilds broke down owing to the invention of machinery. Machinery was invented which enabled the hands that worked in connexion with the guilds to come together in factories, which have grown bigger and bigger year by year, until at the present time the factories are no longer owned by individuals, as they were in olden times, but by companies. According to the history of the guilds, the master, as he was called, worked side by side with the employe, and had a thorough knowledge of the work. That time has gone past altogether. Factories are floated into limited liability companies, and shareholders want dividends, as a foreman in some very big works in Great Britain put it to me. When I pointed out to him the terrible conditions under which some of the employes were working in that factory, he said, “ Look, sir, I must get dividends. My instructions are to get dividends, and, therefore, I cannot better the conditions of those employed.” I contrasted his treatment with the treatment meted out by Lever Brothers or by Cadbury and Company, where the employers are personally in touch with those who are working and producing the wealth for them. That state of affairs has forced the workman to do precisely what the companies have done, and that is to bring about a union. The companies have brought about a union of capital; the workers have formed themselves into a great union to protect themselves. I venture to say that the time of craft unionism has gone past, again largely owing to the perfecting of machinery. Just fancy, sir, one of those great iron trucks which are used on the Victorian railways being turned out every two hours’ at Mr. Gray’s works that we visited the other day. In every eight hours four railway trucks are completed. Speaking from memory, I think that in one year nine miles of trucks were turned out of the factory by the employment of about 400 men. The making of the steel, the shearing of the steel, and so on, are largely done by machinery, and hardly any hands are employed in the production of the increased output. It has made the employer almost independent of the supply of labour. Owing to the increased use of machinery quite a number of hands are thrown out of employment, and have to seek other work; hence we have the market overcrowded as it is. If we desire to be just we must admit that it is essential to have unionism to bring the employer of labour in close contact with a representative of all his employes. In Leeds a gentleman put it to me very forcibly as we went over his great works, employing some thousands of hands. I asked him if he was opposed to industrial unionism. “ Not at all,” he said ; “ I welcome unionists, because they appoint an intelligent man to represent them. He comes along to me, knowing what the men want, and then we can confer, and, if it is possible, we settle upon an agreement, and the men go on working under it. That is far easier for me, and far better for our works, than to deal with each man individually.” He pointed out that the firm derived a great advantage from unionism in that respect. Industrial unionism, as well as unionism generally, has gone outside the question of simply getting better pay for the men, and so on. I am indebted to the honorable member for Darling for some figures. Taking 100 British unions for the period from 1897 to 1907, he says that the unions spent 13.4 per cent, of their funds in connexion with disputes, 22.1 per cent, on unemployed benefits, and 42.5 per cent, on friendly benefits other than unemployment. He goes ©n to point out that the unionist in- dividually benefits largely when he is thrown out pf work, or when sickness comes along, by being a member of a union. Probably that is the reason why we have not even the Attorney-General himself making the slightest objection to any man being a member of a union.
– How much of the funds was distributed in benefits?
– In one line it is stated 42.5 per cent., and in another line 22.1 per cent.
– You know that the sum total does not represent more than about 3 per cent, of the amount collected, I suppose ?
– That I cannot say. Honorable members on the other side have admitted that they are in favour of unionism, and, if they are logical, they should not object to our endeavour to get as many men as possible into the unions. We say that the only way to attain that end is to give preference to unionists, and that is why we are in favour of the principle. I ask the AttorneyGeneral
– Would you suggest that - a law should be passed that every artisan should join a union?
– If it would be for the benefit of the community.
– Would it?
– I believe that it would.
– Would it?
– I want to qualify myself, because I wish to be fair and clear on the matter. I do not believe in hard-and-fast laws; but I would give preference to unionists, all things being equal, and that is as far as I am prepared to go. At the present time we have in our municipalities a form of unionism. We are compelled to comply with the law, whether we like it or not. I know a gentleman in Tasmania who put a barbed wire round his fence at considerable cost, and, because he had not complied with the municipal law, he had to remove, the barbed wire. He did not like removing it, but he had to do so. Why ? Because there was a law which had been made in the interests of the community. If the grant of preference to unionists will get men into the unions, and if their presence in the unions will tend towards bringing about industrial peace - which is in the interests of everbody - then we should do everything by means of the law to bring about that result. Again, to show honorable members how unjustly the Bill will, in my humble opinion, act upon people outside, let me refer to an admission of the Minister of Defence which I quoted last night. The other day he stated that, in open competition, the Commonwealth Clothing Factory had tendered for some articles required by the Post and Telegraph Department. The Arbitration Court may give preference to the unionists in that industry, as it did in the case of the Brisbane tramway industry. Would it not be most unfair that the Commonwealth, entering into competition with private enterprise, should be placed at an advantage over private enterprise by being allowed to employ any person on that work for the Post Office at any wage it liked to pay, because, if there is no union-
Colonel Ryrie. - It is an advantage, though.
– It would be obtaining an advantage over private enterprise if the Commonwealth paid a sweating wage; but I hope that the honorable member does not desire that the Commonwealth should pay a much lower wage in the same industry than the Federal Arbitration Court compels a man outside to pay. We compel the outsider to pay a minimum wage fixed by law. I interpreted the remarks of the honorable members on the other side to imply that they do not want any unionism in the Commonwealth Service, and want to be allowed to pay any wage that the Government think desirable.
Colonel Ryrie. - You said nothing about the wage.
– The only way in which to get a minimum wage is through a union. For instance, at the present time the Arbitration Court will not recognise any man who is outside a union. In the case of the electricians’ award - in which I am deeply interested, having worked at the occupation so long - what did we find the other day? The men who were in the union participated in the benefit, but those engaged in the same occupation outside the union did not, and so there was a general rush of men toget into the union at once.
– What is the fund that pays all people their wages?
– I am glad of that interjection from the honorable gentleman. “ What is the fund,” he asks, “ that pays all men?” The honorable member for Darling showed that it was the union fee. The amount taken by the employers out of the pockets of the workers is always so great that even in lean years they can afford to pay the minimum wage.
– Did not the banks fail by reason of the small profits which they made?
– According to Mr. Johnston, the Tasmanian Statistician, the wealth produced in Tasmania during 1911 amounted to £8,750,000, and 91 per cent, of the people of that State were engaged in its production. Mr. Turner boiled these figures down to a concrete form, and demonstrated that out of every £7 of that wealth production, 91 per cent, of the people received only £1, whereas the remaining 9 per cent, obtained £6. It is astonishing to note the small amount that the worker gets of the product of his own labour, chiefly owing to high rents and interest charges.
– And the profits are going up.
– Yes. Only the other day, I went into a shop, and inquired the price of a pair of boots. It was enormously high, but the shopkeeper informed me that he had to pay £30 a week rental before he got a shilling for himself. Yet nothing is said about fixing a minimum rent. The rental charged is always as much as can be squeezed out of the unfortunate workers. I very much question whether the increased wages which are being paid will prove effective until we have established a Fair Rent Court in the States. The object of the Labour party is to better the conditions of humanity. Only the other day I had occasion to call on a family in Melbourne, and I may tell honorable members opposite that they would hot care to house their animals under similar conditions. Why ? Simply because the wages which are being paid to the bread-winner of the family are so small, and because of the difficulty which is experienced in securing a decent house in Melbourne in which to live. Let honorable members visit Richmond, and note the conditions under which people are living there. I have no doubt that Melbourne will yet have to pay as heavy a penalty as Sydney is now paying, owing to neglect of proper sanitary conditions.
– I am sorry to interrupt the honorable member, but I am afraid that his remarks are far removed from the matter which is before the chair.
– This is a very big subject, and covers a wide area. When the unionist gets better wages he at once raises his standard of living. He moves out of the dwelling in which he has resided, and occupies a better house. Consequently when we insure the payment of better wages the entire community benefits. Our aim is to secure industrial peace. The way in which trade unionists are being persecuted at the present time is absolutely cruel. In my own State quite recently they have had to fight a man of straw, and, incidentally, I may mention that not a leading barrister in Hobart would take up their case. The result was that they had to get Mr. M. J. Clarke all the way from Launceston to plead their cause. The unionists were charged with a certain offence, and now find themselves up against a straw man, who has no financial standing. Even on his own evidence his wife owns the horse and cart which he uses. The organization may have to pay a large sum of money for defending its members against a charge which was absolutely without substance. I knew nothing of the dispute when it arose, and was not consulted. I was in Melbourne at the time, attending to my parliamentary duties. I went to Tasmania to ascertain the facts regarding it, and on my return here I sat as a member of a ConciliationBoard. We met the shipowners, and heard the evidence which was tendered. We afterwards sat at the table together, and in a few hours we settled the difficulty. In the absence of that Conciliation Board, I do not hesitate to say that we might possibly have had a strike as disastrous as that which now obtains in New Zealand.
– It was a very satisfactory agreement to the shipping companies and the unions, at the expense of the fruitgrowers.
– I do not intend to reply to interjections, because I have a habit of repaying the interjector with interest. Ever since I have taken an active part in the Labour movement my aim and object has been to secure industrial peace. The only way in which that can be achieved is by granting all concerned justice, and we can get justice only through the medium of an independent tribunal, such as the Commonwealth Con ciliation and Arbitration Court, which is far removed from parochial influences. I am in favour of preference to unionists, and I shall oppose the passing of this Bill, although I do not think there is very much in it. Of course I am speaking as a layman. I hope that I shall have the advantage of hearing the honorable member for Bendigo speak upon the question, and if, when viewed from a legal stand-point, a different complexion can be placed upon it, I shall be glad to hear it. I do not see, however, that the Bill will cut across unionism in any way, and I certainly do not think that it will bring about a double dissolution.
.- I cordially agree with the statement of the honorable member who has just resumed his seat that when interjections are hurled atus we are apt to hit back in a way that we may afterwards regret. I have no desire to hit back this morning unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. I wish to deal with this matter from the view-point of the Opposition. They have put forward a dual claim in connexion with preference to unionists. In the first place, they hold that in adopting preference to unionists they adopted a new principle; and, secondly, they urge that unionists now have an established right to preference. I particularly desire to refer to some remarks of the honorable member for Darling, and I feel a real pleasure in being here this morning to answer the man who is unquestionably the father of unionism in Australia. When I was a little boy in knickerbockers I heard the honorable member make a speech on this very subject at a spot 150 miles removed from any railway station. From that day onward I have closely followed his utterances upon trade unionism, and I wish now to put the other side of the picture. I, too, have witnessed the growth of unionism, but from a different standpoint from that of the honorable member. But before dealing with this aspect of the matter, I wish to dispose of the claim which is made that preference to unionists is a new principle. As a matter of fact, it is as old as the hills. The ancient clay tablets of 4,000 years ago show that preference to unionists was operative then. Aye, even India, China, Persia, Rome, France, and England have all tried preference to unionists, and in every instance the principle has had to be turned down, because its operation had always brought misery to the masses and trouble to the toilers. It is impossible to advance one section of the community at the expense of the remainder, without bringing trouble to that particular section. The very case quoted by the honorable member for Darling - that of the guilds in England - led . to such trouble that the system had to be abolished by law. He knows that perfectly well.
– Will-tie honorable member give us his authority for the statement?
– There are any number of authorities for it, from Buckle and Draper, the historians, down. Guizot shows that Rome was practically ruined by this very principle. I wish first, however, to show the expense attached to granting a preference to unionists. We have examples which prove that the adoption of the principle involves the community in additional cost. Recently we had two of these examples, one in connexion with the erection of Commonwealth offices in London. What do we find? We find that between the lowest tender in which preference to unionists was recognised and the lowest tender in which it was not recognised, there was a difference of £16,000. In other words, the adoption of this principle in that instance would have involved the country in a loss of £16,000. Here is another case which must go right home to honorable members of the Opposition who believe in Government employment. In New South Wales, a short time ago, when a deputation waited upon the responsible Minister and asked him to reduce the rents of cottages at Daceyville, the model suburb, which’ is being built by the State Government for the housing of the poor, the Minister replied that until they could induce the carpenter and bricklayer to reduce their wages, he could not reduce the rents. There they are paying for preference to unionists. Whatever the cause the result, undoubtedly, is that working men cannot afford to rent a house in the model suburb, and have to live elsewhere. Let me come now to the right of unionists, as urged by honorable members opposite, to demand preference. The Labour party are always denouncing the rights of property. From the days of Prudhon, the Frenchman, to the present time, we have been told that rights in respect of property should be destroyed by the masses, but we are told now that it is the right of the unionists to obtain preference, and that that right is one with which we ought not to interfere. The honorable member for Darling, in endeavouring to establish this claim, said that the unionist worked, not only for himself, but for the good of the community. I propose to show in what way the average unionist works for the benefit of the community. Whilst I was quite a boy in the back country - I had just left school - a mob of unionists came to the station of which I was then in charge and sought practically to take possession of it. In those days the unionists travelled in mobs, up and down the Barwon. The trouble in regard to the coercionist - the’ man whom the honorable member for Darling has been upholding - is that he will fight only with the pack, whereas the manly worker will fight on his own. The coercionist will fight only in the pack, like any other - *I shall not say at present what I had in mind. Such men are not genuine workers. The men in the unions are just as good as the men who are not in them, but they are no better. I have employed both unionists and non-unionists, and I speak, therefore, from experience. Unfortunately, the few men who will fight only with the pack often lead the pack into trouble. To return to the incident which I was proceeding to relate; let me say that I was only a boy of eighteen when a pack of these men came along to the station of which I was in charge and practically wanted to take control of the place. I was on horseback at the time, and I rode to a spot where only one man at a time could reach me, with the result that these men, like the honorable member for Darling, when “ Smiler “ was cleaning up the gaol, were not to be found. A couple of years later, I had been out on the run one morning, and on ‘returning home was informed by the housekeeper that some of the same class of men had tried practically to take possession df the place. I went out at once and showed them a little practice with a 44 calibre- rifle, and, again, like the honorable member for Darling, when the trouble was on at the gaol, they “ were not there.” These are the sort of men who cause trouble in the community, and who are being bolstered up under the system of preference to unionists. The genuine worker, the real man of grit, does not need to be granted any preference. As an honorable member has said,he will get it. We give such a man the preference every time.
– Because he forces you to do so.
– No; because we know his value. I have always stood firm in the belief that a man is worthy of the highest wages that one can afford to pay him.
– And squatters have housed men as if they were swine.
– There are some bad squatters just as there are bad unionists, but it is not to be said that all employers are bad because there may be one or two bad employers.
– One or two?
Mr.FLEMING.- I shall cite one or two more cases which will appeal to the honorable member for Kennedy, who knows probably a good deal more about the inner history of some of these things than I do. Away in the back country, I have seen a great bush fire with a face over 60 miles long. The honorable member knows as well as I do from where that fire sprang. But, because such a thing happened, are we to condemn all working men ? This sweeping condemnation of any particular class because one or two are known to be bad is utter childishness. There are good and bad in every class.
– The honorable member does not accuse the honorable member for Kennedy of having started the fire of which he spoke ?
– No; but he knows a good deal of the inner history of these things. How muchhe does know I cannot exactly say. The honorable member for Maranoa could tell the House about these occurrences.
– Is the honorable member accusing the honorable member for Maranoa of setting fire to the bush ?
– Certainly not. I do not think he would do such a thing; but he can tell of these occurrences, just as well as I can. Because these conflagrations occurred, surely we are not going to say that all working men are incendiaries, and, possibly, murderers.. Not at all. We recognise that these were the acts of what may be called “ outcasts,” and the men who shelter behind unionists, and often lead them into trouble. Let me show how some of these men seek to lead unionists into trouble -and the incident I am about to relate is absolutely true. In the same part of the country to which
I have already referred, I was one morning engaged in mustering sheep for the shearing, and on returning home at lunch time was told by one of the men that there had been a “ fine old row “ in the shed. I asked what had happened, and was told that a delegate from the Shearers Union had. walked into the shed - Ihope that the honorable member for Darling is listening, because he knows, this delegate well - and, not noticing my brother, who was standing back in the wool bins, had walked on tothe board; and said to the men, “Remember, you are shearing not for Fleming, but for yourselves.” My brother stepped forward and said, If you want to talk to these men decently, you can do so.” I cannot repeat the exact language that was used, because I am afraid it would not be parliamentary.
– Used by the honorable member’s brother?
– By both my brother and the shearers’ delegate. My brother said, “If you are going to talk to these men decently, you can do so here, butif you are going to talk inthis sort of strain, outside is the place for you, and any man who wants to follow you can do so.” That ended the matter. A little while later my brother was stooping at a tank to get a drink, when the big delegate tapped him on the back, and said, “ You need not be rough on a man. I had to tell them “ - and again I shall not repeat the exact language used - “ something.” This was the story that one of the men told me, and it was borne out word for word by my brother. This was one of the chief delegates of the Australian Workers Union, and he is the sort of man who, to a large extent, dominates the unions, and leads them into trouble. ‘ The genuine worker does not go looking for trouble. He does not set fire to the country. The decent, useful working man, who is a. real benefit to the community, does not travel round trying to destroy things; he seeks rather to build up.
– According to the honorable member, this man was no worse than his own brother.
– He was. He was not game to stand up and say straight out what he believed. The honorable member for Darling has been in the shed where this happened, and the shearers’ delegate to whom I refer was one of the most honoured men in the Australian Workers Union. But it is not necessary to detail personal history to bear out my contentionas to how the unionists try to dominate the community. Was not a member of the Farriers Union in New South Wales fined for not walking in a procession, although he had merely stayed at home to help to build a house for his wife and children ? We also know what has happened at Broken Hill, and more recently at Beaufort, where men were mean enough and cowardly enough to throw heavy things down a mine on–
– Irise to a point of order. The honorable member is now referring to a case that is sub judice.
Mr.FLEMING.- I am sorry if that is so.
– I thank the honorable member for Bendigo forreminding meof a position which I think the House must respect. I ask the honorable member not to refer to a matter which is pending in the law courts.
– I certainly should not have referred to the Beaufort incident had I known that a case relating to it, was sub judice. There are many other cases which show that the present trend of unionism is to upset all government. The honorable member for Darling told us last night that his union taxes its members, and that it had, therefore, as much right to insure their obedience as the Government had. He put his union, absolutely on the same plane as that of the Government. The honorable member for West Sydney on Wednesday last also talked about the impudence of Parliament in passing a . resolution which in any way interfered with a decision concerning unionists.
– I do not think he used those words.
– In effect, he did. Hespoke of the impudence of Parliament. Is not Parliament the highest court in the land?
– The honorable member for West Sydney went further.
– Undoubtedly, but I do not want to follow him any further. If he were here, I should have considerably more to say about him.
– Spare him.
– The honorable member for West Sydney told the people of Aberdeen, a place in my electorate, that the Northern Territory was larger and more important than ever the Roman Empire had been-
– I mention that incident only to show that it is unnecessary forme to deal with the honorable member for West Sydney ; he deals with himself when he goes on the public platform. The point I have been trying to make is that these unions are defying the law.
– If so, they are not the only unions that are doing so.
– But the honorable member for Darling said that these unions were in the same position as the Government, and could exact from their members and officials the same obedience that the Government could. I am one of those who, perhaps, are old-f ashioned enough to believe that the Government of a country should be the supreme power and that it is extremely dangerous to the privileges of the people as a whole to allow one particular section to so organize that it can claim that it isas powerful as is theGovernment ofthe land. Some unions,however,havegone even further. Theleaderof the strike in New Zealand has threatened the Commonwealth Government that ifcertain cargo is allowed tobe landed here out ofships coming from New Zealand, theunionists will upset all the industrial forces of Australia. Have we not heard the honorable member for West Sydney say that he has control of a union which at any moment could dislocate trade throughout Australia? If we have reached such a pass that we have in these unions a rival to the Government of the country, it is time that the Government took strong measures and stood up for the privileges of the people as a whole. The Opposition come here because they please their party wire-pullers- - because they sell the privileges of the people to a particular section which is dominated by the unions.
– And how does the honorable member’s party come here?
– We come here to restore to the people of Australia their privileges. We come here to represent no particular class or section, but to represent the people as a whole. No section of the community has a right to make a claim which cannot be interfered with by the Government of the day. Property is a good thing, and far be it from me to decry property, because, in my opinion, it is an expedient for the maintenance and extension of civilization, and, as such, deserves due consideration. But when one section of the community can defy the Government, and an honorable member can tell us that a union he represents is on a par with the Government, it is high time that this or some other Administration should restore to the people of Australia those ancient privileges which have made Great Britain what it is.
.- This Bill I can only characterize as a piece of political quackery prescribed by the medicine men of political heathendom to cure evils which do not exist. The wild words of the last speaker are, I submit, utterly beside the point. He spoke of evils to the community which unionism has brought about, but he did not venture to condemn unionism.
– I never did so, and I hope I never shall.
– That is where I am going to show the utter inconsistency of the honorable member. The AttorneyGeneral, in moving the second reading, referred to the good that unions have done, and said there was no intention to destroy industrial unionism as such, but that the object was to put political unionism “out of the fight,” and restore industrial unionism pure and simple. What the honorable member for Robertson does is to condemn the acts of men who are purely industrial unionists, and his utterances do not touch the question before us in any way. That question is whether or not unionists are to obtain preference in Government employ. The honorable member referred to excesses of industrial unionists in New Zealand, Broken Hill, and other places ; but these, I point out, are excesses of men who do not wish the rule of law in any shape or form, but desire to retain the old weapon of the strike, and to be able to disturb industrial relations whenever they please, without check or regulation.
– But these men claim preference to unionists.
– The honorable mem ber for Robertson tries to fasten those excesses on the Labour party, who stand for the regulation by law of industrial matters, and are trying to prescribe means to make such excesses unnecessary. This aspect of the. question, however, I propose to deal with later on. I desire to -show now that this Bill is mere political nothingness; it can do nothing, and is simply put forward to do what no legislation should do, namely, provide a battle cry for a political party. It can have no other effect of any kind whatever. What is the position ? The present Government by administrative decree have reversed that which the Labour Government did, and which the Liberal, or Conservative, party condemned. All that the Labour party did in this respect has been utterly destroyed by the administrative act of the present Government. Preference to unionists in Government employ was brought in by administrative act, and it is taken away by administrative act. That being so, why this Bill? If, by some change in the fortunes of the country - by some measure of political salvation for this country - a new Government came in, they would not be bound by this Bill.
– Why not ?
– I am going to show the honorable gentleman. Of course, while this Bill remained in force, any Government would be bound by it.
– That is what I mean.
– Any Government must be placed in power with a majority of some kind, and, having the majority, such’ a Government can control the legislation of the Parliament. That being so, this Bill, if passed, would not stand in the way.
– lt could be repealed only by debating it in open daylight.
– I am going to tell the honorable member that not even that need be done. As soon as a measure to repeal this measure was introduced, if the then Government followed the methods of the present Government, discussion could be stopped, and the Bill passed in a few minutes.
– The Government would have to make it part of their platform before the country, if they were going to repeal it.
– That is what I say; honorable members opposite are introducing this Bill merely for the purpose of making a battle cry before the country. There can be no legislative result or effect of any kind ; it is a piece of political humbug, as I have said before.
– The country indorsed our action.
– That is what I complain of - that honorable members opposite are putting this machinery into activity, simply to provide themselves with a cry with which to go before the country. At the last election this administrative act of the late Government was made an issue on every platform, and was largely used by Liberal speakers in condemnation of Labour candidates.’ The present Government were returned, and they are now doing what they said they were going to do - destroy preference. Again, I ask, why this Bill? There is no power in the country, apart from the legislative power - which we know will not now be exercised in this direction - to give preference to Government employes; there is no. power except that which lies in the Administration itself. No Court in the country can give preference to Commonwealth employes.
– Is the honorable member sure of that?
– I believe it to be the fact. It is, of course, a legal matter.
– What about section 4 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act, which, in the definition of “ industrial dispute,” refers to any dispute “ carried on by or under the control of the Commonwealth or a State “ ?
– I am relying on what the Attorney-General said last night.
– I then referred to the Arbitration (Public Service) Act.
– The Attorney-General said there was no power in any Court to give preference; and, in my opinion, that is the fact. The Attorney-General referred to section 4 of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act.
– I think that that section is open to some doubt; but, at all events, this Bill will make the matter clear.
– It is that doubt that has given rise to the opinion I submit.
– That section has never been acted on, and this Bill will prevent its being acted on.
– The Arbitration (Public Service) Act of 1911 was made necessary because the Court had no power to deal with Commonwealth employes as such.
– It is doubtful.
– That is the legal position, as I conceive it; and the fact that the Attorney-General says it is doubtful is strong support of my position.
– The honorable . member is entitled to put it that Parliament in passing the Act of 1911 did not give preference to unionists. I quite agree with that. *
– I am pointing out that my view of the law is that no Court can give preference to unionists at the present juncture, whether under the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904 and its amendments, or the Arbitration (Public Service) Act of 1911.
– That is preference to public servants?
– Yes. ‘ Last night the Attorney-General said that one of the objects of this Bill was to prevent a Court giving preference to Government servants, but I understand that he revised his opinion afterwards. This is what he said -
Under the law at present they can go before the Arbitration Court and get an award against the Government for preference, but they will. not be able to do so under this Bill.
The position, as I conceive it, is that the public servants cannot go at the present time to the Court and obtain preference to unionists - that the only powers under which Government employes can approach the Court are the powers contained in the Arbitration (Public Service) Act of 1911. Those powers are set out in section 6 of the Act, and there is not amongst them any power to award preference to unionists, nor is there any such power in any part of the Act.
– Does that Act refer to permanent or to temporary employes?
– It refers to all public servants.
– Yes, it includes all employe’s-.
– The original Act deals only with general industries, and was intended to cover the Commonwealth only so far as industries are concerned.
– That will probably be the resolution of the doubt the AttorneyGeneral has expressed in interjection to me.
– For instance, the original Act never contemplated purely clerical associations.
– At any rate, my contention is that the Act does not allow any Court to give preference at the present juncture; and, therefore, the AttorneyGeneral’s statement that the one object of the present Bill is to prevent a Court giving an award against the Government goes by the board. Government employes cannot go before the Court for preference now; and, therefore, this Bi41 will not do anything in prevention of their going to the Court for preference.
– The honorable member absolutely “Wipes out” the main objection of the Leader of the Opposition to the Bill !
– I do not care what I do or do not “ wipe out.” My duty in this party is to put what I conceive to be the legal position, whatever may be the result. I join issue, therefore, with the Attorney-General when he says that, under the law at present, Commonwealth servants can go to the Court and obtain preference, and that this Bill is devised to prevent their doing so.
– I should like to modify my words.
– I hope the time occupied by these interjections will be deducted from the time allotted to the honorable member for Bendigo?
– Of course, if honorable members do not wish to hear me-
– The Standing Orders do not permit of any interference with an honorable member in possession of the Chair.
– The AttorneyGeneral, I know, did not intend to mislead the House in any way. But that is the legal position, I believe, and if that is so the object of this Bill is absolutely nonexistent. As a legislative measure it can do nothing. It cannot affect the industrial relations of the Commonwealth with any person or persons.
– It will prevent Ministerial acts.
– It cannot prevent Ministerial acts, because the Ministrythat has the power to do the acts has also the power to remove the Acts that prevent Ministers from doing the acts.
– They can only do that publicly.
– Of course. But the acts of the late Ministry in giving preference were done in public. The matter was given the utmost publicity. Ministers were not ashamed of what they did, and if they had the power they would do it again. Do honorable members of the Ministerial party contend that this miserable Bill, if passed into law, will prevent these things being done if Ministers in power wish to- do them ? It cannot. Take the- inconceivable position that, ifthis party is again- returned to power - I do not mean that that is inconceivable; but the subsequent position is inconceivable - preference to unionists could still be given, in secret, if there- was any desire to give it, notwithstanding this measure being on the statute-book.
– Only by breaking the law.
– It could be done if Ministers desired. The point the honorable member put to me was that, after the passage of this Bill, any preference given to unionists could only be given in the open; but I point out to the honorable member that even that measure of protection - if it be protection - cannot be conceded, because if persons are willing to get behind the law they can do so, as the honorable member may conceive, though I cannot. I think it is clear that the Bill is a miserable - I shall not say “ subterfuge,” because its purpose is plain, but it is a miserable legislative expedient in place of a bond fide measure; it is utterly to be condemned; it is a false use of a legislative function and an attempted false use of a legislative body. It has no result as affecting the industrial relations of the people whom it is put forward as affecting; it can do nothing; it does nothing, and is, as I say, a mere election placard, the principle of which has already been placarded before the people. Honorable members on the Ministerial side will contend that the people have spoken on the matter, but what they are now putting forward is absolutely, as the honorable member for West Sydney said, stripped of every vestige of reason, leaving their pretext standing miserable, naked, and shivering under the scorn of the community, an object to be spat upon by every man who believes in sincerity and in bond fide legislation. Taking the Bill itself apart from its objects, what does it bring about ? If the view of honorable members opposite is taken it intends to prevent preference being given by the Commonwealth to Government employes. I contend, first of all, that it cannot prevent it; and, secondly, that, if it could prevent it, it would be preventing a good thing. The Government who believe in industrial legislation and seek to impose onother employers of labour conditions which they believe will bring about industrial peace, should not re frain from imposing those conditions upon themselves. What is the object of legislative measures to-day with regard to industrial regulation ? We cannot divorce this aspect from the Bill, treating it as a serious Bill with a serious purpose. What have the Legislatures considered the proper way to bring about industrial peace or industrial regulation? I prefer the word “regulation,” because I maintain that we cannot bring about absolute industrial peace. It is no use crying out “ Peace, peace,” where there is no peace. But we can, by legislation aimed in that direction, bring about a regulation of industries which, though it will not cause strikes to cease altogether, will minimize them and their effects - which is our object.
– That is proved over and over again.
– Only when you bring men to a condition of slavery.
– If the honorable member for Werriwa will allow me to proceed, I. wish to condemn the Government for their want of courage in this matter. If they wish to bring this matter really to an issue and have the question of liberty decided as the honorable member for Werriwa would wish it to be decided, why do not the Government bring in a short Bill repealing the preference section in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act? The thing would then be above board. The Bill before us is one of the test measures that have been brought forward to bring about a dissolution of the two Houses.
– I wish they could do so.
– I know that the honorable member does. The speeches of the honorable member for Robertson and others are aimed at unionism.
– The misuse of unionism.
– The honorable member’s speech was aimed at industrial unionism, else why the inflammatory -talk of the acts of unionists, which have no political aspect in any way, but are a pure expression of the belief by members of unions that they are being downtrodden industrially, that they have no other hope for, immediate amelioration, and whose feeling of repression is, perhaps, expressed in bursts of flame, as the honorable member has indicated?
– Bursts of light.
– Political unionism has its expression in bursts of light. The condemnation of acts of industrial unionism has nothing to do with the point. Suppose this Bill is passed, will it for a moment check the growth of industrial unionism ? Suppose every measure on the statute-book passed in order to regulate the nation and bring about the regulation of industrial conditions without recourse to strikes is wiped off the statutebook, is that going to repress actions of unions such as those the honorable member for Robertson has indicated ? It cannot. It simply means that if we take away from the workers the right to combine into unions, and the logical corollary that that right shall be expressed in the most effective manner–
– Who has suggested such a thing?
– Not the honorable member particularly, but the honorable member and his party, by their actions here, do suggest it. If this is taken away we shall not have less of the kind of thing of which the honorable member for Roberston has spoken, but we shall have a lot more of it. In New Zealand we have an outburst of syndicalist action by men who will not have an Arbitration Court, who have severed all connexion with it, who refuse to be regulated bylaw, and who say, ‘ ‘ You shall not take away from us the weapon of direct action - the weapon of industrial revolution.” These are the men who do these things, but we as aparty stand on the regulation of industry by political action. During the last campaign we were condemned for the very things that those who are opposed to our methods have perpetrated. It was unfair. Some honorable members on the Government side know the position. But on every platform during the last election we were condemned for strikes at Broken Hill, and syndicalist acts here and there; all were put down to the Labour party, whose very existence as a party stands on the question of the regulation of industrial disturbances or industrial actions bylaw.
– Are they not the left wing of your army?
– Some support us, and rightly so, because we are able to offer to them some measure of relief which the Capitalist party deny them. Our objective may be the same as theirs, namely, that the worker shall get a fairer share of the product of his labour; but their methods are utterly opposed to ours. We as a party stand on regulation by law; they will not adopt those methods, but stand on regulation by direct action, or industrial revolution. That is the whole difference between us, and though we sympathize with them in their objects, our methods are opposed to theirs. We believe in the political weapon, and not the weapon of direct action. What a farce it is to say that a union which gives its funds for political purposes, showing thereby that it believes in political action” and does not believe in resorting to revolution, is to be penalized by being taken out of the range of preference to unionists? The position is utterly farcical and absurd. It is recognised that people should have recourse to law rather than the bludgeon. That is the principle which has brought aboutall civilization. Private warfare among individuals was once the means of regulating all relations between people; that private warfare has been stopped by law ; and so here industrial warfare, which once was the only means of forcing the demands of the workers on their employers, is being stopped. We wish to stop it by law. The Attorney-General does not think the time is yet ripe, but we think it is ripe, or, as the honorable member for West Sydney said, “rotten ripe.” Though it may not result in all strikes being stopped - it has done so under the Commonwealth tribunal so far - we hope that it will do so. The AttorneyGeneral gave utterance to a most extraordinary view when he said honorable members desired to stop this preference to unionists because it was a step in the direction of syndicalism. The thing is utterly illogical. If the AttorneyGeneral had not said it, I should have said that it was utterly absurd. The two things are on different planes, and have no connexion. In the trade congresses which are being held all over Europe, there is a clear line of demarcation between the leaders on the two sides. “ Are we going to have syndicalism;” they say, “or are we going to have political action?” The London Standard, in a paragraph headed “ Cautious German Socialists,” said recently
Berlin, Sept. 17.
The Socialist Congress at Jena to-day adopted, by 333 votes to 141, the party committee’s official resolution declaring that the time has not yet come for recommending a general strike as a means of advancing party aims, and, in especial, obtaining electoral reform in Prussia. The resolution, known as the “ Rosa Luxemburg resolution,” in favour of energetic, not to say revolutionary, measures, was rejected by the same majority.
It thus appears that the party leaders, at any rate for the present, intend to rely chiefly on their parliamentary policy, and they seem thus, to a certain extent, to have adopted the views of the Revisionists. The congress next discussed Budget voting, and the party’s attitude towards taxation generally.
The question that is being discussed is, are we going to give up our weapon of revolution, or are we going to have recourse to legislation? In England, and in Europe to some extent, the party in favour of political action has triumphed in the congresses. But the two methods are as wide as the poles asunder. We here stand, not for syndical methods, but for the methods of law.
– Several of the honorable member’s colleagues do not agree with him.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral agree with every utterance of every member of his party ?
– I do not say that the honorable member is bound by the utterances of other members of his party.
– The point is that our platform contains this plank. We are firm on this point, and the history of the movement shows that that is so. The last great outburst of syndicalist action occurred at the time of the maritime and shearers’ strikes, which failed because the sense of the people was against them. Out of that ebullition of feeling grew the party of political action, which has advanced step by step, with the approval of the people, until we stand where we do today. The people said, “ These men are reasonable and fair. They do not want the weapon of the strike; their desire is to have industrial like all other matters regulated by law.” That is our position to-day. The word “syndicalism” is derived from the French, and, like many words so derived, seems to have the power of frightening people.
– Sabotage is such a word, which very justly has the power of frightening people.
– Sabotage is a word with a< clear meaning. It signifies a method of industrial warfare which we desire to suppress by political regulation. This party does not believe in sabotage, which is the method of the supporters of direct action.
– Your party deprecates it, but takes the benefit of it.
– We do not take the benefit of it.
– You ‘ are the Dr. Jekyll, and the others are the Mr. Hyde of the party.
– If the AttorneyGeneral really thinks that, I am greatly disappointed in him.
– You use the same funds, and have the same political organizations.
– The Attorney-General has said that the preference to unionists adopted by the late Government was a step towards syndicalism; but it was really a step in the other direction. ‘
– You vote as a party in this matter, though you are divided in opinion.
– We are not divided in opinion on this matter. I approve of preference to unionists, regarding it as a step in the direction of regulation by law. For honorable members to suggest that we. support sabotage and direct action shows that they do not understand the matter. Speech after speech indicates that they do not. . They support direct action themselves, deprecating and condemning the action for which we stand, which is regulation by law. The honorable member for Werriwa has stated time and again that he believes in letting the people fight out these matters by themselves.
– The function of government is to preserve law and order,, so that each may do as he pleases.
– The honorable member is in the dark ages of politics, and will not come out. If he did, he would come over here.
– If the honorable member proceeds as he is doing, he will soon be over here.
– The honorable member for Kooyong is one of those who really do not understand the position. Honorable members on that side are handandglove with the employers and their interests, and do not understand the position and objects of the workmen. I have made some attempt to understand these questions, and because of that I am here. The honorable member and many others have made no attempt to. understand them. ” ij :’ ‘
– That is merely, an assertion. .
– The Treasurer .need not take it to himself. From every, condemnation from the other side T exclude him. I say that there are .some members on ‘ that side who have ‘ made no attempt to understand these questions, and the Attorney-General,, by stating that preference to unionists is a step towards syndicalism, indicated that he does not understand the .subject or is speaking ironically. , . :
– This preference .to- unionists is something outside the Arbitration Act.
– I am speaking of it as a method only in conjunction with arbitration of bringing about industrial peace. I am speaking of it as part of the machinery for doing that. The ignorance, if I may say so without pretence, of honorable members opposite as to the real meaning of syndicalism, shows that the word, as well as the Bill, is being used, to quote the phrase of a great writer on the subject, to cry “booh” to political geese; that, he says, is always the method of reaction.
– Who is crying “ booh,” and who are the political geese?
– A great deal depends on that.
– The honorable members might not feel complimented were I to answer their question; The political “ booh “ with which we have to deal is this Bill, and the bogy of syndicalism. The Honorable Ramsay MacDonald, member of the British House of Commons, cannot be accused of sympathy with revolutionary industrialism or syndicalism. He says that syndicalism is trade unionism applied for revolutionary purposes. It is opposed to political “action through parliamentary representation, and advocates direct action by force, the passive method of social paralysis, or the active method of strikes. This programme of action, he says, is preached to revive the old trade unionism, and to draw the workmen away -from politics as a means of social amelioration. Our method is the opposite of that. This is an extract from a manifesto of the “Industrial Workers of the World,*’ a universal organization which -preaches the doctrineofindustriallegislation by force, and notbylaw.
-They have alwaysvoted against us.
– And, as we have seen, the members ofthat organization in New South Wales put up candidates in oppositionto Labour candidates. They say, “ Wewill not have these parliamentarians, becausetheir methods are slow and obsolete.” I do not blame them in many ways, because the parliamentary machine is slow in action, and one cannot wonder that men who are crying out for the amelioration of undoubtedly harsh conditions become impatient, or that their accumulated energy bursts out in the direction of syndicalism, sabotage, or whatever you like to call it. According to a manifesto of the Industrial Workers of the World, every member is pledged to “a revolutionary policy, that admits of no compromise, and knows nothing of contracts with employers, of arbitration, or of peace.” That is the best expression I can give of the object of that syndicalism which the Attorney-General, who does not believe in the abolition of strikes by law, says that we are verging on, although all that we want is the encouragement of unionism.
– Will the honorable member attempt to justify preference to unionists ?
– That is rather an extraordinary question, when I have been attempting to do so all along, and it is a part of the policy for which I stand.
– Did you refer to the fact that Ramsay MacDonald on several occasions justified strikes?
– I justify strikes where there is no other method of getting amelioration. For instance, it is the policy of the Government to exclude rural workers from the Arbitration Act. I would justify a strike on the part of those workers if they had good ground for it, such, for instance, as a demand for a rise in wages. If they are put outside the range of the Jaw, they must use the only weapon available to protect themselves. The position is summed up by Mr. Ramsay MacDonald in this way : -
Political industrialism is the only safe road to further progress. On the one hand we are beset toy syndicalism - the impatient, frenzied, thoughtless child of poverty, disappointment, and irresponsibility - and on the other by reaction - the blind, whining, timorous offspring of ignorance, self-indulgence, and class prejudice.
-That is the MacDonald who says that the Labour party in Australia is marchinground in a circle.
-That may beso. We may notagree with everything that Ramsay MacDonaldsays; but there can benothing truer than the statement which I have just quoted. He knows his subject thoroughly, and shows what the objective of syndicalism is, and what the object, of political action is. Members on the other side say there must be no political unionism, and that ho funds must be spent for party purposes.
– We never said that.
– I thank the honorable member for Parkes for correcting the inaccuracy. But he cannot deny that they want to take away the system of preference to unionists as an encouragement to political action.
– It was the Liberal party that brought in the first Arbitration Act.
– It was not the present Liberal party that did it. The Act was passed in 1904 for very definite purposes. The party, as then constituted, said they believed in political action for the rectification of injustices, and the Labour party agreed with them, and supported them, and the Act was passed because of their support. Its policy was a part of the platform of the Labour party, and its objects were to provide for the exclusion of syndicalist methods by pro- hibiting strikes, to provide an Arbitration Court to settle disputes by law, to encourage in every way possible the formation of unions, and to prevent individual men, who are irresponsible, from taking separate action. They must be controlled by an organization, so that the expression of the opinions of the organization may be assured before it goes to the Court. Therefore, they provided a means whereby the Court could be approached only by an organization, and in the Act the intention is made most manifest.
– Nobody on this side objects to unionism either of employes or employers.
– I do not say that they do. Section 2 of the Act sets out its objects as being to facilitate and encourage the organization of representative bodies of employers and employes, and the submission of industrial disputes to the Court by organizations. Parliament deliberately provided in section 40 a means of giving preference to unionists, because honorable (members saw - that law-abiding bodies which were prepared to have -their difficulties settled by law, and which paid money for the purpose, were not getting the benefits to which they were entitled. As the Prime Minister said on one occasion
I have no sort of sympathy with the man who will work alongside of another, and see that other paying every week of his life into an organisation to get his rights and maintain his position, while he himself is skulking and deriving the benefits for which the other is paying and working.
That is the position which the Legislature recognised, and it decided to encourage men- to go into unions and provide preference for them.
– That statement was made in an argument which was against compulsory preference by the Government.
– I have not read the whole speech, but I will take the honorable member’s word. I understood it was 3iis statement in favour of preference to unionists.
– Distinctly not. It occurred in the middle of a speech which was made against Government preference.
– The honorable member approved of the general principle of preference to unionists to govern men in their relation with employers. In whatever connexion the remark was made, the Prime Minister recognised the principle. The question of whether section 40 is constitutional or not is still being debated, but why should the Government be excluded from a disability, if it be a disability, to which all other employers of labour are subject ? We have seen in our railway service, which is a purely trading service, men being employed at rates which no private employer would venture to give, because it would not be allowed. Why should a Government which undertakes trading enterprises, such. as the construction and running of railways, and the construction of post-offices, be put in a more favorable position than private employers? This cry about Government money being spent to encourage political partisans is a piece of political impertinence. Government money is paid by Governments for services rendered to them, and why should they not be under the same conditions, and have their industry regulated in the same way, as private employers? It is utterly absurd to say that preference is used as a sop to political sup porters. The Attorney-General went back to the golden age for illustrations, but every man of conservative spirit goes back to a time when he believes the golden age was upon the earth. He referred to guilds being form ed in order to see that men worked in the interests of everybody.. The members did nothing of the kind ; they worked in their own interests and in -the interests of their guilds. The Government saw that that was a good thing for both workmen and employers, and deliberately encouraged it by enacting preference to unionists.
– But there was the honesty of work insisted, on by the guilds.
– There was not the dishonesty of capitalism that we find now. Sitting suspended from J to 2.15 p.m.
– When we adjourned for lunch, I was referring to the position of the guilds mentioned by the AttorneyGeneral. I say that they existed for the benefit of the community, and the trades they represented. Every member of a craft was a member of the guild of that craft. The Legislature at the time recognised the position, just as the Legislature under the last Labour Government recognised it here. They recognise that it was for the benefit of the community, of the trade and the individual that the necessity for all engaged in a particular calling being members of the union connected with that calling should be insisted upon. The isolated free agent was recognised as a source of industrial trouble that could only be remedied by preventing his isolation, and bringing him into the union so that his actions might be regulated. Even in the time of Henry I., I find that it was provided that -
Nobody shall engage in their mystery within Southwark or other place belonging to London except he be a member of their, guild.
In 1363 there were Acts of Parliament to the same effect, and we learn that -
Artificers and men of mystery shall join a craft between this time and next Candlemas. Trespassers-
That is non-unionists - to be imprisoned, for half-a-year and pay a fine to the King.
That is the position they took up in those days, and which the last Labour, and the old real Liberal, Government took up in this Commonwealth in enacting preference to unionists for the benefit’ of the community. To secure industrial regulation they established preference for the law-abiding man who says, “ I put myselfunder the law by joining a union.” When the late Government, by an administrative act, established preference to unionists in the service of the Commonwealth, they carried out their policy consistently. They believed that this was the only way to secure the regulation of industry, and bring about industrial peace. They said, “We shall not refrain from putting into action what we believe all employers should put into action.” They recognised that Governments should be benevolent employers guided by strict justice, and as an object lesson to the community of what all employers should do, they decided to establish preference to unionists in Government employment. They believed that that was the best method to bring about the cessation of the industrial evils complained of; and if, holding that belief, and having the opportunity, as they had, of employing large numbers of men, they had not put the principle into practice, they would not have been worthy of the positions they held. It is for that reason, and not because they wished to pander to political followers, or provide p laces for them, that they did this thing.
They did it from motives of consistency, laying that flattering unction to their souls which cannot be laid to the souls of honorable members on the opposite side. The position of affairs which the present Government propose to bring about would be ridiculous. They propose to adopt the contract system in the construction of public works. Public money will be given to contractors to pay the wages of men in their employment to whom the principle of preference to unionists will apply; but where the Government employ men directly upon public works by day labour, it will be a crime to give preference to unionists. Is not the position farcical, as well as unjust? In conclusion, I say that this measure, which has been introduced as a solemn legislative act, is a legislative farce, and unworthy of the Ministry.
– Order !
– Very well; I withdraw that if it is considered unparliamentary. I say that this House should notbe degraded into providing election cries for the people. That is all that is being attempted in this case by the Government. The provisions of the Constitution for bringing about a double dissolution to prevent dead-locks are being used to create dead-locks for party purposes. For these reasons, I condemn this Bill utterly.
.- The honorable member for Bendigo was not very happy in the last illustrations he gave. One of the reasons which he has given for opposition to the Bill is that he finds that700 or 800 years ago the Legislature was in favour of the movement introduced by the Labour party when in office. My trouble with the majority of the members of the Labour party is that they take so long to catch up to the legislation of the past. I admit that it is a distinct advance for them to catch up to the legislation of 700 or 800 years ago, but in this matter they have only caught up with legislation of 4,000 years ago. Under the Assyrian Empire men were obliged to belong to only one craft, and were punished very severely if they belonged to two. Honorable members opposite advocate the same kind of law. At that time there was not only preference to unionists, but every one, by law, was compelled to belong to a union, and the honorable member for Bendigo says we ought to go back to that condition of things. The legislation of 4,000 years ago is on a par with the general intelligence directed by the party opposite to the consideration of these matters. No one supposes that our honorable friends knew that this was really the legislation of those times. If they did, they would have condemned it because it was old. When they tell us that they are the party of progress who are introducing everything that was not before known in the civilized world, one is tempted to say, “Well, let us see whether that is the case.” On all sides, in the records of all countries, we find evidence that the systems which honorable members opposite are asking a free, White Australia to adopt are but the cast-off systems of some of the coloured races to whom they so much object. In Egypt, in India, and all through Assyria the legislation which honorable members opposite so earnestly desire to adopt was tried for centuries. Even after the migration that took place all over Europe from those places, perhaps, owing to the slow development of civilization, those engaged in different crafts and industries kept to themselves, and tried to shut out the rest of the community by laws framed entirely for their own advantage. Unfortunately, the records of civilization show that all classes have tried to secure legislation on their own behalf. In this respect the legislation of the various unions and crafts of the past does not differ from the legislation enacted for the benefit of the landed and moneyed classes. Each class strove, so far as it could, to secure a livelihood at the expense of other people. I am glad that the honorable member for Bendigo has sufficiently read history to recognise that these laws are’ very, very old indeed; but I wish he had studied it to more advantage, and had learned that true human progress only commenced when people ceased to regulate trades and industries in the way he has described. I venture to say that in the last 150’ years, or since the doctrine of competition started in the fashion in which we have it in these days, there has been more progress, as every one will admit, than there was in the course of all the thousands of years immediately preceding that period.
– And more starvation.
– The legislation proposed by our honorable friends opposite is not going to cure starvation. The honorable member for Hindmarsh does not seem to know that in the days when nobody could live outside of a union there was infinitely more starvation than there is to-day.
– That is absolutely false.
– The interjection of the honorable member shows that he has no acquaintance with “history.
– I have forgotten more of that subject than the honorable member ever knew.
– I have not the slightest doubt that the honorable member has forgotten a great deal I did not know, and was never likely to know,” because it was such absolute nonsense. If we go to India even to-day, we shall find that the effect of caste, which was the original unionism, is so great that nobody can escape from the lot or condition of life in which he was born. If we go to France, we shall find that, before the Revolution, the unions so tied down a large number of people that no mau but the son of a member of a union could become a member of it, and, in many cases, unless a man was the eldest son of a member of the union of a particular craft, he could not get into it.
– Is this serious?
– It is history. I should have thought that the honorable member for- Cook was able to understand the value of historical references of this kind. As my honorable friends opposite are so much in favour of old things, I may be allowed to recall a statement made 2,300 years ago by a gentleman named Thucydides. He said that the study of history is one which all ought to undertake, because it is only by a knowledge of the past that we can ever hope to foresee the future.
– We marvel at the honorable member when we consider his past. - Mr. CONROY.- Honorable members opposite, in their absolute disregard of the past), are quite unable to forecast the future. It is impossible, without a knowledge of the past, to make any intelligent forecast of what the future will be.
– That is how we know where the honorable member is.
– I should hope that honorable members do know where I am. It is over ten years ago since I stood in this chamber-
– And talked rot.
– No doubt the honorable member is an excellent judge of rot, since, he deals in so much of it.
– Order ! I ask honorable members to - cease these personal interchanges. ,
– More than ten years ago I pointed out in this House what was likely to arise. I said that the Arbitration Bill then introduced would lead to the creation of trusts, and that the Labour party would then go about the country denouncing the trusts which their action created.
– Did the honorable member prophesy that?
– Yes, on 4th September, 1903 ; and I leave it to the judgment of every one to say whether that was not a perfectly correct prophecy. I went on to point out that, so far from preventing industrial disputes, the compulsory arbitration measure then before Parliament would multiply such disputes a thousandfold.
– Has it done so?
– Does not the honorable member know that it has multiplied them to such an extent that people stand aghast at the condition of affairs that has been brought about?
– This is a humorous speech, after all.
– Order ! The honorable member for Cook is out of order.
– I pointed out that what was then being done would create a spirit of antagonism between master and man, and I ask any one in this House, or outside of it, whether it is not an absolute fact that that has been the result. I am very sorry that this Bill does not go a great deal further. It only marks the disapproval of honorable members on this side of an administrative act granting preference to a unionist class in the Government service.
– That is an admission; it is only a placard.
– That I take it is what has been done. I regret that the Bill does not abolish preference to unionists altogether, because what right has anybody to come forward in what should be the highest Court of Justice in the country and say that preference should be given to anybody ? If a man in any walk of life ought to be able to look forward with confidence, to anything it should be that in the Parliament of the country he would be absolutely sure that no preference of any kind would be shown to any individual. The mere fact that a Bill was brought forward in which it was sought to give preference to one class or another ought, in my mind, to have been sufficient to condemn it. Because the principle on which it was founded is, and must be, absolutely contrary to the true spirit of justice. I know that a great many honorable members get confused with the idea that, possibly, the granting of preference will lead to the betterment of the whole of the community. That can be the only excuse put forward in favour of the principle; but, as against that, I have only to refer them to the time when everybody belonged to a union, and remind them that there was no development then ; that there was still more misery and poverty - certainly very much greater poverty than exists to-day ; that the whole history of human progress consists, evidently, in the breaking up of old bonds and ancient customs , that where the force of law was exerted upon people there was no true onward movement. It is quite forgotten now that all this growth of liberty is a psychological growth, and persons speak as if it was in the power of Parliament to correct it at a moment’s notice. The spirit of liberty means the putting on of new habits and a new capacity, it means the birth of a new insight.: Altogether, it is very largely a mental development, and in that way it is quite impossible for legislative bodies to deal with it. Because there is a good deal of evil, poverty, and misery in the world, honorable members on the other side at once say to the House, “ We can cure that by legislative action.” It is not sufficient for them to point out an evil unless they can point out the means of curing it by legislation. Clearly, no method of coercion is the proper way to cure an evil of that sort. If my honorable friends could point out avenues of industry; if they could point out how the people were able to save a great deal of the waste that goes on ; if they could point out how, by the introduction o’f new methods, the production of Australia would be quadrupled, it is manifest that they would at once immensely increase the proportion of the wealth that everybody in the community would have. Parliament sees that it cannot do that, and, therefore, does not make an attempt to do it; it does not see, however, that the mere forcing of people into unions is not a forward growth, but a backward one. It is a return to a system that has long since been given up in other countries; and, consequently, we cannot expect a true advance from that. In other words, we sometimes hear men say, “ Oh, but we on our side want to keep up the standard of living of the community.” Surely honorable members on this side are just as anxious for the general benefit of the community as are honorable members opposite. I think it can be taken for granted that, on the whole, every member of the House is anxious to prove that the policy he advocates is for the best advantage of the community. I am sure that we are all agreed upon one thing, and that is that, in- the long run, a community is seriously injured and not benefited by dragging down the standard of living. The question is; How can we keep that standard up ? Some honorable members say that it . can be done by getting certain men into unions; and that if we force all men into the unions we shall have a distinct advance in the general standard of living. Surely, if honorable members will reflect for a moment, they will see that it is not so. If they want to make an equal division of the property of the community, or the profits-
– Who wants it; who is asking for it?
– I am glad to hear that honorable members are not asking for it?
– Then, why talk about it?
– As my honorable friends are not asking for it, what they are asking, and what we are all asking, is that, so far as is possible, there shall be no legislative hindrance put in the way of each man getting all the profits to which he is entitled. To go past that would be to give him something which does not belong to him. Honorable members are absolutely denying that principle, because they are asserting that they would like a man to belong to a union, and that if he does he shall have preference over other citizens.
– He is entitled to preference as regards the things he creates.
– So that we are all a separate class. When everybody gets into a community, who is to be entitled to the benefits accruing - one citizen only or the whole of the citizens? Manifestly, it ought to lae the whole of the citizens. My honorable friends on the other side are trying to secure for a small section - less than a fifth of the number of electors - political advantages which ought not to belong to them. No advantage ought to be given to any citizen by Parliament. All true progress in the past has consisted in sweeping away privileges of every kind. Yet my honorable friends are busily engaged in trying to restore the privileges of a class] and . they at once fall under this imputation. Supposing that to-morrow Parliament enacted that every one should call himself a unionist, would that satisfy my honorable friends? Of course, there is no reply. They know that it would not satisfy them if to-morrow everybody was to be termed a unionist. What they mean by a unionist is a man who is compelled to contribute part of his earnings to a union secretary, and then, and then only, is he to receive the union’s stamp of approval.
– Do not talk roti
– If the honorable member will show me a union where that is not the case, I shall be glad to hear of it. I, for one, would be extremely pleased to know that no contributions were being taken from any members of unions, and that the highest scale of contribution that could be exacted from them was a ls. a year, or, if you like, half-a-crown.
– Is that the sort of union you would like to see?
– I am only pointing out that, at the present time, it does seem as if citizens are not being considered by Parliament at all unless they contribute to union secretaries.
– What do you mean by that phrase?
– To the union funds, if I may put it that way.
– That is much better. It is just as well that you made that amendment.
– In New South Wales, last year, £168,000 was collected by the unions, and practically the whole of that sum was expended in official expenses. It must be remembered that there was at least another £100,000 which was collected in the shape of levies, and to which I take no exception, because that may have been distributed by way of relief.
– That is the way in which it is distributed.
Mi. CONROY. - The honorable member will see that I am not including that point in the argument I am putting forward, because . that, I think, is a voluntary contribution, whereas subscriptions are not, because they can be levied by law. When the Bill was being considered iia New South Wales, and in this Parliament, too, it ought to have been provided that where union subscriptions were allowed to be collected by law, they should be safeguarded by law, and consequently we should then have a proper account of all these funds. The funds should not have been allowed to be expended, except where it was for the benefit of the men who were out of work, or in bad health. Those are the only two exceptions which ought to be made. Looking through the statistics for the Australian Workers Union for over two years, I find that out of every £1 collected the union spent over 19s. in official expenses.
– Were they not spending their own money?
– Yes; but, unfortunately, the money was allowed to be collected by law, and under the force of law.
– What is wrong with that? Do not lawyers spend their own money, which is collected by law ?
– Where it is purely a voluntary association, I still assert that the party should have every right £o do so, but the Australian Workers Union is not a voluntary association. It forces men into its folds whether they like it or not. It does not allow men to undertake work; and we have this extraordinary spectacle that while “hard-faced,” “ grasping “ business men, as my honorable friends term them, get fresh business for the great life assurance companies, and do not charge more than 3s. out of every £1 collected, yet these men who tell us that they are overflowing with the milk of human nature, charge as high as 19s. in the £1.
– How much of that goes in law expenses - for the maintenance pf awards ?
– All that I can say is that it is not their part of the business.
– The only thing wrong with your statement is that it is not correct.
– He- wants to run the unions himself, and to decide everything.
– If the honorable member imputes to me a motive like that, it is perfectly clear that he and his colleagues are animated by the desire to keep just five times the £600,000 a year, which, roughly, the unionists have to contribute, to get that amount in, because, if we may go by the records of New South Wales, every unionist - some more, of course, and some a good deal less - contributes roughly about 30s. a year.
– You really do not know any better.
– I know that some contribute only £1, but even in the case of the Australian Workers Union, the man who averages only three months’ work in the year, and contributes £1 during that time, clearly contributes at the rate of £4 a year.
– That is quite wrong.
– The average working time for the year is certainly not more than four months, as everybody knows, but, if honorable members like, I will say, for the purpose of the argument, that the work averages six months, although the bulk of the shearers are not employed for anything like that time.
– Some of them work all the year round.
– In that case, the contribution is only £1 a year, but I am speaking of the large body who work for only a time, and have to pay as much as the others do. I have known a man obtain only a month’s work in a shearing shed and yet he has had to contribute £1 to the union during that period. That is at the rate of £12 a year.
– Members of the union have never been charged fi until this year.
– The honorable member knows that they were charged 15s. a year, and that a compulsory levy was made on them for a further £1. The mere fact that this levy was said to be for the purposes of a newspaper only served to disguise the real amount which members had to pay, because - as the honorable member for Darling knows - unionists could not get their tickets unless they subscribed that additional £1. Therefore, under no circumstances can it be said that during the last three years the members of the union have paid less than £1 annually, and in two of those years they did not pay less than 35s. a year. These are the indisputable facts.
– Does the honorable member say that a levy of £1 was made?
– Then the honorable member is wrong. The levy was £2, and not £1.
– If that be so, it serves only to make the position a good deal worse than I have represented it to be.
– I was a member of the Australian Workers Union for over a decade, and I paid only 10s. a year. So that the honorable member is quite wrong in his statements.
– That is one trouble which we experience with the honorable member for Adelaide. Much as we admire his speaking in this- House, we can never place implicit reliance upon his statements. I say that on more than one occasion I have paid a cheque to the delegate of the Australian Workers Union on account of a member of that organization, and on two occasions, if the member had not to contribute more than 15s. a year, with an additional £1 towards the projected Labour newspaper, the delegate must have swindled the union. So far as the 400,000 unionists are concerned, their average contribution to union funds is about 30s. a year. Consequently, the amount which they contribute annually must be in the neighbourhood of £600,000. Assuming that they have provided this amount for ten years, there ought to be £6,000,000 available, which, with interest added, would make a very fine sum.
– Take the amount for a period of twenty years.
– I will if the honorable member wishes me to do so. But what do we find? Instead of these men who have contributed this money having a large fund to help them in case of unemployment, there is not a single penny available.
– Many thousands of members of the Australian Workers Union have paid only 10s. a year to it, including the subscription to the newspaper.
– When I was interrupted, I was pointing out that compulsory Arbitration Acts are absolutely opposed to trade unions themselves, because State action is action enforced on the whole people, and against which there must be no revolt. That imposes coercion upon them. Unions really represent the action of the individual, and, therefore, they are a protest against State action. The moment anybody disobeys an award of the Arbitration Court he becomes a rebellious subject, and is a mutineer against the State.
– The honorable member has been talking half-an-hour, and I do not yet know whether he is opposed to the Bill or not.
– If the honorable member does not understand plain English, I cannot help him. I pointed out some years ago that Federal action in this matter would dangerously facilitate the formation of big combinations, both of masters and of men. I urged that it would lead to tyranny, because any sensible man must recognise that there can be tyranny by a union just as there can be tyranny by a trust. I pointed out that, as a result, a large number of the community would have to pay very heavily indeed for what has been done, and that, by fixing wages, we would destroy the great safety valve of employment in bad years. My warning, however, fell upon deaf ears. But I am pleased to note that, after all, there is a revolt on the part of a large number of men against compulsory Arbitration Acts. I admit that that revolt does not exhibit the spirit that I would like to see it exhibit. I would like to see the spirit of freedom revolting against the dictation of any Arbitration Court. After all, honorable members opposite, who have such a strong objection to lawyers that they absolutely prohibit them from appearing in the Arbitration Court, themselves selected a lawyer to preside over that tribunal, and asked the people to rely upon his decisions. I need scarcely point out that no legislative action was taken in respect of the eight hours principle. Yet, by means of men working together, they have obtained the general recognition of that principle. Had they waited for legislative action they would have been waiting to-day. The whole of the teachings of history show that those help themselves best who organize and work together. I am quite willing to help forward associations of men which are formed for legitimate purposes, so long as those purposes are consistent with justice. But the moment they seek to obtain for themselves an advantage which belongs not to them, but to other members of the community, that moment they become a danger, and oughtto be put down.
– We believe in peaceful arbitration, whereas the honorable member desires strikes and riot. He should be waving the red flag of anarchy.
– One would imagine that the honorable member had not read a word in the newspapers during the past seven or eight years, seeing that he is able to state with such a cheerful face that no strikes have occurred since the Arbitration Court was established. As a matter of fact, we know that there have been more strikes than ever before. The unions have ceased to be trade unions, and have become socialistic unions. The Socialists have captured them, and it is due to the Socialists that these outrageous demands are made without reference to the general interests of the community.
– They want more than the honorable member and his party will pay. That is what is the matter.
– Some employers would be very glad indeed if they could learn how to pay the wages which are demanded. One does not find employers who are anxious to create a spirit of antagonism if that can be avoided.
– Why not?
– Because they desire peace. Nineteen out of twenty employers are only too anxious to live at peace with their fellows, and only too eager to pay high wages in order that they may get the reputation of being good fellows.
– I wish the honorable member would speak up.
– The honorable member is obliged to shout in order to make his voice heard above the interjections.
– There is no doubt that the socialistic idea of labour is one of slave labour - of coerced labour. Honorable members opposite are constantly prating about the dignity of Labour, and yet they are striving to take away freedom from it.
– Peace with profit is what the honorable member wants.
– Every man wants the right to what is his.
– I quite agree with the honorable member.
– I say, therefore, that every man should have his own, and no more. He should have his full share of all that he earns, and no man in a union should have the spending of £1 until his brother has been brought up to his level. But we find an absolute abrogation of that doctrine. The idea of honorable members opposite is, “ I shall not con.tribute myself, but shall endeavour to force somebody else to contribute for me.” They do not understand that if their principles were enforced, even for a week, more harm would be done to the country than would be inflicted on it by an invading army. If their principles are correct, all we have, to do to secure an earthly paradise is to transport the members of unions to the Northern Territory. Probably the leaders of those organizations would want a special telephone to enable them to communicate with their followers, because I cannot imagine that they would leave the comforts of the city. I repeat that all that we would require to do - assuming that the principles of honorable members opposite were put into operation - to make the Northern Territory a land flowing with milk and honey would be to keep out . employers.
– All that this Bill touches was in force for two years, and the country was never more prosperous.
– I have distinctly pointed out that the Bill does not go far enough. As yet we .have not a Judge declaring all the law of the country, although a great deal has been done in that direction. I believe that no Judge will be able to administer a law which appropriates the earnings of other people without, perhaps, losing his position.
– I would not attack the Judge.
– I said “no” Judge. Surely the honorable member does npt imply that I referred to the Judge who presides over the Arbitration Court.
– Seeing that the honorable member has been criticising the Bill, will he be good enough to tell us whether he is going to vote for it or not?
– The honorable member knows perfectly well that if I cannot get all that I want I must be content to accept a. part. Acting upon that principle, I shall vote for. the Bill. The measure is an expression of opinion on the part of our party that the time has arrived when preference should be denied to any class of citizens. The mere fact that preference is mentioned shows that the matter ought never to have engaged the attention of Parliament. Our object should be to do away with privilege, and if we extend a preference to any class we shall be giving them a privilege to which they have no claim whatever. The wish of that class is to prevent the right to work. That is really what preference to unionists would mean to a large number of the community. If, however, the people choose to contribute to the funds of a union, they are to be called “ good fellows,” and every one will be able to work. If we passed a law providing that every one should join a union, there would be no such thing as preference. Honorable members of the Opposition, therefore, by supporting such a principle, show that they are considering, not the whole community, but only a section of it, and the moment they consider only a part of the community, that moment they must act injuriously to the people as a whole. I have been waiting for some recognition on the part of Parliament of a fact that has already been recognised by many unionists : that Acts of Parliament are not wanted on their behalf. One of the finest testimonies to the spirit of freedom of the Australian workman is that he is in many cases refusing to be bound by the awards of a Court. I want no awards of a Court against men on either one side or the other.
– The honorable member believes in freedom of contract.
– Freedom of contract, certainly, in that matter, at all events. Bodies of men are making their own bargains, and doing the best they can for themselves, and they will do better, and infinitely better, for themselves than any Act of Parliament can do for them. The moment you bring an industry within these bonds, that moment you bring back the musty, fusty past. It is better, infinitely better, for human progress to have awards violated than enforced, and I should be sorry if the spirit of freedom so died out in Australia that men could be dragooned into working, either by a soldiery or any one else. I should think that the spirit of freedom had absolutely departed from them. In such circumstances, we should have neither more nor less than a body of white niggers. The Opposition talk of strikes being injurious, but there is something even more injurious than strikes, and that is an ignorant, debased population, unable and afraid to strike. There were no strikes amongst the slaves in the Southern States of America, because they were slaves, and there are no strikes among the niggers in South Africa, which, according to honorable members opposite, is the country of progress and civilization.
– Then the honorable member is an advocate of strikes?
– Do not misunderstand me. No one wants to see a strike if it can be avoided. But there is something worse than strikes, and that is a body of men unable and afraid to strike. I am glad to see that, in many cases, the men are adopting that view. The miners of Newcastle have withdrawn from the Arbitration Court. They can do better for themselves under a system of contract.
– They have not.
– If they are going back–
– They have never pulled out.
– If they are going back they are returning to a state of bondage from which they will never be able to escape. The poor cannot always fight against the law. Sooner or later it must keep them down. History teaches us that the advancement of the poor has been best brought about by the abolition of all those laws which bound them, and so long deprived them of the opportunity of obtaining their share in the progress of civilization. There are only two ways of governing the world; the one is by contract and the other is by status, or statute, which enforces the status. By status and contract only can there be any real regulation. In the one case the world is governed or regulated by religion, or custom, or something else; and in the other by stimulating the spirit of freedom, so that each by himself, or in combination with his neighbour, can get his share of that which be and his neighbour produces. If we depart from these rules of freedom we must do injury to the community. This Bill does not go far enough. I wish it had gone further,and I am glad there is amongst men that faculty of prevision which enables them to recognise that the man is not always a friend who shouts that he is for them. The Labour party are always saying that they are for the poor. They may know the opinions of the poor, but they are not acting in their interests. Well-meaning as some of them may be, their actions are contrary to the best interests of the great masses of the people. But for that there would be no one on this side who would not be at one with them in upholding the legislation which they favour. It is only because we know that legislation of the character introduced by the Caucus party has already been tried hundreds of times, and has signally failed, that we are opposed to it. We have to learn by experience. The very party to which I now belong introduced the first Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. Many of the members of my party held something like the views which the Labour party hold to-day in this matter. But they have been able to learn by experience. They have profited by the fruit of other men’s understanding and wisdom. They have tried to read up the records of the past to see whether such legislation is for the benefit of the people or not, and they have been forced irresistibly to the conclusion that it is really to the injury of the people for whom it is intended as a benefit, and that they can best be benefited by sweeping away the privileges of the past, by the abolition of all taxes and duties which press upon the people, and by encouraging, as far as possible, the spirit of freedom amongst them. This Bill unquestionably seeks to restore in some small measure the spirit of freedom amongst the people, whereas the Opposition support preference to unionists merely as a political measure. In the Government service, at least, we ought not to try to introduce the system of “the spoils to the victors,” which has been attended with so much harm in America. If we are going to encourage the people to look to Parliament for advancement, then the moment that they do so the people must be irretrievably doomed. Such a system must lead to a multiplicity of laws of the kind which we are now seeking to correct, and to ‘the appointment of a multiplicity of officials, all tending to the regulation of everything and every one. In the general regulation that must take place profit will be absolutely destroyed. Because of Arbitration Court awards the wages of craftsmen in many industries are not nearly what they would otherwise be. No better proof of this is to be found than the fact that in the two largest industries pf Australia - industries employing the largest number of hands - I refer to the domestic workers and the agricultural workers-
– They are not the largest industries.
– Are they not to be considered ?
– Of course, they are.
– Then let us hear none of these jeers when their names are mentioned. Nearly 600,000 of the workers of Australia are domestic servants or agricultural workers, and, without any union and without any Arbitration Court award, their wages have been increased from 60 to 100 per cent., when we take into consideration the extra cost of keeping them. On the other hand, the increase in the wages of those who come under Arbitration Court awards is not 25 per cent. When we consider that the increased taxation imposed by the Labour party and those who voted with them is from 30 to 40 per cent., can we wonder that the condition of the worker is not what it would have been if there had been no interference on his behalf by his self-styled friends, who, usurping the name of Labour, have managed to deceive so many people as to their real actions. Their real actions do not coincide with their real intentions. I believe their intention in many cases was entirely good, but Parliament is not the place where I should excuse them because of their good intentions. I shall judge them only by their actions, and their actions, in my opinion, have resulted in injury to a large body of the people. As the result of their interference with the people by means of Courts, at which business managers have to attend instead of building up the profits of their trades, there has been a great loss of profit. It is an axiom with many economic writers that the profits of trade are due to management, and, as the result of legislation by the Labour party, management has been taken away from various businesses. The time of a business manager which should be devoted to his business has been taken up in attending Courts, and in this way profits have been lessened. Consequently, infinitely greater injury has resulted to bodies of workers under trade union awards than would have been experienced if there had been no such awards. If left to themselves, the men would have been able to argue out differences of opinion with their employers. We should have had a Conciliation Court, whereas Courts of Compulsory Conciliation and Arbitration have been provided. The result is that every man who revolts against an award of the Court is considered to be a mutineer. I decline so to regard him. In my opinion, a man has as much right to refuse to work as another man has to refuse to sell his bushel of wheat or the loaf of bread that he makes. I am bound to say that the harm that has been done is very great. We have the creation of great associations of employers, and of employes; and the public, in addition to not having industrial peace, are faced with the danger of the combination of both bodies with the object of raising prices against the general consumer. We cannot have a better illustration of this than the fact, that large bodies of coal-owners and of miners agreed to put up the price of coal, with a view to a small fraction of the increase being given to the employes in the form of higher wages. In such a case, unionism is carried on at the expense of other classes of labour, and, therefore, is not a benefit, but an injury to the community as a whole. I trust that the Bill, though it does not go so far as I would wish, will be carried.
.- I rise to enter my protest against the passing of this measure. Throughout the debate I have endeavoured in vain to learn what is the reason and object of its introduction. The late Government issued a regulation whereby preference was given to members of unions, “ all other things being equal,” and I understand that that regulation has been annulled by the same power’ that created it- the Government of the country. That being so, what can be the object of the Bill before us ? There is not much difference between parties in their utterances at election time, and no doubt there are candidates who allow their imagination to go so far that, when they are returned to Parliament, they find themselves in a somewhat awkward position in regard to the pledges they have given. Thus on the present occasion we have a Bill which I should say is not really intended to go through. In this Parliament we invariably follow the practice of the British Parliament; and I point out that in England an incoming Government does not seek to immediately reverse the policy of its predecessors, but gives that policy a chance of proving beneficial or otherwise. Up to the present there has been no proof that the preference to unionists, extended by the late Government, has resulted in any serious loss to the people of Australia. We all recognise that the Attorney-General holds very strong views, and I suppose that there is not a man in the public life of Australia with such Conservative instincts. He has shown his Conservatism by his opposition to the present day form of civilization, which is based on association. There is association in every form of commerce, trade, and professional life. Mr. Alfred Deakin, when in this House, admitted that association was at the very base of civilization; and that fact we must recognise. Ever since I have been able to put two words together, I have taken an active interest in industrial organization, in spite of the fact that formerly trade unions were very obnoxious to many people. In our Public Service we have men of many callings, and all of them are connected with the associations peculiar to those callings. For instance, the medical men employed by the country must all be members of the British Medical Association, or otherwise their fellows will not co-operate or be seen in the same company with them. The same remark applies to those members of the legal profession who are engaged by the Government; and I question whether the Attorney-General would act with, or even mix in the social sphere with, legal men who did not belong to the association of the profession. Further, there are surveyors and others who all belong to associations; and in some instances the Government have to apply to those associations in order to obtain the services of the men. Whom isthis Bill going to affect? The Attorney-General did not tell us, because he has not much knowledge of the Government employes; he has not had the necessity to acquire the information, and I do not suppose he worries himself much about it. The Commonwealth Government carry on a small arms factory, a cordite factory, docks, engineering establishments, and other works; and all the people employed in those works are members of organizations. The Attorney-General, however, by the Bill desires to introduce nonunionists, or persons whom I regard as not worthy to be in the company of those who belong to unions. Under such circumstances trouble must arise; and I do not see why there should be any opposition by the Government to the employment of unionists. Even if the Government did away with those Commonwealth enterprises, which, I know, are against their policy, they would have to get the requirements of the Commonwealth supplied from outside, and they would, undoubtedly, have to, in this way, indirectly employ persons who belong to industrial unions. Even in the case of the press, the reporters all belong to an organization, and they are very well capable of looking after one another’s interests. My own opinion is that the worst paid people in Australia are those connected with the big journals of the various cities; there is no class of men who render such service to their employer for so little pay. I remember an instance when I was connected with the Trades and Labour Council of Sydney nearly thirty years ago. A reporter used to attend our meetings; and on the occasion of a littlebit of trouble about the importation of Chinese, when we went down to the wharf with alump of wood by our side - there were no Arbitration Courts then - I saw that reporter there in the early morning. At 11 o’clock that night I saw him again reporting in the room of the Trades and Labour Council. I asked him what were his hours, and he told me that he had to be at the Police Court at ten in the morning, and at the Trades and Labour Council meeting at night, while on Sunday he had to start work at 3 o’clock in the afternoon. That man was employed on one of the best paying journals.
– His lot was nearly as bad as that of a member of Parliament!
– T he journalists have a union now, and are getting better terms.
– To-day it is recognised that these conditions cannot continue, and there is no class of occupation in which there is not some form of association. The Attorney-General took pains to make out that unions were political in their object. I wish to allude to the experience we had before we could make the unions understand that the political arena was the only place where they could secure redress of their grievances or improvement in their conditions. Many of us burned the midnight oil and spent all our spare time in efforts to bring about early closing and the betterment of the conditions in factories and trades. Some of those conditions were abominable. However, we found it an utter failure under the old system. We could get no Early Closing Act, but to-day I suppose there is hardly a section of the community that benefits by the Early Closing Acts in force in the States that would revert to the old condition of things. I ask these big shopkeepers of Melbourne and Sydney - are they prepared to go back to the days prior to the passing of Early Closing Acts?
– They do not wish to do so, as the honorable member says. Several of us canvassed Sydney for weeks in an endeavour to get the shopkeepers there to agree to early closing, but our efforts failed, because there were two or three who would not agree. However, we have the blessings of early closing to day by legislation, and this should be sufficient illustration to prove to the AttorneyGeneral, that the Labour organizations were driven by necessity to come into the legislative arena. At the time of the maritime strike in 1891, we were advised by every journal of importance in the Commonwealth to accept the Legislature as a means to the removal of the ills under which we were suffering. We took their advice, and that was the cause of the first arbitration measure being brought about. I remember the occasion on which Mr. Kingston brought a Bill to Sydney. My name was pretty well known, and he had a letter of introduction to me, so that I might get him a hearing before the Labour Council ; but we could do nothing until we had legislative action, and that; brought into existence the Bill introduced by Mr. Wise. That was a very good Bill - it was a very good attempt to achieve arbitration, at any rate - but, unfortunately, the unions did not possess the means to test the decisions of the Court. I think Mr. Wade was engaged at enormous fees, and did little else but fight arbitration cases for five years. I ask leave to continue my remarks.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
” Hansard “ Reports.
Motion (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I think it is necessary for the protection of Hansard that I should call attention to a statement that appears in to-day’s Age. That newspaper, commenting on some of the proceedings of this Parliament yesterday, says -
The Prime Minister dealt dispassionately with the question raised by Mr. Roberts. He did not maintain - he did not attempt to maintain - that Hansard gave a faithful picture of all that took place in Parliament. Had he done so, he might have been reminded that words like -
Then they go on to say that certain words were flying thickly across the chamber during the excitement on Tuesday night.
The comment proceeds -
Not one of these expressions is to be found in Hansard.
Here, again, we have another illustration of incorrect statements being made without a scintilla of justification, and a proof that the Age writers have not read Hansard - neither do they trouble to look at it - when they are prepared to make these wretched assertions merely for party purposes. If honorable members will look at page 3051 and page 3052 of Hansard, they will there find recorded in their order precisely every word which the Age says does not appear in Hansard. I am not personally interested in this matter, but on behalf of Hansard it. seems to me my duty to point out that the words are recorded, that the Age is again distinctly inaccurate in a statement made commenting on the proceedings of this Chamber, and that in its inaccuracy it seeks to reflect on the official report of the proceedings of this Chamber. It is to be regretted, but in view of what took place in the’ Chamber yesterday, these deliberate inaccuracies may continue, and all that those who take exception to it can do is to state their exception in the chamber, and have it recorded in Hansard that this newspaper is systematically making incorrect statements.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 3.38 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 14 November 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131114_reps_5_72/>.