5th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 3 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. SPEAKER reported the receipt of messages from His Excellency the GovernorGeneral transmitting Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure and Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for Additions, New Works, Buildings, &c, for the year ended 30th June, 1912, and recommended appropriation accordingly.
– In the Age of to-day there is reported a speech made at Ballarat last night by Senator Millen, _ in which he refers to me in the following ! terms -
Speakers in that hall had made it appear that Mr. McGrath had done what was right. (Sustained applause from Labour supporters at the back.) It had been announced that Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes would speak in- Ballarat;, but, as a matter of fact - (interruption)- Mr. Fisher and Mr. Hughes had both refused in. Parliament to justify Mr. McGrath, and had taken refuge in the subterfuge that there was no proud he had said anything at all. (Laughter.) Mr. Hughes had said, “We have no knowledge he made that statement at all ; it is a statement made in a newspaper.” They would readily understand how it was “that Mr. Hughes found it inconvenient to attend the recent meeting at Ballarat.
That is not an accurate presentation of my attitude, nor is there anything in my speech on tie motion of the Prime Minister for the suspension of the honorable member for Ballarat that warranted what was said by Senator Millen. The words quoted appear on page 3000 of the Hansard report, and record an observation made by me on a point of order. I was contending that the matter should be dealt with in accordance with standing order 285. When dealing with the merits of the case, in speaking to the motion for suspension, I fully justified the exercise of the right of free speech by the honorable member for Ballarat. I did not pretend to express an opinion on the merits of his statement in reference to your alteration of Hansard, Mr. Speaker, although I said that technically you had altered Hansard. On page 3029 of the Hansard report, these words occur -
It is alleged against the honorable member that he said you were biased ; that is not by any means unusual in those holding judicial and presidential offices, as I have said; that you altered Ilansard; technically, you admit it ; that you have lost the confidence of the House. I - do not think it is saying too much to say that you have lost the confidence of half the House. In those circumstances, what has the honorable member for Ballarat said for which he is to be punished in this way?
I repudiate, therefore, the interpretation placed upon my utterances by Senator Millen. As for it being inconvenient for me to go to Ballarat, it was .because I was unwell that I did not go there. I have never found it inconvenient for any ‘ other reason to go anywhere to say what I thought.
– I wish to say, in regard to the report of. last night’s meeting at Ballarat, that I was not asked to go to Ballarat, and did not promise to go there, and the quotation of my remarks by Senator Millen, as reported in the press, is not accurate. In dealing with the case of the honorable member for Ballarat, I said, “ The Hansard proof regularly sent out in the ordinary way justified him in making his statement,” that is, the statement complained of. I said, too, that “ In my opinion we shall do violence to the best traditions of Parliament if we carry the motion which has been submitted by the Prime Minister.” I am still of the opinion that the third reading was not put from the Chair and carried.
– I ask the Prime Minister if it is correct that the Government have decided to lift the quarantine embargo which has been placed on Sydney?
– I know nothing of any such decision.
– I ask the Assistant Minister of Home Affairs if he can say when it is the intention of the Government to bring in a Bill to make the position of the Administrator of the Capital Territory permanent!
– The administration of the Capital Territory is under consideration, and so soon as I am in a position to make a statement regarding it, I shall do 80.
– I wish to know from the Attorney-General whether he intends to provide for the punishment of any person who fails to observe the provisions of the Government Preference Prohibition Act should the Bill now before the House become law! I do not see anything in the measure providing penalties for the punishment of any official or other person who refuses to carry out the law. Is it proposed to provide penalties, and, if so, what are they to be ?
– I do not intend to answer questions relating to measures which are before the House. To answer questions as to what is meant by or intended in regard to the legislation actually before Parliament would turn question time into an opportunity for debating at almost interminable length business which ought not to be discussed’ until called on in the ordinary course.
– A day or two ago I put a question to the Honorary Minister with respect to the work at Fitzroy Dock being tied up, and he promised to give me an early reply. Has he done anything in the matter 1
– Yes. I brought the matter under the attention of the Minister of Defence the same day by letter, and I hope to be in a position to supply the honorable member with the information very shortly.
– Has the attention of the Minister of Trade and Customs bee» drawn to the following cablegram that appeared in last Saturday’s Melbourne Herald! -
NODULES IN MEAT.
The Liverpool authorities have condemned, some beef branded with an arrow and J.C-, which arrived by the Star of Australia, becauseit .contained 10 per cent of nodules. New South Wales, it is stated, is the worst offender.-
Will the Minister have a report made upon this in view of the importance of the matter to the beef shippers of Australia lt
– The honorable member was good enough to draw my attention to this cablegram. I can inform him that I will get an immediate report on the matter.
– No. That, matter was not discussed nor considered.
– Is it the intention. of the Government to grant the people of Flinders Island a telephone exchange?
– The honorable member waB kind enough to give menotice of this question. There appear tobe three settlements on Flinders Island,, other than where the wireless station issituated. The cost of connecting these with the wireless station by telephone- would not appear to be justified by the prospective revenue, but I am prepared to instal, as an experiment, small wireless stations at these centres for telegraph purposes, if those interested will provide the necessary attendance. Any person who can work a Morse telegraph instrument by sound will be able to operate these wireless stations.
– Is the Minister of Trade and Customs in a position to’ say what is the policy of the Government as to the payment of 2s. 2d. per ton additional bounty on last year’s crop of sugarcane. Secondly, is he in a position to say when the extra bounty for this year’s crop will be paid.
– As regards the first question, consideration has already been given to this matter. The Government regret that they are unable to see their way to grant the bounty on the preceding year’s crop. As regards the second matter, it is now receiving consideration, and we hope to be able to make an announcement very soon upon it.
– In connexion with the erection of the high power station at- Port Darwin, which is the connecting link with the All-Imperial scheme, is it the intention of the Government to depart from the system of wireless telegraphy that was assigned to the Commonwealth by Mr. Balsillie ?
– That matter has not been considered.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral prepared to make a statement in the event of it being intended to instal any part of any other system except the Australia wireless system in connexion with, the high-power station at Port’ Darwin; and, if so, will he give the House an opportunity of expressing an opinion upon his decision before he actually launches the scheme?
– While litiga tion is pending, I do not think it advisable to make any remarks regarding wireless matters. ‘
– I wish to ask a question of the Honorary Minister. I shall first of all read a few lines from a letter that I have received in order to explain my question. The letter refers to a lad who is engaged in the hair dr easing trade, and is under great disabilities in attending drill. His father has written this letter, and says, with reference to the lad-
He had to appear at Court on Tuesday, the nth, and did not do so. The Defence authorities had him arrested as a prisoner, and removed him from his work and sentenced him to twentysix days’ detention, which deprives him of his living. When he works full time he earns £z 5s. Being a hairdresser, he works all day Saturday, and up till io o’clock at night ; on that day he cannot attend drill. The father has’ spoken to all the officers, but cannot get any satisfaction. If this is the way the Government of Australia intend to proceed, it is a poor lookout for the poorer class to earn their living.
Will the Honorary Minister urge upon the Minister of Defence to send out instructions to Area Officers to allow drill on other days than Saturdays for those who cannot attend on Saturdays?
– Whatever is done in this direction is being done under the Act and regulations of our predecessors. But I shall bring this particular matter immediately under the notice of the Minister of Defence to see whether any hardship is involved, and whether he will give this lad any special consideration in view thereof.
– In to-day’s Argus, there is a report of some utterances- by the Prime Minister in connexion with our Naval Defence scheme, and referring to the possibility of importing naval officers to constitute the Naval Board. If that is. intended, will the Prime Minister be prepared to place before the House all facts in connexion with the dissension- among Bier members of the present Naval Board, and explain why there should be any occasion for the invitation of such officers ?
– I shall be glad if the honorable member will put that very important question on the noticepaper. He will get all the information later on, I hope, concerning this, and every other intention of the Government.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been drawn to a telegram in yesterday’s paper, in which the manager of the Scottish and Australian Investment Company is reported to have said that taxation in Australia was so high that it amounted to 4 per cent, on the capital of the country? In view of this being at variance with the municipal rating here in comparison with that in England, will the Treasurer inquire into that matter, and if it is wrong, give it authoritative denial through the High Commissioner’s office ?
– I did notice some statement in the newspapers, and I shall feel obliged if the honorable member will give notice of his question, in order that I may reply to it very precisely.
– I ask the Honorary Minister what is the practice of the Electoral Department in the matter of the prosecution of persons who refuse or neglect to enrol themselves as voters, because I have information of one gentleman who was mulct in a fine of £1 4s. 6d. Is it the practice of the Department to engage solicitors and charge the unfortunate electors solicitors’ expenses in addition to the fines imposed?
– I am grateful to the honorable member for showing me a letter he has received from some constituent, I take it, who was fined last week ls, and £1 3s. 6d. costs. I shall have special inquiries made in regard to this matter to see how these costs were incurred, whether antecedent or subsequent to the summons.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs received any news of the Northern Territory Development Commission, which appears to be lost; because, in reply to the last question asked concerning that Commission, the Minister said he did not quite know in what part of Australia they were?
– The Commission have not been lost. They have been recalled. The question referred to by the honorable member was submitted by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, and related to some sheep which he said had been lost. Those sheep have turned up> in the course of their peregrinations at Anthony’s Lagoon, and when seen by theAdministrator, were in tip-top condition.
– Does not the Minister of External Affairs think, in view of his answer to the preceding question, that ifr would be more in the interests of the Commonwealth for Commonwealth officers in the Northern Territory to remain in the settled places rather than do exploratory work in the interior; and, secondly, does he think it advisable to give such answers as to mislead people outside Australia who do not know that this is a vast country, and needs pioneering work?
– I do not know what the honorable member thinks misleading in the answer I gave to the honorable member for Parkes. The Commission, has been recalled for reasons which have been adequately mentioned already in tha press ; but what, that has to do with the retention of officers in Port Darwin, or sending some of them into the country, I fail to see.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister of Defence inform the House whether the staff at the Saddle and Harness Factory is being so much reduced because the Ministry intend to do away with that establishment altogether ?
– I do not think so; but I shall have inquiries made, and let the honorable member know.
– Has the Minister of Trade and Customs any idea of when we are to expect a report from the conference of medical men now considering the question of small-pox? The public are anxious to know something about the report.
– The Conference has been sitting since last Monday week, and I have not yet received any communication from them as to when they will terminate their sittings.
– Has the Minister of External Affairs any information to give tothe House with reference to the unfortunate aborigines in the Northern Territory, about whose case I and some other members approached him recently ?
– I think the honorable member is referring to the five aborigines who were condemned to death last September. If so, the matter has been thoroughly considered by myself and the Cabinet, and at an Executive Council meeting, held at 2 o’clock to-day, their sentences of death were commuted to imprisonment for life.
– Is it the intention of the Minister of Trade and Customs to introduce any measure to deal with urgent Tariff cases during this session ?
– I am not in a position at the present stage to give a definite answer to the honorable member’s question .
– As it is now nearly three weeks since the Sugar Excise Bill was assented to, can the Minister of Trade and Customs state if any money has yet been collected from the persons who owe it to the Commonwealth?
– I mentioned before that at the present time the matter is receiving the close attention of the ComptrollerGeneral. He is making all the necessary inquiries in order to issue the necessary certificates and take the requisite action under the Act. There has been no delay.
– Is he acting on his own behalf or on behalf of the Government?
– On behalf of the Government and on his own behalf also, because it is a statutory duty cast on him by the Act.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral state if the intimation in Saturday afternoon’s paper is correct, to the effect that his Department does not intend for the present to import any mechanics ?
– I was advised by the Secretary of the Department yesterday that the Public Service Commissioner had decided to await the result of the examinations which are to take place next month.
Motion (by Mr. Gregory), by leave, agreed to -
That Mr. Bamford be discharged from attending the Select Committee on powellised and other timber, and that Mr. Burchell be appointed in his place. Also, that three be the quorum of the said Committee; and that the Committee have leave to move from place to place.
– On the 29th. ultimo the honorable member for Brisbane asked the following questions: -
In reply to inquiries which were then being made, reports now received from the Deputy Postmasters- General in the several States indicate that overtime was worked by mail branch employes during the month of September, 1913, in the General Post Offices, Melbourne and Brisbane only, and the following information has been supplied as regards those two offices: -
Brisbane. - Four hundred and fifty-three hours ten minutes.
Brisbane. - £291s. 6d.
Brisbane. - £2617s. 2d., the difference being due to non-payment of claims which were considered unreasonable.
asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follow : -
asked the Minister representing the Minister of Defence, upon notice -
In view of the complaints of residents of Clifton Hill that the drilling of cadets is carried on in unsuitable places and thickly-populated residential areas, while more open and suitable places are available for that purpose, will the Minister endeavour, as far as possible, to mitigate this inconvenience in the future?
– A complaint was received from only one resident; the other residents in the vicinity stated that they had no complaint to make. Instructions have been issued, however, that drill is to be carried out, so as to cause the least possible inconvenience to residents, and it is now performed in Queen’s-parade, which is well away from the residential portion of Clifton Hill.
Mr. KELLY laid upon the table the following papers: - Public Service Act -
Department of the Treasury - Appointment of A. W. Stephen, as Valuer, Class D, Professional Division, Land Tax Branch. Department of Home Affairs - Promotion of H. J. Manderson, as Clerk, 3rd Class, Central Staff.
Debate resumed from the 14th November (vide page 3216), on motion by Mr. W. H. Irvine -
That this Bill be now read a second time.
.- I was pointing out on Friday, when my speech was interrupted, that even in New South Wales we found it absolutely necessary before we could make any advance towards improving, the conditions of those with whom we were identified to seek legislation. An Act was brought in by Mr. B. R. Wise, and although it was practically murdered by the legal profession, it had very beneficial results. It was the means of getting the unions together, and bringing cases before the Arbitration Court. It was of the greatest benefit to a number of these bodies, which otherwise could not have bettered their conditions, because they were bodies that could not resort to the method of a strike. It was utterly impossible for us to do anything to benefit the shop and factory employes, for instance, until we got that Act. It was the means of bringing before the Court some of the most glaring cases of sweating and other hardships inflicted upon employes in shops and factories. I have tried to discover from the speeches so far delivered in this debate by honorable members on the other side what object they have in supporting this Bill. I find that the honorable members for Hume, Riverina, and Robertson, have taken up the cudgels on behalf of the Government in this matter, and we know that they are connected with rural districts. Their support of this measure is due to their opposition to the formation of rural workers unions. They are themselves members of the Pastoralists Association, and also of the Farmers and Settlers Association. They consider it necessary to belong to these associations in order to conserve and protect their own interests, yet they are not prepared to give their employes the same privilege. That seems to me a selfish and discreditable position for honorable members to occupy. The Attorney-General will not disagree with me when I say that the Pastoralists Association and the Farmers and Settlers Association are political associations. I know something of their work for a number of years in the State in which I reside, and I suppose there is no association in New South Wales the members of which have done more to wear out the mats and the doorsteps of the Government Departments than have the members of these particular associations.
– Suppose that be so, have they asked that the law should give them preference?
– The honorable gentleman says that they do not ask that the law should give them preference; but I remind him that they attend the public
Departments in order to secure concessions from the public of New South Wales. They ask for concessions which are not asked for by any other section of the community. They ask to have railways ‘built to their own doors ; and when they secure the construction of a railway, they then ask for reductions of freights, and for the erection of accommodation at railway stations and storehouses in Sydney for the protection and storage of their products. These are the people who object to their employes, having the benefits of organization. There are. no people in the Commonwealth who are in greater need of organization than are the employes of the rural industries. Many years ago, when Joseph. Arch rose up in England, although fie was only an ordinary labourer, he was able, in a few months, to organize 100,000 people, and he received assistance from Lord Shaftesbury, Cardinal Manning, and such men. In my opinion, our rural districts will never be properly settled until the rural workers are organized. We cannot expect yeomanry to settle permanently in those districts while the conditions of employment are unfit for human beings. Only a few days ago I saw a reference to this matter in the London Times. That is an indication of its importance. The London Times takes up the cudgels on behalf of our rural workers, whose conditions are such that they should not be tolerated in any country. The Times directs attention to the fact that advertisements have appeared in metropolitan journals calling for married couples without encumbrance for the rural districts, and points to the fact that intending emigrants are not invited to bring their families to Australia. This is one of the reasons why we do not obtain immigrants to fill vacant situations in our rural districts. Our friends on the other side who represent the rural districts are earnestly supporting the Government on this Bill in order to indicate their opposition to the organization of rural workers, although they are aware that workers in the cities, where organization is not so necessary, possess all the advantages of organization. This Bill is merely a placard brought forward by the Government; and if it were not for the serious principle involved, it would be better for honorable members on this side, and the Opposition in another place, to let the measure go through. If that were done, the Government would be. left on their beam-ends, and would be at a loss to know what to do.
– How is that?
– They would have no placard, and would have nothing to put in the political window when they went to the country. It is strange that honorable members who represent farming districts should be supporting the Government in connexion with this Bill. All the friends of Democracy in the agricultural districts of the Commonwealth will be found supporting honorable members on this side when they learn that the real ground for the support of this Bill is opposition to the proposal to grant to rural workers the benefits which members representing rural districts themselves’ receive as members of organizations. Why should the rural workers of Australia be deprived of these benefits? I am at a loss to understand how any honorable members possessed of the instincts of manhood or of any sense of justice can in this National Parliament propose to deprive the citizens of one portion of Australia of privileges enjoyed by the citizens of other portions of the Commonwealth. I heard an honorable member on the other side express the opinion that honorable members on this side, who are connected with Labour organizations and champion the formation of unions in the rural districts, ought to go to a phrenologist to get their heads felt. I am quite prepared to submit to that test. At the same time, I feel sure that were some honorable gentlemen on the other side, especially leading officers of the Farmers and Settlers’ Association, to have their bumps felt by a phrenologist, they would be very sorry afterwards for having gone through that ordeal. Some -charges have been made against this side by honorable members opposite in regard to the use of moral suasion, the using of bricks, and the dousing of men in tanks three or four times, but I do not think that all their accusations compare with the declaration of a member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, that if a member of a union came on his property he would shoot him. That is an example of the sort of gentlemen who run the Farmers and Settlers’ Association, and who are represented by some honorable members on the other side, although they talk about liberty and the concessions they wish to give to others. In my opinion, honorable gentlemen who are anxious to shoot those who differ from them or endeavour to form associations to better their conditions are hardly fit to decide whether the Government should have the assistance of a Bill of this sort to deal with Government employes. The Attorney-General, in his speech, stated that the unions did not become political organizations until 1890. He is not well acquainted with the history of Labour organizations, otherwise he would not have made that mistake. It was in 1868 that the first attempt was made to make Labour organizations political, and the attempt was made at a very important congress, which was held at Leeds, and which I remember very well. Very many proposals were submitted to this Trades Union Congress, which was assembled after the struggles and the strikes in England in the early sixties to endeavour to better the conditions of the men. It had been found impossible to attain that result by means of the ordinary craft unions, and it was necessary to make a departure in order to bring about any improvement. So in 1868, at Leeds, the first Parliamentary Committee was appointed to deal with the matter of legislation. In 1874, the first Labour members were sent to the British Parliament. To show the uptodatedness of Labour in New South Wales, I may mention that 1874 was the first year in which we sent to Parliament a Labour representative, in the person of Mr. Angus Cameron. Mr. Garrard and several others stood for the position, but were not successful. It will be seen that the Attorney-General was a little out in his calculation? If he feels disposed to ascertain the actual facts, he can easily obtain the information, or, if he wishes, I . can give him information which will satisfy him that he was entirely in error in making the statement he did as to the advent of Labour bodies into the political arena. Let me point out to the Government one of the reasons in favour of preference to unionists. When an award is made in a Court or an agreement is made between two bodies, in order to insure the payment of certain wages, it is absolutely necessary that preference to unionists should be given. Unless there is a strong organization to see that the employers pay the wages fixed by an award, there is no one to exercise any control over the employers, whereas the members of a trade union can always make sure that the prescribed rates are paid. It is a great consideration to a contractor to know when he is tendering for a work that he is tendering on an equality as to wages with other contractors. Ho wants every man who tenders with him to be compelled to pay the ruling wages. When preference is granted in a trade, the contractor’ knows that he is tendering on equal terms with others. Anyone who, like myself, has been associated with Government contracts is aware that some Government contractors are not over-honest, or not very anxious to allow the current wages and conditions. If the Government are to revert to the contract system, there ought to be a provision in every contract that the contractor shall pay the union rates of wages and observe the union hours and conditions. Otherwise some contractors will get an advantage at the expense of others, because they will not pay what others are always prepared to pay. I know contractors in New South Wales who always work in connexion with the Labour bodies, and who have always been prepared to pay the current wages and to recognise the conditions of the trade. Our struggles in the past have not turned on the question of wages, for that has been a mere cipher in the situation. We have never worried about the rates of wages. Our greatest and longest fights have been regarding the conditions of the trade or calling concerned, because a union can always get the rates of wages increased. The great trouble has always been to improve the conditions of the trade or calling. The Government should set an example in that respect. They ought to see that the wages and conditions of Government employes are the best in the country, and Ministers ought, I think, to take into consideration what conditions they would like to work under themselves if similarly placed. It does seem to me a retrograde step to withdraw preference from unionists. I am confident that this measure will never be approved by the people of Australia. I feel sure that were they consulted their verdict would be that the Government should always be the best employers in the country, and allow the best conditions to their employes, and so set an example to all employers. If the Government will not pursue that course, who is likely to set an example? Indeed, who can better set an example than can the Government? It does not seem to me that under this Bill provision is to be made for the enforcement of union conditions under all contracts. In Great Britain there is hardly a governing body - I refer to the London County Council and similar bodies - dealing with public utilities, which is not imposing upon a contractor the conditions of a trade or calling. Wo in Australia are supposed to be advanced in Labour matters. We were well advanced until the’ present Government came into power, and then, as every one knows, progress was arrested. I think that it can well be called the “Backward Government,” because it is taking a step backward not to adhere to existing labour conditions. We have not yet heard a word from the Government of any loss having accrued to Australia from the grant of preference to unionists, “ all other things being equal.” It has not been shown that the people have lost anything by reason of that policy. I think that the people of Australia, if consulted, would admit that the country has gained, because the conditions of labour have been made suitable to human beings. In support of that view, I have only to refer to the operations of the Saddle and Harness Factory. Its employes are allowed a week’s holiday at Christmas time. No private manufacturer of saddlery and harness gives the employes a week off then with pay.
– What do you mean by the phrase “All other things being equal “ ?
– I do npt think that the honorable and learned member would understand me if I were to speak on the subject for a month. He believes in having a union for his own occupation, but is not prepared to extend that privilege to other occupations. He is too selfish to allow to anybody else what is to himself ji blessing and a boon.
– I am seeking light. I wish you would explain the term to me.
– That has been the attitude of honorable members opposite since the present Government came into office, as the people of Australia will pointedly declare at the next election. If, instead of bringing in two puny measures not worthy of men occupying seats in this National Parliament, the Government had brought in some national measures, to which the people could pay some respect - I refer to measures dealing with great questions which the people are anxious to have dealt with - they would have provided subjects for reflection by the people at the next general election. Measures of this description form only a subject of merriment to persons outside this House who pay any regard to progressive legislation. Of course, the Government came into office unexpectedly, and that circumstance may possibly be urged as an apology for their inaction. But apart from that consideration, they are unable to submit any legislative proposals of an encouraging character to the people of Australia. When the latter take up their newspapers, and read the text of this and other Bills which are put before us, they must wonder how they came to commit the mistake which they did on the 31st May last. However, I do not think it will be long before they will remedy that mistake. Honorable members opposite appear to imagine that because there is a so-called Liberal Government in office they can break up the trade unions and Labour organizations of this continent. The idea is a preposterous one. There is no possibility of them giving effect to their will. The tendency of the present age is towards organization. The whole trend of Democracy is towards organization. It is only in our rural districts, where the electors do not get an opportunity of hearing members like myself, that my honorable friends opposite can score a victory. One supporter of the Government stated some time ago that I represent an electorate which is so small that if I got at one end of it with a graphophone, I could, through the medium of that instrument, address the whole of my constituents. That is the very reason why I am here. The people of that electorate are able to hear my voice, and to judge me by my expressions of political faith. If members of the Labour party had only the same facilities for addressing the electors in the rural areas that they have in the metropolitan constituencies, honorable members opposite would cease to exist politically, and there would be insufficient accommodation on the other side of the House for the members of my own party. No honest contractor entertains any objection to. preference to unionists, because he knows that the recognition of that principle affords him a security that other contractors with whom he has to compete will pay the standard rate of wages. I speak from the experience of years. I recollect the trouble which was experienced before preference to unionists was recognised in the building trade. Until the Arbitration Court gave its award many contractors used to pay lower wages to their employes than they should have paid. Honorable members opposite must recognise that it is utterly impossible for us to vote for this Bill. It is merely a challenge which is thrown out to our party, with a view to occupying the time of the House, because the Government have not a sufficiently adequate conception of the requirements of Australia to enable them to bring forward measures of national importance. Instead of doing that, they submit these tin-pot Bills. Where are the measures which were passed at the instance of the Fisher Government - measures like the Maternity Bonus Bill - which they were going to cut up piecemeal, and of which they intended to make sausages? Why do they not attack the Commonwealth note issue or our Defence Act? They say not a word about them. Instead they submit a miserable weakling of a measure such as that which is now under consideration. I say that the Bill should be contemptuously rejected, especially as a regulation is in existence by means of which my honorable friends have already abolished preference to unionists. The measure is, therefore, a superfluity. I am quite convinced that honorable members opposite are not anxious to go to the country, and to allow the people to judge between us. The AttorneyGeneral himself has admitted that the Bill is not required, seeing that preference to unionists has already been abolished by Executive act. If my honorable friends could wipe out trade unions and Labour organizations by regulation to-morrow, they would do it without hesitation. But that is beyond their power. As I pointed out in my opening remarks this Bill will not affect professional men. If the Government wish to secure the services of a medical man, they will have to accept those of a member of the British Medical Association. No member of that association would enter the same room in which another medical man who- was not a member of it was engaged. If it be necessary for members of the British Medical Association to uphold the dignity of their profession, how much more so is it necessary in the case of the ordinary mechanic? After all, it is the latter’s skill which is his capital, and he has a right to conserve that skill in the same way as has the professional man. One of the objects of trade unions is to maintain a high standard of competency amongst their members. To my mind, the Government have not thought over this matter. Had they done so the Bill before us would never have been introduced, because its aim is to minimize the power and prestige of the industrial organizations which have sprung up in our midst. In trying to pass a measure of this kind the Government are endeavouring to murder the progress of these bodies. They know that they will lose support just as the membership of these organizations increases. The Government and their supporters know very “well how men are educated by taking an interest in trade unions and other associations. The man who joins and takes an active interest in a friendly society or a progress association, or who becomes an alderman; is far more intelligent and is better able to understand the ethics of politics than is the man who isolates himself and takes nointerest in public affairs. The man who joins one of these associations is, because of the education he thus obtains, a better citizen and a far better father than is the man who holds aloof. He becomes a more valuable asset to the community. He learns to exercise his faculties, and does not hesitate to condemn those who differ from him. In short, he soon acquires all those attributes which are essential to good citizenship. These are the Bort of men we ought to encourage. But the Government, recognising that such men are not likely to vote for reactionaries, are aiming a blow at industrial organization. At the last general election I stigmatized the present Governmentparty as’ a party of stagnation, and I feel that I spoke the truth in thus describing them. Let us consider for a moment the position of those who livein rural districts. Should we not make some effort to improve the condition of life in the country? The question is one that must be faced. The London Timet pointed out. in a paragraph, some time- ago, that a large number of men were leaving the rural districts of Great Britain, and were not sending for- their wives and children. The trouble was that they could not send for them because they could not secure housing accommodation where they obtained work. For a number of years we have seen in the newspapers advertisements offering employment on a station to a man and wife “ with no encumbrance.” That is one of the most disastrous policies of which we can conceive.
– If it means money, what do they care ? - Mr. WEST.- The honorable member, like myself, is a student, and can readily supply an answer to my question. But no reply is forthcoming from the Government side of the House. Honorable members opposite are trying to destroy these organizations because they know that if the rural workers were organized this sort of thing would never be tolerated. Our rural districts will never be populated as they ought to be until some improvement is made in the lot of the workers. At the present time, perhaps, a man and his wife, in answer to an advertisement in which it is stipulated that there shall be “no encumbrance,” obtain employment in a rural district. But, by and by, when a little one arrives, the husband has to return to the city, because he can only obtain employment there. Friends of mine from the Old Country, after spending four months at the Hawkesbury College, went into rural districts to work, but returned to Sydney because they could not tolerate the conditions. Some of them have since gone to America. They had hoped to obtain, land there, but they had a better chance 6f getting underneath than “ on “ the land. They were asked £3,000 for a farm, when they had not 3,000 pence. Honorable members opposite support this measure to show their opposition to the organization of the workers. How would one of them like to take his wife and family into any rural district, having regard to the accommodation at present available there? Until we take steps to improve the condition of the rural districts they must continue to be hotbeds of discontent, humiliation, and everything that tends to make life unendurable. This improvement can be brought about. The word “can’t” is unknown to trade unionists. Many years ago, when I used to mount a tar barrel or a gin case at street corners and advocate the application of the eight hours system to the bakery trade, I was told that it was impossible. But we got eight hours for the bakers, and by dint of much perseverance, we also obtained eight hours for the shop assistants, although we were told at first that such a thing could not be thought of. Unionists never use the word “can’t” in .this respect. Representatives of country districts on the Government side of the House should turn down this Bill and display a little humanitarianism. They should assist those who are trying to make brighter the lot of those who labour in our agricultural districts, so that they will not be anxious to run away at the first opportunity. The Attorney-General has not told us what will be the position of Government employes who have obtained an award of the Court if this Bill be passed. What is he going to do with them, and with the large number of employes who are already trade unionists? If, under this Bill, he attempts to force in the non-unionists, there will be trouble. What does the Bill mean?
– It means that there will be no future preference given in Government employment, award or no award.
– I cannot understand the Attorney-General. Apparently, his position is that a man, if he happens to be employed by a private contractor to the Government, may have the benefit of an award of preference, but not so if he happens to be employed by the Government direct. I think it would take the Attorney-General all his time to make anybody understand what he means.
– The Attorney-General knows what he means, all right.
– At present, I am merely speaking of the Attorney-General from the point of view of this Bill.
– Read the AttorneyGeneral’s history, and it will be seen what he means.
– Of course, I know what took place in Victoria some years ago; but the Attorney-General is as much entitled to hold his conservative views as I am to hold my democratic views. What puzzles me, in view of this Bill, is that there are associations or unions already formed by men employed in the Commonwealth Service, and that they have obtained awards. Does the Attorney-General mean to say that the members of those associations, to the exclusion of all others in the Service, are to enjoy preference? As a matter of fact, in some industries it is impossible to find a man who is not a member of a union; and what does the AttorneyGeneral propose to do in such a case ?
– If all the men are in a union there is no necessity for preference.
– As a matter of fact, what the Attorney-General says is that there ought not to be any unionists.
– The whole difficulty is got over if all the men join a union ; what we say is that the law is not to be used to compel men to join a union.
– There is hardly an industry availed of by the Government in which the whole of those employed are not members of a union. I take it that men who apply for employment are to be asked whether they belong to a union, and that if they say they do, out they go; that is what it means.
– If men are required by the Government, and there are none in the particular industry but who belong to unions, those men will have to be employed.
– Of course.
– A contractor has to comply with union conditions, and, as a matter of fact, he is the better off with preference, because he knows that he cannot be taken advantage of by another contractor who might desire to employ non-union labour. A contractor can easily reckon up quantities, and so forth; but, in tendering, labour is somewhat of a lottery, unless the condition of preference is made to apply all round. I do not think that legislation such as that now proposed redounds much to the credit of the Government or the Parliament. Surely there are great national questions in preference to a trumpery matter of this kind to which the Attorney-General and his colleagues might devote their abilities! It is said that there has been some abuse of the privileges of unionism; but not a word of evidence in this connexion have we yet heard. We cannot think for a moment that the Government will not pay the current rates of wages and observe union conditions, although there is no doubt that this Bill will afford them the opportunity to do so. Australia ha’s hitherto been held up as a model to the rest of the world in industrial matters, and it must be admitted that the Fisher Administration was admired by all true lovers of liberty and progress.
– The criticism launched against the Bill has been of a most diverse character.
– Hear, hear ! Contradictory.
– And exceedingly contradictory. In the course of an impassioned speech by the Leader of the Opposition, the Bill was denounced as a fiendish device for the destruction of industrial unionism. On the other hand, the honorable members for West Sydney, Bendigo, and Darling found even their extensive vocabularies quite unequal to the expression of ridicule and contempt that they sought to pour on this Bill because of its futility, uselessness, and insignificant character. The honorable member for West Sydney regarded the Bill as a mere shadow of a shadow, and the honorable member for Bendigo referred to it as a legislative farce, while the honorable member for Darling described it as a harmless and insignificant attempt at legislation. Notwithstanding all this, however, the Bill has occasioned much white heat and passion on the other side; and the reason is obvious. This Bill is introduced in obedience to a mandate from the country, and, what is more to the point, it is thrown down as the gage of battle, with the determination and intention that the country itself should have an opportunity of confirming, or otherwise, an important fundamental principle. It is .this which causes so much unhappiness amongst honorable members opposite. . The Leader of the Opposition stated that the Labour party were quite prepared to go to the country; but, like the policeman in the Pirates of Penzance, they “won’t go.” If their courage is equal to their expressed an,xiety to appeal to the country, the fullest opportunity is now afforded them. It is not concealed for one moment that this is a first step towards a double dissolution, but the only response of honorable members opposite is the puerile suggestion that there should be an appeal to the country by a single dissolution - a condition of affairs which obviously indicates that honorable members are prepared to take no risks. They realize that, even if the Liberals- came back to this House with a substantial majority, the Labour-Socialist party would still be absolutely safe, because of its impregnable position in the Senate. The Government would again be thwarted, as at the present moment, by obstruction and delay. If the Labour party is prepared to go to the people, it has now an opportunity to do so. If it helps to pass this Bill through the House, and the Caucus decrees its rejection in the Senate, the people will be able, at the earliest moment, to give, not a futile decision, such as would be the only result of an appeal in the event of a single dissolution, but an effective decision applicable to both Houses. The honorable member for Bendigo, and the exAttorneyGeneral, went to a lot of trouble to show that the Bill is unnecessary. I say that it is at least the declaration of a fundamental principle. The country realizes that justice and fair play were outraged by the last Government in giving effect to its policy of preference to unionists, and the Bill has been introduced in pursuance of a promise made by the Prime Minister, to prevent, so far as possible, that occurring again in the future. I admit that, so long as a Liberal Administration is in power, the need for the Bill is minimized; but we want to make sure, by solemn statutory enactment, by Parliament itself, that the iniquitous and infamous system of preference to unionists shall not be adopted again, should a Socialist Government, in the remote future, get office. The honorable member for Bendigo said that, if the Bill became law, its provisions could be secretly evaded; but I am unwilling to cast such a serious reflection as the remark implies on the members of the Labour party. I think that the obligations of an Act of the Legislature of the country would be honorably recognised, and that if the Government of the day wished for a change of system, they would take the responsibility of introducing an amending Bill. According to the honorable member for Bendigo, this Bill is useless, from a legal point of view, but I do not agree with his contention. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act of 1904-11 declares that an industrial dispute means an industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State, and includes any dispute as to industrial matters, and any dispute in relation to employment in an industry carried on by, or under the control of, the Commonwealth or a State, or any public authority constituted under the Commonwealth or a State. Section 40 of the Act provides that a limited preference may be granted by an award of the Court in respect to any dispute coming before it. The law, therefore, now provides for the granting of preference to unionists by the Court, though, of course, its application is limited, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, to commercial enterprises undertaken by the Government. But this measure, when it becomes law, will declare that, so far as Government employment is concerned , preference to unionists must not be permitted. Therefore, this declaratory measure repeals, so far as it goes, the Conciliation and Arbitration law allowing preference to unionists in Government industries. The right honorable the Leader of the Opposition repeatedly emphasized the statement that the Bill will permit of’ discrimination between Government and private employment. This was the main indictment in his speech, repeated severaltimes. This, he says, is unjust and unfair. He pointed out that one portion of a Government railway might be in process of construction under a contract, and in regard to it preference to unionists might apply; whereas, another portion of it might be under construction with day labour, to which preference to> unionists would not apply. But the last Government was the first to introduce such a discrimination, and it does not lie in their mouths, therefore, to condemn the present Government for following in their footsteps. One of their triumphs of legislation is the Public Service Arbitration Act, which makes no provision for. preference to unionists, so far as temporary employment is concerned.
– What the last Government dared not do by law, they did by regulation.
– That Government did not dare to propose preference to unionists in the Public Service Arbitration Bill, although preference to unionists was provided for in the parent Act. If there is any crime in the discrimination to which reference has been made. it is the last Government alone that is responsible. The honorable member for Darling dealt in a mild-mannered way with the subject of unionism, about which he is well qualified to speak. His -speech, however, was apologetic. One of the main premises on which his argument was founded was that unions are a lawmaking authority, having the right to impose taxation. He endeavoured to sustain that position in various ways. I admit that unionists are obsessed with the idea that the unions are a law-making and taxing authority, but this is an outrageous claim. The State alone is the law-making authority of the community, and it alone has the right to apply compulsion. Even the organization with which the honorable member for Darling is so prominently identified seeks, at times, to take the law into its own hands, and to dictate tyrannically to the community. It is within the knowledge of all that many of these political organizations have defied the civil authority, and substituted mob rule, and held up the Government of the country. . According to the honorable member, the trade unions claim no monopoly in regard to work and employment; but, if unionism means anything in our daily experience, it means insistence on monopoly of work and employment for the members of unions. It is regarded as a crime for any one to remain outside the unions connected with any particular industry. The honorable member, speaking of coercion, said -
Parenthetically I may remark that coercion may be a good thing. No doubt the honorable member-
He was referring to the honorable member for Parkes - is much better than he otherwise would have been, because of the canings he got when a boy.
The honorable member also said -
Moreover, coercion is not an evil thing.
I am quoting from page 3165 of this session’s Hansard dealing with the debate on this Bill, and from the remarks of the honorable member for Darling, and I am illustrating the light and airy way in which honorable members- opposite refer to coercion and seek, at least indirectly, to justify it. Coercion and tyranny would not be possible to the extent they exist but for the encouragement given in this way by leaders of the party repre ss Robert Best. sented by honorable members on the other side. For instance, the honorable member for Darling says -
I suggest to my honorable friends opposite that there may be some good in a certain amount of coercion.
However, later on, he says -
I do not advocate coercion, and I say that cases of the kind are always exaggerated.
He does not advocate coercion on the principle of “Do not put him under the pump,” but, reading the speech of the honorable member, as we listened to it in the Chamber, it is quite obvious that he maintains that coercion is largely justified. In fact, the honorable member indicated, to a certain extent, the scale of coercion that he thought might fairly be approved of.
– Such as “Do not put him under the pump, but put him in the horse-trough.”
– The honorable member for Darling justified the coercion that had been adopted. He referred to a case where a friend of his had dipped a man three times, and the honorable member said that it was discovered that three immersions of the kind were calculated to bring about the proper conversion and clothe the man in his right mind. What I wish to urge is that the leaders of any particular party, whether on one side or the other, cannot afford to trifle with law and order and cannot afford to refer lightly to acts of violence, as the very constitution of our government depends on the observance of this. My friend quotes with triumph an instance where 50,000 men were concerned, and there was but one case of coercion, which case the honorable member seeks to justify as quite a reasonable thing, and something which might not be considered as either here or there - but that case of violence was of the greatest importance to the victim concerned, and liberty and protection are at least’ as sacred to the individual as to the association. I have always stood by industrial unionism; I have always been anxious to support in every way organization of a voluntary character, and I believe every member on this side of the House is prepared to aid and encourage voluntary organization, yet these voluntary organizations have their responsibilities ; they have no greater liberty than the individual has, and they must obey, and be bound by, the laws that govern the country in the same way as the individual. Every individual is entitled to be protected by the community as a whole. If that condition does not obtain, it means disruption of government and the substitution of anarchy. The next point which was made by the honorable member for Darling was when he sought, in a very insidious fashion, to justify discrimination between non-unionists. He did not say it was necessarily a crime to be a nonunionist, but he contended that the men who should be despised are a particular class of non-unionists. He refers to them in his speech in this way -
Those to whom we apply strong epithets arc the anti-unionists, who for pay - and, in some cases, because of slavish instincts - turn against their fellow men.
The anti-unionists whom we denounce so strongly are the men who refuse to join the unions, and who stand by the employers in times of trouble - the strike breakers.
Then he goes on to say that only a small number of anti-unionists exist. This discrimination is made with a design and purpose, and is calculated to mislead us, and throw us completely off the track. It is a discrimination which is not justified. All the violence, tyranny, and coercion that have unfortunately been a part of our daily knowledge for many years past has been directed against non-unionists indiscriminately. It has been a crime to be a non-unionist, and acts of violence have not been confined to those in the special pay of employers as strike-breakers or anti-unionists. Not only am I prepared to say this, but I am prepared to prove it from what must be within the knowledge of honorable members. A few months ago, as honorable members well remember, there occurred that colossal strike known as the Barrier strike. Some 4,000 or 5,000 employes engaged by the various companies at Broken Hill were working under awards of Courts, and under conditions which were quite satisfactory; harmony prevailed between employers and employes. But the Barrier Labour Federation conceived the fiendish idea that a crusade should be launched against non-unionists. It so happens that there is a line of tramway or railway some 36 miles in length, known as the Silverton tramway, connecting Broken Hill with the South Aus tralian railway system, over which line the ore concentrates and supplies are carried, and it was found that a number of officers, consisting of clerks, stationmasters, and inspectors, working on that tramway did not belong to any union, so the Barrier Labour Federation sent to the various unions associated under the Federation requesting that resolutions be passed insisting that certain financial pence cards should be produced by everybody. The resolutions to that effect were passed, and were made to apply to the Silverton tramway. It is a privatelyowned concern, and the directors controlling the line determined that seven of their confidential clerks should not be permitted to join a union. The clerks ‘ had no desire to do so. In consequence of this, although peace and harmony obtained all over Broken Hill at the time, war was declared, and an attempt made to dragoon into a union these innocent non-unionists, men who were carrying on * their ordinary avocations outside all industries, and who were engaged, for the most part, in clerical occupations. They refused, and were supported by their directors. What was the result? Proposals were made to seize the tramway, lawlessness was rife every day, and a. reign of terror established. Mark the wickedness of the conception of those people who conducted the strike. Nothing would satisfy them, but that they should picket the houses of those unfortunate officers. Not only that, but they sought to starve them and their families out by boycotting the various shopkeepers and tradesmen who attempted to furnish them with supplies. And there was never one word of repudiation from the leaders of the party on the other side, of this chamber. This is but typical of the way in which the Labour party silently countenanced violence and breaches of law and order. They watched all this going on without so much as a word of public protest. The honorable member for Barrier watched it with great equanimity, but there was not. a word from any of them.
– They were anti-unionists at Broken Hill.
– Those men did not come within the category of antiunionists or strike-breakers. They were engaged in the peaceful carrying on of” their occupations, and never anticipated, I suppose, that they were expected to- join a union. Yet the strike was wantonly organized in order to dragoon them into the various unions. A wanton attack was made on these men, they were treated to all sorts of indignities and all sorts of threats of violence, in accord with the up-to-date methods of the most advanced of unionists.’ When this wanton strike was taking place, my friends opposite had the fullest opportunity of repudiating it, but there was no attempt on their part to do so. All this goes to show conclusively how unwarranted is the suggestion of the honorable member for Darling that these attempts at coercion are only made as against anti-unionists and strikebreakers. The case I have referred to is only typical - the facts are beyond dispute - but it can be multiplied many times over. Why we are so much averse to the existing condition of affairs is because, with legitimate trade unions, which we all admire and encourage-
– You were as big an enemy of trade unionism in 1890 as you are to-day.
– Let me show the worthlessness of my friend’s interjection. In 1890, in face of the fiercest opposition, I publicly stood by the industrial unions of that day in their great fight, and I assisted them, because I believed that they were within their rights from an industrial stand-point. I have consistently done the same; but that strike taught me one important lesson - and that was how urgent was the necessity for arbitration. That strike was largely justified by reason of the fact that at the time there were no industrial tribunals available to -settle the differences in dispute. As a matter of fact, I and many others concentrated every effort and energy on bringing about the passage of an arbitration measure at the earliest possible opportunity afterwards.
– You did not carry it.
– No, but we did better in Victoria; we carried a Bill providing for industrial tribunals, known as our Wages Boards, which answered all our purposes. That was in 1896. I was a member of the Government that introduced that measure, so that my honorable friend was reckless and inaccurate when he launched that suggestion against me. I have practically demonstrated my sympathy with industrial unionism, and what I say for my self can be repeated by nearly every member, if not every member, sitting on this side of the House. Therefore, this nonsensical talk from the other side about this Bill indicating a determination on the part of the Attorney-General and the Government to strike a blow at industrial unionism is so much claptrap, which may be safe enough to use for ad captandum appeals at public meetings to political unionists, but is unworthy of repetition in a deliberative assembly like this. The reason we protest against the present system of political unionism is that we realize that for the legitimate efforts of the old trade unions have been substituted tyranny, the boycott, coercion, and violence. Honorable members opposite have rejoiced in the fact that the old trade unions have now become political unions. That fact in itself should prove a death-knell to the opposition to the present measure, because, if they are political unions-
– Which they are not.
– But the honorable member for Darling, the exAttorneyGeneral, and numerous other members who have addressed the House . have admitted that the present combinations are political unions. I am for the legitimate industrial union every time.
– The more political they are the better.
– That is exactly the point of view of honorable members opposite, and, therefore, the proposal of my honorable friends opposite is that political unions should be subsidized ; that they should be granted preference so far as employment is concerned, and that they should secure monopoly. If it does not mean that, it means nothing. Our hearts went out in sympathy to the honorable member for Bendigo when we heard his pathetic efforts to separate himself from the Syndicalists and strikers. In endeavouring to do so he undertook a very big order. If he repudiates the Syndicalists, he repudiates a very substantial section of his own following. They do not like to be called Syndicalists, but they are. He sought to sever himself, as I say, from the Syndicalist and striker. If he and his party are in earnest, then they should have publicly disavowed all connexion or sympathy with the Brisbane strike, the Adelaide strike, the Barrier strike, the Bendigo miners’ strike, and all such disturbances that took place during the three years of office of my honorable friends opposite. By the time he and his party sever themselves from the lot they will discover that a very limited following is left. If there is any honest intention on the part of honorable members opposite to repudiate all these strikes and syndicalist movements, why do they not do so ? Did we hear any repudiation of the leaders of the* Brisbane or Adelaide or other strikes ? Why, my honorable friends opposite could not speak in high enough terms of the manner in which those strikes were conducted. One of the leaders of the Brisbane strike was a member of the Labour party and a member of Parliament.
– In connexion with the Brisbane strike you voted against us because we would not send the soldiers up there to shoot the strikers.
– The honorable member’s statements are utterly unreliable. There is not a scintilla of accuracy in that suggestion. If he is prepared to identify himself with violence and attempts at violence towards property and the person, and if he is against the maintenance of law and order, why does not he avow it? His actions would justify that inference. All that we claimed as a fundamental principle was the maintenance of law and order, any departure from which is very serious.
– How does this relate to preference to unionists?
– I am showing the character of up-to-date unionism, to which we are asked by the policy of the other side to give preference. I am showing the character of the preference that we are abolishing by the Bill before the House. If honorable members opposite are prepared for reform, let reform take place within their own ranks. Let them show by their actions that they are prepared to repudiate all these various strikes, these acts of tyranny and violence, and these other acts of Syndicalism. If they do so we will believe that they are really in earnest. The arbitration laws throughout Australia were introduced by Liberal Governments, and the establish ment of industrial tribunals has been the work of Liberal .Governments, but we are appalled to find that there’ is not sufficient earnestness and determination on the part of my honorable friends opposite to .make those laws a success. They are largely responsible for the want of success attached to arbitration. If they had insisted on obedience to the awards which have been given, and on the complete maintenance of law and order, the arbitration laws would have been an infinitely greater success than they are at the present moment. In New Zealand the unionists are deliberately engaged in an endeavour to annihilate arbitration. What is occurring there is an object lesson that we have to watch closely. When arbitration was first introduced in New Zealand, the unionists there properly approved of it to a large extent, and availed themselves of it in large numbers, but at the present day the leading unions are falling over one another in an endeavour to cancel their registration under the arbitration law, and to re-introduce the strike method, which it was sought by that measure to abolish.
– Why not?
– My syndicalist friend asks, “Why not?” I can quite understand that interjection from any one who is prepared to sanction violence and the destruction of government. Let me quote a few words from New Zealand to show exactly what is taking place there, and what we have to beware of in Australia. According to the Argus of a few days ago, Mr. J. Reardon, secretary of the General Labourers Uniou, said -
I am not going to be dragooned into supporting an insane strike of this sort, even if I have to go out of the Labour movement because of my refusal. Under no circumstances should members of the General Labourers’ Union take the slightest bit of notice of- any interference by an organization of this sort. Twice within the last twelve months the union has indicated by ballot that it has no sympathy with the policy of syndicalism and strike advocated by the Federation of Labour.
Here is a man who is like a voice crying in the wilderness, because of the syndicalist action of thousands of unionists, mainly political, engaged in the strike -
It would be betraying the trust imposed or* me as an officer of the General Labourers’ Union if I gave the slightest encouragement to members of the organization to respond to this mad call in an hour of panic.
The story of this strike is the story off lions led by geese.
Iti the same issue, Mr. Barr, M.L.C., who is directly interested in about halfadozen industrial unions in Christchurch, being permanent secretary of the Hotel Employes Union, member of the executive of the Stonemasons Union, and president of the Cyclemakers Union, was reported to have said -
I have never been in favour of the federation of Labour, nor am I a member of the United Labour Party, as I have not approved of organization or funds for trade unions being used for political purposes. It is left open for members of trade unions or any other one to join the Labour party, but I have always considered that there is no justification for forcing members to subscribe to any political party or platform. I believe Mr. Reardon to be absolutely correct in the statement that the men are fighting for their own existence, and that the waterside workers’ and the other unions have become mere pawns in the game. AH the unions have been mere pawns in the game from the outset. There is no one who has the least bit of knowledge of the matter but is aware that had there been men at the head of affairs whose first concern was the workers’ dispute, it would never have gone beyond the Waterside Workers, nor would it have lasted beyond the second day from the outset. The leaders of the Federation of Labour and their supporters in the’ Waterside Workers’ Union have shown themselves to be utterly incompetent to lead to other than destruction.
They have set the prairie on fire, and now, as Mr. Reardon pointed out, are fighting for their own existence. The Arbitration Act itself, to which the Federation has been all along so strongly opposed, is now in very serious danger. It is for that reason that I support the attitude of Mr. Reardon, as, with him, I see danger to organizations that took many years of drudgery to build up - organizations that never would have existed but for the Act. from the outset there has been no occasion to strike. Agreements were broken when the Federation’s own constitution was ignored, but that is not surprising, as the wreckers in charge are incapable of holding to the rules, even of their own making, at the present moment. A position created by the incapacity of those allowed to lead is now being used to justify the continuance and extension of the trouble.
There is an indication of what is taking place in New Zealand. Honorable members opposite say, “ This may be so, but look at our own Arbitration Court and its wonderful success. Never has an award in that Court been departed from.” In passing, I would say that for the last few years wages have been on the upgrade, and living conditions have been improving. Various persons who have appealed to that Court have had the full advantage of this up-grade tendency, and have, therefore, been placed practically in the position of successful litigants. They have largely shared in the general rise of wages that has taken place. I am quite certain that there has been an honest effort on the part of the President of the Court to successfully fulfil the responsibilities cast upon him; but I can quite understand that successful litigants have little reason to be’ other than satisfied. Hence it is that, notwithstanding the fact that a large number of artificial disputes, which have been generated, have been brought before that Court, there has been no reason for dissatisfaction with its awards on the part of the worker.
– What does the honorable gentleman mean by an artificial dispute?
– It is one of the deplorable results of our arbitration laws that there has been much strife and industrial unrest brought about by reason of its provisions. We have to face an unfortunate condition of .affairs. Industrial tribunals established in the various States should have been resorted to for the purpose of settling disputes within the States ; but, instead of that, no sooner has a strike occurred in a particular State than emissaries are sent throughout the length and breadth of Australia for the purpose of creating industrial unrest, and a dispute in some other part of the Commonwealth, in order that the matter may be brought before the Federal tribunal.
– That is because of the Constitution.
– Some persons would lose their billets if they did not engineer a strike every now and then.
– I am only referring to the unfortunate condition of affairs that has obtained under our existing arbitration law. It has been productive, as I said, of a large degree of industrial unrest. So far as the Constitution is concerned, it is perfectly sound, and the fundamental feature, as regards industrial disputes, is that, where a dispute naturally overflowed from one State to another, provision should be made for a Federal Arbitration Court to deal with such a dispute. The Constitution reserves industrial matters affecting a particular State to State industrial tribunals. These tribunals were established in the various States for the purpose of dealing with such disputes. So far as the Constitution is concerned, I say again, its principles are absolutely sound, and it is only to a distortion of the
Constitution that has been resorted to by the methods to which I have referred that I am now objecting.
– What does the honorable gentleman mean by the natural overflow of the dispute?
– Order !
– - I think I am quite right in asking the honorable gentleman to reply to that question.
– Order ! The honorable member evidently is not aware of the standing order dealing with these matters. I have looked it up, and I shall read it for the benefit of the honorable member and of the House. Standing order 58 provides that -
No member shall converse aloud or make any noise or disturbance whilst any member is speaking- -
So that an interjection is evidently regarded under the Standing Orders as a noise or disturbance.
– Oh, nonsense!
– The honorable member for Bourke will withdraw and apologize to the Chair.
– I withdraw, and apologize to the Chair.
– The honorable member will rise.
– I will rise and apologize to the Chair.
– The standing order goes on to say - and in case of such noise and disturbance being persisted in after the Speaker has called to order, the Speaker shall call upon the member making such disturbance by name, and such member will incur the displeasure and censure of the House.
The honorable member will see that he has no right to interject, and that, under the Standing Orders, it is the duty of the Chair to call members to order when they do so.
– May I express my apologies to you, sir. Will you permit me to ask the honorable member for Kooyong a question through you? May I ask what the honorable member means by legitimate-
– Order ! THe honorable member cannot do that, nor can I permit him to do so. I am myself compelled by the Standing Orders to do my best to enable the honorable member who has possession of the floor to deliver his speech without disturbance or hindrance.
– My honorable friends opposite have referred times out of number to the success of our present Arbitration laws, and as to how the awards of the Court have been accepted. I have already dealt partially with that contention, but I would remind them now that there is provision under our law for industrial agreements which are, to some extent, like awards of the Court. They are provided for under section 73 and following sections of the Act. Amongst other things, it is provided that these industrial agreements shall be prepared in a particular way, and shall bind only the persons who are immediately affected by them. A duplicate of an agreement has to be filed, and provision is made for the enforcement of an industrial agreement by certain penalties. Section 7 provides that -
Where persons, with a view to be associated as employers and employes respectively, or representatives of such persons, have entered into an industrial agreement with respect to employment, any of such persons who, without reasonable cause or excuse, refuses or neglects to offer or accept employment upon the terms of the agreement, shall be deemed to be guilty of a lock-out or strike, as the case may be.
The point I wish to emphasize is that, although these industrial agreements are filed under our Arbitration law, and have, to some extent, the force of awards of the Federal Arbitration Court, there are several instances which may be readily quoted in which these agreements solemnly entered into and duly signed by representatives of various unions have been deliberately broken.
– Will the honorable gentleman mention one case in connexion with the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court?
– I propose to mention three. The first occurred in Brisbane in January, .1911, in connexion with the wharf labourers’ agreement, which was filed in the Arbitration Court. The men went out in sympathy with the tramway men, and thus committed a breach of their agreement.
– The honorable gentleman refers to a local Court, and not to the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court.
– No; I am referring to breaches of agreements which were filed under the terms of our Federal Arbitration law, though it is immaterial as a matter of principle whether they were concerned .with local Courts or with the Federal Court. In Melbourne, in June, 1913, seamen went on strike, and held up the Zealandia for a week on a question of manning.’ The award of the Arbitration Court did not touch the question of manning owing to its being provided for in the Navigation Bill. lu this case the Adelaide Steamship Company had- to concede the demands of the men. But the most flagrant case’ occurred in Sydney. The Sydney branch of the Waterside Workers’ Federation were working under an industrial agreement that had been solemnly entered into, signed, and duly filed under the Arbitration Act. Under the terms of that agreement they received something like ls, 3d. per hour. Some 3,000 or 4,000 of them met, and determined upon a strike, which was a deliberate breach and violation of their agreement. Because some deep-sea wharf labourers happened to get ls. 5d. per hour, those engaged in connexion with the coastal and InterState trade imperiously decided that they should demand additional pay. They were under an agreement, as I have said, solemnly entered into and filed under our existing arbitration law, but they decided to flout and defy the law already quoted, and committed this breach of the agreement with deliberation. I should like to get from my honorable friends opposite, and particularly from the honorable member for Bendigo, any statements showing that there was any repudiation of this flagrant breach of the law and of an agreement entered into by the Waterside Workers Federation. If the employers had attempted a departure of the kind from the agreement, would there not have been a howl from the other side for their prosecution 1 What prosecutions took place, because of the three breaches’ of industrial agreements to which I have referred? I tell my honorable friends opposite that arbitration is not a one-sided business. If it is to succeed, the decisions arrived at must be loyally accepted. It cannot be a case of “ beads I win, tails you lose.”
– Is it not a fact that the 3,000 or 4,000 members of the Sydney Waterside Workers Federation, to whom the honorable gentleman has referred, objected to the agreement on the ground that its conditions had never been ratified by the members of the unions?
– The facts are that the agreement was deliberately entered into, signed, and duly filed, and notwithstanding that solemn arrangement, and the fact that there was a law on the statute-book requiring that it should be observed, the members of the union deliberately met together, and decided to break away from the agree? ment. That is a condition of affairs which I say is intolerable, and it tends to the failure of all arbitration.
– Does the honorable gentleman not know that the Sydney wharf labourers would have forfeited £1,000 if they had done what he says they did?
– My honorable friends opposite have often expressed their admiration of the Federal Conciliation and Arbitration Court. I say nothing about that, but I do wish to say that as soon as the High Court, of which the President of the Arbitration Court is a member, in the discharge of its important functions, interfered with some of the awards of the Arbitration Court, and determined, amongst other things, that under the terms of the Constitution railway servants could not be included under the conciliation and arbitration law, we had a most violent denunciation of the Court from leading members of that Labour party. Some Labour- unions passed resolutions to the effect that the High Court should be abolished. Whilst a section of my honorable friends opposite are determined to annihilate arbitration as soon they possibly can-
– Who are they?
– The Independent Workers of the World. Another section are prepared to tolerate arbitration so long as the awards of the Court are in their favour. That is a state of affairs that cannot continue. The experience of New Zealand is that as soon as a few adverse awards are made there is a most violent denunciation of the Bench. Not only was Judge Edwards violently denounced, but some of the unions1 demanded his removal. Here in Australia they attacked most violently the Judges of the High Court because they honestly discharged their duty as they had sworn to do. Only the other day Mr. Justice Cussen, who is a ma’n of very high repute, of great knowledge, and an able and conscientious man, gave an award in an industrial appeal case which -came before him, and no sooner had he done so than he was most violently denounced by the Trades Hall. I find this statement made in connexion with the “matter-*- “ Mr. Justice Cussen,” said Mr. Cohen, president of the Trades Hall Council, on Thursday night, “ should be hounded out of his position.”
So that, because Mr. Justice Cussen honestly and honorably did his duty, the President of the Trades Hall Council says that he should be hounded out of his position. . That is just what took place also in New Zealand.
– That was because, on an appeal, he reduced a determination of a Wages Board.
– What inane nonsense for the honorable member to introduce! The Judge had to obey the law; he came to an honest decision, and the result was not altogether to the liking of the Trades Hall and its followers, and so they declared that he must be hounded out of the position. The same treatment was awarded to Mr. Justice Hood and Mr. Justice a’Beckett - men who hold high positions in the Judiciary, and whose honour and conscientious discharge of duty had never previously been assailed. I would like an opportunity to deal elaborately with this matter. But, at the present time, I will content myself with pointing out to my honorable friends on the other side that if they are prepared, to sever themselves from strikes and Syndicalism, they have the fullest opportunity of doing so by denouncing the action of a large section of supporters who lend themselves to those methods. The present position is that a large section reserve to themselves the right to strike. Only the other day, in that section-
– Order ! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Yes, sir; but let me finish the sentence.
– Order !
– The Speaker will not allow anybody else to do it.
– If I may be permitted, I would like to read this extract -
At a Trades Hall Congress in Sydney it has at last been decided to form a Federation of Australian Labour. Railway workers and coal miners were chiefly represented. The objective of this federation was not disguised. It is to be used to enforce the demands of unionism by general strikes.
– Order !
– That is pretty hot. The honorable member for Darling was cut off in the middle of a sentence.
– Order !
– That is not fair.
– Will the honorable member for Grey resume his seat?
– That sort of game is not fair.
– I have always endeavoured to’ allow the honorable member speaking to complete the words which he was uttering at the moment. I think it was the intention of the House that that should be permitted in all cases, and I shall endeavour to carry out my duty in that way.
– When the Speaker was in the chair the other day, the honorable member for Darling was cut off in the middle of a sentence.
– He never asked leave to complete the sentence.
– An honorable member cannot ask leave when the Speaker says that his time has expired, because he is supposed to sit down. It is not fair treatment.
– Order ! It is quite obvious that the Speaker cannot determine the time accurately to a few seconds.
– He ought to have a stop-watch.
– It is just possible that the Speaker may interpose a few seconds too soon. I give the honorable member who is in possession of the floor the benefit of the doubt every time. I think it is the fair and proper way to enable the speaker to conclude his speech in a fashion that will enable it to read coherently.
– Although the honorable member for Kooyong prefaced his remarks by saying that he was in favour of trade unionism, he delivered one of the most severe tirades against trade unionism and against some individual actions, for which he tries to blame the whole of the bodies, that we have heard here for a considerable time. The honorable gentleman spoke about the tyranny of trade unions. He might have told us something about the tyranny of the lawyers’ union. I am informed on the best of authority that the honorable gentleman, because he is not a barrister-
– But I am.
– Notwithstanding that in Victoria a law has been passed which enables the honorable member to sit in the same Court as the AttorneyGeneral, he is not allowed to do so.
– That is not cor.rect.
– The honorable member never said a word about that, or about the tyranny of unionism in his own calling.
– The true point is that the Attorney-General boycotts him.
– The AttorneyGeneral will not sit with the honorable member for Kooyong, or go into the same Court with him. “We have heard some remarks from the honorable member about the abuse of a Judge, but let me remind him that “one swallow does not make a summer.” If I wished to cite a case of the abuse of a Judge, I could mention some members of the Employers Federation who have abused Mr. Justice Higgins because he did not give an award to suit their interests. The honorable member for Kooyong made some remarks about an award or the breaking of an agreement in connexion with the Sydney wharf labourers. I am a member of that executive, and that was the first time I had ever heard of it. It was not a case of an award of the Court.
– I did not say so. I said it was an agreement.
– The honorable member puts up his men of straw, and then buffets them about to suit himself.
– The honorable member is misrepresenting me, and he knows it.
– Order. !
– The most striking feature of the honorable member’s speech was that he does favour the Arbitration Court; does he not?
– Do- not ask questions.
– What is the Arbitration Court but the result of political action? What brought the Court into existence? What induced the trade unionists, some years ago, to throw down their weapon of the strike? I speak now as a member of a party whose members are each pledged against strikes. I care not for the interjections of irresponsible persons either here or outside. Every member of the Labour party is ‘pledged against strikes. We are not playing a two-faced game. We trace the origin of the pledge back to 1890.
– The difficulty is that some of your colleagues do not agree with you.
– My colleagues know that -the Labour party do not believe in strikes. In 1890 the party decided, at the request and on the advice of many of the employers, to try to bring about reforms on constitutional lines, to abandon the old barbarous method of the strike. From 1890 to the present time we, as a party, have pursued that course. It is, I think, the greatest tribute to the working men of Australia that they abandoned the old method of the strike, and handed over their future to a Judge whose environment was entirely, different from their own. In that connexion, I wish to quote some remarks which Sir George Reid made on the 6th August, 1903, when the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was under consideration. On page 3186 of Hansard he said -
But, from the aspect of things as they are, it seems to me that it reflects infinite credit upon the Labour bodies of Australia that they are willing to intrust their liberty - aye, even their subsistence - to judicial decision. I cannot understand the position taken up by persons who are not closely identified with the Labour bodies of Australia, and who find in this attitude of those bodies something to denounce as if it were unwholesome, as if it were selfish, as if it were endangering the stability of our industrial or political fabric. It is, in my opinion, one of the grandest displays of intelligence, and a readiness to sacrifice the one weapon which labour has, that certainly has no parallel in any other part of the world.
That was what Sir George Reid thought of the attitude of the Labour movement with which I am associated.
– A good deal of water has flowed under the bridge since then.
– There has not been a breach of an award. There are to-day from 110,000 to 115,000 men and women working under industrial awards of the Commonwealth Court, and there has not been one breach. There have been many strikes , outside, I admit. The hundreds of strikes that are spoken of are identified with States, and are outside the purview of the Commonwealth Court. It ought to be acknowledged by every rightthinking person that that Court and its awards have been upheld, and that the Labour party, as a party, have been behind the awards. Does the honorable member for Kooyong, who referred to New Zealand, remember the time in that country - prior to 1896 - when there was no Arbitration Court to deal with industrial matters? Were there not troubles in New Zealand nearly every week - sometimes every day? Until the serious conflict which recently took place, there had been little or no breach of an award in New Zealand since the law was passed in 1896.
– What about Waihi? ?
– Who are the persons that are responsible to-day for the breach of an award? They are the Syndicalists, with whom the Labour party are not in sympathy. They fight us at the elections, and in our own organizations. The “I.W.W.” is a body that came from America. It is only in comparatively recent years that it has been engrafted on to trade unionism in some parts of Australia. These are the gentlemen behind the threats that are causing all the industrial trouble in New Zealand to-day. As the extract which the honorable member read shows, the trade unions in that country repudiated the action of those men.
– But the unions in Australia sent over £6,000 to help them.
– Individual unions may have done so ; but I am speaking on behalf of the Labour party. I take it that this Bill is introduced, not for the sake of what it contains, but to indicate what trade unionists may expect from the Government, should they remain on the Treasury bench. It is an indication of what was originated in Victoria some time ago. In this measure we do not see the hand of the Prime Minister. I cannot conceive that he would so go back upon his trade union principles and the preference which he has advocated year after year for a life-time. In this measure we see the hand of the AttorneyGeneral, as it was seen a few years ago in Victoria, when he introduced his coercion measures. .But, thank God, sir - and this is our consolation - every mea sure of a coercive nature which he passed through the State Parliament has been wiped off the statute-book since he left the Legislative Assembly. This measure is an indication of what may happen here in the future.
– And we will wipe it off the statute-book if it is ever passed.
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, a little time ago you spoke on the matter of trade unionism on a question very apropos of what we are dealing with today. You made some very sensible remarks, which are to be found on page 7655 of Hansard, volume XXIV. Speaking on the 30th November, 1904, you said -
What would be said if, in matters pertaining to the ordinary affairs of life, we debarred a certain section of the community from having access to our Courts of law? A very exceptional case, indeed, would require to be made out before the public would tolerate such a condition of affairs. I recognise that at the present time it is almost impossible to extend to domestic servants the benefits which this Bill will confer upon other classes. That, however, is no reason why we should deliberately exclude them from its operation. I say that we should give them the right to appeal to the Court if they wish to do so. If they are so blind to their own interests that they refuse to organize, the fault will rest with themselves. Personally, I think that, with an increasing sense of their responsibility, they will be induced to organize at no distant date. Those who oppose the granting of a preference to unionists wish to impose upon the applicants, as a condition precedent to the extension of any such preference, the obligation of proving that they represent a majority of those who will be affected by any award of the Court. I wish to know why they should be obliged to establish any such affirmation. The question to be considered bv the Court, in dealing with an application for preference, is simply whether the applicants have a just claim.
If a preference were extended to a very considerable number, some of the non-unionists might very well object that it would seriously interfere with their prospects of employment ; but where the organization making application comprised only a minority of those engaged in the occupation which it represented, I, as a non-unionist, should regard that rather as an advantage than a disadvantage. It should be shown, at all events, in a way that has not yet been attempted, that the granting of preference is bound up in the giving of it to a majority of those engaged in the industry affected. It ought to be shown that the granting of a preference to a minority would be something in the nature of an injustice ; but no honorable member opposite has yet attempted to prove anything of the kind.
Those words are absolutely applicable to the Bill which is now before us. It seeks to impose a prohibition upon the granting of preference to persons employed upon
Government works. To-day, the AttorneyGeneral stated that these persons will not be permitted to obtain preference even through an award of the Arbitration Court. But the Government have already, accomplished by regulation all that this Bill purports to accomplish. At the same time, the passing of this measure will render it incumbent upon the next Labour Ministry to secure the enactment of another Bill before preference can be restored. That is all that the Bill does.
– It does what the honorable member says, and it will do something else, too.
– I would not be at all surprised if there is a sting in its tail, the nature of which has never been divulged to this House.
– It will prevent an award being given granting preference to unionists in the Public Service.
– I have already said so. I propose to state a case to the honorable gentleman, and I ask him to give it fair consideration. On the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, a large number of men are employed. The policy of the present Government is to get a lot of that work done under contract. I understand that they argue that it is unjust to grant a preference to unionists in cases where public funds are being expended.
– Where the Government are providing employment’ out of the public funds.
– The policy of the Government is one of contract versus day labour. Consequently, they are instituting the contract system in connexion with the huge undertaking to which I have referred. The earthworks upon the transcontinental line are, I understand, to be carried out under the contract system. Large bodies of men will be employed upon the earthworks, whereas a lot of other work, such as plate-laying, laying the road, and ballasting, will be undertaken by day labour. In each case, it is public money which will be spent.
– Of course, it is. What has that to do with the matter? The Government may buy things from a manufacturing firm, and in that case Government money would be spent.
– In the one case, the employes under a contractor will be able to resort to the Arbitration Court, and obtain an award under which they may be granted a preference ; in the other, the employes of the Government will bc denied access to the Court. They will not be able to claim preference to unionists. Is not that an unfortunateanomaly? Does not the Attorney-General see in it an engine for strikes and difficulties ? Why should one body of men beprevented from going to the Arbitration Court, whilst the other has a right to so there? b
– I can tell the honorable member in a sentence. It isbecause, in the case of the contractor, the contractor chooses his employes.
– The honorable gentleman is shifting his ground. It is public money which is being used in both cases. Now, it may happen that, in time to come, the Commonwealth will manufacture its own rolling-stock, just as the Newport Workshops manufacture it for this State to-day. In that case, private firms will be our competitors. In South Australia, for example, Islington is a competitor with the Gawler Workshops. Under this Bill, the men employed in those workshops would be subject to our Arbitration law, and might thus be able to secure preference, whilst the employes in the Government workshops would be denied it. Surely such a condition would be unfair, even to the employers themselves. Take the case of the contractors engaged on the transcontinental railway. - Only a combination of the men engaged on either end of that line would be necessary to create an. industrial dispute extending beyond the limits of any one State. The private contractor would thus be placed at a disadvantage in competing with the Government, because the Arbitration Court might grant a preference to his employes, whereas those engaged by the Government upon the day-labour system would be denied a right to preference. The thing appears to be unreasonable. Why do we ask for preference? We all recognise that industrial arbitration is opposed to the old method of the strike. Other things being equal, preference to unionists is the natural corollary. We ask for preference for the sake of industrial peace. We recognise that every day work is stopped there is an absolute loss to the community. When a strike occurs, it is not merely the combatants who are affected, the innocent are drawn into the conflict. Hence, when we abandoned the weapon of the strike in 1890, we sought a more peaceful solution of industrial strife. Every honorable member opposite who votes for this Bill will vote for the creation of strikes. He will vote in favour of Syndicalism. We are absolutely opposed to Syndicalism. Some supporters of the Government have spoken of the terrible acts of trade unions. As one who has been associated with these organizations for thirty-five years, I claim to know something about them. I know the battles which we have had to fight. In the first place, we had to fight against bad conditions. May I be permitted to recall the conditions which obtained on one station that I visited some years ago? There I found that, although sixty shearers had been engaged, there was not a solitary bunk for one to lie upon. They had to sleep upon the flagged floors. In another place twenty-eight men had to find sleeping accommodation in a room 28 feet long and 14 feet wide, which contained three tiers of beds. The owner of that property when he died left estate valued at over £500,000. At that time we used to be paid not the face value of the work done, but on the bonus principle. If a shearer went through the whole season he received 5s. more than if he did not. But a ring-neck, called the Pannikin overseer) had a right to come into a man’s pen of sheep, raddle them at any time, discharge him, and then deduct 5s. per 100 upon every 100 sheep he had shorn.
– They were in the good old days.
– Yes. It was these conditions which brought about industrial unionism. In my time in South Australia married couples were engaged to work on stations for 22s. 6d. per week, and had to find themselves. They had also to supply rations to the ring-necks of the station, when the latter came out to do any mustering or marking of sheep, at 4d. per meal. In those days young men received 12s. 6d. per week. The honorable member for Hindmarsh can vouch for the truth of my statements. These were, as the honorable member for Maranoa has remarked, the good old days, and I suppose my honorable friends opposite, who represent the squattocracy of Australia, would like to get back to them. Let me tell them that this Bill will not achieve their desire. All ‘the powers above the earth and under it will not put an end to trade unionism.
– Tyrants are good organizers - the best we have.
– As a matter of fact, the Bill is a sham. If it were not for the principle that is involved, I would not hesitate to vote for the measure, because it means nothing. The Government policy is one of contract, and the Bill will not apply to permanent employes in our Public Service. The Government know perfectly well that the principle of preference cannot apply to them, because they obtained entry to the Service by means of an examination. If we were to attempt to apply the principle of preference to them they could snap their fingers at us, and say that they would not join a union. If an attempt were made to discharge them, what would be the position ? Each of these members of the Service would be entitled to compensation for wrongful dismissal. Boiled down, therefore, the Bill will affect only casual Government employes. There are something like 15,000 casual hands in the Commonwealth Service, and if the present Government remain in office twelve months hence, at least half that number will be working for contractors, leaving only 7,500 to whom this measure can apply. That being so, this political placard which the Government are exhibiting, and all the talk of battle, must go for nothing. The number of unionists has not been reduced by one since the present Government issued’ their minute abolishing preference to unionists. There must be at least 900 men at present employed on the Kalgoorlie to Port Augusta railway, and I undertake to say that the number of unionists on that work has not been reduced by one since this minute was sent out. Nor will the number be reduced by the passing of this Bill. The Government, however, will be able to go to the country and say to their supporters, “ See what a grand, thing we did. By passing this Bill, we prevented the wretched Labour party from granting preference to unionists.” But, from the stand-point of effectiveness, this measure is a political sham. A little while ago, when business was being conducted in this House in a go-as-you-please sort of way, the Argus said it was time that the Government aroused themselves, and did something to bring about a double dissolution. As a result, this wretched little weakling is to be sent up to the Senate to bring about the double dissolution that the Government desire. I could understand the attitude of the AttorneyGeneral if he proposed, straight out, to repeal the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. The honorable member for Kooyong told us that this Bill, if it becomes law, will repeal certain provisions of a measure passed last year. Is this a manly way of repealing legislation to which objection is taken 1 If they objected to certain provisions in another measure, the Government, instead of proposing to repeal them in this indirect way, should have brought down a Bill repealing the whole or portion of them. If they did that, they would show themselves in the open. They would at once be seen in their true colours. The people would be able to see that, notwithstanding their professions, they are opposed to trade unionism. The Attorney-General has proved himself a bitter opponent of up-to-date trade unionism .
– “ Up-to-date “ trade unionism is a good expression.
– It is the correct one. By up-to-date trade unionism, I mean that which is the natural corollary to the giving up of the power to strike.
– Oh !
– The honorable member cannot point to one strike in connexion with an award made by the Conciliation and Arbitration Court, although that Court has now been in existence for nine years. Does the honorable member for Calare, who represents a country district, realize the change that has been brought about in the pastoral industry, for instance, as the result of the establishment of that Court? Before the award of the Court was obtained, the pastoralists never knew, from one day to another, how they were going to get along with their shearing, and the industrial disturbances that took place from time to time must have involved a loss of millions of money to the country. But since the award of the Court was made, there has been no trouble. I do not think I can do better, at this stage, than quote from the speech which I delivered in this House when the original Conciliation and Arbitration Bill was before us. In passing that Bill, I felt that we were doing one of the grandest things ever done in con nexion with the industrial movement in Australia. I held the view that we were placing on the statute-book a measure which would provide a peaceful means of settling industrial disputes, and looking back at what has happened since that Bill was passed, I feel well satisfied with my forecast. I said then -
But what we have to consider is how we can minimize the evils arising from such disputes, and to endeavour to settle them as peaceably as possible. I feel that we are standing almost on the threshold of a new era - an era that will form an important one in the history of the industrial movement. With other honorable members, 1 recognise that I am about to take part in placing upon our industrial structure what I choose to designate an emblem of peace. Looking back over the rugged pathway along which this industrial movement has passed, I see that at times it was on the mountain of success, and at other times in the valley of despair. All along the right side of this rugged track I note the numerous Acts that have been passed up to a comparatively short time ago for the suppression of industrial organizations. And on the other side of the track, as it presents itself to me in this panoramic view, I see the mounds that cover the remains of those who have been sacrifices to the cause. Here and there I see the finger posts which point to the men who sacrificed life and liberty to keep the light of unionism burning. It has been kept burning, and there is no power in existence that can extinguish it. I see in this vision the rise and fall of this movement from the time of that King who, building better than he knew, divided his people into companies according to their trades and professions. I see the progress of the movement in the early Christian era, and I trace it on, until, at one time, I find it is considered to be not unbecoming for a King to be a member of a union or of a craft guild. I refer to the historical fact that King Edward III. was a member of the Linen Armourers’ Guild. Immediately after, notwithstanding the popularity of the movement at that time, we find the commodity of labour ill-used. Later, I see the scourge of the Black Death spreading across the land, and unsatisfied until it has carried off one-third of the population, and with the result that I see the first labour statute passed and the first conspiracy law that was ever introduced. I trace the movement further, and in my vision I see Henry VIII. confiscating the accumulations of years, and while I gaze, I can almost hear the troubles of the weavers. Then I am confronted by the Luddite rising. When I think of that, and compare the conditions then existing with present conditions, I cannot help reflecting that the natural offspring of oppression and tyranny is revolution and anarchy. A little further along the track I see a banner floating past emblazoned - “ Educate ! Educate !” I see following it another banner, on which is inscribed the magic word, *’ Ballot-box,” and immediately afterwards I find that some 3,000,000 of the workers have secured their political rights in the shape of votes. So on and on the movement proceeds until I arrive at the day when I find a deliberative assembly providing means for the purpose of preventing industrial disputes, and in my vision I oan almost -see the Judge, as he sits above the contending forces of the representatives of labour and of the employer. And, comparing this picture with that of the past, I fail to understand how there can be any one desiring to oppose legislation having for its object peace; the bringing of the combatants together, the amelioration and betterment, not only of the employé, but of the employer, for undoubtedly peace in industrial life makes for the advantage of both interests. If we are able now to put the coping stone upon the industrial edifice it is because by virtue of their moral and numerical strength the labour unions are in a position to achieve for themselves by constitutional means their full social and political emancipation. A well-known writer has said - “ After a long weary pilgrimage, labour has emerged from the valley of the shadow of political death on to the broad plain of freedom, and now demands an equitable re-adjustment of the relations between itself and capital. Prejudice and self-interest may refuse concession, but sound policy and justice will accede to the reasonable demands of those who constitute the wealth and power of the nation.”
Those were the -words I uttered in supporting the first Conciliation and Arbitration Bill, and everything since done in connexion with the main body of the workers has justified my forecast. To-day, however, the Government are indulging in a pin-pricking policy, hut they need not imagine that this little twopennyhalfpenny Bill is likely to stop the great trade union movement. It certainly will not stop it, but it will prove a disturbing factor, and must cause trouble.- Those who are honest in this matter, must feel, as I do, that everything that it is possible to do to coerce men into joining unions for the purpose of industrial peace must be in the interests of the country. It is immaterial to me whether this Bill passes or not; but if the honorable member for Perth still holds the sentiments which he expressed on a former occasion, and to which I referred a few minutes ago, he should be found voting with honorable members on this side of the House, as he did on the last occasion that we were invited to vote on the question of providing for preference to unionists, securing industrial peace, and putting an end to the barbarous system of strikes. When a strike occurs, not merely the actual combatants, but the wives and children of the strikers, as well as business people in all directions, suffer most severely. If honorable members will look at this question seriously, and set aside their party feelings, they will recognise that there was never a grander or greater measure passed than is the Commonwealth Con- ciliation and Arbitration Act. Preference to unionists and industrial peace are closely allied, and the principle of preference to unionists should “apply to Government employes as well as to the employes of private firms. I see nothing to fear in the future. The Attorney-General may succeed in obtaining his desired double dissolution, but I should have liked to see him come .forward with something more substantial than this - I should have liked to see him come forward with an attempt to stem the great tide of trade unionism by legitimate means. The Fisher Government did not hesitate to come down in a proper, constitutional way with a Bill to repeal the Naval Loan Act, and if honorable members opposite are honest in their convictions, they should come forward with Bills proposing in a direct, legitimate way to repeal legislation relating to trade unionism passed by previous Parliaments. If they do that we shall have something on which to go to the country.
.- This Bill contains a very simple proposition. We are asked by it to determine whether the action of the late Government in granting preference to unionists in the Public Service is justified or not. There appears to me to be no justification whatever for what they did. I look upon preference to unionists, whether applied to the Government service or to private employment, as an excrescence, designed to enable those holding certain political views to obtain an undue advantage over others. The whole history of the case is interesting in the extreme ; and it has been engaging the attention of the House at very considerable length. One of the most remarkable statements made was that by the honorable member for Denison, who said, “ We desire preference to unionists in order to drive men into unionism.”
– Let the honorable member be fair, and go on to say that I concluded with “ for the purpose of getting industrial peace.”
– Yes; for the purpose of getting industrial peace; but in that statement there is underlying the evil of coercion - the desire for preference to unionists in order to force men into unions. But that is only the beginning of the forcing process; the end, I venture to assert, nobody can foresee. We are at heart a freedom-loving people, and coercion is the antithesis of that freedom which we desire all our people to enjoy. We have seen enough of the action of unionists to know that they are prepared by various means to apply force and pressure to others. Other people may disagree with them, yet, perforce, in order to get employment, they must join a union, and then they are compelled to subscribe whatever ‘levies may be made, even though .they may disagree entirely with the political platform of the union with which they have been coerced into identifying themselves. To join a union is the only means by which they can earn their bread, and, whether they like it or not, they have to pay levies in order to - among other things - produce a workers’ newspaper, the object of which is to advocate a policy which unionists conceive to be right. The views of the newspaper may be directly antagonistic to the man who has been coerced into joining a union, but he is forced to take part, although to do so he may consider detrimental to his own interests. An illustration of this is given in an account in to-day’s paper of some proceedings connected with the New Zealand strike; and this has an exceedingly important bearing on the history-making struggles of to-day. This strike has practically paralyzed the whole trade of New Zealand for some considerable time, and it is a very creditable thing that the attempt to create a general strike has signally failed. This indicates that the people are a freedomloving people, and are not inclined to be driven to the extent that others may desire. The newspaper account is as follows -
At a meeting of tramway men it was decided by 71 votes to 30 not to cancel the registration under the Arbitration Act. It was decided to make a levy of 5 per cent, on the wages of single men and 2^ per cent, on those of married men in support of the strike funds.
If these unions can enforce such levies as are here mentioned, they could just as easily strike a levy of double the amount. With the increased cost of living and these levies, the workmen are really worse off than they were some years ago. If we get into conversation with a bond fide working man, outside the influence of the unions, we learn that this is the fact. The honorable member for Grey referred to certain occurrences in the “ good old days,” but while nobody desires to go back to those days, we do desire to go back to those conditions where men, under legitimate trade unionism, could, better their positions, while dissevering themselves entirely from political trade unionism.- The honorable member for Bendigo, and also the honorable member for Kooyong, referred to this Bill, and very properly so, as a battle gage. That, to my mind, is the chief value of the Bill.
– Hear, hear!
– We want to fight. If the people are with honorable members opposite, let them be so, but we, on this side, believe that the people are with us; and. therefore, we desire to submit the question to the country in such a way that there may be a decision by the majority.
– Does the honorable member threaten us?
– I threaten? There is no threat in what I say. We are prepared to consider this Bill as one which is going to have a very important bearing on the elections, let them come when they may. This is a fight for the rights and liberties of those men who have not been able to see eye to eye with others of a certain political cult. We want those men to be able to hold their own political opinions, and be as free as other men to sell their labour in the best market. This latter, of course, cannot be done if we grant preference to unionists. Where can the justification be for collecting money from the whole of the people, and then determining, by regulation, that men of certain political views, who have combined, shall receive the benefits arising from the expenditure of that money? Why should not the whole of the people benefit without any question as to creed, nationality, or other conditions? Why should not all be employed according to their ability, and not according to their political beliefs? In the opinion of the honorable member for Grey, preference” to unionists is to be commended because it means industrial peace. It certainly means peace if the Government are prepared to. stand behind a certain section of the community, and force all others to accept the views of that section. That, however, is peace purchased at a price that is a disgrace’ to the community. We have to remember that, after all, unionists are only a minority of the workers; and, by means of the Government instrumentality, to place that minority in a position in which they are able to dominate the majority, is a principle which cannot receive any recognition from honorable members on this aide. I am proud to be supporting a Government which is determined to destroy any idea of the kind. Will the forcing of all men into unions bring peace? If all are compelled to join unions, then all will stand on a common plane, just as they would if there were no unions at all ; so that peace cannot be secured in that way. Experience shows that the unions are not “out” for peace, but for profit, and I venture to say that it is the leaders of the unions and .not the bond fide working men who, profit. But the great mass of the people will wake up to find that they are simply dupes, being led on for the benefit of the recognised organizers and talkers in the ranks of unionism. Let me quote a case to show the great love that exists in the hearts of unionists for other unionists. This is a case in New Zealand, reported in the Argus on 14th June this year: -
Mr. Justice Edwards delivered judgment in the case brought against the Auckland Waterside Workers’ Union by two members, who alleged that the union officials had by intimidation prevented them obtaining employment on the water front. The plaintiffs were Joel Smith and James Miller, and the defendant James Collet, secretary of the union. Plaintiffs claimed £200 and ^250 wages respectively and an injunction against the union, which was not incorporated or registered under the law.
His Honor said that plaintiffs were employed on the Maheno gang because no fewer than eleven of a chosen gang had failed to turn up. Certain members of the union took exception to the extra industry shown bv plaintiffs, and at a meeting in the absence of the plaintiffs, and without evidence, fined Smith and Miller the amount earned by them on the Maheno. Such a proceeding was void as being contrary to’ natural justice. The evidence was held to prove that both plaintiffs had been excluded from the waterside workers’ waitingroom, and regarded as non-members. Both men, owing to preference being given to unionists, had been unable to obtain employment as waterside workers. ‘His Honor found that the union, without any colour of right or authority, had penalized plaintiffs, who had not done anything of which the strictest unionist should disapprove. Defendant without a scintilla of right gave the employers of the waterside workers notice that plaintiffs had ceased to be members’ of the union, with the object of precluding employers from employing such persons, and upon this notice the employers were bound to act. He assessed Miller’s damages at and those of Smith, whose case was more serious, at £80.
That case makes plain the inner working of unionism. Men who show ability and energy exceeding that of their fellows are driven out, but it stands to the credit of our Courts that in this case justice was done, to some extent at least, to those who suffered. But what becomes of the statement that unionism means peace? It means rather the destruction of individual rights, and requires men to go to the Court to vindicate the privileges that they possess under the common law. In my opinion, it is a disgrace to our civilization that such a state of things should have come about. Does it make for peace to coerce men to pay levies for all sorts of purposes ? All over Australia men are contributing by way of levies to the establishment of newspapers. The wages of the workers are taken from them to benefit the unions. That does not make for peace; on the contrary, it creates a bitterness in the minds of hard-working men, who feel that they ought to receive the full benefit of what they earn. Recently in Bendigo, where the majority of the miners are unionists, it was determined to prevent the non-unionists from getting work. The unionists declared that they would not work side by side with non-unionists. The employers, however - in my judgment very properly - refused to recognise men either as unionists or non-unionists. The upshot was that the unions, to meet the expenses incidental to the strike, had to make a levy of 10s. a member, thus taking £1,000 from their members. Such occurrences do not evidence a large measure of freedom among unionists. They show that unionism is hostile to freedom and liberty. Under unionism men are not allowed to exercise the right of private judgment. It is right that the workers should combine to benefit and improve their conditions, but when the unions use their organization and power with a Commonwealth Government to give effect to their views, a great evil is done, and the Labour party will meet its Waterloo in connexion with this attitude’ of the unions.
– The honorable member will meet his Waterloo.
– I am not afraid of that happening, so long as the rural workers’ log is persisted in. Another matter worthy of consideration is this: If Government employes join unions, they are under obligations to the Government that employs them, and are also subject to the rules’ of their union. Could we have a more gross case of this conflict of duty than that which arose in the Northern Territory recently? There a gentleman in the employ of the Commonwealth - not a pick-and-shovel worker, but one enjoying a good salary, who should have given all his time and energy to the country by which he is paid- was called out when the unions had organized a strike. Which authority «.lid he obey?
– The Minister of the day gave him a fortnight’s leave of absence.
– And he was put on to tlo picket duty for the unions.
– Yes. He was forced U) do picket duty, to prevent other Government employes from going to work. Chat shows what is possible when preference is given to unionists, and such oases will become still more frequent when you have hundreds of men in Govern-‘ ment employment who are unionists.
– The honorable member argues- that no man in the Government service should be a unionist.
– I hold strongly that no man in the Government service should lie a unionist if his obligations to his union clash with his obligations to the Government that employs him.
– When will that occur, and’ how can it be known?
– -If preference to unionists be allowed to continue, it will not be long before the hydra head shows itself, and a state of things will come about that will make us regret that we allowed it to be possible. Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 7. £5 p.m.
– There is one anomaly in connexion with the question of Government preference to unionists. All individuals in Government employ are “lot in the same position. We have, in connexion with our Harness, Small Arms, und Clothing Factories, quite a number of men who are in the employment of the Government, and are being continued in that employment month after month, but are yet exempt from the operations of the Public Service Act. They are, in fact, temporary employes for an unlimited term. They may be employed for a year. During the course of the debate of the 7th November, 1912, as reported in Hansard, Mr. Fisher was asked by Mr. Groom -
Are these men to be exempt from the provisions of the Public Service Act?
– Largely, they are.
– Are they temporary hands?
– I do not think they are absolutely temporary.
– Will they come under the Ministerial rule that, other things being equal, there shall be preference to unionists?
– I think so.
That creates the anomalous position to which I refer. There are two grades of temporary employes, those employed for a limited period, and those employed Tor no fixed period. Later on Mr. Groom asked Mr. Fisher -
Does the Prime Minister think that many of the unionists are non-political?
– We do not ask them.
– Are not members of unions required to make contributions for political purposes?
– Many of them are not.
The question of whether these men and unions are non-political has a most important bearing on this Bill, and the answer- of the honorable member, that many of them are not required to ma’.te contributions for political purposes conveys the. undoubted truth that many of them are. I am, however, inclined to differ from the honorable member when he says that many of them are not. I think that they are all required to make contributions for political purposes. At any rate, we have the admission of the honorable member that many of them are, and, that being so, by granting preference in the Government service to thu( men they become active political partisans, to further the ends of the political body to which they belong. Returning to that all-important question as to whether unionism, and enforced unionism above all, means peace, let me give a few quotations to show how peace is evolved by these political unions. I am sorry the honorable member for Darling is not here, because he was a party to a cass in connexion with the Sydney Worker strike, and he would be prepared to accede the exact truth of the words that I am about to quote. The men employed in the newspaper office were all unionists, but, being in the employ of other unionists, they found that they were not receiving the same consideration that other employers were compelled to accede, and, naturally, they resented this, and, not unnaturally, proceeded to ‘ the length of striking. This is what the honorable member foi- Darling had to say about these men- unionists, by the way; and ‘he, above all others, would drive nien into unions. He said -
They are nothing but a lot of bushrangers. They are a most unfair body of men, and they make me feel that it is no wonder that the employers complain sometimes about the coercive tactics of the employes.
What the honorable member said will be found in Hansard of the 11th June, 1912. lt was quoted in his presence, and he made no attempt whatever to refute the correctness of it. That goes to show, even in the judgment of the honorable member for Darling, when he stands in the position of an employer, and faces men whom he has forced into unions in order that there may come into existence, as he claims, a condition of absolute peace, that the whole thing is a sham. I have looked up one or two things to illustrate how peace will be secured by unionists, as presented by themselves, and we can have no better evidence than that which comes from those who are on the side of honor - able members opposite. For instance, here is something that was reported in the Age of the 3rd March, 1911. Mr. F. Hyett, secretary of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Employes - not an irresponsible person, but one occupying a position of responsibility in the unions - declared, at the Melbourne Trades Hall that -
If it were necessary to make the life of a non-unionist a hell on earth while it lasted they would have to do it.
That is the method of securing peace, even going to the extent of taking the lives of those opposed to them; and this comes from the lips of a man who is the secretary of an important Labour union. Another person in the Trades Hall, on the 21st September, 1911 - Mr. L. Cohen, the vice-president - said -
The Federal Ministry was carrying out the platform of the Labour party. The members were elected to give preference to unionists. Non-unionists should be put off the face of the earth. Senator Rae had said that any violence done to non-unionists was justified. He agreed with that view. If they were shot or put to death it was no more than they deserved.
There we have the gage of battle. Honorable members opposite have said that the submission of this Bill to Parliament, with the intention of making it one of the important issues at the next election was the throwing down of the gage of battle; but I say the gage of battle was thrown down before that. The last fight was largely on the issue of pre ference to unionists, with the result that those who advocated the sort of thing referred to in the .quotations which I have just given came back with diminished numbers, while we came back with increased strength; and as we are again going to make it a battle-ground at the next election, I venture to say that we shall come back with still greater augmented strength in the next Parliament.
– I do not know how far I may go to-night in the controversy over this Bill, but, however far I may go, I trust that the House will not charge my party with my utterance. I stand here responsible for what I say, and whether my party agrees or disagrees with my utterance, I shall say it determinedly from my own stand-point of trade unionism, after many years’ association with it. And further, for my own purpose, so far as future years may be concerned, I shall speak distinctly and definitely as one man from his relationship with trade unionism, and as he understands it. I am at a loss to know why the Bill has been introduced. I heard the Attorney-General say that the Government had already done what the Bill sought to achieve. It was not a question of a Bill passing through the House and becoming an Act of Parliament; it was really an administrative ‘ act. The late Minister of Home Affairs simply decided that preference to unionists should be given, and the present Government have abolished that by a purely administrative act. Therefore, why now embody it in a Bill ? What is the meaning of such action? If the Government have abolished by an administrative act what we did by an administrative act, why now seek to accentuate it by a Bill that can only create strife, and a position in which our people will undoubtedly be found standing, as a party, prepared to give preference? The point is, however, raised that the Government are dealing with the Bill not only in connexion with pre’ference to mionists. They say the unions exist for political purposes. In what aspect have the Government found these political purposes marked in connexion with trade unionism in Australia? This is not the first time the matter has arisen, and I’ presume it will not be the last; but I venture to say deliberately that the statements made during this debate, and in previous debates, as to the funds of trade unions being devoted in the main - I will not say purely - for political purposes, do not correspond to the facts. I know more of the situation than honorable members sitting on the Government benches. I have been in trade unions; I have been closely associated with them, and I agree with the honorable member for Darling, who said only a few weeks ago that, so far as he was concerned, not one penny had been paid for political purposes for his electorate. I can speak for unions throughout New South Wales with which I am associated, and I say that not one penny has been spent in this direction. They have, unfortunately, other purposes to which to devote their money. I only wish they could become political unions. I wish they had the sense to apply their brains’ and their money and their energy to political unionism, and then honorable members opposite would find themselves very largely wanting when it came to an election. But we do not do that, and that is our misfortune. I am prepared to stand by such an ideal, and fight and work for it; but it is not in existence today, and while it is not here there is no justification for this Bill. Now let me deal with some of the utterances of the honorable member for Echuca. He says that to force men into unions would bring all men on the same plane, and unionism, therefore, would not exist. In the name of common sense, if we can bring all men into unions, and therefore preference would not exist, to what does the honorable member object ? Is not organization to-day the essence of our modern life? The Attorney-General admitted the absolute necessity for organization. The honorable member for Werriwa spoke as a sort of anarchist who wanted free competition. The honorable member is completely lacking in understanding of the position to-day in the social and industrial world. All round the world we see combination, co-operation, associated effort, all building up a larger social life, which means a larger efficiency to the nation. Yet the honorable member for Echuca talks about all coming into one line. If that did happen the result would be that all would stand upon the one plane, and there would be ho preference. But what would naturally follow would be an organized body of employes treating with organized bodies of employers. I read in the daily press some time ago of a plan to build up an enormous fund of £50,000,000 to break down unionism and crush out strikes, to enable the employers whenever the opportunity comes to throw their millions into the balance against those people who throw up their work for a little additional sustenance, and defeat them. Are the Attorney-General and others on the Ministerial side of the House in a position to say that we shall not have the right to organize throughout the length and breadth of the country, and even to insist that our organization shall pass into the public Departments of this country ? Are they to say that when we have made efforts to organize, and paid through the nose for it, we shall not have preference in return for the efforts we have made? Who and what is the man who stands outside of unionism ? I have used the word before, but I shall not repeat it more than to say it begins with an “ s.” If he is not organized, if he is not in a union, if he is not under regulation, if he is not associated with organized labour, where does he stand ? He is not a free man if he is not bound to his fellow workers by every tie of brotherhood, friendship, trade association, and economic interest. He is simply at the beck and call of the bureaucratic system that operates wherever governmental dominance takes place. You say he walks into your workshop as a non-unionist and a free man, but he does nothing of the sort. He walks in as a tool of your bureaucrats, as a mere thing to be utilized as the employer thinks advisable. The attitude taken up by the present Government is wrong. If .we, who have borne the heat and burden of the day through the years and through the centuries, have lifted the working class people out of the gutter, and placed them upon that higher plane which unionism implies, it should be the duty of every Administration, not to refuse preference, but to grant it willingly, especially as they have admitted that those in the unions are perhaps the best workers of all. The best results are got out of organization. We are not under an anarchistic system. We have a system of government; we are a regulated body. Members opposite claim liberty and freedom, but they can only have it as far as the laws of the country permit. No man is allowed to keep his backyard in a filthy state; his freedom is interfered with at once by the health laws; he is controlled, and preference is given to the man who does his best for the benefit of his country. A man who adjusts himself to the needs of the community is not prosecuted, but the man who fails to comply with the law is imprisoned or fined. In industrial life the man who fails to do his duty to his fellows is the anarchist, the outside man, the non-unionist, the anti-unionist, the man who is utilized as a strike-breaker when the occasion arises. “ Antiunionist “ was the term carefully selected by the honorable member for Kooyong. He had to correct himself twice, and he was quite right. The nonunionist is at all times the anti-unionist. He is always ready for the sake of his own little carcass and his own little soul to do what is required of him. I think the sterling worth, not alone of British people, but of people throughout the world, is that they are breaking down the idea of free competition in labour. Whether you like it or not, although you may by your majority of one, stationed over there or a little further up this Chamber, beat us to-day, this thing must inevitably come, and if it does not come there is going to be strife. The honorable member for Echuca spoke of selling labour in the best market. That is a most peculiar utterance to come from any man in Australia to-day who knows, as the honorable member must know, what arbitration means. That is the old doctrine of free competition in labour. It embodies the idea that the workman must go along to his masters, and say, “ For God’s sake give me a job; take me at whatever price you like to offer me, and if the market is overflooded I know the rate must come down.” How does such an attitude reconcile itself to the presentday arbitration laws? I confess I care little about your arbitration laws. I thought much of them some time ago, but I am getting outside of them. I tell the Government plainly that, so far as I am concerned, I will take arbitration laws or conciliation boards as a means to an end. I look upon them as palliatives. I will utilize them to the best of my ability, but I am going to stand by the right to strike as long as I see that it will be of use to my fellows. Your laws are nothing to me except as a means to an. end. I heard the honorable member for Parkes once say, “You want two chances for your money.” The honorable member forgot that he often takes many chances on behalf of his clients for his money in the Appeal Courts. I want twenty-two chances for my money and twenty-two thousand chances for my people. We are going to fight. If your Arbitration Courts, your Conciliation Boards, or other methods of adjustment can help us to what we want, we will take them as peaceful methods, but I am not concerned for your industrial ‘ peace. I want more. I want industrial justice for my people. We have not got it yet, and I am out to fight for it. If I can get it by arbitration I will do so. If not, I will get it with the help of my fellows by such means as most appeal to us.
– What kind of means does the honorable member suggest?
– The honorable member is too keen a lawyer not to know that he adjusts himself every day to the needs of the situation. I shall do the same. In international operations you have your arbitration, your diplomacy, your treaties, which you pledge yourself to observe, but you keep them just as long as it suits you. The final arbitrament is that of warfare by which you plunge the nations into hell. If you want that sort of thing you can have it. I am not afraid of it, and I hope my people are not afraid of it. If we cannot get what we want, we shall have the arbitrament of war and of hell also. I am out for it every day, and am not afraid to say so in this House. I. am not speaking mealy-mouthed to-night. I am in earnest, but I hope my people will stand by me in what I say. The honorable member for Echuca - I am paying the honorable member a lot of attention, but I like it, for it is just as well to thrash even an insect - says that the unions strike a levy for any purpose. What stupidity this shows. He presumes that men are dragooned into it. Unions only strike levies by a majority. We spend our money in this country by majority rule-
– They “ gag “ a minority by a majority.
– We never apply the “gag” in our unions, and during our three years of office we were too civilized to “gag” the Opposition. No more absurd statement could possibly be made than the assertion of the honorable member for Echuca, that men are dragooned into voting for levies. They are not. They have the right to vote as they please. If they are in sufficient numbers, they can defeat any attempt to strike a levy.
Colonel Ryrie.–The honorable member does not know any better.
– He does not, and therefore I apologize to him. Another worthy honorable member on the opposite side is the honorable member for Werriwa. I- regret he is not here, for I really do not know where he stands on this question. It is very difficult to judge whether he is on his head or his feet. Judging from what I heard the honorable member say, he seems to me to be the most pronounced anarchist. He came forward in the most pronounced way with ‘the idea that every man has a right to do just what he pleases, so long as he does not put his hand into the honorable member’s pocket. He told us that we came from the position of status and contract, and are going back to contract and status. I am very pleased that we have come away from the position of status and contract, and are taking up the position of status versus contract, because I find in the change a larger liberty. The doctrines of the Manchester school, which commenced about 100 years ago, were thrust into mi as a boy, and I had to get rid of them. I was told of the liberty of freedom of contract. In my youth, I had to fight with the lords and masters of industrialism, and where, then, was the free, dom of contract? It was not freedom of contract, but freedom to coerce on the part of those who had wealth. Was that not the case in the industrial world of Great Britain, America, and everywhere else? The whole history of this supposed freedom is replete with instances, not of freedom of contract and liberty of the individual, but of the domination by those who have of those who have not. That is what we have to face, and that is why we are going back to the doctrine of status, and are seeking by such means as conciliation, arbitration, and preference to trade unionists, who are fighting the battle of life, to conserve the industrial and social life of the community. We are told now that there is to be no preference to unionists. Preference to unionists does not mean that the other fellow is to be deprived of a job, but that where two men apply for one job, the unionist is to be given preference. I ask why should not the socially organized force, the man who has fallen into line with his fellows to meet the needs of the community; who, instead of standing alone, is associated with others for a definite purpose in life, be given preference, when we know that he is the better social creature ? I await an answer to this question, and am prepared for any interruption that I .may be answered. Is not the man who represents a social force the better man in the interests of the community, and if preference is to be given, why should it not be given to the larger social force? If two jobs are vacant, and two men apply for them, one a unionist and the other a nonunionist, each will get a job. But, where it is necessary from two men to select one for the only job offering, I do not see what objection can be taken to giving the preference to the better social force. That is all that preference to unionists implies - that preference shall be given to the man who, by association with his fellows, creates a social force for the benefit of the community as a whole. I cannot understand why there should be this objection to preference to unionists on the part of honorable members who are here as an organized body of individuals to carry on the affairs of the country. If persons not so organized sought to interfere in the conduct of the affairs of the country to-morrow, we should call them revolutionists. We should call them the mob. I do not understand why we, who represent organization, should object to give preference to others who are organized. Will honorable members opposite tell me that the State, as organized today, has reduced the liberty of the individual ? Will they tell me that we have not a larger national life through the development of the organization of the States into a Federation? Are we not in consequence brought more closely into touch with the Motherland ? Will honorable members contend that our liberty has in any way become lessened ? Are we becoming slaves under this new organization, and is our field of operation more restricted than it was when we were citizens of a number of separate
States? Our organization has given us a wider liberty in the best possible way. It has not given the liberty of domination by men of wealth, but the larger liberty which comes from the common purpose of the community, and safeguards the interests of the people. I say that by unionism we secure a wider liberty, and preference should be given to unionists, because they represent the best social force in the community. They are the men who make progress in our social history possible, and who should, consequently, be rewarded for their efforts in this connexion. I have before me a speech delivered by the Attorney-General, who took it upon himself to make a comparison between the trade unionism of to-day and the trade unionism of the past. I had occasion a little while ago to speak in this House, and though I did not quote my authorities at the time, I handed them over to the Attorney-General that he might look through them. How far he did so, I do not know. I am aware that the honorable gentleman has a very great deal to do, and possibly he could only very briefly scan the matter with which I furnished him. I find that he said -
I refer by analogy to the guilds of the Middle Ages for the purpose merely of pointing out that in those times co-operation of workers was based on a fundamental recognition of the principle that they existed, not solely for themselves, but for the community as a whole.
I take deliberate exception to any such statement. I say at once that the guilds of the early ages were not established for any such purpose. They were craft guilds established to look after their particular interests, and were political from beginning to end. Speaking of the efficiency of unionists, the AttorneyGeneral further said -
We hear all kinds of things said; but, personally, I am not in a position to speak, because I do not know anything of the matter.
I am much afraid that the honorable gentleman does not.
But I do know that since about the year 1S90 present trade unionism has, unfortunately, taken a totally new turn in its development.
I am quoting from page 3085 of Ilansard for the 12th November. The honorable gentleman further went on to say -
I am glad to find that my statement of a simple fact evokes a chorus of approval ; but whatever the results may be, the facts are undoubtedly true. Until the year 1800 the operations of unionism were purely industrial or ganization, but since 1890 - approximately from the time of the London dock strike, and the shipping strike in Australia - the whole trend of unionism has taken a new course.
Then the honorable gentleman made a reference to myself which I have no occasion to quote. I have here’ Howell’s book, Conflicts of Capital and Labour, and we shall see whether the guilds were not political bodies. At page 47 of this work, I find the following statement -
The contests of the craft-guilds were not consequently struggles for equality of labour and capital, but for the political mastery of the towns.
Honorable members will please note that -
Tt was a fight for the recognition of the political equality of stock-in-trade and real property ; it was a contest of an oligarchy of landed proprietors, and the new oligarchy of capitalists; as trade increased, so the latter flourished ; wider markets afforded greater opportunities for the employment of larger capital, and so the craft-guilds gradually changed from being societies for the protection of labour into associations for the investment of capital.
That was somewhere about the middle of the fifteenth century. We have been told that the craft guilds were not political; that under them there was harmony between the masters and their employes; that the lion and the lamb lay down together; that their relations were entirely friendly; and everything went on well. At page 51 of the same work, I find the statement’ made-
In order to prevent the rural population from apprenticing their children to trades in cities and boroughs, and thereby reducing the number of servants in husbandry below the proper level, it was enacted by 7 Henry IV. “ that no person was to put a son or daughter apprentice within a city or borough except he had land or rent to the value of 20s. a year at the least, on pain of a year’s imprisonment.”
There was, of course, no political operation there. We are condemned for hing opened up a new field, because we have taken upon ourselves the adoption of political methods. We have been told that we have no right to do this, and when we say that we shall associate ourselves iu trade unions having political purposes, we are to be damned, and told to “get out. We are especially told that we are to be given no preference. I make another quotation from Howell’s work, which will be found at page 99 -
In consequence of this distressed state of trade in the silk manufactures, the whole of the masters and men petitioned Parliament, in 1818, for the extension of the Spittalfields Acts to the silk trade, in the districts of Coventry, Macclesfield, and Nuneaton, but without avail.
This was in 1818. Yet we are told that the crafts were not political unions. They took the only political course then open to them. The members did1 not have the franchise. The other side never gave it to them. There was only the domination of the landlords, and the industrial masters, of the King, the Lords, and even the Commons. The people had no franchise rights, and they could only act politically by petition to Parliament. To continue the quotation -
As the justices of the peace no longer assessed wages, the workmen tried to induce the system of regulating wages by statement lists of prices, mutually agreed upon by masters and men; but these were violated upon every occasion by the employers.
We to-day represent the people who, by their unions, have organized themselves, and made social progress possible, and yet honorable members opposite say that we are not to have preference as a reward for the efforts we nave made. Who, in the name of fortune, then, shall have preference ?
– Why should anybody have preference?
– That is a purely abstract question. The point is, Who does get preference? I want to tell the honorable member at once why my honorable friends opposite do not give preference by law to trade- unionists. They give it to the non-unionists by their bureaucratic system which leaves tools at their disposal. . I quite agree with the honorable member that if we saw that abstract position realized, there would be no occasion to give preference. But we do not see an ideal world. Trade unionism exists to-day because the world i«3 not ideal. We have to take facts as they are. We have to organize in order to obtain that justice which otherwise we would not get. I feel that I am compelled to quote a little further, though, perhaps, much against my grain. On the same page I find this statement by Pitt,_ the younger -
If ever it does arrive at this pinch, Parliament, if it be not then sitting, ought to be called together, and if it cannot redress your grievances, its power is at an end. Tell me not that Parliament cannot - its power is omnipotent to protect.
What is he speaking about ? He is speaking about trade unionists and their need for protection. He is speaking there of the horrors of the oppression that came down upon our ancestors when they were trade unionists. Was there preference then ? No ; there was nothing but oppression. The men were humbled, and driven to the cellars, so that the employers could starve them, and take them into the workshops again. That is the sort of preference which men got in those days. We ask honorable members on the other side, in these times of modern civilization, to associate with us in some effort at social regeneration. When we ask them to give us that assistance which they should by granting preference to trade unionists, they seek to revert to the very conditions that brought about the horrors of which we read in this book. The AttorneyGeneral says that, until 1890, the trade unions were not political bodies; that there were no political organizations. I have two cases here which I could cite, but I will quote one case, which comes from my native town, and of Edinburgh -
The twelfth Congress met in the Oddfellows’ Hall, Edinburgh, on 15th September, 1879. The report dealt with nineteen subjects, the most important being the Employers’ Liability Bills and the Criminal Code Bill, before Parliament, and the Summary Jurisdiction Act 1879. Three new questions were added to the programme, namely, Reform of the Land Laws, Assimilation of the Borough and County Franchise, and the Extension of the Hours of Polling, all distinctly political. Mr. R. S. Wright read an interesting paper on “ Labour and Land Questions.”
Was that non-political ? Is it only since 1890 that craft unions, or trade unions, have entered into the discussion of political questions? Is that case enough to satisfy the Attorney-General, or shall I quote more? I mav as well quote all the cases I have noted. According to the Gilds and Companies of London -
In several of the greatest crises in the history of mediaeval London the power based on the exercise of separate jurisdiction enabled the members of a single trade to play a dominating part-
In what? in city politics; and as it was just at this period that the Courts of the larger livery companies were taking shape, it can hardly be supposed that the effect of so striking an example was entirely lost upon them.
Even in the sixteenth century there were craft guilds. That extract relates largely to the crafts of bakers, fishmongers, and weavers. Yet we are told that there was no political movement until 1890.
We have to bear the brunt of that statement. On another page I find this extract -
In that great development of civic life in which lay the main contribution of the Middle Ages to the cause of Western progress, _ and which reached its culmination about the middle of the fourteenth century, the organized power of the crafts was undoubtedly the most striking feature. From one end of Western Europe to the other, from Lubeck to Florence, and from Bristol to Vienna, the new social force was to be found under every variety of external circumstance
Working out what? - working out a political revolution, sometimes by a quiet series of compromises, but in other cases with a violence that foreshadowed the worst days of the reign of terror.
Yet we are told that there was no political unionism in those days. Why, sir, it has teen operating right down through the centuries. There has never been anything else but political unionism. I think I have done enough to demonstrate the Attorney-General’s misstatements in connexion with the history of craft unionism and guild unionism. I think I have done enough to’ show that, right down through the centuries, the workers have had at once trade unions and political organizations. My honorable friends cannot separate them. It matters not what steps they may take. They may crush the workers for a moment, but they cannot divorce the two things. Trade unionism is so closely related to every economic and social question that arises that there is no possibility of my honorable friends, by any political enactment, divorcing them. I look upon this measure as a distinct attempt to divorce them. I look upon the measure as a clear attempt to destroy that natural position which we ought to occupy, and to enable the Government to give to those who are not unionists that preference which should rightly attach to unionists. I look upon the measure as a deliberate attempt to break down our fighting forces of trade unions and political bodies. I look upon it, further, as a deliberate attempt on the part of my honorable ‘friends to go backwards, and not forwards, hoping that it may serve their ends for to-morrow. It may serve their ends for to-morrow. They may carry the measure, but as surely as they do, they will create greater strife than we have ever had. As surely as they carry the measure, we shall simply concentrate our forces, and the day after we will come along again and undo the wrong which they have done.
– This is the most extraordinary measure which could possibly be brought in by a Government, its object being to withdraw preference from unionists. One would naturally expect the present Government to bring forward a measure based on something like reason, justice, and equity; but, true to the traditions of the Conservative party that supports them, they have introduced a Bill which contains very little, and which, when it is placed on the statutebook, will affect but a very few employes of the Government. It is one of those measures which could be easily found in previous legislation enacted by the party now in office, and which have often been described as shadowy. A great deal of noise is made about this proposal, but when it is examined closely it is found to contain very little. Furthermore, it is typical of the other class of Conservative legislation which our honorable friends give with one hand and take away with the other. And when you come to realize what the people of the country have obtained, you find that they generally feel that they are suffering from a disappointment. It is difficult to understand why the attention of honorable members should be called to a proposal of this character. It is difficult to understand why a measure of a more substantial character has not been submitted. The answer is obvious. It is, in effect, “We are not strong enough to attack the unionists of this country; we are not strong enough to stem the tide of Democracy, which, for some years, has proceeded very largely on trade union lines, but we are strong enough to show our malignant hatred to this movement. We are strong enough to irritate it.” That, I suppose, is what will be called statesmanship on the part of our honorable friends.
– I thought that Democracy always was opposed to privilege.
– I do not see that there is any privilege in coming under, or in getting, the authority of the law. Is Democracy opposed so far as the professions are concerned ? What is the fact in regard to the close corporations ? Take the legal and the medical societies, and many other associations which are springing up. What is the idea that they represent? It is that they may be allowed to become trade unions, and to get the authority and the protection of the law. That is the reason why this feeling is growing every day. When: is the calamity, where is the injustice, in allowing trade unions to occupy the same position as the various corporations I have referred to? The reason is obvious. Our honorable friends on the other side are the interpreters of the unwritten law which has come down to us from our fathers that the working people must be kept down, must be the Gideonites in Israel, the hewers of wood and drawers of water. I do not know whether many honorable members on this side can recollect when this attitude to the workers was more common than it is to-day: - “ You want increased wages, do you ? You ought to be very grateful that you have any work to do. How would you get on if you had no work? Look at the great benefits that we are conferring upon you by giving you any employment!” That is the spirit to-day, only that the employers have wit enough to cover it up with a thin veneer of French politeness. It is exhibited in this Bill. There is the old feeling behind its authors. I do not know what my honorable friends intend to do with the Bill, but whatever it is I o shall fall into line with them. My opinion is that it is a big mistake to challenge the Bill seriously in this fashion. There is nothing in it.
– Then why not let us have ft?
– Because the present occasion affords us an opportunity of showing the electors of this country what a false issue is being placed before them. An effort is being made to blind and mislead them, so that by-and-by, with a flourish of trumpets, a beating of drums, and a waving of flags, we shall be told how the Government saved the Commonwealth, because they imposed a prohibition upon preference to unionists. I have no desire to labour the matter, because honorable members upon this side of the chamber have already pointed out the injustice which underlies a proposal of this character. Under the Bill private employers will be penalized in that their employes may appeal to the Arbitration
Court, and secure an award under which preference to unionists may be granted, whereas the Government will entirely escape the obligation which will thus be laid upon their competitors. Is there anything fair in that? Does it not strike honorable members as an impertinence on our part to enact that the private employer shall do certain things and that the Government of this country shall occupy an exceptional position ? In this particular instance they are claiming a privi-v lege with a vengeance. For my own part, I utterly fail to see that we have a right to impose upon the private employer disabilities which are not imposed upon the Government. There is one feature of the Bill to which I desire specially to refer. We have been told that it is a measure to prevent the granting of preference to unionists. I say that its effect will be to grant a preference to non-unionists.
– I will tell the honorable gentleman why. My honorable friend knows ‘ perfectly well that the bureaucracy has, no love for trade unionism. The great danger which Australians have to apprehend in the future is that they will be ruled by the bureaucracy of the Commonwealth. What will happen then ? That bureaucracy, in order to be on the safe side of the hedge,’ will extend a preference to non-unionists.
– To what does the honorable member refer as the bureaucracy ?
– It is idle for the Attorney-General to affect such a sublime ignorance of the ways of the world. Does he not know, as well as I do, that this is not a Bill to prevent the granting of a preference to unionists, but to sanction the ‘ granting of a preference to non-unionists ? At any rate, that is the way in which it will work out. The honorable gentleman himself admitted that trade unionists are the best workers.
– I did not make that admission at all. What I said was that the unions contain in their ranks many of the best workmen. That is a very different proposition.
– I am rather inclined to think that my honorable friend will find that the unions contain in their ranks an overwhelming majority of the. best workers.
– Suppose that they do. Surely the merits of such men will give them a natural preference.
– No. Assuming that my views are correct - and I believe that honorable members generally will agree with them - what is the position ? Some of the best workmen will avoid entering Government employ, because they will know that the Government would not employ them if they could employ somebody else. Consequently, the trade unionist will use the Government only as a convenience when he cannot obtain a job elsewhere. Moreover, the best workmen will not submit to irritation and annoyance. We all know that there is a class of workmen which resembles a certain class of lawyers. Every honorable member knows of lawyers who have never had a brief in their lives, and who never will have. I suppose that circumstance is due to the failure of the public to appreciate their abilities. In the same way there is a class of workers whose members are the last to get a job, and the first to be put off one. Under this Bill the workers whom it is essential should be employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth will decline to enter that service because of the preference which the Government propose to extend to non-unionists, or they will enter it only when it suits them to do so. Any honorable member who knows anything about human nature will see that it must operate in that way. I am rather surprised at the Government failing to see the fallacy of the position which they are taking up. We have been told that their strong opposition to granting a preference to unionists is based upon their objection to political unionism . They were very fond of industrial unionism, and believed in it. So long as the workers did not realize that men who occupy seats in the legislative halls of this country exercise a certain amount of influence upon the policy of the country my honorable friends were quite satisfied. But the toiling masses tardily awoke to the fact that as the voting strength of a party in Parliament increased, so also did their influence upon the legislation of this, country increase. I .may well illustrate my contention by an anecdote relating to Lord Palmerston. On one occasion he met a well-known Chartist, and in his neighbourly way exclaimed, “ Well, how are the Chartists getting on?” The Chartist replied, “Oh, very well, my lord”; whereupon Palmerston inquired, “ How many votes have they in the House of Commons?” When he was informed that they had none, his answer was, “It is all right. We need not bother about them at all.” Similarly while trade unionists were willing to be complimented and patted on the shoulders as good men, everything was right. While the government of this country was in the hands of the Conservative crowd, industrial unionism was a very good thing. But the crime that the workers of Australia have committed is that they realize that through the instrument of government called Parliament they are able to control the legislation of this country. In this connexion I desire to point out one important fact which appears to have been overlooked, namely, that we cannot legislate to promote the welfare of the working classes without conferring a benefit upon every other class in the community. What motive, then, can any Labour member have, save that of promoting the best interests of the country, seeing that when he is fighting for that section of his constituents which comprises the workers he is fighting for the entire community ? On the other hand, if there is an absence of British fair play exhibited from a legislative stand-point it must react ou the thousands who have to earn their living by the sweat of their brow. Some honorable members appear to think that there is an organized conspiracy on our part to damage the Common wealth. The proposition is a monstrous one. Quite a number of honorable members upon this side df the chamber represent more votes than those which are cast for them by unionists. I am quite willing to admit that trade unionism is the backbone of the Labour movement, and if my honorable friends opposite will sleep any better after hearing that statement I am extremely glad I can offer them such consolation. The Government are acting only in accordance with their Conservative principles. There is no statesmanship on the Treasury bench, and the best proof of that is to be found in this Bill. They have put forward legislation which is actuated by spite and hatred against the organizations of labour. The Attorney-General has said that he is in favour of strikes.
– Yes, I heard him say ib. It was when some interjections were flying across the chamber. I happen to possess a remarkably good memory, and I hope that the Attorney-General’s interjection has not disappeared from Hansard.
– I may tell the honorable member that I have not touched my Hansard proofs.
– I do not doubt that for a moment. I made the remark only in a jocular manner. But I certainly understood the Attorney-General to express the view which I have attributed to him. Personally I am in favour of strikes. I am also in favour of war. But I am in favour of war only after the country has made every sacrifice for the purpose of maintaining peace, or after its honour has been attacked, or its territory has been invaded, or an intolerable affront has been put upon it. In such circumstances, the British Empire would stand together. I am in favour of war under such a set of conditions. The cowards who are opposed to our defence system should not forget that the worst that can happen to a man as the result of war is that he may lose his life, but that women have to suffer a great deal more. The sooner a country that is not prepared to defend its womanhood is wiped out the better. That, however, is a -side issue.
– Does the honorable member mean to say that the AttorneyGeneral is in favour of strikes?
– The AttorneyGeneral has said that he is.
– He said that the time was not ripe for stopping strikes.
– There is a distinction.
– It matters not to me whether the Attorney-General qualifies his statement or not. I am in favour of strikes in the last resort, just as I am in favour of war in the circumstances I have mentioned. When all other means have been exhausted to secure industrial peace, then I am in favour of a strike, but I do not believe in entering upon a strike with a light heart, or unless it is rendered necessary because of grave and important reasons. The Labour party has built up the principle of conciliation and arbitration, and the Court, presided over by Mr. Justice Higgins, has borne good fruit in the case of those industries to which its jurisdiction applies. By way of illustration,- let me refer to the change that has been brought about in connexion with the pastoral industry, concerning which we have heard already to-night. The wool-growing industry is of vital importance to Australia, and as the outcome of strained relations between the squatters and their employes, resort was had to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Court, with the result that the squatter can now tell within a few days when he will be able to* market his wool, and is in a position, therefore, to make whatever financial arrangements he pleases. These happier conditions have been brought about by the exercise of the jurisdiction of the Court over which Mr. Justice Higgins presides. The same remark will apply to the position of the maritime workers all round the Australian coast. “Wherever the Court has had a chance, it has done good work. It would be more effective than it is but for the bitter, determined, and unremitting opposition of honorable members opposite. Whenever there has been a proposal to strengthen the jurisdiction of the Court, they have opposed it in season and out of season. The Court is one in which the workers of this country have confidence. Reference was made this afternoon to the use of strong language by honorable members on this side of the House in regard to the Judiciary. Has there been no such language applied to Mr. Justice Higgins? If you chance to overhear two rich men in Australia talking about industrial matters, you cannot fail to hear them speaking of the biased judgments of His Honour Mr. Justice Higgins.
– I ask the honorable member not to go into the question of the Judges.
– The honorable member was only stating facts.
– The honorable member ought to know that facts are not always admissible in Parliament. I could, if necessary, cite dozens of cases all showing the good work done by the Arbitration Court. A tribunal that has power to call for books and papers to be examined by a person sworn to secrecy must be in a position to arrive at a just award. Honorable members opposite hate the Court, and I shall not be surprised if they indulge in some small, irritating interference with its jurisdiction, provided that they have sufficient pluck. Three years ago, when the present position of parties in this House was reversed, I said that I was in favour of industrial peace, and that, despite any temporary set-back caused by a strike here and there, I intended, in season and out of season, to advocate conciliation and arbitration, believing that, ultimately, the workers of Australia would unanimously agree to industrial disputes being dealt with in that way. There are, undoubtedly, difficulties to contend with. The older trade unionists, in many cases, believe in industrial unionism, and look only to the strike as a means to get over any industrial trouble. They remember what a bitter struggle their unions had in the days gone by, and they do not enter into the work of Conciliation and Arbitration Courts, like that over which Mr. Justice Higgius presides, in the same way as do the younger trade unionists. It is, after all, a matter of evolution. Whatever may be the opinion of honorable members opposite, I believe that the principle of preference to unionists will ultimately be fully recognised. I have sufficient confidence in the sense of justice of my fellow Australians to believe that they want a fair deal, and will try to obtain it. The people of this country may be blinded by prejudice and passion for a time, but they are much stronger than are any Government.
– What they want is a fair deal, with preference to unionists ?
– Undoubtedly. I have pointed out what, in my opinion, is the meaning of this Bill, and that it will work in the direction of preference to non-unionists. In one of the most able speeches to which I have ever had the pleasure of listening, the exAttorneyGeneral pointed out in this House last week the right of trade unionists to obtain a preference. He pointed out that, for a long while, the trade union movement had been fighting to be recognised by the law. Present-day unionists are carrying on the work begun by their fathers. We need not go back to the ancient guilds. We need only go back as far as 1826, when the House of Commons passed the Bill which prevented magistrates from fixing the- wages of the Spittalfield weavers. If honorable mem- bers turn to the early records of Botany Bay, they will find that many of the convicts of the Crown who were sent there were trade unionists, who were transported under the conspiracy laws. There is an old saying that the blood of the, martyrs has been the seed of the church ; and from the oppression to which trade unionism was subjected in ‘ the olden days has sprung the great trade union movement of to-day. When I was in England a year or two ago, I conversed with an old north-country unionist, who told me that he had sold up his home on three different occasions as the result of strikes and locks-out. Some of us in Australia know what that means. I ask honorable members opposite how they would view the position if we had been for years the top-dog, and they the under-dog. If the workers had had the power for years to oppress the wealthy, would not the latter have made an attempt to secure a fair deal and to be recognised, and legally recognised, by their fellow countrymen? The Fisher Government went to the country on the principle of a White Australia and the question of Protection, but they went also to the people on the question of compulsory arbitration. If trade unionism was to be the high water-mark of industrialism in Australia then, it was urged that the logical conclusion was that trade unionism should be recognised by the Government of the country. Honorable members opposite may say, if they please, that our party has suddenly sprung into existence; that it has neither tradition nor history; and that it is simply a revolutionary party, formed to make outrageous demands. But that statement is not founded on fact.. We have risen steadily on the work of our fathers. The workers saw some years ago that it was necessary that they should obtain political power - that the Parliament made the laws, and that the workers must be represented in Parliament. They saw that Parliament controlled the destinies of the people, and that, until they got some representation in Parliament, and secured the right of preference to unionists, they could do nothing. We hear a great deal of talk about preference to unionists. As pointed out by the honorable member for Dalley, there is not much in this proposal except sentiment. All that is asked is that, if two rneb present themselves before the Government for employment, other things being equal, preference shall be given to the unionist; and surely there is nothing in that of any very great danger to the community? I care not whether the Government be Labour or Conservative, they are not doing their duty if they do not do everything they can to promote industrial peace; and the only way to secure that peace is to insure legal recognition of tribunals before which both sides can be heard, and an award given, according to justice and equity, by a trained President. Do the Government, and their supporters, not think that they could have found a better job than that on which they are at present engaged ? Certainly, the Conservative party are “ out “ for a good advertisement; and I do not envy them the task on which they have entered, seeing that the high-water mark of their legislation is to abolish preference to unionists. As I pointed out in the speech I delivered at the opening of this Parliament, there are two policies, either of which the Government could pursue. The first was, as Napoleon III. would say, to recognise the logical facts. Unfortunately, the people of Australia are so divided in their political feelings that they have returned us in about equal numbers; and, under the circumstances, there was obviously only one course for the patriotic Government and Parliament. This was to introduce and dispose of all the noncontentious legislation that the country required ; and, if this had been done, we on this side could not have done otherwise than give the Government our support. Instead, however, we have had presented a policy actuated by malignant hatred of practically the whole of the people who support the Labour party. I do not ask the Conservative party in this House to take their models from this side of the chamber, or from amongst the Radical’ statesmen of the Old Land. In the Mother Country there are three statesmen who stand head-and-shoulders above all others - Disraeli, Salisbury, and Balfour. When those statesmen acquired power, they recognised that, in their duty to the Empire, it was fitting that, while they left the Reform party alone, they did not undo any reform that had been passed by their predecessors. There is, by the way, a strong resemblance between the Cecil of our times and his ancestor, Robert Cecil, who won the confidence of Queen
Bess, one of the wisest and best sovereigns of England. These are the models for the Conservative party in the Commonwealth; and I challenge my honorable friends opposite to show me when any of those statesmen sank low enough to propose pettifogging legislation like that now before us? There is nothing in the Bill except an indication of what the Conservative party would do if they had the power; and we are told that this is statesmanship ! We have not had a great many statesmen in Australia, though I could mention one in the person of my late lamented friend, Charles Cameron Kingston. The difference between the pettifogging politician and the statesman is that the latter never acts’ except with his eyes twenty-five years ahead.
– What about the honorable member who is speaking?
– I am not putting myself forward as a statesman ; and I may say that the honorable member who interjects is the greatest pettifogger in Parliament. There has been a good deal of party feeling on both sides during the last few months; and it would be well if we had no repetition of it. I am not going to say on which side the fault lies, but I have put certain facts before the House and the country, and I make an appeal to honorable members opposite. The Government have the power, .and, with the assistance of the closure, can pass any legislation they please; but there is something stronger than the Government and the closure. I appeal to honorable members opposite to let us have something like Conservative statesmanship - something we can respect. Guizot says that the British statesman is far more advanced than even the British people; and that is true. It is worth while remembering that the statesman ought to be superior to the party spirit that may sway the people for the moment, and to look beyond the ordinary political fighting to the effect of that fighting - to the feeling of the country and its effect on the future. If the Government, like the statesmen I have mentioned, are actuated by lofty principles, I ask them, even now, to withdraw the Bill. Is this measure worth while persisting with merely for the purposes of an idle placard? There “is no necessity for all this noise and dust, seeing that the Government have .already stated that their policy is opposed to preference to unionists. There is no doubt that, if the Bill be passed, it will have the result of preference to non-unionists. We are not spending any more on this Parliament than is consistent with the dignity of our work; but surely we ought to try to do something worthy of the parliament. Does the Attorney-General really think that the “ game is worth the candle”?
– Give us this Bill now, and you shall have something else a little later on - something more.
– I do not know whether to understand that it is intended to attack the powers of the industrial tribunals, and thus show that the Government are in favour of strikes, seing that everything that weakens those tribunals must tend to promote conflicts. If that be the idea, the Government are undoubtedly playing the game of the Syndicalist, and it will not be very long before we shall find the Syndicalist and our Conservative friends “cheek by jowl,” because we know that the former has no’ very great love for the old traditional trade unionism. Independently altogether of party, I make a strong appeal to the Government as to whether it is worth while the Conservative party introducing a measure of this character. The abolition of preference to unionists has been decreed by regulation; but we are now asked to pass a law as a guide for the future. The Parliament before last passed a Loan Bill to raise £3,500,000. What did the following Parliament do? It repealed that Act,- and threw it under the table. Is it not conceivable that this measure, should it become law, will be similarly dealt with? We do not want legislation of this kind on the statutebook. It is a bad thing to have such measures passed that each party feels bound to repeal those of its predecessor. The time of this session until now has been given up to debates of a party character regarding measures which are not worth the paper on which they are printed. I would not seriously oppose this Bill but for what there is behind it. We are bound to challenge it, so that the people may become alive to the situation. Honorable members opposite may be surprised at the feeling we have shown in regard to the trade union movement. But this movement means a great deal to us ; its history gives it great value. A feature of the guilds and of the early trade unions was their insistence on apprenticeship. It used to be considered’ desirable that boys, as soon as they became old enough, should be trained to earn their living. Those whose parents were in a good social position were sent to the universities and the high schools, and entered the learned professions, and the children of the working people learned trades. But to-day apprenticeship is going out. The employers do not want apprentices. A boot manufacturer does not want bootmakers; the employes he requires are clickers, puttersup, and others skilled in particular technical processes Every branch of trade is now specialized, and a few years hence it will be difficult to find carpenters* joiners, bootmakers, or skilled artisans of any kind. The workmen of to-day are not as good as their predecessors, and the fault is not theirs, but that of the system. Capitalism wants an ample army of unemployed for the work of production. That is the cant of plutocracy, and the cant of the commercial and industrial world. A distinguished man who visited us recently said that Australia will never be a great manufacturing country, because there is not a sufficient surplus of unemployed for the manufacturers to fall back on. We do not want unemployed. We desire the organization of labour of all kinds. But something will have to be done to deal with the apprenticeship question. That, however, is at present, a thing, not for the National Parliament, but for the State Parliaments. In my opinion, no one has a right to sit in a Parliament unless he has studied Thorold Rogers’ Six Centuries of Work and Wages. A man has no right to legislate in regard to industrial matters until he has mastered that admirable work, which is remarkable for the research which it reveals, and for the manner in which it makes plain the past history of our race in the Old Land. It gives the prices of food, of corn, of malt, of stock, of fish, and of other commodities, and cites the taxation rolls of the Court of Exchequer. It shows that the reign of Henry VII. was a period of unprecedented prosperity, when a man working at his trade could in twenty-six weeks earn enough to supply his wants for a year. The people were in a better condition in those days, relatively, than they are in to-day. That is to say, what was required to meet the then standard of comfort was distributed more evenly throughout the community. We know that the standard of comfort has changed very much since then. We know, too, that shortly afterwards there was a debasing of the currency, with the result that the people were robbed. From those days until the present there has been a fight by guilds, by trade unions, and by political radicals, to get back to conditions like those shown by Thorold Rogers to be the conditions of our ancestors. Some politicians may regard the rights of the people as a ball to be thrown about in a political game, but good political economists, and those who know the history of their country, do not so regard those rights. It is our duty to our fellows to create a strong feeling of comradeship and brotherhood, to pull together in politics, and to pass those laws that are best for the development of the Commonwealth, so that this people may be worthy of the race from which it sprang, and that this land may be one of the best governed, if not the best governed, of the over-sea dominions of the Crown. In conclusion, I shall quote words which are not those of a secretary of a labour organization, nor of a Labour- M.P., but of a man who last century exerted great influence for the benefit of all sections of the community, including the working classes, with which I am proud to have been associated all my life. john Ruskin,- at one time Slade professor at the University of Oxford, has written in the pages of history what he thought of your beautiful political economy. His influence with his countrymen was an influence for good.
– There is more poetry than political economy about Ruskin.
– Ruskin says that government and co-operation are together the laws of life, and competition and anarchy the laws of death. On another page, he says that there is nothing so bound as the sun, and nothing so free as the dead leaf. I hope the Government will not persist in going on with this Bill. I hope they will, as long as they have power, bring in something that is not of a contentious character; and I hope they will uphold the best traditions of the Conservative party. I am not stupid enough to imagine that they will have fixity of tenure; but if we are to have a Conservative Administration, I hope that it will at least follow on the lines of the model of the Conservative party in Great Britain, so that, while we may differ from them politically, we may,’ at any rate, respect them.
Motion (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) proposed -
That the question be now put.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … .. 1
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Bill be now read a second time - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clause 1 (Short Title).
Question - That clause 1 stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 2 (Preference a discrimination for membership or non-membership of association).
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– Order ! The honorable member for Kennedy knows that he has not raised a point of order.
– On a point of order, Mr. Fowler-
– No point of order cap intervene.
– May I call your attention, sir, to the fact that you did not put any question to the Committee. There is no question before the Chair to be put, as suggested by the closure motion moved by the honorable member for Wentworth.
– I certainly stated clause 2, though I did not cite the sideheading of the clause. However, I shall put the clause again in the ordinary way. Clause 2-
Honorable Members. - Mr. Fowler-
– Order !
– No question was put. You, sir, admitted that it had not been put, and said that you would put it again. You put it again, and the Honorary Minister has not moved that the question be now put.
– I have not yet put clause 2. I propose now to put it in the ordinary form, and I shall neither see nor hear any one until I have put the clause in the ordinary way.
– I rise to a point of order.
– The Chairman has not yet put the clause.
– I wish, sir, that you would keep the Honorary Minister in order. I object to be hustled in this manner. In fact, the indecency of the honorable member’s conduct is beyond bounds.
– I understood that the honorable member for Kennedy rose to a point of order.
– The honorable member got away from the point of order altogether.
– That is quite right. I rose to a point of order, but the Honorary Minister was so insulting that he would not allow me to put it. I want to know if it is your intention to call upon the Honorary Minister as soon as you put the clause?
– That is not a point of order. I propose to put the clause in the ordinary way, and I shall call no one until I have done so. Clause 2 - Preference or discrimination for membership or honmembership of association.
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That, the question be now put.
Honorable Members. - Mr. Fowler-
– I was in before the Honorary Minister. I wish to move that he be no longer heard.
– Order ! I trust that honorable members will assist me.
– Look to the other side.
– I am giving my attention to the side whence the disorder is coming. I again ask honorable members to assist me to carry out the proceedings in accordance with our Standing Orders. The question is, “ That the question be now put.”
Question - That the question be now put - put.
The division bells being rung,
– Here is the party who prate of liberty, justice, and freedom ! It is a disgraceful exhibition.
– Order ! I trust that honorable members will show some consideration for the call of the Chair.
– They are dragging the Speaker into it, too.
– I want to know, sir, what becomes of my amendment?
– Is it a right thing, sir, that the Honorary Minister should be made a tool of by the AttorneyGeneral? Why does he not let his colleague do this work?
– I do not object to that at all.
– I know that any dirty work is suited to the Honorary Minister.
– Educated larrikins !
– Are you aware, sir, that the Government connived in having an honorable member on this side suspended from the service of the House so that they might do this dirty work?
The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That clause 2 stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Question - That the title be the titleof the Bill - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Title agreed to.
Question - That the Chairman report the Bill without amendment - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment.
Motion (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) proposed -
That the report be now adopted.
Question put. The House divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the Standing Orders be suspended to enable the remaining stage to be passed without delay.
.- I would point out that, if the motion submitted by the Prime Minister be carried
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 1
– I appoint the honorable member for Maranoa and the honorable member for Cook tellers for the “ Noes.”
– I decline to act, Mr. Speaker.
– Then I appoint the honorable member for South Sydney teller forthe “Noes.”
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Standing Orders be suspended - put. The House divided.
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended.
Motion (by Mr. W. H. Irvine) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a third time.
– Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Kelly) proposed -
That the question be now put.
Question - That the question be now put - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question - That the Bill be now read a third time - put. The House divided.
Majority … … 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read the third time.
Order of Business - Small-pox Outbreak: Quarantine.
Motion (by Mr. Joseph Cook) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– The Prime Minister might tell us what business he proposes ‘to go on with tomorrow, and how he proposes to go on with it. If it is proposed to go on with it in the way we are doing to-night, I do not see that it is any good for any one but the honorable member and his friends to come to the House. What we have seen to-night is disgraceful and scandalous.
– Order !
– And that it should have been done in the name of liberty is doubly a disgrace, and doubly a scandal.
– Order !
.- I think I am justified in drawing the attention of the Prime Minister to the following article that has appeared in tonight’s Melbourne Herald -
After long arguments Dr. Paton, president of the Board of Health, has succeeded in persuading the Federal authorities that the quarantime embargo should be lifted from Sydney immediately.
Certain precautions will still be taken against the spread of disease to other parts of Australia. These will be largely, if” not wholly, in the bands of the State authorities. The lifting of the quarantine by the Federal Government will follow upon the undertakings of the State Government in accordance with an arrangement which has been settled almost to the last detail.
No official information is available in Sydney pending the receipt of restrictions at the border. Though they willnot be altogether abolished the quarantine restrictions will be continued only in a modified form.
The necessity for successful vaccination before travelling will disappear. At the same time vigilance will be exercised in order to ensure that no small-pox patient shall travel freely about Australia.
In all probability travellers will be called upon to enter into an understanding that they will report themselves to the authorities of any State in which they happen to be if they find, themselves suffering from any suspicious symptoms.
Border inspections of a rigid nature will be continued until the last cases of disease have been stamped out. The Board of Health will make an effort to stamp out the lingering cases of disease, and extended powers, which have been granted to the Board by the latest legislation will be applied in the necessary direction of limited quarantine within special areas.
In the face of an article of that importance I think the Government should inform the House if they are aware of anything of the kind, and give us the fullest information, so that the citizens of the particular area under embargo may know at the earliest opportunity their position. I have some information from relatives in Sydney, moving in circles that ought to have some knowledge of these matters, to the effect that the last few cases are very mild, and I believe that the medical profession are satisfied that the present, like the original, cases are nothing more nor less than cases of cow-pox. I therefore ask the Government, if possible, to relieve the citizens of Sydney of this embargo upon them.
– I know nothing whatever about this matter. No report has reached the Government yet, and I can only hope, for the sake of the Conference itself, that there is no truth in the statement made in the paper this evening, though there seems to be a very substantial account of what has happened, and, to say the least of it, it looks suspicious. However, I know nothing whatever of it. No report has reached the Government from this Conference, so that I am unable to afford any information on the subject.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.7 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 18 November 1913, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1913/19131118_reps_5_72/>.